Chinese President Xi Jinping has reportedly instructed the country’s military region responsible for the South China Sea and Taiwan to assess its current capabilities and make whatever improvements are necessary so it can “handle any emergency,” according to a report in the South China Morning Post.
The command in charge of the region — the Southern Theater Command — has had a “heavy military responsibility” in recent years, according to state-run CCTV, which quoted Xi during his inspection tour during a visit to the Guangdong Province last week.
“It’s necessary to strengthen the mission … and concentrate preparations for fighting a war,” Xi was quoted as saying. “We need to take all complex situations into consideration and make emergency plans accordingly.
“We have to step up combat readiness exercises, joint exercises, and confrontational exercises to enhance servicemen’s capabilities and preparation for war,” he reportedly said.
SCMP noted further:
Details of his speech came a day after China’s State Councillor General and Defence Minister Wei Fenghe said the country would never give up “one single piece” of its territory and warned that “repeated challenges” to its sovereignty over Taiwan were extremely dangerous and would result in military action.
His comments and those of President Xi come just a few short weeks after a Chinese destroyer nearly collided with a U.S. destroy near one of China’s manmade islands in the South China Sea.
Analysis: Xi’s instructions to the Southern Military Command and the comments by Defense Minister Wei, in and of themselves, are not particularly uncommon or explosive. Indeed, Chinese officials have often said the country’s sovereignty is paramount.
That said, they do come after that near-collision earlier this month that took the Pentagon by surprise, judging by the reactions of U.S. military officials. At the same time, however, the Trump administration is doubling down on its previous actions aimed at convincing the Chinese that Washington will not be driven from the Western Pacific/Indo-Pacific region and will not abandon its allies or hedge its security agreements.
The Taiwanese military is currently outmatched by the Chinese, if for no other reason than sheer size: China’s military is far larger, and fields many more submarines, warships, fighters, bombers, and missiles than the island democracy.
Taiwan’s ‘ace in the hole,’ of course, is the United States, which has a long-standing security agreement with Taipei. While China’s communist leaders are instructing the military to prepare for any contingency regarding Taiwan, the U.S. is at the same time informing the Chinese that they won’t be permitted to take the country by force through freedom of navigation patrols and by strengthening our alliances in the region.
Clearly, China is becoming more aggressive as its economic and military power grow. China has designs on playing a global leadership role under its rules, which are anathema to Western-style freedoms and liberty. That means a conflict is more likely in the future than not.
This is just another indicator that Beijing is willing to fight to achieve its objectives. Fair enough. But so will the U.S. and her allies fight to preserve the current democratic international order.