President Xi calls on China’s army to focus on ‘preparation for war’

President Xi Jinping has told the People’s Liberation Army to “focus all its energy on fighting” in preparation for war, amid deepening friction in relations between China and the United States over Chinese Taipei.

President Xi, on a visit to a military command center on Wednesday, said the army must “comprehensively strengthen military training in preparation for war,” the People’s Daily, the main newspaper in China, reported.

“Focus all [your] energy on fighting, work hard on fighting and improve [your] capability to win,” the president was quoted as saying. The army must also “resolutely defend national sovereignty and national security” as China was in an “unstable and uncertain” security situation, he said.

In a similar visit to the command center in 2016, the Chinese president told officers to be “loyal” and “resourceful” in fighting and “courageous and capable of winning wars.”

President Xi last month made a veiled attack on Washington’s increasingly explicit support for Taipei at the 20th party congress, blaming “foreign interference” for exacerbating tensions. “We will never promise to renounce the use of force.”

In September, China lodged “stern representations” with Washington after US President Joe Biden said American forces would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack.

After the US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in August, the Chinese military reportedly moved several warships and planes near the median line, an unofficial border between China and Taipei in the Taiwan Strait.

This week, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson criticized a visit by Britain’s Trade Minister Greg Hands to Taipei and told the British government to “cease sending wrong signals to separatist forces for Taiwan independence.”

China’s defense minister earlier warned US secretary of defense that Beijing will start a war without any hesitation if Taiwan declares independence. He also said China would strongly resist any conspiracy against the Taiwan region and would defend its motherland at any cost. “If anyone dares to split Taiwan from China, the Chinese army will definitely not hesitate to start a war no matter the cost,” Defense Minister Wei Fenghe said during a meeting with his American counterpart Lloyd Austin on June 10.

China considers Taipei as a breakaway province that should be reunited with the mainland under the internationally-recognized One China policy. The sovereignty is subject to international recognition, including by the United States. But, in violation of its stated policy and in an attempt to irritate Beijing, Washington has recently expanded diplomatic contacts with the self-proclaimed government in Chinese Taipei.

Washington is also the island’s largest weapons supplier.

Relations between China and the US have strained in recent years, with the world’s two largest economies clashing over a range of issues, Chinese Taipei included.


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