Chinese troops should ramp up training, advance top-notch technology and, above all, prepare for war, People’s Liberation Army Daily (PLA) – an armed forces newspaper – said in a New Year’s message.
“Drilling soldiers and war preparations” will be top priorities for the armed forces in 2019, the official military outlet told the troops. It urged readers that “at no time should we allow any slack in these areas.”
“We should be well prepared for all directions of military struggle and comprehensively improve troops’ combat response in emergencies … to ensure we can meet the challenge and win when there is a situation,” the stern message said.
The PLA Daily also pledged to “reform the army through science and technology,” along with strengthening ties with the ruling Chinese Communist Party.
The editorial went public a couple of days before Chinese President, Xi Jinping, has called to forge reunification with Taiwan. While saying it would “safeguard the interests and well-being” of the islanders, Xi noted Beijing “reserves the option of taking all necessary measures” against outsiders hampering the process.
Taiwan is one of the issues that add fuel to a US-China spat since President Donald Trump vowed military support to the island. China has denounced the move, warning the US against meddling in its internal affairs. Taiwan aside, the South China Sea is another place that saw mounting tensions between the US and China.
Last year, Xi also urged the troops to “concentrate preparations” for a military conflict. “We have to step up combat readiness exercises, joint exercises and confrontational exercises to enhance servicemen’s capabilities and preparation for war.”
Washington strategists openly designate Beijing a military opponent, even alleging that it may surpass the US in some areas. The Pentagon, for instance, has repeatedly warned that the Chinese military could leave the US behind in deploying maritime and airpower as well as in developing future weapons systems.
Some members of US military elite also speculated on the prospect of being involved into a military confrontation with China. Retired Lt Gen Ben Hodges, former US commander in Europe, once suggested that Washington have “to deal with the Chinese threat” in the Pacific.
“The United States needs a very strong European pillar,” he told the Warsaw Security Forum in October. “I think in 15 years – it’s not inevitable – but it is a very strong likelihood that we will be at war with China.”