CHINA’S president has ordered his troops to train harder and fight to the death as he called on the military to be ready for war.
President Xi Jinping said his country’s two million strong armed forces should train under real combat conditions and “not fear hardship”, according to Beijing’s state-run media.
Xi made the comments while addressing the Central Military Commission at the Jingxi Hotel in Beijing.
The Communist Party leader called on the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to “not fear hardship” and “not fear death”.
Xi said the military needed to “enhance the sense of hardship, strengthen the mission responsibility, and accelerate the transformation and upgrading of military training”.
China has poured billions of pounds into modernising its military as it continues to threaten to invade Taiwan — which it regards as part of its territory.
In October, the PLA staged a terrifying war game that simulated invading the island.
The country has also stealthily taken over swathes of the South China Sea by building military bases on artificial islands.
The hotly contested region is also rich in fossil fuels, which China desperately needs to pump prime its booming economy with cheap energy.
New satellite images also show China is developing secret bases on a disputed border with India — in the latest sign of escalating tensions between the two nuclear powers.
Earlier this year, China warned it would “crush any aggression” as it boasted it was prepared for any future conflict with Indian forces.
China is facing a number of challenges both at home and overseas – for example, the situation in the Taiwan Strait, the South China Sea, the border with India
Beijing-based military expert Zhou Chenming
Meanwhile, it has emerged China has developed a new stealth bomber which is feared to be capable of launching a sneak nuclear strike on the US Navy base in Pearl Harbour.
America strongly opposes China’s military expansion in the South China Sea and has vowed to defend Taiwan should it ever be attacked.
Tensions between the two nations have escalated in recent months after President Trump blamed China for the Covid-19 pandemic. A trade war has also been quietly bubbling away between China and the West.
China-based military expert Zhou Chenming told the South China Morning Post that Xi’s remarks aimed to push PLA commanders to strengthen combat training and get troops used to hi-tech weapons and equipment including advanced tanks, aircraft and warships.
He said: “China is facing a number of challenges both at home and overseas – for example, the situation in the Taiwan Strait, the South China Sea, the border with India.
“These situations have been changing in recent years, and China’s top commanders need to come up with forward-looking, strategic training plans so the troops are combat-ready.”
In its 2020 report on the PLA, the Rand Corporation concluded the Chinese military was aiming for dominance in the air, sea and in information.
its report stated: “Xi Jinping and his strategists are looking beyond his 2035 ‘fully modernized’ milestone to develop military theory and concepts for a ‘world-class military’ by 2050,” the Rand Corp. report said.
What is the dispute in the South China Sea about?
China lays claim to vast swathes of ocean and many islands – but some parts are also claimed by the likes of Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan.
The dispute centres around legal claims to ocean areas and two island chains, the Paracels and the Spratlys, which are thought to be abundant in natural resources.
Every year some £3.8 trillion of trade passes through the dispute area and the United States has been joined by Australia, the UK and France in sailing warships through it to assert freedom of navigation.
China has engaged in a massive military build-up in the area, creating a network of artificial islands, which it uses to assert its territorial claim.
It claims that these are part of its national coastline but the United States and the Philippines say that doesn’t apply to artificial islands.
China’s claim to a 12 mile territorial limit around the islands is not internationally recognised.
Warships from the United States and China have been engaged in tense stand-offs which have threatened to escalate into conflict in the disputed seas.
In January 2019, China reacted with fury after the US sent a missile destroyer through the disputed waters in a direct challenge to Beijing.
China responded by scrambling warships and aircraft to intercept the ship, which sailed within a dozen miles of the increasingly-militarised Paracel Island chain.