Beijing’s People’s Liberation Army has declared it will ‘strengthen training’ in ‘preparation for war’ as a top priority for the coming year.
“Drilling soldiers and war preparations are the fundamental jobs and work focus of our military, and at no time should we allow any slack in these areas”. That’s the commitment given by China’s military — the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) — in its New Year’s Day message.
“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 editorial published in the PLA Daily outlined intentions to improve innovation and reform within the party — along with strengthening ties with the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
A training exercise on December 24, 2018. Picture: PLASource:Supplied
The South China Morning Post says increasing the tempo of military drills may be about flexing military muscle over ongoing issues such as the independence of Taiwan and the South and East China Sea.
“During the 20 years I spent in the PLA before I left in 2004, military training to boost combat readiness was always one of our top tasks,” retired lieutenant colonel and military analyst Zeng Zhiping told the Post. “But this is something different. When training and preparation for war is highlighted at the beginning of a year it means this is a plan for the whole year, although we don’t know what the real intention behind the rhetoric is at this stage.”
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The message comes as some 38 senior commanders were personally promoted to major general by President Xi Jinping last month. It is seen by analysts as a move to shore-up his control of the military. Since 2012, Xi has targeted dozens of top-ranked generals promoted by previous presidents. They have been charged with corruption.
The new emphasis on the military is widely perceived as part of President Xi’s plan to bring Taiwan under mainland control.
Tanks and infantry exercise last month. Picture: PLASource:Supplied
A New Year’s statement from the Chinese official in charge of Taiwan affairs accused Tsai’s party of obstruction and deliberate provocation. “The broad masses of Taiwan compatriots are strongly dissatisfied with the hostility caused by the DPP authorities across the Taiwan Strait,” Liu Jieyi, the director of the Taiwan Affairs Office, said, referring to Tsai’s party by its acronym.
“To achieve the complete reunification of the motherland and the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation is the common aspiration of all Chinese people,” he said in a message published in an official magazine.
Former deputy defence minister of Taiwan Lin Chong-Pin told the Post all these moves were about demonstrating the PLA’s strength.
“Prioritising military training and preparation for war is nothing more than a move to boost its diplomatic strength, which the PLA has been emphasising over the past four decades — though it has never gone into battle with any other country during that time,” Lin said.
“This comes at a time when the US has increased pressure on China with a series of military operations. But listen, I’m 100 per cent sure that the PLA will not be waging any war, no matter whether it’s in the South China Sea or the Taiwan Strait. It will only become more cautious when it starts rising more rapidly.”