5, January 2019
Chinese President Xi Jinping has ordered the country’s armed forces to get prepared for a “comprehensive military struggle” amid escalating tensions with the United States.
Addressing a meeting of the Central Military Commission in Beijing Friday, the president urged the armed forces to strengthen their sense of urgency and do everything possible to prepare for battle.
Xi said the world is in an era of drastic changes and “China is still in an important period of strategic opportunity for development,” Xinhua news agency quoted him as saying.
He said various predicable and unpredictable risks and challenges have been arising and that the armed forces needed to be able to respond quickly to emergencies and nurture new types of combat forces.
Xi’s remarks follow his speech on the 40th anniversary of a key Taiwan policy statement in which he said Beijing would make no promise to renounce the use of force and reserved the option of taking all necessary means to achieve “reunification” with Taiwan.
China claims sovereignty over Taiwan, and almost all world countries recognize that sovereignty under a policy known as “One China.”
‘Sinking US warships will resolve tensions’
A senior naval official said recently that tensions with the US will easily be resolved if the Chinese naval forces sink two of American warships in the South China Sea.
The deputy head of a Chinese military academy Admiral Lou Yuan said in an address late last month that “what the United States fears the most is taking casualties.”
He said sinking one carrier only would kill 5,000 and sinking two would double that number.
Beijing should, Lou said, deal with Washington by using an “asymmetric counter-attack,” that is “use our strengths to attack the enemy’s weaknesses. Whatever the enemy fears, we strike. Wherever the enemy is soft, we will exploit it.”
US military presence in the sea has long been a source of concern for Beijing which claims almost the entire South China Sea.
Beijing has also warned Washington that close encounters by air and naval forces of the two countries in the region could easily trigger miscalculation or even accidents at sea or in air.
The US, however, says military operations are meant to protect “freedom of navigation” in the sea, a gateway for trillions of dollars in maritime trade each year.
Taiwan appeals for support
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, who accuses Beijing of interfering in the island’s political and social development, called on Saturday for international support.
“We hope that the international community takes it seriously and can voice support and help us,” Tsai told reporters in the capital Taipei.
She said if the international community did not support her government, “we might have to ask which country might be next.”
Taiwan has already lost several allies one after another since Tsai took office in 2016. Only last year, it lost three allies, who switched diplomatic allegiance to Beijing, leaving Taiwan now with just 17.
China says Taiwan is historically part of its territory, with no right to formal diplomatic ties of its own with other countries.
Almost all countries, including the US, recognize Chinese sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan. Washington, however, has long courted Taipei in an attempt to counter China.
US President Donald Trump signed the so-called Taiwan Travel Act last year, which encourages high-level visits between the two sides, despite Beijing’s strong opposition.
Taiwan and the mainland separated amid a civil war in 1949. Beijing has vowed to bring the island under its control — by force if necessary.