Be ready to fight and win wars, Pres Xi Jinping tells China’s military
President Xi didn’t mention any country-specific threat the military should be prepared to face but China’s neighbours will be closely tracking his interactions with the armed forces.
Be ready to fight and win wars, President Xi Jinping ordered the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the world’s largest military, on Friday, instructing the troops to sharpen their combat capabilities and readiness for battle.
“The Central Military Commission (CMC) should lead the armed forces to be ready to fight and win wars, and to undertake the missions and tasks of the new era entrusted to them by the (Communist) Party and the people,” Xi said, while touring the joint battle command centre in military uniform.
Xi is the chairperson of the CMC, which acts as the command and control centre for the 2.3 million-strong PLA.
He didn’t mention any country-specific threat the military should be prepared to face – it was possibly more about sending a strong, sharp message to the rank and file of the armed forces.
But China’s neighbours, including India, would be closely tracking Xi’s interactions with the armed forces.
Xi was emphatic that the PLA should be capable of winning wars, saying it was an important part of the ruling Communist Party’s goal of “national rejuvenation”. He also ordered the troops to “conduct training under combat conditions”.
“The capability to win is strategically important in safeguarding national security, and strengthening that capability and combat readiness in the new era would provide strategic support to the realisation of the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation,” Xi was quoted as saying by official Xinhua news agency.
During the inspection, Xi had video chats with troops at frontier posts and at China’s first overseas military base in Djibouti, which military observers say reflects the country’s increasing military ambitions on a global scale.
“Xi encouraged those stationed in Djibouti to help promote international and regional peace and stability,” the report said.
A recurring theme of Xi’s recent interactions with the PLA top brass has been to emphasise the Communist Party’s control over the armed forces.
It was the same during his Friday meeting and also when he met senior military officers last week, soon after beginning his second tenure as the party’s general secretary and the CMC chairperson.
Last week, Xi told the military that over the past five years, the CMC “endeavored to build an army that follows the command of the CPC, is capable of winning battles and has a fine style of work”.
“It has been upholding the party’s absolute leadership over the armed forces, innovating military strategy, governing the army by law and promoting civil-military integration,” he said.
In the CMC’s recent reshuffle during the national congress of the Communist Party, Xi is said to have inducted senior military officers known to be close to him.
“The new CMC members will be loyal, honest and professional. They will have the exact opposite qualities of corrupt generals like Xu Caihou,” Ni Lexiong, a Shanghai-based military expert, recently told Hindustan Times.
Ni said China doesn’t regard India as its main military rival despite the border dispute and the recent standoff near the Sikkim border. “The main opponents are the US and Japan,” Ni said.