Chinese President Xi Jinping on May 26 called on the military “to think about worst-case scenarios” and “scale up battle preparedness”.
He made the remarks during his annual meeting with the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA’s) representatives attending the National People’s Congress or Parliament in Beijing.
Mr. Xi had also referred to “battle preparedness” during his meeting with the PLA in 2019. This year, his speech focused on the post-pandemic situation, as he heard the PLA members of Parliament reporting on “strengthening training amid the epidemic, and accelerating capacity building on biosecurity defence”.
Mr. Xi said the epidemic “brought a profound impact on the global landscape and on China’s security and development as well”. He “ordered the military to think about worst-case scenarios, scale up training and battle preparedness, promptly and effectively deal with all sorts of complex situations and resolutely safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests,” the official Xinhua news agency reported.
While the comments are not new, Mr. Xi’s remarks will be closely parsed in India, amid the on-going border stand-off, and also in Taiwan, with heightened tensions. The NPC’s annual report this year for the first time mentioned “reunification” with Taiwan, a long-standing goal, without the usual prefix “peaceful”. China’s Defence Ministry spokesperson, PLA Senior Colonel Wu Qian, told reporters on May 26 that “Taiwan independence is a dead end”.
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Neither Senior Colonel Wu nor China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who addressed his annual press conference on May 24, were reported as referring to the current tensions with India.
China’s media has largely been silent on the tensions, barring the English-language Global Times , a Communist Party-run newspaper intended for an international audience.
A commentary in the paper on May 26 blamed India for the stand-off. “India in recent days has illegally constructed defence facilities across the border into Chinese territory in the Galwan Valley region, leaving Chinese border defence troops no other options but making necessary moves in response, and mounting the risk of escalating standoffs and conflicts between the two sides,” wrote Long Xingchun, a senior research fellow at Beijing Foreign Studies University. “Unlike previous standoffs, the latest border friction was not caused by accident, but was a planned move of New Delhi. India has been clearly and definitely aware that the Galwan Valley region is Chinese territory.”
“If India failed to stop such provocations as soon as possible,” he added, “it will impact on Beijing-New Delhi ties, and may even exceed the sort of intensity of the Doklam standoff.”