Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Xi Jinping urged the regime’s military to deepen war and combat planning, as Sino-U.S. relations continue to sour and the tension in the Taiwan Strait intensifies.
Mr. Xi inspected the Eastern Theater Command on July 6 and met with representatives of officers and soldiers when he made the comments, according to state media Xinhua.
Mr. Xi claimed that the world has entered a new period of turmoil and change and China’s security situation has become more unstable and uncertain. He required the military to “deepen war and combat planning to increase the chances of victory in actual combat.”
The Eastern Theater Command was established in February 2016 after the CCP’s military reform. It mainly governs the armed forces in East China (Jiangsu, Shanghai, Zhejiang, Fujian, Jiangxi, and Anhui provinces). Headquartered in Nanjing of Jiangsu Province, it’s responsible for the security of eastern China, including the East China Sea, the Taiwan Strait, and the Pacific Ocean. In the past 7 years, the Eastern Theater has performed many military exercises and cruises targeting Taiwan.
Aiming at Taiwan
Chang Yanting, former deputy commander of Taiwan’s Air Force and visiting professor at Tsinghua University in Taiwan, told The Epoch Times on July 7 that Mr. Xi’s emphasis on military readiness and preparation for war is closely related to the current international environment. “It’s including the military tensions between the United States and mainland China, as well as economic wars, financial wars, trade wars, technology wars, and so on. The CCP is now emphasizing ‘deepening war and combat planning,’ which is envisioning the United States as its opponent, intending to deter the United States from intervention in the Taiwan Strait.”
A missile from the rocket force of the Eastern Theater Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) takes part in operations during the combat readiness patrol and military exercises around Taiwan, on April 7, 2023. (Liu Mingsong/Xinhua via AP)
Mr. Chang said, “He [Xi Jinping] wants to strengthen preparations for war, and the Taiwanese cannot take it lightly. Especially the United States believes that from 2025 to 2027 is the most dangerous time for Taiwan. I don’t think we should take it lightly, and we must strengthen our military preparations.”
However, Mr. Chang pointed out that if the CCP wages a war over Taiwan, it will face a very complicated international situation.
“Once war breaks out, the CCP is not just facing Taiwan. Warships from Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia, the United States, and even Europe, including France and Germany will all come to join the fight. Will they fire at these warships or not? They are in the Taiwan Strait over there. Once the CCP hit any of them, according to the North Atlantic Treaty, if one country is attacked, it will be regarded as all countries are attacked. As long as the United States has a warship attacked in the Taiwan Strait, the other 30 countries will support the United States,” Mr. Chang said.
Military commentator Yang Wei told The Epoch Times on July 6 that Mr. Xi’s sudden visit to the Eastern Theater Command could not be ruled out to demonstrate his control of the CCP military. “After the Wagner mutiny in Russia, the leaders of the CCP seemed to be frightened. They may intend to show that [their] military power is stable and show the outside world that there will be no mutiny or coup,” Mr. Yang said.
Former Lieutenant Colonel Yao Cheng of the Chinese Navy Command told The Epoch Times on July 6 that both the Southern Theater Command and the Eastern Theater Command are responsible for the fight in the Taiwan Strait. “But the CCP’s military is not monolithic. Because Xi is now cleansing the military, the morale of the military is not stable, and he wants to win the hearts of them.”
Mr. Xi told the military officers in the Eastern Theater Command during his tour that they should “adhere to the direction and enhance the awareness of urgency,” “dare to fight and be good at fighting,” etc.
The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) conducts a routine Taiwan Strait transit on Feb. 4, 2021. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Markus Castaneda/U.S. 7th Fleet)
Mr. Yao said that the sense of urgency is Mr. Xi’s own sense of urgency, not the military’s. “The military and Xi Jinping are not of one mind in fighting wars. They are unwilling to fight battles that cannot be won,” he said.
“I’ve learned from my contacts in the military that more than 90% of them are unwilling to fight. If Xi wages a war, now he’s facing the siege of the United States, Japan, and the whole world. How do you fight that? You see how strong the United States is, plus Japan, Taiwan, including the entire NATO, the whole world is fighting against it [CCP],” Mr. Yao said.
Mr. Yao added that Mr. Xi’s emphasis on “daring to fight” is because the CCP’s military is afraid of war. “The military doesn’t listen to him anymore. If he pressures the military to start a war, they may turn their guns towards him and arrest him,” Mr. Yao said.
Luo Ya and Ning Haizhong contributed to this report.