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China’s leader warns country to prepare for ‘real combat’

By Sarah May
|
April 14, 2023

Amid growing concerns about the potential of an imminent Chinese incursion into Taiwan, President Xi Jinping has instructed his country's military forces to prepare for “real combat,” as the U.K. Independent reports.

Xi's words come on the heels of China's recent military exercises around the self-governing territory over which Beijing claims sovereignty.

Strength, innovation urged

The Chinese leader's words came as he inspected his military's Southern Theatre Command Navy this week and will likely be seen by many as a signal as a hastening of his designs on Taiwan.

According to the Daily Mail, Xi declared that it is incumbent upon his  People's Liberation Army to approach military engagements “firmly and with flexibility.”

“You must strengthen real combat training,” Xi reportedly said, adding that his military must “resolutely defend China's territorial sovereignty and maritime interests and strive to protect overall peripheral stability.”

Xi further asserted a need for the military to bolster its ability to swiftly react and mobilize in response to complex situations, as the Independent noted.

War games just concluded

The words of the Chinese president follow several days of “war games” meant to replicate a bombardment and blockade of Taiwan.

Those exercises were launched, as the New York Post noted, as an expression of disapproval with Taiwanese President Tsai Ingwen's decision to meet with Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (CA-20) in Los Angeles.

A statement issued by the People's Liberation Army's Eastern Theater Command indicated that the exercises near Taiwan included combat readiness patrols and so-called “Joint Sword” maneuvers.

“This is a serious warning to the Taiwan independence separatist forces and external forces' collusion and provocation, and it is a necessary action to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the statement declared.

“Stormy seas”

On the topic of the Taiwanese president's meeting with McCarthy, Zhu Fenglian of China's Taiwan Affairs Office struck a tone of warning, saying, “Tsai Ingwen brought danger to Taiwan. [She] almost completely sided [with] the U.S., pushing Taiwan into stormy seas,” as the Mail noted.

The Taiwanese defense ministry suggested that China seized upon the McCarthy meeting “as an excuse to carry out military exercises, which has seriously damaged regional peace, stability, and security,” according to the Post.

Officials in Taipei pledged to closely monitor the situation and to respond as necessary in defense of the island's continued security and independence.

“The military will respond with a calm, rational, and serious attitude and will stand guard and monitor in accordance with the principles of 'not escalating disputes' to defend national sovereignty and national security,” officials stated.

“Trying to get ready”

Acknowledging the apparently escalatory message from Beijing, Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu flatly stated that China appears as though it is “trying to get ready to launch a war against Taiwan,” according to the Mail.

Wu also went to lengths to underscore the increased efforts on the part of Taiwan's military to enhance the island's own defenses.

“Chinese leaders will think twice before they decide to use force against Taiwan,” Wu said.

Despite those expressions of confidence, however, Xi recently informed European Union head Ursula von der Leyen that it was “wishful thinking” for world leaders to expect China to compromise with regard to Taiwan, as the Post noted, and given the orders Xi just gave to his military, Wu's prediction that a launch of hostilities is in the offing sometime soon could well prove true.