During a visit to a military base in Guangdong, Chinese President Xi Jinping has asked the military to "prepare for war." Since the pandemic began, China has been facing global criticism with the U.S. leading from the front. With the U.S. praising Taiwan and its Coronavirus response, besides a potential weapons deal, Beijing isn't pleased.
While the aim was to deliver a speech to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone that played an important role in China's economic development, Xi paid a visit to the People's Liberation Army Marine Corps base in Chaozhou City for inspection. He asked the troops to "put all minds and energy on preparing for war" and "maintain a state of high alert."
Xi, who is also the chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), said the PLA Navy Marine Corps "shoulders the important duties of safeguarding the country's sovereignty security, territorial integrity, maritime interests, and overseas interests." He added that the force should focus on combat-oriented training according to Xinhua, the country's state-run news agency.
China, at present, is fighting on multiple fronts. The relations with Washington have deteriorated sharply over the last few months due to the Coronavirus pandemic and trade dispute, while the escalating tensions in the South and the East China Sea are also a cause of concern for Beijing. Apart from that, the recent border clash between Indian and Chinese troops at Galwan valley has stoked further tensions in the region.
However, that's not all. Over the last few months, Washington has grown closer with Taiwan and China fears that American support will harm its "One-China" policy. The U.S. has also pushed for a weapons deal with Taiwan that will see the country getting the advanced High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS). With China's heavy-handed approach towards Taiwan, the deal can bring the two countries closer to war than ever.
Taiwan, despite being an autonomous region, is considered a part of China's territory with United Nations support. But Taiwan considers itself independent and under Tsai Ing Wen's leadership, the country has been vocal against China. In August, the U.S. Health Secretary Alex Azar's visit to Taiwan marked the first formal visit in four decades by an American cabinet position holder, bypassing Chinese authorities.
It was unprecedented and the Chinese disapproval was evident in the following weeks. Beijing increased military drills with over 40 fighter jets crossing the median line between China and Taiwan. A serious military escalation cannot be ruled out if Taiwan gets the HIMARS from the U.S. Xi has often refused to rule out using military force to bring Taiwan under its fold. Thus, with Washington's growing relationship with the self-regulated island nation, China is feeling insecure.
China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian has consistently criticized Washington's arms sales and has asked to cut all ties with Taiwan. "China urges the U.S. side to fully recognize the very damaging nature of its arms sales to Taiwan, abide by the one-China principle and the provisions of the three China-US joint communiquÃ©s, immediately cancel all arms sales plans to Taiwan, and stop arms sales to Taiwan and military ties," he said, adding that China will make a necessary reaction in the light of the development.
It goes without saying that if China draws up a battle plan against Taiwan, the U.S. might get involved if Donald Trump wins his re-election bid.