China’s Xi Tells Military to Prepare for War as US Navy Warns of High Seas Encounters
Chinese President Xi Jinping told military officials responsible for the disputed South China Sea to be better “prepared for war” as tensions with the US are rising. Beijing may be bracing for a worst-case scenario with the US.
Xi made the blunt remarks last week as he was meeting the Southern Theatre Command, the military officials responsible for one of China’s five strategic war zones. The calls were made on Thursday as part of his four-day visit to Guangdong province, but the Chinese state media reported them only on Friday.
“It’s necessary to strengthen the mission… and concentrate preparations for fighting a war,” President Xi said. “We need to take all complex situations into consideration and make emergency plans accordingly.
We have to step up combat readiness exercises, joint exercises and confrontational exercises to enhance servicemen’s capabilities and preparation for war.
One of the key responsibilities of the Southern Theater Command is protecting China’s interests in the South China Sea, where Beijing claims sovereignty over a number of islands. The sea is of strategic importance to Chinese trade. The US rejects the territorial claims and has been sending so-called Freedom of Navigation missions through the waters and airspace, which Beijing considers its own, as a gesture of defiance.
Chief of US Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson said Tuesday the US and China “will meet each other more and more on the high seas” as the two nations confront each other in the South China Sea.