The question of how the PLA should handle security risks including from India and the US dominated the PLA meetings, ET has learnt
China’s military establishment must be “prepared to respond” to complex and difficult situations as the country grapples with security challenges, President Xi Jinping has said, amid the People’s Liberation Army’s demand for upgrading infrastructure and training bases along the India border.
These were the first comments on military preparedness from the Chinese President since that country intensified its aggression along the Line of Actual Control with India, South China Sea, Taiwan Straits and the Senkaku Islands during the past year.
ET has learnt that Zhao Baorui, political commissar of the Western Theatre Command, which covers the frontier with India, during the sessions related to the National People’s Congress had called for more military funds for the border region to speed up construction of airports, roads and training bases.
The question of how the PLA should handle security risks including from India and the US dominated the PLA meetings, ET has learnt.
Last week, India asked China to complete the disengagement of troops at remaining friction points along the LAC in the Ladakh sector, saying this alone can set the stage for restoring normalcy in bilateral ties.
Xi, who also heads the Central Military Commission, made the remarks on Tuesday at a panel discussion attended by armed forces representatives, during the National People’s Congress, or the Parliamentary session. Xi also emphasised the need for “high-level strategic deterrence and a joint combat system”, and more technological innovation in the military, according to persons who tracked the NPC session.
Xi, according to people familiar with the NPC deliberations, expressed concern with the security situation in the country. The Chinese President is also understood to have urged the PLA to prepare for the complex security challenges facing the country, indicated one of the people cited above.
Xi’s remarks came after China’s defence minister, General Wei Fenghe, last Saturday called for the military to boost combat readiness, saying China’s national security had “entered a high-risk phase”.
Expressing similar sentiments as Xi, Wei also reportedly called for preparedness by the PLA, according to people familiar with the defence minister’s remarks at the NPC.
Wei also reportedly cautioned against US containment efforts vis a vis China.
The US tops the list of China’s geopolitical risks. Ongoing tensions over Taiwan and the South China Sea could lead to a military conflict between China and America, fear experts who track the region. Beijing recently released footage of its military conducting landing drills in the disputed South China Sea, days after US reconnaissance operations and a Taiwanese exercise simulating a mainland Chinese attack on its reefs.
Beijing recently announced a hike of 6.8% in its defence budget in 2021, and said it would boost spending on science and technology research and development by more than 7% over the next five years. Areas where more funds will be allocated include semiconductors, quantum and cloud computing, and artificial intelligence for both military and commercial use, according to a draft five-year plan.