China's Xi tells military to be prepared amid sea tensions
BEIJING, China - New Chinese Communist Party chief Xi Jinping urged his army to prepare for a struggle during a visit to a southern Chinese military base, state media reported on Wednesday (December 12), amid tensions with neighbouring countries over maritime disputes.
In footage broadcast by China Central Television (CCTV), the recently-appointed head of the country's military boarded a South China Sea fleet ship in Guangdong province, climbed inside a tank and also observed a display of the ground forces.
The country's future president has been making a three-day inspection of the People's Liberation Army's (PLA's) Guangzhou base starting last Saturday (December 9), his first major trip since he was official appointed party chief.
China's claims over most of the South China Sea have set it directly against United States allies Vietnam and the Philippines, while Brunei, Taiwan and Malaysia also claim parts of the mineral-rich waters.
On Wednesday (December 12), Filipino officials said that Washington and Manila system.scripts.are expected to agree on an increase in the number of U.S. military ships, aircraft and troops rotating through the Philippines.
Xi, who assumed the role of military chief about a month ago, called on the 2.3-million-strong People's Liberation Army to "push forward preparations for a military struggle", state news agency Xinhua reported, though he did not specify against whom.
"To be able to wage war, and win war, is the key to a strong military. The entire military must be constructed with waging war as its standard," Xi told gathered officers.
Xi also said the army should "modernise" for combat readiness, but gave no specific details, Xinhua reported.
"Running the military according to law, running the military strictly, is the foundation of strong military. We must ensure the military's high-level centralisation and unity from the outset," he said.
Philippines, Australia and other parts of the region have seen a resurgence of U.S. warships, planes and personnel under Washington's so-called "pivot" in foreign, economic and security policy towards Asia announced last year.
One U.S. official said Washington was not ready to wade directly into the territorial dispute in the South China Sea and instead would focus on strengthening security ties with long-standing allies such as the Philippines.