Chinese President Xi Jinping has ordered the country’s military forces to ramp up their “combat readiness” from a new a starting point and boost efforts towards developing a strong military.
"The world is facing a period of major changes never seen in a century, and China is still in an important period of strategic opportunity for development," China’s state-run news agency Xinhua quoted Xi as saying.
President Xi’s appeal was made during a meeting of the country’s top military brass at the meeting of the Chinese Military Commission (CMC) in Beijing on Friday. The general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CPC), Xi is also the chairman of the Central Military Commission.
The Chinese leader also signed a mobilisation order for the training of the armed forces, the CMC's first order in 2019.
“… the armed forces had resolutely safeguarded national sovereignty, security and development interests and withstood complex situations and severe struggles, said President Xi.
The remarks come amid a tense trade standoff with the US and just days after Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen rejected President’s Xi’s call of Taiwan’s re-unification with China. China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea have also been a source of friction with its smaller maritime neighbours in the east and south-east Asian region.
Taiwan’s leader, President Tsai Ing-wen has also appealed for international solidarity to protect the country’s democratic values, as she rebuffed President Xi’s call that Taiwan “will and must be” reunified with China.
The US, UN and other western powers have been critical of China’s artificial island-building activity in the South China Sea.
Xi said at Thursday’s meeting that the armed forces must be ready to respond quickly and effectively to contingencies, further ordering “all work, forces and resources to focus on military preparedness and ensure marked progress in this regard.”