Xi Jinping urged the military to “get ready for war” when he attended a plenary meeting of the People’s Liberation Army and People’s Armed Police Force’s delegation during the fifth session of the 13th National People’s Congress. Xi’s words have raised concerns about tensions in the Taiwan Strait at a sensitive time when Russia and Ukraine are at war.
Xi orders military to “prepare for war” at sensitive time
The Chinese Communist Party’s CCTV reported that on March 7, Xi Jinping attended a plenary meeting of the military and armed police forces delegation at the Fifth Session of the 13th National People’s Congress. Xi called for “running the military in accordance with the law and enhancing the rule of law in national defense and military building.”
He also called on the military to make sure they were prepared for war and help maintain local stability and deal with emergencies quickly.
During this sensitive period of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Xi’s urging the military to “get ready for war” has raised concerns about the tension in the Taiwan Strait.
Recently, the phrase “Ukraine today, Taiwan tomorrow” has become a hot topic on the Internet. Justin Huang, a 23-year-old recent university graduate in Taiwan, told the New York Times that he is worried Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could be a “tipping point” in the world order, leading the world to a new era where dictators can do whatever they want.
Huang said, “I can see how, after the crisis in Ukraine, it’s possible that China could find some reason to invade Taiwan in the near future.”
Eric Sayers and Dustin Walker, researchers at the Washington-based think tank American Enterprise Institute (AEI), wrote an article in Defense One on March 5, calling for more U.S. security assistance to Ukraine and stressing that the U.S. must not make the same mistake regarding Taiwan.
Former Chinese Military Official: Xi Jinping fails to have total control over military
At the meeting with military officials, Xi has reiterated the “Party’s absolute leadership over the military.” According to U.S.-based Chinese language media Da Ji Yuan, this signals Xi’s hidden concerns about the military.
Yao Cheng, a former Chinese Navy Commander who is familiar with the situation in the Chinese military, told Da Ji Yuan that Xi Jinping does not dare to use force easily because he does not have a firm grip on the military and is worried that if war starts, the military might turn its guns and not follow his order.
Yao Cheng said, although Xi Jinping took power in 2012 and has made substantial efforts to fight corruption in the military, including taking down Xu Caihou and Guo Boxiong, two former vice chairmen of the military commission, and more than 100 military officials, Xi has not touched Jiang Zemin, the former party leader behind the anti-Xi forces in the military, leaving a legacy of trouble. There are many two-faced people in the military still ready to fight back against Xi.
The former Chinese Navy Commander said Xi Jinping has repeatedly reiterated the “Party’s absolute leadership over the military,” meaning that he, as Party General Secretary, has absolute leadership of the military. But this reflects that Xi Jinping is not comfortable with the military.
Yao Cheng, who currently resides in the U.S., said that Xi Jinping has no experience in the military, and the military is not on the same line as him. Although in the role of chairman of the military commission, Xi Jinping has not been able to hold on to the “barrel of the gun.”
According to Da Ji Yuan, before the 20th CCP National Congress, the alleged investigation of Liu Yazhou, a CCP princeling in the military, created a signal of turmoil in the military. Princelings, or Crown Prince Party, are descendants of prominent and influential senior officials of the CCP.
Dr. Michael Pillsbury is a former advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Defense’s office and currently senior fellow and director for Chinese strategy at Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C. In February, he told Radio Free Asia that according to information he received, Liu was put into an investigation by the Disciplinary Committee of the Communist Party’s Central Military Commission late last year. Liu, the son-in-law of the late Chinese Communist Party patriarch Li Xiannian, was accused of “economic crimes and political problems.”
Yao Cheng told Da Ji Yuan that Liu Yazhou is a general and a member of the princeling party. If Xi wants to arrest a general who has retired for four or five years, it proves that he wants the military to support him to get reelected in the 20th National Congress.
Yao Cheng said that the opposition to Xi Jinping in the party is now too strong. He said, “Leaders like Liu Yazhou, to a certain extent, represent the opinions of political elders. So, Xi Jinping’s 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China is full of difficulties. Blood will fall. if it doesn’t go well, the party will be divided.”