The Chinese People’s Liberation Army has said in a commentary on its official website that the chances of war have become “more real” amid a more complex security situation in Asia Pacific.
The commentary written by an official at the National Defence Mobilisation Department in the Central Military Commission said the call for a US rebalancing of its strategy in Asia, military deployments in the East and South China Seas and the instillation of a missile defence system in South Korea were hot spots getting closer to ignition.
“‘A war within the president’s term’ or ‘war breaking out tonight’ are not just slogans, they are becoming a practical reality,” the commentary said.
The official People’s Daily said in another commentary that China’s military would conduct exercises on the high seas regardless of foreign provocations. China’s sole aircraft carrier Liaoning passed through the narrow Taiwan Strait last month.
The Chinese remarks were made in response to the aggressive rhetoric towards China from America’s new administration. They communicated a view from inside the Central Military Commission, which has overall authority of China’s armed forces.
Former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev has written in the Time magazine that he believes the world is preparing for another devastating war. “It all looks as if the world is preparing for war,” he has observed.
China is stepping up preparedness for a possible military conflict with the US as the Donald Trump presidency has increased the risk of hostilities breaking out, state media and military observers have said.
Beijing is bracing itself for a possible deterioration in Sino-US ties, with a particular emphasis on maritime security.
New White House spokesman Sean Spicer told a press conference earlier that the US will prevent China from taking over territory in international waters in the South China Sea.
Spicer said, “The US is going to make sure that we protect our interests there,” when asked about US President Donald Trump’s position on the South China Sea. “It’s a question of if those islands are in fact in international waters and not part of China proper, then yeah, we’re going to make sure that we defend international territories from being taken over by one country,” he said.
Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying responded by telling the US “to be cautious in what it says and does, so as to avoid harming the peace and stability in the region.”
The Chinese military is constantly prepared for possible military conflict whoever serves as US president, but Donald Trump’s possible “extreme approach” against China is dangerous, according to analysts.
The Chinese military has reportedly moved long range missiles closer to the north east border in Heilongjiang province – within firing range of the US.
Chinese social media has carried pictures claiming to show the Dongfeng-41 advanced intercontinental ballistic missile system near the Russian border.
Ian Storey, a senior fellow at ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore, told South China Morning Post that some of the comments from Trump’s key advisors and appointees suggested that the US may pursue a more hard line policy against Beijing in the South China Sea over the next four years
China has promoted Vice-Admiral Yuan Yubai, the former North Sea Fleet commander, to head the Southern Theatre Command, which focuses on the South China Sea. “Promoting naval officers to command theatres is aimed at utilising them to the maximum and getting ready to win wars,” Song Zhongping, a military affairs commentator at Phoenix TV, said.
The navy has been the focus of recent developments within the PLA, with massive investment and the construction of large numbers of ships, Song said.
China is involved in other disputes beyond the South China Sea, particularly with Taiwan. Sovereignty disputes with Japan in the East China Sea and concerns over the deployment of the missile shield in South Korea are other potential flashpoints.