We have been warned that the region could be at war in the coming years.
It was not the Australian prime minister who uttered the words. Nor was it the defence minister or the Chief of the Defence Forces. Nor was it the president of the United States.
Ominously, the warnings have come from the senior leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Chinese leader Xi Jinping told the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to “focus all its energy on fighting” in preparation for war, the CCP publication the People’s Daily reported in November 2022.
Pictured in military clothing on a visit to the PLA command centre, Xi said the army must “comprehensively strengthen military training in preparation for war.”
“Focus all [your] energy on fighting, work hard on fighting, and improve [your] capability to win,” he was reported as saying. The army must also “resolutely defend national sovereignty and national security” as the country faces an “unstable and uncertain” future.
The outgoing Premier Li Keqiang reinforced Xi’s warnings in his final work report to the annual meeting of the Chinese parliament a week ago.
The “external attempts to suppress and contain China are escalating”, the report asserted. “The armed forces should intensify military training and preparedness across the board.”
“China’s armed forces should devote greater energy to training under combat conditions and boost combat preparedness.
“Our armed forces, with a focus on the goals for the centenary of the People’s Liberation Army in 2027, should work to carry out military operations, boost combat preparedness, and enhance military capabilities.”
His remarks came as the CCP announced a 7.2 percent increase in military expenditure.
Li’s remarks were followed by threats from the new foreign minister, Qin Gang, warning the U.S. of “conflict and confrontation” if it did not “hit the brakes.” He also spoke warmly of the regime’s relationship with Russia.
Commenting on Qin’s remarks, the Global Times described expressions such as the “Chinese debt trap,” “rules of international order,” and “democracy vs. authoritarianism” as “narrative traps” set by Washington, despite the fact that Xi himself has referred to a global contest between authoritarianism and democracy in which he asserts the Chinese system will prevail.
Xi told the party congress last year that he would never rule out the use of force to achieve “reunification” with Taiwan.
Observers could conclude that the remarks are just a further case of the bellicose nationalism uttered from time to time by Xi and his team.
It is not the first occasion that the General Secretary of the CCP has urged the PLA leadership to improve their combat readiness.
It is also pertinent to point to the absurdity of the claim that “external attempts to suppress and contain China are escalating.”
It is the CCP that is engaged in naked aggression against neighbours.
The Unrestricted Warfare List
China may not be engaged in a full-scale kinetic war, but it would be a grave mistake not to see the CCP’s activities as a hybrid war against the West.
First, there is the physical aggression that includes border clashes with India in the Himalayas, the militarisation of artificial islands in the South China Sea, the interception of foreign aircraft and vessels in international waters, and the firing of missiles over Taiwan and into Japanese waters.
In each case, the CCP is the aggressor.
Second, there are grey-zone activities, especially around the Philippine islands in the South China Sea.
Third, the CCP is engaged in a massive cyber war against the West, including Australia.
Fourth, it has various information-collecting surveillance devices, ranging from Tik Tok to security cameras capable of transmitting to China.
Fifth, there are credible reports of direct interference in elections, including in Canada and the Solomons Islands.
Sixth, it has been building ports and other facilities for use by both mercantile and military ships in strategic locations.
Seventh, it has engaged in a long-running exercise to steal intellectual property from the West for which a number of people have been convicted.
Eighth, agents of the United Front Work Department operate amongst the Chinese diaspora in many countries, spying on ethnic Chinese and promoting the CCP message.
Ninth, its Confucius Institutes spread pro-CCP propaganda in western nations, including Australia.
Tenth, it rejects the international rule of law, uses economic coercion as a strategic tool, and wantonly breaks agreements that no longer suit its purpose.
Other activities range from its “wolf warrior” diplomacy to flooding the illicit drug fentanyl into the United States and supporting other authoritarian regimes such as Russia.
This does not mean that the CCP is about to invade Taiwan, as there are many reasons for it to be cautious, but to ignore the hybrid war that the regime is prosecuting is foolish.
This week’s AUKUS announcement is a necessary response to the region’s security challenges.
It must be a part of a more comprehensive program to counter the CCP’s hybrid war.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.