China must “be prepared” for war amid escalating territorial disputes with neighboring countries that have increased the risk of military conflict in recent months, the Chinese Communist Party newspaper Global Times argued on Friday.
In an editorial titled “China must be militarily and morally prepared for war,” Global Times editor-in-chief Hu Xijin claimed that although the Chinese people do not want war, Beijing’s worsening territorial disputes with other countries, such as India, threaten to disrupt the status quo.
China is currently engaged in “territorial disputes with several neighboring countries encouraged by the U.S. to confront China,” Hu claimed. “Some of these countries believe that the U.S. support provides them with a strategic opportunity and try to treat China outrageously. They believe that China, under the U.S.’ strategic pressure, is afraid, unwilling, or unable to engage in military conflict with them.”
The addition of other conflicts outside of South Asia, such Beijing’s illegal efforts to conquer the South China Sea – specifically its stated aim to “reunify” Taiwan, a sovereign island bordering the sea, with China by force if necessary – means that “the risk of the Chinese mainland being forced into a war has risen sharply in recent times,” according to Hu.
“Chinese society must therefore have real courage to engage calmly in a war that aims to protect core interests and be prepared to bear the cost,” he added.
“We are confident to win on the battlefield if conflicts are fought with neighboring forces that have territorial disputes with China. Similarly, if there is a war with the U.S. near China’s coastal waters, we also have a good chance of victory,” Hu predicted.
The editor proposed a list of five actions China should take “[b]efore engaging in war with a neighboring force.” The fifth proposal states that Beijing “must deliver an ultimatum in advance so that a just war can be started in an upright manner,” though Hu adds that this action should be taken “only in extreme situations, if we need to fire the first shots.”
China’s territorial conflicts with both India and Taiwan continue to escalate. On Thursday, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said that Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) warplanes violated Taiwanese airspace for the second consecutive day this week. The ministry condemned the intrusions as “a destabilizing action which threatened regional peace.”
China and India have been engaged in a border standoff in the western Himalayas since May. The conflict caused the deadliest border clash in 45 years between the two nations’ border regiments on June 15. On Monday, both sides accused each other of firing at opposing border regiments near India’s northern Ladakh territory. If true, the incident would mark the first gunshots fired along the India-China border in 45 years. The defense ministers of both nations met this week in Moscow for diplomatic talks described by Chinese media as the “last chance” to avoid war.