Belligerent as ever: China’s focus on military modernisation ominous for India - The Tribune India

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Belligerent as ever

China’s focus on military modernisation ominous for India

Belligerent as ever

President Xi Jinping. AP/PTI file photo



On course to get a third five-year term, Chinese President Xi Jinping has announced that his country’s military modernisation programme would continue at full steam over the next five years. He has set his sights on expeditiously making the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), which will celebrate its centenary in 2027, an armed force of world-class standards, even as the long-term goal is to achieve ‘the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation’ by 2049. Xi has declared that the Chinese military will intensify troop training and combat preparedness to ‘fight and win’ wars, along with establishing a strong system of strategic deterrence. Cocking a snook at the US, he has warned that China will not renounce the use of force to unify Taiwan with the mainland.

Xi’s speech at the 20th National Congress of the ruling Communist Party makes it obvious that he is in no mood to tone down his belligerent rhetoric, even though the world’s second largest economy is in the throes of a slowdown, triggered by the draconian zero-Covid policy and the Russia-Ukraine war. National security and sovereignty are likely to take precedence over economic resurgence as China looks to throw its weight around on a larger scale. The accelerating pace of Beijing’s nuclear expansion should be a major cause for concern for the international community: China is expected to have up to 700 deliverable nuclear warheads by 2027, and at least 1,000 by 2030, according to a Pentagon report.

Though India did not find a mention in Xi’s address, the presence of military commander Qi Fabao, who was injured in the 2020 Galwan valley clash, among the delegates and the screening of video clips of the bloody faceoff in the Great Hall of People were clearly aimed at rubbing New Delhi the wrong way. The PLA’s modernisation overdrive makes it incumbent on the Indian armed forces to considerably raise their level of battle preparedness. In view of China’s incorrigibly overbearing demeanour, the challenging task of achieving jointness of the three services under the supervision of the new CDS needs to be completed on priority.


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