Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday ordered the military to increase readiness to fight, visualize the worst scenarios, and urged them to defend the country's sovereignty resolutely. Although he mentioned no specific threat, his comments came in the midst of a clash between Indian and Chinese soldiers on the line of actual control (LAC).
The 66-year-old Xi, who is also the secretary general of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CPC) and head of the two million-strong military with a prospect of a lifetime in power, spoke at a plenary session of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) delegation and armed people police during the current parliamentary session in Beijing.
Xi ordered the military to think about worst-case scenarios, expand training and combat readiness, deal with all sorts of complex situations promptly and effectively, and resolutely maintain national sovereignty, security and development interests, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported without mentioning any specific problems that threatened the country.
In several areas along the LAC in Ladakh and North Sikkim, both the Indian and Chinese armies have recently developed strongly militarily, which is a clear signal for escalating tensions and an intensification of the respective positions by the two sides two weeks after their use represents two separate allusions. The almost 3,500 km long LAC is actually the border between the two countries.
China's military friction with the United States has also increased as the United States Navy strengthened its patrols in the controversial South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait. Washington and Beijing are also in a war of words over the origin of the coronavirus pandemic.
On May 22, China, the second largest military donor after the United States, increased its defense budget by 6.6 percent to $ 179 billion, almost three times the Indian budget. This was the lowest increase in recent years given the massive disruption to the giant communist economy by the COVID-19 pandemic.
India said the Chinese military was interfering with the normal patrol of its troops along the LAC in Ladakh and Sikkim and strongly refuted Beijing's claim that the escalating tension between the two armies was triggered by the penetration of Indian forces on the Chinese side.
The State Department said that all Indian activities were carried out on its side of the border, claiming that India had always followed a very responsible approach to border management. At the same time, India was determined to protect its sovereignty and security.
"Any suggestion that Indian troops in the Western Sikkim or Sikkim sector have undertaken activities across the LAC is not correct. Indian troops are very familiar with the line of actual control in the border areas between India and China and are diligent about it, "said MEA spokesman Anurag Srivastava at an online press conference last week.
(With input from PTI)