Xi Jinping’s comments came amid a face-off between the militaries of India and China at the Line of Actual Control (LAC)
Beijing: Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday ordered the military to scale up the battle preparedness, visualising the worst-case scenarios and asked them to resolutely defend the country’s sovereignty. Though he did no mention any specific threat, his comments came amid a face-off between soldiers of India and China at the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
Xi, 66 who is also the General Secretary of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) and head of the two-million-strong military with prospects of lifelong tenure in power, made the remarks while attending a plenary meeting of the delegation of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and People’s Armed Police Force during the current parliament session being held in Beijing.
Xi ordered the military to think about worst-case scenarios, scale up training and battle preparedness, promptly and effectively deal with all sorts of complex situations and resolutely safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests, state-run Xinhua news agency reported, without mentioning any specific issues that posed a threat to the country.
Several areas along the LAC in Ladakh and North Sikkim have witnessed major military build-up by both the Indian and Chinese armies recently, in a clear signal of escalating tension and hardening of respective positions by the two sides even two weeks after they were engaged in two separate face-offs. The nearly 3,500-km-long LAC is the de-facto border between the two countries.
China’s military friction with the US has also been on the rise with the American navy stepping its patrols in the disputed South China Sea as well as the Taiwan Straits. Washington and Beijing are also engaged in a war of words over the origin of the coronavirus pandemic.
On May 22, China, the second-largest military spender after the US, hiked its defence budget by 6.6 per cent to $179 billion, nearly three times that of India, the lowest increment in recent years amidst the massive disruption caused to the communist giant’s economy by the COVID-19 pandemic.
India has said the Chinese military was hindering normal patrolling by its troops along the LAC in Ladakh and Sikkim and strongly refuted Beijing’s contention that the escalating tension between the two armies was triggered by trespassing of Indian forces across the Chinese side.
The Ministry of External Affairs said all Indian activities were carried out on its side of the border, asserting that India has always taken a very responsible approach towards border management. At the same time, it said, India was deeply committed to protect its sovereignty and security.
“Any suggestion that Indian troops had undertaken activity across the LAC in the Western sector or the Sikkim sector is not accurate. Indian troops are fully familiar with the alignment of the Line of Actual Control in the India-China border areas and abide by it scrupulously,” MEA Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said at an online media briefing last week.
(With inputs from PTI)