Chinese President Xi Jinping called on China’s military leadership to strengthen its solidarity with the Communist Party as he warned of potential armed conflict and security concerns at the country’s border with Afghanistan.
Xi on Friday said China should be prepared for “military struggle” as the United States is set to withdraw from Afghanistan by September 11 of this year. Xi made the remarks about strengthening the country’s military prowess ahead of the 94th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) formation. Beijing officials have for months expressed concerns that the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan is stirring up a Taliban resurgence and inviting regional instability.
Xi and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi this week said the U.S. pullout could provide Uyghur separatists with a base of terror operations in which they could conduct attacks against the CCP in the Western region of Xinjiang.
And on China’s eastern borders, British and American naval warships have stepped up their presence in the South China Sea and challenged Beijing’s claim to the international trade waters.
“On the path of completely building a modern socialist country and realizing the second centennial goal, national defense and the military must be placed in a more important position, and the consolidation of national defense and a strong military must be accelerated,” Xi said Friday, according to the South China Morning Post.
“We must persist in strengthening the overall planning of war and make preparations for military struggle,” the Chinese president added.
The CCP’s Qiushi journal noted that Xi also ordered the People’s Liberation Army to be “absolutely loyal” to the Communist Party and he claimed that the country’s system of absolute leadership is a military advantage for China in comparison to Western democracies.
Wang hosted a delegation of the Taliban led by the group’s political committee head, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, on Wednesday.
Xi took over as president of the Central Military Commission eight years ago and has consistently pushed the PLA to be prepared for war in any theater. Xi also led a massive overhaul of the country’s military forces in 2015 in order to modernize the Chinese military. Xi echoed this same sentiment on Friday, urging military and party leaders to push for massive technological developments within their armed forces.
“It is necessary to promote high-level scientific and technological self-reliance, accelerate research on key core technologies, accelerate the development of strategic, cutting-edge and disruptive technologies,” Xi said.
Newsweek reached out to Chinese envoy officials in Washington for additional remarks on the effects of the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan but did not hear back in time for publication.