The recent military orders that Beijing introduced appear to suggest that China might be preparing to launch a war in the South China Sea or Taiwan or against U.S. military targets. On January 4, Xi Jinping signed the first Central Military Commission order of 2021. That order stressed that the PLA should use Xi’s thought as the guide while strengthening the party’s leadership in the military. It stated, “Focus on preparations for war.” “Comprehensively improve real time combat training and the ability to win,” and the PLA must practice combat training to ensure it is ready to fight at any time. Prior to this, there were two other orders that went into effect on January 1: “Regulations on Military Logistics” and the Amendment to the “National Defense Law.” In the Amendment to the “National Defense Law,” it gave legal grounds to launch a war if China feels that there is threat to its national interest.
Coincidentally, on January 4, the same day that Xi signed the first military order, U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo and Billingslea, the Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control, published a joint opinion paper urging Beijing to come clean on the nuclear weapons threat and buildup. It warned that the U.S. has the knowledge of Beijing nuclear development despite Beijing’s secrecy about its activities. It called for China’s transparency and for it to join the U.S. and Russia in crafting a new arms control agreement. In the opinion paper, it stated that “over the past four years, the Trump administration has awakened the world to the China challenge. Beijing’s two-decades-long asymmetric arms race is a core part of that challenge. It endangers the American homeland, our strategic positions in the Indo-Pacific, and our allies and partners. It is of concern to all peace-loving nations. We’ve briefed allies, partners and even the highest levels of the Russian government on China’s nuclear buildup.”
1. Xinhua, January 4, 2021
2. Newsweek, January 4, 2021