Just as U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen sets foot in Beijing, Chinese President Xi Jinping has made a significant move. Xi, in a visit to the Eastern Theater Command’s headquarters on Thursday, urged the Chinese military to heighten their war planning and combat readiness, state media reported.
According to state-owned Xinhua, Xi underscored the importance of fostering the theater command’s development and preparedness for war. This comes after inspecting the headquarters of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) division, primarily responsible for potential operations in Taiwan and the East China Sea.
Xi noted the increasing uncertainty in China’s security situation amidst a globally unstable period. He emphasized that this necessitates the Chinese military to intensify their training for war, even as U.S. officials have made continuous efforts in recent weeks to mend ties and alleviate Beijing’s fears over what it perceives as its most significant geopolitical threat.
In Xi’s words, “As the world has entered a new period of turbulence and transformation, China’s security situation is facing rising instability and uncertainty.”
In his triple role as president, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, and chairman of the Central Military Commission, Xi called for vigilance and “all-out efforts” to execute the duties associated with the Eastern Theater Command’s area of responsibility.
His demands extended to intensifying war planning and combat, fortifying command and control, and increasing training under combat-like conditions “to raise the forces’ capabilities to fight and win,” Xinhua reported.
This past April, Xi visited the Southern Theater Command headquarters responsible for operations in the South China Sea, an area riddled with territorial disputes and frequent U.S. Navy transits.
U.S.-China relations have been increasingly tense due to China’s controversial trade practices and its sovereignty claims over Taiwan, a democratically governed region.
During her four-day China tour, Treasury Secretary Yellen aims to meet China’s Premier Li Qiang. She is expected to voice U.S. opposition to an absolute economic disentanglement from China while expressing concerns over China’s extensive espionage law, as per Reuters.
In her recent Twitter post, Yellen stated, “We seek a healthy economic competition that benefits American workers and firms and to collaborate on global challenges.”
She went on to add, “We will take action to protect our national security when needed, and this trip presents an opportunity to communicate and avoid miscommunication or misunderstanding.”
Yellen’s visit comes in the wake of Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s unsuccessful attempt in June to reestablish military communication lines that have remained unresponsive for several months. Additionally, Climate Envoy John Kerry is expected to visit China later this month, Reuters reports.