Amid coronavirus pandemic, President Xi wants PLA to step up combat readiness

New DelhiEdited By: Palki SharmaUpdated: May 28, 2020, 07:35 AM IST

Chinese Army (representative image). Photograph:(Reuters)

Story highlights

Xi Jinping wants the defence forces to push for independent and original innovations in defence despite the backlash over the Wuhan virus cover-up

On the sidelines of the National People’s Congress, members of China’s defence forces welcomed President Xi Jinping with a round of applause and the Chinese president had nothing but praise for the PLA.

"The fight against the COVID-19 epidemic is a test for our army. The People's Liberation Army has followed the party's command, responded rapidly upon orders and played an important role and made outstanding contributions to the fight against the epidemic. Facts have proved once again that the People's Army is always a heroic army that the party and the people can fully trust," Xi Jinping said.

The meeting on the sidelines of China’s Parliament session is an annual affair but, the circumstances are much different this time with China facing the world’s wrath over the virus from Wuhan and its leader wants his forces to prepare for war.

Xi Jinping is not just the president of China, he is the general secretary of the Communist Party and the chairman of the central military commission which was created by Xi himself.

The entire chain of command of China’s defence forces runs back to the Chinese president. It gives him complete control over the People’s Liberation Army. So, when Xi Jinping speaks on military strategy the generals listen.

The statements from President Xi are cues which determine the focus areas for the PLA. On Tuesday, the Chinese president had set the agenda for the PLA. He wants his troops to stay on the offensive for the rest of this year beyond combat preparedness, the Chinese president wants the military to strengthen its training.

Xi wants the troops to remain flexible and come up with new training methods, keeping in mind epidemic prevention and control. The technology is set to play a vital role in Chinese military operations.

Xi Jinping wants the defence forces to push for independent and original innovations in defence despite the backlash over the Wuhan virus cover-up, the PLA will not take a backseat.

China is under pressure to revive its economy after the outbreak and the budget constraints are obvious but, the country still went ahead and increased the military budget which now touches $179 billion.

As China wraps up its National People’s Congress, the PLA is keeping a close eye in the South China Sea including Hong Kong, Taiwan as well as along the border with India. World powers are making moves to make China pay but, they shouldn’t take their eyes off the PLA.