It isn’t that rare for a leader to review the nation’s troops. It is unusual, however, for President Xi Jinping of China to address the entire military at once, and seem to rally them for battle.
Xi had a surprisingly hardened and fatalistic message for China’s military this past week, when the often-quiet leader took on a staunch demeanor that seemed almost Soviet.
“President Xi Jinping has issued a blunt call for China’s military to be ready for war and unafraid to die defending the country, as geopolitical tensions mount in Asia,” reported Agence France-Presse, an international news wire based in Europe.
“Xi’s exhortation to the world’s largest fighting force, parts of which were revealed only late Thursday, came during what state media characterised as a rare address by the Chinese leader to the country’s entire military.”
The Chinese president addressed a gathering of soldiers Wednesday at the People’s Liberation Army’s Central Theater Command in a province near Beijing.
While a mass of troops and tanks assembled near Xi, military members throughout the large country also watched the president’s address over video.
Xi called on China’s forces to “neither fear hardship nor death,” and pushed for the military to be prepared for combat in the modern world.
“Create an elite and powerful force that is always ready for the fight, capable of combat and sure to win in order to fulfill the tasks bestowed by the Party and the people in the new era,” he ordered, according to AFP and the Chinese Xinhua news agency.
In a gesture that could be seen as eerily foreboding, Xi also reportedly visited an exhibit that commemorated battles the People’s Liberation Army fought against American and United Nations forces during the Korean War.
The Korean Peninsula, of course, has come under renewed scrutiny since that 1950-53 war. China may once again have a role to play in the region, but it’s still unclear if the powerful nation will be standing with the United States… or against it.
“Temperatures also have risen over North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un thumbing his nose at the world by repeatedly testing his country’s banned nuclear weapons and missiles, while exchanging tit-for-tat threats with US President Donald Trump,” the AFP reported.
“Analysts say Xi is very unlikely to risk putting China’s still-untested new prowess into an outright military confrontation,” the news wire continued. Nevertheless, it is clear that China will be involved in one way or another if the situation in Korea continues to crumble.
History does not always repeat itself, but it does have a tendency to rhyme, as the saying goes. It is possible that the United States will once again be embroiled in a struggle against communist North Korea — and it seems unlikely that China would sit passively as an observer.
Hopefully, leaders in China, including Xi, have realized that Kim Jong Un is a thorn in the side of the entire international community, and will not joined forces with his failing regime should push come to shove.
It seems that the ironic idiom that supposedly originated in ancient China is coming true: “May you live in interesting times.”
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