Xi Jinping called on his troops to be prepared for war

The president of China indicated that the goal is to “protect the country’s maritime interests and the development of maritime economy”.

Chinese President Xi Jinping called on the country’s Armed Forces on Thursday to prepare for military conflicts at sea, a request that comes shortly after a collision between Chinese and Filipino ships in disputed waters in the South China Sea.

The president indicated that the goal is to “protect the country’s maritime interests and the development of maritime economy” and emphasized the importance of creating a “cyberspace defense system” and enhancing the capabilities of the “national security network.”

He made these remarks at the start of China’s annual National People’s Congress session, where he underscored the importance of deploying “strategic capabilities in emerging areas.”

On the same day, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi stated that China will continue to “legitimately” defend its rights in the South China Sea during a press conference at the plenary session. “Others should not be allowed to abuse good faith. Distorting maritime laws cannot be accepted,” he asserted.

“We will take justified measures to defend our rights in accordance with the law and in the face of unnecessary provocations. We will respond with legitimate and appropriate measures,” he clarified, pointing to the Philippines and the United States as responsible for escalating tension in the region.

“We hope that certain countries outside the region will set aside provocations and refrain from causing more problems in the South China Sea,” Wang said.

Last Tuesday, the Philippines and China accused each other of a new collision between coast guard vessels in a disputed area of the South China Sea, adding to several incidents between their ships in recent months.

Since Ferdinand Marcos Jr. assumed the presidency last year, the Philippines, which leaned towards China during Rodrigo Duterte’s presidency (2016-2022), has shifted course to strengthen its historical security alliance with the United States, particularly in response to increased harassment by Chinese vessels.

In 2023, Manila and Washington agreed to grant American troops access to four bases in the country, three of which are located in the northern archipelago.

China and the Philippines have a sovereignty dispute over several islands and atolls in the South China Sea, which Beijing claims almost entirely for “historical reasons,” competing for territory with Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Brunei.

These waters are a strategic area through which one-third of global trade flows, housing significant fisheries and energy resources.

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