China’s Politburo Focuses on ‘Preparing for War’ at Recent Meeting

China’s Politburo Focuses on ‘Preparing for War’ at Recent Meeting
Chinese troops march during a military parade in Tiananmen Square in Beijing on Oct. 1, 2019. (Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images)

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s top decision-making body, the Politburo Standing Committee, held a meeting on Nov. 30 and discussed new military regulations in order to “prepare for war.” But one analyst believes that it is merely a bluff and part of a propaganda strategy to intimidate Taiwan and the United States.

According to Beijing’s official mouthpiece Xinhua News Agency, Chinese leader Xi Jinping presided over the Politburo meeting and discussed military regulations, with an emphasis on “preparing for war by integrating political work into all links [chain of command] of combat effectiveness.” Xi is head of the CCP’s armed forces, known as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

To strengthen the military, Xi’s political doctrine (known as “Xi Jinping Thought”—Xi’s version of socialist ideology) must be implemented and followed at all levels so that the Party can forge communist soldiers who can serve the regime well, Xinhua reported.

During the meeting, Xi ordered the relevant departments of the Military Commission to strengthen overall coordination and to “improve its combat capability,” which indicates that the military is still lacking in combat skills.

The meeting also focused on the United Front Work Department (UFWD) and emphasized its role in mobilizing all “positive factors” in order to support the military. During World War II and China’s civil war, the CCP used the UFWD for espionage, fund raising, propaganda and other activities to assist its war effort. The regime said that Party committees at all levels must fully understand the importance of the UFWD and to “strengthen the planning and deployment of United Front work,” the report said.

Xi has recently rallied the country’s troops to “prepare for war.”

On Nov. 25, Xi attended the military training meeting of the Central Military Commission, during which he ordered the military to “prepare for war.” He acknowledged that China’s security environment “has undergone new changes,” which requires the military to be more vigilant, to strengthen strategic planning and “train under real combat conditions” in order to “raise their capability of winning wars,” Xinhua reported.

On Oct. 13, Xi inspected a marine base in Chaozhou city, Guangdong Province. He told the marines to “prepare for war” and stressed the importance of upholding the CCP’s leadership.

Li Linyi, a U.S.-based China commentator, believes that Xi is worried about the instability of the regime but is not serious about going to war.

“The so-called war will not happen when the rhetoric of it is too high-profile. If you really want to fight a war, then it would not be publicized that much. The purpose of the high-profile war propaganda is to put some pressure on Taiwan and the United States. That’s it. At the same time, it [CCP] must satisfy the domestic nationalistic sentiments,” he said.

The Chinese regime has sharply escalated military pressure on Taiwan in recent months. The CCP considers the self-ruled island as part of its territory and has never ruled out using force to bring it under the Party’s control.

As of Oct. 7, the PLA has sent 1,710 aircraft and 1,029 vessels into Taiwan’s defense zone, prompting the island to scramble nearly 3,000 jets in response, according to Taiwan’s Defense Minister Yen De-Fa.

The PLA aircraft have crossed the sensitive “median line” of the Taiwan Strait—a demarcation that has served as an unofficial buffer zone—almost 50 times so far this year, the highest since 1990.

Meanwhile, the United States continues to step up its cooperation with Taiwan, drawing Beijing’s ire. Washington announced on Nov. 3 that it is moving ahead with large arms sales to the island, including advanced drones and related equipment.
Ling Yun and Cathy He contributed to this report.