Communist Party (CCP) leader Xi Jinping is ordering China’s military to comprehensively strengthen its preparations for war, even as the regime reveals its latest hypersonic weapon.
Xi said that the Party’s military branch must train for any war and be prepared for unforeseen conflicts.
He said the military must devote all its energy toward combat readiness and work to “enhance its capability to fight and win,” according to Chinese state-owned media outlet Xinhua.
The military “must implement the Party’s idea of strengthening the army in the new era,” Xi said, using a term for the CCP’s vision of a new historical age in which China is the world’s leading power.
Xi delivered the comments during a Nov. 8 inspection of the joint operations command center of the Central Military Commission, China’s highest defense body, of which he is chairman.
The inspection coincided with a bellicose display at the regime’s fourth annual air show, during which it publicly displayed its most advanced fighter jet for the first time and unveiled a new hypersonic missile apparently designed to target U.S. forces.
Also on display was the regime’s most advanced aircraft, the J-20 stealth fighter. Little is known about the J-20 other than that it appears to be a clone of the American F-35, likely made with stolen design technologies. It remains unclear whether the Chinese military will use the aircraft in an all-purpose role, the same way the United States uses the F-35, or if it will specialize in one particular domain, such as air superiority.
The aircraft entered service in 2017, and while there are still many unknowns about its capabilities and use, U.S. forces have had a close encounter with it.
“We recently had, I wouldn’t call it an engagement, but we got relatively close to the J-20s with our F-35s in the East China Sea and were relatively impressed with the command and control that was associated with the J-20s,” said Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, commander of the Pacific Air Forces, during a March 14 interview with the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.
The regime also used the air show to publicly unveil its latest weapon, an export version of the YJ-21 hypersonic missile.
The YJ-21, commonly referred to as the Eagle Strike 21, has a combat range of more than 1,200 miles and can fly at speeds exceeding Mach 12. The system, dubbed a “carrier killer,” appears designed to target U.S. aircraft carriers operating in the Indo-Pacific.
While the two missiles on display were air-launch systems—that is, designed for use by aircraft—the missile was launched from the sea when it was test fired in April. At that time, a version of the missile was launched from a vertical system on a Type 055 destroyer, one of China’s most advanced warships. At the time, Naval News said the deployment of the missile would make the Type 055 “the most heavily armed warships worldwide.”