Chinese military celebrates 95th anniversary; flexes muscles to deter U.S.


The Hindu

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Chinese military celebrates 95th anniversary; flexes muscles to deter U.S. House Speaker Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan

China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the world’s largest military, on Monday celebrated its 95th anniversary, flexing its muscles to deter U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s purported plan to visit Taiwan that has fuelled tension with Beijing.

Pelosi confirmed on Sunday she will lead a congressional delegation to Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan but was conspicuously silent about a possible stopover at Taiwan, the self-governing island that China claims as part of its mainland.
Chinese soldiers guard an entrance to the military camp with the slogan “Serve the People” in Beijing on August 1, 2022

The proposed visit drew a fiery warning from President Xi Jinping in his last Thursday’s phone conversation with his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden, asserting that “those who play with fire will perish by it”. Beijing sees official American contact with Taiwan as encouragement to make its decades-old de facto independence permanent.

Coinciding with its 95th Army Day celebrations on Monday, the two-million-strong PLA highlighted some of its latest achievements in weaponry and equipment development and realistic combat preparations to warn “Taiwan independence” secessionist and external interfering forces.

The PLA revealed new progress has been made in its advanced weaponry and equipment, including its hypersonic missile, amphibious assault ship, aerial tanker and large destroyers, all of which are described by military analysts as having important roles to play if a conflict breaks out in the Taiwan Straits, state-run Global Times reported on Monday.

State broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) on Saturday released a video titled “The capabilities of the Chinese troops shown in 81 seconds” showing the launch of a DF-17 hypersonic missile from a transporter erector launcher on a highway in a desert.

The missile can hit stationary and moving targets in the South China Sea, the Taiwan Straits and Northeast Asia, including aircraft carriers, Global Times report said.

While Pelosi’s visit overshadowed PLA’s anniversary, observers say the Chinese military is steadily gaining ascendency in the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) especially under the leadership of Xi, who besides being the President and head of the CPC is also Chairman of the all-powerful Central Military Commission (CMC), the overall high-command of the PLA.

Xi, 68, who is widely expected to get an unprecedented third five-year term in power or perhaps for life at the key CPC Congress to be held in the next few months unlike his predecessors is the lone civilian in the CMC dominated by the top brass of the PLA.

While Xi, since he took over power in 2012, has been insisting that the PLA should mandatorily function under the CPC, which he said holds the gun, the military which remained his power base is gaining its influence in the 92-million-member Communist Party.

Observers say that the military functioned as a bloc in various key party bodies. Studies showed that PLA has two members out of 25 politburo members while in the Central Committee, the other influential body, the PLA accounts for around 20% of the 205 permanent and 171 alternate members.

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