'China steps up preparedness for military conflict with US'

China steps up preparedness for military conflict with US

China is stepping up preparedness for a possible military conflict with the US as President Donald Trump has signalled that he will follow a more

China is stepping up preparedness for a possible military conflict with the US as President Donald Trump has signalled that he will follow a more hardline policy to counter Beijing's claims on the disputed South China Sea and on other issues, official media reports said.

A commentary in the official website of People's Liberation Army's (PLA) said on January 20, the day Trump assumed Presidency, that the chances of war have become "more real" amid a more complex security situation in the Asia Pacific.

The commentary written by an official at the national defence mobilisation department in the Central Military Commission, China's overall military high command, said the US call for rebalancing of its strategy in Asia, military deployments in the East and South China Seas and the setting up of a missile defence system in South Korea were hot spots getting closer to ignition.

"'A war within the President's term' or 'war breaking out tonight' are not just slogans, they are becoming a practical reality," Hong Kong based South China Morning Post quoted the commentary as saying.

The official People's Daily said in another commentary on Sunday that China's military would conduct exercises on the high seas regardless of foreign provocations. China's sole aircraft carrier Liaoning had passed through the narrow Taiwan Strait last month.

The commentary referred to remarks by the US secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson that the US should stop China's access to artificial islands it has built in disputed areas of the South China Sea.

New White House spokesman Sean Spicer said that the US would prevent China from taking over territory in international waters in the South China Sea.

With their threats to China, Trump and Tillerson are making "rookie blunders" that will only hurt US credibility, the commentary said.

"Tillerson's statement was too arrogant. If the new US administration follows this route and adopts this attitude, then it will lead to a war between China and the US and that would mean the end of US history or even all of humanity," Jin Canrong, associate dean of the Department of International Studies at Renmin University of China, told state-run Global Times.

"Although the US is planning to send three aircraft- carriers to the West Pacific region, if they invade the South China Sea, we have the ability to destroy them all even if they send 10, let alone three," Jin said.

"The islands with airports that we have built in the area are 'unsinkable aircraft carriers' and compared to US aircraft carriers, they have more advantage to some extent," he said.

Ian Storey, a senior fellow at ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore, said some of the comments from Trump's key advisors and appointees suggest that the US may pursue a more hardline policy against Beijing in the South China Sea over the next four years.

"As it's highly unlikely that China will compromise its sovereignty claims in the face of US pressure, we can be sure that the dispute will increasingly become a risky point of contention between Beijing and Washington," he told the Post.

During his visit to the military installations on January 25 ahead of the Chinese new year, Chinese President Xi Jinping has called on the military to improve its combat readiness.

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