In a resolute declaration that has sent ripples across the globe, a high-ranking Chinese military official has affirmed China’s unwavering stance on Taiwan. General Zhang Youxia, Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Chinese Communist Party, made it abundantly clear that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) would “show no mercy” towards any attempts at Taiwan’s independence, regardless of the turmoil in China’s military leadership.
General Zhang’s statement came during the 10th Xiangshan Forum held in Beijing, a prominent annual event dedicated to military diplomacy. With over 1,800 attendees, including delegates from 99 nations, defense ministers, experts, and scholars, it was a significant gathering. Notably, the United States, amid tensions, sent a representative, marking a potential thaw in military-to-military communications.
However, this forum occurred against the backdrop of significant leadership changes within the Chinese military. The recent dismissal of former Defense Minister Li Shangfu raised questions, with many speculating that President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign may have played a more prominent role than military considerations.
China claims to have been cracking down on corruption within its military, a norm that has long persisted – keeping in mind that “corruption” is often an excuse to crack down on dissenters. Despite these efforts, some experts argue that the results have been limited, leaving Xi frustrated with the PLA’s ability to meet his expectations.
Roderick Lee, a research director at the U.S. Air University’s China Aerospace Studies Institute, pointed out that the corrupt system may have eroded Xi’s confidence in the PLA’s capabilities. Removing individuals from high positions may not necessarily make the PLA more stable, as the remaining officials may still be prone to corrupt activities.
While Xi’s anti-corruption campaign has made headlines, some believe that making the PLA less politicized and more transparent is the key to addressing the deeper issues. Without these reforms, China may risk not only losing the battle against corruption but also facing challenges in future conflicts.
Despite these internal issues, General Zhang’s resolute stance on Taiwan remained unchanged. His assertion that Taiwan is the “core of China’s core interests” underscores China’s firm commitment to reunification, by force if necessary.
As General Zhang spoke at the Xiangshan Forum, China escalated military pressure on Taiwan. Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense reported that the Chinese military had conducted 43 sorties by various military aircraft and dispatched seven ships to disrupt Taiwan within the previous 24 hours.
This heightened military activity has raised concerns, and some observers worry that China and the United States could face a critical moment before the inauguration of Taiwan’s new president next May. The situation underscores the need for vigilance and readiness in the region.
General Zhang’s unequivocal declaration at the Xiangshan Forum reaffirms China’s determination to prevent any move towards Taiwan’s independence.
Will the Biden Administration take this seriously?
Some advice: If someone says they are going to kill you, believe them.