BEIJING (AFP) – China’s military training this year will focus on “improving fighting capacity” to win “local wars”, the defence ministry said Thursday, with Beijing embroiled in several territorial disputes.
The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has been tasked with improving its ability to “win battles” by President Xi Jinping, its commander-in-chief, who has also pushed a high-profile campaign to root out corruption in the world’s biggest military.
“The PLA will firmly uphold the criteria of improving fighting capacity,” defence ministry spokesman Senior Colonel Yang Yujun told reporters when asked about the military’s exercise plans this year.
The army would also “take part in more joint exercise training and competition with foreign militaries so as to improve the capability of winning local wars”, he said at a regular briefing.
Yang did not elaborate on the meaning of “local wars” but China has been involved in occasionally tense confrontations with Japan and the Philippines over maritime disputes in the East China Sea and South China Sea respectively, amid fears that the disputes could result in armed clashes.
Japan and China have long been at odds over the sovereignty of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea which Japan administers and calls the Senkakus but which China claims as the Diaoyus.
The countries previously agreed in principle to set up a maritime hotline in a bid to avoid clashes but further discussions were suspended after relations soured in 2012 when the Japanese government angered China by nationalising some of the islands.