US-China strategic rivalry has entered ‘high-risk period’: top Chinese officer

A Chinese top military official says the strategic rivalry between his country and the United States has entered a “high-risk period,” with Washington having intensified “the suppression and containment” of China since the cornavirus pandemic hit the globe.China’s Defense Minister Wei Fenghe told a gathering of top military officials that China needed to further bolster its fighting spirit as “the Sino-US strategic confrontation has entered a period of high risk.”“The United States has intensified the suppression and containment of our side since the [coronavirus] outbreak, and the Sino-US strategic confrontation has entered a period of high risk,” Wei said.

“We must strengthen our fighting spirit, be daring to fight and be good at fighting, and use fighting to promote stability,” he added.During the session, Zhu Cheng, head of the Chinese Air Force’s armament department, also said that rivalry between China and the West was intensifying in different fields, including the cyber, space, deep sea and biological spheres.He said that China needs to speed up “the application of home-grown innovative and revolutionary technologies.””We need to avoid the strategic vulnerabilities caused by generation lapse with the United States and the West,” he said.A navy officer told the session, “In the face of the US’s dogged confrontation and the sudden blow of the coronavirus pandemic, Chairman Xi [Jinping] has led us to overcome the difficulties and turn danger into opportunities.”On Wednesday, President Xi ordered the armed forces to “comprehensively” strengthen the training of troops and be prepared for war.

Beijing said it would boost defense spending by 6.6% this year, for the first time since such records were introduced in 1992.Relations between the two world powers have hit the lowest level in decades amid an escalation of the war of words over the pandemic, the Taiwan sovereignty and Hong Kong security law.In February, Pentagon chief Mark Esper described China as a rising threat to the world order during the Munich Security Conference, calling on the participants to side with Washington in getting prepared for “high intensity conflict against China.”

China to use force against Taiwan as last resort

Head of China’s parliament, Li Zhanshu said on Friday that Beijing will use force against Taiwan, “if the possibility for peaceful reunification is lost.”He said China will “take all necessary steps to resolutely smash any separatist plots or actions” in the self-ruled island.Li, who is also the ruling Communist Party’s third most senior leader, said Beijing does “not promise to abandon the use of force… to stabilize and control the situation in the Taiwan Strait.”Taiwan broke away from the mainland during a civil war in 1949, but China considers the self-ruled island part of its territory under the globally-recognized “One China” policy. Almost all world countries recognize Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan, including the United States. Washington, however,has been courting Taipei, in the form of extensive military cooperation, in an affront to Beijing.China has repeatedly warned against such US interactions with Taiwan.The Trump administration announced earlier this month that it had approved a potential $180 million arms sale to Taiwan.

Hong Kong warns US against revoking special status

In a related development, the semi-autonomous territory of Hong Kong warned the US against interfering in its internal affairs after the United States threatened to revoke the city’s special status over new a security law.“Any sanctions are a double-edged sword that will not only harm the interests of Hong Kong but also significantly those of the US,” Hong Kong’s government said late Thursday.China has introduced a national security law on the city as part of measures aimed at restoring calm to the city after seven months of violent anti-government protests last year.While Beijing insists that the issue is an internal affair, Washington has placed the issue before the UN Security Council.Trump, who was due to make an announcement on the matter later Friday, is likely planning to impose new sanctions on visas and Chinese access to the global financial system.Top administration officials have also threatened to revoke Hong Kong special trade status, which has provided the semi-autonomous territory with a free economy and a competitive tax regime.

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