As tensions rise between China and its neighbors over disputed maritime boundaries in the South China Sea, and the U.S. plays an increasingly active role in the region, President Hu Jintao spoke to the Navy and urged them to prepare for “warfare”. From AFP:
Addressing the powerful Central Military Commission, Hu said: “Our work must closely encircle the main theme of national defence and military building.”
His comments, which were posted in a statement on a government website, come as the United States and Beijing’s neighbours have expressed concerns over its naval ambitions, particularly in the South China Sea.
Several Asian nations have competing claims over parts of the South China Sea, believed to encompass huge oil and gas reserves, while China claims it all. One-third of global seaborne trade passes through the region.
Vietnam and the Philippines have accused Chinese forces of increasing aggression there.
In a translation of Hu’s comments, the official Xinhua news agency quoted the president as saying China’s navy should “make extended preparations for warfare.”
UPDATE: On Twitter, @fravel points out that AFP originally mistranslated the key phrase in Hu’s speech as “military combat” instead of warfare.
Read more about China, the U.S. and the South China Sea from CDT, including an analysis from our contributor Scott Greene.