12/07/2011, 00.00

Hu Jintao tells Chinese Navy to prepare for war

Speaking to China’s Central Military Commission, the Chinese president told to Navy to pursue its “modernisation” and “make extended preparations for military combat” to “safeguard national security and world peace.” Meanwhile, military talks with the United States are underway in the capital.
Beijing (AsiaNews) – China's navy should “accelerate its transformation and modernisation” and “make extended preparations for military combat in order to make greater contributions to safeguard national security and world peace,” state news agency Xinhua quoted President Hu Jintao as saying. The word "warfare" was used in official media, but other translations said, “military struggle".

In an address to the Central Military Commission, in the presence of his probable successor, Vice President Xi Jinping, Hu insisted that, to achieve its goals, China’s Navy must continue its “modernisation”.

In November, China announced that it would conduct naval exercises in the Pacific Ocean, after Obama, who has dubbed himself America's first Pacific president, said the US would deploy up to 2,500 Marines in Australia.

Hu’s statement comes at time of heightened tensions in the South China Sea, where China is at loggerheads over two groups of islands with Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei, and in the East China Sea with Japan and South Korea.

Recent initiatives by US President Barack Obama have further upset Beijing. Along with Australia, the US leader has in fact said that he would boost US military presence in the Pacific. He also proposed a free trade agreement involving nine Pacific nations that would not initially include China.

For its part, China has bought an air carrier that it is refitting. And last year, it reiterated its full sovereignty over the South China Sea, claiming it is part of its vital interests, like Taiwan and Tibet.

Meanwhile, China and the United States have begun military talks. US Undersecretary of Defence Michelle Flournoy and her Chinese counterpart, Ma Xiaotian, are in Beijing to discuss the Korean Peninsula, the South China Sea and Taiwan, which China deems a rebel province, but which the United States wants to defend.
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