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China top army general wants higher defense budget in face of US tensions

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Chinese President Xi Jinping inspects troops at the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Hong Kong Garrison in Hong Kong, China. (File photo by Reuters)

A top Chinese army general says Beijing must increase its military spending in order to be prepared for a potential war with the United States, amid continued tensions between the two major powers.

General Xu Qiliang, second in command of the Chinese Armed Forces after President Xi Jinping, said that, “The military must step up its efforts to improve its capabilities” in the face of the “Thucydides Trap” and border disturbances.

The term “Thucydides Trap” refers to the idea of an inevitable conflict between a rising power and an established one. It was coined by a professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, Graham Allison, who has warned about the possibility of China’s displacement of the US as a superpower, which would possibly result in an armed conflict.

Xu told the annual gathering of China’s National People’s Congress on Friday, “The most important thing is internal unity and cohesion and improvement of overall capabilities. If you are strong, you will have long-term stability, as well as invincibility.”

The transcript of his remarks was released later.

In separate remarks, Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe said at the gathering that “containment and counter-containment will be the main tone of bilateral ties between China and US.”

During a 2015 visit to the US, President Xi warned that a “Thucydides Trap” wasn’t inevitable so long as countries avoided strategic miscalculations.

Last week, President Xi described the US as “the source of chaos in the present-day world” and ​“the biggest threat to our country’s development and security.”

A 24-page US national security strategy document was also released at the same time by the US President Joe Biden administration, describing China as a “strategic competitor.”

Ties between Washington and Beijing particularly soured under former US president Donald Trump, who clashed with China on trade, technology, and regional security, among other things.

The US regularly dispatches warships and warplanes to the South China Sea as part of what it describes as “freedom of navigation” patrols. China claims sovereignty over nearly the entire sea and has repeatedly warned Washington against military activities in the region.

Biden has not signaled a shift in the US posturing vis-à-vis Beijing.

China is also involved in a border dispute with India.


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