‘Don’t fear death’: China’s Xi urges blunt call to PLA

President Xi Jinping has issued a blunt call for China’s military to be ready for war and unafraid to die defending the country, as geopolitical tensions mount in Asia. Xi’s exhortation to the world’s largest fighting force, parts of which were revealed only late Thursday, came during what state media characterized as a rare address by the Chinese leader to the country’s entire military. Xi cemented his status as China’s most powerful leader in decades during an October Communist Party congress, and this week’s rhetoric and images of massed soldiers and tanks seemed designed to back up his new strongman image. China’s military personnel should “neither fear hardship nor death,” Xi told thousands of military personnel during an inspection visit Wednesday to the People’s Liberation Army’s Central Theater Command in northern Hebei province, according to the official Xinhua news agency. Xi also called for the military, a once-backward force whose rapid modernization over recent years has raised alarm in Asia and Washington, to continue upgrading. He urged the PLA to step up research into high-tech means of warfare and engage in “real combat training”, Xinhua said. “Create an elite and powerful force that is always ready for the fight, capable of combat and sure to win in order to fulfil the tasks bestowed by the Party and the people in the new era,” he was quoted saying. As head of the Communist Party’s Central Military Commission, Xi is commander-in-chief of China’s more than two-million-strong armed forces. Xinhua called Xi’s address…

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