China prepares army for war
China will step up its preparedness for armed combat and improve its ability to carry out military tasks, according to state media reports.
Speaking on the sidelines of the National People's Congress, President Xi Jinping said the coronavirus pandemic is affecting China's military standing, saying the country's defence forces need to up their preparedness for armed combat.
Mr Xi ordered the military to think about worst-case scenarios and battle preparedness, and be able to deal with complex situations and resolutely safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests, according to state-run Xinhua news agency.
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He said China's performance in fighting the new coronavirus has shown the success of military reform, and that the armed forces should explore new ways of training amid the pandemic.
Mr Xi's announcement comes as relations between China and Western countries continue to sour.
Earlier this week the Chinese government warned Australia to "distance" itself from an emerging "economic cold war" with the United States.
China is Australia's largest trading partner, while the US is one of our key strategic allies. But Beijing warned any show of support for the latter will deliver our economy a "fatal blow".
"If the Trump administration plunges the world into a 'new Cold War,' forcing China to take countermeasures against the US and its allies, it would be extremely dangerous for Canberra to become a player in a diplomatic club led by the US, given Australia's high dependence on the Chinese economy," an article in the state-run Global Times said.
"Once Australia is regarded as a supporter of the US in a 'new Cold War,' China-Australia economic ties will inevitably suffer a fatal blow.
"This is why Canberra needs to closely watch Washington's attacks which include placing Chinese firms on its sanctions backlist.
"This offers Canberra a window to observe whether there will be a 'new Cold War' between China and the US and to reconsider its strategic relations with Washington."
It went on: "Australia's economic deterrent force is much smaller than the US', so China to some extent will enjoy more room to fight back against Australia with countermeasures if Canberra supports Washington … it means Australia may feel more pain than the US."
Earlier this month, China targeted Australian exports of barley and beef, as Chinese diplomats criticised Australia's role in calling for an investigation into the coronavirus pandemic.
Originally published as China prepares for 'worst-case scenario'