Punches, kicks, stones and clubs. Those were the weapons that the Chinese army used in the last battle. It was a hand-to-hand battle at a height of 4,200 meters against the Indian forces on the Hi-alayan border. 260 So much was shared by both soldiers. Eight died on the Chinese side and twenty Indians. It took place in June 2020 and is the largest military exercise Beijing has had in recent years. To look for a conflict of any magnitude with the Chinese army, you have to go back to 1979, when North Vietnam invaded. At the time, China was a very poor country with a population that was licking the wounds of Mao Zedong’s recent Cultural Revolution and with a weak army.
What if China went to war with everyone in 2023? Some observers believe that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is limping in a very serious way: it lacks combat experience.
Beijing has not yet fought a major war with weapons in this century, but it has the largest army in the world: more than two million soldiers, of which almost a million are in action, ready for any war that may arise. . It should not be overlooked that it has about 340 long ships and submarines. Or 2,800 combat aircraft are available to him. Or the staggering 400 nuclear weapons in the arsenal, though the United States is far from the more than 3,700 operational.
The Chinese fighting force is still weak in some key areas compared to the American one. But Beijing’s plans or balance. Among the great exiles is President Xi Jinping, who is also the army chief and chairman of the Central Military Commission. “The armed forces must complete the entire modernization process by 2035 and be able to fight and win wars by 2049.” These are the 11 words that he repeats most often.
In short: Beijing is preparing a “world-class” super army that should “boost combat readiness.” These last two are also quoted from XI. Last Wednesday, he said them in a meeting with the leaders of the PLA in the session of the National People’s Congress (APN), the annual political chamber of the Chinese parliament, which just ended this Monday.
As a result of this event, Prime Minister Li Keqiang presented the military budget for this year, which is increased by 7.2% (1.5 trillion yuan, which is about 220,000 million dollars in exchange). This figure marked the largest increase in defense in the last four years. In addition, it reverses the traditional trend of military expansion, always in the background of economic growth, which this year was controlled at 5%.
In 1993 China was the ninth largest defense spender. Today it is second only to the USA. Already ex-premier Li, in front of all the representatives of the meeting to justify the reason for increasing the military, is sure that the effort to “control and contain China” will grow.
The same thread a day later in another parliamentary session by President Xi. “The Western countries, led by the United States, have implemented containment, blockade and repressive policy against us, which has generated serious challenges to the development of our unusual country”, released the president, opening what for many media the new tougher situation of the ambassadors in Beijing. In his decades at the helm of the world’s second largest power, Xi Jinping had never made such a direct speech telling his people that China was under attack from the West.
Expanding the focus a little more throughout the country, Chinese politicians these days have defended the need to defend more, because they favor all the countries that China has around it, and not precisely its allies. Japan presented a record military economy by doubling its military expenditure; India will grow as a budget by 13%; South Korea says it wants to be a nuclear power; Two days ago, Australia announced its idea to buy five nuclear-powered submarines from the US.
“The Pentagon’s budget this year (768,000 million dollars) is four times more than China’s. Other NATO members spend military services above 2% of GDP, while Beijing keeps them around 1.3%. It is clear that the main culprit behind the current tensions around the world is not China,” says Zhou Chenming , a researcher at Yuan Wang, a Beijing-based think tank specializing in military affairs.
From Washington, on the other hand, they accused the government of 11 years of camouflaging its true military spending. There have been many voices from the Biden administration and from US government officials who have accused the Chinese government of being inclined to make up their figures as it sees fit. The numbers may jump, but like any other military power, Beijing is also willing to flex its military muscle from time to time to show off its armor.
At the end of the year, on the occasion of the celebration of the Communist Party Congress, two ballistic missiles, Dongfeng-41 and Dongfeng-17, were exhibited to the public in the Beijing Exhibition Center, one of the first in China. . The DF-41, one of the longest-range missiles in the world (an intercontinental ballistic missile reaching more than 12,000 km), can carry multiple nuclear warheads – the Pentagon confirms that Beijing could have and reach some 1,500 long-range missiles by 2035. hit some part of the coast of the United States. Attached to the center of the DF-17’s weapon is a hypersonic lip vehicle that makes the weapon nearly impossible to intercept.
Along with these two rocks, the Sword GJ-11 Sharp drone, nicknamed the “sharp sword”, which has been precisely guided to shoot fortifications at almost a thousand kilometers per hour, was also presented at the show. The crown jewel of the Chinese army, which analysts say is the Asian giant’s key weapon, could be a key defense against a future invasion of Taiwan, a self-governing island that China considers a fragile province.
All these weapons also appeared in a series released by the Chinese state channel, where it also exhibited what PLA experts called “new generation weapons for the future war”. Like the “stealth missiles” that are DF-17 hypersonic missiles launched from mobile vehicles, equipped with artificial technology that could evade detection by satellites, radars and drones. And the propaganda war could not miss the most famous “air carrier killer” missiles, the DF-21D, a ballistic missile that carries multiple nuclear warheads and the DF-26B, which has a range of 4,000 km and can be used in nuclear attacks. weapons against land and naval ships.
Shortly before the military exhibition at the party meeting in the southern city of Zhuhai, directly facing the South China Sea dispute, there was a beautiful aircraft battle, with the highlight being the fighter-J-20, its most popular aircraft. with the US-made F-22, or the locally built J-15 based on the prototype of the Soviet-designed Su-33, which is a bike-based aircraft – Beijing already has three, although the US has 11. can carry a large ballistic weapon.
In addition to displaying planes and rockets in front of cameras and fairs, there have been frequent Chinese military maneuvers near Taiwan, including crossing the median line, the disputed sea border that separates the two countries. Although it was the largest show of force on the island, the mega-invasion exercise was carried out last summer in response to a provocative visit to Taipei by the then speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi.
The celebration of the great annual political meeting of China coincides with the first two rounds of military recruitment, which are usually held in the Asian region. Under military law, all males between the ages of 18 and 22 must register for service. But when push comes to shove, the authors often skip the mandatory entry because volunteers are usually more than enough to fill the list. These can extend an active role up to 12 years and more and more suitable profiles (university students who pursue scientific and technological careers). This was requested by President Xi Jinping, who these days has highlighted the need to recruit new talents for the sake of being a modern and well-armed army.