China must prepare for an “inevitable” war with a “dominant power,” says the country’s top general.
General Xu Qiliang, second in command of China’s armed forces after Xi Jinping, believes a major war is “inevitable” because China is rising as a military power.
“In the face of the Thucydides Trap and border problems, the military must speed up increasing its capacity,” said Xu, who is also a member of the Politburo, the Communist Party’s inner circle.
“[We] must make breakthroughs in combat methods and ability, and lay a sound foundation for military modernization.”
A “Thucydides Trap” was a term coined by a U.S. political scientist who believed war was “inevitable” between China, an emerging military power, and the United States.
The term is a reference to the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta which was ignited by Athens’ rise in power.
The “border problems” Xu refers to include its ongoing dispute with India over its shared 2100-mile-long border; however, China also has ambitions to defeat the United States if war erupts.
“Defense ministry spokesman Wu Qian said that part of the 6.8% defense budget increase this year would be spent on key projects in the next five-year plan to help the military reach its long-standing goal of catching up with the US in being able to ‘fight and win’ on the modern battlefield,” reported the South China Morning Post. “The rest would go on training, weapons procurement and salaries for the country’s two million soldiers, he said.”
The Chinese newspaper also reported that Xi Jinping said “there is no such thing as the so-called Thucydides Trap” during a 2015 speech in Seattle, which is noteworthy because if Xi actually believes that, it’s unlikely his second-in-command would openly contradict him.