On July 24, 2019, China released a white paper titled ‘China’s National Defence in the New Era’. The Chinese Defence Ministry released this document which includes an examination of the international security atmosphere and demarcates the Chinese defence and security policy through a thorough official explanation.
The white paper released on Wednesday stands as a document that calls for an explanation to China’s defence policy, military reforms, missions and defence expenditure. The document also particularly calls to promote security and stability in the Indo-China border.
A careful and considerate solution to provide for “favourable conditions” to peacefully resolve the Doklam crisis. This could be taken as an indication of China’s commitment to improving ties with India.
This document has very aggressively taken a stand against America’s influence in Taiwan. The Chinese authorities have reiterated that Beijing shall assert its de cure sovereignty regarding the status of Taiwan.
The Taiwan situation has been called “the most important and sensitive issue in China-US relations.” The Defence Ministry spokesperson Wu Qian warned that the attempts for Taiwanese independence are futile. He further warned the separatist faction in Taiwan that any such attempts would be seen as an attack on China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. China has also made a strong resolve to combat the growing separatism in Tibet and Xinjiang region.
The tensions in Taiwan has been growing and has reached a tipping point when the self-ruled island nation formally favoured independence from China. The Taiwanese authorities have been engaging with the US and have allegedly signed a 2.2 billion USD agreement in weapons that include Stinger missiles and M1A2T Abrams tanks.
“If there are people who dare to try to split Taiwan from the country, China’s military will be ready to go to war to firmly safeguard national sovereignty, unity, and territorial integrity,” said Wu during the press conference for releasing the document.
China has, in turn, imposed sanctions on the US companies that are engaged in arms trade with Taiwan. The Chinese authorities have suggested a peaceful resolution on the matter but warned separatist factions and other parties involved with aggressive action upon instigation.
The US Navy sent in a warship through the Taiwan Strait (separation between Taiwan and China), this would more than likely irritate China especially amidst the current tensions between the two nations. China has also called out America on its hegemonic tendencies and accused the US of ‘undermining global stability.’
Taiwan is seen as one of the growing flashpoints in the US-China relationship. The US sanctions on China, trade wars and the increasing Chinese military influence in the South China Sea where the US operates as well are all major situational factors of growing concern.
Though the document can be seen as a pejorative towards transparency, very limited information has been revealed. The white paper does have a very strong political message but fails to qualitatively outline military strategies.
The report projects Xi Jinping as an assertive leader with an aggressive demand for domestic stability and can be sought to double down on the situation in Taiwan and the South China Sea. As the relations between the US and China intensifies it is imperative that the content of the white paper document is seriously considered.
The document ushers in an era of innovation within China and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) that would transform future military balance. It is important to recognise and understand their ambitions, reforms, advancements and resolve to mitigate consequences in the near future.