China Ready for War? Xi Jinping Braces for “Extreme” Scenarios Amidst Tensions With the West
In a time of uncertain geopolitical dynamics, President Xi Jinping of China has increased rhetoric, calling for his nation to be prepared for “extreme scenarios.” With relations between China and the United States becoming increasingly strained, Xi is bolstering China’s resilience and fortifying its economy against potential conflicts.
Drawing on historical parallels, Xi’s language resonates with Mao Zedong’s tactic of dramatizing foreign threats to consolidate power. While Xi has previously alluded to external risks, his recent emphasis on extreme scenarios following his condemnation of U.S. actions in March has raised concerns among analysts. Jin Canrong, an influential foreign-policy scholar, even suggested that these extreme scenarios allude to the “danger of war.”
Xi’s repeated calls for preparation came to the forefront during a high-level meeting focused on national security. Speaking on May 30, Xi emphasized the importance of withstanding the test of “high winds, choppy waters, and even dangerous storms.” Subsequently, during a visit to an industrial park in Inner Mongolia, Xi extended this notion to the economic sphere, stressing the necessity of ensuring the normal operation of the national economy under extreme circumstances.
Liu Pengyu, spokesman at the Chinese Embassy in Washington, expressed Xi’s desire for bilateral relations to move forward without collision but also highlighted the need for both sides to work together to prevent the crossing of red lines, particularly regarding sensitive issues like Taiwan.
The recurrence of this “extreme” wording is not limited to the central government but is also being echoed at local levels across the country. Local leaders from Shanghai to Hunan have vowed to prepare their systems for extreme circumstances without divulging further details.
Xi Jinping, having secured an unprecedented third term in power, has consistently signaled the potential for choppier relations with the West, especially the United States. He has identified building a geopolitically resilient economy, reducing dependence on foreign markets and technology, as a crucial goal for the next five years.
Senior aides, such as former Vice Premier Liu He and his successor He Lifeng, have been entrusted with formulating plans to sustain the Chinese economy in the face of escalated U.S. and Western sanctions—an eventuality that could arise in the event of conflict.
Undoubtedly, Xi’s sense of urgency stems from China’s perception of increased challenges from Washington, particularly concerning the eventual reunification with Taiwan. While there are no immediate signs of Chinese military action, symbolic gestures and increased incursions into Taiwan’s air-defense zone have fueled tensions. Chinese officials have been framing the situation as an attempt by the U.S. to provoke China into war, similar to how China has described Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
Paradoxically, as Beijing tries to mend fences with the foreign business community and attract foreign investment, it faces its own economic woes. The recent treatment of foreign businesses, including raids and investigations, has heightened concerns among global companies about expanding in China amidst geopolitical tensions.
Xi’s approach of simultaneously preparing for worsened tensions and attempting to improve relations demonstrates his determination to safeguard China’s interests on multiple fronts. During his visit to Inner Mongolia, Xi symbolically called on the army to “forge the Great Wall of Steel to defend the country and defend the border,” underscoring his commitment to safeguarding China’s territorial integrity.
As the world watches China navigate these uncertain times, it remains clear in this author’s opinion that Xi Jinping is determined to continue his quest for domination. By preparing for “extreme” scenarios he pushes his agenda, engages in brinksmanship with the Western world, and consolidates his power within China. Whether these measures will ultimately change course to a resolution of tensions with the West or escalate them further is yet to be seen. However, one thing is certain: Xi Jinping is preparing China for any eventuality, clearing the path to move their agenda forward.