Xi Jingping is purging China‘s military and bringing in generals willing to go to war in a move that could lead to an invasion of Taiwan and drag the Unites States into World War Three, military analysts have said.
The Chinese leader, seen by many as a dictator, is ‘trying to gain control of the military,’ Gordon Chang told Business Insider, adding: ‘I think that he is thinking that he needs officers who are prepared to actually fight.’
According to Chang, author of ‘China Is Going to War’, Xi feels ‘that many of China’s general officers don’t want to fight.’ As a result, he said, the Chinese premier sees ‘a force led by an officer corps that is ambivalent about going to war.’
China claims self-ruled Taiwan as its territory, and fears have grown in recent years that Xi is planning an invasion in the coming years, in the face of increasingly hostile rhetoric and simulated blockades of the island.
Beijing has never renounced the use of force to take what it views as a renegade province, and Xi has said that unification is inevitable.
Xi Jingping (pictured on January 12) is purging China ‘s military and bringing in generals willing to go to war in a move that could lead to an invasion of Taiwan and drag the Unites States into World War Three, military analysts have said
China claims self-ruled Taiwan as its territory, and fears have grown in recent years that Xi is planning an invasion in the coming years, in the face of increasingly hostile rhetoric and simulated blockades of the island. But China has been involved in other flash points, too. Pictured: Chinese soldiers take part in a simulated beach assault
Since taking power in 2012, he has overhauled Beijing’s military forces with a series of reforms while also cutting its personnel, working to improve military-civilian corporation and reshaping its structure.
On December 29, 2023, he dismissed nine senior offices in one go, a move that analysts and US intelligence suggested was to root out corruption.
Chang, however, told Business Insider that this theory misses the point ‘because if that were the case, all of them would be sacked.’ Instead, he believes that it was likely the officers who were struck off were reluctant to go to war.
He pointed to one example, that of Chinese Air Force General Liu Yazhou, who warned against an invasion of Taiwan.
In February 2022 he received a suspended death sentence.
Joel Wuthnow, another expert on China, told Business Insider that the removals suggest Xi is ‘concerned ‘about the quality of people and equipment he has invested in over the last decade’ and that he fears he cannot rely on his military.
The publication reported that the nine dismissed commanders had been involved in China’s Rocket Force, which Wuthnow said would play a critical role in any military campaign ordered by Beijing.
China has been hostile to its neighbours in recent years.
It has become increasingly aggressive in the South China Sea, with its navy often coming into close contact with Filipino vessels.
Military officers and delegates wearing face masks leave after attending the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, March 3. Xi has purged military commanders in a move experts have said is to rid his forces of leaders who are reluctant to go to war
Beijing has also clashed with Japan over the disputed Senkaku Islands, using its fishing industry to bolster its claim.
There have also been clashes between China and India in the Galwan Valley in the Himalayas which has seen soldiers clashing with melee weapons.
In 2021, China admitted to losing four of its troops in the fighting.
But perhaps the most concerning flash point is Taiwan, which just on Saturday elected a new president who is opposed to reunification with China.
China has encroached on Taiwan’s air defence zone several times over the past five years, prompting fears that an invasion is on the horizon.
In September 2023, the Chinese military conducted its largest ever maritime war simulation. It included Beijing’s Shandong aircraft carrier as well as 20 other warships, while dozens of warplanes breached Taiwan’s airspace.
Chang, however, told Business Insider that it is impossible to predict where a big flare-up could come from first, despite Xi increasing his war-like rhetoric.
In his New Year’s address to the nation, Xi said China ‘will surely be reunified, and all Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Strait should be bound by a common sense of purpose and share in the glory of the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.’
Xi also reportedly told US President Joe Biden of his intention to take Taiwan.
Wuthnow, however, said that the Chinese leader is now more cautious about any assault on the island after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
He has seen how the war has shaken fellow autocrat Vladimir Putin’s position in Russia, and the West’s support for Kyiv.
China has been hostile to its neighbours in recent years, with flash-points occurring around Taiwan, the South China sea and on China’s border with India
But Chang warned that all the conditions are in place for World War Three, with conflict spreading on multiple fronts across the globe.
He pointed to Ukraine, Israel’s war on Hamas in Gaza along with military activity in the Read Sea (and fears that conflict could spread in the middle east), as well as insurgencies in Africa.
Chang pointed to the run-up to the Second World War in 1930s and how separate wars merged into what we now know as World War II.
‘The same dynamics exist today, and it’s entirely possible, and some people can even argue that it’s probable that these will merge into a global conflict,’ he said, predicting that a conflict in East Asia would drag in Western countries.