Xi Jinping completes nationwide tour of military bases

Xi Jinping has finished a nationwide tour of military bases in three months post his election, goading the forces to be combat ready.

Beijing: As the Chinese military flexed its muscle amid flaring up of territorial disputes with neighbours, China`s new Communist Party leader Xi Jinping has finished a nationwide tour of military bases in three months post his election, goading the forces to be combat ready.

Xi, who succeeded Hu Jintao in November as the General Secretary of the CPC took over as Chief of the world`s largest standing military of 2.3 million immediately after that.

He took over as Chairman of the CPC`s Central Military Commission, the powerful body that controlled all wings of the military immediately after that and is due to take over as President next month when Hu formally retires.

Besides revamping the party and establishing his control over its apparatus by appointing new provincial Chiefs, Xi toured all most all of the top military bases where he addressed officers and soldiers with a twin message of imperative need for the People`s Liberation Army, (PLA) to function under CPC command and the need for improving military skills.

Last weekend Xi went to a PLA air force base deep in the Gobi Desert, which is the the fifth military base he visited.

Earlier he inspected the armed police headquarters in Beijing, the South Sea Fleet headquarters and a PLA army group in the Guangzhou Military Region as well as the second artillery force.

The visits have emphasised the spirit of the November National Congress of the CPC on transforming China into a maritime power to better protect its national interests, Zhang Xixian, a professor at the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, told the Global Times.

"To pursue this goal, the PLA must have a strong air force and navy and long-range strike weapons," he said.

China`s territorial disputes with neighbouring countries have escalated recently.

Though Beijing hopes to solve the disputes through talks, the PLA must be fully prepared for war situations when resorting to force becomes an inevitable choice, Zhang said.

China will remain on a path of peaceful development, but it will "never give up" its legitimate rights or sacrifice core interests, Xi said at a group study session with members of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau in late January.

Chinese military forces are stated to be "combat ready" as the dispute over the islands in East China Sea with Japan degenerated into a military muscle flexing with ships and planes of the two sides trying to aggressively patrol the uninhabited islets.

China has taken up aggressive patrolling of the South China Sea waters to assert their control amid strong claims made by Vietnam, Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia.

On the military hardware front, China has commissioned its first aircraft carrier with planes to land and take off on it, besides developing a second stealth fighter.

PLA Deputy Chief Qi Jianguo two days ago warned countries in conflict with China not to underestimate Beijing`s will to safeguard its sovereignty or its "military`s staunch power" to protect Beijing?s core national interests.

In his Chinese New Year greetings to armed forces today, he stressed on national defence efforts, urging the military to enhance its combat preparedness and constantly improve its ability to fulfill missions and tasks.

He also stressed on frugality and ordered the troops to refrain from extravagance.

Soldiers and officers in far-flung areas should be given more material and financial resources, Xi said, adding that unity between the army and the local government, as well as ethnic unity, should be strengthened.