In August, Chinese fighter jets took off from China’s eastern coast and roared across the Taiwan Strait to engage in military drills with Chinese warships around the self-ruled island of Taiwan.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has committed to unifying Taiwan with mainland China and the mobilisation of planes and ships is part of increasingly frequent military exercises as Beijing practises the use of force in ending Taiwan’s separateness – should it be necessary.
A month before the exercises, Chinese leader Xi Jinping had toured the military’s regional headquarters in Nanjing and told his armed forces of their need for courage and the ability to fight.
Xi said that enhanced war planning, a strengthened command structure and stepped-up training would ensure that China’s military could not only fight but also win in a fight with Taiwan.
Taiwan is not the only rival that China considers in terms of future conflict. The West is in Beijing’s sights too.
But some members of China’s People’s Liberation Army do not share the same concerns as their country’s political leaders in terms of potential enemies, friends and relatives of members of the country’s armed forces told Al Jazeera.
“In a larger sense President Xi wants China to be prepared for a struggle against the so-called Western world,” said Christina Chen, a research fellow at the Taiwanese security think tank Institute for National Defense and Security Research (INDSR).