"Be ready for battle." That's how the South China Morning Post, the Hong Kong newspaper that increasingly reflects the Communist Party line, summarized Xi Jinping's first order this year to the People's Liberation Army (PLA). Xi, in his own words, which were broadcasted nationwide, demanded this: "prepare for a comprehensive military struggle from a new starting point."
China's bold leader has been threatening neighbors and the United States with frequency during the last several months. "Xi is not just toying with war," Victor Mair of the University of Pennsylvania wrote on the Fanell Red Star Rising listserve this month. "He's daring himself to actually start one. He's in a dangerous frame of mind."
Dangerous indeed. From Washington to New Delhi, policymakers wonder whether China will begin history's next great conflict. Beijing of course wants to "win without fighting," but the actions Xi Jinping are taking could lead to fighting nonetheless. One particularly disturbing development in this regard is the Chinese military gaining power in Beijing's political circles.