As Russia's invasion with Ukraine drags on, world leaders are nervously keeping an eye on China – and the country's leader seems intent on keeping it that way.
Xi Jinping has done little to quell suspicions that China's military could strike out, again fuelling fears of increased aggression from the People's Liberation Army.
According to China's state media Xinhau, Xi met with military officials at an operation command centre on Tuesday (local time), urging them to prepare for combat and take China into a "new era".
"The entire military should devote all its energy to and carry out all its work for combat readiness, enhance its capability to fight and win, and effectively fulfill its missions and tasks in the new era," he reportedly told them.
In the wake of the 20th CPC National Congress where the Chinese dictator tightened his grip on power, Xi is said to have instructed the country's armed forces to "take concrete actions to further modernise national defence and the military".
According to the Xinhau report, Xi noted that the world is undergoing profound changes unseen in a century, and stressed that "China’s national security is facing increased instability and uncertainty, and its military tasks remain arduous." He reportedly demanded the entire military implement the CCP's thinking on strengthening the military for the supposedly new era.
Fears that China could make a move to take control or invade Taiwan have been steadily growing over recent years, with some predictions Xi could make a move in the next 18 months now that he has secured a third term as leader of the country.
In response to the growing threat, Taiwan is working to increase energy inventories to boost the island's resilience in the event of a crisis, the country's deputy economy minister said last month. The move follows China's blockade drills around Taiwan in August.
Despite the warnings of potential invasion, former CIA analyst John Culver believes China has plenty of other options to strangle Taiwan.
"China has many options to increase pressure on Taiwan, including military options short of invasion—limited campaigns to seize Taiwan-held islands just off China’s coast, blockades of Taiwan’s ports, and economic quarantines to choke off the island’s trade," he wrote in October.
Former Australian military personnel 'approached to provide military training in China'
Defence Minister Richard Marles has ordered the Australian Defence Force to review its policies amid concerns ex-personnel have been approached to provide military training in China.
Mr Marles said he had asked the ADF to "urgently investigate" the claims, saying a deep evaluation of defence policies and procedures was warranted.
"The information provided to me so far presents enough evidence to warrant the need for a detailed examination into the adequacy of current defence policies and procedures addressing this matter," he said on Wednesday.
"I have therefore instructed the department to commence that process."
It comes after former Australian Air Force pilots were offered lucrative contracts to work with the Chinese military, the ABC reports.
A number of cases of foreign interference are being investigated by the Australian Federal Police and Australian Security Intelligence Organisation along with the ADF.
"It's no secret that defence activities, people and assets are targets for Foreign Intelligence Services," Mr Marles said during a press conference at Parliament House.
"But let me be clear, Australians who work or have worked for the government in any capacity, particularly our ADF, who come into possession of the nation's secrets, have an obligation to maintain those secrets beyond their employment with, or their engagement with, the Commonwealth."
Mr Marles wouldn't confirm if a specific incident had kicked off the investigations into the alleged foreign interference cases.
But policies and procedures relating to former defence force personnel should be reviewed to ensure they are adequate, he added.
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