"War is not far from us. Regional situations around China are complex and unstable, and dangers are hiding under the peace. China cannot afford a military failure, so we must be fully aware of potential crisis and be prepared for battle at all times. When the country is on the brink of becoming a great military power, it’s also stepping into a period with high risks to national security," the official People’s Liberation Army (PLA) newspaper wrote according to China's Global Times.

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The article first headlined on Tuesday in the PLA daily: "A soldier without desire for war-preparedness is not a good soldier." The newspaper warned that Chinese soldiers are not ready for combat because many refuse to believe war is imminent.

Military experts agree that the threat of a conflict around China has increased in recent years.

"In regions like the Korea Peninsula, China-India border area and the Taiwan Straits, the PLA needs to be prepared for all possibilities. Our overseas interests in regions like Africa and the Middle East are also under threat due to local instability," said Xu Guangyu, a retired major general and senior adviser of the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association according to the Global Times.

Last week, President Xi Jinping kicked off the new year with a rare speech to the military urging soldiers to be ready for war and "don’t fear death."

China’s soldiers should “neither fear hardship nor death,” Xi told thousands of troops during an inspection visit last Wednesday to the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) Central Theater Command in northern Hebei province, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has been conducting war drills at home and abroad involving most of its military branches. China’s most advanced military aircraft including the J-20 stealth fighter jet, the Y-20 transport aircraft, the H-6k bomber, and the J-16, J-11B J-10C fighter jets have been drilling since the start of the year.

More from the PLA Daily:

The J-20 is conducting air combat training with other fighter planes including the J-16. The J-20 is also practicing beyond-visual-range air combat, and other aircraft, including the Y-20 and the J-10C, are training at unspecified airports on a “plateau region” in order to improve their capability in long-range military transport and air combat

The Economic Times identifies the "plateau region" as the “Tibetan plateau which covered a long Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China.”

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While North Korea continues to be a great distraction, China is gearing up for conflict with India on the LAC, according to Global Times.

Potential military conflicts in plateau regions have been on the rise since the border friction with India last year, so increasing military training in the plateau region is highly necessary, a retired PLA officer who used to serve in the air force and asked not to be named, told the Global Times.

“India’s ground force has some advantages in quantity in the border areas, so if conflict happens, China’s air force needs to seize domination of the skies and immediately create an overwhelming advantage for China,” said the officer.   

In 2018, China’s urgent caution to its armed forces to prepare for war has been a telling sign that an event is imminent. While many focus on the developments on the Korean Peninsula, the real showdown is emerging between the two nuclear superpowers divided by the Line of Actual Control. What could possibly go wrong when the world's two most populous nations are increasing at each other's throat.