China has released a new documentary about the army’s preparation to attack Taiwan and showcasing soldiers pledging to give up their lives if needed as Beijing continues to ramp up its rhetoric against the self-ruled island.
“Chasing Dreams,” an eight-part docuseries aired by state broadcaster CCTV earlier this week to mark the People Liberation Army’s 96th anniversary, features military drills and testimonials by dozens of soldiers, of which several express their willingness to die in a potential attack against Taiwan.
China claims Taiwan, a self-ruled democracy, as its own territory, to be conquered by force if necessary.
State media and the PLA frequently release propaganda materials promoting the army’s modernization as well as sleek videos of military drills.
The materials serve to fan rising Chinese nationalism and display military confidence against Taiwan and, implicitly, its ties with the United States. While the U.S. doesn’t recognize Taiwan as a sovereign country, it has pledged to help the island defend itself in case of an invasion.
Last month, the White House announced a $345 million military aid package for Taiwan. The move, which experts said drew on lessons from the U.S. military assistance to Ukraine, was criticized by Beijing.
The “Chasing Dreams” documentary showcased, among other things, the PLA’s “Joint Sword” drills, which simulated precision strikes against Taiwan. The exercises were undertaken around the self-governed island in April after a visit by Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen to the U.S.
Among the more dramatic parts of the program are pledges by PLA soldiers from various divisions to relinquish life in a potential attack on Taiwan.
“If war broke out and the conditions were too difficult to safely remove the naval mines in actual combat, we would use our own bodies to clear a safe pathway for our (landing) forces,” Zuo Feng, a frogman with the PLA Navy’s minesweeper unit, said in a testimonial.
Li Peng, a pilot from Wang Hai Squadron under the PLA Air Force, echoed his statement, saying his “fighter jet would be the last missile rushing towards the enemy if in a real battle, I had used up all my ammunition.”
Fan Lizhong, a special tactics unit commander, said in the docuseries that while losing comrades is painful, he has to remain calm to respond to emergencies and always be ready to fight.
The documentary also features Shandong, one of China’s three aircraft carriers, sailing in formation with several other warships.
The PLA has repeatedly dispatched Shandong to the Taiwan Strait over the past few months as a threat to Taiwan. PLA jets have also crossed the strait’s median line, an informal demarcation zone between China and Taiwan, relatively often over the past couple of years, especially in reaction to exchanges between Taiwan and the U.S. that have angered Beijing.