The President of China has urged the country's army to prepare for armed combat, claiming the coronavirus pandemic is having a significant impact on national security.
On Tuesday, President Xi Jinping said China must ensure its military is strong because the coronavirus pandemic has had a "profound" effect on the world situation and China's security.
State media China Daily reports Xi instructed the military to gear up combat preparation and conduct battle drills in a flexible manner.
"The armed forces must improve operational capability in each and every aspect," Xi said.
The military must practice carrying out training procedures under COVID-19 precautionary measures, he added.
It's not just preparing though - China has also boosted funding to its armed forces. Last week, China announced it would boost its military budget by 6.6 percent despite the vast economic downturn caused by the pandemic.
Wu Qian, spokesman for the Chinese Defense Ministry, said Beijing's defence budget was appropriate for the times.
"It can be said that the world is not peaceful," Wu said on the sidelines of the National People's Congress last week.
"China's homeland security and overseas interests are also facing some real threats...It is reasonable and necessary that China's defense spending increased moderately and steadily."
The increase in military spending and preparedness comes as China faces increasing criticism from other countries over its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The United States and other countries have accused China of misleading the world about the severity of the outbreak, and there are growing calls for an international inquiry into the origins of the virus.
New Zealand is one of 62 nations backing Australia's call for an independent inquiry into the origins of COVID-19 - but Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she's "not interested" in placing blame or joining a "witch hunt".