China media: Strong air force

President Xi Jinping wants stronger defence forces for China President Xi Jinping wants stronger defence forces for China

President Xi Jinping's call for a stronger air force and the ongoing crisis in Ukraine are the main themes in Tuesday's papers.

Mr Xi on Monday urged the air force to adopt an integrated air and space defence capability to boost the country's military power.

He was speaking to defence officials during an inspection visit to the air force's headquarters in Beijing.

Mr Xi, who is also the chairman of the Central Military Commission, also called on the air force to offer balanced strength in "defensive and offensive operations".

Wang Ya'nan, deputy editor-in-chief of the Aerospace Knowledge magazine in Beijing, tells the China Daily that Mr Xi's call is an answer to "the need of the times".

"The United States has paid considerable attention and resources to the integration of capabilities in both air and space, and other powers have also moved progressively towards space militarisation," he says.

"Though China has stated that it sticks to the peaceful use of space, we must make sure that we have the ability to cope with others' operations in space," Mr Wang adds.

Hong Kong-based pro-Beijing Ta Kung Pao daily says in a strongly-worded commentary that Mr Xi's visit is a "morale boost" to the air force as well as "an important encouragement strategy".

"This once again shows the resolution and determination of the highest commander of the People's Liberation Army. This could also frighten the neighbouring thieves and bandits," it says.

Ukraine crisis

Meanwhile, media are not optimistic about the upcoming four-party talks over the crisis in Ukraine as Russia's foreign minister begins his visit to China.

Tensions are running high in Ukraine with pro-Russian activists occupying buildings in eastern towns.

The four-party talks involving Ukraine, Russia, the US and the EU are due to start in Geneva on Thursday.

"Apparently, Russia is not enthusiastic about the meeting proposed by the US," says a Xinhua News agency commentary reprinted on the Liberation Army Daily.

"All parties will play their important cards, but they are likely to insist on their views, so reaching a consensus is difficult," it adds.

Sergei Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister, arrives in China on Tuesday for talks with Xi Jinping and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

In an interview with the Chinese edition of the China Daily, Mr Lavrov says that the "Sino-Russia strategic partnership has reached an unprecedented height".

Commenting on Mr Lavrov's visit, the Global Times' Chinese edition speculates that the escalating tension in Ukraine's eastern region will be on his agenda.

However, the daily urges China to stay "neutral" on the issue.

"Beijing should take a middle position. It should not support the independence of eastern Ukraine and it should avoid helping the West to isolate Russia," it cautions.

And finally, papers discuss the latest crackdown after the anti-graft watchdog said it had identified 220 fresh cases of corruption.

The Qianjiang Evening News says misuse of government vehicles and usage of public funds for personal sightseeing tours and lavish banquets are the most severe problems.

Zhu Lijia, professor of China National School of Administration, tells the Beijing Times that investigations and punishments could deter misconduct but they are not sufficient to prevent the officials from abusing their power.

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. For more reports from BBC Monitoring, click here. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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