Veteran journalist and writer David Lague, now with Reuters in Hong Kong, has written in great detail in a new report, China’s Military Hawks Take The Offensive, that Chinese senior military officers are taking to expressing their calls for war against regional neighbors to the airwaves of Chinese Tv and radio, Internet blogs, and public speeches.
Lague looks at the recent speech by Chinese Lt. General Ren Haiquan at an October gathering of international military officers at Melbourne’s Crown Casino. The speech began nice enough, but quickly degenerated into a rant against Japan’s control of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. Japanese officers, including Army Lt. General Yoshiaki Nakagawa, left immediately after the speech.
“Ren’s provocative dinner talk was no isolated outburst. His message was typical of the increasingly hawkish rhetoric coming from senior officers in the People’s Liberation Army.”
“But the combative streak speaks to profound shifts in Chinese politics and foreign policy that transcend the heat of the moment. The more provocative of these officers call for ‘short, sharp wars’ to assert China’s sovereignty. Others urge Beijing to ‘strike first’, ‘prepare for conflict’ or ‘kill a chicken to scare the monkeys’.”
“Among the most bellicose are in a group of about 20 military officers who have become star media and online performers in recent years, including Air Force Colonel Dai Xu, retired army Major General Luo Yuan and Rear Admiral Zhang Zhaozhong.”
“The Air Force Colonel, Dai Xu, is renowned for his regular calls to arms. With China in dispute for much of last year with Japan in the East China Sea and Vietnam and the Philippines in the South China Sea, Dai argued a short, decisive war, like China’s 1962 border clash with India, would deliver long-term peace. He also said Washington would not risk war with China over these territorial spats.”
“‘Since we have decided that the U.S. is bluffing in the East China Sea, we should take this opportunity to respond to these empty provocations with something real,’ he wrote in an August 28 commentary published in the Chinese-language edition of the Global Times.”
“‘This includes Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan, who are the three running dogs of the United States in Asia,’ added Dai, a researcher at Beijing University’s China Centre for Strategic Studies. ‘We only need to kill one, and it will immediately bring the others to heel.’”
“Rear Admiral Zhang Zhaozhong is the best-known of the hawk commentators, appearing frequently as a program host on CCTV 7 and other state-run television outlets. Virulently anti-American, he has a low opinion of U.S. military capabilities and willingness to suffer casualties. The United States would ‘run like a rabbit’ if China went to war with Japan over the Diaoyu Islands, he told state television on August 12.”