The People's Daily, the official mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, on Dec. 13 published an editorial that lambasted the Philippines with words that can be described as anything but diplomatic and cordial.
"On the issue of the South China Sea," the editorial says, "the Philippines could only be too willing and happy to perform the role of a circus clown as it could only carry out a 'bitch and moan' diplomacy, begging its master [the U.S.] for more money with slavish smiles."
The apparent focus of Beijing's anger was the U.S.-Philippines defense talks in Manila last week.
"At the just concluded U.S.-Philippines conference, the Philippines enthusiastically welcomed its master to send more troops for joint defense. The only thing left to do is to break out the constitutional restriction. After that, the anti-China strength will be enhanced," said the People's Daily editorial, which was reprinted in the domestic subsidiary Global Times.
The editorial also stated that the United States, the purported evil puppet master of the Manila government, is not really happy with the Philippines' performance.
"The master did not seem to be satisfied with the clown's performance during last year's series of acts on the stage of the South China Sea," the commentary said, "and the master only gave the clown $30 million for compensation, which upset the clown who regarded it as humiliation."
China routinely calls countries in Southeast Asia that challenge Beijing's sweeping maritime claims in the South China Sea "little countries" that lack the sage strategic wisdom Beijing possesses.
Air Force admits deaths by accidents
In a rare public admission of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) air force's high death toll caused by routine training accidents, the Chinese government recently revealed the existence of a "Heroes' Wall" honoring pilots who "died as martyrs" for the communist revolution.
The PLA Daily on Monday published an article that states: "In the outskirts of Beijing, there is a Chinese Aviation Museum where stands a wing-shaped PLA Air Force Heroes' Wall. On the backside of the wall are the glorious carved names of 1,747 killed pilots and flight officers of the Air Force."
The article does not provide specific numbers on how many pilots died in combat and how many were killed in training exercises, but states that the "overwhelming majority sacrificed their lives in flight training exercises during peace times."
The Chinese air force is known for a high accident rate, which was vividly shown to the world in April 2001 when Wang Wei, the pilot of a Chinese supersonic J-8 interceptor jet, developed a kind of "road rage" and crashed into a U.S. Navy EP-3 signal intelligence plane, forcing the damaged American plane to land inside Chinese territory. The Chinese pilot was killed in the crash.
The PLA article was prompted by, in part, the most recent crash of a Chinese-made J-7 in Guangdong.
The Chinese press openly, and surprisingly, reported the accident, leading military experts to speculate that the air force is facing new orders to shape up from the revamped Central Military Commission, China's ultimate military command authority, chaired by new Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping.
The PLA air force deploys a variety of advanced jets, such as Su-27s, J-10s and J-11s, and outdated, second-generation antiques such as the J-7s.
With last month's meteoric rise of longtime air force commander Gen. Xu Qiliang as the only air force officer to hold the position of vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, China's air force modernization will likely get a major boost.
Currently, the air force is undergoing a large-scale revamping of key departments and missions, including recruiting, training, acquisition and joint operations.
• Miles Yu's column appears Thursdays. He can be reached at email@example.com.