China’s state media gave prominent space last week to the People’s Liberation Army’s most outspoken hawks, who urged Beijing to adopt a unanimous policy of getting tough with Japan. The 10 generals agreed that an immediate war with Japan might not be beneficial for China. But they argued that China should take all measures necessary, including military action, to gain administrative control of the Diaoyudao, known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan.
“We must get ready militarily,” said Maj. Gen. Luo Yuan. “When necessary, we should designate the Diaoyudao area as a military exercise zone, or missile test zone.
“The next step should be taken when our strategic strength has accumulated enough to take the islands once and for all.”
Why would Japan do this? Gen. Peng thinks Japan’s policy of deliberately provoking China is caused by humiliation over Japan’s defeat in World War II; suffocation by America’s prolonged occupation and control after the war; anxiety over protracted economic stagnation; and dejection as a result of China’s rapid rise.
“We should unite all the righteous anti-fascism forces worldwide to deal Japan a blunt blow for its challenge to international justice,” said Gen. Peng, evoking rhetoric similar to that used more than half a century ago.
Gen. Yang Yunzhong, another army leader from the Jinan Military Region, said he thinks Japan is suffering from “an imperial angst” and an “Ishiharaesque hysteria,” referring to Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara. The governor is considered a trigger for the current Senkaku dispute after his April announcement of a plan to buy some of the Senkaku Islands set off a chain reaction that helped lead to the current crisis.
Air Force Maj. Gen. Qiao Liang said the Diaoyudao spat between China and Japan is a U.S. plot to keep China buried in regional conflicts with neighbors so it will lose its current strategic opportunity for development. Gen. Qiao is a prominent member of China’s fast-growing cult of conspiracy and paranoia, which sees virtually every U.S. global military move and defense policy as part of an elaborate Washington plot of containment against a rising and righteous China.
Rear Adm. Zhang Zhaozhong, also a professor at the Chinese Defense University and China’s best-known military talking head on national television, suggested that China should immediately draft a sovereignty statement over the Senkakus and begin “law enforcement” there.
If Japanese personnel violate China’s law in the Senkaku area, they should be arrested, he said. If Japanese vessels enter the area, they may be destroyed and sunk.
“We must learn the law, understand the law, use the law and to rule the sea with the law,” Adm. Zhang said.
Maj. Gen. Wang Haiyun, a Russia expert, demanded a “strategic campaign” against Japan’s crimes over the past 100 years to root out the source of the current island dispute.
Maj. Gen. Huang Linyi, a military judge, threatened military action unless Japan withdraws its policy of seeking to “nationalize the Senkakus.”