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."
General Luo is known for making extreme anti-U.S. comments. On the Senkaku issue, he is nationally renowned for insisting that the entire Ryukyu island chain, including Okinawa, belongs to China.
"Japan is using the Diaoyudao issue as an excuse to serially provoke China," insisted another army strategist, Maj. Gen. Peng Guangqian.
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.
Rear Adm. Zheng Ming, a naval weapons expert, wants to solve some long-term problems that have been restricting China by upholding China's sovereign rights to the Senkakus.
Maj. Gen. Huang Linyi, a military judge, threatened military action unless Japan withdraws its policy of seeking to "nationalize the Senkakus."
Vice Adm. Zhao Yingfu, formerly the commissar to the South Sea Fleet, urged a multipronged struggle against Japan.
He laid out a three-stage maritime strategy on the Senkakus: China first sends fishing vessels to the Senkakus, followed by China's maritime surveillance and maritime safety vessels, and then naval vessels should get into the area quickly.
"We are not afraid of firing shots," the admiral said.
Maj. Gen. Xu Guangyu, the army's arms control and disarmament expert, said Japan is counting on the United States for support if a war erupts with China.
"The U.S. has been ambiguous on the Diaoyudao sovereignty issue, refusing to take a side, which contradicts Japan's insistence that the Diaoyudao sovereign right belongs to Japan," Gen. Xu explained.
"The U.S. is not strong enough to help Japan. And the U.S. would not risk direct confrontation with China by helping Japan occupy these islands."
Japan porn star a peace ambassador
In an odd twist, the most prominent name mentioned in China regarding the recent wave of anti-Japanese protests is a Japanese porn star who may prove to be the most significant bridge between the two Asian nations in their increasingly tense bilateral relations.
She is Sora Aoi, a 28-year-old idol of fans of adult films, known in Asia as the "Pink Film," or AV.
In a country obsessed with pornography, many Chinese know Miss Aoi better than they know any other Japanese, past or present. Her name became as eye-catching as "kill-all-Japanese" banners carried in last week's demonstrations across China.
One banner read: "The Diaoyudao belongs to China; Sora Aoi belongs to the world!" It became an instant hit among demonstrators, and copycat signs were numerous.
For her part, Miss Aoi savors the moment. On her Twitter account, she posted a message that said: "Chinese and Japanese people's friendship."
"I hope there are good relations between us common people," she added.
When she asked her Twitter followers what she should do to help ease tensions, the majority of her Chinese fans responded simply, "Diaoyudao."
Encouraged, Miss Aoi then tweeted on Monday what the Chinese government wanted: "The Diaoyudao belongs to China -- Sora Aoi."
The official Chinese Communist Party newspaper the Global Times immediately seized the moment and displayed a large photo of the Japanese porn star holding a tablet computer with her message displayed on its screen.
• Miles Yu's column appears Thursdays. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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