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Inside China: China resolutely unhappy with report
Question of the Day
While it continues to carry a cautious and polite tone, this year’s report contains a few hot button items that point directly to China’s aggressive military moves on several fronts.
“U.S. report on China's military baseless, counterproductive” read the headline of a vitriolic article on the Pentagon report. The article called it “groundless,” “unwise,” “self-contradictory,” “harmful,” indicative of “Cold War thinking and zero-sum game mentality,” and, of course, an act of interference “with China’s internal affairs by commenting on the situation across the Taiwan Straits.”
The Chinese government is particularly angry at the report’s criticism of Beijing’s aggressive acts aiming to take over the Japanese-controlled Senkaku islands. For the first time, the annual report calls China’s unilateral maritime border demarcating China’s territorial waters near the Senkakus noncompliant with international law. China’s ambassador to the United States, Cui Tiankai, responded to the charge by calling the statement “unwise” and “self-defeating.”
Hua Chunying, China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, told reporters in Beijing that the charge against China’s maritime border contained in the report was unhelpful and sends the wrong signal to the Japanese.
Another strong criticism of China contained in the Pentagon report concerns China’s cyberespionage. For the first time, the report recognizes that China’s aggressive, massive cyberattacks on the United States were well-organized and that the Chinese military is behind much of the hacking.
Ms. Hua countered the report’s assertion not by denying the cyberespionage but by calling the cyberspying charge by the United States an act of emotional “finger-pointing.”
The People’s Daily, mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party's Central Committee, on Thursday published a Mao Zedong-style, anti-American propaganda piece under the headline “Defaming China cannot cover U.S. evil acts.”
The article condemned U.S. efforts to develop cyberwarfare capabilities and sternly warned the United States that “once cyberwarfare is triggered, there will never be peaceful days.”
The article concludes with this admonition to Washington: “It is a dangerous move [for the United States] to try to obtain cyber-military supremacy by bringing shame on other countries, which will definitely result in shooting itself in the foot.”
GENERAL demands stability
Gen. Xu Qiliang, China’s top uniformed officer, demanded that the army rank and file devote more efforts to maintaining domestic security and “social stability” in the western border provinces, namely Buddhist Tibet and the predominantly Muslim western Xinjiang region.
Gen. Xu is vice chairman of the Communist Party Central Committee’s Central Military Commission, the Chinese armed forces’ highest command authority.
The commission chairman by default is the civilian general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, Xi Jinping. Gen. Xu is unique as the first commission vice chairman from the air force.
The general spoke at a May 2 leadership conference on developing China’s impoverished West, which has been viewed by the Chinese high command for decades as the country’s strategic depth in future wars.
Many of China’s large development drives are motivated by military considerations. Since the early 1960s, China has envisioned future warfare involving weapons of mass destruction and an enemy described in military writings as a world superpower.
As a result, China’s more advanced eastern seaboard presumably will be lost during the early phase of a conflict to the enemy. But western China will serve as China’s strategic rear area where counterattacks would be organized.
Driven by such thinking, China built elaborate networks of bunkers, military railways, nuclear-weapons depots and other defense infrastructure in the western and southwestern provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan and Guizhou in the 1970s and 1980s.
In the 1990s, for the same purpose, China eyed the country’s far west region of Tibet and Xinjiang, primarily inhabited by ethnic Tibetans and Uighurs. Since then, China’s defense development programs in these regions have helped intensify ethnic tensions and drive the government’s expenditure on internal security and frequent domestic crackdowns so high that spending on internal security forces surpassed the entire defense budget, which is already the world’s second-largest.
China maintains a large armed police force that is under the Chinese Defense Ministry.
However, the armed police can hardly distinguish themselves from the regular army troops in crises, because they both serve the interest of the Communist Party in maintaining a power monopoly. When a large civil disobedience and political demonstration occurs, it is always the soldiers — armed with tanks, helicopters and machines guns — who are deployed to do the crackdowns and killings, as they died in the 1989 Tiananmen pro-democracy movement.
• Miles Yu’s column appears Fridays. He can be reached at email@example.com and @yu_miles.
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About the Author
Miles Yu’s column appears Thursdays. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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