- - Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Expert: China Must Challenge U.S.

An inflammatory commentary published in China on Tuesday calls for Beijing to challenge U.S. “hegemony.” The report, headlined “We Cannot Imitate the U.S; China Has the Obligation to Impede Hegemony” appeared in the official communist newspaper, the Global Times, and the Communist Party’s chief mouthpiece, the People’s Daily, which owns Global Times.

Yang Yucai, the author and a professor of strategy at China’s defense university, rejects the prospect of a world under the dual control of the United States and China, a current fashion among some geopolitical circles in world capitals.

The article admits the United States is more powerful than China right now. And it says Washington is able to influence the world with the American democratic system — what it called a “hegemonic” system that China must resolutely oppose.

Apparently, Mr. Yang views the American democratic system as the chief threat to China.

China is under increasing pressure, including from some circles inside the Communist Party hierarchy, to democratize its rigid autocratic political system. Through outlets like the People’s Daily and Global Times, China’s ruling clique is stepping up a propaganda campaign to directly attack democratic systems as unfit for the one-party communist state.

The Chinese military is at the forefront of this propaganda campaign. It has been vigorously demonizing major U.S. strategic initiatives as part of a grand conspiracy to stifle a rising China. To rebuke those inside China who might fantasize about American democracy, Mr. Yang bluntly warned that “we must impede the United States’ ‘historical mission’ within our own system. China must not practice American style democracy.”

Now that China is becoming a formidable challenger to the United States, the article reasons, “China, as a big country, must not neglect its responsibility to stem [American] hegemony.”

Admiral Gaffe

A unique collection of Chinese celebrities known as “military bloggers” are becoming media stars in China. These mostly active duty PLA officers are linked to elite institutions like the Chinese Academy of Military Sciences and the Chinese Defense University. All of them are given prominent blogging space or television spots in official media venues such as the People’s Daily, the Global Times and the Chinese Central TV [CCTV].

The military bloggers produce a daily deluge of defense analysis and military posturing that is at its core a combination of paranoia, ultranationalism, anti-U.S. fanaticism and often entertainment.

At the top of this club of extraordinary gentlemen is Rear Adm. Zhang Zhaozhong. Professionally trained as a naval theorist and a logistics expert at the Chinese Defense University, Adm. Zhang is the highest ranking military blogger in China, and is CCTV’s top analyst for all things military.

Yet his huge loyal audience sticks to him also for another peculiar reason: the admiral’s extraordinary proclivity for gaffes.

Nationally known inside China as the Chinese version of Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, Saddam Hussein’s infamous self-deluding information minister, Adm. Zhang has delivered the party line with precision and consistency for more than a decade. He first gained national fame during the 2003 Iraq War when, just hours before the war started, he went on CCTV to guarantee the nation that the Americans were too casualty-averse to risk attacking Iraq.

After the war started, Adm. Zhang predicted with absolute confidence that Baghdad would definitely become George W. Bush’s Stalingrad, even as American troops entered the capital city.

In the recent Libya conflict, the admiral confidently and consistently predicted a Gaddafi victory over the rebels, claiming Gaddafi had the overwhelming support of the Libyan people.

When Gaddafi was cornered in Sirte, Adm. Zhang delivered a prolonged analysis on national TV refuting any possibility that Gaddafi was hiding there, only to be humiliated hours later by the demise of the Libyan dictator in Sirte.

Across China’s semi-underground cyber forum space, the admiral’s famous quotations and video clips of habitual flops, mispredictions and embarrassments have gone viral beyond retrieval.

Miles Yu’s column appears Thursdays. He can be reached at [email protected]

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