China ‘hawks’ ratchet up the rhetoric

David Lague published an article on 17 January with Reuter’s entitled, “China’s military hawks take the offensive.” Lague notes “the increasingly hawkish rhetoric coming from senior officers in the People’s Liberation Army.”

A particularly aggressive tract by a regular media commentator, Chinese Air Force Colonel Dai Xu, provided the following: “Since we have decided that the U.S. is bluffing in the East China Sea, we should take this opportunity to respond to these empty provocations with something real,” he wrote in an August 28 commentary published in the Chinese-language edition of the Global Times, a nationalistic tabloid published by the Communist Party organ, the People’s Daily. “This includes Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan, who are the three running dogs of the United States in Asia,” added Dai, a researcher at Beijing University's China Centre for Strategic Studies. “We only need to kill one, and it will immediately bring the others to heel.”

Lague's report goes on to speculate that such statements are unofficially condoned by the government as part of a “good cop –bad cop” approach, underlining that diplomacy will be backed up with arms.  The report also notes that when the government wants such military commentators to tone it down or be silent they rapidly comply.  They are doing neither at the moment.