Gen­eral on U.S. “hege­mony”

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics -

On July 21 in Bei­jing, Gen. Chen Bingde, chief of the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army’s gen­eral staff, is­sued an un­usual and caus­tic tirade against the United States at the start of a meet­ing with vis­it­ing South Korean De­fense Min­is­ter Kim Kwan-jin.

The com­ments fol­lowed Gen. Chen’s meet­ings the week be­fore with his Amer ican coun­ter­par t, Adm. Mike Mullen, chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Gen. Chen lec­tured his South Korean guest on Amer­ica’s hege­monic attitude to­ward other coun­tries. Fur­ther­more, he sug­gested to Kim that Seoul should have the same re­sent­ment against Wash­ing­ton’s hege­monic attitude, and that China un­der­stands South Korea’s re­luc­tance to openly ex­press such re­sent­ment against the United States be­cause of its close ally sta­tus with Wash­ing­ton.

Gen. Chen’s out­burst drew crit­i­cism from South Korea. The Cho­sun Ilbo news­pa­per pub­lished an editorial that said, “Chen’s com­ments were dis­cour­te­ous and vi­o­lated diplo­matic pro­to­col. [. . .] Us­ing such a set­ting to harshly crit­i­cize a third coun­try, and a close ally of the visi­tor’s, is un­likely to make the visi­tor feel com­fort­able. Chen, who is the chair­man of the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army Gen­eral Staff, ranks lower than China’s de­fense min­is­ter, Kim’s coun­ter­part. It was a diplo­matic dis­cour­tesy for Chen to ram­ble on and on with­out giv­ing his se­nior a chance to speak.”

The same Seoul news­pa­per sounded a more se­ri­ous note by con­clud­ing that “the more China re­sorts to crude tac­tics that do not be­fit its global sta­tus, the more sus­pi­cious of its in­ten­tions its neigh­bors will grow.” The news­pa­per said Seoul ul­ti­mately might have to choose be­tween China and the U.S.

Af­ter po­litely lis­ten­ing to the Chinese gen­eral, Mr. Kim was treated with a visit the next day to the army’s Third Guard Divi­sion, a mil­i­tary unit lo­cated out­side Bei­jing that is renowned for its role in the Korean War fight­ing against the Amer­i­cans and the South Kore­ans, a typ­i­cal and less-than-sub­tle mes­sage of the kind fre­quently used by Bei­jing’s mil­i­tary.

How­ever, ASEAN’s pro­posed Code of Con­duct in the South China Sea so far has re­ceived a luke­warm re­sponse from Bei­jing. In­stead, China is hyp­ing its ro­bust claims while ac­cus­ing the United States of med­dling “with ul­te­rior mo­tives” in the sovereignty claims.

Since two weeks ago, China’s state-con­trolled me­dia has fired off a new anti-U.S. pro­pa­ganda cam­paign: The pur­chase by the Philip­pines of a used U.S. Coast sec­ond of China’s Type 071 ships. Jing­gang­shan refers to the moun­tain­ous area in East­ern China where the Com­mu­nist Red Army was born. The of­fi­cial China Daily ex­plained that name of the ship is “to show the love for the rev­o­lu­tion­ary base area and in­herit and carry for­ward its rev­o­lu­tion­ary spirit.”

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