General on U.S. “hegemony”
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.”