Chinese dictator Xi Jinping, in an address on Friday to commemorate the 70th anniversary of China’s entry into the Korean War, quoted Chinese Communist godfather Mao Zedong to threaten war against China’s adversaries.
Xi quoted Mao’s 1953 declaration that the “War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid Korea” — as China refers to the Korean War — showed the world that “the Chinese people are now organized and aren’t to be trifled with.”
“Once provoked, things will get ugly,” Xi said to thunderous applause.
China’s state-run Global Times rushed to insist that Xi’s belligerent speech was really all about peaceable self-defense and globalism:
Xi said that China will never seek hegemony nor expansion, and is firmly opposed to hegemonism and power politics.
Pursuing unilateralism, protectionism and extreme egoism leads nowhere. Blackmail, blockades and extreme pressure will simply not work. Any act of hegemony and bullying will never work. It will eventually lead to a dead end, Xi said.
Xi said the great War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea defied the invasion and expansion motives of imperialism and safeguarded the security of New China.
The war also safeguarded the peaceful life of the Chinese people, stabilized the situation on the Korean Peninsula and upheld peace in Asia and the world, Xi said.
North Korea is among the greatest threats to the peace of the region and the freedom of the world, a murderous tyranny that has killed countless members of its own impoverished population, constantly threatens to attack its vastly more prosperous and completely peaceful neighbor to the south, and seeks nuclear weapons to threaten the entire world. A nitpicker might also note that the Korean War was not a sweeping victory for China despite the enormous manpower it threw into the conflict; in fact, the war is technically still in progress.
“Chinese analysts believed although without mentioning the US directly, Xi’s speech actually delivered a clear message that the attempt by the US and any other forces to contain China will never succeed,” the Global Times opined.
Another Global Times piece on Thursday noted that Xi and his rubber-stamp legislature are thinking about revising China’s “Law on National Defense” to give the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) more excuses to make war:
The draft amendment states that when China’s sovereignty, unity, territorial integrity, security and development interests are under threats, the country can conduct nationwide or local defense mobilization. The “development interests” part is a new addition to the current law.
In another proposed addition to the law, the draft amendment said that China could use its armed forces to protect overseas Chinese citizens, organizations, units and facilities, thus safeguarding China’s overseas interests, and participating in activities including UN peacekeeping missions, international rescue, maritime escort, joint exercises and anti-terrorism following the basic rules on international relations based on the principles of the UN Charter.
This is mostly bureaucratic and diplomatic cover for China to use military force to impose its claims on the South China Sea, which it has relentlessly militarized despite constant pledges not to do so. In the near future, some unfortunate flotilla of Filipino fishermen or Vietnamese explorers might be surprised to find themselves on the business end of Chinese missiles because they supposedly threatened Beijing’s “development interests.”
“China loves peace, but don’t provoke it,” the Global Times sighed wistfully in an editorial praising Xi’s speech and pre-emptively blaming those fishermen of the future for leaving the lovable panda bears of the PLA no choice but to gun them down:
That China loves peace is not an empty slogan. It will never take the initiative to make provocations deep into the Pacific or the Indian Ocean. The possible risk of a military clash lies around China’s neighboring areas. Making provocations there touches upon China’s core interests, which most likely riles up China.
China has territorial disputes with some of its neighboring countries. But China and these countries have shown their will to manage those frictions, which has reduced the possibility of conflicts. The bigger threat comes from the intervention of big powers from outside the region. A certain external power keeps driving a wedge, with its navy and air force intensifying activity, which adds uncertainty to the region.
The Global Times fingered the real threat to regional stability, the oppressive force that “insanely coordinates external powers’ strategic suppression of China” and might just “make themselves the focus of being overthrown in the region” if they do not settle down: Taiwan.
“There is no major power in the world, except China, that has not been engaged in a war in more than 30 years. Some forces believe China is not capable in war, and fears war. They believe sending a warship to the Taiwan Straits could pressure China psychologically. Even the DPP authorities feel instigated. Such thinking and moves are self-conceited,” the Global Times wrote, referring to the Democratic Progressive Party, the governing party of Taiwan.
The Global Times’ extravaganza of coverage for Xi’s speech concluded by quoting “Chinese analysts” who said Xi’s speech on Friday was a deliberate echo of Mao’s warning to the United States before China invaded Korea.
The Global Times said Xi’s remarks showed “the current tension between the two countries is also approaching the brink of conflict, and if the US fails to avoid a new conflict with China, it would be the US that bears the full responsibility, just like the war 70 years ago.”
These Chinese experts said whoever wins the November election in the U.S. had better heed Xi’s warning:
Lü Xiang, a research fellow on US studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, told the Global Times that, “this is an extremely clear message to the US led by the Trump administration.”
Apart from the warning, China is also sending advice to the future leaders of the US, no matter who becomes president eventually, urging them to stop provocations and other hostile acts and return to cooperation and exchanges. The US still has a chance to avoid repeating its mistakes of arrogance and hegemony made in 1950, Lü said.
“Whether in 1950 or 2020, US policymakers and political elites fail to understand China’s strategic transparency and would easily misinterpret China’s solemn warning as ‘bluffing’. When China believes its rivals won’t listen to its warnings, its first strike would be quiet and invisible, its enemies won’t get another ultimatum before they receive a counterattack from China,” he said.
“Hopefully, the two candidates of the U.S. presidential election will receive the message clearly, and it is not too late to fix bilateral ties after they get elected. If their decision-making is hijacked by a small group of anti-China conservative extremists, however, it would be a disaster for the U.S.,” Lu added.
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) posited that Xi’s speech was intended to “whip up nationalist sentiment” because China is “buckling down for prolonged tensions,” no matter who wins the U.S. presidential election, and he also needs to “gird his personal authority as pandemic-induced economic woes threaten to stir unrest.”
“The Friday ceremony was China’s highest-profile commemoration of the Korean War since 2000, the last time a Chinese leader marked the occasion with a major memorial address,” the WSJ observed. It was also considerably more “martial” in tone than the speech Xi gave in 2010 on the 60th anniversary of the war.