Last week, another Chinese general threatened to turn our cities into radioactive rubble, if we interfere with China Inc.’s plans for a hostile takeover of Taiwan.
It would be foolish to dismiss the comments of General Zhu Chenghu as mere Marxist machismo. Beijing’s rulers are in deadly earnest. One way or another, they intend to push the US out of Asia -- and to dominate the region, militarily as well as economically.
Speaking to a group of visiting journalists from Hong Kong, Zhu warned: “If the Americans are determined to interfere…we will be determined to respond.” The head of China’s National Defense University casually offered a vision of nuclear annihilation: “We Chinese will prepare ourselves for the destruction of all cities east of Xian (central China). Of course the Americans will have to be prepared that hundreds … of cities will be destroyed by the Chinese.”
Here is a classic illustration of totalitarian disdain for human life. The People’s Republic is willing to sacrifice tens of millions of its own people – and to inflict similar casualties on an adversary – to achieve its geo-political goals.
In 1995, Xiong Guangkai (now deputy chief of the general staff of the People’s Liberation Army) told a former Pentagon official that Beijing would consider using nuclear weapons in a conflict over Taiwan. Xiong suggested that Americans should worry more about losing Los Angeles than saving Taipei.
The gutless wonders in our state department behaved predictably to the latest threat of nuclear annihilation. “We hope that these are not the views of the Chinese government,” sniveled State Department spokesman Sean McCormack. Yeah, like Chinese generals make public pronouncements without the approval of their government.
When I see Americans sleep-walking through history, I know exactly how Churchill felt in the 1930s, when he witnessed the rapid militarization of Germany -- coupled with Hitler’s bellicose rhetoric -- virtually ignored by 10 Downing Street.
Not everyone in Washington is waving umbrellas, a la Neville Chamberlain. Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy told a congressional hearing on the bid of a Chinese company to buy the energy giant Unocal, “I believe the PRC’s aim is inexorably to supplant the United States as the world’s premier economic power and, if necessary, to defeat us militarily.” At the same hearing, former CIA Director James Woolsey said China was among “the worst of the worst” dictatorships.
Richard Fisher, vice president of the International Assessment and Strategy Center, is equally candid about the Chinese menace: “Let’s all wake up. The post-Cold War is over. We are now in an arms race with a new superpower whose goal is to contain and overtake the United States.”
China is preparing for war. Even more than the Japanese pre-Pearl Harbor, Beijing knows that the US is the sole obstacle to its expansionist designs.
Moreover, the modernization of its military is financed with its trade surplus from the United States. China is spending some of its $660 billion in foreign currency reserves to buy the advanced weaponry to push America out of Asia. This includes fighter planes, troop-transport ships, submarines, missiles, satellites and other high-tech weapons systems. What’s that remark, attributed to V.I. Lenin, about capitalists selling the rope used to hang them?
During a June trip to Singapore, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld observed, “China’s defense expenditures are much higher than Chinese officials have publicly admitted. It is estimated that China’s is the third-largest military budget in the world, and now the largest in Asia.” The defense secretary asked rhetorically, “Since no nation threatens China, one wonders: why this growing investment?”
No nation threatens it. But one stands in the way of its ambition to dominate Asia – and perhaps the world.
Is it unthinkable that China would actually use nuclear weapons against America? (At this point in time, it has as many as 60 ICBMs with nuclear warheads capable of reaching US cities.) Prior to June 1989, China experts (distinguished primarily by their obtuseness) told us that the age of Maoism was over and it was inconceivable that PLA forces ever again would be used against Chinese civilians. That was before tanks rolled over demonstrators in Tiananmen Square, leaving an estimated 3,000 dead in their wake.
The most tragic mistake in history, repeatedly endlessly, is to underestimate the ruthless resolve of an aggressor.
And how are we responding to this challenge? The People’s Republic is trying to take over one of our largest energy producers – and we’re holding hearings.
The China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) -- 70% state-owned -- has made an $18.5- billion bid to buy Unocal Corporation, the 9th largest oil and gas company in the US.
Unocal has huge overseas holdings in oil fields and pipelines in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. Its oil and natural gas reserves alone total the equivalent of 1.75 billion barrels of oil. Unocal also owns the only domestic source of “rare earth” minerals, crucial to the manufacture of smart bombs and Cruise missiles.
The acquisition of Unocal is a small part of Beijing’s plans to avert a looming energy crisis. By 2025, China will consume an estimated 13 million barrels of oil a day – almost all of it imported. (By contrast, in 20 years, the US will consume roughly 8 million barrels a day.)
There’s speculation that China’s coming energy crisis may be driving its military expansion as much as its greed for Taiwan. According to the Pentagon, likely targets include the Russian Far East and Southeast Asia, with their oil and gas deposits.
To congressional hand-wringing over the Unocal deal, Beijing has basically told Washington – Butt out.
In late June, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry warned Washington not to interfere with CNOOC’s bid for Unocal, which, according to Beijing, represents “normal commercial activity between enterprises.”
But CNOOC isn’t a normal enterprise. It’s a corporate front for the Chinese Politburo. If Exxon acquires Mobil, that does not put the former in a better position to start a nuclear war at some point in time.
Beijing’s attitude toward the United States is the very definition of chutzpah. We send a low-level delegation to Taiwan, and it demands that we stop interfering in its internal affairs. At the same time, China tells us we have no right to interfere with its efforts to absorb a major American energy company. Apparently, its designs on American corporations is another of its sovereign affairs. But, look at the bright side, as yet, it hasn’t threatened to nuke us if CNOOC doesn’t get Unocal.
Taiwan is also on the receiving end of China’s bellicosity. In March, Beijing adopted its Anti-Secession Law, approved by the rubber-stamp People’s Congress, which attempted to create a legal façade for an invasion of the island.
If Taiwan makes an unspecified move toward independence, the People’s Liberation Army is now authorized to use “non-peaceful means” to counter same. Since China intends to occupy and exploit Taiwan, presumably this does not include nuclear weapons.
The Pentagon now believes China will have the capability for a full-scale amphibious invasion of Taiwan within two years. The ships, planes, missiles and subs it’s acquiring are intended to defeat an American move to save the Taiwanese.
The conquest of peaceful, prosperous, democratic Taiwan would be another milepost on the road to domination of Asia. Ownership of Taiwan would give China control of the crucial sea lanes through which its energy imports pass. Taiwan’s economy (18 largest in the world) would be harnessed to its own. The island’s naval and air bases would enable the People’s Republic to project its power south and east.
Ironically, if we allow Beijing to take Taiwan to avoid the war that General Zhu threatens, it makes a future conflict with China inevitable.