China Power

Who Speaks for China?

There’s a noticeable difference between PLA officers’ rhetoric and the govt’s.

An interesting phenomenon in China is how its military officers continue to undermine the government’s careful efforts at reassuring over China’s rise. Last month on the APAC Insider blog I highlighted a Times article that quoted a number of PLA officers calling for (demanding?) a forceful response to the Obama administration’s sale of arms to Taiwan.

Yesterday, Reuters reported that a PLA officer who has just penned a book called ‘The China dream’ argued that the rivalry between China and the United States is a ‘competition to be the leading country, a conflict over who rises and falls to dominate the world.’

Senior Colonel Liu Mingfu is quoted as going on to say:

‘This book represents my personal views, but I think it also reflects a tide of thought…We need a military rise as well as an economic rise.’

The piece rightly notes that an indication of how much the Chinese leadership is listening to such expectations will be clearer this week, when China announces its defence budget for this year.
Either way, all this hardly sits well with China’s insistence (when it suits, at least) that it is a developing country that won’t, in the words of Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi speaking with the China Daily in an interview that appeared yesterday, ‘do things that go beyond our strength and current level of development.’