The third plenary session of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) 18th Central Committee may have called for reform, but once the meeting was over, the focus was placed on military expansion. Of the 5,000 characters in the meeting report, a mere 153 were dedicated to military issues, which only goes to show that one should pay attention to what the CCP does and not what it says. It goes without saying that nothing was said about all the military issues involved in setting up a national security council.
The only thing that connected the session to military expansion were the Chinese stock indices. When the session closed on Nov. 12, the Shanghai Composite Index fell 1.83 percent while the Shenzhen Component Index fell 2.03 percent. Despite that, military industry and riot control concept shares kept going up, some of them even rising to the daily limit. At that time, the report had still not been published, but well-connected people had already begun to play the stock market.
As expected, China immediately announced a series of military activities. On Nov. 15, the military drills taking place in the Bohai Gulf and the Yellow Sea were extended from Nov. 14 and Nov. 15 to Nov. 22. This included exercises in Shandong Province aimed at attacking residential areas in cities and towns on islands. It is obvious that these targeted Japan and Taiwan. On Nov. 18, Beijing called an army-wide meeting dealing with logistical preparations for military conflict. Is Beijing preparing for war?
On Nov. 20, Wang Hongguang (王洪光), former deputy commander of the Nanjing Military Region, expressed his animosity to Taiwan in an article in the state-run Global Times newspaper. In response to the delivery of six Apache helicopters from the US to Taiwan, Wang said that the People’s Liberation Army is fully capable of dealing with Apache helicopters.
On Saturday, China’s defense ministry announced the East China Sea air defense identification zone, which includes the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台). Called the Senkakus in Japan, the islands are claimed by Taiwan, China and Japan. According to the announcement, aircraft flying over the zone must identify themselves. Failure to do so could result in military action.
Japan, the US and South Korea have reacted strongly to China’s announcement. The US condemned it, saying it upset the “status quo.” China’s foreign ministry responded by saying that it was not allowed to make irresponsible remarks. It also said that it would announce further zones when the time was right. It is easy see that above all, this will affect countries bordering the South China Sea such as Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia.
China’s military expansion is becoming a serious threat to peace in Asia. According to Leninist theory, the rise of imperialism will lead to war due to demands for a redistribution of resources and redrawing spheres of influence. China’s actions are following in the footsteps of past imperialist countries.
Faced with China’s neo-imperialist military threat, will the US follow in the footsteps of former British prime minister Neville Chamberlain, whose appeasement policies failed to prevent the outbreak of World War II, or will it make a decisive move and nip any conflict in the bud?
Faced with China’s provocations, will President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) continue to talk about “peace dividends” and lull the Taiwanese public and its allies the US and Japan into believing that things are just dandy? Will the lackeys in the Ma administration go along with Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits Chairman Chen Deming (陳德銘) and hide China’s ambitions to annex Taiwan behind empty rhetoric?