Monday, October 26, 2020

China ominously ups the rhetorical ante for war

Chinese President Xi Jinping (Photo: ANI)

Hong Kong, October 26 (ANI): During 70th anniversary commemorations of China's entry into the Korean War on 19 October 1950, China's el supremo jarringly promised, "It is necessary to speak to invaders in the language they know: that is, a war must be fought to deter invasion, and force must be met by force. A victory is needed to win peace and respect."

Such comments from Xi are further grist for the mill in terms of martial rhetoric emanating from China. Chairman Xi Jinping's speech was laced with nationalistic jingo, and significantly it was the first time since 2000 that a Chinese leader has given a major speech on the occasion of this Korean War anniversary.

China refers to the conflict as the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea. Chinese leaders often use history to talk about the present, even if their perspective is fundamentally warped by their opaque CCP lens.

Of course, in today's current climate with Beijing and Washington DC at loggerheads, renewing such sentiments suits Xi's purposes perfectly. Effectively, he is urging his nation to resist American bullying and to emulate the patriotism and resolve of that peasant army.

In October 1950, as United Nations (UN) forces advanced north towards North Korea's border with China, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) decided to deploy troops into Korea. China's then Premier Zhou Enlai warned: "The Chinese people cannot tolerate foreign aggression against China, nor will they stand by idly when the people of their neighboring country are subjected to wanton aggression by the imperialists." Despite no UN intention to sweep into China, Beijing characterises the war as successfully halting Western expansionism in Asia.

Beijing continues to paint the Korean War as an existential threat to itself, even though it was fought entirely on Korean soil. Indeed, while Xi might strum the heartstrings of the Chinese people with historical references, a more correct view of history would show that the CCP was on the side of a dictatorial warmonger. It was North Korea that wantonly attacked South Korea, which brought the USA and many UN members together to defy Kim Il-sung's aggression.

Last week, He Lei, former vice president of the PLA's Academy of Military Sciences, stated, "The War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea is a war of justice to defend peace and resist aggression," which is certainly a twisting of the truth. In fact, China was supporting a dangerous aggressor and resisting international efforts to restore equilibrium on the Korean Peninsula.

China continues to exult that it "defeated the US-led UN forces and won the war". This makes a mockery of China's present-day commitment to international peacekeeping, even while it continues to praise itself for fighting against the UN from 1950-53.

Xi likened it to a David-versus-Goliath situation, with China standing up to the global bully after the USA "interfered" in natural resolution of a Korean civil war. By the same token, one could equally say that China too was interfering in the natural course of the war.

Written Chinese propaganda pieces designed for the masse spurred, "It is precisely because it was a war of justice that the Chinese people could unite and confront a common enemy ... It is precisely because it was a war of justice that the peace-loving countries and people worldwide could sympathise, support and assist China and the DPRK, which finally won the war and safeguarded peace in Asia and the world."

Xi's October 23 speech, published in full by Xinhua and attended by all seven members of the Politburo Standing Committee, was clearly designed for domestic consumption. But to what purpose?

It seems to be part of a wider effort to acclimate the Chinese populace to the need for "struggle", unified behind Xi's sole headship. His references in the speech certainly reinforced a military aspect to this ideological struggle.

While the CCP continually accuses the USA of a Cold War mentality, it is more apt to ascribe such sentiments to China. Quoting Mao Zedong from 1953, Xi enthused that the Korean War "let the world know that the Chinese people are now organised and aren't to be trifled with".

Attracting applause from his audience, Xi warned, "Once provoked, things will get ugly." Without naming the USA directly, Xi took swipes at unilateralism, protectionism and arrogant hegemonic behavior. He was no doubt bitten by last week's US approval to sell to Taiwan air-launched cruise missiles and precision-guided rockets able to reach Mainland China across the Taiwan Strait.

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