Admiral says PLA's strength, intentions should be displayed

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 November, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 November, 2009, 12:00am

Beijing should not be shy of displaying the full breadth of its growing military power and intentions to the world, a senior naval officer wrote in comments published yesterday.

In a commentary in the Global Times, a newspaper published by party mouthpiece the People's Daily, Naval Rear Admiral Yang Yi said Beijing should expand its military power and need not hide this from the world.

'We should confidently and overtly tell the US and other countries that China needs to expand its overseas military power because of the continuation of national interests abroad,' wrote Yang, director of the Strategic Studies Institute under the People's Liberation Army's National Defence University

'For example, we [should make clear] how many aircraft carrier battle groups and what scale of strategic nuclear forces we want to develop in the coming years.'

While hi hawkish tone does not necessarily represent the views of top army brass in general, it does show that they are more being assertive than in the past. Army officers have seldom publicly talked about military intentions or directly commented on international politics.

Yang said Sino-US strategic relations were moving from the level of 'common interest' to 'balance of power'.

'At the moment, common interest is not enough,' he wrote. 'Sino-US military relations will be enhanced when the gap between the Chinese and US armies narrows.' Yang said strategic ties would become stable once Beijing developed powerful aircraft carrier battle groups, nuclear weapons that could defeat all guided-missile defence systems, and PLA naval and air forces that were capable of jointly engaging in remote battle operations.

Yang warned the United States to stay out of affairs between the mainland and Taiwan.

'The Taiwan issue has been the most sensitive and explosive problem,' he wrote. 'This is a friendly reminder to the US - please be careful, careful, careful, and don't think Beijing won't dare to declare war with Washington.'

Anthony Wong Dong, president of the International Military Association, an independent grouping of observers based in Macau, said the article was a candid assessment.

'PLA officials found that the 'China threat theory' was not stirred up when the army showed some of its more advanced weapons on the National Day parade [on October 1],' Wang said. 'Indeed, it's impossible to cover up the aircraft carrier project and the fact the Chinese navy is heading out to sea [to the Gulf of Aden].'

Late last year, Beijing announced that it would start its first aircraft carrier construction project, and last month it announced plans to build a new generation of large destroyers.

Yang's article follows strident comments by the PLA air force commander Xu Qiliang earlier this month, which included mention of the 'inevitable' weaponisation of space.