PLA hawks accuse US of provocation over military drills

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 August, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 August, 2010, 12:00am

The People's Liberation Army mouthpiece hit out at the United States again yesterday, for the second day running, saying that planned joint military exercises on Beijing's doorstep were provocative and aimed at encircling a rising China.

The commentary was written by Yang Yi , a retired PLA rear admiral, who in a television interview earlier in the week warned Vietnam it would regret its decision to hold a seven-day joint naval drill with the US in the disputed South China Sea.

Yesterday he said Beijing was angry over planned joint military exercises between the US and South Korea in the Yellow Sea because the location was on the doorstep of 'China's political and economic heartland'.

'China has made solemn representations to the US so many times, while [the joint military exercise] also provokes public outcry,' Yang wrote. 'The US didn't rethink its wrongdoing, but criticised China for overreacting [over the joint drill] and even claimed that Beijing has 'pride' in being a rising great power.'

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said last week that the aircraft carrier USS George Washington would participate in a follow-up drill in the Yellow Sea. It will be the first time a US carrier has come so close to Beijing and Tianjin . Both cities will be within the carrier's surveillance and attack range of 1,200 kilometres.

'Besides expressing its dissatisfaction to North Korea, the US even more wants to send a signal to other countries in the Northeast Asia region that the US still remains the world's top military power,' Yang wrote. 'Anyone with good sense can see that this carries something of a warning to China.'

The commentary followed a similarly angry warning written by retired PLA general Luo Yuan on Thursday sharing the same headline - 'Comments on the US aircraft carrier's participation in the Yellow Sea military drill'.

'All evidence tells us that so far the US has benefited the most in the sinking of [the South Korean warship] Cheonan,' Yang wrote. 'The US didn't only pull Japan and South Korea back to its side, but also got China into trouble.'

He said the military drills were aimed at encircling Beijing by drawing its Asian neighbours to the US side. He also criticised the 'chaotic Sino-US diplomatic policy' adopted by the Obama administration. 'On the one hand, [the US] wants China to co-operate with it to deal with the global financial meltdown. On the other hand, it is unhappy that China is playing an objective role in regional security issues,' he wrote. 'The US is engaging in an increasingly tight encirclement of China and constantly challenging China's core interests.'

Dr Richard Hu, a Sino-US relations expert and director of the international relations programme at the University of Hong Kong, said it was normal for the Obama administration to adopt such a confusing diplomatic policy toward Beijing.

'Unlike the single-minded Republican Party, the Democratic Party has a traditional double-face style. In the Clinton administration's era in the 1990s, the US on one side sold weapons to Taiwan, but on one side shook hands with Beijing,' he said. 'It's a fact that current Sino-US relations are not very good, but it's far from a crisis.

'The PLA Daily published Yang and Luo's articles amid the venting of anger by some military hawks as well as the public over the current Sino-US diplomatic tension,' he said. 'But their opinions could not represent Beijing government's official standpoint as both Yang and Luo are retired PLA officers.'

Striking distance

The USS George Washington will take part in drills in the Yellow Sea

The aircraft carrier has a surveillance and attack range of, in kilometres: 1,200