'Wage war in South China Sea'
There is logic, benefit and good reason for China to wage a war in the South China Sea, with the Philippines and Vietnam being the two key targets, an energy expert says.
A commentary published in the Global Times - a newspaper under the Communist Party's People's Daily - on Tuesday said the South China Sea was the 'ideal battlefield' for China to wage small-scale wars with rival claimants to territory in the area.
The article, headlined 'The Time to Use Force Has Arrived in the South China Sea', was written by Long Tao, a strategic analyst with the China Energy Fund Committee, a non-government think tank.
Long listed several reasons to support his view, saying China would not lose anything by going to war.
'To China, [a war in the South China Sea] is the ideal battlefield. I feel that in a battle in the South China Sea, we should reduce the area(s) we strike, and lock down those who are acting out the most right now, the Philippines and Vietnam,' he wrote, adding that punishing the Philippines and Vietnam would also warn other Southeast Asian countries to stop making trouble.
'We don't need to imitate the efforts of the United States in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. This is a war that we would definitely win. We should fight artfully, and very possibly have it become a moral education expedition, winning them [other countries] over with tactics.'
Long criticised some Chinese scholars' view that military conflicts should be avoided in the South China Sea because of the likelihood of intervention by the US.
'Currently, the US has not completely got out of the 'war on terror'. Problems in the Middle East are still unclear. The US is fundamentally unable to start a second war in the South China Sea. America's rigid position is all a bluff,' he wrote.
'There's logic, there's benefit, and there are restraints, but still we must hold true to our principles. With regards to China's determination for a large-scale war and actual preparation for a small-scale war, China has given the right to choose between war and peace to other nations.'
Long's article was soon circulated by internet users, with almost 2,000 messages supporting his view. An English version of his commentary was posted on the English website of China Iron and Blood, a military website collecting popular articles from Chinese forums, on Wednesday.
Also on Tuesday, the Global Times published an article by Sun Peisong , a director of the government-backed Lianyungang Development Research Institute in Jiangsu province, that criticised Long's view, saying any critical moves made by China in the South China Sea disputes would be exaggerated by the US in order to contain China's rising global influence. Both Sun and Long's commentaries were published side by side.
However, more than 1,000 infuriated internet users branded Sun a 'traitor'.
Many military experts with links to the People's Liberation Army were reluctant to comment on Long's article because it 'was a sensitive topic' at odds with the country's peaceful development policy.
Civilian military analyst Ni Lexiong said Long's article represented the view of some mainlanders on the South China Sea issue and that it was rare for a publication such as the Global Times to publish it.
'All military experts know that China is capable of dealing with such a war, but our leaders still lack courage and determination,' Ni said.
A retired PLA colonel, who requested anonymity, said the government's tolerant policy on the South China Sea disputes was a result of its inability to exploit and develop oil and natural gas reserves in the area.
'But a war will be inevitable if the Philippines and Vietnam push China into a corner,' he said.