A top PLA general said China should do its utmost to safeguard the hard-won, peaceful environment it had secured for its own development, giving a rare glimpse of the PLA top brass' thinking in the tense atmosphere over the territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas.
"It is the final minute of the race," said Liu Yuan, political commissar of the People's Liberation Army's General Logistics Department, in a reference to the country's past 180 years of history, when efforts to revive the country's economy were repeatedly destroyed by wars.
"We should not be interrupted by accidental [warfare] again," the official Global Times on Monday quoted Liu as saying. "What the Americans and the Japanese fear is that we will catch up with them, which is why they exhaust every possible means to suppress China's development. We should not fall into their trap."
The Global Times report was an edited and abridged version of an essay by Liu on studying the spirit of November's Party Congress report. The newspaper did not specify when Liu wrote the article, but the timing of its publication is interesting.
In an attempt to justify his argument that China should be patient and swallow any possible insult until the day it was strong enough to fight back, Liu recited several classic strategies.
These included paramount leader Deng Xiaoping's "keep a low profile, never take the lead and bide your time"; King of Yue kingdom Gou Jian's "sleep on firewood and taste the gall bladder to remind himself of the bitter taste of defeat and to reaffirm his desire for revenge"; and the legendary general of the Han dynasty (206BC-220AD) Han Xin's "shame of crawling through between someone's legs".
Liu said that while it was important to maintain a strategic peaceful period in order to ensure long-term peace, China should not shy away from taking military action when this was warranted. "Still, to the nation, [war] is the last option."
Meanwhile, deputy chief of general staff Qi Jianguo raised similar issues yesterday when he met other government departments to discuss inter-agency maritime security co-operation, saying China's principal security threat was from the sea. "Our nation's security threat mainly comes from the sea, and our nation's development focus is also on the sea," China News Service quoted Qi as saying.
Qi added that China would not provoke a maritime clash but was determined to safeguard its sovereignty and maritime rights.
Liu, a son of former president Liu Shaoqi, had once been tipped to enter the Central Military Commission, the supreme military body, but was not promoted last year. In the Global Times' excerpt, he mentioned remarks made by outgoing President Hu Jintao but did not refer to new party general secretary Xi Jinping .