Paramilitary police guard the entrance of Tiananmen Gate in Beijing. Photo: AP

A high-ranking People's Liberation Army representative has called on China to counter increasing Western cultural infiltration, especially among young people.

The West led by the United States has turned to soft power to undermine the Chinese political system, Chongqing garrison commander of the People's Liberation Army Zhu Heping wrote in an article in the Guangming Daily on Monday.

"Western cultural infiltration techniques are very clever in their deception and hidden nature," the one-star general wrote. "This 'cultural colonialism' is like 'slowly boiling a frog': the young generation can easily lose its will to resist without knowing", referring to the proverb in which a frog will not escape if placed in water as it boils.

"Western hostile forces seize every opportunity to sneak attacks against us, and they are pressing harder and harder," the former secretary to the PLA ex-chief of staff Zhang Wannian wrote.  

In an often used analogy among hawks, he compared the current confrontation to the 1952 Battle of Triangle Hill. In one of the bloodiest episodes of the Korean war, US-led United Nations forces failed to conquer a position held by Chinese auxiliary forces fighting for North Korea.

Zhu suggested China should work on expanding its own soft power abroad "to fight on the cultural front".

His comments came on the same day Joseph Nye, who coined the term "soft power", said in an  article in Foreign Policy that China's efforts in promoting its soft power had "turned stale".

China made "the mistake of thinking that government is the main instrument of soft power", the Harvard scholar wrote.

Zhu condemned "Western hostile forces" for "stoking a depoliticisation of the armed forces", calling it a "vain attempt to change the nature and purpose of our military, and posing a serious threat to our ideological core".

These comments could be directed more at domestic attempts to rein in the military under Xi Jinping's leadership, rather than foreign "cultural aggression".

Under Hu Jintao's presidency, which ended in March, relations between the government and the military soured. Last year, a frustrated general even reportedly " lashed out in drunken rage" during a dinner with Hu.

Many comments online wrongly identified the general with a homonymous grandson of Zhu De, the founding father of the People's Liberation Army, who as a one-star general is serving as deputy head of the People's Liberation Army's Air Force Command College.