Chinese media: more fighting words

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China has made more than clear its displeasure at the US’ debt woes, admonishing Washington to get its financial house in order. But now China’s hawks demand that Beijing do more than just finger-wagging.

Following US lawmakers’ demands that US president Barack Obama should approve a request by Taiwan for advanced F16 fighter aircraft, Chinese state media have run a commentary piece demanding that China teach the US a lesson.

“China must punish US for Taiwan arm sales with ‘financial weapon’”, reads the headline of the piece by Ding Gang, a senior reporter at People’s Daily which was published in English on the website of the ruling Communist party’s mouthpiece on Monday.

The piece, which ran in Chinese last Thursday, accuses some members of Congress of disregarding China’s core interests and failing to respect China.

“China-U.S. relations will always be constrained by these people and will continue along a roller coaster pattern if China does not beat them until they feel the pain,” writes Ding.

He proposes that China could link the amount of US treasuries it holds with US arms sales to Taiwan and “require international credit rating agencies to demote US treasuries to force the United States to raise interest rates.” Another idea he comes up with is to damage employment in those states whose representatives advocate arms sales to Taiwan with targeted trade sanctions.

The furious piece is likely to raise eyebrows in America. But Ding’s line is not new, nor is the pattern of expression.

The call for punishment and pain echoes remarks by Yang Yi, a rear admiral and former head of one of China’s main military academies, early last year that “this time, China must punish the US. We must make them hurt.”

At the time, US president Barack Obama had just given final approval for a number of arms sales to Taiwan.

As early as 1999, two People’s Liberation Army officers made waves with a book under the title “Unrestricted Warfare”, arguing that in order to match an adversary so vastly superior as the US, China needs to employ non-traditional techniques of warfare, including targeting the US economy.

That theory remains highly popular, as can be seen from similar views frequently expressed on Chinese internet forums.

Ding’s article indicates just how difficult it will be to keep the only recently restarted US-China military dialogue on track once Washington decides on Taiwan’s long-stalled fighter jet request.

But published under a reporter’s name and online only, the article carries much less weight than would a proper People’s Daily editorial. Therefore there is hope that this is an expression of anger from some quarters, rather than the voice of the government.

Related reading:
China and US debt: a sanctimonious drug dealer, beyondbrics
US debt ceiling deal is double-edge sword for China, China Daily

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