The US House of Representatives has called for the sacking of the Chinese Communist Party’s Major-General Zhu Chenghu after his recent statement that China would attack over one hundred American cities with nuclear weapons if the United States interferes in a war between Communist China and Taiwan.
General Zhu was speaking at a function for foreign journalists organized by the Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry on July 14. During the function Zhu said: “We...will prepare ourselves for the destruction of all of the [Chinese] cities east of Xian. Of course, the Americans will also have to expect that hundreds...of cities will be destroyed by the Chinese.” Zhu has previously said that China has the capability to attack the USA with long range missiles. The general is a professor and dean in China’s No. 1 National Defense University Strategic Defense Institute which is under the direct leadership of the CCP’s Central Military Committee.
Britain’s London Telegraph published an editorial titled, “The Bullies in Beijing,” in which the editors said that Zhu’s speech is similar to one made by Mao Zedong in 1957. Mao said that nuclear war would both raze “imperialism” to the ground and kill half the world’s people. Although General Zhu is not currently a member of Mainland’s China’s policy establishment, his speech was given during the critical period of US-China trade discussions and the Kuomintang’s presidential election in Taiwan.
Purposely Arranged by Beijing
The Chinese Communist Party did not reject Zhu’s speech and a spokesperson from the Foreign Affairs Ministry said Zhu’s speech was his own personal opinion. This spokesperson declined to comment on whether or not the speech represented the government’s view.
Although General Zhu emphasized that what he said was his own opinion, a Pentagon official, speaking to a reporter at the Washington Times, said that Chinese generals normally express only official positions and that Zhu’s comments represent the views of senior Chinese military officers. “These comments are a signal to all of Asia that China does not fear US forces,” this official said. He added that a disclosure such as this of elements in a Chinese war plan may have either been inadvertent, or cleared in advance by senior political leaders.
Professor Tang Ben of the Claremont Institute’s Asian Studies Center published an article in Singapore’s Lianhe Zaobao on July 20, in which he asserted that what General Zhu alluded to was actually Beijing’s strategy to deal with current world circumstances, even though Beijing labeled his remarks as “personal opinion.” Professor Tang wrote that people aware of the CCP’s diplomatic history would know that Zhu’s speech was purposely arranged by Beijing and not written by himself.
Tang says that China has always used diplomats to discuss major issues, to prevent its military from commenting on sensitive foreign affairs topics. So in this instance, according to Professor Tang, CCP leaders in Zhongnanhai (the Chinese Kremlin) used a medium ranking official to state what they themselves could not say publicly.
Andrew Yang, Secretary General of the Taiwan Council of Advanced Policy Studies (CAPS), said that Zhu’s speech is specifically directed at both the United States and Japan, because they announced for the first time that Taiwan’s security is of concern to both countries. Beijing’s communist government is watching how they respond in order to learn what policy will be adopted towards China. Mr. Yang also said that Zhu’s speech means the decision-makers in Beijing have already had discussions regarding changes in China’s “no nuclear first strike policy.”
Speech Represents Views of Some of the Military
The editor of Taiwan’s Top Technology military magazine, Mr. Xie Zhongping, is not surprised that Zhu’s speech represents the views of some inside the Chinese military. Mr. Xie said that the part of the speech referring to the destruction of hundreds of American cities is the basic estimate of the situation by part of the Chinese military, even the government. His explanation is that the CCP’s government could tolerate more civilian and military casualties than could the US government or people.
In an interview with Austria’s Die Presse, political science professor Ming Chu-cheng of Taiwan University said he also believes that General Zhu’s speech represents the view of part of the Chinese military. Professor Ming believes that Beijing uses fanatical nationalism to manipulate China’s internal affairs, to divert attention from the increasing poverty in the countryside and people’s lack of confidence. All the saber-rattling over Taiwan serves to warn and quell any rebellion inside China.
US Congress Asks China to Sack its General
US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack called Zhu’s remarks “highly irresponsible” and told reporters that they hoped these were not the views of the Chinese government.
On July 20, the US House of Representatives passed an amendment drafted by Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-CO) that “expresses the sense of Congress that recent comments made by Chinese Major General Zhu Chenghu which openly advocate the use of nuclear weapons against the United States damage US-China relations and violate China’s commitment to resolve its differences with Taiwan peacefully. It further expresses that the government of the People’s Republic of China should renounce the use of force against Taiwan, reject General Zhu’s statements and remove Zhu from his position.”
Also on July 20, in an amendment to the Appropriation Bill for the Department of State, the House urged the State Department to allow senior Taiwanese officials to visit the United States and communicate with their US counterparts. The House amendment specifically named Taiwan’s President, Vice-President, and the ministers of foreign affairs and defense as examples, and said it is in the interests of the United States for them to visit.