January 17, 2013
Credit: Credit: Chinese Internet
It was supposed to be a relaxed evening for a group of senior international military chiefs. Gathered at Melbourne’s Crown Casino, they had changed out of uniform for dinner and discussion.
China’s Lieutenant-General Ren Haiquan took the podium in a room overlooking the Yarra River last October 29 and began diplomatically enough. But as he neared the end of his speech, he went on the offensive.
“Some people” had ignored the outcome of World War Two and were challenging the post-war order, he told counterparts from 15 other nations. It was a pointed reference to Japan’s claim over islands in the East China Sea that Beijing insists are Chinese.
“One should never forget history and (should) learn from history,” Ren said, according to a copy of his speech. “Flames of the war ignited by fascist countries engulfed the whole region, and many places, including Darwin in Australia, were bombed.”
In a jarring coincidence, say officers in the audience, fireballs belched into the sky as he spoke, part of the casino’s hourly fireworks display.
Visibly displeased at the dig, the senior Japanese officer present, army Lieutenant General Yoshiaki Nakagawa, left with his fellow officers as soon as the speeches concluded, people in the audience said.
Neither Ren nor Nakagawa were available for comment.