Ren, the vice president of China’s Academy of Military Science, is far from the most hawkish officer in the PLA.
Among the most bellicose are in a group of about 20 military officers who have become star media and online performers in recent years, including Air Force Colonel Dai Xu, retired army Major General Luo Yuan and Rear Admiral Zhang Zhaozhong.
Their commentary and blogs get widespread coverage in state-owned media, military publications and specialist websites that cater to a vast domestic audience eager for news and opinion about China’s growing military power.
“It also serves to instill a sense of pride and patriotism that China under the present government has become strong and a force to be reckoned with by the big powers,” said Sun Yun, an expert on Chinese foreign and security policy at the Washington-based Stimson Centre.
Their commentary is in demand as part of the extensive coverage devoted to the new warships, tanks, missiles and strike aircraft now entering service with the PLA. The impact of these new weapons is endlessly analyzed, particularly in scenarios where China is at war with the United States and its regional allies.
For retired officers on modest PLA pensions, this market for commentary and analysis provides extra income and the gratification of a high profile in the media, Chinese military experts say. And, serving officers can advance their careers if their views strike a chord with the military hierarchy.
SHORT, DECISIVE WAR
The Air Force Colonel, Dai Xu, is renowned for his regular calls to arms. With China in dispute for much of last year with Japan in the East China Sea and Vietnam and the Philippines in the South China Sea, Dai argued a short, decisive war, like China’s 1962 border clash with India, would deliver long-term peace. He also said Washington would not risk war with China over these territorial spats.
“Since we have decided that the U.S. is bluffing in the East China Sea, we should take this opportunity to respond to these empty provocations with something real,” he wrote in an August 28 commentary published in the Chinese-language edition of the Global Times, a nationalistic tabloid published by the Communist Party organ, the People’s Daily.