“EXPRESS YOUR BOTTOM LINE”
Retired army Major General Luo Yuan is a gruff, plain-speaking member of China’s top government advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. Luo, who often appears in uniform for his television appearances or panel discussions, has built up a strong online and media following with frequent hard-line advice for dealing with maritime disputes.
His suggestions, however, that Taiwan and mainland China should send hundreds of fishing boats to the Diaoyu islands to fight a “people’s war at sea” and to turn the tiny, uninhabited islands into a firing range appear to have been tongue in cheek.
“Chinese aircraft can bomb the islands on Monday, Wednesday and Friday,” Luo said at a seminar in Hangzhou on September 29, “while the Taiwanese can launch attacks on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.”
Mixed in with his sometimes combustible rhetoric are practical suggestions, including his recent recommendation that China form a coastguard on the U.S. model to unify the nine government agencies that have overlapping jurisdiction over maritime policing.
In a telephone interview, Luo told Reuters from Beijing all soldiers had a duty to be “hawks”.
The chance of conflict in the South China Sea and East China sea this year is arguably high because rival claimants had enacted domestic laws to legitimize overlapping sovereignty claims and had deployed forces to prevent encroachments, he said. This meant China must take precautions to prevent clashes.
“It’s crucial to express your standpoint and bottom line so others will know that China is committed to the use of diplomatic measures to resolve the dispute but China is also not afraid of conflict,” he said.
That was basically the line from the Chinese Defense Ministry in a written reply to questions about the hawkish officers. The government would never waver in its determination to maintain China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, the ministry said. “At the same time, we have always upheld the peaceful resolution of international disputes and resolving problems with relevant countries through dialogue, negotiation and equal consultations.”