It was grotesquely ironic that a senior People’s Liberation Army officer threatened Taiwan on Sunday in a blunt warning to the United States and its allies.
The date was not lost on those that still remember or mourn the thousands of pro-democracy activists that were massacred around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Sunday, June 4 marked the 34th anniversary of when the tanks rolled in and PLA troops opened fire on peaceful protesters. Many were just young students calling for political change.
At the time, Defense Minister Li Shangfu was in his thirties and a serving officer of the PLA, the military wing of the ruling Communist Party of China.
On Sunday, he addressed the Shangri-La Dialogue forum in Singapore decked out in his full dress uniform and bristling with verbal missiles.
“China must be and will be reunified. If anyone dares to separate Taiwan from China, the Chinese military will not hesitate for a second,” General Li, now aged 65, said.
“We fear no opponents and will resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity regardless of [the] cost,” he added, even though the Communist Party’s “territorial” claim on the democratic island of Taiwan has no historical precedent.
War of words:
- General Li was just parroting his master’s voice, the thoughts of “Chairman of Everything” Xi Jinping, the Chinese military’s warlord.
- He did reiterate “that a confrontation between China and the US” would be a “disaster for the world.”
- But Li was quick to blame Washington for rising tension in the South China Sea, despite the PLA’s reckless behavior in the region.
Delve deeper: Beijing has created this highly volatile situation in a vital maritime super highway by building military bases on artificial islands, bullying its neighbors and conducting live-fire naval drills around Taiwan.
Between the lines: Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin made it clear before Li’s speech that the US would not stand for China’s “coercion and bullying” of its allies.
What he said: “We are committed to ensuring that every country can fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows, And every country, large or small, must remain free to conduct lawful maritime activities.”
Big picture: Beijing’s state-run media has been running a major disinformation campaign to fire up nationalism as the world’s second-largest economy tanks and foreign investment dries up. China Daily described Washington as “sociopathic” in an editorial on Sunday.
China Factor comment: The Tiananmen Square Massacre has been erased from history in China. But now, President Xi wants to export this form of brute force. Taiwan is the next target after the Xicophants crushed the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong.