- The Chinese military is urging government for a stronger, and potentially, armed response against US and its allies
- The military leadership is pushing to go in and give China’s rival a bloody nose
- However, some leaders acknowledged that China is unlikely to win in a military confrontation with the US
The Chinese military is reportedly calling for a ‘stronger response’ against rival nations in the raging territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea/South China Sea following a court ruling that delegitimized Beijing’s historical claim to almost the entire contested waters.
Citing sources within the military, Reuters said China’s military leaders is pushing for a ‘stronger, potentially armed’ response against the United States and its allies who vowed to defend the freedom of navigation and uphold the recent Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ruling that dealt a big blow to China’s reputation as a regional power.
The source reportedly expressed the readiness of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to go to war if such situation cannot be avoided.
“We should go in and give them a bloody nose like Deng Xiaoping did to Vietnam in 1979,” Reuters quoted its source as saying; referring to China’s invasion of Vietnam after the latter forces Khmer Rouge, China’s known ally back then, out of power in Cambodia.
Another source also described the mood within the PLA as ‘combative’; saying the military has been “hardened” by the current situation brought about by the US’ intervention in the maritime conflict.
“The United States will do what it has to do. We will do what we have to do. The entire military side has been hardened. It was a huge loss of face,” said the other source who has ties with the government.
However, another source acknowledged that China is very much aware of the consequences if the tension escalates into a full blown military conflict, and thus, is very unlikely to wage war against the US.
The source added Chinese leaders still prefer for the resumption of talks between rivals than initiating a clash which it knew would not likely win. The leaders are also very much concerned about the international reactions if the territorial row ends up in war.
“They’re very worried by the international reaction,” the source – a diplomat – revealed. “They are genuine about wanting to get talks back on track. The leadership will have to think long and hard about where to go next.”
He also admitted the Chinese Navy cannot take on the Americans and it would only be the ordinary Chinese people who would end up suffering.
While “war is unlikely” at present, the source added, the military is pressed on conducting more military exercises in the area, and there lies the risk of miscalculation which cannot be ruled out since they expect the US naval vessels to continue to come as well.