Fighting Westernization

Article excerpt


fighting Westernization

Two of China's most secretive military leaders in charge of the People's Liberation Army's strategic nuclear and missile forces have called for missile troops to fight against becoming Westernized.

Gen. Jing Zhiyuan, commander of China's 2nd Artillery Forces, which operate all nuclear weapons and strategic missiles, and his political commissar, Gen. Zhang Haiyang, made the comments in a jointly signed June 9 article in the official Communist Party newspaper People's Daily.

The prominently displayed article was unusual because China's nuclear forces are the most secret element of the military.

The two generals vowed their absolute resolve to resist any Westernization and to guarantee the missile forces' total submission to the command of the Party.

Such statements are part of the military's ritual exercise of swearing loyalty before next year's major 18th Communist Party Congress, as occurred in the months leading up to congresses in 2002 and 2007.

The timing suggests something Byzantine may well be at play. Gen. Jing is widely reported in China as the man Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates most wanted to talk to in person in Washington. Instead, Mr. Gates saw Gen. Zhang, who was given extra attention a few weeks ago in Washington when he surprisingly was included in the PLA delegation. Such nuclear generals are rarely allowed to visit the West.

Frequently in the past, favorable attention given to Chinese officials from foreign leaders has been a deadly trigger for political purges, as the party remains extremely paranoid about foreign infiltration among its top generals.

As China's leading 2nd Artillery Forces blogger, Song Zhongping (blog name Chief of Staff Hu), wrote in January, repeated invitations from the United States and especially Mr. Gates for Gen. Jing, and his predecessors, to visit the United States are part of a sinister objective: to drag Jing Zhiyuan to the U.S. in the name of military exchange so that the Americans could 'lure and trap' him for more information [about nuclear forces].

Historically, this paranoia kills. In 1959, Mao Zedong sacked his defense minister, Marshal Peng Dehuai, for his alleged collusion with leaders of the Soviet bloc in criticizing Mao during his fateful visit to Moscow immediately prior to the sacking. …