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Major General Luo Yuan: The U.S.-Korea Naval Yellow Sea War Games against China

[Editor’s Note: During a recent Internet chat on China’s Military-on-line, Major General Luo Yuan, Deputy Secretary General of the China Association for Military Science, listed five points to explain why China opposes the upcoming U.S.-Korea joint military exercise in the Yellow Sea. He made the accusation that the war games are an “American Military Threat” against China. Following is the translation of a news report on General Luo’s chat] [1]

People’s Military-on-line July 13, 2010

Reporter: Huang Zijuan

On July 13, Major General Luo Yuan, deputy secretary general of the China Association for Military Science, hosted an Internet chat on Military-on-line of China’s People Net. He interacted with people on-line regarding the U.S.-Korea joint military exercise in the Yellow Sea, where the U.S. nuclear aircraft carrier George Washington was heading.

Recently, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Deputy Chief of Staff Ma Xiaotian and the Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Qin Gang both publicly expressed their opposition to the fact that foreign aircraft and warships were to engage in activities in the Yellow Sea and other ocean areas close to China, and which affected China’s security and interest. When asked about the basis for opposing the U.S.-Korea war games in the open sea, Luo Yuan offered five points:

First, from a security perspective, Mao Zedong once said, “How can you tolerate loud snores next to your own bed?” That means we cannot allow others to snore around the bed where we sleep. That being said, how could we allow others to play with guns and cannons in our backyard? Let’s switch places with the United States. If we had a war game in the neighborhood of the U.S. or near the U.S. coast, would the U.S. tolerate it? An old saying has it: “one should treat others as one would like to be treated.” If you do not like it, do not force it upon others.

Second, from a strategic perspective, we should prepare for the worst and fight for the best. The bottom line is to prevent disaster from happening. We should maintain an awareness of danger. The best strategy is to defeat the enemy without a fight. We should dissolve and mitigate a crisis. That means we should prevent the crisis. Our strong reaction is a part of preventive diplomacy. China has a good memory, we do not forget things. In our memory, the Yellow Sea has her scars. For example, the Sino-Japanese War of 1894 took place there. The Peiyang Navy Headquarters was in Weihai on the coast of the Yellow Sea. That war was a humiliation to us. Therefore, the area is a very sensitive place, and we do not let others touch it.

Third, from a geographic perspective, the Yellow Sea is the entrance to Beijing, a critical pathway to access the Beijing-Tianjin-Tanggu region. Several past foreign invasions all used the Yellow Sea to enter the Beijing-Tianjin-Tanggu region, which is China’s heartland. The U.S.-Korea exercise happens within 500 kilometers of Beijing. In such a short distance, no matter which country did the exercises, we would be worried. Now the U.S. has sent the George Washington to the Yellow Sea. Its combat radius is 600 kilometers; in addition, the airplanes on the carrier can fly 1000 kilometers. Therefore, things happening in this region directly threatened our heartland and the safety of the Bohai Sea economic zone.

Fourth, on Korean Peninsula security issues, the UN Security Council just published a Chairman’s statement about the Cheonan incident. The statement is not targeted at a specific country, but it condemned the incident. It did not name the culprit but called all parties to remain calm and restrained. Currently, the Korean Peninsula is full of danger. The joint military exercise does not help resolve the issue. It only adds new tension. This is another reason why we strongly oppose the exercise. For the Peninsula’s safety, people should stop making new trouble. They should control and resolve the current crisis.

Fifth, in order to maintain a good Sino-U.S. relationship, especially our military cooperation with America, it is imperative for us to clearly state our position. China has always been working toward a healthy Sino-U.S. military relationship. Not long ago, we made that very clear. Deputy Chief of Staff Ma Xiaotian also indicated that we would invite Secretary of Defense Gates to visit China at an appropriate time.

As Ma Xiaotian clearly stated in the Singapore Conference, the three major barriers to Sino-U.S. exchange are: first, arms sales to Taiwan; second, the U.S. aircraft and warships’ frequent surveillance activities in China’s East Sea and South Sea; and third, the U.S. National Defense Authorization Act and Delay Amendment that limit military exchanges with China in 12 categories. These barriers have not been eliminated, and now the U.S. has created a new barrier. Especially now, the U.S. uses not only aircraft and warships, but also a nuclear submarine, an Arleigh Burke guided-missile destroyer, and more importantly, an aircraft carrier.

Luo Yuan indicated that the U.S. sent the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk to the region in 1994. We had a strong reaction to that. Since then, no aircraft carrier has come to the Yellow Sea. According to the U.S. and South Korea, the war games are to put pressure on North Korea, especially its submarines. However, the Yellow Sea is a gateway to China. A military exercise here is also a military survey. Regardless of the real target, the aircraft carrier brought in a strong capability of surveillance and detection. They are able to scrutinize the hydrogeology in the surrounding waters. They can obtain every single detail of our ocean gateway. The Yellow Sea is an open sea. Chinese submarines also come to this area. The U.S. wants to obtain critical hydrogeology data for future use. The joint military exercise has two purposes: one is strategic military surveillance; the other is to validate their war plan. Both pose threats to us. The U.S. has always talked about China’s military threat. Ironically, the U.S.-Korea war games prove that it is the U.S. military that threatens China, not the other way around.

[1] People’s Daily, July 13, 2010