China’s so-called “peaceful rise” in Asia is facing a few roadblocks as its rhetoric becomes increasingly aggressive.
In the past week, China has issued strong threats to four different countries, namely the U.S., South Korea, Singapore, and Japan, in response to perceived challenges on the Korean Peninsula and in the South China Sea.
“If the United States and South Korea harm the strategic security interests of countries in the region, including China, then they are destined to pay the price for this and receive a proper counter attack,” explained a People’s Daily op-ed Saturday. The article was a criticism of U.S. and South Korean plans to deploy a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile shield on the Korean Peninsula.
The article was written under the pseudonym Zhong Sheng, “Voice of China,” which indicates that it reflects the government’s foreign policy views.
“The Chinese side will follow closely the deployment and take necessary measures to safeguard China’s strategic security and regional strategic balance. What needs to be emphasized is that we Chinese mean what we say,” Ministry of Defense Spokesman Senior Col. Yang Yujun said Thursday.
China claims that the THAAD X-band radar will threaten Chinese national security by enabling Americans to peer into Chinese territory.
Singapore is also drawing Chinese criticism.
Singapore will “pay the price for seriously damaging China’s interests,” Jin Yinan, director of the strategic research institute at the PLA’s National Defense University, said on state radio Thursday.
Jin accused Singapore of turning the South China Sea disputes into major international issues. He also said that Singapore, by bringing up the disputes at key international summits and meetings, is attempting to stir up conflict between the United States and China, as well as between China and other regional actors.
“We understand [Singapore] has to survive among big countries. But now Singapore is not seeking balance among big countries – it is playing big countries off against each other … this is playing with fire,” Jin explained.
“It’s inevitable for China to strike back at Singapore, and not on the public opinion front. Since Singapore has gone thus far, we have got to do something, be it retaliation or sanctions. We must express our discontent,” he added.
Skirting along the edges of China’s “red line” in the sea, Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada said last month that Japan will conduct joint patrols in the South China Sea with the U.S.
“We’d like to tell the Japanese side that if Japan wants to conduct joint patrols and joint exercises in China-administered waters, it is just like playing fire and the Chinese military will not sit idle,” Col. Yang said.
China referred to itself as a “staunch force for peace and stability” in May, but Chinese rhetoric may indicate otherwise.
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