A show of force

Kathrin Hille

Fears are growing over the hold China’s well-equipped army has on foreign policy


When the US announced its decision last week to help Taiwan upgrade its fleet of ageing fighter aircraft, the response was swift and sharp. China should take “smart and devious revenge”, advised Major General Luo Yuan, deputy secretary-general of the academy of military sciences. He went on to demand “a tooth for a tooth from those who violate China’s interests”, suggesting his country learn from Russia and deploy missiles against America.

The biblical language and the cold war references make it difficult not to perceive China’s military as a belligerent force bent on confronting the US. In the past two years, a series of fierce outbursts from men in uniform, combined with constant friction with neighbours, and the People’s Liberation Army’s rapidly growing capabilities, have triggered complaints about an assertive, even aggressive, Beijing. Many outside China believe that the PLA is behind this push.

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