Former CCP Defense Secretary Chi Haotian: The war is coming to us


Editor: Chi Haotian, also spelled as Chih Hao-tien, is a retired general of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. He served as the former Vice Chairman of the Military Commission of the Communist Party of China from 1995 to 2002. Chi played an important role in directing the military’s enforcement of martial law in Beijing to suppress the Tiananmen Square Protests. You might find his speech disturbing but telling a lot about the mindset and strategies the CCP leaders have been held for years. This speech was estimated to be given shortly before the second report: “War is not far from us, it is the midwife of the Chinese century”.

“Hong Kong Labor Party Forum”, September 22, 2005


I wrote down this subject with a heavy heart, because the process of China’s modernization has been repeatedly interrupted by external forces and direct aggression. The most typical one is the so-called “Golden Decade” in 1927-37. This so-called “Golden Decade” is not “Golden” at all. Among these years, there was the fall of Northeast China on 9.18 in 1931, and the establishment of the Puppet regime in East Hebei. Generally speaking, China’s economy developed rapidly from 1927 to 37, and the construction of infrastructure made considerable progress. Construction of the military had also improved, which gave China a little hope.

But there is something that Japan cannot tolerate. Japan is not satisfied with the embezzlement of the three provinces in Eastern China, so it eagerly launched a full-scale war against China. China had no choice but to fight back for eight years. Although China won, it lost outer Mongolia, the vitality was greatly injured, and the total loss was more than 600 billion dollars. After eight years of war, China, which was originally poor and weak, became even more impoverished. That being said, eight years war with Japan has greatly delayed China’s modernization process.

Not allowing China to develop and hindering China’s modernization process has always been the unchangeable national policy of the great powers, especially Japan. We should have learned the most painful lesson from history. There is a cooperation between countries, but what is more essential is competition, conflict, and the extreme form of conflict — War. Cooperation is temporary and conditional, competition and conflict are absolute, and are the main axis of history. Therefore, the so-called peace and development as contemporary themes are completely wrong (at least, it can only be used as a stopgap measure). The statement neither has any theoretical basis that can withstand scrutiny nor does it conform to facts and history.

Not to mention the geographical and historical rivals of China and Japan. Even the split between China and the Soviet Union in the 1960s is enough to show that any country takes the pursuit of national interests as the only code of action, without leaving any room for morality. Back then, China and the Soviet Union shared a common ideology and faced a common enemy. Moreover, China’s low level of technology made it impossible for China to pose a threat to the Soviet Union. However, China and the Soviet Union still split and moved towards a sharp confrontation. There are many reasons for this, but a fundamental reason is that the Soviet Union does not want to see a growing and stronger China standing side by side with it, even if this trend is far from becoming a reality.

If there is a common ideology and a common enemy, weak China, and the strong Soviet Union can be divided, then it’s so obvious that so-called peace and development are illusions. It is completely wrong to say that peace and development are contemporary themes. It is wishful thinking, a harmful doctrine that plays a paralyzing role, and the reasons are as follows:

1. To crackdown on China’s modernization process has been a consistent national policy of the great powers. 

We can draw a historical law from the experience and lessons of modern Chinese history and the history of the People’s Republic of China over the past 50 years: To strike China’s modernization process (including using all-out war methods has been the consistent national policy for the great powers. This has been the case for the past 160 years, and it will continue to be the case for the next 160 years.

2. Development means danger and threat. Without the “right to war”, there is no right to development.

Development means danger and threat. This is a general rule in world history. Only in Chinese history is there a special case.  For example, after the Han Dynasty defeated all its opponents within its geographical limit of the time, It developed with its “doors closed” and even gave rise to “Tianxiaism”.  No matter how you measured it, either from the population, military, economy, or culture, there was not an ethnic group that could compete with the Han nationality nor any ethnic group even had such potential.

During the period of Warring States, a country’s development meant it would pose a threat to another country. This is not only the general rule in world history but also the core and cornerstone in Western diplomacy.  The originator of Western diplomacy is the French Cardinal Richelieu. He was the first person who got out of the Middle Ages “obscure” in the field of diplomacy and created modern diplomacy. He abandoned any moral and religious constraints and did everything that revolved around national interests.

The foreign policy he formulated had benefited France for more than 200 years and dominated Europe. However, the 30-year war he planned had divided Germany into many small states and caused them in everlasting turmoil until Bismarck united Germany. The process of German reunification showed that if there was no Bismarck’s “war right”, there would be no unity of the country, let alone the right to development.

3. Modernization Under The Saber Is The Only Choice For China

   “The China Threat” theory is absolutely right. This is typical Western thinking. “I closed the door to develop our own economy. Who did I offend?” This Chinese way of thinking is not only stupid, neither it is “internationally aligned”.  Looking back in the” Warring States Period” (in our history), when it came to the national interest, there was no room for warmth and tenderness. The ones who held the slightest illusion were mercilessly punished by history at large. Of course, China’s development is a threat to Japan and others. Yet China itself should not look at it this way. It is nearly impossible for China to change the deep-rooted thinking of the Japanese and other powers, which are already “internationally aligned”.  Therefore, the basis of our thinking should be and it must be that China’s development WILL pose a threat to Japan and others.

In the interest of reason, every country and nation has the right to survival and development. For example, as China’s economy develops, it must import oil. In order to protect the ecology, China has to import wood and other raw materials when closing mountains and reforestation. This is only natural. There is nothing more “reasonable”, but the big powers have the “reason” of the big powers. If oil purchases reach 100 million tons in 2010 and 200 million tons in 2020, will the superpowers tolerate it?

Fighting for basic survival resources (including land and sea) is the root cause of most wars in history. There might be changes in this information age, but there will be no change in the root cause of wars. Look at Israel which is a developed, advanced, and civilized land.  It’s been 50 years since the Israelites are at war with the Arabian and the Palestinian fighting for a tiny bit of land (including fighting over water) and still they are still fighting nonstop till today, aren’t they?

In order to fight for the right to development, which cannot be more legitimate, China must prepare for war,(unless the Chinese are forever impoverished and give up even the right to development). This is not determined by us; neither is it determined by some good people among us with good intentions. In fact, this is determined by the customary “international order” and the world’s superpowers.

The strategy ensuring China’s 20 years of peace and development has come to an end. The international environment has undergone qualitative changes. That is, the superpowers are ready to interrupt China’s modernization process once again. If China wants to develop and safeguard its right to development, we must prepare for war. Only by preparing for war can there be room and time for development. The past 20 years of peaceful pastoral development has been the finale, and the next program to be staged is and can only be: modernization under the saber.

4. (Global) Diplomacy Determines Internal Affairs

  Even the most hawkish hawks in China will not advocate calling for a war at this moment, although we have all the reasons for doing so, such as the war of national reunification, such as the purpose of safeguarding the rights and interests of the South China Sea. It is for the right to development, and we should value this unparalleled right to development that China has ever had in 160 years. However, when this right to development is increasingly threatened, that is when we must take up arms to defend the right to development of the Chinese people.

It’s true that internal affairs determine diplomacy, but don’t forget that (in history) Warring States era, (the big-picture) diplomacy also determines internal affairs. This is not only a theoretical statement but also a statement based on the historical experience of the People’s Republic of China. In the 1970s, China’s defense expenditures exceeded the sum of expenditures on science, education, culture, and health (hence the people living in poverty). I certainly don’t want China’s military expenditures to exceed the total expenditures on science, education, culture, and health. In fact, what China needs most is education. But is it allowed by the great powers? Doesn’t Mao Zedong want to invest more money in science, education, culture, and health?

Some say that according to the so-called Soviet declassified documents, it is proved that the Soviet Union did not have a plan to invade China in the 1960s and 1970s. Even if these declassified documents are correct, they cannot explain the “true history”. China under its leadership has made the most adequate mental and material preparations, which greatly increased the risk and cost of the Soviet Union’s full-scale invasion of China. History has also completely turned in another direction. The weak will only attract aggression. From this perspective, Mao Zedong is the true defender of peace.

5. Seeking good and evil, can China be peaceful in the next 10 years?

   To interrupt China’s modernization process and deprive the Chinese of their right to development, the great powers have many cards to play. The three most obvious cards are the “Three Islands”; and the Taiwan card is the most effective one. The right to decide whether there is a war in the Taiwan Strait is neither in our hands nor in the hands of Taiwan people; it is in the hands of the United States and Japan. If a war across the Taiwan Strait breaks out, it is not just a war of reunification by mainland China. The deeper implication is that the United States and Japan are determined to deprive the Chinese of their right to development, and once again interrupt China’s modernization process, just like the Jiawu Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895 when Japan waged a full-scale invasion of China that also forced China to cede land for compensation.

   Therefore, we must view the war in the Taiwan Strait from a strategic height. With our current level of force, there is still no strategic decisive battle for the United States and Japan, especially for the United States, because China only has few intercontinental missiles while the United States has determined to develop NMD.

  To prevent the delay of the outbreak of the Taiwan Strait War, we must first raise the Taiwan Strait War to the level of a “symmetrical strategic decisive battle”. It is a process of breaking the net. If we cannot win the Taiwan Strait War, the consequences will be worse than the defeat of the Jiawu War. Therefore, if there is a war, China must destroy Japan and maimed the United States. Only a nuclear war can be proficient.

Seeking good for evil: this is the outcome of our current policy. Seeking evil for good, only with the ability to destroy Japan and crippling the United States can achieve peace. Otherwise, the Taiwan issue will not drag on for 10 years, and there must be within 10 years. It is the War!

6. ​​ Hegemony is the essential characteristics of the existence of great powers

  What is a powerful state?  One with hegemony.  Without hegemony, it is at the mercy of others, one whose destiny (and the right of development) is controlled by others.  It is a fact that hegemony exists in this Warring States era, a fact “not changeable by human will”.  The question is just whether you are aware of it, and whether you are approaching it proactively or being approached passively.  All of the problems in China, including the Three Islands and the development of strategic industries. The issue of rebalancing the interests of various classes in the country is ultimately a matter of our Chinese nation fighting for hegemony.

To contend for hegemony, there must not be unstoppable infighting. Internal stability and unity are necessary.  The United Kingdom achieved “working-class noblization” at an early age due to its huge benefits of overseas colonization.  Japan, through immense reparation and market share in China, had not only benefited the upper classes, but also the lower classes.  The times had changed and so did the situation, but the essence has never changed.  We must not only look at military and diplomatic issues from the perspective of hegemony but also look at the inner strata and the rebalance of the interests of different stratum from the perspective of hegemony. The upper stratum or elites, if only relying on the squeeze and exploitation of the lower classes from within, cannot represent national interests in this Warring States era. It would be decadent, declining, and hopeless, and it shall be restricted and eliminated.  Only mature and intelligent upper-levels could represent national interests, that is, they implement “concession policies” domestically and lead the lower-levels to obtain overseas interests. (This is a complicated issue and I will discuss it in detail later.  China has huge interests overseas, but we just haven’t developed them proactively).

By Chi Haotian

Translators: Sharon, 傑喜拉雅, and Bingo

Editor: Summer


Chinese Original: 迟浩田: 战争正在向我们走来


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