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China’s 70th anniversary: Viewed better from not being there

October 12, 2019


Last of two parts

IT is basic to Sun Tzu that in war, you don’t telegraph your punches, so to speak.

“Let your plans be as dark as night, and when you move, strike like thunder,” he wrote in his Art of War.

But the grand extravaganza to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China was one awesome showcase of China’s military might unfolded not in the dark of night but in the full glare of sunlight, and with international media all there to record it — for the whole world to see.

China’s nuclear weapons

In the website “The War Zone,” author Joseph Trevithick writes on the “Four of the biggest revelations from China’s massive 70th anniversary military parade.” He delineates the four thus:

“…16 DF-41 road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM)… with an estimated range of around 9,300 miles, they are China’s longest-range strategic nuclear weapons.

“The missile has a multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) configuration… and has other unspecified penetration aids to help it get past hostile missile defenses.

“…16 mockups of the DF-17… hard for defenders to spot, track, let alone attempt to shoot down these weapons.

“With an estimated range of around 1,240 miles, the DF-17 is more of a regional weapon, but one that would still pose a very serious threat to potential Chinese opponents, especially Taiwan. It would also present new challenges for the United States and its Asian allies, such as South Korea and Japan, as well as India.

“…12 JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM)… Though these have reportedly been in active service on board the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s nuclear-powered Type 094 Jin class ballistic missile submarines, the Chinese government had not displayed any examples publicly.

“… the PLAN’s six Type 094s, each of which can carry 12 JL-2s, form the backbone of China’s naval nuclear deterrent. The Chinese have been working to expand the capabilities of their ballistic missile submarine force, including the development of a future JL-3 SLBM. The PLAN’s Jin class boats are already, by their nature, difficult for opponents to track.”

Comparing the war capabilities of the US and China, the author concludes, “It certainly appears that America’s military dominance in the Asia-Pacific region is continuing to erode.”

So will China go to war?

At the parade, China seemed to be telegraphing all its punches. So un-Sun Tzu.

In contrast, it is the United States which has been seemingly secretive about its advances in defense capabilities. Sometime ago, at an inquiry at the US Senate, one of its top war officials admitted that the country would be completely defenseless against a hypersonic missile attack from Russia, and such hypersonics are now well in place in China’s nuclear arsenal.

But America has time and again proven its expertise at subterfuge, being “dark as night” and “moving like thunder.”

In July 1945, while the whole world was not looking, in the desert of Jornada del Muerto in Los Alamos, New Mexico, the US successfully tested the first atomic bomb ever in history. One account gushed, “The nuclear age has begun.” The following August and September, two such bombs were dropped, first on Hiroshima and then on Nagasaki, instantly killing hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians and forever maiming hundreds of thousands more. Prompted by the two bombings, Emperor Hirohito finally accepted the Potsdam Declaration demand for Japan to surrender unconditionally, and that ended World War 2.

US war intimidation

China’s display of state-of-the-art weaponry at the parade comes at a period of continuing intimidation of China by the US: the “freedom of navigation” sorties in the South China Sea; the sailbys of US warships and flybys of US warplanes on Chinese-occupied islands in the region; the Trump trade war against China; and the unending US urging for the Philippines to push its so-called victory over China in the arbitral suit at the Hague Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), a move clearly designed to justify increased US hostility against China.

Is it wise for China to be entirely divulging its military might when the best move, according to Sun Tzu, is to keep it under wraps?

But then again, it is Sun Tzu who tells this story in his book. A kingdom was under siege and the King had no way of knowing whether he had power to match that of the enemy. What he did was order his soldiers: “Open up!” And the soldiers threw the gates to the kingdom open, with everybody taking hiding places such that the enemy saw no one moving inside. The general of the attacking army, going by conventional thinking, feared his men were in for an ambush if they went in, so instead of attack, what he ordered was retreat.

By baring at the parade everything in its arsenal, China was getting across its message to the US to get ready for an ambush if they dared come in.

President Xi Jinping actually said it: “Today a socialistic China is standing in the east of the world and there is no force that can shake the foundation of this great nation.”

By putting forward its readiness to go to war, China really wants to prevent war from happening. As Sun Tzu, again, would put it: “The end of peace is war. The end of war is peace.”

Revolutionary sentimentalism

And on that note, I distinctly recall how I got goosebumps on hearing the crowd burst into the Chinese song “Ode To The Motherland,” punctuated by a display of magnificent fireworks, meanwhile that a full ensemble symphony orchestra provided the stirring musical score to the explosion of the celebrations’ grand climax. At the finale of the song, a rapid series of firecrackers wrote out in Tiananmen’s skyline the numbers in shining white, “70.”

I knew the song, I and the thousands upon thousands of idealistic Filipino youth of the 1970s who embarked on their own struggles for the liberation of their own Motherland, used to sing it in factories and in farms, in workers’ strikes, in rallies and demonstrations, in the Congress Massacre, in the siege of Malacañang, in the People’s Congress at Plaza Miranda, eventually in the cold forests of the Cordillera. I, into my own 70s, sing it even now in my moments of solitude, while harking back on those days, oh, those our own, as Pete Lacaba would word it, days of rage and nights of discontent, the vaunted historic First Quarter Storm which, each time I sing, just flows into my reverie as mere shreds of tattered memory. For where the Chinese have achieved concrete gigantic gains, in copying the song’s prime patriotic essence, we ended up just counting revolutionary what-might-have-beens.

Manggagawa gising at makilaban

nang makamtan ang kalayaan

Sa pang-aapi ng gahamang

imperyalistang dayuhan

ang sagot ng bayan ay himagsikan.

Manggagawa, magsasaka

lakas ay ang pagkakaisa

sa bukid at bayan

bundok kapatagan

handang lumaban para sa kalayaan.

Credit belongs to : www.manilatimes.net


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