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China’s Military Threatens America: 'We Will Hurt You'

In February, Colonel Meng Xianging promised a “hand-to-hand fight with the U.S.” sometime within the next 10 years “when we’re strong enough.” “We must make them hurt,” said Major-General Yang Yi this year, referring to the United States.

And last month, at the Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Beijing, a Chinese flag officer launched a three-minute rant that stunned the 65 or so American officials in the audience. Everything that is right with U.S. relations with China is due to China, said Rear Admiral Guan Youfei. Everything that is wrong is Washington’s fault. According to Guan, the United States sees China as an enemy.

A senior American official traveling on Secretary of State Clinton’s plane back to the United States said the admiral’s comments were “out of step” with the views of China’s civilian leaders. U.S. officials at the time also predicted that Beijing would soon welcome Robert Gates on his long-planned trip to China.

They were wrong. On June 3 the Chinese foreign ministry announced that the Defense secretary was in fact not welcome. Gates, who also thought he would travel to Beijing this month, said the turndown was just the military’s fault. “Nearly all of the aspects of the relationship between the United States and China are moving forward in a positive direction, with the sole exception of the military-to-military relationship,” he said on his way to Singapore. “The PLA is significantly less interested in developing this relationship than the political leadership of the country.”

Is that true? “Admiral Guan was representing what all of us think about the United States in our hearts,” a senior Chinese official told the Washington Post. “It may not have been politically correct, but it wasn’t an accident.” Chinese flag officers do not launch into polemical speeches at tightly scripted events, such as the once-a-year Strategic and Economic Dialogue, and it was reckless for American officials to assume, despite everything, that Admiral Guan was speaking only for himself.

Gates perhaps knows better now. After having his visit rejected at the last moment, he had to endure a series of hostile comments from Chinese flag officers at a security conference in Singapore at the beginning of this month. And that is just more evidence our officials and diplomats, even after more than three decades of close relations with their counterparts in Beijing, still do not understand China.

That, of course, is another “genuine concern.” So what, exactly, is the consequence of our miscomprehending the Chinese, refusing to hear what they openly say? It’s worse than the rejection of official visits to Beijing by overly eager Defense secretaries. Listen to former State Department analyst Robert Sutter: “China is the only large power in the world preparing to shoot Americans.”