22 October 2018
Inside The Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone

PLA general has a new diagnosis on US foreign policy

When it comes dishing out insults, the Chinese are no amateurs.

From blistering tirades scorning one’s ancestors to vicious tongue-lashings laced with sexual references, the Chinese have a put-down for everything.

Now, a Chinese general has gone freestyle, so to speak, by comparing US foreign policy to, well, a wet noodle.

While telling a global audience at a regional security conference this weekend that US rhetoric about the South China Sea risks provoking Beijing, he told a Chinese language audience that American foreign policy strategies have “erectile dysfunction” problems.

Speaking during the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, Major General Zhu Chenghu, dean of the National Defense University of the People’s Liberation Army, cited the US’ standpoint on the recent Ukraine crisis, and said: “We can see from the situation in Ukraine this kind of ED [referring to Extended Deployment], has become the male type of ED problem—erectile dysfunction,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

Zhu made the remarks in an interview with Chinese-language Phoenix TV, based in Hong Kong. He also said that US foreign policy lacks a firm grip and that Washington is not a reliable ally.

Zhu was one of several Chinese military officials who reacted angrily to remarks of US defense secretary Chuck Hagel, who accused China of taking destabilizing actions in the South China Sea, said WSJ.

It was not immediately clear if the other military officials made similar invectives concerning US performance anxiety, or merely mocked and ridiculed American genitalia.

To be sure, the annual Shangri-La Dialogue saw countries squared off in a war of words that at times overshadowed the usually flaccid Asian security forum this weekend.

On Sunday, Lieutenant-General Wang Guanzhong, the PLA’s deputy chief of general staff, said his delegation was surprised by what appeared to be a coordinated and staged “provocative challenge against China” by the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Hagel, said the Sydney Morning Herald.

Abe, laying out principles for the “rule of the law at sea”, pointed to the need for “making claims that are faithful in light of international law, not resorting to force or coercion, and resolving all disputes through peaceful means”. The comments were directly targeted at recent Chinese actions in the South China Sea and East China Sea, noted The Diplomat.

Hagel was also unusually hard on China, saying: “China has undertaken destabilizing, unilateral actions asserting its claims in the South China Sea. The United States will not look the other way when fundamental principles of the international order are being challenged.”

Diverting from prepared remarks, Wang said that the speeches were “unacceptable”, accusing Abe, who delivered the keynote address on Friday, and Hagel, who spoke on Saturday, of coordinating and encouraging each other to attack China in their remarks, Sydney Morning Herald noted.

In the aftermath, different countries still have different views about which islands belong to whom and for what historical reasons. But they are all—officially—committed to resolving those differences peacefully through negotiations, said the Christian Science Monitor. The difficulty is that the moment somebody expresses a view with which China does not agree as—Abe and Hagel did—the Chinese accuse them of “provocation”.

Maj. Gen Zhu (Mr. Dirty Mouth), incidentally, is no stranger to controversy, WSJ notes. In 2005 he let it all hang out and came under criticism for remarks that China would have no option but to go nuclear in the event of a conflict over Taiwan. US officials called the remarks irresponsible and the Chinese foreign ministry backed away from them as well.

(Strangely, Zhu was the Pentagon’s honored guest in early March when he and a delegation of 10 senior colonels visited Washington, DC as part of a military exchange program. Go figure.)

For the record, analysts (two cousins twice removed) contend that Zhu could have taken a more elegant and more Chinese approach to his attempt at shaming US foreign policy, perhaps by describing it as “180 degrees shy of heaven.” Poetic, no?

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A strategist and marketing consultant on China business

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