Arts & Culture 
 Human Rights 
 U.S. Asian Policy 

Home > East Asia > 

The War Is Approaching Us
Speech by a high-ranking CCP official argues for nuclear war
Chi Haotian*

 Related Articles
The PLA Navy's Developing Strategy
The Resurgence of PLA Light Infantry
In a Fortnight
Competing Interests Divide U.S. China Policy
PLA Doctrine on Securing Energy Resources in Central Asia
China's Enhanced Military Diplomacy
China seeks Czech military technology through Europe's backdoor
Rumsfeld Talks to China About Military Buildup
The CCP’s Last-ditch Gamble: Biological and Nuclear War
The text of the speech:

Dear Comrades,

It is with a heavy heart that I use this title, but it is used because China’s advancement into modernization has been continuously interrupted due to attacks and direct invasions by external forces. The most typical example is the so-called “Golden Decade” during 1927 to 1937. From today’s perspective, this decade was not at all golden. During this time, the Northeast region of China fell to enemy occupation on September 18, 1931. The East Hebei Province puppet regime was also established during that time. Comparatively speaking though, economic growth was pretty fast; the construction of infrastructure made some progress, and army development was also improved. China started to gain a little bit of hope. But this was something that the Japanese could not tolerate. They were not satisfied with the three Northeastern provinces they occupied, wasting no time in launching a comprehensive invasion of China, a nation compelled to fight the war painstakingly on scorched earth for eight years. Although China won the war, she lost Outer Mongolia and was vitally wounded. The property loss was more than 600 billion US dollars. After eight years of war, the original poor and weak China was in worse economic shape than ever. In other words, Japan’s invasion, especially its comprehensive war on China, greatly slowed down China’s modernization.

Disallowing China’s development and hindering the advance towards modernization had always been the luxury of those countries in power, especially considering Japan’s unchangeable national policy. We have suffered the most painful history lessons regarding this. There is often cooperation between counties, but the most fundamental basis for the relationship between countries is competition, conflict and at times extreme conflicts; that is, war. Cooperation is temporary and conditional, while competition and conflicts are absolute. They are the true subject of history. That’s why the so-called peace and development spoken of today is incorrect (at best it is simply an expedient measure). In saying this there is no concrete supporting evidence for this statement, and neither does it conform to any factual or historical experiences. Not to mention that China and Japan are sworn enemies both geographically and historically, with even the split between China and the Soviet Union in the 1960s providing evidence to show that any country regards the pursuit of its own national interest as its only criterion for action. No country leaves any space for morality. Over the past, China and the Soviet Union shared the same ideology and faced the same enemies, and China’s low levels of science and technology were not adequate to pose a threat to the Soviet Union. Nonetheless, China and the Soviet Union were split and intensely battled with each other. There may be many reasons contributing to this, but one fundamental reason is that the Soviet Union did not want to see an ever-growing, stronger China existing alongside it. Even though China was only beginning to grow, and would require a long time to reach a condition of strength, the Soviet Union still could not tolerate it.

If China and the Soviet Union, both a weak and a strong country sharing the same ideology and common enemies, could split up, then it is more than obvious that the incantations about “peace and development being today’s main focus,” which lead China’s political, military and foreign strategies, is a hallucination—fragile and dangerous.

My statement that peace and development as today’s main focus is completely incorrect, one-sided and a harmful theory that benumbs people flows from the following reasons.

ONE: Attacking China’s Modernization Has Always Been a National Policy for the Great Powers

We can obtain an historical rule from the experiences and lessons of China’s modern history, as well as from those of the 50 year history of the People’s Republic of China: Attacking China’s modernization (including launching a comprehensive war) has always been a national policy for the great powers. For the past 160 years it’s been this way. For the future 160 years, it will still remain this way.

TWO: Development Attracts Danger and Threats; Without the “Right to War” There is No Right to Develop

Development invites danger and threats, and this has been the general rule throughout world history. There were only several exceptions in Chinese history. For example, the Han Dynasty could start to develop with the “door closed” after it had defeated all the other competitors within the geographic limits at that time. It then developed the ideology of “world harmony.” Because it was not a matter involving the populace, the military, the economy or culture, there were no competitors, and no other races could compete with the Han race or even have the potential for competition. During the Warring States era (403-222 CE) in ancient Chinese history, one country’s development meant a threat to another country, and this was the universal rule in world history. It is also the core and foundation of western diplomacy, the father of which was the French cardinal Richelieu, being the first person in the field of western diplomacy to walk out of medieval “ignorance.” He began the tradition of modern diplomacy, which is fully oriented around national interests, discarding all moral and religious restrictions. The diplomacy policy set by Cardinal Richelieu benefited France for over two hundreds years, making possible the domination of Europe. Richelieu planned the 30-years’ war that caused so much suffering to Germany, and divided it into small feudal regions. This chaos remained until Bismarck reunited Germany. This process of German reunion demonstrates the above rule, as without Bismarck’s “right to war,” there would have been no national reunion; not to mention the right to develop.

THREE: Modernization Under the Saber: China’s Only Choice

The concept of a “China Threat” is definitely correct, and this is a fairly typical western thought. The Chinese-type thought of, “I close my door to develop my own economy—does this bother anyone?” is not just foolish, but also does not match up with “international common practice.” During the Warring States era there was no room for gentleness and softness in the harsh field of national interests—whoever had the slightest fantasy would be cruelly punished by history. The development of China is definitely a threat to countries like Japan and others. China may not view it in this way itself, but it is impossible for China to change this kind of deep-seated, international common view held by the big powers, which include Japan. So the base point for our thoughts should be and must be, “The development of China is a threat to countries like Japan.”

By “right” it is meant that every nation and race should have its living rights and its development rights. For example, China needs to import oil for its economic development, and to import raw materials such as lumber, in order to protect its environment from deforestation. This is very reasonable. But big powers have their own “reasons,” and a country like China will need to consume 100 million tons of oil in 2010, and 200 million tons in 2020. Will these big powers tolerate this?

The source of the majority of wars throughout history has been the struggle for basic living resources (including land and ocean). The subject of the conflict will change in the current information era, but the nature of it will remain the same. Developed, advanced civilizations like Israel have fought for over 50 years and are now still fighting with the Palestinians for insignificant areas of land (including the fight for water resources). In order to fight for our very reasonable development rights (unless Chinese are satisfied with the current poverty, and are prepared to give up the right of development), China needs to be prepared for war. This is not decided by us; not by the goodwill of kind people among us, but actually, this is decided by “international common practice,” and the big powers around the world.

The twenty years’ policy of peaceful development has reached its end. The international environment has undergone a fundamental change; the big powers have already planned to once again stop China’s progress towards modernization, so China needs to develop, needs to protect its own right to development; and therefore China needs to be prepared for war. Only by being prepared for war can China win space and time for her further development.

Twenty years of pastoral-style development has come to its end; the next program should be and must be, “modernization under the saber.”

FOUR: Diplomacy Determines Internal Affairs

At the present time in China, even the most hawkish of hawkish persons would not necessarily advocate war, although we have sufficient reason to do so; for instance, for the unification of the country and the maintenance of rights in the South China Sea. It would be for the right to development, which is extremely cherished since the Chinese have rarely enjoyed it in the past 160 years. But, when this right to development is threatened more and more over time, it is time for us to pick up arms to guard this national right.

It is fitting that internal affairs determines diplomacy, but do not forget that in this Warring States era, diplomacy among major nations also determines internal affairs. This is not just a theoretical viewpoint, it has been an historical experience of the People's Republic of China. In the 1970s China's defense spending surpassed expenditure for science, education, culture, and health added together (causing Chinese people to live in poverty). I certainly don’t want the same today; in fact, what is needed the most in China is investment in education. But would the world powers permit it? Wouldn’t one wish to invest more in science, education, culture, and health?

Some have said that, according to the so-called deciphered Soviet documents, it was shown that the Soviet Union did not have comprehensive plans to invade China. Even if the deciphering of these documents was correct, this still cannot explain the reality of that piece of history. Just as a chess game is mutually interactive, because China made sufficient spiritual and material preparations under the leadership of CCP, it enormously increased the risk and cost for the Soviet Union to invade China. It caused history to completely turn in another direction. The weak figure can only attract aggression. Those who view this from this angle are the true defenders of peace.

FIFTH: Evil as Result of Begging for Goodness: is There Peace for China in the Coming 10 Years?

In order to interrupt the advancement of modernization in China, to deprive Chinese people of the right to development, the world powers have many cards to play. The most obvious three cards are the "three islands," with the most effective one being Taiwan. If war in the Taiwan Straits erupted, the power to make decisions would not be in our hands, nor in the hands of those who advocate Taiwanese independence, but in the hands of the United States and Japan. If such a war erupted, it would not be simply a war of unification, as the deeper implication is that the United States and Japan are determined to deprive China of its right to development. This will once again interrupt the modernization process in China. Just like in the historical Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895, where Japan comprehensively invaded China, Japan not only made China cede territory and pay indemnities, but in essence interrupted Chinese modernization, while also depriving the Chinese of civil rights.

Therefore, we must look at a Taiwan Straits war on the level of a strategic decisive battle. But based on our present military force, it is out of the question to talk about this aspect from the viewpoints of the United States and Japan, especially that of the United States, because China only has a few intercontinental missiles, and the United States is fully determined to develop National Missile Defense (NMD).

To prevent delaying the eruption of the Taiwan Straits war, this war would first have to be elevated to the level of "a symmetrical strategic decisive battle" using the formula of “fish dead net broken.” If we failed to win the Taiwan Straits war, the results would be worse than those following the Sino-Japanese War. Therefore, there must be no war, or we will have to comprehensively destroy Japan and cripple the United States, and this could only be achieved with a nuclear war.

Evil as a result of begging for goodness—this would signal the final end of our present policy. Goodness as a result of asking for evil—only with the power that is capable of totally extinguishing Japan and crippling the United States can we win peace; otherwise the Taiwan problem cannot be prolonged for more than 10 years, and there will be war within 10 years!

SIXTH: Hegemony is the Characteristic Signifying the Existence of a World Power

What is a world power? A nation employing hegemony is a world power! One would be slaughtered by others at will, and one’s destiny (including the right to development) would be controlled by others, much as a puppet is controlled. The hegemony in this Warring States era is an objective fact; it "is not to be diverted by human will." The question is, whether you realize it or not; whether it is active pursuit or a passive act. All problems in China, including the three islands problem; the strategic industry development problem; the benefit adjustment of the domestic various social classes problem—in the end are all problems involving the fight for Chinese hegemony.

To have hegemony we cannot have continued internal struggle; we must have internal stability and unity. England, as an example, was able to realize "changing the working class to nobility" long ago because of the huge benefits from overseas colonies. The enormous indemnity that Japan extracted from China not only benefited the Japanese upper levels, but also greatly benefited their lower levels. Times have changed, and national sentiment is different, but the essence is the same. Not only must we look at the military and diplomacy from the point of hegemony, but we must particularly regard the internal stratum and adjustment problems of class interests from the angle of hegemony. Those upper-level people who squeeze and exploit our country’s lower-level people can not represent the national welfare in this Warring States era. They are decadent, degenerated, unpromising, and should be restricted and eliminated. Only mature and wise upper levels can represent the national welfare in the implementation of "the concession policy" and the lower level leaders jointly, to catch overseas benefits (this problem is more complex, and will be discussed in detail later. China has enormous opportunities for benefits overseas; it is just that we have not yet actively exploited them.)

*“The War Is Approaching Us” was first posted on the Internet in January 2003 with title “A recent speech from a high ranking official in PLA” on web sites such as On October 11, it was published on with the title “The War Is Approaching Us—Chi Haotian.” It was also posted with title “China, do you still have ten years’ peace time?” It was most recently published on April 23, 2005 on At the time this speech was first published, Chi Haotian was China’s Defense Minister and Vice-chair of the Central Military Commission. [Return to top of article]

The original Chinese article is available at:

© Copyright 2002-2007 AFAR