Nuking America

On the flight back to Shanghai I was looking at an English language Korean newspaper. The article that caught my eye was the one about General Zhu Chenghu of the PLA stating that China was prepared to nuke America over the Taiwan issue if it came to that. Later it was emphasized that the general’s remarks were his personal opinions, and not indicative of official policy.

Richard at Peking Duck wrote about this already, but the story he quoted left out the best line (which I have bolded):

> “If the Americans draw their missiles and position-guided ammunition on to the target zone on China’s territory, I think we will have to respond with nuclear weapons,” he told an official briefing for foreign journalists.

> Zhu said the reason was the inability of China to wage a conventional war against Washington.

> “If the Americans are determined to interfere … we will be determined to respond,” he said.

> “We Chinese will prepare ourselves for the destruction of all of the cities east of Xi’an. Of course the Americans will have to be prepared that hundreds … of cities will be destroyed by the Chinese,” he added. [source]

Ummm… did he say “the destruction of all of the cities east of Xi’an?!” Yes, I believe he did. That’s basically all of China’s major cities. That’s what Taiwan is worth to him. Absolutely ridiculous. After public comments like that, I certainly hope that the head honchos in Beijing were saying, “OK, he doesn’t get to talk to the press anymore.”

So after reading that on the plane, my girlfriend and I were met at the airport by her parents. On the ride home, my girlfriend mentioned to her mom what I had read in the newspaper on the airplane.

Her reaction? “What? No, that never happened. That never happened.”

I’ve got to say, I’m a bit disappointed. She’s a smart lady. But then, it was a really outlandish statement.

Update: Also on Peking Duck, Bingfeng offers some scary examples of a similar focus on war on America’s side: Planning War.


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. Da Xiangchang Says: July 19, 2005 at 12:56 pm

    This guy’s off his meds. But I doubt he speaks for the majority of the Chinese leadership. They get guys like this out there to scare the Taiwanese and to ratchet up the nationalist feelings among the mainland population, but they aren’t serious cuz the Chinese cannot be so stupid as to attack Taiwan now. I mean, they surely know they’ll lose everything, and I don’t think the Chinese are as irrational as the Arabs. Maybe if the Chinese economy and country went down the toilet, they’ll try a desperate act like attacking Taiwan, but I don’t EVER see it happening.

    So I don’t think America needs to worry seriously about China, and China has nothing to worry about when it comes to America. The only 2 things America really needs to worry about internationally is Islamic terrorism and that squinty-eyed midget in Pyongyang. And nothing internationally scares the Chinese leadership as much as its 800 million pissed off farmers! HA!

  2. And nothing internationally scares the Chinese leadership as much as its 800 million pissed off farmers! HA!????
    you are totally wrong, when come to defend our courty. that isnt problem !

  3. To chinese

    Calm down, mate. First of all Americans will not invade China since they’re fully engaged with wiping out terrorists. Secondly, you should not be fury at these people but the f**king general. We Chinese taxpayers pay for his salary and that bastard wants to wage a meaningless war in which we might all be killed. I really wonder if Americans do target nukes at Beijing, will that brave patriot stay and die with the rest of us.

  4. I think Da Xiangchang is deluded or naive.
    The big strategic threat to the US is economic and from China. I think he is confusing America with Americans.

  5. She’s a smart lady. She can smell a sure-fire political brouhaha from miles away and refuses to give it credit. By doing so she hopes that her daughter and that white guy BF stay away from it. She failed at that.

  6. Da Xiangchang Says: July 19, 2005 at 11:17 pm


    I’m not saying the farmers won’t defend China if it’s invaded by America (which is NEVER going to happen), but rather that the Chinese leadership will collapse once mass riots happen among the unhappy peasants. The biggest fear among Communists isn’t the enemy outside but rather its own people. Look at history, and you’ll see how all these communist governments have collapsed.


    I don’t think I’m naive at all. All this (to borrow Gin’s word) brouhaha about Chinese economic subversion of America is so overstated. So Walmart has most of their crappy products made in China. BIG DEAL! My question is: How is China such a threat economically? Is any Chinese company going to take over any other company besides a crappy oil one? What about Microsoft, GM, American Express, etc.? Come on, man! IMHO, if China gets stronger economically, it’ll only help America cuz economic liberalism almost always leads to democratic reforms. America’s share of the world’s economy become be smaller, but I don’t see that as a problem. Stop reading getting all your news from National Review, Phil, and I think you’ll be alright.

  7. I wouldn’t put too much stock in foreign policy pronouncements from generals, even in China.

  8. It was reported on BBC’s website on Saturday that

    “The Chinese government has downplayed remarks by a senior general suggesting that China might use nuclear weapons if the US attacked it over Taiwan.

    Major General Zhu Chenghu was only expressing “personal views”, Beijing officials said. “

    John, I will email you the article via pdf format. I know you can’t get BBC in China.

  9. Hui Mao Says: July 20, 2005 at 4:36 am

    Zhu Chenghu is NOT a senior general. He is a professor and a career academic and has never held any real military posts. He has the title of major general only because the university that he works at is affiliated with the military. In China, people in organizations affiliated with the military also hold military rank. There are many singers, actors, athletes, etc who hold ranks of colonel or general. For example, the female pop singer Song Zuying is also a major general because she’s part of the PLA navy’s performance group. The basketball player Wang Zhizhi (of the Miami Heat) is a colonel because he used to play for the Bayi Rockets, the PLA team. There are literally thousands of major generals in China. It’s not exactly a rank of significance, especially for someone who’s not really a military person at all.

  10. Ke Meng Says: July 20, 2005 at 6:32 am

    If a war happens, nobody could tell where it would go. The use of nuclear, or even biochemical weapons, is not out of imagination. Only maniacs like wars, yet they control the weapons when a war actually bursts out. If Hitler had had nukes in his hands, he would have used them already. Facing today’s technology, a peaceful world is a big hope for us.

  11. Da Xiangchang Says: July 20, 2005 at 9:08 am


    BBC banned in China?!! The BBC’s so leftwing–anyone heard of their brilliant “Power of Nightmares”?–I would think it was celebrated in China!

    Ke Meng,

    “Only maniacs like wars, yet they control the weapons when a war actually bursts out.” Not necessarily true. Sometimes, the good people control the best weapons, and the bad people don’t. I am reminded of Churchill’s musing how he was glad the Americans developed the A-bomb first; had it been the Russians, he said, it would’ve meant the end of civilization. Haha.

  12. Ke Meng Says: July 20, 2005 at 9:55 am

    It’s just too simple to use the word ‘good’ for a country like and use the word ‘bad’ for Russia. Every country is trying to serve its own benefits. A lot of people around the world do not accept US as a good country. It’s not neccessary that Soviet Union would end the civilization if they develop the A-bomb first and it’s also not sure if one day the earth would be destroied by the United States.

  13. Take the Iraq war as an example. The US made such a big lie to the world about the WMD in Iraq and send a war to the middle east. Who dare to say that no similiar stuff would happen again.

  14. Yes, Hui Mao is right…

    Using “senior general” in media surely scared people…

  15. Da Xiangchang Says: July 20, 2005 at 11:32 am

    Ke Meng,

    Personally, I hate the argument that just because there is no absolutely “good” or “bad” countries means all countries are the same. That’s a bunch of crap. Some countries are a lot more “GOOD” than others. If I may be tactless for a moment, the United States is A LOT MORE “GOOD”–better, if you will–than either China or the former Soviet Union. Of course, there have been MANY problems within America, but you have the look at the balance sheet. Add everything up, and the US will come out waaayyyy ahead of most other nations, esp. the communist ones. I mean, last time I checked, the American government didn’t killed tens of millions of its own citizens like China and the Soviet Union did. And it’s true a lot of people think America is evil; I call them stupid, jealous people. I have NO doubt in my mind that most people who hate America are driven by 99% jealousy and 1% logical arguments.

    And please, don’t spout that tired-ass “the US lied about the WMDs!” canard again. Everybody and his mother believed Hussein had WMDs; nobody lied. The basic plan behind the invasion of Iraq was to install a democracy right in the heart of the Middle East as a model to transforming the nihilistic societies of surrounding Islamic nations. That’s something the terrorists clearly understand as they try to blow up Iraq’s fledging government; because if the Middle East turns democratic, it’s the end of their kind. It’s too bad that so many westerners–and Chinese–don’t understand this.

  16. Da Xiangchang Says: July 20, 2005 at 11:54 am

    Speaking of which, here’s a very balanced view of the war in Iraq:

  17. Sure am glad I bought that condo in Qinghai. You all laughed at me. Well, who’s laughing now!!!

  18. Why does Xian survive in this freakish apocalypse? Do its nukes mistakenly fall on the capitalist scourges in Wenzhou? Do the terracotta warriors turn to life and fly into the sky to obliterate the bomb and pay off their blood-bond to protect Qin Shihuang’s tomb?

    My best guess is that ancient Chinese technology built into the city wall stops the surging radiation from annihilating the entire city and allows a small team of renegade but plucky adventurers (led by Zhang Ziyi) to survive. The team bonds as it surmounts the challenges of survival, and finally launches an expedition south in search of other survivors.

    The film ends with these characters crossing the straits and finding work in Taiwan — the only place left unscathed in the whole exchange.

    Good post by Hui Mao, incidentally..

  19. Andrew Gilligan Says: July 20, 2005 at 2:42 pm

    Da Xiangchang,

    No-one internationally believed Hussein had WMDs or was on the verge of getting them, ergo US unilateralism. The documents publicly released to drum up support for invasion were promptly shown up as eithered doctored (nigerian uranium) or implausible (mobile WMD development platforms). Career bureaucrats in both England and the United States went public with protests that intelligence was being “sexed-up”. These allegations have been proven true by history. Intelligence was fixed around the policy.

    Colin Powell’s speech to the United Nations is an international joke. The WMD story is an international joke and Andrew Sullivan is a joke. Whether the war will turn out to be a boon for democracy and human rights may be an open question, but its one whose resolution is causing enormous death and human suffering.

    If you feel that strongly about the righteousness of the cause, perhaps you can enlist. I hear the Army is looking.

  20. Hui Mao, thanks for the insight. It goes to show how easy it is for news to be “exagerrated” directly from the source to the 2nd party to the 3rd and so forth. An academic, clearly off his rockers or more probable, shooting the shit with some media source, with a “general” title that Westeners perceive with a different understanding. The source is questionable at best – Stuff New Zealand via Financial Times UK? Hmmm.

    News and most online stuff this month has been pretty weak. There’s a slump online people have been noticing. I notice it too, that’s why I’m out and about enjoying the real world. It’s called swimming in three different locations at three different times in one day and in between, horseback riding on the wet sands of the beach, getting a tan and chillin’ in the deepest part of summer. Peace!

  21. Ke Meng Says: July 20, 2005 at 9:40 pm

    See, that’s why the war is unavoidable. Every country have its own view on problems, yet powerful countries are trying their best to force other countries accepting their view of the world. It’s dangerous. Democracy is needed around the world, but it should not be simply implanted by some kind of force. It requires a strong base of social, economic and technology development. You could not expect that people who are worrying where their next dinner is have good understanding on democracy, and will fight it with any prices. Da Xiangchang, don’t be sure about everything you think it should be. 99% is totally nonsense. Yes, there are people hating US because of jealousness. But there are a lot of other reasons which are more important, such as religions. A lot of people in Middle East do not like US simply because they believe the US only supports Israel and is trying to drive Arabs away from the land. They feel unfairly treated.

  22. Da Xiangchang Says: July 21, 2005 at 7:45 am

    “No-one internationally believed Hussein had WMDs or was on the verge of getting them, ergo US unilateralism.” Hmm, what did Hussein gas the Kurds with then, his own flatulence? Why was he not allowing the UN inspectors to inspect certain sites? Again, EVERY intelligence report said Hussein had WMDs. Of course, now we know he was bluffing, and all of you geniuses now cry, “I knew it!” You say this NOW. Ever heard of Monday morning quarterbacking? Look that term up cuz it describes you quite well.

    “Whether the war will turn out to be a boon for democracy and human rights may be an open question, but its one whose resolution is causing enormous death and human suffering.” The same can be said of World War II and the American Civil War. And who’s killing civilians–Americans or the Islamic terrorists? A suicide bomber blew up 24 Iraqi kids just a week ago while Americans were handing them candy. Or you didn’t know that? Finally, by invading Iraq, America actually SAVED more Iraqis. Under the UN sanctions, 5000 Iraqi kids were dying A MONTH. It was either invasion or ending the sanctions and enabling Hussein to get powerful again. What do you think Hussein would’ve done then? Let me fill you in. He’s started two wars and killed OVER 1 MILLION Iraqis during his reign. What would a guy like that do in the future? Hmmmmm?

    “If you feel that strongly about the righteousness of the cause, perhaps you can enlist. I hear the Army is looking.” You’re trotting out the retarded Michael Moore argument: the why-don’t-you-(or-your-son)-sign-up-to-fight?!! Listen, do you have to be a cop or a prison warden to be against crime? In America, there’s NO draft; adults VOLUNTEER to be soldiers, fully conscious of the dangers that such a career entails. It’s THEIR free will and choice. And a soldier’s job is to defend the country, which I believe the war in Iraq is. It’s called free will. Duh!

    “A lot of people in Middle East do not like US simply because they believe the US only supports Israel and is trying to drive Arabs away from the land.” Sure, that’s part of it, but Arabs are just using that as an excuse. If they were so pissed off at injustice against Muslims, they would be suicide-bombing the Iranian mullahs, the Taliban, or Hussein when he was in power cuz all 3 caused infinitely more suffering to Muslims than those evil Israelis. Extreme insecurity, shame, and jealousy drive Arab anger, not any legitimate beef with Israel. Nothing shows this more clearly than those stupid riots they had when a Koran was flushed down the toilet at Gitmo while staying silent while thousands of their fellow Muslims are getting blown apart by jihadist bombers in Iraq.

  23. Dear China,
    Please stop handing out honorary generalships. You’re confusing us.
    -the foreigners

  24. Andrew Gilligan Says: July 22, 2005 at 3:57 pm

    Da Xiangchang,

    Your statements about WMD and the inspection process (your rational for war) are not in dispute by anyone, and are factually wrong:

    I find it hard to imagine you’re seriously suggesting that the proper response to high infant mortality under UN sanctions was war. There are better ways to spend $200 billion and countless human lives.

  25. Da Xiangchang Says: July 23, 2005 at 3:58 am


    I’m disappointed that you would quote Mr. Magoo’s report, however. Everybody who’s not biased knows Hans Blix is a leftist anti-American European bureaucrat who can’t find his own $#% with a klieg light. I wouldn’t trust a weapons inspector who says global warming is more dangerous than terrorism.

    “I find it hard to imagine you’re seriously suggesting that the proper response to high infant mortality under UN sanctions was war.” No, that’s exactly what I’m suggesting. As we all have heard, war is not the answer–EXCEPT for ending the Holocaust, slavery, Fascism . . . and Hussein’s dictatorship and all its effects (including high infant mortality rates). Once again, if Hussein had been left in power, WMDs or no WMDs, FAR MORE Iraqis would be dead now than from the American “invasion.”

    “There are better ways to spend $200 billion and countless human lives.” Sure, we could provide a humanitarian aid package to Hussein’s Iraq in which we provide food and medicine to needy Iraqis while Hussein sells us some of his oil. Oh, wait, we did that–it was the UN Oil-for-Palaces program. Any other suggestions?

  26. Da Xiangchang. I think you have failed to understand the most benefitial aid that the UN oil program brought-it was a major element that ended poverty among UN officials.

  27. Andrew Gilligan Says: July 24, 2005 at 5:39 am

    “Iraq has on the whole cooperated rather well so far with UNMOVIC in this field. The most important point to make is that access has been provided to all sites we have wanted to inspect and with one exception it has been prompt.”

    Are you seriously claiming that Blix was LYING about the massive inspection process having successfully visited “universities, military bases, presidential sites and private residences”? I love the insinuation that cross-national inspection teams crammed full of intelligence agents were madly fabricating photographs and documentary evidence out of some sort of concerted political vendetta against Bush. LOLOL.

    Had you actually followed the issues at the time, you would know that the problem prior to invasion was not Iraqi compliance with inspections, but difficulties inspectors were having squaring the quantities of weapons Iraq could document destruction of with Western estimates of Iraqi holdings. The latter were largely based on extrapolations from suspected holdings in the late 1980s.

    The sad truth remains that terrorism is a much greater threat to US security than Saddam was in 2003, and the invasion of Iraq has only increased that risk. It has made life measurably less safe for Americans living abroad and in major metropolitan communities in America, and polarized the international community in a way which makes concerted action on a broad range of issues more difficult.

    Keep knocking down those strawmen.

  28. I think Politics is a game for minority. Democrary is just a cover. If there begins a war, individuls will only be victims.

  29. hei long Says: May 19, 2006 at 7:46 pm

    Dont forget, Americans soldiers about 3 weeks ago slaughtered an entire town in Irage because 6 of their men got killed. Nobody can belive in whats right or wrong anymore, Dont forget how bad american soldiers were in veitnam. Have some prespective.

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