Pravda’s 2 cents on the Taiwan-Three Gorges Dam invasion controversy

While I realize this idiotic story has been way oveplayed, and even though I just posted about it a little while ago, I couldn’t resist citing this Pravda article, which doesn’t display a lot of love toward China.

Chinese leaders just love criticizing the “American imperialists”, despite the fact that the trade with the USA bring China billions of dollars every year.
Although, the “imperialists” are constantly giving Beijing the grounds for exercising their criticism.

In May Pentagon submitted to the US Congress its annual report on the state and perspectives of the Chinese military. Beijing probably would not pay much attention to the report, but the US military experts touched such painful issues for the Chinese as Taiwan and hydroelectric power station “Three Ravines” which is under construction.

The Chinese leaders were indignant with the advice Pentagon was giving to Taiwan in case of possible war with China: to blow up the constructed hydroelectric power station “Three Ravines” on the Yangtze River.

The Chinese leaders started cursing at the USA in anger. Lieutenant-General Lyu Yan called Washington the “whore posing itself like a gentleman” in his comment on the Pentagon’s report, Reuters wrote. According to the general, Americans are not better than Osam binLaden as they admit the possibility of such operations.

I didn’t even know Pravda existed anymore. They’d be well served hiring a good English proofreader.

The Discussion: 17 Comments

Pentagon’s dam-bombing suggestion is another case-study how CCP built its legitimacy. CCP has cleverly used this good opportunity.

Many people think the legitimacy of CCP is built solely on economic success. But they forget that CCP re-built its legitimacy by standing up for chinese national interest.

Many people do not like CCP, but they will side CCP in the situation like this. Past examples include embassy bombing and spy plane incident.

Any so-called democracy fighter will have zero chance of replace CCP if they can not stand up for chinese national interest. It is sad to see people like Wang Dan, by allying himself with Taiwan independence, becomes nobody even cursed figure among chinese youth.

June 16, 2004 @ 7:08 pm | Comment

Unfortunately, the Pentagon handed this opportunity to the CCP on a silver platter. It allows the CCP, with justification, to huff and puff and make a lot of noise, and thus appear as brave guardians of China’s national security. How could we (America) have been so stupid? Abu Ghraib was bad enough. It seems like we are determined to give the CCP and other dictatorships all the arguments they need show that the US is self-righteous, dangeous and hypocritical. (I’m not saying we necessarily are all those things, but the case can sure be made a lot more easily now than a few months ago.)

June 16, 2004 @ 7:18 pm | Comment

I’m completely missing what you think is so stupid about this whole Pentagon/Three Gorges Damn story.

From a purely tactical standpoint, is developing long-range missiles to attack this non-military target 1200km away at the expensive of going after other targets stupid? Perhaps. But Taiwan is definitely considering offensive retaliatory responses to a mainland invasion. Personally, I think they’d be better off going after power generators in the south of China, which are much closer and (considering China’s already overstretched power supplies) would significantly slow them down.

Note that these are completely retaliatory responses. No one was ever seriously considering taking down the Three Gorges Dam as a ‘first strike.’ This was just a suggestion for what to do when the mainland’s forces are already landing on the beaches and dropping missiles on the cities i.e. when the greatest massacre known to history was already under way.

Is it stupid for Taiwan to consider offensive responses at all? Absolutely not. An effective defensive strategy has to include an offensive response. Is there any offensive response that would 100% effectively deter the mainland? No. But anything Taiwan can do to make the mainland less trigger happy is good for them.

Is it stupid for the Pentagon to give Taiwan suggestions for an offensive retaliations? Not particularly. Yes, it rallies the Chinese to the CCP’s side and gives them another reason to vent against the US. But how is that different from the recent $18billion arms deal that Taiwan and the US agreed to? Or all of the other times that the US has sold arms to Taiwan in violation of the three communiques (I forget in which communique, but back in the 80s, the US agreed to not sell Taiwan arms suprassing in size or quantity that which Taiwan already had. The US has repeatedly violated that promised, or so I’ve been told by my Chinese classmates.)

I’m surprised after blogging about China for so long that you take the bluster of a general at such face value.

June 16, 2004 @ 10:57 pm | Comment

You are right Wayne. My surprise is something like this hasn’t been proposed earlier. As China’s military strenght grows, Taiwan’s best defense is deterrance, i.e., the promise that, in the event of an attack, they will rain godawful death and destruction on China’s population infrastructure.

Blowing up the Three Gorges is a lot less horrible than the threat of massive nuclear retaliation that the US made during to the Soviets during the cold war. I think most will agree now that that threat saved millions of lives.

June 17, 2004 @ 12:30 am | Comment

Asia by blog

The twice weekly round-up of what’s making blogging headlines in Asia, in the extended entry. Well worth a read, there’s some real gems in there….

June 17, 2004 @ 1:00 am | Comment

I think it’s always dangerous to consider any statement about cross-strait relations from Taiwan, China or the US at face value.

There have been a few odd stories coming out of the US recently (as well as this one, there were the US Senators trying to get Taiwan to commit troops to Iraq, and today rumours of a reassessment of the ‘One China’ principle:

I would put most of them down to the recent political tension in Taiwan at the moment. However, this could also be a way for the US to put a bit more subtle pressure on China – telling them that the US would support serious retaliation by Taiwan if China struck first.

Incidentally, Wayne, I think the rationale behind going after the 3 Gorges Dam is that it is more of a deterrent. Aiming at power plants may be more tactically effective, but only military tacticians (and maybe economists) would care – politicians care more about their pet projects than people or practicalities. Personally, I think the threat to send a bunch of commandos to spray-paint Taiwan independence graffiti all over the great wall would be a better deterrent though ๐Ÿ™‚

As for giving the CCP the high moral ground: don’t you think that’s been handed back by the general equating the US to Osama and a prostitute?

June 17, 2004 @ 1:18 am | Comment

V Pravde net pravdi, b Izvestii net izvestii. (There is no truth in the Truth, there is no news in the News. ‘Pravda’ means ‘truth’, ‘izvestiya’ means news).

Some of the headlines down the side of that article seem to prove that old Russian joke: “Pregnant for half a century”, or, my favourite, “Soviet army fought UFOs”.

And I wish this damn bombing story would go away. It’s obviously a stupid idea. Why? First, the invasion of Taiwan would not by any means qualify as the worst mass murder in history- we must remember that the Chinese government is not stupid. If they want to have any kind of legitimacy in Taiwan, the PLA will have to follow the Civil War strategy of taking absolutely nothing from the people- especially their lives. Otherwise Taiwan will become China’s Vietnam/Iraq. Secondly, the destruction of the dam (assuming Taiwan was capable of it- it would seem to require a nuke) would mean the deaths of hundreds of thousands, perhaps more, of mainland Chinese- one of the worst mass murders in history. The result? Instant and complete destruction of Taiwan, most likely. Taiwan could only expect America’s support in such a scenario, but it would take a president as stupid as Bush to even contemplate trying to defend a Taiwanese decision to commit what would amount to one of the most serious war-crimes in history. I can’t see much, if any support coming from the rest of the world in such an event.

And besides, last I heard Taiwan had rejected such a scenario- proving that they, too, have more intelligence at their disposal than the American government.

Please accept my most humble apologies for my terrible Russian- I studied it many years ago and have almost completely forgotten it.

June 17, 2004 @ 1:57 am | Comment

Dammit, that joke should say v izvestii, not b izvestii. I can’t believe I’m still finding it more difficult to write Russian in Latin script than Cyrillic script.

June 17, 2004 @ 1:59 am | Comment

รŸ รฒรฅรกรฟ รจรงรขรจรญรฟรพ. (“I forgive you,” in case the character encoding futzed it up.)

Pravda has indeed become Russia’s newspaper of record for loony — usually anti-American — conspiracy theories. They never quite got over that whole 1991 thing.

June 17, 2004 @ 4:24 am | Comment

Wayne: I’m completely missing what you think is so stupid about this whole Pentagon/Three Gorges Damn story.

Yes, you are, but I probably didn’t make myself clear. Go back to my original post to see how this conversation got started and why it made the US look ridiculous. Forget about whether it’s a good idea or not. I’m sure it might have benefits under certain conditions. What was stupid was the fact that we allowed it to be perceived as an actual practical suggestion, a recommendation that Taiwan should consider. The Pentagon puts out reports like this on the Chinese military every year and there has never been controversy. This was written in such a way as to create headlines around the world that the US was suggesting an attack on the 3 Gorges Dam. This created tremendous ridicule and gave the Chinese tremendous grist for the anti-US propaganda mill, as this post indictaes. It brings to mind the other Pentagon report this year about global warming destroying the world within 20 years (or something like that). The way the report was prepared, the language it used, and carelessness in containing and clarifying it — all of these factors constitute stupidity and left the government vulnerable to intense ridicule, and caused a lot of damage by bolstering hysteria over global warming (justified or not).

June 17, 2004 @ 7:46 am | Comment

MAD kept implacable enemies apart since WWII until rapprochement occurred. Propagandizing the issue is either side’s right, if they feel it is useful. If your neighbor threatens to steal your cow, what is wrong with mentioning your big dog?

June 17, 2004 @ 1:14 pm | Comment

As I said, what the Chinese are doing with this is totalloy justified. We gave it to them on a plate.

June 17, 2004 @ 2:06 pm | Comment

Wayne and Conrad,

I am shocked by your comments. To show you how bad your comments are, let us visualize this:

Some people wrote an article suggesting to Iraqis that, if US did not withdraw its troops from their homeland, they can bomb NY downtown and kill thousands of civilians.

The key characteristic of terrorism in general and Bin Laden in specific, is that they target civilians to inflict massive damage. What is the difference between your proposal and Bin Laden?

Where is the diffference between civilized people and Bin Laden?

June 17, 2004 @ 4:28 pm | Comment

Steve, we are Americams — we can say and do as we please.

(Just kidding.)

June 17, 2004 @ 4:42 pm | Comment

Wow Steve, I don’t think I’ve seen anyone so completely miss the point. The differences between Taiwan and Bin Laden is simple and obvious. Taiwan is democratic and soverign. Bin Laden is a terrorist. Taiwan would be acting according to its inherent right of self defense in response to an attack by China. Bin Laden was the aggressor and launched attacks to terrorize and make a “statement”.

June 17, 2004 @ 9:47 pm | Comment

Having a democratically elected government does not give anyone a licence to kill untold numbers of civilians. Destroying the dam would kill thousands upon thousands of civilians, anybody with an ounce of common sense can see that, therefore destroying the dam is an attack targeted at civilians, therefore it would be a war crime.

June 18, 2004 @ 2:48 am | Comment


I think you are on a slippery to a bankrupt moral system. Please read this article in CSmonitor.

“”But let me say frankly that there is also a need for moral clarity. There can be no acceptance of those who would seek to justify the deliberate taking of innocent civilian life, regardless of cause or grievance. If there is one universal principle that all people can agree on, surely it is this.”

June 18, 2004 @ 4:03 am | Comment

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