“We didn’t say officially that we’d nuke America…”

Hey, generals have a right so speak their personal views on things, don’t they? China therefore seems unruffled at General Zhu’s casual assertion that China might use nukes to fight the US in a war over Taiwan. What’s the big deal? He was just sayin’….

Remarks by a Chinese general that Beijing could use nuclear arms against the United States in a war over Taiwan were his personal views, but China will never allow Taiwan to be independent, China’s Foreign Ministry said.

“We will firmly abide by the principles of peaceful reunification and ‘one country two systems’ and we will express the deepest sincerity and exert the greatest efforts to realize peaceful reunification,” state-mouthpiece Xinhua news agency reported a ministry spokesman as saying late on Friday.

But, he added: “We will never tolerate ‘Taiwan Independence’, neither will we allow anybody with any means to separate Taiwan from the motherland.”

The Financial Times reported on Friday that Zhu Chenghu, a general in the People’s Liberation Army, said China would have no option but to go nuclear in the event of an attack over the contentious Taiwan issue.

Zhu had told reporters visiting from Hong Kong he was expressing his own views and did not anticipate a conflict with Washington, it said.

Nevertheless, a State Department spokesman called the remarks irresponsible.

Beijing considers Taiwan, split politically from the mainland since 1949, a part of China and has vowed to bring the it back into the fold. In March, China passed an anti-secession law authorizing the use of “non-peaceful means” to do so.

While the United States only recognizes one China and says it does not support Taiwan independence, Washington is bound by law to help the democratic island of 23 million people defend itself.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman did not explicitly say that Zhu’s comments conflicted with policy. However, China has had a declared policy of not using its nuclear weapons unless it has already suffered nuclear attack.

Zhu is dean of China’s University of National Defense.

“Zhu had repeatedly emphasized that he would express personal views on the issues that the reporters are interested in before they started discussions,” the Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

Can you imagine General Franks saying we could drop nukes on Fallujah — or anywhere else on earth — to secure the peace? (If I recall my history, back in the 60s George Wallace’s running mate Curtis Lemay said he’d consider nuking Vietnam, which didn’t earn him very high marks. He was promptly labeled a nutcase, quite correctly. What a novel way to win hearts and minds.)

The Discussion: 57 Comments

It was a message of peace, with Chinese characteristics.

July 16, 2005 @ 5:44 pm | Comment

I am shocked by the nutty talk. Unfortunately, this nutty talk actually reflects a dangerous thinking in Chinese hawks in response to US hawks.

US generals has frequently express confidence to bomb China to stone age. US surely has that capability. US strategy is to fight a local limited war with traditional weapons.

If China choose to arm itself to match US capability. The armrace will bacnkrupt China, just as it has bankrupted USSR. For China hawks, China will not to do that. If there China is massively bombed by US, then …

This kind of talk is a madman strategy from a weak position.

The only source for this war is Taiwan. Unfortunatly, so many people are still pushing it.

July 16, 2005 @ 5:52 pm | Comment

Red flag, Steve — are you saying US generals have made comments equivalent to General Tso’s? Maybe in the 1950s. Not in the past 40 years, if ever.

AM, you have a unique gift of saying a lot in very few words. Your senternces are pregnant.

July 16, 2005 @ 5:57 pm | Comment

Steve, It sound’s like you are thinking! Thank YOU for that. Yeah, the Current admin in the U.S. would probably love to try out some new weapons on China. It’s probably best not to provoke them. Although it’s all macho nonsense anyway.

July 16, 2005 @ 5:57 pm | Comment

Does anyone know who the father is?

July 16, 2005 @ 5:58 pm | Comment

well, I don’t think US generals have recently expressed such sentiments (“bombing China into the Stone Age”), but Steve is right in that there are certainly some scary sentiments among American neo-cons out to make China our next big bad guy. There’s a lot of dangerous rhetoric on both sides, I think.

July 16, 2005 @ 6:12 pm | Comment

Good morning (China time) Lisa!

July 16, 2005 @ 6:16 pm | Comment


“bomb to stone age” is not a quote, but a sentiment. If you deny there is this sentiment, well, I do not know what to say. Go check general Meyers’ talk last month in senator hearing on how to attack in Taiwan strait war.

In cold war, when US can not match USSR traditional weapons, it threaten nuclear option as a madman strategy. That is why people call it nuclear umbrella. Chinese hawks just borrow a page from US.

As I have said before, for US long term interest, US should firmly prevent Taiwan from seeking independence.

July 16, 2005 @ 6:25 pm | Comment

Steve for China’s long term EXISTENCE it shouldn’t try any moves on Taiwan.When all the factories move to other countries China’s bargaining power will be greatly reduced. Big corporations Love slave-like markets. Vietnam and America are becoming chummy.

July 16, 2005 @ 6:30 pm | Comment

Would Zhu do?

BTW, thanks for info on Wag the Dog. Did you think the movie was any good.

July 16, 2005 @ 6:32 pm | Comment

As I see it, old General Zhu would not make such a threatening statement about the use of the n-bomb agaisnt the US without purpose and official approval or at least acquisence. He was not off the reservation IMO.

July 16, 2005 @ 6:37 pm | Comment

Okay Steve, I just didn’t understand what you meant.

Pete, I loved Wag the Dog. The timing was absolutely supernatural, at the peak of the Lewinski scandal when we went to war over Albanians. Quite incredible.

July 16, 2005 @ 6:38 pm | Comment

Pete, I saw Wag the Dog when it came out. A while ago. I remember thinking it was pretty good. DeNiro is in it. Before he completely lost his chops. It’s definetely worth 6 kuai. Zhu isn’t man enough to be the father of my child.

July 16, 2005 @ 6:39 pm | Comment

“for China’s long term EXISTENCE it shouldn’t try any moves on Taiwan.”

AM, I agree with you. The war will be a disaster for Chinese people. That is why I think the people advocating Taiwan independence is simply irresponsible.

July 16, 2005 @ 6:40 pm | Comment

Wow, What a day! I am actually agreeing with a Chinese person. Now if only our leaders could write in to the Duck…………..

July 16, 2005 @ 6:44 pm | Comment

an american thinktank suggests washington government to take a “bomb china back to 1950s” strategy in a likely taiwan war, a few years ago i think

this is much more dangerous than Zhu’s remarks, in nature, i believe his remarks is similar to the US nuclear weaponery, disgusting but for the purpose of “terror peace”

July 16, 2005 @ 6:50 pm | Comment

A “Think tank” saying it and a Senior Military Officer saying it ARE NOT the same thing.

July 16, 2005 @ 7:07 pm | Comment

BTW, I’m starting my own “Think Tank.”My first order of business is to learn how to think.

July 16, 2005 @ 7:10 pm | Comment

Now I am guessing. But could it be the writer of the laugher movie___??????????? where the guy rides the bomb to Moscow that had the Curtis LeMay character? Or maybe a combination of Churchill, Shakespeare and Gore Vidal.

July 16, 2005 @ 8:04 pm | Comment

Pete, you mean DR. STRANGELOVE? What a great film that was!

And good morning to you, AM!

July 16, 2005 @ 8:23 pm | Comment


July 16, 2005 @ 8:25 pm | Comment

Richard, you said: ‘Can you imagine General Franks saying we could drop nukes on Fallujah — or anywhere else on earth — to secure the peace?’


General Zhu reportedly said: ‘We have no capability to fight a conventional war against the United States.’ ‘We can’t win this kind of war.’ (New York Times)

Perhpas this is the difference between China and the US.

July 16, 2005 @ 8:27 pm | Comment

Another Kubrick movie worth watching is Paths of Glory. Also Barry Lyndon. Absolutely great! I am more of a Polanski fan though. He’s mean and dirty.

July 16, 2005 @ 8:30 pm | Comment

AM, here we must differ. Dr. Strangelove was, to me, Kubrick’s last great movie. All downhill from there. Barry Lyndon bored me to tears.

July 16, 2005 @ 8:37 pm | Comment

It was long.But I wasn’t bored.What about Paths of Glory?

July 16, 2005 @ 8:51 pm | Comment

Never saw it. Liked Clockwork Orange. Hated the Cruise-Kidman movie with the masks…Eyes Wide Shut.

July 16, 2005 @ 8:54 pm | Comment

Tom Cruise should do a self immolation thing on Oprah.I have ALWAYS hated that fucker.

July 16, 2005 @ 8:56 pm | Comment

I can’t disagree. But at least he taught me how to live a complete and meaningful life by believing in L. Ron Hubbard.

July 16, 2005 @ 8:57 pm | Comment

YOU TOO? Glory B!

July 16, 2005 @ 8:58 pm | Comment

I thought Amway was bad.

July 16, 2005 @ 9:00 pm | Comment

You America, you always hegemony, China need to develop, America jealous of China GDP. Why America OK to nuke Japan, not OK when China nuke America?
You don’t understand China. China nuke America for economic development.

July 16, 2005 @ 11:19 pm | Comment

Other Lisa:
Dr. Strangelove. That’s it.

Paths of Glory. About the French military decision sending thousands of troops to certain death?

I did’t see it, but if that is the movie you are talking about, read the book. It sure as hell made me in my 20s burn with a hatred of command follies and want to swear off war.

July 17, 2005 @ 12:31 am | Comment

An interesting comment from dc, but not very comforting. In 1940 Admeral Yamamoto devised a war plan for the Japanese high command, including the attack on Pearl Harbor. His plan was fairly accurrate, indicating they would only have one year at most to achiev victory, after that their economic and energy supplies would constrain them. His war scenario was pretty accurrate. In other words, Japan went to war knowing they were going to lose. Insanity and irrationality are deterents to combat that will insure the total destruction of a country.

July 17, 2005 @ 4:04 am | Comment

If China keeps this up, America may have to bomb them back to twenty years ago.

July 17, 2005 @ 4:29 am | Comment

Sorry Richard, but wasn’t it the Pentagon how is developing so called mini-nukes to use in conventional battle? And didn’t they explicitly refuse to state the US would only use these nuclear weapons after beeing attacked?
I also recall this General who said something about bringing those heathens the belief with the sword.

July 17, 2005 @ 5:24 am | Comment

Bearing in mind that the 60th Anniversary of the Manhatton Project just passed–i.e. the first time an atomic bomb was ever exploded (in New Mexico I believe) and the 60th Anniversary of Hiroshima falls at the beginning of August, then these comments by General Zhu are extremely ill-timed.

July 17, 2005 @ 5:57 am | Comment

JFS made a good point yesterday about General Zhu’s comments being due to factionalism within the Chinese politico-military elite/CCP.

Commenter Dylan always seems to have his finger on the pulse of the internal machinations of the CCP, where the hell is he when he’s needed?

Jiang Zemin was the PLA’s best mate, I don’t think the same can be said of Hu and Wen. Perhaps that’s got something to do with it?

July 17, 2005 @ 6:00 am | Comment

I’m surprised more nations that have parallel interests as China (i.e. Vietnam, etc – nations that will be competing with China on the factory setting) haven’t come out to denounce this. A big country threatening nukes on the doorstep of Asia is not one I’d want in my backyard, if I were Vietnam.

July 17, 2005 @ 7:31 am | Comment

For those of you who protest that the U.S.A is instituting a cold war with China – I guess this is what I was touching on in my post above – the U.S. doesn’t need a cold war with China. The hawks are totally out of touch, in my opinion.

The ones that need a cold war with China, and who would benefit greatly from it, are Vietnam, Mongolia, Cambodia, and India. They are the ones who will compete directly with China. Heck, throw Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia in there too. And the phillipines. I think they have more to gain by refusing Chinese imports and competing with China in providing good quality services for low cost (but no piracy! that would be the caveat competitive advantage that they’d have to introduce) than the U.S. ever has to gain by doing anything to China. The U.S. is too dependent on China, and China on it, for the U.S. to truly institute a cold war with China. The best thing for the small countries I mentioned is to take advantage of this dependency, politically and economically, by weaning the U.S. off of China. I think China is already afraid of this, which is why it has been extremely generous in it’s east asian investments, to sway the advantage their way.

July 17, 2005 @ 7:50 am | Comment

it’s said that 3 years ago US government issued a report and threatened to nuke china if there were a war between mainland and taiwan

is that true?

July 17, 2005 @ 9:26 am | Comment

Bingfeng, I’ve never heard of any US report threatening to use nukes on China. Discussing, as a military option if we ever went to war, maybe; that would be quite normal for the military to do. But to actually threaten with nuclear attack sounds very provocative, and I couldn’t imagine the USD government doing such a thing in the 21st century.

July 17, 2005 @ 9:47 am | Comment

Is General Zhu threatening an unprovoked nuclear attack on the US or saying that China could respond with nuclear weapons in the event of a war with the US? Sounds to me it’s the latter.

The US on the other hand, publicly talks about making pre-emptive nuclear strikes on China and have even made detailed plans for carrying out such strikes. And while it has been repeatedly clarified that what General Zhu said was his personal view and not the Chinese government policy, the US pre-emptive strike doctrine is official policy of the White House.

A couple of links on US pre-emptive strike doctrine

July 17, 2005 @ 12:18 pm | Comment

Okay, I’ll bite.

Huimao – 1) I totally agree with you on the US point – although I’m not clear on the details, I absolutely oppose any “strike first” policy by the U.S.

2) The problem with “only expressing your opinion” and drawing a line between your personal views and the post that you hold is that no one believes it. Take for example Koizumi, who I believe has said that he attends the Yasukuni Shrine as a private citizen. I hope this shows why it’s problematic. So which is it? Are officials allowed to voice their public opinion with all of us giving them the space to do so and not holding them accountable? I vote “no.”

July 17, 2005 @ 1:14 pm | Comment

Did you see the two links that Hui Mao offered? I’m sure his point is well taken, but these two links aren’t going to further his case.

July 17, 2005 @ 3:43 pm | Comment

That’s a Lyndon Larouche link.

July 17, 2005 @ 11:02 pm | Comment

Exactly, AM. I don’t think Hui Mao realized it…. I’m sure he can find better sources than Lyndon Larouche. ๐Ÿ™‚

July 17, 2005 @ 11:04 pm | Comment

Hui Mao needs some more experience with free speech.

Also, am I the only person here who remembers that General MacArthur advocated using nuclear weapons in the Korean War? He even made a formal request for nuclear deployment–twice–and was denied by Truman both times.

Anyway, two can play at the game of deterrence. China wants to blow up Los Angeles? Well then we’ll remind them that we can blow up the entire eastern seaboard of China (and maybe Xi’an, just because we can).

July 17, 2005 @ 11:23 pm | Comment

Johnny, I said Curtis Lemay madde similar comments re. Vietnam. During the Cold War of course, remarks like MacArthur’s were common. But today — to even discuss the use of nuclear weapons as a seroious option is quite alarming. I mean, it would mean the end of the world, no?

July 17, 2005 @ 11:33 pm | Comment


It’s good to see you are operating with your usual credibility, sourcing and common sense (or lack thereof):

An american thinktank [Which one – ed.] suggests[when – ed] washington government [which administration – ed] to take a “bomb china back to 1950s” strategy in a likely taiwan war, a few years ago i think [you think?]

You think that this is much more dangerous than Zhu’s remarks.

Really, so an unsourced statement supposedly by an unidentified NGO, at a time you can’t recall, to a admistration you can’t identify, to “bomb China back to the 1950’s”, is “much more dangerous” than a well documented statement, at a public symposium for international representatives, by a serving Chinese general, during which he threatens to overturn established Chinese military doctirine and initiate nuclear war with the US?

July 17, 2005 @ 11:41 pm | Comment

After having lived in Los Angeles I would say: THEY WOULD BE DOING US A HUGE FAVOR. Sorry other Lisa. “Oh no, WE lost 20 million vapid, self- involved, talentless…..”

July 17, 2005 @ 11:58 pm | Comment

Is the San Francisco Chronicle considered a more credible source? Here’s an article on the same subject from the SF Chronicle:


From the article

The GOP paper also proposed a new doctrine under which the country would be able to launch nuclear attacks not just in response to a nuclear attack, or the threat of one, but to pre-emptively destroy stockpiles of other weapons, such as chemical or biological weapons, in the hands of hostile countries.

Here’s another link to an article from the Centre for Research on Globalisation (I have no idea who they are, so I acknowledge it’s totally possible that they are just a bunch of crazy Canadian liberals out to smear Bush):


From the article:
The Bush administration has directed the military to prepare contingency plans to use nuclear weapons against at least seven countries and to build smaller nuclear weapons for use in certain battlefield situations, according to a classified Pentagon report obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

The secret report, which was provided to Congress on Jan. 8, says the Pentagon needs to be prepared to use nuclear weapons against China, Russia, Iraq, North Korea, Iran, Libya and Syria. It says the weapons could be used in three types of situations: against targets able to withstand nonnuclear attack; in retaliation for attack with nuclear, biological or chemical weapons; or “in the event of surprising military developments.”

July 18, 2005 @ 1:06 am | Comment


Your point about public officials and their personal views is well-taken. However, this general Zhu doesn’t really occupy any office of importance. He is not the head of the National Defense University as some reports seem to imply. He is only the dean of a department at the university, and the university itself doesn’t have nearly the importance as its name sounds to westerners. He is an academic and has never served in any real military office. He only holds the title of major general because the PLA have a tendency to bestows military ranks on everyone working in its subordinate organizations, many of which have no military role. There are many professional athletes, pop singers, writers, and even farm managers that are given the rank of colonel or general.

July 18, 2005 @ 1:42 am | Comment


Eyes are on you. Your response?

July 18, 2005 @ 10:57 am | Comment

China needs hawks like him, as another unofficial channel to deliver official message.

Would CCP be mad enough to use nuclear against US over Taiwan? Who knows? Suicide bombers don’t bother if they can survive, do they?

Many Americans and their politicians appear rather defiant over this, like many British over the 7/7.

To be honest, I feel difficult to understand such defiance. They are defiant just because they are not the victims or their relatives.

And what are they defiant for? Something like, WE ARE NOT AFRAID, no matter how many you kill or how threatening you are, you won’t change the way we live.

It’s not defiance, it’s numb and ignorant.

Fear is like pain. Human beings need the sense of pain to avoid being hurt and the sense of fear to protect themselves.

With fear of loss, you would appreciate negotiation rather than confrontation.

The polititians in US don’t have fear. They think they are invincible and never mind pushing others to corner, especially when their loved ones won’t be the cannon fodder.

And the ordinary americans don’t have fear either. They are used to watching weak countries being deterred by their bluffing and disdain the threat from the desperate with enough power to make havoc of them.

Just wish they never fail.

July 18, 2005 @ 11:50 am | Comment

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 t…

July 18, 2005 @ 7:53 pm | Comment

Ivan, the U.S. nuked Japan to stop them from taking over the world, and to end the war. Secondly, if the U.S. is so jealous of China’s economic development, then why was it President Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger who opened China up to the world? The U.S. has heavily invested in China, and it’s because of this investment that China is now prospering. China, in return for our generosity, won’t pay for our intellectual property but prefers to steal it, floods our country with illegal aliens, spies, drugs, and tries to gain unfair advantage in every trade deal. The same China that was supposed to help rein in Kim Jong Il of North Korea has now threatened to nuke us over Taiwan. The average American can now see that the Chinese Communists are bullies, gangsters, IRRATIONAL, UNFAIR, and UNGRATEFUL. Try fear, dude, not jealousy!

August 6, 2005 @ 11:50 am | Comment

Dear Lily, you put out a wonderful rhetorical answer which beautifully argued and sounded convincing. But in deeper thought, it offered no truth at all, but only sugar-coating of the events which took place under the military might and bully tactics of U.S. of America!

To begin with, I am older enough to know a little about that Nixon’s trip to China in 1979. It was arranged under the guise of “PingPong Diplomacy”, which in fact was Nixon’s political ploy, and his last straw, to save his own skin, politically speaking. At that time, Nixon himself was under the pressure of impeachment from the Congress due to the “Watergate” affair which burglarised Democrat’s headquarter. If successfully impeached, Nixon himself would be the secong in line in the history of American presidency to be impeached. Obviously, he was under tremendous pressure to clear his good-name, in order not to be written infamously in the history books for posterity. In desperate time, desperate action was taken. So Nixon’s move to break into the COMMUNIST’s Bamboo Curtain of China was his major drastic action to divert the focus of the nation on Watergate, in the hope to save or prolonged his personal political career. It had nothing to do with such generisity of U.S. of America then and now! It was just selfish political and economic ploy of a president and the establishment it represents!

On other matters:
(1)The precedents to “nuke-ing” a populated habitat were set by, again, good old generosity of The U.S. of America. It was set not once but twice, regardless of the reasons or excuses you offered. The fact is that U.S.A. nuked a populated habitat, PERIOD.
There was a World War going on at that time, to nuke Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the good old generosity of American military designs in order to minimise potential casualties of American soldiers in the Pacific war arena, if not also for other economical consideration, PERIOD. The American shall not have the monopoly to dictate the world with its evil designs, like it always does in many other world matters, when it comes to choose and pick who to bomb and kill, and who to bully and starve the innocents populous to death!
There are a myriad of hard cases of American bullying and agreesive tactics around the world, then and even now, to support this allegation without going into one here. I am sure you will recollect even one if your memory is not so clouded or biased already?
(2) During WII, six millions innocent Jews died in Holocaust in the hands of white German Nazis should be saved at all cost, similarly the lives of American soldiers in the Pacific war arena if you were to justify what the American did by “nuke-ing” Japan. There was this racist sentiment somewhere in the American war plans at that time that Japan, or Jews for that matter, was more expendable than white Nazis Germany. Japan was chosen as the testing site of the American nuclear arsenal with that same underlying racist sentiment.
Please do not say American hadn’t got the bomb at the time when Nazis carried out the systematic annihilation of a people. The prototype had been tested successfully in the desert of Nevada already. So much being said about the generosity and good old heart of U.S. of American.
(3) About the development of current “communist” China. From the devastation of WII, Japan through the sere hard work of its people brought itself up on their own two feet, with its trading and open door policies with the rest of the world. Similarly can be said about China, but there was a twist from what Japan experienced, when China FINALLY opened up its doors to what the western Capitalist corporates dictate, the country was virtually in tattered. Millions had starved, or even died, in failed policies and political in-fighting. China was in a state of oblivion, it had been casted away from the west, or ostracised from meaningful western contacts for half a century.The U.S. corporates, like the corporates of the rest of the world, rushing in to invest, not out of their generosity, but only to tap into its resources and to exploit its dirt-cheap and hard-working labor force and other investment benefits and taxation exemptions doled out by those Chinese communists “bullies, gangsters, IRRATIONAL, UNFAIR, and UNGRATEFUL” to the fat-bellies of western capitalists corporate American and the rest of the world!
So Lily, please kindly tell me why those generous, non-bullies, non-gangsters, RATIONAL, FAIR AND GRATEFUL” corporate Americans on their own volition, willingly be the bed-fellows and participate the criminal accomplices, if their acts are to be considered “criminal” , of those Chinese communists “bullies, gangsters, IRRATIONAL, UNFAIR, and UNGRATEFUL”, if again I did not quote you wrongly!?
May be I have the answer for you: the Americans are just as “bullies, gangsters, IRRATINAL, UNFAIR, and UNGRATEFUL” as the Chinese communists! That would make you one too, if you were American???
LOVE and HUMANITY is the answer to all of our woe, NOT point fingers or throwing accusations!
……….I rest my case!

May 13, 2006 @ 1:31 pm | Comment

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.