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Milley conveys dangerous misconception of PLA: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2023-09-19 19:14

File photo shows the national flags of China and the United States as well as the flag of Washington DC. [Photo/Xinhua]

It is a pity that even before his imminent retirement the principal US military advisor has still not realized that it is the strategic misjudgment of the US side, as reflected by his interview with CNN on Sunday, that has made the Taiwan question a flash point.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley has held the post since 2015 and seen the ups and downs in the Sino-US military relations. Rather than showing, as he claimed, the US side's resolve to avoid a war over the Taiwan question, his interview sounds more like the highest-ranking US military officer trying to intimidate Beijing before his retirement at the end of this month.

A core message Milley sought to convey is that although it is a "great power", the Chinese mainland would be making "a grave strategic mistake" if it attempted to "seize the island of Taiwan" by force.

As part of his give-a-dog-a-bad-name-and-hang-it performance, Milley falsely claimed that China's modernizing of the People's Liberation Army is to ensure it can "exceed the US military in East Asia" so as to force the US to "exit the region militarily and diplomatically". He implied this was a fool's errand as the US military is not going to stand still, but will continue to modernize.

Beijing has made it unequivocally clear that the modernization of the PLA is to enable it to better fulfill its responsibility of safeguarding the country and its legitimate interests.

China does not have a single military base near the United States or targeting the US. Nor has it sent any warships or warplanes to the doorstep of the US under the guise of exercising "freedom of navigation".

It is the US that has been conducting such provocative missions ever more frequently in recent years. It is the US that has about 300 military bases surrounding China, and has never ceased selling weapons to the secession-desiring Democratic Progressive Party authorities of China's Taiwan island.

China has no interest in challenging the US. It does not believe in a zero-sum game. It upholds win-win cooperation and mutual respect in its relations with other countries. But make no mistake, Beijing will not allow any party, including the US, to infringe upon the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity, development rights and core interests.

The mainland is the party that would most like to see the Taiwan question resolved peacefully. But while Beijing is planning for the integrated development of the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, Washington has a "plan for the destruction of Taiwan", as US President Joe Biden admits.

The US can certainly avoid a war with China. But whether it will or not, depends on the extent to which it adheres to the one-China principle and the three Sino-US joint communiques.

As long as the US stresses its faithfulness to the so-called Taiwan Relations Act, rather than the three Sino-US joint communiques, it is pushing for something it claims it wants to avoid.

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