Major General Lê Văn Cương, in a talk with the HCMC Legal Daily in 2012, said China is going without allies as a result of its vicious expansionism and readiness to do anything to attain its goals.
Physical force is China’s major tool in territorial disputes with neighbours
The Vietnamese National Assembly in June 2012 passed the Law of the Sea. Just ask China if there is any littoral state on earth is going without law of the sea. While the Chinese have not issued a law of the sea, they make do by seven other acts to dominate and to maintain their territory at sea, including Maritime Law, Basic Line Law, Ocean Law, etc. So Vietnam adopts the Law of the Sea is “exactly like when you own a house with a garden, and you have to fence the garden”, explained General Le Van Cuong.
-Reporter: In the recent tension [in the South China Sea], Chinese media has been reporting a lot of misleading information on Vietnam. It seems China is trying to use its state-controlled media machine to incite the people, isn’t it?
- Major General Le Van Cuong: Some Chinese journalists and scholars write on the Global Times, a newspaper under the People’s Daily, calling for a war against Vietnam, claiming it as the only way to solve the South China Sea issue, blaming Vietnam to be the only invader and the most aggressive country in the world. They portray Vietnam as a criminal and a deceiver who cheats their army and the whole world.
But I believe that the vast majority of China’s three million troops do not want to provoke hostilities. They want fellowship instead. The 1.3 billion people of China are benevolent and kindhearted, too. They want fellowship rather than a war from which they gain nothing. They are just playing cards which are sacrificed and deceived. Turning to more than 20 members of the Politic Bureau, it’s not that all of them want to provoke a war. The ones who want a war account for just a tiny portion.
Things go the same with the 1979 war against Vietnam. The Chinese press has published thousands of articles misleading audiences, cramming into their mind the notion that it was a glorious victory of China’s People Liberation Army over Vietnamese invaders. Thus far the people aware of the true nature of the war account for only 1%.
Chinese President Hu Jintao on August 17th told African leaders in Bejing that China “is determined in opposing rich countries that dominate poor ones, big countries that bully small ones.” What is said is rhetorical, but what is done is on the contrary.
- There have been opinions that Chinese media provides misleading information that “deteriorate people.”
- It has been a Chinese tradition to deceive since the Eastern Zhou dynasty. People are molded into sheep that simply obey with the superior. Chinese media has so far been the planet’s biggest system of lying that operates just at the wills of the political elite. In this aspect, China outdoes the United States.
In 1979, China invaded Vietnam in the daytime, not at night. But so far in every anniversary, the Chinese press releases up to 700 or 800 articles in average that run similar titles, “Glorious victory of the PLA over Vietnamese invaders,” “The victorious strategic counter attack,” etc.
A protest rally against China in the Philippines.
... and Vietnam
Ready to use cruelty
- People often talk about Chinese expansionism. How popular do you think expansionism is in the world today?
- Scientifically, every big nation to no small extent has some element of expansionism. Not just China, but also are the United States, Russia, Germany, Japan, and India. This is a universal characteristic [of big nations] just as wealthy people tend to look down on indigent ones. It is true to an individual, a community, and a nation also.
Therefore peaceful evolution is not unique to the United States. Although peaceful evolution of modern time traces its root to the United States, China is truly the father and the world’s master of manipulating a nation to make sure its government acts at their will. 2600 years ago, in the Spring and Autumn period, Guan Zhong of the Qi state was the inventor of peaceful evolution as he used manoeuvres of sowing division, employing economic coercion, exaggerating conflicts, and hawking slanderous news so that the king would punish the loyal and leave only the fawns and the inefficient. The nation would thereby decline and he would dominate the five neighboring states within just several years. The United States is just an imitation of China in this aspect.
- So how different is Chinese expansionism so that China is resented the world over as you’ve mentioned?
- Chinese expansionism is characterized by two distinguished traits. First, it is more vigorous and vicious than other countries.
Second, China is ready to use whatever cunning trick regardless of its seriousness. The United States, Japan and EU never send their people to Vietnam to lead on local farmers in amalgamating mud and tea before taking the mixture back to China for filming and televising to the entire world. Neither do they purchase from Vietnam buffalo hooks, cinnamon roots, and leeches; nor sell low-quality, even toxic products into Vietnam. That’s why the world keeps vigilant eyes on China. China is a super power without alliances.
When does China use force?
- Looking back on armed wars launched by China since 1949, how would you view the factors that got Chinese leaders use force as a solution to international relation issues?
- There has been a confluence of two streams, expansionism and short-term interests. The 1969 war against the Soviet Union was a sacrifice of China to prove to the United States that China was not an ally of the Soviet Union. In February 1979, by sacrificing Vietnam, once again Beijing proved to Washington that it was not in any alliance with Hanoi. Before attacking Vietnam, Deng Xiaoping even visited Washington, wearing a cowboy hat, telling US President Carter, “We are Eastern NATO.” Vietnam was the victim in China’s exchange with the United States.
Between 1979 and 1991, China colluded with the United States and international hostile forces to choke Vietnam, blocking and sanctioning the country. This pulled Vietnam thirty years backward. That was a black age in Vietnam’s history, when all the ways out to the world were blocked by China and the United States.
Expansion is China’s long-term strategy, but whenever force is needed to deal with short-term interests relevant to that strategy, China will be ready to use force.
Photo courtesy: Paracel Data Center (HSO)
- The fact that big countries, with their mindset of expansionism, shake hand with each other at the expense of small countries, has been seen many times in history. What about the relations between Vietnam, China and other big nations?
- I believe that Vietnam was sold down the river a total of five times.
The first sellout of Vietnam was made in 1954 when China made a bargain with the United States and France. The boundary between the two regions of Vietnam should have been the 13th or 15th parallel rather than 17th. However, to win the heart of the United States and the West, China made concessions by designating the 17th parallel. It was France who later told us about this.
The second time was in 1972 when Vietnam was about to win the anti-US war. Henry Kissinger had previously initialed an agreement with Le Duc Tho and the two had reported to their superior in preparation for the conclusion of the Paris Peace Accord. But Mao Zedong invited US President Nixon to China to sign the Shanghai Joint Communique of February 27th 1972.
On March 1st 1972, Kissinger held a press conference in Tokyo, in which he gave a famous statement, “now we only look to Moscow to crush Hanoi.” Following the signing of the Shanghai Joint Communique, Nixon succeeded in doing shocking things that his previous presidents had failed to do, including blocking the Hai Phong port, the only sea lane connecting Vietnam to the world, commanding airstrikes very close to China-Vietnam boundary, then launching the twelve-day campaign of “Dien Bien Phu in the air”. Loss of human lives and property caused by US air raids in the north of Vietnam since March 1st 1972 until the conclusion of the Paris Peace Accord equal the total damages in the six previous years. In the south, blood was shed. So the Shanghai Joint Communique was actually written in the blood of the Vietnamese people.
In its third time betrayal, China took over Paracel Islands in 1974. It would never had launched any attack but for the approval from the United States.
For the fourth time, China became the perpetrator behind the massacre of over two million Cambodians. China supported the Khmer Rouge with almost everything from food to arms, from ammunition to medicines. In the southwestern border war of 1976-1978, China used the Khmer Rouge to fight Vietnam. Subsequently when we liberated Cambodia, China hyped up to the world that Vietnam was plotting the establishment of “the Indo-China Federation.” It is ironical that the perpetrator of a massacre could calumniate those who saved the Cambodian people from a holocaust.
The fifth time was the border war of 1979. So there were five times China made a sellout of Vietnam.
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“Historically, in all of its disputes with other nations, China has never been reasonable. In the 1962 war with India, it appropriated tens of thousands of land miles without any reason.
Similar are China’ conflicts with Japan and Philippines, in which it has no reason at all. I have made a calculation to find out there are up to 15 books and 20 ancient maps saying the southernmost border of China reached Hainan island only.”
(M. General Lê Văn Cương)