As Beijing looked to forge a plan to dominate the region, one admiral made a shocking claim that escalated war talk in an already precarious political dispute. Rear Admiral Lou Yuan has told an audience in Shenzhen in December 2018 that the diplomatic and military standoffs could be resolved by sinking two US aircraft carriers. Taiwan’s Central News Agency (CNA) reported that he said: “What the United States fears the most is taking casualties.
Highlighting that as many as 5000 US troops could die if one carrier was to be sunk, Admiral Lou sadistically claimed: “We’ll see how frightened America is.”
He added that China should “use its strength to attack the enemy’s shortcomings. Attack wherever the enemy is afraid of being hit. Wherever the enemy is weak …”
The animated admiral also expressed fury at the US’ aid of Taiwan in a different speech just weeks before. Taiwan is claimed by China despite its resistance.
Lou noted: “If the US naval fleet dares to stop in Taiwan, it is time for the People’s Liberation Army to deploy troops to promote national unity on (invade) the island.
“Achieving China’s complete unity is a necessary requirement. The achievement of the past 40 years of reform and opening-up has given us the capability and confidence to safeguard our sovereignty.
“Those who are trying to stir up trouble in the South China Sea and Taiwan should be careful about their future.”
Lou Yuan serves as a rear admiral in the People’s Liberation Army, and his rhetoric appears to have had an influence on the Chinese government.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said last month that Washington was “arrogant” after US Vice President Mike Pence called out China’s dire human rights record.
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The South China Sea is hotly contested because of its lucrative shipping lanes, capacity for military strategic advantages and wealth of natural resources such as oil and minerals.
At the centre of this disagreement are various island clusters such as the Spratly Islands and the Paracel Islands.
China has had particularly tense relations with Vietnam and the Philippines over islands in the region.
China’s Nine-Dash-Line draws a line around all of these islands, asserts sovereignty over all of them, and makes audacious claims about rights to waters within.
This has led to a long history of violence with Vietnam, as well as international disputes with the Philippines as smaller nations try to preserve their territories.