China Military Official Blasts U.S. ‘Hegemony’ at Shangri-La Conference

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Hagel Accuses Beijing of ‘Destabilizing, Unilateral Actions’

Lt. Gen. Wang Guanzhong

China asserted a bold vision of itself as the pre-eminent power in East Asia, sparring with the U.S. at a meeting of the world’s top defense officials and inflaming tensions with its less-powerful neighbors.

Beijing’s stepped-up rhetoric illustrated its view that U.S. power in the region is waning even as China’s more-aggressive approach appears to be bringing other nations together to counter its growing military and economic sway.

At the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore over the weekend, a top Chinese military official issued an unusually robust riposte to U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who criticized China’s “destabilizing, unilateral actions” in the South China Sea, including deploying an oil-drilling platform in disputed waters, among other moves.

Lt. Gen. Wang Guanzhong, the Chinese military’s deputy chief of general staff, fired back on Sunday, saying Mr. Hagel’s speech was “full of hegemony, full of words of threat and intimidation,” and part of “a provocative challenge against China.”

“The Americans are making very, very important strategic mistakes right now,” Maj. Gen. Zhu Chenghu said in an interview. “If you take China as an enemy, China will absolutely become the enemy of the U.S.,” he said.

He went on to tell a Chinese-language broadcaster that U.S. power was declining.

China is feeling increasingly comfortable with the idea that it is Asia’s top power, or at least should be treated as an equal of the U.S., and it is engaging in displays to show that the U.S. can do little or nothing to stop it despite America’s greater military firepower, according to several experts.

“China is very significantly upping the ante here,” said Hugh White, a professor of strategic studies at the Australian National University. “What we’re seeing is a steady and sharp increase in the overtones of the strategic rivalry.”

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