Will this help Washington hawks and defense contractors get approval for new weapon systems?
A Chinese general said Beijing would hit the U.S. with nuclear weapons if Washington defended Taiwan from a mainland invasion.
Speaking to foreign journalists at a function partly organized by China's communist government, Gen. Zhu Chenghu said: "If the Americans draw their missiles and position-guided ammunition on to the target zone on China's territory, I think we will have to respond with nuclear weapons.
"We . . . will prepare ourselves for the destruction of all of the cities east of Xian," Zhu warned, referring to China's ancient capital. "Of course, the Americans will have to be prepared that hundreds . . . of cities will be destroyed by the Chinese."
Is that simply Zhu's opinion? The Financial Times reports that one expert on the good general says he "is running way beyond his brief on what China might do in relation to the U.S. if push comes to shove. Nobody who is cleared for information on Chinese war scenarios is going to talk like this."
The FT also reports that Zhu himself said he was not representing official Chinese policy; nor does he anticipate war with the U.S.
In any event, some clarification from Beijing would be nice. It is known to come down hard on those who speak out of turn. If it remains silent and Zhu doesn't disappear soon, we have to assume he was actually speaking for the regime.