New book reveals secret calls from top US general to China, showing bottom line of China-US relations is to prevent from going to war
Published: Sep 15, 2021 11:48 PM
China US Photo:GT


The secret calls from top US general to a member of China's Central Military Commission (CMC) were revealed in the book "Peril". This shows that the bottom line of the China-US relations is to prevent from going to war, according to experts.

The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that the book published by its associate editor Bob Woodward and national political reporter Robert Costa, reveals that General Mark A. Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made two calls to Li Zuocheng, a member of the CMC and Chief of Staff of the CMC Joint Staff Department in the final months of the Trump administration. Milley feared that Trump's actions might spark a war with China, so he assured Li that the US would not strike first.

The report said one call took place on October 30, 2020, four days before the election that Trump lost, and the other on January 8, two days after the Capital siege carried out by Trump's supporters in a quest to revoke the results of the election. 

"General, I want to assure you that the American government is stable and everything is going to be okay," Milley told Li, adding that "we are not going to attack or conduct any kinetic operations against you [China].If we [the US] are going to attack, I am going to call you ahead of time. It is not going to be a surprise." 

Trump appointed Milley to the top military post in 2018.

The authors say the book is based on interviews with more than 200 people and draws conclusions based on the testimonies from those involved in the event.

In regard to the possible calls between Milley and Chinese generals, a military expert told the Global Times that it indicates the US attaches great importance to the relationship between Chinese and US armed forces. "Cooperation between them will benefit both countries as well as the world, while the two countries and international community will suffer if confrontation takes place between the two countries. There are a thousand causes for China and the US to forge a solid relationship and no reason to undermine it. " 

The view that the US should prevent going to war with China is not a personal opinion of the US military. General John E. Hyten, Vice Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Monday that "our goal should be to never go to war with China, to never go to war with Russia. Because that day is a horrible day for the planet, and a horrible day for our countries."

A military expert who requested to remain anonymous told the Global Times that the US military has not stopped engaging in wars even after World War II. They knew the consequences of conflicts better than politicians and diplomats. "Unlike political and trade conflicts, there is little room for maneuver if a military clash occurs. Once a war breaks out, there is always a lose-lose outcome," the expert mentioned.

Li Haidong, professor at the Institute of International Relations of China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Wednesday that the report by the Washington Post shows that there is a bottom line in China-US relations. China is not willing to engage in a war with the US and neither is the US, he added, stressing that "it also reveals how turbulent US domestic politics were at that time that a military clash was highly likely." 

The report of the book triggered some criticism in the US. Senator Marco Rubio, sent President Joe Biden a letter on Tuesday urging him to fire Milley, saying the general worked to "actively undermine the sitting Commander in Chief." Trump said that if the story was true, Milley should be tried for treason, according to Reuters.

Li also mentioned that "this will have a negative effect on the US' China policy, as it reveals the defects of the US government when dealing with China. This will undermine the US' image and credibility at home and among its allies. The Biden administration may attempt to show its solidarity in coping with China and maintain its hardline stance. This is detrimental for China-US relations."

Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and commentator, told the Global Times on Wednesday that he has doubts on the truth of the alleged secret calls between Milley and the Chinese military. 

Song said that "US presidents cannot wage a war at their will. Normally, US presidents need to get approval from Congress to launch a large-scale war. In this context, it does not make sense to say Milley was afraid that Trump's actions might spark a war with China. To obey orders is the duty for anyone in military. If talks are needed, Milley would carry them out through normal channels rather than in secret."

In terms of the purpose of exposing such information, Song explained that the "US 2020 midterm elections are approaching. And CNN quoted one senior aide of Trump saying that the former president is all-but-certain to run again in the 2024 presidential election. There are many people anxious about the Republican Party gaining overwhelming advantage in the coming midterm elections and they do not want to see Trump win the presidential election, either. After all, Trump would pose a big threat to the Democrats. This may be the main consideration to spread such rumor at this time."