If China is forced to resolve the Taiwan question through the use of force, it will be a legitimate and just war: Lieutenant General
Published: Oct 29, 2023 10:51 PM
Under the theme of

Under the theme of "Common Security, Lasting Peace," the 10th Beijing Xiangshan Forum is held in Beijing from October 29 to 31, 2023. Photo: Li Aixin/GT

If the Chinese government is forced to use force to resolve the Taiwan question, it will be a war of reunification, legitimacy and justice from the moral high ground, Lieutenant General He Lei, former vice president of the Academy of Military Sciences of the PLA, told the Global Times during the 10th Beijing Xiangshan Forum on Sunday, referring to The Art of War by ancient Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu. 

During the interview, He Lei first reviewed the development of the Beijing Xiangshan Forum, stating that the first forum had only 24 scholars from 14 countries in attendance. Starting from the fifth forum, each event has welcomed official delegations from over 50 countries and international organizations. “After 17 years of development through nine forums, each of which had its own characteristics and progress, the event has become a high-level platform for security and defense dialogue with significant influence globally, especially in the Asia-Pacific region,” He Lei said.

He Lei stated that in recent years, there have been many forums on security and defense, such as the Moscow Conference on International Security in Russia and the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. Each forum has its own purpose and characteristics. The Beijing Xiangshan Forum has distinct Chinese characteristics and reflects the style of the Chinese military. However, it has no intention to compete with or replace any other forum. “The Chinese military will actively participate in relevant forums in the international and Asia-Pacific region, voicing the opinions of the Chinese military and learning from the strengths and experiences of other forums,” He Lei added.

“Many countries and international organizations send official delegations, regardless of their rank, and they are all guests of the forum who will be warmly welcomed,” He Lei said, adding the Beijing Xiangshan Forum welcomes and encourages representatives to openly express their true views on their countries and themselves, allowing everyone to speak and express different opinions.

Speaking about the widespread concerns regarding the military relationship between China and the US, He Lei stated that the military relationship between the two countries is an important component of their overall relationship. When the bilateral relationship is good, the military relationship will also be good, and vice versa. He emphasized that the Chinese and American militaries should actively contribute to promoting friendly relations between the two countries and maintaining regional and global peace and stability, rather than the opposite. 

Lieutenant General He Lei Photo: Xinhua

Lieutenant General He Lei Photo: Xinhua

Regarding China’s alleged refusal to engage in regular bilateral military exchanges with the US and the US Department of Defense’s request for communication, He Lei refuted these claims by saying that in recent years, the US has continuously and seriously damaged China’s core interests, willfully undermined the political foundation of the bilateral relationship, crossed red lines and bottom lines, interfered in China’s internal affairs, instigated and supported “Taiwan independence,” leading to the lowest point in the bilateral relationship in over 40 years since the establishment of diplomatic ties. As a result, the military relationship between China and the US has also been severely affected.

Nevertheless, exchanges between the Chinese and American militaries have not stopped and are still going on. Since 2023, the Chinese Ministry of National Defense has invited military attachés stationed in China, including those from the US, to visit relevant units of the PLA in Shaanxi Province, Beijing Garrison, the Navy, and other units. In August 2023, Lieutenant General Xu Qiling, vice chief of the Joint Staff Department of the Central Military Commission, held a meeting with representatives of the US military in Fiji such as Admiral John Aquilino, commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command, He Lei said. 

He Lei told Global Times that the Beijing Xiangshan Forum invited officials from the US Department of Defense. However, it is regrettable that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who has repeatedly requested to communicate with senior Chinese military leaders in public, did not attend the forum, missing the opportunity he had longed for. This absence shows the true nature of his “sincerity.”

He Lei said that although there are signs of China-US relations coming out of the low point and returning to normal, the recovery of the military relationship lags behind other aspects. It is hoped that the Chinese and American militaries will truly implement the important consensus reached by the heads of state of the two countries. The US side should effectively correct and ensure that provocative actions interfering in China’s internal affairs and undermining China’s core interests will not happen again. We should make joint efforts to restore normal relations and quickly put them on a healthy track, making greater contributions to world peace and stability.

He Lei joined the Symposium on Sun Tzu’s Art of War on Sunday and talked about today’s application of the Art of War. Citing the first chapter of the Art of War, “Laying Plans,” He quoted Sun Tzu as saying that the art of war is governed by five constant factors to be taken into account in one’s deliberations when seeking to determine the conditions obtaining in the field: first the Moral Law, second Heaven, third Earth, fourth the Commander, and fifth Method and Discipline. The moral law causes the people to be in complete accord with their ruler.

The first of the five constant factors is the Moral Law, and the Moral Law is about politics, He Lei said, adding “a just cause gains great support, an unjust one gains little,” so when troops fight for justice, “he will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks,” and the brave will not fear death. A war of justice will receive support from the broad masses of the people, who will actively engage in the people’s war.

He Lei further stated that China is the only permanent member of the United Nations Security Council that has not achieved complete national reunification. Taiwan island is an inseparable part of China’s sacred territory. China must and will be unified. This is the result of the concept of “great unity” that has been ingrained in China for thousands of years. It is the common aspiration of all Chinese people, including those in Taiwan. It is the essence of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and an unstoppable historical trend that no force can obstruct. 

“Once the Chinese government is forced to use force to resolve the Taiwan question, it will be a war for reunification, a just and legitimate war supported and participated in by the Chinese people, and a war to crush foreign interference. In this war, the PLA will live up to the expectations and trust of the Party and the people, fight bravely under unified command, and achieve complete reunification of the motherland with the least casualties, minimal losses, and lowest cost, winning a great victory in the final battle of the PLA’s war and achieving complete national reunification,” He Lei said. He emphasized that it needs to be pointed out that the responsibility for provoking this war lies entirely with the Taiwan authorities, “Taiwan independence” secessionist forces, and external interfering forces. After the war, the Chinese government will bring the stubborn “Taiwan independence” secessionist elements to justice and punish them severely.