01 June 2014

PLA LtGen Wang Guanzhong’s Remarks—Scripted & “Unscripted”—at Shangri-La Dialogue

Lieutenant General Wang Guanzhong, Deputy Chief, General Staff Department, People’s Liberation Army, China

Shangri-La Dialogue 2014 Fourth Plenary Session: Major Power Perspectives on Peace and Security in the Asia-Pacific


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Peace and Security in the Asia-Pacific?

PLA General Wang Guangzhong departed from his prepared address to attack the speeches made by Chuck Hagel and Shinzo Abe as ‘provocative actions against China’ in a heated opening to the final day of the 2014 Asia Security Summit.


IISS Provisional Transcription of Translated Audio Feed: Unscripted Section of General Wang’s Plenary Speech

Here, I would like to divert from my prepared script of speech and respond to speeches made by Mr. Abe and Mr. Hagel and share some of my personal views. What I’m going to say is not included in my prepared transcript. If you get the English version of my speech, you will see that what I’m going to say is not actually in the script. That is to say that originally, I only wanted to share the ideas and propositions of China and I do not want to focus on disputes and differences, You will see that in my script there is no content of what I am about to say but during the previous meetings or sessions, and after listening to the speeches of Mr. Abe and Mr. Hagel, I have to share with you some of my comments.

After the speech of Mr. Abe, a foreign friend said to me that you should keep calm. And after the speech of Mr. Hagel, this foreign friend said to me again that you have to continue to keep calm. He said to me that the future prospect of a country does not depend on words but depends on real actions. I think this foreign friend cares a lot for me and for China. In particular, he suggested that the eventual future prospect of a country does not depend on words but on deeds and actions. It is indeed very relevant and correct but I have to express gratitude and regret to my foreign friend. Despite your suggestion, I have to say a few words, a limited few words. I will not use most of the time of my speech to criticize. I have two considerations.

In China, we have a saying that it is not polite to reciprocate. And secondly, this is a Shangri-La Dialogue meeting, meaning that we need to exchange ideas and have discussions. You will you speak out your views and I will speak out mine and we will exchange ideas and the truth will be shown and demonstrated though discussions. Since Mr. Abe and Mr. Hagel already shared with us their views from the perspective of discussion, I would also like to share our views about their remarks and speeches. I think the Chinese delegation and Chinese outside this conference room and many foreigners or foreign friends have this feeling that the speeches of Mr. Abe and Mr. Hagel are a provocative action against China. Some foreign friends said to me that Mr. Abe, as the Prime Minister of Japan and Mr. Hagel as the Secretary of Defense, two major countries at this occasion, made unwanted criticism against China. This is simply un-imaginable. I think this friend is really right in saying that their speeches are completely out of my expectations.

The speeches made by Mr. Abe and Mr. Hagel gave me the impression that they coordinated with each other, they supported each other, they encouraged each other and they took the advantage of speaking first at the Shangri-La Dialogue and staged provocative actions and challenges against China.

The speech by Mr. Abe is actually mainly targeted at China. He may name the name, or not, but all of the audience know that he was targeting China. The speech by Mr. Hagel was also mainly targeted at China and all the audience would see that. Mr. Abe may name or not name directly or indirectly attack China. Mr. Hagel was more direct and frank. He directly and openly criticized China on un-granted grounds.

If I am to compare the attitudes of Mr. Abe and Mr. Hagel, I would prefer the attitude of Mr. Hagel. It is better to be more direct. Mr. Abe was invited by the host of the Dialogue to speak at the forum. He should promote peace and security in the Asia Pacific Region and provide constructive suggestions but he went against the purpose of the Dialogue and staged provocative actions and I think that act is not acceptable and not in line with the spirit of this Dialogue. The speech by Mr. Hagel was very frank. It frankly was not what I expected. I personally think that this speech by Mr. Hagel is full of hegemony, full of words of threat and intimidation. It was a speech to abate [Andrew Erickson: from listening to the video, I think LTGEN Wang said “ABET,” NOT “ABATE.”] destabilizing factors, to create troubles and make provocations. It was not a constructive speech.

Given the two speeches made by Mr. Abe and Mr. Hagel and if we look at the actions they have taken, we have to ask: who is actually making provocations and create troubles, disputes and differences concerning territory, sovereignty, maritime rights and interests, China has never taken the first step to provoke troubles. China has only been forced to respond to the provocative actions by other parties. And on bilateral and multilateral occasions, and on the Shangri-La Dialogue, China has never been the first to provoke disputes and troubles. I think everyone understands who actually initiated disputes and troubles.

Secondly, from the speeches made by Mr. Abe and Mr. Hagel, we have to ask: who is actually assertive? It is the United States and Japan who are assertive in concerted efforts, not China. And China is only making, forced to make the minimum, lowest level of response to their provocation. I will now come back to my prepared script. Thank you.


Major Power Perspectives on Peace and Security in the Asia-Pacific: Q&A


Bonnie Glaser, Senior Adviser, Freeman Chair in China Studies, Center for Strategic and International Studies

Yes. Thank you, Chair. I have two questions for General Wang. The first question is: you referred, and other speakers, yesterday and today, have referred to the code of unplanned encounters at sea, which is, I think, a very positive development in this region. I wonder whether China might be open to similar arrangements for law-enforcement or coastguard vessels, again, multilaterally agreed-on measures that would enhance operational safety in this region. My second question is that China last year announced an Air-Defence Identification Zone in the East China Sea, and I wonder whether China sees the need for creating a similar ADIZ in the South China Sea? Under what circumstances might China seek to establish an ADIZ in the South China Sea? Thank you.


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