May 23, 2011
A RISING star of the People's Liberation Army has called for China to rediscover its ''military culture'', while challenging unnamed Communist Party leaders for betraying their revolutionary heritage.
General Liu Yuan displays sympathy for Osama bin Laden, says war is a natural extension of economics and politics and claims that ''man cannot survive without killing''.
His essay, written as a preface to a friend's book, says ''history is written by blood and slaughter'' and describes the nation-state as ''a power machine made of violence''.
General Liu's public glorification of what he sees as an innate but previously suppressed Chinese military culture reveals an undercurrent that is driving the Communist Party's increasing assertiveness at home and abroad.
His essay emerges at an awkward time internationally, after Army Chief of Staff Chen Bingde last week travelled to Washington with reassurances about China's peaceful intentions.
Chinese President Hu Jintao promoted General Liu this year to be Political Commissar of the PLA's General Logistics Department, after making him a full general in 2009, and some expect he will receive a two-stage promotion into the Central Military Commission, the military's top leadership body.
General Liu is also an important leader among the dozens of ''princelings'' whose parents founded the People's Republic and are now claiming dominant positions in politics, business and rising through the military.
His father was Liu Shaoqi, who was Mao Zedong's anointed successor until Mao's Red Guards threw him in jail and left him to die.
General Liu was purged with his family during the Cultural Revolution and then left Beijing to begin his career as a grassroots official in the countryside in the early 1980s, in parallel with the current boss of Chongqing city, Bo Xilai, and China's likely next president, Xi Jinping.
''Military culture is the oldest and most important wisdom of humanity,'' writes General Liu, inverting a traditional Chinese formulation that military affairs are subordinate to civilian culture.
''Without war, where would grand unity come from? Without force, how could fusion of the nation, the race, the culture, the south and the north be achieved?''
While overtones of 1930s Japanese and German militarism will be internationally disconcerting, the essay also opens a window into the institutional, ideological and personal struggles that are intensifying before next year's leadership transition.
It is effectively a clarion call for the true heirs of the communist revolution to rediscover their fighting spirit and reinvent a rationale for their existence.
''No-surrender Communist Party members,'' writes General Liu. ''Let's start again.''
Pointedly, General Liu distinguishes ''no-surrender'' cadres from unnamed top leaders who he says have sold out to foreign interests and ideologies.
''Actually, the party has been repeatedly betrayed by general secretaries, both in and outside the country, recently and in the past,'' he writes.
The essay is written as a preface to a collection of political essays, Changing Our View of Culture and History , by left-leaning intellectual Zhang Musheng, whose father was also a senior cadre.
General Liu backs Mr Zhang's call to save the Communist Party by turning the ideological clock back by more than 60 years, to ''new democracy''.