Peres and China’s top general talk military, security

President praises strategy and patience of far-east country’s army.

Peres Gantz China 311 (dont republish) (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash 90)
Peres Gantz China 311 (dont republish)
(photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash 90)
“Your visit can be a message,” President Shimon Peres told General Chen Bingde, chief of the general staff of the People’s Liberation Army of the People’s Republic of China. The general, along with a high ranking military delegation, his Israeli counterpart, Lt.-Gen.
Benny Gantz and high ranking members of the IDF met with the president on Tuesday to discuss diplomatic and security developments.
A long-time admirer of China, Peres spoke warmly of the example that China has set for the world at large and the Middle East in particular by developing – in a span of 50 years – from one of the most poverty-ridden countries in the world to a leading economy, purely through the unity and determination of its people and without the help of the US dollar or the Russian ruble.
“It is very important to explain to everyone that the greatest wealth is not money but people,” he said, adding that the only way to change a situation is to mobilize the people.
The other important lesson that can be learned from China, said Peres, is patience. Although China has sufficient military forces to conquer whatever it wants, its military and political leaders decided to be patient and waited 50 years for Hong Kong, which had been controlled by the British, to return to Chinese rule, the president said.
Likewise, although the Portuguese returned Macau to the Chinese in December 1999, the agreement stipulates that Macau will be largely autonomous until 2049.
The Chinese have the patience to wait. In this context, Peres also mentioned Taiwan.
Patience, he said, is also a military advantage, putting China in the position of being able to say to others: “Look what we have achieved.”
The president praised China’s antique and unique military strategy which continues to play a role in the country’s peaceful development policy today.
This strategy, he said, brings together military, economic, political and psychological considerations.
“We look at this strategy with great admiration, because you can defeat the enemy through strategy rather than force,” he said.
He also congratulated Chen on the successful tests that were recently carried out by China’s first aircraft carrier, though Chen said that it would not be operational for some years to come.
China not only has a huge and powerful army, but a very disciplined and educated army, said Peres, who made the point that Gantz is also interested in upgrading the level of education of soldiers in the IDF and wants all of them to leave with at least a BA.
It is a matter of singular importance to have a welleducated army he stressed, because the army is also a leader in technology. China would never have reached the heights of economy that it has attained without the contribution of the army, Peres opined.
Chen said that the army had been upgraded since the introduction of economic reforms by Deng Xiaoping in the late 1970s. It had been somewhat behind before that, but with the development of the Chinese economy to which the People’s Liberation Army contributes, more has been invested in the army, he said.
Despite its size, the budget of the Chinese army is onesixth of that of the US army, said Chen, who attributed the huge difference to the fact that other than the troops dispatched abroad for United Nations peace-keeping purposes, no other soldiers are stationed outside China, whereas the US deploys units around the world at great cost. China’s military strategy has been modernized somewhat, a factor that Chen attributed to Mao Tse Tung.
As for current policy, Chen said that it was a requirement for the army not to pose a threat to other countries, but to safeguard and defend China’s territorial integrity, and to contribute to world peace, security and stability within the framework of its strategy of integration and its membership in the UN.