When considering the possibility of economic warfare, the most frequently asked question is:
"Why would the Chinese hurt our economy when they are so dependent upon it and have trillions of dollars in U.S. debt?"
Our standard answer is a return question: "Which Chinese?"
It is clearly naive to believe that China is monolithic. Certainly the business community and many in the government would not want anything to hurt the American economy if it in turn hurt China. Having said that, however, there are no doubt members of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) who have every intention of harming America. We proved this point once before in our post "Which Chinese?" In that post, we documented how the PLA leadership had gone around the civilian leadership, making a dramatic and aggressive statement. Now, it has happened again. Rumors have begun to surface that some military officers may have attempted a coup. Why? Because they believe that the civilian leadership has not been aggressive enough. Should anyone doubt that given the opportunity, some PLA elements would strike hard against us? The collateral damage to Chinese business would not be their primary concern.
Here are excerpts from the report:
According to a report, around New Year's day officers in two Chinese air force units were arrested on suspicion of plotting a coup. At the same time, a nuclear submarine on patrol was ordered back to port because some on board were thought to have links with the plotters. This report, circulated on Sunday on a China-watching listserv, remains unconfirmed. This rumor could be linked in some fashion to the detention last month of Colonel Tan Linshu, of the Chinese navy, for subversion.
A coup at first glance seems inconceivable, but there has been an evident erosion in civilian control of the Chinese military in recent years. The most important manifestation of this breakdown is that colonels and flag officers have begun openly criticizing civilian leaders and are now speaking out on matters once considered the exclusive province of diplomats.
What's happening? From all indications, senior officers have gained influence in top Communist Party circles as civilian leaders have, since the early part of last decade, looked to them to settle power struggles in Beijing. Today, that trend is continuing as generals and admirals are involving themselves in a major leadership transition set to formally begin at the end of this year at the 18th Party Congress.
READ MORE OF THIS STORY from Gordon G. Chang's blog: Was There a Recent Coup Attempt in China? | World Affairs Journal