MANILA, Philippines - China should launch "decisive action" against the Philippines to reinforce Beijing's claim on the disputed Scarborough Shoal, a hardline Chinese army general said Friday.
People's Liberation Army (PLA) Major General Luo Yuan, in a commentary published by state-owned website china.org.cn, said China has not abandoned the idea of "war at all costs" to protect its interests.
"'Peaceful rise and 'period of strategic opportunity' preclude war," said Luo, who has been described by Western media as "hawkish" for his ultranationalist views.
"It is incorrect to assume that China will completely rule out military action in any event during this 'period of strategic opportunity,'" he said, referring to Beijing's dispute with Manila.
"To safeguard our sovereign and territory rights, we will never hesitate to face up to any military challenge," he added.
He also believes that Filipinos won't go up against China's military firepower.
"Also, considering the relative military strengths of China and the Philippines, the Filipino people can judge for themselves the wisdom or otherwise of their government's decision to take this stand against China," he warned.
Chinese military, fishing base on Scarborough
Luo, who also serves as vice secretary-general of China Association for Military Science, said that instead of pulling out 2 ships from Scarborough, "China should have taken the opportunity presented by the situation to strengthen its claims to Huangyan Island by raising the Chinese flag or establishing a military or fishing base."
He accused the Philippines of causing the current standoff in the West Philippine Sea. "Therefore it is important that China demonstrates its determination to safeguard its national sovereignty and security," he said.
Luo said the current Chinese leadership should take heed from the late Deng Xiaoping, who once said that the country should "always put national sovereignty and security first."
He claimed that Beijing wants to resolving international disputes through dialogue and diplomacy, but the Philippines does not allegedly want to enter into dialogue.
"I suggest amending China's existing diplomat policy regarding the South China Sea from 'shelve disputes and carry out joint development' to 'proactively resolve disputes and jointly develop in line with China's priorities,'" said Luo, who is also a Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference delegate.
He said China will win even if it "fires last" in its dispute with the Philippines.
"It is the Philippians (sic) that violated China's sovereignty over Huangyan Island by forcing an inspection of a Chinese fishing vessel. Therefore, action was required in order to respond to this unnecessary provocation to let both the Philippines and any potential future provocateur know that such actions will not be tolerated," Luo said.
He claims that 3 treaties determining the territorial extent of the Philippine archipelago will show that Scarborough, which lies just off the coast of Zambales and is within the country's exclusive economic zone, "never belonged to the Philippines."
He also believes that China will have the support of the international community if it asserts its claim on Scarborough.
Not official policy
While his comments do not represent official policy and the PLA is only serving on the beck and call of China's Communist Party, officer-analysts like Luo have been given some leeway to strike a tougher tone in their comments, according to Reuters.
In 2010, Chinese President Hu Jintao admonished the military for letting officers speak on sensitive disputes, but Luo has remained outspoken.
"They also call me a hardliner, because I give hard opinions. But I am a cool-headed hardliner," Luo told the South China Morning Post last year.
"Soldiers talk like soldiers. And it would be unnatural if they don't, because they are not delegates for peace foundations after all," he said.