Jiang bolsters his claim with show of military might

Chinese challenge: Naval exercises send tough message to US and Taiwan 8 Pro-Peking body attacks Hong Kong's rights bill

TERESA POOLE

Peking

When China's television broadcasts footage of President Jiang Zemin, surrounded by the new military leadership and watching naval exercises that included amphibious landings, the intended propaganda message is not subtle.

Wednesday night's pictures of Mr Jiang, seated with his commanders on the deck of a cruiser, was designed to portray a leader who can count on the military's loyalty. The footage of warships, beach landings and torpedo firings was another reminder for Taiwan of the possible consequences of moves towards independence. And when the Chinese media highlights Mr Jiang and his recent naval manoeuvres only days before China's President is due to meet President Bill Clinton in New York, these are signals for the United States.

Firstly, Mr Jiang wants recognition as a powerful world leader (and is smarting over the US's denial of full state honours for his visit). Secondly, Washington should mind its own business over Taiwan, which is a "key issue" in Sino-US ties, the Foreign Ministry said yesterday.

The relationship between Mr Jiang, the People's Liberation Army and China's policy over Taiwan, provides the Chinese backdrop to next Tuesday's presidential summit.

With the ailing 91-year-old Deng Xiaoping still clinging to life, Mr Jiang is using the time to bolster good relations with the generals, an essential consideration for anyone wanting to remain president, party chief and head of the armed forces.

Last month's personnel changes, including the promotion of General Zhang Wannian and the Defence Minister, Chi Haotian, to vice-chairmen of the Central Military Commission, of which Mr Jiang is chairman, were seen as strengthening the President.

There is also the matter of appearances. The photograph (shown left) that appeared yesterday on the front pages of Chinese newspapers echoed almost identical images of Chairman Mao and Mr Deng inspecting the troops.

Nor was it an accident that Mr Jiang visited the navy for his high-profile military jaunt. Sea power is becoming increasingly important, because of Taiwan and China's territorial claims in the South China Sea. "The current situation has placed new demands on building the navy," Mr Jiang was quoted as saying.

The Taiwan challenge is one Mr Jiang cannot afford to mishandle. In January, he staked his claim as the architect of China's Taiwan policy with an "Eight-Point Plan" for reunification.

The received wisdom among Sinologists was that after the visit to the US in June by Taiwan's President, Lee Teng-hui, the generals attacked the Jiang approach as too soft, and instigated a more aggressive policy.

Manoeuvres followed, including missile tests just north of Taiwan. Virulent attacks on Mr Lee appeared in the Chinese media. More manoeuvres are believed to be planned for this year, to erode Taiwanese support for Mr Lee ahead of next year's elections.

It seemed like a confusing change of tack when a US news magazine, after an interview with Mr Jiang, reported this week that he had raised the possibility of talks with the Taiwanese President. But yesterday the Foreign Ministry "clarified" the situation. Mr Jiang's comments had been distorted, a spokesman said. The President had reiterated existing policy, which welcomes a meeting on condition it takes place under the principle of "One China"; Peking regards Mr Lee as no more than the leader of a rebellious province.

The statement sounded like the military making sure no one misunderstood the real position. In any case, Taiwan's conditions for a meeting - that Peking recognises Taiwan as an equal political entity - make such talks unlikely.

Suggested Topics
News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Sport
Christiano Ronaldo enjoys his opening goal
champions leagueLiverpool 0 Real Madrid 3: Ronaldo and Benzema run Reds ragged to avenge thrashing from their last visit to Anfield
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
News
Wilko Johnson is currently on his farewell tour
people
Voices
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
voicesRenée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity, says Amanda Hess
News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
Life and Style
CHARGE BOOSTER: Aeroplane mode doesn't sound very exciting, but it can be a (phone) hacker's friend. Turning on the option while charging your mobile will increase the speed at which your phone battery charges
techNew book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Solutions Architect - Permanent - London - £70k DOE

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

General Cover Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: Great opportunities for Cover...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: QTS Maths Teachers needed for...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: QTS Maths Teachers needed for...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?