Liu Yazhou

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Liu Yazhou
Personal details
Born (1952-10-19) October 19, 1952 (age 70)
Fenghua County, Zhejiang Province, China
Military service
Allegiance China
Branch/serviceAir Force Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg People's Liberation Army Air Force
Years of service1968-2017
RankPLAGeneral r.png Air Force General

Liu Yazhou (Chinese: 刘亚洲; born 19 October 1952) is a retired general of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), and the political commissar of the PLA National Defence University from 2009 to 2017. He is known for his hawkish views on the defense and strategic posture he believes China should adopt.

Background and career[edit]

Liu was born in 1952 in Fenghua, Ningbo, Zhejiang Province. Liu Yazhou has been described as a "princeling": his father was a senior military officer and his father-in-law was Li Xiannian, one of the Chinese Communist Party's Eight Immortals and one-time president of China.[1] This privileged political pedigree has given him a greater platform for his views and opinions. His writings "have dazzled as well as upset his readers; supporters praise his boldness and insight, and detractors condemn his alleged militarism and demagoguery."[2]

Liu has written novels and essays to both acclaim and controversy. As a prominent military figure in China, he is unusual for his outspoken views and apparent violation of a number of taboos on political discourse.[2]

At the same time, his prolific writing may have partly contributed to his rise through the ranks.[3] He leans on the sayings of former Chinese leaders to make indirect criticisms of Chinese Communist Party policies. Unlike many PLA officials, Liu has traveled much overseas, including serving as a visiting professor at Stanford University.[2]

In 2010 Liu was promoted by deputy political commissar of the PLA Air Force, to political commissar of NDU, the premier academic and defense research institute in China. Prior to that Liu was the director of the political division of the Beijing Military Region, the political commissar of the Chengdu Military Region's Air Force, and the deputy political commissar of the PLA Air Force.[4]

Comments on democracy and reform[edit]

Liu Yazhou made headlines in the West in 2010 when he made a series of public remarks about democracy in China. "Democracy is the most urgent; without it there is no sustainable rise. Ideals of democracy are not restricted by national borders, or by historical ones," he said in August 2010, in an article in the Hong Kong magazine Phoenix Weekly.[1]

Remarks like this led to Liu gaining a reputation as an "outspoken" and "reformist" general.

"'If a system fails to let its citizens breathe freely and release their creativity to the maximum extent, and fails to place those who best represent the system and its people into leadership positions, it is certain to perish," he wrote.[1]

In an alleged internal speech in August 2013, Liu argues that reforms in China are now in "deep water" and that the country can no longer "cross the river by feeling for stones," as Party patriarch Deng Xiaoping put it in the early period of growth of the 1990s. Liu suggests that further reforms require political change, and ultimately even competitive elections.[5]

Hawkish stance[edit]

Liu's hawkishness can also differ from the more explicitly militarized claims of propaganda figures like Dai Xu and Zhang Zhaozhong. In an essay titled “The Grand National Strategy" written in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, Liu argued against taking advantage of the fallout of the attack to attempt to conquer Taiwan. He advocated "diplomacy over fighting," and suggested the exploitation of Taiwan's political system over strongarm tactics.[2]

For this, analyst Alfred Chan calls him a "nationalist and a realist."

Personal life[edit]

Liu's wife is Li Xiaolin, daughter of Li Xiannian, the third President of the People's Republic of China.

Selected works[edit]

  • Win in Air Supremacy (《赢在制空权》), 2014.
  • Considerations on the War Dead in the First Sino-Japanese War (《甲午殇思》), 2014.


  1. ^ a b c Garnaut, John (August 12, 2010). "China must reform or die". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved August 25, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d Chan, Alfred. "A Young Turk in China's Establishment: The Military Writings of Liu Yazhou". China Brief. Jamestown Foundation. Retrieved August 25, 2014.
  3. ^ Bo, Zhiyua (1 March 2012). "XI JINPING AND HIS MILITARY TIES" (PDF). EAI Background Brief No. 702. EAI. Retrieved August 29, 2014.
  4. ^ "刘亚洲上将:我空军再次面临紧急关头". People's Daily. 2014-06-07. Retrieved August 30, 2014.
  5. ^ Liu, Yazhou (August 24, 2013). "Internal Speech: NEW THINKING FOR CHINA'S POLITICAL REFORM" (PDF). Boxun. Retrieved August 29, 2014.