The History of the Expression "China's Last Warning" and Why It's Misused

Categories: Asia | History |

Everyone knows the expression “China's last warning”. It is usually used when they want to warn someone. It contains a hidden threat, but real or humorous usually depends on the context. Young people especially like to say this, because they don’t even know how the expression appeared and what story lies behind it.

The History of the Expression "China's Last Warning" and Why It's Misused

The history of the emergence of a popular phraseological unit is associated with the so-called Second Taiwan Strait Crisis or the War of the Guns. This military conflict, which began in 1958, was a logical continuation of another confrontation. It was called the First Taiwan Strait Crisis and occurred in 1954.

The History of the Expression "China's Last Warning" and Why It's Misused

The first Crisis between China and the island of Taiwan ended in nothing. The parties separated to accumulate strength and get back together 4 years later. China and Taiwan could not divide several islands, which each side considered its own. China began military operations, shelling Kinmen Island and smaller islands located nearby. The Taiwanese army did not remain in debt and began to shoot back.

Tensions grew and soon resulted in a full-fledged war using the navy and air force. China was supported in its aggression by the Soviet Union, which sent its combat aircraft to the combat zone. It didn’t come to this war, but we know well how the Union acted in other people’s wars.

Because of the conflict with Taiwan, the already poor relations between China and the United States have deteriorated completely. American reconnaissance aircraft began to shamelessly operate in the airspace of the Middle Kingdom. The Chinese repeatedly warned the Americans about the consequences of espionage, but the United States conveniently ignored these signals.

The History of the Expression "China's Last Warning" and Why It's Misused

In 1962, an American warship appeared in the Yellow Sea. He conducted combat patrols almost as if he were at home. The Chinese burst out with another round of “serious warnings,” of which there were three. Despite this, the US Navy ship continued its raids and no action was taken by China.

China's indecisiveness in the early 1960s had a simple explanation. The country's relations deteriorated sharply and there was no hope for help from its powerful neighbor. The fact that the country made the “Great Leap Forward” from 1958 to 1960, which weakened China both economically and militarily, also played a role. Therefore, warnings followed warnings and many of them were “last and decisive.”

It is estimated that before 1964, Chinese authorities issued more than 900 warnings to Americans. In Beijing they used the old proven method - “refuse to duel and scold the enemy.” The great helmsman never ceased to mock America from the rostrum, calling it a “paper tiger.” Nevertheless, he also preferred to fight on paper, without taking any decisive action.

The History of the Expression "China's Last Warning" and Why It's Misused

Chinese warnings were quickly stopped being taken seriously. People in the US would jokingly say, “756 Chinese warning to you,” and it was considered witty. Very soon the phrase was picked up. This happened thanks to the famous Soviet announcer Yuri Levitan. He, reading out the news in his beautiful voice, constantly mentioned the warnings made by China.

This did not go unnoticed by Soviet wits, and by the mid-60s, “The Last Chinese Warning” became a popular joke in the country. Now, 60 years later, few people remember the true meaning of the phrase. Therefore, you can often hear it used quite seriously, as a threat.