Source : PortMac.News | Globe :
Source : PortMac.News | Globe | News Story:
We know that China is an authoritarian country ruled by the Communist Party and rejects liberal democratic values of free speech, rule of law and democracy.
Yet it is also an indispensable nation, on track to be the world's biggest economy. Right now, most analysis of China veers between hawkish predictions of war, containing China, de-coupling or finding some diplomatic accommodation.
But we have surely dropped the delusion that China will become like us: that economic freedom will lead to political freedom.
While ever the Communist Party is in power, its trajectory is set.
To understand China we need to grasp three things: history, homeland and harmony.
And we need to see these things through modern China's three most powerful leaders: Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping and Xi Jinping.
The Party and homeland become inseparable
Mao Zedong was the Communist revolutionary leader who saw his mission as reviving a fallen, humiliated nation.
After seizing power in 1949, after a Civil War against US backed Nationalists, Mao Zedong famously spoke to the Chinese People, and told them that they had "stood up".
China, he said, had fallen behind the world because of "oppression and exploitation by foreign imperialists". China, he said, "will no longer be a nation subject to insult and humiliation".
"Let the domestic and foreign reactionaries tremble before us," Mao said - sweet guy.
Deng Xiaoping came to power in 1978, two years after Mao's death. He, too, had been shaped by a hatred of foreign occupation.
By the time he came to power, he was prepared to reckon with the failings of the Party, particularly Chairman Mao's failed Great Leap Forward — a fast-track to high production and modernisation — that had triggered the Great Famine of 1958-1962.
Upwards of 40 million people died in those few years.
Deng conceded that the Party had let down the people. He described China's system of government as "backward" and said "if we can't grow faster than the capitalist countries then we can't show the superiority of our system".
Deng Xiaoping launched an economic revolution to open up his homeland, but at the same time double down on Communist Party power.
An extension of the past
Before Xi Jinping took power in 2012, he visited migrant Chinese workers in Mexico and told them: "There are some bored foreigners with full stomachs, who have nothing better to do than point fingers at us."
He had learnt well the lessons of history.
Xi is determined to complete the rejuvenation of China and return the nation to the apex of global power.
To history and homeland, Xi has added harmony. He speaks of the "harmonious society". It is an idea he has inherited from his predecessor, Hu Jintao, but where Hu spoke of harmony as political reform and social justice, Xi means stability.
In the name of harmony, he has cracked down on dissent, jailed dissidents, rivals, lawyers and journalists and enacted harsh new laws to stop protests in Hong Kong and locked up a million ethnic Uighur Muslims in what human rights groups have called re-education — or brainwashing — camps.
It is harmony by force ? - Yes
Xi is reaching back to Mao, who sought to define the real people from the enemies of the people, those Chinese he called "the running dogs" of the imperialists.
Xi is an extension of the past. Xi is a party princeling, the son of one of Mao's revolutionary lieutenants.
He sings from the Mao song sheet.
He embraces Deng Xiaoping's vision for the homeland and the Party.
The Party is what it has always been.
It is we in the West who are constantly surprised.
'Friendly fire : the 1979 Sino-Vietnamese War:
In 1979 China tried to teach an “unthankful” former ally a lesson and failed badly.
2019 was the 40th anniversary of the Sino-Vietnamese War, an event which went unnoticed in China, as no commemorative activities were allowed in the country.
But that was not the case in Vietnam, where state-run media and newspapers published in-depth features and critical commentaries recalling the fierce fight from February 17 to March 16, 1979.
An editorial in 'The Voice of Vietnam', called the war a “righteous struggle to defend the motherland” and condemned China’s “brutal and illogical invasion”.
China should not forget this history.
The anniversary provides a good chance for reflection, as many young Chinese lost their lives in the war – also in the name of defending their motherland.
Back then Beijing made no secret of its motivation to teach an “ungrateful” former ally a lesson, after Hanoi apparently switched its alliance to the Soviet Union by signing the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation with China’s chief rival at the time in November 1978.
The Sino-Vietnamese war was also widely thought of as an effort to stop Hanoi’s campaign to oust the China-backed Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, which had taken the form of an invasion of Phnom Penh.
If so, the Chinese campaign was somewhere between pointless and a complete failure, as it did not achieve either goal.
Vietnamese troops remained in Cambodia until the late 1980s, while Beijing-backed Pol Pot was ousted and the rebels were forced to retreat to Cambodia’s remote western region.
Hanoi went on to forge an even closer alliance with Moscow as a result of China’s invasion. Nevertheless, the war had a lasting impact not only on the two countries’ relationship, but also on China’s relations with China’s neighbours. It reshaped geopolitics in the region, and its legacy endures today.
The short-lived but bloody military conflict took a heavy toll in terms of casualties as well as economic losses for both countries.
28,000 Chinese troops killed
While Beijing and Hanoi have failed to provide full details, Western estimates count 28,000 dead Chinese soldiers and a further 43,000 wounded, while putting the Vietnamese casualties at 20,000 to 35,000 – many of them civilians because the war was fought exclusively on Vietnamese soil.
The Sino-Vietnamese war undermined China’s image as a peace-loving nation and raised suspicions about the non-hegemonic diplomacy it had long claimed to have.
The most unwanted legacy of the war is that it helped reshape today’s geopolitics in the region, pushing a former comrade in arms into the embrace of what was once their former common foe – the US.
Hanoi’s diplomatic relations with Washington have arguably never been better.
Donald goes to Hanoi
US President Donald Trump’s choice of Hanoi as the venue of his second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Trump’s second visit to Vietnam, speaks volumes.
Sources | ABC & South China Morning Post