While China is free to believe that it has done nothing to raise hackles around the world, more so in its neighbourhood, that is far from the truth. It makes little sense for Beijing to feign surprise that other nations are preparing to meet the Chinese challenge which is not necessarily limited to economic issues. Strangely, while others are mindful of the challenge posed by rising China, India remains trapped in the past
Recently a conference on the Relevance of Tibet in the Emerging Regional Situation was held in Delhi. One of the participants, a professor from Jawaharlal Nehru University, gave the audience a grand lecture on the cultural and civilisational closeness of India and China; other analysts and experts were missing the point, the professor said, because they continue to focus on the nitty-gritty of China-India relations (the border issue, Chinese incursions, stapled visas, the ever-growing infrastructure in southern Tibet, etc); the ‘real’ solution however was ‘civilisational’. The ‘eminent scholar’ kept repeating this strange word.
Only the blocking of the Indian seat in the UN Security Council, the raising of a “˜dispute over Jammu & Kashmir and so on.
Other participants seemed unable to grasp the subtlety of the concept, while yet others, more down-to-earth lamented: “We can’t understand the Chinese, we are trying to be nice with them and they are not nice with us”.
After reading a recent article published in Qiushi Journal, the official publication of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, I could better grasp this ‘civilisational’ business. The argument developed in the article is: “When faced with an aggressive US, how should China respond?” “How China Deals with the US Strategy to Contain China” quotes from a 1949 slogan of Mao Tse-tung: “Cast Away Illusions; Prepare for Struggle” and reaffirms that “it is still applicable to today’s situation”.
The author goes into recent China-US relations: “Our wishes to persuade the imperialists and those who are against China to be kind-hearted and repent are fruitless. The only way is to organise forces to fight against them”. The author believes that the fundamental principle to be followed is, “If friends come, treat them with wine; if jackals come, we have shotguns for them.”
Are these comments not reflective of a certain ‘civilisational attitude’?
The Qiushi Journal article mentions six strategies believed to have been selected by the US to ‘contain’ China: The trade war, the exchange rate war, the public opinion war, the anti-China campaign, the military exercises and simulated warfare; and, the setting up of an anti-China alliance. The author suggests seven counter-strategies.
This large-scale operation, code named Titan Rain by the US Government, was attributed to China. Targeted locations included the US Army Information Systems Engineering Command, the Naval Ocean Systems Center, the Missile Defence Agency, and Sandia National Laboratories.
Regarding the ‘trade war’, the Chinese publication complains: “Since September, the US has launched seven ‘Section-337’ investigations and one ‘Section-301’ investigation, involving products such as solar lights, LCD monitors, and printer cartridges.”
The most astonishing trait of the Chinese civilisational character seems to be that Beijing is unable to envisage that something could be wrong in their own dumping exercises or more generally in their international dealings. The same stance is taken by the author for the ‘exchange rate war’ and the other issues raised by him.
As for the “military exercises and simulated warfare”, the Qiushiv Journal asserts that the US frequently prevails upon South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and other countries to join military exercises: “(The US) purpose is very clear: To encircle China militarily.”
Instead of speaking of the US creating an anti-China alliance, Beijing should perhaps analyse its own actions during 2010 and see why the so-called anti-China alliance was forced to act the way it did. Take the case of India, which has always been over-sympathetic to China. What does India get in return? Only the blocking of the Indian seat in the UN Security Council, the raising of a ‘dispute’ over Jammu & Kashmir and so on.