Sunday, October 13, 2019

China’s weak spot

My article China’s weak spot appeared in the Edit Page of The Pioneer.

Here is the link...

The nation is mighty but also fragile because it has not been able to take the masses and the world along. Xi’s dream of a new era will remain if people are not granted some freedoms

China is a mighty country. We have seen it on October 1 on Tiananmen Square.
On the occasion of the 70th Anniversary of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), President Xi Jinping was on the same wavelength as his predecessor Mao Zedong 70 years ago, when he announced the foundation of the PRC; the morale of the parade was ‘power comes from the barrel of the gun’: “No force can ever undermine China's status, or stop the Chinese people and nation from marching forward,” said President Xi Jinping from the rostrum of Tiananmen Square.
Xi reminded that those who watched the function that “seventy years ago, Comrade Mao Zedong solemnly declared to the world that the PRC was founded and the Chinese people had stood up. This great event completely reversed China's miserable fate born from poverty and weakness and being bullied and humiliated."
The Chinese State media was ecstatic as “China had reaffirmed its commitment to global peace and development”, and added: “we will continue to work with people from all countries to push for jointly building a community with a shared future for humanity.”
Many doubted as they watched in awe the DF-17 hypersonic ballistic missile (a hypersonic glide vehicle that can deliver both nuclear and conventional payloads) or the new-generation road-mobile DF-41, which made their debut in an official parade.
Some 15,000 troops from 59 units, 47 belonging to the ground forces and a dozen airborne squadrons, participated in the display. Xi inspected 580 new weapon systems, almost all of them were ‘made in China’, proving that Beijing’s military industry is truly becoming self-sufficient. It is a lesson that India has hopefully noted a few days before the visit of the Chinese President in Mahabalipuram.
However a backlash to China’s might has started to manifest.
A few days before the parade in Beijing, a telling incident took place in France; it showed that it is not only China’s neighbours and the United States which have difficulties to accept China’s so-called peaceful rise.
It looked innocuous but at the start of French Ligue One’s football match between Olympique Lyonnais (OL) and Nantes, an entire wing of the Gerland stadium in Lyon displayed a tifo, a gigantic graphic display organized by thousands (or tifosis).
A Tibetan flag? Why? Simply because China is the club’s second shareholder and the OL management had decided to rescheduled the match to 13:30 hrs …for a broadcast in China (matches usually take place at 17:30 or 21:00 hrs). China is simply mighty.
The supporters, known as the ‘Bad Gones’ (‘Gones’ is the OL supporters’ nickname) wrote on their Facebook page: “At the kick-off, we deployed a tifo representing the Tibetan flag accompanied by a Free Tibet banner. Beyond the crypto-politic aspect of this tifo, our objective was to remind everyone that the spectators and supporters are also actors of the match and respect is due to them, as much as to a few hundred thousand viewers at the other end of the planet.” The message to Beijing continued: “these Tibetan flags can piss off the League and its new shareholders which are under the control of the Chinese State, but we will be delighted to renew the experience…”
It is perhaps a sign of what the Financial Review calls a dangerous decade ahead ‘as China's rise falters’: “Economists, defence planners and security strategists have begun testing the consensus around China's inevitable rise and have come up with some surprising predictions.”
ANI said it in different words: “China exhibits Cold War mentality with huge military parade”, adding: “China regularly likes to point the finger at the US for harbouring a ‘Cold War mentality’, but nothing speaks of militaristic ambitions and martial glory as a large military parade. And no military spectacle comes close to the size of the event held in Tiananmen Square on October 1.”
It is not only the Gaulish tribes which are revolting against the Chinese hegemonic mindset, in Hong Kong, lakhs of young people refused to slip under the yoke of Beijing. The former British colony has witnessed defiant protesters for several weeks; interestingly, the Hong Kongers took their campaign against Beijing to their Stadium, booing the Chinese national anthem before the city's soccer team lost to Iran in its first home qualifier for the 2022 World Cup.
The EU recently issued a statement: “The escalation of violence and continuing unrest in Hong Kong, including the use of live ammunition, resulting in critical injuries to at least one person, are deeply troubling. The European Union maintains its position that restraint, de-escalation and dialogue are the only way forward,” it further observed: “Fundamental freedoms, including the right of assembly of Hong Kongers must continue to be upheld and the possibility to hold peaceful demonstrations must be ensured. These rights must be exercised peacefully.”
It is clear that the World will not accept another Tiananmen massacre.
Though the regime in Beijing praised “Foreign officials and experts [who] applauded a speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping, as Beijing reaffirmed its commitment to world peace and development,” one can’t forget that Communism killed millions of its own citizens during the past 70 years.
A French book (‘The Black Book of Communism’) calculated that more than 94 million were killed by the different Communist governments around the world since 1917. The statistics of victims include deaths through executions, man-made hunger, famine, war, deportations and forced labour. In China alone, 65 millions died, while the Soviet Union accounted for 20 millions in Cambodia and North Korea for 2 million each. The list is long.
In the meantime, the propaganda machine of the Communist regime in Beijing works full steam. Beijing published a White Paper entitled ‘Seeking Happiness for People: 70 Years of Progress on Human Rights in China’.
One of the chapters is on the “Splendid History of China’s Human Rights Protection.”
The restive population of the Western Muslim province of Xinjiang or the Tibetans, whose religious freedom has been ruthlessly stifled, will tell you another story.
All this should be kept in mind when President Xi Jinping arrives in South India to ‘informally’ meet Prime Minister Modi; China is mighty and innovative, but China is fragile, simply because it is unable to take the masses and the world along. Xi’s Dream of a new era will remain a dream, as long as the Middle Kingdom does not allow a minimum freedom to its own people.

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