Don’t Hide, Don’t Challenge (yet)

After its rise, China “shouldn’t need to to hide its capacities (仍然需要韬光养晦) or to stay within a so-called framework, or fruitlessly hover between the two concepts” any more when handling contradictions with big Western powers, or in the construction of an international system, writes Liang Jiaqi (梁嘉芪), apparently an editor with Singapore’s Morning Post. Following America’s arms sales to Taiwan and Barack Obama‘s meeting with the Dalai Lama, China’s policies towards the U.S. had hardened, and at the same time, and as China had taken a high counter-profile at the Copenhagen Climate Summit, its currency’s exchange rate, the execution of Akmal Shaikh, etc.. This had lead to accusations of arrogance against China, and on the other hand, among the Chinese public, it had also been argued that China should still keep hiding its capacities.

But Western accusations stemmed from Western countries’ unbalanced state of mind (不平衡心态), argues Liang, due to slow growth there, to America’s debt-riddenness, to China’s rapid development, and its maintaining a moderate economic growth speed even during the financial crisis. Many people [the author apparently refers to Westerners] felt that America had to kowtow to China (美国也不得不向中国叩头了), that China no longer had to tolerate other peoples’ fault-findings, and that it was going to change the world according to its own interests and needs.

That America depended on China could be true, writes Liang, but China only saw one side of the issue. The mistake had been to excessively raise people’s expectations that China could stifle America’s arrogance. Although China had an important global position and the ability to help solving problems, power wasn’t the only factor in deciding a country’s role on the global stage. Before the system dominated by America or Europe would really change, before they would decline as military and technological centers, or before they would lose their monopoly on the discourse, would take much longer. The international system wasn’t only based on power, but also on values and historic perspectives of the big countries, and shaped by affinities to American hegemony. It wouldn’t serve China’s interests, nor its image, to stay away from all globally needed problem-solving.

Liang points out that China still depends more on America than vice versa (“only 7% of American debts are held by China”), and then comes back his Taiwan example. “The Taiwan Relations Act is not in China’s interest. But is it the right time now to force America to abandon this law which interferes with China’s internal affairs? Would Chinese military and commercial sanctions against the arms sales to Taiwan make America give in? This needed to be pragmatically (实事求是的) considered before going on the counter-attack.”

For the time being, Liang would recommend longer phases of severed military cooperation, and party and state chairman Hu Jintao‘s visit to the U.S. could also be temporarily cancelled.

Generally, the world’s second-largest economy couldn’t hide its capacities, but should be undogmatic, dealing with the situations as they were, writes Liang. The international situation, including China’s relations and disputes with neighboring countries, was too complicated for the formula made by Deng Xiaoping decades ago.

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Related
Hermit: India is an Unharmonious Serf, June 25, 2009

18 Responses to “Don’t Hide, Don’t Challenge (yet)”

  1. I notice a major blind spot in his argumentation. It is one that frequently dogs such pieces by Chinese commentators. His assumption that the US is China’s biggest competitor is not unfounded. However, he also assumes, wrongly, that China’s problems are only with a US-led West.

    It would be nice for such arguments to note that many Asian countries, such as Japan, India, Burma, Vietnam and the other S. China Sea countries are not entirely comfortable with the China rise concept for the time being. There is not an arms race in Asia for nothing. The “arrogance” is perceived by all of these countries. Even if the US disappeared tomorrow, China would still have problems and would be unloved in the region.

    What we saw in Copenhagen was that there are indeed countries in the developing world that are not willing to let China lead them blindly. Moreover, China no longer can claim to really represent the interests of its non-Western neighbors.

    Simply put, China has a major image problem, and writers such as Liang can’t see it yet. So we get pieces like this one that are, frankly, still arrogant.

    Other countries will not see China as arrogant when the Chinese show that they are willing to give as well as take. The US can do this. Obama’s conciliatory tone in Beijing and his acceptance of most Chinese terms of his visit is evidence. This does not mean that the US will be willing to sacrifice those interests that overlap those of China. But it does show a willingness to recognize the feelings of others.

    In the past, the Chinese were weak enough so that, even if they didn’t give, other countries did not feel particularly threatened. Now they do. So the arrogance is recognized for what it is. The Chinese should pat themselves on their backs. They are now big enough to be considered as a threat, and their discourse doesn’t help matters. And after they pat themselves on their backs, they should get used to being unloved.

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  2. Liang Jiaqi does actually touch on neighborhood issues (in a subordinate clause, that is), referring to them as “sovereignty disputes” (主权争议). What his article is probably meant to do is to preach patience – too much open nationalism would be unpractical or cumbersome from Beijing’s and Liang’s perspective at the moment, because it can backfire.

    To me, the Zaobao article reads like public relations advice for Beijing. As far as I can see, Liang is a permanent editorial journalist with the Singaporean paper, so maybe he’s a Singaporean, not a Chinese citizen.

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  3. I guess what I am trying to say, simply put, is that the Chinese are acting as though their status has risen and that this should earn them respect from “the West”. They overlook the fact that their success has put them at odds with much of “the East” as well. Note that I am not talking about the border disputes. Those are decades-old issues.

    Chinese writers do often refer to sovereignty disputes. But aside from those well-known disputes, how many of them take into account the aversion of many in the Eastern countries to Chinese leadership. Sovereignty disputes are part of the “core interests” to which I was referring. The arrogance is not related to this in particular. I think it is more related to the Chinese attitude that differences are not to be respected.

    Wouldn’t it be nice to hear for once, “Although we don’t believe that the Indians have the right to claim South Tibet, we dont want to let this get in the way of our wider relationship. Therefore we naturally seek to expand ties with our friends the Indians?”

    or

    “While we think it is important to develop our hydroelectric capacity, we are willing to enter into negotiations with countries along the lower reaches of the Mekong to find adequate solutions to water problems.”

    These would be responses that would maintain the bottom line of the government while treating the countries in question with respect. Instead we get finger pointing.

    This article is no exception, except that it maintains a preoccupation with a US-led “West”.

    I understand that Liang may be Singaporean. But (just me personally) I tend to group many cheerleaders from Singapore in the Chinese camp. His piece could just have easily come out of Beijing.

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  4. Taihan,

    I don’t see where the problem with “the US-led west” is. Sure China has homework to do to placate some of its neighbors (who doesn’t), but so far the primary threat has been the Us-led west whose agenda for the most part since 1949 has been containing, countering and undermining the Chinese state and its interests, there is no denying of that.

    I am very interested in hearing what you think China can do to “give” its Asian neighbors. I am thinking those neighbors are naturally wary of China because it is perceived (rightfully or wrongly) as a big, bad, menacing power. In today’s age of an increasingly-small world and competing nationalism, there is no way that a big regional power like China does not raise some eyebrows. I mean would it be that different if China had been a democratic country? Look at India, the largest democracy in the world. Other than Bhutan (nowadays even the Bhutanese are not without concerns), which neighbor is comfortable with a big and powerful India?

    What do you think China should do?

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  5. the primary threat has been the Us-led west whose agenda for the most part since 1949 has been containing, countering and undermining the Chinese state and its interests, there is no denying of that

    I think the above answers your question about what China should do, Juchechosunmanse. Get rid of your collective paranoia. Many of you people see enemies in front of themselves, or enemies behind the people in front of themselves. So who can find it easy to interact with you?

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  6. Juche, aside from what justrecently said, I would say that you have missed my point entirely. I acknowledged that China is not about to give up its “core interests” any more than any other country should. Moreover, I noted that attachment to core interests is not the same thing as arrogance. As this thread is about arrogance, if you want to contradict my points, I suggest you focus on that topic.

    Back to that topic: Much of the perception of arrogance comes from problems with communication on the Chinese side. What are these problems? I will give you an example.

    Since the Americans made the recent decision to sell weapons to Taiwan, PRC officials have, in several cases, made statements saying that the blame is all of the Americans. Yup! China is utterly blameless. Not a shred of blame (despite the fact that Taiwan-aimed missiles continue to accumulate on the shores of Fujian). China presents a blameless face to everyone. Everyone, whether it be the Dalai Lama, the Japanese, the Vietnamese, the Filipinos, or Rebiya Kadeer, gets a neverendeing earful and China somehow never has anything to atone for. When you present your dirty self as a blameless saint, and launch angry tirades at your neighbors, that is an example of arrogance. And that makes your neighbors not like you. Core interests are, in this example, beside the point.

    Nobody said the Chinese had to give into everything that Kadeer wanted, for example. But would it have been so admit that ethnic policies have flaws and that the Chinese will try to solve them?

    China’s image problem is only partly due to the fact that China has more power these days. Much of the problem deals with how the Chinese are communicating (or failing to communicate) with the outside world. Some of the reason has to do, of course, with the nationalist corner that the government has backed itself into. Nobody in the government wants to look soft. But this is a Chinese problem. It is not the problem of China’s neighbors or of the US. None of those neighbors will dismiss arrogance because the sack that the Chinese leadership has plunged into is a deep one.

    So you ask me what China can “give” its Asian neighbors? The answer is simple: respect. When someone else disagrees with you, you may get really angry with them and tell them to their face how wrong they are. They will probably just think you are a prick. Don’t believe me? Try it sometime and watch the result.

    Or you could acknowledge that you have differences of opinion and try to build your relationship in as constructive a way as possible. That is what people who respect other people do. This doesn’t necessarily make negotiations easier, but it does help lower tensions on the road to the future.

    Finally, while JR has made a good point about your statement to the effect of “whose agenda for the most part since 1949 has been containing, countering and undermining the Chinese state and its interests”, I would further note that you have overlooked yet another point.

    I was referring to changes that have happened in the last two years, not in the climate of the last 60 (although your assertion about that climate is indeed problematic, I won’t widen the holes in your statement in the interest of brevity).

    In particular, I noted that, while the Chinese are keen to take advantage of their increase in relative strength to throw their weight around, they have been slow to realize the large increase in complaints from the East, which have not made a blip on the Western-obsessed Chinese radar screen in the past.

    Simply put: Lamenting the role of the big-bad US doesn’t cut it anymore. The Chinese need to wake up to this fact. Otherwise, if times in China do turn sour, they may find many unsympathetic wolves on their periphery.

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  7. justrecently,

    I urge you to get realistic, please. If you examine the history of interactions between China and the US-led west since 1949, what do you see? Only for a brief period (late 70’s and early 80’s) did the west not see China as an enemy that warrants full-fledged containment, because the west thought China could be won over or had some value in the common struggle against the Soviet Union. Your enemy’s enemy is m friend, right?

    Not that I am paranoid, not at all, I am simply being realistic. Not that I think the big wigs in various western capitals struggle daily to come up with plans to invade\topple the PRC, not at all. Not that I think the west is out to get the PRC in each and everything they do, not at all. A collapsed PRC doesn’t bode well for the west. China becoming a failed state is not in the interest of the west. However, there should be no illusion that the west considers the PRC a competitor at best and an enemy at worse and the most important component of its China policy is to contain, counter and undermine the PRC.

    justrecently, I hope you will at least agree with me that the current world order is designed by the west and heavily dominated by the west. The PRC, as a relatively late newcomer certainly has its own ideas and interests, some of which overlap with those of the west, some of which differ an diverge. One of the priorities of the west is to make sure the inroads China made will not challenge/threaten western interests (case in point, Africa and South America). Why do you think they are placating India so much these days? Not because India is a democracy, but because India is perceived as a counterweight to China. They are watching the PRC’s growing clout leerily and actively trying to check it whenever and wherever possible. Do you not see it, justrecently? Again I urge you to read periodicals such as FP, National Interests etc. to get the idea. Of course, I assume you would have access to similar materials available in German.

    Perhaps you can start with these?

    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Southeast_Asia/LC10Ae01.html
    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Southeast_Asia/LC10Ae02.html

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  8. Taihan,

    I agree with you that “..much of the problem deals with how the Chinese are communicating (or failing to communicate) with the outside world”, in general Chinese PR work is really crude and clumsy and certainly has a lot of room for improvement. You have to realize that the PRC hasn’t completely shaken off the typical rhetorical and laughable communist-style propaganda (even word choice can be pretty telling), which does it no good, I agree. I only hope with younger folks filling those positions in the government this will gradually improve.

    And I agree China should pay more attention to the gripes of its neighbors, whether they are warranted or not. However I don’t see the Chinese government being nationalist is a problem, let along a “Chinese problem”. Should the government of China be less nationalistic? I don’t know, which government is not nationalistic these days? The US? Japan? India? Vietnam? Mongolia? South Korea? We all have our “core interests” to protect. Which government is not firm these days? Which brings to my question to you: what do you expect the PRC to react to the arms sale to Taiwan province? Or how should it have reacted, in your opinion? Would any other government have reacted any differently? You cited those missiles in Fujian province aiming at Taiwan province, sure. Am I naive enough to believe that the US doesn’t have a bunch of missiles aiming at the PRC? So why do you think the PRC is not blameless in this case? Of course China is not blameless, particulary when it comes to the DL and RK. It is truly frustrating that to this day the PRC government doesn’t recognize that they have a problem in Xizang and Xinjiang, instead they brush it off by lamenting on “三股势力”.

    You said China should give “respect” to its Asian neighbors, sure, everyone deserves a little respect. May I ask you to elaborate further? How did China not give them respect and instead slap them in the face with “arrogance”? I can only think of the territorial dispute involving those islands and islets on the South China Sea. Yes China came off as pretty hard and harsh on Vietnam by repeatedly saying those are absolutely Chinese territory. But aren’t they all saying the same? I mean the Vietnamese vehemently declare that they belong to Vietnam and nobody else. Take Dokdo/Takeshima dispute as an example. Both the South Koreans and the Japanese are really, really firm. Again, what do you think China should have done? Even though the Chinese might hav been very firm (like everyone else is), but I thought the Chinese are employing the same tactics “搁置争议,共同发展” here like they did with the Indians, no? To me, proposing “搁置争议,共同发展” is as respectful as you can get, right?

    Look Taihan, I think I agree with you a lot, that China must strive hard not to come off as arrogant, they must be respectful of others. Yes China can come off pretty arrogant (especially with the generous help of its crude and clumsy work done at the CFM) and China more often than not shares some blame. But I am saying, the mere fact that China is perceived as a big, bad and powerful and menancing regional power (and a superpower by some crazy and illusional nuts out there, both in and out of China) automatically makes it an easier target for such accusations and sensitivities. I mean, would China have been considered “arrogant” if it were Vietnam or South Korea? I agree that there are many many things that China can do better at, but I am also thinking given what China is, no matter what it does it is going to rub many people (its neighbors are certainly more susceptible) the wrong way and that there is little China can do about it. Of course, it is important that China realizes this and yet still tries.

    I don’t know what those changes that happened in the last two years are that you were referring to, and I don’t mind you poking at my “problematic” argument to reveal more holes. I am all ears. Again, I think there should be no illusion out there that for various reasons that I won’t waste yours and my time to mention that the west and Chin see each other as enemy, as things currently stand. Will this ever change? I don’t know. Will the west let their guard down when and if China democratizes? Will the interests of a democratic China necessarily align with those of the west? What if you and I are both democratic, both powerful enough to disagree on certain things?

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  9. Juche, you said, “But I am saying, the mere fact that China is perceived as a big, bad and powerful and menancing regional power (and a superpower by some crazy and illusional nuts out there, both in and out of China) automatically makes it an easier target for such accusations and sensitivities.”

    Thank you. You have essentially restated what I said earlier, which was: “In the past, the Chinese were weak enough so that, even if they didn’t give, other countries did not feel particularly threatened. Now they do. So the arrogance is recognized for what it is. The Chinese should pat themselves on their backs. They are now big enough to be considered as a threat, and their discourse doesn’t help matters. And after they pat themselves on their backs, they should get used to being unloved.”

    Arrogance can be laughed at, or it can be complained about. North Korea’s propagandizers, for example, in theri haste to put out one-sided bluster that targets other regimes, is often arrogant. But the arrogance is often laughed by the masses of the other countries in question, if not some military elites, because N. Korea can’t do much harm (at least not unannounced) to other countries directly with a few exceptions.

    In fact, you go on to sum up nicely the point that I have already made, althogh for some reason you present it as an opposing argument: China will be perceived as arrogant. Much of this is has to do precisely with the “with how the Chinese are communicating (or failing to communicate) with the outside world”. You put your finger on one problem, which is that “in general Chinese PR work is really crude and clumsy and certainly has a lot of room for improvement.” I would go further and say that statements by the foreign ministry often come off as talking down to other countries/parties. That’s a big problem and shows a lack of respect, regardless of the reason. Check out any statement out of China’s foreign ministry that focuses on Taiwan’s DPP, for example. The cases are too numerous to list, so I won’t do so.

    Finally, your very long response has reinforced what I was saying all along. China-friendly writers and academics, such as the one who wrote the piece that JR cites, have overlooked the fact that the arrogance is not a fabrication of “the West”, and that it is perceived by many Asian countries too. The traditional West vs. East dichotomy that the CCP likes to dwell on no longer really holds water. It would be nice for such academics to recognize this.

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  10. Juchechosunmanse,

    I’d think of myself as fairly realistic. I’m reading the papers you referred me to once in a while, somtimes online, and occasionally in a library. And obviously, I’m aware that sciences such as geopolitics and geostrategies exist, and that they are applied. I’m just wondering why the use of them should be leery when applied by Westerners, Indians, or any country, and something else when applied by China.

    1)

    I urge you to get realistic, please. If you examine the history of interactions between China and the US-led west since 1949, what do you see?

    My take of the early stages of the CCP is that they considered the U.S. as capitalist and imperialist, and not the business partners of choice. It’s certainly true that Washington looked at the CCP with suspicion from the beginning. So did Moscow. You can blame America for not recognizing the Communist government right away if you like – but the main reason for the cut in relations with the West was that Chinese ideology didn’t allow for good relations with Westerners anyway. The Korean war didn’t do your country, or Korea, much good either (but I suppose it saved Taiwan, at least for now).

    This is something that catches my eye frequently anyway. The primary threat for China comes from outside?
    I’m aware that you are comparing international relations here, but frankly, even what Western powers did to China during the 19th century doesn’t compare in the least what Chinese people did – and still do – to each other. A crime is only cruel and savage when committed by a barbarian, right?

    We had discussions about India before. Of course it is a nice counterweight against China in Western eyes (and India thinks of the West as a nice counterweight against China respectively), but I mentioned some more factors in that comment, and further down that same thread.

    As for the the-enemy-of-my-enemy issue, you know who this quote comes from, don’t you?
    对侵略者不惩罚,就有发生连锁反应的危险。为了惩罚,冒某种危险(担心与苏联作战)也要采取行动。总之,有必要对越南加以教训。
    Many of the things you criticize us foreigners for are things that you should dislike about yourselves.

    2)

    I hope you will at least agree with me that the current world order is designed by the west and heavily dominated by the west.

    It is – and that won’t last. But I realize that my and other countries are, in Chinese propaganda, serving as the imperialist-foreigner-glue that China’s leaders seem to need to keep their country together. That’s why the distrust is constantly at a superstitious level in China. Within the (economic and political) cage that Chen Yun’s heirs allow, a fair lot of ideas and ideologies are currently competing. But what attracts the biggest crowd on the internet aren’t those ideas – it’s nationalism in a negative form. It isn’t nationalism in a way that would make plans for a good future. It’s nationalism that wants to make up for a bad past. And much of what is hurled at foreigners there should be hurled at Beijing instead, but projection of ones own anger on outsiders is probably the cheaper solution. Let me play sci-fi for a moment. If God came down Taishan or the Himalaya and told the Chinese people that they had to make a choice between Confucianism (in whatever shape) and nationalism, I’d be curious about the outcome, and if God allowed bets, I’d bet that they’ll choose nationalism, even if it stands for nothing but past mortifications.
    But success won’t alleviate your mortifications – success will only confirm them. No acknowledgment from outside will make you happy, if you aren’t happy with yourselves. I can think of more than one student per age group who could serve as an example.

    You said in an earlier discussion that the mortification is abating, and I told you why I don’t believe it is.

    That’s also my explanation for the way the Chinese foreign ministry reacts to all kinds of events. It is crude, because the attitude behind is crude. When you and I had discussions about job fears in Germany previously, you apparently didn’t read too closely. When I wrote in a thread elsewhere that after all, we can decide how big a role China should play for our economies, you replied that You think China will not survive without doing business with you people? What are you smoking? I wasn’t talking about denying anyone survival. Survival and growth were exactly my topic. But the first thing you seem to see is persecution.

    There is a protocol in international relations, discussions, and ways of thought which was strongly (but never exclusively) shaped by the West. Your awe for the past (and maybe present tense) is so overwhelming that you don’t seem realize how many people from the receiving end of imperialism spoke out in the past – and sometimes gained respect as individuals. It may fit naturally into a mindset which is widely spread in China that ideas and individuals only count when they come from powerful people or nations, but I believe that this mirrors Chinese experience within China today, rather than global experience.

    Arguments as made by Edward Said are worth to be listened to – and a lot of people are listening indeed. But too often, accusations of “domination” against others are simply used as a replacement for not living up to ones own responsibilities. The global system you are complaining about is diverse enough to make new concepts and ideas emerge. But I’m not willing to trust the process of developing ideologies as kick-started by China’s leaders. It’s too artificial, too mortified to work in a beneficial way, and it’s based on a crude attitude.

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  11. Taihan,

    Thanks for the exchange. Once again, the Chinese government can come off quite arrogant, particularly with regard to Taiwan province (after all it is not a foreign and sovereign country like South Korea), but absolutely they should try to improve how they communicate with the outside world. However, I think thinking in a way as long as the PRC remains undemocratic and authoritarian, no matter how hard it tries it will not get enough credit that it may deserve.

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  12. justrecently,

    First off, “leery” is not to your liking? To me it sums up western sentiment toward China perfectly. Perhaps you like the word “wary” better?

    (1)

    “but the main reason for the cut in relations with the West was that Chinese ideology didn’t allow for good relations with Westerners anyway.”

    haha. The Chinese (communist) ideology didn’t allow for good relations with westerners? Perhaps you should change your moniker to “猪八戒倒打一耙”. Yeah you slapped me in the fact yet you blame me for not being so friendly to you in the first place? Sure the communists didn’t like what they thought the west stood for – capitalism (the great irony is, of course , look at what China is today) and all the bad things about it, but it certainly didn’t go out of its way to make a dent on the US-led west. Meanwhile it was the US-led west that ACTIVELY sought hostile policies such as imposing trade embargo and sponsoring insurgency in Xizang etc. With freaks like Joe McCarthy abound in the west (and equally creazy freaks in the east/communist bloc, of course), do you expect the west to have even normal relations with any of those communist/socialist countries? Even today, with opinionated and self-righteous folks like you who tend to believe that you are right and we/others are wrong, how could the relations be any better?

    Do tell, justrecently, what kind of ideology China must embrace/adopt in order to allow for good relations with the west? Is democracy sufficient? Again I ask, what if you are I are both democratic but we have diverging interests? Would you be my friend?

    Whether the Korean War did China any good is a discussion for a different day (for now knowing that we disagree is enough). And yes, I will agree you that the Chinese have been the worst enemies of themselves throughout history and will continue to be their worst enemy in the foreseeable future, but you were right, we are talking about INTERNATIONAL relations and the China policy of the western world here. The fact that I am my worst enemy doesn’t weaken my argument that some of my neighbors three blocks over watch me leerily or warily, right? So if you have a counter-argument/rebuttal proving that the US-led west didn’t or doesn’t active try to contain, counter or undermine the PRC and its geopolitical moves, be my guest!

    I didn’t get what your point was by quoting presumably Deng Xiaoping?Teaching Vietnam a lesson. What about it, in the context of the enemy of my enemy is my friend? I am sure you know neither the USSR nor Vietnam was befriending China (or vice versa) at the time. So the point is? China can be equally self-righteous and pretentious? Well, I think China can be very pretentious (the art of diplomacy and international relations), however I think China still lags far behind the west in terms of being self-righteous.

    (2) You lost me there, again.

    Like I said before, I don’t disagree with you that constantly harping on Chinese victimhood is not good, and I don’t think it should have any place in building modern Chinese nationalism (or any natinalism for that matter). It shouldn’t be about getting even or correcting the past wrongs done by foreigners. Let the bygones bygones. That’s why I personally don’t see much value in talking about what the west did in the 19th century and what the Japanese did during WWII etc. However, it is important to not totally disconnect what happened in the past because it provides the background information and it explains to you why things are the way they are today. That’s why I brought up US China policy since 1949, not to whine about the embargoes and the proposed blockade, I mentioned it to show the linear consistency.

    I sort of understand why westerners like you find Chinese nationalism disturbing (had China been Slovakia, Vietnam or South Korea you probably wouldn’t have even noticed). Many of its elements can be quite disturbing, even to me. I am quite optimistic that when people grow up they will put the juvenile, victimhood and revenge-driven components of the nationalism behind them. After all, this mumbo jumbo doesn’t bring food to the table and most people everywhere just want to have a decent life. (Speaking of nationalism, justrecently how would you comment on German nationalism? Is there such a thing today? Is it slowly awakening?)

    As crude as the Chinese government often is, it deserves a place in the global order, it deserves the right to pursue its own interests, and it deserves the right that its interests may not be the same as those of the west. My impression has been again, after reading those stuff that I am so keen on reading, that the west is very wary of what China does and they are doing whatever they can do to counter or even pre-empt certain Chinese moves. If that doesn’t spell out the fact that the west and China are rivals/enemies, I don’t know what will. I am saying China needs to fight hard and fight smart to get some breathing room. And strike back if necessary.

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  13. For starters, I suggest that we leave both Korea and Taiwan out of the discussion for now (unless they inevitably pop up). For anyone who has read your and my comments so far, it probably goes without saying anyway that we differ here, too.

    1) Meanwhile it was the US-led west that ACTIVELY sought hostile policies such as imposing trade embargo

    I’d like come back to what you said at the beginning before going into details of my reply.
    Sure China has homework to do to placate some of its neighbors (who doesn’t), but so far the primary threat has been the Us-led west whose agenda for the most part since 1949 has been containing, countering and undermining the Chinese state and its interests, there is no denying of that.

    It’s obviously legitimate to point out that McCarthyism was an era of hysteria, and it doesn’t matter that it was as domestic as was how the CCP handled and handles things in China. But then, it’s just as legitimate that I bring up Chinese domestic issues, too, as I have done previously. You don’t know any country, including your own, without looking at it. In this light, I pointed out that the greatest dangers for China come from within, not from without, and that isn’t beside the topic. The embargo surely did China’s neighbors – with the exception of Vietnam obviously – a lot of good. And as hysteric as McCarthy was – common sense prevailed within America. It was certainly not easy to refuse testifying before Congressional committees as people like Henry Miller did. It took moral courage, and a degree of name recognition, while not essential, surely helped, but it was quite feasible. To refuse to appear in similar meetings in China was a much tougher option. I’d say there were more – or more powerful – freaks abound in China, than in the U.S..

    I’m not sure you’d even be aware of McCarthyism, if it hadn’t been related to your own country’s history. But of course, it is an issue for Americans, as are the Bush jr years. Temptations of totalitarianism aren’t limited to specific countries, and getting away from it for the time being doesn’t spell immunity forever.

    Personally, I can look at the embargo and try to find what spoke in its favor, and what spoke against it in practical terms. But I’m living in a continent which was itself ruled by communism east of the Elbe. To me, both the containment of China before the 1980s, and the the-enemy-of-my-enemy policy afterwards definitely made some sense. And if we are to discuss terms of morality, I don’t think that the embargo was morally injustifiable, just as certain kinds of embargos – the existing arms embargo for example – are appropriate.
    Back to the past: aren’t you aware that you wanted to “liberate” us? I come from the working class, and you didn’t ask my grandparents or parents if they wanted you to change their lives. I’m not dramatizing the issue, but I’m pointing it out, in case that you aren’t aware of it.

    I also believe that my take on history is different from yours. The mere fact that Mao Zedong proclaimed the PRC didn’t make it a legitimate state. Containing the CCP didn’t amount to containing China. That is a CCP interpretation. America was still China’s ally in 1949, and the KMT was still your country’s legal government. If it was a legitimate one is a question we can ask about any government – and any government should accept the scrutiny that comes with this question. I probably don’t attach as much importance to the question how legal the CCP government was in in 1949 as you do, but I’m pointing out the technicality to show that the decisions of 1949 were made when that year was the present tense – I don’t believe in looking at history only from the hindsight perspective.

    Meanwhile it was the US-led west that ACTIVELY sought hostile policies such as imposing trade embargo and sponsoring insurgency in Xizang etc.

    Ahem.

    2)

    I didn’t get what your point was by quoting presumably Deng Xiaoping? Teaching Vietnam a lesson. What about it, in the context of the enemy of my enemy is my friend?

    My point is that such a – not always farsighted – approach cuts both ways. Deng reportedly made this comment in Washington, too, in 1979.

    I can remember the story myself, because some of my classmates back then were Vietnamese, and somewhat nervous about it.
    China, too, liked the West as a counterweight to the Soviet Union.

    3)

    Well, I think China can be very pretentious (the art of diplomacy and international relations), however I think China still lags far behind the west in terms of being self-righteous.

    I think I would need to be pretty self-righteous to join in an evidence competition on this issue.

    4)

    Do tell, justrecently, what kind of ideology China must embrace/adopt in order to allow for good relations with the west? Is democracy sufficient? Again I ask, what if you are I are both democratic but we have diverging interests? Would you be my friend?

    I believe that democracy is the best way to hold a government accountable, but it isn’t really my issue. When commenting about China’s ways of government, I have mentioned an independent and professional judiciary once in a while, in a position to come to constitutional verdicts, but also with an executive that enforces such verdicts. That said, a one-party rule with many brothers and sisters on every level and in every place probably makes such a system rather unlikely. When it came to reforms, the KMT quite possibly faced similar problems while ruling China.

    5)

    You lost me there, again.
    Like I said before, I don’t disagree with you that constantly harping on Chinese victimhood is not good, and I don’t think it should have any place in building modern Chinese nationalism (or any natinalism for that matter).

    No, I haven’t lost you there. To me, you are coming across as a himself mortified, but probably decent man, and certainly not one of those who try to defend the treatment some activists are getting in China.
    But I’m not the West, and you aren’t China. I’m just a Westerner, and you are just a Chinese. I can’t say that I’m not wary about China because simply because I’m having a discussion with a Chinese national. And you don’t need to feel unwary about the West either, just because you are having a discussion with a decent Westerner. You don’t even need to think of me as a decent Westerner. When blogging, it’s for the sake of discussion, rather than about human factors. I’m as wary as you are, only in the opposite direction, and neither you nor I need to apologize for that.

    6)

    Perhaps you should change your moniker to “猪八戒倒打一耙”.

    That’s not my name.

    7)

    If that doesn’t spell out the fact that the west and China are rivals/enemies, I don’t know what will. I am saying China needs to fight hard and fight smart to get some breathing room. And strike back if necessary.

    I don’t know how and where you grew up, Juchechosunmanse. But my experience is that life is exactly about fighting hard and smart, and to strike back if necessary. That’s nothing special, and should be no reason to be a party pooper.

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  14. justrecently,

    You spent a lot of time writing something that is totally irrelevant to our discussion. I think I know more about McCarthyism than you think, and I am not saying the sheer craziness China experienced before and during the CR was any better. My point is simple: With McCarthy and his minions (certainly still alive and well today, albeit in a slightly different form) and the hostile policies, what did you expect? Of course the relations between China and the west could only go south. It wasn’t a matter of whether the Chinese were adopting western-friendly policies or not. Communism = absolute evil. That’s what freaks like McCarthy believed before, and that’s what many self-righteous folks in the west believe today. Ahem. Not naming any names.

    Of course you believe it is OK and justifiable to impose hostile policies on those regimes that you don’t like. You are free to do whatever you want. You are No.1. You are a big shot and you certainly can do some serious damage. Once again you are driven by your self-perceived moral superiority. And that’s OK, you are like an evangelical who wants to save everyone from the burn hell, I actually have respect for these people. Many times though, it turned out that the west often relentlessly pursued its own interests hiding under the banner of noble things. That’s even worse than being purely driven by self-perceived moral superiority.

    I wanted to liberate you? Yeah, the good old days of communist brotherhood and spreading the revolution, right? I can’t speak to the Soviets as he and I didn’t really see eye to eye that much, but I can assure you that I wasn’t nearly as active and ambitious to “liberate” you as you have always trying to “liberate” me. Not even close. What have I done so far? Sending some relatives to places like Myanmar (yes), Malaysia and Indonesia (allegedly, not yet proven to be true, as far as I know) to plot revolutions. Have I sent any to Germany? And I don’t have some radio stations broadcasting 24/7/365 trying to get your sons and daughters to take up my beliefs and rise up and topple you, have I?

    The PRC government is not legitimate? I have asked this question many times and no one seemed to be able to give me a straightforward answer: What determines legitimacy? Democratic elections? Public opinion? What makes (or made) the PRC less legitimate than say the ROC? Are you saying the US imposed embargoes on the PRC because the PRC government was illegitimate? OK, I think the British also imposed embargoes on the young US after it was founded, am I assuming it was because the US government was illegitimate, just a bunch of bandits who gathered to defy the British throne?

    Look justrecently, fundamentally I think it is safe to say that I agree very much with you that one-party rule is bad, democracy is in general a better way of governance. However, I don’t think democracy is an one-size-fits-all solution to everything, and I don’t think it is something that should be forced/championed upon the Chinese people by outsiders (especially the west. Again, it is OK that I am wary of you and you are wary of me. And again, I think we will continue to be wary of each other unless I become your bitch or you become mine), it should come from within. The approach, time table etc. should be determined by nobody but the Chinese in this case. I am just sick and tired of the constant self-righteous and morally-superior pep talks from you guys, understood?

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  15. I am just sick and tired of the constant self-righteous and morally-superior pep talks from you guys, understood?
    I can’t say that I really understand that. I thought we both agreed before that China will decide its pace of democratization (or the question if they’ll take democracy at all) without whatever kind of Western input anyway. If you are just “sick and tired of the constant self-righteous and morally-superior pep talk from you guys”, why don’t you just avoid their / our sickening company?

    What makes (or made) the PRC less legitimate than say the ROC? Are you saying the US imposed embargoes on the PRC because the PRC government was illegitimate? OK, I think the British also imposed embargoes on the young US after it was founded, am I assuming it was because the US government was illegitimate, just a bunch of bandits who gathered to defy the British throne?
    I’d most probably have thought so if I had been British then. And why not? When you are a party in a conflict, you take a stance, as a rule.
    I explained how I view history. If that doesn’t really explain my view to you, that’s OK, too, and I’m not going to trade accusations if that is a flaw in your perception, or a flaw in my ability to express myself. But I’m not going to rephrase it. Maybe someone else will take the time to do that.

    And I don’t have some radio stations broadcasting 24/7/365 trying to get your sons and daughters to take up my beliefs and rise up and topple you, have I?
    If that was really a cause of worry for the CCP or the prevalent Chinese social order, it would be doomed for more tangible reasons than propaganda. Are you seriously blaming RFA for problems you might have?

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  16. I suppose I can try harder to avoid your “sickening company”, and believe I have tried. Actually I have made a conscious effort to stay away from many of the China-focused English language media and blogs. But I want to stay informed too, so it is only inevitable that from time to time that I drop in on some of those (including yours). And what do I see? I am a weak person so I can’t help getting annoyed and I end up wasting a lot of time. Silly me. I only have myself to blame. I know.

    But seriously my German friend, where does your hostility/impatience comes from? I am asking a simple question, if you have an answer, shoot it to me (a link will do) if you don’t want to bother repeating yourself. Am I correct to assume that you believe the PRC was and is not legitimate because it was and is not a democratic state? Then again, was the old ROC that the PRC replaced on the mainland legitimate? How about dynastic China as a whole? I guess not legitimate?

    Oh, you got me wrong, I don’t think that’s a cause of worry for the CCP, not at all (most Chinese know better than that). I mentioned it simply to use it as an example of all the hostile and annoying things the west has put out all over the place to contain its enemies. Didn’t you accuse “me” of trying to liberate “you” at one time? That’s my response. “I” may have naively tried to liberate “you” then, but “I” ‘ve gotten real a long time ago. “You” on the other hand have not.

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  17. But seriously my German friend, where does your hostility/impatience comes from?
    For clarification: if it’s either of those, I’d think it’s impatience, not hostility – impatience in that I usually limit my blogging time to 60 to 75 minutes daily. Of course, you might find my general attitude to you or your country hostile, anyway, although I can’t see why you should.

    I’m not always sure at which points in your comments “you” refers to my country or civilization, and where it is meant to include me personally. But I believe that my blog in general can be useful when you try to judge my positions.

    As for me personally, I have stated my concerns clear before, but I’ll try to restate them with copies from previous comments of mine (and links there):

    1) You said in an earlier discussion that the mortification is abating, and I told you why I don’t believe it is.

    2) When a businessman tells me that our system is “dysfunctional”, and “look at how the Chinese are rising”, I see a conflict on two fields. One is about political freedoms vs mere materialism. Another is about class background. It may be in my dialog partner’s interest to get rid of those bothersome needs to sell ones own interests to a skeptical public, but it isn’t in the interest of most. Some of what may offend you here is really a conflict within my society.

    3) If you think that I personally want to liberate you, you can find my answer behind the same link to the same thread as (2)), previous para: back then, you said that you disagree with me
    on the implicitly suggested notion that there is only one way (your western way?) of looking at things, and I replied that
    I know that pointing out things which are only said implicitly isn’t easy. But before I can reply to your statement, I would need to know more specifically what leads to your perception. For that matter, our discussion is still at the same point.

    I’m stating my views in this blog, I’m having fun with writing them down, I’m listening into the blogosphere, adding to my information, and developing my own views further.

    Back to the year 1949 issue: I wrote that when that year was the present tense – and not yet history -, the KMT was the ruling party of China, and widely recognized as such. You appear to view that year from today and at hindsight only – that’s not my approach. I’m looking at history at hindsight, but I’m also trying to put myself into the situation as it was back then. Maybe this old post of mine – with context different from the 1949 discussion- helps to explain my way of looking at the past.

    Two more things:
    a) you wrote on Wednesday that you read blogs like mine to inform yourself, but then seemed to dismiss your own statement by starting the next para with”but serously”. That suggests to me that your previous line was rather a joke. Therefore I still can’t see why you are reading this blog at all (which of course isn’t meant to say that you shouldn’t read it).
    b) You also wrote The approach, time table etc. [of democratization] should be determined by nobody but the Chinese in this case.
    Sure. But your decision to read foreign sources and blogs and enter into discussions with their authors comes from within, too, doesn’t it?

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