Is China the next evil empire?
Not much was made of it when Chinese general Chi Haotian was reported to have said in a 2005 speech that genome-specific biological weapons could possibly be used to eradicate non-Chinese in the United States and Canada to make way for Chinese colonization. After all, he was just one man, and the speech cannot be verified for authorship. It appeared briefly online in Chinese and then disappeared like Stalin airbrushing a gulag-bound former ally from a photograph. This leads some to believe, however, that the speech is authentic. Whatever the case, what certainly is authentic is the Chinese desire to become the world's hegemon.
Of course, this desire is nothing unusual. Like a world-class athlete who naturally harbors ambitions to be the best, powerful nations tend to aspire to preeminence. Vladimir Putin's Russia, for instance, has recently been making moves many characterize as empire building. And though it wasn't considered a military threat at the time, Japan's Asian-tiger status made it an '80s bugbear until its economy fizzled. But is China different?
China's Quirks Aren't Quaint
China is certainly a burgeoning land. It surpassed the United States to become the world's largest trading nation in 2012 and more significantly is the biggest exporter, topping $2 trillion in exports that year. It has the largest international reserves, with its $3.25 trillion (in 2013) eclipsing number two Japan by almost 250 percent. Moreover, the Financial Times recently reported that China is poised to supplant the United States this year as the world's largest economy. And though some question this analysis, it doesn't seem a matter of if China will seize the top spot, only when.
This may not seem surprising considering China's human capital, with the world's most populous nation now approaching 1.4 billion people. But it isn't just a numbers game. With a little more than four times our population, China is producing, according to one estimate I read, 10 times as many scientists (in our column, we do surpass them in women's and Afrocentric studies majors); in fact, overall, China now has more than six million college graduates a year, enough to fill two Chicagos and quite a few Windy City suburbs. And while discussion of it isn't politically correct, East Asians have the highest average I.Q. of any major group, coming in at 106 to whites' 100. And this should give us pause. After all, if someone is smarter than you are--and you 're not dumb--you factor that into the equation of how formidable an adversary he might be.
This might be of no consequence, though, if we didn't see Communist China building and flexing its muscle. For starters, the nation has increased its military spending and capability markedly in recent years. Boasting the third most powerful armed forces in the world behind the United States and Russia, China has the largest army and more citizens fit for service (approximately 620,000,000) than the populations of the United States, Russia, and Japan combined. In December of last year, China also managed an unmanned moon landing, something with more than symbolic significance. As American Thinker's Chriss Street put it at the time, it was a "nightmare demonstration of China's ability to launch a Multiple Reentry Vehicle ballistic missile, whose payload can deploy multiple nuclear warheads aimed to hit a group of targets." In a similar vein, China reportedly has the world's second-largest submarine fleet, a force that includes nuclear vessels and which has the capacity to attack American cities with nuclear ballistic missiles. And with a desire to control the Western Pacific, China has built up other aspects of her navy as well; has an aircraft-carrier program; and, reported the U.S. Naval Institute in 2009, has developed a "kill weapon" missile with "the capability of destroying a U.S. supercarrier in one strike." As Dennis Blair, the former Pacific commander who was head of the U.S. intelligence services in 2009 and 2010, opined, "Ninety per cent of their time is spent on thinking about new and interesting ways to sink our ships and shoot down our planes."
In fairness, this is nothing unusual, either. When we aren't fixated on women in combat, open homosexuality, and the tantalizing issue of how we'll next introduce "transgender" soldiers into our (h)armed forces, most of our time is spent thinking about new and interesting ways of sinking ships and shooting down planes. That's what militaries do. But what China is doing right now adds perspective. China claims almost all of the South China Sea for herself, and her imperialistic actions have created tensions with Japan, the Philippines, and Vietnam in recent years; in fact, China's early May decision to move an oil rig into disputed waters with Vietnam has sparked violent protests in Vietnam in which Chinese enterprises have been looted and burned and some Chinese have been killed, and now China has evacuated thousands of her citizens from the nation. CNN described the oil-rig placement as China having "flicked a match on a long-smoldering dispute," while some experts have called the evacuation an "overreaction," but are flicked matches that might spark reactions exactly what China wants? As Reuters' David Lague wrote in a January 17,2013 article entitled "China's hawks take the offensive":
The Air Force Colonel, Dai Xu, is renowned for his regular calls to arms. With China in dispute for much of last year with Japan in the East China Sea and Vietnam and the Philippines in the South China Sea, Dai argued a short, decisive war, like China's 1962 border clash with India, would deliver long-term peace. He also said Washington would not risk war with China over these territorial spats. "Since we have decided that the U.S. is bluffing in the East China Sea, we should take this opportunity to respond to these empty provocations with something real," he wrote in an August 28 commentary published in the Chinese-language edition of the Global Times, a nationalistic tabloid published by the Communist Party organ, the People's Daily. "This includes Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan, who are the three running dogs of the United States in Asia," added Dai, a researcher at Beijing University's China Centre for Strategic Studies. "We only need to kill one, and it will immediately bring the others to heel."
Yet in fairness again and as history evidences and Russia has proven once more in Ukraine, expansionist aims and a desire to control one's sphere of influence also aren't unusual. But then there is something more unusual about China, something a bit eyebrow-raising.
Nations normally celebrate their triumphs,
such as Independence Day in the United States or Victory Day in Russia. But did you know that China had a holiday called National Humiliation Day? It marked the nation's "century of humiliation" at the hands of foreigners. And while it was only an official holiday in Nationalist China between 1927 and 1940, to this day it's recognized unofficially. For example, in a 2012 article entitled "China marks 'National Humiliation Day' with anti-Japanese protests," the Christian Science Monitor reported that sometimes violent Chinese protesters responded to the landing of two Japanese activists on one of the disputed Senkaku islands with posters reading "Sept. 18, National Humiliation Day" and "Wipe out all Japanese dogs." American Thinker's David Archibald explains further in "China Picks at the Scab to Keep the Wound Fresh":
China's century of humiliation is taken to start with the First Opium War in 1839 and end with the communist takeover in 1949. Of China's over one thousand museums, at least 150 are dedicated to commemorating the darkest period of China's century of humiliation: the Japanese invasion from 1931 to 1945. In Shenyang in northeast China, for example, the September 18 Historical Museum was built in the shape of a bullet-holed desk calendar opened to September 18 [National Humiliation Day], September 18 is the date in 1931 that the Japanese army, which had been occupying parts of Manchuria since the first Sino-Japanese War, launched a surprise attack on Shenyang and began its full-scale invasion of China.
Archibald then quotes Australian defense analyst Paul Monk about what China's President Xi Jinping "intends for Asia's near future":
Xi Jinping, despite his genial smile, good English, and familiarity with the United States, is no reforming liberal. Shortly after assuming the presidency, he took all the members of his politburo with him to the bizarre museum the Party has built in Tiananmen Square--the museum of national humiliation and revival. He pointed out to them the exhibits showing the arrival of the Jesuits via Macao in the sixteenth century and how this had been the beginning of the infiltration and humiliation of China by the West. He pointed out the exhibits showing the Japanese invasions of China and making the unfounded assertion that the Japanese were defeated by the Communist Party with a little help from "good" Nationalist generals. The Americans, he said, then became the enemy. "Against this external enemy," he told China's inner group of top leaders, "we must stick together."
Why would a nation focus on its humiliation? There is only one reason, and Archibald's title says it all: China wants to keep the wound fresh.
She wants to maintain the old hatreds to perpetuate a desire for vengeance. As StrategyPage.com puts it, "The 'Century of Humiliation' is one of the few things nearly all Chinese can agree on.... Any Chinese politician could gain some instant popularity by coming up with some way to deliver a little payback for [it]."
This places current events in perspective. It's not just that China wants control over whatever resources are at stake in its territorial disputes with Vietnam, the Philippines, and Japan. It's that failure would be another humiliation, something China will not tolerate. As StrategyPage.com also wrote, it's a "widespread attitude in China" that all of her neighbors are "guilty of at least some disrespect during the 'Century of Humiliation' and must be punished." And what of the long term and larger geopolitical stage? Psychiatrist and author James Gilligan once observed, "The most dangerous men on earth are those who are afraid they are wimps." China has a lot to prove--to itself. And this brings us to why conventional Western analyses cannot properly define the Chinese threat.
In February, the Financial Times' Geoff Dyer pointed out in a piece entitled "US v China: is this the new cold war?" that there is another good reason China is feverishly building its navy: Its humiliation by the West came from the sea--the 19th century's "gunboat diplomacy." And he wrote:
When China had little more than a coastguard, it was largely unaware that the US Navy was patrolling waters near its shores. But now ... it witnesses on a daily basis that the American navy is superior and operating only a few miles from many of China's major cities. "For them, this is a major humiliation that they experience every single day," says Chu Shulong, an academic at Tsinghua University in Beijing who spent a number of years in the Chinese military. "It is humiliating that another country can exercise so close to China's coasts, so close to the base in Hainan. That is the reason the navy wants to do something to challenge the US."
There's that word again--humiliation. But is this seeming obsession due to China having been uniquely humiliated? Or could there be a more significant reason?
One common impediment to understanding others is that people tend to ascribe their own mindset to them. As examples, money-hungry individuals tend to think others are driven mainly by dollar signs as well, and the race-obsessed tend to assume others share their race-oriented mentalities. The thinking is: I operate this way because it makes sense, and then other people must see the sense in it also and operate likewise. And there is another example of this phenomenon: Western modernists, despite their protestations about "ethnocentrism," tend to ascribe Western thinking to other cultures.
And this mistake can be disastrous when analyzing foreign powers. Retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters wrote an excellent 2009 article on this subject comically entitled "TALIBAN FROM OUTER SPACE," in which he advises that viewing a foreign adversary as a society of space aliens can be a good mental exercise. He wrote:
Oh, the strange-minded aliens in question resemble us physically. We share a few common needs: We and the aliens are oxygen breathers who require food and water at frequent intervals. Our body casings feel heat or cold. We're divided into two sexes (more or less). And we're mortal. But that's about where the similarities end, analytically speaking. In my years as an intelligence officer, I saw colleagues make the same blunder over and over: They rushed to stress the ways in which the Russians, the Chinese or the Iranians were "just like us." It's the differences that kill you, though.
But what differences are of primary relevance in China's case?
"First Things" First
The most important differences are the most basic. What does the group in question believe about First Things; about, to use the title of Douglas Adams' science-fiction book, life, the universe, and everything?
For example, America's Founding Fathers could believe our rights were inalienable because those rights came from the Creator, and they could believe this because they believed in a Creator. To understand the USSR's founding demons, realize that they could think nothing of crushing the human spirit because they didn't believe in a human spirit; their atheism informed that we were just flesh, chemicals-and-water organic robots. And what of China? First, it must be admitted
that modern Westerners have never endured anything approximating the type of humiliation the Chinese suffered in recent history. It's also true that like the former USSR, China is officially an atheist state. But there is a difference:
It's an atheist state of a pagan tradition.
To moderns' ears, considering "paganism" sounds like the musing of medieval monks. No "intellectual" would factor such "superstition" into scholarly analyses. And this is our great mistake. It's only when we understand these spiritual foundations that we can grasp China's obsession with "humiliation" and vengeance.
A vindictive spirit is fallen man's default. We see this in the raw pieces of humanity called children; when a child is wronged, boy, does he want to get even. And he has no doubt that this is a just course of action. This is why Jesus stressed forgiveness, telling His Apostles that there should be no limit to it ("70 times 7"); it's why it is the only virtue mentioned in the only prayer Jesus ever taught ("forgive ... as we forgive those who trespass against us"). In fact, while the Old Testament prescription of an "eye for an eye" is commonly considered forgiveness' antithesis, it also served to moderate that vindictive default. The idea was that if someone stole your goat, all you could do was steal his goat--you couldn't also burn down his house and kill his family.
One doesn't have to be religious to see how this has an impact. Even the highly secularized West still embraces the Christian idea that forgiveness is a great virtue (this doesn't mean it's easy to exercise). History, however, teaches that pagan societies were quite the opposite. But it wasn't merely that forgiveness wasn't seen as an obligation and ethereal quality, but something else: If you didn't avenge yourself when wronged, you weren't a man.
And sometimes the more merciless the vengeance, the more manly you were.
This is, in my judgment, the main reason China is so concerned with "saving face." It is half the explanation of why she may be uniquely dangerous. Christianity, epitomized by a founder and divine figure who became man and rode a donkey, stresses humility, which is when you know what you are and accept it. China stresses avoiding humiliation, which is when you find out you're not what you thought you were and can't handle it. And what the Chinese think they are brings us to the other half of the explanation.
Sneering at nationalism as the hang-up of the narrow-minded, modern Westerners are awash in internationalism. Considering racialism the One Deadly Sin, they try to live in a post-racial reality, where unflattering group differences don't exist (unless they pertain to whites or Christians), balkanization is strength-inducing diversity, borders are unfair burdens, and aliens are "undocumented." This makes it even less likely that we'll recognize alien motivations --such as tribalism and racial chauvinism.
These motivations are two other defaults of man. The ancient Romans, Hindus, 19th-century Japanese, and many others considered outsiders barbarians and their own cultures superior, and the Chinese are the epitome of this today. The Telegraph's Kevin Myers wrote about this attitude in his 2003 article "The giant who lives at 590 Yongia Road":
Nothing in human history compares with the spellbinding phenomenon of Chinese genius, Chinese vision and a uniquely Chinese scale being simultaneously harnessed towards the one goal: the restoration of Chinese hegemony over the known world. This is the position which all Chinese leaders, from the Emperor Ch'in to Mao, have felt to be rightfully theirs. ... One would never judge modern Rome's potential by the precedents set by the Caesars, nor use the conduct of the Aztecs as a useful guide to Peru's intentions. But China is different, because it has repeatedly been in the forefront of human endeavour; and its multi-millennia-long continuities are deeply embedded within the consciousness of those who govern it. Moreover, the Chinese are more than nationalistic; they are a people for whom the concept of Herrenvolk [master race] is not some passing and malign idiosyncrasy, but a defining condition of identity. To their eyes we are barbarians whose historical eminence is due entirely to our infuriating mastery of the savage arts of war. ... Racial superciliousness remains deep within the character of the Chinese people, as their economic takeoff occurs.
It may seem a contradiction to on the one hand say that we should fear the Chinese because of their master-race mentality, but on the other say, as I did earlier quoting James Gilligan, that we should fear them because they may be "dangerous men ... afraid they are wimps." But this is actually a logical--and deadly--combination (especially when China's Marxist-Leninist leaders feed and exploit this uber-nationalism to serve their totalitarian purposes).
People can derive their feeling of self-worth and build their self-image in a variety of ways. They may define themselves based on, and take pride in, a career, status, talent, intellect, fame, or, and this is a big one, group identification. The last is common and often exploited by demagogues not only because it plays into people's natural tribalism, but because of one reason that tribalism is natural: Even the mass of men who "lead lives of quiet desperation," to quote Thoreau, can take pride in being part of a superior race. Oh, they may be (from a worldly standpoint) the most inconsequential of their group, but at least they're not one of "them"--those lesser beings. They stand apart, a member of the elite. And when this is instilled from birth so that it's seamlessly woven into their self-image's fabric, and something challenges their master-race narrative, watch out! For there is with them little to no emotional separation between the self and the group, so that anything that gores the group image sears the self-image. A collective defeat is then a personal defeat, and a group humiliation a personal humiliation. It challenges the very basis of their self-esteem, inducing feelings of intolerable insecurity (e.g., fear of being a "wimp"), only assuaged by destroying that which dared say the emperor of their psyche had no clothes. And here I think of the scene in the film Mississippi Burning in which the Gene Hackman FBI-agent character told a story about how his father, a poor man, poisoned the mule of an economically burgeoning black neighbor, thus destroying his farming prospects. His father, feeling ashamed, said to him, "If you ain't better than a n*****, son, who are you better than?"
Will China have to poison the mule to deal with its "century of humiliation?" David Archibald believes that she "will need to have an unequivocal victory over somebody." But somebody or everybody, right now that victory is coming in increments. China already has a large presence in Africa, has become the continent's largest trading partner, and is being accused of abuses that may make Africans long for the European colonialists. China's influence is growing in South America: She controls the ports at both ends of the Panama Canal, and 2007 Panamanian legislation proposed making Mandarin instruction compulsory in all public schools. And it isn't just Panama. China has a state agency called "Hanban" that is charged with spreading Chinese culture--and propaganda--far and wide through vehicles known as "Confucius Institutes." As the Wall Street Journal's David Feith wrote in "China's Beachhead in American Schools," "In a mere 10 years Hanban has established nearly 1,100 Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classrooms in 120 countries, with more than 450 at U.S. grade schools and colleges." And Chinese pressure and money have led to self-censorship by Western educators "attuned to the sensitivities of their funders in Beijing.... Sore spots include the 1989 Tiananmen
Square massacre, the Dalai Lama and Taiwan. Then there are the 'seven taboos' that Beijing last year warned its domestic university professors to shun, including freedom of speech, universal values, judicial independence and the mistakes of the Communist Party," writes Feith. And this projection of culture is mirrored by the projection of military might, with China in the process of establishing, or considering, overseas military bases in nations such as Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Djibouti, Yemen, Oman, Kenya, Tanzania, and Mozambique.
Of course, none of this has escaped the Pentagon's notice. It has a new warfare concept called "AirSea Battle," which, writes Geoff Dyer in his Financial Times piece, "echoes the military doctrine from the later stages of the cold war called AirLand Battle" and, though military brass won't admit it, it's clear that it "is primarily about China." In fact, "US military officers sometimes refer to China as 'Voldemort,'" writes Dyer, referring to the shadowy Harry Potter villain, "the enemy whose name they dare not speak."
But perhaps the greatest enemy is the one whose name we don't think to speak: ourselves. Our military spending is still almost five times China's, we have a staggering 700 to 800 military bases worldwide, and our armed forces remain nonpareil. Over the long term, however, none of this matters if we regulate ourselves into risibility, spend ourselves into insolvency, destabilize ourselves demographically, fool ourselves into faithlessness, and mangle our moral compass till we're a tyranny-enabling shadow of our former selves. China may very well be the next evil empire, but we'd better make sure that this is one area where we don't become a formidable contender.
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|Publication:||The New American|
|Date:||Jun 23, 2014|
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