Monday, November 8, 2021

From Trade Wars to COVID-19 to AUKUS...

America’s Determination to Subjugate China

The Genesis of an “Ugly” China

Chinese society’s preeminence had always been held in awe by the rest of the world until the mid-1800s, when the Qing dynasty was severely weakened by the Taiping Revolution. The two Opium Wars sealed China’s fate as the man-to-be-bullied of Asia.

Two periods in Chinese history were ruled by non-Han Chinese. The Qing dynasty was one of them, the other is the Yuan dynasty from 1271 to 1368. Thanks to Marco Polo, the world was allured by China for centuries. (I personally am not convinced that Marco Polo had really visited China; he might only have seen its fringes.) It was all hype; the Buddhist monk Faxian, on his sea-route return from India in 409, left footprints in the islands along the way. Obviously, Europeans were sold of the story because of their own parochialism. Some scholars even argued that the world’s 1st Industrial Revolution actually started during the Song dynasty (960-1279) – inventions like gunpowder, the compass, the printing press and what-have-you.

By then, the abject poverty that was ravaging the Chinese masses was eliciting no pity. The attitude of the world towards them bordered on contempt, thanks to the images of opium-smoking and pig-tailed Chinese men.

Pig-tailed and ancient-looking, no wonder!

The Wuchang Uprising on 10 October 1911 led to the Xinhai Revolution [辛亥革命] and the abdication of Puyi (and the end of the Qing dynasty) a few months later. Unfortunately, the father of modern China, Sun Yat-sen, was too weak to unify the factions. Soon the country was plunged into warlordism. Even though Sun’s anointed successor Chiang Kai-Shek was able to turn the tide somewhat, his Kuomintang government came increasingly under attack by the Communist forces under Mao Zedong. Japan invaded Manchuria in 1931. Chiang and Mao did join forces intermittently to fight the Japanese. Japan surrendered in 1945, after two atom bombs were dropped by the Americans on its soil.


A Fake Love Affair

The US was only a marginal player in Asia before World War II. But well back in the late 1800s, it was already riding on the bandwagon to force China to open its ports to the West. Because of the pathetic conditions in China,
  the US had always harboured a very patronising attitude towards the country. Pearl S Buck (1892-1973) wrote indulgently about the miseries of lives in China during the dying years of the Qing dynasty. Her writing won her a Nobel prize. Her father was a missionary; they were there to spread Christianity. Building schools and hospitals was part and parcel of their stock-in-trade to win Chinese hearts and souls. Many were of course genuine in their zeal. But Imperial America was no saviour, remember they also joined in the Eight-Nation Alliance to sack the Summer Palace and petrify China?  
Pearl S Buck's China

Who wouldn’t feel bad for these people?

During World War II, the US “volunteers” did help to fly in supplies from Burma. And after the war, General George Marshall tried to mediate between Chiang Kai-Shek and Mao Zedong. But Chiang’s regime was too inept; Mao won the civil war and gave China a new dawn. It was all hostilities after that – until Richard Nixon decided to play ping-pong with China.

In the intervening years, they fought a war in Korea, and China went through Mao’s Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution madness. Few Chinese outside China were proud to be identified with a poor, Communistic China. To be able to emigrate was seen as an opportunity of a lifetime.

After the Nixon visit, China did become a novelty (some say darling) for the Americans for several years. It was poor, but its history was rich. (Chiang’s wife Soong Mei-ling had already charmed many political leaders in America with her sophistication, hence their head-over-heel anxiousness to aid China during the war). Chinese women were greatly fancied. Leaders like Zhou Enlai were admired for their intellectuality and political savviness. The hardworking “blue ants” always appeared deferential. They could not be a threat to us! America was therefore happy to act paternalistically to China, thinking it would eventually embrace its form of democracy. 

How not to charm the Yankees?

China Awakened…
The world was far too much ahead of China. Setting out to transform China, Deng Xiaoping made this hard truth clear to the Chinese. Upon his assumption of helmsmanship, he lost no time in awakening China. Chinese began to roll up its sleeves and toiled away. They did not have an aspiration to be Number One in the world. Their only goal was to live a better life.

 But Bill Clinton soon saw the “threat” in no time. He knew China had awakened. He made China sweat it out when it applied to join the World Trade Organisation. But it was still not a threat to the US militarily.

A Clash of Two Cultures
Samuel Huntington wrote about the clash of civilisations in 1996. He wrote that that the different civilisations would ultimately lead to clashes. But I got the feeling he was more concerned about the great divide between Judeo-Christianity and Islam, rather than the other possibilities. (The roles of Eastern cultures and philosophies appeared to be just incidental.) We all knew the score then. Islamic radicals were threatening the very foundation of western cultures in America and Europe. Even though the concern is still valid today, it is not seen as a life-and-death struggle, largely because of the Islamic world’s lack of strength on these two fronts: Economy and Military.

But the re-emergence of China, especially during the last five years, is seen by the West as a direct challenge to its hegemony, hence the total intolerance of China’s rise. And this trend appears unstoppable. It is happening to China today, but it may happen to any non-White nation in the world – once Uncle Sam thinks you want to be its equal economically, technologically, or militarily. (As a matter of fact, this intolerance has already happened to Japan (Toshiba and the Plaza Accord), France (Alstom) and more recently, Taiwan (TSMC) and Korea (Samsung).

The values of the two cultures are diametrically opposite. In the world order, it is Zero-sum in the West, but co-existence in China’s Confucian philosophy.

During his presidency, Barack Obama spoke about the need for the US to pivot its might in the Pacific region. Whom he had in mind to target was obvious, but humanity was largely in a benign state. Thanks to China, goods and services became affordable and plentiful. People could go about their routines or venture out with few concerns or fears. The rich could have their Porsches, lesser mortals could have their Hyundais. You could travel in private jets, but I could also arrive quite comfortably on Air Asia. No big deal. There was not great drama – until Donald Trump became President.

Trump thought White Americans were different. That they had the divine right to lord over the world.

America’s Modus Operandi
Sketching a ghost
Soon Trump demanded that China unilaterally correct the huge trade deficit the US was facing. This was soon followed by the imposition of stiff tariffs in January 2018 on Chinese goods. Both countries did sit down to hold several rounds of talks, and just as the Phase One agreement was about to roll out with some degree of hope, the outbreak of COVID-19 put everything back to square one. Or worse.

Then, early in 2019, “pro-democracy” protestors emerged in Hong Kong, and for months this SAR (Special Administrative Region) of China had to suffer the indignity of being ravaged by its own friends and neighbours. Many kept pointing their fingers at China, even though China was not a party to the issue that was behind the protests in the first place. We all know who were behind these riots.

The coronavirus struck later in the year. And it was first detected in China, which added fuel to the finger-pointing frenzy. While China was able to control the spread of virus in the country, the US, largely due to its own complacency and the indiscipline and the rejection of science by many, became the epicentre of the outbreak. Millions became infected and the death toll climbed alarmingly. Hospitals were overwhelmed, and millions lost their jobs. And 2020 was the election year! The Fed had to pump in huge amounts of cash to stay the economy and put money in every American’s pocket. Soon, lockdowns, movement restrictions and border closures became the order of the day in virtually every part of the world. The world was consumed by statistics of infections and death tolls on a daily basis. The pandemic became a political issue, and China was the natural scapegoat.

Hitherto highly respected press began to run articles about genocide and forced labour in Xinjiang. All this gelled well into the worldview of many in the less discerning world that China was indeed a nation devoid of human rights for its minorities. The misconception strengthened.

Trump began to sanction Chinese enterprises and urge American businesses in China to return home to make America great again. Some responded and moved their production facilities to Southeast and South Asia. Does this really work? We shall talk more about this later.

The inauguration of Joe Biden in January 2021 did not help improve things; instead, the relationship between China and the US is in a free fall today. Biden has gone on record to say that he would not allow China to surpass America under his watch. Is China aiming to do that? Didn’t it say it just wanted to create a “xiao-kang” or moderately prosperous society [小康社] for its people?

I don’t normally subscribe to conspiracy theories, but obviously there is a maestro behind all this. Of course, the maestro is more than a single individual; it is an anti-China cabal drawn from many parts of the world, probably loosely coordinated by the US. (Remember the huge allocation passed by the US Congress to fund anti-China stories or advocations?)

Believing in the power of hoodlums
Despite its ignominious exit from Afghanistan, the US thinks its “Coca Cola” democracy will win them the world.

The Caucasians – from America to Europe to Australia – need no selling from the US. China is a clash-of-civilisations threat to their supremacy in the world. (Only a few of the Caucasian leaders think otherwise. You can count them with your two hands:  Serbia’s, Russia’s, Greece’s, Hungary’s and maybe New Zealand’s.) And it must be stopped. And there is no way you can change this mindset in the foreseeable future. It is best that China and Chinese all over the world recognise this.

This is perfectly racist in nature. (We are all racists; the difference is only a matter of degree.) Unfortunately, what the Caucasians want is total subjugation from China.

But what is most ironic is this: We have also non-Caucasians who are also riding on this anti-China bandwagon!

The most disappointing of the lot are the anti-China Chinese in the US, Australia, Taiwan, and Singapore. Many were or are holders of senior policy positions. Others are journalists and correspondents in influential media. Some are subtle in their approach; but any discerning listener can tell you what their agendas really are. I often tune in to listen to a neighbouring country’s channel for its prime-time news every evening. If you believe what the business reporter says, China would have collapsed many times over. Ditto the channel’s correspondent in Beijing. Pathetic indeed.

The West’s brand of disinformation is downright blatant. I suppose if you keep throwing mud at a clean surface, it would in no time look dirty too. The US approach is downright disgusting. China would find that Catherine Tai or Janet Yellen or Jake Sullivan, and even President Biden himself, would appear reconciliatory after each engagement only to see that a hostile policy is dished out the next day by their administration.

Next are the leaders in the non-White world.

Unlike Germany which was prepared to do soul-searching and put the Nazi atrocities behind them and move forward, Japan has been stuck with the not-guilty mindset about their horrible deeds during World War II. Some of the past leaders have expressed remorse, but the new breed of Japanese seems to think they don’t owe their victim countries anything. And in the US-China conflict, they are happy to be the Americans’ cheerleaders. Japanese have always harboured a sense of superiority over Chinese anyway.

The most bizarre behaviour comes from India, despite the humiliation they have suffered under their British colonial masters. Early Indian leaders were strong advocates of non-aligned policies. Prime Minister Modi has instead chosen to be a member of QUAD and is happily joining the US in showing their flags in the South China Sea. You just have to shake your head each time you see Modi exhibiting his complex. Recently the Financial Times claimed that China had tested a hypersonic missile. Soon everyone was talking about this “threat”. China did not boast to anyone; as a matter of fact, they denied it. Not to be seen to be falling behind, India declared to the world a couple of days ago that they had successfully tested a 5,000 km range ballistic missile that could hit any part of China! I thought China already has some that can do 14,000km? Separated by the Himalayas, China and India are no threat to each other. It is only the McMahon line that is causing the friction. If people will keep their cool and not be emotional, the dispute is really a non-issue. After all China has concluded border agreements with 12 out of the 14 countries that neighbour it. And because of a defeat suffered in 1962, India will do anything to spite China, even at the expense of sacrificing its economic interests. Strange really. Was the 1962 defeat such a hard-to-swallow part of their pride?

The ASEAN countries, hitherto deemed unimportant, are now being heavily courted. But their leaders are wiser than the Americans’ and their allies’. You don’t irritate your neighbours! Of course, the ownership of many islands is still being disputed, but you don’t resort to arms. And you certainly cannot count on the US to fight for you.

Disrupting the supply chain…
America’s prompting to manufacturers to move out of China is unlikely to take the latter out of the global supply chain equation. Its deep entrenchment is growing by the day. There are simply too many factors that will make America’s dream impossible to realise.

India, Vietnam, and Indonesia have often been touted as the viable replacements to China’s manufacturing prowess. But those who argue for this obviously do not quite understand the complexity of supply-chains vis-à-vis a country’s cultural, religious and political complexities.

No country enjoys the type of comparative or competitive advantages China possesses – resources, infrastructure, markets, etc., not to mention the two most important of all, namely, the innate ability of the Chinese to “eat-bitter” (endure extreme hardship) and its leadership’s wisdom and strategic-ness.

India appears to have the right “qualifications” to take China’s place. Its labour base is huge; its population is young and energetic. But one just has to learn from Ratan Tata how difficult it is even for an Indian to start a world-class business in India – the caste system, the parochial political interests, just to mention two reasons. And on Indonesia, the lack of competency in English and high-tech knowledge, need for religious and cultural accommodations, and the virtual non-existence of critical supply-chain linkages, amongst others. Vietnam is a good bet, but it may turn out to be another China.

Exclusionism in technology…
Come what may, the Biden administration is going to continue to treat China as its worst adversary. It is strengthening its resolve to deny China of its access to American technology. It is restricting exchanges on intellectual, scientific, and academic exchanges with China. One immediate impact is the availability of high-end chips to China and the roll-out of 5G, which is crucial to the much-anticipated arrival of the 4th Industrial Revolution. The blockade retards innovations, resulting in fewer new products and services that would otherwise emerge from China, which has been the cradle of this phenomenon for the past decade. Exclusionism is a two-way sword. Every clear-headed mind will tell you that this will only strengthen China’s resolve to wean themselves of their dependence on western technologies.

Wishing China to fail…
Several recent policy decisions by China made many doomsayers of China all excited. First was the last-minute abortion of the Ant IPO. Second was the clampdown on property speculation. This has resulted in huge Chinese real estate enterprises like Evergrande Group turning almost belly up. Third was the clampdown on the elitist private tuition business and the restrictions placed on children accessing computer games. Fourth was the energy squeeze on low-tech industries. The decisions are deliberate; they have been made to address some very fundamental issues which are potentially damaging to its culture and economy. To the west, they are intrusions into “free enterprises” and “personal freedom”. All a question of lenses!

If Ant had been allowed to proceed, China would become a nation of compulsive debtors! People who are hitherto not bankable will have easy access to credit. Just imagine China turning into a nation of financially saddled zombies, struggling to stay afloat? Jack Ma appeared unstoppable; fortunately, the regulators did learn something from the disaster that the P2P business had inflicted on Chinese society just a couple of years earlier. President Xi has already warned that houses are for people to stay. You can invest in the property business, but you must have the means. Greed has prompted many to borrow heavily to invest, and this obviously has to be stopped in a country that preaches socialism. Games-addiction is opium-like. Many argue that the restriction infringes on personal freedom. My answer: good to nip bad habits in the bud. As for the energy squeeze on marginal industries. High time, China!

The opportunity to play up “everything Chinese leadership does is bad” is not to be missed even with people around us, particularly in English-medium TV channels and newspapers. They literally gloat that China may not be able to survive these rounds of “upheavals”. I suspect America’s money for anti-China journalism is already making an impact in the region. There will always be hardships and pains in such measures. You can only achieve your desired goals through proactive leadership. And only China has it!

But You Can Only Cry Wolf Once…
What has happened to Nancy Pelosi’s “beautiful faces” of Hong Kong’s protesters? And the forced labour in Xinjiang’s cotton fields and mills? And yes, there are still confessions from a high-ranking police officer from Xinjiang about China’s genocide there. The CNN reporter interviewing was too lazy even to check his identity!

Former Goldman Sachs president John Thornton’s low-keyed visit to China must have put paid to a lot of the rubbish churned out by the US administration. And Biden’s 90-day intelligence team on coronavirus origins must have thrown out the real Pinocchio in the whole affair.

All this will not be possible if truth is not with you.                                                         

Buy Yourself a Good Mirror
Own backyard burring…
A good friend says he loves to watch Fox News. His reason makes me laugh: Fox News tells you how divided Americans are! How true it is. Until today, many Trump’s followers still insist the election has been stolen from them. The Blacks are being bullied; yet many chose to vent their anguish at Asians. Wearing masks and vaccination are serious personal freedom issues. Deaths figures are just for statistical interest. Downtown San Francisco is full of homelessness. Gun deaths are highest in the world. Yes, they have high school or college diplomas, but few can tell you where Malaysia or Singapore is; or add 10 and 110 without a calculator. Yes, they have the best universities and colleges in the world, but take out the non-White faculties or student cohorts, their ranking would go South immediately. They can hardly produce anything that is truly cost competitively now.

The amateurism in Biden and his team
For someone who has spent his entire life in politics, Biden certainly disappoints. Obama in his book “A Promised Land” was polite but not complimentary at all about his vice president. I suppose he was not impressed at all with Biden. I even read somewhere that Obama had privately uttered this: Don’t underestimate Joe’s ability to “fxxk” things up.

This is an era where Biden can exercise statesmanship and leave great legacies behind; unfortunately, he has totally engulfed himself in parochial politics at home and hoodlum politics internationally. America is mired by internal divides. Morale is low. Its economy is in a sad state; the task of making it work is beyond Jeremy Powell and Janet Yellen now. He wants to rejuvenate its infrastructure, but who is going to foot the bill? On the international front, he wants to outdo Trump on China. But America has lost much of its weapons, save the technology blockade. You can’t fight a trade war with China if you yourself do not produce much. The Europeans are tired of America’s self-interest’ism – with Germany on the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline, with France on the sale of nuclear submarines to Australia, etc. Biden sent out his lightweight vice president Kamala Harris and defence secretary Llyod Austin to try to coerce the ASEAN countries to take side. But these people do not understand the oriental wisdom its leaders possess. He sought to use the “poison to fight poison” stratagem on trade negotiations with China. Catherine Tai has to show that she is more American than Americans. But can this work, since you cannot keep crying wolf all the time?

Has the world seen the true colours of Biden? I believe so. He was supposed to be the star of the recent G20 meeting in Rome. Try to spot at where he stands in the picture below. Again, no prize for the right answer.

Where is Joe?

As for his master diplomat, does he really understand diplomacy? Blinken must have felt very humiliated after his encounter with Yang Jiechi in Alaska. In the Zurich meeting with Yang, it was Jake Sullivan who represented China. And now in Rome, he refuses to shake Wang Yi’s hand. Yet, he was the one who went to the Chinese delegation’s hotel to meet Wang Yi. The Indonesians have a term for this behaviour: Kurang ajar (lack of adequate upbringing by one’s parents). Enough said.

Hi there, I am not going to shake your hand! Kurang Ajar!

Besides Blinken, you also have Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin, Ambassador-designate to China Nicholas Burns, who in the physical absence of Chinese opposites love to delude themselves with their “talking from the position of strength” assertions to their home audiences.

The Green Hypocrisy
Climate change dos have also been increasingly used politically to demonise China. The COP26 conference is a case in point. Trump withdrew and Biden is re-joining all these platforms. But is he genuine? Or is it a reaction to America’s own paranoia about China?

The table below shows the cumulative carbon emissions per capita from 1850-2021. No explanation is needed. (This is notwithstanding the fact that much of the carbon burden has been outsourced to China by virtue of the latter’s “factory of the world” reality.) Of course, every country must take climate change seriously. And Biden is not the only angel in town. Cutting emission is one thing, one should also plant more trees, and this is precisely what China has been doing. China certainly does not have to feel guilty on this front. And read what John Kerry, Biden’s Climate Change czar, has written in The New York Times. Hypocrisy of the highest order indeed. 

Taiwan, the Willing Pawn in the Game…
Biden Administration’s double talk on Taiwan is most incredible. It says it upholds the one-China policy. On the other hand, it will “help” Taiwan if it comes under attack. This has emboldened Tsai Ing-wen’s blatant brushoff of China’s call for reunification. She is bent on taking Taiwan down an Independence route. The stances of both Xi and Tsai could not be clearer in their respective speeches made on this year’s 10 October celebration.

Chiang Kai-Shek fled the mainland for Taiwan in 1949 but vowed to recapture the mainland. Mao considered Taiwan a renegade province. Both sides claimed to represent China, until mainland China took its place at the United Nations. Lee Teng-hui began to sow the seed of separate nationhood for Taiwan.

Mainland China was behind Taiwan in every aspect of life well into the 2010s. The mainland Chinese and the Taiwanese were generally happy with the “1992 Consensus”. (Understandably, its existence was denied by Lee who was Taiwan’s president then.) Regardless, cross-border exchanges were a happy routine even under Tsai’s first term in office.

No more today! Tsai treats China like a sworn enemy! Thanks to the riots in Hong Kong, an about-to-lose president suddenly won the second term handsomely. This is despite the fact that everyone knows her claim of a London School of Economics PhD is tantamount to criminality.

But the China of today is a formidable nation even in the eyes of the Americans – whom Tsai is counting on to deter China. Xi’s speech carries a subtle ultimatum. I believe the reunification-by-force countdown has begun and Tsai’s fate has been sealed. A toad that is being boiled? And who is stoking the fire? No prize for the correct answers.

A toad being boiled?

Unfortunately, just like the younger generations of Hong Kongers, few Taiwanese are proud of their Chinese heritage or identity. While China has finally reined in the Hong Kongers, the horses in Taiwan have already bolted.

Many of the older thinkers and scholars there are in fact pro-unification. They take great pride in being “Chinese”. But the younger generations have little inclination to learn Chinese history. The population harbours a complex psyche. The benevolence shown by Japan during its half-century rule, as compared to the neglect inflicted by the Qing court, has “nipponized” a high percentage of native Taiwanese, many of whom have Japanese heritage. (Some 300,000 Japanese were said to have stayed behind after World War II. Lee is said to be one of those with Japanese heritage.) Chiang did bring many mainlanders over, but his White Terror had traumatised many and damaged his legacy. China was a distant cousin at best. Today many of the young in Taiwan do not know who Sun Yat-sen was. They don’t even know why they are celebrating the Double-Ten holiday!

Tsai Ing-wen and her Democratic Progressive Party are counting on America to alienate China. China can never allow that, for its front yard will be totally patrolled by Alsatians which are all out to harm the country.

Its nine-dash line in the South China Sea is drawn precisely to prevent this from happening. In their twisted logic, the US and its allies are using it as the excuse to collectively roam the South China Sea, all in the name of upholding freedom of navigation in the area, and to deter China should it move to unify Taiwan by force.

At first, they had the Five Eyes, then the QUAD, and now the formation of AUKUS, or the Australia, UK, and US security pack. Countries have been coerced to take sides, and the South China Sea has become perhaps the most dangerous region in geopolitics today.

One outcome arising from all these challenges is the loss of trust the Chinese all over the world had not only for the Americans and its allies, but also for Caucasians in general.

Taiwan has to be reunited with China, sooner or later.

Sooner or Later?
China should not harbour any hope that the US and its blind and quasi-allies will change their attitude to them. Its spokespersons should not waste their breath trying to oppose, or condemn or insist on “corrections” form the latter and its allies. It should just continue to do what it is best at, i.e., improving the lives of its 1.4 billion people and strengthening its military might to deter the West’s re-enaction of what happened to China in the late 19th century. Stereotyping your approach will only make China seem defensive in the eyes of the rest of the world.

Removing Taiwan from the equation will solve all the problems.

Xi says it is time for China and the Chinese to cast their sights at an “equal level” when speaking with others. Indeed, it is!

Some may still remember how Chinese in the 1950s were caricatured as Dr Fu Manchu – the sinister pig-tailed “Chinaman” who tried to inflict harm on the Caucasians. After that, China was tolerated as a source of cheap goods. Now that China has achieved wonders on many fronts, a new campaign has been created to made China look bad, i.e., Chinese are uncaring polluters and technology thieves.

Of course, some Chinese are still producing snake oil and shoddy consumer products. This should stop. Many also need to shake off all those old habits that they have generally been associated with.

Once the Taiwan thorn (and the fear of losing TSMC’s facilities to China) is removed, the West will have no arsenal to irritate China. And it will have to treat China differently. And this will allow all Chinese in the world to walk tall.



Sunday, September 12, 2021

The Roots of Global Paranoia about the Awakened Dragon: The Western and Pro-West Politicians

It pains me to pen this article. Much of the information you are going to read below is extracted from published sources. But I think it is important for me to bring it up again – basically to remind ourselves of the need not to be complacent about our future - if you are of Chinese descent. This call is made in the wake of the relentless efforts by the West and pro-West forces to demonize China and the collateral damage arising therefrom – on a future Chinese both inside and outside China, in particular, the ethnic Chinese in East and Southeast Asia, may have to live with.

I always argue that all of us are racist to some extent. But the decent ones in us would contain our prejudices – principally out of disagreements or unfamiliarity with the way people “not our kind” seem to be acting or behaving under circumstances that we think they should – to ourselves. We don’t go about throwing punches at them. Racists make up stories to hurl accusations. Even if a fact is already known, they will still twist and distort to make people whom they do not like look bad. China is the West’s relentless target now. I do not suppose there is a need for me to cite examples, since I have already done so many times before.


I have American, European, Australian, Japanese, and Indian friends. On a one-to-one basis, I find friendships even with the more off-colour ones tolerable. I still cherish my friendship with an old Japanese man by the name of Rohyai Nonaka even though he had passed on many years ago. Nonaka-san was an expert in electro-plating. He came in the mid-1970s to help the Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (MIDA) to do some development work under the sponsorship of the Japanese External Trade Organisation (Jetro). He was already in his late 50s. I was a young desk officer in MIDA then. At that time, there was a strong anti-Japanese sentiment, and nobody would go near him. Somehow, we became friends, even though he was about thirty years older than me. He would come to me each time an office circular was handed down, for his command of English was too rudimentary for him to fully understand the message, and Malay totally nil. He would share his Japanese-style management concepts and practices with me. From him, I had an early understanding of what made Japan and Japanese different. (This was well before several Japanese management books became the must-read stuff in business schools.) His hobby was to go around the country looking for samurai swords. He knew a great deal about Chinese history and classics, especially those parts on the Warring States and the Three Kingdoms. He was also an expert in watercolour painting. (I still have two paintings he did for me when he visited me at home). We became lifelong friends and communicated even after he returned to Japan. My colleagues must have thought I was crazy to be so friendly with an “enemy”!


Back to the subject. What I am seeing in the West and pro-West countries are disturbing – if history is our teacher. I would like to share what a da-jie (big sister-like friend) once said to me.


This da-jie’says even as third or fourth generation diasporas in a seemingly harmonious country like Malaysia, we cannot afford to be too complacent about our future. But she laments that her very successful corporate lawyer daughter would always tell her not to worry too much, saying that most of us are “on top of the food chain” here. Maybe, but I prefer to take my da-jie’s wisdom seriously.


It is not the people per se we are worried about, no matter what colour his or her skin is, or what religion he or she professes. It is the Western and pro-West POLITICIANS and their accessories that I am most unhappy about. By accessories, I mean their journalists and reporters.


But politicians are not born to be evil or untrustworthy. They got sucked in over time. I read Barrack Obama’s own account of his earlier years. He was not brought up in a political family. I could see that he just wanted to do good even when young. In many ways he was to me a through-and-through socialist. But the moment he entered the White House, he had to realign himself. There were too many traditions or “must observe” conventions, systems, and practices that he had to follow, let alone change. And largely because of his inability to change the “institution”, he ended up as not having done too many great things during his presidency, despite his formidable intellect. I believe Joe Biden was also a decent man; but the moment he became the president of the United States of America, he had to act more aggressively or stupidly than Donald Trump, lest he goes down as a one-term president (even if his health allows him to run for a second term). Be that as it may, some, if history is of any guide, were actually born evil, as Mer-tze argued two thousand years ago.


America was the John Wayne to many Chinese during World War II. Its Flying Tigers did a wonderful job in helping to bring supplies over the Himalayas when Nanning was cut off by the Japanese. George Marshall tried to reconcile Chiang Kai-Shek and Mao Zedong and introduce a “Marshall” plan to help China rebuild after the war. And in the 1970s, Richard Nixon’s visit paved the way for China to return to the world stage.


However, if the worldviews of America’s last three presidents, and the way the country has abandoned Afghanistan to its own devices, were to be of any guide, then the pro-Independence young in Taiwan and the misguided Hong Kongers should think more deeper about their beliefs. It is still certainly not too late for them to come to their senses.


Let’s be reminded of the following chapters in history and if possible, let our young know about them, especially on the background leading to them to see my da-jie’s advice is timely:

(1) The Boxer Uprising by the Eight Nation Alliance (1899-1901)

The Boxer Uprising was an armed insurrection against the increasing foreign intervention including Christian missionary work in China towards the end of the Qing dynasty. The ruling Manchu court was ambivalent about the movement. However, after a siege of the Legations by the Boxers, a 20,000-strong Eight Nation Alliance of American, Austro-Hungarian, British, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Russian troops was organized to lift the siege. They whacked the Qing Imperial Army in Tianjin and went on to plunder Beijing and summarily executed those suspected of being Boxers. The Boxer Protocol of 7 September 1901 saw the execution of government officials who had supported the Boxers, the provision for foreign troops to be stationed in Beijing, and the payment of indemnity of 450 million taels of silver – about $10 billion at 2018 silver prices and more than the government's annual tax revenue at that time – over the course of the next 39 years to the eight nations involved.


Many of us were led to believe the Boxers were a bunch of ugly Chinamen going around the country looking for foreigners and Chinese Christians to slaughter. But weren’t they Chinese patriots in their own way, albeit misguided in some respects – like believing in their impenetrability by firearms and their anger at Christianity?

Let’s carve out China

(2) The First Opium War (1839-42)

There were two opium wars. The first was fought between China and Britain and the second, by Britain and France against China.

The first was: British traders had been illegally exporting opium mainly from India to China since the 18th century. The trade exploded from 1820, resulting in widespread addiction and causing serious social and economic disruptions in China. In 1839 the Chinese government confiscated and destroyed some 20,000 chests (about 1,400 tons) of opium that were warehoused at Guangzhou by British merchants. In the same year, some drunken British sailors killed a Chinese villager. The British government refused to turn the accused men over to the Chinese courts. Hostilities broke out. The British conducted several campaigns against the inferior Qing forces which finally ended with the former’s capture of Nanjing.

Under the Treaty of Nanjing, China had to pay Britain a large indemnity, cede Hong Kong Island to the British, and increase the number of treat ports where the British could trade and reside to five. Other Western countries quickly demanded and were given similar privileges.

The Treaty of Nanjing, cessation of Hong Kong

(3) The Second Opium War (1856-60)

While the Qing government was trying to quell the Taiping Rebellion (1850-64), the British took the opportunity to look for new concessions. Over a relatively minor incident in 1856, a British warship sailed up the Pearl River and began to bombard Guangzhou. In December, angry Chinese in the city burned foreign warehouse and hostilities escalated. The French decided to join the British, using the murder of a French missionary in the interior of China in early 1856 as an excuse. They quickly captured Guangzhou. Upon reaching Tianjin, the Chinese were forced into negotiations.

The treaties of Tianjin, signed in June 1858, saw more trade, travel, and residence concession to the foreign powers, including the freedom of movement for Christian missionaries. In further negotiations in Shanghai later that year, the importation of opium was legalized.

However, the Chinese subsequently refused to ratify the treaties, and the two allies resumed hostilities. In August 1860 a larger force of warships of British and French troops captured Beijing and plundered and then burned down the Yuanming Garden (Summer Palace).

China had no choice but to sign the Beijing Convention, in which they agreed not only to observe the treaties of Tianjin but also to cede the southern portion of the Kowloon Peninsula to the British.

                                                The plundering and burning of the Summer Palace

(4) First Sino-Japanese War (1894–95)
The war marked the emergence of Japan as a major world power. The war grew out of conflict over Korea which had long been China’s client state. Its strategic location opposite the Japanese islands and its natural resources of coal and iron attracted Japan’s interest. In 1875 Japan forced Korea to open itself to foreign, meaning Japanese, trade and to declare itself independent from China. Japan was welcomed by Korea’s more radical modernizing forces, while China continued to sponsor the conservative officials gathered around the royal family. In 1884 a group of pro-Japanese reformers attempted to overthrow the Korean government, but Chinese troops under Yuan ShiKai came to their rescue. Both sides signed a convention to withdraw troops from Korea.

But In 1894, Kim Ok-Kyun, a pro-Japanese Korean leader was lured to Shanghai and murdered. His body was then put aboard a Chinese warship and sent back to Korea, where it was quartered and displayed as a warning to other rebels. The Japanese government and public were outraged. The situation was made more tense later in the year when a rebellion broke out in Korea, and the Chinese government, at the request of the Korean king, sent troops to help to disperse the rebels. The Japanese considered this a violation of convention agreed earlier and they duly sent in 8,000 troops to Korea. When the Chinese tried to reinforce their own forces, the Japanese sank the British steamer which was carrying the reinforcements, further aggravating the tension.

War was finally declared on 1st August 1894. Japanese troops scored quick and overwhelming victories on both land and sea. By March 1895 the Japanese had successfully invaded Shandong province and Manchuria. They blockaded the sea approaches to Beijing. The Chinese sued for peace.

In a treaty, China recognized the independence of Korea and ceded Taiwan, some adjoining islands, and Liaodong Peninsula. China also agreed to pay a large indemnity and to give Japan trading privileges on Chinese territory. This treaty was later modified under the combined intercession of Russia, France, and Germany which forced Japan to return the Liaodong Peninsula to China.


China’s defeat encouraged the Western powers to make further demands of the Chinese government. It also hastened the demise of the Qing dynasty.


(5) The Second Sino-Japanese War (1931–1945) [Part of World War II]

In 1931, Japan detonated a small bomb close to a railway line owned by Japan near Mukden (now Shenyang) to create an excuse to stage a full invasion. This incident led to the occupation of Manchuria where Japan established a puppet state called Manchukuo where the Qing court’s last emperor Pu-Yi was installed as its emperor. 


Six years later, Japan again cooked up a somewhat similar pretext to wage war against China. A Japanese soldier was found missing from his unit opposite Wanping, a town southwest of Beijing, and the Japanese commander demanded the right to search the town for him. This was refused and when the Chinese army fired on the Japanese army, all hell broke loose. (The Japanese soldier later returned to his lines.) This is the Marco Polo Bridge incident (or the 7-7 incident because it happened on 7th July) which many historians regard as the actual beginning of the second Sino-Japanese War or the start of Pacific theatre of the World War II.


Following this incident, the Japanese captured Beijing, Shanghai, and Nanjing. Widespread atrocities were committed by the Japanese army, the most horrendous of which was described by Iris Chang is her book The Rape of Nanking. After failing to stop the Japanese in the Battle of Wuhan, the Chinese relocated its government to Chongqing.

With some Soviet help, China was able to put up some strong resistance against the Japanese offensives. The war actually reached a stalemate by 1939, after Chinese scored victories in Changsha and Guangxi. The Japanese were also unable to defeat the Chinese communist forces in Shaanxi. But the Japanese ultimately succeeded in the year-long battle to occupy Nanning, which effectively cut off the last sea access to the wartime capital of Chongqing. While Japan ruled the large cities, they lacked sufficient manpower to control China's vast countryside. In November 1939, Chinese nationalist forces launched a large-scale winter offensive and in August 1940, Chinese Communist forces started a counteroffensive in central China. The United States’ Flying Tigers also lent support to China. However, Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 sealed its fate. The United States declared war. After the two atom bombs were dropped, Japan formally surrendered on 2 September 1945.

The Second Sino-Japanese War accounted for the loss about 15 million military and civilian lives in China. Some put the figure even higher.  

(6)  Japanese Invasion of Southeast Asia during World War II (1941-45)

Conflict in this theatre began when Japan invaded French Indochina in September 1940. It simultaneously attacked Pearl Harbor, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaya, and Singapore in early December 1941. However, Thailand chose to ally itself with Japan.


The Allies suffered many defeats in the first half of the war. Two major British warships, Repulse and Price of Wales, were sunk by a Japanese air attack off the coast of Malaya.

Japanese forces overran Malaya by the end of January 1942. The Allied forces in Singapore, under the command of Lieutenant General Arthur Percival, surrendered to the Japanese on 15 February 1942. About 130,000 Allied troops became prisoners of war. The fall of Singapore was the largest surrender in British military history.


The Chinese living in Malaya particularly suffered from the Japanese occupation, some 100,000 were killed. (Japan actually favoured the Malays; many of the latter’s elites were made sword-carrying officers under the Japanese administration. Some were even encouraged to massacre the rural Chinese.)

The Japanese were less successful in its Indian Ocean raids, but it did force the British fleet to relocate from British Ceylon to Mombasa in Kenya. In 1942.


Japan occupied the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) from March 1942 until after the end of the war in September 1945. Japan overran the entire colony in less than three months. Initially, most Indonesians welcomed the Japanese as liberators from their Dutch colonial masters. The sentiment changed after several million Indonesians were made forced labourers. Hundreds of thousands were sent away from Java to the outer islands, and as far as Burma and Siam. Of those taken off Java, not more than 70,000 survived the war. Four million people died in the Dutch East Indies as a result of famine and forced labour during the Japanese occupation, including 30,000 European civilian internee deaths.


During the 1944-45 period, the Allied troops largely bypassed the Dutch East Indies and as such, much of the colony was still under occupation at the time of Japan's surrender in August 1945.


The occupation led to the ending of the Dutch colonial rule in December 1949.


It is believed many ethnic Chinese suffered under the Japanese rule.

Left: The Tiger of Malaya: General Tomoyuki Yamashita; Below: Japanese atrocity in Malaya


Had China been the aggressor in any of the above conflicts, I would certainly withdraw the title of this article and apologize for it. All the pains were inflicted in China or on Chinese by extension. Some may argue that the Boxers were barbaric and deserved condemnation. Yes, maybe, but the West did use it to extract out-of-proportion reparations and concessions from China. They should not be in China in the first place!


Now that China has been awakened, it is time for Chinese all over the world to keep it awake. Chinese will only be safe in the Western and pro-West world if China is strong and respected. To us it is simply a no brainer choice!

Left: Spiritual, mythical… soaring high to help bring better living and prosperity to the world. Right: Real, gentle… looking keenly to help build trust and create harmony…

Above: From the horse’s mouth: We Lied, We Cheated, We Stole. Below: End of an empire