COMMUNIST CHINA COMPLETES SIXTY
By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
The Tian An Men square – that is where all roads in Beijing lead to today. The place is all decked up. An impressive portrait of Mao Dzdong, the great political and military thinker and a founder leader of the present regime of China, is the only decoration piece on the ancient royal rostrum where the present leadership will assemble to see the military might and people’s power this morning. It is 1st October 2009. Exactly sixty years ago, on 1st October 1949, right here had stood the then top brass of the Communist party of China to herald the birth of the new China. They had won the country by their blood, sweat and tears, sacrificing their loved ones in battles fought with the nationalist forces of General Chiang kai-shek until winning the final great push and banishing the adversary to Formosa, now Taiwan. It was a long fought civil war where no quarters were asked for and none given. Chairman Mao had personally declared the founding of a new China, the People’s Republic of China that day.
GIANT STRIDES FORWARD
The China of today is so different from the China of 1949 that it sets friends and philosophers thinking about what brought about the total makeover. To my mind the greatest asset of the Chinese nation is their capability of loving their past, enjoying the present and working for a future. This mental make-up of the Chinese people is the outcome of an amalgamation of the Confucian, Buddhist and Tao philosophy of life. The Chinese history of many thousand years lets us have an inkling into their trials and tribulations, numerous founding of dynasties, their rise and fall, foreign invasions where the conquerors like the Mongols were culturally conquered by the Chinese and finally their spirit of adventure and inventions. The thread of continuity is discernible throughout and a hidden hatred for the “foreign devil” is unmistakable.
Mobilisation of Manpower for the common good has been one of the greatest assets of the Chinese people. The Great Wall of China bears testimony to this national asset. The Great Wall was built over centuries by different kingdoms but the continuity and will to complete it remained unshaken. Many acts of human cruelty on forced labour, their separation from their loved ones, surviving on meagre meals and lying buried under the foundation of the Wall are just a few of heart-rending facts of history. The aim was, however, achieved and the wall was made. It could not stop the invaders, though. The hordes of Mongols under the great Khans who were sky worshippers and not Muslims as the mistaken perception is, conquered and ruled China for a century. Eventually they were absorbed by the Chinese people and became as one of the native Chinese. The Chinese nation continued marching forward.
A big country like China cannot but have many dialects and different pronunciations of the same word. Mandarin or Putung Hua is now the official language and is spoken throughout China including Tibet and Xinjiang. Thanks to the first emperor, Chhín Shih Huang Di, the script was unified. Thus the character for water is the same, go east or west, north or south. If one knows how to write one will not go hungry or thirsty. Indeed the script unified China in a great way as nothing else did. Of course, people in the southern Guangdong province still insist on conversing in Cantonese and give Putung Hua a go by. They love to watch the Hong Kong TV as the language is common, the Cantonese.
After the Communist takeover of the country, attention was paid to the common man. Education, next to bread and butter, was an important subject of govt’s attention. The communist regime simplified the ancient characters but did not change the basic look. The Chinese continuity remained and the simplified characters were easy to read and write by the peasants and workers who sustained the new regime. The top leadership of the communist party was genuinely interested in helping the common man make progress. They dressed like them. The blue closed collar tunic was the unisexual dress for male and female Chinese to unify the people like the language and the script. It was not until the death of Chairman Mao and advent of Dung Xiao-ping as a resurrected leader that women were allowed to be fashionable and wear makeup.
PATH OF PROGRESS
The prosperous China of today was born when Deng Xiao-ping brought China out of Mao’s shadow of hard line communism. He added the Chinese characteristics to Marx’s communism. When he was criticized for this dilution, he retorted ”how does it matter if a cat is black or white as long as it catches mice”. Deng set the pace of progress too and China did not have to look back. Progress and progress – that has been the story in all fields, civil or military. A word must be said about the economic disparity between the coastal areas of the East and the mountainous areas of the North-West that has caused avoidable migration of population and social tensions. It has also given rise to unpleasant law and order problems. China has taken them in the normal stride of life.
DISPLAY OF MILITARY MIGHT
Sixty years after its inception the Communist China, hardly communist now, aspires to be a world power. In due course of time she may challenge the United States of America for global supremacy. With a view to achieving that, it is necessary that China becomes militarily strong to show her flag all over the world and go unchallenged. It is a kind of ASHWAMEDHA YAJNA of today. The king’s white horse is running wherever it pleases to run and returns unchallenged to make the owner king a Chakravarti Samrat, a world power in today’s parlance. Now the opportunity is there for China to showcase her military might on the sixtieth anniversary of its founding. Let us have a preview.
The People’s Liberation Army started its military offensive in a major way with a five million strong land army. By the way, the military is PLA irrespective of it being navy or air force or army. To distinguish the force, after PLA the respective service word is added. Now, at this point of time the military thinking has undergone a tremendous change. The strength of the army is being cut down numerically and its battle effectiveness is being enhanced by adding modern fire power and advanced technology. The cut down figure may be anything around 700,000 officers and soldiers. Xu Guangyu, who is privy to policy making, says that a lean and mean army with improved weapon system and a lesser number of troops will achieve the aim. Reclaiming Taiwan by force is an avowed policy of China. The display of military might will set the American policy planners and Admirals thinking about their revising defence plan of Taiwan.
The Navy and the Air Force are now the centre of thought and action of the top brass of the party and the military. Indeed the old dictum of Chairman Mao holds good today too. He said “power comes out of the barrel of a gun and it is the party that controls the gun”. The Communist party and President Hu Jintao have made up their mind to make the Chinese navy a real blue water navy that may sail the seven seas unchallenged. To start with they will test their strength in the Indian Ocean that beckons them. Their acquisition of aircraft carriers and nuclear powered submarines point to the direction of their domination of the Indian Ocean. Is New Delhi listening?
The Air Force will display its latest jet fighter in the sky over Tian An Men square. It is designed, developed and made in China without help from a foreign country. The latest jet fighter is so much wrapped in secrecy that the Chinese air Force chose not to fly it on the rehearsal fly past. It will make a debut on the grand occasion. Right now they have 2,000 battle worthy aircraft and 4,000 air force personnel.
The Army gunners, however, control the missiles with nuclear warheads. The Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles will be the mainstay of the regiment of artillery. Hundreds of thousands of service personnel are proud of their service and strive to achieve the aim. All eyes will focus on them when they march the goose step on the big day. It is expected that 200,000 military men and women will participate in the biggest ever parade held in the Tian An Men square.
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