Sunday, January 31, 2010


By Chitranjan Sawant
Do you know China? Do I know China? It is kind of hard to answer the question.One may have read the history and geography of China but that knowledge is bookish.The real knowledge about the land and the people comes from visiting the land and interacting with the people.There are not many men and women on planet Earth who can claim this privilege.
China has had meteoric rise in the last few decades of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st century. China is an economic super power and dictates terms to Europe and America.In the late 19th and early 20th centuries China was down in the dumps both economically and militarily. The political corruption of rulers in Beijing had led the country on the down hill road.As many as eight powers of the world, seven European powers and one Asian power, Imperial Japan, had ridden roughshod over Imperial China and divided her into economic zones where each of the eight ruled the roost. Politically speaking, some Chinese territory was conquered by or ceded to these arrogant powers. Hong Kong became British to its finger tips.It was not until 1997 that Hong Kong reverted to the lap of the motherland, China. By then China was a Communist country and was on road to becoming a world power in her own rights. The British could not have continued their sway and suzerainty over the island even if they wished to. Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales and future King of the United Kingdom personally went to Hong Kong to preside over the transfer ceremony and see the Red Star of China replace the Union Jack of the British. The writing was on the wall and the British were quick to read and react.
Privately the Chinese strategists recalled with glee that it was the British Governor of Hong Kong who opened the case of the transfer of the island to the motherland; otherwise the Chinese were in no hurry to lose their sleep over it. An enigmatic statement indeed.
When you say "Good morning", the Chinese gentleman is in no hurry to declare it a good morning too. The Chinese gentleman will look at the sky, look at the man breaking ice in conversation and assess the situation before returning the complimentary greetings. This is the characteristic of the entire Chinese nation.A thorough assessment of the situation and the environment must be done before speaking a word. The speech must follow thinking. Deliberation accompanied by a debate may lead to a conclusion and ultimate communication. It will thus be seen that deliberation precedes communication and it is a basic Chinese characteristic from time immemorial. The foreigners feel that the Chinese government delays action or communication to the European powers and Americans. The Chinese people on their part are extra cautious in dealing with the foreigners. Once bitten Twice Shy - an ancient adage is followed by the Chinese people in letter and spirit.
YANG QUEIDZ -this Chinese phrase meaning Foreign Devil is used for all whites visiting China. What to say of the Emperor of China, even the common court officials and ordinary man in the street did not trust the foreigners and refused to have any social interaction with them. In an official interaction, a few words, if any, were spoken. Even ambassadors extra-ordinary and plenipotentiary were dismissed from the Imperial court after an audience in as short a period as was possible. Suffice it to say that the historical mistrust that the Chinese government and people have for western powers persists.
The present hardline statement or the harsh tone of political reaction of Beijing on the proposed sale of sophisticated military hardware by America to Taiwan should be read in the historical backdrop.
The revolt like situation in Sinkiang in western China or in Tibet has made the Beijing officials a bit nervous. Consequently they have become hard liners in diplomacy and forsaken elasticity. The Chinese adopt a diplomatic position, pursue it and ensure that the Chinese will is not weakened. The other day 25 or so Uighur Muslims of Syin Jiang sought asylum in Cambodia to escape the Chinese law and punishment. The Chinese government brought tremendous pressure on the Cambodian government and had those Muslims repatriated to China to face trial for involvement in the riots in Urumqi. The Chinese saw their will done, notwithstanding the western diplomatic pressure to annul repatriation of Uighur Muslims to China. Apparently, this Chinese success in the diplomatic domain became a possibility because China is now a major player on the world stage. China adopting a strident tone in world affairs is a direct result of her becoming a super power economically, politically and militarily. China has left her neighbours miles behind in this race and achieved the desired goal with sincere planning, meticulous execution and non-deviation from the goal. Now even the sky is not the limit. China is now a global power and has the will to do what it wishes to.
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