China’s Modern Blueprint For Global Power

Sunday, October 13, 2019
By Paul Martin

by Lawrence Franklin via The Gatestone Institute,
Sat, 10/12/2019

The People’s Republic of China, which celebrated its 70th anniversary on October 1, is led by the Chinese Communist Party’s General Secretary, President Xi Jinping. In his speeches, Xi often refers to “Qiang Zhong Gwo Meng” (“the Chinese dream”), a code phrase for the era of rejuvenation when China will eventually overtake the United States as the most powerful nation in the world.

Xi claims that China offers the world a different type of rising global leader — a “guiding power.”

Beijing apologists depict China as a non-predatory power, comparing it favorably to Europe’s colonial countries in the past and to today’s United States.

Similarly, the state-controlled Chinese media depict Chinese statecraft as being based on and reflecting ancient Confucian ethics:

Only when things are investigated is knowledge extended; only when knowledge is extended are thoughts sincere; only when thoughts are sincere are minds rectified; only when minds are rectified are the characters of persons cultivated; only when character is cultivated are our families regulated; only when families are regulated are states well governed; only when states are well governed is there peace in the world.

This portrayal is part of China’s traditional self-image as “Jungwo” (the “Middle Kingdom”), a society synonymous with “civilization,” as opposed to the “barbarians” beyond its borders. Such was the impetus for China’s Great Wall: to keep out uncultured barbarians.

In spite of China’s pretense of being a new type of global power, Beijing’s attempt to restore its historical role as a world leader involves ancient Chinese political concepts. Xi’s call for China’s “rejuvenation,” for instance, is a signal to his people that under the leadership of the Communist Party, the national humiliations endured during the 19th and 20th centuries will be redressed.

Xi’s nationalist sentiment echoes the ideas of Sun Yat-sen, the “founding father” and first president of the Chinese Republic. Sun called for the embrace of “Min-ts’u” (“people’s nationalism”) to redeem the nation from its status as a “hypo-colony” ruled by many colonial masters, including tiny Portugal, which dominated the South China Sea.

Xi’s doctrine includes rejecting as illegitimate any “unequal treaties” forced on China by Euro-Atlantic powers, such as Great Britain’s imposition of the McMahon Line, which awarded to the British Crown Colony of India hundreds of thousands of square kilometers of Chinese territory. China never recognized the McMahon Line; it was among the factors ultimately leading to an India-China War in 1962 and periodic skirmishes ever since.

This determination to retrieve Chinese territory might be rooted in Xi’s sense of humiliation, still felt among Chinese patriots of all political persuasions, who harbor an enduring resentment over such Euro-Atlantic encroachment.

Xi’s posture is also possibly an indirect warning to the West, which may be harboring a desire to assist the people of Hong Kong in their drive for more autonomy from Beijing. This warning underscores the willingness of the Chinese Communist leadership to engage the United States in a limited military conflict, should the US support Hong Kong’s or Taiwan’s official independence from China or if it positions offensive strategic-weapons systems on those lands.

In his essay, “If You Want Peace Prepare for War” — using the famous quote from the ancient Roman strategist, Publius Flavius Renatus — Chinese author Li Mingfu states that if the US attempts to block the Chinese Motherland’s unification with Taiwan, China is ready militarily to force unification.

There can be little doubt that Xi’s China is deeply committed to the retrieval of Formosa (Taiwan) as an integral part of the Chinese patrimony. Historically, China risked war with Japan after Japanese expeditions to the island province. China also has resisted past attempts by Britain to weaken its hold on Tibet. Moreover, despite fierce resistance to Russia’s 19th century invasions in the northwestern province of Xinjiang (Sinkiang), China lost control of the region. That event also might help to explain for China’s willingness to invite universal condemnation for its massive human-rights violations against the region’s Uighur Muslim population, rather than risk again losing control of the province to Islamist independence movements.

Chinese military exercises, new weapons systems and the surreptitious militarization of several landfill and disputed islands in the South China Sea, all indicate that Beijing intends to become — at the very least — East Asia’s dominant regional power, thereby supplanting the US as the pre-eminent authority in the Western Pacific Ocean. According to one American analyst on Chinese military affairs, in 2018 alone, China conducted approximately 100 military exercises with 17 countries.

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