It took 60 years for China to rebuild a broken up country that was bankrupt of everything. It started from scratch in 1949, a war torn country, bankrupt in the treasury through payments of war reparations to the imperial powers of the West and Japan, bankrupt of intellectuals and ideas, a backward economy that was agriculture based, with no industries in the modern sense of the time. The whole govt institution and infrastructure had to be rebuilt with an empty state coffer.
Up till 1978 when Deng was returned to power, the country was experimenting with agrarian and industrial revolution on its own, with little foreign aid or assistance. The Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, the Korean War, the Vietnam war, were very costly and drained further the limited resources of a third world nation.
It’s rightful place in the United Nation was occupied by Taiwan, calling itself the Republic of China and representing greater China on both sides of the causeway. Of course its legitimacy was only as legitimate as the support of the Americans. The farce of ROC representing the whole of China came to an end when the Third World countries stood against the Americans and voted in the PRC to its rightful place in the family of nations. The pretender, ROC, was booted out of the UN.
The path back to nationhood was never easy with many countries still living under the influence of Western literature and Western truth, that China was a belligerent, expansionist and aggressive emerging power. This continues till today, without China fighting a war except for self defence, with no Chinese occupation troops in any foreign land, while its territories are claimed and occupied by foreign powers. Hongkong and Macau were returned at the end of the 20th Century. Many of China’s territories are still in foreign hands. And China continues to endure the embarrassment and indignity of not being able to reclaim its lost land, taken away when it was weak and helpless. How’s that of an expansionist and unreasonable power?
Today, 60 years later, even small little countries are making claims to Chinese territories in the South China Seas, with the tacit support of the Americans. While China is still relatively weaker than the US, but immensely more powerful than all the Southeast Asian countries combined, China adopts a position of weakness in its foreign policies, encouraging these small countries to embolden their claims, even attacking and capturing Chinese ships in the high seas or in Chinese territories.
China’s failure in warding off such adventurism and irritating claims from the small countries in a way was due to its eclipse and years of living in the shadow of the big powers. It does no wish to engage in warfare, and chose a policy of appeasement, of friendship and accommodation. Any little acts of assertiveness for its rights and territorial integrity would be blown up as vindications of an expansionist and fearsome power.
The literature and propaganda of an expansionist and hostile China have been perpetuating and influencing the minds of the Asian and Southeast Asian states, and the world for decades. And all these years China was a struggling nation, poor and weak both economically and militarily. The image has set in and difficult to change no matter what China did. No matter how defensive is China’s stance, it will not change anything. In fact the weakness of the Chinese stance has created more problems for China than if China has taken a tougher stand. When it did in the Korean War, again the border intrusions by India and Vietnam, it was cast as the aggressor by the West. And the world believed in those stories.
In short, notwithstanding China’s olive branch, it will always be portrayed and viewed in distrust. The other countries believe that they will be better under Pax Americana, a known devil.
While China did not have much choice in the past to risk a devastating war with the Americans, and be flattened into the oblivion, the situation is now different. As much as America is many times more able to turn again into the stone age, China could do likewise to America. It will be a no winner war if the two super powers collide.
Ruling out this possibility, as long as both countries avoided such an eventuality, it is time for China to review its foreign policies of peaceful development and appeasement. It is time for China to stand up for its rights as an independent nation, and to protect its own territorial integrity. Any wishful and baseless claims to Chinese territories and islands in the South China Sea must be told to back off. There is no need to be nice when niceties were seen as weakness and inviting more reckless and provocative claims.
China must now say no to all the nonsensical and unsupportable claims of small countries against its territories, and be prepared to arrest any ships that intruded into them, be it Vietnam, the Phillipines or India. The days of offering the other face to be slapped is over. The small countries must be put back to their rightful place or face the military and economic might of a new and more assertive China. They can provoke and risk being kicked in the ass.
The Americans can try to start more fires, and China must be prepared to put down the fire with no hesitation and refrain. Only in that way would China be able to ensure peace and stability in the East and South China Seas. A superpower must behave like a superpower, like the Americans. Do what the Americans did but not to encroach into another country, not to invade another country and nothing of the sort like regime change. Respect the rights of all nations and demand the other nations to do likewise. The simple message is, not to trifle with a super power and think that they can get away with it.
60 years of being oppressed and humiliated by the Western powers and bullied by small countries must come to an end. Red Star over China is now Red Star over Asia. Not that China should pursue the path of big power hegemony against its neighbours. But it must not allow the small powers to be pawns of America, to nibble away at its core interests and national integrity. Mutual respect and non interference must be initiated from both sides. If China does not act tough now, all the troubles will keep coming to its doorstep.
PS. If China does not dare to stand up against the American's bullying, another cruise missile will hit their embassy like the one in Belgrade, 'by accident'. Only when China dares to stand up to the Americans will such accidents be avoided and will not happen.