Fearing the straw man of tomorrow while sleeping with the devil

I enjoyed the one hour spent viewing Kishore’s lecture at the Kennedy’s School of Government in Harvard. While he was sharing the unpleasant truth of an Asian renaissance and the natural decline of the USA as the Number One hegemon in the 21st Century, he also told the Americans that they were still stuck in their self reinforcing narratives of a benign hegemon showering the world with kindness and goodness. It was a hard truth that was delivered to the living rooms of America when the best intellectual minds dwelt. Perhaps his hard truth was too difficult to swallow that Vogel left just before the session came to a close. At least he sat through the lecture for one whole one hour and maybe something urgent needed his attention without showing disrespect.


Oh, Vogel wrote the book Japan as Number One. And this issue was raised during the Q&A that the Number Two economic power normally would overtake the Number One super power. But Japan did not and is now Number Three and will keep sliding down when India becomes Number Two. I think it was mentioned that Tommy Koh gave a lecture on this historical trend.


Anyway, with China rising, the same stupid question or mindset was floated again. What would China be when it becomes Number One? Would it be an expansionist country, a more aggressive hegemon than the USA? Kishore gave them all the proof that China would not be like the missionary Americans going all over the world to change regimes to make every country democratic, not necessarily rich and powerful. China too did not go around the world carry a gun, giving aids to countries to buy more weapons. China is out there all over the world, using its money and technology to rebuild a new world. It is all economics and infrastructure development and trade. No guns. Yes the Chinese did not carry their guns to the negotiating table when striking a commercial deal. The Chinese did not have more than 1,000 military bases all over the world, not even one outside its own territory.


Would the Americans be convinced that the Chinese would behave as badly as them as an evil hegemon?  Maybe, maybe not, as many Americans are very clear thinking and know what their American govt is doing to the rest of the world, stoking war, inciting war, destabilizing countries, bombing and killing people by the hundreds of thousands, and issuing threats after threats, even sailing across the Pacific Ocean to the South China Sea to show who is the hegemon. The Americans will see China differently over time.


But I am not too sure that Asian countries would see China differently. Many have been brainwashed and conditioned to see the world through the North American perspective. The countries that have the worse opinions of China are some in Asean that chose to sleep with the devil but fearing a China of the future that is anything but a self indulgence. For these few Asean countries that are calling China expansionist, they quote their disputes with China over some reefs and tiny islands. Actually they are the expansionist countries making aggressive claims against islands and reefs long claimed by China with centuries of precedents. They refused to see themselves as the aggressors and expansionists in the South China Sea.


The views of China’s neighbours in Central Asia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal and many others were very different. These people are not stupid. They knew that China was there to trade, to build infrastructure in exchange for natural resources on terms negotiated peacefully on the negotiating table, and often the terms were more favourable than the West would offer. But the West and the American viewpoint parroted by the unthinking Asian, especially in some South East Asian countries would put a negative spin on it, that China was not doing it for altruistic or humanitarian grounds but for the natural resources. Do they expect the Chinese to build all the infrastructures for free? How are these developing countries going to pay for the infrastructure developments and trade? Or were the Americans and the West so altruistic and kind to throw their money to their aid recipients for free?


What is more crazy, living in fear of an imaginary hegemon that has not done anything and did not carry a gun around, or sleeping with an evil hegemon that is bullying the world and starting and fighting wars everywhere, building military alliances and military bases all over the world?  The Asians deserved to be ruled by the West with their shallow intellect. The Americans told them China is bad, expansionist, oppressive, repressive, no human rights, no freedom and they swallowed every bit without thinking. They let the Americans think for them, on what to think, on who is good and who is bad.


Ask the 100m Chinese tourists that went all over the world, why did they return to an oppressive and repressive country that has no freedom and no human rights? Ask the hundreds of thousands of students China sent to the best universities in the West, why are they returning to China and not stay on in the West? Do these realities ring a bell?


Anonymous said...

"China is out there all over the world, using its money and technology to rebuild a new world. It is all economics and infrastructure development and trade. No guns."

Please lah, it is just a different strategy used by China to achieve more or less the same objectives of the Americans who use guns. Only daft Sinkies will think that in doing so, China love the world, or 70% voted for PAP last election because they love the PAP.

Anonymous said...

Please lah only daft like you cannot see the difference. China is not there to control the world but to be rich through trade, to help other countries build infrastructures and to make money from it, win win.

The Americans are out there to control the world, to do regime change, to start wars, not to trade and prosper other countries.

Do you know what the Americans are doing in the ME and now in SC Sea?

I should not have waste my time asking you. You won't know, don't want to know.

Anonymous said...

"The Americans are out there to control the world, to do regime change, to start wars, not to trade and prosper other countries."
Anon 9:23 a.m.

You must be daft not to realise that there is oil, or at least potential reserves, in ME and even the disputed islands in SC Sea. And oil = money.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Chua
I am the guilty party who has been arguing that America will remain number #1 in your earlier post.
Please allow me to clarify.

I agree with about 90%-95% of what Kishore says.
I agree with Kishore's facts.
I disagree with the interpretation of those fact.

I disagree with Kishore's hypothesis that China will be number #1
- history proves over many centuries that all Asian countries are never able to reflect peacefully by listening to dissenting views and to re-invent ourselves.
Please ask Amos Yee for more details.
- The number #1 position is only sustainable if you can re-invent the country peacefully
- otherwise the country is torn apart ... example Mao and the re-invention of Mao's China.

Kishore's facts support my alternative view.
- the average Indians are the most successful ethnic group in America
(although it is more academically correct to add the caveat "at the moment")
- many times more successful than average Indians in India
- Why?
- Because they are no longer in India. They are in America!

Many hopeless Singaporean students (as measured by PAP schools and PAP Ministers) become academic over-achievers in USA (and other western countries like Australia).
- Why?
- Because they are in America! They are not in Singapore anymore.

American universities are a hotbed of dissenting voices and opinions.
There are no OB markers.
Creativity, innovation and new ideas flourish.
- that is why Asian students do exceptionally well in America
- they are free

I seriously doubt China as number #1 can last for any length of time (decades).
I shudder to think of Kishore's thesis of India as #2.
Just what we need.
Two nuclear armed Asian neighbours with a long history of border disputes.

As a Chinese, I am proud to see the peaceful rise of Chinese civilization.
Very, very proud and awestruck.
But Chinese culture and civilization can only flourish when China is not number #1.
- This is called the Singaporean dilemma.

Do we vote PAP and watch Singapore stagnate and continue to decline?
Or do we vote Opposition and take a chance with freedom and the chance to build a truly strong, all inclusive Singaporean foundation?

Thank you for your indulgence and patience with a tired old man who has seen far too many leaders betray their citizens.

Anonymous said...

"Many hopeless Singaporean students (as measured by PAP schools and PAP Ministers) become academic over-achievers in USA"

Tiok. And Dr Chee Soon Juan was among the many hopeless Singaporean students who became academic over-achievers in USA by getting a doctorate in an exotic field called neuropsychology. And that was more than 20 years ago. See link below:


Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Hi Anon 10:07,

I have just wrote a piece on prejudices and biases of Singaporeans. Will post it tomorrow. We read western text books and see the world from the western perspectives, even in the way we think. And we think Asians are hopeless.

You quoted history but only a small chapter of Chinese history. China was Number One for many centuries until decadence set in and it was badly defeated by the West. And the West kept a tight lid on China for a couple of centuries, not allowing the China men to develop his full potential by force and discrimination. This is a part of history that Singaporeans barely knew.

Today the Chinese is fully emancipated and shooting for the stars with their industries and innate intelligence. They are breaking free of all the historical baggages. Nothing is going to stop them from attaining their full potential as a superpower. In many ways and areas they are already a super power and in many areas they are already Number One.

The only area they are still second to the Americans is military might. This is an area they consciously avoided to join the race. It is not only unproductive but is not relevant in modern history. There can be no wars between the super powers as the destruction for both would be unacceptable. China has reached a level that the US could not take it on and go away unscathed. That is enough for China.

China is building a new world with a new paradigm built on economic growth and prosperity without wars. And China is winning in this game and will supercede the Americans in many areas before this decade is over and will continue to run ahead.

Do not dismiss the wisdom of a 5000 year civilisation. Empires rise and fall, sometimes many forces and factors come into the picture to see to that. The forces and factors are now on the side of China and Asia.

Be confident of your civilisation and that history is on the side of Asia. It is understandable that having been rubbished by the West for two centuries, the Chinese and Asians have lost confidence in themselves. And this phenomenon is especially glaring in Singapore where the diaspora only believe in western superiority and that they are useless or second class.

The new Chinese in China are thinking like the pioneering Americans, everything is possible. And they are not just dreaming about it. They are working very hard for it. China today has more submarines than the Americans, though the Americans have more nuclear powered ones. China is building furiously towards having more nuclear powered ones.

Look at the maglev hi speed train in Shanghai built on borrowed German technology. But it is not so simple as to borrow everything and think it will work. The tolerance level for a flat and even 90 miles magnetic rail is 2mm. You need engineers and techncians to get to that precision. The Chinese did it better by building one with only 1mm tolerance for error. And the train has been running smoothly for more than a decade.

Going into high tech is not just talking and blind copying of technology, it is not making plastic flowers. You need real talents in science and technology.

Anonymous said...

"China has reached a level that the US could not take it on and go away unscathed. That is enough for China."
RB 10:42 a.m.

Tiok. That's why I always believe there will be no war in the South China Sea, which RB has this unfounded fear. The Pinoys, Vietnamese, and much less the Matlanders, will not dare to start any war with China if America did not support them.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Chua @ 10.42am
I agree with your thesis there.
But you have not engaged my earlier points.

1. To be a sustainable #1 power, a country has to be able to peacefully listen and reflect on dissenting citizens. And to be able to re-invent itself to meet internal and external challenges peacefully ... without tearing itself apart.
- China has no such history
- Bloody wars that accompany dynastic changes are legendary in China

Peaceful internal change and re-invention is a product of the 20th century.
- After two world wars, the western allies finally decided to try to get along instead of killing each other.
- I don't think Asian countries have reached this point yet.
- Japan and China are ready to have another slugfest with each other to settle unresolved feelings still lingering from World War Two.

2. If China is number #1, do you think India will settle for number #2?
And USA at number #3 will not be strong enough to keep India and China from killing each other.

3. My qualifying criteria for the number #1 status is the "ability to execute peaceful, internal change and re-invention within the country"
- NOT military power
- NOT science and technological prowess
- NOT the amount of gold or reserves that a country has

4. If and when China is the undisputed Number #1 power in the world
- it will spell the end of freedoms and cultural renaissance enjoyed by the PRC people
- Chinese historical experiences predict the rise of a new Emperor who will dictate to the Chinese people what is culturally acceptable and what are OB markers.
- Please ask Singaporeans to provide more details

Thank you for your patience.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

The history of China took a new page with the end of dynastic China. The China of today is a republic and thrives under a different world system.

To your first question, China has been reinventing itself since 1949. It only turned successful after Deng's opening up of China. It has seen many changes of leadership since. Its own political and economic system is changing everyday.

The most dramatic change is from communism to capitalism, from a closed society to an open one. It is a new China grown from the disastrous seed of cultural revolution led by Mao. It was like Qin Emperor burning of the books. Mao burnt away many lives and old concepts and thinking.

China is like the phoenix rising up from the ashes or rising from the mother of destruction. Despite all the accusations and fabrications by the West, the peaceful rise of China is a reality. And it would be that way unless the West bring a war to China.

The West could rule the world because they could ganged up and tore the world apart and divided among themselves. They are still doing it in the Middle East and trying to do a repeat in East and South East Asia. And some pesky little countries are tempted to be divided to start a war here.

India will be all talk and talk. It is not even number 5 or 6 and kept on shouting it wants to be number 1 to challenge China. China got no time to get into a squabble with India. China's goal is to be the Number One economic power. China's economy is US$12 trillion. India's is US$2 trillion. At 7% growth, in every 3 years, China would increase its economy by more than US$2 trillion or one Indian economy. There is no catching up. China is running away.

After the humiliating defeat in a border war with China, India would not dare risk another one with China. The lesson was hard earned. There was no fight. And China would not want to go to war with any country. Even Japan is no fight to China. It would be a walkover should Japan attempts any silly acts of war with China.

Your question 4 is a red herring that the West implanted on Asian minds to think that the Chinese are only bad and will go out and kill everyone when they become the Number One power. Since you are so happy to quote historical precedence, look at Chinese history, they fought among themselves to be the next dynasty but not outside China. China did not have wild ambitions to rule the world unlike the West and Japan. China is inward focus, they are the Middle Kingdom.

The only time when a Chinese empire set to conquer the world was during the Yuan Dynasty when China was ruled by the Mongols. History said China would be a benign super power.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Chua @ 12:01 p.m.
Again, I really sincerely agree with your points 100%.

It is a historical fact that China and Chinese should be very proud of.
In our 5,000 years of history.
China has been a very peaceful country in its external relations.
China rarely if ever engaged in external wars of aggression with other nations.
Chinese emperors expected tributes from lesser neighbouring countries ... but did not colonize or seize territories.

And it was the Mongols of Genghis Khan that threatened Europe.
Not China.

Unfortunately, Chinese emperors are not so kind or benign to their own Chinese people or citizens.
Chinese emperors have a very long history of killing Chinese citizens.
From the building of the Great Wall of China to Mao's building of a new China.
Millions of Chinese died at the hands of Chinese emperors.
I would argue that Chinese emperors or ... even just Mao Zedong alone ... killed more Chinese than the Japanese and Europeans combined.

Chinese history suggests that Chinese Emperors have a very long tradition of murdering and abusing Chinese people and citizens.
Chinese people have more to fear from a strong Chinese emperor than a strong America.
- just ask any Singaporean or maybe Amos Yee?

Anonymous said...

"You were the chosen one!
It was said that you would destroy the Sith, not join them.
Bring balance to the Force, not leave it in darkness."

What Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenaobi said to Anakin Skywalker.


I wonder what would a 1965 Singaporean say to a modern Singaporean Emperor?
Would he say:

"You were the chosen one!
It was said that you would build a democratic society;
Based on justice and equality.
Achieve happiness, prosperity and progress for Singaporeans.
Not leave us in darkness in our MRT trains."

Anonymous said...

Or maybe I should have said;
"Achieve happiness, prosperity and progress for Singaporeans.
Not leave us in darkness without our CPF money at 55."

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Hi Anon 12:32,

Your are right that Chinese emperors of old killed a lot of people. All emperors and kings of the Europe killed. The Doctrine of Discovery authorised them to kill the natives of the world. In North and South Americas, they killed and killed. Not much different from the emperors. It is a bit out of context to talk about thousand years of history.

Mao also killed a lot but not as many as the West claimed. Many of the death during the Great Leap Forward were results of natural disasters like drought and flood. Mao did not set out to kill these people. He was on a agricultural reform to increase productivity. It was mischievous to blame him for the death of people due to natural disasters. Unfortunately many unthinking have been sucked into this false accusation and stubbornly refused to see the difference.

There won't be any emperors in China after the last emperor Yuan Shi Kai was dethroned.

Let's talk about the real and not western red herrings to frighten the unthinking Asians esp the South East Asians.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Chua @ 1:50pm
I think you and I will just have to agree to disagree about whether Chinese Emperors can be trusted.
My mistrust of Chinese emperors did not come about as a result of western mis-information or propaganda.

My mistrust of Chinese emperors came about as a result of living the life of a Singaporean in Singapore.

Chinese Kids Driving Supercars: Inside the Secret Southern California Meet-up


Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

You spoke as if there are going to be the return of the emperors unless you are speaking figuratively.

I would not spend a moment worrying about shadows like the Southeast Asians worrying about what would happen if China becomes an evil hegemon like the American hegemon.

Funny thing is that they are worried about a future ghost but very happy getting in bed with the evil hegemon today. Looks like when China becomes an evil hegemon they too would be going to bed with China and spend time worrying about the next hegemon after China.

b said...

There are still plenty of poor chinese with wages below $5 per day. Still a long way for china to overtake americo. Americo no need to worry too much. Anyway, number one or two or three is not very important. Most important is whether can stay strong and happy and live long.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Chua @ 4.01pm
If I may respectfully overstay and overstate my point in this exchange.

1. Chinese emperors may still be found today in Singapore. Although they may not be called emperors by name. Just ask anyone who has ever attended a meeting of Singaporeans chaired by a Minister.

2. I do not fear a China becoming a hegemon like America. There is no historical basis for an interfering China hegemon.

3. A powerful Chinese emperor: bullying, jailing without trial, and killing Chinese citizens. There is plenty of historical evidence.
How many Chinese deaths can be attributed to Mao Zedong?
Why not ask China and PRC citizens to give an official number if you don't trust the western sources?

4. Chinese people are not yet ready to grasp the idea of checks and balances on the executive power of Chinese leaders.
- every time a new Chinese leader is installed, it's like a life and death lottery.

- under one leader, he says you get your CPF money back at 55 years old.
- Under another leader, maybe it's 65 years old, you get back 50%
- under yet another leader, maybe CPF money is no longer our money
- can you sue to get your money back at 55 years old?
- can you sue to confirm it's really our money?

It's the same in China.
Maybe it's even worse.

5. My video link of super cars being driven around by PRC kids is simply this.
- Do the PRC citizens know where and how their national reserves are being used?
- who can they sue to find out?
- OB marker is it?

Anonymous said...

How stupid can one get!