Wednesday, July 7, 2021

BRET STEPHENS ABOUT CHINA ( New York Times 05/07/21)

Bret Stephens is one of the most enjoyable and sophisticated columnists in the New York Times today.

His opinion about China makes yet again for informative and stimulating reading. His overall rather dark appraisal of the Chinese leadership is warranted. Nevertheless, the unpleasant intentions of President Xi should not hide the added value of better socio-economic results for a majority of Chinese.

China's sins are well known. The organised looting of intellectual property is documented. The charade of human rights is a daily occurence (but not unique to China).

The mad Hegelian/Dr. Cagliari-type Marxist experiments of Mao reached the summit of madness. Nevertheless the whole world ran to Beijing to kiss the ring of the Fisherman redux. Only a few Chinese heroic students dared to desecrate the image of Mao Zedong, at what cost!

Now the game of untruth is in full swing:  Covid, Ughiurs i.a., Hong Kong's agony as S.A.R. etc.

Nevertheless :

- Dr. Kissinger's China policy was not at all directed "to turn China's poverty around". The only goal was to avoid the one (USA) against two (USSR + China) presumption. The timing was correct since the reations between China and the USSR had suffered under a rather unplesant border Amur River dispute.

- China's more muscled approach towards India is highly measured (on both sides). The claims on the South China reefs or Tibet are highly quesstionable but the Chinese are masters in digging vague historical precedent up whenever it fits their goal. There is always the precedent of a Chinese emperor which comes in handy, generally Qianlong. China's Ill tratement by the West (real) is permanently in use for "blackmail", as if others didn't suffer injustice.

-Indeed China will not bury the rest, including the West. Devoid of a narrative it lacks soft-power for now, with the exception of an infrastructure footprint here and there, often foreordained to rot.

-Everybody has his own views regarding Taiwan. The Han Chinese are made for each other, Northern or Cantonese.   In the end the Chinese table is round and seats all.  In Hong Kong the democratic fiber is anything but dead, but Beijing made it abundantly clear that it might just as well pull out the plug and let Hong  Kong's vanity starve. Taiwan is probably Asia's most advanced democratic bullwark. This does not hinder an enormous economic and social intimacy between the opposite sides of the strait. Beijing wants to swallow the prize but will not take the bait.

All persons who come in contact with China make the same mistake, walking into China's "otherness", a trap that the Chinese perfected and in which non-Chinese enter.  Yes, the Chinese are special, but so are the French or the Mexicans. China is a rising power indeed but it is smart enough to know it had better correct its  rigmarole before its bluff is for all to see. At the end of the day the storyline reeks of deja vu.

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