Some research last week on world history, the illegal drugs world trade and following current events since the last year’s final quarter showed me something to be concerned about. And at the risk of oversimplification, I write this down as:
China’s communist leaders from Chairman Mao Zedong in 1949 up to the present are excellent students of history and became extremely laudably nationalistic. Mao was undoubtedly an intellectual ideologue who was an avid student of the Russian (Bolsheviks) Revolution of 1914-1917. He was allied as a rebel – against the Chinese Imperialists founded by the Manchus in 1644 and invaded/colonized the Tibetan, Taiwanese and Uighur Empires – with Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek and his graft-ridden Chinese Nationalist Party who fled to Taiwan in 1949. That was after losing their leadership power struggle that began at the end of World War II in 1945.
Mao, until his death in 1975, purposefully became a dictator to unite his fragmented tribal/monarchically-inclined people to ensure unity and instill a lasting sense of nationalism (read: complete obedience to the communist political party he headed that controlled the military and allowed no free opposition nor ‘revisionism’— a sustained dictatorship).
Remember his “sayings” in his Red Book, his “cultural revolution” waged against Chinese intellectuals (who opposed his communist dogmas because they were teaching the benefits of freedom and human rights) and downgraded the Chinese philosopher Confucius and pounded the Mao adage: political power comes from the barrel of a gun.
He also decreed “let a million flowers bloom” (and he cut off any other flower that grew taller and better than his). He also forced his rural people to work in communes, isolated China to prevent “contamination from the outside world.”
Commune workers dropped off their children in the morning at daycare centers where they were forced to listen to Mao’s dogmas all day until their parents picked them up at the end of the long working hours. The teachers interrogated the children on their parents’ conversations, behavior and contacts at home, and reported the same to their Party leaders.
Mao’s successor Deng Xiaoping adopted (and his successors continued) the Western principles of free, export-manufacturing and cost-effective economy (but regulated by the ruling Communist Party Central Committee he led) using cheap and highly polluting dirty coal as the main source of energy, to earn its present standing as the world’s second biggest economic power.
On December 31 last year, the official Chinese news agency Xinhua reported the inauguration of the Chinese Global Television Network (CGTN) with three overseas – and three domestic – channels. Its broadcasts will be translated into different languages overseas, using multi-platforms, local media groups, and will have its digital media division.
President Xi Jinping, who heads the Peoples Republic of China as the State, the ruling Communist Central Committee and the Chinese Communist People’s Army (the world’s largest in manpower terms) had one message he delivered in his long opening ceremony speech: “Tell China stories well.”
(Read: Tell only the good news about the good life in China. Remember, press freedom is taboo in China. Only the government-authorized agencies are allowed to issue announcements and data).
Beijing’s thrusts and policy statements will cover, as Xinhua reported, the 2017 priorities Xi announced last week in Communist Party of China’s Political Bureau:
Get more free trade zones (FTZs) created, where free and speedy movement of manufactured goods and raw materials will be assured.
Score greater successes in “institutional innovation” for world-wide promotion of China’s cheaper exports.
Enforce “institutional reforms in State-owned enterprises, taxation, finance, lands, urbanization, social security, ecological progress and opening up.”
Institute structural reforms in the rural and agricultural sectors “to improve productivity and competitiveness….to help reduce poverty and facilitate urbanization to benefit ordinary and rural households….and sustaining food security.”
Government and market should be “coordinated” in…”guiding agricultural production and improving industry and product mix and innovation by the local governments should be encouraged.”
Reasonable interpretation: these priorities should attract foreign direct investments into China to improve her economic competitive advantage in this and the next decade. China still believes this 21st century is her turn to replace the US as the world’s top influential due to her population—the world’s largest, and therefore, with a robust economy and consumption, can be the economic dictator as America is now.
Dr. Martin Jacques, a world-renown China scholar, British economist and author of “When China Rules the World” (we had him speak here some three years back before the Center for Philippine Futuristics Studies and Management, facilitated by Columnist Jose Bayani Baylon) recently delivered his China in 2030 paper in Beijing’s Harrow International School, and said China will be twice the American economy by then.
And because China combined communist dictatorship and free export-manufacturing economic management, predictably its voice will be much stronger and influential in the world’s developing and under-developed States by 2030.
China’s “inclusivity” and the Belt and (Silk) Road initiative, manifested by the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and Beijing’s silent diplomatic and economic approaches (read: offensive) in Southeast Asia, Central Asia, South America and Africa which started a decade ago, are proofs of this.
Economists of Goldman Sachs Research, globally noted investment house, agree last yearend that Asia will be the world’s fastest growing economic region this year. And the Chinese will be its driving force, although on the whole the US under a unified Republican leadership of President Donald Trump will still be the overall leader. They predicted China’s growth will be 6.5 percent, while the United States will be between 2 and 3 percent but Southeast Asia or the Asean 10 will be at 7 percent on the average.
China merely copied—and altered to keep in cadence with the times/ages/world conditions—the dictatorship, violence, colonial expansionism, mind-control, diplomatic and economic offensives and practices to be hegemons—their own early royal dynasties, early Russian, European and Asian absolute monarchies, and the 18th century American “democratic/populist” political leaders.
But China is on a revenge mode now. And its school kids are getting that message as its leaders and educational system imbed in their younger generations at all levels that China has had “2,000 years of humiliation” by the European, American and Japanese colonial powers. The British launched the opium wars and eventually occupied and ruled Hong Kong for more than a century.
The Japanese raped Nanking and occupied Manchuria, while the Americans –who helped China against Japan in the last world war—restricted the Chinese people’s economic growth particularly at the height of the Cold War from 1949 for more than 30 years.
Actually, nobody has any exact prediction of the future, whether in the short-, medium- or long-term basis. Risks are always present. One must also consider that each challenge or problem has solution/solutions. But all solutions also spawn their attendant problems. That is what makes it imperative for the Asean 10 to be accurately and closely informed of the superpowers’ foreign policies and domestic problems.
(Comments and reactions can be sent to email@example.com. Gil H. A. Santos teaches journalism and geopolitics in the Lyceum of the Philippines and is president of the Center for Philippine Futuristics Studies and Management. He is a veteran news correspondent for international news organizations for more than 50 years.)