Home > Politics (general), Sport > The flame of nationalism

The flame of nationalism

April 24th, 2008

As the Olympic torch touches down in Australia, it is hard to see how any good can come of the entire exercise.

After Kevin Rudd’s visit to Beijing, which seemed to herald a newly mature relationship between Australia and China, we’ve spent a week or more embroiled in a petty squabble, of a kind which is all too familiar in international relations, over the role of Chinese torch attendants/security guards, with the Australian government insisting that all security will be provided by our police and the Chinese saying that the attendants will “protect the torch with their bodies”.

George Orwell observed over 60 years ago that

Even if one didn’t know from concrete examples (the 1936 Olympic Games, for instance) that international sporting contests lead to orgies of hatred, one could deduce it from general principles.

and history since then has given plenty of examples. It looks as if the 2008 Olympics will join them.

Until relatively recently, it looked as if the Games might produce some net positives, making it harder for the Chinese government to suppress dissent and pushing them in the direction of democratic reform. In this context, protests against the torch relay might be seen as increasing the pressure.

In fact, however, the protests have focused entirely on the national claims of Tibet (as represented by the government in exile of the Dalai Lama) and have produced an unsurprising nationalist reaction in China (effectively in support of the existing government). The result, almost certainly, is that the position of supporters of democracy will be worse than ever, with any criticism of the Chinese authorities being viewed as support for external attacks on China’s territorial integrity.

As far as Tibet is concerned, all this is likely to prove counterproductive. A democratic Chinese government would almost certainly come around to the viewpoint that territorial control over Tibet is an expensive indulgence, in terms of both economic cost and international standing, while a democratic and independent Tibet would have little choice but to pursue close economic and political ties with China. But as long as China remains in its current political stasis, no movement on this issue is likely.

About the only good news is that the torch will be gone soon, and we in Australia will be able to forget about the Olympics for a few months.

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  1. Gojod
    April 24th, 2008 at 07:04 | #1

    The Olympics are supposed to represent a few ideals like peace, freedom etc. Right?
    So what was the IOC thinking when they gave the games to Beijing? Thinking about cash probably and lots of it.

  2. Lord Sir Alexander “Dolly” Downer
    April 24th, 2008 at 07:42 | #2

    “A democratic Chinese government would almost certainly come around to the viewpoint that territorial control over Tibet is an expensive indulgence, in terms of both economic cost and international standing”.

    Don’t think that’s true. People tend to be unwilling to give up such attainments. Indonesia’s decision to let East Timor go was very unpopular in Indonesia. Mothers had lost soldier sons there; they hate the idea that they died in vain, and so on.

    Most of the rest of China considers Tibet ungrateful, backward sh*ts who deserve all they get.

    Democracy ain’t always rational.

    (And as with East Timor, no-one outside the province actually wants the Chinese to relinquish control – just to be nicer to the inhabitants.)

  3. Lesley de Voil
    April 24th, 2008 at 08:01 | #3

    Tibet has resources that China desperately needs – water, coal, metals. Also, having made the decision to re-occupy Tibet again, China would lose face if it had to give the place up.
    It’s been my belief for many years that the Olympics ought to be a nation-free area. I never asked those sports people to represent me. If they want to be the fastest in the world, etc., bully for them, but Not In My Name!

  4. snuh
    April 24th, 2008 at 09:15 | #4

    “while a democratic and independent Tibet would have little choice but to pursue close economic and political ties with China”

    i’m not sure about this. wouldn’t an independent tibet be expected to form a close relationship with india, home of its current government in exile? and wouldn’t such a relationship be to the disadvantage of china, given long-standing sino-indian antagonisms?

  5. Andrew
    April 24th, 2008 at 09:17 | #5

    Lesley – I usually find the opposite is true. Come Olympic time I find myself following and cheering for obscure athletes in obscure events just because they’re representing Oztraya.

  6. April 24th, 2008 at 09:33 | #6

    Gojod, they have to give the games to someone.

    Let he who is without sin, and all that.

    I mean, obviously many countries are better than China. But if you want to give the games only to countries which are entirely peaceful and free, that shortens the list considerably.

  7. April 24th, 2008 at 09:53 | #7

    Remember that nobody even wanted to host the Olympic Games until a few years ago, when governments suddenly realised you could make a buck out of it. I think it was the Atlanta games (?) and a few others ran at a considerable lost.

    To me, the IOC’s decision to give the games to Beijing, and Beijing’s desire for them, is a sad reflection of how much business has taken over government, even in Communist China.

    Of course, China also wants the propaganda payoff, which is worth a lot more money to the mandarins, as it will help entrench their control of the country for a few more generations at least.

    Sports generally have become so professional that the sheer joy of the spectacle is easily lost. These days I have a lot more fun watching my kids play soccer than watching professional sports.

    Then there’s the drugs-and-money angle: financial pressures encourage wannabes to turn to performance-enhancing drugs; and then the financial over-compensation at the top level turns them into cocaine-snorting egotists.

    IT’s also interesting how top football clubs like Barcelona now have very multi-national teams, and even the Hyundai A-League now has imports from Brazil etc.

    (Mind you, Reinaldo, QLD Roar’s top Brazilian last year ,is now playing for a company-owned team in Korea. Guess who owns the team? Hyundai. )

  8. April 24th, 2008 at 09:55 | #8

    PS: Is it true that John Howard will be wearing his green tracksuit when he carries the flame across Lake Burley Griffin today? Will the torch he carries be sponsored by the Liberal Party, or the Carlyle Group? And will his media-supported powers of walking on water still be in evidence?

    :-)

  9. Lesley de Voil
    April 24th, 2008 at 10:04 | #9

    Andrew @5
    Yes, I know the feeling! Here was I last week crowing to my US email friends that the OZ Ladies Curling team had made it to the world quarter finals. I mean to say, curling? Do we even have one proper rink?

  10. david
    April 24th, 2008 at 10:12 | #10

    “A democratic Chinese government would almost certainly come around to the viewpoint that territorial control over Tibet is an expensive indulgence, in terms of both economic cost and international standing�.

    Not really.

    Look at India (suppose to be democractic) and Pakistan (has “free” election), they are fighting for control of Kashimar and Kashimar has its own Kashimar Liberation Army.

    Look at Great Britain and North Ireland, how many years of bombing had gone on before they found a solution. Did North Ireland become independent?

  11. April 24th, 2008 at 10:24 | #11

    Oh my! Just checked ABC Online and it seems that the AFP officers have backed down and allowed those Chinese security guys to run with the torch.

    Tell me again, who runs this country…?

  12. Hermit
    April 24th, 2008 at 10:46 | #12

    I wonder if the public takes less notice of the ‘flame attendants’ than the recent debacle over the Sydney 2000 gold medal for the women’s 100m sprint. If I have my facts right it was taken from the winner who failed a drug test then given to the runner up who was a no show for a drug test. Now endurance athletes will apparently be allowed to use asthma inhalers at Beijing. Perhaps Kyoto Kev will sell them some more coal as they are apparently running short. I suspect the Olympics is (are?) fast losing its/their appeal as a form of bread and circuses for the masses.

  13. swio
    April 24th, 2008 at 11:16 | #13

    Its been very interesting reading about the rise of Chinese nationalism. Its a little hard for most westerners, who take being proud of their country for granted, to realise that some parts of the world just don’t (yet) think like that. A strongly nationalistic China could be a headache for everyone.

  14. April 24th, 2008 at 13:05 | #14

    Of course, nationalism works both ways. It can be a positive, uniting force when applied wisely:

    Chi K’ang asked Confucius about government, saying, “What do you say to killing the unprincipled for the good of the principled?” Confucius replied, “Sir, in carrying on your government, why should you use killing at all? Let your evinced desires be for what is good, and the people will be good. The relation between superiors and inferiors is like that between the wind and the grass. The grass must bend, when the wind blows across it.”

    Interestingly there is a big move back towards Confucian thought in China these days.

    I just wrote a blog post with a strong appeal to Aussie nationalism:

    Beijing has wiped its arse with the thin fabric of Australian democracy. Kevin Rudd promised that Chinese security officials would not run with the Olympic torch in Canberra, but they ran anyway.

    The Chinese government and the International Olympic Organisation simply ignored our Prime Minister, and the Australian people, and did what they wanted. They used our nation’s capital – including Parliament House, a symbol of our free democracy, which went into lock-down – as a scenic backdrop for their global propaganda exercise.

    Now Chinese state television has the pictures they craved: the rest will be edited out. Mission accomplished.

    Kevin Rudd is supposedly big on symbolism. So take a good look at this, Kev: enraged protestors clashing along Anzac Parade; Chinese government supporters jumping the Australian War Memorial’s barricades to intimidate Tibetan demonstrators; hate-filled rival groups screaming at each other in Reconciliation Square; and the words ‘Free Tibet’ written across the sky, by a pilot whose plane was hired by the Greens’ Senator Bob Brown.

    OTOH I abhor nationalism when it is used (e.g.) to support wars, or race riots at Cronulla Beach. Does that make me a hypocrite? I love my country, and I hate it. Does that make me un-Australian, or sadly all too typical?

  15. 2 tanners
    April 24th, 2008 at 13:19 | #15

    Speaking as something of a sports maniac, the Olympics have for me become a fortnight or so of unutterable boredom, bracketed by two public displays of outrageous kitsch.

    Give me the F1, with stupid celebrity events, nauseating renditions of incomprehensible national anthems (including our own) and the incomparable roar of the engines any day of the sporting calendar.

  16. O6
    April 24th, 2008 at 15:02 | #16

    The games could be held every time in Greece, where they originated. This might glorify Greece, which might annoy some of Greece’s neighbours some of the time, but it wouldn’t threaten anyone. It might even help an old Greek idea, democracy.

  17. El Mono
    April 24th, 2008 at 15:36 | #17

    Based solely off my collection of HK Kung Fu films from the 70′s that natioalism nad national pride is not that new for China, albeit it may be relativly new considering tha age of its sosciety

  18. April 24th, 2008 at 15:52 | #18

    I guess the interesting thing is that the Australian leg of the relay there has been an organised pro-China rally, something I think hasn’t happened in other places. I guess it shows the number of Chinese students coming to study here. Also I think it was the first time where the Chinese flame attendants were told to buzz off.

  19. Steve Edwards
    April 24th, 2008 at 16:05 | #19

    “The games could be held every time in Greece, where they originated.”

    The IOC would rather play politics by giving the Games to whichever country looks like “the Next Big Thing”, even if it has ended in catastrophe each time.

  20. Ian Gould
    April 24th, 2008 at 16:50 | #20

    Virtually no-one, including the Dalai Lama, is advocating for an independent Tibet.

    Even ignoring the huge number of Han settlers inside Tibet, total independence would cause all sorts of problems. For starters you’d be left with probably several million ethnic Tibetans in the Chinese provinces bordering Tibet.

    The Dalai Lama has proposed autonomy for Tibet, free elections there and full religious freedom for Tibetans – under continuing Chinese sovereignty.

  21. Ian Gould
    April 24th, 2008 at 17:02 | #21

    Guido, there have been pro-China demonstrations in most countries where the torch has been in the last week or so.

    It was particularly interesting to see news footage of “Pro-China” demonstrators in Thailand displaying the 1928 flag used by the pre-Communist Chinese republic – and by Taiwan today.

    Many people in China and in the Overseas Chinese communities around the world aren’t viewing the protests as political opposition to the Communist regime but as an insult to the Chinese people.

    Westerners are free to believe that a democratic China would happily surrender Tibet – but there’s plenty of evidence from the last decade or two that Chinese public opinion is considerably more bellicose and nationalistic than the regime. (See, for example, the spontaneous demonstrations in China over the accidental American bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade and over the 2001 spy plane incident. Or the demonstrations calling for war with Japan (!) over a maritime border dispute between Japan and Taiwan.)

    (In many cases, the same westerners who speak so blithely about Tibetan independence were equally confident a few years ago in declaring Indonesia a “Javanese Empire” which was about to collapse.)

  22. Ian Gould
    April 24th, 2008 at 17:09 | #22

    “The IOC would rather play politics by giving the Games to whichever country looks like “the Next Big Thingâ€?, even if it has ended in catastrophe each time.”

    The Seoul, Barcelona ans Sydney Olympics ended in catastrophe?

  23. Steve Edwards
    April 24th, 2008 at 17:13 | #23

    Obviously, I’m referring to Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, and now China.

  24. Ian Gould
    April 24th, 2008 at 17:20 | #24

    http://www.cfr.org/publication/16052/friedman.html

    Quote:

    Edward Friedman, an expert on Chinese nationalism at the University of Wisconsin, says there is tremendous difference of opinion among Chinese who are doing well economically and those that are not. However, there is consensus that “the people who are not Han, who live near the frontiers [such as Tibetans and Uighurs] should be seen as people who should be incorporated into the larger Chinese state.� According to him, “there is not very much sympathy among the dominant community for such people.� He also says the ruling party can direct nationalism towards its policy ends, citing as evidence the recent positive shift in relations with Japan.

    The recent violence in Tibet has aroused considerable anti-Chinese protests, including some calls for a boycott of the Olympics. Most Chinese outside of China as well as in China seem very strongly opposed to the Tibetan protests and the anti-Olympics sentiments. Can you discuss the situation?

    End quote

    I would recommend that posters read the article in its entirety.

  25. April 24th, 2008 at 17:53 | #25

    Also I think it was the first time where the Chinese flame attendants were told to buzz off.

    But they didn’t. Rudd said they would stay on the bus, remember? And the event organizers say they had no idea there would be “over 100 buses” of Chinese stooges brought in.

    The AFP should round up the students involved and revoke their visas. Rudd should ask the Chinese Embassy for a full explanation, then explain to ordinary Australians why Chinese officials ignored his decision to keep their goons on the bus.

  26. Steve Edwards
    April 24th, 2008 at 18:25 | #26

    “The AFP should round up the students involved and revoke their visas.”

    Indeed. Who organised these stooges anyway?

  27. Ian Gould
    April 24th, 2008 at 20:26 | #27

    What makes them “stooges” and why does anyone assume they were organised by some sinister outside force?

    I’m also fascinated how middle class white Caucasian Australians can apparently differentiate immediately between Chinese students, Chinese workers; Australian citizens or permanent residents of Chinese origin and Chinese Australians.

  28. April 24th, 2008 at 20:28 | #28

    Democracy ain’t always rational.

    An amazing revelation. ;-)

  29. April 24th, 2008 at 21:25 | #29

    What makes them “stoogesâ€? …?

    They may be willing and informed, or unwitting stooges, but they were clearly a very organised mass rally, complete with shiny new flags and standard anti-opposition tactics for the day.

    As I said on my blog, the genuine zeal with which many decent Chinese people support their government’s lies should be a major warning to us all about the dangers of monopolised media.

    Not to mention yer culture wars:

    Pro-China demonstrator Jeff Li yelled at the pro-Tibetan supporters: “The Dalai Lama is a hypocrite, a liar, an ugly man… These people are idiots, they know nothing about China’s history.”

  30. April 24th, 2008 at 21:26 | #30

    …a major warning to us all about the dangers of monopolised media.

    … not to mention nationalism!

  31. Steve Edwards
    April 25th, 2008 at 01:56 | #31

    “What makes them “stoogesâ€? and why does anyone assume they were organised by some sinister outside force?”

    Because a Labor Chief Minister was prepared to go on the record and say so!

    http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,23594307-2,00.html

    “CHINA helped to orchestrate the mass demonstration by thousands of Chinese students that turned Canberra into a sea of red for yesterday’s torch relay.

    ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope confirmed the Chinese Embassy in Canberra was closely involved in helping transport up to 10,000 Chinese students, ensuring pro-China demonstrators vastly outnumbered Tibetan activists.

    While the torch relay was celebrated as a remarkable against-the-odds success story by officials last night, the day will be remembered most for the fervent outpouring of Chinese nationalism.”

    The Chinese Embassy openly sponsored a fascist demonstration on Australian soil. All Chinese international students who participated in this rally should be deported immediately.

  32. El Mono
    April 25th, 2008 at 02:38 | #32

    Facist?

  33. Steve Edwards
    April 25th, 2008 at 02:42 | #33

    Heh! There’s no doubt the Chinese have lost a lot of face lately.

  34. April 25th, 2008 at 05:47 | #34

    I am quite comfortable with deporting foreign citizens who engage in political demonstrations within Australia.

  35. Ross
    April 25th, 2008 at 08:05 | #35

    What will your “free Tibet” look like? Do you have more in common with George Bush & Dick Cheney than you do a democrat? Why do you think the Dalai Lama did his whistle stop world tour last year?

    What do you actually support? Do you any see good in a Buddhist heirarchical state model? Isn’t Buddhist elitism & feudalism in conflict with your democratic principals. Isn’t the Buddhists repression of the expression of the natural human vices directly linked to the explosions of violent mayhem eminating from those states. What good comes to the people from economic basket case states? The answer is that the only benefit is strategic and befalls to rival states sewing the instability & insecurity.

    Aren’t you ashamed of the gunboat diplomacy that divided, conquered, and suppressed China? Can’t you see how your legacy was shaped by this history and how it naturally frames Chinese willingness to kill your sons & daughters in war if you seek to divide and conquer their multinational state? Can’t you see how the far right uses the Hollywood left on issues like Darfur, Kosovo and the rest?

    Thats right I think there is evil in your souls, not only in the target of your actions but a sanctimonious evil that isn’t excused by your gullability.

  36. April 25th, 2008 at 08:21 | #36

    ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope says any Australian ambassador would probably do the same if the shoe was on the other foot.

    Mr Stanhope says he is aware of contact between the embassy and Chinese organisations but does not know the degree of resourcing or support provided by the embassy…

    “Just imagine if this had been the Australian torch relay in some other foreign capital,” he said.

    “I’m sure the Australian residents in that particular country at the time would have flocked and would have perhaps expected or anticipated some support from their embassy, so I think it’s a quite reasonable thing to do.”

    Really? So we would all be OK with Aussie citizens beating up (for example) pro-Aboriginal demonstrators, destroying their flags, intimidating them into silence, spitting on them…? Really???

    Now Stanthorpe is asking who is going to pay for the added security. Maybe he should sent the police overtime bill to the Chinese Embassy, or to the IOC?

  37. April 25th, 2008 at 10:24 | #37

    The story nobody wants to touch:

    A final press conference descended into farce when Australian and Chinese officials argued over exactly what the Chinese guards would do.

    Beijing spokesman Qu Yingpu said the attendants – branded thugs for their heavy-handed tactics – would take matters into their own hands if a torchbearer was threatened. He said the guards would “use their bodies to form a kind of defence for the torch bearer”.

    They were “trained security personnel with the ability to cover and evacuate the torch bearer in the case of an emergency”, Mr Qu said as he read from the BOCOG relay manual.

    “Flame attendants are deployed alongside and behind the torchbearer to respond to any immediate threat against the flame or the torchbearer.”

    The threat raises the prospect of Australian police arresting and imprisoning the Chinese guards in what would be a diplomatic flashpoint.

    The remarks derailed attempts by ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope and his police chief to persuade the public local authorities were in control of the event.

    They were seen by Australian relay organisers as a deliberate act of provocation by the Chinese, who have been told for months that they would not be allowed to have a security role.

    It is believed the BOCOG document also contains clauses, not read out by Mr Qu, stating that any security activity by the flame attendants would have to be at the behest of local authorities.

    A clearly furious Mr Stanhope, sitting metres from Mr Qu, said there were “communication issues” about the Chinese guards’ role.

    “The written remarks that were just referred to come from an earlier document in relation to the torch relay, which has not been accepted by the ACT Government,” he said.

    “They are not enforced by the Commonwealth or ACT Policing.

    “We do have some issues around communications issues but the point that has been made on a number of occasions . . . is that all security will be handled by ACT Policing.

    “That remains the case.”

    Mr Stanhope confirmed police had instructions to arrest Chinese attendants if they tried to take a policing role.

    The fresh row came after Mr Stanhope wrote a letter to Chinese Ambassador Zhang Junsai on Monday, in which he reiterated the guards had to butt out of relay security.

    He phoned him again yesterday with the same message, after Mr Zhang said on Tuesday that the guards could “use their bodies” to protect the flame.

    And after yesterday’s disastrous press conference, government insiders said Mr Stanhope ordered police to “read the riot act” in a personal briefing to the flame attendants last night.

    In other words, the Chinese officials and their ambassador simply ignored our government. Not good enough, Kev. What are you going to do about it?

  38. El Mono
    April 25th, 2008 at 10:31 | #38

    Oh i must say i am sick of the conspiracy theories being used by the Chinese when attacking the westerners on there belief in Tibet.

  39. April 25th, 2008 at 13:24 | #39

    So here we are on Anzac Day, 2008, some 20 million little people on a big, dry island, beset by corporate fascists one one side of the world and communist fascists on another, struggling to understand why so many died in so many wars to save us from just such a sad predicament.

    War, what is it good for?

  40. Ian Gould
    April 25th, 2008 at 13:32 | #40

    SATP: “I am quite comfortable with deporting foreign citizens who engage in political demonstrations within Australia.”

    Does that include the few actual Tibetans amongst the Free Tibet demonstrators?

  41. April 25th, 2008 at 13:34 | #41

    You read every word I typed Ian, not one of those words was “excepting a few actual Tibetans”.

  42. Ian Gould
    April 25th, 2008 at 13:39 | #42

    “The Chinese Embassy openly sponsored a fascist demonstration on Australian soil. All Chinese international students who participated in this rally should be deported immediately.”

    Firstly, well if apolitician says it then it must be true.

    Secondly, mass deportations of students for taking part in a politicla demonstration is such a brilliant idea – a perfect way to demonstrate the difference between an open pluralistic democracy like Australia and a dictatorship like China.

  43. Ian Gould
    April 25th, 2008 at 13:55 | #43

    Steve – so you think the Chinese pro-democracy demonstrators who protested Hu Jintao’s visit here should be deported?

  44. Alphonse
    April 25th, 2008 at 15:05 | #44

    If the Olympics were to discard its ill-suited ideals and paraphernalia born of a vastly different ancient culture that was anything but international (the torch for starters) we might be relived of the some of the quadrennial bombings, boycotts and counterproductive circus shows.

    The Tibetan sympathiser who tried to grab the torch from the disabled Chinese athlete in Paris needed his head read. Talk about friendly fire!

    Dick Pound has said the idea of a torch world tour needs re-examining. He’s not wrong.

  45. Steve Edwards
    April 25th, 2008 at 15:05 | #45

    “Aren’t you ashamed of the gunboat diplomacy that divided, conquered, and suppressed China? Can’t you see how your legacy was shaped by this history and how it naturally frames Chinese willingness to kill your sons & daughters in war if you seek to divide and conquer their multinational state? Can’t you see how the far right uses the Hollywood left on issues like Darfur, Kosovo and the rest?”

    Something interesting I noticed about the anti-China demonstrations is that not only were there Tibetans, but also Uighurs, Mongols and Vietnamese taking part – that is to say, virtually every major ethnicity that has the misfortune of living next to the perennial glass-jawed bully that is China.

    China’s “multinational state” is a fiction. “One China” is not an assertion of national pride, but a thinly-veiled threat against its neighbours to the effect that they too are or should be an indivisible part of “One China”.

  46. melanie
    April 25th, 2008 at 21:33 | #46

    After they crushed the Tien An Men demonstration, the Chinese government moved to assuage all the economic grievances (though not the political ones).

    In today’s news, they have agreed to open discussions with representatives of the Dalai Lama.

    One could think of more effective ways to proceed.

  47. Ian Gould
    April 26th, 2008 at 23:28 | #47

    “…the perennial glass-jawed bully that is China.”

    Yeah jusat look art china;s recent history of bloody-handed aggression – the first, second and third Opium Wars; the Peking Expedition, the Sino-Japanese War; the Japanese invasion of Manchuria; the Rape of Nanjing, world War II.

    All proof of the unspeakable vile evil of the heathen Chinee.

  48. Steve Edwards
    April 27th, 2008 at 16:24 | #48

    And yet before any of that occurred, China had already occupied Vietnam for 1,000 years and plundered its national archives, and repeatedly attacked (and briefly reoccupied) the Vietnamese several dozen times between then and the present; following China’s terrible experience at the hands of outsiders, it attacked and occupied Tibet, Turkistan, Vietnam again, and was the principle foreign ally of North Korea, and of course the Khmer Rouge, when the latter was in power.

    Now the Chinese are openly threatening war against Taiwan while tacitly threatening war against Vietnam, its perennial kicking-dog and outlet for imperial aggression. Obviously, and unlike the Vietnamese, China has learnt absolutely nothing from its interactions with foreigners. Most terrifying of all, it will soon not only have the means to pound its neighbours with impunity, but also the vital necessity – finding a day job for tens of millions of frustrated, lonely, low-paid or unemployed young men.

  49. Ian Gould
    April 27th, 2008 at 16:40 | #49

    Yes, 1000 years – from roughly 5500BC to 500 AD.

    Can I say your initial inclusion of the mongols on the list of the peace-loving helpless victims of unending Chinese aggression gave me one of my best laughs in ages.

  50. Steve Edwards
    April 27th, 2008 at 17:00 | #50

    Actually, from around the time of Christ to 1,000 AD.

  51. Ian Gould
    April 27th, 2008 at 17:59 | #51

    111 BC to 938 AB to be precise.

    Well I guess if it was only a little over a thousand years ago it’s perfectly reasonable to regard it as an accurate indictator of contemporary Chinese policy.

    You know like we link the Punic wars and World War II to provide a single narrative of continuous Italian aggression and like we regard the Highland clearances as an accurate guide to current English attitudes to Scotland.

  52. Chris lloyd
    April 28th, 2008 at 17:02 | #52

    JQ said: “A democratic Chinese government would almost certainly come around.” A democratic Chinese government is unlikely to happen, ever. Democracy is considered by Chinese people to be a western idea, and they resist it on cultural grounds. Just ask Lee Kuan Yu.

    We should not hold off saying what we think because it might stall some imaginary march towards Chinese democracy.

  53. Chris Lloyd
    April 28th, 2008 at 17:03 | #53

    Gandhi says: “The genuine zeal with which many decent Chinese people support their government’s lies should be a major warning to us all about the dangers of monopolised media.� How do we explain the zeal of Chinese students and residents in Australia?

    Imagine that in the lead up to 2000, Aboriginal activists organised demonstrations for Aboriginal land rights around the torch relay. It may have happened, for all I know. Would 1000’s of expat Australians carrying flags crashing the aboriginal demonstrations and openly monster them? Would the Australian embassy organise such events?

    The Chinese government, and more broadly Chinese people around the world, are dangerous lunatics when it comes to issues of national sovereignty. We are better off facing it now rather than later.

  54. Ian Gould
    April 28th, 2008 at 22:01 | #54

    “Democracy is considered by Chinese people to be a western idea, and they resist it on cultural grounds. Just ask Lee Kuan Yu.”

    Hey just any kleptocratic dictator and they’ll tell you democracy isn’t right for their people.

    Here’s another idea, why not ask some Chinese what they think?

    It used to be claimed with a straight face that East Asians were innately incapable of democracy (much like it used to be claimed blacks were really only happy as slaves).

    This claim was used to justify backing a series of right-wing dictatorships across each Asia of which Lee Kwan Yu’s Singapore is now almost the last example.

    Go tell the Taiwanese and South Koreans who were jailed and tortured for demanding democracy that democracy is a “western concept”.

    China will becoem a democracy, it’s only a matter of time.

    Howe much time, depends in part on how much time the CPC can gain by exploiting China’s nationalism.

    Tossing around epithets like “thugs”, “dangerous lunatics”, “glass-jawed bullies” et cetera plays into their hands.

  55. Ian Gould
    April 28th, 2008 at 23:01 | #55

    A few more thoughts on Chris Lloyd’s post.

    1. Since Chinese are innately incapable of democracy, the martyrs of Tien An Mien died in vain. But, hey, they were thugs and lunatics like all Chinese so no great loss. Fewer of them for us to worry about in war of extermination that must inevitably come (and preferably sooner than later).

    2. Similarly the several million Chinese dissidents currently in prison camps are all deluded fools. So let’s stop wasting time worrying about their human rights and leave them rot.

    3. As Chinese, the population of hong Kong is also obviously incapable of democracy. The limited moves in that direction which occurred to date are obviously pointless and futile – what they need is a sensible pragmatic dictator like the sainted Lee Kwan Yu to keep order (at bayonet point if necessary) and protect western investment.

    4. The population of Taiwan, also culturally and ethnically Chinese, are also clearly incapable of democracy. The last decade or so is just some bizarre aberration. The newly elected Guomintang government needs to junk such ridiculous notions and return to the fine traditions of their predecessor, Chiang Kai Shek.

  56. KY Choong
    April 29th, 2008 at 09:19 | #56

    I wish Chinese people everywhere realise how marvelous it is that the “Anglo-Saxon” world is made up of many countries (UK, USA, Canada, Australia, NZ) and it is not necessary to have a single political unit governing all these countries. Chinese history and its ideal of a single empire is indeed a heavy burden. The beneficiaries of this ideal are the ruling elites, not the Chinese people.

  57. Chris lloyd
    April 30th, 2008 at 22:41 | #57

    Ian,

    I lived in Hong Kong for 4 years, and was well aware that even my University colleagues resented the notion of democracy, while simultaneously fearing Beijing. There is only one Chinese democracy in history – Taiwan. That little island that Beijing wants to nuke and which we pretend is part of their regime.

    I think you have misread my comment when you say: ‘So let’s stop wasting time worrying about their human rights and leave them to rot.� I intended to imply the opposite. My comment is basically in dispraise of JQ’s post, which I take to be arguing that we should all have shut up about Tibet because it will upset Beijing and slow the inevitable transition to democracy. I really hope China do become a liberal democracy. But I am very confident that they will not, just like I am confident that there will never be peace in Israel, ever.

    I want us to be more vocal about Tien an Men and Tibet and Taiwan and Darfur and Zimbabwe and Chinese dissidents and Falungong. Like Bob Hawke said, we should stand with the guy in front of the tank. The Chinese students who monstered the Tibetan protesters in Canberra stand with the tank.

    The right want us to keep silent so as not to upset trade, and even lefties like JQ (seem to) want us to keep quite because it will interrupt perceived progress. How about we just start calling a spade a spade? Tibet is not China. They are not any more Chinese than I am, regardless of previous periods within the Chinese empire. And they are being screwed. Perhaps the monks were not enlightened rulers but that does not make Beijing right.

    Here is a final query that someone might be able to answer. We all call Taiwan by that name because we know it is not part of China. Yet in sporting contests, athletes from Taiwan are called Chinese Taipei. For the Olympics I expect this is a requirement of the license agreement to broadcast. But how do you explain that tennis players from Taiwan who compete in the Australian Open are also mis-named in this bizarre way? The conspiracy to not offend China runs deep.

  58. Ross
    May 5th, 2008 at 13:02 | #58

    Read M.A.Jones PBS posts and dispute his facts. http://discussions.pbs.org/viewtopic.pbs?t=68073&sid=ce0b20590dd445725153c83b5ef21c7f

    Further, I don’t agree with Chinese one child policy for the Han, nor believe that it has done anything positive for development or sustainability. I have however seen the eyes of “hard seat” Han Chinese when they have described their sad plight that will stay with me forever. The sacrifices the Han Chinese feel they are making for the advancement of the minorities that are allowed several children is real. So too the fact that the US/EU is promoting minority unrest & division within China as an anchor against its rise. The US in particular can’t get past the “at your knees or at your throat” thinking of the Chinese that was never a rhetoric borne out by fact.

    So exactly where should any revised Chinese borders stand? The masses of collapsed inner and outer so-called “great walls” are the factual historical record showing the folly of past Han attempts to retreat into a core realm. Ultimately these were more deadly to it than the costs of administering and subsidising the poorer outlying regions of an expanded multinational state. Through history it was often raids that forced the Han to trade at unfavourable terms or otherwise be sacked. In times where Han trade was withheld by means of force a desperate poverty befell those ethno regions.

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