SO, who do the Chinese remind you of? In the most recent post on his website, historian Victor Davis Hanson wrote, “China 2011 reminds me a lot of Japan 1935.”
Prof. Hanson is certainly capable of making a convincing case to defend that assertion, but others focus on the same time period while looking to a different continent. For example, here’s Joshua Stanton at One Free Korea discussing Chinese rhetoric in defense of the country’s aircraft carrier program, while quoting a Reuters article that quotes a Chinese publication:
Does anyone else find this sort of rhetoric eerily similar to what the Nazi press said about Britain and France in the 30’s?
China’s humiliations at the hands of Western powers in the past centuries “left the Chinese people with the deep pain of having seas they could not defend, helplessly eating the bitter fruit of being beaten for being backward,” said a front-page editorial in the paper.
Military analyst J.R. Dunn quotes American Sen. James Webb:
Senator James Webb (D-VA) told David Gregory on Meet the Press three weeks ago that he thinks the US is facing a “Munich moment” with China in Southeast Asia. While no exact analogy is on the horizon to the original Munich moment – Neville Chamberlain proclaiming “peace in our time” after agreeing with Hitler to the partition of Czechoslovakia – Webb’s larger point is that China’s career of aggression in the South China Sea needs checking.
The historical parallel she sees is not Munich, however:
Perhaps a better analogy would be calling the current situation in the South China Sea a prospective remilitarization-of-the-Rhine moment. In any case, Webb is right that there are things to worry about.
These analogies aren’t new. Wrote novelist and author Mark Mordue in 2008:
I have no doubt these Games are the most significant and politically dangerous since the Berlin Olympics of 1936. Hitler and the Nazi Party sought to use those Games as a propaganda tool for resurgent German nationalism and racist notions of Aryan superiority, and with it Germany’s right to rule the world.
Historical equations, of course, always lack nuance. But the parallels between Berlin 1936 and Beijing 2008 remain odiously apparent. Chinese nationalism is rampant, the poison by which the so-called Communist regime sustains its right to govern today. Underlining it is the racist Han Chinese sensibility that Tibetans, Uighurs and other minorities are lower-grade humans and “barbarians” — as are we Western “long noses”. Talk to any semi-educated Han and you will hear all about China’s phenomenal 5000 years of culture; dig into that talk and you will understand how the past 100 years of Chinese turbulence and misery are the fault of the West.
Now take another look at that excerpt Joshua Stanton found.
We already have a good idea of how the Chinese would treat the world’s barbarians — i.e., the rest of us — because we already know that their treatment of Chinese citizens constitutes a crime against humanity.
Chai Ling is an eyewitness:
Amnesty International and the U.S. State Department have both properly criticized China’s one-child policy for contributing to infanticide. It is a charge that even some of the propagandists in China’s totalitarian regime would not dispute. The government plasters a number of chilling slogans throughout China that are short on nuance. “Better 10 graves than one birth,” reads one slogan. “Abort it! Kill it! Terminate it! You just cannot give birth to him or her,” reads another official sign written on a long red banner stretched across the entire side of a building.
According to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, in just 10 years there will be 30 million to 40 million more boys than girls under the age of 20 in China. To put that number into perspective, China will have as many young men who will never marry — “or bare branches” — as the entire young male population of the United States. This does not bode well for a country where the crime rate has almost doubled in the past 20 years.
It’s worth accessing that link for the explanation of the accompanying photograph alone.
It’s also worth remembering that the Chinese authorities put Liu Xiaobo, the country’s first Nobel laureate, in jail just for signing this.
Heck, it’s no longer possible to sing a song in a Chinese bar without looking over your proverbial shoulder:
Next time you visit a Karaoke bar in China, you will be contributing to the government’s data bank on what song is causing more people to swing and tap their feet and which ones are flops…Though the ministry did not specifically mention it, the system will also help the government keep a watch on whether any one is playing songs that are politically dangerous or espousing anti-national causes in Tibetan dominated areas or the Xingjian region, which is witnessing a violent separatist movement.
It wasn’t so long ago that some principled Americans stood up to the Soviet Union. To ask whether today’s Americans are capable of taking the same principled stand, however, is to answer the question. Here’s Prof. Hanson again:
Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines have one eye on China, and one on Washington—and therefore are increasingly terrified. One of three things will happen: our shaky allies will demand a higher U.S. profile in the region, and new assurances of safety under the U.S. nuclear umbrella (all quite unlikely); or they will go nuclear and, unlike North Korea, their missiles will work like Camrys and Kias; or they will make face-saving accommodations with the Chinese that will result in a new version of the old Co-Prosperity Sphere…
Richard Fernandez explains why an American response is unlikely:
It has now become quaint, even Quixotic, to put the interests of one’s country over personal and party concerns. “Love,” John Le Carre once wrote, “is whatever you can still betray.” And what can moderns still betray? It is now far easier to turn one’s back on an unloved birthplace, the affection for which is now regarded as a kind of bigotry. Today’s political class is far more comfortable owing allegiance to itself. What affection it has left over has never been weighed (in) the crucible of choice. And maybe all that amounts to is a hill of beans. Perhaps that is why concerns about “Munich” have so little resonance today.
He also explains the Americans’ practical concerns:
(O)ne of the reasons the administration may be reluctant to resist China more vigorously is because they are looking to borrow more money from Beijing to make “investments” and stimulate the economy for 2012. A key reason why the administration wants assurances from Congress that it will not hinder the further servicing and expansion of debt is to calm China, which holds so much of it.
It’s dangerous to look for symbolism in all the wrong places, but this story comes close enough to symbolizing the current Sino-American relationship to merit awarding the author a cigar:
(T)he fastest growing and now No. 1 export category is–“Scrap and Trash.”
According to data provided by the U.S. International Trade Commission, Chinese imports of U.S. cast-offs (scrap metal, waste paper, and the like) surged by an eye-popping 916 percent over the 2000-2008 period, with most of that expansion occurring after 2004.
Perhaps not many observers will judge this a suitably glamorous role for America to assume on the global stage. But one might take comfort in the thought that if there is one thing that Americans still excel at producing, it’s trash.
Just as some in the West once thought the Soviet threat was right-wing militarist hysteria and that threat to world peace was All Our Fault, some think the Chinese should be emulated rather than criticized and confronted. Michael Barone describes the phenomenon:
The dwindling number of readers of The New York Times were treated Wednesday to a column by Thomas Friedman extolling China’s “one-party autocracy,” which, he told us, “is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people.”
China’s leaders, he reported, are “boosting gasoline prices” and “overtaking us in electric cars, solar power, energy efficiency, batteries, nuclear power and wind power.” All, of course, in the cause of reducing carbon emissions, which so many luminaries assure us are bound to produce global warming and environmental catastrophe.
The word limit of his column apparently left him no space to regret the Chinese one-party autocracy’s Internet censorship, forced sterilizations, imprisonment of political dissenters and the like. Even so, Friedman declares that “our one-party democracy is worse” than the Chinese model.
Never mind that the idea of Green China is a load of codswollop:
(I)ntermittent wind and solar cannot compete with coal or gas, because they are not reliable sources of dispatchable, peak-demand power, and never will be unless someone invents a magic battery. For investors, this is why a gas power plant promises higher returns than a wind or solar facility, even allowing for the subsidies wind and solar power enjoy. And this is why China is going to continue to build fossil fuel energy over renewable energy at a ratio of better than 50 to one for the foreseeable future, even as they create a new export industry to sell wind turbines and solar panels to politically driven markets like ours.
The author, Stephen F. Hayward, also notes that this is part of a pattern:
(T)here are reports that many of China’s new windmills aren’t even connected up to their electricity grid; like their ghost cities with empty high rises, office buildings and malls, China apparently is putting up windmills just for practice.
It isn’t accurate to use the term “apologists” for people who think China is a positive rather than a negative model:
China has proven that birth restriction is smart policy. Its middle class grows, all its citizens have housing, health care, education and food, and the one out of five human beings who live there are not overpopulating the planet.
We’ve seen this before, too. Here’s Malcolm Muggeridge on the antecedents of Friedman and Diane Francis, the author of the Financial Post article:
It’s something I’ve written and thought about a great deal, and I think that the liberal mind is attracted by this sort of regime. My wife’s aunt was Beatrice Webb, and she and Sidney Webb wrote the classic pro-Soviet book. “Soviet Communism: A New Civilization.” And so, one saw close at hand the degree to which they all knew about the regime, knew all about the Cheka [the secret police] and everything, but they liked it.
I think that those people believe in power. It was put to me very succinctly when we were taken down to Kharkiv for the opening of the Dnieper dam. There was an American colonel who was running it, building the dam in effect. “How do you like it here?” I asked him, thinking that I’d get a wonderful blast of him saying how he absolutely hated it. “I think it’s wonderful,” he said. “You never get any labor trouble.”
This will be one of the great puzzles of posterity in looking back on this age, to understand why the liberal mind, the Manchester Guardian mind, the New Republic mind, should feel such enormous sympathy with this authoritarian regime.
It’s no longer a puzzle for people with the eyes to see, because now we have more data extending over a longer period of time. They feel sympathy with those regimes — any of the kissing cousins of the Soviet Union, the Third Reich, or today’s China — because that is who they are and that is what they want. Thomas Friedman and Diane Francis know that Liu Xiaobo was jailed for demanding precisely the same rights they already have. It is reasonable to conclude that they think those rights aren’t as important as progressivist efficiency. That’s another one we’ve seen before:
(Woodrow) Wilson believed that under progressive government the individual must “marry his interests to the state.”
Nothing even in Europe equaled the degree and intensity of American political absolutism during its brief period in the Great War. General Ludendorff acknowledged American initiative in this respect when, in a last great effort at German victory, he instituted “War Socialism.” Lenin’s War Communism, with its thicket of centralized agencies of regulation or ownership, was indebted to what America did first and so successfully. Mussolini’s early structure of Fascism in Italy, with its powerful national agencies controlling factory production, labor relations, the railroads, took a leaf from the American wartime book of three years earlier. The blunt fact is that when under Wilson America was introduced to the War State in 1917, it was introduced also to what would later be known as the total, or totalitarian, state.
After all, look at their heroes:
(I)magine if a Republican had held political prisoners like Wilson did, or interned Japanese Americans the way FDR did.
Speaking of their heroes, perhaps that’s another reason the American heirs of Wilson tread so lightly with the Chinese:
President Obama ostentatiously invoked the (racist eugenicist imperialist) progressives of the University of Wisconsin as an inspiration for his campaign.
Is there a better description of China today than the three words inside the parentheses?
Here’s another description of the Chinese, courtesy of Mark Steyn:
If the IMF is correct (a big if), China will be the planet’s No. 1 economy by 2016…The world’s economic superpower…will be a communist dictatorship with a largely peasant population and legal, political and cultural traditions as alien to its predecessors as possible.
Now imagine this “economic superpower”, a nation whose political behavior at home and abroad consists entirely of the most dire negatives, standing astride the globe as a colossus — when the term of the winner of the next U.S. presidential election ends.
How will it end with the Chinese this time? Here’s what Joshua Stanton thinks:
All of this nationalist rage will probably have a terrible ending, and the potential damage to humanity is even greater than it was in 1939.
When it’s starting to look like it all might happen again, when credible people are writing that “China at times has felt like the end of the world”, hoping that he’s wrong isn’t enough.
Who do the Chinese remind me of? A lot of people.
This song is dedicated to all the fascistos from the flower in the middle of the universe and their clique of useful idiots