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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

To overlook reality would be stupid

March 12, 2011

The Pioneer [Wednesday, March 02, 2011 14:58]
Claude Arpi

While China is free to believe that it has done nothing to raise hackles
around the world, more so in its neighbourhood, that is far from the
truth. It makes little sense for Beijing to feign surprise that other
nations are preparing to meet the Chinese challenge which is not
necessarily limited to economic issues. Strangely, while others are
mindful of the challenge posed by rising China, India remains trapped in
the past

Recently a conference on the Relevance of Tibet in the Emerging Regional
Situation was held in Delhi. One of the participants, a professor from
Jawaharlal Nehru University, gave the audience a grand lecture on the
cultural and civilisational closeness of India and China; other analysts
and experts were missing the point, the professor said, because they
continue to focus on the nitty-gritty of China-India relations (the
border issue, Chinese incursions, stapled visas, the ever-growing
infrastructure in southern Tibet, etc); the ‘real’ solution however was
‘civilisational’. The ‘eminent scholar’ kept repeating this strange word.

Other participants seemed unable to grasp the subtlety of the concept,
while yet others, more down-to-earth lamented: “We can’t understand the
Chinese, we are trying to be nice with them and they are not nice with us”.

After reading a recent article published in Qiushi Journal, the official
publication of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, I
could better grasp this ‘civilisational’ business. The argument
developed in the article is: “When faced with an aggressive US, how
should China respond?” “How China Deals with the US Strategy to Contain
China” quotes from a 1949 slogan of Mao Tse-tung: “Cast Away Illusions;
Prepare for Struggle” and reaffirms that “it is still applicable to
today’s situation”.

The author goes into recent China-US relations: “Our wishes to persuade
the imperialists and those who are against China to be kind-hearted and
repent are fruitless. The only way is to organise forces to fight
against them”. The author believes that the fundamental principle to be
followed is, “If friends come, treat them with wine; if jackals come, we
have shotguns for them.”

Are these comments not reflective of a certain ‘civilisational attitude’?

The Qiushi Journal article mentions six strategies believed to have been
selected by the US to ‘contain’ China: The trade war, the exchange rate
war, the public opinion war, the anti-China campaign, the military
exercises and simulated warfare; and, the setting up of an anti-China
alliance. The author suggests seven counter-strategies.

Regarding the ‘trade war’, the Chinese publication complains: “Since
September, the US has launched seven ‘Section-337’ investigations and
one ‘Section-301’ investigation, involving products such as solar
lights, LCD monitors, and printer cartridges.”

The most astonishing trait of the Chinese civilisational character seems
to be that Beijing is unable to envisage that something could be wrong
in their own dumping exercises or more generally in their international
dealings. The same stance is taken by the author for the ‘exchange rate
war’ and the other issues raised by him.

As for the “military exercises and simulated warfare”, the Qiushi
Journal asserts that the US frequently prevails upon South Korea, Japan,
Vietnam, and other countries to join military exercises: “(The US)
purpose is very clear: To encircle China militarily.”

Instead of speaking of the US creating an anti-China alliance, Beijing
should perhaps analyse its own actions during 2010 and see why the
so-called anti-China alliance was forced to act the way it did. Take the
case of India, which has always been over-sympathetic to China. What
does India get in return? Only the blocking of the Indian seat in the UN
Security Council, the raising of a ‘dispute’ over Jammu & Kashmir and so
on.

The article goes into great detail about what China should do to
“contain the US” on each of the subjects. India is not mentioned: It is
probably not considered worth ‘containing’, China being aware that India
has garnered decades of expertise for shooting itself in the foot (look
at Kashmiri leaders ‘offering’ Aksai Chin to China, or the Foreign
Minister reading another Ambassador’s speech in the Security Council).
About the “military exercises and simulated warfare”, the Communist
Party publication is explicit: “No doubt the US military exercises
challenge China’s strategic bottom line. China should certainly actively
respond, but the issue is how to respond skilfully. Wherever the US
chooses to conduct its military exercises, let’s pick another location
for our military exercise”. The strategy should be ‘Besieging Wei to
rescue Zhao’.

This is one of the famous Thirty-Six Strategies from ancient China. It
refers to an incident that occurred in 354 BC and involved Sun Bin (a
descendent of Sun Zi, the author of the Art of War). One day in the
court of the Wei State, a Minister jealous of Sun Bin denounced him as a
spy; Sun fled to the State of Qi. Several years later, the king of the
State of Wei attacked the capital of the State of Zhao whose king
immediately appealed to the State of Qi for help.

Sun Bin recommended: “To intervene now between two warring armies is
like trying to divert a tidal way by standing in its path. It would be
better to wait until both armies wear themselves out.” The king followed
his advice and waited. A year later Sun Bin decided the time was ripe to
help Zhao: “Since most of Wei’s troops are out of the country engaged in
the siege, their defences must be weak. By attacking the capital of Wei,
we will force the Wei Army to return to defend its own capital, thereby
lifting the siege of Zhao while destroying the Wei forces in an ambush.”
The plan worked perfectly.

The article suggested that China should follow this strategy: “There is
no need for China to fear the US aircraft carrier. During the Korean
War, when the contrast in military strength was much greater than it is
now, we were not afraid; why should we be now? Facts prove that America
is a paper tiger that cannot even handle Iraq or Afghanistan, not to
mention China”.

On February 8, 2011, the US Department of Defence published the National
Military Strategy of United States of America 2011. Inter alia, it
asserted: “We remain concerned about the extent and strategic intent of
China’s military modernisation, and its assertiveness in space,
cyberspace, in the Yellow Sea, East China Sea, and South China Sea”.
Washington added that the US “will be prepared to demonstrate the will
and commit the resources needed to oppose any nation’s actions that
jeopardise access to and use of the global commons and cyberspace”.

The Chinese news agency Xinhua immediately answered through a series of
articles analysing the US document. It noted that for the first time a
US report lists “coping with the threat of an Internet war” as a
separate military strategy. The US strategy is meant to target China,
Xinhua affirmed: “The report didn’t overtly mention China, but China’s
influence is obvious in the text… Even when it’s not talking about Asia,
the main focus is not too far away from China’s military expansion.”

Once again, the Chinese leadership forgets that it started the cyber
war. In 2008, the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission
reported: “US computer security authorities detected a series of cyber
intrusions in 2002 into unclassified US military, Government, and
Government contractor Websites and computer systems. This large-scale
operation, code named Titan Rain by the US Government, was attributed to
China. Targeted locations included the US Army Information Systems
Engineering Command, the Naval Ocean Systems Center, the Missile Defence
Agency, and Sandia National Laboratories.”

Obviously, the US and other nations have to defend themselves. It is
their civilisational right. One old friend used to tell me: “To be
loved, you have to be lovable”. Beijing should perhaps meditate on the
subject instead of promulgating new guidelines to select reincarnated
Lamas.
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