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Do not give in to Evil, but proceed ever more boldly against it

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mourning China

Thanks to the reader who sent this link, which begins:

The 20th century was a disaster in the history of China, even before the Communists came to power in 1949.

An ancient empire that was also an ancient civilization had already endured a massive collision with the civilization of Europe, in which Europe had prevailed. The latter was quite aggressive, the former by its circumstances mostly passive, and the conventional wisdom is that this alone explains the dissolution of the former.

Conventional views are usually wrong, but can be interesting insofar as they may point to the truth by their very inversion of it. The Opium Wars and other military encounters are perhaps over-emphasized in what was more comprehensively a "clash of civilizations" -- a collision between European and Chinese understandings of the world itself, in which the self-confidence of the Middle Kingdom was lethally undermined.

The mind of China became partially westernized; the mind of Europe, for all the pleasure it took in acquiring a taste for Chinoiserie -- from the admirable Analects of Confucius to the incomparable stoneware pots of the Song Dynasty -- did not become Sinified.

To my dangerously self-tutored historical sense, it seems that China had been overrun by "barbarians" before -- by Mongols, and Manchurians -- and yet assimilated each conqueror and "raised" them to the standards of Chinese civilization. But the European "barbarians" who began arriving at China's gates half a millennium ago were the end of everything.

The final demise was projected in the hopeless revolt of the "Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists" (or "Boxers"), at the turn of the last century, against imperialist flunkeys, foreign investors, evangelical missionaries. The rebellion fatally weakened an already tottering Qing Dynasty, which needed foreign help to put it down -- and thereby enabled the nationalist and republican overthrow of the Qing regime in 1911. China's independence became predicated on its transformation into an explicitly western-style nation state, with parodies of western subsidiary institutions and constitutional principles.

The vast territory and population remained ungovernable, however. A Communist Revolution was enabled by the further catastrophe of the Second World War.

Mao Tse-tung -- one of the great monsters of history, whose human victims numbered in the tens of millions -- was long respected in the west for establishing order, and more strangely, for "restoring Chinese self-respect."

Yet his regime was the parody of a parody of western ideas, several times removed...

Read the rest.

Then consider what it means to have that same regime telling the President of the United States with whom he can meet, as The Times of India highlights:

WASHINGTON: The loud sucking noise you hear? That's President Barack Obama kissing up to the Chinese.

At least that's what supporters of Dalai Lama would have you believe after the U.S President passed up a meeting with the Tibetan leader in Washington DC this week – ostensibly to not offend Beijing ahead of his (Obama’s) visit to China next month.

It’s the first time in ten visits to the US in 18 years that the Dalai Lama has failed to meet with the American president. The political and diplomatic slight to the man widely admired in the US as brought forth a volley of criticism against Obama, hitherto hailed a champion of human rights.

Republicans are pillorying Obama for being a pussycat before the Chinese, and there have been murmurs of disapproval from the Democrats too..

"We regret that despite escalating human rights violations in Tibet, the White House has chosen not to meet with His Holiness the Dalai Lama...preferring a time that will be less irritating to the Chinese government and after the president’s own trip to China. We are concerned that this time may never come," says Katrina Lantos Swett, whose late father Tom Lantos led the move to present the Tibetan leader with a Congressional Gold Medal in 2007, awarded by then President Bush at a bipartisan ceremony.

The Dalai Lama is scheduled to receive a human rights award in the US Capitol on Tuesday given by the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice from Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is a long time admirer of the Tibetan leader. President Obama is also very much in the capital. But there will be no meeting.

The White House says Obama’s decision not to meet Dalai Lama means no disrespect to the Tibetan leader, but there is little doubt in Washington what’s behind the decision. The US President is going to Beijing next month at a time the US is widely seen as a declining entity and China as a growing power. Washington needs Beijing’s cooperation on several international issues – from climate change to trade to Iran and other key geo-political issues.

US officials have said Obama will meet the Dalai Lama after he returns from Beijing, a fact that has been communicated to the Tibetan leader. Last month, the White House sent senior aides Valerie Jarrett and Maria Otero, undersecretary of state for democracy and global affairs and now special envoy for Tibet, to Dharamsala to convey the US position to the Dalai Lama.

"The president has decided that he will meet with the Dalai Lama at a mutually agreeable time," State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters Monday, while officials explained on background that the administration thought it more constructive to first engage Beijing on the Tibetan issue.

Won’t work, say Obama critics. "The Chinese are beginning to dictate what the Obama administration is doing," one Republican lawmaker was quoted as saying. "Do you think the Chinese will respect this? It’s a sign of weakness."

Obama’s handling of the matter will also be closely watched in New Delhi, which is suddenly facing a surfeit of prickly issues with China. The issue is complicated by the Dalai Lama’s scheduled visit to Arunachal Pradesh, which China considers disputed territory, in November, around the same time Obama will be in Beijing.

According to some reports, the Obama administration is pressing the Dalai Lama not to muddy the Arunachal issue while the U.S is engaged in persuading Beijing to initiate talks with the Tibetan leader. Washington is also being accused of dragging its feet on the implementation of the understanding reached between the preceding Bush administration and India, to undertake searches in Arunachal Pradesh territory for US Air Force personnel who had gone missing in action during the Second World War.

The US is also said to be re-examining some of the joint military exercises it is conducting with India to eliminate those which may cause concern to China. "The Obama administration is showing signs of greater sensitivity to the concerns and interests of China than those of India. Reliable reports indicate that it is veering towards a policy of neutrality on the issue of Arunachal Pradesh, which has been a major bone of contention between India and China," B.Raman, a former senior Indian intelligence official who laid out the charges, said in an online article on Monday.

Meanwhile conservative circles have jumped on Obama’s Dalai Lama cop-out to pillory him and say his predecessor handled the matter more skillfully. President Bush met the Dalai Lama several times, most notably and controversially in 2007, when he awarded the Congressional Gold Medal to the Tibetan leader in a public ceremony.

Although the Bush administration said the meeting and the award was not meant to antagonize China, the President’s reference to religious oppression brought a sharp response from the thin-skinned Beijing which called it an affront to the budding relations between the two countries. But it did not drastically affect ties.

"The Obama White House shows an inordinate - one might say obsessive - amount of concern for other countries' sensitivities," the right-wing Washington Times said in an editorial on Tuesday. "America need not jettison its commitment to freedom just to curry favour with some foreign leaders."

The Wall Street Journal noted that in nearly nine months in office, Obama has found time to meet with Hugo Chavez, Daniel Ortega and Vladimir Putin, but not the Dalai Lama, a peaceful religious leader who has long been a friend to the US.

Remember -- know your creditors.

Interesting times, indeed.

Note: The table above and additional background information are from University of Hawaii Professor R.J. Rummel's invaluable Democide website. Signficantly, Professor Rummel's latest estimate of total homicides attributable to the ChiComs from 1928-1987 is more than 76 million human beings.


Blogger Kevin Wilmeth said...

So Obama chooses the Chinese over the Dalai Lama. I'm presuming I heard that right.

Now there's a telling metaphor.

October 9, 2009 at 9:51 PM  

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