The Chinese non-threat

Aug 23, 2022
Vector detailed world map with borders and country names. Image: iStock

Our resident non-Chinese speaking, non-Chinese informed but bitterly ‘China is expansionist-aggressive’ commentators in the mainstream media in Australia don’t have,or even want to have, any idea about China?

China is accused of aggressive expansionism, over Taiwan and towards its neighbours in general.

It is a curious charge. Almost all of the 178 nations recognising China have formally recognised that legally Taiwan belongs to China. In the recently proclaimed ‘rules based international order’ such formal recognition by so many nations would seem to have some weight.

Yet Beijing has still done little to claim this promised recognition. On the contrary, it still accepts Taiwan’s control over a number of islands in the South China Sea, including some occupied by the Taiwan military a stone’s throw from China’s coast.

Nor is it only Taiwan that enjoys Beijing’s territorial tolerance.

It has done nothing to follow up on China’s strong historical clam to much of Russia’s Far East. Even at the height of China’s strong tensions with Moscow in the 1960’s and ’70’s it barely moved despite constant invitations to do so by Western hawks.
(Taiwan too had criticised Beijing’s inaction).

Amazingly Beijing has done nothing to try to dominate, let alone attack, the vast areas of a Mongolia with rich resources needed by China and with only 3 million people to defend its 4,600 kilometre with China (Taiwan insists Mongolia is China’s territory and strongly criticises Beijing’s inaction.)

The same is true for Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan, central Asian nations which border China and have at times harboured militants that have attacked into China.(Taiwan again criticises Beijing’s inaction.)

Moving down to Pakistan and India, we find Beijing has tolerated borders (the MacMahon Line and in much of Ladakh) imposed by aggressive19th century UK colonial advances far into China’s then nominally controlled, Tibetan-populated Himalayan territories.

True, there have since been disputes with India which took over from the British the large Tibetan populated areas in northern Assam and Ladakh, and wants more. Only when the Indians under Nehru’s forward policy went too far and moved into Tibet across even the UK arbitrarily imposed MacMahon Line did Beijing finally take action.

Even then, and having taught the Indians a lesson, it retreated to the MacMahon Line (a retreat which Taiwan protested, of course).

(As China desk officer in Canberra at the time I know for a fact that the first dispute in 1962 was due to India trying illegally to seize territory north of the MacMahon Line.The Chinese gave us the maps to prove it. The Indians gave nothing.)

Moving further east we find that Beijing, unlike Taiwan, accepts a border with Myanmar that allows Kokang, a large Mandarin Chinese speaking community, to remain in eastern Myanmar. (Taiwan objects to Beijing’s generosity, of course.)

Beijing did nothing to support the many pro-Beijing, Chinese speakers in Sarawak, fighting a losing battle with British and Australian troops while seeking to prevent their 1960’s forcible incorporation into the artificial construct of Malaysia.

Beijing did nothing to maintain the now disappeared 2,000 year colony of Chinese in western Borneo – the Laifang Republic. And as we know tragically it did nothing to protect the one million Chinese and leftwing Indonesian massacred in 1958. Nor did it try to protect resident Chinese from subsequent brutal Indonesian pogroms there .

And finally we come to the alleged Chinese claims against sone minuscule Japanese claimed islands -the Senkaku Islands – in the east China sea. The claims were in fact made by Taiwan, not China; they are supported by China. The islands have no Japanese name; they were discovered and named by Chinese and British explorers. Geographically they are part of Taiwan and lie on the Chinese continental shelf.

Even the US does not recognise Japanese sovereignty.

One wonders whether our resident non-Chinese speaking, non-Chinese informed but bitterly ‘China is expansionist-aggressive’ commentators in the mainstream media have, or even want to have, any idea of any of these details.

By comparison, while China has been doing little in recent decades, the US was quickly trying to take over by force large territories of France, Mexico, Spain (including the Philippines) and even Canada plus a host of islands belonging to other people in both the Atlantic and the Pacific.

In shameful collusion with the UK the US expelled the population of the Diego Garcia island and used it for the bombing of much of the Middle East.

China’s long acceptance of British and Portuguese colonies on its border (India was far less tolerant), its delay in taking over Taiwan (a right granted by every nation recognising Beijing, including the US and Australia), its toleration of Taiwan still occupying militarily the Offshore Islands etc suggests almost a dislike of military action.

Instead it relies on something called soft power discovered by the Chinese long before the rest of us. Convinced of the attractiveness of its culture it long believed with it can automatically draw people to its side without force of arms.

That was before it came up against us militaristic Westerners, happy to invade China and vandalistically destroy the symbols of that culture.

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