China in True Perspective
July 28, 2007
by Charles Mercieca, Ph.D.
President, International Association of Educators for World Peace
Dedicated to United Nations Goals of Peace Education
Environmental Protection, Human Rights & Disarmament
Professor Emeritus, Alabama A&M University
Note: see also Letter December 2, 2006 China’s Transition into a Society of Social Harmony
Over the past few millennia, China provided the world with a culturally rich civilization. Its people always tended to be laborious and creative. On the whole, the Chinese minded their own business and they demonstrated to be heavily family oriented. In spite of this, China has been perhaps the most invaded and exploited nation on earth. As a result, people there have suffered immensely.
Understanding Chinese History
By nature, the Chinese are trustworthy, generous, kind and altruistic. Unfortunately, quite a few nations took the advantage of such good people’s qualities to invade the country and, quite often, to exploit its natural resources and people brutally. Initially, we find China ruled by a series of dynasties which became the nation’s characteristic for a long time. Over the last couple of centuries or so, the Japanese invaded China a number of times to the great detriment of the Chinese people themselves.
While the British exploited China with opium, which proved to be a real tragedy, the Japanese later massacred tens of thousands of Chinese that included mostly women, children, the elderly and the sick as revealed in Nanjing and other cities especially during the decade of the thirties. There is no need for us to have graphic pictures of such brutalities. Just to give an example, Japanese soldiers, apart from raping and maiming tens of thousands of Chinese women, they also selected a number of healthy women to perform on them notorious acts of savagery and cannibalism.
While these women were still alive, Japanese soldiers ripped off their chest, cut off their heart and, while still bubbling with blood, they sliced it and ate it raw like sushi! The atrocities and humiliation the Chinese suffered goes beyond belief. In view of such invasions and exploitations for such a long period, we may understand why in 1911 Sun Yat-sen overthrew the last Chinese dynasty and established the Republic of China, which lasted till 1949 when the communists overthrew the government of Chiang Kai-shek and established power under Mao Tse-tung.
The communist take over seems to have been motivated not out of lust for power, but it was more a reaction to Chiang Kai-shek’s failure to defend the Chinese against the Japanese invaders. In fact, the Nanjing brutal massacre of tens of thousands of Chinese took place primarily because Chiang Kai-shek withdrew his resistance to the Japanese. And we know the rest of the story. Chiang Kai-shek’s government flew to Taiwan while the communists consolidated their power in 1949 and brought the Japanese brutal and inhuman occupation to an end.
The Cultural Revolution
Of course, the communists were not immune from the temptation to exploit the people in some way. As a result, the Cultural Revolution came into focus where a substantial number of communists took the law in their hands supposedly to avenge previous foreign invasions and influence. To this end, they began to destroy any culture that revealed to have had western influence in some way or another. They also viewed religions as enemy of the people in the sense that such spiritual entities did not seem to do anything substantial to prevent the untold suffering of the Chinese people during so many periodical invasions.
As a result, the communists of the Cultural Revolution destroyed many churches and temples. Besides, they proceeded to massacre millions of innocent Chinese people that included women, children, the elderly and the sick. Because of this, many Chinese resented Mao’s regime and the red guards immensely. Later, Chinese soldiers entered Tibet, which they viewed as a part of China, destroying temples and buildings while killing several Buddhists monks, an event that caused the Dalai Lama to flee Tibet and to take refuge in India. This sad episode of the Cultural Revolution might not have been a part of the original communist plan when Mao Tse-tung took over China.
In fact, under the leadership of Chou En-lai, the Cultural Revolution was finally brought to an end. Finally, a new era of peace and harmony among all of the Chinese people came in the horizon. Most of the churches and temples that were destroyed have now been rebuilt. The 56 nationalities that exist within China were brought closer together on basis of equality, peace and harmony. It took some two to three decades for the Chinese people to recuperate somewhat completely from the Cultural Revolution.
The new Chinese leaders in the post Cultural Revolution made it clear that the government’s top priority was the welfare of the Chinese people who were to be furnished with the basic needs of life. Such needs included free health care for all people, free education for every citizen, and adequate home facilities for all the Chinese people. Besides, China moved forward without wasting any time to improve the transportation system by modernizing its flights, by improving drastically its railway facilities and subways, and by providing the people with better busses and cars.
Needless to say, the present government took drastic steps to see to it that never again would in the future any foreign country invade China. To this end, they have improved the military with the best equipment possible merely for defense purposes. In fact, if we were to analyze China’s military capability one would see clearly that China has not equipped itself with the ability to invade other nations. Hence, at this stage of history, the idea that China would invade one day Japan or any other country as a matter of fact would be thoroughly absurd.
Experiencing Less Worries
Those who visit any part of China from Beijing to Shanghai, to Xian and Guangzhou all the way to Lhasa may notice the absence of the military everywhere. The Chinese today tend to view their military not as an element that is in search for terrorists but rather as an instrument to help them in their dire needs should they arise. When traveling anywhere in China one is bound to observe peace and harmony among all the people they encounter. People gather together in several public parks to talk, listen to music, dance and sing.
In fact, the Chinese have considerably less worries than people in the west. Since they are viewed by their government as the eventual top priority of the nation, they do not have to worry about exorbitant money to pay for possible sickness and hospitalization and for the eventual retirement in a house for the elderly when they become old. Everything is provided to them free. This gives the Chinese freedom from typical western worries as to enable them to give more attention to their children and their families, to study, read and learn and to share experiences with relatives and friends as well as to find time for relaxation.
Contrary to what the western news-reporters claim, foreigners visiting China tend to get several constructive surprises. They find the Chinese people on the whole are treated very well. For example, those who travel by train are amazed to hear a unique announcement on the train before some major stops. It reminds people that those who may feel somewhat sick may leave the train where they would find a small trailer equipped with off-the-counter drugs as those found in any pharmacy, like aspirin and a good variety of medical items where a couple of nurses and at times a doctor could assist you.
Also, if needed, you may be taken to a nearby hospital. All of these services are provided free-of-charge. Fortunately, the Chinese government is cracking severely on all kinds of corruption particularly as it stems from government officials through bribes or kick-backs or as it stems from big corporations or mafia organizations. The penalties against such abuses are decisive, stiff and smooth. This helps make the Chinese people feel somewhat safer and more comfortable.
Unlike many other countries, the Chinese enjoy freedom of movement, freedom to secure a passport to visit any country they want with no restrictions whatsoever. This is quite a contrast with the USA, for example, where people are forbidden by their government to travel in a number of countries including Cuba, which is viewed by the world at large as a peaceful nation only 90 miles away from the shores of Florida. There was a time when Americans could go anywhere but such a time has ceased to exist.
Surprises to Visitors
What amazes western visitors to China lies here. Once they reach the customs for passport control, they are greeted with the sign: “Your comments are appreciated to help us improve our passport control system.” Who has ever seen such a sign in any country? Seeking input from foreigners for such a purpose, in most nations would be incomprehensible to say the least. For those who travel a lot they soon find out that the Chinese system of passport control is perhaps the fastest and smoothest in the world…… giving a quick glance at the passport, stamping it and just keep on moving with no questions whatsoever asked.
By way of contrast, in the USA, for example, you are asked to explain the purpose of your trip, how long you intended to stay and which countries you have visited prior to entrance in the USA. Unlike Russia, for example, once you enter China you are completely on your own in the sense that you can visit any part of the country that you want. Also, like in India, in China you may find Chinese that are quite rich with modern cars and large houses. They have large supermarkets with anything conceivable.
However, those that are financially very limited, they do not live in abject poverty. There are restaurants and shopping areas with anything one may possibly need for merely a few cents. Although capitalism has infiltrated China conspicuously, yet, the Chinese people on the whole, do not make money and wealth as their goal, as their dream of life. Their real goal and dream of life seem to have good health and adequate housing facilities. No wonder why so many millions in China in their fifties and above look at least 20 years younger, apart from the fact that they demonstrate vibrating energy and joviality.
The Chinese government’s policy to have a strong military is merely for defense purposes, that is, in case it is once more invaded. Without any offensive military contingent, China is saving billions of dollars every year. This explains why China can provide its people with so many positive and constructive benefits. If China were to adopt the American policy of pre-emptive strikes, of invading any other country at will even without declaring war, the Chinese nation would be bankrupt sooner or later, before anyone would realize it.
At this period of rapid transportation, China is increasingly emerging as one of the best countries where people could live and settle peacefully and harmoniously. In fact, tens of thousands of Chinese who fled the country when the communists took over in 1949 and went to settle in Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, the United States, Canada and several others countries are now returning to China in large numbers. Besides, a substantial number of foreigners are moving to live in China following their retirement. The rapid constructive changes that are taking place in China cannot be taken lightly.
Western nations, which feel rather skeptic and pessimistic about China need to pass a referendum among their citizens with a questionnaire as the one here below and let us then hear what these citizens themselves have to say. They should all be assumed to be fully capable to reply to such questions. What kind of government would you like to have?
1. One where you have to pay for your health care, hospitalization, prescription drugs and old age retirement, or one where you are provided with all the services free of charge?
The above questionnaire needs to be presented to the people of an entire nation as to give them the opportunity to decide for themselves their real preference. No one should assume, on one’s free accord, to speak on behalf of the people. Needless to say, we all realize that the people are surely all capable to deal with this questionnaire by themselves. One of the characteristics we observe often among government officials in many countries lies here. They all assume they can speak for the feelings of all people, in spite of the fact that such people are never consulted or listened to when they raise their voices!
This may be verified by the recent case of the American people who, in spite of the fact that they have overwhelmingly demanded their government to end the war in Iraq and to bring all American troops home, they were all ignored. And to turn an insult into injury, the US President responded by sending more troops and thereby augmenting this tragic war as a result.
The Romans had a proverb which said: Aliud est theoria, aliud est practica – one thing is theory, another thing is practice. This Roman proverb may be perfectly applied to government officials of any country that have developed the habit of saying one thing and of doing another.
The secret of good government does not consist in not committing mistakes, since we all know that to err is human. It does not consist in committing mistakes and in keeping on repeating them, since to persist in error is diabolical. Admitting mistakes is not a sign of weakness but rather a sign of strength and courage. Resorting to the military to solve political problems is equivalent to resorting to violence, which breeds more violence.
In view of what has been stated, China is emerging to become a very strong economic nation where the concept of peace and harmony is infiltrating every realm of society quite conspicuously. It would be appropriate for scholars and for all those interested in this culturally rich Chinese nation to pay a visit to China for some time and to make their own assessment and judgment free from the usual manipulation and negative propaganda of the west. This way we are given the opportunity to view China into true perspective from which we could learn considerably.
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