Opinion | China's 'Tibet Today' wows the western world
By Augustus K. Yeung
Guess what: Whenever I look at these two photos: one colored picture of a high-speed train on track in Tibet--snaking on a man-made high-railway-bridge over lands and rivers--with rugged mountains in the horizon beyond, as its background; and another psychedelic photo of a group of lively Tibetan passengers, in distinct ethnic dresses (being warmly served by one or two red uniformed girls)—with beaming smiles all over their faces. Guess, what comes to mind? Human happiness, the Tibetan way. Am I overjoyed?
What a Beautiful Discovery over a Span of Fifty Years!
I am exceedingly happy as these photos reminded me of the elusive good days that have now come to grace a nation which was once humbled by earthly poverty, isolated by mountains, and divided by silly politics.
This is the triumph of man over mother nature, having shaken off the dust from the feet, and getting rid of the ideological shackles off the mind. This is the conquest of man over his prejudice. This is China--under communism, or "socialism with Chinese characteristics", quips President Xi Jinping.
As a Han ethnic Chinese, as a son of China (who had been baptized with fire after the Civil War), as a sociology student who had spent fourteen years following the footprints of Alexis De Tocqueville (1805 – 1859) in America. I am over the moon, knowing that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has found a success formula, and that today's leaders still remember what the early communist martyrs had fought against and died for.
In the early days of the Chinese revolution, the CCP leadership pledged to the people, "Socialism lives in tomorrow's China." I wasn't born then, my brainwashed parents found it too good to be true, and the colonial government in Hong Kong (where I lived and studied) found it too inspirational/ troublesome--an inconvenient truth. And they put it in the closet.
Returning to these two heartwarming photos, which foretells China's good days for the whole nation, I must agree that, indeed, "A picture worth a thousand words." And so, in about one thousand words, I'm going to write--in anticipation--about what I think would happen to Xinjiang.
Will there be a Beautiful Xinjiang Tomorrow?
With China's revolutionary national reconstructions in Tibet, rural Xinjiang's bright future is one step closer to reality. That is for sure. Xinjiang's future is closely tied to Afghanistan, which are both Islamic in cultural context; China's coming success story in Afghanistan will have a ripple effect on Xinjiang and vice versa. For now, with a halo over the head China hopes to play with both hands, and with help from many true friends and commercial entities/enterprises in and around the Afghanistan frontiers.
With America, its Western allies, Russia, and Pakistan China's success in Afghanistan is now assured. For one thing, China will not be fighting this war by itself. It is a war against terrorism, which is regarded as the world's common enemy.
China's way of fighting terrorists will not be the same as the West, which rely solely on bombs and bullets, etc. The traditional Chinese way was to win hearts and minds, not to acquire lands and lots. This Chinese way of relations-building was well illustrated in the following classic. Modern China will steal a strategy or two from the text, The Romance of The Three Kingdoms (Chapters 87-91) - in which K'ung-ming engaged, fought, captured-and-released Meng-huo, the barbarian king seven times, convincingly taming him--to renounce terrorism or rebellion for good.
(In no less than seven bloody battles, thousands of soldiers had perished; K'ung-ming was deeply saddened; and, before he led his victorious army back to Chengdu, the capital he offered a requiem mass--to honor the "souls of the deceased" on both sides.)
What about Afghanistan Today where the Terrorists Play?
That is why Afghanistan matter to China; it might be a chance for permanent peace, or perhaps it will be a window from which the CCP can show the world through the way they handle the armed terrorists whose violence will not score points; China feels comfortable using a two-handed carrot-and-stick policy. (For example, Beijing is quietly and patiently applying it to Taiwan. Taipei is getting all carrots--most of the time, though occasionally a threat of using a stick is reminded when the West is trying to temper with the non-negotiable Taiwan issue.)
As of late, China has lectured Iran on its strategic importance to Afghanistan and the region, over which Iran has a definite influence. Any isolated country, which has been antagonized and bullied by America for so long, will be wise enough to grab China's helping hand--in exchange for lasting relations--in a world that is going geopolitical, especially now that China's influence is moving in the direction of the Middle East. (Will Iran buy?)
Besides, China has long since established a brotherly bond with Pakistan, a Muslim country. Unlike America which was fighting a war perceived as the American West versus the Muslim East. In China's case, it is fighting terrorism, not Islamic culture/religion. And China is doing what is right for the world, not to dominate or pontificate, but to affiliate.
Why the U.S. failed to Befriend the Eastern World?
The reason why America failed in Afghanistan (and many other parts of the world) was that: the Americans were perceived as invaders; whereas the Chinese are sincere enough to present themselves as partners rather than aggressors. For example, both the People's Liberation Army (PLA) and the American Army are distinct and different in many ways. Wherever they go, the PLA are perceived as friends "who are here to help", whereas the American soldiers would often disguise their motive and behave themselves as powerful "protectors", only to brutally womanize their way, shunned by the locals. The host countries, however, do not honestly see it the American way.
The American Army is led by generals who have been taught by West Point Military Academy to win wars (not hearts and minds) whereas the PLA is led by generals with political commissars (PC). Taking Dun Xiaoping as a case in point: Dun was a PC in an army unit led by Liu Bo Ch'ing, who was also a scholar in his own right, and he immediately volunteered to build an Institute for the Chinese Army after the Civil War, emphasizing strict discipline and protocol.
Both the PLA army general and the PC had been known to be people-oriented in that they knew how to take good care of each other and people. And this kind of human-heartedness must have inspired the soldiers that followed them.
In the Korean Conflict, Peng De-hui the PLA supreme commander was reportedly versed in the knowledge of knowing his counterparts well. Do the American Army commanders know their opponents? In the Arts of War, there is one often cited lesson: "Know thy enemy, know thyself; and you'll win wars--for a hundred times." That was why the PLA often after fighting under adverse conditions of severe hardships could still win a battle, though never in an easy way.
China does not have just one Dun Xia-ping; the difference lies in the way the PLA train leaders and foster army followers. Ever since the old days, the Chinese soldiers have all been taught to be versed in both books and bombs/archery or "wen" and "wu". All the Chinese generals, then and now, must commit to memory both Arts of War and books such as Annals of Spring and Autumn, etc.
About one-thousand-and-eight-hundred years ago, when Han Dynasty general Zhang Sh'in famously dumped his brush (pen) in his page's lap, and volunteered to join the Han army, which took him to the Western frontier, fighting the invading barbarians along the (Yellow) River West Corridor. The scholar-soldier had also been engaging in cultural exchanges, making the natives there learned about the great Han Empire, the Han culture and civilization. Ultimately, it was a case of shock and awe, and admiration.
(In fact, in every dynasty there had been invasions on the Chinese frontiers. Whether the imperial army won or lost the wars, the Chinese would always manage to win over their opponents by way of overwhelming them with the advanced Chinese culture and civilization, protecting them from hunger with food provisions such as live stocks, which had quite often turned out to be effective winning ways.)
Will this time make any difference for China's 8000 strong UN registered peacekeepers, and its armed border forces, the PLA? Today, same as in the old days of K'ung-ming, winning by way of force is still not a preferred option, in so far as there are chances for diplomatic maneuvers.
The bliss of seeing magnificent China—with photos of a tenacious Tibet, the pristine land, mountains, and its joyful people before my eyes--I keep thinking of Bismarck (1862 – 1890), who united Germany.
And I don't doubt that eventually there will emerge a statesman of such grand stature in China. Why worry about another blood-bonded family member, Taiwan?
The author is a freelance writer; formerly Adjunct Lecturer, taught MBA Philosophy of Management, and International Strategy, and online columnist of 3-D Corner (HKU SPACE), University of Hong Kong.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of DotDotNews.