I think it is a fairly common phenomenon in China for foreigners to get angry and make snide remarks when we hear the government make comments about how they will have a peaceful rise to world power or how they will be number one by 2050. I must admit something in me shutters when I hear it. But recently I have started to think about it in a new way.
I love history and I have been reading Chinese and Russian history for years. One thing that stands out is that China and Russia have been made the bogy man by Western Europe and the US for the most part of the last two hundred years. From the great game in Central Asia to the Boxer Rebellion of 1900, western history has demonized eastern empires.
You never see documentaries about the Russians taking Paris, but rather we always see the heroic battle of Waterloo. You do not hear about the British conquest of Tibet, but rather about the evil Red Guards and the sacking of Lhasa. The twentieth century has been no kinder than the nineteenth century. Marxism and Communism have continued to drawn lines that have created years of distrust, war, and misunderstanding.
This year I have been shaking my head a lot. It has been interesting to me that Americans have just recently started to have more of a public debate on US foreign policy abroad. What a joke. Most Americans feel that things starting going bad only a couple of years ago with headlines about Basra and Kabul. Worst of all, only a few people are questioning the right to export democracy and seem more worried about every member of Al Qaeda swimming across the Atlantic and attacking the US. We have become a nation of sheep being herded by scaremongers.
Sure the US has done some good things in the world, I cannot debate that. The US has had periodic lapses of selfishness and greed and done some good things, but generally speaking US foreign policy is need based. If they see a need, they are willing to help, no benefit, no help.
Where do we get it from and where did we learn this from? I would argue that this Empire attitude goes back not to Vietnam, not to Korea, but rather it is a borrowed strategy from the playbook of “our best friends” the British.
The old Empire playbook reads like Sunzi’s Art of War on how to wage war on all continents in the name of Empire. They look so docile and friendly now, but read the histories of India, Afghanistan, and Tibet to name a few. The British aren’t so cuddly if you are on piece of land they want.
So are these isolated incidents? Is it just the US and Britain? No, it’s every European country that has had visions of Empire. From Caesar and Alexander to Hitler and Napoleon, they have all wanted to make the world, or part of it, theirs and furthermore did little to really try to understand the culture of the people they were invading.
So what’s my point you may be asking. My point is that many foreigners living in China walk around pointing fingers at the Chinese and talk about how great and fair their countries are, and how China isn’t.
Well I would say that to some degree it might be better, but it’s probably that we have all just gotten so used to our own countries problems that we make excuses for them, or worse don’t think they exist. I say if our countries cannot be better, even though most of them are democracies that hold elections and support free speech, how can we criticize the Chinese for the same problems? At least they can honestly say that they can’t do anything about it.
Sometimes I am jealous of the Chinese being able to say that they cannot make change. It’s a joke and a lie that we were raised to believe we can do anything if we put our minds to it, because some things are out of reach and that’s just how it is. Life isn’t a Hollywood movie.
It’s embarrassing to be an American sometimes with so many people on their moral high horses preaching about values, religion, and human rights. I say let the Chinese rule the world since they want to so badly. Then we can just sit back, relax, and let them sort everything out, and best of all , catch all the flak.
In fact I would say that the only thing bad or really different that would come out of a world ruled by China is bad internet connections and a lot of bad kung fu movies about emperors. I say let the revolution begin!