Isn’t it ironic that the more China becomes a major global player; the more it shows signs of insecurity?
One encounters this all the time, whether the communist leadership is attempting to deal with dissidents, the Dalai Lama or, more recently, Rebiya Kadeer, leader of the World Uyghur Congress.
Rebiya Kadeer, 62, who lives in exile in the US and is the mother of 11 children, stands accused of igniting the recent riots in Xinjiang, triggered by the killing of Uighur workers at a factory in Guangdong.
How she did all this thousands of kilometers away in the US is hard to comprehend, but Beijing is adamant, calling her a criminal and a terrorist.
Previously, she spent five years in a Chinese jail, and before that was said to be China’s richest businesswoman.
When the Chinese leadership decides to go after someone or some group, it does not concern itself with the plausibility of accusations.
Indeed, the ferocity with which China has pursued Kadeer is breathtaking.
Take, for example, this interview with Pan Zhiping (潘志平), a researcher at the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences. Talking about Kadeer with the Weekend Australian newspaper, she described her as “rotten meat, the kind that only attracts flies … The human rights she advocates are evil rights, murderers’ rights.”
Whatever Pan’s academic credentials, she is certainly an apt pupil of China’s political establishment.
Ordinary Chinese academics might verbalize the establishment’s anger, but the government always has a ready-made case to condemn victims.
Xinjiang authorities have already procured and flashed letters on TV from her two children and other relatives (including some of her grandchildren) to testify that Kadeer started the riots in Urumqi.
Beijing seems to think that the world is so gullible that it would swallow this stratagem of pitting children against parents. Then again, Chinese leaders have a history of believing their own propaganda when producing coerced confessions.
Kadeer’s children are convenient pawns in this political chess game, and the regime has no moral qualms in these matters.
While visiting Australia, Kadeer said: “It is shameful that the Chinese government has tried to turn the children of a mother against her. … It is immoral violence. It is a forgery, transparent propaganda.”
Five of her 11 children live in China, and two of her sons are in Chinese prisons.
Kadeer’s trip to Australia infuriated the Chinese authorities. They castigated Australia for allowing a “criminal” and a “terrorist” into the country while disregarding Chinese representations.
Kadeer went to Australia to attend the premiere of The 10 Conditions of Love, a documentary on her life, at the Melbourne International Film Festival.
The Chinese diplomatic mission in Australia tried unsuccessfully to stop this documentary from being screened. In a retaliatory measure, Chinese films that were part of the festival were withdrawn.
The Australian ambassador in Beijing was summoned to explain, and Melbourne’s mayor was warned that his city’s sister-city relationship with Tianjin might be annulled.
But the Australian authorities stood their ground, refusing to intervene in the screening of the film or withdraw Kadeer’s visa. But Kadeer met no Australian officials or ministers.
Like the Tibetan people, Uighurs fear ethnic cleansing and cultural decimation. It defies common sense why China, a powerful country of 1.3 billion people, cannot devise a workable policy of accommodating ethnic minorities like the Tibetans and the Uighurs.
Instead, when faced with dissent, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has always sought to deal with suspected enemies by demonizing them, and this brings us to the insecurity that is inherent in a system in which the ruling party has a monopoly on power.
The CCP’s insecurity borders on paranoia. Any challenge to it is a challenge to the nation.
Beijing demands utmost loyalty not only from Chinese citizens but also from nationals of other countries of Chinese descent. The party is, therefore, seeking to rally overseas Chinese around the flag.
At a recent congress for overseas Chinese, Wang Zhaoguo (王肇國), a politburo member, reportedly called on the delegates to use the “blood lineage” of their common descent “to achieve outstanding results in uniting the broad masses of overseas Chinese.”
To emphasize the indivisibility of national and party interests, he told delegates to “do a better job of uniting the force of the circle of overseas Chinese around the party and the government.”
This is a dangerous exercise, and Beijing has embarked on it quite openly.
Chinese diplomatic missions are already highly active in organizing and mobilizing overseas Chinese, as evidenced during the anti-Tibet rallies that accompanied the torch relay for the Beijing Olympics.
Beijing may not realize that the attempt to rally overseas Chinese could create a backlash against them if concerns are raised about their loyalty.
If Beijing persists with such politics, it won’t be long before some start accusing overseas Chinese as being part of a vast potential fifth column.
China feels emboldened by its new reach and power, and would argue that the benefits of rallying millions of overseas Chinese around the flag far outweigh any hostile reaction in other countries.
Beijing probably considers that no country in Asia — where most overseas Chinese live — would dare create trouble for its ethnic Chinese population for fear of crossing China.
If this is the line of thinking that is shaping China’s policies, it is not a good omen for the region, or for the world.
Sushil Seth is a writer based in Australia.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday last week, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei City Councilor Hsu Chiao-hsin (徐巧芯) wrote: “The KMT must fall for Taiwan to improve.’ Allow me to ask the question again: Is this really true?” It matters not how many times Hsu asks the question, my answer will always be the same: “Yes, the KMT must be toppled for Taiwan to improve.” In the lengthy Facebook post, titled “What were those born in the 1980s guilty of?” Hsu harked back to the idealistic aspirations of the 2014 Sunflower movement before heaping opprobrium on the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP)
The scuffle between Chinese embassy staffers in Fiji and a Taiwanese diplomat at a Republic of China (ROC) Double Ten National Day celebration has turned into a public relations opportunity for the government, Beijing and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). Although the incident occurred on Oct. 8, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) downplayed it, only for the story to be picked up by the foreign media, forcing the ministry to respond. The public and opposition parties asked why the government had failed to remonstrate more strongly in the first instance. It is still unclear whether the ministry missed a trick
US President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival, former US vice president Joe Biden, are holding their final debate tonight. In their foreign policy debate, China is sure to be a major issue of contention for the two candidates. Here are several questions the moderator should pose to the candidates: For both: In the first televised US presidential debates in 1960, then-Democratic candidate John F. Kennedy and his Republican counterpart, Richard Nixon, were asked whether the US should intervene if communist China attacked Taiwan’s outlying islands of Kinmen and Matsu. Kennedy said no, unless the main island of Taiwan was also attacked.
For most of us, the colorful, otherworldly marinescapes of coral reefs are as remote as the alien landscapes of the moon. We rarely, if ever, experience these underwater wonderlands for ourselves — we are, after all, air-breathing, terrestrial creatures mostly cocooned in cities. It is easy not to notice the perilous state they are in: We have lost 50 percent of coral reefs in the past 20 years and more than 90 percent are expected to die by 2050, a presentation at the Ocean Sciences Meeting in San Diego, California, earlier this year showed. As the oceans heat further and