Xi on civilization
The Chinese communist government on May 15 held a Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations in Beijing. Following the Belt and Road Forum, which took place in Beijing on April 26 and 27, this was another chance for Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) to shower money through “host diplomacy.”
Both events were designed for China to sell the Belt and Road Initiative and save face a bit after the bruising it has been taking in its trade dispute with the US. It makes some sense in that respect, but surely civilization is not quite the right choice for Beijing to talk about. If anything, it proves that the things China trumpets most loudly are the ones it most lacks.
According to foreign media reports, the conference organizers said that more than 2,000 delegates from 47 countries were invited to take part. However, when it comes to key political figures, the event was attended by top leaders from just four smallish Asian countries — Cambodia, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Armenia — with Greece being the only Western country to send someone of that rank.
Xi made four main points in his opening speech: treating each other with respect and as equals; appreciating the beauty of all civilizations; adhering to openness, inclusiveness and mutual learning; and keeping pace with the times.
Having started with such a vacuous and boring speech, the meeting ended on a low note, with hosts and guests feeling equally dejected.
One would expect any country wanting to boost its national prestige to emphasize its strong points, but, judging by the standards of modern civilization, China is still classed as a semi-civilized regime, just as it was in the Qing Dynasty.
It falls far short of a passing mark on a whole range of indices. Otherwise, how can one explain why a million people in Xinjiang are locked up and getting brainwashed in concentration camps? When has communist China ever respected Tibetans’ beliefs and way of life? Not to mention brutal acts like demolishing churches and Buddhist statues. As for universal values like the rule of law and respect for human rights, forget it.
China is not just concerned with maintaining control and stability within its borders. It is also making great efforts, through its external propaganda plan, to export its ideology and subvert the social order in other countries.
It has a bad record for stealing technology and disrupting market norms. It uses firewalls to block information so that the public can be hoodwinked and brainwashed. It even kidnaps people, holds them hostage and indulges in blackmail diplomacy.
As anyone can see, China is moving farther and farther away from “civilization.” There could hardly be a more negative model for democratic countries to follow.
On previous occasions, Xi has made high-profile calls for a “community of shared future for mankind” or “community of common destiny,” but nothing ever came of it. This time, he is having another go by marketing the “Chinese model” to neighboring Asian countries.
As the Jewish saying goes: “A man thinks and God laughs.”
But when Xi talks about civilization, probably the only one to chuckle is the soul of his forebear Mao Zedong (毛澤東).
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