Is China an Asian island of harmony?

China is making the exact same mistakes that Japan made before and during world war two, believing in Asia for Asia but believing it must be top dog so to speak Photo: Associated Press

WASHINGTON, January 5, 2014 — Statistics released in the last week show that China’s trade in goods from the period January to November 2013 was valued at $3.77 trillion, second only to the United States. By this time next year, China is expected to be leading the global trade in goods, though the U.S. is far ahead when you include services.

China is definitely on a roll.


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There are, however, questions that China must put to rest.

The previous Chinese administration led by President Hu Jintao stressed the word “harmony.” Hu Jintao often spoke of China evolving into a harmonious society, and by extension creating a harmonious world. As professor Zhang Liwen of Renmin University said, “The thought of harmony is a major component of the Chinese culture that highlights a harmonious union of peoples.”

Hu sold the ideas of peaceful development and coexistence so effectively to the world that most people believed it, except for the distrustful cynics in the Pentagon. But perhaps those cynics in the Pentagon knew something the rest of the world did not. Did Hu stress harmony to placate a distrustful world, to calm fears created by China’s economic growth? Did he wish to convince the world that China will not abuse the power that will come with a powerful economy, as many in the past have?

Current President Xi Jinping seems to prefer a more aggressive China. This suddenly more aggressive stance is worrisome or frightening for China’s neighbors, so why take it? Having taken it, China must back it up with strong actions, and do so consistently, or it will be seen as a paper tiger.


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There have been calls for some time for China to play a wider role in international affairs. That does not mean that China should push its neighbors around in territorial disputes over who controls what in the ocean. There are harmonious ways of resolving these disputes and international bodies whose primary purpose is to help solve them. Harmony is often difficult, but not impossible.

It is hard to see any motive in China’s aggressive stance on the Diaoyu Islands (Senkaku in Japanese) other than the promise of oil in the area surrounding them. It follows that this is a dispute over who will lead Asia in the future. An implication is that Western World is irrelevant in the future of Asia, and India will be a passive appendage. This is a vision to frighten Vietnam, South and North Korea, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.

Fighting over who should lead Asia is not harmonious. Japan and China could lead together, or better yet, Asia could unite to find a peaceful, harmonious way ahead. Neither China nor Japan wants the West taking a leading role in Asia in the long run. China is building its own space station, preparing its own lunar missions not to compete with the West, but to declare its independence from the West.

China looks at its enormous population, understands the modern economy and sees itself as the leader of Asia. Hu Jintao had that same vision, and Xi Jinping wants to make this ambition a reality. That is why he seeks to create zones patrolled by the Chinese navy and air force. He is very close to the military, and the military has given him assurances that it shares his ambitions for China and can help to fulfill them.

Japan remains a worry for Beijing, which accuses Japan of wanting to remilitarize. The concern is mutual. In a 2011 white paper, Japanese analysts predicted that China’s navy would be more active in the region, and Xi Jinping has done exactly as the white paper predicted.

China is making the same mistakes that Japan made before and during World War II. It believes in Asia for Asia, but it also believes that it must be top dog. Were Hu’s harmony ideology a driving force in Chinese policy, it would find a way to share the territory to benefit all not just China. Though speaking of Asia for Asia, pre WWII Japan was benefiting alone whilst it exploited and bullied other Asians.

Hopefully China is not using foreign policy “enemies” to divert from domestic problems. It may be using this strategy to distract the people’s attention from the economic difficulties the country is facing thanks to unsound economic policies.

China can still return to its policy of harmony at home and abroad, including sound monetary policies. Free trade is a backbone of that harmony. Through harmony, China can deliver a different world, if it accepts the concept of equality and a free market system. That is beauty of libertarianism.


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Bhekuzulu Khumalo

Bhekuzulu Khumalo has studied economics learning that mathematics behaves differently according to spatial dimensions, transdimensional mathematics. Khumalo writes on freedom and liberty, both of which the world needs more of.

Bhekuzulu Khumalo has written Fundamental Theory of Knowledge and is working on his first fictional book 

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