Sheriff on China.
23 December by Tan Sri Sheriff Kassim
I heard on Bfm radio that an opinion poll in Australia found that most respondents do not trust China. The government relationship between Canberra and Washington may be a factor but cannot be the reason for the Australian people’s negative opinion about China.
The silver lining is that there are intellectuals within China and within the Communist Party who feel that as the Chinese people become more and more prosperous and as the country becomes more powerful on the global stage, it has to change. No doubt change will mean eroding the power of the Communist leadership to control and command. But unless the leadership is willing to let go of its dictatorship, there will continue to be sceptisms and suspicions over every action from the party leaders.
Forty years ago, the Americans and British acknowledged that it was necessary for China to retain the dictatorship in order to undo the terrible tragedies of the past and escape from the mass poverty. Today, China is a global economy exporting and investing all over the world and buying over properties and golf clubs and shopping in the most expensive shops in London, Paris, New York like the Japanese used to do when they rose from the ashes of war to become a successful world economy. Consumers in the west stopped buying American and British electrical appliances because the Japanese products were cheaper. But the westerners did not fear Japan because unlike in the pre-war Imperial days, post-war Japan is an open society.
Same with Germany. Pre-war Germans believed in their racial supremacy. But post-war Germany is totally a changed country.
Russia remains a despised country despite shedding communism because fundamentally, the old Stalinist methods of governing are still prevalent in the Kremlin. The KGB is gone but its ghosts are still around. Two years ago, I was visiting Moscow. Our tourist guide told me to speak softly because the police are everywhere. The same in Iran when I asked the tourist guide about the Islamic Revolutionary Guards. He told me in a low voice they are a bunch of smugglers as they control all the border crossings.
I asked all these questions because I wanted to know whether what I hear from western media is true. On China, I saw the al Jazeera documentary about the Uighurs. And I saw the BBC interview with anti-China dissidents who fled Hong Kong. And we also read in the media that Taiwan wants to remain independent of China. Lee Kuan Yew said he preferred to see the US Seventh Fleet patrolling the South China Sea. India is forever quarrelling with China over the disputed territories in the Himalayas mountain region.
The greater China becomes, the more the world expects it to change.
We all know that SE Asia will come under the mainland Chinese orbit. Not by military conquest but by the sheer force of its economic outreach. And that is why we hope for China to play its role as a responsible global power.