Chung Kuo

 
The one party government of China, is it legitimate?

What do we mean by legitimacy when a regime takes over a nation after an internal power struggle, a civil war, that settles it, one way or another.

Iraq was just simply walked over. The US military must have known this. Saddam Hussein was painted as a nutcase who by himself was a weapon of mass destruction.They had not realised that was how he kept Iraq under control. Why a nation might need that kind of control over matters is a whole another discussion.

The question of legitimacy was always tainted by anti-communist bias on the part of the West, so on reflection, one has to ask why there may be a doubt about who ought to be in charge in a foreign nation. The fact that the regime was terribly repressive defeated the whole purpose of the revolution which promised to practise a utopian ideology. While focusing on equities the belief system conveniently side steps the related issue of human freedoms.

Not because of the ideology but because of the tyranny, the West was always nervous about recognising the new regime in China, not just pragmatically but morally.

Chiang Kai Shek's regime was tyrannical too, by all accounts, but at least he did not toy with the human soul. Indeed, he left a legacy of US style democracy in Taiwan. He was proud and a good leader but he was a broken man. He was the other China that could have been but never will be. Wow!

To the degree that one can criticise the history of another's nation in a constructive manner, one has to shed certain democracy-minded axioms if not actual prejudices about dictatorial systems. It is salutary to remember that the democratic system, in its constitutional sense, is better at guaranteeing freedoms rather more than electing competent governments. This is a comforting thought but dictatorial governments, on the condition that they are not riddled by a corrupt public service, tend to be much more efficient. Their objectives may by wrong-headed but they are very clear about how to attain them. The democrats visit Singapore and can't help but be impressed at the prosperity, evermore clean and evermore sharp. What does one mean by 'freedom'? One cannot help but doubt the noble savage model on account of the strange shivering in the mind caused by the bubbly air in the new palm beach marvel that belies its tawdry title 'shopping centre'. Drawn by the glamour the templed soul yields to the simple pleasure of buying and for others, selling, glittering like a galaxy in this palace of love and modern commerce.

It is a moot point, what the Nixon-Kissinger deal with Chou En Lai and China's entry into the UN really entailed for China's future role in the global marketplace, which without diplomatic recognition would have been problematic at the level as simple as trade agreements.

The Mao suit, from which the new China was born, is the foundational hero image, which to this day the new elites have not discarded. It has become more sartorial but as in the West we adore a peasant king, the communist mythology, recent though it is, has its series of peasant princes. It involved a modernisation process in the soul of an ancient decadent empire. The overwhelming power of poverty replaced the glittering monarchy with a more opaque one and absurd the price paid seemingly, in retrospect. Decade after decade the system ground on, building huge armies, until the pressures from a populace tired of repression and hunger grew too much. The USSR reduced back into Russia like - doiyoing - but China moved into the global marketplace. Private ownership was once again allowed. There was always a mystic quality in the whole artifice of the Chinese revolution. In Hong Kong grew an office tower, the Bank of China, glittering, like a miracle.

Is the government of China legitimate? Who knows? It is Chung Kuo, the middle nation.

 

| Bevagna, 3 4 2021

 

ESSAYS

 << + >> 

 

© Paik Tae Ho  2000