China aggression in Southeast Asia: Part 2

Chinese attempts in Asia and the Pacific region

By: Nguyen Tu Son: (The content below is that of Nguyen Tu Son and has not been altered in any way by Free Free Markets.)

Economic factors have achieved surprising successes in South America and Africa where the military threat is not directly felt. However the so-called charmed offensive has met with determined resistance in the Asia-Pacific region where any economic move, no matter how benign it might appear, can generate unpredictable reactions.

In Papua New Guinea, widespread racial tensions have frequently erupted into violent street riots. Indigenous people have accused Chinese emigrants of robbing their land of precious materials, unscrupulously exploiting resources, importing gangs, and treating local workers like slaves. Destructive riots in Papua New Guinea during recent years represented clear manifestations of pervasive discontent at the greedy newcomers. The Australian media has also expressed concern over the growing Chinese influence in the South Pacific Islands, the "Caribbean Islands" of Australia.

Similarly, the Chinese interest in Vietnam's bauxite industry has triggered strong, unfriendly reactions from a strange mixture of seemingly antagonist people, including scientists, Budhist monks, Catholic priests and atheistic communist generals. This hostile reception has its root deep in the history and geopolitical situation of the Asia-Pacific region, where Chinese soft power and hard power usually go hand in hand.

Immediately following the brutal invasion of peace-loving Tibet, the prime example of the combination soft power / hard power, Beijing implemented a well disguised but highly effective policy of cultural genocide. Tibetan monks and nuns were imprisoned, tortured and executed behind walls while the official propaganda machine showed friendly Han leaders politely addressing Tibetan people as Dear Compatriots (Ge Wei Tong Pao). Nowadays, re-educated or even fake monks/nuns manage the temples that have survived the destruction during the Cultural Revolution, and turn them into tourist attractions. This policy has a twofold purpose. The converted places of worship make money for the government and, at the same time, give the appearance of religious freedom.

As execution, exile, famine and force birth control have diluted the Tibetan population, millions of Han Chinese are pouring into the vast, sparsely populated country, grabbing land and resources under the vigilant protection of armed soldiers. Tibetan people, now a minority in their own homeland, are forced to speak Mandarin in order to find jobs, and survive in the predominantly Han environment. Their pristine homeland is filled with novelties such as restaurants, discos, bars, and, of course, brothels. As the first train left Beijing for Lhasa, the colonization picked up the pace. The Qingzang (Gormo-Lhasa) railway, bringing more settlers and more troops, would tighten the Beijing grip on Tibet. Within a few decades, or maybe sooner, the cultural genocide will completely eradicate the once brilliant Tibetan culture.

Even before the assimilation of Tibet was completed, China had put other Asian countries on the shopping list. Mao Zedong loved to compared Tibet to the palm of a hand, with its fingers as smaller Himalayan nations. He claimed that these countries were Chinese territories and needed to be liberated. Indeed, Beijing has successfully installed a Maoist regime in Nepal without military invasion. Nepalese Maoists, acting as surrogate fighters, waged a civil war and overthrew the monarchy while Chinese soldiers were comfortably eating dim sum across the border. This conquest illustrated the Sun Tzu's idea of taking a country intact without actual fighting, or the Western equivalent of war by proxy.

Even far-off Indonesia was not immune to acts of aggression. In 1965, Maoists used the Indonesian Communist Party as a fifth column to plot to overthrow the legitimate government and establish a communist state. The failed attempt demonstrated the persistent territorial ambition of Beijing. Had it been successful, Chinese soldiers would have stood on the doorstep of Australia.

Among the potential victims of expansionism, Korea and Vietnam are particularly vulnerable to land invasions. Although the two countries have adopted many aspects of the Chinese culture, they have fiercely resisted a total absorption into the huge Middle Empire. However, there the similarity ends. Korea, Japan and the Philippines are included in the US defensive perimeter. Communist Vietnam is not. If Chinese soldiers cross the 38th parallel again, they will meet with American ground troops. On the contrary, if they invade South East Asia, regional countries will have to hold their own. This situation has lead to a dramatic shift in the political landscape.


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