I am indebted to the blog https://chinaicons.com/ for drawing my attention to the proverbs of the famous Chinese military tactician Sun Tzu, whose writings are still studied by military commanders the world over. I’ve borrowed this picture of his statue from the China Icons website.
Among the proverbs this one resonates with me particularly:
“Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.”
Isn’t this exactly how the Chinese leadership is making fools of the rest of us? Their creeping occupation of the South China Sea, consolidation of their hold over Tibet and suppression of political freedom in Hong Kong are all being achieved through persistent bullying and angry outbursts that fall short of provoking armed conflict. (See my earlier post ‘Trump, Tsai and Xi’.)
Again, one can draw parallels with those other rogue states Israel and Russia – and North Korea too, I suppose.
PS According to the WordPress computer, my fellow-blogger at China Icons found that earlier post of mine “awesome”. He or she writes well and is not given to extravagant hyperbole, so I guess I’m up there with Sun Tzu himself – and even Confucius! Or maybe WordPress is leading the charge towards degradation of the English language. OMG, that would make me s-o-o-o stroppy!
Why must we always be the ones to back down and compromise our principles? By ‘we’, by the way, I mean The Liberal Democratic West (LDW for short, not to be confused with LBW).
Taiwan is a country with its own government, socio-politico-economic system, policies and values. It suits many people to maintain the fiction that it’s a renegade province of the People’s Republic of China that will one day be reincorporated into the mainland Chinese polity, but for all practical purposes and for the foreseeable future it is a separate state.
Moreover, the so-called People’s Republic of China under Xi Jinping is going out of its way to behave badly. Whether it’s denying political rights in Hong Kong, flouting international law in the South China Sea, engaging in industrial espionage or dumping dodgy steel products on world markets, China is donning the clothes of a Rogue State.
And why wouldn’t it? It has observed that the LDW will always back down rather that risk a fight – unless its opponent is orders of magnitude weaker. Israel, Russia and Saudi Arabia have got away with murder, so why not China?
That’s why I applaud Donald Trump’s decision to talk to President Tsai of Taiwan (both pictured below, courtesy of AP). Let journalists and political advisors cringe and mouth the doctrine of appeasement. I say, “Enough! What’s the point of spending 4% of your GDP to build and maintain the most powerful military machine in the history of mankind if you always back off rather than risk hurting a few feelings?!”
Don’t get me wrong: On almost every issue I am at odds with both Donald Trump and John Bolton (tipped to become his Secretary of State), and I have no appetite for a Third World War. But in this one instance the Donald got it right and John’s endorsement was spot-on. We tried being nice to China and look where it got us. It’s time to try something different.
If Xi Jinping doesn’t like it, let him rant and act offended and threaten to cut off the supply of Barbie dolls.