Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Who needs freedom if China can do without it?

cyber age : ND Batra
It’s a dog’s life sans freedom
From The Statesman

China has been growing at the rate of 8-9 per cent for the past two decades or so, and is expected to become an economic and military heavyweight, if not a superpower, in the coming decades. Since the authoritarian rule has not held back China from growing at a phenomenal rate, it is legitimate to ask: How could they do so much in such a short time without freedom and civil liberties? Even Vietnam has begun to follow the Chinese model.

May be Francis Fukuyama should revise his thesis which he prematurely delivered soon after the collapse of the Soviet Union: “What we are witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or a passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalisation of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.”

Rather too soon, I am afraid, the end of Communism brought about a sense of complacency, a grand illusion as if it were the final triumph of freedom. Of course, that did not happen. It did not happen in Russia after the Soviet Union disintegrated; and it did not happen in China in spite of the 1989 Tiananman Square pro-democracy protests; and in spite of rapid economic growth and broadening prosperity under state-controlled market capitalism.

Democracy did not happen in the Muslim-Arab world where Islamic fundamentalism has been taking hold of the hearts and minds of the people since long. In fact, after the collapse of the Soviet Union worldwide authoritarianism might have increased. China has no doubt ceased to be an imminent threat since its economic growth has become increasingly tied up with: search for energy and other raw material; foreign direct investment; and exports, especially to the USA.

Today China, ironically, is the USA’s biggest foreign lender; and so, unsurprisingly, human rights including Tibet have ceased to be an issue in Sino-US relations. On a recent visit to China, US treasury secretary John Snow urged the Chinese to spend more on consumer goods; he never mentioned democracy. Do you know why? Because China, according to The Wall Street Journal, would be accumulating “a $100-billion trade surplus for the year — triple last year’s number — it must reduce reliance on trade and build up internal demand by encouraging the Chinese to spend more.” For China, consuming what they manufacture is more important than political freedom.

Between the USA and Saudi Arabia and other seemingly pro-American Muslim-Arab countries in the region, where fundamentalism has been holding sway for long, human rights and freedom were seldom an issue. After the 2001 terrorists attacks, the USA bonded with Pakistan using financial and military ties to make it an ally against the Taliban and Al-Qaida terrorism. And to maintain its hold over Pakistan, the USA soft-peddled the issue of even the black-marketing of nuclear technology by one of the world’s most notorious scientists, AQ Khan. Military rules the land. Jihadists flourish, regardless of earthquake or whatever.

The USA has not given up the realpolitik of playing games with the devil regardless of its newly found messianic fervour of spreading freedom universally. The rhetoric of freedom and liberty seems to be a posture of public diplomacy for winning the hearts and minds of the Arab-Muslim world. George W Bush believes that the USA would remain vulnerable to terrorism so long as tyranny and hate ideology prevailed abroad and for which, according to him, there’s no other solution except to expand freedom.

“The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world…. Across the generations, we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government because no one is fit to be a master and no one deserves to be a slave,” said Bush at the beginning of his second term. But an Arab/Muslim might say, look at China, where 1.3 billion people work day and night to churn out goods for the entire world without much ado about freedom.

When Bush goes to China, is he going to challenge President Hu Jintao: Democratise or else?

With Iraq in mind, Bush has no doubt been steadfast in what he had said earlier, “Our country has accepted obligations that are difficult to fulfil, and would be dishonourable to abandon. Yet, because we have acted in the great liberating tradition of this nation, tens of millions have achieved their freedom.” Elections in Afghanistan and the Palestinian Authority raised some hope that eventually elections and sharing of power in Iraq might bring about the beginning of law and order in Iraq, too.

Successful holding of the recent elections in Iraq for the approval of the constitution was a momentous event, a new day when millions of Iraqis exercised their freedom. But freedom to vote is not enough because it does not mean the end of violence, poverty and unemployment, which provide a fertile ground for more terrorism.

The Bush freedom rhetoric and new-found zest for public diplomacy must include economic aid including preferential trade for poor Muslim countries such as Bangladesh and Indonesia as well as for other nations which have been making valiant efforts to grow economically and control Islamic jihadism at the same time.

Instead of looking to China as a model, they should look to the USA. That is the biggest challenge for the US public diplomacy today.


  1. nice, cozy place you got here :)..

  2. Yawn!!!

    Do you how CCP came from? Read some Chinese history. Without the people's support by their lives, CCP had no way to become the ruling party in China. So, first, you have to know that CCP was choosed by Chinese people.

    India is a democratic country. what has the democracy done in India? Economy? Lagging behind CHina. Science research? Lagging behind China even you Indians always tell the world you have a knowledge economy. Military? lagging behind China, you even don't have a complete industrial system. Corruption? Worse than China. Pay more attention to the "Untouchables" (100 to 200 million) in India. That's the real human right issue you have to face and deal with seriously. Why Maoists are so welcomed in some part of India? They need the very basic things to keep their souls and bodis together.

    China has its own election system. The officials of the lowest level are the direct elected. The upper levels are elected by the representatives elected by the lower level. There are corruptions in the elections and many need to be changed. But the election system is there. We need reform on the system but not the revolution. You cannot deny this fact.

    The US deficit with China. But China has more than US$1300 billion internation trade this year. US$100billion is a big problem coparing the total number? I know you indians are dreaming to reach that point. US gov has its own responsibility for the deficit. It constraints the exports of high tech products to China. It hurts US itself. For example, US prohibits to export supercomputers to China. But China developed the 10 TFLOPS supercomputer herself (You indians need long time to catch up even you indians always title india as a IT superpower ironically). The computer used to be the No. 3 or 4 in the world only 2 years ago. There are several Chinese companies can do this now. Thanks for the sanction. We can do it by ourselves. Another example is the nuclear power generators that China needs to meet her energy demand. But it is so difficult for US companies to export the generators. Does it hurt China? No. China can still bur the generators from Japan, France, Canada, Russia. China is developing her own generators too. Two 600 MW Chinese generators are working now and China is developing the 1,000 MW generators.

    Speaking of the power generation. China had 450,000 MW capacity and is sinatalling 70,000 MW each year. India only has a pityful 112,000 MW capacity and is increasing at 15,000MW rate each year.

    Basically, China's international trade is balanced considering such as hugh trade number.

    Another problem is that even US stops buying products from China, it still needs to buy from other developing countries. Americans will never get those jobs back. And US deficit can only be larger since no country in the world can make goods so cheap and meet Americans requirement.

    Chinese can produce the product with low cost even Chinese salary is higher than Indians'.

    Basically, Chinese tends to do more and you indians tends to speak more.

    US bizmen are smarter than you indians. They know how to make money and who can they do biz with.

  3. My post was deleted by some one.

    The auther talked a lot of democracy and human rights, such and such.

    Your "democratic" gov need take care of the 100-200 million "untouchbles" in India. They need food and a place to sleep badly.

    Also, 60% of the residents in "financial catital" Mumbai are living in slums that were simply built from plastics and stick. They need India gov to take care of their very basic human rights.

    Chinese gov does much better jobs that your India gov considering the basic human rights.