Why Han Chauvinism Isn't Working For China

A former aide to a late, disgraced Chinese premier says Chinese nationalism has it wrong on Taiwan, Hong Kong and ethnic minority groups.

Bao Tong argues that China's chauvinism leads to policy setbacks with Taiwan and Hong.

Two stories in the news recently: one in Kenya where Beijing has claimed jurisdiction over a group of Taiwanese, and the other in which Beijing managed to shoulder out the Taiwan delegate from the International Iron and Steel Conference. Are these good things, or bad? Victories or defeats?

I'm just an average Joe who doesn't know much about what's going on. All I know is that these things have the flavor of civil war about them. We shouldn't be oppressing foreigners any more than we should oppress our own, no matter how wily we think we are, nor how many troops we command, nor how much we regard ourselves as victims.

Two wrongs don't make a right: they're just two scandals or two tragedies. Anyone who thinks they can export victimhood has already started to take on the quality of a madman. They have left universal values behind.

I just don't get the mood on our side of the Taiwan Strait. I see the news regarding the other side, and I feel terrible. It's all about suppression. Whatever happened to detente, good conscience and wise statesmanship?

It's hypocritical to claim that someone is your flesh and blood, but to display not even an ounce of goodwill towards them. Where's the glory in that? Where's the meaning in forced unity?

It's the same problem in Hong Kong, whose return to Chinese rule is governed by the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration. Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong. A high degree of autonomy. These things are crucial to the city's continuing stability and prosperity.

Nobody has the right, regardless of their reasons, to trifle with an international treaty. The ruling Chinese Communist Party's actions in Hong Kong needs must be limited to military and diplomatic affairs. Now that line has been crossed, all kinds of conflicts have ensued, and they should bear responsibility for breaching the Joint Declaration. They should understand that it is sacrosanct.

There are many different minority groups in China, and they need to get along together. All peoples, however small a group, should have the right to autonomy.

Han chauvinism is of no use here. All it does is destroy and alienate. The past six decades have shown us that.

Translated by Luisetta Mudie.

Bao Tong, former political aide to the late ousted premier Zhao Ziyang, is under continual surveillance and frequent house arrest at his home in Beijing.