Why Han Chauvinism Isn't Working For China

A commentary by Bao Tong
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Bao Tong argues that China's chauvinism leads to policy setbacks with Taiwan and Hong.
Bao Tong argues that China's chauvinism leads to policy setbacks with Taiwan and Hong.
Photo courtesy of Bao Tong

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.

Comments (7)


from NYC

It's funny how 50 cent people use my name to respond to my post. Originality anyone?

But to address his questions, there is no dispute the 19th century China was a victim of European & Japanese colonialism but the Manchu Qing Dynasty was also a colonial empire that imposed colonialism on Tibet, Mongolia, Vietnam & Korea.

When the Qing Dynasty fell, Tibet regained its independence. There is no evidence that ROC had any actual control over Tibet's internal affairs. Tibet was free until Mao's troops marched into Tibet in 1949-50.

You can Google East Turkestan Republic & see that it existed from 1945-49. But regardless the Uighur people have the right of self-determination & they can choose whether to live under CCP rule or not. Nothing justifies the barbaric repression of the Uighur people by the CCP.

No one disputes the Japanese Empire invaded China & tried to colonize it in 1937-45 & committed terrible atrocities. For that Japan should be ashamed. But Japan today is different from pre-WW2 Japan. In fact, the PRC looks a lot like imperial Japan where you have rising nationalism, a belief in the superiority of the country/civilization, and xenophobic behavior that blames foreigners for domestic problems.

Basically, nothing justifies PRC hegemonism today. You can't drum up or ignore the past but you have to account for your actions today.

Feb 13, 2017 10:32 AM

Anonymous Reader

Wangchuk's post shows a sophisticated understanding of Chinese history, while dewangchuk sounds like a PRC fenqing (angry youth) who still believes every word of the PRC high school "patriotic education" history textbooks the government mandated.

May 05, 2016 04:50 PM


from BC

you just know nothing about recent history in China.
Pls answer following Qs:
What is "exploited China" all about?
what is Japanese invasion?
how to define China's failure of modernization?
what is Japan's modernization in your thourght, imperialism? invasion? pearl harbor attach?
how to define "independent Tibet" in 1949?
where the heck East Turkestan were? in or before 1949?
How China invaded Vietnam in 1979? where the heck did Chinese get from Vietname during the 79's "invasion"?

shame on you~

[This comment has been edited by RFA Editorial staff per our Terms of Use]

May 04, 2016 04:55 PM


from NY

The CCP blames the West & Japan for the downfall of China during the 19th & 20th centuries. It's true the West once exploited China & Japan invaded China during WW2. But China failed to modernize in the 19th century unlike Japan & internal feuds & rebellions also brought down the Qing Dynasty. And the PRC also invaded independent Tibet & East Turkestan in 1949-50 and invaded Vietnam in 1979. Since 1949, the CCP has killed more Chinese, Tibetans & Uighurs than anyone else. The CCP should look to its own barbaric history before blaming anyone else for China's problems.

May 03, 2016 10:42 AM

Anonymous Reader

Hitler also played on this victimhood, wiliness, and superior military power. It resulted in the unnecessary death of tens of millions of ordinary citizens across the whole world.

There are frightening parallels in today's China: a claim that the Chinese people are victims of the west and Japan; a belief that the Chinese are the originators of civilization, and superior to their neighbors, both culturally, and racially; a massive build-up of military power.

Japan also fell victim to this kind of mentality.

This kind of thinking only ends in ultimate destruction.

Apr 27, 2016 03:18 PM

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