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Home > East Asia > 

China's power based on state terror
Paul Lin
8/8/2004

Over the past six months, China has been continuously advocating its new "peaceful rise" position. But no matter how we look at it, a more suitable name to describe this process would be "rise by terror."

This "peaceful rise" idea was proposed for the first time in Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's speech on Dec. 10 last year during a speech at Harvard University. "China today is a country undergoing reform and opening-up and a is rising power dedicated to peace," Wen was quoted as saying in the Harvard Gazette.

In a symposium to commemorate the 110th anniversary of Mao Zedong's birth on Dec. 26 last year, general secretary of the Communist Party and President Hu Jintao said China would "adhere to the development road of a peaceful rise." On March 14 this year during the 10th National People's Congress, Wen outlined the features of this so-called "peaceful rise:" The rise of China will not stand in the way or pose a threat to any other country; it will not be achieved at the expense of any other country; and China does not seek hege-mony now, nor will it seek hegemony even after it becomes powerful.

Obviously, these lies are intended to deny the threats China poses to Taiwan. China's "peaceful rise" notion was crafted by the 11th Party Congress central committee and will continue until the middle of this century, when its basic modernization goals are achieved. But despite all the rhetoric, there has only been terror. For example:

Just two months after the Party Congress, China declared a war of "self-defense" against Vietnam, fighting its way to Lang Son before pulling back. This was done to threaten neighboring countries and to oust Hua Kuo-feng, who was chairman of the Central Military Commission.

On June 4, 1989, the government surrounded the capital with troops to crush peaceful protests in Tiananmen Square. Zhao Zi-yang, then party general secretary, was incarcerated.

In July 1999, the government cracked down on the Falun Gong movement. Many people have died from the persecution and many more have been incarcerated. This crackdown, along with that of other dissident groups, has been done in the name of maintaining stability.

Even China's economic development is fraught with violence. Chinese government officials in every region work with transnational corporations and Chinese "entrepreneurs" to exploit Chinese workers. Recently, US Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao signed four joint letters of understanding with China to improve workplace safety and protect workers' rights. That such actions required foreign intervention gives us an idea of the terror ingrained in China's economic development.

Since 1995, Beijing has constantly threatened Taiwan with invasion and frequently holds military exercises along the coast of Fujian Province. It has even test fired-missiles towards the country. Threatening language is commonly employed in reference to Taiwan among Chinese officials and their media. High-ranking military officials have also threatened nuclear strikes against Los Angeles or against dams in the US as part of an "unlimited war" strategy. As communications in China's media are strictly monitored, it can only be assumed that these views are at least tacitly accepted. All this is simply government-sponsored terrorism.

The Straits Times daily in Singapore, in a recent report, said that some members of the National People's Congress and other party officials sent a letter to the central government suggesting that if Taiwan ever intended to threaten the Three Gorges Dam, they should revoke their guarantee of not using nuclear weapons against Taiwan in the event of war.

Note the use of the word "intended." It only requires Bei-jing to judge Taiwan's intentions for it to go back on its international commitments not to use their nuclear capabilities in a first strike. It is widely known that the National People's Congress cannot oppose government decisions, so their suggestions are crafted to coincide with the wishes of their superiors -- or as a "nuclear bluff" game at the least. This is the behavior of a rogue state.

Whether internationally or domestically, China uses the tactics of terror to reinforce its power. This by any other name is still the rise of terror.


Paul Lin is a commentator based in New York.

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