‘Fault Lines On The Face Of China: 50 Reasons Why China May Never Be Great’ - Excerpt 63“Arise, ye who refuse to be slaves;With our very flesh and bloodLet us build our new Great Wall!The peoples of China are at their most critical time,Everybody must roar defiance.Arise! Arise! Arise!Millions of hearts with one mind,Brave the enemy’s gunfire,March on!Brave the enemy’s gunfire,March on! March on! March on, on!The above words, China’s National Anthem, were written by the poet and playwright Tian Han, in 1934. Tian died like so many of China’s other citizens during the ‘Cultural Revolution’ (1966-1976). ‘In 1968, Tian Han disappeared after endless torture of being criticized and beaten. He never left a word to anybody. Even his bone ashes couldn’t be found. Ten years later, [he] was finally exonerated,’ following the normal in-and-out of favor process, says the state-run China Radio International.When the national anthem was written, the target of ‘marching on’ was clear – the Japanese armies which had invaded China. It was ‘fighting’ against the Japanese on which the People’s Liberation Army hangs it reputation after being formed in 1927. But today its goal is less clear, less defined, obscured by military inactivity and often politicized by grand-sounding rhetoric.”
The fact that Tian Han was beaten to death would come as a surprise to most Chinese people today – at least, to those who had any idea who he was.
To those who know China, his murder is of course no surprise. One of the reasons China has such a dismal record in innovation and creativity is because standing out is dangerous.
Take Lao She (老舍), for example. He was a wonderful writer, creating novels of great sensitivity and insight. For me, his greatest work is ‘Camel Xiangzi’ (骆驼祥子), since I feel it gives more insight into Chinese society than his play ‘Tea House,’ (茶馆) which is especially venerated in China. Lao She committed suicide in 1966 after having been paraded through the streets and beaten by the Red Guards.
Again, few people know this. It is seldom mentioned in China today. He is simply accepted as a great writer, and the appalling way in which China treated him is simply airbrushed out of history. Today’s students are not to blame for the crimes of their forebears – but the fact that China does not admit to its history is a problem indeed.
Happy those who died of natural causes. The big names of modern Chinese history, from Sun Zhongshan to Lu Xun were lucky if they died young. Had they lived, China would have murdered them. But in death they became safe objects for veneration, and so venerated they were, even though both were totally ineffective men.
People tell me the ‘Cultural Revolution’ mentality is in the past. This is bullshit. It is still part of the fabric of contemporary Chinese society, and in a future entry I shall set out why this is so.
‘Fault Lines On The Face Of China: 50 Reasons Why China May Never Be Great’ - Excerpt 64“How should one interpret China’s ‘unconditional’ pledge ‘not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states’ and its ‘policy of no first use of nuclear weapons at any time and under any circumstances’? Do the words ‘not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states’ imply that use of nuclear arms against nuclear states is open and available as part of national policy?Let us here remind ourselves of the words of PLA general Zhu Chenghu who, in mid 2005, said that if America came to the aid of Taiwan in the event China invaded the country, ‘I think we will have to respond with nuclear weapons.’ Zhu said that “We . . . will prepare ourselves for the destruction of all of the cities east of Xian. Of course the Americans will have to be prepared that hundreds . . . of cities will be destroyed by the Chinese.”And it is interesting that while Zhu said these remarks were his personal opinion, and while Beijing said they did not reflect official policy, internal criticism of General Zhu was remarkably limited. A senior general in an army in a developed nation that made such inflammatory remarks would face almost certain demotion, perhaps even forced retirement. Yet General Zhu apparently went unpunished, keeping his post as a head of the College of Defense Studies at China’s National Defense University, where he was still making policy pronouncements in 2006 and 2007.”