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  • Dec 20, 2014
  • Updated: 10:06pm
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PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 July, 2014, 1:12pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 July, 2014, 3:45am

Does Chinese blood really lack the DNA for aggression?

Frank Ching says however well-intentioned, Beijing's claim that there's no DNA for expansion in Chinese blood finds little support in history

Expansion is not in the Chinese DNA", Premier Li Keqiang declared during his visit to Britain, apparently in an attempt to allay fears driven by China's territorial claims in the South China Sea, "nor can we accept the logic that a strong country is bound to become hegemonic."

He was echoing comments by Xi Jinping the previous month when the president asserted: "In Chinese blood, there is no DNA for aggression or hegemony." China has moved to the centre of the world stage but has yet to truly lead, partly because of apprehension about its intentions, despite deep-seated problems dogging the United States.

At a recent summit in Shanghai of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia, Xi called for an "Asia for Asians" approach, saying that Asian countries themselves could resolve security issues in the region.

Beijing has long dismissed the idea that a rising China was a threat to its neighbours, asserting that the country throughout its long history has never been expansionist.

Citing DNA as proof makes the assertion sound scientific, especially when China appears to be making progress in studying the DNA of historical figures, such as the warlord Cao Cao, who lived 1,800 years ago, and even Confucius.

However, a glance at a historical atlas will show that China's borders have changed greatly from the time of the first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, to today. How, one wonders, did China grow so big without being expansionist?

One explanation is that China grew by being conquered, especially by the Mongols and the Manchus, who subjugated the Han Chinese and also invaded and took over other territories. According to that narrative, the Han Chinese, who make up more than 90 per cent of the population today, inherited the enlarged empire after the alien dynasties fell.

However, that is inconsistent with another official narrative, which is that Mongols, Manchus and Han are and have always been Chinese. Thus, all had Chinese DNA.

Actually, long before Qin Shi Huang, Chinese rulers sought to control what they thought of as the whole world, which was called "all under heaven".

In his book Ancient Chinese Thought, Modern Chinese Power, the scholar Yan Xuetong of Tsinghua University wrote: "The emperors of China's feudal times called themselves Son of Heaven, which shows that they thought of themselves as rulers of the world … The contention … was … a contention for world leadership."

This is not to say that Chinese leaders today want to rule the world. But it does suggest that, from a historical standpoint, there is little evidence to support the notion that there is no DNA in Chinese blood for aggression or expansion.

Unless, of course, ongoing studies show that Chinese today have somehow inherited only the sagely genes of peace-loving philosophers like Confucius, while those of Cao Cao and other warlords have vanished from the land.

Frank Ching is a Hong Kong-based writer and commentator. frank.ching@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter: @FrankChing1

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whymak
Caractacus:
Indo-China War
The MacMahon Line unilaterally carved out by the Crown at the turn of 20th Century was meant to stake British Empire's claim over much of China's territory bordering with her colony on the Indian subcontinent.
In late 50s, India was actively expanding both her administrative and military outposts over to the territory under Chinese administrative control. Prior to that, China had no border patrol or military garrison at the fuzzily defined border.
After years of failed negotiations, war broke out in 1962 on Aksai Chin and Ladakh. China quickly vanquished the Indian army, took over the all disputed territories, and captured 2,100 combatants and tons of weapons and materiel. Poised over the Assam plain, China could have easily occupied tens of thousand square miles of Indian territory. Instead, China wisely withdrew to her former line of control before the war broke. Without negotiation, China voluntarily repatriated to India all war prisoners, including a brigadier general, and all captured weapons restored to their battle ready condition.
Western media don't like to talk about this one. Does China look like an aggressor to you? Please correct me for any inaccuracy in my account on this piece of ancient history.
I feel badly about this. China had humiliated a nation of 1.2 billion people.
whymak
Caractacus:
Lying about and slandering China is your feel good passion. Ultimately, the joke is on your hyper ossified thick skull.
Tibet has been a China autonomous region as long as anyone can remember. Read about Tashi Tsering's "Struggle for Modern Tibet." He returned to China from the US during the Cultural Revolution, was imprisoned and almost lost his life. Learn from him what Tibetan society was like before the ouster of Dalai Lama. BTW, Tibet is an inhospitable place. There are more Tibetans living in Qinghai, Sichuan, Yunnan than in Tibet. Yes, many still worship Dalai Lama, but they no longer want him and the exiles in Dharamsala to lord over them. That's a fact.
Vietnam tried to grab a chunk of territory from Cambodia. China warned it not to do so. Deng Xiaoping wanted to teach Vietnam a lesson. Bad move for China.
As for Sino-Indian War, read my new posting above.
As for South China Sea, many countries have claims too. Vietnam officially accepted China's sovereignty of Spratley's in the 70s. Now it wanted to renege. Philippines has no recorded history. Tagalog and other languages have no written scripts, let alone documented ownership. They are against China because of the US.
Overwhelming majority of wars were started by democracies. Iraq exacted a heavy toll: 500,000 dead and 4 million Iraqis displaced, 4500 American war dead and a $2T tab.The US slaughtered about 4 million Vietnamese. Birth defects from Agent Orange have caused much sufferings.
caractacus
This rubbish about China not being expansionist or aggressive has been peddled for decades while China's actions speak otherwise.
Tibet 1950. India 1962, Vietnam 1979, South China Sea 2013, what next for the "master race"?
Amazingly, some people swallow the lie.
markwhouston has it about right.
chaz_hen
Chinese men have a LOT of aggression and strength. Look when they slap women around...pretty tough! Look when they jump a single guy with odds of 5-1 the way triads normally do...super macho!
Yes, I'd definitely say they have the DNA for super manly, testosterone fueled aggression...
Dai Muff
Whatever the mouth-frothing nationalists say, more Chinese have been killed by Chinese than by any other nationality on Earth, and in fact by all the nations on Earth put together. So I'd say it's a no on that one.
whymak
Cultural DNA & Epigenetics 2
To explain human conditions, we need both cultural epigenetics and DNA. In biology, aside from being preprogrammed by transcription proteins coded by genes, epigenetic mechanisms are also influenced by environment. Hence nature and nurture are joined at the hip in human intellectual development.

Thus cultural epigenetics for an individual is analogous to his exposure to a set of cultural DNAs, random events, social and political trends, all of which now control the expression of his personal cultural DNA. A statistical compilation now defines the cultural DNA and epigenetics for a group.

The interaction between a group’s cultural DNA (genes) and epigenetics are what defines a people’s culture and values.

Indeed, this succinct description leads also to shared human conditions from international interactions across the entire spectrum of nations.

Now one begins to understand the hubris of those attempting to impose Democracy’s universal values.
whymak
Cultural DNA & Epigentics 3
Now I will follow up science with some applications and rants.

As a non-starter, writers in your profession are in the habit of using anecdotes of individuals to generalize into factoids of ethnicity. Demonizing China seems like an SCMP specialty. A media echo chamber is an epigenetic mechanism – a positive feedback loop system that amplifies falsehoods at each data input.

I find academic pseudo intellectuals posing as social and political scientists reprehensible and without redeeming social grace. They are agitators with no skill in applying valid scientific analogs to social situations.

Though autonomy and freedom are HK demonstrators’ rationalized themes behind their hatred of China, demonstrating students and Scholarism brats are basically know nothing, arrogant Red Guards. They derive their energy from a commercial media motivated to sell stories and its willingness to hype demonstrators’ lies about their strength in numbers and self-righteousness.

As to Xi Jinping’s claim of China being less aggressive, to date facts bear him out. But it’s the China’s cultural epigenetics – the non-inherited adaptation – that can’t be guaranteed.
whymak
Vietnam got into trouble with China because it ignored the latter warning not to invade Cambodia.
A Matsui
When it comes to the DNA for aggression from a scale of 0 to 10, the Chinese is probably at around 5. The Japanese and Anglos will be closer to 10. One aggressor was busy invading Asia and committing all kinds of atrocities until 2 atomic bombs from are bigger aggressor put a stop to the menace. So while the sore loser consoles itself behind a "peace constitution" which is finally being ditched today and finding some solace to their evil aggression by praying to war criminals at the Yasukuni War Shrine, the other even worse aggressor have been conducting all kinds of wars and invading a lot of countries and committing atrocities like Abu Ghraib. So given the evidence, one would say the Chinese are too unaggressive for their own good. Offence is always better than defence.
markwhouston
Frank Ching is correct in his thoughts regarding the aggressive behavior of Chinese people. In fact, recent studies into the genetics of extreme violence, amongst Chinese males, are a real eye opener.
With regard to real history, extreme violence, cruelty and suppression, are hallmarks of China's governance. Although it may be true, that China has been well behaved, and seemingly passive, over the past century, the only reason for such subdued behavior, comes from the knockout punch inflicted on the Ching Empire at the end of the 19th Century. Most historians would agree, that such injury was self inflicted, once again, in a repeat of history, by the corruption and total amoral behavior of the Han elite.
Neuropsychobiology
Possible association between serotonin transporter promoter region polymorphism and extremely violent crime in Chinese males.
****europepmc.org/abstract/MED/15539857

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