• Tue
  • Dec 23, 2014
  • Updated: 7:43am
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 November, 2012, 7:09am

Communist Party's path of hard power

Frank Ching says China's communist rulers have a long way to go to embody the Confucian ideals of civilisation they profess to uphold

China's Communist Party likes to depict itself as heir to 5,000 years of Chinese civilisation and has wrapped itself in the cloak of Confucius, advocating harmony in domestic as well as international relations. And yet, at times, it is difficult to discern the values of a truly civilised society in the behaviour of the Communist Party state.

One appalling example is the rising number of Tibetans driven to kill themselves by self-immolation. The Chinese government simply dismisses this human tragedy by calling the victims "terrorists" and accusing the Dalai Lama of inciting such actions. This lack of feeling is astonishing, coming from those who portray themselves as purveyors of Chinese values.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, last week urged the Chinese government to address the deep-rooted frustrations in Tibetan areas. "Social stability in Tibet will never be achieved through heavy security measures and suppression of human rights," she said. "Deep underlying issues need to be addressed, and I call on the government to seriously consider the recommendations made to it by various international human rights bodies."

So far, China remains adamant. In fact, it has added to the list of independence movements that it vows to crush. In addition to Tibetan independence, Xinjiang independence and Taiwan independence, now there is also the so-called "Hong Kong independence movement".

China Daily published a commentary last month headlined, "Crush HK independence drive", which appeared the previous day in the Communist newspaper Ta Kung Pao. And Lu Ping , the former director of the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, who had pledged in the 1990s that Hong Kong could on its own decide when to have a legislature elected by universal suffrage - a pledge Beijing broke in 2004 without a peep from Lu - called advocates of independence "sheer morons".

It is interesting to compare the Chinese position with how Britain is handling Scotland's independence movement. A few weeks ago, British Prime Minister David Cameron and the first minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, reached an agreement under which Scotland will hold a referendum in 2014 on whether it will leave the United Kingdom.

While Cameron made it clear he "passionately" believes that it will benefit both sides for Scotland to remain in the UK, Britain agreed to "[work] together constructively in the best interests of the people of Scotland, whatever the outcome of the referendum". It is a bold gamble for Britain to take - and very civilised behaviour to boot.

Beijing, by contrast, promises to attack Taiwan if it declares independence. And, as for Hong Kong, Lu Ping threatened to withhold the water that the seven million people of Hong Kong need and to leave it a "dead city", rather than help Hong Kong by doing whatever is in the best interests of its people.

In the final analysis, it seems, China always resorts to hard power. If China wants people to wave the flag with the Bauhinia flower, it will have to win the hearts and minds of the people here.

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


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This article is now closed to comments

The China that can "win the hearts and minds of the people here" just cannot be the China under Communist rule.
Whatever is the latest western fashion must be followed by China as an example!? I visited Tibet 2011 and Xinjiang this August. Yes. Security there is considerable, but so is security at any international airport. Security is not directed against ordinary citizens and people, but those who might bring a bomb onto the plane, or into a gas station (in the case of Xinjing). That is what the government is afraid. They fear a tiny number of admant separatists just like any airport fears very very tiny number of terrorists.
Should we let the people in every place decide whether to remain a part of the larger collectivity or set up shop by themselves? The answer, by Abrham Lincoln in 1861 to the 11 southern American states who attempted secession, was an admant "NO!" Spliting up the Union was TREASON. The result? A million died. Would he have given the same answer today? Maybe not. But I do not think one uniform way of thinking must be forced on the Chinese government.
Seceding because you want to continue keeping slaves versus seceding because you feel oppressed by those who would be your master are very different things.
As to security in Tibet, if you had truly opened your eyes when visiting Tibet, you would see that the security presence in directed at ordinary Tibetans. There are no Tibetan terrorists, they simply do not exist. Tibet is a country under occupation, whichever way you want to twist it and compare it with unfortunate incidents in the history of other countries. The issue is not a Western versus Eastern, it is a human rights issue, and those are UNIVERSAL. Any attempt to spin it as a conflict of east against west - which is what the Chinese government has been trying to do for a long time and which has obviously been successful with people like you - is laughable at best.
Ironically, if Confucius was living in mainland China today most likely he would be labeled a 'dissident' and locked up in prison for his virtuous and moral high-level way of thinking.
Irony and hypocrisy are the hallmarks of this Communist state.


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