Liberty Expose: China's Destructive Diplomacy

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The People’s Republic of China is the Kylo Ren of world powers. Kylo Ren is young, envious of his predecessors in power, and emotional; he is the ultimate millennial villain. The similarities between the Darth Vader wannabe and the actions by the PRC is striking.

For one, China, in its current incarnation, came late into the game. By the time the old world order that was centered on Europe collapsed, and a new order dominated by the United Stated and the Soviet Union rose. China at this times was still deep in part II of its horrendous civil war. It would not be until 1949 when the communists won and the People’s Republic of China was declared. Around twenty years later the PRC got jealous and challenged the USSR for communist leadership in the world. It is a challenge that did not work to China’s favor, as almost every communist nation sided with the Soviet Union. Now, decades after the death of Mao, China is resurrecting its geopolitical ambitions and challenging the current hegemon in Asia: the United States. It has done so in almost the worst possible fashion.

The PRC had a prime opportunity to show its neighbors it could be a responsible leader of Asia. But China, in a word, blew it. It had an opportunity to bury the hatchet with Japan, and show that the PRC will not harbor any resentment against Japan for the crimes it committed more than 70 years ago. Instead, China turned a nation reconstituted for peace into a growing military power because of its actions in the East China Sea.

China had an opportunity to show a new generation in Taiwan, one divorced from the turmoil of the past that China could be respectful of basic rights. But Chinese leadership has destroyed what hopes existed of a union between the two Chinas. Despite of hope for moderation, China has slid back towards authoritarianism. Dissent is increasing not tolerated. On mainland China, the government is coming down on basic civil liberties. Violations range from East China, where the government is setting up cameras on every street corner, to the incarnation of a “citizen score,” to the censoring of Winnie the Pooh memes, due to the anthropomorphic bear’s uncanny resemblance to Chinese president Xi Jinping. Even Hong Kong isn’t safe: Modern Treatise reported earlier last year on the kidnapping of Kong booksellers by Chinese secret police.

China and Vietnam have historically had a bad relationship. Just after the latter secured a communist victory in the Second Indochina War, China invaded and began the Third Indochina War – which both nations claim victory. Despite this, both nations can claim to have fought the United States, and China could have capitalized an anti-Americanism. But no, China has continued to encroach on the same area Vietnam declares its own in the South China Sea. Now the US Navy is visiting Vietnamese ports.

It is this militarization of the world’s most important trade route that has also put China at odds against virtually every other nation in the South China Sea, ranging from the Philippines to Indonesia.

If there is one common lesson, it is this: China cannot be trusted to take the rational course of action. In 2014, The Hague ruled that China’s attempt to build islands in the South China Sea was a gross violation of international law. What claims of sovereignty China had to the islands had vanished. But that didn’t stop the PRC from militarizing the islands. The leaders of the PRC interpret power in the rawest sense of the word, and they are willing to achieve by any means, no matter how unpopular, no matter how destructive.