The Times of India--2 Jul 2009,
The Chinese hunger to gain more knowledge, more military power, more prosperity and definitely a decisive say in global matters has become one of the most significant stories of our times.
The Chinese are patriotic people. They don't allow any Lalgarhs to emerge with Maoists of some sort championing the cause of the poor by killing security personnel.
They have a portrait of Mao at the Tiananmen square but have reduced his biographies in textbooks to almost a formal mention. It's nationalism everywhere, staunch, undiluted and single-minded "China first".
I am writing this column from Kolkata, once known as the red bastion. The home to Naxalbari, a fertile ground for violent Maoism and a hotbed of Bangladeshi infiltrators who have been sheltered by the Left Front leaders to get their votes. Can we, anyway, compare the Indian communists to the communists of China in their patriotism?
The Chinese hunger to gain more knowledge, more military power, more prosperity and definitely a decisive say in global matters has become one of the most significant stories of our times. Chinese cities are bubbling with unprecedented activities of resurgence, economy is booming, new city centres and SEZs are being created, students are finding new universities focused on special niche subjects, everyone from everywhere is invited to invest in China, make money and at the same time transfer technology, their entrepreneurs are set to take over even the US car industry replacing the Japanese. From African countries to the Indian region, their presence is increasing each day if not overshadowing others completely.
President Hu represents a major policy shift in China since Jiang Zemin's regime. He changed the earlier "city first" policy into rural area-focused planning, pumping millions of RNBs into the rural sector. If the "China first" policy and the undiluted dynamism to make China No. 1 in the world is their side of an unbelievable story, India's emergence on the world stage showing strength of knowledge and technology, prosperity and stability with an excellent record of multiparty democracy, secular pluralism and a living civilisation dating back 5,000 years is an amazing tale of mystery and curiosity for the dragon land.
India too has moved far ahead and with a strong China policy, which has not lost its continuity since Rajiv Ghandhi's days, China certainly looks at us with a bit of disbelief -- capable of springing a surprise any time.
With a shift in the global power centres imminent, China is yet to make up its mind for a new global strategy post-Deng era. Hence it is adopting a hedging strategy without siding clearly with any power centre and keeping its options open.
The only factor that China thinks will help it is a strong urge to remain nationalist. It was quite evident wherever I went in Beijing and around it.
Beijing has always looked shrouded in mystery. Yet, the misty afternoon looked a bit out of place in this new age of reforms sweeping China. It was 3 in the afternoon and the Beijing airport was enveloped in the winter haze.
Our Toyota took about 25 minutes to reach the hotel, not very far from Tiananmen Square. These minutes give a foreigner an elegant introduction to the brave new world of progress and power.
China is changing fast and with a great sense of patriotism. There is simply no trace of the old Communism here. The will to succeed and emerge a superpower has driven Chinese leadership to go full steam for reforms and market economy. It’s a real Laksmi Pujan going on there. The new path has been named "Socialism with Chinese characteristics". How does the name matter if it brings prosperity to the millions of people the most populated nation. The new policies have changed the face of this nation but have also brought new problems.
Though unlike India, China began opening up and implemented reforms only after having its agriculture and the manufacturing sector strengthened. Then it aimed to quadruple its GNP of 1980 by the end of 2000, which it achieved in 1995, five years ahead of the schedule. Now it has set an objective to double the GNP of 2000 by 2010 and reach the level of a fully developed nation by 2050.
It has controlled the population growth, increased the defence budget to $22.4 billion, has taken the industrial growth to 12.6% , remains as hard as ever on Tibet and other such issues, taken control of Hong Kong and Macao, doesn’t care about Taiwan’s gestures and indications to come back, in fact the biggest investors to China come from that land.
How real is this new incarnation of the old Maoist totalitarian regime?
China is facing challenges on two major fronts. First, finding a position geopolitically commensurate with its newly gained status on the diplomatic front and cultural and administrative reforms domestically.
On the cultural front China is encountering a vacuum created by the Cultural Revolution. There is no visible cultural inspiration left to the younger generation, which is fast getting Americanised. Mr. Jin Jianfan, chairman of the Chinese Academy to protect and promote national Culture told me that they are very concerned about the growing Americanization of the Chinese youth. Sudden prosperity has brought the youngsters to pubs, night clubs, and has made them discard old Chinese values. Money alone makes a society wayward and prone to the alien effects which may not be good for the country. So, the Chinese are devoting a great deal of time to make the new generation proud of their national heritage.
Civilisational and cultural pride in their national history and heritage has become so visible and underlined at every monument of the historical importance that one wonders whether one is in a land of believers or atheist communists. In this context it would be interesting to know that Buddha, though more in a political and a strategic way, is returning to China in a big way.
In the field of administrative reforms, corruption is rampant in the party, in the administration, in the entire state-run machinery. Several important functionaries, industrialists, party office bearers including a vice governor of Anhui province Wang Huaizhong were executed for taking bribes. Whether the anti-corruption would succeed or not is yet to be seen.
Indian communist should certainly take a lesson from their former ideological masters about how to love your nation. One must concede that China does not have a multiparty system of democracy and neither has it had freedom of the press that we enjoy here. There may be a few who attribute the astonishing progress of China to its totalitarian system of decision making, Yet, a democratic India guaranteeing freedom of speech and the right to exercise democratic privileges, remains a "mystifying threat" to the Chinese hagemonistic ambitions. Log on to : http://www.timesofindia.com