Thursday, April 25, 2024

Stop fawning over China, it’s not a democracy

Last week was China 72nd anniversary of the communist takeover and to mark the occasion, one of our local papers decided to turn its editorial into a hagiography of Beijing. The wonders of the regime were sung from one end to the other. The level of exaltation of China, if you like, was simply staggering. You could be excused for thinking that democracy and China could finally be used in the same sentence! It was as if one was reading a copy of one of China’s propaganda outlets such as The Global Times or People’s Daily. If not the Global Times, then our local paper’s editorial might as well have been an advertorial for the Chinese government.

If you think I’m exaggerating, just pick a random news item from the Global Times for example and tell me that the level of pro-government propaganda therein does not shock you. In the 27th online edition of the Global Times for example, there is a piece by Wang Wenwen titled “Well off border villages reflect China’s development concept different from India’s. What she does expertly in that article is to mock and taunt India and obviously this is what her Chinese readers feed on for news. The rest of the edition is then littered with typical time-honored anti-American propaganda.

Although I expect the media to hold any government’s feet to the fire, I really would not have not been bothered if the editorial had just gone about its business of fawning over China. What I found irksome was when, in the process of fawning, it took a swipe at those who defend individual liberty, freedom and democracy. All of sudden if you believe in liberty, you become a pro-democracy lobbyist! And what, if I may ask, is wrong with being a prodemocracy lobbyist or activist? When did these values become anathema?

Individual liberty is a right that we derive from God and cannot be minimised just because it is inconvenient to China and its supporters. This is chilling stuff and I wonder if those who praise the repressive Chinese regime so much especially local newsmen are themselves willing to live there or under a similar regime here . There are no prizes for guessing that they would rather choose a place where they can criticise the government as they do here and in other open societies across the world. That right would be a luxury not open to them in China and they know it. And true to form, it is the behavior we have come to associate with champagne socialists. It’s a “do as I say, not as I do” mantra.

Just because China has lifted millions out of poverty, after Deng Xiao Ping introduced free market reforms is not a license to deny the same people their God given individual liberties and choice. If that were the operating standard then Botswana and many other free societies could apply the same logic to trample upon people’s right to free expression. It is not only individual liberties which are trampled upon but freedom of religion too. The Church is not allowed to exist independently in China because whoever is the Communist Party leader is already God. So you cannot have two Gods.

Still on the subject of lifting people out of poverty, we have to remember what enabled China to catch and it is one word: capitalism. Before then China was going nowhere under Mao Tse Tung and his murderous Cultural Revolution and Great Leap Forward. China become strong because it shed off its socialist millstone and began to look like Botswana, Kenya, Mauritius, United States of America, Hong Kong, Switzerland, South Korea and Taiwan.

It needs even more capitalism to become successful. Socialism is only useful to the extent to which it allows the ruling elite to maintain an iron grip on the levers of power.

So as we celebrate our 55th of independence here at home let us continue to uphold our deeply held virtues of liberty and freedom. Let us continue to adhere to the tenets of the club of freedom loving people. May we not be like China!


Read this week's paper