(DailyMail) – Beneath today’s orgy of celebrations that marks the anniversary lurks a disturbing reality. Mao’s successors may have embraced cut-throat capitalism to a degree that makes even Western economists blanch. But the arrangements for the parade are a reminder that China remains a deeply authoritarian society.x
Friday, October 2, 2009
Kites have been banned from the centre of Beijing, pigeons have been culled and soldiers with machineguns are on every street corner. Scientists are even seeding the sky with chemicals to prevent inclement weather spoiling the celebrations.
None of us should begrudge an industrious and innovative people their return to the top table.
Yet there is a dark side to China’s revival – a disturbing instinct for sabre-rattling and neo-imperialism that arguably poses the biggest threat to world peace since the Cold War.
What terrifies China’s neighbours is the thought that they might be in for the same treatment as Tibet and Xinjiang. And the most obvious target for Chinese expansion is the island of Taiwan, the self-styled ‘Republic of China’ that was established after the American-backed Kuomintang lost the civil war against Mao in 1949 and fled across the narrow Taiwan Strait.
Even though Taiwan now stands as a highly successful state in its own right, the Chinese Communists have never abandoned their ambition to incorporate it into their empire.
Perhaps most worrying, however, is the evidence of Chinese expansionism and interference in Africa.
In 1873 the Victorian explorer Sir Francis Galton suggested that one way to modernise the so-called Dark Continent was to fill it with ‘ industrious, order-loving Chinese’, with Africa becoming a ’semi-detached dependency of China’. Such was the outcry that Galton soon dropped the idea. But more than a century later, he seems to have been ahead of his time.
For in the past decade, more than 750,000 Chinese have settled in Africa, and the red flag now flutters over jungles and prairies alike.
In the ports of East Africa, Chinese cargo ships are loaded every day with oil, timber and diamonds.
Vast Chinese-owned mines pay African labourers less than £1 a day to scratch out copper for the gigantic smoke-belching cities of East Asia. And deep in the heart of Africa, acres of forest are ripped down every day as timber for China’s industrial revolution.
But there is another side to this new Scramble for Africa. For in return, the Chinese are selling African leaders the assault rifles, warplanes and mortars they need for their bloody wars of conquest and ethnic cleansing.
Only last year, Zimbabwe’s despotic Robert Mugabe received a cool £200m in Chinese military aid.
And even the brutal slaughter in southern Sudan, in which hundreds of thousands of non-Muslim peasants were murdered by government militias, was carried out with £55m-worth of Chinese weapons, sold to the Sudanese in defiance of a UN arms embargo.