Why are People Afraid of the Rise of China?

It’s really simple: Chinese government is concerned about the welfare of Chinese people: Western governments are concerned about the welfare of democracy.

Let’s break these two points down a little. China is indeed becoming a global power, it does hold debt for many countries, including a massive 1.1 Trillion USD American debt. It is instigating a huge, worldwide initiative to expand its own interests throughout the world through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). It has incredible plans that seem to come from science fiction rather than economic planning, such as a bridge to Australia which will Link Indonesia and its thousands of islands to the world market. It’s already running trains, in only 20 days, from Eastern China to Western Europe. But why? Is it for world domination? No, the truth is, its to make China a moderately prosperous nation. Note these words well “moderately prosperous”. China wants all of its people to be included in the growth and the benefits from that growth.

But what is there to be so scared about, if all China wants is moderate prosperity?

Let’s call it projection. In simple analogies, have you ever had a meeting with someone who talks and talks but then, when you offer an opinion tells you that you’re not a good listener? Have you ever been accused of being aggressive by someone who is actually being aggressive to you? This is projection, Psychologists see it all the time in all kinds of different behaviour. Take these simple analogies and extrapolate them into a global sphere…

The British Empire crumbled during the post WW2 years as the “American Empire” surged. The British Empire colonised much of the world with an army and a navy of privateers (the East India Company had a military that was bigger than the British army for many years, the Navy fleet of the Caribbean was predominantly privateers, effectively pirates with a warrant to attack any ship that wasn’t British). American interests have been, and still are, “protected” with invasions and occupations. Where the situation was, or is a little more complex “advisers” were (still are) sent in to arm, train and help with planning whilst avoiding full military incursions and, in many cases, creating a future enemy of the very democracy they are fighting to protect (think Taliban and ISIS for the most obvious examples, but there are many others).

Why aren’t the British and the USA “empires” projecting and fearing each other? Because they have similar cultural backgrounds. Many US citizens, even after the revolution, considered themselves British whilst taking American rights. As Britain continued to grow and expand through the following 200 years, they took the fledgling country under their wing and helped them to grow too. Of course, there were arguments and disputes but the end goal was always clear, for 200 years Britain was the bigger brother helping the younger. As the younger brother grew in size, grew in strength and grew in stature, the bigger brother got involved in some nasty fights and the little brother came in to help. Roles started to reverse during the interim and post war years until after a period of time, the little brother started looking after his now weakening big brother.

In their desire to slow the growth of Communism, protect the welfare of, and grow the philosophy known as, democracy, Western countries have invaded literally dozens of countries.

In contrast, China, in their desire to protect the welfare of and promote the philosophy of a moderately prosperous society for all, has invaded no country, made no military advances into any country (except Djibouti, in the horn of Africa, where, with UN support and approval, they set up a base to help the world reduce the risk of pirate activity out of Somalia. Djibouti is China’s first and only overseas military base).

So, what we have here is a clear case of projection. The US and the UK are afraid of China because, subconsciously, they are projecting their own fears and are very afraid that China and the Chinese will be like they are. Let’s look at some of the accusations levelled at China

There’s a fear of suppression of rights. And indeed, Chinese people appear to have fewer rights. The constitution of China doesn’t grant the right of free speech or assembly, lets look at some of these…

It’s true that Chinese can’t watch much of the western news, but, if you ask them, they don’t really want to. US media, in particular seems unregulated, disjointed and confusing. It’s impossible to discern what’s true and what’s not. A very short time spent watching reports from Fox news and CNN on the same topic will confuse every person who doesn’t understand the political divide. People in China would rather be told what they need to hear.

It’s true that Chinese people are observed by Closed Circuit TV everywhere they go, but if you ask them: they feel it’s safer than being in a street unprotected. And it’s no worse in any Chinese city than it is in London or Manchester, where it was installed after a series of public security incidents called terrorist bombings — So, which is better, terrorist bombings or a perceived lack of privacy in a public area?

It’s true that social media tracks the spending and purchasing they do online, but, if you ask them, the Customers say it’s almost impossible to get ripped off and it’s no different to Amazon and e-bay knowing everything about your buying patterns and sending intrusive targeted advertising based on them your browsing or buying patterns.

It’s true, Chinese people have to register their living accommodation whenever they go to a new address, but, if you ask them, they say it makes sense because it’s impossible to be homeless and the government can help me when I need it (as they did during the COVID 19 lockdown). It’s currently impossible to live in regular society without some form of registration in almost every country, why fear China’s registration more than the western banking system, Government and property taxation systems, the TV licence (in the UK), the driver and vehicle registration system or the voter’s register?

It’s true that Chinese people don’t have the right to carry guns, but if you ask them, they say: why would I want a gun when I never have a need for one?

It’s not true that millions of people are locked up in concentration camps. China has invited media and diplomats to view this, but US sanctions and US opposition to both EU diplomats and UN observers have decided that China wouldn’t tell the truth so it’s not worth going to look.

It’s true that there are prisons in Xinjiang, but these prisons are for people who commit crime and if we were to compare the number of prisoners in China per capita, to the number of prisoners in the USA, China would have every right to be fearful of western democracy. In the US we can see the highest prison population in the world and 90% of the people in American prisons are African Americans and minorities.

It’s not true that Chinese people are killed and their organs harvested, although the root of this story was that executed prisoners used to have organs harvested after execution, the Chinese see nothing wrong with that and, the writer is actually familiar with one person who is only alive today because of this practice. However, the law was changed in 2014 to allow the prisoner the option to consent or refuse.

It’s not true that religion is suppressed in China. All villages, towns, cities, in all provinces, have churches and mosques as well as hundreds of Buddhist and Daoist temples which are all regularly used. It’s also true that these are often upgraded by the local government and pictures of them being demolished are simply the precursor to them being rebuilt.

It’s not true that dissenting people are put into prison, house arrest or even “disappeared” what is true is that if a person is abusive, seditious, separatist, disrespectful of individuals in authority or active in promoting any of these things, they will be punished and, depending on the level, the punishment may be a caution or an execution or anything in between.

It’s true that there are some journalist in prison in China. However, no journalist is in prison in China for just being a journalist in every case, there is more to the story than meets the eye of the casual observer.

It’s true, if you are a foreigner caught taking drugs in China you will be deported. This is a fair punishment for breaking Chinese law, even if you happen to disagree with the law — it is what it is. Chinese people breaking the same laws, as they do in other countries, will be punished under the law. Once again it could be anything in between a caution or an execution, depending on the severity of the offence.

It’s true there are at least three Canadians in prison in China. But it’s also true there are many other foreign individuals living in China freely, many of them break the rules on a daily basis but China has a very tolerant attitude to foreigner breaking rules, until something goes wrong. One Canadian has been accused of drug smuggling and two of them of gathering state secrets for outside agencies. It’s unlikely that this really is a “tit for tat” action, there are thousands of other Canadians who have not been arrested and if China were really on a mission of retaliation, surely those Canadians would be feeling some pressure by now. Or, some may say, IF it is retaliation, it’s a measured response which could be escalated if required. As an outside observer might comment, China didn’t start it.

On the positive side of China and its desire to attain moderate prosperity

It’s true that a person in China can start a business and operate it with almost no barrier to entry and very little government interference. For most small businesses taxes are paid by purchasing receipt books from the local government and issuing receipts from official accounts which deduct tax rather than through complex accounting systems.

It’s true that people, when they finish work at night can wander into an outdoor sitting area in most cities and sit down for delicious street food and a bottle of beer at prices which would astonish a visiting westerner.

It’s true that most people in China can actually afford housing, those that can’t are given housing with their position in the company, for factory workers, this may be a dormitory, for CEO’s it may be a house, but for everyone in between it is housing that is either free or highly subsidised.

It’s true that the Chinese system of social security and welfare is under-developed, but it’s getting there. Every employed person has social insurance of some sort and every person in work contributes to, and has added for them, an allowance for their housing purchase when that time arises, and for their pension when they reach 60 years of age.

All in all, the West has a lot to learn about how China really is and how their people have achieved a lot of good things in a short period of time and how beneficial it can be to watch, allow and even participate in China’s inevitable rise.

It’s quite obvious, however, that an aggressive, militarised policy of expansionism resulting in death, starvation economic and social destruction as has happened in many countries over the last 70 years is a frightening thing. No wonder the US is afraid of China’s rise.

After all, who wants to live like that!

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I’m British born Australian living in Guangdong and have an MA in Cross Cultural Change Management. I write mostly positively about my China experiences

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Jerry Grey

Jerry Grey

I’m British born Australian living in Guangdong and have an MA in Cross Cultural Change Management. I write mostly positively about my China experiences

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