Friday, September 4, 2015
Daily Times Editorial Sept 5, 2015
China’s V-Day The People’s Republic of China celebrated the 70th anniversary of its victory over Japanese imperialism’s aggression that also signalled the commemoration of the end of World War II (WWII). Seventeen countries participated in the celebration, including heads of state and government and the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Pakistan was represented by President Mamnoon Hussain and a smartly turned out contingent of our three armed services that marched in the epic parade held in Beijing. While the victory over fascism in WWII is the common heritage of mankind, China had the distinction of suffering Japanese aggression as early as 1931, when the Japanese set up a puppet state in northeast Manchuria. The full force of their invasion however, came in 1937, two years before WWII began in Europe and four years before Hitler attacked the Soviet Union and the Japanese launched their attack on the US in 1941. The military parade in Beijing clearly showed the extent of the modernisation of China’s military, betraying the country’s new power and confidence. President Xi Jinping made clear on the occasion in his address that China, despite being strong today, believed in and would promote world peace. He also announced his country would cut its armed forces, the largest in manpower in the world, by 300,000 troops. Partly this reflects another aspect of his peace message, partly the transformation of the Chinese military from a largely ground forces army relying on manpower to a powerful, modern, high tech fighting force commanding the sea and the skies too. President Xi described the victory in the Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression, as the war is formally known in China, as its first complete victory in modern times, a great triumph, great renewal and rebirth of the country. It should not be forgotten that for at least a century before these events in the middle of the 20th century, China lay supine and humiliated before the western powers and Japan, reduced virtually to a semi-colony. The rebirth of what was once considered by its citizens to be the centre of the world began with the overthrow of the monarchy and the establishment of an admittedly weak republic in the 1911 revolution. This cataclysmic event triggered the era of the rise of the nationalists in the shape of the Kuomintang and the subsequent emergence of the Communist Party of China in 1922. Civil war followed the betrayal by Kuomintang leader Chiang Kai-shek when he turned on his communist allies in 1927 and attempted to brutally eliminate them. Had it not been for the start of the Japanese aggression in 1931, arguably China might have remained trapped in its internal convulsions, at the expense of its sovereignty and independence. The communists’ decision to take up the banner of national resistance to Japanese aggression, whose high point was the formidable and legendary Long March, finally brought sufficient pressure to bear on Chiang Kai-shek to force him to abandon his ant-communist campaign and join hands in the national resistance effort. As soon as the Japanese were defeated in 1945, however, he once again turned on the communists but this time, having accumulated military and political strength through the long resistance war, the communist armies under Mao Tse Tung vanquished the Kuomintang and forced it to flee to Taiwan in 1949, after which the People’s Republic was declared by Chairman Mao. It is a sign of the changed times that a Taiwan contingent was present to commemorate the 1945 victory in Beijing. While we marvel at the rise of China as an economic and military power, it is necessary to reflect on the lessons this history teaches. Was fascism (and therefore Japanese aggression in the east) an aberration or the logical outcome of capitalism in its greatest crisis, the Great Crash of 1927-29? Does the drive for greater profit, and the historical tendency of the profit rate to fall as capitalism develops, provide the unavoidable push toward militarism, global expansion, aggression and conquest? Is it not the admitted case that the military-industrial complex is the engine of developed capitalism’s growth and has a vested interest in driving the world into inevitable conflict? Has the history of the world since 1945 provided sufficient proof of this inexorable phenomenon of capitalism’s inherent tendency towards war and conflict as the slave to the profit drive? True or not, these questions should act as warning beacons to the world today to learn the appropriate lessons from WWII and the enormous sacrifices it extracted, particularly from the Chinese people, and vow never again to allow the mistakes of this sorry past to be repeated. Capitalism or no, peace must be the destiny of the world if a better future is to beckon.