Dmitry Kosyrev, RIA Novosti political columnist - specially for InfoSCO
The parade was grandiose. China’s capital, already transformed even without that to a site of never-ending festivals of global value, surpassed itself with regard to red color – festival’s color in China for several thousand years.
On 1 October – on the day of the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic China – one can, certainly, remember that China will soon become the first world economy, and on the basis of factors it has already turned out into the second by influence world country. The question is why it has happened. Anomaly? Or the fact is that after the convulsions, China went through in the 20 century, there was nothing else left to do but either to die, or become very sagacious?
Chinese have been very sagacious long ago; it may be said, initially. Nobody knows how old China is as a civilization, though there is just a relative figure – five thousand years. Three thousand of them may be safely traced, 30 centuries of sinusoidal “recession-rise” development of the same civilization. There are only three so ancient and continuously developing big civilizations in the world: Iran, India, China. The fortune of others (e.g., Rome) is more regrettable. But today nobody celebrates China’s five thousandth anniversary – the question is about the latest 60 years. So, the 1st October 1949 for Chinese is not the creation of something landmark, but the beginning of next revival of the eternal Chinese state.
Every nation requires a privilege to be "the very best”, as well as the very unfortunate. Can such empire’s disintegration be considered as the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century? The British one in the middle? But if the mother country itself - Britain would only remains safe (the same as Russia at the close of the century, after "soviet disintegration”). Everything went much more dramatically in China. No other nation, considering population size, experienced convulsions and mass disasters of such large-scale, as China in the first half of the 20th century. To be more precise, from the date of the last emperor’s downfall in 1912 till 1949.
The empire was sunk in degradation most part of the 19th century, colonizing powers headed by Great Britain rended it away without serious consequences, and the technologically laggard China could set off nothing against them – neither modern warfare, nor “Soft Power”. Japan’s intellectual class in the same situation and century gathered strength and began modernization. China could not.
The catastrophe scheme was simple: the country broke up into former commands (but what power structure still remained?), which declared their independence from one another and were in war between each other. By the way, at the same time some sort of “papers” was signed in Tibet, to which foreign advocates of its independence are trying to refer today. But if one takes today seriously those years’ declarations, then any of Chinese provinces can be called independent. While it is just the experience of Chinese chaos that taught Chinese once again in their history that a single and strong power is essential, all other values are secondary.
This chaos with mass wars and murders lasted approximately till 1927–1929, when a consolidator Chan Kaishi appeared. And he would have succeeded in something, if it were not for war with Japan, which practically began in 1932. Great powers that had played earlier their support now to one general, now to another as balls and received the consolidator with hostility, could not and did not want to stop Japan, having decided that they did not need any new great Asian empires, let Japanese and Chinese be busy with each other. This was the very policy, called in Europe “Munich”: to play off possible competitors one against another. England paid dearly for it, America availed itself of its results – both in the West and in the East.
Millions of people were dying like this all these years in China. In wars between generals, communists and nationalists, in the war with Japanese, but much more – because of floods (dam-like infrastructure breakdown), diseases, mass famine. When in the early 1990's in Russia one was afraid of the system catastrophe, one meant – without realizing it – repeating China’s experience, i.e. the extinction of nation among total disorganization and distress, including the occupation.
Historically China is lucky: it has overcome for 30 centuries at least four similar periods of total disintegration. Also Mao Zedong, who proclaimed on 1 October 1949 from the rostrum in Tiananmen Square “China has risen!” is fairly considered by Chinese as a man who had done 70% of good deeds, and 30% of bad deeds, because China’s consolidation always meant the end of miseries and economic recovery. What eventually happened under Mao and his successors. The fact that the ideology under Mao was sort of communist, made no difference, socialism was then in fashion even in England, moreover the big neighbor USSR was influencing here, which thanks to China’s help and initial friendship with it, survived itself in the first years of the Cold War. And even all kinds of Mao’s experiments, including miseries of the “cultural revolution” that left two uneducated generations of Chinese (this is, as is now obvious, the most grave of its consequences), is nothing compared with what had been before Mao.
60 years of PRC’ history is broken up into two exactly 30 years’ periods – the worse one under Mao, and the current rise period. The period, during which there were nearly no mistakes. All Chinese must have learnt well the lessons of the immediate past – intellect is not given for nothing.
China has not merely “risen”, it begins to be ranked as the greatest, most developed, civilized and strongest country of the world, as it was more than once – at the beginning of the 1st millennium, in 7-8th, 10-11th, and 15-18th centuries. When Napoleon said once: “Let China sleep for when she awakes, she will shake the world”, he just reminded of global realities of the 18th century, before the beginning of technological surge in armament of two or three European countries.
Note that in the world history China, with all its superpowerness and enormity, has never tried to begin world wars and divide the map of the world – it was quietly sitting out behind the Himalayas, trading with neighbors. Many tried to conquer and divide it, and successfully enough, but not on the contrary. Tradition. “Soft power”.
For the “Soft power”, among results of PRC’s 60 years, as has been said, one can find something more secure – at least, foreign trade statistics. Before crisis, in the year 2008 it made up at 2.56 trillion dollars, 15 times more than during the whole period between 1949 and 1978, when in China it was socialism indeed. But other facts are more interesting, for example, the fact that Chinese films now get all possible olive branches, golden lions and other flora and fauna of international festivals. Or the fact that an average lifetime in the country now is 73 years, and in 1949 it was simply amazing: 35 years. (Children's mortality was 20%, became 1.49%.)
60 years ago PRC had few friends, among whose was Moscow. There was a time when there were not much of them, i.e. during “cultural revolution”. Today everybody wants to be friends with China. For example, Beijing’s guests nowadays are recommended to buy a fashionable image (on a T-shirt or a can) of some “Oba-Mao” – Obama in a cap with a star. They say, it is sold in millions, Chinese themselves and American tourists buy them. America and China now want to be friends very much.