Friday, December 27, 2013

Chinese Dream Is Asian Dream

In the strategic chessboard of international power politics, China occupies a lion’s share, due mainly to its long civilization and economic power accompanied by growing international clout. When the sleeping dragon, the inference most Western media like to make when it comes to calling China, wags its tail or wakes up, the world trembles, sometimes on a scale of tectonic magnitude.
China’s present miraculous peaceful rise and its further march to prosperity to become the world’s dominant power are a case in point. The world is reacting in different tones and tenors to China’s rise and its future vision of national development and international cooperation. While much of its neighbourhood and the developing world are enthusiastic and optimistic about China’s peaceful rise, the western world appears to be highly sceptical.
Chinese Dream
This is exactly what has happened after Xi Jinping, on assuming China’s leadership, put forth the idea of the Chinese Dream - a strategic vision to rejuvenate the Chinese nation and its glorious past marked by rich cultural and social values that are more humane in nature. On the domestic front, the Chinese Dream mainly aims at ensuring China’s national strength in more visible and practical terms, moderate prosperity and a happier people, rejuvenation of the great Chinese nation, sustainable economic growth and deepening reforms.
At the international level, the Chinese Dream seeks to foster greater cooperation among the comity of nations for a just and peaceful world on the basis of shared values and mutual equality. In other words, the Chinese Dream is being viewed in the international arena, especially in the Asian neighbourhood, as a proposition through which China is seeking its role and responsibility to contribute to world peace and development through mutual cooperation.  The Chinese Dream is, hence, a win-win proposition for the world, especially its Asian neighbours.
China has always had a dream for itself and for the world. Mao Zedong, who led the Chinese Revolution and established the People’s Republic of China in 1949, had his own vision and dream for China and the world. After the success of the Chinese Revolution, Mao had declared, “The Chinese people have stood up,” which is an assertion of the Chinese vision of its leadership role in changing both China and the world.
Similarly, Deng Xiaoping, after coming to power  in the mid-70s, rolled out a new vision, that of opening up China for reforms, which is also a dream of a better and prosperous China and a more harmonious and cooperative world. Based on Mao and Deng’s vision, President Xi has come up with the Chinese Dream purportedly to raise the living standard of the Chinese people at par with international standards, and develop china as a strong, stable, peaceful and more assertive nation both at home and abroad.
In other words, the Chinese Dream is a renaissance that seeks to rebuild the Chinese nation, revitalise its glorious history and culture, and reorient its domestic and international policy to achieving the goals set forth for the larger prosperity of humanity.
A strong China means a strong nation, politically, socially, economically and militarily, while a stable China denotes self-confidence in its strength to be able to ensure peace, tranquility and harmony and also freedom from any kind of fear and want. This vision can be ensured only when the people’s living standards rise, which is also a basis for amity and harmony among the people, irrespective of their ethnicity and social standing.
While the rest of the world has taken the Chinese Dream as a win-win proposition, some Western media have called it a counter proposition of what Washington had come up long ago dubbed as the American Dream. On the surface, definitely the Chinese Dream was announced long after Washington had declared the American Dream. But if one were to look back at history, it is China that had conjured up the Chinese Dream almost 200 years ago, when Confucius had conceived the dream of a harmonious and prosperous Chinese society. This was reinforced by Sun Yat-sen under the concept of the ‘three principles of the people’. 
The Chinese Dream, therefore, cannot be called a counter proposition of Washington’s American Dream. Instead, it is China’s original concept and vision that had long remained dormant until it was revived by President Xi Jinping last year.
History is witness that China has always been powerful and a giant except during the short period immediately before the establishment of the People’s Republic of China. Regardless of whether China was rising or declining, it was a power with a dream for itself and the world.
After the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the Chinese people discovered a new and more constructive path to realise the dream China had long cherished. At the 8th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the founder of modern China, or Mao, unveiled a plan for China's revival, reconstruction and also for reshaping the world order.
Mao put forward the "China contribution theory," under which China planned to make a relatively large contribution to human progress in the 21st century and build peace at home and abroad. By the end of the 1970s, the Chinese Communist Party had almost completed the process of transforming China from a traditional country into a modern one by establishing an independent and comprehensive economic and industrial foundation for modernisation and laid the basic groundwork for reforms.
 After introducing reforms in China, Deng Xiaoping, too, forwarded the Chinese Dream for a moderately prosperous society. Details about the three strategic steps to realise this Chinese Dream were spelled out at the 13th CPC National Congress in 1987. Guided by these strategic ideals, the CPC s adopted a roadmap for modernization through socialism with Chinese characteristics and achieved its goal of rapid development.
By the end of the 20th century, or within 22 years since the reforms were introduced, China had already attained the goal set forth for the first two steps, which included building a strong China and ensuring a moderately prosperous life of the people.
Right from the beginning of the 21st century, China has been firmly marching ahead on the path of realising the Chinese Dream which has been divided into three phases. The first phase is to complete building a moderately prosperous society in all respects by the CPC's centennial anniversary in 2021. With this goal in the core of the mind of all the Chinese leaders, the Chinese Communist Party, at its 18th National Congress in 2012, adopted the policy and programmes to further pursue reforms in five key sectors covering the political, economic, social, cultural and environmental areas.
The goal for the second phase is to realise socialist modernisation with Chinese characteristics by the centennial anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China or by 2049. The goal for the third phase is to realise the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation step by step until the end of the 21st century.
The Chinese Dream is not merely a pet project of President Xi Jinping. It is a historic mission that aims not only to build China as a strong and stable country and ensure greater prosperity for its people but also to foster greater international cooperation in general and more meaningful and constructive collaboration in the neighbourhood, in particular.
It is with this purpose in mind that China has been pursuing its policy all over the world, especially in the developing countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America on a win-win basis. More emphasis has been laid in East Asia to begin with, and has taken special initiatives to create an East Asian Community with plans to go beyond to include South Asia, Central Asia and West Asia.
Asian Dream
Since the 21st century has been being predicted as the Asian century, China is determined to lead the Asian century and unite Asia on a single platform to sustain Asia’s growth and development as well as to ensure that its prosperity is shared by all Asian countries and people, regardless of their size, economic power and military strength. This is the Chinese Dream. Thus, it is not merely a vision for China’s own development but also a grand strategy for the greater and mutual benefit of all Asian countries and communities. As such, the Chinese Dream is the Asian Dream, which is expected to ultimately become the global dream.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Mao and Modern China

Yuba Nath Lamsal
December 26 marks the 120th birth anniversary of Mao Zedong— the greatest political personality of China. On this occasion, Mao is remembered all over the world for his role and leadership to liberate China and also the ideological contribution he made in the international revolutionary communist movement. Mao is, thus, revered worldwide as a legendary icon of revolutionary people.
World opinion is sharply divided over Mao’s role, deeds and ideological works. While majority of the people in the world—revolutionary, poor and proletariat—revere him as a source of inspiration,  handful of capitalists, reactionary and rightist often try to vilify him as ‘ world’s one of the worst dictators’ and propagate hate message against him.
Mao is by far the most respected leader in China even today.  He led the Chinese Revolution and established modern People’s Republic of China in 1949 through a protracted people’s war under the banner of Communist Party of China, “The Chinese people have stood up" declared Mao, standing in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, on October 1st 1949 upon victory of Chinese Revolution, which is China’s greatest political achievement. This was an important turning point in the history of China but it was a mere beginning to transform China into a modern, stable, strong and prosperous country, which was the passion and dream of this great revolutionary icon. Although China has made tremendous progress in different sectors, much still remains to be accomplished in way and manner the founder of modern China had envisioned.  Though Mao passed away 37 years ago, the Chinese Communist Party seems to be determined to realize Mao’s dreams of creating modern, stable, strong and prosperous China.
With the success of the revolution, Mao liberated China and made the Chinese people free and sovereign citizens. Apart from national liberation, China achieved and accomplished much under Mao’s vision and dream for which a strong foundation was created during his life. He laid down important basis for internal governance, self-reliance, revival of China’s old glory and also a basis of international relations. His successors have pursued most of his initiatives and accomplishments with much innovation and reforms. The founding of the People’s Republic of China led by Mao brought about most profound changes in China that also sent strong ripples worldwide. In fact, it was the first step of great leap forward for China’s modernization and independence upon which the rebuilding the Chinese nation and rejuvenation of China’s glory was accomplished. Even after 37 years since Mao passed away, his ideas, ideals and thoughts continue to inspire and influence the world.
There is no shade of doubt that Mao was one of the greatest personalities the world has ever produced. But he is not far from criticism. Despite his huge contribution to China’s liberation and modernization, and also to international communist movement, he had some weaknesses, too. If we are to make true analysis and evaluation of this political icon, both of his accomplishments as well as weaknesses must be debated in a candid and constructive manner, which would alone be genuine tribute to him. Praise for the sake of praise sweeping aside his weaknesses and pointing out only weaknesses and mistake grossly ignoring his achievements and contributions would not do justice to Mao and also to history. In this connection, Deng Xiaoping's remarks about Mao's life are correct. According to Deng, Mao was "70 percent right and 30 percent wrong". This represents scientific and Marxist view and analysis about Mao Zedong.
The Cultural Revolution is the issue that has divided the world opinion especially in the leftist revolutionary camp. Some hail the Cultural Revolution as a necessary evil to save China from ideological, social and cultural degeneration. But others criticize it as a great mistake and claim that some extremist elements used the Cultural Revolution as a pretext to take political revenge against their political rivals. In the political vendetta perpetrated in the name of the Cultural Revolution, even some genuine revolutionary leaders had become victim. Deng Xiaoping, the architect of China’s reform and opening up, also had to suffer. But this should in no way underestimate the other great contributions Mao has made both in China and in the international communist movement.
Despite some weaknesses and mistakes, Mao’s contributions are huge and people regard him highly both in China and elsewhere.  The Chinese Revolution that was spearheaded under the leadership of Mao changed the world to a large extent.  In many countries, communist parties were formed and Chinese types of revolution launched, which also succeeded in emancipating the oppressed people, to some extent. Even now, many revolutionary communist parties in Asia, Africa and Latin America regard Mao as their source of ideological inspiration and Chinese Revolution as their role model. 
Much change has taken place in China and the world. Now China has achieved stunning success in various fronts, thanks largely to Deng Xiaoping’s reforms and opening up. Although Deng initiated the reforms only in 1978, the basic foundation of reforms had been laid right during Mao’s time. Mao was never against reforms and modernization. He had to concentrate all his energy and time to save the revolution and consolidate its achievements because he had faced rightist and imperialist conspiracy both from within China as well as from outside. Mao, perhaps, did not have much time to think of other sectors including reforms. But Deng came in within a few years after Mao’s death to realize the great vision and goal of modernizing China through reforms and opening up, which has paid China well.  
Now China is firmly marching on the path of development and modernization. China has already become the second largest economy and poised to become the first one in near future. China is also a global power and its clout in the international level is getting stronger and more influential. Had Mao not been there and had he not successfully spearheaded the Chinese Revolution, China would not have stood the way it is. Thus, Chinese people feel proud of Mao and the Chinese Revolution under the banner of the Chinese Communist party.
So far as Mao’s weaknesses and mistakes are concerned, no person can be perfect and totally correct. Every person does have his or her strong and weak points. This is applicable to Mao’s life as well. While evaluating Mao, it should be done in historical perspective. He led the revolution at a time when China was semi-feudal condition. Even after the success of the Chinese Revolution, there had been numerous efforts to sabotage the revolution and its achievements, in which the loyalists of the defeated feudal class and international imperialists had been working together. In such a situation, Mao had to be tough to safeguard the achievements of the Chinese Revolution. While doing so, some incidents and excesses might have been committed, which was natural in course of armed revolution, as armed revolution by its nature is cruel and violent. Thus, Mao’s evaluation should not be made on the basis of some isolated incidents. His best analysis should be done on the basis of his overall role and contribution in leading the revolution to a success and transforming China into a strong and stable nation, which is the basis of the present China’s progress and prosperity.
We must evaluate the Chinese Revolution and its principal leader Mao on the basis of the results the revolution has brought about. Chinese revolution has brought about positive results on Chinese society. It helped China get out of poverty and put it on the right track of other social, cultural and economic development. Thus, Mao is a great historical personality who, even 37 years after his death, commands respect and admiration among most of the Chinese and revolutionary socialist people all over the world. On this occasion, we, too, salute this great revolutionary leader—Mao, who not only changed China’s entire course but also inspired the national liberation movements in the oppressed countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Nepal politics: Parties Required Soul Searching

Yuba Nath Lamsal
It is still not clear how should be the recently held election be called? Is this the second election of the Constituent Assembly or the election for the second Constituent Assembly? This issue has not drawn attention of our politicians and political pundits. But it needs thorough debate and deliberations. Perhaps, political pundits and even parties are expected to clarify this to the people in appropriate time.
In this connection, Jhala Nath Khanal, chairman of the CPN-UML, is the first and only personality who has raised this issue in public. In a television interview more than a week ago, Khanal described the November 19 election as the second election to the Constituent Assembly. According to him, there cannot be two Constituent Assemblies and thus it would be unfair to call it as the election to the second Constituent Assembly. However, other politicians and political scientists as well as political analysts are tight-lipped on this issue.
Whatever the definition, this was a historic election which was held in the most successful and peaceful manner. This is historic in the sense that Nepalese people overwhelmingly participated in the election. The voter’ turnout was over 70 per cent, which is not only the highest in Nepal’s electoral history but also one of the best in the world. This historic election and its outcome are expected to change the entire political course of the country.
The outcome of the election was as expected because there had been widespread prediction that there would be fractured mandate like the one we saw in the 2008 election. But the strength and the role of the political players have changed. In the earlier election, the UCPN-Maoist had emerged the largest political party, although it, too, did not have even the simple majority to form its own government. In the first-past the post system, the UCPN-Maoist had secured simple majority of 221 out of 240 seats allotted for the majoritarian system. However, it failed to win majority under proportionate representation system. The Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML were in the distant second and third positions, while the Madhesi parties combined had emerged as the fourth political force.
But this equation has distinctly and drastically changed in the present election. The Nepali Congress has emerged the largest force followed by the CPN-UML in the second position. The earlier largest party—the UCPN-Maoist— has been reduced to a distant third. The Madhesi parties have almost been routed. But even the largest party has failed to secure majority neither under majoritarian nor in proportionate system.
The election results have been interpreted differently by different people. Those close to the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML have termed the election fairest and most credible which has genuinely reflected the people’s desire and choice. According to them, people had been fed up with the behavior and agendas of the UCPN-Maoist and they rejected the earlier largest party just to teach the Maoists a good lesson and it was people’s approval  for the agenda and political positions of the Congress and the UML on several key issues including the one concerning federalism, state restructuring. Theoretically, they are correct but practically, it was the verdict against the Maoists as people found no other place to express their anti-Maoist ire.
However, the UCPN-Maoist leaders have dubbed the election results as the engineered one under the ‘grand design of both domestic and external reactionaries’. Whatever the claims, accusations and counter accusations, election is the reality and its results are with us. The results have cheered some especially the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML. It must have upset the UCPN-Maoist and the Madhesi parties. None had expected and even imagined such a worst debacle of the Maoists, around whose agenda the country’s politics is revolving. It was really a surprise and shocking result. But it is people’s verdict and it would be unwise, apolitical and undemocratic to raise any doubt over the election outcome and disrespect it.
Such a worst defeat is definitely not good for the UCPN-Maoist. But it is also not good for the country, people and other parties as well. The Constituent Assembly, federalism, secularism and inclusive democracy are the agenda first raised by the UCPN-Maoist. Other parties including the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML adopted these agendas and incorporated them as a part of their political document and commitment only later. But the reduced role the people have given to the Maoists may have its own impact on the ongoing political and constitution writing process.  But, despite the debacle, the UCPN-Maoist cannot and should not go against the people’s mandate but needs to contribute constructively in the constitution writing.
After the election, political analysts have their own views and opinion on the outcome of the election. But, more importantly, parties need to make frank and candid assessment on poll outcome and their position. It is more for the UCPN-Maoists as it needs to make serious soul searching where they failed and what caused the people to reject them. The other two larger parties, too, are not the clear winners as they have not secured required simple majority neither of the two electoral systems and they also cannot call the election outcome as their victory.  It should be taken into account that all parties including the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML, too, have been rejected by majority. Although parties did not win majority, the successful and peaceful conduct of the election is the victory of the people, country and democracy. Thus, the election should not be taken as a victory or defeat of any particular party but it should be regarded as the victory of the country.
So far as the election debacle of the UCPN-Maoist is concerned, its own weaknesses and agenda are more responsible. There had been high expectations of the people with the Maoists when they joined the peaceful politics and people overwhelmingly voted for the Maoists in the first CA election in 2008, although it still had fallen short of majority. But the remarks, behavior and life style of the Maoists hardly matched with popular expectations during the last five years after the election. The Maoist leaders failed to demonstrate that they were different from other traditional parties. In some cases, the life style and working style of the revolutionary UCPN-Maoist leaders and cadres proved to be even worse than that of other leaders of the bourgeoisie parties.
At the same time, some of the agendas of the UCPN-Maoists did not pay them. The issue concerning the identity-based federalism that the UCPN-Maoist had raised was dubbed as the ethnic federalism, which scared more than 40 per cent of the population that included bahun, chhetris, and dalits alike. However, the ethnic communities and janajatis also seemed not to have taken the Maoist agenda positively. As a result, the UCPN-Maoist could not win the heart of neither janajatis nor other ethnic communities. This is because the UCPN-Maoists could not educate the janajatis and oppressed class that they champion their cause and rights. At the same time, the organizational strength of the UCPN-Maoist had weakened rapidly in the local level which the leaders failed to comprehend. They thought that the people who had voted them during the 2008 election would follow suit in the November election, too. This is where their calculation failed. Similarly, the UCPN-Maoist paid no attention to consolidating their organization and mobilize people and instead they got bogged down in the internal feud in the name of line struggle. These are the combinations of reasons that led to the defeat of the UCPN-Maoist. This should serve as a good lesson to the UCPN-Maoist that without mobilizing people and strengthening and enlarging organizational base, election cannot be won. Thus, the UCPN-Maoist needs to find fault within itself instead of blaming others. Also it bodes well if the UCPN-Maoist reconsiders some of its agendas that did not pay well during the election.

China's entry would benefit SAARC

Yuba Nath Lamsal

The 17th summit meeting of the South Asian Association for Regional
Cooperation (SAARC) recently concluded in Addu Atoll of the Maldives, which
appears to be a turning point in its history. Coming to the 17th Summit, the
SAARC has traversed a long and tumultuous journey and has finally proved its
worth. Some new initiatives now are afoot to turn the SAARC from a regional
gossiping club of South Asian leaders into a vibrant and resourceful
regional body.

Much was discussed among the leaders of the South Asia and observer
countries especially on the sidelines of the formal meetings. Talks were
held and ideas were exchanged on various issues including enlargement of the
SAARC. Currently, there are eight members and nine observers. The eight
members include Nepal, India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka,
Maldives and Afghanistan. The observer countries are China, Mauritius,
Japan, South Korea, Australia, United States of America, Iran, Myanmar and
European Union. Turkey is another country that may be interested to join the
SAARC as the observer and the SAARC members appear to be positive for
Turkey's entry into the SAARC as observer. With Turkey, the number of
observer countries in the eight-member SAARC would be ten. There are other
countries and groups that may be interested to join SAARC as observers.
Since European Union has the observer status, why should other regional
groups like ASEAN, African Union, Arab League and the Union of South
American Countries not be included as observers? If Iran, Myanmar and
Mauritius are qualified for the observers, several central Asian countries
that have close proximity as well as other relations with South Asia are
equally qualified for the same. Similarly, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia,
Vietnam, Russia may also be equally qualified for SAARC's observer status.
It seems as though observers are included in an arbitrary manner without
setting specific criteria. If this trend continues, SAARC, one day, may be
overwhelmed by observers, Situation may arise when member states would not
be able to take any decision whereas observers may dictate the members of
the SAARC.

The issue concerning the expansion of the SAARC has come up more
prominently. Originally SAARC was an association of seven countries.
Afghanistan was included only recently. Iran and Myanmar have long ago shown
willingness to join the SAARC as full-fledged members and have already
registered their written request. Similar case is with China, which is
currently an observer like Japan, South Korea and the United States. China
is the country which shares border with five members of the SAARC. China is,
thus, very much South Asian as well as East Asian country and it fully
deserves to be the member of the SAARC.

Recognizing this reality, there are some moves already afoot to include
China as a member of the SAARC instead of observer status. Majority of the
SAARC members are positive of China's entry into the SAARC. Pakistan has
already floated this idea, whereas Sri Lanka, Maldives, Afghanistan and
Bangladesh appear to be positive. China, too, is seeking active role in the
SAARC. At the moment, China has sought the role of dialogue partner if the
full-fledged membership is not immediately possible. The proposal to include
China as a dialogue partner has been called as 'eight-plus one' structure-
eight full-fledged members with one dialogue partner. If granted the status
of dialogue partner, China would be able to participate in all discussion
and dialogue and also put forth its views on issues of discussion. However,
it may not have voting power.

But China deserves more than the dialogue partner. But Beijing may be
contended with this status for the time being, which could ultimately be
transformed into a full-fledged member of the SAARC. China is development
partner of almost all South Asian countries. China has not only provided
generous assistance to several South Asian countries but also has been
involved in several construction and development projects. China is keen to
further expand the areas of cooperation in South Asia in the years to come.
This is China's selfless motive of contributing to the development in its
neighborhood. Beijing is well aware that prosperity and stability of China
may not be meaningful if its neighborhood is unstable, poor and backward.
The willingness and desire to contribute meaningful contribution to the
development of neighborhood and getting involved in the development works in
different countries in South Asia was clearly reflected in the speech
delivered by the head of the Chinese delegation to the 17th SAARC Summit.

China's South Asia policy is guided by its own security, stability and
development-which is called as the 'peripheral policy'. China feels that its
prosperity and stability are maintained only when its neighbors are stable
and prosperous. Beijing is of the view that when there is fire in the
neighborhood, it is likely to catch your own house. Guided by this notion,
China wants more stability, peace and prosperity in the neighborhood.

China is currently world's second largest economy and is poised to become
the largest one. The level of economic development of its people is also
going up fast. Beijing has aimed at completely eradicating poverty in a few
years. Similarly, China's investment in the world is also growing in leaps
and bound, which has bolstered China's clout and influence in the
international arena. China has invested much in other parts of the country
especially in Africa. South Asia is China's backyard and Beijing is
currently focusing its investment and cooperation in South Asia so that
South Asia can benefit from Chain's experience of economic miracle. SAARC
could be a good forum for enlarging economic cooperation between South Asia
and China. For this, China is seeking appropriate and dignified role within
SAARC forum.

 However, Chain's move to be part of the SAARC is likely to be resisted by
India. Although China does not have any ill will against any county, India
always feels threatened by China's presence in the region. China has time
and again made its position clear that its economic growth and modernization
are not aimed at any other country but solely meant for its peaceful
development. Thus, there should be no apprehension and fear from China's
growth and its presence anywhere in the world.

 Against this background, South Asia should take advantage from China's
desire to join SAARC. There has been widespread feelings in the region that
SAARC has not been able to move faster and accomplish its goal of meaningful
regional cooperation for which it was created 26 years ago. This is mainly
attributed to the lack of resources as most SAARC countries are poor.
Moreover, the role of India, which is the biggest and most powerful member
of the SAARC, may be uneasy from the effectiveness of the SAARC. India's
policy on SAARC is to keep the region alive but weak and fragile.
With China's entry as a full-fledged member, the SAARC would be world's
largest regional body with more resources and capability in tackling the
region's problems and contributing to the development of this area. China's
entry into SAARC would add one more dimension. So far, SAARC has been India
centric and New Delhi has used its influence, power and clout to reduce
SAARC activities to meetings and discussions. But China is a bigger and more
powerful in terms of size, population, economic and military might which may
serve as a perfect countervailing force in the SAARC so that one country's
hegemony would come to an end and SAARC would be more meaningful,
functioning and vibrant.

China's entry into the SAARC as a full-fledged member is necessary not for
China's interest but for the benefit of South Asian countries mainly smaller
and weaker ones like Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Afghanistan.
There are some other countries which have openly backed China's entry into
SAARC. Pakistan has wholeheartedly supported this move. The Maldives and Sri
Lanka are also positive. There has been widespread support in the popular
level in South Asia for brining China into SAARC forum as a member.
Bangladesh, too, may not oppose the proposal despite Prime Minister's Seikh
Hasina's pro-India tilt. Since Bhutan is India's tutelage, New Delhi may use
Thimpu card in keeping Beijing away although India would not come up openly
against China. The public opinion in Nepal is in China's favour because of
Beijing's good neighborly attitude and friendly cooperation. Prime Minister
Dr Baburam Bhattarai had publicly spoken the need for bringing China into
SAARC and has vowed to create Nepal as a meaningful bridge between China and
India. However, Prime Minister Bhattarai's silence over this matter in
Maldives during the 17th SAARC summit is conspicuous. Since he is the second
head of the government in South Asia to raise the issue of bringing China
into SAARC, he should have raised this issue in Maldives.

Chinese Dreams are Asian dreams, too

Yuba Nath Lamsal
Soon after Xi Jinping assumed the leadership of China, he, as all his predecessors did, looked something new and substantive to offer to the Chinese people and the world. XI came with a new vision of Chinese Dream in November 2012 seeking to transform China into a peaceful, strong and stable global power putting its people in the focal point of development. The Chinese Dream is the vision Xi Jinping has brought about purportedly to raise the standard of the people at a moderate level and giving further impetus to China’s peaceful rise.
History is witness that every Chinese leader that comes to the helm of affairs has left his distinct mark in China. Mao Zedong is by far the most revered leader who established the modern People’s Republic of China in 1949 through a protracted armed revolution under the banner of the communist party. Deng Xiaoping, who returned to limelight and rose to power in mid 1970s, changed the entire course of China through his widely acclaimed policy of reforms and opening up that has made him immortal in China’s modern history. His reforms and opening up initiated way back in 1978 together with greater commitment and willingness of his successors to pursue the reforms with more vigor and in a more pragmatic manner have revived China’s old glory of global power.
 Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao were Deng’s true followers and gave continuity to the reforms with innovation. China achieved stunning economic growth during the two decades under Jiang and Hu that helped boost China’s clout in the international arena on the one hand and at the same time brought about visible changes in the life of the Chinese people. During this period, China has made tremendous progress in poverty eradication, which has been duly appreciated by the international community including the United Nations and the World Bank.
With Xi Jinping assuming the mantle of China’s leadership, he has  rolled out his own benchmark of vision and policy reforms called Chinese Dream, which has stirred both optimism and criticism within China and abroad. At home Chinese Dream has generated high hopes as it is being seen as grand vision that encompasses broader principle for China’s national rejuvenation.  While back home Chinese Dream is being taken as a overarching goal to stimulate China’s growth, development and national pride, it has, with the same vigor and speed, rekindled hopes  for greater international cooperation, partnership and collaboration for a peaceful, prosperous and co-existential world.
More importantly, China’s neighbors appear to be more optimistic as the fundamentals of Chinese Dream, apart from reinvigorating China’s national self-esteem, seeks to revitalize the oriental culture and history shared and treasured by many of the Asian countries and societies. Seen as it is, Chinese Dream is becoming not merely a Chinese proposition alone but an expression of Asian vision for social, cultural and economic development. The Chinese Dream can, therefore, be an important basis for creating a cozy but vibrant and cooperative Asian community.
China is a long-time soft power which has become a global fait accompli. Beijing exercising this soft power at its disposal is trying to build a new regional power structure, known as the East Asian Community, on the basis of vision it has expressed through Chinese Dream. The Chinese Dream is metaphor of Beijing’s desire and commitment to build a stage conducive for greater cooperation and partnership in the world and more particularly in its neighborhood—Asia.
As China's soft power has become a topic of worldwide debate more than anything else, the Chinese Dream, too, has drawn global attention. But the Chinese Dream is an broadly expression of the vision for building a more equitable, harmonious and just world order through greater on the basis of mutual equality and benefit. The Chinese Dream has stirred more debate in the world because it comes as a parallel to what is called the American Dream that is guided more by the notion of establishing and continuing supremacy of Anglo-American values—the individual rights and free enterprise. On the contrary, the Chinese Dream envisions promoting Asian values and culture which acknowledge community rights over individual liberty and are more human in nature and spirit and are pronounced and practiced in Asian societies and countries. It can also be called, in other words, as an emerging clash between the oriental and western civilizations as the Chinese Dream is purely an assertion of Asian values and a challenge to the American Dream of Anglo-American values. Thus, the Chinese Dream is not merely a Chinese vision alone but a vision for the revival of Asian pride against Anglo-American prejudice. In this way, Chinese Dream is Asian Dream.
In a seminar of senior Asian journalists called sixth 10+3 Media Cooperation Forum held recently in Kunming of China, the Asian sentiment was seen more visibly and  pronounced in a more assertive and authentic manner.  Founded way back in 2007 that includes ten ASEAN members and China, Korea and Japan, the forum brings journalists from these ten countries to discuss ways to create a vibrant East Asian community through shared visions, values and aspirations. Coming to the sixth version of this 10+3 media cooperation mechanism, the meeting of which was held in Kunming on December 5 and 6, South Asian countries had also been included in which representatives from Nepal, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh participated and expressed their common views on realizing the Asian Dreams that are identical with the Chinese Dreams to revitalize Asian civilizations and value systems and collectively counter the western propaganda against the Asian societies.
The reason to include South Asian countries in the forum is understandable. China is not only East Asian country but very much South Asian country too. A large part of its landmass is closely connected with South Asia. More than that, China shares land border with five of eight South Asian countries that are in the framework of South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation or the SAARC. None of the South Asian countries have land connection with any of the East Asian countries and China is the only country that connects South Asia with the East Asia. More than that China is in the central stage of Asian continent and connects with all the regions of Asian continent including East Asia, South East Asia, South Asia and central Asia. Thus, it bodes well for China to take initiative to create not only East Asian regional structure but also a broad Asian community.
The 21st century is Asian century, which has been acknowledged by all including the European and American powers. The international attention and power has already been shifted to Asia. In Asia, great powers and civilizations are already in existence. In the lead is China, which is already a second largest economy and poised to become the first one in near future. To sustain Asian century, Asia needs to build an atmosphere for greater cooperation among the countries in the region. The cooperation needs to be multi-dimensional and multi-sect oral not merely between t he governments but in all levels. Media is the appropriate forum to foster cooperation at popular level. China, as a global power, seems to have, though late, realized the value and strength of media and has come with this concept of media cooperation in Asia for which the 10+3 Media  Cooperation Forum is the appropriate forum. Apart from the wide-ranging discussion and exchange of opinion on building Asian community and fostering cooperation in the Kunming seminar of the 10+3 Media Cooperation Forum, Yunnan Daily Group of China reached agreement with several media outlets of Asia for mutual cooperation of various kinds, which is one of the important aspects of the forum. This has provided China to reach out to the media of Asia to propagate its vision and bring the entire Asia closer. It was necessary also to
In the Kunming discussion, the global media landscape figured prominently in which participants were almost unanimous that, despite the world being diverse, media landscape is monopolistic as the world capitalist baseness interest groups. Despite their tall and loud claim of diversity in media, freedom and fairness, it seems to be of more of propaganda mongering when it comes to the coverage of the rest of the world including the developing countries and eastern nations, people and cultures. Participants were of the view that the Western media only cover negative reports of the developing countries. The social and community values of our eastern and Asian societies get hardly any place on western media. The Western media, with their predominant power, disseminate only the western values and serve the interests of western countries but grossly ignore the values and interests of the global community and other parts of the world. The Western media are resourceful and can afford to flood the world with their own propaganda, which we, too, often tend to believe. This is how the Western countries and interest groups have shaped the global opinion through their own media.
Though late we Asians have come to understand the power of media and need for Asian solidarity. They have realized that we Asians must do something to counter the western media onslaught and tell the world and our own people truth about ourselves and values we cherish. Resource strapped as we are, it is not possible to counter the Western media propaganda with our limited resource. Thus, we require resource-pooling among ourselves in the developing countries. We need networking and collaboration so that we together would be able to stand firmly for the defence of our values and tell the people the real stories and happenings in and around the world. This will be the correct approach to make our or Asian views heard more in the international arena and together we can prosper. The 10+3 Media Cooperation Forum is a praiseworthy initiative but this mechanism needs to be enlarged to accommodate the entire Asia including South Asia.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Militarization in South Asia

Yuba Nath Lamsal
Militarization has been a part of strategic culture in South Asia and war its end result. All South Asian states were created by the use of brutal force. South Asian countries fought both internal and external wars on various occasions. Before British arrived in South Asia and controlled most part of the region, there were numerous states and principalities that fought one another to have their dominant position. Lured by abundance of natural resources and material wealth, outsiders invaded South Asia. Greeks, Alexander the Great, Mugals and British colonial rulers were some of external invaders that attacked and controlled South Asia to name a few. The war was a part of South Asian culture as military power was the critical component of the rulers. However, it was only the northern empire or China that never exhibited its territorial appetite in South Asia.
It is not only external forces and powers with which South Asian countries had to fight on different occasions, but the countries in the region also fought wars among themselves. Nepal has never been a direct colony and it has always refrained from being under control of any external power. But it has the bitter but proud experience of fighting war with its neighbors to defend its territorial integrity. Nepal fought several wars with Tibet and a decisive war with British colonial power that had its dominant presence in South Asia.
British colonial rulers in South Asia built a military culture and created a strong armed force with the help of which they controlled large swath of land in the region. India has given continuity to the military legacy and doctrine that British left in South Asia. As a result, South Asia, already one of the poorest regions of the world, is becoming a heavily militarized zone. South Asia is the region with three nuclear powered countries— China, India and Pakistan and arms race is picking up in an alarming level with some powerful countries competing to build-up their conventional as well as nuclear arms and ammunition. The over-spending on defense at the expense of other social service sectors like health, education, food security and development, South Asia is likely to turn into a dangerous region in the world with nuclear bombs always hovering over the heads of over one fifth of humanity.
This arms race and military build-up in the region has sent a shock wave to the people in South Asia. The smaller and weaker countries of South Asia are feeling more and more vulnerable. The over-spending on defense is their misplaced priority rendering people more insecure and vulnerable. The governments which have over-emphasized on militarization try to justify their move in the name of ensuring security of their people and defense of the country. In reality, the military power can never ensure people’s security, which has been a proven fact. A country cannot be saved and defended only on military strength. The case of Soviet Union should teach us a good lesson. The Soviet Union was a super power and had powerful military capable of destroying the entire world. But it could not prevent the country from being disintegrated. Now Soviet Union has been disintegrated into many states. Thus, the over spending in military and over-emphasis on military power only augments insecurity among its own people as well as in the neighborhood. Over-spending on military bleeds national economy as it would compel to cut budget in social sectors like health, education and development.
The latest case is India’s decision to hike defense spending and its arms procurement. Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, presenting annual budget for the fiscal 2012-13 on March 16, 2012, hiked the defense outlays to 1,93,4.729 billion Indian rupees or 40.44 billion US dollars, which is almost 18 per cent hike compared to last year’s defense budget. India’s hike in defense budget is one of the highest increases in recent years.
India’s move came under the pretext of countering military build-up by China and Pakistan. But in reality, this is not justifiable. Pakistan does not match with India in terms of military weapons and manpower and it does in no way intend to be at par with India on military strength. What Pakistan is doing is to maintain only deterrence. India’s hike in military expenditure and increased import of sophisticated military hardware will definitely compel Pakistan to spend more money on the modernization of its army and weaponry and divert the tax-payers’ money into arms purchase. So far as India’s claim to counter China’s military build-up is concerned, Beijing’s military strength is too large for India to counter. China does in no way compete with India. Its competition is with the United States and its allies. China’s military modernization and consolidation is entirely for defensive purpose which Beijing has time and again stated.
But China is suspicious about India’s military intention and ambition. This is because New Delhi has already brought the United States of America—China’s military and economic rival—to India in the name of India-US strategic partnership. Already suspicious from the strong American military presence in the Pacific region including Japan, South Korea and other countries in the East Asia and also in the South China Sea, Beijing has taken the India-US strategic partnership as a move to encircle China from all sides. In all practical purpose, New Delhi’s intention was to intimidate China by brining the United States. Moreover, the anti-China activities that are being instigated by western countries with support from New Delhi has made China further cautious. With US-India military alliance getting closer and stronger, China, too, will be left with no alternative other than further strengthening and modernizing its armed forces in order to counter the newly emerged security challenge in the vicinity.  This is likely to lead to further armed race in South Asia.
India’s large increase in the defense budget has had its negative impact on various sectors and also sent a negative message to its immediate neighborhood and also beyond. While, Pakistan and China have already taken India’s recent decisions and moves with extra caution, other South Asian countries have viewed these developments with much indignation. Already feeling insecure and bullied by India’s high handedness and meddling in small South Asian countries, the hike in defense budget and increased arms import of India has further added a sense of insecurity and fear in the entire region.
India is world’s largest arms purchasing country. A Swedish think tank organization, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), released its well researched report on March 20 this year   in which it has stated “India is the world’s largest recipient of arms…India’s imports of major weapons increased by 38 percent between 2002-06 and 2007-11.” New Delhi’s imports of arms include several new equipments ranging from combat aircraft to submarines and artillery.
In recent years, India has bought reconnaissance aircraft from the Boeing worth 2.1 billion-dollars and medium range missiles for 1.4 billion dollars from Israel. So far as New Delhi is not only purchasing arms from Israel but also having strategic and military partnership with the Jewish state. According to reports, Israel has agreed to share its military expertise with India in various fields such as surveillance satellites and space exploration. This is yet other move to intimidate Muslim countries in South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. In practice, Indian defense expenditures have no bounds. In the past decade, India has spent billions of dollars on purchases of arms, planes, radars and ships from the US, Russia, Britain, Germany, Israel, France and other western countries.
Given India’s ambitious defense and military build-up, a Washington-based think tank, Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), exposed India’s military intention. The Center has revealed in its report “India’s defense budget has roughly quadrupled since 2001—reaching $36.3 billion in the 2011–2012 budget. Of the total defense budget, approximately 40 percent (some $14.5 billion) is allocated to the defense capital outlay budget.”

Currently more than half of India’s budget is allocated for armed forces, but its major portion is being spent on defense purchases, which leaves less than half for everything else including infrastructure development projects, education, healthcare, poverty alleviation, and various human services. New Delhi’s latest arms purchases will leave even less for what India needs most to lift hundreds of millions of its citizens from abject poverty, hunger, illiteracy and disease. Analysts have dubbed India’s ballooning defense budget at the expense of investment in social and economic sectors is nothing other than preference to gun than butter.
Despite being the tenth largest economy in terms of size of the GDP, India is the country of the largest number of poor people. The Indian establishment has not been able to deliver basic services to tens of millions of poor people, who live under sub-human condition. A United Nations report states that India ranks 134th of 182 countries on the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Index. It estimated that 50 per cent of the world’s undernourished population lives in India. Nearly 31 per cent of the billion-plus Indians earn less than a dollar a day.  But in the name of consolidating its security, it has siphoned off money to defense contracts and arms import. This has two objectives: one is to benefit the arms dealers and politicians through the contract and commissions. The second is to dilute and divert public anger against the government into other areas. The third one is to further intimidate the neighbors and maintain its hegemony in the neighborhood. Thus, the hike in defense budget and heavy procurement of arms is not going to make people feel secure when a large number of people are dying and starving. Instead, it would create human insecurity at home and sent a message of threat to the neighbors.

China-Russia closer ties are in small countries' interest

Yuba Nath Lamsal

The international balance of power has changed and is changing constantly.
The international of the World War II no longer existed soon after the war
was over. It gave rise to Cold War dominated by two rival superpowers. The
bi-polar world also came to an end with the collapse of Soviet Union that
marked formal end of the Cold War. In the post Cold War era, the United
States of America is the only superpower making the world as a unipolar one.
This uni-polar world, too, is not going to remain for a long time. The new
world order has already started taking its shape.

There had been a unique equation of power during the Cold War era, which
might not have been natural. Soon after the World War II, ideology was the
sole basis of international relations and alliance among states. There was a
capitalist bloc under the leadership of the United States and the Soviet
Union was the leader of world's socialist camp. Some of the countries of the
Third World that chose not to be aligned with any of the two power blocs
remained neutral under the banner of Non-Aligned Movement.

The Soviet Union, which installed socialist regime through October
Revolution led by V. I. Lenin. After the World War II, several socialist and
communist countries emerged in Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin
America, thanks in part to people's homegrown revolution and in part
material and moral support from the international socialist community mainly
the Soviet Union. When World War II was in its peak, New People's Revolution
was underway in China under the banner of Communist Party of China which was
led by Mao Zedong. The Chinese Revolution succeeded in establishing People's
Republic of China in 1949. Although the determination and struggle of the
revolutionary Chinese people was the principal catalyst factor for the
success of China's revolution, international support mainly from Soviet
Union had also played vital role. Even after the success of the Chinese
Revolution, Soviet Union's support and assistance in the modernization and
development of China was crucial.

However, crack appeared in the socialist bloc with Soviet Union and China
getting involved in mud-slinging against one another. But the alliance among
the capitalist bloc was intact and it was getting stronger whereas the unity
among the socialist countries was being fragmented. The crack in the
socialist bloc began soon after Nikita Khrushchev's rise to power in Soviet
Union. Soon after coming to power, Khrushchev not only denounced Joseph
Stalin but also proposed a new model of communism/socialism that irked and
alienated China that was heading towards building socialism based on the
classical Marxism, Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought. With China refusing to
toe ideological and political line of Soviet Union under Khrushchev, the
earlier camaraderie and bonhomie soon turned into rivalry and animosity.
Beijing then kept itself away from the Soviet-led socialist bloc with
China's accusation that Soviet Union turned into a social imperialist path.

The rift between Soviet Union and China marked a turning point in the change
of international balance of power. The animosity between China and Soviet
Union grew so bitter that they once fought proxy war in Vietnam. Although
China kept itself away from the bitter rivalry between the two super powers,
Beijing felt threatened more by Soviet Union's aggressive posture in East
Asia as countries in the region like Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and even
Mongolia went into the Soviet fold. At the same time, Soviet Union
intervened in Afghanistan and propped up its puppet regime in Kabul. At the
same time, Soviet Union and India signed a long-term strategic and military
cooperation agreement. The Western capitalist bloc too was flexing its
military and political muscle in Asia and propping up regimes in different
countries to be organized against Soviet adventure and aggression. The
growing Soviet adventure in Asia also gave rise to increased US military
presence especially in Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Japan and South
China Sea in the East Asia and Pakistan and Indian Ocean in South Asia. The
formation of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) should be
viewed against this background. To Beijing Soviet intervention was more
dangerous not only to China but also to security of entire Asian continent.
China, thus, stood firmly against Soviet aggression in the region. China's
policy to oppose Soviet aggression came not only from its security point of
view but also because of its stated foreign policy to oppose any kind of
foreign intervention in other country that was based on five principles of
peaceful co-existence. Beijing's opposition was dubbed as a support to
capitalist bloc by the Soviet Union and its lackeys. China did not support
the United States but stood for the principle and cause of the small and
weaker countries. China's support brought the balance of power in Asia into
the favour of the Unites States. Its result was more visible in Afghanistan.
Soviet Union was forced to withdraw its troops and Afghanistan was
liberated. Soviet adventure met similar fate in other countries in Asia.

Since then a sea change has taken place in the world. Soviet Union was
disintegrated with Russia remaining the dominating power giving rise to
US-led unipolar world. New powers are emerging and newer alliances are being
developed in the world. China has come up as an economic superpower with
already becoming world's second largest economy and speculations are that it
would even surpass the United States in a few years. China's role and clout
in the international arena is growing and Beijing is an international power
that no country can afford to ignore.

The uni-polar world is slowly turning into multi-polar ones with some
regional powers emerging fast like China in Asia, Russia in Europe, South
Africa in Africa and Brazil in South America. There is no single dynamic
that has brought the change in the international balance of power. The
contributing factors are manifold, which have compelled the international
powers to build bilateral and multi-later alliances.

Asia is becoming the center of international power. The world is watching
closely the developments in Asia and countries are readjusting their policy
accordingly. The Unites States has seen simmering threat to its global
domination from China's rise. Washington's policy is to check China's
emergence, for which it has readjusted its policy and realigned relations
with several countries in Asia. The United States has already had strong
presence in East Asia but its position is shaky in South Asia. Soon after
Washington washed its hand and withdrew from South Asia after Soviet troops
were pulled out from Afghanistan, US influence and presence started slowly
diminishing. The United States has committed three blunders in its South
Asia policy. The complete washing off hands from South Asia after the
withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan was first mistake. The second
one is the decision to abruptly abandon Pakistan and third mistake is to
enter into strategic partnership with India. Pakistan felt paranoid as
Washington behaved as fair weather friend while it started hobnobbing with
Islamabad's arch foe India. China had already felt threatened by strong US
military presence in East Asia, South China Sea and Indian Ocean. US-India
military partnership made Beijing further susceptible as China was fully
encircled by the United States virtually from all sides. The result is
obvious: China started looking for an alternative alliance to counter the
United States and its newly forged alliance with several Asian countries
including India. Russia, too, was not happy with NATO's eastward expansion
and US inroad into some Central Asian countries.  This is a major
contributing factor for China-Russia strategic partnership.

With United States and India getting closer and forging security and
strategic partnership, China and Russia have tied strategic knot even more
tightly. It is said that there is no neither permanent friend nor permanent
foes in diplomacy but only permanent interest. The US-India alliance is a
marriage of convenience as both Washington and New Delhi have a common
mission is to weaken China and check its rise, while China-Russia
partnership is natural.

China and Russia have their common objective to counter US domination in the
world. The recent developments in Arab world and North Africa and US-led
NATO's role made China and Russia more susceptible and they felt necessity
of a common and collective approach in the international forum. This was the
prime motive and objective of China-Russia strategic partnership, to which
Chinese President Hu Jintao described as a "comprehensive strategic
relationship." In future, Pakistan may formally join this alliance making it
a trilateral strategic partnership for their collective security. This may
ultimately pave the way for the formation of, as Russian Prime Minister
Vladimir Putin has visualized, greater Eurasian Union an economic counter
weight to EU and military counter weight to NATO. This kind of union would
not only challenge the US hegemony in the world but also serve as a bridge
between Asia and Europe.

Russia is the world's largest energy producer and China is the world's top
energy consumer. Their alliance and meaningful cooperation would definitely
change the world order and international balance of power. The China-Russia
partnership will definitely have positive impact in our region. Russia and
China will act as decisive geopolitical giants, which would create perfect
balance of power not only in South Asia but in Asia as a whole as well as in
the world. With the new alliance and better balance of power, small and
weaker countries like Nepal may not feel defenseless and the new world order
and balance of power would be in the interest of the developing countries in
the world.