View from other side…

Posted: February 2, 2011 in Misc., People, Photos, Places, Quotes
Tags: , , , , ,

I saw this TED video on China’s rise and was going through the comments. As expected, there were a wave of comments from people seemingly of Chinese origin defending any damage to their country’s image.

Among the many ill-mannered and some illogical comments, was one which seemed relatively sensible and straightforward. It presented a (selective) chronological list of invasions that China has suffered. For anyone who wishes to learn how history is rewritten by leaders in a closed society, there are several points in there. The most interesting point is how the Chinese leadership is trying to create a self-view of China as a wronged, long-oppressed country that rises and fights off its oppressors.

The first item in that list, mentioning Ireland as a co-invader, is an indication that the commentator may not be too keen on historical accuracies. However, the highlighted section illustrates the outcome of a one-sided view of history developed to match the historical narrative that suits the leaders:

  1. 1937-45 Sino-Japanese war later became part of WWII, in which China defeated Japan“. What is being referred to as Sino-Japanese war seems to me as that conquest of China by Japan. In fact, by the time WW2 began in Pacific theatre, the Japanese had crushed the Kuomintang while the Communists were still recovering after the Long March. It helps the Chinese leaders to present a brave Sino-Japanese struggle evolving into the World War. However, the reality is that sans Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbour, Thailand, Malaya and Hong Kong, there wouldn’t have been a world war in the Pacific, with Japan being allowed to ‘keep’ China. As for China defeating Japan in WW2, well it would like on par if Kuwaitis claimed to have defeated Iraq in the First Gulf War.
  2. 1950 Britain invaded Tibet, part of China“. I have no idea where to begin with this one. By 1950, Britain had been out of the subcontinent for over 2 years with no ground forces remaining back for such strategic invasions. The only other bordering nations of Tibet were USSR and China. Doubt either of them would have allowed their territory to Britain for invading Tibet. What really happened in 1950 is well known – China’s PLA invaded Tibet under the pretext of freeing the ‘serfs’. They never left and people like our commentator here were brought up to believe this alternate version of events.
  3. 1962 India crossed border into Tibet & was evicted“. Now, this is one point I have no strong objections to. Of course, India had displayed an unnecessarily aggressive stance on the border dispute with China and Indian forces were pretty much routed by the PLA. The closest to truth, though still incomplete, amongst the listed.
  4. 1979 Third Indochina War, Vietnam occupied Cambodia, China“. This one is part truth, part hot air. Yes, Vietnam had invaded Cambodia in 1978 to remove the Khmer regime. Some may call it an occupation. No, Vietnam never invaded, let alone occupied China! In fact, in 1979, it was China that invaded Vietnam in response to the earlier Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia. The reason then given by Chinese leadership for invasion of Vietnam was ‘mistreatment of the Chinese ethnic minority’ in Vietnam.

The best part of that comment for me was the last line – ‘Had not been for Chinese’ 8-years resistance to Japan’s invasion, the WWII would have lasted way longer‘. One of the well established facts about Japanese war machine was the role of China in supplying it with raw materials. The surrender of Japanese was forced by dropping atomic bombs on two of their cities while threatening an invasion of the mainland. This, while most of China was still under Japanese control with pockets of guerilla-type resistance. I think, the truth might be closer to: ‘Had not been for Japan’s 8-year rule over China, the WWII might have never arrived in the Pacific.


It is understandable that the Chinese could present these outright lies as historical facts to their population given the tightly controlled nature of the regime and limited access to independent, international information sources. What I find strange is what is happening in the other part of our neighbourhood – the Pakland. It surprises me that a country with such easy access to independent, external information sources is thriving on its own prejudiced version of history. History that was written barely three decades ago under Gen Zia ul Haq. Surprising.

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