Peripheral dreams

Will the world’s last empire succeed in crushing and absorbing the peoples and cultures of its borderlands? Here’s a rousing call for Tibetans, Uighurs, Hongkongers and Taiwanese to resist Chinese Communist colonial oppression.

The pessimistic view is that only Taiwan – still happily independent of Beijing – has a realistic chance of freedom. And indeed, some observers seem to believe Renegade Province will inevitably fall into the Panda’s clutches at some stage. Arunachal Pradesh would be next on the list.

However, China is fast gaining a global reputation as a bully and even a strategic threat. It is getting caught using obnoxious tactics to intimidate Australian broadcasters and infiltrate US campuses. Its ‘Belt and Road’ strategy looks increasingly predatory, as does its wider trade, investment and industrial policy. Its hurried military build-up draws comparisons with pre-WWI Germany. Tsai Ing-wen’s warnings about Xi Jinping’s regime should strike a chord.

If there is any hope for Tibet, Xinjiang or Hong Kong, it must be in the form of a far greater shock to the Communist regime than they themselves can possibly deliver.

There have recently been reported murmurs of doubt from within China about the wisdom of the country’s loud, brash, hyper-hubristic new stance in the last five years. Now come some more, courtesy of Bloomberg. Evidently, some members of China’s elite are worried that the reality about the country’s capabilities does not match the glorious propaganda.

Despite Beijing’s apparent self-confidence and even bluster, the Chinese government is seriously exposed politically as well as economically to US action on trade and investment, let alone other forms of confrontation. Beijing’s policymakers are walking a tightrope trying to keep a property bubble from bursting, preventing capital flight, and otherwise micro-managing a (probably) unsustainably distorted economy. Threats to sell US bonds or devalue the currency are hollow. It would be similarly self-defeating to prove US hawks right through targeted retaliation against American companies in the mainland. Now truck drivers and veterans are protesting in the streets. It would be easy to push China’s paranoid leadership off-balance.

Luckily for the Communist Party, Donald Trump will presumably be bought, flattered, conned or befuddled into a ‘deal’ that lets China off with a promise to buy more soybeans. Tibetans, Uighurs and Hongkongers are on their own.


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