A World Without China
文：同新亞 譯：Simon the Cyrenian
Today, China’s defiant posture against the world’s dominant order has been increasingly evident and aggressive, which can be told from its behaviors, ideology, and public opinion. On the one hand, this ideology of a challenger is manifested as Communism in official context, which is the world of Communism against the world of Capitalism. In a nutshell, it is a cold-war concept. It appears that some have already called it the New Cold War. On the other hand, in public opinion the ideology is demonstrated as Nationalism, which can be further divided into two parts. Firstly, the rebirth of the imagined ancient Chinese Empire that should pick up its lost glory and supremacy in East Asia and replace the current world order, which is the imperialistic part the generates the present regional issues and conflicts, be it in South China Sea, Taiwan, Japan, or Korea. Secondly, the challenge initiated by the imagined ancient Chinese Civilization against the others led by the West, which is the nationalistic part. These two parts perfectly integrates with each other, one part being the just cause of the other.
From where China stands, war is the only solution and all other methods are but camouflages to confuse its enemies. The Chinese idiom 「Lay low and bide the time」 is the perfect description of the above-mentioned strategy. China’s only concern about war is its lack of force or the huge cost behind, instead of the war itself. After all, no other ways except war can provide solutions for the aforementioned ideology. Of course, the problems can be solved peacefully if the West will surrender, join in the Communist team, become a minor part of the world order dominated by China, and eventually become Chinese. However, presumably it should be an option that few will choose.
The Decline of Communism and the Rise of Nationalism (Chinese Imperialism)
The true current ruler of China is a Marxism-Leninism Communist party that is structured in a system similar to that of a matryoshka doll. A core group with its faith in Communism and Communist Holy War combined with the surrounding layer-by-layer peripheral organizations and people utilized as tools. Technically, even the state apparatus and the state-owned enterprises are the peripheral parts led by the core. The Party itself is but a multi-layered matryoshka doll that the inner circle uses the outer circle, not a real community. It appears to be like other common authoritative counterparts, yet they are completely different in essence. With Xi Jinpin’s coming to power and his attempts to restore the pre-1978 political style, anyone careful enough can easily smell the stench and discern the marks of a Marxism-Leninism party. Xi and his close partners consist the small but key clique that spread its tentacles into the government and the army, which allows Xi to mostly bypass the state apparatus and rule at his will. With such a political system, the core group can utilize and deceive all other people for their own goals if they wish to. That is to say, they can utilize the nationalism to fulfill their Communist Holy War.
By the end of 1970s, with the worsened relationship between China and the Soviet Union, the challenges by Soviet against the world, and the Cold War, China and the U.S. began their realistic cooperation against the Soviet Union. This path had already been set and fixed before the death of Mao and there was no turning back for China. This was where the West aids and the western foreign investment started. By the time of Mao’s death, China’s economy was already crumbling and the relationship between Soviet and China kept worsening, which added up to China’s urgent need to strengthen its cooperation with the West led by the U.S. so as to gain enough political and economic benefits to survive. Meanwhile, to better fit in with the Western order, or more accurately, to better disguise itself and to be accepted by the West, CPC (Communist Party of China) made some gradual and Capitalist reforms in politics and economy. During the reform, CPC also had the chance to taste the great sweetness brought by the Western order, which tempted it to further its reform.
Before 1978, CPC’s ideology mainly appeared to be Communism instead of Nationalism. The popular slogans by then were 「Build up Communism」, 「Defeat the Imperialistic America and free the oppressed American proletariats」, and 「Free Humankind (with Communism)」, etc. When CPC began to make its way into the West order of Capitalism, it disguised itself with Nationalism instead of Communism, because Nation-States are the dominant players of the world and are more easily accepted by the West. From then on, Chinese Nationalism started rising.
How was the Ideology of 「Chinese Empire」 Formed?
The Nationalism created by CPC is in its very essence a kind of imperialism, which is why we can call it Chinese Imperialism. It has inherited the structure and narratives of the Nationalism in the Republic of China (KMT) period, whose cores are the narrative of the traditional East Asian Imperialism and the superiority of Chinese Civilization, combined with the Western ultra-left perspectives on modern history. A typical Chinese believer of such a Nationalism will undoubtfully accept the following opinions: Chinese civilization is an independently developed ancient civilization originated from the nowadays Henan province of China, the so called 「Zhongyuan」 (central plain) region. It has a continued history of at least 5,000 years and is one of the so called 「Four Ancient Civilizations」. Before modern period, China had always been the most advanced and powerful country on Earth at any rate, especially during the times of the three mighty dynasties: Qin, Han, and Tang. China started to fall behind the West in some aspects (especially techniques) in modern period, yet was still the supreme one in terms of other matters when compared with the West. When we review the structure of the above-mentioned nationalism, it can be told that the imagined boundaries of race/bloodline, culture, and empire have supported one another and together formed an inalienable whole. A Chinese by race is definitely a Chinese by culture, a Chinese in the sense of traditional East Asian imperialistic context. The greatness of Chinese Civilization has proven the greatness of Chinese Empire, and vice versa. The greatness of the Chinese Empire established by 「Chinese」 or 「Han」 people has also proven the superiority of Chinese race/bloodline. Such a 「greatness」 actually means the intruding, conquering, massacring, raping, colonizing, assimilating, and dominating the surrounding peoples and the establishment of the Imperial Chinese Tributary System. Typical Chinese nationalists will zealously love and praise such a 「greatness」, as if it is some kind of absolute truth that should be pursued with everything they have. They can clearly see the bloody evil behind the imperial narratives, yet they still cherish and worship it, as long as these abominations are conducted in the name of the glory of Chinese Civilization. This superiority of Chinese Civilization, together with the 「Glorious History」 under the imperialistic perspective, have already become the strongest power engines that boost the vanity and national pride of every true Chinese, integrating seamlessly with their characters and self-identification.
However, it is easy to mentally masturbate, yet the truth is cruel. In fact, the theory of the superiority of Chinese Civilization imagined by Chinese is not only absurd and arrogant, but also the completely opposite story against the revelations brought by Archeology and Molecular Anthropology.
The East Asian regions covered by the current territory of PRC (People’s Republic of China) can approximately be divided into two sections. First, the Eurasia Steppe in the north, whose southern part includes nowadays Xinjiang Province, Gansu Province, Qinghai Province, the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, northern part of Shaanxi Province, northern part of Shanxi Province, northern part of Hebei Province, the Inner Mongolia, and the three Northeastern provinces (Manchuria). The vast steppe covers most of the land of Northern China and connects with the grassland of Central Asia and Europe, forming a solid entity. In the Neolithic Age, the first center of human civilization emerged in the Mesopotamia, where many important crops were tamed for the first time, agricultural techniques were invented, colored pottery was created, many religions and myths were generated, and bronze wares were first forged. All these fruits of civilization were then spread to other parts of the world. The Chinese ancient civilizations named under the colored pottery were but the products of the worldwide spread of colored pottery, a branch of the Mesopotamia culture of colored pottery. The same narrative can be applied to the Chinese ancient civilizations named under bronze wares and iron wares. Since the fire of civilization was actually passed from west to east, from Mesopotamia to Eurasia steppe, then to the agricultural regions of East Asia, the Zhongyuan civilization started not only far later than the Western and Central Asia, but even also later than the Eurasia steppe. The Eurasia steppe that was seen as the 「Land of Barbarians」 under the Chinese perspective actually had been more advanced than the Zhongyuan region for a long period of time.
The so called Zhongyuan region was indeed a more comfortable and stable agricultural place to dwell in, and thus quite attractive to the half-farmer nomads in the steppe. Due to certain reasons, e.g. the climate and environmental changes of the steppe, these half-farmer nomads would enter into the Zhongyuan agricultural region from the steppe one batch after another, and became pure agricultural ethnic groups. Some generations later, the old comers would be defeated by the new comers from the steppe. This compact model can roughly depict the demographic flow of East Asia continent from 5000 B.C. to the Qing Dynasty of China.
也就是說，所謂的「華夏」本身其實是「蠻夷」。其實即使在遠古神話里，「中華」的始祖炎黃兩個部落也是來自於「蠻夷之地」，華夏概念的建立者「周」部落也來自於「蠻夷之地」。「中原」之所以相對草原表現出更大的文明體量，其實是因為穩定的農業社會相對草原更有利於社會財富的積累。但在文明的核心 — — 技術上，「中原」則長期落後於草原。
Summarily, the so called noble 「Chinese」 were in nature 「Barbarians」 they have been always despising. Even in the ancient myths that laid the very foundation of Chinese, their ancestors were literally two tribes, Yan and Huang, from the so called 「Land of Barbarians」. Plus, the true establisher of the concept of China, the Zhou tribe, was also from the 「Land of Barbarians」. Zhongyuan region appeared to be more prosperous and civilized than the steppe only because its geographical conditions allowed it to form a more stable agricultural society that was more advantageous in wealth accumulation than the steppe. However, in terms of one of the keys of civilization, technology, Zhongyuan region was in effect behind the steppe region for quite a long time.
The truth is, Chinese Civilization was never developed independently and there was no such a pseudo concept as 「the Four Ancient Civilizations」. Not only has it never been the most advanced entity on Earth, but also never surpassed its western counterparts from the very beginning. It is, in fact, from the 「West」. Before it could proudly proclaim itself to be an independent and unique civilization, it had been deeply influenced by the western civilizations for 3,000 years, continually receiving fruits from the west, which was the root cause of its changes and prosperity. Moreover, empires in different stages of East Asian history were not established by a single ethnic group. They appeared the same just because the late comers tried to disguise themselves as the embodiment of the former 「Chinese Civilization」 so as to gain legitimacy. There was not even one mighty empire that once powerful enough to rule the world in the history of East Asia. The basic narratives that help construct the Han Nationality are but haughty and twisted imaginations.
Chinese Imperialism Will Stop China from Integrating with the Current World Order
之所以這種「輝煌古文明」的想象變成了中國民族意識形態的重要支撐，是因它為中華帝國的意識形態提供了潛在的合理性。它把作為它的「道成肉身」的中華帝國抬高到了足以與整個西方文明範圍內的所有國家(而不是其中的哪一個)平起平坐，甚至還要高一等的地位，這為帝國意識形態里的「尊嚴」提供了道義上的支撐。一個民族國家可以出於現實的需要加入到任何一種對自己有利的秩序里，對民族國家來說這談不上恥辱不恥辱，但對帝國來說不是。帝國只能以領袖和霸主的身份來建立起自己的秩序，只有在這樣的身份里它才能保全自己的尊嚴，而加入任何一個其他秩序，對帝國來說都是無法接受的恥辱。對想象出來的、古老偉大的中華文明來說，加入到另外一種文明所建立的秩序里，也是無法接受的恥辱。因為尊嚴的概念對民族國家和帝國並不同。對民族國家來說 只有當名譽受到了實際性的攻擊或利益受到了實際性的損害才可能算尊嚴受到了侮辱；而對帝國來說，哪怕它加入到一個對自己有利的秩序里去，只要它沒有在這個秩序裡面充當最高的領導地位，它的尊嚴就受到侮辱了，假如它充當了秩序的首領，只要這個秩序里有人不服從它，它就感覺自己受到侮辱了；對想象出來的中華文明來說，只要這個體系不是由它自己建立的，哪怕它在充當了領導者，它也覺得受到了侮辱。所以，只要中華帝國和想象的華夏文明這兩張意識形態存在，中國就永遠無法融入到現有的世界體系里去，而且它還一定會試圖重建自己的秩序 從而成為現有世界秩序的挑戰者。
This imagination of being the 「Glorious Ancient Civilization」 becomes one of the key pillars supporting Chinese Nationalism only because it can provide the hidden legitimacy for Chinese Imperialism. The twisted imagination has made its incarnation, the Chinese Empire, not only the equal of all other countries (not any specific one) on Earth (especially the ones in the West), but even the supreme one, offering ethical support for the imperial 「pride」. A normal nation state can integrate with any beneficial order out of realistic concerns. It will never be a 「pride」 issue for a common nation state. However, not so for a supreme empire. A supreme empire, for the Chinese Imperialism believers, must establish its own world order as a dominant overlord, which is the only identity that can safeguard its glory, pride, and interest. Integrating with any other world order established and led by other nations or civilizations is an unacceptable insult to the supreme empire. The same applies to the imagined 「noble」 and 「great」 Chinese Empire, who will be severely insulted when being integrated with another world order led by any other civilization. Apparently, the concept of dignity is different for an ordinary nation state, who would feel being insulted only when its reputation or interest is substantially harmed. On the contrary, a supreme empire’s 「dignity」 is much more fragile: it will be insulted in a beneficial order as long as it is not the supreme leader; it will be insulted as the supreme leader when there is any disobedient voice within the order. The same goes the imagined Chinese Civilization, who will be easily insulted in a world order established by others even as the supreme leader. Therefore, so long as the twisted yet inborn imaginations of Chinese Civilization and Empire exist, China will never be able to integrate with the existing world order, always trying to 「rebuild」 its own set of orders and thus becoming the challenger of the current one.
Besides, these imaginations also mean that Chinese will never be able to truly accept modern civilization, because the concept of 「modern」 is almost the same as the 「West」 and accepting the 「Western Civilization」 is an unbearable shame for the 「great Chinese Civilization」, which is called 「Currying the Foreigners」 in Chinese saying. Some readers may want to argue at this point that Chinese have already taken in many western elements and it is wrong to say that Chinese can never integrate with the West with present ideologies. Such sayings can only confuse the truth. The western elements Chinese now take in are mostly peripheral techniques. Their bones and souls remain Chinese and will never change. With the strengthening power of 「Chinese Empire」 and the following rise of Chinese Nationalism, the western elements will be washed away again, and will be easily washed away again and again with the current ideologies within. It is just like a dog tied to a stake, always turning back after a few steps forward. Japan’s 「De-Asianization」 will never happen to China. The 1.3 billion people living in the East Asia continent can never be truly modernized and integrated into the modern world as 「Chinese」.
Taiwan, Hong Kong, and 「Unification」: The Conspicuous Embodiment of Chinese Imperialism
Hong Kong and Taiwan issues have long been the focuses of conflicts between China and the international community. Both of the Chinese government and common Chinese take it for granted that Taiwan is the inherent territory of PRC, ignoring the fact that Taiwan is in effect an independent state. Both of the Chinese government and common Chinese are clamoring for the 「unification」 of Taiwan. The same word 「unification」 has also been applied to other regions, like 「safeguard the unification of Xinjiang」 and 「safeguard the unification of Tibet」, etc. 「Unification」 can be seen as a key word for Chinese spirit, being the bottom line of 「Patriotism」 for every Chinese. Essentially, the word 「unification」 and the mindsets behind are the avatars of a kind of Fascist Imperialism, one of the conspicuous embodiments of Chinese Imperialism.
The word 「unification」 contains two sets of logics. First, all the ethnic groups and regions within the greater Chinese Civilization system must be unified under one ethnicity and one regime. The 「unification」 of Hong Kong, Taiwan, and all other regions being included in the greater Chinese circle follows such a set of logics. As a matter of fact, it confuses the boundary between greater cultural system and nation state. A greater cultural system can generate a large number of nation states, because every greater cultural system is consisted of many different sub-cultures and countless various groups divided by different sub-cultures and common interests. Each group like this is capable of establishing its own nation state. For example, the whole Europe can be seen as a greater Western Civilization system, while so many European nation states coexist. Second, every region once possessed by the 「Chinese Empire」 can never be alienated, even if the region is not part of the greater Chinese circle. The 「unification」 of Xinjiang, Tibet, and other regions where heterogeneous people have long dwelled goes to the second set of logics. As a frequent Chinese saying goes, 「wherever dares to seek independence, we will keep the land instead of the people」. Such a mindset of 「unification」 is a typical epitome of the fascist imperialism that longs for the endless expansion of territory, the typical embodiment of Chinese Imperialism. In the ancient Chinese empires, the land and people are all private possessions of the emperor. The loss of empire territory equals the intolerable loss of private possessions for the emperor, who will resort to brute force when anything bad happened to his treasure. When such a mindset was integrated into the modern Chinese nationalism, all 「Han」 people imagine themselves to be the rulers of 「Chinese Empire」, replacing the ancient emperor, and thus form the aforementioned Chinese Imperialism.
中國的民族意識形態與現代政治的規則 — — — 即憲政、自由和民主，也是相衝突的。可以預見的基本事實是，假設中國完成了真正的民主化，那麼西藏、新疆等少數民族地區肯定會以公投的形式離開中國，成立自己的民族國家。不僅如此，隨著資本主義商品經濟所帶來的基於地方語言的地方文化的空前繁榮，以及地方經濟的巨大差異，不同地域間的共同認同將會越來越低，隨著時間的推移，「漢族」這個群體也會分崩離析，變成一系列的新民族，它們會繼承少數民族的腳步，公投離開中國。這是中國如今的民族意識形態所無法忍受的。所以為了防止這種情況，中國就一定不會實現真正的民主和言論自由，因為中國本身就是中央集權專制的產物，專制才有中國，民主就沒有中國了。
Chinese Nationalism also contradicts the pillars of modern politics, which are constitutionalism, freedom, and democracy. A foreseeable basic fact is that regions like Tibet and Xinjiang will surely leave China through referendum and establish their own nation states should China truly achieved democracy. Moreover, with the booming of local cultures, which are based on local languages, brought by Capitalism, the huge difference among regional economies will be revealed, the common identity among different regions will fade, and the concept of the so called 「Han」 people will also gradually dissolve into a range of new national identities, who will then follow the paths of other ethnic groups like Uyghur and Tibetan to establish their own nation states. Such a result is insufferable to the current Chinese Nationalism. To prevent this from happening, China will never reach true democracy and freedom. China itself is the product of totalitarian centralism and democracy means the death of China.
The Nationalism of 「China」, or 「Han」 people, in summary, is completely a kind of fascist imperialism. Its very existence will not only plague East Asia continent with barbarianism and totalitarianism forever, but also pose formidable threats to the world order and peace, because such a kind of imperialism will definitely point to invasion and war. The more powerful this 「Chinese Empire」 becomes, the more likely this Nationalism will lose control, the more possible that Chinese will bring themselves and other innocent peoples and countries into the abyss of war. An East Asia with China will always be a barbaric and totalitarian East Asia that can never be modernized and integrated into the current world order. A world with China will always be an unstable world filled with threats and challenges.
Therefore, let’s talk about a world without China.
A World without China
For Chinese Nationalism, the word 「China」 is a binary construction, denoting a type of culture as well as a country, both of which become the corner stone for each other. Yet, in fact, 「Chinese Culture」 is but a pseudo-concept created by the empire to justify their invasion and coercive assimilation. The concept of 「Chinese Civilization」 is no more than a vague umbrella name for the diverse civilizations within the empire’s territory.
Ever since the first civilization emerged on the continent of East Asia, a variety of civilization circles and ethnic groups had come into shape. The so called 「Zhongyuan」 culture was but one of them. Despite the fact that other surrounding civilizations had all been affected by 「Zhongyuan」 in a way, one can never say that these surrounding civilizations are naturally parts of, or branches of the 「Zhongyuan」 Civilization. No known civilization in the world is established under complete isolation. The dissemination and division of civilization is one of the most common things in human history. Every civilization will be somehow affected by other cultures before and after it comes into shape. E.g. 「Zhongyuan」 culture itself is a product heavily influenced by the West and Middle Asia through the Eurasia Steppe. One can even say that 「Zhongyuan Civilization」 is but a branch of the Steppe cultures, because most of the forebears of 「Zhongyuan Civilization」 actually came from the Steppe. If Chinese Imperialists can justify their coercive unification and assimilation of the non-Zhongyuan areas that had been influenced by 「Zhongyuan Civilization」, so can one sees Chinese Civilization as a branch of the West and Middle Asia civilizations and believes that it is the West Asian Muslims’ mission to 「unify」 the whole East Asia.
Such a perspective on culture and history is completely of imperialism: a kind of shameless, overt, and fascist imperial logic, thoroughly revealing the imperialistic nature of Chinese Nationalism.
However, if such an imperialistic perspective can be abandoned, one can see a different history of East Asia. In Shang and Zhou periods, these divergent civilizations and ethnic groups emerged on the East Asia continent had formed their own countries. They all had their own history, culture, and ways of life. Tragically, the fascist invasion and colonization of Qin Empire ruined them, plunging them into the lamentable fate of imperial colonization and coercive assimilation. However, though the tragedy had been going on intermittently for the past 2,000 years, the identifications of local ethnic groups in different conquered regions of the empire have not been wiped out. Their local cultures and languages have still doggedly retained their special features. In the course of East Asian history, these people would always try to seize the opportunity to gain freedom and independence, restoring themselves whenever the monstrous Chinese Empire collapsed. Yet when the empire rose and devoured them again, these records of freedom and independence would all be blotted out to forge the illusion that they were happy to be 「unified」. Like Finland under the rule of Russia, they can still swiftly restore their nations when the coercively united empire collapses, living proudly in their ancient and unique ways.
In a world without China, Chinese Imperialism will no longer exist. The ancient justice will be done. Without the evil burden of the ancient empire, the new-born East Asian states can happily say goodbye to the absurd idea of 「supreme ancient civilization」, passionately embrace modern civilization, and integrate with the current world order. A number of true modern countries like modern Japan will eventually rise on the continent of East Asia.
Now, the vile Communist totalitarian regime is coming to its end. The story of a century ago will again occur on East Asia, where independent armed regimes and states spread across the whole land. This time, will you still support Total Warfare and massacres in the name of unification to 「honor the empire」, plunging the East Asia continent again into the endless circle of autocracy and destruction? I believe that none with conscience and justice within will do this. The Diablo, Chinese Empire, and its incarnation, the very concept of 「China」, have been havocking the land for over 2,000 years, and it is time to send them all to hell where they belong. An East Asia without China will be a brand-new East Asia, a world without China will be a more wonderful world. Now, the time of building such a brave new world is dawning, and the mission is upon us all.