Updated: May 8
Understanding China - Historical Background
By the end of Qianlong Emperor's long reign in 1796, the Qing Empire was at its zenith. The Qing ruled more than one-third of the world's population, and had the largest economy in the world. By area it was one of the largest empires ever. Calling itself 'Zhongguo' (Middle Kingdom) since 1000 B.C.E., The Chinese believed they were the centre of the world and the only power of consequence.
The Chinese empire's incredible cultural richness, fertile lands, scientific knowledge, production, manufacturing, trading and overall abilities made them wealthy beyond belief.
China supplied the whole world with high quality goods that commanded a premium. The fantastic trade surplus that China maintained with all countries of Middle East, Japan and Europe created the largest stockpile of silver in the world (the only acceptable mode of payment by the Chinese)
However its amazing success, wealth and strong army made them arrogant, overconfident and insular. Preferring the land based Silk Road, Chinese emperors did not adequately appreciate the power of maritime trade a hence a strong navy. China also did not bother much about advances in weaponry, equipment, mechanisation, ships etc. that was sweeping Europe because of industrialisation. They chose to rely on their traditional technology and weapons.
China's great success made them arrogant and complacent, corruption grew and so did palace intrigues. The Chinese leadership surrounded and advised by corrupt officials soon grew weak.
It lead to European powers, Russia and Japan at first trading then using military action to conquer large parts of China. Britain adopted a very cunning, long term highly profitable supply trade of opium thus converting vast segments of Chinese population into addicts and a national liability.
By the time the Chinese Emperor and his people had realised that they were in deep trouble, it was too late. Thus began China's century of humiliation (1839 to 1949).
The big powers of the world Japan, Russia, Britain, Italy, Germany, France, America carved up China for themselves, with Britain taking the lions share of the spoils. The 47 year rule of of Chinese Empress Dowager Cixi (1861 -1908) divided Chinese society deeply and weakened China considerably.
The Chinese are a proud, hard working and intelligent people. They were angry and blamed the monarchy for their humiliation and plight under these foreign forces.
Supported by Japan the Tongmenghui was formed by Sun Yat-sen in 1905 to overthrow the Monarchy of the Qing dynasty and set up a Republic style government. In 1912 the Tongmenghui morphed into the Kuomintang (KMT)
The Kuomintang under Chiang Kai-shek more or less united all of China by 1927 and became the sole ruling party. In 1928 Chiang Kai-shek then turned on the CCP resulting in a long, violent and expensive civil war.
Imagine for a moment, 'What would be the mindset of any self respecting leadership that came to power in China?'
Obviously. the answer would be that they would never allow China to be in a position where they would be subject to humiliation that China had suffered in the hands of global powers.
In addition the leaders would like to regain its preeminent position in the world and make itself so strong that
Under Communist party of China leadership, China is at war with anyone or everyone who stand between them and their dream to become once again the Middle Kingdom, the only power of consequence in the world.
The credo of all empires is 'We do not care if you like or hate us, as long as you fear us.'
This power may be projected militarily but its foundation and strength is always economic.
An empire at war, cannot afford to have scruples nor be benevolent. Make no mistake, China is at war with the whole world. By hook or crook, they intend to succeed.