Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, known generally as HSBC, and one of the biggest banks operating in the East, has decided to move its chief executive from London to Hong Kong. The move to Hong Kong, where the bank was founded in 1865, is to take account of the “shift in the world’s centre of economic gravity from West to East,” according to an announcement.
The Chinese, a shrewd lot, are interpreting this as a signal that they are once again the centre of the world, which they may not be right now but will certainly be twenty or thirty years from now, when it will be China, not America, that will call the shots.
China is already calling the shots. On the Ist of October, it held a grand parade in Beijing to mark it birthday on which day Chairman Mao had declared from Tiananmen Square that China had “stood up”. Now China is not only standing tall but marching economically, politically and socially, throwing its weight around as nations are apt to do when they grow powerful and start looking at the world with different eyes.
China is now doing or will soon be doing what the western nations did in the sixteenth century when they descended on the East in the name of commerce. Let us have no illusions about China. She may be an eastern country but she is no friend of easterners. She is like any other country in the world and will take the same direction as others did when they acquired power.
We have to be realistic about China. She will behave in the same fashion as Britain did between 1600 and 1800, when she created an empire out of virtually nothing. China will go the same way because that is what power does to you. Power, which means economic and political power, is like a strong drink: it grows on you. You may talk about democracy and Marx, but that is only talk. The Christians who came to India in the wake of European conquerors also talked about Christ and the Bible. Ultimately, they wound up helping the ruler enslave us, talking of the Bible and Macaulay all the time.
Those who argue that recent so-called cartographic aggression in the Himalayas and visas on plain paper are diplomatic aberrations are talking nonsense. Nobody goes into his neighbour’s house and say that he is there because it is his house. The Chinese have a long history of such acts. They have annexed Tibet, which is no part of theirs, and also Xinjiang, which also does not belong to them. Men like Nehru acquiesced in their annexation of Tibet because they were foolish men. And the Chinese treated them as foolish people are treated everywhere. They will do so again, because, it is in their blood, and also because power does that to you. Remember, China will soon be the most powerful country this side of Suez.
The Chinese are not a tolerant or peaceful people. They have never been so in history. When they were down, as they were when the westerners had them beaten, they kept their heads down. As soon as they “stood up”, they reverted to form. Mao was one of the cruellest men in recent history, on par with monsters like Hitler and Stalin. He was responsible for the worst kind of atrocities in the name of the various bogus revolutions which he put through. Their main aim was to instil fear in the masses, for such monsters rule through fear. Hitler and Stalin did the same. Between Mao Zedong and Joseph Stalin, they are supposed to have murdered 30 to 40 million people, roughly half and half. Mao’s successors will do it again if they get the opportunity.
You don’t go about killing your own people if you are peaceful and tolerant. And if that’s the way they treat their own people, just imagine how they will treat those they consider their enemies. Mao, Hitler and Stalin are among the biggest killers in history, but real history is yet to come.
The Chinese are scouring the world for industrial commodities, including crude oil, iron ore and other minerals, and, even land. They are purchasing or taking on lease large swathes of land in Africa-millions of acres-where they will have their own men growing crops, which they badly want.
Soon you will find large chunks of Africa swallowed up by the Chinese in the name of commerce, just as the East India Company did in the 17th and 18th centuries. And no African ruler will be able to dislodge them once they are in place, because the real rulers will be the Chinese.
Africa is already in a way a Chinese colony. The African rulers are already eating out of Chinese hands, whether they are Angola, Mozambique or Congo. The Chinese are investing heavily in these countries and will one day take them over, just as the British did. Imperialism knows no colour or nationality only money-and power. Ten, twenty years from now, the US dollar will be replaced by the yuan, which in any case is stronger than the dollar. And when the dollar goes, the United States will go too.
As I said, let us have no illusions about Beijing or, for that matter, about any would-be aggressor. The men who sit in our foreign ministry or the national security department are fools. The Chinese fooled even Nehru-that is not a great achievement. They-that is, the Chinese-will make mincemeat of these pipsqueaks from the South Block, who are so busy with their twitters, they probably won’t recognise a Chinese coming over the Himalayan passes when they see one!
Will the Americans help us, as many people hope? No, they won’t. Barack Obama is just like an Indian. He is a master of pretty phrases but not of action. His entire programme, from fighting terrorism in Afghanistan to setting up an elaborate health scheme, is on the verge of collapse. His own Senators are not helping him and the Republicans are out for his blood. The American people as a whole are not sure about him because they do not know who he is. The poor man is going through a crisis of confidence, the same kind Richard Nixon went through before he was ousted. If Barack Obama fails in Afghanistan, as his predecessor failed in Vietnam, there will be dancing in Beijing.
India is facing nothing short of an existential crisis, and soon, unless we act promptly and wisely, we shall soon have our backs to the wall.