Why China won’t be a better superpower: Believe in people, not states

People in the West ought to wake up and emulate the popular revolts of Brazil and Turkey, suggests Barkawi.

In a thoughtful column, Murtaza Hussain asks whether the world might be better off with the rise of China than it was under Western and US hegemony?

After all, European imperialism and US wars since 1945 have caused millions of deaths; the Western sense of superiority prevents any fair dialogue with others; and the great liberal democracies have been revealed as states who torture those they suspect, assassinate their enemies with impunity from drone aircraft, and spy on everyone including their citizens on a previously unimaginable scale.

Meanwhile, argues Hussain, China has no tradition of invading other countries; has a respectful attitude towards other Asian countries due to the Confucian virtues; and has nothing in its history “remotely comparable to the industrialised exploitation and mass-murder which as characterised the Western colonial project.”

Episode 1: The dramtic rise

Evidently, Hussain has not heard of the Great Leap Forward between 1958 and 1961. This was Mao’s effort to rapidly industrialise China and collectivise its agriculture. The death toll from a combination of famine and state terror was somewhere between 18 and 45 million. Then there was the Cultural Revolution between 1966 and 1976, another exercise in state terror which saw mass purges, millions of people displaced, and much of China’s cultural heritage destroyed.

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