Author: cheok hong chuan
Date: 04-16-12 14:34
Sojourner in the South China Sea
This is just a metaphor. I am neither [now] a sojourner nor am I [still] anywhere near the South China Sea. The title might have been better phrased as ‘Huaren Adrift’.
I am prompted into this diatribe because of persistent comments by Liang on the downfall of China because of the Dengists and his gung-ho attitude about China having to show its might; shoot first - talk later. Unlike the blogging of Chow Lee, Tom Dragon or even Observer, which I see as mere external irritants from very good hearted Westernised Chinese, who possibly lack proper or deep understanding of Chinese culture and traditions, Chiang’s blogging are irritants that come from within, like an internal cancer to the Chinese soul. Why?
First, let me explain my background. I am a Huaren. Until I started school in Malaysia [then the British colony of Malaya], I grew up in a totally Chinese environment – Chinese language, Chinese newspaper, Chinese songs, Chinese movies, Chinese food, Chinese festivals, Chinese religions, Chinese temples, Chinese funerals, Chinese everything!
My Hakka father came to Malaya as a child. My Hokkien mother was 3rd generation Huaren. Our Chineseness was instilled in us as children through the tenet of filial piety and ancestral worship or reverence. Even when we were following rituals of Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism, these still evolved around filial piety and ancestral worship or reverence.
As I grew older and started asking questions about Chinese history, after listening to Chinese radio, watching Chinese kungfu movies and other things, I was instructed on the essence of being Chinese –  The Three Pillars of Society – Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism  The Middle Kingdom [the territorial limit of China, beyond which, the people are ‘not Chinese’ (I am being polite here, my father used a different expression) and the land is not part of China]  Outside the Middle Kingdom we only trade and we do not interfere with others’ internal affairs.
My father never changed his view that we ‘Huaren’ were sojourners only. His wish to be buried in China was however never fulfilled; as my mother, who died much earlier, was buried in Kuala Lumpur. My mother taught me that to be Chinese you do not have to have a physical attachment to China as in residing there or to be attached to the family home in the ancestral village [the relatives there can have it]. She had never set foot in China. She said what is the use of being Chinese because of the mere fact that you live in China when you are not Chinese in your ‘soul’? It is the nature of things that you are more Chinese when you are away from China. You will only think of the good things about China and you will defend it instead of most [except for the ‘mad’ Hakkas, she would say] people in China running away from it. Anyway, why go back to China and live a ‘dog eat dog’ existence? Here in ‘Nanyang'; everything is bountiful and the tropical living is good!
Quite separately, my ‘mad’ Hakka father would instil in me certain Hakka characteristics –  the emperors and rulers in Beijing were not ‘real’ ‘Chinese’ Chinese. ‘Heaven has eyes ‘, he would say, which was his version of ‘The Mandate of Heaven’. He spoke with pride about Hakka women not having to bind their feet and of Hakka men not having to wear pigtails. He instilled in me that the Chinese in China may not be ‘Chinese’, if they are ruled by rulers who are like the ‘Mongols’ or ‘Manchus’ or others that the Hakkas have fled from over the generations from their original homeland in the north! He would say that they are all ‘crooks’ in Beijing, who call themselves Chinese! You are not Chinese in essence if you do not follow the prescription for being Chinese [that I have stated earlier above]. So in that sense ‘Communism’ without these Chinese characteristics is not Chinese; Capitalism without these Chinese characteristics is not Chinese; and for that matter Christianity without these Chinese characteristics is not Chinese.  A ruler or the man of the house is no ruler and no man if he cannot ‘put food on the table’.  Do not meddle in others’ affairs. Stick to your kind. This appeared strange, particularly the bit exhorting me about marrying a Hakka woman if you want a hard-working wife, when he was married to a Hokkien.
When I was older, I grew more attached to my country of birth, Malaya. I was Chinese but a ‘Huaren’. I was as my mother had put in, only a ‘Chinese’ in my soul’. I was not a ‘sojourner’ as my father had expected. I was attached physically and in all worldly terms to Malaysia. It was ‘home’ or in the native jargon – ‘my kampung’. I grew to like the local spicy food and the tropical carefree easy going way of life. Sea breezes, coconut trees and tropical moonlight and watching lizards on the ceiling on rainy days [which was every afternoon] had this mesmerising effect on you. I became an intrepid adventurer, literally, in life and in education, travel and philosophy; everything! I remained ‘Chinese’ in soul but I became multicultural, multilingual, and multinational and like a multicoloured tapestry I grew in richness in perspective and became cosmopolitan, became international and multi-faceted in outlook and spirit.
Years later, in my business and holiday travels within South East Asia I realised that this region was full of ‘Huaren’ like myself; and that the ‘Huaren’ controlled many of the countries therein economically or politically. Behind the native facade, whether, Thai, Vietnamese, Myanmar, Filipino, you see Chinese everywhere and in everything! In the Chineseness of their soul these ‘Huaren’ were more Chinese and remain more ‘loyal’ Chinese than the Chinese in China themselves. This was basically the old Chinese culture and traditions and philosophy that were fastidiously handed down. But these ‘Huaren’ do not seek to go back to live in China or to be buried in China when they die. They just want to protect and defend China from the enemy within and without. They just want China and the Chinese race and the Chinese culture and traditions be kept ‘alive’ as a continuing antiquity; i.e. the preservation of the Essence of Being Chinese!
As I was saying or suggesting; I can take it with a bit of fatherly disappointment when Chow Lee and Tom Dragon act like ‘bananas’, as my children are a bit like that themselves. Even with Observer, I take it in my stride, his attack on or opposition to discussions on Christianity on Asiawind; as he is obviously not a Hakka, and has no awareness of Hong Xiu Quan, Sun Yat-Sen or the Soong Sisters as Christians or that the Catholic Jesuits were a major part of China’s last Imperial history prior to the Revolution. Whatever the Pope or the Jesuits did in China, they never forced China to sign up to ‘unequal treaties; like the ‘Jews’ and the countries or rulers that they manipulated and controlled [as Paul Yip has constantly reminded us] did. Whether we like it or not Catholicism is classified in China as a separate religion from Christianity. Maybe if the U.S. of A. was a Catholic nation, America might not be so ‘embracing’ of the Jews. Maybe Israel might not have been established at America’s behest after World War II! In recent years the Vatican has moved from been anti-Jews to taking a more reconciliatory view of the Jews; for the world is now moving away from religion, and the religions are getting less religious or less fixated with past hatreds or wrongs.
However with Chiang, he is the enemy within! Why?
Liang has an ‘ego’ problem. He wants China to have an ‘ego’; to be the Boss! Isn’t that turning China to be like America, to be the World Sheriff? What is the most critical value to learn from the Three Pillars of Society? Do not have an ego! Did not Lao-Tze say that the richer and more powerful you are, the more humble you have to be? So, why the aggressive approach in the South China Sea stand-off? Who is the real enemy? America or the South East Asian neighbours full of ‘Huaren’? Has China not indicated in principle that it has historical territorial control [before the colonial powers arrive on the scene] of the South China Sea? Does that not mean that the neighbours have to respond in kind as to what their territorial rights were before their past colonial masters drew their lines for them? What shape or size, manner or form, were their nations or kingdoms or their being as a sovereign people before the ‘white man’? Has not China indicated that it is not about economic rights, by offering to share any economic exploitation in areas of common boundaries? Surely, it is more like China saying that the South China Sea is like the Mediterranean Sea; right of passage for peaceful international trade, but unless you are from the neighbourhood, your warships are not welcomed?
If America is the real enemy why bother with the ‘stooges’, the ‘messengers’, the ‘mosquitoes’? At that level of ‘nuclear’ chess, what are ‘conventional’ weapons and ships? Surely, it will be more like ‘mind’ games! Behind the scenes, profiles are already being drawn and analysis done as to the ‘brains trust’ of the Chinese military elite. Are they competent? Are they brilliant? Have they been tested? Have they been drawn from the equivalent of West Point? Have they been promoted on merit or were promotions ‘bought’? Are they truly ‘professional’ or in for the ‘money’ and the lucrative ‘benefits’ of being in the Military? The war with the enemy is already being fought, on both sides, along these lines, and ‘virtual reality’ computer games thrashed out in computer rooms in underground bunkers; and all you can think of is whether our ‘coolies’ at the bottom end of the Chinese military chain of command are eager to pull the trigger! Please! Come to your senses!
Further, Liang has no understanding of the ‘Huaren’. Economically or militarily or otherwise, ‘Huaren’ are the 1st to the defence of China and is the buffer against any attack against China by other countries. It is also the 1st defence against any ‘rogue’ China attacking other countries; going outside the ‘Middle Kingdom’; or interfering in other countries other than in trade.
When Sun Yat-Sen rallied for support and funds for the Kuomintang, where did you think the support and funds came from, if it were not from the ‘Huaren’? Even Sun Yat-Sen was sort of ‘Huaren’. He was educated overseas and most of his family were already ‘Huaren’; and his descendants are still very rich landowners in Hawaii! When China needed capital and industry to kick off its modernisation, after the Cultural Revolution, if it were not for the ‘Huaren’ who else would have come to China’s economic defence and survival?
Does Liang really understand the loyalty and faithfulness of a ‘Huaren’? Does he know how a Hong Kong Chinese feels, being Chinese, but yet not quite Mainland Chinese? Unless the Mainland Chinese Government (as the new Emperor) continue to have the Mandate of Heaven, be Communist with Chinese characteristics, or be Capitalist with Chinese characteristics, or be anything as long as it is with Chinese characteristics, a HK Chinese will never be a Mainland Chinese; for that would be subjecting a Chinese to the new modern day ‘Mongol’ or ‘Manchu’. But the Hong Kong Chinese inevitably in the future will have no choice of remaining a ‘Huaren’. But, what about the Taiwanese Chinese? They are ‘Huaren’, but a little bit more down the spectrum from the Hong Kong Chinese. If ‘reunification’ can be delayed, why not? They can be more ‘Huaren’ for a little bit longer! For the moment, they are still Chinese, but in a way they are still like ‘Huaren’, albeit more in the sense of retaining their Western democracy and their Hokkien Min-Nam or their Hakka identities. As you go further afield, you get to the ‘Huaren’ who definitely have no desire to live in China or to be Chinese ‘Chinese’. They just want to be ‘Huaren’ who would protect and defend China from any attack by others but they also do not want China to attack anyone or to transgress outside the Middle Kingdom. They also want to ensure that the ‘rulers’ of Chinese are ‘Chinese’ in the essence of being Chinese and not modern day ‘Manchus’ or ‘Mongols’! You go from Taiwan next door to the Philippines. The economy is dominated by the Chinese. President Marcos was Chinese, Cardinal Sin was Chinese, President Aquino [mother and son] are Chinese. The one singular icon of Filipino-hood – Rizal was Chinese! You go on to Vietnam and Thailand and Myanmar, and you tell me what leaders there are not of Chinese blood and which economy is not dominated by Chinese? You then get Malaysia and Singapore. Tell me where else in the world outside China and HK, Macau & Taiwan, will you have the Chinese population sending their children to Chinese schools and still learning to write in traditional Chinese calligraphy? Then you get to Indonesia, East Timor, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands. Yes, the ‘Huaren’ are there, and yes, they are ‘Chinese’ in the essence of their soul, even those who do not speak Chinese or eat Chinese food! And, this is what really counts!
Liang has this gripe about Deng Hsiao Peng! He is never ending in his tirades about Dengists bringing China to its death-knell! I have already in a separate blog pointed out that Liang lacks economic understanding in this context. But why this anti-Deng thing as if he wants to resurrect Mao like the recently disgraced princeling Bao of Chengdu? You cannot blame Hakka Deng for thinking like a good Hakka. As my father said it is all about putting food on the table. If Marxist economics cannot put food on the table then out it goes! No need for false sentiments! Give Capitalist economics a try! It does not matter how you catch a rat, with a white cat or a black cat! However Western Capitalism has its evils. That I agree. That is why we need Capitalism with Chinese characteristics!
But is not that what the essence of being Chinese is about? –  The Three Pillars of Society – Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism  The Middle Kingdom [the territorial limit of China, beyond which, the people are ‘not Chinese’ and the land is not part of China]  Outside the Middle Kingdom we only trade and we do not interfere with others’ internal affairs.
The Chinese leadership have to realise that they have to steer a course in the present with the hindsight of the ‘living’ ancestral past and with prudent custodial foresight of the future. This is no easy task. It is a matter of survival, not simply boasting or acting the tough guy or simply ‘do not muck around with me’. It is a matter of ‘putting food on the table’. It is a matter of destiny. Civilisations of antiquity that stood side by side with the Chinese in the long, long past of yesterday eons have come and gone. They have all fallen prey to temptation of change and to ‘ego’ of power of both body and soul. But as Chinese we accept we have to change in the body but in the essence of our soul we remain constant. We must not have an ‘ego’. That is the way of the Tao; the wisdom that is Tao.
Liang, I can see that you are a very proud Chinese, and I salute and admire you for that. You are ahead of Chow Lee, Tom Dragon and their kind in your dedication and enthusiasm. But they are merely loquacious and will never cause any real harm to China, beyond their ravings and ranting on the net. You are different! In your love for the motherland you [and your kind] might inadvertently end up destroying it! Military battles and confrontation is not won by show of force and arms alone. Even the United States have continually realised this ever since World War II! In the nuclear age it comes down to ‘chess’ games! Because in a confrontation of two nuclear powers, neither can afford to press the trigger! Let us hope the Americans are not good at wei-qi!