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Archive for December 9th, 2010

Yellow Sea map with Yeonpyeong and nearby details. Note the physical proximity. To practise war the Americans deliberately chose islands nearest the North, a distance equal to the length of the Johor causeway.

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When Manjit Bhatia in Australia pronounced North Korea as China’s ‘petulant bastard child‘ he was, in effect, regurgitating the headline from an AP report reproduced on the same day in Malaysiakini, copied from Washington Post: ‘Obama urges China to rein in ally NKorea‘.

Manjit’s presumption, as it is with AP, is that China should act exactly the way America does, in Cold War style – treat your neighbours as if they are paid servants. In the American worldview (and in its deputized power in Asia, Australia), international relations have client states over which an imperial power dominates, pulls strings and call the shots. Hence, North Korea is not a sovereign state entitled to independently decide its own affairs, therefore a ‘child’ in Manjit’s condescending attitude. And China should act the child’s puppet master.

There is another fallacy with which Manjit has copied from western journalim and academia and with which he now spreads. States, any state, not aligned to USA are trouble makers or potential ‘destabilizers’ in the American world stage. Therefore, North Korea, when it struck at the South Korean island, acted irrationally, unprovoked, and out of tantrums – ‘petulant’, according to Manjit.

He wasn’t interested to understand why the Koreas are close to coming to blows because their root causes go beyond Manjit’s education whose purpose is primarily to nail down China, this time by invoking North Korean conduct. Hence, anything the North does China must be held to account.

Manjit omits to say that in the six months or more preceding the shelling the Americans had been going around pushing a new Monroe Doctrine applicable to Asia; during the Cold War it was used primarily against Latin American countries.

The doctrinal central plank today is containing China, never mind Obama’s promise to the contrary, made during a visit to Shanghai last year. But it is for overt reasons which are entirely bizarre: the physical protection of Japan and South Korea, a protection that America extrapolates across the Pacific Ocean, across 10,000 miles of sea to include Los Angeles and the western American coast. Yet, here it is: a doctrine coming from the USA which has once annexed Japan, the Philippines before, initiated wars in Vietnam and southeast Asia, and conspired and plotted to establish dictatorial regimes – they called it a process of ‘democratization’ – in its backyard, Latin America. Each generation, America finds a bogeyman to show who is the world’s boss.

For weeks and months prior to the Korean conflict, American politicians and generals were visiting East Asian countries. Everywhere they went, American officials were suggesting that the South China Sea is an integral part of US national interest, meaning they could at will sail up and down the ocean highways, stop wherever pleases them to stretch their muscles because somebody must look out for the Chinese: “Are you not afraid of the Chinese? They have hidden motives to be shipping toys across your frontyard.

Americans stoking apprehension, fear and uncertainty came accompanied with the announcement of an unprecedented event; a large scale military drill with South Korea and Japan in the Yellow Sea. The US, which has bases in Japan and South Korea, conduct periodic exercises but never before in a body of water sandwiched between the Koreas and China’s Shandong peninsula, barely 200 km apart (see maps above and below).

A war drill is not a game that English newspapers call it. This is because troops are massed, guns ready, and all the instruments of warfare are mobilized – tanks and artillery are firing away shells and anyone of which could land in the North – “Oops, sorry, it was a mistake.” (Manjit, sitting comfortable in an Australian office, away from so-called ‘hotspots’, probably has no idea what war drills entail and he almost surely never saw one.)

Such an exercise is highly provocative, and in the Yellow Sea visible to the naked eye from North Korea. It’s as if (say) China or Russia is conducting warfare at the Mississippi river mouth in the Gulf of Mexico or at New York’s Hudson Bay, close to Washington DC. If anyone did, America would surely go to war with it. But, in this world, who dares? America is boss and tyrant.

For a closer-to-home analogy, the Yellow Sea drills would equal the Singaporeans conducting war exercises at the Klang River mouth. What should the Malaysian military do? Throw confetti at the Singaporeans and unfurl Selamat Datang banners?

Repeatedly for weeks and months, North Korea, as did China, warned against such an exercise which eventually used an aircraft carrier. Past exercises on the eastern side and the southern end of the Korean peninsula had never encountered so much opposition, not even a whimper. If America wishes to contain China then, say the Chinese, practice your containment elsewhere, the Japan Sea for example.

But America kept insisting on practising war at Beijing’s doorsteps; worse still outside the windows of North Koreans who warned over and over again of dire consequences. Americans, itching for a fight, argued with the South Koreans: the North is bluffing; they wouldn’t dare, let’s go with it. [It’s been said, if you go out looking for trouble, you’ll find it.] This explains the shock and surprise of the South Korean when Yeonpyeong was shelled and its defence minister subsequently dismissed.

China’s position on the American war exercises had been restricted to diplomatic protests, and a refusal to deal with the US military establishment. When the North fired, it could say: “We told you so.

The North Koreans have their own mind. Americans may have the South in their pockets, but the North answers to nobody, not even the Chinese, and a history of conflicts, dating back to the Tang era, tells why. (But what does Manjit know about East Asian history; he couldn’t even tell you that Seoul in the hanzi script meant, until the city was renamed in the Chinese three, four years ago, ‘Han City’ .)

The fierce independence of the North takes the root cause of Yeonpyeong even farther back – the Korean Peninsula War. Japan’s defeat hence retreat from the peninsula gave the North the incentive to take over the South, in the exact same fashion North Vietnam moved against the south when the French withdrew. The war also replayed a history of the Yankee conquest of the southern American states in its own civil war. Until now, Koreans never have had a satisfactory answer: what business is it of the Americans they fight? How are American national interests, 10,000 miles away, violated even threatened? The two Koreas lost upwards of 5 million people and for what? American interest?

Like Americans, Manjit Bhatia arguing that China ‘reined in’ on the North stems from a fundamental disassociation of interpreting present day events against history. More pertinently, Manjit, taught by gweilos, understand only western frames of thoughts and view life purely through the windows of a white man’s eyes. This explains why his arguments are framed entirely in western Cold War politics – he has no other way to see North Korean conduct, which is precisely how America wants the view dispensed minus some elements, in particular western power influence.  Lenin preceded Julian Assange of WikiLeak when in 1917 he exposed secret cables among western states that divided up the world according to their spheres of influence. The UK handed over to America East Asia.

Yet this is not how China sees its place in the world nor the North Koreans, which is to say they don’t want to go by American rules that ultimate serves America. They want no spheres if influence, they want to sort out history which has been unjust to them and international conduct is not premised on power but on familial, non-hierarchical duties and obligations in linear fashion, friend to friend. But such an Asian idea is inconceivable and non-existent to an Anglophile such as Manjit, a small Indian mind taken over by the West: had he heard of the Chinese notion of Bonsai international conduct – tend to your own tree, keep to your pot, stay out of other people’s affairs.

If China doesn’t ‘rein in’ the North, what’s Manjit going to do? Throw another tantrum, courtesy of the American-payrolled (via NED) Gan Diong Keng and Malaysiakini?

Manjit arriving at his conclusions about surrogate states as petulant children is predictable: it is all he knows about international relations as taught in Anglo-Saxon universities. Schooled by the west, writing only in English, he passes off like so many western academics the pretence of an East Asian ‘expert’ when he can’t write and speak a single script in hanyu. But in Australian academic environment this kind of  ‘work’ pays.

Manjit’s anti-Chinese notoriety exposes a fundamental truth about the man and his deep-seated Sinophobic, personal motivations. As Barack Obama is black surrogate to a White Congress, Manjit is the fawning Indian bastard son, an Indian import among Aussie clients of Anglophile America; they say is a coconut – brown outside, white inside.

Related: How long will jeers from the West last?

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