Invasions by other powers vs China

Is China historically an invader? Most world historians and modern politicians clearly state that China has been the most peaceable superpower.

In Part 1 “China Invasions? Wrong Readings of History,” we show how some readers of histories written by the West may have misinterpreted the Mongol or Manchu invasions as Chinese, and distorted defensive wars as offensive ones — that if we follow their logic, the Philippines can be considered an invader of Southeast Asia in World War 2 or the Vietnam War just because it was a jumping board for Japan and the United States. Similarly, the US, in assisting to liberate Southeast Asia, can be called an invader of Southeast Asia.

China withdrew from the world instead of invading, and yet remained an economic superpower, i.e., it did not need to invade.  Most world powers grew rich through invasions that pillaged the treasures of other cities and empires, including the use of slave labor and exterminations of peoples. China alone grew rich for centuries primarily through trading three manufactured products: tea, porcelain and silk. China, for hundreds of years, believed it was sufficient unto itself, and wanted to restrict trade and intercourse with the outside world.

Be careful what you ask for. The European colonial powers were the ones who forcibly made China open more trade with their favored houses, which were very lucrative, but this actually ended up creating huge deficits for the Europeans and bankruptcy for Britain.

“Free trade” yet when losing, overturn chessboard and change rules. Britain solved its deficit by smuggling opium, and in a few years, China in turn was bankrupt. The British crown got a cut of the profits: United Kingdom Prime Minister Lord Palmerston writes, “Our naval power is so strong that we can tell the Emperor what we mean to hold rather than what he’d cede….”

Trade war becomes a real war. When China tried to defend itself and burned an opium shipment, Britain started the Opium War and the China Imperial Qing forces were crushed time and again.

Lesson of Western free trade: Don’t try to defend yourself! The UK demanded for over 20 million pounds on top of added territories and forced opened all of China to opium trade, opening opium and trade concessions in every city, not just thru the ports. That’s just one of the wars and unequal treaties.

Our common experience. Remember in the Philippines, Jake Smith’s order to turn Samar to “a howling wilderness” when Filipinos tried to defend her freedom, and later the Parity Rights given to Americans? Mexico tried to ask the US businesses to follow its rules and instead the US military comes in to “defend” the US business interests, and when Mexico tries to defend itself, more territory was taken over. Hawaii was taken over for business, and the queen imprisoned when she tried to take back control of her nation. (Other cases are subject of other articles.)

Industrialization then didn’t need intellectual property theft, because of takeovers, forced trading, opium, and slave and child labor (plus science, to be fair) made the West rich and were the labor foundation of British, European, US industrialization.

Since the above are not written up as an economic model, preaching of fair play and level playing fields is possible to the uninformed. With local populations having higher demands of wages and rights, African slaves were transported trans-continent. When they were freed and demanded more, the Chinese (and Indians) coolies were paid even less and were traded around the world, recruited mostly thru deception and some kidnappings. Chinese rail workers, who mostly built the dangerous rails to the West USA, were highly sought after because they worked harder, demanded less, took risks no other group were willing to take. After they served their purpose, with many dying from the risks of their work, immigration and citizenship for them were banned in the US and elsewhere, and many were deported. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s grandfather and many of the Boston elite were the management of the opium trade in China, and revenues were used to fund railroads, hospitals, the top ivy league east coast universities in the US. Herbert Hoover managed the most lucrative Chinese coolie placement business.

China resolutions vs. invasions by others. Despite a sad history in trusting foreigners, China has resolved 17 out of 23 territorial disputes, including 2 out of 3 with Vietnam, Meanwhile, a Western power, while advocating free choice, in the last decades alone has invaded and managed regime change in over 20 countries around the world, all leaving failed models. Vietnam occupied over 40 islands, and the Philippines some eight islands even before China in the South China Sea. And Vietnam has taken over a Philippine-occupied island by promising a party with drinks and prostitutes to our men. Sabah — rich in oil, tin, gold, agriculture and forestry — was leased to the British and has been taken over by Malaysia, with US consent.

Nations and people change with circumstances. Even if China is shown to be much more consistent in its positions, more mutual in its agreements and less militaristic compared to other powers in history, it is only prudent for nations today to look after their own interests, at both West and East with an objective, practical eye with value for history and relationships over time, as well. To demonize a country and people, accept fake facts and news, and not study history, economics, politics will only be counterproductive to create practical, positive frameworks for nation-building. Such an attitude will bring everyone to disaster, as shown in history. A sensible country wanting the best for its countrymen as well as fair to the world should not be easily convinced by such preachings, especially by those who have no experience, do not practice them or do not pay the price. Ultimately, reality, trends, and multidimensional logic and psychology, and proven models of successful decision-making should be the basis of our perspective and decisions.Part of Series: China Invasions? Wrong Readings of History

IDSI is the Integrated Development Studies Institute. New Worlds (IDSI Corner) aims to present frameworks based on a balance of economic theory, historical realities, ground success in real business and communities, and attempt for common good, culture and spirituality. We welcome logical feedback and possibly working together with compatible frameworks (

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