Monday, August 29, 2016

A Diaspora's Dilemma

Recent stories highlight unequal expectations between China and Overseas Chinese

Dan Levin in the New York Times:
Jack Jia, 54, the publisher of the Toronto-based Chinese News Group newspaper and website, said China’s influence had “grown stronger and stronger” in recent years. “They want to control everything,” Mr. Jia said... 
Today, he said, as immigration from China has soared, Chinese officials have gained more leverage. “They can threaten, because most media employees have family back in China,” Mr. Jia said. 
A Chinese-language reporter in Toronto, who asked not to be identified in order to protect her job and her relatives in China, said her editors now regularly deleted quotations that were critical of Beijing, ... “When I came to Canada, I felt some freedom, but now there are so many restrictions,” the reporter said. “It’s everywhere now.”

Chuck Chiang, Vancouver Sun:
Asia geopolitics analyst Sean King, who is vice-president of New-York-based Park Strategies and a former U.S. trade official, said there has been an increase in Mainland Chinese academics appearing in North American research forums to express Chinese perspectives, so what’s happening in Vancouver is not unique. 
“Canada makes sense for a Chinese think-tank because it doesn’t have the security obligations and concerns in Asia like the United States does,” he said. “Once you are in Canada, Vancouver makes sense because of the geographic proximity and the amount of trade B.C. does with China and Asia as a whole.” 
King, a critic of Chinese foreign policy, said many of the scholars he has seen do not stray for the official line of Beijing. “Lately, I’ve noticed Mainland Chinese academics showing up at various forums and symposiums in New York … on topics like South China Sea, East China Sea, North Korea or general Asian issues,” he said. “While they are not there as official spokespeople for the Chinese government, you would have to assume, given China’s political system, whatever these academics are saying at these events are at least with implicit government approval.”

Frank Ching:
China’s leaders no longer refer to neighbors as barbarians, but do recall that Confucian culture is embedded in many Asian countries and that the Chinese system of writing was borrowed by many, including Japan, Korea and Vietnam. 
Perhaps that is why Singapore, a predominantly Chinese society, draws disproportionate Chinese ire when it’s seen as betraying the Chinese cause, not just Beijing’s interests. The elder statesman Lee Kuan Yew did this in 2009 by appealing to Washington to remain in Asia. “The size of China makes it impossible for the rest of Asia, including Japan and India, to match it in weight and capacity in about 20 to 30 years,” he said. “So we need America to strike a balance.” 
The elder statesman’s words were followed two years later by the Obama policy of rebalancing to Asia, which China sees as containment. Lee’s son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, in Washington, said that the rebalance had been “warmly welcomed by all Asean countries.” Global Times rapped him on the knuckles, accusing him of siding with the United States. There is a limit to China’s tolerance, Global Times said.

Speaking of Singapore, perhaps the most chilling comments come from Bilahari Kausikan, former permanent secretary of Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in yesterday's SCMP:
Lord Patten left a poisoned chalice for Beijing. As governor, Patten’s primary considerations were Britain’s amour propre and his personal legacy, not the interests of the Hong Kong people. Hong Kong was a British colony. How could it ever be a Western-style democracy in China? Since 1997, Hong Kong governments have not adequately explained these harsh realities to the Hong Kong people... 
Sooner or later Shanghai will replace it as China’s main financial centre. Hong Kong will then become just another Chinese city. Why hasten that day by continually provoking Beijing? 
... Better to understand the lessons of the South China Sea and preserve what autonomy you can for as long as you can.

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