Many foreigners know China just from the headlines. They may learn about the conflicts with countries nearby and the USA over several islands in the South China Sea, the corruption in the government, or just the heavy pollution in the capital—Beijing. I will talk about some of the recent news about China.
The conflicts over the small islands in the South China Sea started about 3 years ago with arguments with Japan over the Diaoyu Islands. And then, it spread to the Philippines with islands beside its mainland. That territorial conflict goes back a long time. According to the Tencent News in China, American aircraft carriers repeatedly entered the South China Sea without permission, raising tensions between China and America.
In fact, America is the most active country in this issue. From the Chinese point of view, the U.S. wants China to lose the territory because there are oil and minerals deep under the sea, which are of great importance to the further development of China. People may think that there are huge amounts of resources in China, but actually most of them are unusable due to their poor quality. As China sees it, since Japan and the Philippines are America’s allies, they follow the American lead in seeking to create chaos in the South China Sea area. In this territorial issue, the Chinese government insists that the islands must and ought to be under the control of China and there isn’t any concession on this issue. As The New York Times said: every time the Philippines representatives sits in the Hague Tribunal, there will always be three empty chairs opposite. The Chinese government just don’t want to care what the tribunal does.
Now that the tribunal has ruled for the Philippines, we’ll see how the Chinese government will react and deal with it. Last month, China added pressure to 10 countries in the meeting of Association of Southeast Asian Nations to unite against America. “China totally doesn’t acknowledge, accept and participate in the arbitration,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced.
In my opinion, Chairman Xi will be really reluctant to take a step back. The reason why he insisted on China’s sovereignty in the South China Sea for 3 years is to incite nationalism among Chinese citizens, and strengthen the power of the Chinese Communist Party as well as his prestige in the army. He just can’t give up at the last moment, which would mean 3 years’ efforts wasted. Hence, it is a possibility now that the Hague Tribunal had ruled, China will drop out of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and seek to control and utilize the South China Sea.
Meanwhile, corruption remains a huge issue in China. After President Xi became the leader of China, he began the biggest action to investigate suspects. In 4 years, he has sent more than 400 people to jail for corruption, including the leader of the military and some mayors. Obviously, it affected the behavior of numerous government officials. Over time, the sales of luxuries like designer brand clothes, watches and cars decreased enormously. In some expensive restaurants, fewer people came to have meals as well. The upshot was that government officials were no longer allowed to spend the country’s money on themselves. That seems basic but just many people couldn’t stick to that basic rule.
Whatever it was like in the past, we should be glad that all of it is getting better, and we have reason to believe that one day China will be one of the best countries in the world.
This just introduces a small part of China. There are a lot of good things about Chinese culture, and if you want to explore it and further, come to China next summer and I’m sure you’ll have a pleasant trip!