July 18, 2011

On China: Kissinger

The Sunday Guardian (July 17 2011) carries my review of Henry Kissinger's recent book, On China. If you read it (or, preferably, the book), you'll learn about Mao searching for advantage in a swimming pool.

Therefore, please do.

1 comment:

Ketan said...

While my comment would be absolutely irrelevant to the original trigger for reading your Daily Guardian artilce, I would put in my feelings:

1. About the Indo-China dispute and war. Most of my understanding is based on Wikipedia articles on the war and the related topics. As you had rightly pointed out, China was not one of the signatories in the border-drawing done by the British. In that sense, it was never obligatory upon the Chinese to accept those lines as sacrosanct in the first place.

2. China had never really infiltrated into the territory regarded as Indian by the Chinese. But the Indian army had deliberately infiltrated into the territory that Indians believed to be Chinese as part of 'forward policy'. That makes India the aggressor. When I'd pointed out this fact over twitter, I was met with some shock, others also tried to discredit Wikipedia as a source, but heartening it was to note that most responded back that historical portrayals are black-and-white but truth is somewhere in between, in the grays.

3. I have little knowledge of history, and that includes Mao. The only thing I know is: he had been dictator of sorts of China for a long time, and in his regime, many Chinese natives (perhaps numbering in millions) had been killed perhaps to preserve China's 'territorial integrity' (and to inspire terror and ward off insubordination). I sometimes wonder what allows these 'leaders' to be so brutal? Would they be exactly the same if they themselves would have to kill the persons individually? E.g., would Oppenheimer have had it in him to slash the carotid of a person with a knife he would have wielded? Of course, these questions are purely hypothetical, and are bordering on being rhetorical. So well, I do not really know how cruel Mao was in person.

4. The last thing I noted in your article was a tone of generalizing and stereotyping of the Chinese, which I tend to disapprove of (E.g., "Chinese way of thinking"). Usually, people worry only if the generalization is of 'negative' character, but I get uncomfortable even if the generalization is of 'positive' character. Of course, there must be cultural influences and 'memes' being passed on from older generations, but can they be used as basis for every single thing a person does in capacity of an individual? It's also possible that this generalization that I'm talking of might have been the work of Kissinger, and you were merely paraphrasing/quoting him.

Thanks for pointing me to that article! Even I sometimes wonder how the diplomats talk, but despite how you began the article, which offered lot of promise, you hardly dealt with how diplomatic meetings are actually carried out. :D