By Rei Tanotsuka, 4 August 2020
“A man can enlarge the principles which he follows; those principles do not enlarge the man.” Confucius
Since I started publishing my thoughts, I have aligned myself with the anti Imperialism school of thought, yet I write articles praising China? Hold up, isn’t China also an Imperial power?
The rise of East and West, while running in tandem with the West leading in development if we adhere to the Robert Braidwood Hilly Flanks hypothesis, (later popularised by Ian Morris, British archaeologist, author of Why the West rules fow now) has indeed resulted in the uniform conception of an empire. The difference is the execution of the Imperial rule.
The rise of the eventual Eastern Imperial reign has its origin in China and the West, in the Taurus and Zagros Mountains known as the Hilly Flanks. We will start our “count” of development through the lens of agriculture, because once a stable food source is cultured, civilisation can begin. The West starts at around 9600 BCE in the Hilly Flanks, and the East between 8000-7500 BCE in China.
Each monolithic state of East and West exhibited heinous levels of brutality and barbarism during its development. This is never a point that I would argue to be erroneous, I wholeheartedly agree that human beings differ in degree, not in kind. HOWEVER, in MY opinion, I don’t think that the East and West showed the SAME LEVELS of barbarity contemporaneously.
One epoch of both Eastern and Western global expansion occurred in the 15th Century. Differing in decades but close enough to make a valid comparison, are the maritime leaders of Zheng He of China, and Portuguese’s Vasco de Gama.
Generally speaking, European Imperialism carries a core doctrine of racism but the Chinese Imperial reign does not.
The Portuguese and Spanish had an obsession to relegate the Muslims and Sephardic Jews into a perpetual underclass. All nations discriminate, this is a fact, however traditional discrimination rested on “out group” vs ” in group”. The Portuguese and Spanish were the first to introduce the Doctrine of Limpieza de sangre or blood purity, which ensured that irrespective of the whether the minority group acculturated or not, they had NO CHANCE of attaining parity because they were tainted by their non Christian lineage. Blood purity was used to ensure that the Conversos (Jewish people who converted to Catholicism) could never attain the same level of education as the Christians, hence shutting them out of the political arena, and positions of authority.
“The cleansing of blood and the honorability of the lineage became an obsession of Hispanic society in the 16th and 17th centuries. The popular mentality ended up considering that blood and breast milk transmitted the beliefs, ways of life and being, as well as the attitudes of the ancestors, at least up to a fourth generation, since, from then on there would be no rest stained blood.” Cleansing blood
This blood doctrine took a new incarnation when the Atlantic Slave trade began, and people were given a colour code to denote not just a physical attribute, but a cast hierarchy. During this harrowing period in history, slaves were insurable cargo so everyone on board had to be given a physical description. When it came to the category of “complexion”, there were only two colours, brown and black. White is a political conception that had not as yet come into common parlance.
On the Slave ship Peggy in 1748, Captain Anthony Fox described himself as “browne”, but “Robert Murray of Scotland, Peter Dunfry of Ireland, Perato Bartholomew of Genoa and the African John Goodboy” was “blacke” (The Slave Ship, Marcus Rediker).
From this blood purity doctrine alone, we can see why life under Western Imperialism leads to unabated subjugation of the colonised, whereas Chinese Imperial rule of suzerainty, essentially a major kiss ass fes, is less gruelling.
Something you should know about Zheng He
Wait for this one. Anyone want to argue that China is a Muslim hating country, hellbent on annihilating the Uyghurs because it CAN’T stand religious diversity?
Enter Zheng He, born as Ma He. Ma He was Muslim and rose to become the number one aid to emperor Zhu Di.
Muslims entered China from the 8th century in the early Yuan period. By the 1300s opportunities for Muslims to take leadership positions were firmly in place.
Zheng He was Zhu Di’s (who later changed the name of his reign to Yongle, meaning lasting happiness) right hand man. Zhu Di entrusted him with basically everything, and Zheng He became the commander of the treasure fleet.
This guy was WOKE. He had at his disposal, in the Autumn of 1405, 317 of these…
and 27,000 of these….
Now remember this was back in the day, where people thought a good time was killing a new tribe because they wanted a goat to sacrifice to the rain God or something of that nature, and Zheng He had ALL THIS POWER, yet what did he do when the king of Ceylon didn’t gel with him?
Did he enslave the entire colony, by killing the men and employing the women in an exotic dance trade? Nope, Zheng He went away. But before he did so, he noted their religious belief in Shiva, Allah and Buddha and wondered out loud if it was he who disrespected the Ceylon king by not offering obeisance to his gods first.
Then, because Zheng He was woke, did better next time.
“Zheng He carried with him an unusual trilingual tablet in Chinese, Tamil, and Persian, which he hoped to erect on the island. The tablet bore the date February 15, 1409, indicating that it had been inscribed in Nanjing before the treasure fleet departed for the third voyage. The Chinese portion of the tablet praised Buddha and offered thanks for his protection of the treasure fleet on its two previous voyages: The Tamil portion of the tablet offered similar praise to the Hindu god Tenavarai-Nayanar, perhaps a local form of Siva, and the Persian inscription praised the glory of Allah and the saints of Islam. To each god the Chinese gave equal tribute so none would be slighted: 1,000 pieces of gold, 5,000 pieces of silver, 100 bolts of silk, and more than 3,000 pounds of perfumed oil, as well as gilded and lacquered ecclesiastical ornaments. On the surface, this appears to be a respectful and generous gesture on the part of the Chinese, showing Zheng He’s awareness of the religious tradition of the island.” When China Ruled the Seas: The Treasure Fleet of the Dragon Throne, 1405–1433″ by Louise Levathes
OK ok ok, you say, religion is one thing, but surely the Chinese are sneaky bastards when it comes to commercial transactions right? Nope.
When doing business with the Indians, an Indian broker would set a date for the negotiation, after a mutual agreement was made this is how they sealed the deal:
“In such and such a moon, on such and such a day, we have all joined hands and sealed our agreement with a hand-clasp; whether [the price] is dear or cheap, we will never repudiate it or change it.” When China Ruled the Seas: The Treasure Fleet of the Dragon Throne, 1405–1433″ by Louise Levathes
The most splendid part of the month long (or more) ordeal, was that the Chinese used the abacus, while the Indians used their fingers and toes, and STILL accuracy was achieved!
How did the Spanish transact?
The following is an eye witness account:
“The Spaniards with their horses, their spears and lances, began to commit murders and other strange cruelties. They entered into towns and villages, sparing neither children nor old men and women. They ripped their bellies and cut them to pieces as if they had been slaughtering lambs in a field. They made bets with each other over who could thrust a sword into the middle of a man or who could cut off his head with one stroke. They took little ones by their heels and crushed their heads against the cliffs. Others they threw into the rivers laughing and mocking them as they tumbled into the water. They put everyone they met to the edge of the sword.
One time I saw four or five important native nobles roasted and broiled upon makeshift grills. They cried out pitifully. This thing so troubled our Captain that he could not sleep. He commanded that they be strangled to end their misery. The Sergeant (I know him and his friends from Seville) would not strangle them but put bullets into their mouths instead.
I have seen all these things and others infinite. Most tried to flee. They tried to hide in the mountains. They tried to flee from these men. Men who were empty of all pity, behaving like savage beasts. They are nothing more than slaughterers and enemies of mankind. These evil men had even taught their hounds, fierce dogs, to tear natives to pieces at first sight.
AND, when, although rare, the Indians put to death some Spaniards upon good right and law of justice; the Spaniards made an agreement that for every one Spaniard killed they had to slay one hundred Indians.
One time the Indians came to meet us and receive us with food and good cheer! Instead, the devil, which had put himself in the Spaniards, put them all to the edge of the sword in my presence, without any cause whatsoever, more than three thousand souls. I saw there such great cruelties, that never any man living either have or shall see the like.
In three or four months (myself being present) there died more than six thousand children, which the Spanish had sent into the Gold mines.” La Casas
But the Europeans were only gruesome during the conquest right?
You argue that the European Imperial conquest was indeed cruel, but after they colonised them, they treated them well right? Wrong.
The Spanish rule of the natives EVERY WHERE they went was the SAME. I leave you one name to Google Bartolomé de las Casas. You can spend weeks reading the atrocities.
Yet people like to link China to global annihilation if it becomes number one again. The density of the mind to not recognise that historically China has ALWAYS been a different ruler to the West, concomitant with the current rise of China executed WITHOUT BLOOD SHED, is testimony that it is not China we should fear.
During the second expedition of the treasure fleet, the king of Brunei agreed to China’s suzerainty, and from that point on an engaging trade of camphor, gums and resin began.
The Brunei king then went Nanjing to visit Yongle with 150 of his squad (as one does) and was duly welcomed. The king however fell ill and he passed away at the age of 38 in Nanjing.
What did Yongle do? To pay respects to his protectorate he closed business in his court for 3 days, erected a resplendent tomb, guarded with a pair of life size stone warriors, a pair of stone scholars and pairs of stone tigers, rams etched in an Indonesian motif fitting with the king’s culture.
To pervert and contort current reality and history just to satisfy the Western whim to pillory a rising superpower that is not of the white brotherhood calibre, is disingenuous and mendacious.
Why are we content to remain an underclass, subject to erratic sanctions, undeclared wars and coups when we have a chance to attain a new global order with a guy who has a record of being the LEAST CRAZY out of the pack?