China’s current political dynamic as witnessed in the Premier’s directive regarding Constitutional reforms in Hong Kong is filled with political intrigue that can easily disrupt Beijing’s domestic status creating a vortex of instability whereby an unknown populist can gain political traction threatening both reform and Beijing itself. The solution appropriate to the needs of both Beijing and the status of Hong Kong may not reside in a policy derived in favor of liberty alone.
It is interesting to witness the limits of applied liberty in China’s embrace of the West. This is obvious to those familiar with the history of China, particularly regarding the interior which had less exposure to the West than coastal China.
The Middle Kingdom is not monolithic as often thought of throughout the West. Only those familiar with China’s history can divine a policy fit for the success of an emerging Superpower. If one were to quarry the history of China to divine policy for Special Administrative Regions we need to look no further than Liu Pang’s effort at building an enduring regime after the collapse of the Tsin Empire (210 B.C.)
In the Sinic World effective political unity was imposed for the first time by the empire building state of Tsin within a period on no more than ten years. It was within this extremely short period of time that King Cheng of Tsin overthrew six rivals and acquired the title of Tsin She Hwang-ti. But he could not with equal rapidity extinguish the political self-consciousness of former rivals. Cheng’s success as a militarist brought political failure when he imposed policies that aroused resistance. With the death of Cheng came violent political revolt whereby a rival who possessed both wit and tenacity succeeded where Cheng failed.
Liu Pang succeeded because Pang’s political instincts were Machiavellian. Pang’s political instincts were to feel his way gradually towards his predecessor’s Caesarian goal without overt public resistance. Are we witnessing the same political instincts by Hu Jintao? Do the Premier’s public statements conform to a sincere desire that liberty become a firm Sinic policy that dominates the political establishment for Beijing? Or are we witnessing the policies of a firmly endowed political intellect determined to win how reform is developed and implemented throughout the Special Administrative Regions (the name for Hong Kong in Beijing). Throughout Hu Jintao’s public statements runs a semblance of compromise that points towards maintaining and increasing a dangerously close preponderance of Imperial Power.
This past summer provided a flashpoint regarding the limits of a pure Machiavellian grasp. The Uriqui uprising reveals two distinct points of interest. First, Beijing’s procommunist policies maintain and exasperate a profound fissure that if politically unaddressed will imperil Beijing’s future. Secondly, Liu Pang’s Fabian statesmanship can address the errors of Beijings handling of the Uriqui crisis. Simply put, for those sincere enough to acknowledge the limits of power attend to how policies are addressed in the Provinces.
Liu Pang’s achievement is singular in the Sinic world for he acknowledged the limits of militarism in developing an alliance with the Confucian literati to implement policies that attracted compliance from the population. In doing so Pang was promoting the human instrument of governance missing from his failed predecessor(s). A centralized government cannot operate in perilous times without a professional civil service committed to its society.
Measured by the durability of his achievement, the founder of the Han Dynasty can be accounted the greatest statesmen. Beijing ignores his achievements at its own peril.