Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 33 No. 8. 10 June 1970
This article has been reprinted from the last issue of Salient because the juxtaposition of several paragraphs made it unintelligible. We apologise for any inconvenience readers may have experienced.
Among the Canadian journalists in New Zealand for Trudeau's visit was Mark Gayn of the Toronto Star's Asia Bureau. Mr Gayn is a well-known commentator on China. We asked him for some general remarks on Chinese foreign policy.
China is a great power, like the United States, or Russia; she is led by extremely competent people. Her foreign policy is based on the fundamental needs and interests of China. It has to reflect these interests because, otherwise, China would be led to ruin, and China is not being led to ruin, nor is it being led into dangerous foreign adventures.
China's foreign policy, ever since 1949, has been coherent, and it has reflected two things: a desire to stay out of any dangerous wars and a compulsion to make sure that her border areas are protected. China has become involved in a number of conflicts, some of them on a huge scale; as, for instance, in North Korea. China went in because she felt that American troops were moving in too close to her territory. In fact, they were right across the river from Manchuria. And she became involved in a conflict with India. This again was in the belief, which beyond any doubt is genuine, that there is an ill-defined area on the border between China and India and India was poaching on this territory. It is important to remember that the regime of Chiang Kai Shek also had refused to sign any agreements on the India-China border because it also felt that the original dividing line was unfair and ill-defined.
China is preoccupied today with a number of very intricate and very vital problems and dangers. Her main preoccupation in the last, say, three months has been with Japan, and this has been more or less predictable. Japan is also a great Asiatic power and is certainly moving to rearmament. In November, after his visit to Washington, Prime Minister Sato spelled out at least some of Japan's foreign policy for the years to come, and the Chinese feel that it threatens them. Sato, after returning from Washington, said that it was essential for Japan to have South Korea and Taiwan in friendly hands. Peking looks at this—and it has always been suspicious of Japan, and always hostile to the present government—and feels that here are the Americans presumably pulling out of Asia and Japan is moving in. Japan is going to be, to use their own jargon, the 'Gendarme of Asia'. Sato's statement has been reiterated a number of times since November, and as a result I think that Chinese foreign policy has come to some sort of a milepost. They have to begin to prepare for future conflicts, whether they're armed conflicts or political conflicts, with Japan. Now one of the by-products of this was the meeting in Pyongang, in North Korea, about 6 weeks ago between Chou En Lai and Kim II Sung, the leader of North Korea. Both of them are vitally concerned, because when Sato speaks about his desires to keep South Korea in friendly hands he becomes of vital interest to North Korea which never stops, not for a day, talking about the reunification of Korea. And, of course, Taiwan is of tremendous concern and interest to. China. So Japan beyond doubt is the main concern of China.
But China also sees all of Asia as an area in which she is in conflict at the present with the United States and with the Soviet Union. There's a lot of talk in the United States about making gestures towards an understanding with China. We will let our journalists go to Peking, or we will relax our restrictions on some of the trade with China, and so on. And this of course is a childish idea. The Americans cannot possibly have any understanding with China, they cannot come to any understanding, until their entire policy in Asia is changed. The Chinese are interested in knowing that there is a 7th Fleet in the Formosa Straits and that Taiwan is really protected by US power, or that US power is also massed very near the Chinese border, south of the Chinese border. So China sees the United States as an ever-present threat.
Now, of course there is also another dimension—ideological conflict. Mao Tse Tung has been steeped in a Marxist ideology which sees the world in terms of a great conflict between the bad ones and the good ones—the capitalists and the socialists. The entire foreign policy of China is coloured by this ideological approach. So even if the United States withdrew from all these areas I would think the conflict would continue on a different plane. The United States still remains a symbol of the Enemy. It is seen as the stronghold of capitalism and imperialism and so on, and the whole Chinese revolution is committed to the idea of getting rid of this enemy.
The third, and a very powerful, enemy—and one that the Chinese were extremely concerned about in 1969—is the Soviet Union. Again there's been a lot of very silly talk about a Soviet conventional nuclear preventive against China. There's been a lot of talk about Chinese guerilla raids into Siberia and so on. Both of these countries pursue a cautious foreign policy, and until and unless they feel that their vital interests are concerned, or that the gamble is worth taking they won't take serious risks. The Soviet Union took the gamble in Cuba when it tried to put missiles there. The Soviet Union is now in what I regard as a very dangerous gamble in the Middle East. Once you introduce Soviet pilots into the area, it transforms the whole scale and nature of the conflict in there. Though the Russians are still talking persistently about stopping Israeli imperialism, it's a lot of nonsense. It's also rather silly in the context of politics today to talk about helping the Arab countries to maintain their indepence against eneroaching imperialism. What will really happen is that Soviet intervention must bring the United States into the conflict, and then it becomes surely very dangerous.
The Chinese are involved in a conflict with the Soviet Union, for such a variety of reasons that I wouldn't even try to talk about them. Some of them are ideological. More important is the question of what kind of a revolution they are to have in the world. Their attitude towards revolutionary movements involves a fundamental debate on strategy: whether to be militant or cautious in revolution-making. In this debate the two countries take different positions, simply because they're in different stages of development. The Soviet Union is concerned lest it become involved in a nuclear war. The Chinese have decided that nuclear weapons are a paper tiger and therefore you need not worry about them; after all in Vietnam the Americans never use nuclear weapons so therefore don't be passive in your help to revolutionary movements everywhere. There is a long-standing dispute on the border. There is the question of who is to lead revolution everywhere, and so on. So these are rather fundamental interests. On the other hand the conflict is not such as to lead the other country to think that it must become engaged in a devastating war. Both of them have a coherent foreign policy and they're not likely to engage in suicidal wars. So I don't expect a major war. I think that it is possible that there will be continued border clashes, some of them perhaps on a very heavy scale, but I don't see any likelihood of major wars between Russia and China. Also, of course, the Russians feel that the real crux of their dispute with China is Mao's attitude towards the Soviet Union. Mao is 77 and sooner or later, probably sooner, he will die. You don't become involved in a major war with the Chinese when 6 months from now Mao is dead, and perhaps you can at least negotiate on some issues with the Chinese and stop this dispute which is really hurting both of them.
The fascinating thing about Chinese foreign policy is the part that ideology plays in its shaping and its development and how ideology is closely linked with the nation's interests. How one is woven into the other. I was very lucky to have been able to see Mao in the years when he was still in flight—in the caves in which he lived in a place called Yenan in the north west of China. It's a famous place, if you read Edgar Snow's Red Star Over China you'll find that it ends with Mao's arrival in Yenan. It was interesting that in his cave he had this rickety bookcase that was filled with the classics of communist Marxist philosophy. He lived in this wilderness, almost completely isolated from the world, and was immersed in this revolutionary thought which he of course tried to adapt to the realities of China as he knew them-the realities of the Chinese countryside especially. And out of this period there's come the political philosophy and a personal faith which has shaped his behaviour and the behaviour of all his companions, most of whom also went through ten years in Yenan. It has shaped both the foreign policy of China and the history of China. The cultural revolution cannot be understood at all unless you know something about the ten years that Mao spent in Yenan, about his views on the Good Revolutionary, about his view of revolutionary militancy, the need for sacrifice by young people, the need for obedience, the need for forgetting oneself for the sake of this ideal of revolution. It may be very difficult for us to understand this whole very complex plot because we live in a different context but in his context largely peasant China, and the revolution has been going on for 45 years now, it makes sense.
Many are the security precautions taken by the New Zealand Government to deal with the current Royal Tour, but none so bizarre as the special decrees relating to the smashing of the Queen's lavatory seats.
It seems that on her last tour of New Zealand some years ago, the Queen, suffering from a mild illness on her way through some little-known town, was forced to beat a hasty retreat into a convenience which had not been prepared for her.
As soon as Her Majesty left the premises, a greedy speculator leapt on the lavatory seat, wrenched it from its fittings and, after much bargaining, sold it illegally as a Royal souvenir for a sum rumoured to be not less than $4,000.
The New Zealand Government, shocked by the story of such shameless speculation, issued a decree that any lavatory seat imprinted by Her Majesty during this Royal Tour would have to be made of plastic and, immediately after the Royal usage, smashed to pieces in the presence of a civil servant.
Reprinted from Private Eye