Xi Jinping at the China Communist Party conference
Xi Jinping at the party conference | Source: Xinhua
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This is an extract from a piece of mine that appeared in The Indian Express on 25 November 2011:

“When the Olympics were held in this country’s capital city, great care was taken to put on a show to impress foreign visitors. Dissidents were picked up and taken away from the city. Unwanted and protesting ethnic minorities were kept under surveillance. All citizens were instructed to keep smiling to convey the message that happiness prevailed in the host country. Magnificent stadiums were built. The might and power of the state apparatus was there for all to see and to get impressed with. The Olympics themselves were conducted with a precision and an attention to spectacle that was nothing if not awe-inspiring. Truly the hour of the collective man seemed to have arrived.

The above paragraph was certainly true of Beijing in 2008. Ironically and eerily so, it was true of Berlin in 1936”

The reason I am quoting myself is not to claim the gift of prophecy or extraordinary prescience going back nine years, but to establish the fact that the emergence of the People’s Republic of China as a Nazi Germany lookalike has been many years in the making. Hitler would not have happened had there not been a foundation of totalitarian longings and crass anti-Semitism already lodged in the German body politic. So too with China and Xi.


Also read: Even China’s friends like Russia & Iran are having a problem with its assertiveness


Historical parallels with Germany

StratNews Global recently ran a feature that compared Chinese President Xi Jinping with Adolf Hitler. The channel’s editor, Nitin Gokhale promptly got an ominous call from a Chinese embassy spokesperson who warned of “consequences” if the feature was not taken down. Gokhale is an intrepid defender of free speech and is committed to India’s robust traditions of fearless journalism. I am sure he can handle the “consequences”, such as they may turn out to be. Gokhale has hinted that the subsequent edition might include a section on concentration camps. Dachau was an early camp. It was not in Poland, but inside Germany and predated September 1939. Forcing Uighurs to eat pork, to read Mao and not their holy book, to discard the veil, to drop their language and speak in Mandarin, to not pray and to learn “peaceful and useful skills” would suggest that Uighurs can be changed. The next stage may be to conclude that Uighurs are incorrigibly unchangeable. In which case, there may be “consequences”— a word that seems to be favoured by Chinese officials. And the world cannot claim to be ignorant of the consequences of ignoring Dachau and the “solution” that was offered by the successors of Dachau.

A case can be made that the historical parallels are not just the ones concerning the resemblance of Xi’s China to Hitler’s Germany. The parallels are also about responses from the rest of the world, including of course the West, and the way these responses are being read by the mandarins in Beijing. No one broke off diplomatic relations with Germany when Dachau was set up. Did the hapless Uighurs actually expect any action from the world’s human rights lovers? Someone in Beijing has read up on the supine stance of flabby democracies as articulated by German ideologues of the 1930s.


Also read: China muscles its way onto NATO turf, rattling an alliance upset with Trump’s ‘America First’


China is in a hurry, so was Germany

The parallel of ‘being in a hurry’ is also worth thinking about. Hitler apparently felt that if he did not move fast, the allies would become too powerful. Perhaps Chinese strategists feel the need to move fast before their population goes into decline or before China misses the opportunity presented by the current Western disarray and confusion.

In 1937, Japan already controlled Manchuria, Korea, Shandong and most of Shanghai. There was no need to cross the Marco Polo Bridge and attack China. But the Japanese militarists were in a hurry. Now that the Chinese have swallowed Hong Kong and imprisoned the Uighurs, with minimal international repercussions, why not wait a year or two to put other apples into the basket? There just has to be a group of thinkers in Beijing who believe that precipitate hurry is justified and that alienating public opinion in the Anglo-Sphere (in Europe, not just the compromised governments, even the general public is eerily and ominously quiet) is a risk worth taking.


Also read: India has to plan for a hot war where friends are few. US-China cold war won’t help it


For America, Russia is still the significant adversary

Popular opinion in Britain, the US and Australia may be turning anti-Chinese. But the preferred approach in scholarly and influential American circles today, is to consider Russia as the more significant adversary, virtually giving China a get-out-of-jail-free card. This constitutes another historical parallel. The Tory elite in Britain viewed the Soviet Union as a greater evil than Nazi Germany. The West literally forced Stalin into Hitler’s arms, in a way that is amazingly similar to the manner in which Putin’s Russia has been left with no option but to cosy up with China. This visceral dislike of Russia, which ends up in a reckless indulgence of the more powerful and aggressive China, constitutes a repeat motif in Western elite circles.

After giving the Poles a solemn guarantee and encouraging their stubborn intransigence, what did Britain and France do when Germany invaded Poland? Not a single French or British paratrooper was dropped into Poland. The Royal Navy did not make the feeblest of attempts to get to Danzig. The brave Poles were abandoned to the nasty Germans. But when Russia invaded Finland, all of a sudden, British soldiers and the Royal Air Force (RAF) planes, which were apparently desperately needed elsewhere, were shipped off to help the brave Finns fight the nastier Russians. People of my generation who were Biggles fans may remember that the dashing RAF ace Biggles went to help the Finns.

Ironically, it is the American working class (what’s left of it) who Hillary Clinton had referred to as “deplorables” who seem to be anti-Chinese. Left to themselves, the bicoastal elites may be willing to do a deal. The ‘august’ journal Foreign Affairs continues to harp on the dangers from Russia and the so-called need to ‘engage’ with China. One wonders if the new-fangled word ‘engage’ rhymes mysteriously with the older word ‘appease’. The parallel where the British working class supported Winston Churchill while his own party elders were OK with making a deal with the Germans is quite striking.


Also read: US’ decoupling from China has begun. Modi govt must work to minimise India’s losses


Parallels are not without merit

Sections of the Indian elite may also be willing to make arguments that it is either not desirable or not practical to irritate China. It is worth remembering Rudyard Kipling’s admonition, that once a people starts paying Dane-geld (a tribute to invaders to persuade them not to invade and loot), then there is no end to the next round of bitter juices that will be proffered to and forced down the throats of the peace-loving losers.

History may not repeat itself, but parallels are not without merit. When the chips are down, despite all the gobbledygook talk of Western leaders, India is going to be quite alone. Good wishes, even guarantees, and symbolic imitation Biggles will be of no help. Think Poland. And yet, there is another parallel that the Chinese commissars may want to think about. Poland succumbed. The Soviet Union did not succumb, and when Heinz Guderian was close to Moscow, the Soviets counter-attacked. A lonely India may just end up having the backbone to do something similar. As Portia would say, “Tarry a minute, Marco Polo. For there may be consequences.” In a recent column, Anantha Nageswaran has actually called upon India to take the lead in firm assertion against the totalitarian behemoth of today. More power to columnists like him.

The author is an entrepreneur and writer. Views are personal.

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24 Comments Share Your Views

24 COMMENTS

  1. Though the author only gives some intuitive evidence, the conclusion is quite reasonable. Nazism is a combination of Nationalism and Socialism. This is exactly the same as Xi’s policies. Xi is not a believer in communism, but he believes in Chinalism and the CCP holding the power.

  2. Author seems to be ideological driven. This text is manipulating facts and it’s far faraway from moral poin of view. It is missguiding and fule of lies. Comparing China with Nazi Germany? It is exageration… Chinese should sue you for this piece.

  3. History judges best. History repeats itself, and what we learn is we do not learn. Sophists try arguments that Britain had also colonial policies as did France so they had no right to speak against Germany and Hitler…..look at where that false argument left the world. This kind of you are bad so cannot call another v bad has ruined clear sighted actions against totalitarian regimes in modern history.

  4. Actually it is Modi’s Hindutva India that is acting like Nazis. While China treats all religions equally bad, India targets its Muslims like Germany targeted Roma or Serbia targeted Muslims. It is ta king away the voting rights of millions of Musilms, denying them refugee status and causing a lockdown of its only Muslim majority state. Muslims have been blamed for coronavirus, lynched over beef transportation rumours, attacked for marrying Hindu women, had their mosques destroyed so that a Hindu temple can be built with Modi’s approval.
    For India to talk about another country being Nazi Germany and protesting the infringement of rights of Muslims when it does so with ease and state sanction is ridiculous!

    • India does not run concentration camps for Muslims. India does not run forces labor camps and education camps. Muslims of India are free to practice their religion, say Azaan five times a day and read their Quran. Muslims are free to protest (sometimes not very peacefully, as we saw in Bangalore last week).

      And there were no “mosques” destroyed. The only one you are referring to was brought down 18 years ago, and there has been a long legal process about it. The people that brought down the mosque were not punished, which must be corrected.

      Don’t conflate isolated crimes (cow vigilantism) with running state-sponsored concentration camps. These are two totally different things.

    • Can you give me an example of discrimination against the muslims in India???? Yes the incidents mentioned did happen…. J&K is in a lock down also because of terrorist activities,, why does the writer forget it??? are terrorist activity to be condoned… What so special about a muslim majority state… are muslims to be considered special people of india… that they have to be treated differently from other citizens of this country…. Are you aware that one of the relative of Shri L K Advani, the patriarach of BJP is married to be a muslim…. are you aware that the closest family friend of Shri Rajnath Singh, the Hon Raksha mantri is Muslim….. Are you aware the ties between muslims and hindus are as good as they were in the past… hyes there are political differences… thats how it should be in a democracy…. but political differences do not mean enimity… You should realise that….

    • What about Kashmiri Pandits who are driven out of their homes and living as refugees in their own country? Majority Muslims are bigoted against Hindus. If not for back bending of politicians Hindus would have been in the slumber and never would have voted for BJP and imbeciles in Congress would have ruled the country with corruption going amok. What about Bangalore riots? Or Delhi riots? Are these not Muslims engineered riots? CAA does not affect any Indian citizens but you encouraged protests and sit ins just to create trouble for people and government. Tablighi Jamat is indeed reason for spreading of infections initially as they took to every major city in the country. So why deny that. I think China is right medicine for you.

    • Ha!!! Ha!! What bigots your community is as terror and lies are in every cell of your ideology & mind!! We know what you did in Delhi, Bangalore, Pakistan, Bangladesh or Indian Kashmir!! You may hide truth with treachery, lies & money but the day of reckoning will come and you will pay for your crimes with interest!! That day your elite/clerics using poor Muslims as disposable, low cost pig bombs in India, Europe, America & every part of the globe will be exposed!!

      Hundred of millions of Christians & Hindus have been killed by you & your mafia built on terror ideology.

      THE SILENCE OF NOT JUST MUSLIMS & ISLAMIC NATIONS BUT ALSO ISLAMIC TERRORISTS against Uighur Muslim genocide in Xinjiang, China is PROOF that you and your ideology are SOLD OUT & used as terror bombs on HIRE!!

    • So true that 57 Islamic nations; all democratic with: Full human rights, no evil sharia, full women rights, minorities multiplying like in India, conversion to Christianity and Hinduism daily process, no killing of minorities, minorities doing riots and blood shed in the name of Christianity, mosques are being destroyed to build churches & temples, true history & ancestry if beings taught, no jihadi politics…

      OMG!! MOVE TO PAKISTAN & STAY THERE!!

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