Sun, 13 Feb 2000

Great Wall and Chinese military

The Chinese tend to take great pride in the Great Wall as something of a great achievement and as one of the wonders of the world. It is the only structure that can be seen from the moon.

I would say that the Chinese deserve no pride over the Great Wall as they were never really successful in fending off the invasion of marauding northern barbarians. Even with such great efforts, which drained the treasuries of so many dynasties from the Qin, 221 B.C. to 208 B.C., till the Ming Dynasty, 1368 to 1644, there was misery and death for the millions of people who toiled over building such great walls.

It is interesting to see that the Mongolian push westward of those mostly Turkish-speaking nomads into Anatolia and later the ransacking of Constantinople by the fourth crusade army indirectly helped the rise of the Turkish Ottoman empire over three continents for almost six centuries.

And in the mid-19th century, while there were no more new palaces built in East Asia except the Chinese Yuan Ming Yuan palace, which was built over 150 years by three emperors, Anglo- Franco joint forces looted and burned it for three days and three nights. The Ottoman empire would just build new dolmanbache palaces and the Belerbeyi summer palace.

It is also worth noting that two great civilizations, India and China, existed side by side as neighbors for more than 2000 years without warring, except for incidents in the 1960s. But these were the legacy of colonialism over the so-called McMahon Line. For almost two-thirds of its history China was dominated militarily by foreign powers, and twice China was completely conquered by foreigners who numbered just 1 percent of the Chinese.

The Chinese civilization is also not imperialistic. The Japanese and Koreans adopted the Chinese civilization early on, but they remain patriotically Japanese and Korean. In fact China was almost conquered by the Japanese in early 20th century.