The Humanity Power of China

The Humanity Power of China


After WWII, Soviet Union was holding 600,000 Japanese prisoners-of-war while China (Communist Party of China) had at least 2,000 Japanese POWs. The cruelty that the Japanese soldiers had committed to their POWs during the war was beyond imagination as articulated by a Japanese scholar, Hayashi Hirofumi (Japanese Treatment of Chinese Prisoners, 1931-1945 - Thus, it was no surprise that the Russians had treated the Japanese POWs harshly with no mercy. Most of them were sent to Siberia for forced labour to clear land and constructing roads and railways. Many died from starvation, hard work, beatings and extreme weather condition. Under the pressure from the Allied Force, the Russian finally allowed the POWS to return home after couple of years of hard life in Soviet Union. By then, less than half of the POWs were alive to return home. The survivals could not get rid of the nightmares and fear after settling home for a long time. The Japanese government claimed that at least 320,000 prisoners were unaccounted for.

I remember when I was a child, the adults liked to scare us off that they would send us to Siberia for hard work if we mis-behaved. I now understand why they were using such threat.

The Japanese POWs who were in the hands of the Nationalist China (Chiang Kaishek) and Communist China (Mao Zhedong) were lucky. Chiang and Mao did not claim any compensation for the war from the Japanese government. There was no reprisal from both of them (Did the Chinese take revenge on the Japanese after China won WWII for the Nanking massacre? - Zhou Enlai, who was the premier, housed the POWs in Fushun. The prisoners were well clothed and fed even though China was facing an acute shortage of food and supplies at that time. There was no hard labour for the prisoners; instead they were undergoing re-education. Two Japanese, Motomu Ishikawa and Megumi Makino, had related the incidence on their article,  “Miracle at Fushun: The Transformation of Japanese ‘War Criminals’ from Devils into Humans”  ( This was a far cry from the treatment in Siberia!

A long forgotten naval battle between Russia and Japan was fought on 27–28 May 1905 during the Russo-Japanese War (Battle of Tsushima - Japan had launched a surprise attack on the Russian Far East Fleet anchored in Port Arthur (at the tip of the Liaodong Peninsula of China) 15 months earlier resulted two Russian battleships and a cruiser destroyed. Apparently, Japan loves to use surprise assault to launch its war!

The decisive battle had caused Russia to lose two-thirds of its fleet comprising most of its battleships, cruisers and destroyers. It had given the Japanese new-found confidence that it was invincible and planned for its next invasion in China.

The Japanese government had profited handsomely from China after defeating the Chinese Navy in Jia Wu Naval Battle in 1894 (The First Sino Japanese War - The outcome of the naval battle had resulted Qing Dynasty to withdraw its protection of the Korean Peninsula (this gave Japan the liberty to occupy the Korean Peninsulaand ceded the Liaodong Peninsula (northeast China), Taiwan and Penghu Islands to Japan. Japan received 200 million taels of silver as war reparations and was also given the rights to operate manufacturing factories and ports along the Yangtze River.

The Japanese government was bewildered with the bounty reparations from China and tried to seek handsome reparations from Russia too after destroying its navy fleet. Upon being informed of the Japanese huge demand, the Russian refuted the claims and told the Japanese that it was willing to resume war. The Japanese could not afford to continue the war with Russia and finally accepted only the control of Port Arthur and the southern half of Sakhalin Island. The Qing Emperor should have acted likewise and prevented the humongous reparations and humiliation to Japan!

Such were the different encounters Japan had with Russia and China. Russia was tough, fearsome and unyielding; while China acted timidly, docilely, powerlessly and exposing all its weakness to outsiders. There is a saying “You do not mess with a bee, because you know it will sting”. Till today, Japan is treating Russia with awe and respect but with complete different attitude towards China. It has never conceded its atrocious crimes committed in China during WWII. It is still refuting the Nanjing massacre and the inhuman Comfort Women coercion. Putin is very popular in China! The Japanese mind was strongly ingrained with Bushido culture and he knows only to capitulate to the victor and intimidate the loser. Japan believes that it did not lose the war to Chinese but to the Americans only in WWII.

I understood why China had succumbed to Japan outrageous reparations demand after the defeat of the Jia Wu Naval Battle, but I could not comprehend the uncalled benevolent treatment and forgiveness towards the Japanese POWs from the two Chinese governments (Nationalist and Communist). Where was the justice for those victims that were slaughtered and raped? And how do you console those survival whose loved ones were massacred and tortured?  The Confucius teaching of recompense injury with kindness (以徳報怨) should not be applied to people who knew only “bullying the weak and fearing the thug” (欺善怕悪). How do you forgive when the other party does not repent for his misdeeds? 

After living and interacting in China for more than 20 years, I began to appreciate their engrained culture about Confucius teaching of “recompense injury with kindness”. It is also shared with Chinese Buddhism where similar ideology is taught. This ideology evolved through two millenniums and it is the highest state of mind where it enables someone not to allow emotions to control his actions. The Chinese believes anyone with such ability is impartial, righteous, honourble and fit to be a leader. The benevolent approach will eventually win over the mind and soul of others to discard retaliation, violence and prejudice.

In 663 at Bai Jiang Ko (白江口), Japan tried to invade China during the Tang Dynasty. The Battle of Baekgang (also known as the Battle of Hakusukinoe in Japan) was fought next to the Korean Peninsula with 130,000 Chinese troops on 120 ships while the Japanese came with more than 400 battle ships and 400,000 (estimated) troops. The Chinese won the battle but there was no invasion of Japan nor demanding war reparations from Japan. Instead, Japanese scholars, businessmen and monks were welcome to Luoyang (洛阳), then Chinese Capital, to learn the Chinese ways and culture. Japan benefited tremendously from the rich Chinese culture, religion, literature and ideologies.

I call this the Humanity Power of China. It has demonstrated this approach to all previous colonial European powers, Japan, Russia and USA that had taken advantage of China in the past two centuries. No national from these countries are badly or unfairly treated nor unwelcome in China unless such person displays arrogance and belittling the Chinese. The Chinese receives them with open heart and carries no baggage of past misgivings.

This noble approach has begun to win the acceptance by many citizens of those countries. They are learning the true China characteristics and appreciate its culture and history. Thus, whenever there are bad criticism and ploys by the malicious politicians and mass media, there will be voices heard from the public to counter such provocative claims. With the widespread coverage and spontaneous response seen on Internet, lies and fabrications are immediately disclosed and disputed. It will only make those malicious persons losing credibility.   

The Americans and Japanese were arch rivals to the Chinese prior to the meetings between the leaders in Beijing in early 1970s.. After that, Americans and Japanese investors were well received in China for investment. Special preferential treatment and incentives were awarded to all foreigners investing in China. Relationship was cordial and benefited the world with the cheap products.

Ironically, the original Confucius teaching of the ideology was “Recompense injury with kindness; Why repay with Kindness; Righteous recompense with righteous” (以德报怨, 何以报德, 以直抱直). Apparently, Confucius did not concur one-sided blind kindness to others who were not righteous and kind. It is fruitless to apply such approach on someone who is constantly harming you and is stronger and aggressive; it will only encourage more intimidation. 

Nevertheless, there were many incidents happened in the past two millenniums that proved “Recompense injury with kindness” was working well; so much so that many people had ignored the last two phrases. It has led to many Chinese foolishly believe the outcome of giving kindness will bestow similar gesture. The wise Confucius had said that such action had to be reciprocal. The animal instinct of mankind proves otherwise. The lamb is always the meal of the predators!

The humanity power was demonstrated on Philippines when the current President was less hostile towards China compared to his predecessor. Trade and aid, which Philippines urgently need, were resumed. Though African countries are never China foes, China is investing heavily in many of the African countries to beef up their infrastructures, education, healthcare and technology transfer. There is no string attach nor any prerequisite for the aids. China offers them long term low or no interest loan or simply using barter trade to help these countries. The developments have driven some of these countries to fulfil their dreams of reducing poverty and catching up with other developing countries. Africa could be the next engine of growth.

The Chinese will first use such upright approach to his unfriendly partners or adversaries in the hope that mutual interest will render cooperation. In subsequent interactions, if the other party continues to response with acrimony or vicious actions, the Chinese will counteract by minimising the power and influence of the other party. He will seek to uncover the spiteful intent and circumventing the direct attack. He will probably adopt constructive confrontation.

I like the character played by Bruce Lee in his movie “Enter The Dragon” in the mid-1970s where his Kungfu skill was use to deter the triad from taking over a Chinese restaurant in Rome. He did not push the bad guys to the corner but was strong enough to deter any attack from them. China is developing its military might fast to do likewise. Thus, it will only force China to enhance military capability at faster pace if the unfriendly nations keep harassing or undermining its economic development. The Dragon is awakened!

20 Feb 2018 
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