|Reviewed by Col Anil Bhat, VSM (Retd) |
The simple two-worded title of this book-Xi’ China- is hugely suggestive of the fact that it is the worst version of China for the world so far. Worst because even the experimentation of biological weapons, which has been continuing under the policy of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for decades, contaminated more than whole world. Even if this happened accidentally, it is bad enough because even experimentation of such weapons is reprehensible. But the strong suspicion that what emanated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology under the name of COVID 19 -and possibly being experimented in many other Chinese laboratories, all with a presence of Peoples Liberation Army (PLA)- was indeed a bioweapon, is because there was hardly any of the deadly global effect felt of COVID 19 in Beijing and Shanghai. And the term “more than the world” is because the world comprises 193 countries. Beyond 193 are territories. This virus contaminated 214 countries and territories. COVID 19, known to be isolated from bats, could not have originated from Wuhan’s seafood market, because bats are not sold there. Anyway, the contamination’s domino effect has been an economic breakdown with millions the world over losing their livelihoods.
Quite obviously planned much before the pandemic, as it set in, Xi substantially stepped up China’s aggressive military consolidation of its planned ‘global domination’. Beginning with India, the PLA made the greatest and most grotesque of attempts at grabbing more Indian territory than already grabbed since Aksai Chin. PLA used medieval barbaric weapons to attack Indian troops and received its second and third rude shocks since 1967 from the Indian Army. China’s PLA Navy which has been a nuisance for many nations in the Indian and Pacific Ocean, has been all-the-more so since its gruesome gift to the world for the new year, 2019-20.
With an insightful Foreword by Shri Ram Madhav Varanasi, Member, Governing Body, India Foundation and former General Secretary, BJP, the book’s ten chapters under three parts are: An Endangered Utopia, From Paper Money to Liquor Money, Social Credit, Schooling System Economics, An Exam to Rule Them All, Filial Piety, Empty China, ID, Chinese Keyboard and Communism as an Accident.
The author, who lived in China from 2010 till 2020, widely travelling and interacting with people, has made some profound observations, including those on important social issues raised by Xi and how they have impacted the people. There is so much happening in China, which does not get known, thanks to CCP’s total control of media. Edel Secondat has very well encapsulated a wide array of subjects/issues, revealing much which is impactful for Chinese public and the world, into a very reader friendly paperback. The titles of the chapters are telling enough and should attract readers and institutions to get this book.
The chapter Empty China begins with a mention of “Wuhan quarantine” and at the end, it is datelined “Wuhan, 21st of February 2020”, which denotes that it was written during the author’s sojourn there.
Shortly after the ‘outbreak’ of COVID 19, it was reported by foreign media, despite CCP’s efforts to keep everything under wraps and carry on with its propaganda, that tens of thousands of telephone connections going silent and the number of funerals were a major indication of the loss of life. By the early part of 2020, the Wuhan Institute of Virology was reported to be empty/locked with all its staff untraceable. Also, in this chapter, the author dwells on how lockdown/curfew/restrictions caused many problems for the various industries, including cinema, publishing, printing and more.
Secondat also brings out the transformation that has come with internet, digitization and great infrastructural development. And while he sees a great potential of progress for the people in the post-pandemic future, whenever that may be, but which will be denied to them, as he expects the CCP to maintain its tight leash.
What has been completely suppressed in China is how callously the CCP treats China’s ordinary citizens, how it runs concentration camps of Tibetans and Uighurs, how cruelly it has repressed and silenced millions suffering from being afflicted with COVID 19 and what its actual death count is.
One of Secondat’s disconcerting observations in the chapter Empty China is about the quarantine not changing the Chinese way of life is indeed disconcerting. He states that despite the size of its population, “China remains most of the time an empty country. An enormous amount of infrastructure has been built during these last years but it looks desperately empty. This is the consequence of a deadly cultural policy which consists in building wonderful cultural infrastructure while impeding cultural activity for political reasons. Hence buildings remain widely under used.”
Within just over 150 pages at a modest price, the author has given an insightful analysis of CCP ‘s actions/tendencies, how they have affected the people and how peoples’ outlook is changing. For all China watchers it is a good updating primer and can also be enjoyed even by keen readers countrywide. It is a must read for politicians, diplomats, bureaucrats, armed forces, intelligence and police services, think-tanks and universities and is also worth translating into some other languages.