Mao Zedong

PKI supporters rallying during the 1955 general-election campaign. (Wikimedia)

The ghost of the Communist Party of Indonesia still haunts

A failed military coup on 30 September 1965 which led to the massacre of more than a million Partai Komunis Indonesia (PKI) members and communist sympathisers continues to plague Indonesian politics. People want to know who was the real instigator of the coup: the PKI, the left-wing military, Sukarno, Suharto, or the CIA in the US are all possibilities. A 2019 book says that according to declassified documents from the Chinese Communist Party Central Archives, a central figure in the coup was in Beijing on 5 August 1965, and discussed Indonesia’s situation with Mao Zedong and other Chinese Communist Party leaders. Leo Suryadinata pieces together the events in explaining how this catastrophe continues to impact Indonesia.
Visitors wearing protective masks walk by Chinese national flags and red lanterns decorated to celebrate the National Day in Beijing, China, 4 October 2020. (Yan Cong/Bloomberg)

The US is helping to unite the Chinese people and the CCP by challenging China’s core interests

The US has been trying to delink the CCP from the Chinese people, thinking that this will give them a clear path to defining a tangible enemy. But they have forgotten that Western imperialists were abhorred by the Chinese and any form of neo-imperialism would be anathema to them. The US may have overlooked the uneasy truth that nationalism in China is a firm glue that binds the CCP and the people together.
In 1951, the volunteer army surrounded and attacked the US army's elite 1st and 7th infantry divisions. As it was barely one year since the CCP established the PRC, it did not yet have its own defence weapons industry. The troops were using mainly Soviet-made weapons, arms left behind by the Japanese, and US weapons seized from the KMT army. The volunteers in the photo are using Czech-made ZB-26 light machine guns, which were relatively rare among the volunteers due to the lack of matching bullets.

[Photo story] The Korean War: The first large-scale war between China and the US

China and the US fought their first major war against each other during the Korean War. China's ill-equipped volunteer troops suffered huge losses, sacrificing eight lives for every one lost on the US side. Nonetheless, China showed great determination and resilience during the war. Historical photo collector Hsu Chung-mao delves deep into the images and facts of the Korean War, and reflects on how it has shaped modern international geopolitics.
Delivery workers wearing face masks ride scooters in front of Lujiazui financial district, in Shanghai, China, 10 July 2020. (Aly Song/File Photo/Reuters)

Socialism and universal basic income: Creating happy societies in the age of the knowledge economy

Lance Gore analyses that the knowledge economy offers great potential for bettering the lives of people. But capitalism may not be the best route to take. Power in the hands of a few, income gaps, job losses and wage cuts in the digital age bear this out. Can China offer a third way as it seeks to marry socialism with a market economy? The West is already considering some proposals with a socialist bent such as the Universal Basic Income (UBI). Surely, proponents of socialism can think of even more revolutionary ideas?
The Empire State Building and the World Trade Center sit behind the Statue of Liberty in New York City, 26 August 2020. (Kena Betancur/AFP)

Did the US feed itself the wrong intelligence?

The CIA itself admitted that much of the intelligence it had gathered on China in the Mao era was proven wrong, says US academic Han Dongping. Later when it tried to cultivate academics in the US and when it supported pro-democracy groups, it arguably still did not achieve its aim of getting China to change. What were its missteps?
Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Mao Zedong and US ambassador to China Patrick J. Hurley (back row) in an American army jeep.

[Photo story] The Dixie Mission during WWII: First contact between the US and the CCP

The Dixie Mission was a short-lived but important effort by the US to work with the CCP during World War II. Historical photo collector Hsu Chung-mao traces this initiative, as well as the beginnings and rise of the CCP.
People wear protective face masks at a shopping complex in Beijing, China, on 17 July 2020. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

Is the US just a ‘paper tiger’ or is she able to derail China’s progress?

Even though the countries are in a state of “non-war”, US-China tensions will not go away, says Chinese scholar Deng Qingbo. The US can only be expected to continue using China as a bogeyman even after the presidential election. While he is confident that China will be able to handle containment measures thrown at it deftly, he warns that it needs to guard against being increasingly withdrawn from the world as it nurses its bruises from its battles with the US. Failing to do so would only mean the US has succeeded in thwarting its goal of greater reform and opening up.
People wearing protective masks ride past Lama Temple in Beijing, China, 19 June 2020. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

What is China's biggest challenge?

In the great China-US contest, overcoming weaknesses, more than capitalising on strengths, will be the deciding factor in determining who emerges the victor, says Wei Da. Any country is only as good as its weakest link, and the sooner the both of them realise that and look their shortcomings in the eye, the better. Wei Da identifies China's biggest challenge and its weaknesses in this article.
A paramilitary police officer wearing a face mask following the Covid-19 outbreak, stands guard outside the Great Hall of the People before the opening session of the National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing, China, on 22 May 2020. (Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

China must endure the storm, for time is on its side 

Senior research fellow at the East Asian Institute Lance Gore says that China must learn to rein in its rage and impatience and do its fair share of self-reflection. What good would it do if it gives in to petty emotions and provokes a US-led coalition against it? For sure, it still has room for manoeuvre, thanks to the attractiveness of its huge consumer market. But it must not miss the woods for the trees: the US is still more powerful than it is and the two are better off as friends than enemies. Question is, will China be able to be humble, look itself squarely in the mirror, and refrain from doing the things it must not?