The United States, through its satellite proxies, is coercing China to abide by US-dictated rules of multifaceted interaction, particularly economic transactions. Chinese history tells that it had to kow-tow to accept humiliating terms of trade following defeats in Opium Wars.
Britain resented China’s effervescence to curb opium smuggling, or other nefarious trades. So it was because it militated against British economic advantage.
Lord Macartney’s (George Macartney, 1737-1806) led a mission in 1793 to the court of the Qianlong emperor (1711-1799; r. 1736-1796) of China. King George III (1738-1820) of England wanted Macartney to convince the Chinese emperor to open northern port cities to British traders and to allow British ships to be repaired on Chinese territory.
The supercilious ambassador refused to kow-tow to Chinese emperor in the Chinese style. The kow-tow was a prescribed ritual of nine kneeling bows to the ground (three sets of three) to humble themselves in emperor’s presence. Macartney was adamant that he would perform the ceremony of nine kneeling bows as long as it was reciprocal , that is, if a Chinese official would do exactly the same before the king of England”
Having failed to get any concession Britain later mounted an attack on China, known as Opium War, The First Opium War was fought from March 18, 1839, to August 29, 1842, and was also known as the First Anglo-Chinese War.The Second Opium War was fought from October 23, 1856, to October 18, 1860, and was also known as the Arrow War or the Second Anglo-Chinese War, (although France joined in). Britain won southern Kowloon and Western powers got extraterritorial rights and trade privileges. China’s Summer Palaces were looted and burned to ashes.
Qing forces lost battles to the British both at sea and on land for over two and a half years. The British seized Canton (Guangdong), Chusan (Zhousan), the Bogue forts at the mouth of the Pearl River, Ningbo, and Dinghai. In mid-1842, the British also seized Shanghai, thus controlling the mouth of the critical Yangtze River as well. Stunned and humiliated, the Qing government had to sue for peace.
On August 29, 1842, representatives of Queen Victoria of Great Britain and the Daoguang Emperor of China agreed to a peace treaty called the Treaty of Nanking. This agreement is also called the First Unequal Treaty because Britain extracted a number of major concessions from the Chinese while offering nothing in return except for an end to hostilities.
The Treaty of Nanking opened five ports to British traders, instead of requiring them all to trade at Canton. It also provided for a fixed 5% tariff rate on imports into China, which was agreed to by the British and Qing officials rather than being imposed solely by China.
Britain was accorded “most favored nation” trade status, and its citizens were granted extraterritorial rights. British consuls gained the right to negotiate directly with local officials, and all British prisoners of war were released. China also ceded the island of Hong Kong to Britain in perpetuity. Finally, the Qing government agreed to pay war reparations totaling 21 million silver dollars over the following three years.
Pressure tactics: The US closed China’s mission in Houston. The White House accused of attempting to steal scientific data from facilities in the state, including the Texas A&M medical system. The Chinese Embassy in Washington retorted `The U.S. accusations are groundless fabrications’. China struck back ordering the closure of the U.S. consulate in the western city of Chengdu .
The US has increased arms supplies to Taiwan and other allies. It has increased menacing exercises in South China Sea. US proxy India has redoubled efforts to topple Oli’s government in Nepal. It stimulated pro-India groups in Myanmar to protest against Chinese copper exploration.
Shortly after his visits to the North, India’s defence minister Rajnath Singh (July 17) said that the ongoing negotiations with China should help resolve the border dispute but he couldn’t guarantee to what extent the situation would be resolved. This statement contradicts earlier report of steady de-escalation to comply with creation of a 1.8 kilometer buffer zone at disputed Galwan.
China’s response: Cornered China signed a 25-year strategic deal with Iran envisaging barter exchange of Iranian crude for China’s multi-faceted cooperation in building Chahbahar port and railways.
In addition to massive infrastructure investments, the agreement envisions closer cooperation on defense and intelligence sharing. India voted against Iran in the crucial International Atomic Energy Agency vote in 2005 that opened the pathway for coercive sanctions against Tehran. In 2008, New Delhi reportedly launched an Israeli spy satellite targeted at Iran.
The Sino-Iranian deal also has a political dimension. Iran’s enthusiasm for a partnership agreement with China is in line with domestic politics. Iran’s supreme leader has long been a proponent of forming more strategic alliances with non-Western powers. President Hassan Rouhani may have pushed for an opening with the West, but he has also supported greater integration with Asian economies such as those of China, Japan, and South Korea. His mentor, former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, was a major advocate of modelling Iran’s economy on that of Deng Xiaoping’s China. And Rouhani has his legacy to consider as he enters the final year of his administration. After the failed attempt to reopen Iran’s economy to the West following the nuclear deal, he is now looking to create an equitable arrangement with the only major world power whose economic weight can match that of the US or Europe.
Such a major deal will require approval from Iran’s new ultra-conservative parliament – some members of which have already voiced strong opposition to the move. There is also a polarised public debate over deepening relations with China. Ultimately, however, the final call on Iran’s participation in the deal will be made by the supreme leader.
To conclude, China will need to carefully balance deepened relations with Iran against the concerns of Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates –important economic partners in the Middle East. It remains to be seen how far China’s commercial and banking sectors will be willing to engage with Iran under the threat of US sanctions.
Be it noted that Mao tse Tung travelled a thousand kilometers on foot to bring home two messages, `now China shall not be attacked’, `it shall not be humiliated.