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Beijing Takes Aim at Prague After ‘One-China’ Dispute Deepens (bloomberg.com)
148 points by ktln2 33 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 90 comments

It helps to know about the resurgence in Tianxia[1] ideology in China. It's vaguely analogous to the old American concept of Manifest Destiny, but with, of course, a much longer history and far greater scope. What it basically comes down to is that in the pre-Westphalian era the Chinese world view was that China had sovereignty over everything under heaven. The Great Game dealt that world view a pretty harsh blow, but the Chinese people persevered and through industry and shrewdness have restored themselves to something like their historical standing. I don't expect them to stop here. Influence is almost as much of a drug as power, and testing it is self-reinforcing. Look at how China is making the NBA their whipping boy for another example.


Not so sure the modern Chinese generally still clings to that.. probably more 自强 than 天下 (Tianxia)

For the past 50 years the global cultural viewpoint is largely Western (used loosely here)... it would be not practical to think that will always be the case, or has been the case for much of human history.

Using an easy to digest example of "individual freedom and unbridled freedom of expression" vs "know your place and be humble in your speech and actions"... <do your own thought scenario analysis>


The middle is very quiet... are they forced to be so? It's almost like two rival gangs fighting and a couple of old folks stepping in to try to restore peace. Both gangs will slaughter the old folks and then carry on fighting.

And where could an English-speaking Westerner learn more about "自强"?

For an accessible and convincing (albeit controversial) presentation of this concept, see the movie Hero:


TIL about Tianxia. Thanks

It feels like Hong Kong has spurred a political crisis in Beijing. Publicly denouncing the NBA? Publicly going after a European capital?

It would be one thing to do this behind closed doors. But the hamhandedness of it all resembles flailing more than a coherent strategy.

Is there a domestic nationalistic PR strategy this is playing into?

It does seem remarkably clumsy, but they seem to have completely boxed themselves in with Hong Kong from an international perspective. Maybe too many years of actions coming without much global consequence.

Havel flew the Tibetan flag for years and was a friend of the Dalai Lama, so I am glad to read that the Tibetan Flag is flying in Prague once again.

For anyone who doesn't know it, the Tibetan flag is one of the more striking world flags.


It’s looking like geopolitical whackamole.

Probably due to inexperience with dissent since just about everyone capitulated after MFN was made permanent via WTO, whereas with MFN that had to be renewed annually and gave opponents a window to offer counter opinions.

>Publicly going after a European capital?

A Facebook post from someone on the Embassy staff.

>Publicly denouncing the NBA?

From what I've seen, an article in a state run paper.

The embassy event is strange, but I'm pretty sure they routinely publish similar articles in their paper.

I think something is causing the Western media to cover the recent cases in detail, and they write the articles to imply the message came from Chinese leaders.

> From what I've seen, an article in a state run paper

Plus "a statement published on [CCTV Sports'] Sina Weibo account on Tuesday" and the cancellation of NBA's China Games' broadcast [1].

Later, "Geng Shuang, a spokesman for its Foreign Ministry...said in a regular news briefing Tuesday that the NBA 'knows clearly what to say and what to do'" [2].

Spinning this as not coming from Xi's administration is absurd.

[1] https://www.scmp.com/sport/basketball/article/3031997/cctv-p...

[2] https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-has-an-apology-playbook-t...

>Spinning this as not coming from Xi's administration is absurd.

From the WSJ article, China has an apology playbook as incidents like this aren't rare. This isn't causing a political crisis like the poster said, and the practice predates Xi's reign.

> Is there a domestic nationalistic PR strategy this is playing into?


Prague had its own version of the Tiananmen square protests in 1968, when the Soviet Union and other members of the Warsaw Pact invaded the country to suppress the reforms. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prague_Spring

Good for Prague. We need more European countries/cities standing up to China.

it's not country, heck not even city, it's just new Prague mayor one year in office without experiences who did pretty much nothing first year and he is confused thinking he is minister of foreign affairs instead of solving daily issues of inhabitants of Prague like main square flooded with drug dealers, illegal old car replicas driving all around city center, electric scooters illegally driving on sidewalks... not I guess resolving these things would not praise his ego in media

> China’s embassy reacted angrily, saying on Facebook that Prague’s leadership should change its attitude as soon as possible or “it will be their own interests that will be hurt.”

That’s pretty pathetic. Honestly this sounds like a desperate Chinese government worker who is trying to save face

I was in Prague a week or so ago and was surprised by how much graffiti there was regarding the politics Hong Kong/Taiwan/One China/etc. About a 60/40 mix of English and Chinese. Given the massive number of Chinese tourists I suppose it's a decent way to reach an audience in the touristy areas

in which part of Prague have you been?

Praha 1 & Praha 6

Well, that's one way to deal with overtourism.

Man, I know what you mean!

Since Beijing [was] a sister city of Prague, this got me interested and discovered that Dallas is a sister city of Taipei, Taiwan. Hmm


Taipei has been a sister city of Houston since '61.

Taipei has a very large family. :- )

I'm surprised that business is so keen on China. Obviously they are a massive market, but they are also so fickle and nationalistic. Its so easy for a non-Chinese business to make an innocent mistake or just different view and have the government or citizens actively boycott you. I'd be hesitant to put any business reliance or investment in China these days.

My interpretation: the difficulty that competitors have penetrating the market means the profits will be that much bigger for the company that finally "cracks the code." It's like dopamine-seeking behavior writ large; the more you're denied payoff, the greater the anticipation, the more desperately you want it.

A month ago people probably would have said the NBA cracked the code. But I would hope that recent events had made it clear: there is no such thing as "cracking the code". It's a perpetual dance and if you trip once you're out.

You might as well try explaining the same thing to someone with a gambling addiction. Corporations are no more rational than the individuals that comprise them. In some ways, less so.

It was a private persons thoughts and his employer got sanctioned.

That's a lot different than your POV, lol

But Kickstarter lives off of Chinese factories.... :-)

Beijing is slow to realize that trying to strong-arm the West's views on Tibet, Hong Kong, etc will not work, and in fact, makes their international position weaker.

Beijing doesn't care. Beijing only cares about 1 thing- internal unity. What better way to promote this than to show the strength of modern China.

China wants other countries to fear China's economic and military power, and to bow down to China's demand (or, at the very least, fearful of repercussions from China.)

I suspect that China is perfectly content with not interacting with other countries ever, as long as other countries recognizes China as the most powerful country in the world.

PS. Do you know China's netizens most popular nickname for USA? "America Empire"

I mean, that's a pretty common opinion of the US pretty much everywhere.

I guess they’d need Wikipedia and the early Internet culture to know about the Streisand effect.


You'd think Winnie the Poo would know this by now.

It's no surprise, he is a bear of very little brain.

What's the end-goal?

Tibet cannot be a separate country (or in that respect, Hong Kong) very much like Quebec cannot be a separate country from Canada.

You can say that China becomes arrogant, but what exactly West expect other than a total war that rewrite much of the world nation borders?


Although way passed the point to convince anyone, my comment above and below conditioned on "after WW2 (breaking up any large geographical country is unlikely)".

Quebec is not the best example. There have been two referendums on this, the second of which was extremely close to passing: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quebec_sovereignty_movement

The Supreme Court of Canada went on to confirm that a referendum is a legal method for Quebec to initiate secession: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reference_Re_Secession_of_Queb...

True. It is just hard to rewrite nation borders once it is set and done for a country of China's size. Realistically, the West probably hope of USSR type of breakdown. To me, that is extremely unlikely given the desire of the Chinese people to remain as a united group.

> To me, that is extremely unlikely given the desire of the Chinese people to remain as a united group.

Who are you grouping under auspices of "the Chinese people"? Clearly there are large groups of people within China who want nothing to do with the One China policy.

There is no telling what will happen when the economic gravy train comes to an end, especially if it were to do so in a jarring way. I suspect this is one of the reasons why Xi has become more authoritarian recently.

>True. It is just hard to rewrite nation borders once it is set and done for a country of China's size

Can you expand on that? In particular, how that justifies governing those people against their will.

it is hard to comment in this limited space without attracting a ton of downvotes. I am a futurist, and looking into 100-year from now, won't there be a united government just like what we saw in Star Trek?

The rule-based global system is a relatively new thing. if you look back pass WW2, it is obvious without the United States as the solo superpower, it is barbarian politics between countries, not so much for "rule-based system".

Thus, what many really expect to see, when they think about national self-determination, it is envisioned as many smaller countries with one superpower, that is the United States, with globally projected military power.

That is certainly possible, but there are many questions left, for example, how that many smaller countries counter-balance the desire of the United States?

Alternatively, can the E.U. be an example? It is certainly possible as well, but we have to ask, at which point, the E.U. will act more like one nation, where is the boundary?

All these discussions are orthogonal to the authoritarian discussions. I am certainly sad to see people view the Chinese as unable to pursuit their own democratic process without breaking the whole country.

> I am a futurist, and looking into 100-year from now, won't there be a united government just like what we saw in Star Trek?

No, that is extremely unlikely. Not just unlikely, I would view it as pretty much impossible.

Westerner here. I'd settle for allowing Muslims to build nice minarets on mosques in XJ without getting jailed, and for Hong Kongers to be able to choose who leads them (really choose: not from a list of candidates preselected by the Party) until 2047.

The motivation? A belief that humans are entitled to at least a modicum of political self-determination.

True. But the topic here is "One-China" policy.

The "One-China" policy is way beyond just geographical. It has very strong cultural ambitions too. You cannot talk of the geographical policies in isolation.

It is related..

They want 1 hive mind, including religion

You clearly from a country which never experienced neither local muslim's terror nor post colonial separatism.

Sudan did it. Up until that point it was the largest country in Africa.

> ...the desire of the Chinese people to remain as a united group.

You must be talking about the Han people, certainly not the Tibetans or the Uighurs. Those clearly have separatist ambitions, but they don't have the power and the support to make it happen.

As for Taiwan, Hong Kong or Macau - none of these want to be united politically with the PRC either, even though they are mostly Han.

A soviet-style political breakdown could be the best thing to happen to the people of the PRC, considering that those smaller Chinese countries are very successful.

You don’t think Singapore and Malaysia are part of China too, do you?

Why can't it? It once was, why can't it be again? Especially if the people of Tibet want it to be.

[Edit: oska beat me to it, and said it better besides.]

Sure it can. Especially since Tibet is a separate country; invasion is no longer recognized as a way for a country to increase its area.

Crimea says hello

Georgia sends regards

Obviously Tibet can be a separate country (and was very recently).

And if Singapore is viable as a separate country, why not Hong Kong too?

Chinese empires have broken up many times in the past. I don't expect the fate of this current empire will be any different.

China is either the world’s 1st or 2nd largest economy, depending on how you measure it:



I think people are slow to realize their new position in the world.

When US and Europe shipped all that manufacturing to China, it created this problem.

Most of China’s exports are low value manufactured goods which can be made elsewhere. There’s a lot more countries in the world than there are Chinas, even if your worldview counts both of them.

That used to be the case; now the new Silicon Valley for producing anything is in Shenzhen with crazy innovation (kinda like what Japan used to be in the 80s). You can set up your own goods production there in minutes and in all kinds of quality as your budget allows. A regular Chinese now matches a regular American in quality of life as measured by typical economical metrics (adjusted for purchase parity, not in nominal value). Many US/EU companies reduced to selling stuff one can buy on Alibaba for 1/10th, just rebranded to appear US/EU-made. There are some areas Chinese can't do yet, like advanced metallurgy, which was generating quite a bit of business for US/EU, but that disadvantage is disappearing rapidly as they continue throwing money on it and invest into research.

> A regular Chinese now matches a regular American in quality of life as measured by typical economical metrics (adjusted for purchase parity, not in nominal value).

No. China’s per capita GDP adjusted for purchasing power parity is still under US$17K. Even with perfectly flat income distribution that would be around half of US median personal income. Realistically, the gap is much more than 2×.

I was with you until

"A regular Chinese now matches a regular American in quality of life as measured by typical economical metrics (adjusted for purchase parity, not in nominal value)."

A regular Chinese in Shenzhen, maybe. I'm not sure about someone from the part of China that isn't on the coast or Beijing.

There are 300M+ urban Chinese that now have a standard of living comparable those of their Western counterparts. There are 800M+ Chinese people living in relative poverty in rural areas that bring the average and median quality of life metrics down.

So, 1/3rd instead of 1/2th.

We can manufacture elsewhere, and many companies already are. China needs us a hell of a lot more than we need China.

> China is either the world’s 1st or 2nd largest economy, depending on how you measure it

So what? Its exports account for only ~13%. According to the same data, Belgium is 2.4%. I've never even heard of anything "Made in Belgium".


Excellent chocolates and cheese as well. Great pommes frites, but those are harder to export.

Don't forget waffles!

And not just any beer, but those amazing abbey ales.

Frozen vegetables


Xi doesn't care, just like Putin doesn't care.

What happens if all the western world stands up to China?

Mass of tariffs.

Sanctions on travel of key foreign citizens

To the extreme, nationalization of foreign owned assets

Economic disaster assuredly.

Is a China + Russia vs. "the west" WWIII off the table? (as a possibility, not a suggestion)

I don’t see much of the point of WWIII. What assets would they be looking to take by military force from western nations? Oil fields? Cities? Seems like this is more of an economic war. Even if you could invade the US mainland for instance, what’s the point? More land, more problems, plus everybody has a gun.

plus everybody has a gun

But we keep hearing the chant, "not for long!"

oh no, what are we gonna do, we will miss all those nice Chinese tourists completely ignoring they are in different country and they will cut financing to some football club? horror, dunno what will my children eat after they will do that...

Wow, a city leadership has more balls than most countries combined.


City leaderships have nothing to lose and can virtue signal all they want.

Why does China care about municipal politics of a foreign city?

On the other hand, I can't sympathise with the Tibet supporters either. The issue is not as straightforward as many Westerners believe[1].

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2009/feb/10/tibet-...

What does the feudal past of Tibet have to do with anything? Are the "Free Tibet" people covertly arguing for a return to feudalism?

It's like a weird Chinese version of the White Man's Burden. They were "uncivilized" once upon a time, so now they deserve occupation.

Just like native Americans, except there is no sufficiently strong military power to bake and support "liberating" movement within US, so they just sit tight in reservations and nobody wants to "rescue" them.

Liberate and rescue them from what? They live on their own land and decide, to some degree, their own law. At the same time, they have the rights of full citizens.

The article you linked to is poor mostly because it's liberally bathed in whataboutism. Tibet's backwardness has nothing to do nor does it justify China's actions in Tibet. Two wrongs don't make a right.

Let's do a quick bias check: do you believe most Tibetans would secede given the vote?

I don't think they would, but neither do I know the statistic. If anyone can provide it (I couldn't), then if they would indeed vote to secede, I'll change my mind.

by this metric Taiwan must be third world country, they had same starting position after WW2 as China and look how they made it without glorious CCP...

same goes for Tibet, you think without China they would stay in same place? it's like those people from post communists countries feeling nostalgia about communists and what everything they built forgetting what was built in non Communist countries, you know life goes on with it without Communist party, without usually goes better

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