Sophia Yan, evidently, is a very gifted person. She is classically trained pianist, a journalist for the Daily Telegraph, she writes on all kinds of topics and, I am sure, she is also a part-time astronaut and is working on finishing her thesis on the influence of chromatic scale on a development of the modern combat networks. Well, last two are, of course, a complete made-up crap, but then again--if a professionally trained pianist has opinions on modern geopolitics, I sure as hell, have opinion on pianists writing on modern geopolitics. But between me and Yan there is this profound ethical difference--I am not writing articles on music theory, which I don't know, nor am I trying to book my piano performances even in the local bars because I know that I suck even as the intro level 7 year old student of piano. Yan, however, thinks that she can pass her opinions on modern geopolitics easily, because she is Chinese piano player, or, to be precise a Taiwanese one. Using modern Russian political lingo she is a Kreakl--a humiliating title Russians give people from primarily artistic-journo environment who also happened to be fanatical liberals. Yan qualifies easily.
I never made a secret out of my attitude towards China--I am NO Sinophile, plus, having very limited understanding of China I rely on opinions of professional Sinologists who also have, usually, good background in economics, history and try to stay objective. Yan is not the kind. Her piece on Friday has all the hallmarks of a paid Sinophobic "expert", an equivalent of Russian "dissidents" who are used in the West as useful idiots. Yan, in her piece titled The days of China ‘hiding and biding’ its might are officially over opens with a broadside:
The days of China ‘hiding and biding’ on the world stage are clearly now over. That maxim, espoused by Deng Xiaoping, China's leader from 1978 to 1989, advocated concealing the nation's might from the world and going about its business quietly. Today the reverse is true. Beijing’s sanctions against the UK and EU - targeting MPs, academics, even legal groups - show the regime of Xi Jinping will not tolerate dissent from anyone, anywhere. The signs of a fresh approach to critics of China, both at home and abroad, have been piling up. There was the imposition of the national security law on Hong Kong, criminalising dissent within the territory but also - ominously - said to apply globally.
Hearing about "criminalizing dissent" from a writer for an Airstrip One rag and who lives in a country where political purges and repressions are finally getting into the full swing is down right risible, but Western journalism, for the most part, was never self-aware and had taste, but this is not what attracted my attention in this boilerplate collection of anti-Chinese tropes. This is what really struck me funny in Yan's train of thought.
The regime's tit-for-tat sanctions show China's leaders now consider themselves powerful enough to fight back against the old powers of the West – the underlying message being, ‘anything you can do, we can do too.’... So China is flexing its muscles to challenge a rules-based world order set by the West in a campaign to be treated as an equal. It plays well at home.
This is what happens when a piano player begins to wax geopolitical and instead parades own sheer ignorance and detachment from the reality "on the ground". Yan would be well advised to learn that ANY "old power of the West", be that France or Germany, or Yan's current employer in UK, economically and militarily is dwarfed by China. And I mean dwarfed like "it is not even fair". The United States, which is not "old power" but a newcomer is also much-much smaller economically than China and if not for coming to an end ability to print money and cook books it is also dwarfed by China economically, albeit not as dramatically as what is known today as Western Europe, which in terms of a combined military "might" is a second rate power in the process of a precipitous decline across all metrics which define advanced and prospering societies (or civilizations).
Then Yan concludes:
But even if Beijing becomes increasingly isolated, its leaders might not mind - China has never set too much store in having allies and now seems to see them as a burden leading the West into decline.
I have some news for Yan, it is not only China who looks at the West as a burden and sees it declining--ask Russians. They see the West for what it is. As for China not setting too much store in having allies, Yan should study the dynamics of Russian-Chinese relations especially since Comrade Xi coming to power. Boy, there are so many things in those relations to shake Yan's universe to its very foundation that I am not sure she needs to learn them. After all, a cultural shock may affect the quality of her piano playing profoundly and not for the better. In related news, she should also learn that the a rules-based world order set by the West is over and the framework has changed so dramatically, that it takes much more than virtuoso piano playing and being a "journalist" to grasp a historic tectonic scale of changes in the world where the West, those remnants which could still be identified as the West, is yet to earn its place at the negotiating table where a real rules-based world order will be set. They may even invite Yan to play piano to entertain luminaries there, after all, I heard she is good.
P.S. For those who followed this blog you may recall this: