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quinta-feira, 31 de julho de 2014

Historia, 1894: a primeira guerra sino-japonesa, 120 anos atras

China’s Leaders Draw Lessons From War of ‘Humiliation’


Photo
Chinese cadets taking part in a bayonet drill on the outskirts of Beijing. Mindful of past defeats, President Xi Jinping has embarked on an ambitious program to overhaul the military.Credit Andy Wong/Associated Press

Imagine China beset by domestic and external menaces, its rulers and commanders complacent, decadent and corrupt, humiliated by Japan in a war that pushes the once indomitable power closer to collapse.
This image of China from over a century ago, in the twilight of the Qing dynasty, remains a potent nightmare for Communist Party leaders, and the 120th anniversary of the start of a war with Japan has unleashed a spate of images, speeches and official commentary drawing lessons from the defeat.
The lessons from that time have become all the more pointed today, when Chinese-Japanese ties are tenser than they have been for decades, and President Xi Jinping of China has embarked on an ambitious program to overhaul the military and to curtail corruption throughout the military and the party.
“The victory of the aggressors was a humiliation for the Chinese nation,” Chu Yimin, a People’s Liberation Army general and political commissar, said in an interview published on Monday in Study Times, a party newspaper. “The wounds are increasingly healed over, but the scars remain, and what we need most of all nowadays is to awaken an intense sense of humiliation, so that we never forget the humiliation of our country and military, and turn knowledge of this into courage.”
This Friday will mark the anniversary of the formal start of the war, called the Jiawu War in Chinese, and often called the First Sino-Japanese War in English. “Jiawu” refers to the year in the 60-year cycle of the traditional Chinese calendar; 2014 marks another Jiawu year, adding weight to the anniversary.
As if to reinforce the martial message, the Chinese military has announced exercises, extending off the east coast of China, which the civilian aviation authorities have indicated are already causing severe delays for commercial flights.
A professor from China’s National Defense University, Gong Fangbin, said the disruption of air traffic would be a test of citizens’ patriotic support for a stronger military.
“It’s foreseeable that, as long as the international threats to our country persist, large-scale, and even larger-scale, military exercises will happen,” he wrote on Monday in Global Times, a widely read tabloid. “Each time will be yet another test of the public’s awareness of national defense and its willingness to bear a burden.”
The clash between Japan and China’s Manchu rulers started as a contest for dominance of Korea. The Manchu court assumed its forces would overwhelm Japan, but instead the Japanese naval and army forces humbled their opponents, pushed into northeastern China, and isolated Taiwan.
The war ended in April 1895, when the Qing court agreed to a treaty that ended China’s hold over Korea and ceded Taiwan and territory in northern China to Japan. The humiliation exposed the brittleness of China’s military power, which a bout of policy changes failed to overcome, and the dynasty collapsed in 1911.
At the time, Chinese advocates of bold change said the defeat showed the success of Japan’s outward-looking Meiji Restoration, and the contrasting sclerosis of the Qing court. But the Communist Party leadership has turned the anniversary into a template for reinforcing its own theme of patriotic revival and military readiness.
“2014 is another Jiawu year,” China’s main military newspaper, The People’s Liberation Army Daily, said on its front page on Monday. It said the army was using the anniversary to reinforce the need for readiness against any external threats.
“For China now, the goal of national rejuvenation has never been closer, and the obstacles to national rejuvenation have never been clearer,” said the paper.
“Around our country’s periphery, hot spots are increasing and the ignition point is lower. Certain major powers are fanning the flames in the Asia-Pacific region, the ghost of Japanese militarism has stirred back to life,” it said, also noting the territorial disputes in the South China Sea. “The chances of chaos and war on our doorstep are growing.”
But not all the lessons from the Jiawu War are directed abroad. Chinese textbooks present the defeat of 1895 as the price of corruption and decadence that fatally weakened Qing rule and left its military ill equipped and ill trained. Mr. Xi has extended his campaign against graft into the high ranks of the military, and again the lessons of 120 years ago are not far away.
“For a military, corruption and defeat are twin brothers,” General Chu wrote in Study Times. “Corruption breeds fear of dying.”
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