China – Global Power Engine

China – Global Power Engine


The Great Bridge  over Huangpu River, Shanghai

We are witnessing a changing world unprecedented in the history

of mankind. Everything is so extraordinary, booming & busting, transforming without any apparent transition the global, economical,

social & political landscape. China, for so long been humiliated & set in the backwaters, is now rearing its head & standing tall & strong. It’s striving for a peaceful & harmonious world both within its boundaries and without.

The world at large, particularly the US, has been watching closely this emerging Dragon ever since the handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997, Macau in 1999. With the aim of eventual unification of Taiwan, which historically has always been a Province of China, China has come of age in many fields of human endeavor. Its entry to the World Trade Organization in 2001, its staging of the Olympics in 2008, its double-digit economic growth and its quantum leap from a country with virtually no phone to mobile phone – all spell awe and wonder for the outside world. Whereas in the past it takes several generations before any change occurred; now a single generation can witness the most remarkable change and progress.

“To grow, to progress is to change” is the axiom of life and all inhibitions to change must be out of the way. Lee Kuan Yew, the architect of modern Singapore, demonstrated this principle very clearly. To him all sentiment must give way to progress. China has learnt its lessons of the past with its virtual “kow tow” to all the foreign power. A period of long humiliation is now opening to a spectacular era of jubilation.

China has always been a great country, not only by virtue of its geographical size and its teeming population of 1.3 billion, but significantly more so because of its rich culture and tradition and its unbroken ancient civilization. The Greeks, the Romans, the Egyptians and others have all come and gone, but China has persisted since time immemorial. China has always been self-reliant and contributed many inventions, which ironically, while benefiting the West, had led to its own downfall, over 150 years ago, when the West bombarded China with their superior weapons of gunpowder and armory, diplomatic superficiality and “opium”.

A country’s strength is built upon its natural resources. The greatest of which is the human resources. Chinese has always been known as the most assiduous people in the world in their pursuit of economic survival – this trait of character is now leading the way to economic achievement, technological advancement, and political surge on the world stage and excellence in any conceivable field of human endeavor. Today Chinese stand tall and proud with towering buildings in the cloud.

Now “Enter the Dragon . . .” and its past humiliation is over, though its vindication may be a long drawn process. All Chinese must stand tall and proud. The most important aspect of the Chinese Civilization is that it is based largely and purely on positively non-materialism. Its inwardness outlook had succumbed to the greater negative force of greed and covetousness. China was extremely proud and supreme and had no desire to want to trade with the West when the West persistently pursued its economic course and attempted to gain foothold on Chinese soil. Opium trade was the most devious means devised by the British, the world’s greatest drug peddler, to humiliate and caused China to part with Hong Kong and Territories. China lost Macau to the Portuguese by the same token.

Yan Xuetong, a foreign affairs specialist at Qinghua University in Beijing, argued in a scholarly journal the summer of 2006 that China had already surpassed Japan, Russia, Britain, France, Germany and India in measures of its economic, military and political power. That leaves it second only to the United States, he said.

Personally, I dare say the Chinese thinking and philosophy are very different from the West. The Chinese must be doing right to have persisted through the test of time without external influence or help. A materialistic form of civilization soon perishes, overcome by greed and insatiable wants. Perhaps, it’s timely to throw in a word of caution, lest the Chinese also succumb to the same folly.

When Deng Xiaoping, the architect of modern China, first conceived of his famous visionary saying, “Xiang Qian Zou” (Forward Move/The Road To Riches), China has been in a frenzy. This frenzy is now a fantasy for all the world to see! China’s 5,000-year-old tradition of diligence, thrift and simplicity, of silk and cotton clothing, of Chinese tea, art and music, of filial piety, respect and devotion remain intact, withstanding the test of time. Now a much more spectacular and unbelievable phase of human achievement is happening. The emergence of China in the technology and military dimension has to be measured alongside with its emergence as a global economic power.

Of the nations in the world today, China stands out progressively tall and strong. It is as though a sleeping dragon is finally awakened. This appears to be the fear of the West. Though an economically strong China is good commercially for all the trading nations in the West, politically China poses a great threat. It is feared that “once China stands up, it won’t topple or be toppled.” That was why precisely Napoleon in his wisdom decided to let China be and not to rouse her.

Nationally, globally, and internationally – “Quo Vadis”! Who wants to play “Monopoly” The fear of the West is the gear of the East.? Geographically, the sun always set in the West, but it rises in the East always.

Paul Chong ©

A Chinese by Descent

An Australian by Consent

Hong Kong’s Lamma Island – A Visitor’s Impression

By  Paul Chong

Map of Hong Kong

My article was initially written in 2001. This little island paradise

has one aspect of tourists’ delight that foreign visitors to Hong Kong know

little about – sort of a well kept secret.

Hometown Boy - Chow Yun-Fatt & Granitz

Being of Chinese descent, and though an Australian citizen by consent or choice, you can’t help feeling proud that for the first time among the glitter of stars at the Hollywood Academy Award 2001 ceremony were Chow Yun-fatt, Michelle Yeoh Choo Keng, Zhang Zi Yi and of course director Ang Lee of the famed “Crouching Tiger & Hidden Dragon”. It looks like China is finally awakening and ready to pounce on the world scene with its staging of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and its recent entry into World Trade Organization after long and tedious negotiations.

SokKuWan_IMG_4190_600x300A pavilion on Lamma Island – hikers’ resting place & look-out point

Chow Yun-fatt, in the footsteps of Jacky Chan, is also the star of “Anna & The King ” and who would have thought that he was born in a humble and tranquil place like Lamma Island, a half-hour boat ride from the bustling metropolitan Hong Kong. Through the assistance of a young lady by the name of Claudia whom I met at the North Lamma Island Library we located the house which Chow Yun-fatt stays each time he returns from Hollywood. Accordingly, he is most friendly with a ready smile for everyone, ever ready to oblige with his autographs. The true human nature of a person is never ever to forget his roots.

With the interest of the knowledge of the famous Chinese star’s association with Lamma Island, I spent a week exploring this place not too far from the maddening crowd of Hong Kong. Lamma Island is the second largest of Hong Kong’s 232 islands. It is an island with a conglomeration of villages. The one that Yun-fatt calls home is Wang Long Village. The house is newly built, three storeys tall, and I was told two floors are rented to some Japanese working at the Lamma Island Power Station. Most of the villages, like Tai Yuen Village, Sha Po New Village and Wang Long Village sort of merge into one another, mainly three-storied, sitting on the valleys and rising from the slopes of surrounding hills. Yung She Wan is the main town centre with a galore of shops, many of them opening well past eleven at night. Other villages, nearly 20 of them, such as Tai Ping Village, Yung Shue Long New/Old Village, Po Wah Yuen, Pak Kok, Tai Wan To Village, Sok Kwu Wan and others are all linked by cemented Family Trials. The houses all present an air of affluence. There is no motor traffic on the island except the small tractor-type of vehicle, similar to those I found in China, used for multi-purposes like land ploughing, load and people transportation in the rural areas. In China where bicycle is fast fading from the streets, especially in Beijing, mountain bikes here provide a useful means of individual transportation and rambling up and down the hilly scenery.. It’s a walking paradise under the canopy of trees and greenery. For the more ambitious hikers, there are many more unpaved and challenging trials.

Ferry Jetty - Bicycles Galore (Park & Ride)

Lamma Island is far from being rural. It’s well built-up and everywhere you turned there are people around. Ever so frequently teams of holidaymakers stream onto the jetty, making their way to such picnic spots like Hung Shing Yeh Beach with its barbeque facilities, shark safety net on the fringe of the bay, and lifeguards on two watchtowers. Some come just to sample its famous seafood restaurants, lining the Yung Shue Wan Main Street with their display of live-seafood of a good variety of fish, crabs, prawns, shrimps,  scallops, oysters and other shell varieties. The best seafood restaurants are found in Sok Kwu Wan, particularly Rainbow Seafood Restaurant and Winstar Seafood Restaurant which offer free ferry services to and from Queen’s Pier and Sok Kwu wan or between Repulse bay and Sok Kwu Wan. Like Lei Yue Mun, the seafood speciality place in Hong Kong, this is the seafood paradise on the Island.

Seafood Restaurant

The roads made largely for human traffic and small vehicles are cement paved with the narrower ones known as Family Trials. A network of such trials with proper signage covers virtually every part of the island. It’s a pity that the Islands District Office has not established the many lookout points in Northern Lamma for visitors to enjoy breath-taking views. Perhaps following the norm of international signage, brown signs could be displayed pointing to spots of tourists’ interest. On the trial to Sok Kwu Wan, which leisurely takes about one and a half hours, there are pavilions for resting and serve as points for lookout.

Un-spoilt Beach

The streets are clean and rubbish bins are well positioned and provided. There is a post office, banking facility (HSBC), hotel (Man Lai Wah Hotel), police station and several police report centres, fire station which also houses an ambulance vehicle and primary school. Generally, Chinese are most assiduous in their economic pursuit. Everybody is busy and doing something. Empty lands are covered with vegetable gardening. There is a sizeable portion of European population living on the Island and who made the crowd that frequent the bars at night. Lamma Island can boast of having clean public toilets. Martin Yan, internationally well-known chef, chose Lamma Island as the backdrop of his culinary program.

It may be of interest to folks with rural experience to live in a place like Lamma Island. For the city folks, they might need getting used to be wakened by nature’s alarm clock – the not so familiar cockcrow. Cocks turn on their early musical repertoire as early as 4 am and unceasingly follow it through till the break of dawn. To me this is pleasant compared to the noise pollution of Hong Kong, not just in the streets, the ever-crowded shopping centres or eating in the restaurants. Hong Kong people are so loud! I find the lifts being the only places where people are quiet – not a word is exchanged. Exchanging greeting in the streets is a rare phenomenon. Don’t expect it to be reciprocated! Friendliness is so vital, and the display of hospitality will go a long way to establishing a place like Lamma Island as a top tourist spot. . . . a retreat from the hustle and bustle of hectic living in Hong Kong . . . or just a quiet place to visit and enjoy.

Talking of Chow Yun-fatt having his annual retreat in Lamma Island, what of Michelle Yeoh’s. I well remember her as a young girl living adjacent to Ipoh Swimming Club, Malaysia, playing squash with a group of us. She first came into public eyes as a teenage Queen in our Ipoh Lions Club Motor Show in the 1970s. Hailed as a former Miss Malaysia, she has made it in the glitter world of the big screen. I wonder if she still retains that sweet and friendly nature of her young days. People do change due to circumstances and success and stardom may mean non-association with the past.

Paul Chong

15 November 2001