A Chinese parade of guest list diplomacy
By Paul Lin 林保華
Taipei Times 2015.9.4
On Tuesday last week, China released the guest list of
foreign dignitaries that were to attend yesterday’s
Most of the heads of state on that list were from former
communist countries, many of which are Central Asian
nations that gained their statehood after the dissolution
of the Soviet Union. China’s face hinges on the number of
heads of state that turned out and how much weight they all
carry. Domestically, China can exercise fascism, but
internationally, diplomacy is needed.
Since the purpose of staging a military parade is to
intimidate other nations, leaders of Western democracies
boycotted the event; a slap in Beijing’s face.
If the US had approved of Beijing’s saber rattling, China
would be invincible. Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平)
is already set to visit the US later this month. Would it
really be necessary for Xi and US President Barack Obama to
meet twice within a month? Despite that, some Chinese media
outlets still fueled rumors that Obama would appear at the
military parade. After this was confirmed to be false, the
Global Times, a tabloid owned by the People’s Daily, the
Chinese Communist Party’s official newspaper, ran a
Yesterday’s parade was a public humiliation to Japan.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe did not attend, although
some Japanese media outlets said in July that he might.
That was just a tactic to trick other nations into
attending, as many Japanese media are pro-China and willing
to play the role of a mouthpiece that overlooks China’s
vices and speaks highly of its virtues. This is also why
young Japanese are opposed to the passage of Japan’s new
security bill in the face of Beijing’s threats.
Another person whose attendance was long debated was South
Korean President Park Geun-hye. When the Korean War broke
out, China invaded South Korea. If the UN force led by the
US had not intervened, South Korea would probably not exist
today. However, Park could not resist the Chinese lure and
she attended the parade despite US opposition. South Korea
’s nationalism is a bit strange: There is a stronger anti
-Japanese sentiment than in China, but there are also those
who have grievances against the US, its protector.
Instead, North Korea was making waves. North Korean leader
Kim Jong-un was not invited, apparently because Beijing did
not want to embarrass Western countries. After Western
leaders turned down their invitations, some thought there
was still a chance that Kim would attend, but he apparently
had more guts than former vice president Lien Chan (連戰)
and not only refused to attend the parade, but managed to
capitalize on his decision.
On Aug. 20, North Korean troops fired shells at the South
and demanded that Seoul cease its propaganda broadcasts.
The next day, Kim announced that North Korea was in a semi
-state of war and the rest of the world once again thought
he had lost his mind.
In fact, this happened around the time that China was
pursuing Park to attend its parade. A scene in which Park
and Kim both showed up in Tiananmen Square would have been
With the Korean Peninsula on the verge of war, Beijing had
to intervene to defuse the stand-off. Kim must have been
given a lot of concessions to agree to stop the saber-
rattling, as the absence of Park in the Chinese
extravaganza would have done a lot of harm to China’s
Will the parade have helped Xi’s Chinese dream come true?
It is pretty safe to assume that China’s internal and
external crises will not be resolved by conducting a
military parade, and it probably only made things worse.
Paul Lin is a political commentator.
Translated by Ethan Zhan