Chinese embassy slams ex-S’pore diplomat Bilahari for ‘misinterpreting and smearing’ China’s political system
SINGAPORE — China’s embassy in Singapore has slammed former diplomat Bilahari Kausikan over a commentary in The Straits Times, saying it misinterpreted and smeared China’s political and leadership systems, and was no different from the stereotypical “cliche of Western anti-China voices”.
SINGAPORE — China’s embassy in Singapore has slammed former diplomat Bilahari Kausikan over a commentary in The Straits Times, saying that it misinterpreted and smeared China’s political and leadership systems, and was no different from the stereotypical “cliche of Western anti-China voices”.
The embassy said in its 589-word broadside published on its Facebook page on Tuesday (Feb 25): “All constructive comments and suggestions are welcomed, but arrogance and prejudice through coloured glasses are unacceptable.
“This kind of arrogance and prejudice is manifested as… hostility towards anything related to China.”
The embassy added: “Aiming to obstruct China’s sound development momentum, they attack China's political system and development model, and try to undermine China's social stability.”
Asked for his response to the Chinese embassy’s criticism, Mr Bilahari, who chairs the Middle East Institute at the National University of Singapore, told TODAY: “What else could they say? All Chinese diplomats are under pressure to respond to President Xi’s instruction to assert China’s narrative.”
He added that the embassy did not address any substantive point that he made.
“Instead, they raise arguments against points I did not make, which is quite typical. It is not something I can take seriously.”
In his commentary published on Monday, titled Coronavirus: China’s inflection point and the CCP’s fundamental dilemma, Mr Bilahari, a former permanent secretary at Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, described China as a Leninist state led by a vanguard party that insists on absolute control.
The Covid-19 outbreak — which began in Wuhan, China and has since spread around the world — is a consequence of this Leninist value system. It has also dented the credibility of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) with the Chinese people, Mr Bilahari said.
He wrote that the CCP’s legitimacy rests on economic performance and it has to confront a fundamental dilemma: The essence of a Leninist state is the party’s insistence on control, yet the market — by definition — means less control.
Mr Bilahari said that it was unclear if China would go beyond fixing the serious flaws in its healthcare system after the coronavirus crisis tails off, and deal with the fundamental challenge of finding a new balance between control and economic efficiency.
He noted that in the long sweep of Chinese history, the times of maximum danger for ruling dynasties were when periods of internal uncertainty coincided with those of external uncertainty.
“We may be in such a time,” Mr Bilahari wrote, arguing that the CCP is nearing an “inflection point” and fundamental decisions “cannot continue to be postponed indefinitely”.
‘WHETHER THE SHOE FITS OR NOT, ONLY THE WEARER KNOWS’
In its Facebook post, the Chinese embassy said that at a time when China is “making enormous efforts and sacrifices” to fight the virus outbreak, Mr Bilahari’s sense of justice to “ideologically denigrate China and sell his long-held prejudice and even hostility towards China has to be questioned”.
“Whether the shoe fits or not, only the wearer knows.
“Whether a country's development path is right or not only depends on whether it is in line with the country's reality,” the embassy said.
The embassy also set out a series of feats that China has achieved in the last seven decades, including rising to become the world’s second-biggest economy and lifting more than 800 million people out of poverty.
“Such achievements, unique in human history, have been made under the leadership of the Communist Party of China and under the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics.
“It has not only benefited the Chinese people, but also brought abundant opportunities to the prosperity and development for the rest of the world,” the embassy stated.
It added that China’s political system and development path have effectively solved the principal social contradictions and problems across different periods of China’s growth.
“Though Mr Bilahari himself did not deny China's great achievements, he still criticised the political system and the leadership system that created them,” the embassy said.
“Actually, it is logically self-contradictory.”
The embassy said that China’s firm commitment to upholding the CCP and its central committee, with Chinese President Xi Jinping at its core, would not waver.
It reiterated: “Facts have proved and will continue to prove that nothing can derogate the advantages of the socialism with Chinese characteristics.”
The embassy also stressed that Mr Xi, who is the general secretary of the CCP, is in “full command” and the country is united in fighting the coronavirus epidemic, which it called “the enemy to all mankind”.
The embassy added: “Mr Bilahari put the blame of the outbreak on China's political system. Then regarding… the H1N1 flu that originated in North America and spread worldwide, which one should be blamed?
“At the moment, what the world needs most is unity and trust, not the political virus that keeps people at bay.”