Review: 联合国春秋 edited by 王杏芳, (1999) – [Annals: United Nations – Volume 1]

Recently, a colleague asked me why I was reading so many Chinese books. My reply – to see things from a different angle. She concurred.

The above was published through 当代世界出版社, Beijing (北京), China. It had various writers with Wang (王) as editor. Back in university, we were taught to do textual analysis. So here goes.

The mood of the book is markedly different. Of course this stems from China forming the focal point of the material. The country is highlighted as aggrieved. One reason is that the People’s Republic of China was only admitted into the United Nations Security Council in 1971. (It was formed in 1949.)

There are some interesting points such as how the Guomindang (Kuomintang or KMT) fought the Japanese passively in the Sino-Japanese War which began in 1937. Consequently, it was in a weaker position to protect its interests and have a say in the workings of the United Nations. (As I write, I am reminded of Chiang Kai-shek’s strategy – allow the Japanese to push while retreating to Chongqing in the west.)

Another segment analysed Greece’s internal conflict after World War II in the context of the Cold War. The heading with regards to US involvement can be translated as ‘Truman Terror’ (p.117). The first paragraph described how the US sought to maintain hegemony over the Mediterranean with several naval visits to Greece. Eventually, the US proceeded with the Truman Doctrine. Arguably, this can be used to paint the US as the aggressor in sparking the Cold War. (A Revisionist view towards the origins of the Cold War) Yet, if one looks further, it can otherwise be argued that the US did so in response to Soviet advances. The latter failed to pull out from Iran and even threatened Turkey as early as 1945.

Going back even further though may change one’s mind once more. The West supported anti-communists in the Russian Civil War. The USSR only entered the League of Nation in the 1930s. It also bore the brunt of the German invasion during World War II while waiting for unbearably (more than plausible) for a western front to be opened up against Nazi Germany. Justifiably, it had various demands it felt entitled to? Justifiably, the USSR felt the need to secure her borders against future attacks?

Again more questions than answers.

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