Five: Fatuous And Cruel
2: Anxious And Uneasy
When Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, Western countries led by the US carried out military action to conquer Iraq’s invasion.
Even though Iraq’s dictator Sadam Hussein was a good friend of the Chinese Communist Party, China was isolated from the international community at the time and didn’t want to offend Western countries by supporting Sadam Hussein.
However, during the war, China’s press, tightly controlled by the CCP, repeatedly stating that Sadam had a good chance to win, and the guerrilla warfare would be prolonged and that the US troops would be trapped in Iraq, similar to what happened during the Vietnam war.
At that time, the Western countries had imposed economic sanctions over the TianAnMen Massacre, and China had little international support. Facing a challenge as major as this, Jiang panicked, did not know what to do. Deng Xiaoping said: “Shut up and stay hands off.” Thanks to Deng’s order, Jiang didn’t need to make a decision. China subsequently abstained from the UN vote on the Gulf War.
Operation Desert Storm triumphed in merely 42 days against Iraq. Jiang Zemin was terrified. In the meantime, with the drastic changes in Eastern Europe, the cold war was approaching an end. The wave of democracy had been moving eastwards, and would soon reach China with only the Soviet Union in between. In the face of heavy pressure to democratize, the red empire led by Gorbachev, looked prone to collapse at any moment. If the United States continued its cold war strategy, or carry out military attacks with its much-admired political and economic system and advanced weaponry, China’s one-party autocracy would be toppled.
The victory of US forces with minimum casualties, taught Deng Xiaoping a lot, and shocked the highest echelon of the CCP, who realized the urgency for China to arm its military with high-tech weapons. Jiang who had no military experience was at a loss. As the Chairman of the Military Commission, he had to do something, and he turned to his old boss the Soviet Union for help. He announced a plan to purchase a high performance, state of the art weaponry system from the Soviets.
Although China spent a huge sum of money to acquire them, all of the acquisitions proved to be obsolete weapons discharged by the Soviet Union, or weapons that performed poorly that the Soviet was clearing out. The warplanes received from the Soviet failed frequently. The Soviet aircraft carrier Kiev was purchased for 7 billion yuan. However, it was found out later, that it was just an empty shell for the Soviets had stripped it off all of the high-tech equipments.
After the Tian An Men Massacre, China had been luring Soviet professionals by means of hard currency. Approximately 15 hundred Soviet scientists and technicians started working as consultants for China’s military in the 1990’s.
When Jiang Zemin visited Moscow, to beef up the relationship with the Soviet Union, and solidify his political power, he tried to please the Soviets at all costs. As a result, a Chinese territory, 40 times the size of Taiwan was secretly ceded to the Soviets.
Yeltsin, an important figure for the reformists, requested to meet Jiang, but was turned down. Instead, Jiang met with Soviet Union Vice-President, Yanayev, who was against programs of reforms, and Jiang told Yanayev that he hoped the Soviet Union would go back in the direction of socialism.
A few months later at the end of 1991, the Soviet Union, despite all appearances being strong, collapsed in a matter of days. This brought about dramatic changes in the state of the world. The disintegration of the Soviet Union dealt a strong blow to the CCP, and shook its confidence.
With the Soviet Union disintegrated, the CCP began wondering about its own future.
The successful collapse of communist powers made Jiang Zemin extremely anxious and uneasy. He became so pessimistic about the CCP’s future, that he sent a message to his son, Jiang Mian-heng in the United States, advising him: “No hurry, take your time to finish school, then get a job there, and stay longer.”