Here is the transcript of “Palestinian historian” Ghassan Weshah’s televised remarks on Hamas’ Al-Aqsa television on June 6:
Ghassan Weshah: “The future belongs to us, to our people, and to the Arab and Islamic nation. This is what the scientific studies say. They say that the United States is collapsing and that Islam is the only power that is fit to lead the world after America. Islam! China is incapable of doing it and the people who herald the theory that China will lead the world know that it cannot. When China was the strongest superpower in the world, it built the Great Wall of China. Do you see how Chinese culture is? Their culture is directed inward. They cocoon themselves. Tell me of a single place China conquered throughout history? [Not even] 10 square centimeters. To this day, parts of China are under Japanese occupation. Such a culture cannot… When you lead the world, you are leading it from a cultural and military perspective. You need to lead it in terms of culture and knowledge. Today, the U.S. leads the world with a false culture and it has begun to collapse. American’s slogan of liberty is collapsing at its first test. [The coronavirus pandemic] was a big embarrassment for China and a large part of the world is repelled by the Chinese culture and about how they eat anything that moves. These people are unfit to lead the world. Our entire nation needs to see the scientific research that is coming out of Europe.”
Interviewer: “What does it say?”
Ghasan Weshah: “That France and Germany will become Islamic republics within ten years. There are studies that say that German and French citizens are converting to Islam hourly. There are studies that say that every 24 hours, there are churches that become mosques. Islamic culture is on the march.”
“The future belongs to us, to our people, and to the Arab and Islamic nation”? At a time when that Islamic world (“the Arab and Islamic nation”) is riven by every sort of conflict – ethnic, sectarian, political, economic – with no prospect anywhere of amelioration, Weshah foresees, despite all the evidence to the contrary, with a quasi-fascistic faith, that “tomorrow belongs to us.” We have been here before.
Where does Weshah’s claim of the Islamic world’s future irresistible rise to dominance come from? From “scientific research that is coming out of Europe.” The research is carefully unnamed because it is non-existent. According to Weshah, other “studies” tell us that “the United States is collapsing and that “Islam is the only power that is fit to lead the world after America.” How is the United States collapsing? Not militarily, where it remains by far the most powerful country. Not economically, despite the temporarily high unemployment rate, the result not of any economic mismanagement, but of a novel coronavirus that no one could have foreseen and from which all countries, including Muslim ones, are suffering. America has not declined in its ability to innovate, especially in such vital areas as solar energy, electric vehicles, and computer technology. It has not seen any decline, either, in its attractiveness to the world, as it remains a magnet for immigrants, including many Muslims who are eager to leave their Islamic lands and settle in America, demonstrating they do not agree with Ghassan Weshah’s prediction of an inexorable American decline and the Islamic world’s just as inexorable rise.
Then there is China. Ghassan Weshah claims China was always “directed inward,” and never conquered any territory. That is why he rules it out, apparently, from taking America’s place as the dominant world power. His history is completely wrong. China has grown steadily over the centuries because it looked outward and continually conquered borderlands (when it was not being conquered itself, by the Mongols and the Manchus). What about the Qing dynasty (1644-1912), that doubled China’s size from what it had been during the Ming dynasty that preceded it? What about the conquest of all of present-day Xinjiang, in the 18th century? What about the conquest of Taiwan, which first appeared on maps of China’s imperial domain in 1683? What about the conquest of Tibet in 1950 by the Han Chinese, undertaken in order to seize that state’s considerable wealth of natural resources ? Yet Ghassan Washeh insists “do you see how Chinese culture is? Their culture is directed inward. They cocoon themselves. Tell me of a single place China conquered throughout history? [Not even] 10 square centimeters. To this day, parts of China are under Japanese occupation.”
“Tell me of a single place China conquered throughout history”? Here goes. Xinjiang. Inner Mongolia. Manchuria. Taiwan. Tibet. And many smaller bits and pieces, including some, such as northern Vietnam, which China first conquered, then later relinquished.
“To this day, parts of China are under Japanese occupation.” Completely crazy. There are no parts of China “under Japanese occupation.” Japan lost World War II, Ghassan – remember? It gave up every square inch of Chinese territory it had previously held, which consisted mainly of the puppet state in Manchuria that the Japanese renamed Manchukuo. How could Ghassan Weshah have failed to notice? Or could it be that such news never made it to the Middle East?
And what about China right now? Can anyone – other than Ghassan Meshah — claim that the Chinese are “directed inward” and “cocoon themselves” when those same Chinese have been engaged in the largest international infrastructure project in history, consisting of hundreds of huge projects built by Chinese all across Asia and into Africa, in an undertaking known as the Belt-and-Road Initiative (BRI)? This is a gigantic attempt to connect China both to raw materials for its industries and to markets for its products, throughout Asia and Africa. The BRI is described at The Architect’s Newspaper:
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), launched in 2013 by Chinese president Xi Jinping, includes hundreds of infrastructure i projects financed and constructed in part or in whole by Chinese entities in lands far beyond China’s borders. Projects include ports, airports, rail lines, utilities, industrial centers, highways, and even entire new cities and urban sectors. “Belt” refers to roads and railways while, paradoxically, “road” refers to sea-lanes; together they aim for nothing less than the unification of almost all of Asia and Africa.
The initiative segments the globe into “corridors” and involves differing levels of participation from host countries. There is no official count of participating countries, but estimates range from 60—covering nearly all of Asia—to well over one hundred. The BRI’s six main economic corridors include the New Eurasian Land Bridge, the China-Central Asia–West Asia Economic Corridor, the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor, the Bangladesh–China–Myanmar Economic Corridor, the China–Mongolia–Russia Economic Corridor, and the China–Indochina Peninsula Economic Corridor.
Ghassan Wesheh, doesn’t the Belt-and-Road Initiative show that China is looking outward? Can the Chinese people who are building the vast BRI project, covering many lands and many peoples, all across Asia and into Africa, be said to “cocoon themselves”? Weshah has a poor grasp of the Chinese past; his grasp of the Chinese present is just as poor.