There is a famous proverb that says, “You should never read the Three Kingdoms when you are old, and you should never read the Water Margin when you are young.” In China, the three kingdoms is very popular with all levels of people. They even say that “do not get involved in politics if you have never read the three kingdoms”. Therefore, it is not strange that all Chinese politicians, from top to bottom, master the three kingdoms well. Mao Zedong was said to have quoted “the ideas from three kingdoms frequently in meetings”, while Deng Xiaoping was a great fan of Cao Cao. Like previous leaders, Xi Jinping has great enthusiasm for it and has praised it internationally.
In this book, the author compares the strategies and philosophies of the three superpowers—the US, China, and Russia—to the ideas that are presented in the three kingdoms. The major international issues that are becoming increasingly complex and hard to understand are being simplified.
Cao Cao’s strategies for conquering the entire empire included deception, ruthless means and power, capturing the monarch as a political weapon to destroy enemies, and gathering the wisest men and most capable generals. The use of the monarch as a tool to justify his actions and label others as rebels and thieves was one of the most important aspects of his success. Liu Bei’s strategies, on the other hand, are based on moral obligation, principles, staunch support and loyalty to the Han Dynasty, and appealing to popular sentiment against and vilification of Cao Cao. Lei Bei was a far weaker opponent than Cao Cao. He proclaimed himself as the royal lineage and the Han promoter, born for the great cause, in order to gather supporters from all over the entire empire. Sun Quan adopted a neutral and flexible approach to exploit the benefits from them. His success was using “barbarian against barbarian”.
Similarly, the United States uses international law and democracy to maintain and expand its global hegemony. International law and democracy are being used for three main purposes: to suppress aggressors and enemies; to promote the common value of human rights; and to expand US influence and power globally. International law is like a captive monarch under Cao Cao’s hand, whereas democracy is a “moral obligation”. Like what Cao Cao called “the moral obligation of Liu Bei, it is not only a simple virtue that respects humane dignity, but it can kill people as well”. In short, the United States’ main strategies are allies and accusation.For these reasons, China finds it hard to compete against the US.
China has to handle these critical questions carefully: “How can we get stronger without curbing?” How can we defeat enemies who are stronger than us and draw on their strength to become ours?” Deng Xiaoping stated, “We must observe calmly and bide our time,” and then Xi Jinping added, “A tree with strong roots will develop well.” The detailed answers can be found in the “Chinese Strategy of Displacement”. The Strategy of Displacement was presented by the wisest councilor in the three kingdoms, Zhuge Liang.
In comparison, the United States is like a ruling monarch who rules and leads the world, whereas China is like a powerful prince. The reigning monarch is always extremely concerned about losing his power, whereas the prince is competing for it. Therefore, the ruling monarch will denounce and do everything possible to reduce the power of the prince, while the prince is trying to fight back by showing his goodwill and showing crimes committed by the monarch.
“The US is anxious that if China is able to stand on its own two feet, China will turn its back and oppose the US.” The most essential thing, according to US strategists, is to gather allies against China before it becomes strong enough to oppose them. During the cold war, the US used China against the Soviets and controlled Japan and some Asian countries against China, as Sun Quan did. However, Zbigniew Brzezinski suggested the US use NATO against Russia and use Asia against China due to the rise of the emerging countries with common values like Japan, India, Australia, and the EU.
Russia has miscalculated the situation by invading Ukraine, which is a grave mistake guided by ambition. The blunder has provided the US with an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to threaten it with long-term destruction. The miscalculation will lead to the end of Russian ambitions to restore the Russian Empire. After the war, Russia will probably not be perceived as a global power. Russia will re-rise quickly only if the US and China fight over Taiwan or if the tension is escalated to the point of war. (the book is available on Amazon : https://amzn.to/3NILvNd