To ‘Kowtow’ – An Unfortunate New Habit Imported From China

Act in an excessively subservient manner.
“She didn’t have to kowtow to a boss.”
Grovel to, be obsequious to, be servile to, be sycophantic to, fawn over/on, cringe to, bow and scrape to, toady to, truckle to, abase oneself before, humble oneself to.
Kneel and touch the ground with the forehead in worship or submission as part of Chinese custom.
Prostrate oneself before, bow (down) to/ before, genuflect to/before, do/make obeisance to/before, fall on one’s knees before, kneel before
“They kowtowed to the Emperor.”

(Definition courtesy of Wikipedia)

Kowtow is a Chinese word that we Westerners and, yes, we Americans are starting to learn the true meaning of. It means to bow down before someone, to grovel, to be subservient. Unfortunately, we are doing it increasingly towards the inventors of the word.

As an example, last year the comic powerhouse Marvel came out with its latest superhero tome – Dr. Strange. It had been a favorite of mine in junior high school. A surgeon who becomes a sorcerer was the basic foundation of the comic, which dwelled more heavily in pure fantasy than most comics. Dr. Strange learns his talents in the original story from a Tibetan monk well versed in the art. In the movie, however, the Tibetan mysteriously becomes a Celtic woman (who just happens to be in the Himalayas instead of Wales).

Why this radical transformation? Because Marvel, for all its muscular and mental superhero pretense, is afraid of ‘insulting’ one of the biggest consumers for its films – China. The Great Dragon does not want to hear anything about the mountainous lands it so violently took over in 1950. Tibet is now supposed to be a forgotten land, having been swallowed whole by China. Just like the more recent Tiananmen Square massacre, no one is to mention a word of it. In China. And now, seemingly, in the rest of the world as well.

Echoes of the start of World War II are sounding here; such as when Hitler, in a well rehearsed move, sent his brainwashed troops blitzing into Czechoslovakia and Poland. The mainland Chinese are becoming increasingly bold in their efforts to start a great new Chinese Empire, this time encircling the entire world. Buying land in other countries, offering backbreaking loans to poorer countries that brings them into debt with China, undermining the manufacturing in developed countries using its great pool of near-slavery standard workforce, moving masses of its own Han people into Tibet and other ethnically different parts of China to take over, making its own islands in the South China Sea to claim it as their territory, the Asian powerhouse had designs on a plan of world domination that even James Bond couldn’t have imagined. Who would have thought that a backwards nation could build its economy up making inferior goods at cut rate prices and overwhelming the world with them? No one, apparently.

For decades China has pushed the idea that Taiwan belongs to them. Taiwan was formed by Nationalist Chinese escaping the mainland during Mao Tse Tung’s push to dominate all of China after World War II. They formed the new country of Formosa as an independent nation. For decades this was recognized. Now China is intimidating and pressuring nations to recognize it as belonging to the mainland. And which countries are going along with this effrontery? Most, including England and America- supposedly the world’s leading believers in the freedom and sovereignty of all nations and in the beauty of democracy. What an absolute treachery! We should be ashamed of ourselves. This is like saying that the United States should be re-absorbed into Great Britain because we were once ruled by them.

Now an incident has happened that expressly shows their impudent disregard of international law and respect. The Chinese national head of Interpol, Meng Hongwei, disappeared while on a visit to his native land. Without a trace. Now, equally mysteriously, he has from some unseen bowels in the midst of the vast land communicated that he is quitting his post. The disappearance of leading societal figures is an occurrence that has been happening quite often of late with many who are not lockstep in time with their governments plans. This arrogant action shows just how much contempt the eastern Asian land has for the sovereignty and rights of all other lands in the world.

It could well be that Meng Hongwei is a very well placed mole in the European policing system. Imagine how much information he knows. If not, imagine how much information the Chinese government could extract from him, using their historic means of finding out what they want to know. The Chinese might be nearing the expertise that Putin’s Russians have at dealing with dissidents and enemies outside their own borders.

In another echo of chilling events from the last century I came across this tidbit that is eerily reminiscent of the stance Great Britain’s’ Prime Minister took towards Czechoslovakia when Hitler took it over in 1938 – in 1950, The UK Government in the House of Commons stated that they “have always been prepared to recognize Chinese sovereignty over Tibet.” Shades of Neville Chamberlain……

How long before the same is said of Taiwan?



The Philippines?



Here are some contextual links on the issues rfreed discusses here. Much to get on with in the comments session! Email if you have any views on the controversial rise of China!

Author: rfreed

I was born and I died. Being a disembodied entity makes it very cheap for me to get by. Not having to worry about eating or having a place to live gives me a lot of freedom to squander my time writing occasionally funny articles. See more almost funny stuff at