Home > Analysis, media, Opinion > Great Party, but Where’s the Communism? Minxin Pei Proves that Freedom of Opinion is a Bad Thing

Great Party, but Where’s the Communism? Minxin Pei Proves that Freedom of Opinion is a Bad Thing

(Below is an editorial by blogger 龙信明 countering an article published in the New York Times by Minxin Pei, who is a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College in California. Indeed, why would Americans subject their college-age child to such aptitude? Or, rather, ineptitude.  DeWang)

Great Party, but Where’s the Communism?
Minxin Pei Proves that Freedom of Opinion is a Bad Thing

It is puzzling that apparently well-staffed Western media with an otherwise high standard of reporting, will seemingly ignore those same standards for the sake of what appears to be cheap propaganda.

Many articles on China contain no little or no news value but appear intended primarily to criticise, mock, ridicule, demonise and disparage, a country that hasn’t actually done anything to anybody.

This editorial was prompted by an article published in the New York Times by Minxin Pei, who is a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College in California.

For background, Pei has been affiliated with the Carnegie Endowment and other Right-Wing tanks connected to the NED (financed by the CIA).

He has had articles published by various Right-Wing media and journals, such as CNN and the NYT, and has achieved some notoriety in recent years for his strident (and, I would say, immature) wishful thinking about China’s demise.

This particular article is typical of so much published Western “wisdom” on China which appears to be driven more by ideology and resentment than reason or fact.

It is once again predicting chaos and dissolution in China, the collapse of The Middle Kingdom, unemployment, riots, starvation, brutality and, of course, “democracy”.

Let’s have a look at a typical tooth-fairy article on China. (Mr. Pei’s article in Red)

There is little question that the Chinese Communist Party has come a long way since it was founded 90 years ago by 12 delegates representing roughly 50 members.

Yet however insignificant it may have seemed back then, there was no question about its ideology, identity and mission. Inspired by utopian Marxism, the party represented China’s idealist leftists, nationalists and the downtrodden. Its mission was to end social injustice and Western colonialism.

There is some truth in his last statement here. Contrary to popular misunderstanding, communism was never in opposition to democracy, but rather was seen as a way to combat capitalism – which was seen as an eventually brutal and unfair system meant to benefit only the elites. With experience, that conclusion does seem to have been a correct one.


Today the party is a political behemoth, with 80 million members and control of the world’s second-largest economy. At home its grip on power faces no organized challenge; abroad its leaders are accorded a respect Mao and Zhou Enlai could not have dreamed of.

Indeed, we should give the party its due for having abandoned the Maoist madness of its first three decades in power – the mass terror, famine, brutal political campaigns and vicious power struggles – and for radically improving the material lives of China’s 1.3 billion people.

A “political behemoth” with 80 million members and “control of the world’s second-largest economy”. Sounds threatening and dangerous until you realise this is about the same number of Republicans or Democrats in the US, alternating control of “the world’slargest economy”. If the first is a felony indictment, why isn’t the second? Why is something ok if you do it, but evil if I do it?

There was no “Maoist madness” in the first three decades. Mao read very well the position of the country, having a corrupt and dysfunctional government swayed by the West, with a nation and population having just endured many decades of oppression, brutality, looting and destruction by the Western Powers. There is little question that Mao’s ascendance saved China.

It is true that the Cultural Revolution was a disaster, and it ended thankfully quickly. But while there were indeed power struggles, the “mass terror” and “brutal political campaigns” are a figment of Pei’s imagination. Mao cannot be blamed for droughts; there was indeed a famine caused by short-sighted food allocation, but to attribute that to deliberate brutality is obscene. Bad decisions are not evil. They are simply bad decisions.

And there is no reason to tarnish Mao’s great accomplishments by baseless accusations, and to then state that , “oh, by the way”, Mao greatly improved the living standards of 1.3 billion people – as an afterthought.


Yet if asked, “What does the Communist Party stand for,” few Chinese leaders today could give a coherent or honest answer.

Well, that’s cute. The leaders of China today have no idea what they or their party stand for (and if they did know, they would lie about it) – but Mr. Pei, luckily for us, apparently does know – and, happily, will tell us the truth.


This much we know: It no longer stands for a utopian ideology. If there is one ideology that the party represents, it is the ideology of power. The sole justification for the party’s rule is the imperative to stay in power.

And there we have it. The only purpose of China’s government today is to “stay in power”.

I’m curious. How would Mr. Pei (or you, in fact) describe “the sole justification” for the ideology or the imperative represented by the Republican Party in the US, or the Conservative Parties in Canada, the UK, Australia . . ?

In the entire world, fairy-tales notwithstanding, every government’s main imperative is to maintain power. To argue otherwise is to be terminally naive.

But we don’t like to say these things about our own Western governments. We cloak their “imperative” in tooth-fairy expressions like “the good of the nation” or “the welfare of the people” while the elites and the military-industrial complexes loot our nations blind. Sadly, this is the source of the real ideology.


Nor does the party stand for China’s masses. Despite efforts to broaden its social base and make it more connected with China’s dynamic and diverse society, the party today has evolved into a self-serving, bureaucratized political patronage machine.

China’s governing party doesn’t “stand for China’s masses”.

This would seem to indicate that Mao, Deng, Hu and others, brought more than 400 million Chinese out of poverty only by accident.

Somehow, in their brutal political campaigns to viciously maintain power, they accidentally made all the peasants rich.

Let this be a cautionary lesson to all democracies everywhere. If you put the elites into power and “crack down” on the citizenry, you run a real risk of enriching everybody. Clearly, democracy needs to be rethought.
And I’m sorry to say this, but self-serving political patronage machines were created and refined in the US, not in China. It is the US where lobbying is the major growth industry, where the military and industry, and Israel, have achieved virtually total control of the government.

In 2008, the bankers, in conjunction with the FED, almost destroyed the US financial system, taking much of the world along with them, and as punishment they received more than 6 trillion dollars in total bailouts. If that isn’t a “self-serving political patronage machine”, I can’t imagine what would be.

Why would a presumably intelligent man engage in such hypocrisy and be subject to such amnesia and blindness? Why does Right-Wing Christianity so easily adopt this self-worship that seems inevitably to lead to the worst kind of imperialism?


It is undeniably an elitist party, with more than 70 percent of its members recruited from government officials, the military, college graduates, businessmen and professionals.

On this subject of “elitist parties”, I have a question. If it is such a bad thing to have government members selected from such clearly undesirable categories as “government officials, the military, college graduates, businessmen and professionals”, then where, exactly does Mr. Pei believe we should recruit them?

The homeless, the uneducated, perhaps? The mental hospitals? Or maybe the Moonies or Scientologists? Maybe the local zoo.

It seems we don’t want any (elitist and snotty) college graduates or other professionals, and the businessmen are surely a curse. And you don’t want anyone with military training, because that could seriously hinder any future colonisation by the West.

Wherever we get these party members, it would seem that being above average in intelligence or ability should justify immediate disqualification.

This man seems to believe we should draw our national leaders from “the common people”, where ignorance and simple-mindedness are treasured virtues. That would explain Sarah Palin’s good chance to become the next “Leader of the Free World” – and commander-in-chief of the world’s largest military. By the way, Sarah, Africa is a continent, not a country.

Mr. Pei is surely correct in his modestly veiled suggestion that a George Bush would be a perfect party member, not only in his not being “elitist” but also quite unencumbered by education or intelligence. Truly in touch with the common man. And oil, especially someone else’s.

Although now that I think about it, the West, in particular the US, might have been better served by having had a few college graduates in its government, especially economists. Maybe even someone who could avoid being “misunderestimated” while trying to pass an IQ test.

Here is an interesting article you may care to read, titled, “The Most Mysterious School in China“. It describes part of the extensive and arduous educational process necessary for those in China who show promise as national leaders. You can read the article Here.

You might care to ask yourself how our Western democracies would fare under such requirements.


So for all its apparent power, the party is in fact facing an existential crisis and an uncertain future. Apart from staying in power, it has no public purpose. The crisis is not only ideological, but also political; it explains much of the cynicism, corruption and insecurity of the party and its elites.

China’s governing party is facing an existential crisis and an uncertain future in this man’s dreams. There is no evidence of an existential or any other kind of crisis brewing in China’s government. The reins of power come and go, passed peacefully and through negotiation to new generations.

We see nothing to suggest anguish in examination of purpose or direction in China’s government. In fact, China’s five-year plans are chock-full of purpose and direction, focusing primarily on economic and social issues.

And then we are told that “apart from staying in power, it has no public purpose”. As pointed out above, every government’s wish is to retain power, but to suggest it has no other purpose is to be ridiculous. The purpose of China’s government, apparent to anyone who looks, is to help the country recover from 75 years of semi-colonial devastation and evisceration, and for China to take its rightful place in the world.

I can scarcely imagine a comment more vacuous than to suggest China’s government (or indeed, any government) has no purpose.

We’re then told this imaginary crisis is not only ideological but political, and of course that explains the “cynicism, corruption and insecurity”. Indeed.

Nobody, least of all China’s government, denies that corruption does exist at the lower levels, but one must look long and hard to see any evidence of cynicism or insecurity in the government of China. And it is rather easy to find many examples of precisely the opposite.


As the party has firmly rejected democratization, its only strategy for survival is to maintain the course it has embarked on since the Tiananmen crackdown in June 1989: drawing political legitimacy from economic growth but relying on repression to crush challenges to its monopoly of power. Although this strategy has worked well since Tiananmen, its effectiveness and sustainability are increasingly in doubt.

Mr. Pei makes yet another absurd claim in telling us that China’s government “has firmly rejected democratization”. We would be interested to learn how he explains that same government’s approval of elections at county and local levels.

In fact, what the Chinese government rejects is not democracy but rather the multi-party system, which it sees as leading only to conflict and dysfunctional government. You needn’t look farther than the US for proof of this.

We can’t help but note that it’s charming of Mr. Pei to try to debase China’s progress by yet another cheap reference to Tiananmen Square.

(This is an aside, but if you don’t know that Tiananmen Square was in the end a completely peaceful student protest in which nobody died, here is an article you must read. The full truth didn’t emerge until Wikileaks published all the cables from the US Embassy in Beijing that day, confirming China’s version of events.)

Let’s Talk About Tiananmen Square.

In any case, based on a transparently false assumption, Mr. Pei then proceeds to a false conclusion – draw legitimacy from growth, and “crush” challenges. All governments draw a measure of legitimacy from a nation’s economic well-being. All Western nations have seen governments rejected due to poor economic management; we need only look at the US today.

And make no mistake. If the US Republicans could maintain power indefiinitely by “crushing opposition”, they would surely do so even if it took a different form.

Moreover, there is already much discussion in some US circles about the possible need for the military or other body to “take control” of the US government in the event of yet another manufactured “public threat”. After all, when the country is in danger, that is clearly no time for niceties like “democracy”; it’s a time to take charge and get things done.

There is reason to believe that will happen. And then what will we have? An “authoritarian” government, a “dictatorship”. Welcome to the club, Mr. Pei.

So the government of China, according to Mr. Pei, draws political legitimacy from economic growth but relies on brutal repression to crush challenges. At least he’s being true to his neo-conservative ideology, but as a Westerner living in China I would like to suggest that you come to see for yourself. The only brutal repression I’ve seen so far was when a woman spotted a cockroach in a vegetable market.

And, drawing on our false premise and false conclusion, Mr. Pei informs us that the policies of China’s government are “increasingly in doubt” as to their effectiveness and sustainability.

Well, maybe, but the government’s policies have brought China from one of the poorest nations to become the second-largest economy in the world, becoming the world’s factory in the process, while rescuing hundreds of millions from poverty. And all accomplished in only 30 years.

Here is a link to an article that outlines some of China’s accomplishments during the past (only) ten years. Mr. Pei should read this, and then re-explain to us his juvenile and jingoistic observation that China’s government “has no purpose”. Whoever you are, wherever you live, when you read this list you should wish your government has as little purpose as China’s.

China’s Accomplishments: A Short List of Recent Developments.

However, let’s give Mr. Pei his due. The doubts, or at least his doubts, are indeed constant and increasing. Here are a few pearls of wisdom from his recent articles:


Because of the global economic crisis, however, Beijing is in trouble. The problems are numerous: China’s exports are plummeting, tens of millions of migrant laborers have lost their jobs, millions of college graduates cannot find employment, industrial overcapacity is threatening deflation, and the once red-hot real estate sector has nose-dived. The country’s faltering growth is posing the hardest test yet to the CCP’s resilience.

But a reduced annual growth rate – now down to about seven percent from over 11 percent a couple of years ago – will bring enough trouble. The conventional wisdom is that low growth will erode the party’s political legitimacy and fuel social unrest as jobless migrants and college graduates vent their frustrations through riots and protests.

Editor’s Note: Here’s a Summary:

  • Beijing is in trouble
  • The problems are numerous
  • China’s exports are plummeting
  • Tens of millions have lost their jobs
  • Millions of college graduates cannot find employment
  • Industrial overcapacity is threatening deflation
  • The real estate sector has “nose-dived”
  • The country’s growth is faltering
  • The party’s political legitimacy is being eroded
  • Social unrest is being fueled
  • (Everybody) is venting frustrations by riots and protests

Maybe I’m imagining things, but that description sounds eerily like the US, doesn’t it? None of it seems remotely descriptive of China.

It’s a shame Mr. Pei didn’t apply his far-sighted genius to the US economy before it cratered. They needed him desperately and might have valued his opinion. China doesn’t, and wouldn’t. However, he continues:


China’s economic revolution is also unleashing powerful social forces that will make maintaining a one-party state more tenuous. The party’s governing philosophy and organizational structure make it difficult to incorporate China’s growing middle-class politically. The convergence of an economic slowdown and rising political activism will challenge the party’s rule from several directions.

The greatest “powerful social force” that has been “unleashed” so far is that of retail consumption. China is the largest retail market in the world today. It is the largest market for luxury goods of every description, from cosmetics to Rolls-Royces to Chateau Rothschild.

Government of the Ignorant by the Incompetent, for the Stupid

There is something else that Mr. Pei’s immature ideology appears to miss altogether. China’s people are not stupid. That may not seem startling to you, but the Chinese have one enormous intellectual difference from the US and the West, a difference attributable to their culture (and intelligence, I would say).

And that difference is that when Chinese people get some money and an improved living standard their first thought, unlike Americans and Westerners, IS NOT, “Gee, now that I’m smart, I want to “try my hand” at meddliing in the government of my country”.

A typical Chinese would no more have foolish fairy-tale ambitions to be a member of the Chinese cabinet and try to direct the economy of the largest country in the world than he would think maybe he’d like to go to the nearest hospital and “try his hand” at a brain transplant.

The Chinese do not see government, as the West does, as a kind of team sport where everybody can play. They think it is a damned serious thing and is best left to those who have studied and worked their whole lives to be in those positions. Tell me they’re wrong.

So the entire thrust of Mr. Pei’s dissertation, that the government “cannot incorporate the middle class” is a stupidity. The last thing China’s middle class wants is to be “incorporated” into the government – into something for which they have no education, training or experience.

But according to Mr. Pei, that’s a fault. And he probably believes with all his heart (like Liu Xiaobo and Ai Weiwei) that the US should invade China and cure it.

Propaganda, Brainwashing, Jingoism

There is something here that should be pointed out as an exercise in the propaganda process. A basic tenet of propaganda is that one never states the proposition openly but instead buries it in a context where this tenet is simply assumed as part of something else that is too true or desirable to question. The reason is that stating the tenet openly will subject it to analysis and criticism, and very often open ridicule.

And that’s what we have here; two false propaganda premises, neither of which can survive easily in the open light.

The first is that a multi-party government system is the apex of political development – the result of natural universal law – to which all nations and peoples will helplessly gravitate when they become as enlightened as Americans.

The second is that natural social development makes a one-party state effectively impossible to maintain. But in fact, there is no relation whatever between these two items. There is nothing in our world’s history to suggest that rising incomes will result in social changes that will naturally force a nation to a multi-party government system.

This is complete nonsense, a foolish conjunction of baseless ideological premises to reach conclusions that escape logic altogether. It is only in the individualistic, Right-Wing countries where citizens, as soon as they have some money and freedom, become pathologically eager to “try their hand” at running the country. Either mass hypnosis or mass insanity.

Mr. Pei seems strangely unable to recognise the US political system as being the most self-serving and dysfunctional in the world today. The recent budget debates exposed the US as a poor caricature of government, more closely resembling a third-world failed state than a superpower.

Mr. Pei further tells us that China’s government and structure cannot politically accommodate the country’s middle class, but there is no basis whatever for such a statement and in fact he offers none. It appears to be wishful thinking alone that drives this man’s imagination. He sees “a convergence” of (imaginary) economic slowdown and (hoped-for) political activism that will result in a multi-party government.

And for what? What is the source of this pathological conviction that every nation must aspire to the US-style of multi-party government? And what is the source of the Christian charity that compels Americans to use military force to inflict this government system on the unwilling?

Here is a link to an excellent article that examines the differences between China’s government and that of the Western countries, and that also examines the flaws in Western multi-party democracies. It’s worth a read.

China, Freedom and Democracy: A look at Chinese and Western Government.


Now that the Chinese Communist Party has been in power for 62 years, its leaders might also want to note that the record for one-party rule is 74 years, held by the Soviet party, followed by the 71-year rein of Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary Party. So when Chinese leaders toast their party’s 90th birthday, they should harbor no illusions that the party can beat history’s odds forever.

And leading to his conclusion, Mr. Pei tells us that China’s one-party system is doomed because others have not lasted much longer. But Mr. Pei might note that China is neither Russia nor Mexico, that the Chinese culture and tradition have maintained essentially a one-party government for perhaps most of its 5,000 years, and that isn’t likely to change because he believes his system is somehow better.

And then we have this:


Rising social discontent may not be enough to force the party out of power, but it might be sufficient to tempt some members of the elite to exploit the situation to their own political advantage. Such political entrepreneurs could use populist appeals to weaken their rivals and, in the process, open up divisions within the party’s seemingly unified upper ranks.

Incredible. China is rising, and overall conditions improving almost by the day, but all Mr. Pei sees is “rising discontent”. And of all the harebrained conclusions that have ever been published about China, this last one wins the prize.

Hu Jintao cannot be forced out of power, but he might be tempted to exploit that imaginary rising discontent for his own advantage as a “political entrepreneur” and “appeal to the public” to force a multi-party system – presumably one which he would lead.

And this man is a professor at an (admittedly low-class) American college. But would you want him teaching such rubbish to your children? Is it a surprise to learn that even the incurably neocon think-tanks like Carnegie tell us “Mr. Pei is no longer associated with this organisation”?

As an aside, did you know that in numerous surveys done since the mid-1960s, between 50% and 75% of Americans cannot find their own country on a map of the world? And consistently, 75% cannot find Canada. Minxin Pei is a graduate of one of the finer US universities and therefore represents some of the best thinking in America. Do you still have doubts about the crumbling of the US educational system?

Part 2 of this Editorial is a brief and very well-written riposte by Eric Li. It is intelligent, factual, and informative.

Part 2: Debunking Myths About China By ERIC X. LI

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  1. zack
    December 8th, 2011 at 22:21 | #1

    minxin pei has a bit of a name as a China basher and a lackey/suck up to his Western bosses; this guy has “hanjian” written all over him, cut from the same cloth as liu xiaobo

  2. December 8th, 2011 at 23:17 | #2

    Pei is clearly trying to propagandize the Chinese government as some form of ‘evil.’ Apparently not very good at it. As 龙信明 has shown, Pei doesn’t even make sense.

    The truth is if wishes of people like Pei and Liu were to come true, to take down the government, I believe it would spell disaster for the 1.3 billion Chinese.

    “国家” with country in the front means something, and that is you need a country in order to protect your family. Without your own country, you will not have real freedom to a meaningful life. Colonialism and invasions in the last 150+ years have taught the Chinese this hard truth.

  3. aeiou
    December 9th, 2011 at 00:28 | #3

    On on similar note, recall that when China gets into disputes especially with regard to south china sea, the western narrative is always — Chinese aggression push neighbours into arms of America, or China is clumsy and working against her own interests. Compare this to say the recent incident where the US bombed their Pakistani allies and killed a dozen soldiers; some even go as far as blaming Pakistan for deaths cause by the Americans, and more often than not blame Pakistan for being anti-american. You just can’t buy propaganda like that, makes you wonder if China can compete against the USSA ministry of truth.

  4. December 9th, 2011 at 04:01 | #4

    The vast majority of this article is just your typical “The US/West does this too.” So what? Who said they didn’t?

    I do take issue with this bit though…

    Somehow, in their brutal political campaigns to viciously maintain power, they accidentally made all the peasants rich.

    Certainly, the 改革开放 raised millions from poverty, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. It didn’t make very many peasants rich, what it did is mostly allow their children to become middle class. Which is great. But…

    …anyone who thinks “all the peasants” in China are now rich is an idiot. Even by China’s standards, there are still more than 100 million people living in poverty, and while they did recently raise the standard, it’s still only equal to about $365 a year which is extremely difficult to live on (even in rural China where expenses are low and you can grow your own food for the most part.) If we go by the international standard for poverty, the number of people living in poverty in China would be even higher.

    You guys may think it’s unimportant, but imagine how pissed you’d all be if CNN had reported there were 200 million people living in poverty in China. That number is inflated by 100 million, and the guy who wrote your article implied a number that’s also off by 100 million…what’s the difference?

  5. December 9th, 2011 at 08:58 | #5

    @C. Custer
    Not to side track the issue of poverty. But ALL peasants in China technically have their own house, field and land. How many third world country can claim that? And for that matter what’s the excuse for the poverty and incarceration rate of the poor in the richest country in the world, the USA? Shouldn’t the beacon of “freedom” and “democracy” solved this problem already? If not, why?

    The PRC since its founding was embargoed and sanctioned by the most powerful trading block in the world for close to thirty years. Even today there is certain trade restriction in place against China. During the famine of the great leapt forward, the US was even threatening action against Canada for exporting wheat to China. The CCP might have made a mistake on the GLF unknowingly, the US knowingly forbid food export to China during the same period. How come nobody mentioned this fact?

    And the continued poverty in China is due to what have not been done, not what have been done. 20% poverty is still better than 90% poverty in 1949. The good thing is it is decreasing. Nobody should under estimate the problem of poverty in China but if any country have easy solution and really care for the poor, open the door to them. The US has more arable land than China and ONLY 1/4 the population. You should lobby your government to take in 300 million of the poor in China. Since your system is so perfect, the instant the population of the US double, the economy would doubled too!

    http://www.globaltimes.cn/NEWS/tabid/99/ID/686372/Poverty-line-bumped-up-more-than-90.aspx

  6. December 9th, 2011 at 10:26 | #6

    Interesting post from 龙信明. I do take on issue though. Claremont McKenna College is not a second rate school. I have friends who’s gone there. Now they are not Harvard, but they are a still a very, very good school, better than UCLA, Berkeley type schools if you are into small liberal arts education. U.S. News rank it #9 in its national liberal arts college ranking (http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-liberal-arts-colleges).

    I also do agree with @C. Custer if not in substance (he’s taking bones in checken egg), then at least in the broader point. I think the triumph of China – or CCP – or whatever does not lie in today or its current accomplishments. Yes, we should be proud of what China – despite recent history – has accomplished. Today’s China is at most a developing country – with still a large population of poor – with gdp per capita on par with El Salvador and Albania. So I will be among those cheering for China. But let’s not get too much ahead of ourselves. The real work – the real triumph – is to come still…

  7. December 9th, 2011 at 10:41 | #7

    On this ‘rich’ peasant point, I agree too China is still a developing country and very poor.

    Regarding to what 龙信明 said on this point, I thought I quote him from the OP where he responded to Pei’s assertion (in red):


    Nor does the party stand for China’s masses. Despite efforts to broaden its social base and make it more connected with China’s dynamic and diverse society, the party today has evolved into a self-serving, bureaucratized political patronage machine.

    China’s governing party doesn’t “stand for China’s masses”.

    This would seem to indicate that Mao, Deng, Hu and others, brought more than 400 million Chinese out of poverty only by accident.

    Somehow, in their brutal political campaigns to viciously maintain power, they accidentally made all the peasants rich.

    My read was his use of the word ‘rich’ here was more hyperbole, midst a sarcasm. Not to outright say the Chinese peasants are rich as compared to citizens of the developed countries.

  8. December 9th, 2011 at 12:33 | #8

    @Ray
    Interesting bit of history and great point:

    The PRC since its founding was embargoed and sanctioned by the most powerful trading block in the world for close to thirty years. Even today there is certain trade restriction in place against China. During the famine of the great leapt forward, the US was even threatening action against Canada for exporting wheat to China. The CCP might have made a mistake on the GLF unknowingly, the US knowingly forbid food export to China during the same period. How come nobody mentioned this fact?

  9. December 9th, 2011 at 20:12 | #9

    Ray :
    @C. Custer
    Not to side track the issue of poverty. But ALL peasants in China technically have their own house, field and land. How many third world country can claim that?

    Not many, but neither can China, since it’s not actually true. The rules are complicated and vary by locale, but in at least some places, children born after the first child are ineligible for the benefits you’re talking about, even if their parents paid the required fines when they were born. My wife is an example of this; she’s the second child of parents from a very rural and poor area, and her older sister has a legal right to land, like you’re talking about, but she doesn’t.

    Additionally, that provision is largely meaningless, at least up there. I can’t speak for other areas of China and it probably varies by province, but at least in the northeast, the land that’s allotted per person is far too small to farm, and there’s certainly no guarantee that it comes with a house. As of last summer, if you rented your land, that could bring in about 700 RMB/year (around $100). The way most farmers work is by renting maybe 8 or 10 plots of land in the same area and then farming that.

    And for that matter what’s the excuse for the poverty and incarceration rate of the poor in the richest country in the world, the USA? Shouldn’t the beacon of “freedom” and “democracy” solved this problem already? If not, why?

    Certainly, those rates are embarrassing. But let’s remember that the poverty rate standards in the US are much, much higher than they are in China. Granted, cost of living is also higher in the US than it is in China, but China’s poverty rate is about $365/year, and the US’s lowest for a single person is over $10,000/year. Cost of living might be higher in the US, sure, but is it really twenty-seven times higher? It’s not, so it doesn’t make a ton of sense to compare US and PRC statistics on this issue.

    The PRC since its founding was embargoed and sanctioned by the most powerful trading block in the world for close to thirty years. Even today there is certain trade restriction in place against China. During the famine of the great leapt forward, the US was even threatening action against Canada for exporting wheat to China. The CCP might have made a mistake on the GLF unknowingly, the US knowingly forbid food export to China during the same period. How come nobody mentioned this fact?

    Probably because China was openly hostile to the US for most of that time? For some of it, they were actively fighting a war against each other. Also, the CCP made a mistake with the GLF “unknowingly”, but the US “knowingly” (I assume you mean knowing about the starvation) forbid food export? Are you suggesting that the US somehow knew more about what was going on in China than the ruling Party, despite the fact that the only Americans in China at that time were a handful of Korean war deserters (who were all in cities I think, and probably not too aware of what was happening in the countryside anyway)? If you’ve got evidence indicating the US knew there was a famine happening in China during that time, I’d love to see it (and whatever there is is likely declassified by now, so you might be able to get it with a FIA request), but I think your implication here is making a lot of assumptions you can’t actually support.

    And the continued poverty in China is due to what have not been done, not what have been done. 20% poverty is still better than 90% poverty in 1949. The good thing is it is decreasing.

    Actually, the poverty rate in China just increased substantially, although that’s because they moved the standard up again. If you look at the original standard, the rate would be decreasing, sure. But that doesn’t account for inflation (which has been BRUTAL this year, though getting better recently) let alone the overall rise in cost of living. As I recall, the rate was something like 900 RMB/year around 15 years ago. Today, it would be literally impossible to live on that. (Even if you own your home and grow your own food, you’d be fucked the second you got sick and had to pay for a doctor).

    Nobody should under estimate the problem of poverty in China but if any country have easy solution and really care for the poor, open the door to them. The US has more arable land than China and ONLY 1/4 the population. You should lobby your government to take in 300 million of the poor in China. Since your system is so perfect, the instant the population of the US double, the economy would doubled too!

    Hah. If the US government did that, it would be a disaster for both countries. China could kiss goodbye to its economy, because there’s no way it’d ever see repayment on all the US government debt it owns. I could argue more on this, but I can’t imagine it was a serious suggestion…(or that the CCP would ever go for it even if the US government suggested it).

  10. raventhorn
    December 10th, 2011 at 07:07 | #10

    “Probably because China was openly hostile to the US for most of that time? For some of it, they were actively fighting a war against each other.”

    Are you making a chicken and egg analogy and claiming to know which came 1st?

    “Hah. If the US government did that, it would be a disaster for both countries. China could kiss goodbye to its economy, because there’s no way it’d ever see repayment on all the US government debt it owns. I could argue more on this, but I can’t imagine it was a serious suggestion…(or that the CCP would ever go for it even if the US government suggested it).”

    Since you know that would be “disaster”, then it only shows the Moronic logic running through Western Democracy. It’s quite a “serious suggestion” in US campaign slogans at least. What’s next? “Big Character posters” in US droning on these “serious suggestions”?

    Any other “serious suggestions”, oh ye expatted one?

  11. dan
    December 10th, 2011 at 07:32 | #11
  12. raffiaflower
    December 10th, 2011 at 08:15 | #12

    “Probably because China was openly hostile to the US for most of that time? For some of it, they were actively fighting a war against each other.”
    It was US that proved itself to be a sore loser over the Korean War. At the Geneva Peace Conference, John Foster Dulles famously refused Zhou Enlai’s gentlemanly gesture of an extended hand – an act that symbolized America’s hostility towards the new Chinese nation, and made even more intractable by McCarthyism.
    The CPC’s internecine struggles and its inexperience at running a country and economy led to the disastrous famines that starved millions; the food shortages were not calculated decisions, unlike the cynical American ones that were intended to incite starving people and bring down the government.

  13. December 10th, 2011 at 08:48 | #13

    @C. Custer
    Your understanding of economic and history is sketchy at best. You skirted the most important issue of what would have happened to the 300 million of poor Chinese if they are in the US now. If they are in the US now in the present system, there would be mass starvation and a rebellion. Admit it, you have no solution for any of the problem in China or US. You are just a constant whiner.

    It is nice of you to see the imperfection of the current Chinese land/hukou/socio-economic system. It is a pity so many is still poor. But why not compare it to the rest of the third world which uses a system modeled more or less on the universal suffrage and economical system of the west?

    On history, the US used to have liaison with the CCP and even provided medical and communication to them during WWII. As soon as the Japanese were defeated all US personnel were recalled and communication with the CCP cut off. It is the US that is hostile to the CCP by choosing side in China. The US picked the wrong side in the civil war and is hostile to the PRC and imposed sanction on the whole Chinese population. (This is way before Korean war) You sure have thick face if you still insist on saying that it is the PRC that is hostile against the US? If the US have sided with the CCP, there would be no Korean and Vietnam war. The shortsightedness of US foreign policy caused that.

    Haha. So if there is no famine in China it is ok for the US to impose trade sanction and embargo on a country that doesn’t do as it say? Are you suggesting the CCP purposely created the disaster of the glp? Explain to me why there is a similar sanction against Cuba?

    The last part of your statement is the funniest. 1300 million people in China and the world economy is growing, moved 300 million of those to the US and the whole world economy collapsed??? The PRC parked $1 trillion extra cash in foreign denomination in the US. Losing it all would not destroy the world economy or China’s for that matter. The Chinese have over $50 trillion saved in the internal Chinese banking system alone.

  14. LOLZ
    December 11th, 2011 at 15:37 | #14

    I think some of Pei’s assessment is valid. China does have its own share of problems and some of them are very serious. However, I also think that the Chinese government has been implementing sound policies to address the most serious issues. For example, just this year Chinese taxes have been raised once more to 45% for the top earners (80k rmb/month) from 40%. To combat real estate speculation in places like Shanghai, individuals now will be penalized to own more than 2 properties. All of this is to address income inequality which is seen to be the largest destabilizer. For Pei to suggest that the only thing Chinese government knows how to do is to cramp down on the media shows Pei’s lack of understanding, but also a testament that Pei at the end of the day is paid to write for the US government.

    I think one should note that Pei’s audience is not the Chinese people but the American MSM. Much of what he and other US sponsored China-pundits write have more to do with ideology rather than policy. On the other hand the average people are affected far more by sound policy than sound ideology. At the end of the day there are no magical bullet to China’s problems. Pei can blame the Chinese government all he wants but IMO getting rid of the Chinese government and replace it with a faulty democracy like India’s will make matters worse in both the short and medium term. I am pretty sure I am not the only Chinese who thinks this way.

  15. zack
    December 12th, 2011 at 01:32 | #15

    i don’t doubt minxin pei’s apparent qualifications; i doubt his scholarship and impartiality. Pei is obviously not impartial, nor objective in any of his writings-in fact, he’s right up there with Gordon Chang when it comes to blaring the ideological horn for his new white masters.

    an indian style democracy in China now would please Washington, not just because of some sort of ideological victory over “communism” but also because a liberal style democracy makes it easier for the government to be controlled by stronger outside powers who’re richer and united than a chaotic democracy. India succeeds in some areas, not because of liberal democracy but rather, in spite of liberal democracy. it is the Chinese model of state capitalism that India includes in its own policies that help india’s development.
    a liberal democratic China now in 2011 would ruin China and perhaps return to a civil war state with seperatists in xinjiang and xizhan-which is exactly what the Americans and fearful westerners want.

  16. perspectivehere
    December 12th, 2011 at 18:33 | #16

    For Americans, reading anti-communist opinion on China is a standard part of our upbringing and education. Unfortunately, this leaves us unprepared for dealing in a world economy which requires a deeper understanding of different perspectives. So what happens to those of us who spend years working in China or with Chinese eventually come to understand, through experience and regrettable misunderstandings, is that much of what Americans know or are taught about China is either incredibly one-sided or just plain wrong.

    It is important to understand that American politics itself generates this misunderstanding. Because what happens in China has been, since the 1940’s seen as important to America’s identity of itself, there is political hay to be made with whether one or the other political party makes the right China policy.

    In the 1930’s and 1940’s, the self-conceit of Americans was to spread its democracy abroad; that we were somehow purer in our motives because we were not like those evil European colonizers (we were not as close to the Brits then as we are now), and that China was becoming a Christian democracy through that wonderful Methodist Chiang Kai Shek and his wife, Soong Meiling, whose father printed bibles.

    When this picture turned out to be phony as the communists overthrew the corrupt and ineffective KMT, a group of Republicans, businessmen, KMT-cronies and media people “doubled-down” on Chiang Kaishek and formed “the China Lobby” to (a) criticize the Truman administration / Democrats for “losing China” (b) overturn the view that CKS was to blame and (c) support CKS and KMT to retake China.

    See:

    “THE CHINA LOBBY”: INFLUENCES ON U.S.-CHINA FOREIGN POLICY IN THE POST WAR PERIOD, 1949-1954

    http://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1026&context=forum&sei-redir=1&referer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com.hk%2Furl%3Fsa%3Dt%26rct%3Dj%26q%3Dchina%2Blobby%2Bjeff%2Bblackwell%26source%3Dweb%26cd%3D1%26ved%3D0CCAQFjAA%26url%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fdigitalcommons.calpoly.edu%252Fcgi%252Fviewcontent.cgi%253Farticle%253D1026%2526context%253Dforum%26ei%3DZ6bmTqWXK4qUiQfr8MTaCA%26usg%3DAFQjCNF5tK_uiXjd_qHMgW0TwKhYhjzYTA#search=%22china%20lobby%20jeff%20blackwell%22

    “Generally defined, the “China Lobby” was a broad network of people, both foreign and domestic, whose interests coalesced around the goal of overthrowing of communism in China. It consisted of well-financed Nationalist Chinese officials in collaboration with right-wing U.S. political elites who worked toward the common goal of supporting Chiang Kai-shek’s recovery of mainland China from Mao Zedong and the Communist forces.1 Aided by the anticommunist environment of the 1950s, the Lobby’s loose affiliation of influential individuals— including associates in the private sector, media, and politics—exerted considerable pressure on U.S. foreign policy decisions concerning China.

    Footnote 1:
    Ross H. Koen, The China Lobby in American Politics (New York: Harper & Row, 1974), ix-x. Koen’s book was actually withdrawn from publication—i.e., suppressed by efforts of the China Lobby—after printing in 1960 to remain legally unpublished until 1974.

    ….
    “Another means by which the China Lobby sought to influence foreign policy was through the media, undoubtedly one of the most efficient ways to disseminate propaganda. Alfred Kohlberg alone subsidized the pro-Chiang magazines The China Monthly and Plain Talk as outlets to denounce United States policy in China. Articles from The China Monthly frequently found their way into the congressional record, and the magazine has been cited as a source of China Lobby propaganda in congressional hearings. Moreover, The China Monthly frequently served as the major organ for the dissemination of the views of Americans associated with the China Lobby. In fact, neither magazine served not as a financially viable business, they were primarily mouthpieces for the diffusion of propaganda critical of U.S. foreign policy toward China.”

    “A number of other influential publications also helped to advocate the agenda of the Chinese National Government and the China Lobby. Foremost among these publications were Collier’s, The Saturday Evening Post, Readers Digest, U.S. News and World Report, and both Time and Life newsmagazines. Additionally, newspapers such as The Washington Times-Herald, the Los Angeles Examiner, the San Francisco Examiner, and the Oakland Tribune were also consistent in their criticism of U.S. policy and in their defense of the Chinese Nationalist cause. As the anticommunist climate grew in the U.S. during the decade of the 1950s, the tendency for the press to accept the viewpoint of the China Lobby also expanded. By the mid-1950s the prevalence of the China Lobby influenced bias in the press was near universal.”

    “For example, Chiang’s most influential American friend, Henry Luce, turned Time and Life newsmagazines into advocates for the Chinese Nationalist Party. A fiercely partisan Republican, Luce readily blamed Democrats of denying Chiang essential aid and portrayed the Nationalists as an anticommunist bulwark. These concerns, combined with his aspirations for a U.S.-influenced China, led him into a loose affiliation of pro-Chiang advocates, later called the China Lobby. Luce became one of the more prominent members of the Lobby’s associates, both due to his wealth and prominence, as well as for his proficiency at disseminating pro-Chiang propaganda to the American public. Using Time Inc.’s media outlets—including its magazines, films, and radio programs—Luce conveyed his conception of a China advancing under Chiang’s leadership with U.S. patronage. The exact number of copies of Time and Life that were sold during this period is uncertain, but by biographer W.A. Swanberg’s estimate, Luce stood guilty of “manipulating 50 million people weekly.”

    …..
    “The encompassing effects of the China Lobby on U.S. foreign policy toward China are difficult to gauge. To a certain extent the China Lobby’s views seem to have become widely accepted due to the anti-Communist climate in the U.S. during the early 1950s, and the effectiveness of the Lobby’s propaganda efforts. The Lobby was also highly successful in disseminating the view that anti-Chiang sentiment meant disloyalty to the United States. The Lobby’s propaganda unquestionably damaged the reputations of scholars, journalists, and politicians alike. The widely assorted and loosely affiliated China Lobby membership effectively used their political connections and media propaganda to channel their views. Lobby propaganda also fanned the flames of the growing anticommunist climate in the U.S., helping to create a political environment where their agenda would be more acceptable to the American public.”

    “The political pressure that the China Lobby could bring to bear during the early 1950s should not be underestimated. As Michael Schaller states, “by the late 1950s, despite a broad agreement on the need to revisit [China] policy, few politicians were prepared to take the heat from the China Lobby.” The China Lobby and its allies, buttressed by the Republican Party, were able to aggressively argue for their cause and to intimidate those that might express contrary viewpoints. Exemplified through the well-known McCarthy hearings, the penalty for opposing the anticommunist crusaders and their China Lobby allies could be severe. However it is fair to say that despite the zeal of McCarthy and men like him, many of Chiang’s most ardent supporters actually cared little about China one way or the other, and only found it a useful issue to advance their personal political agendas. …”

    On the suppression of Ross Koen’s book, The China Lobby in American Politics,

    See:
    Literature suppressed on political grounds, Nicholas J. Karolides, pages 96-100
    http://books.google.com.hk/books?id=IFx6JOw9QjsC&pg=PA99&lpg=PA99&dq=ross+koen+china+lobby+censored&source=bl&ots=64zYflBN5O&sig=qf4sJ0T69bTuyuflDnjhvr_gvwc&hl=zh-TW&ei=bqnmTsbqEeeiiAetmNG_CA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CB0Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=ross%20koen%20china%20lobby%20censored&f=false

    *******************

    So much of what we Americans read about China in the media has less to do with China itself, and more to do with American politics. This is why it is vitally important, if one wants to understand anything, to read with a critical and skeptical eye.

  17. December 13th, 2011 at 11:18 | #17

    In the 1930′s and 1940′s, the self-conceit of Americans was to spread its democracy abroad

    Really? And all this time I thought America was quite isolationist until WWII. Where was the US spreading, or trying to spread, democracy in the 1930s and ’40s?

  18. December 13th, 2011 at 11:32 | #18

    @richard
    Very funny. The first thing that comes to my mind is 八国联军. I guess invading foreign countries is “isolationist” in your definition?

    The “isolationism” debate in the U.S. right before WW2 was more strictly whether for the U.S. to get involved in the war or not. In my view, one of the main considerations was the U.S. waiting for maximum damage done between Germany and Russia first.

    The U.S. took over many colonies from the Europeans. She kicked Britain and Spain out of Latin America. The U.S. was never really isolationist.

  19. Charles Liu
    December 13th, 2011 at 14:07 | #19

    Richard can wiggle all he wants (still boycotting PDK), but fact remains Pei’s association with DC think tanks, US government funded groups like Freedom House and China Digital Times, means his ideological alignment must have some parity with the prevailing official narrative.

  20. raventhorn
    December 13th, 2011 at 14:14 | #20

    @richard

    And need we forget these little gems of US imperialism: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moro_rebellion

    “Modern Muslim rebels of the southern Philippines see the Moro Rebellion as a continuing struggle against foreign rule.”

  21. raventhorn
    December 13th, 2011 at 14:18 | #21

    @YinYang

    “Isolationist” as UK is currently “isolationist” from the rest of Europe. LOL.

  22. December 14th, 2011 at 03:05 | #22

    Ray :
    @C. Custer
    Your understanding of economic and history is sketchy at best. You skirted the most important issue of what would have happened to the 300 million of poor Chinese if they are in the US now. If they are in the US now in the present system, there would be mass starvation and a rebellion. Admit it, you have no solution for any of the problem in China or US. You are just a constant whiner.
    It is nice of you to see the imperfection of the current Chinese land/hukou/socio-economic system. It is a pity so many is still poor. But why not compare it to the rest of the third world which uses a system modeled more or less on the universal suffrage and economical system of the west?
    On history, the US used to have liaison with the CCP and even provided medical and communication to them during WWII. As soon as the Japanese were defeated all US personnel were recalled and communication with the CCP cut off. It is the US that is hostile to the CCP by choosing side in China. The US picked the wrong side in the civil war and is hostile to the PRC and imposed sanction on the whole Chinese population. (This is way before Korean war) You sure have thick face if you still insist on saying that it is the PRC that is hostile against the US? If the US have sided with the CCP, there would be no Korean and Vietnam war. The shortsightedness of US foreign policy caused that.
    Haha. So if there is no famine in China it is ok for the US to impose trade sanction and embargo on a country that doesn’t do as it say? Are you suggesting the CCP purposely created the disaster of the glp? Explain to me why there is a similar sanction against Cuba?
    The last part of your statement is the funniest. 1300 million people in China and the world economy is growing, moved 300 million of those to the US and the whole world economy collapsed??? The PRC parked $1 trillion extra cash in foreign denomination in the US. Losing it all would not destroy the world economy or China’s for that matter. The Chinese have over $50 trillion saved in the internal Chinese banking system alone.

    I never said the US didn’t start the hostilities, I just said that during the time of the famine, the US and China were enemies, so it’s a bit stupid to get mad at the US for not providing aid. Would China have provided aid to the US if the situation had been reversed? (Hint: NO).

    But since we’re on it, the US did sort of have to pick a side in the civil war, or risk losing connection with China regardless of who won it. They chose the wrong side, but it’s not too difficult to see why, at least ideologically speaking. Of course, the Nationalist “democracy” was mostly a sham, but in Washington it was just “democracy” vs. “Communism”.

    As for the economics, I’m not an economist, so you might be right, but I rather doubt it. It’s not just the US debt China owns, but also the extent to which China’s economy and growth depends on the US consuming products made in China. Even the government recognizes this is a problem, which is why they’re trying to shift to more of a consumer economy, but they’re not there yet. And China may have saved trillions, but its local governments also owe trillions, so I’m not sure the savings matter that much.

  23. December 14th, 2011 at 03:07 | #23

    YinYang :
    @richard
    Very funny. The first thing that comes to my mind is 八国联军. I guess invading foreign countries is “isolationist” in your definition?

    Um….八国联军 was not in the 1930s and 40s. You’re off by a couple decades….

  24. raventhorn
    December 14th, 2011 at 06:07 | #24

    @C. Custer

    “I never said the US didn’t start the hostilities”.

    “Probably because China was openly hostile to the US for most of that time?”

    Probably because you only referred to China’s “hostility”, you were implying China started it.

    So, I guess NOW you are admitting that US did “start the hostilities”?? 🙂

  25. raventhorn
    December 14th, 2011 at 06:09 | #25

    C. Custer :

    YinYang :@richard Very funny. The first thing that comes to my mind is 八国联军. I guess invading foreign countries is “isolationist” in your definition?

    Um….八国联军 was not in the 1930s and 40s. You’re off by a couple decades….

    YinYang was discussing Richard’s statement “all this time I thought America was quite isolationist until WWII“.

    Context, Chuckie, CONTEXT!! 🙂

  26. pug_ster
    December 14th, 2011 at 08:13 | #26

    @C. Custer

    I never said the US didn’t start the hostilities, I just said that during the time of the famine, the US and China were enemies, so it’s a bit stupid to get mad at the US for not providing aid. Would China have provided aid to the US if the situation had been reversed? (Hint: NO).

    That’s presumptuous. On what basis that you are making up that assumption? China has been accommodating to Westerners in the 1930’s and 1940’s even when they are fueling the civil war between them. The US is only interested in containing China. What better way to do it by help fueling an insurgency?

    But since we’re on it, the US did sort of have to pick a side in the civil war, or risk losing connection with China regardless of who won it. They chose the wrong side, but it’s not too difficult to see why, at least ideologically speaking. Of course, the Nationalist “democracy” was mostly a sham, but in Washington it was just “democracy” vs. “Communism”.

    Risk losing connection? Give me a break. They would’ve helped by doing nothing. Instead they helped out the incompetent Nationalists who couldn’t defend themselves against the Japanese.

    As for the economics, I’m not an economist, so you might be right, but I rather doubt it. It’s not just the US debt China owns, but also the extent to which China’s economy and growth depends on the US consuming products made in China. Even the government recognizes this is a problem, which is why they’re trying to shift to more of a consumer economy, but they’re not there yet. And China may have saved trillions, but its local governments also owe trillions, so I’m not sure the savings matter that much.

    Yes, the Chinese government has produced alot of crap and is dependent on its exports. However it is wrong to assume that the Chinese economy would be dependent on them. Chinese debt is considered “good debt” because it is owned by its people, not by foreign countries.

  27. December 14th, 2011 at 09:03 | #27

    @C. Custer
    “Probably because China was openly hostile to the US for most of that time? For some of it, they were actively fighting a war against each other.”

    This is what you actually wrote. I already told you the CCP wanted normal (or rather equal) relationship with the US from the start. It is the US that pushed them away. The US did exactly the same thing to Ho Chi Minh and the Vietminh.

    No, I never said China was asking for aid. China paid for all the wheat imported from Canada. If you are trying to argue that the US is right in threatening Canada for selling wheat to China then I feel sorry for you. You are imperilaist and not humanist in any way. In fact China has to pay for all the “aid” it got from the USSR even in the best of time.

    I think you better stop mumbling on economics issue to make yourself looked stupid. China made a paltry 2% profit on the total value of export to the US. US companies made easily ten times that. A trade war at this stage would hurt US more (that’s why it will never happen) because it represent just 20% of China’s total export. And only 2% out of the 20% are profit. Like I have said many time when the dollar store becomes two dollar store, more consumers in the west would be hurt.

  28. raventhorn
    December 14th, 2011 at 11:40 | #28

    @C. Custer

    “I never said the US didn’t start the hostilities, I just said that during the time of the famine, the US and China were enemies, so it’s a bit stupid to get mad at the US for not providing aid. Would China have provided aid to the US if the situation had been reversed? (Hint: NO).”

    Oh, nice diffusion of history, and downplay of “not providing aid”.
    Oh I think we all know about US pressing trade embargo in NATO against PRC.

    OK, in that case, looking forward to some day China “not providing aid” to the US, ie. establishing trade embargo on US, by your definition.

  29. raventhorn
    December 15th, 2011 at 06:37 | #29

    Guess Chuckie is still horrible at reading.

    raventhorn :@C. Custer
    “I never said the US didn’t start the hostilities”.
    “Probably because China was openly hostile to the US for most of that time?”
    Probably because you only referred to China’s “hostility”, you were implying China started it.
    So, I guess NOW you are admitting that US did “start the hostilities”??

  30. raventhorn
    December 15th, 2011 at 06:38 | #30

    Yeah, Chuckie is horrible at reading his own stuff.

    raventhorn :

    C. Custer :

    YinYang :@richard Very funny. The first thing that comes to my mind is 八国联军. I guess invading foreign countries is “isolationist” in your definition?

    Um….八国联军 was not in the 1930s and 40s. You’re off by a couple decades….

    YinYang was discussing Richard’s statement “all this time I thought America was quite isolationist until WWII“.
    Context, Chuckie, CONTEXT!!

  31. perspectivehere
    December 15th, 2011 at 09:19 | #31

    @Richard #17 who wrote:

    “In the 1930′s and 1940′s, the self-conceit of Americans was to spread its democracy abroad”

    Really? And all this time I thought America was quite isolationist until WWII. Where was the US spreading, or trying to spread, democracy in the 1930s and ’40s?”
    ******************************************

    Good question – it made me really think, both to question your perspective as well as mine.

    My first reaction to your question was, well, Richard is an Englishman and this is typical of the way the Brits think of Americans of the 1930’s, as “isolationist”, because the British wanted the Americans to come save their colonial asses, sorry I mean assets, from the Germans.

    As you probably well know, the British undertook a large-scale covert (and probably treasonous and illegal if uncovered at the time) campaign to influence the American public and politicians to its side in the European politics, detailed in this book:

    http://www.amazon.com/British-Security-Coordination-Intelligence-1940-1945/dp/088064236X

    Reviewed here from a British (sympathetic) paper, The Guardian:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2006/aug/19/military.secondworldwar

    Reviewed here from an American (sympathetic) paper, the Washington Post:

    http://alb.merlinone.net/mweb/wmsql.wm.request?oneimage&imageid=5521711

    These revelations are shocking to read. It shows how susceptible to foreign influence and manipulation our government was (which was the the point of my post above on “the China Lobby”) and is today. The fact is, there was a vast hidden conspiracy, from the President on down, to shape the opinion of the American people. This is not how a democracy should work. You can try to justify it by saying that the ends justified the means, but if you believe in democracy – the consent of the governed – then what happened here was deception and manipulation of the people by a foreign power with the connivance of the President in office.

    But while the British like to call the Americans “isolationist” I don’t think that is quite the way Americans felt about themselves. Most Americans at the time looked at tired old Europe as corrupt royalist autocratic crumbling imperial colonialists, and wanted nothing to do with them. Americans had their first taste of colonial possessions in the aftermath of the Spanish American War of 1898 – Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and The Philippines. Of all these places, the one where American ideals of democracy, freedom and self-determination was expressed most strongly (at least in theory if not in practice) was The Philippines. Although the pacification campaign of the late 1890’s and early 1900’s wiped out a sizeable number of Filipino independence supporters (we would call them insurgents), by the 1930’s the US was well on the way of granting full independence to the Commonwealth of the Philippines. The Philippines had one of the highest standards of living in Asia in the eve of the second world war.

    See: Manila, Queen of the Pacific 1938
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvpbsyNcI3I

    The desire to support democracy and fight against autocratic rule was very much part of Wilsonian ideals in the WWI days and establishment of the League of Nations. Americans had a sense of innocence and self-righteousness that came from not having had the kinds of colonial possessions that the Europeans had. And so there was a self-conceit that we were better than the Europeans. We were plain speaking, Christian, democratic and progressive. We were not evil, we were good and pure because we did not desire to conquer and possess and exploit colonies the way the evil and corrupt British, French, Germans, Belgians, Japanese, Dutch and Spanish did.

    Americans had a missionary impulse to convert, Christianize, civilize and democratize, in the places where it had influence. Other than the Philippines, this field was in China. And CKS was our man in China, packaged and sold to the American public by Luce’s Time / Life magazines as a Christian and democrat.

    So it was a “self-conceit” that we could spread democracy. We had good intentions.

    The first paragraph of this 1999 essay expresses it well, I think:
    http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/c/carothers-democracy.html

    There is a lot of innocent, wishful thinking in that viewpoint. I think this is why Americans were so easy for the British spies to manipulate, because we were not wise to the ways of the world, and realpolitik was not in our DNA.

    I think the American public after the experience of the Vietnam War and Watergate wised up a lot. But then we elected Reagan in 1980 and the right-wing media began to become established and media control became concentrated so then the manipulations have become even more endemic than before. Our mainstream media confuses and obfuscates much more than it illuminates, and we really have no clue as a people what is going on.

    Today we don’t believe in spreading democracy abroad anymore. It’s just a political slogan to justify spending skads of my tax dollars on government contractors.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Top_100_US_Federal_Contractors

    Our system of government is a plaything of the rich and powerful and well-connected. There is nothing I can do about it.

  32. matt
    December 17th, 2011 at 05:23 | #32

    Let’s agree that Minxin Pei’s OpEd is useless. He just makes a series of short conclusions that are, at best, a pretty reductive explanation for a complex situation.

    I’d also be more open to the counter article if it didn’t start off with a lengthy ad hominem (“right wing think tank”, etc), followed by a straw man (“predicting chaos”), followed by an irrelevant discussion (“communism was never in opposition to democracy”), followed by a same team fallacy (equating party membership in the US and China), followed by some good old-fashioned badgering (“well, that’s cute”), and then I stopped reading closely.

    The odd thing is that, despite all the vitriol, the counter article basically agrees with the central thesis of the original article: the main motivation for the CCP is to stay in power. I doubt the CCP is special in that respect.

  33. zack
    December 17th, 2011 at 20:37 | #33

    @perspectivehere
    agree on all points but i disagree that the US is no longer missionising with the intent to spread democracy around the world and cast the world in their own image (let indigeneous cultural traits be damned).

    it’s why after the 2003 invasion of iraq went tits up, the rationale for keeping troops in iraq became to ‘democratise the middle east’ and so heavy media attention was paid to what a horrible amoral bunch these iraqis were before the civilising force that was the US army came into town

  34. Wayne
    December 24th, 2011 at 07:09 | #34

    @zack

    Indeed, Minxin Pei is a rather repulsive figure, utterly a white man’s suck up.

    As for the Cultural Revolution there was a lot of bad that happened but also some good. And I don’t subscribe to the fact that it was simply a device for Mao to establish absolute power.

    One good thing that happened during the Cultural Revolution was an almost ten year increase in the life expectancy of the Chinese people:
    http://tinyurl.com/6nau8ed

    By the time of Mao’s death China’s life expectancy was already higher than what India’s is today, in spite of the fact that both countries started off at a similar level in the late 1940s.

    In fact China’s life expectancy performance under Mao was likely better than any comparable developing country during his time in power.
    http://tinyurl.com/7tc26qm

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