Now the Western media has quiet down on events from Hong Kong I would like to put in my 2 cents from a totally different perspective. I have lived in Hong Kong for 2 years from 59′ to 61′ before immigrated to U.S.. I guess those demonstrators will continue to make noises to a dwindling audiences without any real objective other than the total withdrawal of the extradition bill and/or resignation of Carrie Lam. Many have applauded the success of democracy and implied rebut to China, but probably secretly polished their passports to Canada or Australia.
When Deng designed the 1 country/2 systems and 50 years transition he was hoping that China will develop and Hong Kong will converge with China mainland gradually. In the 22 years China has developed beyond anyone’s dream and many cities in China has surpassed Hong Kong economically. Yet Hong Kong has remained trying to move away from China. From the China’s view point, the extradition bill is not that important, it’s nice to have for those who committed economic crimes like embezzlement be returned to China which has frequently occurred from Europe and other parts of Asia. Hong Kong being the gateway to Western financial center has gradually eroded in importance, and China likes to integrate Hong Kong with other areas in Pearl River Delta as Shanghai did in Yangtze River Delta. Many in Hong Kong relish their role like India’s Brahmans being under their colonial lords yet much above the peons from China’s interior. Their resistance to using Mandarin as official language to educational reform placing more emphasis of Chinese history and patriotism to insults to Chinese anthem and flag, incidents like against Chinese purchase of baby milk products to negative reactions to some tourist behaviors from China. Yet the clock is ticking toward 2039 and anxiety is rising in Hong Kong. Do they really think China will allow the crossing of red line of allowing HK independence party? Of course they use the noble concepts like democracy and rule of law to cloak their nebulous unease and lack of future choices. Their choice of being Hong Kongers and not Chinese only reveal their colonial heritage.
The governor of Hong Kong is essentially a caretaker with limited power. Hong Kong is dominated by the real estate tycoons that need to keep the price of housing high and unaffordable to most. The young people know that limits their prospective in life and are rebellious, yet they don’t know what they can do other than rebel against the Big Authority, not the real powers behind the scene. Hong Kong government can use some of the surplus to construct more public housing instead wasting it on periodic dividends of a few thousand dollars to everyone. Hong Kong is one of the lowest taxed city in the world. The high cost of housing means those who have an apartment of their own costing up to millions of dollars have invested on the concept of high housing price and will resist any proposal to lower the price. If those students really studied their quandary and start to demonstrate for affordable housing I am sure they will really hit on the nail on the head.
When Trump raised tariffs and blame China for the impasse, China waste no time in issuing the “White Paper” in defending her position during the negotiation, and even CGTN anchor went on ” Fox Business report ” to debate Trisha Regan. Now this time of the year roll around with Western media trope out the usual suspects to attack China, the only response is silence. I understand why China consider harmonious society of paramount importance, yet why abandon the high ground to the enemies when China has a legitimate case to be made and history has validated the choice Deng and the leadership made?
Certainly the political turmoil ( Note, not a counter-revolution ) of June 4, 89 was a tragedy of Shakespearian proportion. It’s incorrect that Chinese government has not accounted for this event. Immediately afterward there were accountings of about more than 30 Chinese PLA soldiers killed by the rampaging mobs and hundreds of civilians killed in the suburbs, with pictures of burned military vehicles with bodies of soldiers in them. The thousands of students in the squares were unharmed and a negotiated withdrawal was effected. It was just that Western propaganda was so effective that Chinese government decided against any dialog and kept silent since. Historical events don’t happen without underlining causes even if the immediate trigger maybe spontaneous. Arab Spring was triggered by the self immolation in Tunisia, while student protest in Beijing was due to the death of Hu Yaobang and corruptions people perceived since his removal. Yet the Arab Spring now is more like Arab Winter, and China has move hundreds of millions of people out of poverty into middle class, which is a story never happened in history and West is desperately trying to erase from any narrative. Certainly the fear of another Cultural Revolution colored the official response to the student protest of 89, and the consensus that the lack of forceful response and division worsen the situation cause the forceful response to any protests afterwards. I do hope China is self confident to revisit history and make adjustments.
When 2016 election was in full swing I wrote that Hillary will be a good manager for the decline of U.S. while I fear Trump was unpredictable and fear war with Iran and North Korea. Instead now we have possible war with Iran and trade war with China. As most Chinese can predict that Liu He will not surrender to Trump demands and the full effect of tariff rise will be in effect tomorrow unless Trump has one of his unpredictable Tweet storms.
Most observers agree the trade war will hurt both U.S. and China but it will hurt China more and U.S. can withstand the effects easily. I beg to differ here and suggest possible retaliation China can take. I do not take lightly the effects will have on Chinese economy, but I think China will be able to overcome the adversity and come out stronger. The 200 billion tariffs will go up from 10 to 25%. It will mostly affect those high tech intermediate machine parts that firm like Cummin Engine use to assemble diesel engines. Those company will not be able to re-source their supplies to alternative supplies in U.S. or Europe and have to pay the tariffs and raise prices. Of course long term they can close their factories in China and try to move them to places like Vietnam, but that will force them to lose their investments in China and initial investments will be huge. If Trump raise tariffs for the remaining 300 billion, he will cause problems for Apple phones and Walmarts and affect consumers and inflation in U.S..
As for China the worry about labor shortage and population aging will be alleviated by the closing of those supplying U.S. productions and transition to a service economy. Although China doesn’t have as much imports from U.S. as exports for tariff retaliation, China can be creative in semiconductors like memory chips forcing manufacturers using make in China and shut out those from U.S.. China can impose surcharges like 50% ticket price for Hollywood films to reduce the soft power influences of Western values. This may violate WTO rules but if it’s retaliation probably will be allowed. As for financial and insurance China can shut out Wall street and allow European firms in reciprocal equal dealings. As for the 2 trillion holdings in dollars, China can gradually allow the bonds to expire and redeem them rather than sell them but convert them to resource assets from around the globe. China still has plenty of infrastructure works that can mobilize excess capacities of labor, for example the diversion of water from the Himalayas toward Xinjiang and North China for agriculture. With the coming climate crisis China can prepare well ahead of the curve.
Yesterday was the centennial for the May 4th movement. China commemorates it with celebration and Xi’s speech, and everybody else tried to lay claim to be successor for it, even NYT has an article trying to belittle China’s achievement by saying today’s China reminds him of warlords of 1920s China. So we as Chinese whether be in China or overseas Chinese culturally attached to her have to answer the question asked by the leaders of that movement, “Where is China heading?”. We have the hindsight of the history of last 100 years to answer affirmatively when we sing the “Ode to Dear Motherland” that China is heading toward prosperity and peace.
Professor Zhang Wei-wei in his TV program “China Today” repeatedly stated we should have self confidence in facing West in equal term, and not trying to hide behind like Yao Ming crouching behind a short person. The “Belt and Road” initiative is a counter to Trump’s tariff war whatever the outcome of the negotiation. The attack on Huawei and 5G is failing in Europe and elsewhere. The visa restriction of Chinese scientists visiting U.S., not only in physical sciences, but social sciences speaks more on the desperation felt in Washington than any real spying. It’s true both parties in U.S. are increasing hostile toward China because of the increasing economic power of China and influence in the world today. The question on “Mr. Science” is obviously answered. On the question on “Mr. Democracy” quite a few people are still trying to badger China especially some intellectuals. Yet we only have to look at Washington today to see the falsity of pseudo democracy on what people want and the road blocks on real democracy, from gerrymandering to denial of Florida voters will for former convicts’ right to vote, from electoral college with minority candidate winning the presidency to influence of money in politics. From the U.S. dominance of international institutions such as U.N. or World Bank. Yet the Trump withdrawal and wall signals the decline of this monopoly power.
Coming back to New York from a vacation in Europe reading about all the firing of top people from Homeland Securities, first rank people from border enforcement and customs, and the confusion near the Mexican border. We ourselves were caught by long line of total mismanagement that drag passport control in JFK to near 2 hours. Unlike those in Europe or China where facial recognition software and fingerprinting make an efficient entry to simple stamping your passport. We waited nearly 20 minutes after landing to be able to dragged to an open gate to unload, walking 15 minutes through long empty corridors we manage to get to passport control, where 1/2 dozen workers line us up against 25 machines to scan out passports and taking our picture. Yet soon all those machine stood empty while we still wait on line for our examination. I saw a dozen gates mostly said closed with 2 open for us citizens and 2 for foreigners. I assume this should be pro forma as surely computer has already did their work, but no, the examiners repeatedly have to escort charges to see their superiors. Finally a lady examiner on the other line seeing our bedraggled condition nodded for us to get on her line to wave us through.
U.S. immigration policies were always part of her foreign policy. From the Cuban refugees, Russian Jews, and dissidents from other countries. It was always a scam that if you can afford to payoff a lawyer you can probably get in. Although myself an immigrant I find the birth/citizen policy ridiculous with all those pregnant women from China waiting to give birth here. The 1 child policy and religious persecution gave wide latitude for green card.
The election of Trump give all the resentments against those policies visibility and if democrats are not careful more fuels. As a nation the border issue is important sovereignty issue, but if U.S. is to maintain as an empire, then they will be subservient to so called human rights, rule of laws rubric. Trump wants to maintain the U.S. Empire, being number 1 for him is important, but he also wants to have absolute control on barring those unfortunate refugees. U.S. has 2 oceans preventing all those refugees from Africa and Asia, and sufficient controls over those Central American banana republics from causing problem, but with the internet age, the allure and the coming climate refugees will force a decision by Washington whether to close border to become a nation state rather than an empire.
As a Chinese American who’s an obsessive reader of anything about China and a reader of New York Times for over 50 years I find it surprising that there are more Chinese on the pages of opinion writers and editorial pages recently, the only unsurprising thing is it’s still anti-China to a large extent. Obviously it represents the liberal view points of democracy, human rights, and rule of law that represent the antithesis of Chinese narrative. It certainly is not difficult to find those Chinese who left China and embrace Western values to take on anti-China positions as marketplace will attract those with affinity to Voice of America propaganda views. I suspect CIA financed think tanks spent millions trying to understand China would have done better by reading columns like mine or Shanghai based program by Professor Zhang Weiwei “China Today” which is on the 9th weekly installments available free on YouTube.
The TV program is about 40 minutes long each, and Professor Zhang of Fudan University and his associates discuss topics about recent political developments and then a TED like talk to young university audiences and take questions from audiences. There is no taboo questions and they touch on various topics from analysis of Chinese society, minority areas, history, and even term limit. Professor Zhang asked the young people to be self confident and confront West with his answers direct and up to the point. For example he answered the question westerns asked him about why China didn’t have a color revolution by quoting a Chinese student showing 2 pictures of Bond from Shanghai, 1 from 1990, and another from 2010s. The pictures are self explanatory.
The program is shown on Monday night Shanghai time, and usually posted on YouTube by Monday evening or Tuesday morning Eastern time in U.S.. These shows are a powerful tools and shows China’s soft power. The main criticism I have is it is a Chinese show and is on Mandarin. I wish they are translated to English and other languages so it can be disseminated all around the world. Since the program is still ongoing, I will not be critical but suggestion on the other taboo questions. It is more than 50 years since Cultural Revolution and 30 years since TAM incident. When I visited museum of Chinese Communist Party founding in Shanghai, there were many pictures of the founding members of the Chinese Communist Party, including those who defected, exiled, or even surrendered to Japanese. It gave a biographical sketch of their accomplishments, whether martyred or betrayed the cause, even a Russian who was executed wrongly by Stalin. These are the histories and China is not afraid to face them. China did say Mao made errors from the Cultural Revolution and gave him a grade of 70% versus 30 % errors. It is past time to examine the cause and lessons from Cultural Revolution, both positive and negative.
I with my son last Sunday went to the AMC on Time Square to see “Wandering Earth”. Figuring with 3 screens showing the movie we wouldn’t have trouble, but we were wrong with all the tickets sold out. With Chinese internet ablaze with different viewpoints talking about the movie I would like to put in my 2 cents even before I have a chance to see the movie. As a Si-Fi fan even though I haven’t seen the movie yet, I am familiar with the story line and read about the debates.
Those who are against the movie are mostly Chinese whom are western oriented liberal persuasion. They have a sense of inferiority complex toward West, anti-nationalists to the point of taking positions against any government initiative. The criticisms on esthetic, technical, or comparing to other western Si-Fi movies are rather irrelevant as it’s to the taste of each individual, but the real reason is to the core of value system the movie portrays. That’s also the reason Chinese government likes this movie although it was privately produced and was somewhat ambivalent toward the author and Si-Fi in general. It’s the value of Socialism versus Capitalism, of society against individual, whether individual rights have absolute priority against societal needs. That question has been answered by Chinese in their choice of votes with tickets to see this movie.
Most people in U.S. are clueless on what happens in China. They take their cue from the so called China experts on the oncoming collapse or power struggle. Even for someone like me whom is knowledgeable about Chinese politics it vex me greatly that events sometimes move in Byzantine ways. I am here talking about the anti-corruption campaign when an example was made, it seems always was a deputy or vice party secretary. The public figures open for criticism and ridicule were never the person in charge. Why the number one guy was always not in the picture or punished privately? So the public will not lose confidence of the top? This seem to be changing when Xi demands accountability from the leaders, and the people applaud this move toward responsibility and transparency. The case of Qinling villas which CCTV broadcasted as a documentary recently illustrate the changing climate. Xi when as the party secretary of eastern province of Zhejiang said, ” Green mountains and clean waters are the gold and silver treasures”. As China move from GDP Centre toward a rational policy of environmental protection, Xi has been battling bureaucracy as much as Mao did.
Qinling is the mountain range south of Xian protecting Qin from other warring states and is now a national park. Officials and private developers has been using the guise of tourism to build villas for the benefits of both. Upon exposure by the media Xi directed the local party to investigate and correct any violation in 2014. The city of Xian and province of Shaanxi dragged their feet and eventually reported that the number as 200 and demolished under 100. After 6 directives from Xi from 2014-2018, Central Disciplinary Commission finally sent a work team to enforce the directives and caused quakes and dismissals of party functionaries in Xian and Shaanxi with mayor and party secretaries of Xian and Shaanxi all removed from their jobs and under indictment and investigation for bribery. Under 1200 villas which now nobody wants to admit owning each marketed at 15-17 million yuans are in the process of demolition and return the area to pristine greens.
Unlike what West portrays, Xi is neither absolute ruler nor authoritarian for life. He’s still in his second term of office, and the change of constitution allowing longer serving I think was more geared for his associate Wang Quishan to direct against corruption. It was also served as warning to those in bureaucracy hoping dragging and procrastinating out the reform to outlast Xi. It took him 4 years to manage to crack the case of Qinling, and it’s now used for study by all other provinces as example. And I have no problem whatsoever if he desires and serves a third term and wish him good luck and bon voyage. For good leaders are rare and in short supply.
One doesn’t have to be an expert in Shakespeare to see Donald Trump as a tragedy in motion. I was the only one in HH that liked Hillary over Donald before the election. I thought Hillary will manage the decline of American Empire in a more orderly way and Donald will be chaos causing unpredictable disasters for all, but the rapidity of the decline astonish all including myself. Certainly he’s causing pain for China with his tariff war and possible technology embargo, which I think most Americans don’t disagree with him at present. But now he has singlehandedly stirred the hornet’s nest , aka swamp in Washington DC establishment to a boil. It remains to be seen whether the swamp will swamp him with Mueller’s report and impeachment.
I dislike Trump intensely. For he represents the antithesis of Chinese traditional values. Honor, honesty, loyalty, and empathy. The lack of those values not only reflect from his behavior, but also reflect from his associates and fellow criminals, Cohen, Flynn, and Manafort. His slogan MAGA hides his real aim of trying to maintain and return America as a WASP country in imaginary Ayn Rand novels. Yet, I can’t really oppose his policies of dismantling the empire by withdrawing from Syria and Afghanistan which I agree. Even his immigration policy while lacking in empathy I agree to a certain extent. I do think any country need to maintain border security and citizenship by birth is an anachronism.
The one positive outcome is Trump has managed to torn open the curtain of illusion which blinded those Chinese liberals of Western superiority, of sweet and clean air as spoken by that Maryland graduate rather than ashes from California fire or coal, the human rights as a shield against the inequality behind the curtain, or even the illusion the liberals in the West clothed on themselves about the ossified U.S. Constitution being real democracy. I do hope they can see behind the curtain of gerrymandering with 37% Republican voter control more than 50% of Wisconsin state legislature, or as Michael Moore call on people to rise up against electoral college, that if Trump got more than 3 million votes and lost by electoral college he would have call the people to the ramparts.
When I was growing up in Shanghai in 1950s, I like most young Chinese, have a somewhat romantic view of Uighurs. They dance and sing during holiday celebrations. The girls and women are beautiful, wearing colorful costumes and seem exotic and unapproachable. The limited exchanges with wandering Uighur merchants selling candies and warnings that any disputes with them will be ruled in their favor by authorities as they want to avoid any friction with national minorities. There was an unofficial policy to discourage any interaction or intermarriage with Uighurs. Unlike in Southern U.S. which consider intermarriage with blacks as miscegenation but more as to avoid friction with Uighur community. Today Western press seem obsessed with Uighur on whether China is on a path of genocide or concentration camp in Xinjiang. For someone like me in U.S. the question is laughable given the history of U.S. on extermination of Native Americans and slavery, not to mention Muslim ban of Trump’s policy on immigrants. For most Han Chinese, the change of policy from indulgence to more strict enforcement is way overdue. Due to sensitivity of Russia border area, Uighurs were left alone which turn out to be to their detriment as China has grown tremendously in economic, educational, and global commerce. It damages Uighur children for failure to learn Mandarin as much as fail to teach English language to immigrant children in U.S.. Due to the growth of internet it was inevitable extremist Islamic theology spread to Uighurs given the lack of economic development and corrective actions need to be taken. Economic forces with education and migration will eventually resolve it. I suggest the liberals would to better to expire their guilt by working in native American communities or soup kitchens.
The about quoted article from guancha.cn talked about a movie crew wanted to shoot a historical drama of Yellow River loess plateau and unable to find location of arid scenery described of China’s upper Yellow River from the 1930s. They were forced to use CGI as background scenery. I visited Yenan 3 weeks ago and can sympathize with the movie crew as greenery covered all the hollows and hilltops as we traveled on highway from Xian to Yenan. Even Yellow River no longer is as muddy and yellow, and the cave dwellings that Mao and his comrades lived are green even when temperature hover around freezing. Local markets teem with fruits like persimmons, pomegranates, and dates. The deserts which encroach Inner Mongolia and Shaanxi are being pushed back. We did want to visit those areas in the forefront of pushback against desert farther north, but have to forego due to scheduling conflict. Still we can see with our own eyes the changes. Premier Zhou would be very pleased as he look down from heaven at the changes in China.
As I read the 5 parts NYT stories and reactions I can’t help but say Americans still don’t understand China. China maybe still a long way to go to be in parity or pass U.S. in per capital basis, but in many ways she is already way ahead and pulling farther away. On our way to visit Mao’s family home we were in a taxi equipped with China’s own GPS system BeiDou combined with AI that obeys voice command for the song we wish to hear, but periodically interrupted with advices that we are in a accident prone zone, so drive carefully, that 700 meters ahead is a traffic camera and we are 20% over speed limit. That bus fares are 2 yuans (less than 30 cents), major cities all have subway systems costing about $1 to travel more than 30 miles to the center of the city. The subway trains are crowded but arriving in constant streams in intervals of less than 5 minutes. Consumer prices are from 10 to 30% of here except with luxury goods like cars and I-phones. In high speed trains you are startled with vibrations when opposing trains pass which are gone when you turn your head toward the noise in 1 second, and it occurs in intervals or less than 10 minutes. We visited my wife’s uncle and aunt in their 80s in a nursing home which cost 14,000 yuans per month, but with their combine retirement income of 10,000 plus the apartment which they sold for millions they can afford it easily. Of course they belong to elites as they worked for China’s NASA and their apartment was giving to them. My wife’s father was in nursing home here for 2 years before we pull him out for home care because of bad care and it costs bundles for Medicaid. We have a cousin who lived in the center of Shanghai told us her apartment will never be demolished as it will cost developer millions to relocate her and her government owned apartment cost her less than $10 rent. We did talk to a street cleaner in Hangchow who is making less than $400/month of income inequality and nostalgic of Mao when everybody was poor but equal.
So I will not be naïve and proclaim as Sinclair Lewis did that I have saw the future and it works. But I have lived in China in 1950s and knew of rationing and shortages, and coming back to NY I have to adjust to countercultural shock when I have left only a month ago. I went to Manhattan yesterday and returned on subway to Queens. While drowsing on the train I was awakened 4 times with people begging for food or playing music asking for donations. While I hate Trump I can still sympathize with him on the decline of American Empire. He can shut the border and with charity starts at home slogan. The liberal Americans want to save all the refugees yet their policies are the ones generating all the chaos and refugees like Iraq and Libya, while China is raising the standard of living for people in Africa which NYT deplores as new colonialism.
One thing you need when entering China is you need to immediately get to a major China Mobile Office to obtain a temporary SIM card for your smart phone. There is no such thing as disposable phones you can purchase. You need identification to purchase SIM card and start communicating with others in China or internet. The temporary SIM card cost less then $5 for 2 months normal usage, but it is a must. I noticed that even with the temporary SIM card there is limitations. I attempted to use WiFi in a Starbuck coffee shop with my I-Pad and unable to sign on because Starbuck sent you a code to verify your identity, and the temporary number will not do. Once I used my relative’s phone number I immediately received the code and able to surf the net. Of course you can use WiFi in any hotel with their code. The implication on reflection was obvious. You are responsible for your communications on phone and internet. It would be impossible to spread rumors on line or influence elections like Russia did in U.S. without alerting security apparatus. There are constant reports of punishments of 5-15 days detentions for spreading unfounded rumors or disturbing social harmony.
I remember reading from news that CIA searches for a mole that resulting dozens of agents disappearing in China a few years ago. They surveilled a suspected former agent for years without getting any evidence, and finally decide to arrest him for keeping secret from previous employment as a scapegoat. I suspect they could charge any former agent with that but he satisfy the criteria of being a Chinese-American, as were many false arrests by FBI of Chines-American scientists doing normal scientific exchanges. I suddenly have an epiphany that instead of spending millions of dollars searching for a mole, I could have give them a plausible answer. Remember China started to build supercomputers a few years ago as did U.S. IBM used it to demolish chess grandmasters and Google used it to defeat world champions in Go. Meanwhile China was probably perfecting the AI for large data and cloud computing to search abnormalities any spy will generate no matter how careful they pretended. China built the “Great Firewall” that allow some hackers to claim success in penetrating with VPNs, not realizing it was intentional and they can crack down any time they wish. I guess the joke is on us.
One thing when we look out the window from the high speed trains is the ubiquitous cranes from the top of unfinished 30+ stories of buildings sprouting like bamboo shots when we approach any city in China. I remember the same feeling 3 years ago when I visited China after reading about the ghost cities from the Western presses. Yet now all those ghost cities are teeming with people and the constructions of buildings, highways, subways, and rail tracks remain unabated. NYC with her skyscrapers is dwarfed by all those megacities or even provincial ones. Another thing I notice is the electric transmission lines crisscross any landscape interspersed with towers for mobile communications. The efficiency which China moves her people, be that be in airports, train stations, or subways astonish me. I knew about the smart phones used for payments in everyday transactions, but with trains schedule to move in the same tracks every 10-15 minutes, any deviation from schedule will be disastrous. It does required AI to route the trains accurately, and people disciplined enough to not cause delays unnecessarily, and that’s when we traveled not on the busy season of summer or national holidays.
Another thing I noticed is the new trees and older trees planted alongside any highway and train tracks. Xi’s slogan that “Green mountains and clean waters are the gold and silver treasures” are becoming the realities in China. China plans to plant trees about the size of Ireland this year alone. Even in the headwaters of Yellow River and loess plateau, new fruit trees generate incomes for the poor areas, as we bought fruits by baskets very cheaply. Since the revision to 1 child policy, we saw young children age under 3 with their parents ride in trains with their healthy and cue demeanor contrast with the pictures we saw of refugees in Middle East or Africa. Internal tourism is booming in China. It fills us with optimism and hope for the future.
On my first day returning to New York, NYT started to run articles about China and I have a sense of dissonance after away from U.S. for a month and away from Trump and American politics. After reading some comments I find Americans still do not get China and still live in a dream world. So I’ll start right on the question the liberals here will harp on, the question of surveillance and privacy. It’s true once we left the plane, we got to passport control, we have our pictures taken for facial recognition and electronic fingerprints taken. The photographing will continue in every hotel front desk. There are as many cameras everywhere as in Times Square though not as well concealed as in U.S.. Yet we do not feel any privacy were violated. We did not have any contact with security personnel and walked everywhere at any time. We feel complete safety in cities as well as rural areas in day time and midnight, which is impossible in U.S.. We were informed by our relatives that pickpockets in Shanghai are vanishing as the police is very efficient in arresting them. Our personal spaces were well protected from any crime until we returned to U.S. and watched TV news with a sense of vulnerability returning. I myself very much prefer Google over Baidu because their search engine is so much better with less advertising. Google and NYT probably regret their exit from China and opportunities lost with their arrogant stance of superiority. I read Washington Post on WIFI there with 2 articles criticizing China on her Xinjiang policy toward Uighurs within a week. I am sure there are people who prefer no camera on them and free from dystopia like in “Blade Runner”, but for average citizen its a bargain well worthwhile.
I just returned from a month long visit to China which is both exhilarating and exhausting. I last visited China about 3 years previously, but decided this time to visit areas I long wanted to see and managed to see all except Beijing and Tsinghua University which require applying to the university ahead of schedule. 3 years may not be a long time, yet China is always changing and surprising.
I, my wife, and her brother together traveled through China by the high speed trains, joining local tour groups which comprise Chinese from many different parts of China, from Xinjiang, to Northeast, from Honan to Hunan, from Sichuan to Shanghai, with the exception of us from U.S.. We started from Shanghai to Changsha and visited Mao’s family home in Shaoshan, then traveled to Guiyang to see FAST radio telescope, then traveled to Chengdu to visit Dujiangyan, where the irrigation system made Qin the empire she was. Onward to Xian and Terracotta Army, with a trip to Yanan where the Red Army managed to hold off both the Japanese and KMT armies. In Beijing we visited Yuanmingyuan (Summer Palace) where relics of ruins from the Second Opium War where the finest cultural relics were looted and destroyed. Back to Shanghai to tour the house where the first Chinese Communist Party were formed and hold their first Congress there.
It’s a trip with memories and histories from the past. The Qin dynasty which unified China with a common language, Mao with his revolutionary bands against all odds succeeding in building a new China, the humiliation of the Second Opium War, and now the megacities of Beijing and Shanghai facing the future, with new technologies and sciences reaching out to the universe.
It will take more than a few days for me to gather my impressions. Yet the high speed rail systems are definitely more than a transport system. it is binding all China together whatever dialect they speak into a coherent whole. People travel all over China for better understanding of each other. I think it will act for China what Continental Rail and Interstate Highway System did for U.S.. It will act as an accelerator for modernity and minor problems like Uighur or Tibetan will fade away in a short time. I will try to give more context and details later.
One thing that I worried when Deng started the economic reform and turned away from Mao’s attempt to mold human nature was inequality and the corrosive effect of capitalism on Chinese values. The Chinese article from guancha.cn I quoted on the heading above generated a lot of publicity and vehement condemnation from public about the case of a young couple attacking a cleaning lady when she objected to their child defecating on the street in Northern China. The woman said from her hospital bed that she would be fined from her superior if the street is not clean and 2 public toilets are nearby, and the job of cleaning public area, being the bottom of economic ladder, is look down by public and invisible. The comments were generally supportive of her. Some want to throw the book and prosecute the couple severely, others compare this with Mao’s era when the ideal was classless society, and any work is valued. Still others wonder why there is no official response on the incident other than the incident is under investigation.
There were other articles on guancha.cn about continuing anticorruption cases and praises for a new TV show on studying President Xi’s speeches on Chinese values. Obvious there is a new ongoing drive to return some of the values of Mao’s era of equality, anti-corruption, and “Serve the People” back into vogue. It’s human nature that the anticorruption drive is faced with continuing resistance from the bureaucracy and some liberal sectors complaining of returning to the dark age of CR. I suspect that President Xi will have a tough road ahead not only facing Trumpian U.S., but internally a heavy grind. Living here is U.S. I find the Chinese propaganda is lacking some human touch comparing to Western, softer approach. The narrative can be much more effective if they can learn from documentaries such as the HBO’s “Jane Fonda, 5 Chapters” or Ken Burns’ “Civil War”. I suggest that if President Xi’s wife, Peng Liyuan visit the cleaning woman and presented her with a copy of Mao’s essay on “Serving the People”, it will be more effective than 100 intellectuals testifying the efficacy of Xi’s thought.
Recent days have been full of news, from the crowd of over 110,000 watching the flag raising ceremony at TAM square, conclusion of tax evasion case of actress Fan Bingbing, and Trump’s tariff war against China. I want to touch bases here before my month long visit to China later this month. We’ll travel to Shanghai, Changsha to visit Shaoshan, Mao’s birth place, Guiyang to hopefully see FAST telescope, Chengdu, Xian, and north to Yan’an, then Beijing. I hope I’ll be able to write about my travelogue and see the changes in China since my last visit 3 years ago. We’ll be going on the high speed trains which make this type of travel feasible and enjoyable.
The case of Ms. Fan is obvious a case of killing chicken to warn he monkeys, the entire entertainment industry and officialdom are now under scrutiny and warning. There will no longer be excuses and punishment will be severe. The corruption endemic in Chinese society past and present will take a long time to correct, human nature being what it is, even Mao can only temporarily stem the tide.
When Mike Pence said China is interfering in U.S. politics to help Democrats, I can’t help but laugh, for as I said before Trump is helping China in understanding U.S.’s true face and accelerating the decline of U.S.. Sure, China will probably suffer short term from the tariffs more than U.S., but the long term effects will be very beneficial; from the downgrading of western economic experts to strengthen China 2025, from the restriction of Chinese students and researchers in U.S. and immigration to reverse brain drain to 1-belt-1 road initiative, from trade with Iran and switching of petrol-dollar to petrol-yuan. Meanwhile while the stock market of U.S. is going gang buster at present, I predict that in 2 years it will be sinking fast as excess money will not hold it high forever.
NYT recently has an article about young communists and Marxists causing trouble for some local governments in China. It gladden my heart that young students graduating from Beijing’s elite universities no longer pursue material gains at the expense of studying and changing society.
The reactions in China toward the tariff war tells a lot about the nature of those groups more than an accurate analysis of U.S.. Some appeasement group mostly from those worshipping West attack Xi for deviating from Deng’s policy of hiding one’s strength and low profile. As if attracting Trump’s ire is the cause of trade war, and be sub-servient will appease him. I have stated earlier that the reason U.S. has avoided opening trade war and economic and political fronts against China was because Bin Laden did China a big favor by distracting West with terror war. The neocons were ready to open up on China when the spy plane incident happened in April 2001, 9/11 gave China 15 extra years to prepare for this eventuality, and China 2025 is very much needed to face the coming Iran sanctions directed at China. ZTE is a warning shot all should be aware of.
Of course if Hillary was elected she would be much more subtle than the boorish Trump, yet this is a blessing in disguise as Trump will blunder on alienating other Western allies while puffing on about his triumphs. This still leave open the question how do China respond to Trump’s tariff war? I suggest the following:
1. Anticipating Trump’s buffoonery of doubling down when losing, thus when 50 billion doesn’t work, try 200 billion or eventually all 500 billion on tariffs. Notice if when tariff goes on all China’s exports to U.S., it will include all those I phones and other U.S. manufacturers which accounted more than 1/2 of the total, so it would hurt U.S. more in reality.. But be prepared for some shifts of investments to other Southeast Asia countries by stimulating local consumption.
2. Obvious Tic for Tac will not work for 3-1 disparity on total import versus export, but China has already creatively do variations from 5 to 25% depending the needs and opportunities. I suggest financially punish Wall Streets by limiting financial investments, impose added taxes on U.S. films shown in China, say 1 Yuan extra per ticket sold. It has added value for limiting U.S. cultural influences.
3. Accelerating on China 2025 on using Chinese semi-conductor products in state purchasing decisions even if costing more. Expanding investment in software development. If Iran sanctions do in fact be imposed on China, be prepared to weather it by whatever means.
4. Foreign exchange of U.S. Treasury bonds be gradually reduced from 2 trillion to around 500 billion as it expires while the dollar is strong and yuan is weak. There is no real reason to hold that much dollars. The extra money can be used for purchasing resources around the world and or used for large scale water diversion project of South to North, from Himalayans to Xinjiang.
Recent events from the rise of Trump and his trade war and vaccine scandal inside China present great challenge to Chinese leadership under Xi. The right which I would characterize the liberals and those intellectuals feeling constrained on their freedom, and of course those felt threatened by the continuing anticorruption campaign embolden to challenge Xi on the direction which China is taking is best exemplified by an article written by professor Xu Zhangrun, “Our Present Fears and Expectations”. Professor Xu is a law professor from Tsinghua University. His article is raising a storm of rumors in Western media on whether Xi’s control is slipping. His article probably will be deleted in China, but I would like to summarize it here and rebut him. Those interested in his original article can go to NYT Chinese edition and follow onto his link.
He raised the question of legitimacy of government on 4 basic bottom lines, 8 worries or fears, and 8 expectations. The bottom lines are maintenance of civil society, protection of private property, civil rights/freedom, and term limit/constitution. The fears are of communism(against private property), politics in command, class struggle, isolation from West(result of trade war), waste of resources for foreign aids, ideological extremism, military spending or war, and stopping reform(his version). His expectations/hopes are stop foreign aids, stop wasting resources on international conferences in China, remove retirement benefits for leadership groups, remove special privilege for party members, sunshine on wealth and incomes, stop leadership worship, return to term limits, and finally accounting for June 4, 89 incident. He finally pleaded that leadership should take advices from scholars and intellectuals like himself.
After reading his article, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry, but angry nevertheless. I am sure there are many such professors in elite universities in China harboring similar dreams, and angry at what that signify for the education of younger generations.
I will not quibble with the 4 basic bottom lines except to mention term limit is an artificial line totally meaningless. It’s not the length of service as Angela Merkle is serving her 4th term, while Xi is still serving the 2nd, and Donald Trump manage to sow permanent damage to American system in his 1 1/2 years. And Deng managed to dismiss 3 party secretaries while holding no title. As for his fears apparently he hasn’t read the Chinese constitution where communism is the goal. I know the fact that Xi leaded his politburo to study “Communist Manifesto” strikes fear among liberals, and his standing up to Trump’s bullying cause despair among those hoping for U.S. Green cards. Mao has died more than 42 years ago, yet people still recall fondly of him and yes some worship him. History will judge him to be great man and will judge Xi on his leadership, not some propaganda as professor Xu pretends. I am in favor of Sunshine laws, but the corruption Xi is fighting was accumulated since the founding of People’s Republic, or more accurately, thousands of years. No 1 or 10 sunshine laws can suddenly eliminate it all. As for TAM incident I wish Chinese government would teach the lesson not as professor Xu would wish, but as a reaction to the corruption after Mao’s death. Events since then would seem that Deng was correct to restore order with resultant casualties. Mao made the mistake that human nature, selfish tendency can be eliminated by force of will, but if he sees today what professor Xu wrote that China should be selfish, don’t worry about less fortunate people around the world he would want to start another Cultural Revolution.
On July 10, CA flight 106 was involved in a incident which cause the flight to suddenly descend due to oxygen level decrease. It was caused by smoking of e-cigarette by copilot and error in turning off recirculation fan. Resulting deployment of oxygen masks for passengers caused widespread publicity and investigation. The flight crew was faulted and resulted in their firing. guancha.cn has a couple of articles by civilian aviation commentator on the incident and reactions by the readers are instructive. Certainly we in the West consider incidents like this as a no-no. There were incidents in Western airlines that pilots drank before flight and barred from flights and fired, and we can quote incidents like the disappearance of Malaysian airline, or the German flight when the pilot committed suicide to show others can be faulted too. Yet I find this incident demonstrates problems endemic in China and needs addressing seriously.
According to the analyst, smoking by flight crew in China is widely known and rarely dealt with until incidents like this happens. If this is widely known, why is this not dealt immediately to prevent it from happening again? Why subordinates do not intervene or report such violations to relevant authorities? If zero tolerance policies are really employed this type of incident should not be known to everyone working in civil aviation. I have traveled in Chinese airports where smoking ban was rarely enforced. With surveillance everywhere it should not be difficult to see if someone is violating the rule. Smoking ban is seriously enforced in high speed trains and should be enforced everywhere.
We read about stories about corruption involving hundreds of millions of dollars again and again. I know it’s difficult and time is needed to change a culture of corruption or obedience to superior, and Xi is trying to install honesty and promote good officials, but we have to start on little things like smoking and pollution, then hopefully governance and corruption will eventually follow.
The recent ICE enforcement of immigration law by separating children from parents seeking asylum generating headline news, yet people are pretty evenly divided on whether immigration should be curtailed. I myself was an immigrant. My father was a seaman in merchant shipping stranded in U.S. when Chinese revolution occurred. He eventually became a U.S. citizen, and my mother and I applied to leave China and did arrive in New York by way of Hong Kong. I do have sympathy for those fleeing untenable situations in Middle East or Central America. Yet I never liked the political policies granting Chinese green cards for claiming persecution because of the “One Child” policy, or the citizenship by being born in U.S. which generating pregnant women coming to give birth here in U.S., and certainly Cubans granting Carte Blanche because of politics grated on me.
During the 60s there were discussions on the question of brain drain. Colonialism drains the resources, mineral, agricultural produces, and human resources from the colonies. U.S. may not formally has colony, but the siphoning of human talents like doctors, nurses, or scientists which impoverish developing countries to the advantage of U.S. proceeds unabated. China made the decision that modernization effort requires the sending of millions of students to the West for acquiring modern science and willing to pay the price of high percentage of losses to attractions of money and power. China has developed to the point now a good percentages of talents are returning and competing against West. Capitalism requires open border for attracting talents with money and H1B visas to power its engine, in addition it needs some to do dirty works none of its citizens are willing to work for low pay as in farm and service works. The brain drain not only operates from periphery to center, it also applies within the country. So we see those small towns losing young people to big cities. Recent articles in NYT on small town losing its only school and doctors. It generates a pushback against immigration that powers the Trump phenomenon.
The dilemma faced by U.S., needing immigrants yet politically not viable is not easy to solve. I recently traveled South and found labor shortage acute, almost every restaurant with help wanted signs, within restaurants due to ICE sweeps service are spotty with manager doing the work of a busboy clearing tables. I await the time when the Trump Wall will be in full effect.
NYT last weekend has 2 opinions, pro and con on mayor DiBlasi’s attempt to change the admission standards for elite high schools in NYC. It’s standard arguments by liberal intelligentsia on both sides trying to be reasonable, yet totally missing the point. The fact is student population at Stuyvesant is less than 5% African American, and more than 60 % Asian, or more precisely, more than 50% Chinese American. I myself have mixed feelings on this topic, as I attended a public HS in the early 60s that’s 75% Blacks and Puerto Ricans and still managed to get in an Ivy League school. My son attended Stuyvesant and hated it with the 3 hours round trip commuting and lack of sleep, and I regretted pushing him to attend it.
The conflict pits Chinese American community against African American and Hispanic communities with charges of discrimination, quotas, and diversity arguments flying back and forth. Obvious it has implication on the Ivy League schools’ admission policy with regard to the limits on Chinese students. I am in favor of some form of affirmative action as China do by adding 20 points to minority nationality students in their college entrance exams and actively trying to eliminate poverty in those areas. The question here is why the education system here is failing students except in some of the elite schools? It’s certainly not the financing or teachers per se. If we go into the deeper reasons, whether it be income inequality, residential segregation, family values, or residual effects of slavery, we can’t avoid going into the big elephant in the room, Capitalism and profit motive, which nobody wants to touch. Liberals are losing to Trumpism by emphasizing politically correctness, standing on high ground and looking down on the deplorables while losing the cultural war.
DiBlasi’s proposal whether it passes the state legislatures will not solve the problem, but it will visually soothe some feelings while structurally left the system in tact. Chinese parents can easily skirt it by enrolling their children in low performing middle schools and saving them a bundle by not needing those cram courses, and they will automatically be granted entry to elite schools being in the top 10%. 10 years from now there will be another outcry on why elite schools are still predominantly Chinese and new proposals restricting enrollments to neighborhood middle schools or segregation will be enacted.
China has started the ambitious “China 2025” to challenge U.S. dominance in technology. The U.S. has responded by throttling ZTE and showing the bottle neck in semiconductors. This action only reinforce the need for independence and accelerates the drive. The fact that West is always cognizant of Chinese threat and various events has delayed that response. Certainly 9/11 and 2008 financial meltdown gave China extra 17 years to face the reaction. The neocons were ready to target China over the spy plane incident when 9/11 diverted it to anti-terrorism. 2008 financial meltdown caused emphasis on strengthening economy and Wall Street.
China has used the intervening years well, from building the “Great Fire Wall”, enlarging the South China Sea Islands, to elevating Xi Jinping as leader with vision for future. Some may disagree with GFW for censorship and disrupting free communications. Yet censorship is necessary for filtering out harmful diseases like greed, pornography, and ideology detrimental to harmonic society we aspire. Certainly elites or scientists have no problem accessing internet by jumping through GFW with minor delay. The South China Sea assertion of sovereignty is important in limiting U.S. Seventh Fleet on encroaching on Chinese sea coast and expanding Chinese naval presence. And we only need to compare the biography of Xi and the accomplishments of last 5 years with Trump’s disasters to see the opposite directions of 2 countries. China has sent hundreds of thousands of students to Western countries annually in investing for the future. Yet the return is not that obvious when without inoculating them against hostile ideology and values, many become infected and turned against her.
The liberal values of Ivy League colleges portrayed U.S. as freedom loving, free thinking, without giving any historical contexts. One good thing about Trump’s ascension is open the façade of humanism in Capitalism. Historically we have Rockefellers, Fords, or Carnegies, having philanthropical foundations ameliorating the worst aspects of Capitalism, but now Trump has make racism, white superiority, and immigrant bashing if not totally respectable, at least publicly bearable. The liberals always hide behind the “Constitution”, “Lady Liberty”, or “Founding Fathers”, to divert any criticism against Capitalism. Americans are always proud of their exceptionalism, that we did not participate in colonialism as Europeans did, discounting Puerto Rico and Philippines. Yet the 2 greatest crimes against humanity occurred in U.S.. That’s the extermination of Native Americans and slavery. We sent Native Americans blankets infected with small pox as gifts and celebrate Thanksgiving as historical drama of Native Americans helping Pilgrims to survive. We make “The Rule of Law” a mockery by tearing up hundreds of treaties whenever we need their land for farming, or oil, or gold is discovered in their barren reservations. The Constitution was a compromise that treated slaves as subhuman and the resulting effect on society I do not need to belabor other than China eliminated slavery 2,500 years ago.
China has been establishing Confucian Institutes around the world to push soft power Chinese values, and even that minimal goings face push back by West. I do think China’s education ministry should require a course of Chinese and American history before allowing students to go to West for higher learning. I learned Opium Wars in grade school and “Brain Washed” to not touch drugs even when it makes me socially awkward in refusing a joint. The soft power push should start at home and young. I think the recent offerings at CCTV on “Reading Aloud”, second season, which gave interviews to people having a story to tell before letting them recite from books or poems is great in soft power education.
Today is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx. China celebrated it by a 2 parts TV documentary ( Marx Forever) of his life and a speech by President Xi Jinping attended by all politburo members. I am of course familiar with Marx and Marxism as I attended schools in the 50s in China, yet I was not that knowledgeable about his life until I saw the documentaries, and I was deeply moved by his life story. During the 60s when I attended college, there was a short revival of Marxism in the West because of the intersection of civil rights and anti-war protests. Due to the backlash against the excesses of Cultural Revolution and the economic liberalization in the 90s, China generally moved away from Marxism and ideology and I felt estranged even though I felt proud of China’s achievements. Now Xi has returned to the root of Marxism as China proclaims to the world of Socialism with Chinese characteristics. I feel rejuvenated by the positive activities happening in China, from the poetry competitions, folk songs, reevaluations of Chinese histories and philosophies, to hopefully, a more even evaluation of the first 30 years of People’s Republic.
The media in the West such as NYT has been evolving from openly hostile to grudgingly acceptance and taking pot shots instead. They recruit people like Helen Gao to write columns that really irritates me. I guess she can be described as part of the second generation of rich or/and official families who benefits from China’s rise. I look up her profile, going from Beijing University attached high school to Deerfield Academy, Yale, East Asian Studies of Harvard, and presently working in a think tank in Beijing. She embraces the liberal ideology that’s very much part of the Ivy League schools. The most recent column she bemoans the loss of investigative reporting such as championed by Southern Weekly and indirectly attacks the corruption which she thinks Xi unable to attack structurally. She didn’t really think through whether investigative reporting is declining in U.S., after all it took 20-30 years before Weinstein and Crosby are dethroned, and now someone like Trump triumphs here. I think people like her should have read Marx’s high school graduating speech on what career choice one should make upon leaving the school. It was a moving speech on devoting one to the rest of humanity. She probably discount recent news of reversal of 2 high profile murder cases where innocent men were executed for rape and murder during the 90s, and government admitted errors and paid compensation to their families, while in U.S., wrongfully murdered men and lynching victims stand witness in the recently opened museum in Birmingham.
Living in U.S. one can’t help but be aware of the biases and distorted views against China, but for the hermit kingdom it must be 10 times more so. We’ll probably not know why North Korea started the peace offensive for a while, whether China joining in enforcing UN sanctions push them over the edge? The defector crossing with worms in his bowel, the dead fishermen found in boats drifting to Japanese islands, the nuclear testing mountain might has collapsed under the repeated tests, or even the bluster of Trump threatening nuclear preemptive strike. But one thing is certain, the coming meeting between Trump and Kim will determine war and peace, not only in Korea peninsula, but the world in general.
For Donald Trump, under assaults by Stormy and Mueller, it will be a welcome distraction from his travails. It will showcase his showmanship of deal making with a Nobel Peace Prize in grasp if he can pull it off. The question is whether the deep state will allow him the luxury of starting to dismantle the empire. Trump campaigned to make America great again, a more isolationist foreign policy with allies paying a major share of the burden of empire, but if peace reigns in Northeast Asia, what possible justification will there be for maintaining troops in South Korea, or for that matter in Germany or Britain?
For North Korea, the dream is always a strong unified Korea. They have pay a price of tightened bellies to achieve nuclear weapons and missiles. Yet U.S. will not tolerate the threat implicit in it and in danger of spiraling out of control to all out war. A peace treaty guaranteeing their survival and eventual conciliation with South Korea. South Korea with their economy showing North they can also achieve it with peace. For South Korea living under the gun from North this is an opportunity they can’t afford to miss. They might not want to incur the cost West Germany did to absorb East, but gradual improved relation and offers of help they can certainly afford. As relation warms up, eventually they will feel the burden and indignity of U.S. troops and demand their withdrawal.
For China this is win-win. A nuclear free Korea is China’s goal all along. China wants friendly neighbors whether a unified Vietnam or Korea. China do not want to annex other countries as portrayed by West. West don’t understand for China, space is the frontier.
I wrote before the election why I prefer Hillary over Trump because she will be a competent leader managing the slow decline of American Empire, while Trump will be an incompetent megalomania accelerating the decline and endangering the world. Now after more than a year into his presidency, his incompetence is in full display, and his danger to the world is worrying everyone from liberals to conservatives in Washington. With Bolton, a super hawk as his new security advisor, Pompeo, heading the State Department, with Iran nuclear deal to be undone by May, possible ultimatum meeting with Kim soon, war with both Iran and North Korea not only possible, but probable, and trade war with China pales into insignificance.
I agree with pundits that all those moves may be distractions of the nets closing on Trump, from Mueller investigation, from Stormy and her coming revelations on “60 Minutes”, or even the salacious elements from Steel Dossiers which nobody took it serious before. Yet I can’t shake the feeling of doom those old Hollywood movies used to make me laugh becoming reality, “Manchurian Candidate”, “Wag the Dog”, and “Dr. Strangelove”.
Certainly Trump took the deep state by surprise by agreeing to meet Kim Jong-in. Yet unless U.S. agrees to dismantle the empire by no longer threaten the existence of North Korea by signing a peace agreement, in which case troops in South Korea and Japan cease to have any purpose, I don’t see the meeting other than an ultimatum by Trump and will go no where. Trump may has vilified Hillary’s vote on Iraq and call Iraq War a mistake, but he now has hired the architect of Iraq War, Bolton, and defense spending is going up by double digit percentages to “Make America Great Again”. Kim maybe forced by China enforcing the UN sanctions, his failing economy, lack of oil, his people’s starving to make the offer. His sincerity is actually irrelevant, but I don’t see him surrender to U.S. on that ultimatum. For China, a denuclearized Korea is in her interest, and China is doing her best to make it become a reality, but she should be prepared for the worst.
Recent announcement of the revision of Chinese constitution removing term limit for President and Vice President generated a lot of commotion in the Western press and some opposition from small group of intellectuals, mostly liberals, human right lawyers, and some with bad memories from Cultural Revolution. The superficial reflexes are it’s bad for China, Lord Acton’s maxim, “Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.”, and Xi wants to be the next Mao. Instead of suppressing the opposition I would like to examine the issue here on the merits of the criticisms.
The question whether it’s good or bad for China obvious only history can answer. For all we know Xi may decide after this term is over that he has found his successor and retire. FDR got elected for 4 terms because he felt with the war emergency it would be disruptive to change administration. China is at present in middle of war against corruption, consolidation of socialism values, and achieving China Dream. Xi may feel the need to push ahead to lay the foundation for the victory. If we pay attention on Xi’s speech, ” 功成不必在我”, he doesn’t consider he or any leader is essential for the success of socialism. For western reporters claiming it will be bad for China smack of arrogance like colonialists claiming colonialism is good for those colonies because they bring civilization to those unenlightened. For they always proclaim China will collapse and now feel it will be bad for China is the height of hypocrisy.
As for Lord Acton’s maxim, there is certain truth in it, but by no means all. For what is power? Which has no intrinsic value of good or evil, it’s the imperfect human being wielding power that tends to corrupt. Nuclear power can generate electricity for masses or nuclear weapons can kill millions. Who has absolute power? For Christians, it’s the almighty God. Do we infer since God has absolute power, he is by definition corrupt absolutely and is the Devil?
As for Xi wants to be Mao, the implied criticism is Mao was bad, but overwhelming majority of Chinese consider Mao as the founding father of China, a great man, and revered by Chinese. He may have make some errors impatient to change human nature. Some whom suffered during CR may blame him for their wounds. Do Americans blame George Washington for slavery? I am sure some American Indians and African Americans would.
During the recent spring gala on CCTV1, one episode portraying friendship between China and Africa caused some backlashes mostly from liberals and America educated Chinese students on whether China was insensitive or was racism. To me it’s instructive that actually it shows the U.S. centric view on culture and the brain washing or propaganda that most are unaware.
To be abhorrent of blackface argument one must know its history rather than accept it without understanding and then condemn it. In U.S., especially South, mixing of blacks and whites in social settings were discouraged if not unlawful until late 1950s. There were separate bathrooms for different races, blacks have to move to the rear of buses in public transportations. Vaudeville shows using black faces to portrait black characters to avoid hiring real black actors. So use of black faces in movies, especially better paying roles by whites were normal. Othello were played by white actors in the movies until 1995. Paul Robeson was the only exception playing Othello in theatres before 1960. This is why black face is a symbol of discrimination in U.S.. It was different in Europe where black singers and actors perform with acclaim. In Africa, white men playing black doesn’t exist and certainly is a cause for laughter than insult.
Of course some Chinese in U.S. being under constant cultural brain washing also inherit the same narrative of viewing blacks as lower class. preferring white as a standard of beauty, social class, and intelligence. As for China herself, the preference of whiter skin has everything to do with class. Those working in the field under the sun have darker skins than those indoor or under parasols.
China as Xi stated want to contribute to a better world and help African countries to be developed by building up their infrastructures. West can only seen from their own perspective that everything has to do with profit motive, so China must has ulterior motive. As anyone who knows “Journey to the West”, that monkey king is a positive character and not like in West a derogatory term of subhuman. Furthermore it was revealed it was played by a Chinese actor. As for the black woman she need to be fluent in Mandarin to convey the meaning of the skit. It certainly would be more racism to be portrayed by someone who is black speaking in halting Chinese.
It’s unfortunate those liberals brainwashed in U.S., and taking offense in anything Chinese government trying to do, whether aiding Africa, eliminating poverty at home, or fighting corruption from their lens of so called phony human rights.
After living in U.S. for a long time, I am still surprised by the ignorance of Americans toward China. Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised giving they did elect a semiliterate ignoramus Trump as president and most of them are ignorant of American history, not to mention Chinese history. Yet those CIA analysts and those from academia continue to display arrogance and predicting China’s demise or threat, What cause this blindness as China is vaulting ahead of U.S. in economy and science? There were many people predicting China’s rise correctly. I will enumerate those as examples, Joseph Needham ( Science and Civilization in China ), Martin Jacques ( When China Rules the World ), Edgar Snow ( Red Star over China ), and William Hinton (Fanshen ).
What differs these people from the so called China experts and even those reporters stationed in China for a while are the understanding of Chinese history and the value system. For those reporters took away from what President Xi of China spoke on the 19th Party Congress was mostly the length than the content of his speech. For those educated in the West the most important value are “Rights”, “Freedom”, and “Individual”. For Chinese they are “Obligation”, “Harmony”, and “Society”. They view China from their own perspective and thus unable to understand China. For them human rights in abstract such as superficial view of voting and slogan of democracy are paramount, while belittling the real human right to food, shelter, and health. They disregard the meritocracy of China as exemplified by Xi’s biography compared with the rise of Trump which reveals the bankruptcy of liberal democracy. So called freedom and individualism isolate people in their struggle for survival with opioid epidemic to ameliorate their physical and mental pains. The rights are meaningless when structural blocks such as gerrymandering and electoral college belies 1 man, 1 vote mantra. China has abandoned slavery 2,500 years ago and evolved social relations as obligation to society and each other. Xi’s lifting all Chinese out of poverty by 2020 is achievable comparing with Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty which is receding in U.S..
As China’s 1 Belt, 1 Road initiative gathers steam and shows the world a better path to prosperity than the failed Washington Consensus, I think we should recognize China is not a threat but necessary ingredient for world peace. I would like to make certain predictions on China’s relation to her neighbors which is exaggerated as threats by Western Press.
- If India is willing to overcome feeling of humiliation and settle border on the basis of line of control, China will oblige and accept McMahon line.
- China will negotiate with Vietnam and Philippine on South China Sea on status quo and joint development.
- Forget about any change in Tibet or Xinjiang. With climate changes making water more important than oil, China will continue water diversion south to north, from Tibetan plateau to irrigate desserts in Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia. Migration will continue from East to West, and separatism sentiment will disappear as in U.S..
- China is not interested in lands or resources of her neighbors. China never has, but setting her sights to moon and outer space.
As Xi said, China is building toward socialism which is certainly a threat to western Capitalism, but on peaceful competition. West sees China as a threat because they can’t imagine China not using her power as West has been doing for the last 200 years. Thus U.S. is both over estimating China’s military threat and under estimating China’s peaceful ambitions.