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Chinese Perceptions of the United States
Jingduan Yang M.D.
What Do Chinese people feel about the United States? The answer to this question may help us to understand the seemingly complicated relationship between communist China and capitalist United States. And it may shed some light on how these views will affect the future of the Sino-US relationship. These changes are the direct result of the collapse of the former Soviet Union and Eastern European communist regimes.
It is even more intriguing to observe the dynamic interaction between the United States and China in the last 13 years, from outside of China. This opportunity is unique because I have access to information that I did not have before, when I was in China.
To talk about how China feels about the United States, we have to separate how the Chinese communist government feels about the United State,s and how the Chinese people feel about the United States.
What determines how the CCP feels about the United States? One factor, and one factor only. The CCP loves the United States, when it can use the US to help it strengthen its control of China and Chinese people, and it hates United States when the US sticks to its principles and seriously challenges China's practice of dictatorship and violation of human rights.
In the last 13 years, I must say, the Chinese communist regime loves the United States a lot more than it hates it. It is because the United States has given up its principle of putting freedom and human rights before its trade relationship with China, or at least giving both equal weight. To unlink trade and human rights, is actually a re-link in a negative way, meaning if you want to do trade with China, do not be serious about China’s human rights record.
Because of the trade with the United States and Western countries and because of the technology and monetary investments flowing into China in the last 13 years, the CCP has been able to accomplish the following:
First, the political legitimacy of ruling China after the Tiananmen Square massacre that had killed the Chinese spirit, and pursuit of freedom and democracy. The courtship by Western leaders of the CCP has convinced the Chinese people that there was no way they were going to get real support from the Western countries against the CCP dictatorship and violation of human rights. The recent incident where Mr. Chen Yonglin, a defecting Chinese diplomat in Sydney, was initially rejected for political asylum by the Australian government, was unfortunate proof of this devastating situation. The theory of engaging China is really, in practice, engaging the CCP regime and disengaging Chinese people. The pursuit of short-term economic interest has made western leaders shy away from tackling the worsening record of human rights violations, and religious and political freedom in China.
Often the Chinese government and Western governments tango in harmony to mislead people that they are working on and making progress in improving human rights in China. The hostage diplomacy and human rights dialogues is nothing but a show in the eyes of people who are suffering and getting no real support.
The CCP is also very good at turning every opportunity into favorable propaganda for itself. Attending a Sunday worship in a state run Church in Beijing, Secretary Rice was trying to show to Chinese, (unfortunately Chinese could not see the show) how much she cares about religious freedom, and the CCP capitalized on this opportunity to show the world the China does have religious freedom.
Second, the rapid build-up of military power which has been made possible by obtaining money and technology, in the process of trading with the United States and other Western countries.
Becoming a military super power will enable China to challenge the US determination to defend freedom and democracy in Taiwan, and to launch a war in the neighboring area that could shift China's internal crisis, and strengthen its power and legitimacy of ruling China when it is needed. The cost of course, is the interests of Chinese people, as always.
I was not surprised to sense the fear among US diplomats and government officials in dealing with today's China.
When I saw that former Chinese president Jiang Zemin, was received as an honorary guest in President Bush's Texas ranch, I entertained the idea that the guest could have been Saddam, if he was as powerful and evil as Jiang.
Third, the communist propaganda penetrating the Western world, was made possible through its deals with Western media tycoons that want to do business with China. That allows the Chinese government- made programs to be shown freely in the US, but only entertainment programs to be shown in China.
China has successfully sold the idea to the Western world that China has changed, and that it is no longer a communist regime, but an evolving western type capitalistic super power. We like the freedom of the press in the West, and Chinese communist leaders enjoy it even more.
Deng Xiaoping’s strategy of developing China in disguise is working. Now, not only the majority of Chinese, but many Western politicians and people, have been sold the idea that China and the world would be better off with the communists ruling China.
It has been proven that the theory of transforming China by engaging it, became in practice the Western world being transformed by China instead.
In conclusion, it is my observation that CCP leaders love United States and Western countries, they sent their children to the West and money too. They are eager to invite Western leaders and their associates to visit China so they can show them what they want them to see, and it works even better if they allow China to cover their travel expenses. It is not uncommon to see how a politician in the US, changes his position on China issues, after being a guest of the Chinese government.
How about the Chinese people? What do they feel about the United States?
This is a more complicated question to answer. There are at least several factors determining their feelings towards US.
1. How free they are from the control of the CCP. It includes spiritual freedom and family freedom and financial freedom. Even for people who have expressed their feelings by leaving China, and chosen to stay in the US, their feelings can change because of the various social, and economic attractions that the CCP can provide them, and the way the CCP treats them today was so different to when they were living and working in China. China needs them and they need China, a nice tango again.
2. For those who have no way to escape the control of CCP, how they feel about the US depends on what the Chinese government wants them to feel. In 1947, the CCP praised the US and US people for their freedom, and democracy, and support to China, in an official news editorial, but in 1950, it made the Chinese people fight a war against the “ American imperialistic obnoxious wolves”. President Bush senior was puzzled when he was working in China by the fact that the Chinese media portrayed the US as the most evil enemy on earth, but CCP leaders hosted parties for them and are extremely friendly to them in private. The truth of the matter is that the CCP does not hate the US, but it needs the Chinese people to hate the US, so any US voice raised concerning misdemeanors of the Chinese dictators will be automatically dismissed by Chinese people as a Western conspiracy against China. And they can also be manipulated to go to war or to demonstrate when the CCP needs them.
3. For those Chinese who experienced first hand, the persecution, and decided to fight instead of identifying with the abusers, they have more mixed feeling towards the US. They are grateful that the US provides them with protection and personal support. But they feel sad to see how the Chinese government and the US play political games, sacrificing Chinese people and American people’s interests. They feel betrayed at times.
Those whose information sources are controlled by the CCP, of course hate the US in general. It is why 80% of Chinese people using the internet, cheered for the destruction of the Twin Towers and thought the US deserved to be punished. Further more, some Western Internet and communication high tech companies are helping the CCP to censor information and develop Internet blockage technology. Worst of all, the CCP also uses the Internet to spread its ideas, sometimes in the name of a third party, giving Chinese people a false sense of information freedom. These people shall hate the US even more when they know someday, what the US government and US companies have done with the CCP government, and how they have knowingly ignored the fundamental rights as human beings. This maybe why the Iraqis are not all grateful to the US for being liberated.
In conclusion, the US has a choice to make today – choosing to take sides with the Chinese communist regime, or with the Chinese people. To continue engaging and cultivating the communist regime will lead to the development of the worst foe that the US has to deal with. If the US engages with the Chinese people who are fighting for themselves and making a peaceful transition to a free and democratic China., the US can help to facilitate the golden revolution by helping promote the free flow of information in China. We are seeing today, the power of information, with the wave of resignations from the CCP, after the spread of the Nine Commentaries on the Chinese Communist Party. It is a critical and rare opportunity for the US to make a right choice, a choice benefiting the Chinese people, the US, and the world.
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