China, the United States, and Democracy

"America would do everything to hinder China
from becoming a super power."

Is it really that simple?

PLA opens fire on protesters
PLA soldiers rampage through Beijing while people hide themselves on June 7, 1989.

"The struggle between the two worlds [Fascism and Democracy] can permit no compromises. It's either Us or Them!
Benito Mussolini
Address, from Palazzo Venezia balcony
October 27, 1930

"Either the world will be ruled according to the ideas
of our modern democracy, or the world will be dominated according to the natural law of force; in the latter case the people of brute force will be victorious."

Adolf Hitler
Mein Kampf

...that is yet to be seen Mr. Hitler!

Date: Tue, 8 Apr 97 04:07:09 GMT
Name=Erin P.
comments=Just a few question I would like to ask you ...
America --- Democracy or Moneymocracy (I like that word, don't you)? Do you know what's the average voter turn-out?

Would the American government ever let thousands of protesters jam the city traffic, causing problems and pretty much disabling the daily activities of Wahsing D.C., not for one day or two, but for .... let's say just a few weeks?

Remember what happened to the anti-Vietnam war student protesters?

Have you ever thought about how much progress the Chinese government has made toward raising the living standards of its people?

Do you think people would really care about human rights if they were living in dumpsters?

Do you think the government really cares about human rights, Democracy, so-called freeing Tibet from China, Independence for Taiwan ... and the whole shit load? The key word here is alterior-motives. And what might those be? Say ... that America would do everything to hinder China from becoming a super power ... let's just say that a weak China is what America prefers.

Do you think those students really knew what "Democracy" meant, when they could not even democratically elect a student leader?

Did Democracy bring the people of the former Soviet Union peace and happiness?

Can you name me one true democracy?

Just some food for thought.

Thanx for the web pages helping to farther mislead those who are not capable of independent thinking. You've got plenty ideals ... but afterall, they are just ideals. Maybe a time for reality check?

      Dear Erin,

      I read your e-mail with great interest. However, I wonder whether you were more interested in making accusations than reasoning out your arguments at length, asking leading questions rather than clearly stating your opinions, and being "clever" rather than honestly examining a complex subject. Although it is disagreeable to see such naked cynicism in an 18-year old, I will try to respond to your "questions" with regards to American democracy, the role of organized protest, money and its influence on public policy, and the importance or lack of importance of "ideals" and "reality" in the public debate.

      Your conception of what is a democracy seem shallow and superficial. Democracy is never "true" as you seem to phrase it; in real life, it is always an ideal to be worked towards. True equality among men is not possible - disparities of talent, luck, and motivation among people being natural. Some people feel the call to lead and others feel more comfortable following - neither one is "better." Yet no politician or other prominent figure can put themselves "above" the people without suffering dire public consequences in the United States; politicians who run afoul of their constituencies are routinely and unceremoniously voted out of office (re. Pres. Bush). As for those who choose not to vote, they have made a choice and consequently have no say in government - and I would argue that the relative stability and prosperity of the United States is precisely why many don't vote. Nevertheless, those who decide to involve themselves in the life of the polis have more power than those who decide not to; the President has more power than someone who doesn't care about politics and can't be bothered to vote, for example. I repeat that there is no such thing as an absolute democracy and not everyone will ever be strictly equal. Nobody says there should be no poverty or wealth, although great disparities between the two should be avoided. What is important is that everybody be equal under the law (re. Pres. Nixon) and that certain basic rights guaranteed by law not be infringed upon. What is important in that everyone have the right to lead a life of their choosing in a manner compatible with individual human dignity. Democracy in the United States has its problems without a doubt, but you don't see anyone protesting in the street to establish an all-powerful single party dictatorship.

      You also ignore the vibrant political life in the United States in your "moneymocracy" (and, no, I don't much like that word) simplification of American democracy. Talk radio programs, TV shows, opinion polls, protests, magazines, newspapers, rallies, C-Span hookups, WWW sites, and the give-and-take of a thousand daily conversations about politics daily attest to the often raucous and lively political scene in America. The good, the bad, the ugly - one can find it all in the constantly changing cauldron of bubbling and boiling American political discourse. For better or for worse, nearly everyone has an opinion and is not afraid to say it for fear of the government. Yet everyone knows the rules and the vast majority obey a law which is clear and consensual. People respect the results of elections even when they lose. Politicians leave office peacefully, even when they are bitterly disappointed. In China, no leader ever leaves power unless they are killed, thrown in jail, die of old age, or are deposed by other party officials in dramatic life or death back room politicking.

      The American constitution, which has been the operative legal document for over 200 years now, starts: "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union... do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." This is what is a functioning "democracy" where a legal document is the ultimate binding of the country, not the dictatorship of a single political party. In a democracy, the people get the government they deserve, and whatever democracy the former Soviet Union develops will be what the people make or don't make of it in that country. Whether it be Russia, Chile, South Korea, India, the United States, or China, democracy is an opportunity and a promise but no guarantee. You mention none of this in your "clever" e-mail attacking democracy.

      In China, all politics take place in the narrow confines of the Communist Party and changes take place secretively and out of the sight of the general public. No Chinese leader need submit his rule to approval of the people by means of an election. No open debate of public policy can take place in the newspapers, TV airwaves, or in public. Political discourse in China must take place only along the narrow lines approved by the small percentage who hold political power. This is not a democracy and the people are removed from the process. It is a sterile and weak system, and all real dialogue goes on behind the scenes and in reading between the lines. The average Chinese is discouraged from contributing to the public dialogue and this only increases ignorance and apathy among the populace. In China, people get the kind of government someone else chooses and then foists upon them.

      And if you think the United States has problems holding money accountable in politics ("moneymocracy"), look at China where there is absolutely no public scrutiny at all! For all the brilliance and sophistication of an ancient Chinese civilization, efficiency and honesty in government have never been her strength. And make no doubt about, government in China today is as corrupt as it has ever been in its corruption-ridden past and it will be no different in a future China ruled by modern-day mandarins of the Communist Party. The People's Liberation Army is said to be almost a separate society (a sort of private corporation) which is answerable to no civilian leader and beyond oversight of any kind. If the Chinese do not add the cleansing agent of sunlight to the moldy dark of a secretive and closed political system, this will never change. What is needed is the rule of law and not the ascendancy of guanxi (connections).

      Moreover, you imply in your e-mail that the United States government would have dealt with the protests at Tienanmen Square in exactly the same manner as did the Chinese with the extensive use of deadly force. I could not agree less, and the difference in handling organized protest could not highlight better the essential differences between the two nations. All countries - including the United States - have protests and even riots, but they send out police with water guns and tear gas to crack down. Civilized countries do not send not combat soldiers with assault rifles in tanks and armored personnel carriers into protests to shoot indiscriminately at their own people! I have been to numerous protests in the United States and the process takes on a pre-established rhythm as everyone knows the rules and the protest almost always go off peacefully. Like the college students at Tienanmen Square, the majority of the protesters I have seen in the United States were more than a little immature, bombastic, self-important, and loud - even as they were completely earnest in their convictions.

      Nonviolent protest and civil disobedience is a tradition in democratic countries. It is a tool which people can use to express their point of view to the government. In authoritarian China, a public protest can never be anything but a direct attack upon the State because of the lack of pluralism and freedom. In a democracy, an individual can support the form of government but be against a particular governmental policy or leader. One can make their opinions known without fear of arrest or worse on behalf of the government. In present day absolutist China, one is either with the government or against it.

      In the few actual riots I have been in the United States, the worst I have witnessed were police launching tear gas and hitting people with their clubs. The most deadly American episode in ten years of angry and passionate nationwide protests during the 1960's was at Kent State University in 1970 where panicky National Guardsmen firing into a crowd left four dying and nine wounded in a few moments of desperate shooting. In contrast, thousands of people (the Chinese government won't tell us exactly how many) died as PLA soldiers systematically shot at anything that moved in Beijing over a number of days. Moreover, the Kent State shootings shocked the United States so deeply they helped alter government policy and led to the end of the Vietnam War. I would argue that the United States emerged from the Vietnam-era political unrest in many ways a more mature and learned country that it was beforehand. On the other hand, the Tienanmen Square Massacre led to increased repression and an even more oppressive political environment in China. What will be the legacy of that? The cessation of all political life outside the narrow confines of the Party? Doubtful.

      The problem is that any government which rules exclusively without any established rule of law ends up inexorably acting more and more simply to keep itself in power. As George Orwell wrote about the tyranny of an all-powerful political party in his brilliant book "1984":

"The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know what no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power."

It is human nature that absolute power corrupts absolutely, and this is why forms of government which are open and pluralistic and have stable democratic institutions which keep each other in check are best. When a government becomes accountable to the people and risks being thrown out of power, it suddenly has new incentive to satisfy at least a goodly section of the population - the "greatest good for the greatest number." Contrast this with the current situation in the commissar culture of China where the few Party members and security forces have only to keep each other happy to stay in power. And perhaps most importantly, a healthy society needs a free and independent press which can serve as a watchdog over the government.

      Let me say it again: authoritarian regimes which are not answerable to the people will in the long-run degenerate to an ignominious tyranny of corruption, nepotism, and oppression. History is replete with "enlightened despots" who were more despotic than enlightened. Chinese history is especially instructive in this regard. Without political reform to match her economic progress, China will not transcend her legacy of disunity, corruption, political instability, and ultimately, poverty. There will only be more revolution without democracy and not less.

"Society in every state is a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one."
Thomas Paine

I say all this - and, indeed, put up this webpage - because I would like to see China mature and manage its growth in such a way as to bring the maximum amount of freedom and prosperity for the Chinese people. Nobody in the world benefits from China descending into political chaos. The United States has too much invested financially in Asia and in China to want that. Moreover, the last thing the United States wants is millions more desperate people fleeing for their lives washing up on American beaches.

      Political stability is the desire of every country, including China. However, only when the country is ruled by law and the consent of the governed can there be lasting social stability and anything less merely buys a regime time and puts the whole society on an unhealthy underpinning. Chinese leaders have traditionally been above the law or elections and, not surprisingly, not one has left power without being killed, dying of old age, being thrown ignominiously in jail, or finding himself deposed by his lieutenants. China presently lacks institutions or codes of governments or agreed upon rules of order which everyone understands and to which they can be held accountable. The development of an equitable and independent legal system is perhaps the most difficult task for any government, but in China the judiciary has up until now been a farce! In communist China, the legal system is merely a tool of power for the Party to employ as it capriciously chooses. This is why there are so many people in prison for no other reason than that they oppose the Communist Party. Political instability, upheaval, and eventual revolution will be the legacy of all this. Habeas corpus? Due process of law? I can hear the Chinese commissar saying that China has no time for such niceties. A quick efficient trial and then a prision term or a bullet in the back of the neck.

      Erin, you wrote to me:

"Thanx for the web pages helping to farther mislead those who are not capable of independent thinking. You've got plenty ideals ... but afterall, they are just ideals. Maybe a time for reality check?"
It is precisely this attitude of cynical nihilism and denigration of the ability of the common man to think for himself which highlights the absolute worst man the political animal has to offer. Leaders who carry this attitude with them that the people are "not capable of independent thinking" foster ignorance and apathy in their peoples as they see and treat them little better than dogs to be whipped and kept at heel. A dog will only act as he has been trained to act. I can hear the Chinese autocrat: "People need not ideas nor ideals, but bread! And for bread a man will sell his soul to you and be your slave!" This is not freedom which comes with the right to choose. As pro-democracy activist Martin Lee of Hong Kong recently stated, "There is only one right in China - the right to be fed. It's the sort of right that all dogs and cats enjoy." And who are you or anyone else to say that another person is incapable of independent thinking!

      Historically, it have been leaders who have respected others by voluntarily subjecting their rule to approval by elections and a systematic code of laws which have produced governments which have resulted in the most long-term political stability. Take, for example, English democracy which has evolved continually in an uninterrupted course of hundreds of years - telling us that, yes, ideas and thoughts really do count and the pen is mightier than the sword.

Let me respectfully remind these gentlemen [Party autocrats]:
We want to be masters of our own destiny. We need no gods or emperors.

Wei Jingsheng

      Real leaders respect the dignity of the people and the wisdom of their choices in electing leaders. Real leaders listen to the ideas of all peoples even when they don't agree with them. Real leaders don't arbitrarily send dissenters to "re-education" camps for "incorrect thinking." In short, real leaders build lasting stability and don't buy time for themselves with brute force and a regime of fear. Political principles in government do matter, and China needs to do better than resort to oppression in a knee jerk attempt to preserve stability at all costs.

      China is 1997 is an infinitely more complex place than 100 years ago and the government needs to become more imaginative and less authoritarian. As business improves and ordinary people take more control over their economic destinies through capitalism, they will be much less willing to be treated like children by their leaders. Mao's belief that all culture should serve as propaganda for the state is simply not workable in a modern society with contacts in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, America/West in the form of business, CD's, television, VHS movies of pop culture from around the world. As the world today is smaller than ever, controlling the flow of information is ever so much more difficult.

      The old ideology of the solidarity of the international proletariat is dead even if the Chinese communist party still mouths the slogan. What is the ideological basis of Chinese government today? A policy of total control by one party in Beijing is not sustainable in the long-term, nor has it ever been in China's past or will it be in a probable future. It is not a political ideology in which people can believe. Absolute control of political authority cloaked in resurgent Chinese nationalism in an environment skirts dangerously close to fascism. What is the role of the Chinese people in such a society? The right to obey the government in every way? The right to accept everything unquestioningly and have no say in government? A total lack of awkward questions about the monopoly of power by the communist party? To give up nearly all your personal freedom in the name of 'State security?" Is that something the Chinese people can believe in?

      Erin, believe it or not, people need ideals in which to believe. As Kenule Beeson Saro-Wiwa stated on October 31, 1995, before the Civil Disturbances Tribunal in Nigeria that convicted and condemned him to death on October 31, 1995:

"We all stand before history. I am a man of peace, of ideas .... I have devoted my intellectual and material resources, my very life, to a cause in which I have total belief and from which I cannot be blackmailed or intimidated .... I repeat that we all stand before history. I and my colleagues are not the only ones on trial .... On trial also is the Nigerian nation, its present rulers and those who assist them....."
Saro-Wiwa was hanged on November 10, 1995, and will be not be forgotten in Nigeria any more than will the protesters who also died for an idea at Tienanmen Square in 1989 or afterwards at the hands of the Chinese authorities. It are leaders like these whose legacies stay with us over time. As Euripides said more than two thousand years earlier: "When good men die their goodness does not perish, but lives though they are gone. As for the bad, all that was theirs dies and is buried with them." For example, who today in China mourns the more radical leaders of the Red Guards of the Cultural Revolution?

      Perhaps it were the soldiers, tanks, and assault rifles of Chinese soldiers which won the day at Tienanmen Square in 1989, but I would argue that it are the ideas and thoughts of leaders such as Wei Jingshen, Ding Zili, Wang Dan, and other as of yet unknown Chinese heroes which will ultimately shape the future of China. Let individuals with the courage to tackle the problems of China and lead her into the future boldly and well come forward! Don't let China though inertia and cowardice fail to make certain fundamental changes for the better!

      True leaders give the freedom of choice to those they rule and thereby respect their intelligence and unleash the true power of the people. Deng Xiao Ping realized this when it came to economic matters, but he was trapped by the single party communist power structure when it came to political reform and consequently was forced to crush the students in 1989 with brute force, staining forever his reputation after he did so much good for the Chinese people economically.

      At Tienanmen Square, Deng was as much a victim as anyone else of the communist political system which allows no room for dissent outside of the Party. In truth, he had no options other than to step down from power or crack down in the desire to eliminate all opposition. Deng was forced to do this because of structural flaws in the government he headed. As Deng said shortly after Tienanmen, "It was also inevitable that the situation would further develop into a counterrevolutionary rebellion [if the government had not cracked down]." The only reason this might be true is because of the philosophy of authoritarian rule which does not allow any room for open dissent. If China were some other more open and pluralistic country the protests could have been allowed to fizzle out on their own accord. Citizens unhappy with a government policy could have their say and then go home. The worst that would result would be fights with clubs and tear gas with the police instead of open combat with assault rifles in the Beijing streets.

      Deng later in that same post-Tienanmen Square speech went on to say: "I once told foreigners that our worst omission of the past ten years was in education. What I meant was political education, and this does not apply to schools and young students alone, but to the masses as a whole." What he means to say is that the Chinese communist party failed in brainwashing or frightening sufficiently the entire population into the "official" and "correct" point of view, hence Tienanmen Square. In an example of incredible arrogance, there is not even a hint from Deng that the government might be wrong - that the government could even be able to be wrong! It is the classic top-down power theory which holds that the leaders always know better than the people. It puts the lie to the assertion that the party follows the people. In the Chinese system, the people follow the party. Or else.

      Remember the reality of single party despotism: "Nobody ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power."

      Would Deng be personally opposed to democracy just because it was "Western?" Well, a black cat is as good as a white cat as long as it catches mice, no? "Communism" was originally a Western concept and yet Mao deemed it worthy of imitation. South Korea, for example, seems to be cultivating a vibrant democracy and it is as Asian a country as China. The idea that democracy with Chinese characteristics could not work in Asia because of cultural reasons is plain nonsense! Or is it just that those in power do not want to have to subject themselves to elections and possibly lose? Could it be that the Chinese people are not as enamored of their government as the Party would like the outside world to believe? If the Party is indeed so popular, why don't they prove it in an open election? Does not the Chinese government trust the judgement of the people? Is the Party so much smarter than the people? In the end, Deng was a product of his non-representative political system. His day and era in China has ended. Who will deal with the current very different reality of China?

      What is best? East or West? The United States or China? Such a question misses the point. I sometimes wonder if people in Asia think democracy is nothing more than McDonald's restaurants, rock music, blue jeans, and Nike tennis shoes. To think this would be a mistake. As political scientist Samuel Huntington wrote: "The essence of Western civilization is the Magna Carta, not the Magna Mac. The fact that non-Westerners may bite into the latter has not implications for their acceptance of the former." Sometimes I wonder if in their pursuit of unbridled economic growth some Asians make a serious mistake in aping the worst of the West in terms of the absolute worship of economic growth at any cost rather than focusing on the quality of life. "East is east and west is west" might have been good enough for Rudyard Kipling in the mid-19th century, but the world is much smaller today and as such infinitely more complex. A wise man takes the best from whatever culture he encounters and assimilates it into his philosophy; and there is very little new under the sun in either the East or the West. Yet I wonder if in adopting Adam Smith and dismissing John Locke the Chinese are not constructing for themselves a Corporatist State of the most crude nature.

      Let us look at the true nature of a "socialist" China which is socialist in name only: an all powerful one party State with a monopoly on political power, a government controlled press which exists merely to extol the official Party line, oppression and imprisonment for dissenters, a focus on past grievances and the need for their redress, nationalism and a desire to assert newfound power domestically and internationally, a paternal insistence by the Party of discipline, patriotism, hard work, and absolute obedience to authority, etc. It reminds one uncomfortably much of Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan. A China with a mix of private enterprise and political dictatorship brushes dangerously close to fascism. Is this the type of governmental arrangement the Chinese people want? Is this the best system in the long-term for China as a nation? We can look to Chinese history for clues. Why would an absolutist China be any different in the future?

      As a democratic country, there could be room in China for ALL political parties and ideological persuasions to participate openly in the political process according to the rules. A democracy offers the possibility of respecting the decision of each citizen as the country attempts to reach consensus and fashion an equilibrium of power. Every country is populated by people who inevitably have different ways of thinking, behaving, customs, etc. and enforcing unity through an iron-fist is not the best option. A nation derives its power from being able to mold a unity out of its differences and not through forcing everyone into a single artificial model of "stability." A nation that exists only through strength of force and not through commonly shared bonds of citizenship is a nation in name only.

      Where are the leaders in China to take her to such a place in the future? Will China be forever ruled by fear and despotism? Are cruelty and pure power the only political ideals that mean anything? Are they the only tools that will get things done in China? Is Mao's assertion that "all power comes from the barrel of a gun" to be the mantra of Chinese politicians into perpetuity? Would China sell its soul as such for an artificial "stability?" Would the Chinese like sheep follow a nationalist dictatorship unquestioningly to ruin as did the Japanese in the 1930's?

      On the other hand, what is the POSSIBLE future where the Chinese people can stand up and be their own masters? Does not anybody dream in China? Of course, they do and you can find many of them in jail. History will bring forth true leaders (in or out of government) who have thought deeply, independently, and are ready to make real change that gets past the simplistic oppression-chaos equation. I dare to hope that much for China and the Chinese people. Heavy-handed government and the unimaginative commissar culture in China is not something written in the stars. Human beings with the capacity to think can make the future better.

      I often think that the most damaging legacy of Tienanmen is how the most reform minded persons in the Chinese government were purged afterwards, setting any possibility of reform back decades. A gradual reform could have eventually led towards democracy in the future without the Chinese fear of "instability" throwing out the baby with the bath water. Political reform rather than revolution - compromise, peaceful change which is gradual, and an attempt at consensus among the people - should be the Chinese aim. Yet no such thing will happen with a government which is so scared of the people it dare not even mention such a dangerous thing. Because if the power really does rest with the people, why need the Party remind them of this? It is dangerous! And now, partially because of Tienanmen Square, we are back to the same old zero-sum game of oppression or revolution - as if either of these were an attractive option? Such a predicament is symptomatic of political immaturity and is not a healthy and growing political life. If leaders do not arise to change things, China is digging itself a hole and a day of reckoning will come.

      A China which is authoritarian and does not forge a national unity built on consensual government will inexorably degenerate into corruption, tyranny, and oppression until it is eventually overthrown in a sea of blood. Democracies play out their dramas in public and at least ATTEMPT to solve their problems instead of simply denying them. Problems of this nature have a way of not going away; crushing and repressing an issue of contention is not the same as resolving it. How will an authoritarian China keep its Islamic citizens and persons living in Tibet in line? A perpetual oppression lasting forever? I think this would be the path you would choose, Erin, if you were placed in a position of responsibility (at least based on your attitude) and it has been the communist Chinese reality up until now. Yet the future is up to the Chinese. They have the choice, even if some of them don't realize it yet. Freedom, in the end, is all about choices.

...What are numbers knit
By force or custom? Man who man would be,
Must rule the empire of himself; in it
Must be supreme, establishing his throne
On vanquished will, quelling the anarchy
Of hopes and fears, being himself alone.

Percy Bysshe Shelley
Political Greatness

      They say people naturally start out idealistic in their youth and become more cynical as they age. Erin, I can only hope that with you the reverse be the case. It is not extremism or terrorism or a lack of morals which most threatens democracy. The true lethal poisons of a democracy are cynicism and its inevitable byproduct, apathy. It is precisely this "can't-help-it" and "it's all BS anyway" attitude you convey which allows money to play a disproportionately important role in politics.

     Finally, I will answer your contention that the United States government's dealings with China is motivated solely by an interest in keeping "China from becoming a superpower." I cannot speak for my government, I can only speak for myself. Nonetheless, I believe my opinion largely corresponds to that of the U.S. government and a great many other people in this country.

      If China manages to reform herself into a legitimate government predisposed to live in peace with herself, her neighbors, and the international community, than the United States need fear nothing from China. In fact, a peaceful and economically powerful China offers only greater opportunity for trade and the enrichment of everyone involved. However, if China chooses to become an aggressively expansionist and non-representative nationalist government which nurses old grievances and holds ambitions to be the pre-eminent military power in Asia than she will come into conflict with both her neighbors and the United States of America. China does not want to square off with the United States militarily any more than Japan should have in the 1930's.

      On the other hand, a democratic China which seeks to forge national unity through self-government can live in peace with the United States just as Japan has done since 1945. It is much easier to defeat an enemy by making him your friend than it is to physically overcome him. Everyone in Asia would breath easier with a refomed and more representative China where Tienanmien Square could never happen again. Trade squabbles among friends are things that can be forgiven and long-term political stability in China which is broad-based would increase the economic bounty for all as the country grows together. Taiwan would even be much more amenable to re-integrating itself with China if it saw that country as a multi-party democracy ruled by law. It will most likely be a cold day in hell before Taiwan wishes to become a part of mainland China as long as the same commissar culture maintains an absolute monopoly on political power. What people in its right mind would want to become a part of a China where Tienanmien could happen again?

      But any potential U.S.-Sino rivalry presents less of a threat to the current rulers of Beijing than does the precariousness of their own grasp on political power. As Winston Churchill said about tyrants as Adolf Hitler climbed to power in Germany:

"Dictators ride to and fro upon tigers which they dare not dismount. And the tigers are getting hungry."
The clock is ticking for the Communist Party leadership in Beijing and it is only a matter of time which way it will go. Reformation is infinitely preferable to revolution, and the winds of political fortune are perhaps the more capricious of all. Will change in China come inside the system or outside it? Change will come whether it be wanted or not. Change is perhaps the only constant in life.

      I, along with many others, hope sooner rather than later to see mainland China sitting at the table with the family of other democratic nations which always seem to co-exist together peacefully. It is up to China and the Chinese people.

      I hope this satisfactorily answers your "questions."


      Richard Geib

PLA Soldiers in Tienanmen Square
Chinese armored personnel carriers and soldiers shoot at anything
that moves in the chaos, bloodshed, and confusion of Tienanmen Square.

Some more discussions....

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"I would like to congratulate you..."

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