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Shortsighted US-China Policy Betrays Americans and Chinese

Posted by Author on May 4, 2011

By Michael Young (Chinese-American writer based in Washington, D.C. )-

Two decades ago, the communist empire collapsed in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. In the past few months, two dictatorships have been overthrown in the Middle East, and several others appear to be tottering.

In this worldwide movement toward freedom, the Chinese regime, at once both the largest communist state on the planet and the most brutal dictatorship, has been an extraordinary exception.

Not only did the Chinese regime survive the 1989 democracy movement, but it has so thrived that many Western countries today equally fear its rise as much as its collapse.
A short-sighted U.S. policy that has known neither how to contain the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime nor how to cooperate with it has played a major role in helping this beast to grow.

Recognizing Communist China

President Richard Nixon abandoned U.S. principles for the sake of pragmatic diplomacy, and the United States offered friendship to a brutal communist regime.

Nixon rationalized establishing formal diplomatic relations with communist China out of fear of the consequences of a possible miscommunication in the nuclear age. But he also seemed to believe that U.S. engagement with the Chinese regime could change its behavior in positive ways. For instance, Nixon believed that had the United States normalized relations sooner, Chinese involvement in the Korea War could have been avoided.

Of course, Nixon also wanted China to be a potential U.S. ally in the Cold War with the Soviet Union.

At that time, the Chinese regime was having an ideological argument with its former master, mostly because Mao was mad at the criticism of Stalin by the new generation of leaders of the Soviet Union. In addition, China shared a long border and long-standing territorial disagreements with the Soviet Union. The Chinese regime was more suspicious of the Soviets and more afraid of invasion by them than by the Americans.

Diplomatic relations with the United States were a great gift to the Chinese communist regime. The United States confirmed the Chinese leadership’s belief that opposing the United States militarily was the way to win its respect; possessing nuclear weapons had strengthened the Chinese regime’s leverage in diplomacy.

Domestically, diplomatic relations with the United States declared to the Chinese people that the Western countries accepted the communist system, which helped legitimize the regime.

The enthusiasm and admiration Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon expressed for Mao as a great leader of China still sickens me. Mao’s revolution and dictatorship caused 80 million unnatural deaths of the Chinese people.

Tolerating the Tiananmen Massacre

After the death of Mao and other founding members of communist China, the Chinese people for the first time overcame a deep-seated fear and in the spring of 1989, took to Tiananmen Square, demanding democracy and transparency of the regime.

Deng Xiaoping, the paramount leader of the CCP, together with seven other veteran communist leaders, sent tanks and machine guns to the square and killed thousands of the students.

Deng said at that time that he would kill 200,000 Chinese people to maintain the power of the Communist Party for 20 years.

At the beginning, the United States offered moral support to the demonstrating students and later gave asylum to some of the dissidents and imposed some economic sanctions against China.

When the United States saw the communist regime had won the battle, it quietly lifted all the suspended exchanges and sanctions without the Chinese regime making any concession to reforming its political system or acknowledging its wrongdoing in killing the demonstrators.

The lives of those students and of the millions of Chinese who have sacrificed their lives pursuing freedom were quickly forgotten. Before the eyes of the Chinese people, the United States once again became a friend with the murderous regime.

Delinking Trade and Human Rights

Former President Bill Clinton once pointed out that the Chinese leaders were on the wrong side of the history, and he openly criticized the Chinese regime’s human rights record during his presidential campaign.

However, after his first trip to China, he was transformed. Stopping in Hong Kong, before Clinton even got back to the United States, he rushed to praise the Chinese leaders for the good job they were doing in China.

He was the major mover behind eliminating the annual review of China’s human rights record that had determined the U.S.-China trade relationship. Clinton argued that an improved economy and living standards in China would improve human rights there and even transform the regime. In fact, the human rights issues were too inconvenient for those eager to do business with the Chinese regime.

After Clinton won most-favored-nation trading status for China, human rights and trade continued to be linked, but in reverse. Any individual, company, or U.S. government official who wanted to get anything done in China or with the Chinese state should discuss human rights only behind closed doors and then only the issues that least irritated the Chinese regime, if at all.

At this point, the Chinese regime realized that the United States was not really serious about human rights in China. The United States cared more about gaining the Chinese regime’s cooperation for its own political and economic agenda.

Silence on the Persecution of Falun Gong

After the most recent effort for democracy was killed by military suppression in 1989, the Chinese people began to pursue spiritual freedom. Between 1992 and 1999, 70 million to 100 million Chinese people put their minds and hearts into the practice of Falun Gong (also called Falun Dafa).

Falun Gong practitioners do five sets of meditative, qigong-like exercises and strive to live according to the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance, principles that are congruent with China’s historical practices of Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism.

Between 1996 and 1999, Falun Gong practitioners were subjected to intensifying harassment. A letter dated April 25, 1999, from then-paramount leader Jiang Zemin justifies the “eradication” of Falun Gong that Jiang would order three months later. Jiang considered the emergence of the practice of Falun Gong an ideological threat to the CCP, with the CCP’s atheism challenged by the spiritual belief of Falun Gong.

Jiang’s decision has led to thousands of deaths of Chinese Falun Gong practitioners. The Falun Dafa Information Center can document over 3,000 such deaths but estimates the true death toll to be in the tens of thousands. Millions have suffered from detention and torture. Practitioners have been subjected to sexual abuse, forced labor, psychiatric abuse, and organ harvesting.

The Chinese regime has made this campaign of terror possible with propaganda in the state-controlled media that demonizes the practice and the practitioners. But U.S. administrations have failed to challenge that propaganda.

Despite multiple resolutions from the Congress demanding that the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners stop, the U.S. State Department has made no visible effort to get the regime to comply. Rather, Falun Gong has been seen as an inconvenient issue that interferes with U.S. relations with the Chinese regime.

During the almost 12 years that the persecution has continued, Chinese democracy dissidents, Chinese Christians, and the Dalai Lama have met with U.S. presidents. Even though the persecution of Falun Gong is the biggest human rights issue in China, no U.S. president or secretary of state has met with Falun Gong practitioners to discuss the situation in China or has given them public moral support.

At this point, the Chinese regime is fully convinced that the United States is not only a true paper tiger, but also a hypocrite. The Chinese regime is confident it can corrupt U.S. values and the American way of life.

When you choose a murderer, a rapist, and a thief to be your business partner, you will end up being an accomplice in crime, a victim of the criminal, or, very often, both. Google found itself in that position after being in China for just a couple of years and decided to pull out and “do no evil.”

If the United States had treated the Chinese communist regime as President Reagan treated the former Soviet Union, the Chinese people would have already enjoyed the same freedom, prosperity, and peace as the people in Taiwan.

What has the United States gotten in return? Nothing but a threatening rival who has become a real tiger with no intention of becoming a vegetarian. It is not too late for the United States to revise its China policy.

That policy should be based on moral principles and humanity—on a respect for fundamental human rights. It should engage the Chinese people who are fighting for their freedom, not just the regime. It should reestablish the United States, not just as a military superpower, but as a moral superpower.

Michael Young is a Chinese-American writer based in Washington, D.C. He writes on China and the Sino-U.S. relationship.

Via the Epochtimes

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