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Useful tips for Studying

For reading-intensive classes, one should always be sure to complete the assignments as soon as possible. Putting things off never pays because, inevitably something unexpected always comes in at the last moment to create additional work. Also, the sensation one gets at the completion of a task is far more satisfying than the feeling of dread and anticipation one gets from putting things off (procrastinating.) This is particularly true of projects, which may require you to order books from the local library. Also, it is important to make sure that you complete the blog post (or whatever the assignment is) right after doing the reading. Otherwise, you may forget what you read or get it confused with something else from this or another class.

As we all know it is impossible to read every single word in every single assignment. My advice to skim the parts that contain information you already know or don’t find too difficult, but read the parts with difficult or new information thoroughly. In the case of this class, because I didn’t know much about China, I found myself thoroughly reading a lot of the information. Along similar lines, I suggest reading more closely when one is reading for a project, especially when the class is one where one will have a sequel.

Against my personal policy, I had, for the most part, to wait for the due date to complete my weekly assignments because I was busy with my medical problems and other classes. That said, I NEVER waited until the evening, which would be the absolute last minute. It’s worth mentioning that doing this in the evening would likely result in nightmares. It is my opinion that there is nothing so likely to cause nightmares as hearing about bloody rebellions, revolutions, racism, and the outright greed and ethnocentrism that drove colonialism and imperialism. I maintain that it is far better to use print sources than online sources because one can use highlighters and post-it notes on print sources. The reader would be stunned to learn how much paper and ink I’ve used this semester, admittedly spread between my classes. Don’t bother to use color-coded highlighting. That is just too much work and takes the attention away from what you’re reading.

I do have one more suggestion- stay in one position while you’re doing your homework. I’ve found that getting up to make or eat food or use the bathroom distracts me from what I’m doing and getting back into “the swing of things” takes away critical time. Best of luck to all of you with your homework!

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Human Rights

This week’s readings focused on China’s human rights violations, specifically Tiananmen Square and Tibet. In terms of Tiananmen Square, the government sent the military to kill unarmed peaceful protestors and civilians. Thanks to the lack of intercountry information innate in Communist countries, nobody actually knows how many people were killed in this atrocity. In terms of Tibet, China expanded into a contested area and killed and suppressed ethnic Tibetans. The Dalai Lama (the leader of Bhutan and religious leader of Buddhism) spoke out against this and tried to stop it, but did not succeed.

One can only do what President Clinton did- separate the economic desire to trade with China from the moral disgust of China’s human rights violations. The only way to deal with it is through education. We need to circulate underground pamphlets teaching the Chinese people the drawbacks of communism and the benefits and drawbacks of democracy and other forms of government. That way, the people will do their own fighting and we won’t have to be directly involved. Maybe we teach them the benefits of peaceful protesting and smuggle in cameras, but we don’t arm them because, in the event of an information leak, we don’t want China to bomb us.

The big divide between China and the West stems from imperialism, with China parlaying any and all of our accusations with their accusation that we are evil and just want to take them over again. It’s really a problem that we inherited from our forefathers. (As an aside, I say that, given that I was born decades after imperialism ended, I really hate inheriting this problem. To me, it smacks of Black people resenting me just because my forefathers may have owned their forefathers. I’m not responsable for what my ancestors did.) Our problem is that China won’t acknowledge their human rights violations or give their people the freedom to think for themselves, so we can’t introduce them to the world outside of China and to other ideas, like democracy. Of course, we want to be very careful not to force them into democracy. That would make us imperialists all over again.

Yes, actually, the US President should have historians for all major countries on speed dial. China doesn’t want interference because it has, for millennia, viewed itself as superior to and independent of all the rest of the world and resented centuries of Western imperialism and interference. The only way we could get them to openly allow us to talk to and “interfere with” them is to gain their trust. I regret to say that I don’t know exactly how to do this.

Image courtesy of: Google Images

Information courtesy of:

Moïse Edwin E. Modern China: A History Third ed. Harlow, England: Pearson/Longman, 2008.

Dillon, Michael. China: A Modern History. London: I.B. Tauris, 2010.

Radio broadcast (and transcript) from Radio Beijing early on June 4 (The shortwave Radio Audio Archive)

“Deng Xiaoping’s Explanation fo the crackdown, June 9, 1989” In The Search for Modern China: A Documentary Collection. Third ed. Edited by Janet Chen et. al. W. W. Norton & Company, 2014.

“Dalai Lama and “Ahimsa: for Tibet: The Nobel Peace Prize Lecture, December 10, 1989” In The Search for Modern China: A Documentary Collection. Third ed. Edited by Janet Chen et. al. W. W. Norton & Company, 2014.

“President Clinton Reevaluates Human Rights as element of China Policy, May 27, 1994” In The Search for Modern China: A Documentary Collection. Third ed. Edited by Janet Chen et. al. W. W. Norton & Company, 2014.

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Opening up

This week, I read option one. It took China decades to open up from being a closed Communist nation to being a politically Communist but economically open nation. The first steps were taken in the 1970s when Nixon went to China and then a Chinese leader named Deng Xiaoping returned the visit. I have to say that I found the idea of a Chinese Communist enjoying cowboy things, like lassooing, to be remarkably interesting, unexpected, and diplomatic. The story about Fred Hayes showing Deng the latest in NASA technology reminded me of when the US astronauts and USSR astronauts rendevouzed and shook hands in space during that same decade.

Learning about there being a (nominally) Democratic (but really dictatorial) army in combat with an impromptu Communist army composed solely of civilians and warlords’ armies, I was reminded of the civil war between the whites and the reds in the developing USSR. All of the different armies in China had different bases, leading to, at one point, Nanjing being the center of a developing China, thanks to the Guomindang government. However, this government had serious internal problems and thus could not expand into rural areas. Also, this government’s leader’s subordinates tended to betray him as soon as possible. Once he tried to expand into northern China, they became separate and competing warlord generals. As strange as it may seem to a modern reader, during the years (1927-1937) when this government was in power, Chinese Communists were actually very reduced in numbers.

Despite the first steps towards peace between the Communist and Democratic nations being taken in the 1970s, its outcome would not be seen until the 1990s when the Soviet Union fell and Hong Kong and Macau were finally returned to Chinese rule after a century under of British rule. This foreign rule was started thanks to imperialism, meaning that imperialism’s effects lasted into the modern era and outlasted Communism, the East’s response to imperialism.

Most importantly, after the deaths of the two highest Communist leaders, Mao and Zhou, the art of negotiating left Chinese politics. As such, the Right won, leading to events that cut short the official mourning for these men. One of these was what, we, in the West call the Tiananmen Square protests. After this, without the support of their beloved Mao, the Big Four, who had been promoted just as a result of their personal connections to Mao and not as a result of their work experience, lost their jobs. The moderates tried to get technically-gifted leaders rewarded, but this was inconsistent with the radicals’ viewpoint of continuing pure Communism. One of them was Deng Xiaoping, who would later come to the US.

The US finally began to import Chinese goods in 1979, but, by 1982, China started trying to improve its relations with the USSR. This eliminated any idea of China and the US becoming allies. In 1979, to move forwards economically (which was a large problem for poverty-stricken China), families were given responsibility for either a plot of land or a business. It worked very well and introduced the incentive of personal profit, although people still could not actually buy the goods. This put China well on the track towards economic success.

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Nixon and Pandas

This week, I read the Pandas article. I know that it is a little short, but I figured that I simply HAD to know about it. Clearly from these articles, we have established a relationship with China because it benefits us both economically. However, we have not become one of their closest friends because they won’t let lots of their most precious national symbol come to our country.

The main article said that no more western incursions would be made into Indochina. Given that this promise was made during the Vietnam War, whose purpose was to stop the spread of Communism in that same geographical area, it is clearly an empty promise meant to reassure Mao Zedong and his fellow Communist party members, who were still leery of imperialism. After all, this speech was made only about a quarter of a century after Japan’s attempts to take over China and since India’s and Burma’s revolutions to overthrow British rule. Also, this was just about fifteen or twenty years after the Chinese gave emotional support to the American Civil Rights movement, who were also trying to throw off the classist imperialist system.

One does also have to wonder why exactly Nixon mentioned several American customs, like freedom of the press. One would certainly think that the Communist leaders would already have known those things. Thus, one assumes that this reiteration of them was partially to emphasize American culture and what he perceived to be its strengths.

I’d say that American zoos should try using modern reproduction methods to gain more pandas. For example, instead of trying to get one from China, they could try using in vitro fertilization. As a matter of fact, they could try putting the embryos into not just a female panda, but also a more common bear, like a black bear or grizzly bear. Such techniques have been used successfully in terms of cloning and trying to bring back species who literally only have a handful of grown females remaining. The host species just has to be physically similar, not the same. And although I know that financing is tight, one does have to wonder just how the New York City mayor thinks that he can possibly have something resembling a complete zoo without pandas. After all, they are literally the symbol of China, a very ancient and strong country. It’s like having a zoo without giraffes and zebras (to represent Africa), camels (to represent the Middle East), penguins (to represent the mistaken view that they all come from Antarctica), or gorillas and chimpanzees (to represent our closest genetic neighbors.)

Image courtesy of: Google Images

Information courtesy of:

Richard Nixon and Zhou Enlai, “Toasts at a Banquet Honoring the Premier“, February 25, 1972.

Richard Nixon: Speeches, Writings, Documents. Edited by Rick Perlstein. James Madison Library in American Politics. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010.

Cunningham, Maura Elizabeth. “Panda-monium at the Bronx Zoo: A History“. Mauracunningham.org. February 8, 2018.