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.