Last week the Paramount Leader of the People’s Republic of China, Hu Jintao, visited the United States. In addition to a state dinner, the leader of Communist China toured a new embassy complex and met with Congress members serving on the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations and the U.S.-China Business Council. As expected, touchy questions arose during a joint press conference with President Obama. The U.S. media drilled Hu on human and civil rights of Chinese citizens, to which Hu claimed China still has work to do in those areas. Despite China’s lack of elections, civil rights and human rights, it’s important for Americans to remember the nation China is, including its history and political system. Additionally, an analysis of China’s intentions and roles as an emerging power and its effects is crucial to all citizens, including Americans.
I first learned about China’s past through public schools. However, I learned about the political suppression of its citizens through the novel Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Chinese author Jung Chang. With over 10 million copies in circulation, the book has opened the doors of “red China” to the world. From feet binding and the Great Leap Forward (1958 to 1961, aimed to use China’s vast population to rapidly transform the country from an agrarian economy into a modern communist society through the process of agriculturalization, industrialization and collectivization), to the destructive and suppressive Cultural Revolution, the book showcases a wide range of Chinese culture and history in relation to the rest of the world.
Mao insisted on using his theory of continuing revolution, that “capitalist roaders” be removed through revolutionary violent class struggle vis-à-vis mobilizing China’s youth. Acting on his instructions, youth gangs called the Red Guard formed around the country. The movement subsequently spread into the military, urban workers and the communist Party leadership. An estimated 11 million were killed. Chang’s book opened my eyes to the horrors of communism and collective societies. It’s important to keep in mind China has a radically different history than the U.S. People often forget the campaigns the Chinese Communist government used to retain power. One might call it “uncivil.”
What does China’s rise mean for the United States? It means we don’t forget history and we protect our interests. Hopefully President Obama will play hardball with China when it comes to currency devaluation and push for currency equality when discussing debt resolution. Similarly, President Obama must be forceful if he negotiates a global climate change resolution. As expressed before, I view climate change cap and trade schemes as engines designed to steal liberty and private property, not change fixed carbon levels. However, if he strikes a deal, China and India must be included and pay their share to greedy governments.
China’s role as a rising economic and military power in the world isn’t necessarily dangerous. However, it becomes worrisome upon evaluation and comprehension of its history and political system. The situation becomes more worrying when climate change resolutions are discussed and China sits on the sidelines, letting advanced countries absorb the costs. I urge Americans to give China a chance, but remember its history and communist ideology before welcoming them to the big leagues with open arms.