The Chinese dragon is not red, or green, or gold. It is
iridescent, representing the expedient image that China’s leaders desire to
present to the world, to entice or intimidate, to lure or frighten.
Slow economic growth, chronic political gridlock, a sense of
America’s decline, and divisive social issues have prompted some Americans to
suggest that the U. S. should be more like China, with a less fettered
government that can advance America’s interests, economy, and social
transformation more effectively.
There is much that is noble and beautiful about China:
centuries of magnificent and sublime art, inspiring ideas from thinkers like
Confucius and Laozi, a culture of gentility in manners and relationships, but
today’s China is a far cry from anything noble. Freedom of expression,
religious rights, due process rights, and property rights are routinely
violated by the Chinese government. Nobel Peace Prize winner and political
prisoner, Liu Xiaobo, in essays published in “No Enemies, No Hatred”, has
written extensively on the denial of these fundamental human rights. Tibetan monks
and Catholic clergy are routinely beaten and jailed. Millions of Chinese are
marginalized or persecuted because they will not subordinate their religious
beliefs to the state. Democratic voices are removed from society to maintain a “harmonious”
state, and many of the leaders of the Tiananmen Square movement have paid a
steep prize, including execution, for their courageous stand for liberty.
State-sponsored cyber-villainy and intellectual property
theft are established policy. A foreign company’s opportunities last as long as
it takes for China, Inc. to steal their ideas and innovations. Many of the most
prominent companies in the world have said as much, and some have exited China
because of it.
The green Chinese dragon is an impostor. After decades of
forced or coerced abortions, one would expect one-child China to be an
environmental paradise, as we are often admonished that safeguarding the
environment requires strict population control, but environmental horrors in
China are commonplace. Recently, 6,000 dead pigs were discovered floating in
rivers that provide Shanghai’s drinking water. Masks are needed on many days in
China’s industrial cities. A
prominent Chinese commentator, Kaifu Lee, posted: “A Beijinger says, ‘We are
the luckiest, we open the window and get a free smoke.’ The Shanghaier replies,
‘So what, we turn on the tap and get pork rib soup!’” In twentieth century
America, grass roots political pressure, unhindered research, and
entrepreneurship corrected serious water/air-related human health and other
environmental problems, but not in the “utopian” Soviet Union, nor yet in “harmonious”
China, where these “messy” freedoms are lacking.
Crony capitalism is a way of life. Many of the children and
grandchildren of Mao Zedong’s trusted lieutenants are wealthy beyond measure.
Property is confiscated so the favored class can reap millions or billions, and
the West plays along because there is money to be made.
China bullies its neighbors, and is becoming a bigger bully
with each passing year, attempting to push back neighboring nations by land and
by sea. Lest we conclude that China’s attitude is a response to America’s
support of Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory, there are many
other aggrieved parties, including Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia,
Australia, and India, all of whom have experienced China’s bellicosity. Adding to this dismal record, China is
the enabler of North Korea, the most brutal state in the world.
The dragon’s iridescence is easily explained when one
recognizes that Mao is China’s modern icon. The only difference between Mao and
Hitler is that Hitler lost a war. Mao had the blood of millions on his hands,
yet he died a hero to many Chinese and to many in the West.
If George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill
and, more recently, Pope John Paul II, Vaclav Havel and Lech Walesa, were once
Western icons, they are now anachronisms, incompatible with new Western
paradigms of materialism, relativism, and interest-group rights that divide
rather than unite societies. Self-interest has always warred with ethical
principles, and in the West today, self-interest is triumphing. That’s why the
Chinese model is so attractive to many Westerners.
allows us to see whatever we want to see. To many Westerners, the gold dragon
of profit supersedes the bloody red dragon and the faux green dragon. America
has nothing to gain, and much to lose, by emulating the “harmonious” Chinese