Starting with why we are daunted by China: its huge population, economic clout, robust military, public belligerence that evoke fear, avarice, and caution in those who lead states, companies, and religions.
Some of the most courageous people in the world are Chinese: Cardinals Kung and Zen, the poet and human rights activist Liu Xiaobo, the nameless man facing that menacing tank in 1989, Jingxiong Guo in the present day, and so many more.
China’s rulers are atheists and anti-Christian; in fact, they aggressively oppose any spirituality that puts God or principle before the state. Thus, committed Catholics and other Christians, Tibetan Buddhists, Uighur Muslims, Falun Gong members, and others are subtly or brazenly persecuted, depending on the perceived degree of threat.
There are no human or legal rights in China except as endorsed by China’s rulers.
We can embrace Chinese culture—art, music, literature and poetry, noble philosophies—while rejecting China’s tyrannical rulers, and we should repeatedly make this distinction.
Many influential voices in this world have been bribed to keep silent about China’s abuses. They live well and keep their mouths shut. For instance, wealthy professional athletes and coaches with no compunction about criticizing America refuse to speak ill of China because they fear the financial consequences. Companies doing business in China all too often accept violations of norms of law and human rights they’d never accept in America, Europe, or Japan.
Like every other regime lacking a citizenry with rights and freedom, China’s environmental record is high on platitudes and dreadfully low on performance.
Why should China Inc. spend to invent when it can hack and steal at a fraction of the cost? China’s rulers have aggressively pursued and supported the theft of intellectual property for decades, and right up to the present day.
Do not dare say anything positive about the Dalai Lama or a Catholic or anyone seen as a threat to the State, or else! As for those in The Vatican inclined to mollify (even appease) China’s rulers, we might hearken back to Soviet ruled Eastern Europe and ask ourselves whether safe and sound Vatican officials or Catholics who were persecuted in those countries were more credible.
The moment China’s rulers believe they can gobble up Hong Kong and Taiwan they will do so, and the human rights leaders in those places will immediately be imprisoned or eliminated. Hong Kong and Taiwan are constant thorns to China’s rulers who want their citizens to believe that free societies are antithetical to Chinese tradition and order.
China’s rulers, their families and collaborators, are very wealthy and live lives of privilege.
The American President, for all his many flaws, is the only global figure that has repeatedly stood up to China’s rulers.
Lastly, for China apologists, including those within Christianity, who argue there is injustice, poverty, and other human rights abuses in America and other democracies, of course they are right, as was true in the days of Hitler and Stalin, but these apologists make the logical and moral mistake of equating states and systems that fall short of perfection rather than acknowledging the vast gap between rights and freedoms in China and free societies, between acknowledged shortcomings and state policy. Also recognize there are thought leaders in the democracies who believe governing by an elite class, with individual rights secondary to state programs, is superior to the “messiness” and “disorder” inherent in democracies.
There may be little we can do to change China’s behavior but we can cease denying and avoiding the truth, and perhaps make personal decisions that hold China’s rulers accountable in small ways.
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