This is a highly readable open letter purportedly addressed to President Obama. This letter covers lots of ground, and I do find myself agreeing with the many points being expressed eloquently in the tongue in cheek style: mainly the Chinese people do not need your kind of ‘support’ and please butt out of Chinese internal affairs.
|An Open Letter to President ObamaFrom the People of ChinaPart I – Prelude
|We noted with some surprise a recent announcement in The Washington Post of your intention to openly engage in political subversion in our country.We’re told you are “very, very interested in how to reach into China, how to (bypass our government and) reach Chinese citizens directly”, and that you have enlisted help from apparent Chinese “dissidents”, asking where and how you should use your leverage.As we understand it, you mean to try to corrupt the allegiance of our people by attempting to destroy our loyalty and patriotism, to turn us against our own government, and to use us as pawns to undermine the foundation of our own country.
We are writing to express our objection.
We have watched you, your cabinet, and your politicians as you daily condemn our country and our people, for the sake of what appears to be cheap political gain.
We have watched as your media publish twisted, biased and unfair ‘news’ of our country, as they fabricate events and photos that are not real and never happened. We have watched the simple-minded in your country being stoked with bigotry, racism and even hatred, of our country and our people, by twisted stories and knowingly false accusations.
We have watched your military and political efforts to encircle, contain, and destabilise our country. Today we watch you reclaim your “rightful place” as “The Leader of All Asia”, and attempt to gather Japan, Vietnam, Korea, Thailand, Indonesia into your new “China is our enemy” group.
We watched you try to gather Brazil and the other G-20 Finance Ministers to turn against our country. We watched your incessant attempts to bully our country on our currency and trade practices, and we watched admiringly as our government (unlike Japan with the Plaza Accord) refused to obediently commit economic suicide for you.
We have watched your arms sales to Taiwan, your ships and aircraft spying off our coastlines, and your interference in our few tiny offshore islands.
We watched with interest as you repeatedly invoked your ‘national security’ excuse to deny our companies access to your firms and contracts, on everything from electronics to dishwashers.
Many of us have taken note of your unwavering respect for religious freedoms, especially for the … how did Hillary Clinton put it … “the unregistered ones” … the Scientologists and Moonies, the Ku Klux Klan, the Manson Family and Branch Davidians, the Heaven’s Gate UFO group. To say nothing of our own Falun Gong.
For years we have watched you stoke the “Free Tibet” fires, with your CIA causing violence there since the 1950s, and we noted your CIA-planned and financed violence in Tibet as your country’s gift to us for the Beijing 2008 Olympics.
We know that you planned and financed the violent riots in our province of Xinjiang in 2009, through Rebiya Khadeer’s NED-CIA-funded Uighur Congress, and we watched you then hypocritically condemn our government for ‘cracking down’ on your handiwork.
We have for years watched your NED-CIA financing Liu Xiaobo, stoking his seditious rantings, then throwing him away when you were done with him. For a man with no job, he lived a high life for years on his CIA funding, and now this naive, unsuspecting flake will spend well-deserved years in prison for your bit of political theater.
Most recently we watched you attempt to inflame unrest and create civil disobedience in our country with your “Jasmine Revolution” – sadly, the one that never was. And we watched your Ambassador Jon Huntsman sneaking around WangFuJing like a weasel in sunglasses and, when challenged openly, run with his tail between his legs. The photos and videos will always remind us – and him too, if he ever returns.
We look in amazement at your apparently pathological determination to meddle in our country’s internal affairs, to presume to dictate what we should want, how we should think, what kind of government we should have, what our values should be.
And yet in spite of all this, you apparently believe you can offer the Chinese people some vague bait about “freedom”, and magically incite us to sedition – encourage us to betray our country, turn against our government and destroy our own nation – all to satisfy your own imperial agenda.
Mr Obama, we’re sorry to say this, but either you’re very stupid or you must believe we are.
You appear to harbor some grotesque picture of us as the product of some brutal, god-forsaken commie dictatorship, living in a grey world with no rights, no freedom, no hope. You seem to believe we are stifled, unhappy, miserable, the product of enforced slave labor, living our lives under oppression and fear, lacking all manner of liberties.
And that we hold you in such high regard that we will happily run to you – our beacon of hope and angel of salvation.
We think you may be receiving bad advice.
I think we have to tell you that the Chinese people are much better informed than the typical American, much more aware, and few are as naive or gullible as you and Mrs. Clinton seem to assume. Most of us can even find our own country on a world map.
In an NYT blog by Nicholas Kristof there was a comment that the recent tragic earthquake in China’s Sichuan Province was “just nature’s way of telling us there are too many Chinese in the world”. It seems to us this comment more accurately reflects the real US position than do all the fancy words about freedom, democracy and human rights.
It’s our humble conviction that only the terminally naive would believe that anyone in the US government much cares about the well-being of the Chinese people.
Hillary Clinton said, “Many in China resent or reject our advocacy of human rights as an intrusion on their sovereignty”. And she’s right, because it isn’t human rights that’s being advocated. But she apparently has no idea how many of us resent it.
Your interest in our internal affairs is not to help China or to ‘liberate’ the Chinese people, but to force China to become part of the US camp, and you begin by trying to force a change in the political system, not to free the people but to collapse the government and open it to your influence and control.
You certainly preach freedom, but the only freedom you really want for us, is the freedom to serve you. This may be hard for you to accept, but we don’t want to serve you, nor do we want to be like you. We want to be like us.
You questioned your ‘human rights activists’ on how we feel about “the arbitrary exercise of power in our everyday lives”, and “how the omnipresence of the state affects the lives of real people (like us)”.
You won’t want to hear this, but power is not exercised arbitrarily in our country as often as we see it being exercised in yours. And, to be honest, our state is not only not ‘omnipresent’ but sometimes a bit too ‘absentpresent’ for our liking.
We are told that one of the great things about your country is that anyone, even a person with no education, training, knowledge, experience, ability, or even intelligence, can rise to become the President.
Well, the number of our citizens interested in your US-style multi-party democracy is about the same as the number of Americans interested in communism.
Most educated Chinese (and that means most of us) don’t see the Western model as particularly appealing because we don’t look on politics (as you do) as a team sport where everybody can play. Most of us don’t feel we have the knowledge or experience to affect the course of our country in any positive way – and we believe we’re correct.
Our Country’s one-party democratic (meritocratic) government is in for the long term and makes no decisions for political expediency, in contradistinction to what we see in the US. We make decisions for the good of the whole country.
You appear to hope that the lack of a Twitter or a Google is just cause for widespread unrest and social disorder. But to tell you the truth (and I apologise for resorting to the vernacular) most of us really don’t give a shit. Your internet platforms were developed by Americans for Americans and we don’t want them as our standard. We have our own, designed by us for us, and we’re happy with them.
You promulgate the hope that we’ll see a bit of internet censorship as a violation. Mr. Obama, we opened the window expecting to receive fresh air and a breeze, but mostly what we got was flies coming in. So naturally, we put up a screeen. We are quite aware of your CIA’s connections with Twitter and Google. Maybe you should think about that.
In a recent Article in The Economist, the writer, in deep shock, bemoaned the fact that “a disconcertingly high percentage of China’s population appear very happy with their government”, or words to that effect. And that’s true. In a recent survey by your own Pew International, 86% of the people in China are happy with our government and our system – compared to 23% for your country.
And in the latest Edelman poll, 88% of our people trust our government – compared to less than 40% of yours. In fact, your country was just above last-place Russia on these scores.
You have criminals in your country, and you have corrupt politicians too, but it would be mean-spririted and dishonest of us to suggest that their actions represent the moral standards of all America. Do you agree? Why are you so eager to believe it’s different for us?
We were just as shocked and appalled as you, to learn that some of our milk was contaminated with melamine, and you may be surprised to learn that Chinese dogs don’t like poisoned food any more than American dogs do.
Our country is still developing. We have made enormous progress, but for sure we still have a long way to go. However, we look forward to our future. We have changed many things, and will change many more. But we want to do it ourselves.
We believe we see ourselves, our country and our future, much more clearly than you do. We know what needs to be done, and don’t feel we need anyone directing us, and especially not a country that is in many ways in worse condition than ours.
Maybe your “Free World” could learn a lot from our government system. We know you don’t want to hear this, but our government works, beautifully. It has transformed our economy and brought hundreds of millions of us out of poverty.
It has put our men into space, built the world’s fastest trains, the longest undersea tunnels, the world’s longest bridges, the largest dams. It is rapidly creating the world’s largest genuine middle class. And we’ve hardly begun.
China is a pluralistic society. You don’t understand that, and you may never understand. We don’t want winners and losers; we want a consensus that everyone can live with.
Truth be told, many of our Chinese values, attitudes, virtues, are arguably more desirable than yours. The family, relationships, saving and thrift, the avoidance of conflict and search for harmony. If you had these, you wouldn’t want to change them either, and for sure not because some arrogant foreigners were telling you how superior they were.
Instead of us changing all our values to suit you, maybe some of your values should change to be more like ours.
Our letter to you is not yet complete, but we offer you here a brief informational interlude before moving on to the conclusion.
We recommend these brief articles to you. They will help you to understand us, and to understand more clearly how we see you.
The first is a photo essay about China and its people today, titled, If We’re Going to Learn About China, Let’s First Meet Some Real People: A Look at China and its People the Way They Really are Today。 We recommend it to all Americans. You can access it here.
The next is a short poem written by a Chinese, directed to Americans. It’s titled “What Do You Want From Us Anyway? Enough is enough。” You can read it here
The next one is a brief list of some of our country’s recent accomplishments, things of which we are proud. You can read it here.
And we’re sure you will enjoy this next one. It’s titled What’s Good For the Goose … A Humorous Look at Foreign Policy, if China Were to Copy the USA. You can read it here.
The last one is not so amusing. It contains facts that reflect the image of the US from outside your borders. You no doubt already know all of this, but reading it may help you to understand that we also know all of it. You can access it here.
Notwithstanding all of the above, there are a couple of “civil liberties” that are very important to us, ones we don’t seem to have at the moment:
The freedom to decide for ourselves how we will think, what we should want, what kind of government we should have, what our values should be.
Mr. Obama, we know we cannot influence your values, your American Exceptionalism, your attitudes or your intentions. We know we cannot influence your CIA who are tasked with the job of destabilising our country. However, we find your interference in our country’s internal affairs unacceptable, and feel that something must be done.
You may not know this, but our country has an amazingly efficient multi-channel communications system. When something interesting happens in our country, people send SMS or QQ messages and make blog posts, and often we know about things before the media are aware of them. Valuable, important, (or simply juicy) news can reach almost everyone in this country within hours.
And this news is not ignored. There was recently a nasty China article in one of your US papers that received quite a lot of attention here. It was translated into Chinese, then posted on blogs and other sites across the country, and while I personally did not visit all of them, I do recall one site that attracted 320,000 posts – mostly negative – toward the US. Can you believe that? More than 320,000 posts on only one article.
You want to reach into China, bypass the government and talk directly to the people? No problem. We do it every day. Now, I hate to raise your hopes and then dash them, but this is something only we can do. You don’t know where, you don’t know how, and you wouldn’t know what to say anyway.
And then, Something Unexpected Happened
You have a saying in your country that “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” We translated that into Chinese, and then back into English, and do you know how it came out? “You can put American products into all the stores in China, but you can’t make Chinese people buy them.”
It occurred to us that your government and your military exist primarily to serve the commercial imperial interests of your large corporations – of which we have an abundance in our country. And this may be something we can affect. You don’t know this, but we’ve done it before.
GM, your great American monolith, once boasted “What’s good for General Motors is good for America”, but is solvent today only because of its sales in China. If those sales die, GM will be bankrupt worldwide.
And we wonder why your American GM should be able to depend and rely on China to save its very life, for us to be GM’s only reprieve from the hangman, only to have GM’s government surreptitiously doing everything possible to destabilise our country and destroy its rise and development. Now, that can’t make sense even to you.
You may know that our airlines in China use both Boeing and Airbus aircraft. But it appears that the Chinese prefer flying on Airbus planes – we’re told they are quieter and more comfortable. And people are telling us that before booking a flight, they first inquire as to the aircraft and, if they have any choice, they will book an Airbus flight.
The empty seats might encourage our airlines to reconsider any purchases from Boeing – who we understand is one of the corporations contributing to the manufacture of weapons you intend to sell to Taiwan.
You probably know that China is rapidly transforming from a cash to a credit card society; we already have hundreds of millions of cards. A new consumer trend is that Chinese apparently prefer cards issued by domestic banks. Of course that’s unfortunate for US companies like Citibank.
And even our “dictatorial, authoritarian, omnipresent” government cannot make us buy a Buick if we prefer a BYD or (Chinese) Volvo. Nor would they care to argue with us if we prefer a Chinese brand of shampoo to a US brand, or Lenovo to Dell.
We have such a plethora of foreign brands already available to us, that the elimination of a (relatively) few US brands would cause little inconvenience and no hardship to anyone. Of course, that wouldn’t help your trade balance.
You might want to consider that the number of our people (probably about 90%) who will work hard and make real sacrifices for the overall good of our country is likely in inverse proportion to the number of your Americans (probably about 10%) who would give up anything or make any kind of sacrifice for the good of your country.
We harbor no illusions about our power or influence. We do not believe we can kill the sales of GM cars in China. But we do think we can reduce them. We do not believe we can kill Boeing sales in China; but we do think that when Boeing sees warning signs it might lose 50 billion in sales to our airlines, they might be able to explain this to you in a way that you (and your CIA) can understand.
And when Citibank, with its large investment and high hopes in China, discovers things are not going according to plan, perhaps they (and 100 other companies) can help GM and Boeing with the explanation. We will pay special attention to those US companies who advertise in your more biased and hateful media, like the NYT and CNN.
There will be no organised, country-wide boycott of American goods in China. There will be no protests, no demonstrations, no public appeals. The Chinese might be noisy in restaurants, but they tend to be quiet otherwise. We will simply be “monitoring” consumer purchasing trends, and possibly reporting on them from time to time.
You may want to refer to our comments earlier about the efficiency of China’s communication system. From our collective past experience, we are confident this letter (Chinese version) and its attached information will be read by 100 million people. We know we can get it that far. Our challenge is to extend that total to 300 million or perhaps even 400 million. With our huge population, every 1% of consumers experiencing a ‘change in preference’ will mean many tens of millions of purchases.
We know we cannot produce any instant victory over foreign interference in our affairs and that we will have to continue our monitoring, perhaps indefinitely. But we think it’s important for the sake of our country that we succeed.
It should be noted that our government is not involved in this. In fact, we have avoided any contact with any part of the government in case they want to be more prudent and … how did you put it … something about … “the risk of further destabilizing an important relationship …”
This is a grassroots nationwide issue involving only “the Chinese people” whom you so much want to “reach out to”. It has no central focus, no head office, no place to direct a silver bullet.
Mr. Obama, China’s internal affairs are none of your business. We didn’t ask your advice on what kind of government we should have, just as we didn’t ask your advice on how to develop our economy. And none of us want our country to join your empire, directed only by your own narrow self-interest, based on greed and conflict, exporting revolution and bent on global domination.
We are reminded of Ronald Reagan’s quote when your country was devastating Nicaragua: “Make the economy scream.” Well, if that was good for you then, it’s good for us now.
We are aware that unsought advice is often unwelcome and spurned. But nevertheless, our advice to you and all your friends who think we in China should change our system of government is this: Give it a rest. Drop it. Mind your own business. Go clean your kitchen, or cut the grass. Wipe your own kid’s snotty nose and stop meddling in the affairs of people who don’t want to know what you think.
You wanted to find a way to “reach into China”, you wanted to “engage the Chinese public”. Well, you’ve done it. In fact, you may have succeeded beyond your wildest expectations. We are wide awake and engaged.
You wanted a Jasmine Revolution, and you will have it. But it isn’t free; we will now ask your American companies to pay for it.
Sincerely, The “People”
Is it possible that meddling is morally righteous and fun only when you’re the one doing it?