It appears people from all over the world, including some from China, are confused about China. Practically all the media in the West have incessantly bombarded our feeble minds with their version of China, which is a horrible smog-choked hell-hole where godless people cheat and steal, and where the brutal communist goons try to take over the world by conquest depriving everyone of freedom. I was born in Hong Kong and educated by Catholic Brothers. The first part of my adult life was spent in Canada. I worked in the mainstream media business. I know what I’m talking about.
I have also witnessed China’s largely unsuccessful attempts to battle this avalanche of Western media disinformation over the years. Being from Hong Kong, we were not taught modern Chinese history at school, and most of us opted out of history anyways and took science courses instead. Even after Hong Kong’s sovereignty returned to China, the population of the self-administered city refused to learn Chinese history. They protested the inclusion of modern Chinese history in school curriculum.
Both my parents were staunched anti-communists. My father was actually an ex-communist. I experienced in person the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution in Hong Kong. People were writing slogans everywhere, some protests were quite violent, and a well known radio performer was killed by a home-made fire-bomb. Sounds familiar? My mother was a teacher. I’ve been to the Teacher’s Association. It’s a viper’s nest fomenting venom on all things from China. No real investigation of the truth is allowed; forget about having balanced views. What do you think will come out of impressionable young minds if not extremism? Ironically, these teachers are all holding government jobs. There is not enough room to enumerate all the organizations, government or otherwise, that continue to utilize public funds and take advantage of government inaction to subvert China’s sovereignty of Hong Kong.
Despite all that, I kept myself apolitical because I refused to have an entrenched opinion on a subject I did not understand. Unfortunately, for many people, their minds are made up, do not confuse them with facts.
While in Canada in the early 80’s and working in television, I made friends with officials from both the Taiwan representative’s office and the Chinese embassy. Interestingly, I once spoke one-on-one with Jiang Xiaoyan (蒋孝严), the grandson of Chiang Kai-shek, without knowing who he was. His name at the time was Zhang Xiaoyan (章孝严). He was in charge of overseas Chinese affairs at the time. He even gave me his phone number and address and asked me to visit him in Taiwan. Without knowing or caring about the differences between the KMT and the CCP, I hired a Taiwanese as the TV station’s news director. Her husband was in fact a KMT legislator. I was friends with them for a long time and they did not screw me over with funny business.
At the other side of the spectrum, I was also friends with the Chinese embassy’s cultural attaché who did not speak English and, given China’s lack of resources at the time, had a hard time trying to understand the Canadian society. Once he complained to me that he couldn’t even watch a Taiwanese movie at the cinema because he was so obviously a Chinese official (he was an older gentleman who was a journalist for Xinhua News Agency before 1949) and that would have been inappropriate. I promptly went to the Taiwanese office and borrowed maybe ten movies in 16mm reels and delivered them in person to the embassy in Ottawa. I told the Taiwanese officials that their mainland compatriots wanted to watch their movies and they happily assented. They were not such bitter enemies after all. This was the first time I realized why China had such a hard time trying to tell its side of the story. They don’t really have qualified people to fight a very difficult battle, and they don’t trust anybody else to help them. Hence the long and winding road with apparently not much improvements in this area.
In 2011, which was the 90th anniversary of the establishment of the CCP, I wanted to read something about the CCP to educate myself on the subject. I used to fly quite a bit in China during those days, and I went through many airport bookstores. There were thousands upon thousands of titles on how to make a fortune, but not a single book on the CCP. In utter exasperation, I went to Bejing Xinhua Bookstore and they dug out some dust covered books from storage. I got one from the late 70’s, one from the seventieth anniversary in 1991, and a contemporary version. This was during an anniversary year. I wondered if China had given up trying to tell a better story of itself.
I was surprised to return to Toronto recently to discover the existence of strident anti-China and anti-communist groups. The Falungong group with their dance troupe and multilingual free newspapers seems to have unlimited funds. From a bystander’s point of view, they may even have more presence than China on the street level. When the Confucius Institute sponsored Mandarin classes for the Toronto Education Board, so that any student wanting to learn Mandarin can do so for free, anti-China groups made a big stink about insidious commie messages hidden in the Mandarin lessons to corrupt Canadian children’s innocent minds. With not a single person, organization, or media to stand up and speak on behalf of common sense, the Confucius Institute quietly withdrew their sponsorship. Have you ever heard anything as asinine as this? Is it possible that a country as powerful as present day China cannot even give away free Mandarin lessons (which my daughter would have loved to take)? It is a failure they need to acknowledge or they will never improve. We need to have a better story of China.
I went to China to live and work from the end of the 90’s until recently. Bit by bit, my eyes were opened to the dishonest nature of the West’s narrative on China. For most of the people exposed to Western mainstream media and who have not been to China or learned anything about China outside of their normal channels of information (or disinformation), they will fall victim to the millions of seemingly innocent little lies that bombard them from morning till night. Rather than arguing the veracity or falsity of what we read and watch every day, which will be tedious and may take forever, I will share the following excerpts from a documentary film about China which was made by a non-Chinese Western organization. I will disclose who made this documentary at the end of the excerpts.
„… to understand China, three facts must never be forgotten. China is History; China is Land; China is People. Chinese history goes back for more than four thousand years …
… more than four thousand years ago, the Chinese empire was already in existence, and more important, so was the Chinese civilization, a civilization of art and learning and PEACE.
China is also Land… this vast area consists of China Proper, and for outer provinces, to the north is Manchuria… next to Manchuria are MONGOLIA and Sinkiang (Xinjiang)… To the west is TIBET.
… of every five persons on the face of the earth, one is a Chinese, and since one-fifth of all the human beings in the world are Chinese, we should know what sort of people they are.
Well, in all their four thousand years of continuous history, they have NEVER waged a war of conquest. They are that sort of people. They developed the art of printing from movable type. They INVENTED the mariner’s compass, without which no ocean could be crossed. They were among the first astronomers and their observation of the stars and planets made possible the accurate measuring and recording of Time. They are that sort of people. And why do we call our dishes china? Because the Chinese INVENTED the art of making porcelain. And as we all know, they INVENTED gunpowder, not as weapons of war, but (as fireworks) to celebrate their holidays and religious festivals. And it was one of China’s great philosophers who five hundred years before the birth of Christ gave mankind these words: “What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.” (Confucius’s Golden Rule: ‚do NOT unto others what you do not wish others to do unto you.‘) They are that sort of people, ENRICHING THE WORLD in which we live.
Why are the Chinese, when … in all their four thousand years of history have NEVER waged an aggressive war been forced to fight…?
The people of China, the people who wouldn’t surrender; the people determined to fight for their freedom, their good earth; people who CAN’T BE BEATEN … in the struggle that is as old as China herself; the struggle of freedom against slavery, civilization against barbarism, good against evil. UPON THEIR VICTORY DEPENDS THE FUTURE OF MANKIND, and we must have it …“
These are excerpts from a documentary film directed by Frank Capra, the beloved director of „It’s a Wonderful Life“ and many other Rockwellian films of Americana. If he had lied, we would never watch „It’s a Wonderful Life“ on Christmas Eve again. The film was produced by the War Department Signal Corps, Army Service Forces, United States Department of Defense. The title of the film is „The Battle of China“ of the series „Why We Fight?“ These are the men and women who sacrificed their lives to defend America and the world from fascism. Could they have lied?
It appears America knows about China after all. China herself couldn’t have said it better. Ask yourself why you do not know the truth when the truth is known all along. Is it possible ALL your media and ALL your journalists practicing the freedom of the press do not know? Is it possible that we prefer to believe the lies because the lies fit our prejudices? If we accept hypocrisy and lies when it suits us, shouldn’t we expect hypocrisy and lies to be exercised on us? It’s called „blowback.“ Why do you think we have democratically elected leaders and representatives of the people who don’t give a rat’s ass about telling the truth? We have met the enemy and he is us.
„It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.“ — Upton Sinclair (on Mainstream journalists and editors)
„Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.“ — George Santayana
„In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.“ — George Orwell
p.s. Knowing the truth, it would be easy to predict the outcome of the trade war. I wrote a Quora article on the subject in early 2018 and it has proven to be surprisingly accurate.
Originally posted at author’s blog: What is China?
Posted by author of “The Unconquered: Children of the Divine Fire” This book is about a people that CAN’T BE BEATEN.