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China’s tyranny is clear to all, which was not always true

Written By | Apr 13, 2021
China, Tyranny, Military, Russia

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China’s tyrannical regime is now clear to all, something which has taken a long time in coming to many circles in our own country.

More than a million Muslims have been arbitrarily detained in China’s Xinjiang region.  The re-education camps are just one part of the government’s crackdown on Uyghurs.  About 11 million Uyghurs, a mostly Muslim, Turkic-speaking ethnic group, live in the northwest region of Xinjiang.

The Chinese government has imprisoned more than one million people since 2017 and subjected those not detained to intense surveillance, religious restrictions, forced labor, and forced sterilization.  The U.S. Government has determined that China’s actions constitute “Genocide” and “crimes against humanity.”

Under Xi Jinping, the Chinese Communist Party has pushed to “sinicize” religion, or shape all religions to conform to the officially atheist party doctrines.  The Economist reports that

“All religions in China are being targeted by the sinification campaign, which was launched in 2015 by the country’s leader, Xi Jinping…Even for many of those who attend official churches, the five-year plan’s emphasis on the need to integrate Christian theology with socialist ideology is grating.  It says quotations should be used by preachers to promote ‘core socialist values.’  These principles should feature more prominently in their training.  Interpretations of the Bible should become more signified, meaning, presumably, that they should help to bolster belief in socialism.”

When it comes to Catholics, China in 2018 reached an agreement with the Vatican that gave both sides a say in the appointment of bishops.  This agreement means, in effect, that no party-rejecting Catholic can become a bishop in China, a clear victory for sinification.

In Hong Kong, democracy is being dismantled. 

China’s autocrats were angered when, after months of demonstrations in 2019 against a proposed new extradition law, pro-democracy politicians won a landslide victory in elections for Hong Kong’s district councils that November.

The elections scheduled for September 2020 for the Legislative Council were postponed.  Pro-democracy politicians were banned.  In March, in Beijing, sweeping changes were made in Hong Kong’s election laws by a margin of 2,895 votes, with one abstention.  Those who oppose the government are, in effect, barred from participating.  Freedom of the press, freedom of speech and the right to peaceful protest are coming to an end in Hong Kong.

China’s agreement to “one country, two systems” when it comes to Hong Kong has apparently come to an end.  China’s growing tyranny is now clear for all to see.

For many years, as Communism took hold in China and a brutal regime was imposed, many in the U.S. welcomed the change. 

It is instructive to review how the American media reported upon Communism’s advance in China and how wrong its assessment is.

The fashionable theme of journalists covering China in the late 1940s was that the Nationalists led by Chiang Kai-shek were hopelessly corrupt and inefficient.  Mao Zedong was portrayed as brilliant, incorruptible, efficient, loved by the masses—-and not a Communist, but an “agrarian reformer.”

Theodore White and Annalee Jacoby, then correspondents for Time magazine, described the Chinese Communists this way in their 1946 book, “Thunder Out Of China”:

“There is only one certainty in Communist politics in China:  the leaders’ interests are bound up with those of the masses of poverty-stricken, suffering peasants, from whom they have always drawn their greatest support.  They, and they alone, have given effective leadership to the peasants’ irresistible longing for justice in his daily life…In great areas of north China the Communists have established  a new way of life.”

After Richard Nixon’s trip to China in 1972, the American media flooded the country with extravagant praise of the achievements of the Communists.  We were told that they had solved all of the ancient problems of hunger, floods, erosion, and inequality of wealth.

Reporting from China, New York Times correspondent Seymour Topping noting:

“The evidence of construction, the lush, well-tended fields, the markets full of food and consumer necessities, and the energy exhibited everywhere add up to the impression that the basic needs of the people are being met and the foundation is being laid for a modern industrial country.”

Visiting in China, James Reston of the Times reported that he thought Chinese Communist doctrines and the Protestant ethic had much in common and was generally impressed by “the atmosphere of intelligent and purposeful work.”

Reston wrote:

“China’s most visible characteristics are the characteristics of youth…a kind of lean, muscular grace, relentless hard work, and an optimistic and even amiable outlook on the future…The people seem not only young but enthusiastic about their changing lives.”

Reston also believed that young people from the city who were forced to work as manual laborers in rural areas “were treating it like an escape from the city and an outing in the countryside.”

When Mao died in 1976, the New York Times devoted three pages to his obituary

But only a few lines alluded to his enormous crimes against the Chinese people.  It has been estimated that Mao was responsible for the deaths of 30 to 60 million people.  The Times referred to the execution of “a million to three million people, including landlords, nationalist agents, and others suspected of being class enemies.”

The Washington Post also devoted three pages to Mao, concluding that,

“Mao the warrior, philosopher, and ruler was the closest the modern world has been to the god-heroes of antiquity.”

The Post acknowledged that some three million persons had lost their lives in the 1950 “reign of terror, but the only victims mentioned were “counter-revolutionaries.”

Not everyone was willing to accept that Mao had killed millions.  PBS interviewed John Stewart Service, the former foreign service officer whose admiration for the Chinese Communists got him into considerable trouble in the 1950s.  He told the PBS audience that reports that Mao had executed millions were inspired by Taiwan and should be taken “with a great bucket of salt.”

Since then, of course, the Chinese leadership has knocked Mao from his pedestal, making those who deified this bloody tyrant in the U.S. appear naive and foolish at best.

Now China’s continuing tyranny is widely understood. 

Human Rights Watch declares that,

“China has constructed a high-tech surveillance state and a sophisticated internet censorship system to monitor and suppress public criticism.  Abroad, it uses its economic clout to silence critics and to carry out the most intense attacks on the global system for enforcing human rights.  No other government is simultaneously detaining a million members of an ethnic minority for forced indoctrination.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has warned China not to take any steps to alter the status quo on Taiwan.  He reaffirmed that the U.S. stands by its commitments to Taiwan and said the U.S. Government must make sure that American companies are not helping China’s policy of repression.

Finally, our government seems aware of China’s contempt for human rights and international law.  Let us hope that our policy toward China will reflect that understanding.

Read more from Allan Brownfeld


Allan C. Brownfeld

Received B.A. from the College of William and Mary, J.D. from the Marshall-Wythe School of Law of the College of William and Mary, and M.A. from the University of Maryland. Served as a member of the faculties of St. Stephen's Episcopal School, Alexandria, Virginia and the University College of the University of Maryland. The recipient of a Wall Street Journal Foundation Award, he has written for such newspapers as The Houston Press, The Washington Evening Star, The Richmond Times Dispatch, and The Cincinnati Enquirer. His column appeared for many years in Roll Call, the newspaper of Capitol Hill. His articles have appeared in The Yale Review, The Texas Quarterly, Orbis, Modern Age, The Michigan Quarterly, The Commonweal and The Christian Century. His essays have been reprinted in a number of text books for university courses in Government and Politics. For many years, his column appeared several times a week in papers such as The Washington Times, The Phoenix Gazette and the Orange County Register. He served as a member of the staff of the U.S. Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, as Assistant to the research director of the House Republican Conference and as a consultant to members of the U.S. Congress and to the Vice President. He is the author of five books and currently serves as Contributing Editor of The St. Croix Review, Associate Editor of The Lincoln Review and editor of Issues.