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Friday, November 16, 2007

In the news: Gregory Clark ニュース

The ultimate Gregory Clark column has appeared. Entitled "The fusillade against China", almost everything that is offensive about Clark's writings is collected on one page. In it, Clark bares to the world the lengths he is willing to go to excuse China and its authoritarian regime. Writing this disgusting deserves to relished.

"In some ways China is not my favorite country. I once went to some trouble to learn its language. I have often had to court rightwing hostility for trying to explain its foreign policies in less than demonic terms. Back in 1971 I even organized, single-handedly and over Canberra's opposition, an Australian team to join in Beijing's Ping-Pong diplomacy. (Canberra in those days saw Beijing as evil incarnate, and its efforts to open up to the world via Ping-Pong team matches as a plot to take us all over.)"

Poor Greg. He's gone to a lot of trouble over the years sticking up for the poor, misunderstood dictatorial government, and hasn't received much love in return from others, despite the fact that he, and he alone, was responsible for Australia's diplomatic breakthrough with China vis-a-vis ping pong diplomacy. Visionaries such as Greg are often never appreciated.

"Yet, on my first day in China accompanying the team I had organized with such effort, I was almost expelled for trying to rescue an Australian journalist in trouble with the Red Guards. A few weeks later I was to receive a formal reprimand from the Chinese Foreign Ministry for trying to help more mistake-prone Australian journalists in trouble."

It isn't easy being Greg, not when you have to suffer fools gladly.

"This, together with some articles I wrote showing less than complete enthusiasm for China's disastrous Cultural Revolution, put me in Beijing's bad books for quite some time. Others who slavishly praised China at the time were warmly welcomed."

If you've ever read a lot of things that Clark has written, one thing that will no doubt strike you is his feeling of resentment against others that in his view are less deserving than he.

"But while it is easy to be annoyed by China's hard-nosed realpolitik in choosing friends, it is hard also not to be annoyed by the continual anti-China carping in the West."

Ah yes, criticism of Beijing's atrocious human-rights record is just "carping", a word that suggests one is complaining out of habit and not with any valid reason. This sounds reminiscent of the term "Japan-bashing" that used to be bandied about by those who wanted to deflect criticism away from Tokyo's economic policies of the 70s and 80s. Except that the Japanese government wasn't imprisoning people who dared to stand up for their rights.

"Here is a nation that has begun to lift one quarter of the world's population out of poverty to close to middle-class prosperity in a generation. Yet we are supposed to be upset by suspect paint on some toys ordered to the specifications of a U.S. importer, plus a few other imperfections in the torrent of quality goods helping rescue our Western economies from inflation and improve our own middle-class existences."

If you've been following the news the last few months, you've probably come across a number of stories about unsafe Made-in-China products. Clark prefers to dismiss all of this quickly by suggesting that Western companies are actually to blame, and we should accept the deaths of our pets and the sudden illnesses affecting our children because the Chinese are doing us a favor, after all, by selling us this stuff. This is classic Greg!

"China is accused of air pollution and gobbling up world energy resources. But when it dams the Yangtse River to produce over 22,000 megawatts of clean energy in an engineering feat that no Western nation can even begin to match, the Western media complain about the unforeseen erosion of mountain slopes upstream forcing villagers to be evacuated.

So it would have been better not to build the dam, force China to continue to rely on pollution-intense, coal-based energy, and go back to the days when tens of thousands died from flooding in the Yangtse's heavily populated lower reaches?"

And so much for China's environmental mess. It seems that we in the West are just jealous of China's engineering achievements. Besides, if we force the Chinese to stop destroying their living space, we will be responsible for tens of thousands of deaths. How can Greenpeace sleep at night?!

"Somehow the recent opening of the remarkable 1,142-km, 5,000-meter-high railway line into Tibet is also sinful because it opens Tibet to Han Chinese influence. So it would be better to keep Tibetans in backward isolation forever?

The Han Chinese are supposed to be guilty of creeping genocide in Tibet. But since Beijing allows Tibetans, like other minorities, to have as many children as they want while Han Chinese are restricted to only one child, it seems we need a new definition of genocide."

Considering how many Han Chinese there are to begin with, Greg, I don't think they are in danger of being overtaken demographically anytime soon. It's funny, too, how Clark's defense of China's rule over Tibet - how it has lifted the country out of its backwardness - is the same kind of argument that was used by the Western powers to justify their past colonial rule over Asia and Africa. Greg, unfortunately, seems to be ironically-challenged. He also seems to have trouble grasping the nuances of the English language. It has been estimated by some that up to 1.2 million Tibetans have died through violence and misguided Chinese economic policies since Han Chinese rule was established in 1950. Sounds like genocide to me.

"China, it seems, is also guilty for failing to protest atrocities the West condemns in Sudan's Darfur and in Myanmar. Maybe it sees hypocrisy in the way the West not just fails to protest similar atrocities elsewhere, but actually helps to create them, as in Iraq, Somalia or Afghanistan. U.S. free-fire zones in Vietnam forcing villagers to live in underground tunnels for years make Darfur's Janjaweed killers look like a bunch of amateurs."

Yes, Greg, the U.S. did some pretty bad things in Vietnam. Except that that happened around 35-40 years ago, while Darfur and Myanmar are ongoing tragedies. Clark often seems stuck in a 1960s time warp, as the opening paragraph of his latest column shows.

"Maybe we would all be better off if we stopped telling other nations what to do and concentrated on our own affairs, as China does. But the main complaint is that China is not a democracy. Has anyone thought what would happen if China was a democracy?"

Clark conveniently forgets all the demands and threats China makes against other countries over things like visits by the Dalai Lama or former Taiwanese presidents. Now Greg is really getting going, for he's going to show us how China is better off in its current one-party authoritarian mode of government.

"The first victim would be the unpopular one-child policy, which threatens to cause serious problems for the nation in the future — rapid population aging, a male-female population imbalance, the weakening of family values. Yet, without that policy, the global pollution and resource shortage problems we all face would be far worse. In a sense the Chinese are making sacrifices for our sakes. But they get little thanks. Even the one-child policy is denounced as evil authoritarianism."

See, if the Chinese were given political freedoms, they would start having lots of sex, and global warming would get worse. So we should be thankful that the Chinese people who demand the freedoms of speech, press, religion and assembly, and who call for multi-party democracy, are rounded up, imprisoned and tortured. I'm surprised Greg hasn't praised the regime for the part it's doing to increase the number of available body organs (harvested from prisoners in Chinese jails, according to many reports).

"Today few criticize Singapore, or Japan for that matter, both of whom chose one-party autocracy during their early growth periods. China's blend of local democracy with reasonably responsible collective leadership from the top could well be a model for many other struggling societies.

Singapore's continuing one-party rule suggests that even advanced Chinese culture societies could prefer Confucian-style benign autocracy to Western-style democracy. Democracy is supposed to be about freedom of choice. But our moralists complain when a nation makes a choice they do not like."

Notice how he mentions Singapore, but completely ignores Taiwan, an "advanced Chinese culture society" that remains the only one of its kind to have chosen (and replaced) its leaders through relatively free and open elections. Don't worry, though, Greg will get to Taiwan soon enough.

"Even more annoying is the way the distorted products of myth-making are constantly dragged out to slam Beijing, as with the Tiananmen "massacre" of 1989? Just read the freely available reports from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing at the time to get the true story."

So you see Tiananmen Square was just a myth. When even the Chinese government admits that 200-300 people were killed by the PLA, you have to wonder what is Clark's definition of the word "massacre".

"China attacked India in 1962? Read what the historians have long said: namely, that it was India that attacked China and China retaliated.

China wants to take over Taiwan? Almost the entire world now formally recognizes Taiwan to be part of China."

Criticism of India goes hand-in-hand with love for China; it's a zero-sum game for Clark. Meanwhile, Greg totally ignores the reality that Taiwan has been a de facto independent country since 1949, and a democratic one at that since the early 1990's. Does the world formally recognize that Taiwan is part of China, Greg? Or is it the case that most of the planet's governments recognize that the R.O.C. has no claim over China?

"China crushed Tibetan independence in 1959? But no one, the previous anticommunist Chinese regime especially, has ever recognized Tibet as independent. And we now know that the CIA and India were deeply involved in fomenting the 1959 uprising that China felt it had to crush."

So the Indians and the CIA were the ones really responsible for the Tibetan uprising of 1959. After all, without the nefarious meddling of outsiders, the Tibetans would have realized that the Chinese were doing their benevolent best to lift Tibet out of the Dark Ages. In Clark's strange alternate reality, there is no such thing as Tibetan desires for self-determination. Instead, Clark sounds like one of those old Southern segregationists who blamed "outside agitators" for getting their "Negroes" all riled up about civil rights (Clark is often critical of Western residents of Japan who have the audacity to take legal action against discriminatory practices there).

"True, Chinese leaders have been far from angelic. They have yet to explain their largely unprovoked 1979 attack on Vietnam. Their mishandling of domestic policies led directly to the Tiananmen incident of 1989, and the many other localized riots that continue to occur. But post-Maoist Beijing has been trying hard to reform itself. It deserves more encouragement, less brickbats."

I was always under the impression that China attacked Vietnam to "punish" it for overthrowing Cambodia's murderous Khmer Rouge government. And I like how Greg uses the word "localized" to describe the riots, as if the very idea of any kind of general disgruntlement with the CCP government among the Chinese population is somehow hard to comprehend.

"Recent criticisms of China seem aimed to neutralize the kudos Beijing hopes its 2008 Olympics will bring. For some reason the British have long been the most diligent. As proof of Beijing's continuing authoritarianism the BBC recently went to some lengths to show a young reporter speaking execrable Chinese being refused entry to the closely guarded Chinese leadership housing and office compound in Beijing. Perhaps the guards remembered what happened the last time the British arrived there — the looting of invaluable treasures while crushing the 1900 Boxer Rebellion."

Once again, we in the West are just green with envy over what China has accomplished. And once again, he goes back in history, way back in this case (the Boxer Rebellion Greg?) to justify the heavy-handed way Beijing often handles things.

"London orchestrated much of the anti-China black information campaigns during Vietnam War days. It has used the Tiananmen myth to persuade the European Union to continue its ban on weapons sales to China. Its former governor in Hong Kong, Christopher Patten, was openly contemptuous of the Chinese regime.

Coming from the nation that launched the two Opium Wars of the mid-19th century — wars that were to lead directly to many of China's later troubles, including the loss of Hong Kong — the criticisms seem a bit indulgent."

Now he's on a roll. The "Tiananmen myth"? Christopher Patten - the man Beijing so charmingly called the "historic criminal/eternal sinner/sinner condemned for a thousand generations" for his atrocious crime of trying to expand Hong Kong's electorate? And the Opium Wars? Come on, Greg, the Boxer Rebellion was a stretch, but events of the mid-19th century?

All good things must come to an end, and Clark's column is no exception. As an old colleague of mine from my Tokyo days would have said, Greg is "an incredible piece of work". I wish I knew what makes people like Gregory Clark write the things that they do (perhaps Mr. Pinyin, my Ma Ying-jeou-loving secret admirer from a few threads back could shed some light on this).

Being vice-president of a university in northern Japan, maybe Greg is worried about the security of his cozy job in the face of the declining student enrollments in that country. By standing up for a ruling caste made up of thugs and criminals, he could be angling for a similar post in his beloved PRC. I wonder how he's going to top this article in his next column in the Japan Times?

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