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The Negative Effects of the Rise of Dictatorship on World Democratization

April 9, 2010

Liu Xiaobo

2006

Translated by HRIC, based on a translation by Paul Frank.

When the Communist Party of China (CPC) boss Hu Jintao made his first official visit to the United States [in April 2006], he followed the old low-key pragmatic approach the CPC regime had adopted in its relations with the U.S. since June Fourth, with the intention of maintaining stable relations between the two countries. In order to reduce the U.S. trade deficit with China, the CPC regime put in an order for $16.2 billion worth of American goods. To placate U.S. concerns about the problem of intellectual property rights, Hu Jintao paid Microsoft chairman Bill Gates a house call and, during a tour of Microsoft’s headquarters, made lofty reiterations of China’s commitment to protect intellectual property rights. To ease strong U.S. dissatisfaction with the CPC’s control of the currency exchange rates, the Chinese side promised that it would handle exchange rates with increasing flexibility. In every speech Hu Jintao made in the U.S., he declared that China and the U.S. share broad common interests, have a solid foundation for cooperation, and shoulder the important responsibility for promoting world peace and development, and that a healthy, stable and ever-growing China-U.S. relationship will not only benefit the people of the two countries, but also be good for the peace, stability, and prosperity of the Asia Pacific region and the world at large. At the same time, in an effort to reduce or deflect U.S. concerns about communist China, Hu Jintao privately told Bush that he was busy with domestic political and economic issues and had no intention of challenging the U.S.

But the contrast between the positive buzz that accompanied Hu Jintao’s trade trip to Seattle and the chill surrounding his visit to the White House highlighted once again the close economic ties and political distance, as well as the lack of trust between the two countries. At the Bush-Hu summit, each leader essentially said his piece and there were no breakthroughs on significant problems. Regarding the issue that most concerned Hu Jintao—Taiwan—Bush’s declaration of the U.S. position evidently did not meet the Chinese side’s expectations. And regarding the issue that most concerned Bush—the Iran nuclear issue—Hu Jintao reasserted China’s opposition to sanctions. Therefore, the U.S. media did not give the Bush-Hu summit high marks. The Associated Press even used the word “failed” to describe it.

[China] provides large quantities of economic assistance to dictatorships such as North Korea, Cuba, and Myanmar, offsetting to some degree the impact of Western economic sanctions and enabling these remaining despotic regimes on their last legs to linger on.

The last stop of Hu’s visit to the U.S. was a speech at Yale University. Turning Chinese government slogans of “putting people first” and “harmonious society” into the language of diplomacy, Hu promised that China would abide by its commitment to a peaceful rise and would devote its efforts to building a harmonious world.

In the post-Cold War world order, China has already risen to the ranks of countries that get a lot of attention. The reform and opening up policy have transformed dictatorial China into the fastest developing nation, while the disintegration of the Soviet Union has turned communist China into the biggest dictatorship in the world today. There cannot be many genuine common interests between the world’s biggest free country and the world’s biggest dictatorship. When the CPC boss panders to the U.S. and the American president receives China’s dictator as his guest, both are, in my opinion, acting out of expediency. In its gamble with the free world, todays dictatorial Chinese communists are already completely different from the traditional totalitarian Soviet Communist Party. The CPC no longer adheres to ideological positions or to the concept of military confrontation; rather, it has devoted its efforts to developing the economy and has abandoned numerous friendships based on ideology. But while it has pursued market reforms on the economic front and made every effort to integrate China into the global economy, when it comes to politics, it is tenaciously clinging to its dictatorial system, fully dedicated to forestalling Western peaceful evolution.1

Therefore, the CPC’s lame reform has failed to bring China any political progress; on the contrary, the dictatorial regime has employed money diplomacy to degrade world civilization. The current CPC regime is flush with money, and money diplomacy is very effective: it has enabled the remaining despotic regimes to linger on, while making the free countries lower their civilized standards to pander to the political demands of communist China. One could even say that as the world’s biggest dictatorship, communist China has become one of the biggest obstacles to global democratization.

To eliminate the negative effects of the sudden rise of dictatorial communist China on world civilization, we must help the world’s largest dictatorship transform into a free and democratic country as soon as possible. In the great cause of global democratization, China is a key link: if China is in the game, then the game is on for everyone.
  1. The CPC regime has replaced the former Soviet Union to become a blood transfusion machine for other dictatorships. It provides large quantities of economic assistance to dictatorships such as North Korea, Cuba, and Myanmar, offsetting to some degree the impact of Western economic sanctions and enabling these remaining despotic regimes on their last legs to linger on. The CPC regime has also signed a large number of energy agreements and launched large-scale cooperation programs with notorious rogue regimes such as those in Sudan, Syria, Cuba, and Zimbabwe. It has also started using promises of large investments to rope in various Latin American countries that have begun to turn to the political left. Furthermore, it is using energy cooperation to attract the extremely anti-American, anti-Western Muslim countries, such as Iran. Recently, communist China and Iran have reached an agreement that China will not only purchase petroleum and natural gas from Iran but also invest $100 billion in the development of the Yadavaran oil field. This is the biggest trade contract Iran has ever signed with a foreign country. In the midst of the Iran nuclear crisis, the CPC regime is working with the increasingly dictatorial Putin government [of Russia] to help extreme-fundamentalist Iran confront the West.
  2. The CPC regime is using money diplomacy and multipolar politics to get political concessions from the major liberal powers in Europe. First, the CPC regime took advantage of major differences within the European Union regarding the issue of Iraq. Together with France, Germany, and Russia, it opposed the war to topple Saddam Hussein, agitating for a multipolar world order to rival America’s unipolar hegemony and setting obstacles for the Bush administration’s Great Democratization of the Middle East. Second, lured by big purchase orders by the Chinese government and China’s huge market, the major European powers, France and Germany, seem to have completely embraced this regime. French and German politicians take pride in the strategic partnership they have established with communist China, giving no consideration to human rights and other universal values. It can be fairly argued that the CPC regime has already driven a wedge into the Western camp and is causing a widening split within the free world alliance on the question of policy toward China. Among Western leaders, none has behaved more shamefully than French President Jacques Chirac. He had the entire Eiffel Tower illuminated red to welcome Hu Jintao’s arrival [on a state visit]. The group photo of Mr. and Mrs. Chirac with Mr. and Mrs. Hu shows the head of state of a great free world power fawning over the party boss of a great dictatorship. Chirac, on his own initiative, helped the CPC regime cover up the bloodstains of the Tiananmen Massacre and pushed hard to get the EU to lift its embargo on arms sales to China, arguing that enough time had passed since June Fourth to scrap the arms embargo that had been laid down on account of the massacre. Fortunately, the EU did not yield to the pressure from France and Germany and has kept the arms embargo in place. At the same time, with the change of government in Germany, the pro-American Angela Merkel has replaced the anti-American Gerhard Schroeder as chancellor, and the new German government has publicly stated that it will no longer push for the lifting of the arms embargo on China.
  3. The CPC regime uses China’s huge market to lure and coerce big capital from the West, and the very nature of capital is to chase profit with no regard for universal values or fair trade. So the big capital from various Western nations inevitably tries to exert influence on its home country’s China policy. For example, the U.S. Boeing Company is only interested in selling more aircraft, so it lobbies the U.S. government to make certain political concessions to the CPC regime. Because the top U.S. Internet companies, such as Yahoo, Microsoft, and Google, are only interested in increasing their share of China’s fast-growing Internet market and do not care a bit about American values or the U.S. government’s human rights diplomacy, they have behaved time and again in ways contrary to both. To make a profit, these companies have gone as far as to recklessly betray universal values and the American government’s human rights foreign policy. Without exception, they have all bowed to political pressure and coercion from the CPC regime and have become its accomplices in restricting the freedom of expression and in its literary inquisition.

To eliminate the negative effects of the sudden rise of dictatorial communist China on world civilization, we must help the world’s largest dictatorship transform into a free and democratic country as soon as possible. In the great cause of global democratization, China is a key link: if China is in the game, then the game is on for everyone. Therefore, whether to let the CPC dictatorship, which has taken more than one billion people hostage, continue to degrade human civilization, or to rescue the worlds largest hostage population from enslavement, is not only a matter of vital importance for the Chinese people themselves, but also a matter of vital importance for all free nations. Were China to become a free country, its value to human civilization would be incalculable. It would inevitably follow in the wake of the global collapse of the Soviet Eastern European totalitarian empire to bring about another global avalanche among the remaining dictatorial systems. It would be difficult for dictatorial regimes such as North Korea, Myanmar, Cuba, and Vietnam to continue, and those Middle Eastern countries with firmly entrenched dictatorial systems would also suffer a great blow.

Translator’s Notes

1. On the perceived Western “peaceful evolution” threat, see for example, Russell Ong, “The Threat of ‘Peaceful Evolution’ in China’s Security Interests in the Post-Cold War Era, Routledge, 2001, pp. 116–135. ^

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