Helping China Peacefully Transform into a Free, Democratic Republic Will Provide the Greatest Benefit to America in the 21st Century
Delivered by Xu Wenli L.H.D.
Senior Fellow, Brown University Watson Institute of International Studies
translated by Joel Dietz, Nadav Katz, and Harry Rothschild
Thank you for inviting me here to speak today.
When I speak, I usually don’t like to prepare a manuscript. Perhaps this is just another bad habit of mine – I am a bit lazy. Or maybe it is because of some of the unique experiences of my life. During the two times I was imprisoned, a total of 16 years, besides the ability to write one letter a month, I had thirteen years without pen and paper by my side. As my friends can imagine, this is quite difficult for someone with intellectual tendencies. It is possible experiences like these have forced me to put aside paper and make a habit of storing my deepest thoughts within my heart.
But I knew that today’s entire assembly of ladies and gentlemen is composed entirely of outstanding Brunonians and esteemed members of the Committee of 100 — all highly successful Americans. So, I’ve felt like a student myself, attending a test, and I have specially prepared a manuscript.
That notwithstanding, I know that as old Brunonians, people familiar with Brown, you all know Brown’s campus better than I. And so I must reassure each of you: Fear not! That unique feature of Brown – that silly-looking, large copper-colored bear still watches and protects our campus. On the quads, Brown University’s young men and women lay or sit on the thick carpet of green grass. There, as ever, they read, talk, laugh, bask in the sun, and whisper words of love.
But many of Brown’s diligent students are deeply preoccupied with issues critical to our society. For example, students from Brown University’s Watson Institute plan to convene “Strait Talk”, a three-way symposium involving China, Taiwan, and the US on November 8 to November 13. This shows the special foresight and mental acuity of Brown’s students, because I believe in the next twenty years no relationship worldwide will be more important than that between the US, China and Taiwan. This sort of great societal problem has been acknowledged and addressed by the students of Brown’s Watson Institute.
Today, we have come to San Francisco. Just as the Chinese name for San Francisco, “Old Gold Mountain,” implies, here is one great mountain piled up from little bits of gold. Many years ago, my Chinese brethren heard legends about this “Old Gold Mountain,” and came to pan for gold. Today it seems as if a great many of my Chinese brethren are still here panning for gold. Today, the “Gold Mountain” of “Old Gold Mountain’ has become the world famous Silicon Valley.
Even as you are all aware, San Francisco has been the site of many important political events. Here are more of my Chinese countrymen than any other city. What more appropriate place could there be to speak of the relationship between China and America?
As you are no doubt aware, on a grand and solemn occasion sixty years ago, many countries, including the Republic of China, came here to San Francisco to sign the UN Charter. At that time, human society the world round seemed poised to enter a new era of peace, prosperity, and democracy. Regrettably, the Cold War started soon thereafter. At that time, the Soviet Union posed a terrible threat to America and the world.
Twenty years ago, once again in San Francisco, President Ronald Reagan and his Secretary of State George Schulz unveiled their long-reaching strategy—the Reagan Doctrine in embryonic form—bravely opposing Communist absolutism and using the “Star Wars” plan to facilitate the collapse of the Soviet Union’s tyrannical regime.
On February 22nd, 1985, Secretary of State Schulz gave a famous speech at San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club. He wisely advised: “We must, in short, stand firmly in the defense of our interests and principles and the rights of peoples to live in freedom. The forces of democracy around the world merit our standing with them, to abandon them would be a shameful betrayal–a betrayal not only of brave men and women but of our highest ideals.”
Only four years later the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union collapsed. The political structures of the world seemed once again to have a clear path towards democracy. However, in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks September 11, 2001, terrorism and extremism have emerged as a great obstacle to the building of a global community of democracies.
In these troubled times for the world’s democracy, China’s Communist government is relying increasingly upon economic growth and its vast reserves of foreign currency. Yet beneath this veneer of prosperity China has lost its moral compass. Economic growth rests on unstable foundations: the volatile banking system is characterized by fraud, speculation and illegal transactions, official corruption is rampant, and a vast gap separates rich and poor.
To divert attention from these rapidly growing domestic conflicts, from this malaise of the spirit, the Chinese Communist government fans the flames of nationalism without cease. For instance, the Chinese Communist government has created and secretly manipulated the burgeoning North Korean nuclear crisis to distract the American government, to undermine America’s position on the world stage, and weaken the impact of US and foreign pressure on its abuses of human rights.
Even worse, Zhu Chenghu, a loose cannon and nuclear madman, recently has emerged from a growing crowd of Chinese militarists to issue a threat of nuclear warfare towards America.
On July 14th of this year, at a meeting of the Better Hong Kong Foundation, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs organized a reception for foreign journalists. At this event, the dean of the PLA’s National Defense College at the National Defense University, Brigadier General Zhu Chenghu, openly told foreign journalists: If Washington gets militarily involved in the Taiwan straits, China may initiate a nuclear attack on many American cities.
As he said: ”We Chinese will prepare ourselves for the destruction of all the cities east of Xian. Of course the Americans will have to be prepared that hundreds of cities will be destroyed by the Chinese.”
Another unverifiable internal speech was possibly given within the National Defense college on July 6th. If true, it is even more crazy and chilling.
The Chinese government on the 16th of July weakened but refused to withdraw Zhu Chenghu’s statements of the 14th. While the ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Zhu Chenghu’s speech was reflective of his personal opinion, they refused to clarify whether or not this personal opinion represented the position of the Chinese government.
Such a ghastly plan is enough to chill one to the bone. This is not simply fanciful bluster: we must pay attention to these plans, even the plans of madmen. History has proven that the sinister designs of madmen with power can become realities. Hitler is an example.
Fifty years ago, Mao Zedong also raised the possibility of a nuclear war. He said: “Nuclear war is nothing to be afraid of. China has 600 million people. It’s no big deal if 300 million die; we’ll still have 300 million.” In 1950, Mao, Stalin, and Kim Il Sung started the Korean War. From the 60s to the 70s they supplied the North Vietnamese Army in the Vietnam War, which killed many young Americans on the battlefield. From 1960 to 1962, Mao Zedong created a famine in his own homeland, indirectly killing over 30 million Chinese people through starvation.
In 1996, the PLA’s Vice Chief of Staff Xiong Guangkai had already threatened the possibility of nuclear war. He warned Americans: “You should start worrying about Los Angeles, not Taipei.”
Most people are confused about the true nature of the Chinese Communist party’s political authority. The true source of party authority is the Army. In name and reality, Just as Hitler’s Nazi storm troopers did not belong to the German people or to Germany, but were a tool of the Fascists, so the Army does not belong to the Chinese state or the Chinese people—it is the instrument of the Party and the Party alone. The people of America and China often mistakenly believe in the supreme power of the Chinese Communist government, but the army is the true core of the Communist Party. On the surface, the “party commands the gun,” and doesn’t allow the “gun to command the Party.” However, in essence, only that highest leader who holds the stock of the gun – that is, the Chinese Communist Army — can command the Chinese Communist Party. This leader is exempt from the so-called principle of not allowing “the gun to command the party”—it applies only to his subordinates.
Now, the highest leader of the Army is also the highest leader of the Communist Party – Hu Jintao. He has repeatedly shown that he is taking after Kim Jong Il and Fidel Castro, as he has given free rein to Zhu Chenghu to issue the threat of nuclear war towards America. We must maintain a heightened state of alertness.
Furthermore, San Francisco is certainly included in the swath of hundreds of cities which Xiong Guangkai and Zhu Chenghu would use nuclear weapons to destroy. As I just stated, we must maintain a heightened state of alertness
No doubt, global terrorism is currently the greatest challenge for America. But beneath the surface the absolutist Chinese government and its collection of ICBMs pose the potential for greater terror and an even greater threat toward America and the American people. We must push China to peacefully change into a free, democratic republic! We must draw upon intelligent strategies like those of Reagan and Schulz to help China peacefully transform into a free, democratic republic. Just as America’s fervent belief in this global responsibility helped extinguish the global threat posed by the Soviet Union, a renewed belief in this sense of responsibility and similar thoughtful strategy can eliminate the threat that the autocratic ruling cabal in China poses to America and the rest of the democratic, freedom-loving world.
Therefore, the essential message of my lecture is this: In the 21st century, helping China peacefully transform into a free, democratic republic is vital to the national interest of America and the American people. The simplest and most economical means of achieving this end is to support open, sincere, rational, and constructive opposition parties working to undermine the autocratic Chinese Communist government. This alternative is far preferable to the gargantuan human and financial costs that would result from war between America and China.
In 2003, with the help of students and others with a common outlook at Brown’s Watson Institute, I founded my non-profit the “Caring for China Center.” The central purpose was to investigate the problem of peaceful political transformation within China, to study and work on creating a draft constitution of a new democratic republic, compiling documents for a civics textbook that would be used in a new democratic system. Other projects have included the plan for “Strait Talk: A Multi-Track Symposium on China-US-Taiwan relations,” establishing “China Speaks,” a clearinghouse for dissenting opinions on the questions of the Rise of China, my “Freedom Tour,” establishing the website for the Chinese Democratic Party overseas, looking after Chinese orphans, working for the release of imprisoned members of the Chinese Democratic Party and other prisoners of conscience, and providing assistance to dissidents that have already been released from jail and their relatives.
I know that as successful Americans, you may often fear that your work will impinge on your ability to sleep. Personally I have found that even when I am able to go to sleep at a reasonable hour, I am not infrequently awakened by telephone calls in the wee hours of the morning. But yet I still persist on behalf of the Chinese mainland that it may embark on a path of democracy and freedom. Just as my compatriots still need help in many areas, so I also need each of your help and support.
My homeland and I both need your help and support – only with it will China’s future prospects be filled with fortune and the relationship between China and America harmonious!