US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently made several speeches making a distinction between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and China. In all his addresses, he stated that the US objects to the CCP but not the Chinese people; the US wishes the Chinese people well, but is against the CCP’s one-party rule. Pompeo is perhaps happy to have found an argument that the US can use to defeat China. Actually, the first person who used this theory was not Pompeo, but Dean Acheson, Pompeo’s senior and US Secretary of State in President Harry S. Truman’s administration, in the "China White Paper 1949". After 1989, Chinese pro-democracy activists in the US or those who had fled to the US, such as Pompeo’s China adviser Miles Maochun Yu, have been asserting that the CCP does not equate to China, or that they object to the CCP but not China.
History shows that not only was Acheson’s White Paper unsuccessful in sowing discord between the CCP, the Chinese intellectuals and the Chinese people, it instead united them.
Sending the Chinese people into the arms of the CCP
Acheson’s White Paper caught the attention of CCP leader Mao Zedong, who responded with five essays written in 30 days, namely “Cast Away Illusions, Prepare for Struggle”, “Farewell, Leighton Stuart!”, “Why It Is Necessary to Discuss the White Paper”, “‘Friendship’ or Aggression?”, and “The Bankruptcy of the Idealist Conception of History”. These essays were widely discussed by Chinese intellectuals back then and have become classics in the field of contemporary Chinese thought. Until today, they remain important tools for the Chinese people to understand China and the world. A few generations of Chinese grew up reading these essays by Mao.
History shows that not only was Acheson’s White Paper unsuccessful in sowing discord between the CCP, the Chinese intellectuals and the Chinese people, it instead united them. The power of such unity was reflected during the Korean War, where the People’s Volunteer Army defeated the US-led United Nations Command and chased them back to the south of the military demarcation line from China’s border without the sea and air supremacy or equipment that matched those of the US’s.
Chinese dissidents seeking refuge in the US are well aware of the strong bonds between the CCP and the Chinese people but they exaggerate the dark side and opposition forces of Chinese society in order to please their American financial backers. On their part, the CIA provides huge financial support to these Chinese dissidents because they want to achieve “peaceful evolution” in China.
It has gotten to the point where books that speak positively of China hardly get published in the US. On the other hand, books written by dissidents about Chinese politics and society have become mainstream in the US. While these books reflect little of China’s reality, the CIA, politicians and academics in the US have taken it as the whole picture. Thus, if US politicians and academics only rely on these sources to understand China and to tell others about China, they will clearly end up deceiving themselves and others.
China is able to develop at a much faster speed than other countries because the Chinese do not want to see a repeat of the history of foreigners trampling on Chinese soil and enjoying extraterritorial jurisdiction.
The outcome of Pompeo and other US politicians relying on dissidents like Yu to formulate America’s China policy is highly predictable. They know far too little about the history of the Chinese and the CCP. China has endured over a century of humiliation at the hands of Western powers following its defeat in the Opium War of 1840. This century of humiliation has become a valuable lesson for the Chinese people of today. China is able to develop at a much faster speed than other countries because the Chinese do not want to see a repeat of the history of foreigners trampling on Chinese soil and enjoying extraterritorial jurisdiction. One of the main reasons the CCP won the Chinese Civil War between 1946 and 1949 is because they were firmly against imperialism and thus gained the people’s support. The Chinese support the CCP today because it is steadfast in safeguarding China’s national sovereignty and security.
Serving the majority of the people
A group of academics from Harvard University conducted in-person interviews with over 30,000 residents in China’s urban and rural areas between 2003 and 2016. They found that 95.5% of respondents were either “relatively satisfied” or “highly satisfied” with various levels of China’s central government. This level of satisfaction is exceedingly high regardless of which country you compare it to. The reason behind this is simple: the Chinese government calls itself the people’s government. What does that mean? It is about formulating policies that benefit the majority of the people, such as land reform that benefits 90% of the poor while making the rich, about 5% of the population, bear the consequences.* This is impossible for other countries, but the Chinese government is able to execute it. An American academic once wrote in an article that it takes nothing for 1% of the rich in the US to pass a law, but it is almost impossible for 80% of the poor to do the same. This is the difference between the two countries.
Chinese state media Global Times apparently did an opinion poll that surveyed 120,000 Chinese on China-US relations recently. 94.5% respondents supported China taking countermeasures against US provocations. This high level of support is perhaps unmatched by other countries, and could even be all thanks to US politicians like Pompeo. The US is actually lending a helping hand to the Chinese government by challenging China’s core interests and “creating trouble” with issues such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, the South China Sea, closing the Chinese consulate in Houston, etc.
We live in a class-divided world made up of different countries. Different social classes have different interests, just as different countries have different national interests. I am sure Pompeo, as the CIA’s former director and current secretary of state, understands this logic. He will not be more successful than Acheson in his attempt to divide the CCP and the Chinese people.
*According to Yale historian Jonathan Spence, “exact figures on land reform for the whole of China are hard to come by". He wrote in the book The Search for Modern China that in Southern China, it is possible that “40% of the cultivated land was seized from landlords and redistributed, and that 60% of the population benefited in some way”. He also said while the reforms wrecked the power base of the old landlord elite in the countryside, violent confrontations encouraged by the local CCP leaders meant that many lost their lives in the revolution. It is estimated that “around one landlord family out of six had a member killed in these confrontations”. One million or more people could have died as a result.