High Time to Re-think U.S. China Policy

Comments on Mr. Zbigniew Brzezinski’s most recent message on “How to Stay Friends With China” on the eve of Hu Jintao’s formal state visit to Washington, DC.

By Ning Ye and John Kusumi
Jan. 2011

On the eve of the summit meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and President Hu Jintao, the Secretary General of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Mr. Zbigniew Brzezinski — the former National Security Advisor to former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and one of the most important front-running “old China hands” — published an article. His op-ed, “How to Stay Friends With China”, is an apparent attempt to pre-frame U.S. China policy to (mis)guide the White House under the codes of a decades-long, never-changing stereotype of blindfolded China advocacy. The drumbeat of that advocacy has continued ever since the top secret Cohen Memo was presented to former President Richard Nixon on November 7, 1969, regardless of drastic macro-changes in the political/economic landscape of North America and Asia as we see today. In effect, Brzezinski issued a brainwashing dictum to the current Obama administration.

To some degree, Mr. Brzezinski may be one of the extraordinary figures among the ranks of such top-notch godfathers of U.S. China policy, as for example unforgettable figures such as John King Fairbank, Jerome Cohen, Henry Kissinger, and Alexander Haig. Mr. Brzezinski made certain excellent remarks about issues he expressly addressed or at which he implicitly hinted.

He notes that a U.S.-China summit during the Carter administration “marked the beginning of China’s three-decades-long economic transformation – one facilitated by its new diplomatic ties to the United States.”

Mr. Brzezinski is not simply a witness for what he styled as China’s “economic transformation” over the course of several decades. He himself has played an indelible leading role in designing and devising the engine for that “facilitation,” making all such “transformation” accelerated. Henceforth, history and human commemoration must remember his name, whether in good light or bad, for accountability.

Mr. Brzezinski may be absolutely right to point out that “China’s three-decades-long economic transformation” from an under-developed, third class banana republic to the world’s number two economic superpower — and expected to surpass the United States, becoming the world’s number one economy — has been “facilitated by its new diplomatic ties to the United States.” What this old-fashioned China advocator on Pennsylvania Avenue forgot to mention is explicit language: such facilitation — helping and driving such a transformation — could never be realistically achieved, perceived or even imagined without the far reaching efforts and colossal contribution that was made by the author personally, in collaborating with his fellow China hands of the same special interest group that exerts decisive influence ‘inside the Beltway.’

Then what has come to fruition from such a broad based “China transformation”? Using the author’s own observation and his wonderful voodoo language:

“President Hu’s visit takes place in a different climate. There are growing uncertainties regarding the state of the bilateral relationship, as well as concerns in Asia over China’s longer-range geopolitical aspirations. These uncertainties are casting a shadow over the upcoming meeting.”

It may be self-evident that the picture of such a post-transformation China being “facilitated” by the U.S. Government, misguided by Mr. Brzezinski and his collaborators, may not be good news to the people of the United States, while “China’s longer-range geopolitical aspirations” have been showcased in its ambitious military confrontation with the United Nations on the Korean peninsula. Mr. Brzezinski may not be completely ignorant or may pretend to be completely ignorant about the nasty part of “China’s geopolitical aspirations” which may not be bright or optimistic. It may even be seen as traumatic.

Brzezinski writes, “China’s seeming lack of concern over North Korea’s violent skirmishes with South Korea has given rise to apprehension about China’s policy on the Korean peninsula. And just as America’s unilateralism has in recent years needlessly antagonized some of its friends, so China should note that some of its recent stands have worried its neighbors.”

Instead of presenting a realistic picture to both the administration and the people of the United States, Advisor Brzezinski made up his bold mind to take a completely different approach, one bearing a clear-cut trade mark of his “Sinologist School”: He has apparently decided to kick away such a “shadow”, by invoking his three-plus decade, never-ever changing prescription of painkillers or sleeping pills, rather than anything else, being collectively offered to the people of the United States by such a handful of China advocators and lobbyists since 1969 — if not 1949 or before. (The roots of such a special interest group can be traced back to the year around 1949, when so-called “Stewart Service” within the U.S. Department of State enthusiastically acclaimed the head of Chinese Communist Party “Chairman Mao” as “China’s George Washington,” a liberator and founder of freedom for the United States.)

Therefore, Advisor Brzezinski feels it imminently necessary to struggle against the following tendency which apparently concerns him and his fellow old China guards in Washington, Cambridge and elsewhere:

“The worst outcome for Asia’s long-term stability as well as for the American-Chinese relationship would be a drift into escalating reciprocal demonization. What’s more, the temptations to follow such a course are likely to grow as both countries face difficulties at home.”

“A drift into escalating reciprocal demonization”? This sort of micro-scale manipulation of U.S. China policy in prohibiting “verbal demonization” by total control of the administration’s central nervous system through linguistic cleansing has echoed what was offered and hidden by such “scholars” as Professor John King Fairbank and then young professor Jerome Cohen, from Cambridge, in 1969, through their “Cohen Secret Memo”. The Cohen Memo offered the White House brand new linguistic codes when speaking about China, for example dropping all use of such terms as “Communist China”, “Red China,” and “Chicong.” Therefore, efforts to prevent “reciprocal demonization” (telling the truth about China) can be traced back to November 7, 1969.

Nothing is new here. With such a policy guideline in place, the linguistic cleansing codes for banning “reciprocal demonization” may be sufficient enough to render all U.S. legislative efforts to maintain this country’s stature as the beacon for the “aspiration” of the rest of the mankind null and void. For instance, the U.S. Congress passed an act in 1997, namely the “International Religious Freedom Act” which directs the administration “to issue private demarche and public condemnation” against countries which are listed having religious persecution. The question is: If the administration faithfully observes the 1997 act and “publicly condemns” China’s religious persecution, does such adherence to Congressional law violate another set of controlling laws — the laws from the mouths such old China advocators as Mr. Brzezinski and his collaborators? We need not wonder why the U.S. Government has from time to time voluntarily punted the initiative to speak out for the oppressed in Communist China, and instead has long chosen to keep silent. Mr. Brzezinski, the godfather of U.S. China policy has directed the administration to continue avoiding “reciprocal verbal demonization” with communist China.

Nevertheless, credit should be given to Advisor Brzezinski for some of his well grounded observations and viewpoints, marking his distinction from many of his other colleagues within the “China policy circle” whose IQ may occasionally be open to question. Brzezinski writes, “Our [U.S.] weakening infrastructure is merely a symptom of the country’s slide backward into the 20th century.”

Here Brzezinski appears brilliant — more evidence that he does not belong to the group of brain-dead China policy advocators. To point out to the general public that “our weakening infrastructure is merely a symptom of the country’s slide backward into the 20th century” requires not just courage and boldness, it also requires sharpness and common wisdom. Things may be even worse than what Mr. Brzezinski observed. It is not just “weakening,” neither is it just relating to “infrastructure.”

The totality of this once great nation, once a beacon to the rest of the mankind, has been drastically declining, absolutely and relatively, due to the quick rise of its strategic, lethal adversary on the other side of the Pacific Ocean. The national contagion of economic — not just economic alone — impotence, lack of vigor, lack of self- criticism, lack of imagination, paralysis and impotency in development of thoughts, wide-spread judicial corruption, self-forfeiture of the world’s moral leadership and prior high ground in advocacy of the Western value system, vis-à-vis the energy and creativity on the side of our major adversary (not “friend”), have all contributed to such a “weakening infrastructure” and national “slide back to the 20th century.” Yet one cannot attribute such colossal wrongs to “waging the cold war” by “our lone shoulder.” It has been 20 years since the U.S. administration declared victory in the cold war, even though it is a half-done success.

Having clearly noted the “symptom” of America now, against the backdrop of the most recent 30 years, Mr. Brzezinski presents one of the foremost crucial points of what he wants to sell to the White House, as well as to the full power house of Washington:

“Neither side should delude itself that it can avoid the harm caused by an increased mutual antagonism; both should understand that a crisis in one country can hurt the other.”

The bottom line of godfather Brzezinski’s above-cited comments is that the constitutional democracy of the United States and the totalitarian China are both living in a co- existent, co-survival eco-system. In this light, we can never blame British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain for his role in negotiating the Munich Pact with Adolf Hitler in September 1938: “I have brought to you, the entire Europe, the enduring peace and lasting mutual cooperation (with co-survival of Nazi Third Reich under the Fuhrer Adolf Hitler!), congratulations!”

Under such a Chamberlain-esque “co-survival” doctrine, there would be no legitimacy for such a crisis-causing opposition movement as the White Rose Movement, because a crisis inside the Nazi Third Reich would definitely “hurt” the United Kingdom and all allied nations! With such a “co-survival doctrine,” one’s crisis will hurt the other. By this token, one can rationally explain why China’s opposition movement has virtually received zero support from the entire West while trillions of hot dollars scampered into the treasury of Beijing’s dictators. The reason? “Crises” caused in Communist China will definitely hurt the United States and the allies. Under such a long standing U.S. foreign policy fraud, it follows naturally that the outcry from imprisoned Dr. Liu Xiaobo, and from thousands of Falun Gong practitioners being brutally eliminated in a 21st century genocide, will be neglected and unheard.

Again, at first glance, Mr. Brzezinski’s absurd misleading remarks are just a vivid expression of the state of mind shared by all those “old China hands” who place the national security interests of the Volks Reich of totalitarian China on par with those of the United States, if not above. This is misplaced “patriotism” toward some “motherland” other than the United States, but it has been in place for the last several decades.

But this sort of textbook fraud is more than what we saw in the classic Julius and Ethel Rosenberg case of misplaced “patriotism.” There may be the same degree of enthusiasm, but quadruple the harmful consequences. Things that become wrong at this catastrophic magnitude are not so simple. If one carefully checks the linguistic codes employed by these powerful and influential godfathers as they frame up U.S.-China policy, one may find poetic voodoo codes (such as “friend”, “strategic partnership”, “constructive partnership,” “peaceful coexistence,” “engagement,” “authoritarian,” the impermissible “antagonism,” and so on) used to mislead, misinform, and misguide the general public by depicting a never-changing honeymoon in diplomacy and foreign policy, the likes of which has never been found in the real world among sovereign states. Such a “one’s crisis will inevitably hurt the other” co-survival system has never ever existed in human history since the world map was divided into geopolitical landmasses, not even seen in such relations between allies.

The school of godfathers for U.S. China policy from time to time paint themselves as “pragmatic,” rather than “idealistic” policy makers. Therefore, in typical class teachings, their doctrine is: there is no perpetual friend, neither a perpetual foe, but perpetual interests. Such “pragmatic diplomacy preaching” completely changes its tune when communist China comes into the picture: “there are no perpetual friends except for China, but perpetual interests for a few.”

Whenever the question is raised about Communist China, one may never expect a clear-cut answer. Americans are from time to time fed with mysteriously concocted plates full of voodoo codes without clarity of thought. Three or four decades have elapsed since these classic China lobbyists started to frame up “waging a cold war” mostly at the wrong targets, while having missed the right one, at colossal cost to ordinary American people. Over a course of decades, the macro-geopolitical landscape has changed drastically in favor of the totalitarian Beijing model (a topic for a separate article), having caused crisis after crisis inside the United States. However, the outdated voodoo codes of these China advocators have never changed or re-formulated. The old fraud used to mislead the Washington decision makers, defrauding the general public of the United States, by these now-aging godfathers of 30-40 years before — from the midst of the last century — is still swallowed whole today.

This country’s China policy was framed starting with the secretive Cohen Memo in November 1969. The result of this policy is that China has now become one of the world’s “G-2” superpowers in all respects after being strengthened with huge financial and technological inflows from the entire West, led by the United States in last three decades, while maintaining its democracy-suppressing totalitarian political institutions and political culture intact.

With such a drastic change, featuring what Mr. Bezezinski styled as “weakening infrastructure” and “sliding back to the 20th century” having caused 26,000,000 job losses and double digit unemployment, and the virtual collapse of U.S. banking and financial systems, vis-à-vis the quantum leap of China’s economic stature, U.S. China policy is frozen in the past, where it has been since 1969.

When such front-running godfathers of China advocacy as Mr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Dr. Henry Kissinger, Professor Jerome Cohen, and General Alexander Haig started advocating, preaching, selling their “new thinking” of a U-turn on U.S. China policy in late 1969, if not earlier; when double digits of Chinese army divisions were killing U.S. soldiers in battlefields of Vietnam; the presentable and persuasive rationale behind such a policy was to utilize China, one of the poorest and most backward nations within the international totalitarian bloc, to fight against the leading Communist superpower the USSR, the then-top strategic threat against this nation’s national security and the collective security system under the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). 40 years after forming such a China policy, the geopolitical landscape of mankind has drastically changed.

China has now become the world’s number two economic superpower, predicted to overtake the United States and become the World’s number one superpower. China’s economic power is twice that of Russia, and four times that of India.

Politically, the increasingly influential “Beijing Model” has provided the rest of the world an alternative institutional model of civilization diametrically opposed to the conventional Western value system and Western style of constitutional democracy, and may have sweepingly re-written the takeaway from world history.

In the military arena, China is spending its hard foreign currency reserve to quickly gain a certain supremacy in numerous competitive areas by developing advanced military technologies to use in electronic, magnetic, laser, outer space, and submarine weaponry. The most recent development is China’s successful test flight of its prototype answer to the F-22 stealth jet fighter, namely, China’s Jian-20. Today, China has all this powerful new military hardware, an infrastructure to underpin its new “Beijing Model”.

Mr. Zbigniew Brzezinski’s 40-years-obsolete “China advocacy” appears completely detached from such a reality, and hence is completely out of touch.

To enable the majority of Americans to clearly see the fallacy of such obsolete, old fashioned China policy advocacy by these China policy godfathers using their voodoo linguistic codes, this nation may need an overhaul by sweeping clean the related vocabularies in describing China first. A brainstorm to re-think China issues will be absolutely impossible without such a linguistic cleansing to weed out decades-old China voodoo codes from our nation’s so-called “realist” China policy, thereby opening the way to remake China policy with a healthy and capable way of thinking.


Ning Ye is a Chinese dissident and attorney. John Kusumi is 1989’s founder of the pro-democracy China Support Network.

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