What to know why President Obama has just gone on the offensive on China trade policy? See the results of this just released Zogby poll commissioned by Death By China Productions. The poll shows Obama faces a huge “soft on China” gap relative to Mitt Romney in the key swing state of Ohio – and some very interesting findings as well.
New Zogby Poll in Crucial Ohio Swing State
Obama and Romney in Statistical Dead Heat
Obama Faces Large “Soft on China” Gap
The Best Jobs Program is Trade Reform With China
Ohioans Overwhelming Support a Boycott of Made in China.
President Obama may have opened a lead in national polls, but it remains a statistical dead heat in the crucial swing state of Ohio. In the latest Zogby Poll of 601 likely voters conducted by JZ Analytics, President Obama’s lead of 45%.3 to 43.2% over Mitt Romney is well within the statistical margin of error.
Candidates take note: An overwhelming majority of Ohioans — 80% — agree that “the single most important issue in the 2012 Presidential race is jobs.
50% of Ohio respondents believe that the best jobs program for America is “cracking down on China’s unfair trade practices like currency manipulation, illegal export subsidies, and counterfeiting and piracy” while only 22% favor more government stimulus; and these results are consistent across liberals, moderates, and conservatives.
This finding is particularly bad news for President Obama as he faces a double digit “soft on China gap” relative to his opponent. Fully 43% of Ohioans believe Mitt Romney is more likely to crack down on China’s unfair trade practices compared to only 30% for Obama. Among independents where the largest bloc of undecided votes remains, this gap holds at 35% to 26% in favor of Romney. (This finding may also help explain why Obama has recently ratcheted up his tough on China messaging.)
56% of respondents also believe “Americans should boycott Made in China products because of China’s unfair trade practices and human rights abuses” while only 19% are against the boycott. This result is consistent across party affiliation, indicating the issue of China is an American issue, not a partisan issue.
If Obama is to win in the crucial swing state of Ohio – and thereby likely win the election — he would do well to try to close his very large “soft on China” gap not by attacking Romney for being soft on China – Ohioans won’t believe that. Rather, Obama should carry the slogan “the best jobs program is trade reform with China” and lay out very specific policy actions that will curb China’s cheating.
For his part, Romney would do well to further press his “tough on China” advantage in Ohio by extending his campaign talking points significantly beyond his promise to brand China a currency manipulator on his first day in office. Clearly, China’s cheating is a flashpoint for Ohio voters who have seen whole factories uprooted and replanted in China.
The Zogby Poll was commissioned by the filmmaker of Death By China Peter Navarro to benchmark attitudes of Ohioans on the China question. Navarro is traveling throughout the state showing the film and conducting town hall meetings, with stops in Youngstown, Akron, Dayton, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, Toledo, Mansfield, Portsmouth, Sandusky, Athens, and Findlay.
If you didn’t care what happened to me. And I didn’t care for you. We would zig zag our way through the boredom and pain. Occasionally glancing up through the rain. Wondering which of the buggars to blame. And watching for pigs on the wing.
– Pink Floyd, Animals
My co-author, Peter Navarro, had a rambunctious bout on CNBC this week with China apologist, Derek Sissors over the value of Chinese real estate investment to the U.S. economy. If you like a little of the ol’ verbal ultra-violence check it out. It’s a pretty good viddy. It’s notable that the title of the segment, “Can China Rescue U.S. Housing” embraces a couple of very questionable assumptions that are unfortunately common. Namely:
The Real Estate Market is heading in the wrong direction
China is a normal nation.
As to the first point, I fail to understand why 99% of Americans are brainwashed into believing that jacking up the price of housing is a desirable thing in a nation with falling real incomes. Do we want them to be more expensive so we can use them as ATMs again? As long as we insist on opening our markets to one-way trade with China we will continue to see reduced returns to our domestic labor and increased returns to our capital invested elsewhere and the 99% will find it harder and harder to buy into the market or even rent. So apparently, it just seems natural to the Washington elite that we should sell the homes repossessed from our dispossessed to the very foreigner slave drivers who put them out of work. Charles Schumer (D – NY) and Mike Lee (R – UT) would like to give foreign buyer’s visas to make that process easier.
As to the second point, the host actually compares China to Canada! Well, after all, both are large countries that start with the letter “C.” Maybe if you overlook the organ harvesting, flammable Tibetan monks, and the frightening military build up you could be confused with our noble neighbor to the North. Not.
While Peter takes on the large scale threat of $Trillions in Chinese hands ready to buy up America, an interesting backside of this issue is in the private housing market. The CNBC story notes, a third of KB home sales in a major subdivision might be going to Chinese. That’s pretty ironic, since KB is still recovering from eating millions of dollars in damages from hundreds of homes they built with dangerous Chinese drywall.
Friends in the real estate biz confirm this Chinese trend has been going on for a couple of years and I was told that in a recent quarter more than half of homes sold in my area of Orange County, California went to Chinese with cash.
What is really interesting is who these cash buyers are. Chinese American friends tell me that a LOT of these new buyers, are wealthy business people, corrupt officials, and Communist Party members moving their families to safety in America.
Apparently Wang Lijun isn’t the only one looking to get the heck out of Dodge before the bullets start flying.
Now, I don’t blame anyone who wants to flee the ironically misnamed “People’s Republic”, but the sad fact is that while Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo is still in jail and artist Ai Wei Wei is under virtual house arrest, many of the types that put them there are moving to California to keep their own sorry necks safe. Since China’s business environment runs from mildly corrupt to the utterly criminal it reasonable to believe that a decent percentage of anyone who can afford to pay cash for a million dollar home might be a shady character. The idea of using immigrants to “rescue” our housing market might not be as poetic as it seems. Attracting “high-end” immigration does offer a number of economic benefits, but importing a ready-made mafia is another song entirely.
– Greg Autry has taught business Strategy and Macroeconomics at the Merage School of Business,UC Irvine where he is now working on a PhD in Public Policy and Economics. He is co-author with Peter Navarro of Death by China and serves as Senior Economist for the American Jobs Alliance.
The Nightline whitewash of Apple’s China relationship left us puzzled. What just happened here? Why didn’t this guy ask any real questions?
As we’ve mentioned Foxconn is probably the best factory in China. The suicide rate there is below China’s notorious national average and the issue of whether their employees are any older than Chinese Olympic gymnastics team doesn’t concern most unemployed Californians.
What should really concern Americans is succinctly summed up in this discussion I had with a Foxconn manager inside Foxconn City a year before Nightline’s “exclusive.” I spent a day there too, had the tour, talked to folks and was allowed to film too. However, I actually asked some informed questions. Want to know why most Apple jobs are in Guangdong Province rather than California? Ask and you’ll find out that it ain’t low cost labor (heck they’ve doubled salaries), its Chinese government policy that is gutting America. Check this out:
If you don’t like what you just saw and heard, please forward it to your US Congressperson and Senator, over and over again until they finally get it. If you own Apple stock (like I do) please send a note to CEO Tim Cook you’re not so worried about what goes on in Shenzhen, but you’d sleep better at night if your neighbors had jobs.
– Greg Autry teaches Macroeconomics at the Merage School of Business, UC Irvine and is co-author with Peter Navarro of “Death by China” and serves as senior economist for the American Jobs Alliance.
Apple has been running for cover from harsh criticism of labor conditions at the controversial “Foxconn City” (Hon Hai Precision) assembly plant in Shenzhen, China. Basically all of Apple’s products are made at this giant factory and at another Foxconn facility in Chengdu. Suicides at that facility and reports of underage and over-worked assemblers have driven the California firm to publicize compliance audits and recently announce third party audits. The issue has grown to the point where Nightline is running special report on the subject. All of this misses the point that Apple’s real problem is not Foxconn, Apple’s problem is China.
Foxconn City isn’t quite the “Fear Factory” featured on The Daily Show.
I’ve been inside, and frankly it is the best factory I have ever seen in China. It’s clean and well organized. The workers are well fed and housed. Their physical working and living conditions are not the Dickensian ones so common in modern China. That said, I don’t doubt there are under-aged workers there or that the staff is pushed into long shifts to meet the punishing demands of American consumers hell bent on getting even more stuff for even less next Black Friday.
However, the “suicide nets” are all too real.
Every building from dormitory to snack shop to factory is festooned with the ubiquitous webs designed to catch plummeting Foxconn employees. After sitting in the Hon Hai executive conference room and listening to presentations from the corporate responsibility folks and reviewing reports from psychologists on the suicides, I believe these managers were genuinely concerned. Obviously, no firm wants trained workers killing themselves and yet it has happened there with frightening regularity. Why, If this is the nicest factory in China, are those ghoulish nets required?
Well firstly, there is the standard modern Chinese workload: twelve plus hours a day, six or seven days a week, fifty or fifty-one weeks per year. This isn’t some extreme Foxconn or Apple standard, this is normality for China’s workers. If they didn’t like it and organized a labor action or union, the police would beat them into submission. If they publicly protested or editorialized against such treatment they’d be jailed or much worse. That’s not Foxconn or Apple, that’s just how communist China rolls.
Then there are the living arrangements.
The dorms at Foxconn are a bit crowded, but they are in modern high-rise structures that resemble American apartment complexes — albeit with four to eight men or women jammed into 10ft. x15ft. rooms.
There are even swimming pools and gyms, though I saw no one in these facilities and they were so pristine it looked as if nobody has much time to. That’s still way sweet by Chinese standards.
So why the suicides?
The answer that is so elusive for the Foxconn psychologists was starkly obvious to me. These nifty dorms are sex segregated. When I asked the delicate question of “what if a man and women wish to spend sometime together” the immediate response was “That is not allowed!” To put it bluntly, in China an employer can decide that 150,000+ 17 to 25 year olds will not be able to act on their most fundamental natural desires in a situation where marriage is nearly impossible to obtain or maintain. Again, this is not Foxconn or Apple, this is a broken national culture that has replaced Chinese tradition and all human decency with a twisted form of Communism.
This is a system where the “one child” policy denies reproductive rights to more than six hundred million women. It is a system that rips young people away from their families and customary social structures and ships them like chattel to factories thousands of miles away to better serve Beijing’s engine of state capitalism. It is a system that massively pollutes China’s environment in order to steal jobs from American workers and grab market share from American firms. It is a system that funds the largest military build up of a totalitarian regime since the 1930s.
This systemic Chinese problem that cannot be fixed by investigating, auditing, or even opening up Foxconn, or any other Chinese factory. Apple can never be compliant with any objective standard of social responsibility as long as it chooses to be dependent on the politically repressed labor of totalitarian dictatorship. Of course, this wasn’t a problem when Apple both designed and made its wares in California.
– Greg Autry teaches Macroeconomics at the Merage School of Business, UC Irvine and is co-author (with Peter Navarro) of “Death by China” www.gregautry.us and serves as senior economist for the American Jobs Alliance.
A Los Angeles Times op-ed by Navarro I published this Sunday, December 11 revealed how Coda Automotive of Los Angeles is importing a Chinese Car as “gliders” (see below) and batteries to assemble a vehicle they ironically refer to as “All American” in a video interview. Read our piece there if you haven’t yet and if you’re a stickler for details, here is a lot more background on Coda’s Chinese invasion and here is a good start. (Note the many hyperlinks to sources on the details of this ruse.)
What’s a “Glider” and what about that motor they say is American?
You’ll notice its nearly impossible to find the word “China” on the Coda website (dig deep into the press releases or FAQs) but that is where most of the vehicle comes from. Their marketing literature (we picked up at the LA Autoshow) never mentions it. While clearly a lot less than proud of their Chinese connection, Coda casually remarks in the FAQ on manufacturing that their “Glider is produced overseas.” “Glider” sure doesn’t sound like much of a part, right?
An automotive “glider” is actually the bulk of a car’s structural components. While the total parts list can vary a bit the glider usually includes the chassis, the axels, the body panels, and probably the glass, wheels, rims, and tires too. So it’s basically everything except the “drivetrain” which is the car’s motor and transmission.
Now, it is very important to understand that in an electric car the motor and transmission are much simpler and hence significantly less valuable components than they are in an internal combustion car. A large gasoline engine could contribute $5,000 and the transmission $2,000 to the price of a car. Whereas an electric motor is a much smaller item which could cost less than a thousand dollars. The transmission for an electric car is also a much simpler device as electric motors generally provides both high torque and high RPMs without as many gear changes. Consequently a lot more jobs are created in building a V6 motor at a Ford factory in Michigan than building a simpler electric motor and transmission.
Many in the automotive press have been asserting for sometime that this vehicle is the Saibao III EV (or miles-xs500) or a slightly modified design and was developed by this Chinese firm. It is not some “All American Idea” with a few parts outsourced to China, but a Chinese car imported by an American firm with a fat marketing budget. While Coda may have a few production engineers and accountants on the job in China, their attempt to assert (in the video) that American workers are making this thing in China and their implication that they are doing significant manufacturing in California smells bad to us.
We believe there are thousands of Chinese jobs created for the couple of hundred California jobs they brag about. And every Coda sold will mean thousands of less jobs at plants like Tesla’s model S factory in San Jose factory or GM’s volt facility.
The real value in an electric car comes from the batteries, which cost thousands of dollars. If American converts to an electric car economy it is critical we capture both the jobs and profits from battery production by having it done by American firms on American soil. Once again, Coda is again importing the batteries from China.
Worse yet, in the guise of “creating” jobs Coda is sneaking their Chinese battery partner, Lishen of Tianjin, into the U.S. in the form of a joint partnership, where it appears the Chinese will own 60% and Coda 40%. To ad insult to injury our LA Times piece notes this JV is applying for a $500Billion Department of Energy loan as well as a pile of money from the unwitting taxpayers of the State of Ohio and City of Columbus. For over half a billion dollars this venture is supposed to “create up to 1,000” jobs. That’s $500,000 per job (or a lot more if this deal goes the way of Solyndra). Why not just throw money out of a helicopter? This is also a very ironic set of circumstances since much of those federal dollars are surely borrowed from the Chinese in the first place.
America has lost MILLIONS OF JOBS and over 50,000 factories in the last ten years! Most of these have gone to a predatory China. Getting 250 jobs selling a stealthy Chinese car or 1,000 making batteries for the Chinese-Coda joint venture is insulting to the desperate American worker. It’s like tossing a biscuit to a dog after you’ve beat it in to submission. That is not a cause for celebration, but rather a national embarrassment.
Details on the source of Coda’s Chinese glider and the NORINCO ARMS connection:
Our piece also reveals that Coda’s “new” car is actually the six year old Saibao III being imported from China’s Hafei Motor Co, a firm owned by a Communist Party controlled Sate Owned weapons manufacturing conglomerate that is tied to an arms exporter with some very bad history.
China’s web of party-state-corporations is particularly confusing in the military supply chain. The state owned firm that owns Coda’s car supplier (Hafei) is China South Industries Group (CSG) which was formed out of a state weapons firm, China North Industries Group Corporation (CNCG) also know as NORINCO(G). The Arms dealer called NORINCO is 50% owned by CSG and CNCG and has been one of the worst players on the global stage for years. See http://www.uscc.gov/researchpapers/2009/DGIReportonPRCDefenseIndustry–FinalVersion_withUSCCseal_02Nov2009_2_.pdf Page 29.
Missile tech to Iran: US state dept leveled sanctions on Norinco for this in 2003. Source: US Dept. of State
A determination has been made that five Chinese and one North
Korean entities have engaged in activities that require the imposition
of measures pursuant to Section 3 of the Iran Nonproliferation Act of
2000, which provides for penalties on entities for the transfer to Iran
of equipment and technology controlled under multilateral export
control lists (Missile Technology Control Regime . . . .
China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO) (China) and any
AK’s to US gangs: customs caught the shipment and Norinco was blocked from US market in 2001 (lifted in 2008). Source: USCC
NORINCO’s integration into global markets is not always benign. From 2001 to 2007 the United States imposed sanctions on NORINCO imports after a U.S. Customs sting operation revealed a deal to smuggle 2,000 Chinese-government-made AK-47s into the U.S. It was the largest arms seizure in U.S. history.
In March 2000, NORINCO sold US $65.9 million in arms to the Zimbabwe government. The types of arms that were transferred included rocket anti-personnel shells, grenades for assault rifles, and hand grenades. Tanks and tank ammunition may also have been included in the sale. NORINCO is a major exporter of small arms.
Arms made by the Chinese company, Norinco, have been seen in the hands of fighters for the United Front for Democratic Change (Front uni pour le changement démocratique au Tchad, FUC). Members of the group were photographed carrying QLZ87 35mm automatic grenade launchers outside the town of El Geneina in Western Darfur, Sudan
Coda’s CEO Phil Murtaugh is the former head of GM’s China division and has raised more than $300 million from banks such as Morgan Stanley and well-connected private investors that include former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Mack McLarty and former Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson. John Bryson, recently appointed by President Obama as Commerce Secretary of the United States – because the previous Com Sec, Gary Locke, has been sent to CHINA as ambassador – was previously on Coda’s board of directors. Now before McLarty and Paulson suggest they had “no idea” about the source of their product or the way it is marketed, note that they are also listed on the Coda website as being official advisors to Coda rather than merely inactive investors.
To add insult to injury, California politicians from governor Brown to LA Mayor Villaraigosa have been easily duped by this ploy and have lined up for photo ops and to brag about the petty 200 or so jobs “created.”
Greg Autry is the co-author of Death by China. He teaches macroeconomics at the Merage School of Business, UC Irvine. He writes and speaks on China, space, economics, investing, and business strategy. For more information, please visit http://www.gregautry.us and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter.
Of all the myriad sins committed by the Chinese Communist Party, its wholesale rape of China’s natural environment and complete toxification of its urban landscape is often the most puzzling to Westerners who focus on economic gains. Why, on Earth should anyone care – except those left-wingnut tree huggers – what happens to the Yangtze river dolphin or to the kids in Beijing? Well, let me offer an explanation that even the most free-range capitalist can put his arms around.
First, a couple of facts:
The health costs of China’s rampant pollution binge amount to 4.8% of China’s GDP and the total costs are 5.8% of GDP according to a report from the World Bank.
700,000 Chinese die each year from polluted air and water according to a report from the World Health Organization.
Lee Liu, of the University of Central Missouri documenting China’s infamous “Cancer Villages” reports that, “China appears to have produced more cancer clusters in a few decades than the rest of the world ever had.” 
We could go on about species loss, desertification, and more but the question is why would anyone allow this sort of damage to their economy and their people if it weren’t a necessary choice? The answer to this question, like so many others in China, is: it keeps the Communist Party in power. The World Bank and WHO reports have been suppressed in China to prevent “Civil Unrest” (the PRC scare words for revolt against the party).
What Westerners cannot put their heads around is the topsy-turvy relationship between economics and politics in Communist China. We are used to a system where the goal of politics should be the bettering of life for the citizens. In China, the bettering the life of citizens is simply a political tool – along with censorship, labor camps, and torture – for maintaining order. GDP growth is a goal ONLY because it can be used to justify the continued rule of the Boys from Beijing; not because of any benefit it offers actual Chinese.
So just how does a country with an inefficient and astoundingly corrupt, centrally planned economy manage 10% year over year growth? By cheating of course! There are several ways to cheat on todays GDP and most involve pushing costs – notably negative economic externalities – off the national P&L, usually by moving them to the future. China uses a variety of cheats not the least or which is virtually enslaving a large portion of its rural poor in the plantation like factories that enable Wal-Mart’s price matching strategy. When you drill down, the environmental issue is actually no different.
For instance, if China can’t make steel as efficiently as America – the fact is that it cannot – and if its low labor cost isn’t an advantage – the total labor per ton is less than the shipping per ton – how about just using a lot of the world’s dirtiest coal and dumping all your mill waste right into the Yangtze river – birds, people, and dolphins be damned! Might as well rename the province from 四川 to 死川!
I’m not just passing on the hysterical reporting of some NGO, anybody who has breathed the air in Beijing and come home sick (I have more than once) knows what’s going down and anyone who travels out of the cities and opens their eyes will see it there too. Consider this series of photos I shot on a 2007 Yangtze cruise:
The first picture shows some coal bins along the river that are used to load the thousands of barges
that service the endless power plants and mills (second photo) which pump God knows what into the oddly green and sterile waters of China’s formerly great river.
This third photo shows where one of these bins collapsed and dumped its load into the river.
The forth shows the “Repair Job” – honest to God – in progress. I can hardly wait to see the “environmental remediation plan!”
Alas, some poor woman downstream trying to earn her keep fishing in the cesspool that was once the majestic Three Gorges.
Obviously, all interspecies ethics aside, if you destroy your fishing grounds and plunder your agricultural and urban water supply you are going to incur real, hard economic losses in the future. But, hey cancer takes a while and you can still sell whatever fish you can raise in this florescent green ooze to the Americans for a few more short-term GDP points.
Those all-important GDP points make party bosses happy because they keep Chinese busy and restless Chinese have a tendency to toss out their rulers – a fact which keeps Wen Jiabao up at night. If citizens die in the future or become extremely ill, at least they aren’t protesting and besides the Chinese government doesn’t really provide healthcare for anyone outside the government.
Running this game is not only destroying China’s once beautiful landscape, but it also creates competitive pressures that are leading the world in yet another Chinese race to the bottom. China directly exports their Dickensian environmental ethic in the extraction of African and Latin American resources acquired by their SOEs and indirectly by driving out of business American and other Western firms that are required to compete without killing their neighbors. While using this invisible hand of communist coercion against defenseless Chinese and others (for instance by gutting Tibet or damming of the Mekong river that feeds Vietnam) the Boys from Beijing are still able to cloak themselves in a mantle of “free trade” while actually communizing all the costs of their fraudulent and unsustainable economic “boom.”
A perfect example of this is the business of rare earth elements. Just a decade ago, about 80% of rare earths came from the US, specifically Molycorp’s Mountain Pass mine in California. Now, California might rightly be called the home of excessive environmental regulation, but Molycorp was supplying the world without poisoning its neighbors. The central planners in Beijing decided to corner the market in rare earths, because among other things they are critical to most high tech military hardware. China embarked on a scorched Earth policy in Sichuan province and its captive state of Mongolia using a massively destructive acid leaching process to extract things like Yttrium from the clay. Thousands of acres of pristine forest and farmland have been rendered unrecoverably toxic, while China rapidly cornered 97% of world production – shutting down Mountain Pass in the process. Upon doing so, China promptly claimed monopoly-pricing power and implemented illegal (violation of the WTO rules they signed on to) export restrictions to raise world prices on these metals up to 1000% in just two-years! So what if several thousand farmers go belly up or die in places nobody ever looks at? How’s that for “free trade?”
Now, if China’s pollution victims had any say in the choices being made it might be a different story, but until that day the multinational firms extracting cost savings through China’s coercion of its population are not simply “choosing to exercise their best economic option in a free market” anymore than is the businessman who “chooses” to develop a relationship with the local mob to clear out his competitors and intimidate his employees. The manufacturers and big retailers are simply co-conspirators in denial and it is no wonder they and their captive pundits run screaming “save free trade!” whenever criticism of their fascist friends comes to the fore. That too is unsustainable as more Chinese are beginning to bravely push back on their oppressors and average Americans are starting to notice that under this so-called “free trade” regime, they may be saving money but they sure as hell are not living better.
– Greg Autry teaches Macroeconomics at the Merage School of Business, UC Irvine and is co-author (with Peter Navarro) of the new book “Death by China” www.gregautry.us
 For instance, the US borrows money from China it can probably never repay to keep its anemic economy on its last legs (a looming diaster that Beijing happily accommodates for obvious reasons to be discussed in a future posting).
 A little Chinese pun here. Si-chaun (四川) means “4 rivers” while substituting 死 for the first character (Sǐ) makes it “death river” with a very similar pronunciation.
 Although, of course they falsly claim to insure a significant portion of the population. A topic for a future posting.
 They’ve also demonstrated the ability to extort policy changes from other nations with this monopoly when they halted shipment of rare earths to Japan until that nation relented in a maritime dispute.
Peter and I are particularly proud of the fine forward and epilog that grace our book. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher wrote the end -piece and dissident and human rights advocate Baiqiao Tang starts the book off. Tang was student leader from Changsa, who joined the 1989 protests in his home town and traveled to Beijing to support those in Tiananmen square.
Here Tang offers us some insight into his experience and warns us that China’s corrupt regime is more than just a Chinese problem. We all share responsibility for it and we all need to work together to keep our world safe from it.
In the late 1980s, China was abuzz with excitement and possibility as new ideas, personal freedoms, and economic opportunities were flowing in from the West like a river to wash away the dirt of Mao’s Cultural Revolution.
During these hopeful times, I was among a group of young student leaders who led calls for political reform to match the new thinking and bring China into the modern world with dignity. We organized rallies and made speeches at schools and squares all across the country, and we fervently believed the top leadership of the Chinese Communist Party would listen. Instead, our movement was crushed by a wave of tanks and the tragic events of June 4th, 1989 in Tiananmen Square that so many of you watched with horror on television.
So much was lost that day—and it was not just the lives of so many brave Chinese that we cried over. Also lost was a once-in-a-
generation opportunity to live freely in a democratic China with the very brightest of futures.
Not long after the Tiananmen Square Massacre, I was arrested and jailed, and, along with thousands of other demonstrators, subjected to many months of torture and depravation. During these dark times spent in very dark places, many of my friends died; and to this day, some Tiananmen survivors are still being held in jails or forced labor camps.
Sadly, a whole new generation of Chinese youth knows nothing about what happened at Tiananmen. While we in the West can freely access the videos and images on the Internet associated with the massacre, all of this content has been ritually “cleansed” from the Chinese web by a vast army of censors.
I have now spent half my life fighting against such censorship and for freedom and democracy in China. More than ever, I fervently believe that this is what every thinking person outside of China must clearly understand:
More than two decades after Tiananmen, the totalitarian tiger has still not changed its stripes. In fact, unlike more stable countries, China’s spending on police and social control is now rising even faster than China’s skyrocketing defense budget!
It is with no small irony or anger that I note it is many of the very same Communist Party officials who supervised the beating, jailing, and killing of my fellow students in the wake of Tiananmen who are today orchestrating the relentless persecution of religious followers like the Falun Gong and the harsh repression of peaceful minorities like the Tibetans and the Uighurs. It is also the very same Chinese Communist Party that has been so quick to crack down on all political opposition movements like the Charter 08 manifesto and the rising Jasmine Revolution Movement; and the only change is that this new century’s ruling clique is ever more cunning, more clandestine, and technologically more sophisticated.
Today, as I live comfortably, safely, and free in New York City, I can understand why it is so hard for those in the West to see the Chinese Communist Party clearly for the dangerous enemy that is—to both the people of China and the rest of the world. After all, the leaders in Beijing look very personable on TV, and they now quite strategically refrain from the threatening anti-West rants of Mao.
But facts are facts and the truth is the truth. And as the pages of this incredibly powerful book unfold, you will be confronted with fact after incontrovertible fact that the rulers in Beijing continue to brutally suppress the voices of China’s own people even as they systematically flood the world with dangerous products, use a potent arsenal of mercantilist and protectionist weapons to destroy the economies of America and the West, and rapidly arm themselves with the best weapons systems their elaborate spy network can steal from the Pentagon.
I can also understand why these sobering facts and harsh truths may be at odds with your own personal experience. As a tourist to China, you may have taken an enjoyable cruise down the Yangtze, been mesmerized by the Terracotta Soldiers, walked in exhilaration along the Great Wall, or been utterly fascinated by the Forbidden City. Or you may even be an American business executive in Shanghai or Shenzhen making money hand over fist and being hosted to fabulous meals with no reason to see anything but blue skies and a yellow brick road ahead. Unfortunately, most Americans never see the other face of China and how the Chinese people have paid for all this “progress” with a dramatically damaged ecosystem, corruption, social injustice, human rights abuse, poisonous foods, and most seriously, the moral degradation of their souls.
Although I miss China, America has become my beloved second home; and the support of my beautiful wife shows me every day why America is the strongest country in the world. I also see this strength in so many small things in America, like the bumper sticker that reads, “Freedom Is Not Free.”
I personally know how true that statement really is. I also know that the cost of freedom isn’t always about fighting a military battle. It also includes the individual, political, and economic sacrifices of peacefully defending human rights and standing up for the principals of liberty and democracy.
Demanding that we live up to these principles as Peter Navarro and Greg Autry do in this deeply moving book can never be the wrong choice; and that is why it is long past time for the citizens of the world to truly stand beside the Chinese people—and not the brutally repressive and antiquated regime that rules them. If there is one abiding truth that stands above all after Tiananmen, it is that only a free and democratic China will benefit the world.
—Baiqiao Tang, Tiananmen Square protester and co-author of
My Two Chinas: The Memoir of a Chinese Counterrevolutionary
New York City
March 23, 2011