Thursday, April 30, 2009

Jackie Chan, Gao Zhisheng, and the true meaning of bravery

Most people wouldn't put "cowardice" and Jackie Chan in the same sentence. Chan's physical bravery - he does his own movie stunts, to the point where no one will even insure him - is fairly well-known. However, there is more to bravery than risking injury on a movie set. When it came to the most important stage he has ever held, Jackie Chan's bravery left him, in a way Gao Zhisheng's bravery did not.

On Hainan Island, Chan was asked about the Communist censors who banned his latest film. As Communist Premier Wen Jiabao sat in the audience, Chan veered into an anti-freedom rant (Telegraph, UK):

"I'm not sure if it is good to have freedom or not," he said. "I'm really confused now. If you are too free, you are like the way Hong Kong is now. It's very chaotic. Taiwan is also chaotic."

He added: "I'm gradually beginning to feel that we Chinese need to be controlled. If we are not being controlled, we'll just do what we want."

Theories abound on Chan's pro-CCP line: buttering up to the CCP to get his next film OKed (The Useless Tree), an elitist's unvarnished view of poor Chinese (John Pomfret), etc. Whatever the cause, it was pretty clear that Chan knew what side of the bread was buttered. He placed his financial interests above truth, freedom, and his fellow Chinese. It was painful to see.

Meanwhile, miles away, in an undisclosed prison, Gao Zhisheng continued (and continues) to suffer at the hands of the Communist police.

Like Chan, Gao was at the top of his profession in the eyes of the CCP - in Gao's case, the legal profession. Like Chan, Gao was faced with a choice: continue following the party line or accept the truth about the regime and fight for justice. Unlike Chan, Gao took the latter course.

Gao started to wonder why the regime was so cruel to Falun Gong practitioners and Christians who refused to put the Party between themselves and their God. Worse (for the regime), he started to wonder publicly why this happened. In time, he became one of the leading defenders (legally, politically, and vocally) for the victims of Communist persecution.

As one would expect, it didn't take long for him to join them.

Gao's family managed to escape earlier this year (National Review); when the CCP discovered this, Gao disappeared. To this day, no one knows where he is, how badly he has been hurt, or even if he is still alive.

We do know this, however: Gao Zhiseng is a true hero. He risked his practice, his reputation, his career, his livelihood, and even his life to help the persecuted and speak truth to power.

Jackie Chan, by contrast, played to the crowd, basked in the applause, and risked nothing. As John Pomfret notes in particular, Chan was merely parroting the line the CCP-dependent "elite" have been using for some time:

My reaction, however, is this: Chan is just saying what a lot of other rich Chinese feel. In the 20 years since Tiananmen, Chinese society has changed enormously. One of the most astounding ways has been in the return of a class society and in the disdain with which China's rich view China's poor. When Chan was saying Chinese need to be "controlled," to be sure, he was speaking about the poor. He didn't have to say it, But that's what the audience at Boao heard and that's why they cheered him on. Anyone who has conversations of depth with members of China's elite has heard this argument before. "The quality of the average Chinese is too low," the line goes. (Zhongguoren de suzhi tai di le.) "So of course we can't have full freedom."

Of course, the elite have become increasingly free. But they also increasingly rely on the instruments of state to maintain those freedoms and to maintain their advantages over China's hoi polloi.

Gao Zhisheng once belonged to the same elite, but he saw through the veneer. That's what makes him so dangerous to the regime, and so heroic to the rest of us. Gao Zhisheng refused to be bought by the Chinese Communist Party.

Becuase of this, future generations will remember Gao Zhisheng long after Jackie Chan retires, his film company goes under, and his films gather dust on Blockbuster shelves. Jackie Chan acts bravely on the silver screen; Gao Zhisheng embodies genuine bravery in real life. Once again, this week revealed that Gao Zhisheng is the true hero; Chan just plays one on TV.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Some apologies Obama could make, but probably won't

President Barack Obama continued his worldwide apology tour at the Organization of American States over the weekend. Much like his trip to Europe was spent emphasizing his break with the previous Administration on several fronts, this trip was all about the new direction America will take - one that will apparently leave Venezuela's brave democrats in the dust, but that's for another post.

Of course, new Administrations usually spend their first few months emphasizing their differences with their respective predecessors. John F. Kennedy tried to project his youthful image and vigor into nearly every foreign policy issue. Eight years later, Richard Nixon's messages to Moscow and Beijing were more subtle (and kept a secret from the American people), but Mao and Brezhnev understood them fairly quickly. Jimmy Carter tried to turn thirty years of American history on its head in one commencement speech. If conventional wisdom is to be believed, Reagan got the point across to Tehran even before he was inaugurated. Despite running as Reagan's heir, even George Bush the Elder spent his first year emphasizing a closer relationship with continental European allies. Bill Clinton spent nearly two years loudly announcing differences from the previous twelve. Bush the Younger's divergence on Kyoto and other European multilateral efforts are now the stuff of legends, but Asian democracies quickly noticed that he paid more attention to them than - arguably - any president in American history.

Thus, it should not surprise us that, roughly 100 days into his term of office, Obama is mainly emphasizing contrasts with the person he succeeded - and against whom he railed for nearly two years. Sadly, and more tellingly, are the areas where the President has chosen not to strike new ground or ask forgiveness for past errors.

For example, we have yet to see, and probably never will see, Obama apologize to the Chinese people for nearly 20 years of neglect while "engagement" with the corrupt Chinese Communist Party set the tone for every previous post-Tiananmen presidency.

We neither have nor likely ever will have witnessed Obama ask the forgiveness of the people of northern Korea for allowing so many of their loved ones to starve to death, be murdered, and/or be tortured to death while Kim Jong-il played two presidents for fools over fourteen years. Likewise, Japan has heard no regrets for the nerve-wracking missile launches that were largely received with a shrug and a slew of useless words from the United Nations.

Obama has offered a regret-soaked olive branch to Tehran - but only for the mullahcracy and its sycophants. The long-suffering Iranian people received the same cold shoulder that has been shown to them for decades.

Any of the above apologies would be different from the easy and empty ones the Administration has been spouting. The apologies I propose would involve recognition of weakness and lack of nerve at critical times. More importantly, they would show an Administration willing to do the hard work necessary to achieve a true, lasting peace - because it understood that could only come with freedom.

Ironically enough, Obama can look to George W. Bush for the best example of this. In May of 2005, Bush expressed his regrets for the Yalta agreement that handed Eastern Europe over to the Communists. The dramatic gesture helped seal the peoples of Eastern Europe as America's closest allies, and emphasized the danger of thinking a deal with a tyrant today is worth his exploitation of it tomorrow. Unfortunately, that may be the very reason Obama does not consider it worthy as a precedent. This Administration appears to have no concern about what our tyrannical enemies will do with their newfound opportunities, namely: 1) bind America to agreements they have no intention of honoring, 2) repeatedly raising the bar just to see how high the president will jump for them, and 3) using the smiles and handshakes to ostracize and persecute those who would lead their victims to overthrow them and take their countries back.

Even as we take in the reaction from the OAS gathering, the Taliban continues to gain strength in Pakistan, North Korea is getting back in the plutonium business, and Iran is moving forward in both nuclear weapons and repression of its citizens. All the while, the regime that aides them - the Chinese Communist Party - continues to avoid blame or consequences.

For that, this president owes all of us an apology.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Here we go again

This was supposed to be the weekend in which the world watched the Chinese people memorialize those who have passed - including the victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre, the Hanyuan County massacre, and the Sichuan earthquake (Epoch Times). Given the fact that the casualties from the last of the three were greatly increased due to Communist corruption, it would have been a difficult weekend for the cadres.

Then North Korea - long the de facto colonial regime dependent on the Chinese Communist Party to survive - tried to launch an ICBM (Epoch Times). The rest is forgotten history.

That it took a matter of hours before the CCP was running interference for their Korean viceroy (Guardian, UK) should surprise no one. While the launch had been planned for some time - and the date more than likely given the OK by Beijing to divert attention from the customary April day to honor the dead - the actual firing of the missile was a geopolitical godsend to the Communists.

Consider the world the cadres were facing before Kim Jong-il distracted everyone. Australia was transforming itself from an "engagement" success story into the new anti-Communist hotbed (Agence France Presse and Epoch Times). Making matters worse, the CCP's cyberwarfare against the United States was convincing Americans that perhaps Beijing was not the friend it claims to be after all (David Gelernter, in Forbes, actually used the favorite phrase of this quarter - Cold War II). One of the leading organizations defending the persecuted Uighurs of occupied East Turkestan announced the date for their annual meeting - inside the U.S. Capitol (McClatchy).

Meanwhile, the news from within was equally bad. A leading shipping firm announced a cutback for the first time ever (Steel Guru). The chairman of its first "private" railroad company was jailed for embezzlement (AFP). Dissident groups came together to indict the CCP for its crimes against the Chinese people (China Aid). A factory closure lead 1,000 laid off workers to march into Beijing in protest (AFP). Questions about Gao Zhisheng refuse to go away (New Yorker).

All of this was crowding for the attention of the CCP, the Chinese people, and the rest of the world - before the Korean colony blew it all off the front page. Now, once again, the CCP is the indispensable force, the regime to which the world must come and pay "respect" in the hopes that it will once again corral Kim Jong-il and get him to behave. Meanwhile, "engagement" supporters will be sure to do Beijing's bidding against anyone who refuses to fall for this nonsense and is determined to press the CCP.

In some places, however, the act is waring thin. While President Obama appears willing to keep playing the game, the fellow who won nearly 60,000,000 votes running against him has had enough (Voice of America).

More ominously, however, is the response of the Iranian mullahcracy:

TEHRAN (AFP) — Iran said on Monday that North Korea was justified in carrying out its controversial weekend rocket launch and denied there were any links between the two countries' missile programmes.

"We have always maintained that space can be used for peaceful purposes by adhering to international laws," foreign ministry spokesman Hassan Ghashghavi told reporters when asked about Sunday's controversial rocket launch.

"As it is our right to do so, we maintain that others also have that right."

This matters for two reasons. The first and most obvious is the mullahs' desire to become a nuclear-armed state. The second reason, however, is just as important - Tehran's alliance to Beijing.

Lest anyone forget, as the mullahs close in on their first nuclear test, the calendar is closing in on the most dangerous anniversary for the cadres: the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre. Once more, the CCP faces the world remembering how it (the CCP) let its military loose on the Chinese people and painted the streets of Beijing in blood. The memory will lead the free world to recoil in horror. Even worse, it will lead to the inevitable examination of the two decades since, and how the regime is still the tyranny it was then, with broken promises about international trade and cooperation to boot.

It is sure to be a harrowing, painful day for the CCP - unless their friends in Tehran pull their own nuclear distraction.

In other words, this week is merely a preview of what we can expect in about two months time - and it will be just as maddening then, too.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

As the Commission on China convenes, the CCP demonstrates its brutishness by rearresting tne aged Bishop Julius Zia Zhiguo

Vatican protests the arrest of Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo of Zhengding, and the fate of other bishops and priests who continue to be "deprived of their freedom". The arrest of Bishop Jia took place just as the Commission on China's work was beginning on March 30th, when police appeared outside the bishop's home and took him to an undisclosed location. Bishop Jia, 74, suffers from various disturbances because of past imprisonments and his age, and the faithful of the diocese are concerned that this new arrest could endanger his life.

(Click on the microphone icon on the website to listen to the news report.)

Remembering Wojtyla

The Greatest Anti-Communist Died Four Years Ago Today...

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

They just can't help themselves

The greatest instrument for the building of political anti-Communism in America and the rest of the free world in the 20th Century was the Soviet Union itself. Even at times when anti-Communism seemed at its nadir (the 1930s, the latter half of World War II, and the 1970s), the blatant and horrific actions of the U.S.S.R. drove pragmatists and idealists headlong into the anti-Communist camp.

One of the Chinese Communist Party's greatest achievements in international affairs was stopping that movement. It took oceans of lies, oceans of exports, and a wide net of espionage agents (not all of them willing) to do the trick, but it probably added years to the life of the regime. Yet now, the cadres seem to be forgetting all of their lessons of old, as anti-Communists are starting to pop up in the most unusual places.

By far the most shocking display of anti-Communism has to be from the Australian Liberal-National coalition. After more than a decade in power playing the "engagement" game, the Coalition was turfed by Australia's voters in 2007. Rudd himself was a firm "engagement" politician, but his government has stumbled a bit with an investigation into the Defense Minister's very close ties to Helen Liu, a Chinese-Australian with deep CCP ties (The Australian and the Epoch Times).

The surprise came when the Opposition decided to make this a major issue (Epoch Times) - a dramatic departure from the past. While it is certainly to early to predict how effective the Liberals will be (or even how long they keep this up), it is a pleasant surprise so far, and one that has to have the cadres worrying about what they thought was a relatively pliant Australia.

Still, the bigger shift came from Washington - or to be more precise, the United States Navy.

While presidents have been wedded to the "engagement" policy towards Beijing since 1989, there has always been a group of civilian (i.e., non-political) employees in the Department of Defense trying to sound the alarm about the CCP. This time, however, the cadres themselves drove the Navy's rethink, with the development of an anti-ship ballistic missile designed specifically to sink American aircraft carriers (U.S. Naval Institute):

Along with the Chinese naval build-up, U.S. Navy officials appear to view the development of the anti-ship ballistic missile as a tangible threat.

After spending the last decade placing an emphasis on building a fleet that could operate in shallow waters near coastlines, the U.S. Navy seems to have quickly
changed its strategy over the past several months to focus on improving the
capabilities of its deep sea fleet and developing anti-ballistic defenses.

In other words, the Navy has an eye fixed on Beijing. Again, it's too early to discern the effect (especially given the support for "engagement" at the highest levels of the Obama Administration), but it is nonetheless a good sign.

The inevitable question then arises: how did the cadres let this happen? The answer is equally inevitable: they can't help themselves. While the Tienanmen massacre removed economic growth as a sufficient means of justifying the Communist regime, growth was still necessary on several levels. Now, the CCP will be lucky to have the economy keep up with population growth (Bloomberg). Thus, radical nationalism - the regime's claimed raison d'etre since the bloody summer of 1989 - becomes even more important.

So, challenging the United States becomes more essential - exports or no exports. So does espionage (Business Day). Meanwhile, desperate attempts to resuscitate the local economy leads to barriers against imports, further alienating the democratic world whose appeasement is so vital to the regime's survival (Bloomberg).

It is likely that the regime is convinced they have a free ride, thanks to President Obama. However, the Soviets made the exact same error regarding President Carter, and thus allowed anti-Communism to grow by leaps and bounds outside Washington, until Ronald Reagan stepped in to lead the free world to victory in the First Cold War.

Today, an anti-Communist government holds power (however tenuously) in Canada; anti-Communism is on the rise in Australia; and the leading contenders for power in India are both vying for the anti-Communist label. The CCP is making the same Soviet-era mistakes they sought to avoid.

Their loss is our gain. It is becoming more and more clear that when an anti-Communist finally does become president (perhaps in 2013), the rest of the free world will be there to help him or her win the Second Cold War.