I tested a theory that some people thought was right on. A friend of mine told me of his son’s friend who was not allowed sodas while he was growing up. Whenever the young man came to my friend’s house he guzzled sodas. In the same way, the Chinese government controls their people’s lives in so many ways when there is something they don’t control (like the traffic or pedestrians) they go wild.
In China, there is no YouTube, Facebook or Twitter. I was having a problem with my email (through Gmail) and did not understand until the people from the hotel came to our room and told us the control freaks in China don’t like Google. So getting on email was hit-and-miss at best. They also don’t like Townhall.com, making it difficult to check on my column or read other columnists. One Shanghai resident we spoke to said they don’t like the New York Times either. I restrained from asking whether they thought it was too far left for them. I told the nice people who came to our room to help us that their country was never going to be taken seriously until they stopped messing around with the Internet. It made the leaders small. One of the workers said “They don’t give a sh—about us. We cannot vote like you can.”
Another thing that drove me crazy was every denomination of their currency had Mao Tse-Tung on it. Give me a break. They cannot find one other person in the history of China to put on the currency? I can understand they may not want to put Chiang Kai-Shek on a bill, but what about Chou En-Lai? Whenever I had to pay for anything I asked them “How many Chairman Mao’s?” They all thought it was so funny and I don’t think they got that it was such a rip on their country. The paradox is that “Mr. Communist” Mao Tse-Tung plastered all over the symbol of capitalism – Money.
This country is never going to be a serious country until they come to grips with Mao. Like Khrushchev went in front of the Politburo in February 1956 and told the Soviet leaders the truth about Papa Joe Stalin being a mass murderer, a Chinese leader must do the same about Mao. This country needs to go through a complete reformation and stop idealizing this mass murderer.
Two things happened while we were in the country indicative of the outlaw nature of the Chinese regime. First, in another display of the oppressive regime, Liu Xia, wife of the 2010 Nobel Peace prize winner, Liu Xiaobo, was released from her 30-month house arrest (solitary confinement) to attend the trial of her younger brother.
And in the ultimate act of chutzpah, the Chinese government forced Francois-Henri Pinault, President of the now-called Kering (PPR), to return two rightfully-acquired, 18th- century bronze statues that were made in China. Kering owns many designer brands such as Gucci, Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta and Alexander McQueen. They pressured him to return the statues under the threat of limiting the company’s access to the Chinese market. At the same time, three blocks from where the deal was announced, Chinese merchants were selling cheap knockoffs of the brands unrestricted by the Chinese government. These people have no shame.
Certainly, China is large player on the world stage, but hardly a friend. This country may be erecting some nice buildings and manufacturing a lot of goods, but they are eons away from a modern, civilized society. On this Memorial Day weekend be thankful for America and let us all make sure the 21st Century is still the American Century.