【歐洲之聲】請看清中共

文/林培瑞 Perry Link 中文翻譯/廖天琪
·41 分鐘 (閱讀時間)

在去年8月美國共和黨全國代表大會上,歐巴馬政府於2012年將其從中國接來美國的那位異議人士、意志堅強的盲人維權律師陳光誠在發表演講中說:

我知道,對抗暴政並不容易。當年我大聲疾呼,反對中國的「獨生子女政策」和其他不義事件,結果遭到迫害、毆打,被送進監獄,也被軟禁……中共是人類的敵人。它恐嚇自己的公民,並威脅世界的福祉……。美國必須利用其自由、民主和法治的價值觀,來聯盟其他民主國家,以制止中共的侵略。
川普總統領導了這個工作,我們需要其他國家跟他並肩,為我們的未來而戰。

幾個小時後,陳光誠在美國的老朋友,也是人權律師的滕彪,發了推文:「我完全反對他的所作所為。」滕彪也曾飽受中共的迫害、毆打和監禁,他不會不同意陳光誠關於中共的說法,他反對的是陳對川普的推崇。滕彪在推特上說:「對於中國維權者來說,支持川普在邏輯上是毫無邏輯可言的。」

這兩個朋友之間的裂隙,只是中國異議人士群體中「挺川」和「反川」之間巨大分歧中的一個小例子。裂痕在中國境內外均清晰可見,並可能在拜登時代以其他形式持續存在。分歧的原因與基本價值判斷無關。雙方都不同意將維吾爾人關進新疆的集中營、粉碎香港的民主制度、在中國遍地安裝數億個監視攝像機、也反對中共專政下的許多其他現象。在川普和習近平的政治直覺上,雙方都看不出有什麼大的區別。習近平控制著他的國家的新聞界,而川普若做得到,也會如此。這兩人都把他們的批評者稱為「人民公敵」;他們都想把對手關起來(習近平做到了);兩人都設想取消對自己任期的限制(習近平成功了);兩者都要求下屬忠誠;他們倆身邊都圍一幫應聲蟲(yes-men)。中國的互聯網上有個玩笑就說,川普是以微弱多數當選的,在中國,習近平可不是(以微弱多數上位的)。所以兩人之間最為相似的是,他們都不是被選出來的中國代表。

在中國,川普的批評者包括著名的法律學者賀衛方和張千帆,他們很睿智地看透了,川普許多行為本質上是反民主的,這損害了美國的民主以及世界其他地方的民主前景。但是,在中國國內外的持不同政見者中,川普的支持者超過了他的批評者,去了解原因何在是很重要的。這並不是因為他們在政治上是極右翼的,從意識形態上講,他們更接近美國政治領域中傳統的自由主義者。

他們之所以成為「挺川的」,是因為他們認為幾十年來美國政府對中共一直都很幼稚,他們將川普視為首位對此持反對態度的美國總統。為了報復他認為不公平的貿易,他於2018年中期開始對中國商品加徵關稅,看起來是出於直率的「美國優先」衝動,而並非持不同政見者更喜歡的那種削弱中共國內實力的企圖。儘管如此,他還顯示一點反抗的精神,這與老布希總統形成了鮮明的對比,為了「維持關係」,布希對1989年6月4日天安門屠殺寬容了;克林頓總統將貿易與人權脫鉤;小布希總統將中國加引進世界貿易組織;歐巴馬推出對華政策,保證人權不會「干擾」貿易、氣候變化或安全;還有另外的美國政府放任中共的種種例子。無論出於何種原因,與中國政府對峙,似乎是異議人士期待已久的轉折,足以抵消川普性格的瑕疵和其他政策的弊端。

10月下旬,現居美國的中國著名異見人士余杰發表一個97人的名單,這些是來自中國、香港、台灣和海外的中共批評者,他把他們按照公開反對和支持川普來排列。在做我自己的一些小調查來補充余杰的清單時,我很驚訝地發現,竟有這樣多中國自由思想者是挺川的。


滕彪為法學學者,維權人士,現居美國。圖/民報資料照

除了陳光誠和余杰本人外,他們還包括一些傑出的人物。蔡霞是北京中央黨校研究中共思想的退休教授,由於對習近平的批評,她離開了中共高層,現在流亡美國。她告訴一個在線聊天小組,她發現普通美國人天真誠實,「這當然是好事。但這也有負面的影響,即美國人的相對簡單,普遍對中共的邪惡認識不足。」1989年天安門遊行示威的傑出學生領袖王丹指出,持不同政見的出版大亨黎智英和香港其他中共反抗者最近下獄,可能對拜登政府構成考驗:缺乏反應將釋放一個將重返川普之前綏靖政策的信號。

經濟學家何清漣和作家廖亦武也都是川普的支持者。出色的《痛苦的西藏》一書的作者李江琳也是如此;劉軍寧,《零八憲章》運動的主要人物;北京最受歡迎的書店「萬聖書園」的經理劉蘇里;在美國流亡了數十年的傑出批評家胡平和蘇曉康也都是。還有來自湖南的詩人師濤,他在2004年向紐約的朋友們轉發了一項政府命令,不讓公眾提及天安門屠殺15週年。他被指控「洩露國家機密」,並在雅虎向中共透露身份後被判入獄八年半。

簡而言之,把支持川普的中國異議份子歸咎到教育程度低或信息不足的說法是錯誤的。他們並非如此,他們對西方民主國家不願跟獨裁對峙,其實有比川普總統更深遠的認知。

15年前,2010年諾貝爾和平獎獲得者劉曉波寫了一系列文章,他稱之為「二十世紀自由國家的四大錯誤」。2017年作為「囚犯」去世的劉曉波提出的問題是:1930年代的西方知識分子為什麽會被斯大林迷惑?為什麼英國和法國如此輕易地與德國和意大利的獨裁者妥協?第二次世界大戰後,為什麼美國和英國向蘇聯屈服呢?在1960年代和1970年代,歐洲的前衛知識分子為何中招「毛澤東熱」,這種「熱」為何持續這麼長時間?

讓劉曉波格外不齒的是西方知識分子聲稱要通過毛澤東為平民—被壓迫的弱者—「群眾」發聲。實際上,他們的做法恰恰相反:他們與壓迫者站在一旁。1989年,蘇聯帝國瓦解時,西方人發出了「冷戰結束」的嘆息。結束了?中國、朝鮮、越南、古巴呢?為什麼西方看不到世界的某些部分?

美國的政策不僅忽視了中國的獨裁統治,它還幫助了中共權力的增長。在天安門屠殺的幾天之內,國際儘管對北京實施了制裁,布希總統還是秘密派遣使節向中共領導人保證,他想維持與中共的良好關係。當國會從1990年代初開始要求北京在年度人權方面改善,以換取「最惠國」貿易條件時,克林頓總統在華爾街的壓力下,於1994年突然將貿易與人權「脫鉤」。美國資本和(一部分是偷來的)技術開始推動中國製造業的蓬勃發展和出口。

在美國的支持下,中國於2001年加入世界貿易組織,並獲得了世界銀行數十億美元的貸款,幫助其經濟進一步飛躍。2005年,美國副國務卿羅伯特·佐利克(Robert Zoellick)發表的講話廣為流傳,他說中共可能成為世界體系中「負責任的利益夥伴」。對於中國持不同政見者來說,這次演講更多地顯示了美國的天真,而不是對中共有所期望。


2005年,美國副國務卿羅伯特·佐利克(Robert Zoellick)說中共可能成為世界體系中「負責任的利益夥伴」顯示了美國的天真。圖/擷自維基百科,公有領域
不幸的是,佐利克在西方人中並不罕見。在大西洋兩岸的首都中,人們越來越相信「他們會變得像我們一樣」。在2008年壯觀的北京奧運會上,長期以來一直支持中共「參與」的諮詢公司基辛格商會(Kissinger Associates)的一位約書亞·拉莫(Joshua Ramo)預測中國是「一個能將火箭點燃的火柴國家」。他沒有提到成千上萬的平民百姓,被迫離開家園,以確保偉大的奧林匹克盡善盡美,讓中共贏得巨大禮讚。在中國持不同政見者中總體形象良好的歐巴馬在2015年公開表示,中共的脫貧計劃是「人類史上最傑出的成就之一」。他不承認1959年至1962年的大躍進農業災難,導致上億人口墮入極度貧困 (令至少三千萬人死亡),中共政策直接造成的貧困,後來必須逐步清除。

幾十年來,美國方面處理中美關係的工作,一直由一小撮政府和學術界專家組成, 民主黨和共和黨政府在操作上中都驚人地相似。他們的第一個原則是,「關係」必須守住,關係的「另一端」僅限於其正式的對話者,也就是中共那邊責任在身的代理人。這些專家發表演講,其中「中國」或「中國觀點」之類的詞,專門指政權高層中的極少數人。美國專家確實對那些精英做了研究,但對漢語、文化和社會的理解並不深廣。北京知道如何利用這些美國人來強加自己的觀點,即美國必須尊重「中國的核心利益」(直接或間接影響中共權力的利益),否則這種關係將受到威脅。只有美國,而不是中共有可能危及它。

川普輕視這些中國政策精英,是中國持不同政見者青睞他的原因之一。川普在國務院用了余茂春、白宮用了博明(Matthew Pottinger)等為中國顧問,似乎美國政府終於開始了解中共了。博明來自波士頓,1990年代中期學中文,十分優異。1998年至2005年他成為路透社和《華爾街日報》的中國特派記者,很快掌握了共產黨是怎麽回事。2005年,他加入了海軍陸戰隊五年,被派往伊拉克和阿富汗。2017年,他在白宮國家安全委員會工作,他既在中國政策上參與,又能完成工作,而不致被(川普)解僱,由此可見他有多麼的聰敏。(他於1月7日辭職,作為對國會大廈受到襲擊的回應)。

23歲的余茂春於1985年離開中國,在斯沃思莫爾(Swarthmore)大學念書,後來在伯克萊拿到博士學位。1989大屠殺之後,他編印簡報《中國論壇》,這是我所見過的,對中共統治最為尖銳揭露的出版物。他是海軍學院的歷史學教授,在校請假到美國國務院任職。


川普在國務院用了余茂春(右)、白宮用了博明(Matthew Pottinger)等為中國顧問,似乎美國政府終於開始了解中共了。圖/擷自美國國務院
在2020年11月16日接受美國之音的採訪中,余茂春指出了川普國務院啟動的三項對華政策的新方向。其一,須停止把「中國共產黨」和「中國」作為同義詞,關鍵不是要在語言層面上挑動中共的反感,而是為了使美國人擺脫把中國和中共視為同一件事的壞習慣。只有清楚區分,才能開始理解中共對中國的破壞。其二,要改變「參與」(engagement)的概念,這是美國的「中國通們」長期倡導的戰略名稱。根據「參與」理論,將中共納入商業、教育旅遊等領域的交流,以為會促使中共遵循國際規範,但結果是趨勢卻朝相反的方向流逝。中共入侵了西方媒體、工業、金融、研究、教育、個人數據收集和其他領域,我們必須抵制這種「參與」。其三,與中共的協議必須以「結果為導向」。多年來,中共一直採用談判的策略,對緊迫問題如朝鮮無核化,或伊朗制裁等進行拖延,說這一類問題需要更多的研究,更多的協商和更多的時間,直到美國耐不住了,最終接受不了了之的結果。余茂春說,國務院不再這樣做了。

中國的民主人士十分困惑,不明白為什麼美國決策者這麼多年來一直被中共耍弄。對於企業界來說,原因並不難理解。龐大的,廉價的,受箝制的勞動力自然吸引了美國製造商,還有那潛在而巨大的市場誘惑。得罪中共,這些好處可能會消失。但是將政治理想這麼輕易就撇開,這很令民運人士感到困惑。西方人怎麼看不見,中共更像黑手黨,這跟他們的政府實在並不相似啊。西方自由主義者為什麼要對暴政那麽尊重呢?「社會主義」和「人民」這種漂亮的標籤是否愚弄了他們?

大約十年前,「白左」這個詞出現在中國互聯網上。這高度的貶義詞的意思是「無意間背叛了西方文明左派的白人」。1950年代訪問過中國的讓·保羅·薩特(Jean-Paul Sartre)是一個早期的例子。薩特譴責西方帝國主義,並書寫他在毛澤東統治下的中國,所感知的「美」,雖然那時千百萬中國人正在遭受荼毒。到現在,「白左」思想能否說明西方人為何仍然看不透中共?為什麼當美國人振振有詞地譴責自己國家侵犯了人權,而在自稱「社會主義」國家中發生濫權時,卻採用不同的標準呢?

中國人對「白左」的批評並非一貫嚴厲。來自台灣的美籍華人蔣慧娜(Louisa Chiang)與大陸持不同政見者緊密合作了數十年,給我的信中說:

許多「白左思維」都是善意的,自由主義者同樣有權獲得其他人所能獲得的善意理解和寬容。但這是在提醒他們,如果他們真正聽取第三世界的聲音,他們的努力甚至可以更有效,並且可以獲得更深入的認知。敞開心扉,認真傾聽。

蔣女士看不慣西方自由主義者瞧不起中國受害者,認為他們缺乏應有的政治判斷能力。

在紐約大學法學小組和德克薩斯州基督教團體「中國援助」的幫助下,陳光誠於2012年來到美國。以往的經歷證明,他擁有獨立做政治決定的超強能力,然而,兩個接待團體中的人都希望他接受他們的指導,學習如何在美國政治上表現得體。後來,當陳光誠成為川普的支持者時,一些觀察家更加覺得他非常需要接受政治指導,認為中國人在一個壓抑的社會中長大,畢竟那裡的權利意識薄弱,所以,像川普這樣的騙子那麽容易讓他們上當受騙是可以理解的。但若以這種方式看問題,實際上,美國人認為中共領導人具有更高的判斷力,而對中共批評者的判斷力反而差多了。異議人士在民主黨和共和黨之間做選擇,需要得到諮詢,但是胡錦濤和習近平在有機會以「負責任的利益夥伴」之身份加入世界時,美國人能相信他們自然會做出正確的決定(直到事實證明美國人才錯了)。


2012年5月1日陳光誠(左)、駱家輝(中)、庫爾特·坎貝爾(右)在美國駐華大使館。圖/擷自維基百科,公有領域
在某種程度上,異議人士能夠接受西方自由主義者的這種批評。與專制思想的毒素作鬥爭常常是他們自己經歷的一部分。劉曉波在2003年寫道:「我可能需要一輩子才能擺脫毒素。」但是,在經歷了磨難之後,這種人要比那些自以為是、悠哉的旁觀者具有更深刻的認知。他們不需要憐憫。他們感到奇怪的是,像劉賓雁、方勵之、胡平和蘇曉康這樣的資深異議人士,本來完全可以幫助華盛頓去了解中共,但在美國住了幾十年,卻從未有人去徵詢他們的意見。

許多人告訴我,他們覺得很難理解,為何西方幾乎沒有察覺到,他們的國家一直在付出很大的代價。為何西方跟希特勒、墨索里尼和史達林這些獨裁者對立,所汲取的教訓就不能應用於中國?中共正在向外擴展權力,情況就會有所不同嗎?西方準備好了嗎?還是西方自己已經朝著專制方向發展了?中國境內的一個朋友開玩笑卻同時提出一個重要的觀點問我,在推特上班的審查員是否是中國移民?她打趣地說:「他們具有專業知識,當美國某人說出某些『政治不正確』的話時,不僅會被自動打回來,而且人家開始調查他的動機。簡直就是毛派作風嘛!」

言論自由一直是川普支持者和批評者之間的爭論問題。笑蜀是一位長期以來雖然徒勞無功,卻一直為爭取中國的媒體自由而奮鬥的記者。當他聽到美國總統稱新聞界是「人民的敵人」時,打了個冷顫。川普知道這個詞在世界其他地方是怎麽用的嗎?知道可是不在乎嗎?曾經寫過一本關於中國如何過渡到民主的書的王天成先生批評在美國的川粉說他們願意為了短期內的好處犧牲基本的民主憲政原則。

挺川的能夠接受這裡頭的某些批評,但也不要放棄基本的觀點。華盛頓對華政策新的、也許短暫的改善總比沒有改善好,反正幾十年來都是這麼個情況,美國式的民主,哪怕不完善,總比中共的制度好得多。就拿說謊這個問題來看,川普撒謊嗎?肯定的。中共宣傳部(後更名為公關部)說謊嗎?蘇曉康溫和地跟我說,這個問題很幼稚。他解釋說,中共系統用一種完全不同的方式來評估語句的價值。真實和虛假是偶然的。如果陳述的「社會效應」「良好」,那麼這種陳述就很有價值,而如果一種陳述支持中共的權力利益,那麼這種陳述就算是好的。(對於天氣預報或籃球成績等政治上無害的事情,黨不在乎支持與否,但依然要避免對黨的任何傷害。)因此,「好」的陳述可能是真的,半真或不真實的,這都無關緊要。

陳述中包含一些真實成份,會更有效地影響人們,因而包含真理的趨勢是很重要的。但是,真理永遠不是首要條件,從這個意義上說,說謊也不是。美國民主派對總統撒謊感到頭疼,這與中國生活在中共的宣傳機構下本質上根本不同。中國的宣傳機構可以追溯到1940年代,而如今的專家們更是非常精於此道。

西方媒體的讀者,無論是否意識到,反正都已經看到了這類專業的例子。在2008年北京奧運會前夕,新華社的英文媒體開始頻繁使用「lifted from poverty」(從貧困擡起了)一詞。意思就是說「中國」(意為中共)為億萬中國人所做的大事。世界各地的媒體,例如《紐約時報》、《華爾街日報》、路透社、半島電視台、共同社、BBC以及許多其他媒體,都採用了這個詞組,西方政治家們,不論左派或右派也都選用這個詞組。世界銀行在官方報告中也使用了。簡而言之,這些話在取得預期的效果方面非常成功:全世界開始相信中共成就了偉大的擡起事業。

但實際情況並不是這樣子的。 中國經濟發展史,從1980年代以來,要是更透明地說,是這樣:中共對中國老百姓局部放開了經濟管制,讓他們幾十年來第一次能夠自己賺錢;數以億計的工人於是拿低工資而超長時間地努力工作,沒有工會,沒有勞保,沒有新聞自由或獨立司法的保護;的確,他們賺了很多錢,自己脫貧了,同時也將高居他們頭頂之上的中共精英,推上巔峰,讓他們獲得了炫目的財富。

簡而言之,「擡起」一詞需要分析,到底誰擡起了誰。在世界各地閱讀到「中國人被擡起」的讀者通常不會想到這個問題。有了這些句子的語法,再加上「中國=中共」(China = CCP)的公式,就不需要再提問了。這個文字工程是故意的嗎?任何對此有懷疑的人都應注意,中共媒體在英語、法語、德語和其他外語出版物中使用「中國人被擡起」一詞,但在本國的中文媒體中不使用。這是有道理的。如果中共開始對自己的老百姓說「我們擡起了你們」,會怎麽樣呢?人們心裡很清楚,雙方都心知肚明。做出這樣的斷言可能會產生不良的「社會效果」,例如會有更多的示威、罷工、靜坐、路障,以及公安部標記為「群眾事件」。最近每年已經有數萬起。

「挺川」和「反川」的公開辯論升溫時,人身攻擊有時候代替內容(但未必比其他地方的政治辯論多)。川粉說批評川的與西方自由主義走得太近了,借了人家的許多反川的論點,這就顯示著中國的鬥爭屈服於美國的政治鬥爭,這是不恰當的。進一步聲稱,反川的人擺出了溫和的道德敲詐態勢:「您不譴責川普,您就是種族主義、法西斯主義和厭惡婦女的人。」挺川的說,這種壓力再次讓人聯想到毛澤東時代,當時人們被要求檢視自己的靈魂和思想,直到他們公開表達了「正確」的觀點。

川普離職,拜登組建外交政策小組,他能對中共有多實際的把握?如果拜登能召回余茂春或博明在他的政府中任職,那就不僅是兩黨合作的標誌,也是避免幼稚的門戶之檻的高明之舉。可惜,我看這樣做是不太可能的。關鍵不僅在於美國對華政策的問題上,更基本的問題是拜登的班子能否正確地掌握中共的性質。

林培瑞,2021年1月13日


林培瑞(Perry Link)是加州大學河濱分校跨學科的校長特聘講座教授。他最近的著作包括《剖析中國:節奏,隱喻,政治》,以及中國天體物理學家方勵之回憶錄的譯本《中國最想要的人:從科學家到國家敵人的旅程》。圖/田牧提供
附英文原文如下:

The New York Review
February 11, 2021issue
Seeing the CCP Clearly
Author:Perry Link

For Chinese dissidents, the end of Washington’s deference to Beijing has been a long time coming.

In a speech at the Republican National Convention last August, Chen Guangcheng, a blind, iron-willed human rights lawyer and dissident from China whom the Obama administration brought to the United States in 2012, said:
Standing up to tyranny is not easy. I know. When I spoke out against China’s One Child Policy and other injustices, I was persecuted, beaten, sent to prison, and put under house arrest….
The CCP [Chinese Communist Party] is an enemy of humanity. It is terrorizing its own people and it is threatening the well-being of the world…. The United States must use its values of freedom, democracy, and the rule of law to gather a coalition of other democracies to stop CCP’s aggression. President Trump has led on this, and we need the other countries to join him in this fight—a fight for our future.
Within hours, Teng Biao, an old friend of Chen’s who is also a Chinese human rights lawyer based in the US, tweeted, “I completely oppose what he is doing.” Teng, too, is a veteran of persecution, beating, and imprisonment at the hands of the CCP, and he would not disagree with what Chen said about the CCP. What he opposed was Chen’s bow to Donald Trump. “For Chinese human rights defenders, there is zero logical consistency to supporting Trump,” Teng tweeted.
The split between the two friends is a small example of a wider disagreement between “Trump boosters” and “Trump critics” in the Chinese dissident community. The rift is plainly visible both inside and outside China and is likely to persist in one form or another into the Biden years.
Its causes have little to do with basic value judgments. Neither side approves of putting Uighurs into concentration camps in Xinjiang, of crushing democracy in Hong Kong, of installing hundreds of millions of surveillance cameras across China, or of any other of the many symptoms of the CCP’s obsession with power. And neither side sees much to distinguish in the political instincts of Trump and Xi Jinping. Xi controls the press in his country and Trump would if he could; each labels his critics “enemies of the people”; both imagine (and Xi succeeds in) locking up opponents; each contemplates (and Xi achieves) setting aside term limits for himself; both demand loyalty from subordinates; and both surround themselves with yes-men. One online wit in China, using indirection that is common on the Chinese Internet, noted that Trump had, however barely, been voted into office in the US while Xi, in China, had not, and then offered the arch observation that the most crucial similarity between the two men is that neither is the elected representative of China.
Trump critics in China include the distinguished legal scholars He Weifang and Zhang Qianfan, who have a sophisticated grasp of why much of his behavior is intrinsically antidemocratic and how it damages both US democracy and prospects for democracy elsewhere in the world. But among dissidents generally, both inside and outside China, Trump supporters outnumber Trump critics, and it is important to understand why. It is not because they are a far-right fringe. In ideological terms, they are closer to classic liberals on a US political spectrum.
They are “pro-Trump” because they feel that for decades US administrations have been naive about the CCP, and they see Trump as the first US president to stand up to it. His tariffs on Chinese goods, imposed in mid-2018 in retaliation for what he saw as unfair trade practices, appear to have sprung from a blunt “America first” impulse, not from an intention to weaken the CCP domestically, as dissidents would have preferred. Still, he imposed them, which marks a clear contrast to George H.W. Bush’s tolerance of the Tiananmen massacre of June 4, 1989, for the sake of “the relationship”; Bill Clinton’s about-face in separating trade from human rights; George W. Bush’s ushering China into the World Trade Organization; Barack Obama’s launch of his China policy with the assurance that human rights would not “interfere” with trade, climate change, or security; and other examples of US government indulgence of the CCP. Standing up to the Chinese government for any reason seemed to dissidents a long-awaited turn of events, and enough to outweigh all the drawbacks of Trump’s character and other policies.
In late October Yu Jie, a well-known Chinese dissident who now lives in the US, published the names of ninety-seven critics of the CCP from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and overseas whom he judged, by what they had said publicly, to be either critics or boosters of Trump. In supplementing Yu’s list with some inquiries of my own, I was surprised to find how many Chinese freethinkers were pro-Trump.

In addition to Chen Guangcheng and Yu Jie himself, they include some remarkable figures. Cai Xia is a retired professor of CCP ideology at the Central Party School in Beijing who, because of her criticisms of Xi Jinping, left the upper levels of the CCP and now lives in exile in the US. She told an online chat group that she found ordinary Americans ingenuously truthful, and “that, of course, is a good thing. But it also has its negative side: Americans are simple and just don’t grasp the evil of the CCP regime.” Wang Dan, a prominent student leader of the 1989 Tiananmen demonstrations, has noted that the recent imprisonment of the dissident publishing magnate Jimmy Lai and other CCP resisters in Hong Kong is likely a test of the Biden administration: a lack of response will be a sign of a return to pre-Trump appeasement policies.
He Qinglian, whose first book on the Chinese economy Liu Binyan and I reviewed in these pages,and Liao Yiwu, who has also been reviewed, published, and interviewed here, are both Trump supporters. So are Li Jianglin, author of the splendid book Tibet in Agony; Liu Junning, a major figure in the Charter 08 movement; Liu Suli, manager of All Saints Book Grove, Beijing’s beloved (and precariously surviving) bookstore; Hu Ping and Su Xiaokang, distinguished critics who have lived in US exile for decades; and Shi Tao, a poet from Hunan who in 2004 had forwarded to friends in New York a government order to make no public mention of the fifteenth anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre. He was charged with “revealing state secrets” and sent to prison for eight and a half years after Yahoo revealed his identity to the CCP.
In short, it would be a mistake to write off dissident Chinese Trump boosters as poorly educated or ill informed. They are not, and their views on the reluctance of Western democracies to stand up to dictatorships have roots that go much deeper than the Trump presidency.
Fifteen years ago Liu Xiaobo, the winner of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, wrote a set of articles that he called “The Four Big Mistakes of the Free Countries in the Twentieth Century.” How, asked Liu, who died a prisoner in 2017, could Western intellectuals in the 1930s have been enamored of Stalin? Why did Britain and France compromise so easily with dictators in Germany and Italy? After World War II, why did America and Britain concede so much to the Soviet Union? In the 1960s and 1970s, how could leading European intellectuals have caught “Mao Zedong fever,” and how could that fever have lasted so long?
Especially galling to Liu was the claim of Western intellectuals to be speaking, through Mao, for ordinary people—the downtrodden, the underdogs, “the masses.” In fact they were doing the very opposite: they were siding with the oppressors. In 1989, when the Soviet empire collapsed, the West heaved a sigh that “the cold war is over.” Over? What about China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba? Why does the West not see some parts of the world?
US policy has not just overlooked dictatorship in China; it has aided the growth of CCP power. Within days of the Tiananmen massacre, despite international sanctions on Beijing, President Bush secretly sent emissaries to assure CCP leaders that he wanted to maintain good relations. While Congress was extracting its annual human rights concessions from Beijing in return for “most favored nation” trade terms in the early 1990s, President Clinton, under pressure from Wall Street, abruptly “de-linked” trade and human rights in 1994. US capital and technology (some of it purloined) began to drive a boom in Chinese manufacturing for export.
With US support, China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001 and secured billions in World Bank loans, helping its economy to take another leap. In 2005 Robert Zoellick, a US deputy secretary of state, gave a widely reported speech in which he said that the CCP might become a “responsible stakeholder” in the world system. To Chinese dissidents, the speech revealed more about American naiveté than about what could be expected of the CCP.
Unfortunately, Zoellick was not unusual among westerners. In capitals on both sides of the Atlantic, a faith grew that “they will come to be like us.” At the spectacular Beijing Olympics in 2008, Joshua Ramo of the consulting firm Kissinger Associates, which was long a proponent of “engagement” with the CCP, predicted that China was “a nation about to put a match to the fuse of a rocket.” He made no mention of the hundreds of thousands of ordinary people who had been forced from their homes to assure that the great Olympic salute to the CCP looked as perfect as possible. Barack Obama, whose image among Chinese dissidents was generally good, said publicly in 2015 that the CCP’s antipoverty program was “one of the most remarkable achievements in human history.” He did not acknowledge that the Great Leap agricultural disaster of 1959–1962, which thrust hundreds of millions of people into dire poverty (and killed at least 30 million), was a direct result of CCP policies as well as the most direct cause of the poverty that later needed to be alleviated.

For decades the work of managing the US relationship with China fell on the US side to a small group of specialists in government and academia, whose approach was remarkably consistent across both Democratic and Republican administrations. Their first principle was that “the relationship” must survive, and “the other side” in the relationship was limited to their formal interlocutors, who were duty-bound representatives of the CCP. These experts gave speeches in which terms like “China” or “the Chinese view” referred exclusively to a very few people at the top of the regime. The Americans were indeed expert in the study of that elite but not well versed in Chinese language, culture, and society more broadly. Beijing knew how to use these Americans to impose its view that the US must respect the “core interests of China” (that is, interests that directly or indirectly affected the CCP’s power), failing which the relationship would be in jeopardy. Only the US, not the CCP, could endanger it.
Trump’s demotion of this China policy elite is one reason why Chinese dissidents have come to favor him. Under Trump, with China advisers like Miles Yu at the State Department and Matthew Pottinger at the White House, it seemed that people in the US government were finally beginning to understand the CCP. Pottinger, who is from Boston, learned Chinese unusually well in the mid-1990s and, as a China correspondent for Reuters and The Wall Street Journal from 1998 to 2005, was a quick study in how the CCP goes about things. In 2005 he joined the marines for five years and was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan; in 2017 he joined the National Security staff at the White House, where his intelligence showed not only in China policy but in his ability to get things done without getting fired (he resigned on January 7, in response to the attack on the Capitol).
Yu left China in 1985 at age twenty-three to study at Swarthmore and then got a Ph.D. in history at Berkeley. After the 1989 massacre, he began editing a newsletter called China Forum that exposed the methods of the CCP as trenchantly as any publication I have seen before or since. He is a professor of history at the Naval Academy, from which he took leave to serve in the State Department.
In an interview with Voice of America on November 16, 2020, Yu pointed out three departures in China policy that the Trump State Department had launched. One was to stop using “CCP” and “China” as synonyms. The point was not to stick fingers in Beijing’s eyes at a linguistic level; it was to wean Americans from the bad habit of thinking of China and the CCP as the same thing. Only when the distinction is clear can one begin to understand the damage that the CCP has done to China. A second change concerned “engagement,” the name of a strategy that the China-expert group had long promoted. According to the engagement theory, exchange in commerce, education, tourism, and other areas would induce the CCP to adopt international norms, but the result was that considerable influence began flowing in the opposite direction. The CCP has made inroads in Western media, industry, finance, research, education, personal data collection, and other areas, and that sort of engagement had to be opposed.
Third, agreements with the CCP needed to be “results oriented.” For many years, the CCP had been using the negotiating tactic of shelving urgent questions, like North Korean denuclearization or Iran sanctions, by saying they needed more study, more consultation, and more time—until the US finally grew tired of waiting and just accepted the result that there would be no result. We don’t do that anymore, Yu said.
Puzzled Chinese democrats have wondered why US policymakers have indulged the CCP to the extent that they have over the years. For the business community, the reasons are not hard to understand. A large, inexpensive, and captive labor force was naturally attractive to American manufacturers, as was the lure of potentially huge markets. Cross the CCP and these prizes might disappear. But why, Chinese democrats ask, is it so easy to set political ideals aside? Is there something that prevents westerners from seeing that the CCP resembles their own mafias more than it does their governments? Why should Western liberals show respect for a thuggish regime? Do the pretty labels “socialist” and “People’s” fool them?
About a decade ago the word baizuo appeared on the Chinese Internet. Highly derogatory, it means literally “white people on the left” who unwittingly betray the ideals of Western civilization. Jean-Paul Sartre, who visited China in the 1950s, was an early example. Sartre excoriated Western imperialism and wrote about the beauty he perceived in Mao’s China even as Mao was tyrannizing millions. Does baizuo thinking, some have wondered, help to explain why Westerners still can’t see the CCP for what it is? Why do Americans, who are eloquent when they denounce human rights abuses in their own country, apply different standards when abuses happen in countries that call themselves “socialist”?
Chinese critics of baizuo are not uniformly harsh. Louisa Chiang, an American from Taiwan who has worked closely with mainland dissidents for decades, wrote to me:
A lot [of baizuo thinking] is well-intentioned, and liberals are just as entitled to the kind interpretation and allowances that all should receive. But this is to remind them that their power can do even more good, and that they could gain even more insights, if they were to truly heed third-world voices. Open their hearts and listen hard. It might advance their domestic agenda and make unexpected international accomplishments in their fight against any and all imperialism.
Chiang and others are annoyed when they see Western liberals condescend to Chinese victims, whom they assume are less qualified to make political judgments than they themselves are.
Chen Guangcheng came to the US in 2012 with the help of both the law program at New York University and a Christian group in Texas called ChinaAid. He brought with him a formidable record of making his own political decisions, and yet somehow people in both his host groups expected him to accept their tutelage in how to behave politically in the US. Later, when Chen turned out to be a Trump booster, some observers became even more confident that what he most needed was political guidance: Chinese people have grown up in a repressive society, after all, where awareness of rights is weak, so it is understandable that they are easy prey for charlatans like Trump. But in viewing matters this way, Americans in effect attribute greater powers of judgment to CCP leaders than to CCP critics. While the critics apparently need advice in choosing between Democrats and Republicans, CCP bosses like Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping, when given the choice to join the world as “responsible stakeholders,” can be trusted to make the right decision (until, it turns out, they do not).
Up to a point, dissidents can accept this sort of criticism from Western liberals; struggles with the toxin of authoritarian thinking have often been part of their own experience. Liu Xiaobo wrote in 2003 that “it may take me a lifetime to rid myself of the poison.” After they survive the ordeal, however, they emerge with an understanding that is deeper than that of the leisured bystanders who mean them well. They need no pity. They find it strange that veteran dissidents like Liu Binyan, Fang Lizhi, Hu Ping, and Su Xiaokang, who could have been of immense help to Washington in understanding the CCP, lived in the US for decades without ever being consulted.
Many have told me they find it hard to understand how the price their nation has paid, and continues to pay, goes largely unnoticed in the West. Why are the lessons the West has learned opposing dictators like Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin so difficult to apply to China? Will things be different now that the CCP is shifting its power grabs outward? Will the West be ready? Or is the West already trending in an authoritarian direction? A friend inside China asked me—jokingly, but with a serious point—if the censors working for Twitter were Chinese immigrants. “They have the expertise,” she quipped, and added, “When a person in the US says something not politically correct, the response to him seems to be not only to reject it automatically but to begin examining his motive. How Maoist!”
Freedom of expression has been a major issue between supporters and critics of Trump. Xiao Shu, a journalist who has long struggled, mostly in vain, for media freedom in China, cringes to hear a US president refer to the press as the “enemy of the people.” Does he know how those words have been used elsewhere in the world—or care? Wang Tiancheng, the author of a book on how China can transition to democracy, writes that China’s Trump boosters present “a huge problem: they put passing policy advantages ahead of principles of democratic constitutionalism.”
Pro-Trumpers can concede some of these points and still say that things must be kept in perspective. New, perhaps short-lived improvements in Washington’s China policy are better than no improvements at all, which is what we have been living with for decades, and a US-style democracy, even if damaged, is immeasurably better than what China has. Take the question of lying. Does Trump lie? Yes. Does the CCP’s Department of Propaganda (later renamed the Department of Publicity) lie? Su Xiaokang gently told me that the question is naive. The CCP system, he explained, has an entirely different way of measuring the value of statements. Truth and falsity are incidental. A statement is valuable if its “social effects” are “good,” and the effects count as good if they support the power interests of the CCP. (For politically innocuous matters like weather reports or basketball scores, support of the party does not apply, but avoidance of harm to the party still does.) Hence a “good” statement might be true, half-true, or untrue—that is beside the point.
A tendency toward including truth does become relevant when someone judges that a statement will influence people more effectively if a bit of verisimilitude is supplied. But truth is never the first criterion, and in that sense neither is lying. American democracy’s headache with a president who lies is a fundamentally different problem from China’s living under the CCP’s propaganda apparatus, whose roots date from the 1940s and whose experts by now are very good at what they do.
Readers of the Western press, whether aware of it or not, have seen examples of that expertise. In the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the international wing of the Xinhua News Agency instituted frequent use of the phrase “lifted from poverty.” This was what “China” (meaning the CCP) had done for hundreds of millions of Chinese people. The world’s media—The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Al Jazeera, Kyodo News, the BBC, and many others—picked up the phrase, as did Western politicians on both the left and the right. The World Bank used it in official reports. Those words were, in short, highly successful in achieving the intended effect: the world came to believe that the CCP was doing great good.
A more transparent account of what it had done, beginning in the 1980s and 1990s, is that it released its controls on the Chinese people so that, for the first time in decades, they could make money for themselves; hundreds of millions responded by working long hours at low wages without the protection of labor unions, workers’ compensation insurance, a free press, or independent courts; and, yes, they made great amounts of money, escaping poverty for themselves and simultaneously catapulting the CCP elite, who still rode high above them, to truly spectacular wealth.
In short, the word “lifted” begs analysis of who lifted whom. That question did not normally occur to people around the world who read the words “China lifted.” The grammar of such sentences, combined with the formula China = CCP, left no need for a question. Was this word-engineering deliberate? Anyone who doubts that it was should note that CCP media used the “China lifted” phrase in publications in English, French, German, and other foreign languages but not in Chinese-language media at home. That made good sense. What would happen if the CCP started telling the Chinese people that “we lifted you”? The people would know better. Both sides know better. To make such an assertion might generate unfortunate “social effects,” such as a greater number of demonstrations, strikes, sit-ins, roadblocks, and other examples of what the Ministry of Public Security labels “masses incidents” and counts in the tens of thousands per year.
When debate between Chinese Trump critics and Trump boosters heats up, attention sometimes shifts (although not really more than in political debates elsewhere) away from issues and toward personal attacks. The boosters say the critics are too close to Western liberals, from whom they have learned their anti-Trump talking points, and that this shows an inappropriate subordination of China’s struggles to the political battles in America. They further claim that the Trump critics exert a gentle form of moral blackmail that says, essentially, “If you people don’t denounce Trump you must be racist, fascist, and misogynist.” That pressure, they say, again conjures the Mao era, when people were asked to search their souls and examine their thoughts until they arrived at public expression of “correct” views.
As Trump leaves the scene and Biden forms his foreign policy team, how realistic will its grasp of the CCP be? It would be not just a gesture of bipartisanship but a brilliant inoculation against backsliding into naiveté if Biden were to recall Yu or Pottinger or both to service in his administration. Yet it’s hard to see that happening. At stake is not just the question of US policy toward China but the logically prior question of whether the CCP is accurately seen for what it is.
—January 13, 2021
ssue
China’s New Censorship
September 5, 2017
The Passion of Liu Xiaobo
July 13, 2017

Perry Link
Perry Link is Chancellorial Chair for Teaching Across Disciplines at the University of California at Riverside. His recent books include An Anatomy of Chinese: Rhythm, Metaphor, Politics and a translation of the memoirs of the Chinese astrophysicist Fang Lizhi, The Most Wanted Man in China: My Journey from Scientist to Enemy of the State. (February 2021)
※本文轉載自《歐洲之聲》

專文屬作者個人意見,文責歸屬作者,本報提供意見交流平台,不代表本報立場。