Sending a Message the Wrong Way

Yasheng Huang at Foreign Policy magazine says in an opinion piece — identified as an “argument” — that the US should bypass China’s government and “somehow” directly reach the Chinese people with the message that the US knows what’s best for China.

Considering China’s history with the West starting with the first Opium War and the West’s support of the Dalai Lama, Tibetan and Islamic Separatists, outspoken Chinese democracy activists and religious cults such as the Falun Gong, I’m sure that would be well received — not.

Wanting to know more about Yasheng Huang, I discovered that he has a long title and is a professor of political economy and international management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He also holds a special-term professorship at Fudan University with an honorary professorship at Hunan University.

Impressive resume. You may want to check it out. Just click on his name above. I’m sure the good professor wears his many titles well.

Professor Yasheng Huang may be right when he says, “To be sure, the vast majority of serious economists are absolutely right that in the long run, a currency revaluation is in the interest of the Chinese. But this is politics, where the issue is not about the technocratic intricacies of who is right and who is wrong.”

However, the professor is wrong to suggest that Washington D.C. find a way to communicate more effectively with the Chinese people by bypassing China’s government.

Consider how Americans would take to China’s Communist Party bypassing Washington and going directly to the entire US population with a huge media campaign to win them over.

The US already tried that in the Middle East and that hasn’t worked well. Islamic Fundamentalists have done a much better job winning Muslims over to their cause than the US has.

In fact, a report by Professor Frank Griffel at YaleGlobal Online makes a good case for why Professor Yasheng Huang’s suggestion won’t work in China.

Griffel writes, “Muslim fundamentalist movements encourage the use of the internet among their followers, for instance, not in order to sell something by e-mail order, but rather to promote the creation of a network of like-minded people who share a common understanding of what ‘Islam’ means and what it advocates.”

The same is true of the Chinese, who use the Internet differently than people in the West and are promoting a network of like-minded people who share a common understanding of what being “Chinese” means.

Most Chinese are not interested in being told how to think or what to do by anyone outside China.

I suggest that the good professor stick to economics and let the politicians do their job even if they don’t always get it right. Doesn’t he understand that it is impossible to even get a majority of Americans to listen and agree on one concept?

Learn about the Power of the Peasant

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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