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Defending the Rule of Law in Hong Kong

For the past eleven consecutive weeks, the Hong Kong people have been protesting the proposed extradition bill and later, how the authorities have mistreated people. Beijing has turned a deaf ear to them and even plans to use either the army or police forces from the mainland to bring “order” to Hong Kong. How should the West handle the CCP’s threats?

Before answering that question, let’s first try to understand this question: What do the Hong Kong people really want and what are they defending?

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has called the Hong Kong people “Hong Kong separationists” or “dogs of the British colony.” We all know that is not true; they are not asking for Hong Kong’s independence; they are not asking to go back to the U.K., either.

Are they asking for universal suffrage? Yes, they asked for it in the Occupy Central movement in 2014 and are asking for it now. However, one may wonder, “The Hong Kong people didn’t have universal suffrage under British rule. They didn’t ask for it then. Why now?”

This is because universal suffrage is not their essential appeal. Their essential appeal is for the “rule of law.”

Being a global financial center and trading hub, the rule of law is a must for Hong Kong. It needs that to assure people that they can be at ease doing business in Hong Kong: their personal safety is guaranteed, the security of their assets is protected, contracts are honored, legal processes are trustworthy, and officials’ abuse of power is systematically prevented.

Hong Kong enjoyed the rule of law under the British rule and continued with it under the “One Country, Two Systems” in accordance with Beijing’s agreement after it took over in 1997. However, as the CCP has gradually gained more control over Hong Kong, adherence to the rule of law has been deteriorating and the CCP has been replacing it with “rule by the Communist Party.” Chinascope has published an analysis explaining that in China, it is not the “rule of law” and not even the “rule by law” that has prevailed, but just “rule by the Communist Party.” {1}

Among the five demands that the Hong Kong people have made, four are related to the “rule of law.” They are: the withdrawal of the proposed extradition bill, the government’s retraction of its characterization of the violent clashes as “riots,” unconditional release of arrested protesters and dropping charges against them, and a completely independent investigation of police behavior.

So, what the Hong Kong people are doing is defending Hong Kong’s rule of law. The request for universal suffrage is a means to enable that defense. An executive that the public elects is more likely to honor the public’s interest and the rule of law while an executive that the CCP selects will likely be the CCP’s puppet. This was not an issue during the British rule because the rule of law was already honored under the British, and thus, the Hong Kong people didn’t ask for the governor to be elected.

Now let’s come back to the opening question: How should the West handle the CCP’s threats? Should the world acquiesce to the CCP’s use of force to end the protests in Hong Kong?

No, definitely not. The moment the CCP uses the gun instead of a humane approach to solve the Hong Kong issue, that is when the new era for Hong Kong starts. It will be the era of “rule by the party” in Hong Kong. The rule of law will be gone and Hong Kong will no longer be a global center.

The damage is not just that.

If the world lets Beijing expand its “rule by the party” to Hong Kong, we are telling our companies that they must kowtow to the CCP if they want to do business in China. In fact, many of them have already practiced bowing to the CCP all these years and done it very well.

If the world lets Beijing renounce its promise that “One Country, Two Systems” will not change for 50 years, we are telling Beijing that it can sign any trade deal with any country and any organization, knowing that it can break its promise at any time. Beijing has already done that in many instances. Its WTO promises are just one.

If the world lets Beijing use tear gas, bullets, or tanks to put down protests in Hong Kong, we are telling Beijing that we do not care about human rights and we can tolerate a “Thuggish Regime.” We already made that mistake in responding to the Tiananmen Massacre.

The Hong Kong people have shown the world that they are willing to use their human flesh to defend the rule of law in front of a mighty state machine. If Beijing has its way with Hong Kong who is next?

Now it is time for the U.S., the West, and the whole world to join them, to show that we are committed to defending the rule of law, the spirit of the contract, human rights, and at the moral level, what it means to make a promise and to keep your word! We are also telling the thugs and evildoers that immoral acts have consequences.

{1} Chinascope, “China: Rule of Law or Rule by the Party?” April 5, 2015.

The Strategy of Chinese Culture Going Global, Part II

{Editor’s Note: In 2011, the Central Party School published a book with the title, An Interpretation of the Major Theoretical and Pragmatic Issues that Concerned the Party and Government Cadres after the Sixth Plenary Session of the Seventeenth Central Committee. The writing provides an excellent explanation of the Chinese Communist Party’s strategy behind promoting the Chinese culture to the world. The following is a translation of an excerpt from a chapter in the book. This is the second part, explaining the necessity of such a cultural strategy. Culture is essentially values and ideology. Behind the promotion of the so-called Chinese culture going global is a strategy to influence and change the world quietly, with Beijing’s ideology, so that many countries acknowledge and eventually adopt “socialism with Chinese characteristics.”} {1}

Second, the need to implement the strategy for the culture to go global

Let Chinese culture go global, not to assimilate others, but to share with others. Let the civilizations prosper and progress together through mutual learning and immersion.

1. Culture going global is a key expression of cultural consciousness and self-confidence.

History and reality show that a nation’s awakening is, first of all, a cultural awakening. To a large extent, the power of a political party depends on its degree of cultural self-consciousness. In the historical process of building a society of moderate prosperity in an all-around way and realizing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, we should establish a high degree of cultural consciousness: we must have a clear understanding of the leading position and role of Chinese culture and the relationship between Chinese culture and world civilization; we must have a profound grasp of the patterns governing the development of culture and form a correct idea of cultural development; we must assume the historical mission of realizing the rejuvenation of Chinese culture and building a great cultural power in a spirit of full responsibility to the nation and to history. At the same time, we must be highly confident in Chinese culture. In other words, we must have confidence in the excellent traditional Chinese culture, in the creativity of contemporary Chinese culture, and in the bright future of Chinese culture and world civilization. With such a high level of confidence, one can stay coolheaded and be persistent, gain the courage to forge ahead, vigorously create and innovate, and achieve cultural self-improvement.

Promoting Chinese culture going global exemplifies cultural consciousness and self-confidence. Several times in history, Chinese culture played the leading role in the world, but in modern times, it has gradually fallen behind. Since the Opium War, Chinese culture has been weak and is in a closed, conservative and passive state. The Westernization Movement, the Reform Movement of 1898, the Revolution of 1911, and the May Fourth Movement, were all born out of contact with Western culture. They were introduced by foreigners or Chinese people. Even Marxism was sent to us by the October Revolution in Russia. Since the founding of the New China, especially since the reform and opening up, our culture has been undergoing a “qualitative change.” Starting from being closed up to opening up, from being passive to acting proactively, from introducing other cultures into China to promoting Chinese culture going global. In a word, China has been growing slowly from being weak to becoming stronger, moving from the edge of the world cultural arena to its center. The fundamental reason for our implementation of the culture going global strategy is that after more than 30 years of reform and opening up, China’s economic strength and overall national power have greatly improved. We have begun to be conscious and confident about Chinese culture. The Sixth Plenary Session of the 17th Central Committee proposed the goal of building a strong, social, and cultural power, which will surely bring about the further cultural awakening and cultural self-confidence of our nation and people, especially among intellectuals. We can more comprehensively summarize our experience of constructing socialism with Chinese characteristics and, in particular, the experience of reform and opening up; more accurately grasp the trend of world cultural development; and more actively participate in the globalization of our economy and culture.

2. Culture going global is an inevitable requirement for realizing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

Implementing culture going global can help foreigners gain a better understanding of China and create a better international environment for China’s development. People who often go abroad have a feeling that the Chinese people’s understanding of foreigners, especially the West, is far more than the Westerners’ understanding of us. Most Chinese students know 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and even know foreign classics such as Romeo & Juliet and Red & Black. However, there are just a handful of foreigners who know the Tao Te Ching, The Analects of Confucius, and The Classic of Mountains and Seas (Shan Hai Jing). Even some Western politicians’ understanding of China is limited to some of the most basics, such as Confucius, the Great Wall, and the Forbidden City, let alone understanding the socialist system with Chinese characteristics, China’s democratic process, and China’s system of regional ethnic autonomy. This has caused these Westerners to misunderstand China and the Chinese for a long time, and has made some Western politicians with ulterior motives take advantage of the opportunity to use the so-called “human rights,” “Tibet independence,” “Xinjiang independence,” “Falun Gong,” and other issues to confuse the audience. At the same time, some foreign friends who have been to Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and other big cities think that China is a great country today and has entered the ranks of modernization. They do not understand the situation of China’s vast underdeveloped western regions. Their understanding of China is also one-sided. The fundamental purpose of Chinese culture going global is to allow foreigners to understand China, the Chinese people, China’s development, its internal and external policies, and its political system more fully. Only by deepening foreigners’ understanding of China can we enhance mutual trust, promote bilateral and multilateral cooperation, and create win-wins, multi-win, and long-term win situations, as well as a good development environment for ourselves.

Implementing culture going global helps strengthen China’s cultural soft power. In today’s world, culture is becoming an increasingly important factor in the competition of comprehensive national strength. Whoever occupies the commanding heights of cultural development will be able to take the initiative in the fierce international competition. Without the active guidance of culture, without the great enrichment of the people’s spiritual world, and without the full exertion of the spiritual power of the whole nation, it is impossible for a country or a nation to stand firmly in the forest of the nations around the world. Without the support of culture, a prosperous economy alone cannot establish and hold a country as a great power. Look around the world and one may find out that many developed countries have distinctive national culture and compelling cultural soft power. More and more countries have prioritized the development of culture and the enhancement of cultural soft power to the level of a national strategy, and make it a strategic choice for improving overall national strength and international competitiveness. Cultural soft power and economic hard power have been developing ever stronger mutual interdependence. At present, China’s comprehensive national strength has been significantly enhanced. In response to the impact of the global financial crisis, China has fully exhibited the advantages of its development path and development model, which has received the attention and recognition of many countries. At the same time, we should also see that China is a cultural power with a long history and splendid civilization, but its rich cultural resources have not yet been transformed into strong cultural soft power. The role of China as an importer of cultural products does not match its role as an exporter of material goods. The international influence of its culture is not commensurate with the influence of its economy. The task of safeguarding national cultural security is even more arduous. In particular, the significant growth of China’s national strength has caused doubts and discomfort in some countries. An important goal of our culture going global is to increase the international community’s understanding and recognition of China’s idea of peaceful development and a harmonious world, making China more influential politically, more competitive economically, more affable in its image, and more appealing morally.

3. Culture going global is a huge driving force in building a harmonious world.

The essence of Chinese traditional culture “values harmony.” Chinese civilization advocates tolerance, and thus give rise to the values of harmony as the highest goal.

Culture is the man-made second nature. It includes three major research areas: the relationship between man and nature, the relationship between man and man, and the relationship between man and self. Pursuing the universal harmony between man and nature, man and man, and man and self is the basic feature of Chinese culture. The path to knowing nature, others, and oneself embodies the spiritual essence of Chinese culture. Chinese culture pays attention to the relationship between man and nature. It does not advocate the one-sided conquest of nature, and advocates the unity and harmony between man and nature. Man must follow the laws of nature so as to reach the realm of oneness of all things in heaven and earth. Chinese culture attaches great importance to the harmonious coexistence of people. It advocates the spirit of “benevolence,” and advocates treating other people as one would oneself, seeking common ground while preserving differences, and being good to others in order to achieve harmony in interpersonal relationships. Confucius said, “In practicing ethics, harmony should be valued. The ancient kings take that as excellency.” Mencius said, “Favorable timing isn’t as important as advantageous geography, which isn’t as important as human harmony.” Both expressed the pursuit of a harmonious relationship between people. In terms of the relationship between man and self, Chinese culture pursues harmony between body and mind and advocates self-awareness. Laozi said, “It is wisdom to know others; it is enlightenment to know one’s self.” This means clearly to know oneself. On the basis of knowing oneself, one must temper and improve oneself, and be kind to oneself, so as to achieve being contented and happy, a state of physical and mental harmony.

In today’s world, there are 7 billion people, more than 6,000 languages, more than 2,500 ethnic groups, more than 200 countries, and a large number of religious beliefs. As there are different interests, ideas, and beliefs between people and people, it is inevitable that conflicts and contradictions will arise. To achieve a harmonious coexistence, we must propose an ethic that achieves global consensus. As early as 1993, more than 6,000 representatives from more than 120 religious groups in the world held the “Parliament of the World’s Religions” in Chicago. The document “Towards a Global Ethic: Initial Declaration” adopted by the conference has Jesus Christ’s “We must treat others as we wish others to treat us.” and Confucius’ “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” as the “global ethics.” It further points out that this is “an irrevocable, unconditional norm for all areas of life, for families and communities, for races, nations, and religions.” This means that some basic spirits of Chinese culture have begun to be noticed and accepted by the people in the world.

The theme of the modern era is peace and development, but the world in front of us is not harmonious. Human beings are constantly plagued by many issues such as the struggle for natural resources, the balance of the international order, the cognition of ideologies, and the beliefs of religions and civilizations. These have caused problems such as hegemonism, power politics, territorial disputes, regional conflicts, terrorism, the spread of poverty, rising suicide, environmental pollution, and global warming. In other words, there have been serious conflicts between man and nature, man and man, man and self. This has triggered a humanity crisis, a spiritual crisis and an ecological crisis. This is the common challenge facing mankind in the 21st century and matters for the survival and development of mankind in the future. The picture of a harmonious world should be that a human being can scientifically and reasonably treat his relationship with nature, with others, and with himself, so as to achieve harmony between man and nature, man and man, and man and self. China’s unique “harmony” culture will bring new wisdom and strength to resolve the crises and conflicts facing mankind and to build a harmonious world.

{1} Excerpt from An Interpretation of the Major Theoretical and Pragmatic Issues Concerned the Party and Government Cadres after the Sixth Plenary Session of the Seventeenth Central Committee. (《十七届六中全会后党政干部关注的重大理论与现实问题解读》) It’s a book published by Central Party School in 2011.