Long live the great Chinese Communist Party!" This is one of several government-scripted slogans that one may expect to hear in the streets of Beijing on Oct. 1, as China gears up to celebrate 50 years of communist rule. In fact, Tiananmen Square, China's shrine to communism, has been renovated for the big bash. Unlike the West, China is uninterested in remembering the massacre that occurred in the square 10 years earlier, when pro-democracy student groups faced down government tanks in full view of international media cameras that allowed the world to see the incident first hand. I find this celebration curious given that China is looking less communist these days, no thanks to many of our less enlightened government officials who would like to keep China an isolated communist nation.
With the Cold War over, communism now seems to be a historical anachronism as we sprint towards the new millennium. We now seldom think of communism as a threat or even a real force in the world. Obviously, our sentiments are not shared by China, which is spending vast amounts of money to show that communism is alive and well.
No matter what China does or what big parties it throws to convince itself or the rest of the world that its political ideology is alive and kicking, its old guard is seriously waning and the fundamental structures of capitalism are in place. For the West, China's democratization and total economic restructuring cannot come fast enough.
I, like most others in the West, am anxious for China to make political and economic changes that will add over a billion people to the side of democracy and capitalism, but I am acutely aware of the reality that this course for China is not set in stone, especially with respect towards greater democratization.
If we want a liberal and democratized China, we must be very careful in our approach; a wrong move could jeopardize everything. That is why I am outraged by some of the irresponsible and simple-minded people in our government who preach an approach to China that allows passion to nullify reason.
After the massacre in Tiananmen Square and subsequent events, the United States has been taking the moral high ground with China and demanding greater human rights for its people if it wants to have relations with the West. Human rights is an imperative that should be demanded. People should be able to voice their opinions and sentiments without being punished. Diversity of ideas is healthy for any nation, but I would not be so intellectually shallow as to let my passion for greater human rights cloud my judgment as to how to actually achieve them.
There are those impassioned supporters of human rights who demand that we terminate all relations with China, impose economic sanctions and isolate it until it reverses its repressive policies. Striking back at the Chinese government with harsh sanctions might be gratifying, but basing policy on emotions and passion is folly.
To isolate China would be to embolden the old guard with a new and powerful cause. To leave China and its leaders isolated would be to senselessly nurture their resentments and hatred of the United States. Especially after the Chinese embassy bombing, Chinese feelings about us are not friendly. In a recent article by two Americans in Beijing, the yells of "U.S. is a bitch," and ".America is the new Nazi." give us insight into our current standing with China.
Already in place in China are the power and profits of the marketplace. As Nixon said, "An open economy provides the greatest pressure for political reform." The United States must encourage change by keeping the economic door open and engage China in constructive dialogue, before it chooses to have it with someone else less conducive to our interests. In fact, it may already be too late. The CIA has released information that China, India, and Russia may be forming a pact that is joined by distrust of the United States.
China is a nuclear power that we must not lose our leverage with, if we are going to ensure that dangerous technology will not be channeled to rogue nations. Furthermore, China's economic power is perhaps inevitable. Let us not put ourselves in a position where we are not able to tap its potential while others can. We must condemn China for its actions, but we must not ignorantly pull away the greatest impetus for democratization.