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What the West Got Wrong About China


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Law & Liberty

Habi Zhang

May 3 2022

Until recently, for the past four decades, the myth that helping China get rich would make it into a democracy was part of the everyday “wisdom” in the West. However, China—the second-largest economy in the world—continues steering a totalitarian course with a new “core leader” of the Chinese Communist Party at the helm who builds massive concentration camps in Xinjiang, throws human-rights lawyers and Christians into jail, aggressively brandishes its military force at Taiwan, and even harasses Chinese Americans living in the US.

It’s often said that those egregious transgressions are an indication of the CCP regime’s rejection of “fundamental freedoms, human rights, and democratic norms,” as FBI director Christopher Wray stated on January 31, 2022. Wray was speaking about the Party’s decades-long operation on American soil of targeting, threatening, or kidnapping former Chinese nationals or American residents who openly criticize the Chinese government or advocate democratization in China. They even went further to interfere with the U.S. congressional election by threatening a military veteran who once was a student leader of the 1989 pro-democracy protest in Tienanmen square.   

But what’s been violated here is not so much Chinese Americans’ human rights but their political rights as American citizens. Liberties stipulated in the Constitution of the United States are not abstract human rights, but have a political nature. Freedoms Americans have enjoyed are a legacy bequeathed by their forefathers. Americans must understand that freedom in the Land of Free is a tradition, not a conventionally-assumed axiom—a “self-evident” moral truth—that is unproven and unprovable, and more importantly, nonexistent in other societies. American freedom is prior to the American republic.

The reason why China would brazenly “disregard the international law” that many other nations voluntarily abide by is that the rule of law is not, and has never been, a moral principle in Chinese society.

Arendt and Confucius

 

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