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Terence Shen's Column

Farewell, Jon Huntsman


Well, obviously it would not be Mr. Jon M. Huntsman’s last speech whatsoever since it is expected that he is going to run for the U.S Presidency in the foreseeable future, but it was indeed the last speech he addresses as Washington’s ambassador to Beijing.

It is interesting to note that the part of his speech could be regarded by Chinese anti-western nationalists as “intervention of China’s internal affairs”. He scolded the Chinese ruling party for incarceration of Chinese human rights activists such as Liu Xiaobo, Chen Guangcheng and now Ai Weiwei. Overall he was quite outspoken and touched several key points in terms of the Sino-US. ralations in the speech. For instance, he said that the canceling meetings as a sign of displeasure that skillfully practiced by the Chinese government will not encourage greater respect for each other’s views. To foreign diplomats, China sometimes seems childish in coping with foreign powers. International relations does not like a love relationship in which you can just turn away whenever it is getting ugly. The good relations between two coutnries, particularly China and U.S who can not live without each other economically, is not necessarily always smooth but at least requires cooperation and compromise on the table. Mr. Huntsman was definitely right that Chinese turning the table upside down does not do any good to their relations with the west.

Huntsman criticizing China for human rights abuses

However, I do not agree with his speculation that China’s leaders now “struggle with the legacy of outdated ideologies or past differences”. Apperantly, Chinese Communist Party has abandoned the “outdated ideologies” a long time ago in order to pave the way for the adoption of Capitalism. Today’s socialism rhetorics are only serving the purpose of propaganda. That is why Confucianism now has been capitalized by the Chinese government as a kind of  “soft-power” on the international arena, rather than Socialism or Communisim that has been proundly considered far more advanced than capitalism by the Party decades ago.

When China is heading to a “predatory state” capitalism which is the worst form of Capitalism, the old ideology posts no challenge as far as CCP considered. Unlike Mao, today’s Chinese leaders are pragmatic and rational. They are well aware of troubles China encountered and dangers ahead, but they have something else in their mind. The cardinal dilemma  in China today is that the people vested in interests refuse to give up their political power and reluctant to redistribute the wealth as well. They just keep ripping off economic benefits from the state and fiendishly clamp down on disaffected ones who dare to speak up their discontent.

Mr. Huntsman’s final speech remains me of the former U.S ambassador to China Mr. John Leighton Stuart.  Mr. Stuart, an great educator who loves China and devoted his whole  life in this ancient land, was seriously tarnished and disdained by malicious Communists, particularly in Mao’s notorious article “Farewell, John Leighton Stuart”. The article was still included in the Chinese mandatory textbooks in 1990s. Fortunately for Huntsman, he would not be attacked by Chinese government publicly, and his step down was no longer regarded the “failure of American imperialist”.

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