Get out of Here, Your Excellency!Written by Julen Madariaga on February 24th, 2011
I was very disappointed when I read this story about the US ambassador in Beijing taking part in the so-called “Jasmine” protests last Sunday. This is very bad news for Chinese supporters of democracy (yet again).
First of all, let’s be serious. The idea that the ambassador didn’t know what was going on is an insult to intelligence, his appearing on camera lying to a Chinese passer-by only makes things worse. You might argue he was casually walking around, but in a stroll protest walking around is precisely the way to participate. You might believe he was saying the truth, but that would mean he is an incompetent officer, ignorant of the situation on the ground. Clearly that is not the case.
No, the ambassador of the USA has openly and consciously joined a minority protest against the Chinese government in Beijing. Mr. Huntsman’s action is clearly not due to incompetence, but to careful calculation, based on Western vanity and political ambition.
Don’t American politicians understand that democracy can only win if it is seen as homegrown? What would happen if the French ambassador was seen joining a protest for, say, the health reform in the US, would this help further the Democrats’ agenda? Does this kind of action help the millions of real, anonymous Chinese who hope for a more open system? Certainly not.
And of course politicians understand this. They know full well these actions are undermining the democratic movement in China, feeding the nationalistic tide that is the CCP’s most powerful weapon. The problem is they don’t care. Because their priority is not *Democracy in China*, but rather *to be the promoters of Democracy in China*. To publicly score a goal on the enemies of the faith, the intolerable leaders who have dared take China to international success without paying respect to our democratic sensibilities.
I know I am reading too much into this single event, it is unfair to single out American politicians. This is just the natural result of a misconception that the mainstream media establishment in the West has promoted for years: that believing in democracy is in itself a source of legitimacy. That we always know better.
Yes, most of us think that democracy is a better system of government than the CCP rule, and we wish the Chinese people could enjoy it as well. But somehow, in the West, we have come to imagine that our being born in such a system — without having done anything for it in most cases — automatically gives us the moral superiority to decide for others, to smugly disregard fairness and basic respect, and to discount the opinions of those pawns who don’t even know what is good for themselves.
Quite apart from its foolishness, this mindset has to be the number one factor destroying the credibility of democracy supporters worldwide.
Just to avoid misunderstandings: I don’t agree at all those Chinese nationalistic websites. I believe that Human Rights are above any political consideration, and that freedom of speech should be promoted regardless of borders and political systems. I even strongly support direct action to unblock the information channels. We all have the right and the duty to point our fingers where a government has trampled human rights — just as we accept others to point it out when our own own governments do the same.
But we need to understand this is a very different thing from telling the Chinese people how they should think, which minority political action they should join, or even to directly draft for them a political Charter and tell them which elite political figure they should regard as their moral leader.