By Jeff J. Brown
Pictured above: Host Kenneth Ameduri invited me on his very popular show, “Crush the Street”, to take a look at China vs. the West.
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Sixteen years on the streets, living and working with the people of China, Jeff
Original audio/video show:
Kenneth Ameduri – Hello, everyone, and welcome into CrushTheStreet.com, I’m Kenneth Ameduri and I got a returning guest on the line and I looked at the last time we did an interview. It was in 2017.
It was some time ago, that it was a great interview. I recommend people to go back and listen to it, but we’re going to get refreshed on the topics of that interview and I think it might be a little controversial. We’re going to have a discussion today and question the way the Western civilization is versus what’s going on in China and mantras and myths and the propaganda that’s behind a lot of things.
I got Jeff J. Brown on the line is with China Rising Radio Sinoland, author of multiple books, an economist, and he’s the author of The China Trilogy, blogs and podcasts at China Rising Radio Sinoland and is the producer of China Tech News Flash! and is the curator of the Bioweapon Truth Commission Global Online Library. His forthcoming book, Faster Than a Speeding Bullet: The Chinese People’s Unstoppable Socialist Dream for Global Leadership into the 22nd Century will be released in December of 2020.
My goodness, if 2020 wasn’t as hard-hitting enough, we got out for Jeff’s book coming out at the end of the year here. Oh my goodness. Jeff, thanks so much for coming on the show with me today. Appreciate your time here.
Jeff Brown – Thank you for having me back on. And I too remember our interview and I appreciate you having me back. And so much has happened since 2017. And as you said, the China story is something that more people should pay attention to and so I’m happy to answer any questions you have. Just fire away and I will tell you exactly what I think, believe or know.
Kenneth – Well, first of all, let’s get into it. There’s a lot of misconceptions when it comes to China versus the US. The US has this dynamic of capitalism or a seemingly capitalist economy. And obviously, we know that’s not true. There’s a whole spectrum of capitalism versus socialism and there’s a big mix of that going on. And arguably, we’re getting more and more socialist as time goes on here. And so China has been established as a communist country.
And the question is, why is China growing so much, and are people happy under this communist regime? And I’m sure it’s similar over there, too. There’s a whole spectrum of communism. It’s not just one size fits all, but that’s the research that you’ve done. You’ve devoted your career to this. So that’s what I want to talk about today. Let’s understand the dynamic of what is going on in China, especially as it pertains to how it compares to the US and the West.
Jeff – Ok, so that’s a wonderful question. And like I said, I wrote three books, about sixteen hundred fifteen hundred pages, and I have written about six hundred articles on my website about this. So it’s a really important question because there is a looking like a clash of civilizations happening.
And I wish it wasn’t that way. But that’s the way it’s falling out. The huge differences between Western civilization and Chinese civilization. First off, Western civilization goes back to ancient Greece. And ancient Greece was not a unified civilization.
It was hundreds of little city-states, dozens of languages. Everything was based on commerce, this city-state selling to this city-state, etc. And they were very expansionist. And people don’t realize it, but ancient Greece expanded up into the Black Sea and expanded out a lot more than people realize. So we, Western culture has this tendency of being expansionist, going out, looking for resources. And one of the reasons why this is because they didn’t have a lot of resources in ancient Greece. It was dry, not a lot of rain, limited resources on these islands, and even in Greece and Turkey, etc.
And so there is this concept of what I call the Marlboro Man. Does this independence, the rugged individualist trading between these different city-states and island states, and because of all of these different little groups of these different islands, there was a lot of war. I mean, there was, they were at war nonstop. And so this has been the cauldron or the crucible.
This is the crucible in which Western civilization developed: independence, expansionism, commerce, and unfortunately, a lot of war. China, we can say always started before the ancient Greeks. But even if we go back to this 700 B.C. when ancient Greece started, that was when Confucius and Laozi, the founder of Daoism, and that’s when they lived around 700 B.C., China was already a vastly developed civilization.
And it’s always, instead of being dispersed and small, it has always had this concept of centralization and commonality trying to make everybody similar. The language has not changed much for 5,000 years and that language is what has kept the country together, spiritually and culturally, going back for 3,,000 or 4000 years. So we’re still using the same language. And because of this idea of being centralized and working together, it’s different.
I’m not saying China didn’t have war. They had lots, they had a lot of wars. But once China expanded out into its natural boundaries, basically the Yellow River in the north of the Yangtze River in the south, once they expand it out to those in the north and south of those two immensely important river basins, they didn’t go tearing off into Asia or tearing off down into Southeast Asia.
They pretty much stayed in their neck of the woods to give you an idea about the difference in the year 200 A.D., when Rome, the Roman Empire, the Greeks, the Greeks, kind of transitioned their civilization into the Roman civilization and in 200 A.D, when Rome was at its greatest and at the pinnacle of its domination of the Mediterranean basin and England and North Africa and the Middle East and Egypt at that time, China, as we know it today, had nine times as many people and was six times bigger in area.
And so China has always been big, China has always been populated, and one of the things that people have that Westerners need to start getting to wrap their heads around this is that for five thousand years until the 1500s, Europe expanded across the planet with colonialism. China was the technological behemoth of the world. I mean, they were centuries ahead of Europe in almost every phase of technology.
So for 110 years, from 1839 until 1949, the West got the best of China, though the country was weak in terms of leadership of the Qing Dynasty and the West, England and then the United States and France. Principally those three colonial imperial powers were at the height of their colonialism and they were able to basically for 110 years, rape and plunder China and force opium on them and with 25% of the population addicted to opium, unfortunately and it set the West’s perception, they have this idea that this is the China that they’re working with.
They’re ignoring the fact that for the 5,000 years before that, China was the most advanced cultural civilization, not only scientifically and technologically in the world for almost all of human history. And they came back in 1949 and they’ve just gotten stronger and bigger and richer and they’re back, China’s back after 110-year hiatus during what they call the century of humiliation. When the West raped and plundered China and addicted it to opium.
They are back where they have been for 5000 years and that’s why we’re seeing, I think, all of this tremendous confrontation because the West cannot accept the fact that China is not the China that it was from 1839 to 1949.
Kenneth – So, Jeff, let’s talk about that a little bit and I don’t want to minimalize just what the West did to colonialism only. I mean, there’s a certain degree of what the US experienced, which was opportunity and freedom and just boiling things down to human action. When individuals have an opportunity to go out and create something and thrive, I mean, it creates productivity and efficiencies and new technologies, opportunities, all these things that are afforded when you have an opportunity and liberties, which I wholeheartedly believe in.
And I think we have to attribute some of that success to why we saw some prosperity here in the US. And so to flip that, many people would argue that communism will hinder, that it will get in the way of that inner drive that humans have to go out and produce and save and acquire capital, hire other people, start businesses that get an economy going. So if you would talk to us a little bit more about the economic drivers. What’s driving people on an individual level to grow China? Why is China growing under a communist government?
Jeff – Well, first off, China has been – I just read a wonderful book going back about the history of China, and he gets into the economics and translated a lot of documents going back and talking about commerce. I mean, being a 5,000-year-old civilization. And it’s a continuous civilization, the longest existing one in human history. The Chinese I mean, you don’t have nine times the population is six times the area of ancient Rome without there being commerce.
And so the Chinese have always been involved in commerce. The Chinese are the ones that started the Silk Road, the Silk Roads from China, that and China in two hundred B.C. before Jesus Christ was even born, the Chinese were sending emissaries and commercial teams and trade with the Roman Empire. They traded with all of the people of what is now Europe and Asia. China has official records of trading with the Philippines in six hundred AD, China was trading with Indonesia and Australia hundreds of years before Captain Cook landed in New Zealand.
We didn’t discover it. The Chinese were there centuries before in the 15th century. Also, I read it, I interviewed a guy named John Hobson and he also wrote a wonderful book.
The Chinese have been trading with Africa. They’ve been trading with the Muslim world since the rise of Islam in the seven hundreds, they’ve been trading with India going back at least to five hundred A.D., and then with the Europeans, the Asian tip of Asia, Europe, North Africa, and everything. They’ve been doing that for 2,200 years. To say that, the other thing is that it was China has had massive, they were the first to develop iron and steel and porcelain and many other technologies long before Europe had them.
And so they have been so advanced technologically that they have also been very advanced commercially. To say that, they understand business, they understand that and it was large and they had massive agriculture, lots of trade. I mean, roads and canals, they built huge canals all over the country to transport goods and agricultural products all over the country. So and in my second book, China Rising, I start the book out, rather controversially, by saying China’s been communist for five thousand years and back to the Shang Dynasty in 2750 B.C.
I mean, they have always had this concept of the collective. They’ve always had this concept of a group, they’ve always had this concept of working out, working together, which is again different than the Greek Marlboro Man, individual, rugged individualist. So they, the Chinese government during the Tang Dynasty and 600 A.D., could ask the people in the Yangtze River Valley to contribute their time to building irrigation canals and flood control and all that, to get hundreds of thousands of people to work together on these huge projects.
The Chinese are used to that. So there is this sense of collectivity. There is a really strong sense of solidarity. And so when the Chinese, the Communist Party of China was formed in 1921 and when the communists kicked the Japanese fascists and the West, Western imperialists out of China and also I can’t forget the KMT, the gangster KMT that ended up in Taiwan, when they had officially become a communist country in 1949, it wasn’t that big of a deal for the Chinese. And because they’d been working in this same kind of solidarity, collectiveness, a real sense of community for millennia.
Kenneth – Yeah. Jeff, let me jump in right there. I mean, would you give us an idea of what exactly is communist, communistic about China? How does it affect the regular person?
You know, is, what sort of taxes are they seeing? What sort of controls on their life do they have? What exactly does that term translate into for an average Chinese person?
Jeff – Well, to be a communist-socialist country, there is what they call the vanguard political party, to keep things together. And in China, that’s the Communist Party of China. And, interestingly, there’s so much propaganda in the West, there’s so much ridiculous propaganda in the West about China and its history during the Mao Zedong years. But it’s also very democratic at the local level. There’s a lot of democracy at the local level.
And Mao was constantly trying to push people’s democracy down at the village and street and neighborhood level. So basically there is a vanguard party. There are more political parties in China than there are in the United States. The Chinese have the vanguard party, which is the CPC, the Communist Party of China. But it also has what’s called the Democratic Front. And it’s about eight different political parties that are everything from pretty much neo-liberal to sort of market-oriented, to European socialism.
They are there to keep the Communist Party honest and to keep the government honest. They are not going to be allowed, to be let into power, just as they won’t let Bernie Sanders run for president of the United States.
They wouldn’t let Jeremy Corbyn run for prime minister in England. They made sure that people like that, who could potentially upset the dominant system, get eliminated. They’re not going to allow those people to run for serious office. We’re never going to see a socialist or a green president in the United States ever, and over in England after the 90s, after Margaret Thatcher.
So no one people, at least governmentally politically, the Chinese Communist Party is the dominant party, but one-third of the National People’s Congress is non-CPC. I mean, they’ve got a lot of people, most of the people, the vast majority of the people who are elected and China has after India, has more elections than anybody else in the world, they have nine hundred thousand voting villages and towns, neighborhoods, etc. I mean, when we were living there that you could see all the candidates.
The list of candidates who were running for the local town council or the local village council or the local neighborhood council. The vast majority of them are not members of the CPC. They’re just citizens.
Kenneth – So let me jump in there. It almost seems like you’re telling me how not communist China is like all these things that are not representative of like a traditional far right or left the communist established country.
Jeff – Well, I don’t know. First off. I don’t think people in the West get an honest appraisal of communism or socialism, for that matter. I was brainwashed when I was growing up, completely brainwashed from the womb up through when I finally left the United States in 1980 and so I think your concept of communism is very common and I empathize with people in the United States. And it’s better in Europe because there was, there is a Communist Party here in France and there’s a Communist Party in Italy. And although they’ve been completely suppressed. But at least the idea of communism and socialism is quite prevalent in Europe, but not in the United States. I mean, by the time we got to McCarthy, socialism, and communism were destroyed in the United States.
And so people have no idea what it is and they only know what they read in the textbooks and listen to on mainstream TV or mainstream media.
Kenneth – So let me do right there. When it comes to I like to boil things down to a very individual level, like how does this affect the regular person? And when it comes to socialism, in a small sample, I mean, we talk about the classroom example, right? If you had to allow everyone to study for a test and everyone had an opportunity to thrive going today or fail, people would have to go out or the kids would have to study and put their best foot forward. And some would get A’s, some would fail.
But if you told everyone was going to tell everyone that they were going to get a C, then you would have a situation where the people that were going to try hard are not going to try hard. The people who weren’t going to try are still not going to try. And you’re going to have a net loss of productivity and effort put forward in that example. So that’s a very extreme socialistic example versus maybe an extreme free market. Hey, you go out there and do it. What’s the bridging of the gap that you like? Or is it do you like that example of everyone getting a C? I mean, what does, or?
Jeff – No, but not everyone. Not everybody in China gets a C.
Kenneth – But it’s not a completely communistic society. That’s right. There are aspects of free market and liberties and things that you’re talking about that there’s afforded it’s not a completely communistic environment.
Jeff – But again, your suggestion is that communism can’t have those things. And I’m saying they do. Listen, Kenneth, man, I empathize with you and I empathize with everybody watching this show. Until I went back to China in 2010, I had the same ideas. I mean, I was so fixated on the Western concept of democracy. I was so fixated on the Western concept of freedom and everything. But now after spending another ten years there, I realized that, well, gosh, there are other forms of democracy.
There are other ways of arriving at the same point. China is the most ruthless meritocracy in the world. I mean, it is brutal and it has been that way for 5000 years. You would never have someone like well, at least Ronald Reagan was the governor of California. But for example, you would never have someone like Donald Trump become president of China. And I’m not saying that I’m not criticizing, but I’m just saying that in China if you want to be the leader or among the leadership or play a role in the governance of the country, you have to spend decades of your life proving yourself crawling up the ladder.
Proving your point, whether it’s a state-owned company or a government entity or in education, every year nine million Chinese take what they call the Gaokao. The huge test determines what kind of university you go to. China is brutally meritocratic, and most Westerners couldn’t handle it. They just couldn’t handle it.
Kenneth – Well, I don’t want to get hung up on terminology and labels. Right, Left, Republican conservative communism, socialism. I want to talk about the actions. Like, for instance, in 2020 we had a situation where the government said, hey, everyone needs to stay at home, you can’t go to work, businesses can’t make money. A lot of power coming from the top, which arguably is unconstitutional. And not trying to get too much into the labels, but as someone who grew up in the USA would say, oh, that’s totalitarian now that’s communism that’s coming.
That’s too much power coming from the government. But let’s not get caught up on that. But for me, I don’t think that’s free-market capitalism happening here in the West. That’s a lot of power.
And I don’t agree with that. If you. Well, I think we’re going into a period where we might have a Biden Kamala Harris presidency and they’re going to say suggest things like higher taxes on the wealthy, the rich capital gains. And not to me, on a very fundamental individual basis, that dis-incentivizes growth here in the U.S. It might incentivize more people to invest elsewhere around the world. And again, so that top-down lot of power from the top control over the people, that’s not a free market.
That’s not incentivizing growth here in the U.S. So talk to that again. I don’t want to just say, US capitalism, China socialism, let’s talk about real issues.
Jeff – Ok, two things. First off, China has an authoritarian government. It’s been authoritarian for 5,000 years. And the Chinese expect it and they want it because the Chinese, the government, the leadership, the people they want, they want social harmony, they want economic prosperity, and they want the borders protected from outside invaders. They want that because of the West, including Europe the United States with NATO, what I call Eurangloland.
And I’m not impressed with Western democracy, I think it is just as authoritarian as China, but they hide behind all these, these twenty-five cents words like the free market and freedom of the press, freedom of expression, and all that other stuff. But to be honest with you, when you get down to it, it’s not that free if you disagree with the mainstream convention and I think it’s been that way forever.
Why are libertarian websites being shut down? Why are libertarian Twitter and Facebook accounts being shut down by the tens of thousands, as much as socialist and communist websites on both ends of the spectrum? They’re being completely expunged. So I think we have always been very authoritarian in the West. But we’ve been brainwashed into believing that we’re not. But really, it is. And the Covid thing is a perfect example.
So in China, they had to react to the COVID situation. I’ve written about it. I have a whole library. I wrote about 20 articles. I interviewed all kinds of people in China about what happened with COVID there. It’s all on my website.
And they had to react, because I think they know and the government knew that it was brought over. And I don’t want to get into the COVID thing, but they considered it to be an attack by the West and I think they considered it to be an attack by the United States, just like SARS. They believe and I think they were right that it was an attack by the United States. And the government treated it that way. They considered they were on a war footing. And so they treated it that way. And so they did.
They went into social control that Westerners can’t even begin to imagine. But because of this concept of solidarity, millennial cooperation, community, and not individual, it worked well. I mean, almost no other country except maybe South Korea was very close to it, but China just went into overdrive and responded to it amazingly. So, yeah, I agree with you. I don’t think America is that free. I don’t think Europe is that free.
You know, it’s really funny, Kenneth, you brought that up, the last time my daughter was here. She had been and she came back with us to China in 2010 and went to high school and just graduated from Beijing Normal University and we were back here and what, maybe 2017 or 2018? She was maybe a freshman in college at Beijing Normal University. And we were sitting on the Champs Elysees. I mean, you it can’t get any better than Champs Elysees, you know, in Paris, you know, “Gay Paree”.
And we were having a coffee on Champs Elysees. We were talking and we had been in France for like two or three weeks. And it’s a beautiful country, beautiful food, nice people. And she said, “Daddy, it’s really strange, but I feel free more free in China than I do here”.
It’s just like, yeah, well. The definition is not always the way the West defines it, and right I cannot go out on Tiananmen Square and hold up a sign and say Xi Jinping sucks. Because that would be a loss of face to the leadership, but I can go to my local committee and complain. So, there’s freedom in China that I’m not going to get robbed. I’m not going to get raped. I’m not going to get… You know, there’s almost no street crime, it’s safe, you can travel safe.
The biggest outbound tourist country in the world is China. One hundred and something million Chinese leave every year and travel all over the world. So now it wasn’t always that way. But I’m just saying, concepts of freedom are also very debatable.
Kenneth – Absolutely, and I think that’s what it all comes down and that would be my goal in terms of some sort of utopian society is give people their freedom and I think that’s what people want. And I think that’s what establishes a good groundwork for productivity and the greatest benefit for all.
So, Jeff, I want to appreciate you for coming on the show with me today and just sharing your insights and your thoughts and kind of opening up this idea of what’s going on in China? You know what I want to ask you, like one final wrap up, like talk to us about the growth of China. What do you see happening over the next five to 10 years? We’ve seen China grow tremendously over the last few decades. Talk to us about where China is going over the next five to 10 years and maybe the dynamic of what you see changes in the global landscape.
Jeff – Well, it’s a good question and another thing is everybody said there was no growth in during the Mao Era and of course, that’s just rubbish. GDP average for China from 1949 to 1978 when Deng Xiaoping assumed power and changed the policies to reform and opening up was six-point something percent. And in the United States, it was seven percent over the same period.
So this growth has been going on since 1949, not just since Deng Xiaoping with the reforms and opening up. The reason that China is growing so spectacularly is that they have what I call a socialist vision, They, this goes back to the days of Lenin and Stalin, the five-year plan, you know, the big five-year plan. This is where the government and the leadership and the business people and everybody, they get together and they and they sit down and they map out what they’re going to do for the next five years.
So that way, everybody’s on the same page. Everybody knows what we’re going to try to build – eighty thousand kilometers of railway in the next five years. We’re going to try to open 10 deep water ports in the next five years. We’re going to open five thousand new grade schools in the next five years and a thousand hospitals. And it just goes on and on and on.
And so they started doing the five-year plans after Mao, during Mao’s administration in the 50s. And that kind of planning allows business people to excel and develop because if I know that the government is going to set the policy to where we’re going to have a thousand schools built in the next five years and I’m a construction company. Then I can plan on that.
And so, this has been going on since 1949, they’ve had these five-year plans, now they’re doing rolling, now they’re doing rolling 10-year plans, rolling into the next five years. So now they’re stretching out to five to ten years. If something’s not working, they take it to the legislature, the National People’s Congress. And they amend the law or a policy or whatever. They’re constantly assessing, reassessing, and trying to improve the chances for people to succeed.
They’re not going to leave, for example, they’re not going to allow Bitcoin to take over in China. They took over blockchain technology, and they took it. And now they’re going to make it a benefit for all the people. So they do this tremendous planning. And in fact, one of the reasons that the United States was in such a panic, was when China came out with its Made in China, 2025. And this goes back two or three years ago where China came up with a policy, a structural policy so that 80 percent of everything that is high tech by 2025 would be made domestically.
And, of course, the United States realized that if China could do that, then it would be tough for the United States to compete. They’ve been mapping out 5G for 10 years and the US and Europe don’t even really have any 5G to speak of.
I mean, it’s there, but it’s a mess. They have another goal for 2035 that they are working on. They have a vision and they don’t care about the next quarterly report. They are thinking and for my next book, when I said into the 22nd century, they’re already thinking about the next century, they are already planning for the 22nd century.
So when you have a culture that’s been around for 5,000 years and they’ve survived for 5,000 years and they’ve been the most advanced, developed, the richest citizens of the last 5,000 years, except for 110 years when the West got the best of them, they’re used to this kind of visionary, millennial thinking. So that’s why the US, I tell people this all the time.
The West cannot compete against China, they cannot unless they start, like when the US really homed in and kicked ass industrially, it’s when the US government essentially nationalized the industrial capacity for World War Two. And when they did, America was producing steel and ships and trains and that’s what China does every day. And so we did it for a few years to win World War Two. Now, I mean, China has been doing it for 5,000 years and that’s why they are kicking the West’s butt.
What was it I just saw, I think, in the second semester, or the second quarter of this year, China already bounced back with the 3% growth. The United States was -33%. England was -20% and France was -13% and China grew by 3.2%. And Kenneth, let me tell you, it is not looking good for the West versus China for the next five to 10 years, because this completely different philosophy about how to run a country and help the people, it’s just going to get larger, is going to get wider.
And now the U.S. is being destroyed, by I think it’s the oligarch bankers and the deep state who are destroying the West to turn us into a one-world government, in my opinion. And the Rockefellers and the Rothschilds and the rich bankers are doing this. Now, China has gotten past, doesn’t have that problem, and now we’re saddled with all this COVID police state stuff. And China is just going to bury the West economically.
You know, Kenneth, even The Economist and Financial Times in England and other publications came out in 2014 and 2015 and said that China already had the biggest economy in the world on a purchasing power parity basis. So you can’t compare Switzerland and Botswana on an exchange rate basis. You have to compare them by PPP purchasing power parity. China’s already the biggest economy. It’s been that way now from 2014 to 2015 It’s just going to get even more divergent in the next 5 to 10 years because they’ve already got a plan. They’ve got the next 10 years planned out.
It is sobering, it’s sobering.
Kenneth: Yeah, you know, and it’s incredibly nuanced my goodness and then this even what happened this year with the virus and the changes, I mean, things can change so quickly with technology as well. I mean, it’s so incredibly difficult and nuanced to wrap your mind around the dynamics of how the countries are moving forward and the changes on so many different facets.
So I appreciate your insight on this and I appreciate you sharing your thoughts and your analysis and how you formulated your life. You put what your thoughts are. I mean, you’ve led your life to follow your conviction. So I appreciate that. If people want to learn more about you, the work you do, where can they go and what can they expect to find?
Jeff – Well, you said you were going to put my stuff on YouTube and the description down below the YouTube channel. But just to go to www.chinarising.puntopress.com and that’s my website and everything is there and I’ve got like 600 articles and going back to 2015 and a lot of, tons of interviews and just a lot of information.
So, and I will be looking forward to sharing this video and spreading your good work in my area by promoting Crush the Street. And so I’ll let all my fans know about you, when I post this video on my website. And so we can have win-win mutually beneficial cooperation, Kenneth just like Xi Jinping!
Kenneth- Ok. All right, Jeff, well, I appreciate your time. Thank you so much.
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Why and How China works: With a Mirror to Our Own History
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