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By Jeff J. Brown
Sixteen years on the streets, living and working with the people of China, Jeff
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Here is the original show on Regis’ channel. Be sure to subscribe and support his valuable work,
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Regis Tremblay (Host): This is Dateline News and Conversation. This is a special report. My guest, Jeff J. Brown, now has boots on the ground in China. Jeff, welcome back to the show and it’s good to see you again.
Jeff J Brown (Guest): Always wonderful to see you, Regis. And I’d like to apologize to the fans out there. My air conditioning went down. And it’s hot as hell here. It’s as humid as a steam bath. So, I’m in my t shirt and sweat is just rolling off of me. So, please forgive me for my appearance, but I’m really, really happy to be there.
Regis: It’s pretty warm here. You can see in the background I have a fan going here on the balcony. I have to close the window during my show so I’m not hurt all over the neighborhood. And so, I’m not sweating all over. But if you need to wipe down, don’t be afraid to do it or drink water or whatever you have to do.
Jeff: There you go.
Regis: You’re back in China. You lived in China for what? I don’t know, 16 years. You know the country well. You’ve written books about it. You do a blog. I have some questions that I think a lot of people want to know. Nobody believes anything in the West about China. They think that it’s just a closed society if people are robots. I want to know, first of all, do people in China have any degree of personal freedom?
Jeff: I will say this alright. And I truly believe that the Chinese have more personal freedom than the West does. If your definition of freedom is standing on Tiananmen Square and holding up a placard that says fuck Xi Jinping, that’s not freedom in China, because it’s not productive. It doesn’t do anything to help society. However, you have the freedom to make a complaint online. You have the freedom to make a complaint about Xi Jinping to your local government. You can write your legislator in the National People’s Congress.
There’s all kinds of freedom to express yourself. Now with the internet in China, there are hundreds of groups who love Deng Xiaoping and there are hundreds who hate Deng Xiaoping. There are hundreds that love Mao Zedong and there are hundreds that hate Mao Zedong. And it just goes on and on and on. It is vibrant and it is lively and it is communal. It’s just to go out on Tiananmen Square or to march down the street and complain about this or complain about the Communist Party or whatever is not productive.
There are 300 to 500 daily protests. Every day in China, there are 300 to 500 public protests, but it’s not holding up a sign that saying that says that Xi Jinping is a jerk. It’s they’re complaining about pollution, corruption, a bad government representative, a crooked corporation, a land grab, a crime that’s not being treated carefully, and injustice at a hospital or something like that. As long as it is a protest about something that matters, then you have the freedom to protest in China and you have the freedom to express yourself. I’ve seen protests myself. I’ve seen protests. I’ve seen all kinds of protests in China.
Regis: Let me ask you this. You mentioned they have the Internet. Is it the international Internet or is it just in China?
Jeff: Well, they censor the press. However, the difference is, is that the censorship here in China treats the citizens like adults. In fact, China has had an official censor since the Han Dynasty going back over 2000 years ago. And he is appointed maybe not a woman, I don’t know. But it’s typically a man, very erudite, very educated, has had great contact with the people.
The people in China have the right to complain to the censor about why this not in the newspapers or why is in the newspapers, it should be taken out and they have the right and then the censor is obliged to answer and publicly answer. The reason we are censoring this topic is because of the following reasons, and the reasons generally revolve around social harmony, economic prosperity, stability, quashing spurious rumors, Internet lies, and things like that.
So, it’s much more adult and much more mature than in the West. I’m censored on YouTube. I’ve been censored so many times. It’s not crazy. So, censorship happens in the West, but it’s stealth. We don’t know who’s doing it. We don’t know why they’re doing it. We don’t know who’s doing it, whereas in China it is explained to the people why they censor what and the people get an answer.
Regis: I want to continue on the topic of freedom. Do they have the freedom to travel anywhere they want in country and out of country?
Jeff: China is the biggest outbound tourist country in the world. I don’t have the number at the top of my head, but it’s like a hundred and something million Chinese leave China every year. They go all over the world. You go to Paris. Parisian restaurants and stores love the Chinese. All the signs at Charles de Gaulle Airport and the metro and the trains and everything. They have Mandarin everywhere because the Chinese are so, so important for their tourism. So, yes. And I don’t know before Covid, I don’t know what it is now, but it’s probably dropped off some. But before COVID-19, China was the number three inbound tourist country where people were coming in to visit. So, it’s huge, huge. Without the Chinese global tourism would collapse.
Regis: Well, I was going to ask you, are people from the West, from America free to travel to China? Do they need special documentation or health certificates? Do they need a visa? What do foreigners need to go to China?
Jeff: Well, you have a visa to get into China. They don’t let hundreds of thousands of unregistered illegal aliens flood across the Red River like they are in the United States. You do have to get a visa. You have to get a visa. You have to get a tourist visa here or a work visa because I have a small company here.
But you just like any place else, if you go to Russia or if you go, well, at least you know Europeans, if they want to go to Russia or other countries, you need a visa to get in. You have to have a visa treaty between the two countries. I know China now and Russia has a deal where Russians no longer have to have a visa to go to China. So, China has a few select countries, just like other the United States and others. Canadians don’t have to have visas, but Serbians do. And it’s the same thing with the Chinese.
Regis: All right. Last question on freedom. You’re an American, but you’ve been living abroad all these years. The Second Amendment “The Right To Possess A Firearm”. And it’s well known in the United States that millions and millions of people have a firearm. Many have multiple firearms, including assault weapons. Are any kind of weapons permitted in China?
Jeff: It’s really interesting. Up until 1980, Mao Zedong died in 1976. Deng Xiaoping took over as the paramount leader in 1978. Up until then, the Chinese were heavily armed. The villages, the hamlets, the small towns. They had small arms. They had machine guns. They had grenade launchers all over the country. To be prepared for an attack by the United States and or any other. And this course, this was back when Russia and China were at loggerheads with each other.
So, they were actually well-armed. Deng Xiaoping decided to let loose the dogs of capitalism. And the country got really, really street-level concrete, jungle capitalism, and crime just shot through the roof. And so, at that point, they took all those guns away from the people to prevent civil unrest or whatever, because there were a lot of unhappy people about the fact that Mao’s Iron Rice Bowl was being destroyed.
So, now there are hunters just like here in France and a lot of other countries, you can have a firearm, but it’s registered with the local police and you can go get it if you want to go hunting. If you can have a small arm, again, it’s kept at the local government and you can use it at a firing range. But that’s no different than France and most other countries. I mean, America is the outlier. I mean when I go to the United States and I see people walking into a McDonald’s with a 45 hanging off their hip that’s really unusual. So, you really can’t compare the United States to any other country. France has very, very tight gun control, and so does China.
Regis: Well, that’s very interesting. Thank you for those informative and honest replies. I think it’s going to surprise some people. You mentioned capitalism. That was the next topic I wanted to ask you about. As I look at China and I’ve never been there, China took in most of America’s industry and manufacturing industries. I mean, they’re making everything. You go into a Target store from clothes to refrigerators to almost anything is made in China.
So, I think these Chinese are really businessmen. They’re capitalists just like everybody else. But now I’m living in Russia, and Russia has a form of capitalism. It’s not the predator capitalism that exists in the United States, in the West, but Russia is a capitalist country. I’m not sure how to describe it as a hybrid. I think there’s a lot more government control. So, my question to you is, is China a capitalist country? And if so, what makes it different?
Jeff: First off, up until 1980, everything was state-owned under Mao Zedong, thereafter Deng Xiaoping started liberalization, reform, and opening up, things moved into the private sector. And it was wild and crazy and corrupt and criminal. From 1980, up until before the Olympics in Beijing in 2008. And we lived here. My wife and I lived here from 1990 to 1997. And it was wild. In fact, I call it the Wild East Deng Xiaoping Buckaroo Days, because it was totally lawless.
It was like a gold rush town in Colorado. And the whole country was like that. No one trusted anybody. Everybody was lying and stealing and cheating to get rich. So, that was the real capitalism. That’s capitalism, the street-level capitalism that China went through for 20 years. And it’s amazing that they were able to pull it off. And, of course, Tiananmen Square was a protest against those policies. But anyway, after that, even though they had that they still kept the 100 big industries under state control.
So, everything from aluminum to zinc to avionics to defense to steel to electricity, utilities, airports, all infrastructure, a lot of manufacturing, a lot of services remained under state management and they’re called state-owned enterprises and there’s still a lot of them, although some went out of business after 1980. There’s still probably 100,000 or 150,000 of them. And so, the four biggest banks in the world are all Chinese. The four largest banks in the world are all Chinese. All the banking here is owned by the people.
All the insurance companies are owned by the people. All the telecommunications are owned by the people. I mean, it just goes on and on and on. So, there’s this massive state footprint on the economy where it is state-managed, it’s state-owned, and they’re very successful, they’re very profitable, and they do very, very well. In fact, now there are more state-owned enterprises on the International Fortune 500 list. There are now more state-owned enterprises on that list than there are American companies.
So, they’re very, very successful, multi, multi, multi-billion-dollar corporations. And they’re all owned by the people. They’re all state-owned by the people. But where capitalism as we know it is, it comes into play in China at the consumer level. So, what they did is, anything that is high volume and low margin tends to be the private sector and tends to be very, very capitalistic. So. washing machines, consumer goods, telephones, clothing, All the consumer goods, et cetera that we consume on a daily basis are in the capitalist economy.
But here’s the kicker. In the West, every corporation and their corporate charter, the number one goal of every corporation in the West is to get a higher return on investment. A return on the investment for the investors as high as possible. And of course, unfortunately, regardless of the environment and regardless of the employees, regardless of society, regardless of stability, regardless of humanity, regardless of peace, it doesn’t matter.
They are expected to make a profit for their investors. In China, the number one goal of every corporation is social stability and economic prosperity for the people. So, that comes first in China. And so, it doesn’t matter whether they’re a private enterprise or they’re a public enterprise, the number one goal is to take care of the people first, to take care of society first, and then you can make a profit. And that’s the way it should be. It should be that way all over the world but it’s not.
Regis: I have to ask you this. I mean, what about Apple? What about Texas Instruments? Or what about all these other companies that are manufacturing there? Is that their number one goal and how does China control that?
Jeff: Well, Apple has contractors. The difference is, you know Texas Instruments, HP, Samsung and you name it, the car manufacturers, Ford, Tesla, they’re all here, I mean it’s the manufacturing powerhouse for the world and many of those companies are foreign-owned. They may not have that in their charter back home. But it is implicit to them that they’re not going to sit there and cause social unrest and economic misery at the expense of the people to make a profit.
So, they have to sing a different song in China. They have to act like a Chinese company and do what’s right for the people and economic stability and social harmony first. And they have been caught. Many of them have been caught trying to fuck the public. And the government, I call it Baba Beijing, Baba Beijing comes in and says, ain’t going to happen. And if they want to continue to do business in China, they’ve got to do the right thing.
Regis: Yeah, I think maybe you’ve read recently, but I have apparently, Apple is feeling the squeeze and now they’re talking about outsourcing some of their manufacturing to India or Vietnam or some other country.
Jeff: They’re trying to, they’re trying right now. China has really moved up the manufacturing chain into higher and higher-tech, more complex, and more expensive exports. You now see phones and t-shirts and cheap shoes and clothing, most of that’s now being made in Vietnam and Bangladesh and in India. So, China’s moving up the food chain and they have tried to go to Vietnam. China has even promised to help Vietnam get involved in its manufacturing logistics.
The reason that Vietnam, Bangladesh, and India have a hard time competing against China is simply the massive scale that China has, given the number of people that live there, a billion and a half people. And they have the most sophisticated infrastructure. They have the most sophisticated logistics in the world to move inputs and outputs faster and cheaper than anywhere else in the world. So, it’s just really, really hard for other countries to compete against. Not only are they the best manufacturers, but they also move it in and move it out faster and cheaper than anybody in the world.
Regis: Well, that’s pretty interesting. I’m going to come to the big question now or the big topic. I’m going to put it in terms of a question. In the United States, China and Russia are constantly being called authoritarian or dictatorial. I want you to explain, like, is China a democratic country? It’s obviously communist. And then in a Western mindset, democracy and communism don’t go together. It’s an adversarial relationship. How would you explain that to Americans or Westerners?
Jeff: The democracy, I can tell you, I’ve lived here for 16 years. I was born and raised in the United States. And I’m also a French citizen. So, I’ve spent years in France. I vote in both France and the United States. And I can tell you that democracy in China is more real for the people than in the West. Chinese democracy and this is true in other socialist countries, like Venezuela, Cuba, Eritrea, and other socialist, Bolivia, et cetera, Democracy comes from the bottom up.
The people express themselves and it filters up to the leaders and the government and decisions are based on what the people want. Instead in the United States, we have this sort of phony pluralistic democracy, but our leaders don’t care about us. Our representatives don’t care about us. They just care that they’re the ones who are authoritarian and dictatorial in my mind, because you can just see that in the West, democracy is not working.
Maybe it did postwar for 20 years or so, maybe it worked with Franklin Delano Roosevelt during the Depression and up until he was assassinated, in my opinion, in 1944. And so, here it’s consensual. It is communal. In China since 1949, when the communists took over, every regulation and every law is posted and published for the people to see. And then they have the right, we’re going to pass this law about facial recognition or we’re going to pass this law about personal information, or we’re going to pass this law about the social credit system.
Back in the old days, it was published in newspapers, and it was in fact, when my wife and I used to live in Beijing, they had these town signboards in our neighborhood. They would put up the newspapers with all of the information that the people could read without even having to buy a darn newspaper and then they could go, before the Internet, they could go to their local mayor or their local city hall and register their feelings about that particular law.
And so, the laws in China are literally developed by the people. China is not going to pass any law. I want Westerners to hear this. They’re not going to pass any law if there is a significant plurality of people who are against it. They’re going to have to go back to the legislature, the National People’s Congress, or the Provincial Congress or the City Government.
And they’re going to have to go back and rewrite that law or regulation until the people are happy. So, this is literally the only country I know of, at least or maybe Cuba and Bolivia and some other countries. It also happens in Venezuela, et cetera. But this is the biggest country in the world where the people actually can change laws to their satisfaction before they’re passed. That’s true democracy.
Regis: All right. People are going to be listening to this and they’re going to be saying, wait, wait, wait, wait a minute. Communist… China is a communist country. Communism is all about a dictatorship. The Supreme Soviet or whatever and they rule with an iron hand. How can you explain to a Westerner this whole concept of democracy and communism? I’m even having a hard time. I’ve never been there. But when I think of communists, I really think of authoritarianism. I think they deny religion, they prohibit it. They make all the laws the people just follow. So, what’s the difference in China?
Jeff: Well, first off, even because it is a Marxist-Leninist country, it is officially an atheistic country. But religion never went away. It never went away in the Soviet Union. People still practiced their religion privately. Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism have been around for over 2000 years here in China and never went away. There are 25,000 mosques in China for the 30-something million Muslims. There are hundreds of thousands of Buddhist, Daoist, and Confucian temples all over the country and Tibet everywhere. So, in religion, they have their local gods and their local gods that they worship, too. So, none of that ever really went away, even though officially it’s supposed to be.
Regis: Are there any Christian denominations there?
Jeff: Yeah, there are over 50 million Christians in China. The Catholics are about, I think 30 million of them. 20 million of them are Protestants. They have churches. The ones that get in the media in the West are the ones that are getting money from outside the country and are trying to foment color revolutions to overthrow the Chinese government. Those churches don’t last very long. I’ve been to underground churches in China. I’ve gone to see them.
They meet in basements and they meet in people’s houses and stuff. But there are thousands of them. And my wife and I went to a legitimate above-ground church a number of times in Beijing to go to church. So, that’s not a problem. China is authoritarian. China is paternalistic. That’s why I call the government Baba Beijing. Confucianism is very paternalistic. We’re here to take care of you, to make sure that you’re safe, to make sure that you’re healthy, to make sure that you’re prosperous, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
It’s the Western leaders who are autocratic and plutocratic and govern down to the people and tell the people what they’re supposed to do. In China, it’s the people who come from the bottom up and tell the leaders what they want. And the leaders are expected to follow those desires. And they do. And that’s the difference.
And that’s communism. Mao Zedong and his famous mass line, they would go out and survey and interview millions of people to find out what they wanted. What organization is the largest surveyor, the organization that does more surveys and does more public polls where they go out and ask people questions. It’s the Chinese government. They constantly seek information from people to find out what they want and don’t want.
My wife and I would come home and there’d be a new flyer on the door on the main door of our apartment block. If you have had problems with getting a pap smear for women or if you’ve had a problem with getting breast exams or if you’ve had a problem with garbage or if you’ve had a problem with this or that. I’m not kidding. Please come to the city hall and let us know what you think. When was the last time a representative in your country, the United States or France, ever did that? They don’t.
They despise us. They despise us. And they treat us like children. They treat us like children. Whereas in China, it’s bottom up and the government trusts the people to make the right decisions and therefore the people trust the government to act on those decisions in the name of the people. And it works beautifully. I mean, I’m sitting here in Shenzhen, and it’s just like nobody in the West knows what is going on here, it is just so amazing. It’s just breathtaking, jaw-dropping. It’s over. China is just running away from the West. It’s now decades ahead of the West in every aspect.
Regis: Well, I want to ask you this question because I’m very curious about Christian religions or other religions. Are they a byproduct of the previous former colonial days of the West when they were all over China raping and stealing everything. They obviously brought their missionaries. Are those the roots of Christianity in China? Because I can’t see our missionaries allowed to go in there now and publicly proselytize.
Jeff: No, Christianity was introduced into China starting in 1517, I think when the first Portuguese arrived in Hong Kong. And there were missionaries. And so, things went quite well. There was some cross-pollination and the Chinese appreciated what they had to offer and the Chinese became very, very popular in Europe in the 1600s people like Voltaire and Leibnitz and people like that. There was a huge, the Chinese became very, very popular in Europe for about 150 years until the 1680s. So, yeah, those missionaries came in, but then the British got in there with their opium and that’s where things started to fall apart.
They were sending in tens of thousands of cases of opium from India which is what kept the English economy going, which was basically the largest drug cartel in the world, with the Queen of England. And so, starting in 1839 with the first Opium War, that’s when the wheels fell off China. And that’s when they really started raping and plundering the country. And then the French got involved, the United States got involved. Even Russia got involved back then. And about 12 countries, including Sweden. I mean, everybody was getting their fingers into China to rape and plunder it up until the communist revolution liberated the people in the country in 1949.
Regis: Okay. I have to ask you another question because we’re talking about individual freedoms and personal freedoms. We’re talking about democracy. You mentioned at the very beginning you just glossed over it. But facial recognition, digital identification, and credit scores people in the West see that as a total invasion of privacy and even a restriction on personal freedoms. How do people in China feel about that? I think it’s going to be a tough sell in the West. They are trying to force it on people with digital photo identification digital everything. How do the people in China see that?
Jeff: This is China, again, being a consensual bottom-up democracy. The people here several years ago were getting really spooked about facial recognition and made a lot of complaints to the government. And so, the government responding to the people’s wishes, passed some very strict laws about the use of facial recognition. And it is very tightly controlled. Now facial recognition is used mainly to catch criminals. So, they have actually have cameras all over China. It doesn’t bother me at all. But there are cameras all over the West, too.
It’s this deflection because there are cameras all over the West too. And so, they have actually caught tens of thousands of wanted criminals because of facial recognition, but they did pass laws that that companies like WeChat, Tencent, Alibaba, JD.com and other and other corporations and businesses could not keep facial images in their databases. The facial images of the people are kept by the government. And it is mainly to catch bad guys. And it’s actually worked very, very well.
As far as personal information, again, the people got really pissed off because WeChat and Alibaba and all these other high-tech companies including state-owned China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom, they’re their equivalent of T-Mobile and whatever they are in the United States, Sprint. Although they are state-owned, they were keeping too much information for the people’s comfort. And again, the bottom up, the people said, we don’t want this information being kept gratuitously. And they passed very, very strict laws.
Companies like WeChat, Tencent, Alibaba, and others were fined billions of dollars for illegally, not illegally, but kept too much information that they didn’t need on the people. And they had to give it all up. So, we have to remember the United States we have credit agencies Experian and they’re private and they’re for profit. And you have to pay to see your freaking score. I can go on my phone right now. I’ll do it while I’m talking and I’ll go on to my Alipay account right now. And where am I? Let me see, where is my number here. And I can actually look and see my score and I can actually tell you what my score is. And the last time it was 500 and something.
Regis: Is that good 500 something?
Jeff: 530. Anything over 500 is okay. So, I actually have, if I borrow, and it’s never going to really change, because I’m not borrowing money. I don’t own a house or anything. So, it’s never really going to go up. But I can actually look up my score in this called Sesame. And so, I can access my information for free and anybody, I have a little company here called Professor Brown, and anybody in China who wants to find out about my company can go online for free. You can’t do it for individual people, but for any corporation, they have a social credit score.
My company has a social credit score just like I do. You can’t look up other people. You have to have to get their permission. But my company, anybody who wants to do business with Professor Brown can look up my company’s social credit score before doing business with me. And if it’s below 500, I’ve done something wrong. I’ve like cheated on my taxes. I’ve polluted. I’ve committed fraud. I’ve embezzled money. I’ve badly treated my employees.
And then I can sit there and go, I don’t want to work with you, Professor Brown because your social credit score sucks. And that’s the whole point of the Social Credit System, which is to make businesses accountable and government employees, corrupt government employees, corrupt corporations, both private and public, state-owned and private. If they pollute, if they badly treat their employees, if they steal, if they cheat on their taxes, they’re going to get called to the carpet and the people can raise hell and not do business with them.
As far as personal social credit scores,this is for the bad guys. If you’re a good guy, with your social credit score, you actually can get cheaper loans, lower interest rates, preferred reservations for airplanes and high-speed trains, and everything else, and you have all these advantages if you’re a good citizen. If you’re a bad citizen and you don’t pay alimony and you don’t pay child support or you don’t pay your taxes or you have a criminal record or you’re a wife beater or you’re a drug user or you’ve caused a public disturbance, because you’re an alcoholic or whatever, you’re going to have a bad credit score.
Well, you might not get to take a high-speed train because you have not been a good citizen and you have caused other people to be unharmonious. Hurt them, Harm them, whatever. So, you have to take the hard seat train. You can’t take the TGV or you can’t fly domestically. You have to take the slow train or you can’t leave the country because you’re not paying your wife the alimony that you agreed to in court. So, all of this is just accountability. It’s just making people accountable for doing the right thing.
Regis: People are going to say, Oh, that Jeff J. Brown, he’s been brainwashed. It’s so bad. It’s incredible. But you know and you know this because you’re an American and you’ve lived in in France for a number of years. People in the West are going, wait a minute, we have heard all about these credit scores. And if I jaywalk across the street, the camera’s going to pick me up. I’m going to get negative points taken off. If I get caught speeding in my automobile, I’m going to get points taken off. I’ve even gone so far as to write things like, well, they know if you’re an alcoholic by how much alcohol you buy or cigarettes, and you can get penalized. Is there any bit of truth in any of that?
Jeff: Well, if you get drunk and go out and cause a fight, a public fight, or if you beat your wife or if you abuse your children, I think you should be arrested and I think you should pay a price for that. There are consequences for messing with other people’s lives and creating disharmony and economic hardship for other people. China has always been about accountability. Confucianism going back to 500 B.C. has always been about being accountable.
The leadership is accountable to the people and the people are accountable to the leadership and there’s mutual trust between them. In the West, there is mutual suspicion and hatred between the people and the government. They don’t like each other. They despise each other. And you can see the results today. So, I don’t really care if someone says I’m brainwashed. I just ran around Shenzhen all day and I’m going to travel up to Anhui and I’m going to go to 4 or 5 different provinces.
And I have my Twitter and I do daily tweets about life in China at @44_days on Twitter. And so, you can actually see through the eyes of the Chinese what’s going on here. I’m putting 5 to 10 daily tweets with photographs or videos of vignettes of what’s going on here at the street level every day. I speak, read, and write Chinese so I can talk to the people and read what they’re reading and hear what they’re hearing.
Go ahead and call me brainwashed. But all I can see is the results here. And China is a generation ahead of the West. In every aspect, they are just leaving the West in the dust and it’s over. And China’s got friends like Russia and North Korea and Iran and Venezuela and Brazil and BRICS and too bad for the G7, which is now no longer even relevant and too bad for Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, North America, Canada, the United States, and NATO. They are on the wrong side of history.
Regis: Well, I agree with you on all of that. A lot of what you’re telling us about life in China and freedoms and democracy is going to be hard for a lot of people in the West to believe. They just it’s like everything about Russia, they’ve just been so brainwashed. They cannot believe anything about Russia. When you’re talking about democracy, people vote here in Russia. They voted for Putin.
They vote to elect all of their people in the parliament. They vote on local issues. They take it very seriously to say Putin is a dictator. He can’t even be a member of the majority party. As president, he has to be independent. And so, when people say there’s no freedom, there’s no democracy in Russia. I go, wait a minute. I’ve seen this with my own eyes. And Putin is tremendously popular. His 80th percentile right now is his favorability rating. That’s unprecedented, I think, anywhere.
Jeff: Let me just point out that China does have direct democracy at the local level. Every three years, 900,000 villages or neighborhoods. I mean, I’ve written about this and it’s in my Trilogy books. And I’ve taken photographs showing the lists of candidates in a small village someplace. So, every three years they vote 900,000 precincts to vote. And two-thirds of them are not members of the Communist Party. And two-thirds of them are not even members of the Communist Party.
Local representatives’ photographs are posted publicly. Their personal mobile phone number, everybody knows where they live. They can go talk to them whenever they want to. When was the last time an American ever got to go talk to their House of Representatives or their mayor or their city council whereas in China, you can just walk right in and you can just say whatever you want as long as it’s constructive. If you want to say Xi Jinping sucks, they’ll make a note of it, but why does he suck? What is he doing that makes him suck? They want to know why. Might be he’s a jerk. But for what reasons.
And then those representatives vote for the city government, the mayor, and the city council. All the city councils in a province then vote for the provincial. So, it’s just like indirect voting in the United States for the president. Then they vote for the provincial leadership and then the provinces, the 34 provinces, then the leaders, the government leaders of all the of the provinces then vote to put the 3,000 members in the National People’s Congress and then the National People’s Congress vote to have the 300 people and the State Council.
Then it goes up to the 25 people in the Politburo and then it goes up to the seven people in the Standing Politburo, which is Xi Jinping and six other people. So, again, beyond the local level, the people trust that the people that they voted for are going to make the right decisions to put the best people in office above them. And it’s working out great because China’s just kicking ass and taking names and it’s been going great since 1949. And the people get what they want. The people wanted the Great Leap Forward.
The people wanted the Cultural Revolution and the people wanted, I don’t know if they maybe, I don’t know if they wanted Dung’s super hardcore capitalist jungle capitalism but they got that and they’re listened to. So, to me here democracy is flourishing. It’s consensual. And it just makes a mockery of the West’s so-called Pluralistic Representative Democracy. They’re all corrupt. They’re all on the take. They’re all extorted. They’re all bribed. They’re all blackmailed. The judges are all corrupt now. I mean, it’s just it’s putrid in the West. It’s just totally putrid, both in France and the United States.
Regis: And they still believe that they have freedom and democracy as all of their freedoms have been ebbed away and their democracy just doesn’t exist in the United States and Canada or most other places. All right. I need to ask you this, because what’s in the news about China predominantly is the United States threatening China with hostile rhetoric and actions. I don’t know how many fleets they have in the East China Sea, but they’ve been shipping weapons into Taiwan.
Are people aware of this? How big of an issue is it in China? On the one hand, the threat from the United States primarily. All you can throw in Japan, you can throw in South Korea and Australia, but primarily the United States, like everywhere. And how do the people feel about Taiwan’s status right now? Do they just want to see the government take it back and get this over with? I mean, these are important things for a lot of people. What can you tell us about that?
Jeff: Well, it’s really funny. I teach Chinese students online to help pay the bills. And they have a number of their friends. I’m talking like high school-level friends. Their high school-level friends have gone to Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States, and England to go to high school. And the biggest observation is how ignorant, how dumb fuck ignorant their classmates are. And I’m talking about Americans and Canadians and English and Australians and New Zealanders.
So, Westerners should be shocked at how uninformed and ignorant they are of what’s going on in the world whereas the Chinese are very, very plugged in. I mean, I took a ferry to Zhuhai a couple, three days ago and it was a one-hour ferry ride and they just had all this stuff about Napoleon and the Russian Revolution and the American Revolution and they had like cartoons, like little like animated cartoons history lessons about the United States and France and Russia and England and colonialism and all that.
And this is on a ferry ride and there are more books available from the West in the library in Shenzhen than there are books from China in any library in the United States. They have even all the neoliberals and neocon books translated into Chinese for the Chinese to read, even though they’re against them. So, the Chinese are very, very informed. Your average waitress or your average taxi driver in China knows ten times as much.
Regis: We just have a couple of minutes left. How aware are they of what is going on in the Taiwan Straits?
Jeff: Very aware. Front and center every day in the media and the Chinese media, I get on it. They’re there. They know what the United States is doing. They know about the South China Sea, the Australians, and the English. It’s not just the United States. It’s half a NATO that has ships in the South China Sea to harass China and to push Vietnam and the Philippines to try to react against China. They’re very aware of it. It’s front and center in the media.
And again, all the media here is people-owned. I mean, there’s very, very little private media. And the people, again, with the official censor helping guide what is in the media and what should be there and what should not be there. And they love it. They don’t want all this tittytainment from the United States and they don’t want CNN and MSNBC and Fox News.
And they know it’s drivel. They know it’s garbage, so they don’t want it. And so, they’re very happy to have all that stuff censored. But they are very well informed by their own media about what’s going on in the world, what’s going on in Russia, what’s going on in Ukraine, what’s going on in Europe, what’s going on in the United States. They’re much better informed than your average Westerner.
Regis: How do they feel about Taiwan’s independence, the one China?
Jeff: There is not a Chinese person in this country who would not put on a uniform and pick up a gun to defend Taiwan’s return to its Motherland. I mean, you ask anybody here about Taiwan, there’s just no doubt about it. Taiwan has been a part of China for 5,000 fricking years. There’s never been more than one China. Mainland China is the dog and Taiwan is the little tail that the dog wags.
So, they will never, if the United States gets the DPP – the Democratic People’s Party there to declare independence, they will be invaded in two hours and that island will be overrun with a million Chinese soldiers, all the jets and everything over the over. And it’d be over in two days. I mean, the United States wouldn’t even know what happened before it was already done. So, Taiwan will never have independence. And China and the people and the people support the government. The government listens to the people. Those are fighting words in China.
Do yourself, your friends, family and colleagues a favor, to make sure all of you are Sino-smart:
Google ebooks (Epub) and audiobooks:
44 Days Backpacking in China: The Middle Kingdom in the 21st Century, with the United States, Europe and the Fate of the World in Its Looking Glass https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=YBKHEAAAQBAJ
China Rising: Capitalist Roads, Socialist Destinations https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=YNmLEAAAQBAJ
BIG Red Book on China: Chinese History, Culture and Revolution
Amazon print and ebooks (Kindle):
44 Days Backpacking in China: The Middle Kingdom in the 21st Century, with the United States, Europe and the Fate of the World in Its Looking Glass
China Rising: Capitalist Roads, Socialist Destinations
BIG Red Book on China: Chinese History, Culture and Revolution
Praise for The China Trilogy:
Why and How China works: With a Mirror to Our Own History
Read it in your language • Lealo en su idioma • Lisez-le dans votre langue • Lies es in deniner Sprache • Прочитайте это на вашем языке • 用你的语言阅读
Wechat group: search the phone number +8619806711824 or my ID, Mr_Professor_Brown, friend request and ask Jeff to join the China Rising Radio Sinoland Wechat group. He will add you as a member, so you can join in the ongoing discussion.