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Letter to the Professor

This is a response letter I wrote to Associate Professor L. Ling-chi Wang of U.C. Berkeley. He teaches Asian American Studies. On April 9th, 2008 he wrote a commentary piece via CNN.com entitled, “Commentary: Bashing China is not the answer.” I wanted to comment directly to the website but the commentary was locked down for this particular article. That said, I really had something to say so I found the good professor and emailed him my commentary. You can see my letter to him below. Peace.

Dear Professor Wang,

I was reading your commentary piece, “Bashing China Is Not The Answer” that appeared on CNN.com April 9th, 2008, and had a few questions in response –

1) What do you say to the Chinese government about not engaging the Dalai Lama in peaceful talks when the Dalai Lama says he is willing and ready to have an open conversation with Chinese leadership?

2) How long do we wait before President Hu Jintao and his people learn how to run the nation of China with a more compassionate and fair rule of law?

3) Aren’t the Olympics the exact place to show a demonstration regarding disapproval of China’s actions? The history of the Olympics is entwined with politics and dissent. Why should these Olympics be shielded from that history?

Your comments are very insightful. I agree with you on many points. I don’t believe the U.S. Government should be condemning China when it has clearly broken international law by invading a sovereign nation, and continuing a war effort that is doing more harm than good. That said, who is supposed to call attention to what is happening in China? I read stories of jailed religious leaders, journalists, and other scholars who speak out against the Central Government. Doesn’t the Chinese Constitution protect these rights? Article 35 states – “Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration.” Also, immediately after that Article 36 states – “Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of religious belief.” Correct me if I’m wrong on these points. Last time I checked the U.S. Government wasn’t throwing journalists and religious in jail for harshly criticizing the President and his administration.

You are right, we all have our problems. Every country has its ups and downs, but with an event like the Olympics so close to the stage don’t you think the Chinese Government should be living up to the motto of “One World One Dream” with a bit more benignness? What would happen if the Chinese Government actually spoke with a tone of love and appreciation for the diversity of its 1.3 billion person population? Even more, what would happen if they acted upon that speech? I gather it wouldn’t be having the problems its currently having. With 3,000 years of history does China still believe might is right? How much context and history do you need to understand that when 2 forces collide the results are not reassuring.

And lastly, I am always skeptical of the media. I try my best to get news from as many mediums as possible. That said, if the Chinese Government are restricting access to certain places in Tibet, what are journalists suppose to think? When the state controlled media of China preaches hatred towards the Dalai Lama, what are people suppose to believe? Doesn’t the government of China regulate the internet to some degree? Correct me if I’m wrong, as I had read and heard this from many-a-source. China isn’t doing itself any good by acting in such a fashion with regards to public and private media.

Once again, your comments are quite insightful. Thank you for the inspiration.

Sincerely,
Wayne Malcolm (An American in Japan)

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