Commentary: China, that faraway Asian nation of 1.4 billion people – we Americans number about one quarter of that – China is now inching up to be the planet’s number one superpower, anxious to replace the United States whom the Chinese leaders see as a “declining power. “The Chinese see their harsh one party Communist state as the “wave of the future.”
I don’t comment here on everyday Chinese women and men but of that one party’s state dictatorial leaders.
If America is declining – and I don’t believe it – then this planet’s resilient democracy is as well. Our democracy has been rich in constitutional freedoms guaranteed to us for well over two hundred years. And we are still thriving and growing.
China, with its authoritarian one party rule, knows only one thing t about democracy. Crush it. The most recent example took place 30 years ago and is known as Tiananmen Square. Hundreds of thousands of young Chinese united and created a movement, a movement birthed from their hearts and minds. The goals: Freedom and democracy. That movement has been labeled “the defining moment of the Twentieth Century.” In Beijing the demonstrators even created and erected an imitation of America’s Statue of Liberty.
The young Chinese also wanted an end to their country’s one party rule but for the country’s leaders the solution was not to listen and debate. It was to crush and slaughter “the freedom marchers.” So they sent out the army and the tanks on June 4. It isn’t known how many in the freedom movement died, but to onlookers it was a mass killing.
Yet for all the darkness that enshrouded Tiananmen Square 30 years ago one bright light shone through and shines to this day. A camera caught a young man, slim, white shirt and dark pants, who slipped from the crowd and stood alone, defiantly, and with incredible courage, in front of a tank ready to crush and kill the freedom marchers. That image of a brave young man is China’s. They try to hide it; the rest of the world does not.
A few weeks ago a top Chinese general gave a speech in which he thundered that “China should build a new Great Wall” and that there be “no promise to renounce the use of force.”
This is the challenge our country faces. Will we have the courage of the young man in front of the tank?