Some passages in the June 24 speech by Robert C. O’Brien, National Security Advisor to the White House, made me smile. A hawk among hawks, he came to replace Bolton, who is counting the millions of dollars in his account after the publication of his book, The Room Where it Happened.
If we had wanted to understand China, “we wouldn’t be here? »
These lines remind me of that sweet Western optimism that often thinks it has understood everything in China and wants to teach China how to do it. O’Brien acknowledges American naivety toward China, the greatest failure in American foreign policy since 1930, and a misunderstanding of the true nature of the Chinese government.
Fast food and democracy
The United States thought that American democracy would be exported with economic openness. Yes, sir, exporting American-style democracy to China is not the same as developing a fast-food network! Let’s not laugh at the Americans; the Europeans are no more far-sighted.
I will not repeat the rest of the speech, which is a charge in Pompeo and Pence’s line. Other propaganda, this time American, repeated dozens of times in recent months!
Willingness to understand?
Beyond the political aspect, this admission of failure reminds us of the Western difficulty in wanting to understand China. We come with our reading grid, our fantasies, and our desires, and we apply them to the country. We don’t try to put ourselves in the other’s shoes. There is this feeling of superiority, conscious or unconscious, a long legacy of our economic, cultural, and religious history. We thought we were civilized, and it was hard to imagine that there were better models outside; the missionaries had retained Saint Paul’s “Outside the Church, there is no salvation.” Of course, mentalities are changing; the flaws of the Western model of democracy force us to question ourselves. Exchanges with China and knowledge are increasing. Fortunately, everything is moving! But how much time is wasted because of a lack of humility and a genuine desire to understand!
“As China grew richer and stronger, we believed, the Chinese Communist Party would liberalize to meet the rising democratic aspirations of its people. This was a bold, quintessentially American idea, born of our innate optimism and by the experience of our triumph over Soviet Communism. Unfortunately, it turned out to be very naïve.
We could not have been more wrong—and this miscalculation is the greatest failure of American foreign policy since the 1930s. How did we make such a mistake? How did we fail to understand the nature of the Chinese Communist Party?
The answer is simple: because we did not pay heed to the CCP’s ideology. Instead of listening to what CCP leaders were saying and reading what they wrote in their key documents, we closed our ears and our eyes. We believed what we wanted to believe—that the Party members were communist in name only.”
28 June 2020