Honoring Those Who Came Before,Forging a New Path for the Future
First let me thank the organizers of this event for inviting me here. It’s an honor and a privilege to talk to you today.
I would like to discuss our aim as foreigners in China. Or rather, I would like to talk about what our aim should be. This is a foundational question, one which needs an answer if our work is to be effective. It is also the primary interest of China Daily’s Edgar Snow Newsroom, a project of which I am proud to be a member. While I cannot speak for the entire program here today, I can, with your indulgence, give my personal thoughts on the matter.
To do that, I’d like to go back. To a time when a group of foreigners, most notably Edgar and Helen Foster Snow, made the long journey to China to see what the Communist Party of China had accomplished in its base areas during the arduous period of civil war.
Those that traveled to China then did so at great personal risk. This was a time of revolution, of war, and victory was not assured. If the cause was lost, the consequences for such a trip would be dire in their home countries — a cost some still paid even after the revolution was won.
They came knowing they might never return. As the fighting intensified, so did the danger to those accompanying the Red Army as journalists or observers. Those who joined the front lines like Dr. Norman Bethune took on an even greater burden. They stood by their comrades in true life-and-death struggles, and some paid the ultimate cost. We honor and treasure their sacrifices today, as we do all martyrs who perished in pursuit of a better world. As Mao Zedong said, “To die for the people is weightier than Mt. Tai.” We stand on their shoulders…and in their shadows.
But the China of today is, of course, a very different place. In its 100 years, 72 of them with state power, the Communist Party has built a country that is thriving and secure. Life expectancies have more than doubled. Illiteracy has been whittled to a tiny percentage of the population. Infant mortality rates have plummeted. Incomes are growing, and quality of life is improving at a stunning pace.
Most importantly, the prosperity that has defined the country’s modern development has been shared, held in common and enjoyed by all. There has never been a better time to be Chinese, and the people of China rightfully possess an abiding confidence in themselves and their future.
This is a complete reversal of the circumstances China faced in the not-so-distant past, when foreign aggressors occupied its territory and attempted to force it into submission. In that time, colonizers could rely on their industrial might to leverage concessions from sovereign peoples at the barrel of a gun.
During the national liberation struggles of the 20thcentury — China among the most notable, both for its scale and its establishment of a socialist state — the traditional colonial form of relations could not continue. Instead, a neocolonial system of financial instruments and influence peddling characterized the extraction of value from Global South to North.
While features of this relationship have changed in new contexts, the nature of these relationships and of imperialism itself has remained the same. Military strength is still the “hard” foundation of a country’s power, but there are new weapons being brought to bear in new conflicts — especially informational ones. To combat countries that have advanced their industries enough to compete on an even playing field, the neocolonial behemoths must use inborn advantages in media and publishing to disseminate narratives justifying their place at the top of the global hierarchy.
China is no exception. The media and governments of the West, particularly the United States, act in lockstep to undermine China and subvert its development. It is their desire, and this is hardly a secret, to see it turned from an independent country with its own economic system and path to a wholly subservient manufacturing base; the “world’s factory” with a chronically underpaid and overworked labor force. To that end, they have fabricated an unspoken boycott on any information or ideas that run contrary to whichever narrative they wish to keep in focus. This effective embargo, like the naval blockades of yesteryear, is a tool used by the dominant powers to shape the world as they see fit.
That is not what the Chinese people want, nor what the CPC wants. Socialism distinguishes itself from capitalism in many ways, but one of the most important is the building of an economy along rational lines rather than the “anarchy” of capitalist production. To that end, foreign investment is welcome, but never foreign exploitation. It is not in the people’s interest for the country to stagnate in a middle-income trap, nor for multinational monopolies to keep a permanent stranglehold on the most advanced technologies or segments of the labor force. Building common prosperity for all has been the Party’s pursuit from the beginning, and it continues that quest today through innovation and a commitment to balanced development.
So although the China of today is in a far stronger position than it was in its war-torn past, our task as foreign observers is no less urgent. It is our job to “run the blockade”, so to speak. The reason is simple: If those neocolonial usurpers got their way, all of China’s progress would be rolled back in an instant. The calamitous period witnessed after the end of the Soviet Union — which saw life expectancies nosedive and millions fall into penury —would be ten times more devastating if socialist China falls to the machinations of the 21stcentury’s own Eight-Nation Alliance. Preventing such a catastrophe is of paramount importance.
When the Snows, Anna Louise Strong, Israel Epstein, Dr. Bethune, Agnes Smedley, Dr. George Hatem, Rewi Alley and so many others came to China, they did so because they understood the CPC’s vision and respected the Party’s clarity of purpose. Not all were communists, but they shared a desire to see a better, fairer, more dignified life for the workers of the world.
We must respect that ideal, and keep it etched on our hearts. We must distinguish ourselves from foreigners who come to China with underhanded intentions to exploit its people or its resources. Our mission must be more than the selfish pursuit of personal enrichment.
So, simply put, what are we here to do? We are here to help China’s development however we can, tell the stories that need to be told and play our role in defending the gains of the revolution. This is how we can honor those who came before, and travel the long road to liberation on a path they carved out for us so many years ago.
Anything less is unacceptable.
发表于: 2021-12-13 01:57:30 AM