Living the cognitive-dissonant life — that of combining hard-bitten cynicism with altruistic starry-eyed idealism— is not easy. For my part, Exhibit A is China. I’ve said many times that I’m no fan of the Chinese government, and especially of what it is doing to the Uighur and Tibetan cultures. Chinese nationalists can deny these crimes against humanity all they want, but there’s more than enough evidence available to the objective reader for a guilty verdict.
The key word above, however, is “objective”, for objectivity is a double-edged concept that, properly honed, cuts both ways.
Just as America is more than our systemic racism, that malignant cancer woven into nearly every thread of our own social fabric, there is a great deal more to China than its treatment of the Uighurs and Tibetans. We Americans like to say that people are all equal, and that people all over the world are the same, but how many of us actually show that with our actions? We see what China does wrong, but we have blinded ourselves to their accomplishments and policies that are good and right in every sense of the words.
Despite America’s and China’s respective feet of clay and our many reasons to distrust each other, we should work together with China to ensure the success of their Belt and Road Initiative. It’s not a conclusion easily reached, which is why I encourage the reader to consider the facts and data presented below before dismissing this recommendation out-of-hand.
Backstory: The Why of China’s Incredible Success
We baby boomers were taught that China was poor and hopelessly corrupt, the inevitable result of communism and socialism, and to all outward appearances this was true. But just as the Meiji Restoration enabled Japan to rise in a few decades from feudalism to challenge the best that Western hegemony had to offer, Deng Xiaoping’s Four Modernizations initiative — part of which included allowing a measure of the capitalism that had for so long been anathema to communist doctrine — enabled China to rise in an even shorter length of time to…