q: What is your response to those who say there are limits to our ability to
change China. That it is an ancient civilization with its own way of operating
and viewing the world?
a: One of the main arguments used is the question of Asian values and
Confucian values. What they are trying to say is that China is an old country
with an existing value system of its own. In a way, it's insulting of the West
to try to impose democracy or democratic values on a country which has its own
existing values, even though they may be slightly different from our own.
Now, I think that is totally insulting, that whole attitude, not only to the
Chinese, but to Asian people as well. When you talk of Asian values and you
are trying to imply that Asians never had democracy or any kind of appreciation
of democracy in the past--
The first thing a lot of these people, when they talk of Confucian values,
have never read Confucius. None of them have read the _... (inaudible).
Confucius may not have been a democrat by modern standards, but he was a
The first advice he gave to rulers was, "Let humanity be your highest
standard." He told rulers that they could not rule through violence or through
oppression; they had to rule through moral authority. He disapproved of
princes ruling through violence. He advised ministers if they had to choose
q: If I want to talk more about Kissinger than Confucius, what was the
influence that led to the separating of trade or MFN and human rights? What is
the influence? What happened?
a: The primary presentation of these ideas, and some of them are very
convincing, they're trying to make you feel like an Asia basher if you speak
for democracy. They tend to forget that in the beginning of the century, when
even China first modernized, the first call made by the Chinese people was for
The founder of modern China, _... (inaudible), was a democrat. He used a free
media, in fact, to get him into his power. Democracy has always been there in
the Chinese kind of political debate; it's only recently under communism that
all this has been wiped out. So, democracy is not alien to China, but it's
been made out, in this country, that if you speak for democracy in China, you
are in fact someone who is condescending to Asians. That's absolutely not
The biggest democracy in the world is in Asia. The biggest and the most
liveliest. In live in India; I know Indian democracy. It's far livelier than
the American one at least.
q: And if we look at Tibet as the prism of how America should be dealing with
China and bigger issues of human rights, what does that tell us? What does
Tibet tell us about America's relationship with China.
a: The situation of Tibet in a way tell us that America's relationship
with China is not a healthy one at all. It is not a realistic one, it is not a
To place one's national interests primarily on economic footage, I think, is
disastrous. Immediately, yes, there might be some money in it, whatever, but
in the long term, I think for any kind of healthy and balanced assessment of
American national interest, a number of factors must be brought into play, must
be appreciated, as it regards American relation to China. And, I don't think
that has been done at all.
Greed is overtaking everything. Everyone sees China only in the context of
selling something. They still refuse to believe that China can sell every more
to the United States, in the end might dominate everything. It's very
shortsighted. But businessmen and traders have never been known for their, you
know-- the long view for having any kind of wisdom. It's a very immediate
thing, just make profits.
And, I think, because of this we see this great cynicism towards causes like
in Tibet and even in Burma, these other place. Very shortsighted.