I was pleasantly surprised a couple of months ago to get a call from Wang Fang Pi of the Chinese Political Affairs branch in New York, an old friend. Fang Pi headed the speech-writing office. I had met him in a press bar in Bangkok while on a junket for the Washington Times and we had stayed in touch for a while.
He told me that he had been assigned the writing of a speech to be delivered by the Chinese consul before the United Nations in answer to charges of Chinese aggression by Tony Blinken. Would I, off the record, help him write the thing?
To one unfamiliar with the workings of the national press it might seem strange that he would ask this of me, a retired mid-rank journalist of no national importance. But in the hothouse world of Washington’s press, who you know often counts for more than whether you are famous. He said that he had always liked my style and that, although a graduate of Harvard, he was not confident of his mastery of the fine points of English. Shang I Hau, the diplomatic functionary who would deliver the speech, was incensed at China’s being accused of aggressiveness by Blinken. Would I write something that was clear and, though he didn’t use the phrase, pulled no punches? No contract was involved, no payment.
Really, this is how things are done. It meant for me a long afternoon and an email to Fang Pi, which he might use, ignore, or pick bits from. Since Violeta and I were leaving the next day for a back-country trip with no internet, I had to get busy right away. OK, fair enough.
I had never met Blinken as he became SecState well after I left Washington. An hour’s Googling andhe came forth from the web fog as pretty much generic Washington, brightish, somewhat egotistical, and perhaps too self-confident, too much a believer in American omnipotence, meaning he was given more to issuing orders than negotiating. OK, nothing new here.
But how to counter charges of Chinese aggressiveness?
Over a few hours I came up with, after the usual courtesies, ladies and gentlemen, etc., the following:
“Let us ponder Mr. Blinken’s charge that we Chinese are aggressors.
“Let me ask the representatives of the countries of Europe: How many Chinese occupation troops are in Europe? None. How many military bases in Europe does China have? None. How many does it want? None. The United States has tens of Thousands of troops in bases all through Europe. While we are on the topice, how many wars is NATO currently fueling? China, none. Are you quite sure China is the aggressor?
“How many military bases does China have outside of China? One, small, in Djibouti. How many do the NATO powers, controlled by the United States, have? Over seven hundred. Are you sure China is an aggressor? Are not the Europeans peoples the aggressors?
“I will ask the representatives of the nations of Africa: Have you a history of centuries of invasion by China? By Russia? By India? Or by the European peoples? What country today routinely bombs Somalia? Constructs military bases? Is AFRICOM Chinese? It is not. Are you sure we are the aggressors?
“Permit me to ask the representatives of the nations of Latin America: How many coups has China engineered in your countries? How many has it tried to engineer? How many invasions and military incursions? Can you think of a country that often does these things to you? Are we sure that China is the aggressor
“Mr. Blinken has said that China is authoritarian. This does not suit him. He thinks we should change our ways to his satisfaction.
“Why is China’s form of government, or any other country’s form of government, Mr. Blinken’s concern? America constantly meddles in the government of other nations and tells them how they must manage themselves. Does China do this? Are we sure that China is the aggressor?
“China does not point out that America’s government is ineffective, chaotic, and unsuited to modern economies, that Americais increasingly technologically backward, has frequent race riots from mismanagement of its society, that its levels of crime are an astonishment to the rest of us.
“ Mr. Blinken tells us how to run our countries. America wishes to instruct China. Should Americans not first learn to manage America? Are we sure that China is an aggressor?
“China is a sovereign country. Allow me to point out to Germany’s representatives that Germany is not. It, like the rest of Europe, is an American vassal. You are frightened of the Americans. When Washington destroyed the Nordstreams—it was not China—irreparably damaging your economy, Germany responded with studied puzzlement. Who could have done it? You know, the wholeworld knows, but if you admit it, you would have to do something about it—and there is nothing you can do. Washington owns you. China does not.
“You are not sovereign. What if you asked “America to remove its forces—and it refused?
“For the record, how many pipelines has China blown up? Are we sure it is the aggressor?”
Having written this in hopes of augmenting international amity, I emailed it to Fang Pi and Violeta and I left for two weeks in the remote Sierra Madre. I was feeling a bit smug. Of course I didn’t think that anything I did would actually promote a peaceful foreign policy in Washington, but at least I would be on the right side of that river. But on return to Ajijic, I learned that Fang Pi had not gotten my email and my hard drive had been wiped clean. This had CIA fingerprints all over it. What had I done to deserve this? Was it something I said?
Fun read. I can’t say anything good about any government today. Well, maybe Iceland.
If asked, you could also write the opposite position about China being an aggressor.
We do need out arrogance leashed and our humble meter pegged once in a while, but so does China. To be clear we are all governed by organizations that behave more like mafia gangs than responsible governments. Humanity, sincerity, stewardship, safety, security, creating life affirming and spirituality enabling homelands is not the rule or seemingly anywhere in the purpose of modern governance. Your service is required poking fun and cynical criticism. Keep it up. Swing that sword at all the dark knights of politics.
Fred, is this really true–that your hard drive was wiped clean by someone other than you?
Well, no, but probably only because of an oversight at Langley.
Not sure if the part about the CIA wiping your hard drive clean was hyperbole. If it wasn’t, you might consider burning your computer in a barrel to get rid of all the possible felony charges it might “prove” in a Federal court. The CIA seems pretty adept at FAFO. Just sayin’.
Like most of your tough charges, Fred, this one reeks of imagination and satirical humor. It sure beats reality and truth, though.
Cheers….your old pal and fellow former journalist , J David
Something you said? That’s funny. Honestly, when I read your last paragraph, I was mildly astonished that the counterintelligence official in the U.S. Government who responded to your “flagged” email was able to grasp the content of it. I don’t mean to be offensive to Government employees, .. after all, I’m hopelessly patriotic (I have no idea why), but of the hundreds of interactions that I’ve had over the years with Government employees, I’m convinced the U.S. Government is only able to employ the worst-of-the-worst labor-market rejects.
When you communicate sensitive contract information like this email, it’s best to cc the name of your lawyer, then add the comment “attorney-client private communication.” They would need to get a court order to deal with it. But, that old adage that you should never fight city hall really is true.
Well, that just ticks me off, Fred.
Now, I do think you’re a little over the top regarding China. I can think of many things that makes them authoritarian: their “police stations” in US cities, censoring our movies, directing our colleges, bribing our government figures, for starters.
But we’re not so great either, as you illustriously share on a regular basis.
But this just ticks me off. You should get an email with proton.com. ‘Course, I suppose you get a kick out of knowing they’re still watching you, even out of the country.
Hello Fred from a river boat in the Netherlands. A convincing speech for the general public with the flavor of truth. I agree with Tom that you could write a convincing paper that china is indeed the world aggressor — you have the talent.
There is not a doubt in my mind that the primary objective of China is economic world dominance which will provide more political fruit than any type of shooting war. Their mind set is different than ours and proven by thousands of years of trial and error — the Chinese are patient people — Americans are not. It seems that we try to turn short term gains into long term success.
The bottom line in most any thing today is money. The US seems to waste gobs of it while the Chinese are catching more flies with honey and support of poor nations than does America with vinegar and war.
Times have changed — wars have become to costly and wasteful might I add. It’s not that I welcome Chinese aggression — I certainly do not. China seems to be the world aggressor indeed and getting away with it through quiet persistent patience. The flawed leadership of America today seems to promote it.
As a long time ‘Fred’ subscriber I have come to notice that for the last few years these columns regularly land in my Google SPAM box and even though I always re-classify them as ‘not-SPAM’, that instruction never seems to stick. This is not so with other urls. Could it be Fred distributes ideas we are not supposed read? I am by no means a conspiracy fan, but unusual behavior catches my eye. How long before Fred’s (and other) traffic will no longer even reach me? If and when that comes to pass, I’d like to know so I can stock up on ammo.
A wise man once said: “Stupid is as stupid does”.
The visible rise of Chinese economic power and commerce savvy scares us -we the indolent and vice ridden, and so we call them aggressors.
As if saying that word repeatedly will suffice to construct a casus belli.
Very funny. Doubt any Chinese is named “Fang Pi” as that means Fart in English. Wang Fang Pi means Wang farted.
Honorable Mr. F.V. Reed
The sobriety and Flinty-eyed rationality of your logic defies all my memories of the jaded cynic my brother and I knew in times past. Strive as I might, I detect no actionable misrepresentation in your assertions. Some decades ago it would have been fair to distinguish between the Communist /Statist authoritarianism of PRC versus the relatively open Western/American model of a representative republic, but lately that construct seems to be fading to late stage syphilitic demonic possession.
US of A has not yet openly begun harvesting the organs of its political prisoners and selling them to pre-matched paying customers, but it’s clear that our present political leaders much admire the policies and tactics of Xi Jinping and his teachers. It is not unreasonable to think the general policy of docilating our schoolchildren with powerful psychoactive drugs through the 12 years of enforced public schooling may be a fundamental preface — a “career track” — to later organ donor candidate status.
Or just another, cheaper alternative to beef.
Hi Fred…Lovely Ajijic…used to hang out at the La Dona bar at the hotel there on the lake…also birria at El Tartamudo…
Great essay to your ‘colleague’ on the Chyna subject…your point(s) came across perfect.
The geopolitics of both nations are interesting, but more relevant to most people is a comparison of daily life in both nations. In China the overcrowding is very unpleasant, but it feels civilized, like a nation should. America has pockets of civility, but it feels like its culture keeps plunging deeper and deeper into depravity.
When my wife, I and my children visited China, we could walk the streets without any fear of violence. It always felt safe and civilized. In America, my two college-age children receive daily text alerts from their University, warning them about armed robberies and assaults on campus. The campus has homeless people sleeping on the sidewalks and in doorways of buildings.
When we visited two schools in China, the children ran up to us, cheerful, respectful, and their manners were off-the-scale pleasant. In America, in my childrens’ previous K-12 schools, I would often wait to pick up my children, at the school entrance, overhearing many discussions among many children. It was so vile, I decided to home school my oldest for one year. She jumped ahead three grades. Teaching is hard and time consuming, so I enrolled both of my children afterwards in Charter schools. I found, as a father whose children just progressed through all K-12 grades that even the best schools (my children’s school were rated in the top 5) are rife with drugs, immaturity, and directionless and toxic children. The standards cater to the lowest-achieving children.
America is failing internally. It spends trillions on National Defense against non-existent threats, while complete ignoring the internal civil war, disorder, and upheaval that is destroying it.
This is good, and it makes me feel good. I am glad you are still sharpening your pencil.
I’m 82. I hope you are at least 83. There’s something good in the way we think and feel about things at age. I plan to live for thirty plus more, at least, but of course others are in on that.
Thank you very much for a healthy, hearty read.
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Just read this – an excellent and refreshing essay. Thank you.