U-Hong Kong Prof. Frank Dikötter on China: Mao’s Tyranny to Rising Superpower

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This week on The Learning Curve, Gerard and guest cohost Jay Greene discuss the history of modern China with Dr. Frank Dikötter, author of the People’s Trilogy, a landmark study of the impact of Communism on the ordinary people of China. Dr. Dikötter discusses Chairman Mao Zedong, the Chinese Communist revolution, the Great Leap Forward, China’s economic ascent under Deng Xiaoping, and the hard realities that the U.S. and the West must understand as they seek to engage with the rising economic and military power that is modern China. Prof. Dikötter closes the interview with a reading from his book, China After Mao: The Rise of a Superpower.

Stories of the Week: Jay cited a fordhaminstitute.org commentary by Chester E. Finn, Jr. in which he worries that “mounting public support for school choice is coinciding with diminishing confidence in shared institutions and public values of all kinds, including patriotism itself.” Jay suggested Finn is going back to solutions grounded in centralized control that have been shown not to work. Gerard discussed a story from Education Next which maintains that rather than banning ChatGPT from classrooms, educators can use AI technologies as a tool, and that they are far from replacing the judgment and input of human beings.
Dr. Frank Dikötter is the Chair Professor of Humanities at the University of Hong Kong and a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is the author of the People’s Trilogy, a series of books that document the impact of communism on the lives of ordinary people in China. The first volume, entitled Mao’s Great Famine: The History of China’s Most Devastating Catastrophe, won the 2011 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction, Britain’s most prestigious book award for non-fiction. The second installment, The Tragedy of Liberation: A History of the Chinese Revolution, 1945-1957, was short-listed for the Orwell Prize in 2014. The Cultural Revolution: A People’s History, 1962-1976 concludes the trilogy and was short-listed for the PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize in 2017. His November 2022 book is entitled China After Mao: The Rise of a Superpower. Before coming to Hong Kong he was Professor of the Modern History of China at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He was educated in Switzerland and graduated from the University of Geneva with a double major in history and Russian. After two years in the People’s Republic of China, he moved to London, where he obtained his PhD in History from the School of Oriental and African Studies in 1990. He holds an honorary doctorate from Leiden University and lives in Hong Kong.

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[00:00:00] Listeners, welcome back to another episode of the Learning Curve. I’m Dard Robinson coming to you. Beautiful, Charlottesville, Virginia. I’m joined by a co-host who has become a regular co-host for us here at the Learning Curve someone I’ve known for years. Jay Greene,

[00:00:39] how are you Jay? Great. Thanks for having me on with you.

[00:00:42] What part of the world are you in today?

[00:00:46] I am in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where I normally live, so the good stuff. The Heartland of America,

[00:00:52] the heartland of America, and a state that’s. In the news a lot because of the education reform efforts going on there. [00:01:00] So, it’s Good to see that the new governor moving things along.

[00:01:03] That’s

[00:01:03] true. That’s true. Look, you know, and lots of exciting things out your way in Virginia too. Yeah. Well,

[00:01:09] as you know, we’re going to the second year of governing Young’s administration. Uh, Amy u who is not only reformer, but one of the top people in the country when you think about standards and achievement and metrics.

[00:01:21] So I’m glad to have her as secretary. They’re having, the debates that many people have high. What do good standards look like and more importantly, how do we talk about transparency and the importance of making sure that parents taxpayers and others have a true idea how well things are going here in Virginia.

[00:01:39] we know that when there’s a change in administration is often a change in ideas. And so, Glad to see this moving and you know, you and I have been involved in reform for, I guess over 30 years now. And we see the waves, they’re waves. We want more accountability than a less accountability and we want more reform or less.

[00:01:57] But I think the new core of governors. [00:02:00] Who have been elected in the last three years are pretty clear that making education part of a larger conversation about a state’s economy, about the ability for states or cities to be smart cities. And also that, you know, we’re here to do business. And that the link between education and workforce development is not as weak or dotted line as we think it is.

[00:02:23] So we are living in very interest interesting times. I.

[00:02:27] that’s true. Very appropriate for our show today. and it’s also interesting that, we try a lot of things in the ed reform movement. You and I, as you say, have been around for a long time in it, which is another way of saying we’re getting old.

[00:02:38] Um, but, we’ve been around for a long time and we’ve tried a lot of things and some have worked and some have not. And it’s okay to try things that don’t. The trick is to learn from these experiences, and that’s part of why I’m so excited to talk with Dr. Frank Dikötter today. Is that historians really serve this very important role of helping us remember and [00:03:00] learn from experiences maybe that we haven’t directly had, but that humans have had, so that we don’t forget these lessons and keep repeating the same.

[00:03:09] Absolutely. What’s your story of the week?

[00:03:13] So, my story of the week is taken from the Fordham Foundation. It’s a piece by Checker Finn in which he expresses anxiety about whether the wave of expansion of school choice along with contentious argumentation about public policy, whether those are signs of a splintering of America.

[00:03:34] In a way that he finds very worrisome and that he thinks differs dramatically from the past. And I have to say that, while I appreciate where Checker is coming from, and of course, you know, overly contentious public debate is, can be worrisome and splintering of America can also be worrisome.

[00:03:53] I don’t see these as new concerns. I see as solutions which. Essentially the maintenance [00:04:00] of centralized systems of regulation. I don’t see that as a solution to keeping the fabric of America together. So, this is actually a lesson I think from the history of dead ed reform movement that, that we should be learning.

[00:04:15] We’ve. , Systems of centralized regulation to both maintain unity, but also to maintain quality. And those systems have tended not to work very well for us. And there’s a longstanding American tradition of highly decentralized approaches to public policy and to education in particular.

[00:04:34] And that in some ways that that has actually been the fabric of American unity is the agreement to leave each other. And to pursue our, solutions separately has actually been, one of the best lessons. And so that’s my story of the week is, this piece by Checker Finn at Fordham.

[00:04:51] , and again, it has to do with are we going to learn lessons from past efforts or are we gonna keep repeating same mistakes? And I think centralized [00:05:00] solutions like Common Core. The heavily regulated charter sector, which has been grinding to a halt in terms of expanding charter schools. I don’t think those have worked out very well, and there’s, there’s no shame in having tried those approaches.

[00:05:15] But there is shame if we try fail and don’t learn. and so I, I think it’s time that we learn and try to move forward and make new mistakes as opposed to repeating.

[00:05:26] Got it. Is Checker saying that the free market system itself the, and the use of competition has, reached its goal and therefore we should shift?

[00:05:36] Or is he saying the opposite?

[00:05:37] I, don’t think he sees this as, merely free market. I think he’s just alarmed by the contentiousness of public debate. Mm-hmm. And I’m, I’m sympathetic with him and, also, let me be clear. Checker Finn has done enormous good for education in this country and deserves a lot of respect and deference.

[00:05:59] And so [00:06:00] when he says things, you know, it’s worth listening to him. I just think he’s mistaken on this and I think that he’s, taking his alarm. And he, going to a solution that has not worked well in the past for him or for others but he keeps going back to it. Even though it hasn’t worked and his solution is, some sort of centralized control and I think part of it is that he imagines that him or good people like him will be the ones in charge.

[00:06:26] But when you’re a minority religion, it’s a bad idea to build a national church. and checker’s views are a minority. Set of views. And the people who would be in control won’t be him or people who share his worldview and , they’ll be people who do bad things with that centralized control.

[00:06:44] And I, I think we’re gonna hear a little bit about that later in our interview with Dr. Dikötter.

[00:06:48] No, absolutely. You know, as I’m hearing you talk, I think about the scientific. Movement latter part of the 18 hundreds moving to the early 19 hundreds. The whole [00:07:00] idea that if we centralize power and as you said, bring in smart people it’ll work.

[00:07:04] In fact, this was an early start of the rise of the modern superintendency in the US and the belief that if we do this, it could work well. Then you fast forward to the eighties, there was a similar push for that. I think where I’ve. Come to rethink the role of centralization is how we talk about families and how and why they pick schools.

[00:07:25] Now. Pre pandemic, we have school parole choice in place post pandemic. You now have. Pods or micro schools. And I recently had an opportunity to have dinner with several micro school founders here in Virginia. And I walked away from the conversation and was talking to my wife about it.

[00:07:45] I said, This was a detoxing moment for me, in part because here were people who didn’t ask permission. They didn’t come to the State Department of Ed to say, this is what we’re going to do. Can you help us? They didn’t come to [00:08:00] us throwing rocks, and they didn’t come to us saying, we’re going to do this.

[00:08:04] In spite of you. They saw a need and they moved forward. Now, naturally there’s gonna be regulatory. Inquiry into something like this cuz you are working with students who are underage or not emancipated yet. So they are responsibility of families or a parent or a guardian. And yet the state still has a role to play.

[00:08:23] But in the role that I’ve worked in, I’ve said, wow. They’re basically saying you can follow us. And see what we’re doing right, and use this as a model to support the larger public school system as well as private. You can also come alongside us and see what we’re doing right or wrong, and learn lessons, but they’re ultimately saying is, we’re walking without holding your hand on face value.

[00:08:47] That’s not a bad thing. Because I believe we can learn something from them. But for someone like me who’s been much more, I’d say centralized, moving to a decentralized way of thinking this was a detox moment. So [00:09:00] I am, I’m going to listen, learn, and look. And continue to see what’s going on in the Microspace.

[00:09:06] But even within the traditional public school model, there are also people who are asking very different questions. And you’re right. 30 years from now when someone else is in this seat having conversations with people. What kind of democracy will we have? Because that conversation shapes how states and local entities work with schools.

[00:09:26] And more importantly, I think this is a different question and kind of leads to my part about chap. G p t is what role artificial intelligence play 30 years from now in defining what it means to be human. So this is a conversation that will continue to move forward.

[00:09:44] , what’s your story of the week, Gerard? Well, my

[00:09:46] story is about chat, g p t, and it’s from someone who we know. Dr. Paul Peterson has a podcast. And there’s an article that one of our [00:10:00] colleagues recently wrote in education Next

[00:10:03] Mike Horn.

[00:10:04] And Mike said, listen, I’m a big technology innovation guy. He said, I’ve been doing this kind of work really long time. But he noted in his article as well as in his conversation with Dr. Peterson, he said that some school systems, you know, Los Angeles and New York being two examples are saying that they want to basically ban.

[00:10:23] Chap, G P T. And the reason they want to do so is because they want students to write their own papers, use their own mind to think. And so what Mike is saying is I see the concern but used in his term. I think it’s ludicrous. And there are a couple of reasons why. Number one, he says, when you look Chap GTP itself he and a colleague who is at the Kennedy School decided to provide the technology, a few prompts, and the technology began to write papers, elementary, middle, all the way through high. Well, as you moved up through the [00:11:00] academic level in terms of grade level, he said it went from passing to passing to.

[00:11:06] Despite possibly passing and why? He said, because while the technology is really good with certain things, it still needs input to help people ultimately understand how to shift, how to pivot and how to move. So he says, I don’t think AI is gonna take over your kids’ classroom at this point.

[00:11:24] Number two, he said, if we look at this as being a compliment not to supplant, What students write, how they think he thinks. It’s a great idea. I began to think about when I was younger and we introduced calculators, handheld calculators, and all students, not all students, but most students had a calculator and the question was, oh my gosh, students are gonna forget how to add.

[00:11:46] Or subtract or divide and multiply. And there was a similar debate. Then as time moved forward, no one really thought more about the calculator. In fact, some schools allow you to use your handheld device calculator or your [00:12:00] calculator on your phone during tests. And no one said students don’t know how to learn how to do mathematics.

[00:12:05] If they do, it may be for a ton of other reasons. Separate from the calculator. Article and the conversation with Paul Peterson also comes at a time where there researchers in the country who are asking Congress to really think about the role AI is playing. In our, basically not our national security, but also our social security.

[00:12:27] So it’s something I’m looking at. I’ll be the first to say that I had yet to use the technology this article and the conversation made me, you know, realizing, you know what, I should probably uh, participate myself, maybe even have my middle daughter do the same just so I can see it in. But I do see somewhat of an alarmist concern.

[00:12:47] Understandably, something new, people will respond with alarm and even Dr. Peterson mentioned that summer Sam’s gonna come and take our jobs and replace us. I don’t think we’re close to that, but something worth looking at. [00:13:00]

[00:13:00] I share your, general optimism about how.

[00:13:04] Technology can ultimately be used for good. Even if it can be disruptive and cause some anxiety. I think that’s generally a good orientation. Maybe in some ways this is like a John Henry story, right? Where, the sea engine might, displace people with shovels. And that’s anxiety producing people.

[00:13:23] And those changes are difficult, but ultimately Steam engine was a good development. and I suspect this same might be true for AI here. So, I, I, I think that’s a great story and I, I share your, general optimistic

[00:13:35] orientation. Thank you. Well, coming up next we have a professor who’s going.

[00:13:41] Talk to us about China. He’s got three books and he’s gonna walk us through that. We’ll be right back with him in a few moments.[00:14:00]

[00:14:20] We’re happy to have on the learning curve. Dr. Frank Utter, who is the chair, professor of Humanities at the University of Hong Kong and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is the author of The People’s Trilogy, a series of books that document the impact of communism on the lives of ordinary people in China.

[00:14:38] The first volume entitled Mao’s Great Famine. The history of China’s most devastating catastrophe won the 2011 Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction, Britain’s most prestigious award for non-fiction. The second installment, the Tragedy of Liberation. The history of the Chinese Revolution in 19 45, 9 1957 was shortlisted for the [00:15:00] Orwell Prize in 2014.

[00:15:02] The cultural revolution of people’s history. 1962 to 7 76 concludes the trilogy and was shortlisted for the Penn Hessel Tiltman Prize in 2017. His November, 2022 book is entitled, China After Mao, the Rise of a Superpower. Before coming to Hong Kong, he was professor of the modern history of China at the School of Oriental and African Studies University of London.

[00:15:28] He was educated in Switzerland and graduated from the University of Geneva with a double major in history in Russian. After two years in the People’s Republic of China, he moved to London where he obtained his PhD in history from the School of Oriental and African Studies in 19. He holds an honorary doctorate from Le University and lives in Hong Kong.

[00:15:48] Welcome to the Learning Curve, Dr.

[00:15:50] De. Thank you for having me. So

[00:15:53] let’s dive to earlier work. And revolutions have [00:16:00] myths and legends that surround them. And as with Lennon’s 1917 Soviet Revolution, there were myths and legends around the founding of The People’s Republic in 1949.

[00:16:11] Your book, the Tragedy of Liberation, the History of the Chinese Revolution, demolishes, that Fantastical Allure. Could you briefly talk about the early years of the Chinese Communist Revolution and its original impact on the lives of the Chinese people?

[00:16:25] Yes, of course. It’s enormously complicated though to summarize what happened to a court of humanity over several years in, in a couple of minutes.

[00:16:35] You got to remember, China was an extraordinarily complex, diverse society. A civilization that had been around for millennia and. Had to be pressed into a mold after 1949, and that mold is best summarized in two words. Marxism, Leninism,[00:17:00] You mentioned Lenin 1917. Very much like Lenin.

[00:17:03] Mal came to power by making all sort. Promises land for the farmers, freedom for intellectuals, protection of private property, for entrepreneurs, you name it. All these promises were broken very gradually because what he had in mind is what had happened in the Soviet Union after 1917. So what is Landon, and let me start with that before I move on to Marxism.

[00:17:27] Leninism means that in effect, there must be a monopoly overpower. Which is the very opposite of the system that you and I are used to. Namely separation of powers when you have checks and balances and freedom of present opposition parties. And most of all, of course, an independent judicial system.

[00:17:47] All of this is eliminated within a few years. Organization outside of the organization of the Communist Party of China is either eliminated or [00:18:00] incorporated into the state. Whether you’re talking about religious organizations, churches, charitable associations, students organiz.

[00:18:10] Powerful chambers of commerce. anything and everything that stands between the state and the, and the in individuals eliminated civil society is crushed the freedom of expression eliminated. That’s the Leninist principle. That there must be nothing between the state and the individual. But what is the Marxism part of it, as if this was not traumatic enough to see the world around them being grounded to the dust.

[00:18:37] People also have to surrender. Pretty much what they have. They have to surrender it to the state. Marxism really is the principle of. Ownership of the means of production. The means of production is everything that goes into the production process. That would be the land. Would be raw materials.

[00:18:57] Would be energy. In other words, from [00:19:00] 1949 to roughly 1956, the state takes the land from the farmers, takes the banks from the bankers, the shops, from the shopkeeper. Takes energy from energy plants, makes sure that all of it becomes public property and thereby reduces the bankers, the shop owners the farmers to mere state employees.

[00:19:23] So the 1956 commercial trade have become functions of. The state, whether it is a, a small little corner shop in Shanghai or a big industry this all belongs to the state now and in the countryside. Very much farmers have lost Control over their harvest, over their tools, over their livelihoods.

[00:19:43] There are bonded servants who must produce for the state and deliver to the state at state mandated prices. So extraordinary changes from 49 to roughly 55, 56.

[00:19:57] This unification of [00:20:00] control though, was very seductive to people in the west and in developing countries more broadly and was often used. As a selling point for the spread of, This type of system that it would lead to more rapid economic growth. Because without all of the distractions and infighting one could take a great leap forward as Mao attempted to do. But those great leaps forward come at a high price as you document in Miles.

[00:20:28] Great famine between 1958 and 19 62, 40 5 million Chinese people were worse starved or beaten to death. Why do you think this type of model is so attractive and continues to be repeated and yet comes at such a high.

[00:20:45] Well, there are historians who describe it as a utopia, but I don’t really see what is so desirable in surrendering private property.

[00:20:53] You go around the world and ask any farmer anywhere whether they would really like to surrender the land to the [00:21:00] state, I think the answer will be no people. Want stability. People want control over their own means of production, not surrender these means of production to the state and have the state make all the decisions about their own livelihoods.

[00:21:14] So that’s pretty much what happens from 49 onward. In fact, by 19 76, 1 male dies some. Three decades into the People Republic of China living standards are lower overall than the world 1949. Not just because the economy doesn’t work very well, but also because the state takes a much larger proportion of gdp.

[00:21:38] In other words, the greatest share of the growth goals to, as the state, not to as the individual.

[00:21:43] so in your final volume of the trilogy, the cultural revolution of People’s History, 1962 to 1976, it explores what were perhaps the most infamous Machiavellian years of Mao dictatorship his cultural revolution, which unleashed waves of terrifying [00:22:00] purges.

[00:22:00] Wherein young students form the red guards, including endless murderous infighting in the name of Communist ideological purity. Could you talk about the big picture lessons we need to know about Mao’s cultural revolution?

[00:22:14] Yes. We have to go a little bit back to what you referred to earlier on as the great leap forwards that starts in 1958.

[00:22:21] The vision mal has is reasonably straightforward. He believes that if you transform every man, every woman in the countryside into a foot soldier in a giant army, that can be deployed day and night to transform the economy, then you can. Great leap forward and become a communist utopia. But of course, by turning every man and every woman in the countryside into a mere bonded servant at the backend call of the state what is unleashed is a famine of phenomenal proportions with, as you mentioned, at least 45 million people [00:23:00] starved, beaten, neglected to death.

[00:23:02] Now, at that point, when the famine over 1962, Chairman Mao is worried about his political survival. He wonders whether somebody will stab him in the back, his stars at its lowest he looks around and sees the fate. That’s Stalin. Matt Stalin died in 1953. Three years later, 1956 successor, Nikita Hu starts desalinization.

[00:23:28] Stalin’s body is dragged out of the mus lium in red square. Stalin’s name is basically filth. So mal fears that he will undergo the same fate possibly even while he’s still alive. So he starts plotting what is basically a. Purge of the party. That is a cultural revolution that starts in 1966, but he’s got this in mind.

[00:23:54] Stalin never. Managed to spot NI as a [00:24:00] potential adversary as the man who would start desalinization. So how can Mao be sure that he will be able to find his nemesis, his potential enemy? So what he does instead is he allows ordinary people, students in particular, to go around and ferret out. Discover, denounce.

[00:24:22] Take the task. Struggle. Anyone at any level of the party hierarchy who might have harbored reservations. About him and of course the great leap forward. So this becomes a sort of witch hunt that starts in 1966 and it goes on for several years. It comes to an end roundabout in 1968 when the great many people have been denounced frequently for no good reason at all.

[00:24:50] So in other words, 66, 68 mal uses the people to purchase the party. And 68 he brings in the Army to. People in turn, [00:25:00] all those who have spoken out, all those who took Chairman Maers Wood, including the red guards, are now sent to the Country Sergeant Purge, and then by 71 of course, mal is wary of the Army and Purs the Army.

[00:25:12] So at this point in time, by 1971, just about. Everyone has undergone a dreadful cycle of denunciations where one’s only wish becomes survival. And the only one you can show your loyalty to the chairman is to denounce someone around you frequently. A friend relative. Or colleague at work. So this comes to an end in 1971, chairman dies a few years later, 76.

[00:25:39] So by 76 this country has gone through several decades of endless campaigns and witch hunts and efforts to somehow denounce anyone who might be in a position to undermine the prestige of the man in charge. what’s the attraction

[00:25:59] [00:26:00] to young people to participate in the cultural revolution?

[00:26:04] And is it simply settling grudges with others? Is it the sense of power that one gets from being able to control the pain of other people? and then, what’s the thing that lures the army in to then purge those who den. Others as part of the cultural revolution.

[00:26:21] In other words, what are the tools that Mao’s using here to keep drawing people into his efforts, to eliminate potential adversaries?

[00:26:30] Well, there might have been some idealism on the part of Young Red Guards who are students, but you got to remember the students in the beginning who participate and become red guards are the sons and daughters of Communist Party members.

[00:26:45] So they are already ideologically converted. So what you have to bear in mind, I think is. That very quickly. What happens here is that everyone’s faith simply hinges on showing one’s loyalty in one way or another, [00:27:00] however absurd it may be, and it becomes just a matter of sheer survival. If you don’t denounce someone, then somebody else will denounce you.

[00:27:09] If you don’t stand up and waive the little red book you will be denounced If you’re unable to recite the little. Book or come up with Caucasians from the chairman then you may be denounced as a counter-revolutionary or a reactionary element. So, fear, I think is very much here at the heart of the cultural revolution.

[00:27:29] Not so much idealism. which would have been very much confined to a small number of people, very much. In the beginning of that, you got to remember one thing in the dictatorship, whether it is under Lennon or under Hitler, for that matter, Luol or Kimel song or now dictators themselves are great actors, but ordinary people are great actors too.

[00:27:52] They know how to stand up and shout the slogans. They know how to jump up and denounce someone who might very well [00:28:00] be a close friend. They know how to act when they have to act, and then they return to their daily lives if they can.

[00:28:07] So if we turn to your most reasonable China after mile, the rise of a superpower, it captures the contradictions of China’s economic manufacturing and military ascent under ding zinging. Talk to us about how in the 1990s Dean used special economic zones. What this did is granted more free market oriented economic policies.

[00:28:31] It also attracted massive foreign investment, and it produced huge trade surpluses with the west while essentially bypassing democratic reforms in this regime. Just tell us more about,

[00:28:42] Yes. No, this is even more complicated than the early years, simply because we’re talking now about several decades.

[00:28:50] So the economic reforms, so-called reform, and opening up starts almost immediately after the death of the chairman. 1976 starts in [00:29:00] 79, to be very precise. Of course, it’s still unfolding to this very day, so there’s several decades. But there’s one thing you have to bear in. Namely that the party didn’t go through all the trouble of taking back from ordinary people.

[00:29:17] The means of production didn’t take the banks from the bankers and the shop, from the shopkeepers and the land from the farmers to somehow hand it back. So to this very day, Isn’t the single person in the People’s Republic of China who can claim that he or she owns a plot of land so belongs to the state.

[00:29:34] The same can be said for energy for most of the big enterprises, for in fact pretty much all the banks, which are state banks. So at no point is there any meaningful reform of the state, ownership of the means of production. That’s something you have to bear in mind. So, Does happen is of course that small private enterprises are [00:30:00] tolerated and even encouraged from time to time.

[00:30:04] But even that remains pretty much a fringe phenomenon. I think what really explains some of the growth is. Maybe some of these special development zones that are opened up by Din Surp in 92 and that attract massive foreign investments as foreigners start building factories in China from 92 onwards.

[00:30:28] But the key really. W t o. When China joins the W T O in 2001, you got to bear one thing in mind. I know this may sound rather astonishing, but by the year two thousands, if you look at China’s g d P per person, not overall but. Per person than it actually ranks slightly lower compared to other countries than it did in 1976 when the chairman dies In other words, [00:31:00] well there may be a growth from 76 to the turn of the millennium, compared to other countries, and it’s. All that’s significant. The real true boom comes once China is allowed to join the W G O in 2001. That is the moment where China can export massive amounts to other countries.

[00:31:22] And that of course is also the moment when the trade deficit balloons. And the reason is, again, quite simple. The state owns most of the means of production. In other words, it can come up with endless subsidies. For enterprises, whether or not these are prizes or public, it can give the land for free.

[00:31:46] Since it owns the land, it can. Energy. Since it possesses energy, it can come up with very cheap bank loans. Since the banks belong to the state, it can somehow come up [00:32:00] with a. Ways of making sure that in virtually every domain, what is made in China is very hard to beat elsewhere.

[00:32:11] Frequently, in fact, is exported below costs of production. So from 2000 and. One onwards within about five, six years, the trade deficit with countries like the United States, but also Mexico increases tenfold. That is the moment really where you see China take off, so to speak. going.

[00:32:33] Partially to what you just said, but also going back to ma the Cold War.

[00:32:37] So the West is long thought that they taught or the idea of using diplomacy or the economic strings can engage China in ways to change it. Would you discuss why after winning the Cold War against the Soviet Union, the US and the West have repeatedly misread or misunderstood? China’s communist regime.

[00:32:59] And what are the hard [00:33:00] realities we need to know about China and the rising economic and

[00:33:03] military superpower that it is. It’s very difficult to explain. If you read the Constitution, if you look at what DHAP says, if you listen carefully to every single leader from DHAP to Zy Young to CH Zin, all the way to Ing, ping all of them, including Jozy Young, who are supposed to be the biggest reformer, all of them make it crystal clear that there will never.

[00:33:28] Be any separation of powers in the people’s Republic of China, there will never be what they refer to as western style democracy. With opposition parties, they’ve made that clear time. And again, yet for some strange reason none of these Western leaders were actually willing to listen. And I think if you think about it, it boils down to something reasonably straightforward, namely the belief particularly.

[00:33:56] Common in the United States of America, but [00:34:00] also in Europe. The belief that Chinese communism somehow isn’t real Communism, and the Americans make this mistake on a number of occasions. They make it before 1949 on the State Department. Describes. Malta Tong and his guerrilla fighters as agrarian reformers rather than the communist that they are.

[00:34:21] If you read Mal in the 1940s, you will see that most of the footnotes refer to Stalin, Lenon and Karl Mark. So that should be pretty clear, but nobody reads into. Certainly not in the State Department. mistake is made again, 71 72 Kissinger Nixon. Go over Remar with China. There’s somebody like Kissinger describes China as, not really commons, but a sort of, Confucian millennial civilization.

[00:34:47] Well, he is got that entirely wrong. And then again, people like Bill Clinton and others who after the Tianamen Massacre 89 still believe that somehow if you just nudged him forward, [00:35:00] economically political reform will follow a automatically, because at heart they aren’t real communists. But they are.

[00:35:07] This

[00:35:08] has been a really great conversation. What I want to do right now is turn it over to you to read a passage

[00:35:14] from a book of your choice. I will read a little bit from the central chapter in the book, China Aston Mel, which looks at June, 1989, the 4th of June when some hundred thousand soldiers. And 200 tanks move towards Tianamen Square.

[00:35:40] It’s about three paragraphs. It’ll take a couple of minutes. The first shots were fired at approximately 11 o’clock in the evening at or two of the printers. A major roundabout were the third ring rolled into sacs with the extension of Chk Avenue to the west of Muji. A long procession [00:36:00] of. Tanks, armored vehicles and soldiers carrying assault rifles approached from the South where one of the military encampments was located.

[00:36:08] This was the 38th Army, a fierce unit, which had forged its reputation during the Korean War. Local residents who had manned the intersections for weeks held bricks and pieces of concrete at the troops behind their riot shields. After failing to break through the barricades, several hundred soldiers armed with AK 47 rifles, advanced opening fire on the civilians, reds and green tracer bullets streaked across the sky.

[00:36:39] Tanks fired gas canisters at the crowd. It was a hot and humid. With most people dressed in t-shirts and shorts, many now splashed in red. The next intersection was Musi D, where people also took shelter behind the barricade, trying to hold back the army. Some had improvised [00:37:00] weapons including meat, cleavers, bamboo poles, metal chains, even steel rods taken from building sites, soldiers.

[00:37:07] Continued firing the automatic rifles at the crowd, but also shot randomly at residential buildings on both sides of the road. In Le Ray’s block of flats, a dumb dumb bullet killed the son-in-law of the senior prosecutor who was boiling water in the kitchen. A neighbor’s maid was found shot dead the following morning.

[00:37:27] A few days later, Lee Ray counted roughly 100 bullet holes on the outside covers building the same tragedy repeated. All the way down to Chinaman Square, with thousands of enraged people gathering at intersections to fight the invading army, the armored vehicles easily crushed through the next roadblock of railings and abandoned bicycles at the Sudan intersection where yellow and red public.

[00:37:53] Buses had been lined up and set the blaze. They pushed aside the burning vehicles opening the way to the [00:38:00] square. Tanks now moved two or three abreast, followed by armored vehicles and military trucks loaded with soldiers, fell scores of people. At every intersection. Some soldiers chase onlookers down the alleyways, beating them with trench, ands, whips, and guns.

[00:38:19] Four people were shot dead deep inside a residential alley near Sidan, including a three-year-old child and an old man.

[00:38:29] Well, thank you Professor again for joining us. This was a very good conversation one that is on the minds of a lot of people, but it’s also good to have the history. So thank you for your.[00:39:00]

[00:39:08] My tweet for the week is a tweet about a report of, very rapid decline in birth rates in Japan. The lowest number of new babies born in 2022, since records were kept in the 19th century in Japan. And this decline in birth rates is actually occurring. Throughout the world uh, it’s across culture across religion in developed and developing countries even.

[00:39:36] We’re seeing a decline in, in birth rates, and there are many implications of, this trend. But there are some specific implications that we should be thinking about with respect to education. One is that the decline in birth rates in the US is making its way through the school system and is going to result in.

[00:39:54] A fairly large reduction in the number of schools and number of people [00:40:00] working in education in the next decade. And I don’t think there’s been a lot of discussion about the implications of that for school finance. For teacher preparation programs and, whether, they really need to be supplying as many teachers as, they have in the past.

[00:40:16] And so there are a lot of practical implications for the structure and financing of our school system. But then there are also some interesting kind of cultural issues. Why are we seeing this decline in birth rates and what, if anything could be done about it, or at least to address some of the negative side effects of, this decline?

[00:40:37] So, so I think it’s just a really important and big issue that’s looming out there that’s not receiving a lot of discussion. And I don’t know the solutions and I don’t know all the implications, but. I have a pretty good sense that this is gonna be a big issue that we’re gonna have to work through here in the next decade that I think we’re not paying [00:41:00] sufficient attention to

[00:41:00] right now.

[00:41:01] Well, our guest next week is going to be Dr. Carrie Wright. She is the former state chief in Mississippi. We had an opportunity several years ago to sit on a panel. I believe in California for Education Commission of the States. She was still in the seat at that time. In fact, she’s one of the longest surveying state chiefs in the country.

[00:41:25] She did a lot of great work in a state where people find a number of challenges and look forward to speaking with her next week. Jay, thank you so much for joining me this week. I look forward to us tag teaming again on a future

[00:41:38] show.

[00:41:39] Well, thanks for having me on again. It’s really a great conversation with you.

[00:41:43] Take care.[00:42:00]


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