All Eyes and EarsDVD - 2017
From the critics
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Many nicely put commentaries, only a sample herein:
The Carpenters were America’s top-selling pop music act in the 70s. After Nixon and Mao’s talks, the Carpenters became the only Western music allowed in China, because they were nonthreatening.
Andy Xie: In a way, the world has become the two biggest economies. China became a specialist in production, and the US became a specialist in consumption. It’s sort of like two wheels for the global economy. It was never meant to be sustainable. When the unemployed Western workers couldn’t even afford cheap Chinese products, that story gets into trouble. Now we’re getting into trouble.
China is probably the greatest example in recent history that has pulled more people out of poverty as it has transitioned into a global environment, a more open environment.
Evan Osnos: One of the things that was really surprising and ultimately outraging to the Chinese public was the discovery of how rich everyone was getting at the highest ranks of the Communist Party. In the case of Bo Xilai, people discovered that at the same time that he was officially making $19,000 a year, his family had acquired assets worth over 100 million dollars. In case after case, there were public servants who were making 5,000 or 10,000 dollars a year, who suddenly turned out to have properties overseas. They’d have houses in Los Angeles, or they’d have bank accounts in Switzerland.
Every president has repeated basically these words: the prosperity and stability of China are in the interest of the United States. US-China policy has been relatively consistent over a number of presidents, and yet each president puts his own stamps on that policy.
If you want to report on trends, having a set of eyes and ears there would be a very good thing.
The core issues of China: sovereignty, territorial integrity. There’s nothing more core or more sacrosanct. It is the center piece of their foreign policy.
Andy Xie: For China, the key is political change, because the government is a fundraising operation. It’s sucking money from everywhere to fund investment. So what China needs to do at some point is to give the money to the people. All you need to do is to limit investment, the money naturally flows to the household sector. But that is not consistent with the political system. Every city has a party boss. Every party boss must invest. Because why? Because he needs to create GDP. Otherwise he could not get promoted. So the urbanization is everywhere. A lot of that is waste.
The song tells the story of a country boy falling in love with a shepherdess in a faraway place. The boy loves this shepherdess so much that he would give up all of his wealth to be one of her sheep. He sings, “I would like to be a little sheep to follow her.
The problem with using corporate and commercial interests to change things for the better in China is that of course Western businessmen on the whole like authoritarian capitalism. So you have the paradox now that you have one of the last Communist governments, at least Communist in name, and the great defenders in the West often are businessmen. To expect those same businessmen to change the way that things are done in China is probably a naive assumption.
Charles Freeman: When the Chinese hear us on Tibet, they remember this element on American policy that very few in the United States are aware of. In 1950, the United States and China went to war in Korea. The Chinese recovered Tibet, which for a long time with British connivance had operated autonomously. In order to distract China strategically, the United States attempted to destabilize China. We began covert action programs to funnel arms and to spread propaganda that would undo the agreement between the Dalai Lama and the Chinese about how Tibet was to be governed. We succeeded. The CIA escorted the Dalai Lama out of Tibet into Dharmsala in India, where he has headed a government in exile. The covert action program ended at the time of the Nixon opening to China.
Huntsman: We have lost credibility in the international community because of our wars. We’ve lost credibility by a sense of unilateralism without any care and concern sometimes, or such is the perception that we don’t take into proper account the concerns of others with whom we’re doing business internationally. I think the world would like to cheer on a strong America that is moving in a direction that lifts everybody, that is working toward a stronger economy, that is working on competitiveness, that is working on raising standards of people everywhere.
We do not have a real conflict between the US and China other than our politicians, our politics, and our ideology. We both have a military industrial complex that needs an enemy. Now you can’t get big weapons systems at the Pentagon unless you can project who your big enemy is in the future, and that same thing is going on in Beijing.
Andrew Nathan: The US military presence is robust and the Chinese ask why? After the Cold War with no Soviet Union threatening you, whom is this directed against? Our answer is that it’s for peace and stability and reassurance. Does that quite make sense? It seems to be a hedging, and I think it is in fact a hedging strategy against the, what we see on our side, as the unpredictability of Chinese strategy in the long run.
Ian Buruma: The Chinese resent the fact that the US throws its weight around in a military manner in their backyard, that in effect the US is acting as a policeman in East Asia.
The whole narrative about our engagement with China helping China is pretty much over. There was an implicit idea that the more we engage with China, the more it will change politically.
China is a layperson’s society. Chinese people only want to mind their own business. Chinese people have no ambition to expand and take from others, but the Japanese do. Today’s Japan makes unreasonable demands for the resources of China’s Eastern sea and ownership of the Diaoyu Islands. Maybe in 30 or 50 years Japan will have similarly unreasonable demands for America’s Hawaii or Guam islands.
Because the people thought they were humiliated for a century and now it’s their time to show. So if it’s our time to show, what do we have to show for it? So they said, “Oh we’ll take a few islands. We’ll take the islands back from Japan.”
Ian Buruma: The best analysis of this was given by Václav Havel, who coined the phrase “to live in truth.” And that if everybody goes along with the government propaganda, everybody ends up living a lie, and many people are intelligent enough to know it.
I think patriotism is necessary. Whether in America or in any country of the world, all people should love their own homeland. This is not in question. First, loving one’s own country is by no means the same as loving the existing state machinery. There has been no society in history that could persist by relying on suppression of the people’s will and oppression of the people.
Sir Harold Evans: We believe in free competition, but do we believe in free spying. How much spying are we doing? How much spying did you encourage?
Kissinger: But you have to assume that both sides have a substantial spying capability.
I think at the highest levels of the party, they view corruption today as a metastasizing disease that they must excise. They must get rid of it.
We’re seeing a growing demand in China by a more sophisticated public. They all want real security through a legal system. The leaders at the very top have to come to grips with this problem the way they came to grips with the need to change China’s economy.
The kind of language that has become important, language about justice and about rule of law, is no longer quite as captive to the kind of eccentric personalities of the dissident movement that it was in the past.
The developing story, what could be the worst diplomatic crisis between the US and China in more than 30 years. A blind human rights activist under house arrest somehow managed to evade security and break free.
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