Five Republicans Discuss “Chinese Nature”

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[You can read the original Chinese here]


Chinese’s Double heart

There is a country in the Far East whose citizens have a mouth as sharp as a dagger, but a heart as fragile as glass. Whether it is the officials or the common people, everybody thinks they are very strong; however, as soon as they hear any anti-communist speech, or someone calls them “locusts”, they will start crying like the little, ignorant, spoiled brats they truly are –they tears reaching as far as the South China Sea. For instance, if you remind them of the Cultural Revolution, the Great Famine, or the Tiananmen Square Massacre, although those were all crimes the Chinese Communist Party openly committed against its own people, Chinese will be stuck in some sort of nationalistic Stockholm syndrome –the victims, believing they have the same national values as the aggressor, will develop strong nationalistic ties to him, uniting in some sort of common response. And as long as there is a common response, even the ignorant will seem wise.

Chinese people like to say that this or that is so “since antiquity”, just as much as they like to say “Forget about the past” when you remind them of the wonderful deeds committed by the criminal Chinese Communist Party in the past years. In fact, most Chinese do not even know that all those anti-communist and anti-China discourses, just like the nickname “locust”, also exists “since antiquity” –so to speak.

Yan Fu and Liang Qichao talk about the “Sick Man of Asia”

Many Chinese think the sentence “Sick Man of Asia” was an insult invented by Japanese invaders. Even today, when those “bleachedly” brainwashed Chinese hear those four words, they will remember that illusion they call “One hundred years of shame” (an invention of the Chinese Communist Party to promote nationalism after the Tiananmen Massacre, recalling the events of the Opium and the Sino-Japanese War). They will wonder why everybody calls them names, and then they will immediately answer themselves: “If China did not developed in the past, it was because of the foreign plunder and invasions”.

But “Sick Man of Asia” was in fact first employed by Liang Qichao, a Chinese reformist who criticized the attitude of his fellow citizens one hundred years ago. In 1895, the famous translator Yan Fu published a paper under the title “On the Origin of Strength” in the Zhibao, a Chinese newspaper founded in the foreign concession of Tianjin by the German Constantin von Hannecken (1854-1925). There he stated that “isn’t the China of today one of sick men […] China is deeply sick”. The next year, an English newspaper employed the same expression to criticize China, and this was immediately translated by Liang Qichao into classical Chinese:

China, the Sick Man of Asia. Their moral apathy is everlasting. Although it has deep roots, it is after the Sino-Japanese War that every country in the world started to acknowledge this situation.

Even Lu Xun, the father of Chinese literature, and Chen Duxiu, founder of the Chinese Communist Party, usually called China a “Sick country” or “Sick man”.

Why would Yan Fu and Liang Qichao, who truly loved the country and cherished its people, use such a term to designate China and the Chinese people? The reason behind this is as ancient as China’s claims over the South China Sea: the Confucian idea of “remonstrance”. The idea appears in the Classic of Filial Piety, a book allegedly composed by Confucius’ disciple Zengzi, where the former explains the latter the meaning of “filial piety”:

Of old, the Emperor had seven ministers who would remonstrate with him, so even if he had no vision of the proper way (dao), he still did not lose the empire. The high nobles had five ministers who would remonstrate with them, so even if they had no vision of the proper way (dao), they still did not lose their states. The high officials had three ministers who would remonstrate with them, so even if they had no vision of the proper way (dao), they still did not lose their clans. If the lower officials had just one friend who would remonstrate with them, they were still able to preserve their good names (ming); if a father has a son who will remonstrate with him, he will not behave reprehensively (buyi).

Thus, if confronted by reprehensible behavior on his father’s part, a son has no choice but to remonstrate with his father, and if confronted by reprehensible behavior on his ruler’s part, a minister has no choice but to remonstrate with his ruler. Hence, remonstrance is the only response to immorality. How could simply obeying the commands of one’s father be deemed filial? (for the translation see here).

Or in other words: since antiquity, according to the old tradition of Confucianism, “filial piety” and “loyalty” were not related to “blind submission to the ruler” –as the proponents of the so-called “Asian values” claim–, but to “remonstration with the ruler”. If a son does not tell his own father about something wrong the latter has done, or if citizens do not speak out against the unlawful actions of a government, how can a family or a country improve in any way? Confucius said: “To see what is right and not to do it is want of courage”, but as for today, there is no Chinese who would not see what is right and look away. Lack of self-criticism, combined with an fragile easy-to-be-broken ¨heart of glass¨, is the first reason why China cannot become a developed country.

Hu Shi and “Mr. More-or-less”

What kind of infection does affect the sick men of China? And what are its symptoms? It is without doubt a rather contagious disease, its symptom being called “More or less”. China has national goods, which are “more or less” like the real deal. Chinese food is “more or less” edible, and Chinese history is “more or less” accurate. No matter where you look, “more or less” is always there, watching over you, taking over your heart until it becomes one of your most common tag lines. The meaning of “more or less” in China is not, as many may think, “The difference is not so big”, but it is closer in its meaning to “Let’s not emphasize quality” or “I do not care, and so should you”. Of course, the tradition of “more or less” is not only Chinese, but it is also an unalienable right of the Chinese people that no one else can enjoy. Or in other words, only Chinese people are allowed to do things “more or less” precise, just as only they are allowed to spit on the ground or relieve themselves in public.

In 2008 the Taiwanese singer MC Hotdog released a song called “Mr. More-or-less” that goes on more or less like this:

to be a person you should just be more or less cheap…

when eating just eat more or less bullshit,

when writing just write more or less Chinese signs [simplified Chinese]

with a brain more or less empty…

it is not distorting facts, it is just more or less like that.

Go on groping in the dark. Is there any difference?

I am Mr. More-or-less and more-or-less is my nature,

I am as naïve as I am cheap…

This is more or less the Chinese style.

But this so-called “Mr. More-or-less” that represents Chinese style reasoning appeared among them, at least, at the beginning of the 20th century. In 1919, the Chinese revolutionary and philosopher Hu Shi decided to write a story about “The most famous person in China… a native from every province, county, and village” –“The Story of Mr. More-or-less”. According to Hu Shi, there is a person in China whose surname is Less and his name More. “He often says: ‘As long as it is more or less accurate, we are fine. Don’t need to be so precise!’”. Whether it was buying candies or counting money, Mr. More-or-less will always take this stance and have it done –more or less– in the way he was asked for. In one occasion he got sick, but the physician Mr. Wang from the East Road was busy and, thus, he decided to go for Doctor Wang, who was a veterinarian from the West Road. Mr. More-or-less thought that it was more or less the same, and so he got treated with a medicine for cattle. After a while, his sickness did not improve and he –more or less– passed away, after which everybody started talking about him: “He would never take life seriously, and he would never really care about anything. For this, he was a virtuous wise man”. “His reputation went so far, and expanded so much and for so long, that today there is not a single person who hasn’t learnt to be like him. Everyone has become a Mr. More-or-less –after that, China became just a nation of lazy people”. Herein it lays the second reason why China cannot become a developed country.

Lu Xun’s “Spirit of Ah Q”

But “more or less” is not the only sickness that has been infecting the Chinese people since antiquity. They also possess a character that is totally different from that of any other country or civilization, an spirit so uncanny that every time someone listen to them trying to argue logically, they would feel like they are not talking to a rational human being.

Just to give an example of this: Chinese people usually say that theirs is “the longest continuous civilization in the world, its continuity being more or less five thousand years. Because of that, when they talk about the early Jin Dynasty, the Northern and Southern Dynasties, the Liao, Western Xia, Jin, Yuan and Qing Dynasties, they have to pretend that the Jurchen, the Xianbei, the Tangut, the Mongols, and the Manchus were also Chinese, instead of what they really were: invaders who controlled China for a while. According to the Chinese vision of history, all these people were not only Chinese, but they even helped China to become the actual “Greater China”. Or in other words: their invasion was meant to expand the invaded country with their own lands. How thoughtful of them!

Likewise, when Mongols and Manchus restricted bearing arms among the non-Mongol or non-Manchu population –the “real” Chinese–, they were just protecting minority rights. And since Genghis Khan was also Chinese, the Mongol invasions and conquests were in fact a stratagem to expand peacefully the frontiers of China. The Great Wall, similarly, was a long, ancient construction of ten thousand miles, rather than something somehow related to the fall of the Ming Dynasty and the conquest of Genghis Khan. That is the logic of the Chinese people: “My country was defeated by the Mongol Empire, but they are also Chinese, so, at the end, we still won”. What a spiritual victory!

Although this vision of Chinese history can be traced back to the Cultural Revolution and the economic crisis that followed the Tiananmen Square Massacre, this kind of spirit had already gotten into the Chinese nervous system as early as 1921. At this time, when Chen Duxiu was still founding the Chinese Communist Party in a foreign concession in Shanghai, the Republican writer Lu Xun started writing his popular novelette, The True Story of Ah Q, a satirical story that was meant to portrait “the soul of our people today”. Just like Mr. More-or-less, Ah Q is an allegorical image of the true nature of the Chinese people. Ah Q is “a man from the rural peasant class with little education and no definite occupation. Ah Q is famous for ‘spiritual victories’ … He persuades himself mentally that he is spiritually ‘superior’ to his oppressors even as he succumbs to their tyranny and suppression” (Wikipedia).

The spiritual qualities of Ah Q can be traced back to Friedrich Nietzsche’s ideas of Christian slave morality and especially to the three transformations of the spirit which he developed at the very beginning of his Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Nietzsche believed that our spirit undergoes three transformations: a camel, a lion, and a child. Ah Q is like the camel in Nietzsche’s work, for he “kneeleth it down like the camel, and wanteth to be well laden”. “What is the heaviest thing, ye heroes? asketh the load-bearing spirit, that I may take it upon me and rejoice in my strength. Is it not this: To humiliate oneself in order to mortify one’s pride? To exhibit one’s folly in order to mock at one’s wisdom?”. Lu Xun’s Ah Q is the ultimate camel, one that happily bears his burden as he tells himself: “Look, humans! You are not strong enough to carry your burden. What would be of all of you without me? That is my victory!”. Nietzsche called this kind of spirit “slave morality”: Self-denial, humility, and mercy, a type of man that is not dominated by their own personal decisions.

It can be said that, since antiquity, the so-called “strength” of the Chinese people has been in their mouths, rather than in their fragile hearts. These have been the hearts of “moral slaves”: in ancient times they were the slaves of the Jurchen, the slaves of the Xianbei, the slaves of the Tangut, the slaves of the Mongols, and the slaves of the Manchus. Later they first became the slaves of the Japanese Empire and, just after that, they became and remain the slaves of the Chinese Communist Party. It can be truly said that the history of China is a history of slaves, because when they are confronted with terrible events, such as the Cultural Revolution, the Great Leap Forward, or the Tiananmen Massacre, they will just look for an unreasonable excuse to comfort themselves and call it a victory. “Have you seen the smog in Peking? Don’t worry! At least we are protected from American spy satellites!”.

This s the third reason why China cannot become a developed country: They would say that, had China develop itself in any way, the rest of the world would be undeveloped and foreigners will just starve to dead!

Deng Xiaoping’s “Locustology”

When we take a look at Hong Kong and Taiwan, even though their citizens came from the mainland not so long ago, the aforementioned spirit and sickness can hardly be found among them. The England of the Opium Wars, the England and France that plundered the Summer Palace, the Japanese Empire that raped Nanking, … they are all long gone. However, the China of Yan Fu, Liang Qichao, Hu Shi, and Lu Xun, the China of the Cultural Revolution, the China of the Great Leap Forward, or the China of the Tiananmen Square Massacre is more alive than ever.

When The Hague rejected Peking’s claims in South China Sea, many Chinese took the streets and slandered fellow Chinese who were eating at American KFC. This is of course different from the Cultural Revolution, when Chinese people would destroy Western clothes and shoes. How can the Red Guards be compared to the modern indoctrinated Chinese citizen who is willing to destroy his expensive iPhone for the sake of national pride?

And as for the Great Leap Forward, which caused three years of famine, we can fairly say that it is not so different from the results of the policies introduced after the Tiananmen Square Massacre, when the government decided to centralize the economy and develop Peking, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen at the expense of the rural areas inland. This new Great Leap Forward, or this new Great Famine, has lasted for 25 years already.

Finally, although the Chinese Communist Party does not kill students in famous squares anymore, the Chinese government persecutes Falun Gong practitioners –among other groups– and harvests organs from political and religious prisoners.

Why is the criticism of Yan Fu, Liang Qichao, Hu Shi, and Lu Xun more alive than ever? Because China still has the Chinese Communist Party, whose policies won’t allow the country to develop or its citizens to improve their life condition. Chinese people will usually say that Hongkongers and Taiwanese are their compatriots, but only China remains undeveloped. How can they be compared to Hong Kong or Taiwan?

Chinese people usually say: “Without the Chinese Communist Party there would be no China”. This is absolutely true: without the Chinese Communist Party, that undeveloped and impoverished country called China would not exist –they will be part of the rich, developed and educated Republic of China, also called Taiwan. In the past China was as weak in warfare as strong in scholarship –there is nothing to be ashamed of in being defeated by another country. But today China not only lacks both warfare skills and scholarship, but it also exaggerates its own capabilities. Is there anyone in China today that can be truly called a heir of Yan Fu, Liang Qichao, Hu Shi, or Lu Xun?

Chinese do not only suffer from a slave condition, but they also behave like a locust hive controlled by a Locust Queen, a queen that is followed by 1.4 billion slaves flying around the nest of the Chinese Communist Party. It can be said China follows the communist policy of “one country, one brain” –the Queen’s brain.

The idea of Chinese behaving as locusts is also an old one, and although the word is usually employed by Hongkongers to criticize Chinese tourists, it can actually be traced back to the 19th century. At the time the French zoologist Père Amand David published his Journal de mon troisième voyage dexploration dans lempire Chinois (1875), where he spoke about the “locust-like propensity of the Chinese”. This was later collected ad quoted by Archibald John Little in his travelogue Mount Omi and beyong (1901), where he wrote:

Pere Amand David, who spent years on the Thibetan border, comments bitterly in his Journal de mon troisième voyage on this locust-like propensity of the Chinese to destroy every green thing wherever they penetrate, for when the trees are gone comes the turn of the scrub and bushes, then the grass, and at last the roots, until, finally, the rain washes down the accumulated soil of ages, and only barren rocks remain (p. 257).

Chinese people do not only destroy their own natural resources –they also want to take away those belonging to other countries by inventing false claims over foreign territories, from Hong Kong to the Philippines, or from Tibet to the South China Sea. This locust-like spirit emphasizes benefit rather than productivity and, when products become scarce after their plundering, they can only create fake goods –more or less similar to the originals.

This is why in the later 1950s the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party already knew that Chinese economy can only rely on Hong Kong. Thus, they wished and tried to protect its uniqueness by discouraging independence and secretly promoting British rule. For this very reason Deng Xiaoping, “the slaughterer of Tiananmen”, invented the idea of “One country, two systems”: if Hong Kong would become independent, or if China would totally absorb Hong Kong, then that would be the end for China itself. To protect Hong Kong’s unseen uniqueness from “mainlandisation” is not only in the best interest of Hongkongers, but it would also preserve the important benefits China has enjoyed since 1997 that helped it to become the “world’s second-largest economy”. Let’s never forget Ludwig von Mises’s statement: “Anticapitalism can maintain itself in existence only by sponging on capitalism” (Mises, Liberalismus, IV.5).

Back to the main point, at a time when China still acknowledged that the so-called “locustology” was its only path to success and progress, Deng Xiaoping had some meaningful words to say about that question. In 1955, some leaders of the Chinese Communist Party, including Deng Xiaoping, Dong Biwu, Chen Yi, Zhang Dingcheng, and Xu Teli, were visiting the Shanhai Pass at Shanhaiguan, Hebei province. As they were talking about the famous soda water being sold in this place, Xu Teli pointed out that the drink was so popular that many kids would come to the Shanhai Pass and drink it out until there was nothing left. Chen Yi exclaimed with admiration that Chinese people would always “fight a battle of annihilation”, to which Deng Xiaoping famously added: “We are a swam of locusts” (Hua Fangzhi, “Following the experiences of the main leaders” [in Chinese], China Through the Ages 5 (2014), 68)).

This is the reason why the devouring monster of the People’s Republic of China cannot become a developed country –even if it ultimately swallows Hong Kong.

The locusts swam in the wind. Yesterday night they took over Tibet, and this morning they reached Hong Kong. Tonight they may plan to descend on Taiwan, and tomorrow, they may be at the gates of your own home.

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