When we think of communist China, other than China owning a majority of the U.S. debt, images of ghost cities or Chinese hackers are much of what comes to mind. Unless you have some direct connection to the people of China or the Orient, many may just assume that they are all communists and that’s just the way it is…so why give it another thought. The fact is this is definitely not true.
Many take for granted the freedoms we enjoy in America, such as the Right to disagree with our own government or other citizens, along with our Right to organize or share our views with the general public. In many countries rights like these do not exist, and even speaking about them openly can have severe consequences.
Just like this Administration’s refusal to take seriously the threat of radical Islam against our national security, so is it true that just because the Iron Curtain fell 25 years ago doesn’t mean Communism is no longer a threat. Communism, as radical Islam, is a constant and ongoing threat in our world and our way of life, and maybe more so because many think that communism has already been defeated. This is also definitely not true. The right of living individually free does not and should belong to America or the western countries alone. The desire to be free to universal.
Whether we are more free or less than other countries, the U.S. is still internationally considered a bright symbol of freedom, despite recent tarnishing over the last several years. We all know the words about the U.S. being ‘the world’s last, best hope for freedom,’ but what does that really mean?
Upon doing some research on China’s Great Wall of internet censorship in early 2014, I came across the website, Youpai.org. On the “About Us” page they describe themselves as:
“the only conservative voice in the Chinese community that is devoted to advocating, defending and propagating American Values based on conservative principles.”
Having never heard of this website before and surprised by its very existence, I reached out to the website’s webmaster who goes by the pen name “Jiuyu.” I was stunned and humbled to find such a website that held our American freedoms in such high reverence, in some ways even more than some of our own citizens. I contacted Jiuyu to learn more about his website and their mission.
The following are questions I submitted to Jiuyu along with his answers. I thought Jiuyu’s responses were incredibly insightful and poses a great reminder to all of us of the sheer magnitude of what we enjoy everyday living free.
How did this group/website begin & when?
It started in 2005. There were very few conservative leaning voices in the Chinese speaking world back then. When I was still in China, I didn’t realize that there is a political and idealogical conflict going on in the West, especially in America, and this conflict is not new. I thought, like most of Chinese folks, the people in the West all think alike, they all love freedom, hate government control, and central planning, they are all against socialism, communism, totalitarianism. I didn’t put things together, for example, Karl Marx was a Westerner, and Marxism is actually imported from the West into China.
Changqing Cao was a fairly popular commentator and a political dissident, he was, and still is, a big promoter of American values, and he wrote articles about the idealogical divide in America, exposing the intellectual elites in the left, that was very refreshing to me. Another guy maintained a blog called Today’s Commentator, he was good at exposing the lies pushed by the mainstream media. I contacted them via email individually, suggesting that maybe we can work together to have a concerted conservative voice on the internet, introduce conservatism to the Chinese speaking population, provide an alternative to liberalism that is presented as the face and the essence of the western thought.
It so happened that I just picked up some web development knowledge that I was kind of eager to put to use. That was not planned, but it worked out quite well.
The website officially launched in 2006.
Are the contributors of your website mostly in China or are they scattered through out the world?
The majority of the contributors are in the United States, America is an exporter of conservatism, I think this is true in pretty much every people group the left like to use, white or black, Chinese or Russians or Hispanics, men or women, seniors or youth, straights or gays, rich people or poor people… For this I say God Bless America.
Others are from China, Canada and Europe.
What are some of the biggest challenges your group/website face or have faced? How does China’s internet censorship effect your group?
Youpai.org was blocked by the Chinese communist regime a few months after its launch. One thing you have to admit is that the communists know who their enemies are. Free people sometimes don’t see the threats towards their liberty, they take time enjoying life, enjoying freedom, but the communists always work on grabbing power or keeping power, they are experts on identifying and destroying enemies threatening their power.
At the same time, people in China constantly break the internet great wall to visit our site, and the contents of the website are constantly posted in China via channels like social media, internet forums.
One of the challenges comes from the Chinese language, the word “conservative” in Chinese has a negative connotation, it implies conserving bad, old things. We ended up naming the website “youpai” which means right-wing or right-winger in Chinese. That’s not ideal. Language is important, we still work on clarifying these concepts everyday.
What have you seen positive &/or negative as a result of your group?
The biggest positive impact is that we see conservative thoughts more and more in the Chinese world. Average readers find information about conservatism and American politics from the conservative perspective, these things are different from typical media in Chinese language, more over, the information becomes ammunition to writers, bloggers, and intellectuals who in turn influence others.
On the negative side, I don’t believe there is anything negative really. However, there is a tricky side effect on the aspect of providing answers to a future post-communist China. One example is on the unions. There is no independent labor unions or student unions in China, but in America, unions may have a monopoly position and obstruct competition. I remember student union membership was mandatory when I went to the university in Canada, and one of the student union presidential elections only had about a 10% participation rate, I see first hand that it can be easily manipulated by a radical group of people. Talking about the danger of the union may give people the impression that we are against the right to organize for people’s own interest. We truly don’t want to discourage people to organize to protect themselves.
Pointing out problems is always easier than providing answers. We want to provide answers as well.
What motivated your move to Canada from China (if I may ask)?
Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989 had a big impact on me, at first it was the evilness of the communist regime, then it’s a bit more than that, I also have seen the fallen nature of mankind, including myself. I was a bit scared back in China, I thought that it wouldn’t be a happy life for me if I kept thinking this way. I was a coward rebel in my heart, I knew very well a rebel in action means destruction. So I voted with my feet. Freedom is the main driver for the decision of my immigration.
What similarities (if any) do you see between life in China and life in Canada or the U.S. in the past 14 years, since you left China?Decheng Lu is one of the three brave men throwing ink on the big Mao’s portrait hanging on the wall at the Tiananmen Square in 1989. All three guys got severely punished by the communist regime. Mr. Lu finally moved to Canada after spending years in prison. He says to me that the life in Canada is all easy even though he has challenges with language, with the weather, etc., but he feels closer to people than in China because he lives in a free society. He refers to the distance between people’s hearts. I totally share that feeling.
I met Jesus Christ in Canada. That gives me the perspective that the spiritual struggle is universal. Canadians, Americans need salvation just as much as the Chinese. Life is the outward reflection of the inward faith, that’s how I see it.
In your opinion, what do you think is the biggest misunderstanding the rest of the world (or the U.S.) have it the way it views China?
Couple of things.
1) The notion that economic improvement will cause freedom is not true and is not helpful. I drove on the autobahn when I spent one of my summer vacations in Germany, it was quite impressive, but we know Hitler is the guy behind the autobahn construction. Hitler brought drastic economic improvement to the German people. The Soviet Union won the first round of the space race, and there was the industrialization. Totalitarian regimes can do big things, with economy, with technology, with sports, and so forth. But they can’t bring about lasting prosperity and peace for free people. And in practice, why would a rich privileged communist insider who makes piles of money by connections to the totalitarian power, come out and support free elections and checks and balances? Why would they promote rule of law instead of rule of connection? They understand where their benefits come from. We’d better wake up.
One of the pillars of communism is that they believe the materialism idea that the economic situation determines the political system, the conventional wisdom of economic improvement brings democracy and freedom has some similarities with that kind of communism thought. The fact is that moral people in a free society will bring economic prosperity, not the other way around.
2) The most powerful argument is the moral argument. The biggest problem with communism is not it doesn’t work, but it’s evil. Labeling a group of people as members of an enemy class based on the possessions they have, then slaughter them in the name of creating heaven on earth, or the people, or the common good, that is evil.
Efficiency has always been the left’s argument, they used to say central planning by government elites is more efficient than free market competition, nowadays you see the impulse of the left from people like Thomas Friedman praising Chinese communist regime for their policies on man-made global warming by decree and propaganda.
And don’t forget the left doesn’t shy away from moral arguments, they talk about equality, or fair share, all the time, right? We should confront them.
3) Asian countries are not the same. Is there anything in common between a typical Japanese and a typical Iranian? Not very much other than they both live in a vast region called Asia. I laugh sometimes when I see surveys throwing all Asian peoples in one big group. Many people assume the paths to democracy in Korea or Taiwan automatically apply to China, one big difference, the political systems in those countries affirm freedom, acknowledge rule of law, separation of power, basic human rights, the strongmen with unchecked power has to find excuses to suspend legitimate democratic procedure, and they have to keep promising to resume normal practice of a democratic system once the situation is changed, e.g. when the communist threat to survival is removed. But the Chinese communist constitution is completely the opposite, it says the country will always stay socialist, the communist party is the only legitimate force to control the state. They are forced to implement deviations to hardcore communism in order to make it work more or less, but they have to find excuses for that. They never promise free election or free press.
The great Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias once said that the world religions are superficially similar, but fundamentally different, which is contrary to what we are told by the professors. He is right.
If you could give a warning/message to Americans about Communism or their individual rights what would it be?
You are so kind, and I’m humbled by this question. What can I say that you don’t already know?
Anyway, first of all, communists lie, and they don’t have to feel guilty about it, the end justifies the means, that makes them more dangerous.
Mao praised American democracy before the communists took over China in 1949. It’s all propaganda. The radical left do whatever it takes to get power.
Freedom is a gift from above, people don’t have to be very moral to enjoy their lives in a free society, but only moral people are able to defend it. It takes courage, sacrificial love and true conviction to protect a free society after all.
Sometimes I see the tendency to compartmentalize conservatism, these are economic issues the voters care about, those are social issues that are controversial and are not all that important. Free market is not merely an economic issue, people trade what they produce freely is moral, people keep the fruits of their labor is moral. The opposite is immoral. Does that make it sound like a social issue now?
I understand that there are good strategies to win elections, and there is nothing wrong with that. But I don’t think it’s necessarily very helpful to conservatism as a way of thinking, as an ideology if you will. My concern is that we’ll lose the capability to defend it if we don’t connect to the moral root of all sorts of conservative positions.
America has to stay good, free and strong. People like me will have nowhere to turn otherwise.
America is the last best hope. I can’t say thank you enough to Americans.
My interview with Jiuyu gives credence to something I noticed a while ago, and a sad question I repeatedly can’t help but ask; how is it that immigrants coming to America from countries with restrictive governments have a better understanding of the great value of freedom than some American citizens? A society or a people distracted by shiny objects and “games” will never see evil forces gathering around them. Stories like Jiuyu always remind me of a quote by Harriet Tubbman,
“I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.”
It is not hard to see how we can personally become slaves to a job, our personal debt, or a significant other in a bad relationship. Yet some refuse to see the slavery increasing in our lives through increased government restrictions just because a certain government official has an “R” or a “D” behind their name. At one time common sense was based on right or wrong, not right or left. We share alot more with our fellow citizens than we have in difference to them despite what some say on either side of the aisle.
Along with this being the 25th anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down, it is also the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre. For 25 years we have not seen opening the evil actions of communism in full practice, at least not in major media. This is in part to massive media blackouts and censorship like that being practiced in China and other countries. This is why the testimony of people like Jiuyu and the other citizen journalists at their website Youpai.org is so very important.
We truly never know just how many people’s lives we touch or reach, and with the birth of the Internet this is so much more true. A word, posting, or picture might have been exactly what someone needed to see at that moment, to give them inspiration, courage, or get them through another day. By recognizing the Rights and precious freedoms we enjoy, we must also recognize the heavy Responsibility we have to keep that torch of freedom burning. It does not stay lit by inaction, or by just letting our neighbor worrying about it. It takes all of us, lest we all lose it for good…left AND right. Americans do not own the copyright on freedom, and many more before us have died in the fight for freedom than we have, and shed alot more blood & treasure. We must remember that. Exceptional does not mean invincible, and what can be lit can also fade out. Every day that choice is ours.
I want to thank Jiuyu and his brave group of writers & contributors at Youpai.org who submit their work at far greater personal risk than many of us do here in the United States. It is a reminder to all of us of what life can look like or become in a country without a 1st Amendment.