- The Washington Times - Monday, April 16, 2001

From the very first hour Americans and Chinese met to prove the other side was lying, both were. It is not a matter of the diplomats character but what they like to call pragmatism. If the Americans told China that their countrymen sensibly did not give a snap about the death of the wild Chinese pilot whose crash into the American reconnaissance plan made hostages of the crew, that would not make good propaganda for either side.

From the Chinese came the routine lie if Americans were not hegemonist marauders, no crash would have taken place. What was Pearl Harbor doing way out there in the Pacific Ocean?

But I am much more interested in dissecting the American position on China because its has been marinating for so many years that it throws a stench around American honor and democracy, two qualities Communist China does not worry about. Every American knows that who has the courage to face truth about our strategic competitor or what ever fool phrase Washington uses to cover up the constant criminalities of the Beijing regime.

So it is far more healthful and useful for Americans to examine the falsehoods, omissions and lies put out by our own government about China. It may taste like castor oil. But it might help Americans who still don´t see the connection between the Chinese police pastime of torturing political and religious prisoners, say, and trade with China. U.S. journalism has gotten bored with it, except once in a while when the prisoner happens to have a claim to U.S. residence.

The foundation of this American structure of untruths is a myth that China and American business and government have been successfully struggling to have accepted around the world. Myth: Chinese work, energies, intelligence and patriotism to their communist rulers are what made China move up economically militarily and economically, so that they feel perfectly free to insult the American superpower weeks on end whenever they feel the itch to do it.

A lie, a deliberate Sino-American lie. Most of the money and technology came from the United States and its Western "allies," to build an armed force. Not as strong as America´s but sure able to terrorize countries like France, if the U.S. ever told Paris: Boys you are both on your own now. Sentimentalists of democracy like myself would probably scream for the rescue of France, even though the food in China is better.

I do not see much of the shame Americans should feel for building up another dictatorship, not from our presidents and not from their secretaries of state. Human rights is no longer an American concern a few smarmy words but no real help to the political prisoners fed on garbage in Chinese cells.

I saw little of the famous Clintonian pain for others in his former subordinates either. The U.S. kept telling the world there was a good U.N. consensus about what to do about Saddam Hussein, when there was a consensus only to make us much money from Iraq as possible Once at a news conference I told then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright that I wanted to ask a question. "Human rights, I suppose," she said with mock interest. Bet your life.

If President Bush had called for a swift boycott of China until the hostages were freed, he would have received more of the presidential dignity he seeks than a dictionary full of sorries and apologies and veries, in all languages.

For what does it benefit us to stuff Chinese generals and Politburo trading companies with truffles while their police are tearing the flesh of the righteous with pincers? And who will allot those benefits to us God, or husbands and wives who will show us their torn bodies when one year they will return from the cells, perhaps.

Never in U.S. history has our country been as much under the economic and intellectual and political influence of a foreign dictatorship. It is not because our elected officials and CEOs have become radicals. It is because of the Western officials and executives the communists will rule with a hard club, and that is neither left or right just a club They imagine that will guarantee their investments, which it won´t and if not, the U.S. will come to the rescue of American capitalists, which it probably will.

When my wife reads one of my more doleful columns she sometimes says, "Can´t you leave people with hope?" Right.

My hope is that when the prisoners , Chinese or foreign, come home, they will be able to teach even their parents what goes on in the hell camps for which our money pays.

A.M. Rosenthal, the former executive editor of the New York Times, is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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