- The Washington Times - Monday, May 21, 2001

Eighty years ago this month, a man-made disaster struck China far, far worse than natures floods and earthquakes. It was the formation of the Chinese Communist Party. Who in 1921 could have foreseen that this party, dominated by the son of a prosperous Hunan farmer, would half a century later be responsible for the deaths of 50 million Chinese men, women and children, perhaps more?
This party of genocide still rules China. It honors its onetime leader, Mao Tse-tung, who lies embalmed in a mausoleum in Beijings Tiananmen Square. Today the police and military power which besieges the Chinese people is turned against the United States and its citizens. Can we negotiate genuine peaceful relations with China, or is a new Cold War inevitable?
In an essay published in 1969, Henry Kissinger wrote: "A strong China has historically tended to establish suzerainty over its neighbors: In fact, one special problem of dealing with China communism apart is that it has had no experience in conducting foreign policy with equals. China has been either dominant or subjected."
And there is a third reason why U.S.-China relations are going to be stormy in the years, if not decades, ahead. This reason is to be found in a famous essay, "Politics as a vocation," by Max Weber, one of the great political thinkers of the 20th century. Weber distinguished between those who live by the "ethics of responsibility" and those who live by the "ethics of absolute ends."
The Chinese Communist Party believes that all means are legitimate to achieve its absolute ends. So the Chinese people under Mao suffered through the witless "Great Leap Forward," the maniacal "Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution" of 1966 and, post-Mao, a massacre of Chinese dissidents in Tiananmen Square a dozen years ago. The Chinese people still suffer the penal system of "laogai" education through labor whereby rebellious workers or anybody can be sent to forced labor camps for three years without a court trial. The sentence can be extended as the party sees fit. There is no appeal. All this goes by the cant phrase, "socialism with Chinese characteristics."
The practitioner of the "ethics of responsibility," on the other hand, spurns absolutes and favors compromise. That is why the United States has no insuperable problem negotiating with democracies the very idea of "ethics of responsibility" presupposes a democratic polity but has and will continue to have almost insuperable problems negotiating with China, autocratic practitioner of the "ethics of absolute ends."
Twenty years ago Deng Xiaoping, Maos successor, foresaw a disastrous end if economic reforms werent expeditiously introduced. He first promulgated a heresy: Marxism didnt have all the answers. That was enough to revive the Chinese entrepreneurial ethos and kickstart Chinas moribund economy. But such a policy carried grave risks for the party. For as Tocqueville has written:
"Experience suggests that the most dangerous moment for an evil government is usually when it begins to reform itself."
Communist Chinas leaders have made it quite clear that while there can be changes in the economy, party rule may not be questioned in any particular. When Zhao Ziyang, then general-secretary of the Chinese CP, sided with the pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square, he was purged.
But that was long ago. Today the Chinese people regard its growing market economy as a permanent fixture and Marxism-Leninism a forgotten nightmare. But without an ideology what legitimizes the party and its rejection of a rule of law? Answer nationalism, resisting the enemy, the United States. There is ample precedent for such behavior. When Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, Stalin dropped the "Internationale" as the national anthem, never again during the war mentioned the word "socialism" and instead asked the Russian people to fight for "Rossiya Mat," Mother Russia.
The U.S. "spy-plane" was a serendipitous event for Beijing. The accidental May 1999 bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade was milked by Beijing for its propaganda value but not with the success achieved with the Hainan affair when the party successfully appealed to nationalist passions. Professor Alan Bullock has described nationalism as "a mass emotion has been the most powerful political force in the history of the modern world." That "mass emotion" has been aroused in China and will make Beijing a more demanding negotiator than ever, especially around the issue of Taiwan. Is it containment time?

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