Letters to
We get a lot of letters, and publish some of them in this column, "Backtalk," edited by Sam Koritz. Please send your letters to backtalk@antiwar.com. Letters may be edited for length (and coherence). Unless otherwise indicated, authors may be identified and e-mail addresses will not be published.

Posted January 29, 2002


I have to tell you how disappointed I am with Mr. Sascha Matuszak's articles on China. I think he knows little about real Chinese history and feelings, and pretends he is an expert of some sort. His views are pro-west and prejudiced. He is contributing more myths to the misunderstandings of the West about China. I think you should seriously think about closing his column. His recent article (January 25) about patriotism in China is entirely biased. Not only China's youth are becoming increasingly patriot, but also the entire population. The cause of this is not due to government propaganda which has very limited influence over people nowadays, but rather the ... foreign policies of the US. One can very easily find that the Chinese public is not resentful of the West as a whole (never resentful towards the EU for example), but instead resentful only towards the US and Japan. I was originally from China and received my university education in China in 1980s. I was a great believer in and proponent of ... American values, as well as the Western governments. After living in Europe and the US for 15 years and seeing various events and policies over the years, especially recently, I am increasingly disappointed in the foreign policies of the US government -- the double standards, hypocrisy, cruelty towards other peoples, and imperialist ideas. ... Stop behaving like you are somehow superior in your values and ideologies, Mr. Matuszak, and you will see the beauty of the place you are living. ...Such biased views are ... exactly the reason why there is so much resentment towards the US, which is causing growing nationalism.

~ James S.

Sascha Matuszak replies:

Mr. Shen, if you have been reading my columns then you should have noticed a few themes: I feel the same about the Chinese government as I do about the US government. Both are hypocritical and corrupt. A few columns back I wrote that the US seems to inflict the most pain through its nationalism on other countries, while Chinese nationalism affects those in China most.

If you grew up in the 1980s then you must remember the hours and hours you spent studying the theories of your leaders. From age 10 on up Deng Xiao Ping Theory and Maoist Thought play a huge role in the education system. Now we have the Three Representations, Jiang Zemin's gift to political thought.

I remember studying history in the US: three chapters on the American Revolution and three pages on the Korean and Vietnam Wars. That's just the way it is, my friend. And I challenge you to prove otherwise concerning the Chinese education system ... But if you want to discuss the subjects of US imperialism and Chinese nationalism, don't use this article as an example. The point of this article was to show that the nationalism growing in China is built on the economic boom and the promise it holds for everyone, as well as China's past and present relationships with foreigners. If the economic boom doesn't come through as everyone hopes it will, then the nationalism-tool will backfire. Maybe this is why the Chinese government put a clamp on protests after the Hainan Incident and is attempting to play down the most recent spy scandal.

Thanks for the letter.


Phil T: I happened to read one of [Bevin Chu's] ... articles, "The Big Lie Of Taiwan's Elections," at the Pravda website. It was such a good article that I went into the Antiwar.com site to find out more about you. I was very pleased to learn that you had written many previous articles! Wow, I must say every one of them are excellent! I'm very impressed and sent the link to my friends recommending that they must check it out.

Bevin Chu: Thank you very much. Please do recommend the Strait Scoop to your friends. Those of us who oppose military confrontation and advocate peaceful commerce between the US and China need to get the word out. We cannot allow the warmongers to monopolize the public debate.

PT: Yes the Singapore Straits Times is a very fine newspaper indeed. I read it every day and their coverage of China/Taiwan affairs are right on the mark. The irony is that a tiny nation-state that is constantly lambasted by the western nations for not having a free press can report more accurately about China/Taiwan than CNN, NY Times, Newsweek and other western media organizations. There is probably no statesman that knows China and Taiwan more than Lee Kuan Yew. I don't think it's exaggerating to say that he is a precious asset to all ethnic Chinese people in the world.

Bevin C: Not only ethnic Chinese, but to non-Chinese as well, as LKY's political wisdom is a contribution to the world at large, including Europe and North America, not merely Singapore, mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan.

PT: Your writings about the Taiwan independence gang is most eye-opening. I'm so surprised that a Chinese person originating from Taiwan would actually speak up for mainland China in so many issues.

BC: Strictly speaking, I'm not "speaking up for mainland China" per se. I'm helping Americans to understand that being from Taiwan does not mean one automatically favors Taiwan independence, that only a small minority of extremists on Taiwan actually insists on Taiwan independence. The vast majority are either pro-reunification or else indifferent. Not quite the same thing as "speaking up for mainland China." That is only part of the larger picture.

PT: You also recognize this ridiculous demonizing China campaign launched by the anti-China gang in the USA is nothing more than an attempt to contain China and keep her down. My thoughts on those issues are almost identical to yours so it was encouraging to read your excellently articulated arguments.

BC: The China bashers don't realize that not only is it not necessary for China to lose for America to win, it may well be necessary for China to win for America to win. Chinese markets may be essential to America's continued future prosperity!

PT: I've also noticed the dates of your articles, they appear approximately once every 4 months. So that means I will have to wait 4 months for your next installment? That's a long wait!

BC: As I mentioned in "Taiwan Independence, RIP" I have come to realize that that due to global economic factors TI is basically kaput. I now feel considerably less pressured to combat it now that I am quite confident it will not succeed. Hence my reduced output. However I may dash off shorter articles more frequently in the near future.

China Wakes

[Regarding Sascha Matuszak's column of January 25, "Patriotism":]

Really Mr. Matuszak, I'm surprised at you.

I read China Wakes when it was first published (1991 or thereabouts?). Aside from having very attractive cover art, the book is 100% unadulterated imperialist drivel. Your most recent article comes dangerously close, though I have enjoyed reading you in the past.

Firstly, there is nothing creepy in the slightest about love of one's culture or country. It may be a distant memory in the United States, but at one time Americans were proud of their cultural achievements, loved their country, and were willing to die for it as well. As for the tasteless comment comparing the Chinese to Nazis, allow me to direct your attention to Godwin's Law.

Second, the Chinese peasant has not been "ground into the mud." Yes they are destitute, but they are substantially better-off from their position prior to 1949. To suggest that Mao or the CCP had anything to do with causing China's poverty is nonsense (well, there was that Great Leap Forward incident, but the Peasants were still better off in the long run.)

~ BD

Sascha Matuszak replies:

Don't be too surprised. I seem to write (insert ideology here) drivel every-so-often according to the letters I've received. China Wakes does smack of the New York Times' coverage of China, but I found some good reporting in there to mull over.

As for "Wollt Ihr...," that is the first thing I thought of that day in class. Not Nazism and the evil of those times, but more a devotion shared by the masses. The current United We Stand qualifies in my book for mass devotion, which does not necessarily lead to concentration camps and world wars.

So. If Mao isn't responsible, who is? Many of the Chinese I met count those years as the worst of their lives and the leaders as the most misguided possible. Hence the widespread love of Deng Xiao Ping, who rescued the nation and ushered in a new prosperity for Chinese farmers. And every last one of those farmer-peasants is doing 100% better than 10 years ago and this is what keeps the nation as stable as it is. The jump from 7 RMB a month to 800 RMB a month is a big reason why the Chinese love their country as much as they do.

And that's what I was trying to talk about. These ardent patriots will have to get a piece of the pie or they will split and question and the stability of China may crumble. Perhaps that's why the Strike Hard campaigns aimed at migrant underemployed workers, corrupt politicians and Internet Bars.

Thanks for the letter.

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