Top-10 American Misconceptions about China

March 9th, 2012
in Announcements, Op Ed

by Frank Li


This is the eighth article of the series: “Towards An Ideal Form of Government”.

In my 3/2/2012 post (America: What is China, Anyway?), I stated:

For the top-10 American misconceptions about China, wait for my article next week.”

Here is that article! You will have a better understanding if you read the following three articles as a lead-in:

(1) What is America, Anyway?

(2) Brainwashing in Communism and in Democracy

(3) America: What is China, Anyway?

Follow up:

Misconception 1: China is a communist country

China is no longer a communist country! China was a communist country from 1949 to 1976. China embraced capitalism after Mao died in 1976. Forging her own way of success, China is now poised to become the largest economy on earth by 2030.

The political system in China is a one-party system. The ruling party is called the CPC (Communist Party of China). This inconvenient name has given the American media-political complex a good excuse to keep calling China a communist country whenever it sees necessary. That is, however, a disservice to America, because it’s misleading and it’s brainwashing! For a good understanding of today’s CPC, read this. Here are three excerpts:

(1) The party was established in 1921 in the name of people like him [a peddler]. But today it is widely seen as representing the entrenched interests of the wealthy elite – the kind of people who spend more on a single meal in Xintiandi than a peddler would make in an entire year.

(2) With more than 80 million members, it is the world’s largest political organization. In spite of its insistence that it remains true to its Marxist-Leninist, Maoist heritage, though, it is perhaps better described as the world’s largest chamber of commerce.

(3) The first sentence of the manifesto of the CPC states that the party “is the vanguard of the Chinese working class”. Yet today, fewer than 9% of its members are classified as “workers” while more than 70% are recruited from the ranks of government officials, businessmen, professionals, college graduates and military.

To make it easiest to understand for my fellow Americans, let me give you two simple analogies:

(1) Yesterday’s CPC (1949-1976): Consider it to be the Democratic Party in America today, with the most extreme left part only. Hell?

(2) Today’s CPC: Equate it to the Republican Party in America today, without the most extreme right part (i.e. neo-cons). Heaven?

Bottom line: Do not be fooled by the word “communist” in CPC!

Misconception 2: China is a threat to America

Economically, China is a competitor, not an enemy, to America. The use of the word “threat” is malicious and un-American!

Militarily, China has never been a threat to America! China’s military budget in 2011 was $91B, while America’s military budget in 2010 was $664B! China did increase its military spending in 2012 by 11%, which has been characterized by the U.S. media as a “ballooning military budget”. Where else on earth could this kind of talk and the misconception have been possible other than in America? All thanks to brainwashing in America!

Today, America’s military spending is bigger than the next 16 biggest spending countries combined! Why is it so big? Because of that, America has been, since the Cold War ended in 1989, a major source of instability around the world, especially in the Middle East. Yes, Ron Paul has got this one right (Ron Paul on 9/11: Ask the right questions and face the truth)!

Misconception 3: China steals America’s jobs

Capitalism is global by definition, from the resources (e.g. oil) to the markets (e.g. Buick is the most popular American car in China)! Two facts: 

capitalism(1) Over the past two decades, America lost more jobs to automation than to outsourcing.

(2) The primary reason behind America’s outsourcing is that America’s cost structure is too high. The jobs that America “lost to China” would have gone to other places, such as the other emerging economies (i.e. India, Brazil, Russia, and South Africa), had China not developed over the past three decades!

Bottom line: America, do we still know what capitalism is. If yes, do we still want it?

Misconception 4: China trades unfairly with America

Free trades are fair trades!

The simple fact is America has trade deficits with more than 90 countries. Are we going to argue with each and every one of them about “fairness”? Or, simply face the truth: Our cost structure is way too high!

Misconception 5: China is a currency manipulator

Every country has the right to defend its own currency for its best interests! Here is the latest example: Brazil declared new ‘currency war’ against the U.S. and Europe.

Now, will further appreciation of RMB reduce the U.S. trade deficit with China in a meaningful way? Impossibly unlikely! Here are two sets of hard data, showing that “America’s manipulation” of the exchange rate has worked with neither Japan nor China:


Bottom line: The only way to increase global competitiveness is through innovation (e.g. Apple) and hard work (e.g. lowering the cost structure), not the repeated use of steroids (i.e. stimulus packages like QE1 and QE2). Oh, by the way, QE1 and QE2 are also known as “printing money”, which is the worst form of currency manipulation, by any definition!

Misconception 6: China steals America’s IP (Intellectual Property)

Many countries have succeeded by copying first and then using their success for innovation! This applies to America 200 years ago as well as to China today!

No doubt, the laws must be obeyed. Having said that, I would like to seek an “understanding” (not to defend IP theft) as follows: China invented, among many things, papermaking and gunpowder. What if the Chinese, 2,000 years ago, had set up a patent system that required that each and every one of us pay, for 5,000 years, the Chinese 1% of the price for each and every piece of paper we use and each and every bullet we shoot?

Another perspective: Japan “copied” a lot from China for thousands of years, from the language to the culture. I knew that before landing in Japan in 1982. However, it was not until I started writing my first academic paper in English that I realized the depth of the “copy culture” in Japan: as I was struggling with English (and Japanese), my Japanese professor advised me to “借文”, which literally means “to copy text in the name of borrowing”. “借文” are two Chinese characters in Japanese, but they are not Chinese!

Case in point? “Copy” is how human civilization works! People look up to the leaders by “copying” them. Copy is an essential part of learning!

Misconception 7: The Chinese are not free

Today’s China is much freer than yesterday’s China! So China is moving in the right direction. Remember: China was communism from 1949 to 1976. So China has come a long way to part from the communist past, and will only get better from now on. With more prosperity comes more freedom, and vice versa.

peoples-republic-of-capitalismMoney is not everything. But having money is often a good thing, thanks to capitalism! With money, you can buy not only candies, bus also freedoms! The Chinese understand it very well.

On the other hand, America will lose more freedoms, as its economy falters more. Here is a quote from Abraham Lincoln:

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

Case in point? Prosperity is, generally speaking, proportional to freedom, and vice versa! The key is to strike a balance between the two, country by country, people by people.

Misconception 8: China has problems with human rights

The West must not apply the same standards to the East and vice versa! Here are two excerpts from my two previous writings:

(1) What is America, Anyway?If you are an idealist (e.g. a true human rights activist or a real democracy proponent) and if you are an American, you must denounce your American citizenship first before passionately pursuing your cause. Why? Because America, as a country, is totally illegitimate - America was built on occupied land appropriated from its rightful owners, the American Indians.

(2) America: What is China, Anyway?Both (i.e. not blindly embracing democracy and the one-child policy) were highly controversial, not only at home, but also in the West. However, they proved to be the right things to do for China at the time for one simple reason: survival! Any doubt? Recall this: All 33 Chilean miners rescued after 69 days. The miners were ready to eat the dead for their own survival right before the rescue team reached them! It’s human nature to survive by any means, idealistic human rights notwithstanding!

Bottom line: Given America’s declining status, we Americans no longer have any right to lecture the Chinese on anything! Culturally, they have a far longer history than we do. Economically, we owe them money, a lot of it!

Aside from minding our own business, read: 10 Lessons the U.S. Can Learn from China.

Misconception 9: China has issues with Taiwan and Tibet

Neither Taiwan nor Tibet is as big an issue today (i.e. China is prosperous) as they were 30 years ago (i.e. China was dirt poor). They will become non-issues within 20 years (i.e. China will be more prosperous). Meanwhile, no American intervention, no problem!

Misconception 10: The Chinese can’t play basketball

Jeremy Lin is real! Although Jeremy was born in America and his parents came to America from Taiwan, I am sure he enjoys his enormous popularity in China, whose market is 1,000 times bigger than Taiwan’s!  I can guarantee you that Jeremy will have a mega endorsement deal from China before the 2012-2013 season starts!

Making money and being rich may no longer be fashionable in America, but they are still great in China!  Should America sue China for copying capitalism from us?



Related Articles

Previous articles by Frank Li

About the Author

Frank LiFrank Li is the Founder and President of W.E.I. (West-East International), a Chicago-based import & export company. Frank received his B.E. from Zhejiang University (China) in 1982, M.E. from the University of Tokyo in 1985, and Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in 1988, all in Electrical Engineering. He worked for several companies until 2004, when he founded his own company W.E.I. Today, W.E.I. is a leader in the weighing industry not only in products & services, but also in thought and action.

Dr. Li writes extensively and uniquely on politics, for which he has been called "a modern-day Thomas Jefferson"(see page 31).



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  1. ECB-Watch says :

    Why accept from a grown man what I wouldn't accept from my young niece?

  2. Tony says :

    This is a very strange article. Maybe it's satire.

  3. Larry says :

    I voted
    Excellent because it gives one pause to consider What China is and what China is trying to do! The old argument applies "Do the ends justify the means?"

    Frank you know my views on this: China is closer to Fascism than to anything else, they have found a way to make it work, whilst Italy bumbled.

    Misconception 2: China is a threat to America

    An upward mobile society is not a threat to anyone. But.they still have 1 Billion people to bring into the economy, and the trick is to do it without the wheels coming off.

    Misconception 3: China steals America’s jobs
    Yes they can steal all the lousy jobs they want as long as the high paying jobs stay behind’
    Plastics is coming back to America because we have the cheapest Natural Gas in the world. We will have regional advantages when we exploit our natural reserves. China cannot compete with plastics at this point, unless they discover Natural gas in larger quantities than they need for fuel.

    Misconception 4: China trades unfairly with America
    Free trade is a canard, nothing is free. China at this point has an advantage because of labor and their form of government. My philosophy is that we should revise all the free trade pacts and go to fair trade based upon the degree that country is a democracy or not. (I am not a small minority, but a minority nevertheless) I also believe that the UN should only admit Democracies)

    Misconception 5: China is a currency manipulator
    Wrong! China is the master currency manipulator. Currency manipulation takes many forms. Subsidies, availability of investment capital, labor rates, etc etc… Brazil handles it well if China has a 40% advantage then the duties are 40% An so China has to compete on the quality of their goods.

    Misconception 6: China steals America’s IP (Intellectual Property)
    (wink wink) You are stretching credulity, Instead of stealing Chinese companies should license. This would help the trade imbalance, would it not???

    Misconception 7: The Chinese are not free
    Your argument here is semi valid, Tibetans and Uighur would dispute.

    Misconception 8: China has problems with human rights
    Native Americans NOT WITHSTANDING, all cultures have melded in our democracy and native Americans enjoy money from Casinos and they got their revenge by giving the world tobacco and the resulting slow revenge of Cancer. By your analysis, Hungary, Finland and others who have Mongolian blood should reject their citizenship??? What a stretch!!! China has a human rights problem, the death penalty, abortion of a second child, selling of human organs, etc etc are Human rights issues in a majority of the civilized world, We USA also have short way to go on these issues but China is the poster boy for Human Rights abuses. It will never be solved without an independent judicial system and elimination crony malfeasance.

    Misconception 9: China has issues with Taiwan and Tibet
    Without the USA in the wings China would have crushed Taiwan as they did to Tibet. The problems are different, Taiwan is a territorial issue offshore oil, fisheries etc., Tibet is a religious and racial issue, and the Uighur are also a religious and racial issue.

    Misconception 10: The Chinese can’t play basketball

    Jeremy is a good player, but when he played against the Heat, it was like a child lost in a man’s game. He can probably do OK against Chicago.

    PS These comments are copyrighted so no stealing them!!

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