'MFN' Status Trades Bucks for Chinese Lives

Article excerpt

Photos of spectacular fireworks displays filed the front pages in July when Britain surrendered Hong Kong to China. Chinese President Jiang Zemin announced "a victory for peace and freedom"' and the festive media coverage, emphasizing Chinese racial "pride" seemed to echo his sentiment.

Congress managed to send its bouquets, too. After several weeks of debate, on June 24, by a 279-153 margin, the House granted China "most favored nation"' or MFN, trade status. This means American taxpayers will subsidize investment in China by many of our largest multinational corporations: Boeing, Motorola, General Motors, B.E Goodrich, Stride-Rite, Cargill and Aetna.

"Money rules"' said a Capitol Hill staffer. "There are big, big bucks involved, and the politicians are afraid of Chinese money" which, via graft in the Clinton administration, has shown its ability to steer American policy, official and ex officio. In promo films for Boeing, Henry Kissinger panders to the Chinese, while Little Rock "restaurateur" Charlie Trie hides out in Shanghai.

The immoral dealings of corporations and politicians and the Maoist sympathies of middle-aged reporters are only the dirty froth covering the horror of 20th-century China. In the July issue of Commentary magazine, professor Arthur Waldron reviews writings by Chinese who have escaped to describe the operating methods of those who now have swallowed Hong Kong.

The horror began to crest in 1959 when Mao Tse-tung's "Great Leap Forward" imposed pseudoscientific Marxist farming theories on Chinese peasantry. As with most bad ideas, criticism was forbidden, and farmers watched as "close planting" choked seedlings and led to starvation. "Not daring to tell the truth," Waldron writes, officials reported record yields on which huge taxes were levied.

"Cannibalism became widespread," writes Jasper Becker, Beijing correspondent for the South China Post. "In most cases, cannibalism was not punished because it was not considered as serious a crime as damaging state property."

Wei Jingsheng, in The Courage to Stand Alone, recalls returning in the 1960s to his home village to observe firsthand the "natural disasters"' as Mao termed the state-induced famine. What Wei found was "nothing at all natural: millions of villagers assaulting and eating people like themselves." Being a Communist -- that is, a bureaucrat and despot -- Mao and his clique refused to acknowledge their blunders. Instead, in 1965 they launched the Cultural Revolution to distract attention from the disaster. …