Friday, December 14, 2007

U.S.-China Friendship WMB 10/1971



The sudden twist in the official American outlook on the People’s Republic of China caused an upsurge of interest about China from the general public. Overnight, newspapers reversed over twenty years of virtual blackout by printing every conceivable kind of news item, from diplomatic speculation to Paris-copied Mao jackets.

The Chinese American community, however, has reacted much more cautiously. One factor is the presence of the Nationalist Kuomintang Party (KMT) in major Chinese communities in the United States. Also, their dominance of the Chinese Six Companies, hierarchal head of the traditional family associations, has exerted tremendous influence on the economic and political conditions of major Chinese communities. This has enabled them to pose quite convincingly as the spokesmen for Chinese here, especially because their political views have been so conveniently similar to those of the federal government. Now, this is changing.

The abrupt break of American hostility towards China is actually an attempt on the part of the Nixon government to reassert American prestige at a time when the progressive policies of other nations towards China are beginning to be strongly felt. The pro-China sentiment in the United Nations, contrasted with decades of American outbursts against China, is a solid fact the United States has difficulty accepting.


It is also no secret that Nixon badly wants to be re-elected next year and has always tried hard to assume the role of peacemaker. The vanity of his actions, whatever the effect, and the real nature of his thinking, unsuccessfully hidden, is clearly reflected by J. Edgar Hoover, boss of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), long-time friend and close political associate.

Mere days after Nixon appeared to reverse his political image by announcing his efforts to meet with Chinese leaders, the newspapers printed a recent statement by Hoover, reporting his speech to the U.S. Senate that “Red China” is the greatest threat to world security and the “internal security” of the United States. Much before, in May, 1968, also in front of the Senate, Hoover stated that the Chinese American population represents a danger to America because they are Chinese. Sharply racist, he repeated that statement in his recent appearance before the Senators. Nixon, not unexpectedly, remained silent regarding Hoover’s charges.

These different views present contradictory information which the Chinese living in the United States must sort out to understand our position in this country. This is another reason the Chinese community has allowed the KMT to carry on, at least for the time being, its rapidly weakening claim that it speaks for all Chinese.


The demonstration the KMT and Chinese Six Companies staged on September 21, 1971 to protest the rightful seating of the People’s Republic of China replacing the Taiwan province representatives in the United Nations is an example of this. Despite claims of thousands of marchers, only 600 Chinese showed up, many of them forced or paid because of relationships with the KMT or Six Companies.

The new developments and consequent confusion in the Chinese community over our new role is nothing new. Depending on how friendly or unfriendly relations have been between China and America, the Chinese living in this country have been welcomed or turned away. Our image changes according to the needs of the government to justify its policies.

This racist attitude was evident during the McCarthy era (the early 1950’s) when many Chinese Americans were branded subversive and communist, ruining their businesses and lives. This occurred just after the People’s Republic of China was founded and America turned only to words, not facts, to justify its outbursts against China.

These two factors of the still-weakening KMT and racist attitudes towards the Chinese will be resolved as newer, more progressive voices are heard. These are already present in the Chinese community, working to provide a more realistic, reasoned view of the People’s Republic of China. These attitudes show that the people themselves want to know much more about China, especially in a community where accurate news about China has been almost non-existent. It seems certain that newer organizations with more progressive attitudes are getting increased support from the Chinese community.