23 Jun 2020

Why China is evil

Posted by jofr







A recent discussion with Yuen Yuen Ang from the University of Michigan inspired me to write this short blog post. She is a China expert who has written numerous books on China, including “China’s Gilded Age. The Paradox of Economic Boom and Vast Corruption” [1] and “How China Escaped the Poverty Trap” [2]). I do not agree with her positive view of China, because in my opinion one reason why China has been so successful is that they unleashed evil.

What does evil mean? Being evil can be very simple: just think about yourself, follow your selfish desires and do not even start to think about others. Lie, steal, cheat and bent or break any rule to follow your selfish instincts. This is the banality of evil on the level of the individual which Hannah Arendt described for the first time [3].

Evilnesss simply results from extreme selfishness. Being evil basically means being so selfish that you break elementary social rules or violate human rights in order to benefit from it. An individual can be evil, for instance a psychopath or a sociopath, but an organization, corporation or country can be evil too.

An organization is evil if it tortures the own people like the Catholic Church in the Spanish Inquisition [4] and the Roman Inquisition [5].

A corporation is evil if it produces deliberately products like pesticides that can cause cancer [6], if it violates worker laws or of it has inhuman working conditions.

A country is evil if it occupies other countries violently [8] or if it kills the own people just because they demonstrate peacefully, as China did during the Tiananmen Square protests which is symbolized by the image of the tank man [7]. In both cases basic human rights are violated.

Even life itself can be considered as evil. Remember Richard Dawkins and his “selfish genes”? It basically means all living organisms are the byproduct of selfish genes. Life itself is evil. The world is full of evil which competes on multiple scales and levels.

China is evil on multiple levels, from the bottom to the top. While the one child policy made sense from a demographic perspective, it has created a whole generation of little narcissistic emperors [9]. Narcissistic people are evil because they only think about themselves and how great they are. On the level of the companies many are either state companies or joint ventures who steal or copy ideas from foreign companies, or are under scrutiny because they violate working conditions. On the level of the state the single-party state is a totalitarian state which tolerates absolutely no criticism, kills peaceful demonstrators [7], puts people in concentration camps or re-education camps after a sham trial, and imprisons peaceful writers until they die, like the peaceful Nobel prize winner Liu Xiaobo [10].

Where would you rather live, in a democratic country like Taiwan, or in a totalitarian state like China where the state police can come any time at night, knock on your door and take you after a sham trial indefinitely to prison, just because you had an idea how to improve the state or dared to criticize the ruling party.

[1] Yuen Yuen Ang, China’s Gilded Age: The Paradox of Economic Boom and Vast Corruption, Cambridge University Press, 2020

[2] Yuen Yuen Ang, How China Escaped the Poverty Trap, Cornell Univeristy Press, 2016

[3] Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, Viking Press, 1963

[4] Joseph Pérez, The Spanish Inquisition: A History, Yale University Press, 2005

[5] Christopher Black, The Italian Inquisition, Yale University Press, 2009

[6] Mitchel Cohen and Vandana Shiva, The Fight Against Monsanto’s Roundup: The Politics of Pesticides, Skyhorse, 2019

[7] Louisa Lim, The People’s Republic of Amnesia, Oxford University Press, 2015

[8] Tubten Khétsun, Memories of Life in Lhasa Under Chinese Rule, Columbia University Press, 2014

[9] Tamara Jacka, Andrew B. Kipnis, Sally Sargeson, Contemporary China: Society and Social Change, Cambridge University Press, 2013

[10] Liu Xiaobo, No Enemies, No Hatred, Belknap Press, 2011

(the image is from Wikipedia and shows a PLA guard )

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