William Stanton: Xi Jinping steers China back to Mao era

05-Jun-2020 Intellasia | TaiwanNews | 6:02 AM Print This Post

On the 31st anniversary of the bloody Tiananmen crackdown, retired American diplomat William Stanton expressed disappointment over China’s backwards trajectory under Xi Jinping’s leadership in an interview with the BBC on Thursday (June 4).

Stanton, the former American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) director, was at that time working as a top secretary at the US embassy in Beijing, witnessing the student-led pro-democracy movement up close. He told the BBC that he took part in the negotiations between then US ambassador to Beijing James Roderick Lilley and the communist government.

During the year-long negotiations, he met the Chinese astrophysicist and pro-democracy leader Fang Lizhi, inspiring him to look at the regime differently.

Stanton emphasized that despite his appreciation for the culture and people of China, he thinks that genuine Chinese culture has been well-preserved in Taiwan and Hong Kong, though the situation is changing in the city-state at the mouth of the Pearl River Delta.

The Communist Party of China (CCP) is heading backwards to where it was under Mao Zedong’s dictatorial rule, he noted, with political progress apparently halted since Xi assumed leadership in 2012. Though the country has to some extent become more open in terms of culture and society, it is still labouring under an authoritarian political system that has not substantially altered in the 30 years since Tiananmen.

In the era of Xi, the regime began to take a harder political and economic line, strengthening its grip on state-owned enterprises and adopting both a more aggressive trade and foreign policy. As an example of the country’s recent tactics, Stanton offered up China’s controversial “Thousand Talents Programme” a facade through which Beijing has been purloining American research and technology.

Under such circumstances, he recommended the US government take strong measures against China, conveying his surprise that some American politicians and scholars today remain insistent on engagement rather confrontation with the communist regime. “The reality is, the CCP treats the US and democratic systems as an enemy, just as how it treats Hong Kong and Taiwan,” he added.

“They should ask the CCP why it can’t stop repressing Hong Kong, bullying Taiwan, and expanding militarily in the South China Sea. Or perhaps they should ask the communist regime why it can’t end its ongoing oppression of the Muslim Uyghur population of Xinjiang, the Tibetan people, the Christians and the doctors and reporters who speak the truth.”



Category: Taiwan

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