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China



     China is a hot topic these days, largely because of the Cox Report on alleged espionage of U.S. military nuclear secrets. An earlier posting expressed our reservations about the report. Now the Center for International and Cooperation (CISAC) at Stanford has published "The Cox Committee Report: An Assessment" (pp. 99), edited by WAIS Fellow Michel May. It consists of highly technical papers by W.H.K. Panofsky, Marco di Capua, and Lewis R. Franklin. It is a point-by-point rebuttal of the Cox Report. It is too detailed for me to follow, and I am sure the members of the Cox Committee will not read it; Congressmen are so busy making speeches, traveling around and raising money that they have no time for serious reading. It is to be hoped that their technical advisers read it. I recently read a serious report on China predicting that it faced a major crisis and might break up. When I read these reports, however good, I wonder if they express fear or hope. I read them with caution. Quite apart from the difficulty of prediction and the problem of secrecy, the situation changes constantly.
     Bill Van Orsdol visited China earlier this year and he was surprised at the modernization which has taken place since his last visit. WAIS Scholar Siegfried Ramler was in China and Tibet in October, and he has kindly sent me a report on his tour. He flew from Chengdu to Lhasa in a wide-bodied Airbus, and toured Tibet by land cruiser. His report is very balanced.
     The utter condemnation of the Chinese occupation in the United States reflects our desire to discredit China. The Chinese justification of it has some basis in fact. Some aspects of the Tibetan creed, notably the method of selecting the Dalai Lama, must be dismissed as a quaint relic. The ancient hordes of begging monks were a negative force, and the Dalai Lama's colony in India has been the scene of crimes including murder resulting from jealousy among the monks there.
     It is common in the United States to dismiss as undemocratic the Confucian tradition of order cultivated not only in China but in places like Singapore. The Portuguese have just returned to China crime-ridden Macao, to the relief of law-abiding citizens there. Macao adds to the negative picture many Orientals have of Western society. Once again, we call for a balanced presentation of China. We are in danger of fooling ourselves.

Ronald Hilton - 12/23/99


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