Other Discussions on China

Hong Kong, China, and the World

The Hong Kong fireworks evinced different reactions around the world. There was a general feeling that China had succeeded the USSR as a problem, but also each country wondered how it would be affected. In the U.S. there was concern about human rights, but weightier was the concern about U.S. investments. "The China Syndrome" (The Economist, June 21) was a very pessimistic assessment of the fate of U.S. investments in China. Those in Hong Kong might suffer the same fate.

Western Europe had other concerns. In England there was nostalgia. In Russia, where the Mongols have not been forgotten, the old fear of the yellow peril was evident. China still resents the 1689 Treaty of Nerchinsk by which Russia was able to push to the Pacific. Now it might seek revenge, siding with the troublemakers in the Russian Far East. Spain was especially interested, since it hoped Hong Kong foretold the return of Gilbraltar. However, Spanish leaders spoke mildly, since Gibraltarians interviewed on TV expressed displeasure at the comparison, and Spain did not want in its southwest a problem like that in its northeast, the Basque provinces. Outsiders have no idea of the national psychosis of terror produced by the terrorism there.

The most remarkable response was in Latin America, which resents U.S. hegemony. South America, which is really Southeast America, is uniting around Mercosur, with Brazil as the hub, and looks to the EEC. Spain in particular strives to be a bridge between the EEC and Latin America. Mexican television devoted much time to the Hong Kong ceremony, since it revived memories of "greater Mexico," from which the United States seized the Southwest and World.

Americans have little idea of the general resentment in Latin America against the United States, the constant target of inter-American meetings at which Fidel Castro is viewed as a heroic resistance fighter. The recent confirmation of many U.S. plots to assassinate him has helped him. The Pope, once a target of assassination himself, sympathizes with him. Throughout Latin America the cult of Che Guevara is growing, as the recent book on him by Jon Lee Anderson attests. Che foresaw that the USSR would fade and that China would replace it. China, like Europe, could serve in Latin America as a counterweight to the U.S. We have here long lamented the U.S. failure to follow this development. While we have at Stanford many distinguished China experts such as Thomas Metzger, one person is uniquely qualified to undertake this task: WAIS Fellow Bill Raliff, Hoover's Latin American curator. He was originally a China specialist; he knows Chinese and still travels regularly to China. He was at the Hong Kong transfer. e also knows Spanish and travels to Latin America regularly. He agrees that this research is necessary. I hope the Hoover administration decides to encourage it.

China and Hong Kong

William Ratliff of the Hoover Institution and WAIS knows China well. He visited Hong Kong again for the handover ceremonies. He has summarized its transition problems in a well-documented "Hong Kong's Long, Slow March Toward Democracy", the latest of Hoover's Working Paper Series in International Studies.He gives a balanced assessment of Britain's role there, although William Gladstone righteous indignation was directed more against Britain's modus operandi rather than against opium, which In the last century was commonly used to kill pain and relieve stress. When it came to be viewed as a dangerous drug, Sherlock Holmes' use of it was brushed out. Until smoking tobacco came to be viewed as dangerous a few years ago, smoking was regarded as elegant and, for youths, proof of coming of age. William Ratliff has written widely on Latin America. Since the relations with the two Chinas vary among all the states south of the U.S. and are changing constantly, the problem to be tackled in unusually complex. William Ratliff received his Ph.D. in Chinese and Latin American histories (!) from the University of Washington, a rare combination which gives him unique qualifications.