The Further Enigma of China

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.  Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains.  Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

  • Ephesians 6:10-20

“’Politics,’ declared Chang Yuan, ‘should never be discussed by friends.’
”Several nights had passed since our excursion into the Chinese city, and we were seated on the forward deck of the Hong-Kong-Kowloon ferry waiting to be transported to the Victoria shore. …
“’And yet if I do not speak after you have requested an expression of my views, I shall be guilty of an act of discourtesy,’ he continued in a manner charmingly Oriental. …
“The story of Chinese politics is an indictment against Western diplomacy,’ he replied simply. … Not against America as a nation, but against the civilization of which she is a part; a civilization that has progressed to an exquisite point in the art of killing; a civilization of Science.’
“’But China had a civilization when Rome was a barbarian empire,’ I reminded.
“’Yes,’ he said, ‘but it was a civilization of Art.’”

  • Harry Hervey, Where Strange Gods Call

Harry Hervey’s book was published in 1924, and it was basically a memoire of his travels through the Far East, a year or two before then.  Note: for a little background about this book and why we have a copy of the original printing, I mentioned a few things in my previous article quoting his book, Cannot both Volcanos and the Lake of Fire be Real?

The government in China in 1924 is not the government of China today, but there may have still been a great deal of obfuscation, in a charmingly Oriental manner, even in the recorded conversation that is quoted above.  Art versus conquest?  That me be the log in one’s own eye not seeing their faults and too quick to point out the faults of others.

I would like to first make the same distinction made by Rev. David Robertson in a few of his posts about China of late.  There is a difference in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Chinese people.  Here are links to his first three installments of his book review on Hidden Hand by Clive Hamilton and Mareike Ohlberg.  The book’s subtitle is Exposing How the Chinese Communist Party is Reshaping the World.

Part 1 of the Hidden Hand Review  

Part 2 of the Hidden Hand Review  

Part 3 of the Hidden Hand Review

As a former army officer during the Cold War, spending three years in West Germany, I look back on the training regarding Cold War tactics, propaganda, espionage, etc., much of it was classified at the time (and I won’t mention that, and how our worst fears then are coming true today).  The communists, then in the USSR, focused their efforts not in military conquest.  The “Russians” predicted that the USA would crumble from within, helped by their spy network, but really falling victim to citizen apathy.  They maintained their military as a deterrent, as did NATO, two great powers with their finger on the button that could destroy the earth.  No, the communists are a patient lot.  They know, if given enough time, and providing some nudges in the right direction, they could allow the people who enjoy freedom so much that they take their freedom for granted.  Then, when their freedom is gone, the apathetic people will wake up wondering what has happened.

The reason for the rancor in Washington, DC is that we do not have a safe middle ground in which to negotiate.  Any negotiation becomes a loss of freedom, a move toward extreme government control, and a socialist state.  The socialist extreme wants to convert the nation into a totalitarian state with only one party, everyone poor and dependent on the party members who are the rich people in the gated communities that are careful to not allow a bread crumb to escape the gates.  They tell a slightly different story, but remember, I have been trained in seeing the signs and reading between the lines.  There will be no chicken in every pot.  The doctrine taught to guard against Communist ideology infiltration in my training (supposedly of the great red menace) is identical to the far-left social progressive ideology presented by elected American politicians today.  In my day, just 40 years ago, they would be considered enemies of the state, at least investigated as such.  And that is without any interference from China.

It is odd that the major socialistic / communistic power today is China.  Maybe the opening of the door to China by Richard Nixon was not a good idea.  I have learned from my reading and in talking with Chinese people who worked for the same parent company at the time.  Two things happened during the aftermath from the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 that are not widely known.  The ruse that the Chinese civilization was not born of conquest but of Art (as the quote from the Harry Hervey book states) went out the window, no longer even pretending after Tiananmen Square.  The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) sent the artists and intellectuals to reeducation camps as a result of the protests.  I have read several books on the subject from those who escaped.  Thus, a career as a musician in the CCP is rare, and strictly controlled.  The CCP quells creativity with an iron fist, but they excel at reverse engineering – making our inventions without paying for them and using labor that is essentially slave labor, paid people, but not free.  While they bootleg all music CDs and Movie DVDs known to mankind for black market sales, now hidden behind the scenes due to outside complaints (and only then because they hosted the Olympics and a World Expo in consecutive years), they do not produce traditional Chinese music.  The old classic Chinese music and dance is for worldwide audiences to enjoy, thinking that to be the norm in China – just, nearly non-existent in China.  A friend sent me one of the few authentic Chinese music CDs that was available.

The other less known fact is that within the people who “escaped” Chinese persecution were spies who infiltrated nations around the world, and they or their children, because they “understand” the Chinese ways, have become “Chinese advisors.”  Yet, their allegiance is toward China, not their adopted country.  Not saying all because I have some friends in that category as well, but some.

In my twenty years of working with an engineering company in the Pittsburgh area, most of those years involved occasional jobs with a few Chinese companies.  I have mentioned before that the Chinese are shrewd in their negotiations.  After all, their markets where they sell knock-offs of everything from DVDs to designer watches to designer handbags to golf clubs involve negotiations.  Nothing has a set price and the price that they give you in the beginning is over twice as much as the price they would accept.  So, in buying technology from you, that they will quickly reverse engineer, they think your original price is equally inflated.  They will negotiate most or all of the profit away before signing the contract, and then when making changes, as always occurs in the flow of doing the work, you cannot give them an either/or option.  They will withhold payments, withhold discussion, etc. until you give them both options (with a cherry on top).  We lost one very good foreign market salesman when they refused to let him leave China until he had given them what they wanted, which meant the company lost money on the contract.  At first, the company officers thought they were joking, but after six weeks of being held captive in a luxury hotel (not a tough prison, but he was not allowed to leave), one of the company officers went to China to sign the modified agreement – just to get paid for work already done and keep a little cash flow going.  The old joke: “We sell at a loss, but we make up for it in volume.”  Engineering companies must do that on some jobs to keep people employed, hoping that the next job will make enough money to counterbalance.  During one of the recessions that Rev. Robertson speaks of in his posts, our only work was Chinese jobs.  We were laying off employees and overworking the remaining employees due to lack of profits.  (You do not pay engineers any differently when they work 40 hours per week or 100 hours per week.)

My first experience working with a Chinese company was in a group that came to the USA for training, me being the training manager.  In a way, I was lucky in that I worked with Chinese people, not the companies or the CCP.  Of those who came to the USA and then going with me to a steel mill in Mexico, we had ten Chinese engineers, one who acted as the translator, and we had one party member to ensure that we said nothing wrong and none of the visiting engineers defected.  I think they also threatened to imprison family members who remained in China.  At least when I talked in whispered tones, they admitted to the threats.  It took about three days of the three weeks working with the group before I ignored the party member.  He was not there to learn anything, only to police the others and to report back if I had said anything against CCP policy – thus reeducation of the engineer students would be required to undo what I said.  I behaved, and made all discussion about work, which is hard for me.  I try to establish rapport and learn their personal interests, but that became impossible with Mr. Snarly-Face in the corner of the room.  If looks could kill, I would be dead a thousand times over.

I wrote countless textbooks that they received and then refused to have the training – thus never getting paid to write the textbook.  But I went to China five times.  My first trip was to Shanghai.  My office mates told me that I had not been in the real China when I got back.  The next two trips were to Tangshan where the massive earthquake occurred in the 70s.  The next trip was in Donghai, Shandong province, staying at a golf resort during the Olympics – and only being able to see ping pong on the TV – as if no other sporting event existed.  And the last trip was to Zibo, Shandong province while working at an aluminum mill in Zouping.  For the most part, the Chinese people were very curious about these strangers, at least the Caucasian strangers.  At times, they refused to have a black instructor, and when I partnered with a black engineer on the trip to Donghai, I wondered if they listened to what he had to say.  They had to let him speak since he was one of only two instructors. Then again, when talking to the working level people, they did not seem to mind. That may have been a CCP issue instead of a Chinese people issue.

As I mentioned before, my negotiation skills were poor.  I found a few silk neckties that I wanted in one store.  I worked them down from about ten dollars per tie to three dollars per tie.  I knew that I had paid too much, but I got what I wanted at a fraction of what the ties might fetch in the USA.  Then I opened my shopping bag when I got back to my hotel room.  They had felt so sorry in taking advantage of me.  As a bonus, they had thrown in four fake Rolex watches to help make the pain go away for my poor negotiating skills.  (Do I need to use the trademark symbol when they were fake?  The Chinese did, but…)  My wife gave them away as gag gifts.

So, the people are wonderful.  But their pollution was the worst that I have experienced anywhere in the world.  With my sinus issues, I had to go to the doctor upon my return from every trip.  But there was that overpowering presence of the CCP.  I wonder why they call the book Hidden Hand?  In China, you have no idea who is watching, but you are aware that there is always someone watching.

But what we must remember is the distinction between the CCP and the Chinese people.  The Scripture says it well.  Our battle is with the evil of this world and not with flesh and blood.  Remember that the Chinese Christian church is growing although the persecution of the church is escalating.  We need to pray for our Chinese brothers and sisters, and fight the evil in the world, even in our own country.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

2 Comments

Add yours →

  1. just like Russia and even North Korea—you just never know who’s watching..
    seems many in this country seem to want the same thing…
    makes me want to bam my head on a wall.

    Liked by 1 person

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