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were affiliated with respectable institutions in mainland China and
even in Taiwan. For example, a professor of foreign languages at
National Taiwan University in Taipei, Taiwan, argued with shrill, emo-
tive intensity that freedom would make China lax and democracy will
make China collapse. What was so great about freedom, and what was
so good about democracy? Power was much more important to China
than democracy. Because Westerners were frightened by China's enor-
mous population of 1.1 billion, they used freedom and democracy to
divide and weaken the Chinese. The professor warned Chinese com-
patriots that “when Westerners give you the thumbs-up and call you
'good,' you are nothing but an unmitigated traitor to China!” These
rants were contained in a multiauthored topic that slavishly parroted
the Chinese Communist party line and overflowed with spite and
venom toward Chinese dissidents and overseas exilees (“Xiang jianshe
Zhongguo di iwan tongbao zhi jing” [My respects to the hundreds of
millions of compatriots building China], in Lin and Wei 1999, 206-8).
Of course there were many rational voices in China in the 1990s that
discussed China's international relations in more sober and reasoned
terms. Many Chinese intellectuals were embarrassed by the shrill tone
of such ultranationalistic works and preferred to direct foreigners to
more solid and reasoned works by China's large community of
responsible intellectuals. The debate in China about democracy, liber-
alism, and human rights was maturing during the 1990s and was not
controlled by extremists who ranted about “Asian values” and
rejected respect for human rights as unworkable in China. Contempla-
tions of China's future by such renowned scholars as Yan Xuetong and
Li Shenzhi were much more rational and evenhanded.
China changed fundamentally in the 1990s. During this decade the
youth of China turned away from agitating for increased liberaliza-
tion, democracy, and freedom in China and turned toward making
money and indulging their ultranationalist impulses, usually at the
expense of the United States and Japan. The long and time-honored
tradition of student protests and marches was killed at the Tiananmen
massacre of June 1989. In 1995 at a Kentucky Fried Chicken store on
the Bund in Shanghai, a young Chinese man who was a university stu-
dent during the 1980s said it all to me: “Since Tiananmen, nobody
cares about democracy and freedom any more. Now we're only inter-
ested in making money.” The students and youth of China today have
traded their political birthright for a mess of economic pottage.
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