Red is the principal color of the flags of the Soviet Union and China. The communism led by the Soviet Union was expanding fast post WW II intimidating the anti-communist world led by the United States. Red was used to categorize communist countries such as red Russia, red Romania, red Cuba, red China, etc. Regarding China, the US mainstream media seems to be stubbornly stuck with a red China image despite of the fact that the modern China not only has departed from the Soviet style of communism in the 60’s but also has transformed herself in the past four decades by embracing and experimenting with capitalism and socialism. This article uses color to explain the changing China. To understand China, one must realize that a yellow or a red China is gone forever and the world stands to benefit from a green and a gold China.
As one of the oldest nation on earth, China is a mystery to most people in the world because her five thousand years of history is not well understood by her fellow global citizens. However, living in the same global village today, people and nations must know one another like neighbors to get along and to cherish the neighborhood together in a civilized manner. As a civilized neighborhood, one must know each other, at least everyone's recent history and background, so that everyone can care for each other like civilized neighbors for mutual benefit. To the world, especially Americans, China seems to be ill understood. The modern history of China was scantly taught in American schools. Learning on one's own, unfortunately, Americans get a contradictory presentation colored by political interpretation.
In America today, one gets an overwhelming dosage of messages from a biased and contradictory media that China is rising and doing good on the one hand and being evil and threatening on the other hand. The latter image has been painted by the mainstream media principally because of its lack of understanding of China's modern history and its subjective analyses of China’s behavior. We have discussed numerous times about China's modern history and made objective interpretation with comparison to the US history, but the mainstream media seems to be stubbornly stuck with a red China image, labeling China red based on a legacy - anti-communism strand of foreign policy and explaining whatever China does with red color – an expanding communist threat. This is dangerously wrong because such a bias leads to hostility and confrontation possibly leading to war. Today's column entitled, Yellow, Red, Green and Gold China is written to present a fair image for China.
Let's go back to the 19th century. An expanding West was colonizing the world while China's economy was the largest in the world. Qing dynasty had followed Ming Court abandoning all naval activities (recall: General Zheng He in Ming dynasty sailed with a large fleet of giant vessels (5X longer than Columbus' flag ship), exploring Pacific and Indian Oceans seven times.) He determined that the rest of the world was far less civilized than China, hence the Ming Emperor ordered to forbid any future sea exploration. Arrogant and self-indulgent, the Qing court designated yellow as its royal color exhibited by King’s robe and ruled China as if China was the entire world. When the gun boats of the West, including the Americans, came to China, Qing court was defeated and humiliated with numerous unequal treaties. Even a small nation, Japan, was able to crash Qing's hastily assembled navy and forced China to declare Joseon (Today's Korea) to be Japan's interest-territory and ceded Taiwan to Japan (1895). Late nineteenth century was a nightmare for China, wars had driven many Chinese to be refuges to go abroad to make a living despite of a discriminating world awaiting them. Chinese were called 'Yellow' disaster (Negative term, different from ‘Yellow Peril’ or ‘Yellow Terror’ referring to the fear of Asians caused by the Japanese victory in Russo-Japanese War,1904-05 and the Great Genghis Khan, 1162-1227) by the West because of their skin or emperor's robe color. Chinese were not welcomed in America other than being used as coolies (cheap labor). We might call that disgraceful period of China as Yellow China.
The awakening of Chinese people was slow and late. The Chinese revolution to build a Republic nation was not smooth as the French or American revolution due to foreign interventions by the Western powers but most devastatingly by Imperialistic Japan and Russia. The American interference was remembered positively by the Chinese for helping her revolution despite the fact that Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), the President of the U.S., used Chinese territory to settle the Russo-Japanese war. (Roosevelt received the Nobel Peace Prize for his mediation effort. To this day, China has very little respect for the politically motivated Nobel Peace Prize). China's path to Republic has been treacherous and still incomplete as the PRC (Chinese Communist Party (CCP) originally supported by the Soviet) and ROC (the U.S. supported anti-communist government) are governing the Mainland and Taiwan respectively. Despite of China's (PRC) departure from Stalin's communist Soviet Union, China was treated as an enemy under the label of Red China (red being the principal color of the flag of the Soviet Union and China) under the US national anti-communism policy placing China under strict economic sanction for years until the U.S. recognized PRC as the only China in 1979 abandoning the ROC. We might call this period of China as Red China.
China has come a long way as a developing nation since 1979 in terms of her standard of living vis-a-vis the developed West. Recognizing the mistakes of experimenting with communist socialism, China embraced capitalism and free trade philosophy but leery of the imperialistic capitalism that had affected China's past. So China under CCP is practicing her own modified capitalism for the benefit of the nation, in-turn benefitting the people. For the past three decades, China's economy has grown very fast, driven by a generation of youthful, entrepreneurial and hardworking people thinking nothing but productivity and making money. China's economy has long surpassed Japan being number two in the world today moving towards number one. China has become confident enough to think green, not just the green buck but a green environment. China is the principal supporter of the Paris Climate Change Control Treaty. China has increased 11,500 square miles of forest annually (2011 UN report). China's industrial innovation has shown the world many green examples. China's super fast charging electric bus implemented in Graz, Austria is an impressive demonstration in the transportation domain alone. (International standard in super fast charging) We might call this period of China, Green China.
China's rise is by and large based on her work ethics which is sorely diminishing in America. Some countries (UK and Germany) have recognized China's future and desire to share with that future but some others (Japan and India) have a sour grape mentality, jealousy and resentments. China has made tremendous investment in Africa, America and Europe based on global free trade and co-prosperity concept, different from colonial expansion practiced by the West and Japan backed by military imperialism. The investment in agriculture in Asia, Africa and South America by China has increased farm land use and food production for the world. The One Belt and One Road (OBOR) program proposed by China is an economical development project providing collaborative opportunities for participants. Yet surprisingly, the United States, Japan and India are shying away from the project out of no valid reasons. China’s infrastructure investment in Pakistan, Malaysia, etc., is beneficial to the parties involved. Chinese investments in the U.S. such as purchasing Smithfield foods for $4.7 B, GE Appliances for $5.6 B, Hollywood Legendary Entertainment for $2.6 B, etc., are oddly interpreted as job depriving rather than job preserving foreign investment. Barring some anti-China intervention, China's economy and her investment is literally the engine of global economic development leading to a golden future. We might call this future period of China as Gold China.
China's economy is growing with a healthy 6.5% generating trillions of cash. With this cash, China can invest in a capitalistic manner the same way it had made Western society appearing more civilized and superior. China's capital will change the image of China, from a poor yellow and red China to a vibrant green and gold China. If we make an effort to understand China's history, we would understand that China's behavior is far more benign than the Western colonialism practiced in the 19th and 20th centuries. Thus there is no reason for the U.S. to take an anti-China policy. Any military confrontation only intensifies China's insecurity resulting in her investment in military strength rather than in world economy. We should realize that China was a great nation and is destined to be a great nation again. China no doubt will continue to invest and provide win-win opportunities beneficial to the world. The U.S. stands to gain and grow with a green and gold China since a yellow or red China is gone forever.