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Greenbacks won't reform Red China

By Wayne Dunn
web posted February 25, 2002

Imagine if America's slavery abolitionists had employed the following strategy: enthusiastically purchase goods made by slaves so that the increased commerce might somehow convince their masters to free them.

Fortunately for the slaves, that wasn't the abolitionists' policy. But, curiously, it's the way the past several U.S. administrations have expected to usher reform to the slave-state of China: by trading with it.

U.S. first lady Laura Bush (2nd R) holds hands with Wang Yeping, wife of Chinese President Jiang Zemin (L) as chats with U.S. President George W. Bush inside the Zhongnanhai leadership compound in Beijing on February 22
U.S. first lady Laura Bush (2nd R) holds hands with Wang Yeping, wife of Chinese President Jiang Zemin (L) as chats with U.S. President George W. Bush inside the Zhongnanhai leadership compound in Beijing on February 22

Individual Chinese no more enjoy individual rights than slaves did in pre-Civil-War America. All property and means of production in China -- every life in China -- is ultimately controlled by the state, just as surely as the lives and personal effects of the African slaves were controlled and owned by their masters. To paraphrase Ayn Rand, to pretend that a man acting at the point of a gun is an entrepreneur exercising any "rights" is to lend moral sanction to the gun-holders.

China is nation ruled by thugs. Its regime has murdered millions more people than Hitler's. At this very moment millions of Chinese languish in labor camps for no other "crime" than opposing their government's policies. Believing that trading with such a nation will prompt it to embrace freedom is about as plausible as believing that buying a shirt from Tony Soprano would prompt him to quit the Mafia.

There are some in the West, however, who are against trading with China, but for the wrong reason: they hate capitalism. The anti-capitalists oppose trade on principle, particularly trade between the West and less-developed nations such as Malaysia and Thailand, because, they bemoan, workers there aren't paid anywhere near what their Western counterparts are. The difference that escapes the anti-trade crowd, of course, is that goods made in China might very well be fashioned with slave labor, whereas in nations like Thailand and Malaysia, people are relatively free. ("Slave-wages," a term bandied about by opponents of capitalism to describe what they regard as low pay, is a contradiction. A man who freely agrees to work for a certain wage is not a slave; if he's a slave, his agreement is not required.)

Conversely, some friends of free trade rightly object to doing business with tyrannical regimes, but their formulation is false: they call businessmen who trade with China "selfish" or "greedy."

Selfish? Greedy? If a killer with an empty gun came to your door and asked to buy the bullet he needed to shoot you, it isn't "selfish" or "greedy" to sell it to him -- it's self-destructive. Businessmen should realize that trading with China is, in the long run, actually against their self-interest.

Why? Because China is openly opposed to individual rights, to freedom, to property ownership, to every fundamental upon which business and capitalism rests. How does bolstering a government and system that would destroy you amount to an act of self-interest?

No, one can't reform a hoodlum by providing him a veneer of respectability. One can't beat him by making his crimes pay. One can't convert him by pretending he's legitimate and expecting it'll somehow rub off. One must stand up to a thug when he becomes threatening and isolate him the rest of the time. One must allow him to reap the effects of his own irrationality, not shield him from them with a constant infusion of cash.

It's time businessmen became more selfish, more greedy, and starting thinking long range. It's time capitalists closed their accounts with Red China. Then when the communist regime falls of its weight, as it inevitably will if not propped up with greenbacks, then businesspeople can expect to reap abundant profits from a huge market of people eager to try out their new freedoms. And the former slaves will thank us for it.

Wayne Dunn is creator/editor of The Rational View, at www.rationalview.com.

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