This Demonstration Is the Beginning of a Revolution
An Interview With Mr. Gordon G. Chang


Asian Affairs Expert

Gordon G. Chang

Graduated from Cornell University in the U.S. in 1973. He is a popular columnist who appears on numerous U.S. television programs. The author of ‘The Coming Collapse of China’, among numerous other publications. His Twitter account is @GordonChang.

Chinese ruler Xi Jinping has lost hearts and minds in China, which means that the only way he can unify the Chinese people right now is to create trouble abroad. Everyone talks about Taiwan being Xi’s target, but he could also move against Japan, because there are already problems in the Senkakus where Chinese ships are going into Japanese sovereign water. Xi could also pressure Okinawa. China has designs on the entire Ryukyu chain.

Even if China were to attack Taiwan, Japan would be involved. The reason is that for an invasion of Taiwan to be successful, Xi Jinping has to establish a naval blockade. For a naval blockade to be successful, China must include sovereign Japanese territory.

Yonaguni is the southernmost inhabited Japanese island. Yonaguni is south of Taipei, and on a clear day you can see Taiwan’s mountains from it. So a Chinese blockade has got to include Yonaguni. When you look at a map, Japan and Taiwan are actually part of the same archipelago. The Chinese know that for them to be successful, they have got to go after not just Taiwan but Japan as well. Japan cannot escape a Taiwan crisis.


Biden Administration Does Not Want to Anger China

――The White House has not supported the protests in China. What do you think of this?

The White House response was uninspiring and dispiriting because there should have been a clear expression of support for the protesters in China. There were only mild comments from administration officials, especially John Kirby, the National Security Council coordinator. So people in the US, I thought, were disappointed in what the administration had to say.

The administration obviously does not want to anger China, but that is not a good strategy because we cannot appease the Chinese regime. China believes the US is its enemy. China believes that we are the enemy not because of anything we say or do; it’s because of who we are, because of our values and our form of governance. The insecure Chinese regime is worried of the inspirational impact that our values and our democratic form of government have on the Chinese people.

There is no point in trying not to anger China because China will be angry at us no matter what we do, and in any event we should support freedom and democracy around the world. This is why the United States has such great power. It is not because of our military or because of our economy; it is because of our values. These values are shared across the world. These are not just American values. American presidents always get into trouble when they do not clearly support and enunciate American values.


The Difference between 1989 and 2022

――You mentioned that there is a difference between the 1989 Tiananmen movement and the protests of today. How do you perceive this difference?

There is a big difference.

In 1989, Chinese protesters did not call for the Communist Party to step down.

They wanted Premier Li Peng, a hardliner, to leave, and they wanted the Party to open up. They did not challenge the right of the Party to rule.

What we saw after the November 24th Urumqi fire was that protesters immediately called on the Party, the CCP, to step down. They immediately called for Xi Jinping to step down. They recognized that the cause of China’s problems was not Covid-19 or the Covid-control measures. They realized that the problem was the nature of the communist system.

This is the significant difference between 1989 and 2022.

This is more than just a rebellion. It’s revolution, because to say the Party should step down means they want a new form of governance; they want to govern themselves. That’s revolutionary.


China Will Become Unstable

――It’s actually right. As you know, in Japan, almost all newspapers are reporting this protest just like a usual one. Your viewpoint is crucial and really thought provoking for the Japanese people. The Chinese people are revolutionary, right?

Right. The Communist Party all of a sudden relented on the COVID rules and relaxed them. People say, “Oh, protests will go away.” Well, for a little while the protests will go away, but we also know that the most dangerous time for a regime is when it starts making concessions, because when it starts making concessions people then have hope for change and press for more change. This forces the regime to fight back. The result is that China will remain unstable regardless of the outcome this time.

The problem for the Communist Party is that it has lost the hearts and minds of Chinese people. It can coerce Chinese people. It can intimidate them. It can imprison them, but it cannot persuade them. It can only force them to do certain things.

Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists were so much more powerful, if you looked at the size of the armies and everything, but the Communists won in 1949. They chased Chiang to Taiwan.

The great Chinese historian Yu Ying-shih said that the reason why the Communists won in 1949 was because the Nationalists had “lost people’s hearts.” Now, the Communist Party is the one that has lose hearts.

People look at the Communist Party and say, “Well, they are so much stronger than the people,” and that is true. The Party controls the guns; it controls the government; it controls the military; it controls the People’s Armed Police and security services, but the Communists cannot persuade people. Remember, the protests after the November 24th fire occurred simultaneously across China. There was no coordination. There were no leaders. There was no organization. They just occurred immediately. Because everybody in China thinks the same way, they react in the same way to news.

Yes, the Communist Party can quell the protests now, but something is going to happen in the future, and when that happens, the Chinese people are going to do the same thing that they did after the November 24th fire.

They will go out into the streets, so the Communist Party has a problem. I think the people will win, one way or the other. And whatever happens, China will be unstable.


Apple Is Now Thinking of Leaving China

China is your neighbor. Japan cannot move away from China, and China is already pressuring you. China needs a foreign enemy, and the possibility of China going to war cannot be ruled out. Your businesses are in China. Given the various risks, that is not good as Apple found out. Apple is one of the most important foreign companies in China. Apple is now moving manufacturing out because the company has no choice. If you want to buy an iPhone 14 in the US, you will probably receive a message that it is not available until January. This is a debacle for Apple because it is the Christmas shopping season.

Christmas may not be a big deal in other places in the world, but it is in the US for shopping. Apple, at a time where people want to buy iPhones, is not going to have them available because of what is happening in China. This is a lesson for other American companies, and it is also a lesson for Japanese companies.


Leaving China Will Be the Trend

――I heard that many American companies are now thinking about taking manufacturing from China, including Apple. Now, I am wondering what kind of companies, for instance, are leaving or are thinking about leaving China?

Companies have left China for approximately 18 months. This is not something that just happened yesterday, but the protests in China will accelerate this trend. We will see companies moving manufacturing to Mexico; especially to the areas bordering the US, where there are already many factories. Vietnam and India will have an influx of business. You will see businesses start to pull out of China. Low-cost manufacturing is deserting China.

――In Japan, Japanese companies are also thinking about leaving China, but some are still thinking about going to China. The Liberty Magazine is thinking about reporting again about American companies that are leaving China.

There are a couple of things happening.

First, China is enforcing environmental rules, and that has been tough for companies. Wage rates have also increased.

These two trends have been occurring for quite some time, but there is something that is new. Xi Jinping has been closing China off from the rest of the world. He is cutting links and isolating China. This has occurred periodically throughout Chinese history.

If you go back through two millennia of imperial rule, every so often Chinese leaders will close off China because they think the pressure from the outside is too much. This was what Mao Zedong did in the first decade of the People’s Republic. Xi Jinping, who admires Mao, is doing this right now. He is also attacking private companies, both foreign and domestic.

You know that Jack Ma lives in Tokyo. Ma was one of China’s most important businessmen and one of the most innovative, with Alibaba and Ant Group. Now, however, he lives in Tokyo. This should be a warning to Japanese businesses: If Jack Ma cannot live in China, how can you expect to live in China?

We also cannot forget that Xi Jinping is mobilizing the Chinese military and Chinese civilian society to go to war. This situation is extremely dangerous for Japanese companies.


The Tension Between Japan and China Has Nothing to Do With History

One other thing, there are many people who say “Japan and China have a bad relationship because of their long history. “ That’s not true. It is true that Japan and China have gone to war with each other–no doubt about that–but that is not the cause of the current bad relationship with China. Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, the first two leaders of the People’s Republic, had cordial and warm relations with Japan.

It was only Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao, and Xi Jinping who had tense relations with Tokyo, and the reason has nothing to do with Japan or with “history.” It has everything to do with Communist Party leaders feeling insecure and needing foreign enemies. They pick on Japan. Just as they pick on the US. When people say, “Oh it’s the history.” No, it has nothing to do with history. It has everything to do with weak communist leaders.

――It’s always their strategies to find enemies to unite their people.

Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping were confident of their legitimacy. They did not pick on Japan. They were part of the revolutionary generation. They felt they had the right to rule. They did not need foreign enemies. Not true with their successors, who were not part of the revolutionary generation, who had political problems inside Beijing. They figured that they would rally the Chinese people against Japan.

――That is a very crucial good point, because, as you know, many Japanese people think China is our victim. Many Japanese people are thinking like, yes, it is quite natural to for China try to invade other countries for because China has been a victim.

China is not a victim. The victims will be Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, India, or America.

This Demonstration Is the Beginning of a Revolution
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