I first went to live in China in 1982. I thought they should build hostels and welcome foreigners to visit inexpensively, in keeping with the egalitarianism the government supposedly championed. Instead, they built five star hotels. Partly it was a matter of the capital needed from Western companies like Holiday Inn but partly they bought into a certain Western economic model.While the Cultural Revolution was successful in many respects—it stopped the famines, provided enough clothing—the leadership over the last two decades pursued a plan of growth that virtually no one thought they could achieve, quadrupling the economy. But this came at enormous human and environmental cost. Inequality is stark and worsening in China, life in the countryside is very bleak, especially for women; only in China do more women than men commit suicide, almost 60 percent of the world’s total.
Many hawks would make China out to be a grave military threat to the U.S., but consider, for example, some very simple facts: The U.S. has 12 aircraft carriers, China has none; the United States has over 700 military bases and other installations outside its borders, while China has none; 250,000 U.S. military are stationed overseas—not counting the mercenaries—but again, China has none. China has 100-400 nuclear weapons, the U.S. has 10,000. The Chinese have much better grounds for fearing the United States than the other way around.
My latest real interaction with him was after I wrote the posting “‘Democracy Now’ Gets Nuclear Ban Vote Totally Wrong” late last year. He saw it and responded:
Excellent letter, Sam; thanks for doing it. I’m quite disappointed in Amy Goodman; what has happened? Have a good weekend, Henry
I thanked him for his note, wrote that I wanted to get him on a news release soon. I emailed him again in April with no response and—especially since he was just about the age of my father who died in January—had an occasional worried thought in the back of my mind, until today.