The other day I read a good many emails sent in about China and some of the views I have expressed about it; views based on personal experience. Not opinions formed from reading or listening to the media or from groups who believe the entire world should operate the way “they see it.”
Many people wrote in to praise the emails I’ve written, saying they’re my best ever; others wrote to refute, some to scold, a few to “shame” me, saying I’m no longer the forthright, straightforward person I make myself out to be. There were two emails that claimed I’m a pawn for the Chinese government.
And then, the best email of all was the one I received from Suzanne, who demanded an apology from me. Here’s what she wrote:
You know, Matthew, we list readers are still waiting for your apology for sending pictures of
your children enjoying the sunshine in Tiannamen Square on the very day the news broke
out around the world how the Chinese government so controls information in China, that a
poor newspaper clerk was in hot water for accidently accepting a classified ad merely
paying tribute to the mothers of the June 4th 1989 massacre IN Tiannamen Square. Why?
Because she didn’t KNOW ABOUT IT. She was just too young, and it’s simply been erased
from the Chinese history books. And they want to erase it from the web too.
And when did you send it? Almost exactly on the anniversary of that massacre, no less.
Tiananmen: the pain that won’t go away
China Bans Flickr Over Tiananmen Photos
Tell me, Matthew – do YOUR Chinese children know about the massacre in Tiananmen
Square? and how the same parties who committed it are still in power?? Even the
freedom of religion thing is a joke — since the government picks the clergy, rather than the
faithful. Some very recent headlines:
7-Jun-07: Chinese Underground Bishop Arrested Again (B)
22-May-07: Rioting Over Family-planning Drive in Chinese Province (B)
22-May-07: Vatican Demands China Acknowledge Pope’s Power to Name Bishops (B)
17-May-07: Two Underground Priests in China Receive Prison Sentences (N)
We all love China, but it has a long way to go in the freedom department, and if you are just
too arrogant to admit that, I find myself having a hard time justifying continuing to read your
letters. I used to love your straightforwardness Matthew. It was what allowed me to buy
from you several times. But it’s missing now.
I’ll wait a day or two to see if you address this Chinese / honesty thing, but if it is as ignored
as the massacre itself, after several years of being a faithful reader, I’ll just unsubscribe
myself. I suspect I am not the only one.
Honesty was what sold you, Matthew. Don’t lose it now.
M.F.: Suzanne, thanks so much for your email. I can see this is a very hot and volatile issue for you, as well as many others. I have published your entire email along with links for others to do their own research. Even so, I DO think I have a very different perspective than those who rely on the media for ALL their information on China.
I LIVE here 3-4 months out of the year. My wife is Chinese and I have greater depth of knowledge about what goes on here than you might think or assume. For example, I am obviously writing this email from China – and allowing ALL of your links. Do you think this is going to land me in jail? I don’t think so. Do you think I have ever discussed Tiananmen with my in-laws, my wife and my son? Or do you think I’m afraid to because there is “no freedom” here?
Truth: When my son and I were walking in Tiananmen Square I told him about it. He asked many questions. I answered as best I could. Then we enjoyed the freedom that he and I and everyone else enjoys there by squatting and doing exercises with the Matt Furey Exercise Bible. We focused on the “here and now” – not what happened 18 years ago that neither he nor I can do anything about. The fact that the email was published near the date of Tianamen Square was most certainly NOT done on purpose. Do I need to apologize for this? I hardly think so. I didn’t kill anyone there – and I don’t believe I have to grieve about it.
But I’ll tell you what, I WILL apologize for doing pushups on Tiananmen Square if Presidents Bush and Clinton apologize for giving “most favored nation” trading status to China during and after T.S. Not to mention bringing Chinese leaders to the U.S. for a grand tour – after T.S. Not to mention visiting T.S. themselves.
So you know, I have been coming to China since 1993. At that time, based on what I observed, there was very little freedom. Things were tightly controlled – but I’m told they were greatly improved from the days of Tiananmen Square four years earlier.
My second trip was in 1997 for the World Shuai-chiao kung fu championships. I was shocked at how much had changed in four years – eight years after T.S.
My wife and I, along with my son, began making twice yearly voyages in 2001 and each and every time we come here we are amazed at the growth, the changes, the increased freedom, etc. I never feel confined in any way. I have never gone to a sauna and been asked to leave like I was in Japan (for having a tattoo).
For the record, you can own a business in China. You can also own a home and a car. I own a luxurious condo here and have a car as well. Both of my children go to school when they are here. They are not being brought up as “commies.” Nor are they in a repressive learning environment.
There is still a great deal of improvement to be made in China – and there are many things I don’t like – but the things I love far outweigh the bad. I have written frankly about the bad in the past (the excessive smoking, the staring, the nosiness, the doting waitresses, and so on) and I’m certain that will continue as it is entertaining to many.
On another note: In 1998, I was unable to engage people in political conversation, unless it was about the U.S.A. – or unless I wanted to begin an argument over Taiwan or Tibet. But whenever I brought up Chairman Mao (whom I don’t care for) or the current leaders in China, no one dared utter a word. Even when we were driving on the highway in a car and no one was around.
In 2001-2002, I noticed the “fear” was gone. Not only would people talk openly in cars – but in restaurants. I could sit at a table and listen as others made jokes about various leaders, very high in command. I was surprised at the change – especially when told that people regularly “text messaged” one another to make political jokes and wise cracks about various leaders.
Does this mean China is becoming a democracy? No. Does it mean that the people have ALL the same freedoms we have in the U.S.? No. What it does mean, at least to me, is that China has made HUGE STRIDES forward, in spite of whatever news feeds you’re reading that paint only ONE SIDE of the story,
As for religious freedom, you appear to be 100% convinced that there isn’t any. I’m not going to argue this point, other than to say you can find thousands of churches in China, Christian, Buddhist and Moslem, where people enjoy religious freedom and are NOT persecuted – NOR are all the churches government controlled.
If I want to be a Christian, Buddhist or Moslem in China, I believe I can do so and not suffer in the least.
This completes my answer to your email, other than to say that the threat of not buying any of my products in the future is not something that frightens me. I would hope you understand that I am hardly worried about my next meal. I write and speak my mind without fear of losing business. That’s the way I was when I didn’t have two nickels to rub together and I’m still that way today. I am true to myself and what I believe and if you think I’ve sold out somewhere – well, that’s your opinion.
I do appreciate the fact that you have been a customer and if you choose to continue, I’m happy to have ya.
Zen Master of the Internet®
P.S. If you haven’t taken a look at the trading system I told you about last week, here’s the link again.
Power Quote of The Day
“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, or not to anticipate troubles, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.”