Thursday, July 18, 2013

The China Syndrome - America's Jaundice View


Ignoring History - Dismissing Truth
The China Syndrome was a 1979 American thriller movie that tells the story of a television reporter and her cameraman who discover safety cover ups at a nuclear power plant.
Starring Jane Fonda, Jack Lemmon and Michael Douglas it was released on March 16, 1979 at the Cold War peak when people were starting to become wary of those "nuclear reactors" popping up all over the country.
What would happen if one of those plants had a problem?  If the reactor core melted down and super-heated radioactive materials sank through the reactor core en route to China?  That frightening scenario was the core of the movie so to speak.
People may not remember but the reference to "China syndrome" meant an American nuclear reactor meltdown in which the radioactive core could sink all the way through the Earth and contaminate China.
Of course back in that time China was allied with the Soviet Union so it was politically correct to disparage the Communists with such negative innuendoes as suffering the worst from an American nuclear accident.
Fate being the ever-fickle player on the world stage, just 12 days after the release of the unsettling China Syndrome movie the first real nuclear power plant accident in the world took place at Three Mile Island (TMI) in Pennsylvania.
It would be five years before the extent of damage from the melt down would be known and cost over $1 billion to clean up the mess and seal the contaminated reactor.  By the way, there were no deaths or serious injuries.
Well times have changed since then.  China is no longer a potential enemy but now the holder of more American debt than any other nation on Earth.  With over one billion people it is now the second largest economic force in the world.
Yet our American government still doesn't get it.  President Obama and his administration still blame China for problems ranging from tariff wars to cyber hacking, from the theft of patents and intellectual property to investing in natural resources in other countries as if that was a bad thing.
Somewhere along the line America decided China was part of the dark force that cloaked the world and in the process we conveniently forgot the 5,500 years that China has been contributing to the advances of mankind.  In truth it is the rest of us who have pretty much ripped off the Chinese.

Now there is a new president of the People's Republic of China, Xi Jinping.  For the first time the largest country in the world has a political leader who has experienced the world and understands the role China can play in the world.
Furthermore, Xi has a First Lady, Peng Liyuan who is nearly as famous as her husband, the president.  Adept at opera, patriotic, folk and  pop singing while becoming a major general in the Chinese military, she was the first in China to earn a Master's Degree in Ethnic Music when the degree was first established in the 1980's.
Charismatic and personable, she is the consummate performing artist both on and off the stage.  Oh, did I mention she is quite beautiful as well whether dressed for opera, the military, or just hanging out with the prez.
President Xi came from a family deeply involved in the overthrow of what they considered to be the corrupt Republic of China that came to power in 1911 and ruled until the Communists took over in 1949.
By 1968 Xi's father, a prominent member of the Communist ruling body, was arrested as part of the brutal Cultural Revolution of Mao.  When asked about this experience later by state television, Xi recalled it saying, "It was emotional. It was a mood. And when the ideals of the Cultural Revolution could not be realised, it proved an illusion."
Other events that influenced the evolvement of Xi included:
Over 20 million Chinese civilians were killed by the Japanese during World War II, a war fought from 1937-1945.
The Republic of China overthrew the last dynasty in 1911, and ruled the Chinese mainland until 1949 when Mao Zedong led the Communist revolution.
October 1, 1949 the People's Republic of China was declared by Mao Zedong who ruled from 1949 to 1976.
Population nearly doubled under Mao (550 million to 900 million).
From 1958-61 under Mao's "Great Leap Forward" campaign 45 million Chinese died, mostly of starvation.
Mao's "Cultural Revolution" lasted from 1966 until his death in 1976.
You can add to these the fact that Joseph Stalin had been working since the Russian revolution (1917) to bring about a revolution in China and fold them into the Soviet umbrella.
One of the disasters of World War II was that two allies, America and the Soviet Union, would save the world from Hitler and the Japanese yet whose distrust for each other would send the world spiraling into a Cold War and the greatest arms race in history.
I think we forget that China had a long and illustrious history from the time humans first showed up on Mother Earth.
China has been a Communist nation for just 64 years, less time that Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton and even George Bush have been alive.
The area of China was first populated between 250,000 and 2.4 billion years ago.  A cave in Zhoukoudian contained fossils dated 300,000 to 750,000 years ago, fossils that proved the existence of civilized man.  The Peking Man site yielded remains of Homo sapiens dating back 18,000-11,000 BC.
Over 5,000 years ago, around 3,000 years before Jesus, Chinese were writing and the Xia dynasty began a system of hereditary monarchies known as dynasties that ruled the land.  By 221 BC several states were conquered and thus began the Chinese Empire under the reign of the Qin Dynasty.
Along the way there were some pretty powerful leaders like the Mongol leader Kublai Khan.
Also along the way the Chinese literally wrote the book for mankind in terms of health care and treatment, math, technology and even religion as Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism all evolved in the Chinese culture thousands of years before Christianity.
I will be devoting future articles to the Chinese contributions to mankind.  But first I want to make my own little contribution to the Chinese.  I want to recognize the fact that the word "China" has nothing to do with the long and colorful history of the largest population in the world.
Zhongguo is the most common name for China. The first character zhōng () means "central" or "middle," while guó (/) means "state" or "states," and in modern times, "nation."
The term in ancient usage referred to the “Central States” of the period before the unification of the empire around 221 BC; a culturally distinct core area centered on the Yellow River valley.
In the 20th century students began to spread the concept of Zhōnghuá (/中華), which represented the people, including 56 minority ethnic groups and the Han-Chinese with a single culture identifying themselves as "Chinese".
The Republic of China (1911) and the People's Republic of China (1949) both used the title "Zhōnghuá" in their official names. Thus, "Zhōngguó" became the common name for both governments.
As for the purpose of this article, it is to begin to introduce you to the truth about China and the Chinese.  We have a most extraordinary opportunity to turn our international relations away from using force and fear to manage the world.
China has a new president who actually went to visit Iowa, my home state, when he first got involved in Chinese politics.  It seems feeding the people was a lot more important than hurting the people to young Xi Jinping.
Because of his family involvement he knows the good and bad of Communist politics and has already demonstrated that what happened in the past will not be tolerated in his time as president of the people of China.
America and Obama can embrace the Chinese as ancient friends and help America and the world rediscover the treasure trove of scientific, technology, medical, arts and military history and achievements of the past 5,000 years of Chinese history.
The citizens of both America and China will be the beneficiaries.  Don't forget, while we lay claim to the highest standard of living and most money in the world the Chinese people live longer and have far fewer health problems than we do.
There is a lot of beauty in China, yes, like my favorite Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi.
It seems there is a lot we can share.

Thank you.


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