Losing the Damn Race

In a few of my previous writings over the last couple of years I’ve often written of “The Race”.   That is, of the inevitability of China producing  a class of leaders, much less just one leader  that has grown up influenced by Western ideals and thought, and thus by their actions lessening the tensions between China and the rest of the World.

Notice I did not say a “democratic” or “free” China.   Rather, a China led by a leadership having spent its formative years abroad.   Or, simply travelled frequently overseas, interacting with foreigners of their generation.  Comfortable with Westerners, comfortable in a non Chinese setting, able to mingle as equals.   Not afraid of others’ ideals because they have strength in their own, thus perhaps not afraid of wading beyond the comfort zone that is called China.     This new brand of Chinese leadership would truly manage China from a sophisticated and confident pedestal.   Rather than from a reactionary, xenophobic and strident point of view. 

Unfortunately, I see neither any particular person nor such a generation in sight.

Why do I call this a “race”?   I started this post several days ago, put it down, started yet another topic, but found myself thinking not of that but of this.  So here I am, several days behind schedule, writing on this topic yet again.  Hoping to write a bit more clearly within a context you’ve seen me broach many a time.   While there is no question that China’s leadership will eventually someday look more like the above, we really have no true idea as to when?  

That is, will China come to be dominated by an open minded, liberal thinking class of government managers or will China at its present course simply run itself into the ground?  Managed by neither the best nor brightest but the most ideologically loyal and stubborn leaders, all impervious to the most basic rules of accountability and criticism.   Thus with no inclination to negotiate let alone show hints of compromise.    Their decisions decide not only the fate of a billion people, but in turn can either improve or worsen relations with neighbors.  

At best, their decisionmaking and mentality can keep fellow nations off balance.  At worst, it can create bad will amongst other nations, taking a generation to clean up.

With this I bring you Lu Wei. 

Lu Wei is the Czar of China’s Internet.  He is tasked with keeping the Chinese “safe” from the encroachment of all those “poisonous ideals” that seem to be part of the “grand conspiracy” of the West to undermine China and the Chinese People for the sake of Western Profit and eventually control of how the Chinese People interact with each other on the internet itself.

What is unspoken but understood is that Lu Wei is the first and last line of defense in the increasingly complex battle between China and Everyone Else for control of how the Chinese People themselves are manipulated.  

If China was to lose control of The Message, or the Narrative then….wait for it……”Chaos” would rule the day.   That is, “Chaos” with Chinese characteristics.   Because it is only “Chaos” when the Masters of the Chinese Nation cannot write the script, read the script, much less direct the damn thing as they see fit.

Enter Lu Wei.

He is not special because of his imperviousness to compromise.   After all, China’s leaders are never openly criticized for all to see, remember?  As such, there is nobody’s WILL they have to bend to.   The New York Times can write an article criticizing an American Presidents Policy as flawed.   And… nothing happens.   The sun continues to rise in the East and set in the West. 

The People’s Daily can write an editorial criticizing China’s President and somebody will get arrested.
What bothers me about Lu Wei is not so much that he is the gatekeeper of China’s citizens’ ability to speak their mind.   Lu Wei can be replaced by a thousand other Lu Wei’s tomorrow. 

It is his AGE.

You see, he’s only a few years older than me.  When I first arrived in China the guy was a nobody.  Just another young Chinese bureaucrat with too much power and not enough maturity to understand how to use it correctly. 

Lu Wei was born in a city (town by Chinese standards) with a population of less than a million people.  My hometown had only 300,000 people when I was born, but today is roughly the same size as Lu Wei’s.  Lu Wei is truly one of those leaders with no skin “in the game”.   To my knowledge he is not a relative of any Party Elder, and while he may remember the Cultural Revolution he certainly wasn’t scarred from it.

As most of you know I first arrived in China in 1990.  Even then I was surrounded by ambition.  China’s Youth were on the move.  Everybody wanted to go abroad.   Many wanted to go to Japan, France, or America.   Many got their first job within Guangzhou’s Office of Foreign Affairs.  You would think by now some of these students would have risen to the top of China’s hierarchy.  

Nope.   Within a few years many of them had simply resigned to go into business.   Ambition is a good thing, but can also be frustrating.   Ambition breeds impatience.  Impatience leads to frustration if one is not able to succeed right away.   On the other spectrum many are quite content to stay where they are.  No ambition to “try their hand”, nothing to lose.  Content to succeed within the system.     

Lu Wei is not dumb.  Can’t be.  How does someone with no talent go to Renmin Daxue?    At the very least he showed himself to be a good test taker.  The Gang of Four had already been arrested.  Deng was transcendent, and the Four Modernizations were being widely publicized.    The Fifth Modernization was Democracy of course and pushed by Wei Jingsheng.  One can say Lu Wei was “present at the creation” of the Democracy Movement. 

Wei was awarded for his advocacy by being thrown in jail. 

Lu Wei instead went to work at Xinhua.  That well known bastion of Independent and Liberal Thought within China.    And he was sent to that hotbed of Journalistic Muckraking we all know as Guangxi Province.

Right away one is able to understand much about Lu Wei’s formative years.   After all, how can one person working for Xinhua in one of China’s poorer provinces not at the end of the day wind up being ultra conservative?   As such it makes a lot of sense from Beijing’s point of view not to try and promote someone from a larger, more sophisticated city.  How many laowai do you think Lu Wei came across in Guangxi in the 80’s and 90’s?

How many alternative points of view was he able to be exposed to?  I think there is a time in our lives when we are hungry for something else.  A thirst for knowledge of people different from us.   Than after a few years that curiosity withers away and we become set in our views.   I think this happened to Lu Wei.  Accept he was stuck in a province that bordered a country China had just been in a war with.    So methinks his window of curiosity of others was quite narrow, and closed real damn quick.

Working at one of the most conservative places within China, in one of the most desolate provinces in China is without a doubt what formed Lu Wei.  Coupled with the lack of a Free Press to keep him and others like him humble.  There are probably hundreds of this type of official at a mid to high level within China today, with real power, albeit perhaps only at the county level.    Untouchable.  Unaccountable to no one, and most likely unheard of.    

Xi is in his 60’s. When his work is done he will be approaching 70.  Who will be his successor?   

Probably someone a little bit older than me, albeit in his 50’s now.  

I admit Lu Wei infuriates me.  He is easy to make fun of.  His hair style has no imagination, and he even combs it down straight at the sides.  When foreigners do not bend to his will he simply leaves the meeting, uttering such things as “other meetings to attend to”. 

But in a way how can he not be a Hero to tens of millions of Chinese?  After all, he is the Face of China when dealing with such “dastardly and backbiting” companies as Google and Microsoft, Facebook and every other company in Silicon Valley.   Perhaps to many Chinese he is someone to look proudly upon.

Finally someone that can stand toe to toe with the Big Bad West and “protect China” from imperialistic chicanery.

There is nothing more arrogant in this world than telling another human being what they can say…think…read…watch…act upon.

Sadistically enough, the Chinese love it when the West gets told just that by their government when trying to do business in China. 

“We could not allow any companies to enter China’s market and make money while hurting the country”, he has said.

This is typical of all Chinese government know nothings…let me translate the above in a language we can better understand:  Foreigners cannot come to China and make money off the Chinese People unless it’s something as harmless as selling hamburgers and pizza. 

So I think we are losing this “race”.  I have had great hope, an almost blind belief that China’s future leaders will be global and sophisticated enough with all things “non Han” that maybe their understanding of our ways would perhaps lead them to be a little less paranoid (we just wanna make money, Man) and a tad more accommodating. 

But with Lu Wei I’m a bit disheartened, to say the least.  China has outmaneuvered me.  They’ve simply gone deep, deep into the well, far from Beijing, where nary a foreign idea treads, and plucked someone with a mindset more fit for 1956 than a modern day economy.  

Lu Wei is a modern day Chen Yun (look him up).  A fellow persecuted like the rest in the 60’s, an advocate of Deng’s return to power, an early fan of some type of economic modernization, who in the end surprised a lot of people by instead entrenching himself in the ways of the old, strident and xenophobic til the end.

Lu Wei shows us that China has no intention whatsoever of having somebody a “little like us” in real power any time soon.  We should stop such talk of “as China modernizes”.   It already has.  Rather, it is the “thought” of the average guy in the Heavenly Kingdom that needs to do so.  That’s the real battle taking place now.   Because China has no intention of hauling some “modern guy” out of the well to be future leader of China.  It wants someone a little more like them.   A little more like Lu Wei.


  1. How can one be the Czar of China's Internet? It's closed off, barely exists and has no connection to the real outside world. That's like declaring oneself the Caesar of Pencil Sharpeners, or the Fuhrer of Fluffy Clouds.

  2. Any thoughts on how Hillary or Trump would change the US-China relationship? Another post.

  3. Yes indeed, another post, but I'm afraid there are so many folks out there writing stuff like that, that it is nearly impossible to get a clear picture.

    My take is this....Hillary is a dispassionate, cold bitch. In otherwords she is the opposite of Obama and just what America(the West) needs right now. She would be the perfect president.

    She would be much tougher on China. And it may not work. I will try and address soon. Thx for asking!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

KTV in China

The worst sex I've ever had with China Girl is with China Wife

Pros and Cons of a Chinese Wife