In the United States, the press, big tech, and Washington all collaborate to conceal how beholden all of them are to a rising Chinese superpower. But in China, very different norms prevail.
A remarkable speech by Chinese professor Di Dongsheng, delivered at a November 28 conference in Shanghai, reveals that in China, elites can talk openly about how they have brought foreigners under their sway.
Di is vice dean at Renmin University’s School of International Relations. He is also vice director and secretary of the Center for Foreign Strategic Studies in China, a think tank at Renmin. His ties with the Chinese establishment run deep. One well-placed Chinese source told Revolver that Di serves as an informal advisor at the highest levels of Chinese government, with a direct line to President Xi.
When standing before a friendly crowd of Chinese people, Di has few reservations in describing how U.S.-China relations work.
“Why did China and the U.S. use to be able to settle all kinds of issues between 1992 and 2016? No matter what kind of crises we encountered, be it the Yinhe incident, the bombing of the embassy, or the crashing of the plane, things were all solved in no time, like [a couple] do with their quarrels starting at the bed head but ending at the bed end. We fixed everything in two months. What is the reason? I’m going to throw out something maybe a little bit explosive here. It’s just because we have people at the top. We have our old friends who are at the top of America’s core inner circle of power & influence.”
Di then relates a brief anecdote to illustrate his point. Prior to a visit by Xi Jinping to the United States, Di scheduled an event at the distinguished D.C. bookstore Politics and Prose, focused on the English translation of Xi’s book The Governance of China. According to Di, the event initially fell through, because the bookstore’s owner was a former journalist who disliked the Chinese government. But that was no problem: An unnamed Western woman with long ties to China intervened with the owner and, according to Di, “made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.”
The Politics and Prose event in question appears to be confirmed by journalist Jennifer Zhang in the following series of photos and tweets.
I found it! It’s real!— Jennifer Zeng 曾錚 (@jenniferatntd) December 8, 2020
These are the photo of the book launch of #XiJingping‘s book’s “The Governance of China” that #didongsheng talked about in this video (https://t.co/0Yl8LBuJiK). You can see the photo of a younger #didongsheng in one of the photos. pic.twitter.com/SMLDZ5ZCSJ
Another “old friend” of the CCP in the photo is Ross Turrell, author of “Mao: A Biography”, a Fellow of the Fulbright Center at Harvard University, a Woodrow Wilson Center scholar of public policy. pic.twitter.com/M3YQpdQFrO— Jennifer Zeng 曾錚 (@jenniferatntd) December 8, 2020
Di elaborates on the mysterious old woman who pulled strings to make the event happen: “Of course, the old lady was not in the Mafia, but who was she?” Di goes on. “As we just said, Wall Street. She is from a famous, leading global financial institution on Wall Street. She is the president of the Asia region of a top-level financial institution. Of course, it would be politically incorrect for me to go on.”