Li Yinhe: “Who is a Han Traitor?”

The following is a translation of this post by Li Yinhe.


Nowadays there are some young people who are quite conservative in their thinking, who have more or less stopped at the level of the Westernizing faction of the late Qing dynasty. They advocate a Chinese “system” but Western “usage”. They promote the adoption of Western science and technology, but are against the adoption of the Western democratic system. They refer to those who call for a western style democratic system “Han Jian” (Han Traitor). They even compare some Chinese practices with McCarthy era legislation

The following is a quote:

The Alien Registration Act or Smith Act (18 U.S.C. § 2385) of 1940 is a United States federal statute that makes it a criminal offense for anyone to

…Knowingly or willfully advocate, abet, advise, or teach the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing the Government of the United States or of any State by force or violence, or for anyone to organize any association which teaches, advises, or encourages such an overthrow, or for anyone to become a member of, or to affiliate with, any such association.

The bill has been revised a number of times since it was enacted, but is still in effect. In July 1948, in accordance with the aforementioned law, the Us government brought a lawsuit against Eugene Dennis and 11 other Communist Party leaders for breaking it. Among the accused were journalists, who were charged with “teaching and advocating the violent overthrow of the US government”. Proof of this was in the Communist Manifesto and other Marxist works. Because these 11 leaders of the Communist Party USA were “considering publishing certain ideas” they were thrown in jail. This was in America, the land of “no legal limits on free speech or publication”. According to Title 18, 2385 of the United States Code “Whoever knowingly or willfully advocates, abets, advises, or teaches the duty […] of overthrowing or destroying the government of the United States […]” or any person who “prints, publishes, edits, issues, circulates, sells, distributes, or publicly displays any written or printed matter” to that end “Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both[…]”. Freedom of speech does not extend to obstructing the provisions of the US Constitution, nor does it extend to publications that libel or attempt to overthrow the US government. China’s Han Traitors haven’t even read Uncle Sam’s laws and are blindly kowtowing to him. They think that in America you can criticise the Communist Party however you like and call it freedom of expression.

I have two points to make about the above:

1) Are we against adopting Western laws? Why are we making Western laws the benchmark? It’s like saying, “Well, even America punishes people for expressing certain political views, so why can’t China do the same?” Isn’t this kind of logic the mistake the so called Han Traitors are making?

2) In advocating for the adoption of Western ideas, we’re advocating adopting good ones, not bad ones. Be it America or China, punishing people for expressing political views is wrong. America made mistakes during the McCarthy era, and democratic and intellectual circles did a lot of soul searching about it. If America made another mistake with regard to this law today, we would have to oppose them on it. I remember in Pittsburgh in the 80s there were Communist Party USA members handing out flyers and since then I haven’t heard about them being charged with anything. The West not only has a history of punishing people for expressing their political views, but of executing girls for being witches. Naturally we shouldn’t adopt this kind of thing, but instead those things that they do better than us.

Basically, I believe that adopting democratic improvements from the West doesn’t make one a Han Traitor, on the other hand wanting to adopt its barbaric past does.

0 thoughts on “Li Yinhe: “Who is a Han Traitor?””

  1. If a brother introduces his younger sister to a rapist, he is a traitor to the family.

    To prove someone is not a Han traitor, you first have to convince Chinese that western politicians and media (those dissidents get money from) have good intention towards China.

    Therefore , Wang Jingwei was a traitor, it really doesnt matter what he really thought in that situation or if he had good intention or not.


  2. I think the point is how can Li Yinhe demonstrate the Smith Act is bad for the US, and the American style free speech is good for China, not just theoretically but in practice, and in particular under the current circumstances.

    Her words that “punishing people for expressing political views is wrong” strikes me as typical 文科傻妞 ( meme. I agree with Li Yinhe on many other issues but not this one. The punishments take different forms but it’s quite unlikely anywhere in the world a serious challenging political force isn’t pushed back in a meaningful way. McCarthyism isn’t that mainstream in the US now not because the the government or the governing group somehow turned saint from evil. It’s only because it’s not quite necessary to go that extreme route under the current circumstances, when various other less disturbing options for punishments are available. This is not to justify Chinese government’s acts but it’s silly to expect any political machine to suddenly change its nature.


  3. Very well written and absolutely true! It is absurd to think that the Chinese People should not have freedom of speech, rule of Law and many other freedoms that democracy or a form of it brings. China is jailing Chinese heros like Tan Zuoren, Shi Tao, Liu Xiaobo Hu Jia and others, all because the pathetic Chinese Government is clawing and scraping to stay in power.

    They will fall it is just a matter of time!


  4. @ CnInDC: Very true. Any political group will use what means they can to retain power and quell threats.

    But I disagree with the rest of what you’re saying. I know it’s been romanticized a bit, but I do think that “have you no sense of decency, sir?” had as much of an effect on the end of McCarthyism as the pragmatism you’re talking about. Also, is the situation in China currently so dire that McCarthy-esque measures are really warranted? Honestly, plenty of domestic and foreign dissent is BECAUSE of those measures; if they stopped arresting people they would stop having people they felt needed to be arrested, if you see what I’m saying.


  5. @C. Custer:

    “…’have you no sense of decency, sir?’ had as much of an effect on the end of McCarthyism as the pragmatism… ”

    Many people I know considered Obama’s victory the triumph of reason, justice, and peace. I don’t, because I believe the rise of W is no coincidence, and nothing occurred since then would ever prevent another W from coming back when the time is right. Similarly, I think some form of McCarthyism could return any time, and no “decency” talk can prevent it.

    “is the situation in China currently so dire that McCarthy-esque measures are really warranted?”

    China’s leadership can only dream of being in the situation of Truman/Eisenhower, when the Soviet wasn’t even a close match to the US. Quite the contrary, if it weren’t for the 911 I had thought China could have been sanctioned like Iran, or even invaded like Iraq already. So if I was to compare the two, I don’t consider those Chinese arrests such extreme overreactions. On the other hand, there are thousands of different arrests in China everyday. If you are to make a big deal out of each, China can be quite a horrible place to live, while none of my friends complain about these. From what I heard, they don’t care.

    On the other hand, I sense an eagerness from the west to mold a cool, anti-authoritarian hero out of each of these arrests. A funny extreme here:

    “if they stopped arresting people they would stop having people they felt needed to be arrested, if you see what I’m saying.”

    Both 庄子 and 宝玉 would agree with you: “故绝圣弃智,大盗乃止;擿玉毁珠,小盗不起。焚符破玺,而民朴鄙;剖斗折衡,而民不争;殚残天下之圣法,而民始可与论议。… “


  6. @ wooddoo: This is new, she just posted it a few days ago, but she has written similar pieces.

    @CnInDC: I love 庄子. Unfortunately, I still haven’t had a chance to study 古文,so I’ve only read him in translation, but I’ve read a lot of them, and taken a couple classes on him. Far and away my favorite ancient philosopher, WAY ahead of his time.


  7. I wouldn’t compare McCarthyism to looking for ‘Han Traitors’. Within the last year there were only 2 of them whom actually got jailed because they are seen as a threat to overthrow the government. You hear Ai WeiWei and Han Han whom repeatably criticize the government but they aren’t arrested. McCarthyism is basically a witchhunt for communists.


  8. Yeah, they aren’t arrested. Last I heard, the former was in Germany after being given a brain injury by Chinese authorities. I guess this is a fair substitute for disappearing in the night, though.

    The latter never actually criticizes directly and never does anything to the scale that Ai does. Not to mention that he’s a far more public figure and him disappearing would be a far more public affair than I’m sure the CCP would want it to be.


  9. Speaking of Obama, in his recent Stat of Union speech he lamented “foreign entity” becomming involved in our election and domestic politics. If it is okay for Americans to reason political asperation isn’t genuine if it’s foreign sponsored, why can the Chinese?

    Take Liu Xiaobo, Hu Jia – they were on the take from Uncle Sam (via the NED). Tan was working with Falun Gong, with stated goal to overthrow the Chinese government.

    Deqar Mrs. Li, the Communist Party of USA was not taking money from the Russians. If they did, they’d be prosecuted too.


  10. Tan gave an interview to a loosely-FLG-affiliated news source. Saying that he was “Wroking with Falun Gong with the stated goal to overthrow the Chinese government” is an outright lie.

    And I’m not sure where you got the idea that all Americans agree with these laws that the US has. As I said in the other thread, just because America does something bad doesn’t mean China gets a free pass. This is a blog about China, not America, and not about how China compares to America. I’m not sure why you insist on continuing to make this comparison.


  11. Custer, it is a fact Falun Gong has a stated goal to overthrow the Chinese government.

    Contrary to the “official narrative” put forth by our media and echoed here in the expat China blogsphere, the Tan verdict document is clear his association and collusion with Wang Dan (a known Taiwan intel asset) and Falun Gong was the chief complaint, not his quake investigation.

    Tan did more than merely give an interview to Falun Gong propaganda outlet according to the prosecution evidence stated in the verdict document.

    As to whether most Americans agree with laws regulating foreign influence over domestic politics, having no impetus by our representatives to overturn such laws is good indication we are in favor of them.

    Please understand the point is never about exhonorating China’s action, but shed some rational thoughts on why nations protect their sovereignty from undue foreign influence. Compare and contract hopefully will help people go beyond the emotional satisfaction of “against x regime”.


  12. We just translated his verdict, there is not a single word in it about Falun Gong. Nor does it say he did anything more than give an interview.

    And yes, I know FLG has stated they want to overthrow the CCP, but what you said was “Tan Zuoren was working with FLG to overthrow the CCP”. That is not true because (1) he wasn’t working with FLG and (2) He wasn’t trying to overthrow the CCP.

    Your last point is actually quite valid, but you’re mistaken if you think this is a blog where people are just engaged in the “emotional satisfaction” of being against the CCP. In fact, we have praised them, and frequently publish harsh condemnations of Western media sources for being biased against China. Comparing and contrasting is fine, but all you’ve been doing is saying “look, America does this too.” You have not at all explained how any of this helps nations “protect their sovereignty from undue foreign influence”


  13. C, Sound of Hope is not “losely affiliated” with Falun Gong, it is founded and operated by Falun Gong: (page 8)

    What this document does not metion, is the US government funding Falun Gong receives. I hope you can understand why the verdict document refered to it as “enemy media outlet”.

    Pardon me, I am new to China Geeks. But fact is you guys jumped on this “Tan jailed for quake investigation” bandwagon without critical examination. No offense, the entire expat China blogsphere jumped on this without even reading the verdict document.


  14. When did we say he was jailed for earthquake investigation? We said what he was charged with was talking about Tiananmen.

    But don’t fool yourself about the real reason. If causing the government to lose face over the earthquake wasn’t what this was really about, why would they bother to mention it in the official verdict?


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