Philip Cunningham’s open letter to Hu Jintao

I won’t go so far as some commenters have as to call Philip Cunningham a paid CCP shill. But I do have to wonder. The very first time I saw him on CCTV-9 some 2 1/2 years ago I was struck both by his obvious intelligence and the more obvious chip he harbors on his shoulder against the US. He always seems determined to demonstrate that no matter how bad some say the CCP is, the US government is as bad or worse. Tragically, Bush has given Cunningham plenty of grist for the America-bashing mill, and many of the points he makes about Bush can’t be argued (well, they can, but not successfully). But there’s more to America than George W. Bush, who is merely a pimple, an aberration on the face of US history.

His latest piece, an “open letter” to Hu Jintao, is literally loaded with snark and brazen anti-Americanism. I visualized Cunningham experiencing multiple orgasms as he wrote his cunning little screed, which is filled with a child-like glee. Now, I too am quick to point out Bush’s foibles, hypocrisies and sheer idiocies. But Cunningham’s letter is a bit more insidious, actually bearing the message that there’s no difference between the atrocities of the CCP and those of the US government. That’s where I draw a fairly thick line. I despise our president while continuing to love my country, no matter how difficult Bush tries to make it. I fear that Cunningham, deep inside, really does hate America and has fooled himself into believing China is a better place. Bush has damaged America and made me feel at times embarrassed to be an American, but the little Texas guttersnipe can’t erase America’s greatness or neutralize the incredible opportunities this great country offers. And Cunningham should know this (and, I strongly suspect, he does.)

Read the letter and see what I mean by snark and cynicism and America-hating. (And if you can’t access it in China, please let me know and I’ll post the whole thing.)

Oh, and Philip, there is no such word as “irregardless,” and to use it in a printed article reveals a certain intellectual uncouthness. (Sorry, couldn’t resist the snark.)

The Discussion: 29 Comments

Did someone else who once posted his/her comments on TPD also make similar mistake with the word “irregardless”? What a coincidence!!??

September 7, 2005 @ 10:55 pm | Comment

Main Entry: irยทreยทgardยทless
Pronunciation: “ir-i-‘gรคrd-l&s
Function: adverb
Etymology: probably blend of irrespective and regardless
nonstandard : REGARDLESS
usage Irregardless originated in dialectal American speech in the early 20th century. Its fairly widespread use in speech called it to the attention of usage commentators as early as 1927. The most frequently repeated remark about it is that “there is no such word.” There is such a word, however. It is still used primarily in speech, although it can be found from time to time in edited prose. Its reputation has not risen over the years, and it is still a long way from general acceptance. Use regardless instead.

September 8, 2005 @ 2:12 am | Comment

Woe to the neglected dykes and levies!

Just try not to giggle (or groan) when reading journalist and China scholar Philip J. Cunningham’s “Open Letter to Hu Jintao.” I dare you. (If the politics don’t get you, the typos will.) It’s reposted here in full beh…

September 8, 2005 @ 2:12 am | Comment

That craven “open letter” is gut-churning stuff. A few remarks I’d like to immediately make in response to some of his points:
“China has consistently opposed the unpopular and unjustified American war of invasion in Iraq.”
Yeah, that’s why the Chinese cowardly kept their heads down in the whole leadup to the war, getting the Germans and French to stick their heads above the parapet while they said nothing. What are they doing about it now? Nothing either.
“China supports the United Nations and a multilateral approach to problem-solving among nations.” Tell that to its neighbours who claim stakes in the South China Sea among other problems it shares. When the UN condemns human rights abuses in China, the CCP is less supportive. When it unilaterally decides Japan isn’t ready for a seat with the big boys, it is supportive.
“China roundly condemns the shocking use of torture at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and other US military prisons.” If they do, it’s in pretty hushed tones, especially given its “shocking use of torture” in Tibet, Xinjiang, and other Chinese prisons. Except no executions have been performed in the US prisons…
“China is outraged that American religious fundamentalists are permitted to openly promote terror.” I condemn Robertson as well, but there is that little matter of free speech that also outrages the CCP. Besides, it’s by openly promoting terror against Tibet and Taiwan that the status quo here is preserved.
“China notes the increase in US military spending and is concerned that the US has long been engaged in research and development of new nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, biological warfare agents and other weapons of mass destruction.” Et tu, China would be the US reaction. I’m concerned when I go to the military museum here in China where the army is glorified and such lies as US use of germ warfare against the Chinese (declared a lie by the Soviets) is given free propogation.
“China notes that over 50 journalists have been killed in Iraq, many by so-called “friendly fire”.” And how many journalists are in prison in China? At least there are journalists allowed to report in Iraq!

I really don’t mind when people give me some perspective. I’ve become very cynical and it’s necessary for me to be fair and balanced instead of taking out my frustrations in traffic with the CCP. But to equate an autocratic regime ruling without any mandate from the people because it took power by force and held it through terror with that of the US is simply disgusting. And when this guy describes himself as “an American citizen in China in exile from the current US regime” it takes the cake. It spits on REAL exiles who cannot go back to their families in North Korea because the gov’t will kill them and their loved ones.

September 8, 2005 @ 2:24 am | Comment

“Irregardless” is the opposite of “regardless”, just like “irritating” is the opposite of “ritating.” Isn’t that logical?

September 8, 2005 @ 3:48 am | Comment

The word “exists” (as soon as you use a word, it exists) but no competent editor would allow it to be used in a published story. “Irrespective” is the way to go.

As I said, I was being snarky in pointing this out; it’s the least upsetting problem with Cunningham’s inexcusable letter.

September 8, 2005 @ 3:55 am | Comment

Well, more seriously: Cunningham is fooling himself if he believes his Chinese hosts really respect him for this kind of thing. Generally – in my experience – the Chinese respect patriotism categorically as a virtue, and this includes their respect for patriots of other countries, as long as it’s the sincere kind rather than jingoistic chauvinism.

Let me clarify that, because jingoistic chauvinism is pretty common in China as well as America. What I mean is, GENERALLY the Chinese think there’s something wrong, and undignified and mean-spirited, about ANYone really hating his own country. So, CCTV will use dupes like Cunningham, but they don’t respect him.

September 8, 2005 @ 4:08 am | Comment

Damn it Ivan, I’m banking on CCTV to respect Cunningham enough to give him his own show. Don’t crush my dreams.

September 8, 2005 @ 4:42 am | Comment


No, no, you don’t understand. Respect has nothing to do with being hired by CCTV – quite the opposite. It’s similar to hiring a prostitute. People hire prostitutes because they DON’T WANT to respect them!

Kind of like what Chef said in a South Park episode: “Children, you don’t pay a prostitute for sex. You pay her to GO AWAY afterward!”

September 8, 2005 @ 5:03 am | Comment

Richard, I don’t think your accusation is valid based on what I read from his article. He might be a little cynical, but there is no evidence whatsoever showing that Cunningham is anti-American. On the contrary, in this post, you have shown that you are not much different from those selfclaimed “patriots” who like attacking other people with their holiest beliefs.

September 8, 2005 @ 10:53 am | Comment

Lin, did you really read it? Did you see how he describes himself as an exile from America? I guess we all filter and interpret things in our own ways. Other readers who commented see exactly what I mean, you do not. That’s what makes for arguments.

you have shown that you are not much different from those selfclaimed “patriots” who like attacking other people with their holiest beliefs.

Oh my, where does this come from?. Holiest beliefs? Elaborate, please.

September 8, 2005 @ 11:03 am | Comment

I read it again, and I totally agree with you on our different interpretations on his article.

For me, it’s nothing more than mocking comments and cynicalness, For you, it’s anti-Americanism.

Do you really think a well established journalist, who had written and worked for BBC in 1989, could truly believe in or stick to a non-democratic regime?
Apparently he has exiled himself for his beliefs. However, is this word so serious that can be labelled as anti-Americanism?
Again, I didn’t found anything in his article which can be labelled as anti-Americanism.

September 8, 2005 @ 4:42 pm | Comment

Gee Keir, are you sure about your “Except no executions have been performed in the US prisons…”

I seem to recall people beaten to death or hang themselves after being sodomized by our righteous crusade. Except there were no WMD…

September 8, 2005 @ 5:26 pm | Comment

Do you really think a well established journalist, who had written and worked for BBC in 1989, could truly believe in or stick to a non-democratic regime?

Much, much stranger things than that have happened in this world, I’m afraid. George Bernard Shaw believed in Stalinist Russia.

September 8, 2005 @ 7:40 pm | Comment

“China condemns torture”

That’s going to come as a big suprise to those in the Chinese detention system.

September 9, 2005 @ 1:23 am | Comment

Yeah, you’re right Bobby- I meant in those prisons that the CCP seems to be so miffed about according to the article. The ones OUTSIDE US soil.

September 9, 2005 @ 2:12 am | Comment

I love a nice anti-American piece as much as the next person but in that regard this piece is a big disappointment. I don’t know how accurate his assessment of China policy is but I personally agree with most of those points and everything pertaining to the US seems to be true. The fact that he is the chairman of a “non-existent” group might lead one to think his “exile” is tongue in cheek.

September 9, 2005 @ 6:22 am | Comment

God, get some sense of humor, boys! Hasn’t any of you got the ironic tone in his article? He is a thorough individualist. He loves his country in his own way. He wants to wake up Americans and tell them to save their country, to keep it from degrading into the same system of China. Don’t you understand that? Christ…

September 9, 2005 @ 10:59 am | Comment

Ann, I’m not so sure. I’ve been following Cunningham for years, and if you think he loves America I would suspect you have not been following him for years.

September 9, 2005 @ 11:03 am | Comment

Keir says: “But to equate an autocratic regime ruling without any mandate from the people because it took power by force and held it through terror with that of the US is simply disgusting.”

I completely disagree with this. The PRC was founded, simply because it was supported by the majority of Chinese. Mao was sincerely idolized by millions of Chinese. Don’t you understand this? Then I suggest you should study the psychology of the masses. The CCP leadership is ruling with the mandate of people. The simple existence and progress it makes for China is the proof. Simply open your eyes and have a look at China. If you want to prove otherwise, the burdon of proof lies with you. Until then, I complete reject your cheap old rhetoric.

September 9, 2005 @ 12:56 pm | Comment

I’m with Keir on this one. One thing I was struck with on this trip was how many Chinese people I met who told me point blank that they and those they know despise their leaders and see their government as a joke. The most they can say is that it’s way less worse than it used to be and life has improved. That’s hardly a mandate.

September 9, 2005 @ 1:01 pm | Comment

richard, are you making this up? If not, give me some quotes. I know people are angry at corrupt officials, but to say that their central government is a joke?

September 9, 2005 @ 4:30 pm | Comment

I am absolutely not making it up. These same people tow the government line on Taiwan and Japan, but say without hesitation that they despise the CCP. I didn’t take a scientific poll. Some people I’ve met in China in the past love the CCP of today. Those I met on this trip said they regard it with deep suspicion and a lot of contempt. They see it as a joke, proppng up myths of Mao (“70 percent right”) and Lei Feng and constantly lying to their citizens. They see their leaders as bullshitters.

September 9, 2005 @ 4:35 pm | Comment

richard, I do not doubt there are people who don’t trust the CCP. But China is a big and diverse country and it depends who you talk to. Also it’s not as simple as you say, so I disagree with you. When I was in China, a few weeks ago, I have met a cab driver who complained out how difficult their life was, and their life could have been much easier, if corrupt officials didn’t flee with the country’s money overseas. Therefore I see corruption as a very big problem for China. As China develops, she needs to find out mechanism to fight corruption. The problem is especially at local and provincial level. People don’t necessarily dislike the CCP, but they do dislike corruption. Many Chinese have grown up with the CCP. Some of them do not realize what the alternative of the CCP would be? Currently, there is none. China will fall back to warlordism, disunity and more poverty. So most Chinese are betting on the CCP: to continue reform China and themselves at the same time.

September 9, 2005 @ 5:04 pm | Comment

zhj, I said it was not scientific, and that I’ve spoken to Chinese who say the exact opposite. I was just telling you what I heard on this trip.

I reject your suggestion that China will fall back to warlordism. That’s the party line, and uynder that excuse China will be an authoritarian dictatorship (with some totalitarian characteristics) forever. I am not saying we should dissolve the government today and start over. The answer is reform. While there has been impressive reform in several areas, in otheres there has been none, and in fact things have actually gotten worse.

September 9, 2005 @ 5:13 pm | Comment

Richard, I do not advocate forever “authoritarian dictatorship” in China (in your words). I believe reform will come, which will make China only better and stronger. But I am more patient and willing to wait. Also I give more credit for the many reforms that already have been implemented, which were unthinkable a couple of decades ago. I value very much what has already been accomplished and what China has gained, and I give all the people who were responsible for it due credit. Are you willing to give them this credit as well?

September 9, 2005 @ 5:47 pm | Comment

Yes, and I have given them credit for these things many times.

September 9, 2005 @ 5:59 pm | Comment

@zhj – I also give credit to those peopl that have given their livelihoods to help move China forward.

But, let me explain ti too you simply.

Westerners, by and large, are grown up by the age of 18 – 22, or they’re never going to be.

If you think the Western World is goint to wait for the Occidental’s to make rules, you’re mistaken.

Lead, follow, or get out of the way. China must make a choice.. One of the three… Children are not allowed to make the rules, only to follow them.

July 27, 2006 @ 10:07 am | Comment

๐Ÿ™‚ Sorry Ivan… That was the Jack Daniel’s talking….

Ahem… I’m sure my opinion will count for naught but…

Though I have not met Mr. ‘C’, I have read (ohmygod) a lot of the posts, his and commentators, on two specific subjects.

1.) Chinapol- My opinion. He’s right. He was wrongly excluded.I belive it is backed by gov’t. History (and political NGO newsletters) is written by the victor.No Mainland Chinese equals no local (Note: I did not say informed) opinions about China’s political scene. If you don’t have ANY of that input, what’s point. It just becomes a newsletter full of conjecture, written, subscribed to, and read by a bunch of guys who come here once in a while to buy cheap DVD and score some cheap…ah…massages.

2.) Mr. “C” does seem, as Richard put it, to hold the USA to a higher standard than China, when speaking publicly.
I find, in particular, it could be a little offensive to some Western viewers, for Mr. “C” to slam the US gov’t, while mimicking the 3 monkeys when it comes to China’s internal political situation.

Having said that, Mr. “C” does in fact fulfill his destiny, and duty, as an American, by speaking his mind, AS he chooses, WHEN he chooses, WITH conviction.

You cannot condem him as anti-American, when he behaves as an American SHOULD, and CAN do, and when given half a chance, WILL do.

You may even want to resort to McCarthyism, by complaining that he is too “nice” to China, and the Chinese government’s sensibilities.But, all American’s know that road is the wrong one to get on.Glass houses…rocks…get the picture?

In the end, as gentlemen and gentlewomen, the only civil thing to do is agree or agree to disagree with Mr. “C”. Or we can argue with him. But if you choose the latter, let us do it either in private email, or online with some sense of etiquette (like Richard and others), or even better… Invite the man for dinner or a nice brandy…That my friends, is the civilized way to have an argument…Especially after a a nice meal…

‘Nuff said

July 27, 2006 @ 10:51 am | Comment

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.