Colin Powell on China

Sold his book in China (and it sold well)

When my publicist told me that Red China had placed a big order [for my book], I said, “Now wait a minute, they’re the enemy.” He said, “Yes, but they’ll pay in cash.” I said, “Yes!”

Later I asked one of the Chinese businessmen why it had sold so well in China? He said it was because of the American story - story of family, values and how it gave me the desire to be what I wanted to be. Heck, if I had known that, I could have written those first chapters in 6 weeks and saved myself a lot of time.

Source: Interview at Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM Jun 9, 2000

Trading is better than shooting

Q. How do you feel about the trading policies with China?

A. Keep trading with China - tell them what we don’t like about them, but keep trading and talking. Last I knew, a person was less likely to shoot at you if you are trading with him.

Source: Interview at Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM Jun 9, 2000

Economic strength more important than military strength

In this new world, economic strength will be more important than military strength. Nations seeking power through military strength, the development of nuclear weapons, terrorism, or tyrannical governments are mining “fool’s gold.” They can never hope to match or challenge the military or economic power of the free world led by the US. Despotic regimes will come to realize it in due course, when they find themselves left behind while free nations prosper and provide a better life for their people. One only has to look at China to see a nation slowly finding a place in the world, not through the strength of the People’s Liberation Army or Mao’s Little Red Book, but through the release of the creative entrepreneurial power of the Chinese people. In Vietnam, American businesses are being invited in to repair the economic disaster created by two decades of “victorious” communism. We should encourage and support these impulses.
Source: My American Journey, by Colin Powell, p. 588 Jan 1, 1995

Mao’s China had thorough thought control but not paranoia

What struck me about China [during a 1973 visit as a White House Intern], particularly after visiting the Soviet Union, was the absence of paranoia. Our Chinese guides seemed less frightened than their Soviet counterparts. They were not constantly searching our baggage, restraining our movements, or stopping us from taking pictures. Two distinctive threads, however, ran through the Chinese experience. You could ask an ordinary person in Beijing, Canton, or any village, “How are you doing?” and the answer was invariably a smile and “Fine. Under Chairman Mao we have a sewing machine, a radio, a bicycle.” The thoroughness of thought control in so vast a country was frightening. The second iron rule was that Chinese officials would admit shortcomings, but never error.

One day on the Soviet border we turned to see two Chinese MiG-19s streak into the sky. “What was that?” I asked our guide, who continued to gaze ahead placidly and silently. “What was what?” he answered. End of discussion.

Source: My American Journey, by Colin Powell, p. 169 Jan 1, 1995

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