America Is Suffering and China Is Soaring

The orgy of gun violence is a tragic consequence of this broken system.

The orgy of gun violence in America against Americans of color in general and Asian-Americans in particular continues to mushroom. The contrast with China, where guns are strictly controlled, is between night and day. In large measure this disparity results from the way each country is governed and the long-standing epidemic of white supremacy and racism in America.

The persistent racism, white supremacy, and hopeless national division were confirmed last Friday. A 17-year-old boy, Kyle Rittenhouse, too young to legally buy a gun, was acquitted of all five charges after he killed two people during Black Lives Matter protests last year. He’s now a Rambo-like hero among the rightwing Fox News/NRA crowd, but a symbol of all that ails America to others.

Recent headlines in US media are gruesome. Chinese and Asians have been mowed down in the crossfire. The latest was earlier this month: “Chinese grad student in Chicago killed in shooting”. The death of 24-year-old Shaoxiong Zheng from Chengdu echoes the murder of a 30-year-old Ph. D student Yiran Fang from Beijing in January near the University of Chicago where Barack Obama taught and lived. Last year six Korean workers were gunned down in a massage parlor in Atlanta, and Asian Americans bought guns in record numbers to defend themselves and their families from Trump’s irresponsibly inciting racial hatred to divert attention from his Covid-19 debacle.

Photo taken on Nov. 18, 2021 shows the scene of a memorial service for Zheng Shaoxiong in Chicago, the United States. The University of Chicago (UChicago) hosted on Thursday afternoon a memorial service for Zheng Shaoxiong, a Chinese student who just graduated from UChicago and was killed in a robbery near the campus. (Jason Smith/University of Chicago/Handout via Xinhua)

From years of personal experience growing up in Detroit, Michigan, once known as the world’s murder capital, and in China’s national capital, Beijing, I can personally attest to being the victim of an armed robbery in Detroit in broad daylight and thereafter always looking over my shoulder, but in Beijing feeling completely safe in every neighborhood at any hour of the day or night.

One might have thought that being preoccupied with the horrors of the mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic, number one in the world with more than 48 million cases and nearly 800,000 deaths (compared to China with four times the population, with less than 100,000 cases and less than 5,000 deaths), Americans would have taken a breather from all the violence but the opposite was true as murders surged in 2020 and have continued apace this year. In fact, initial data from the US National Centers for Health Statistics released last month show the homicide rate increased by 30 percent from 2019 to 2020, the highest jump in modern times.

A key reason is that racism has been baked into America’s DNA ever since the US was a colony of several European colonial powers, most noticeably the British. Slavery predated the American Revolution and flourished in the American South because farming of crops such as cotton and tobacco required enslaved workers who weren’t considered human. The American Civil War was fought over slavery and even though the South was defeated and its legalized enslavement abolished, white supremacists have found clever ways to continue the discrimination to this very day by using intimidation as well as exclusionary tactics like gerrymandering and heightened barriers to voting against Blacks, but also against Native Americans, Hispanics and a host of other minorities, including overtime, Chinese, Irish and Italian immigrants.

Protesters take part in a demonstration in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the United States, on Jun. 20, 2020. (Photo/Alan Chin/Xinhua)

Nothing much has changed. The Republicans were heroes fighting slavery in the civil war but today are at the forefront of denying minorities the right to vote, and shredding the social safety net to impoverished minorities. The Democrats, many Southerners, spearheaded anti-Black Jim Crow laws after the civil war in the period today erroneously called “Reconstruction” until the 1960s in America’s partial social reform and opening-up. Yet, what hasn’t changed is that endemic racism and that the few control the many.

One of the memorable lessons I took away from my primary school math teacher in Detroit was that “figures don’t lie, but that liars can figure”. The facts speak for themselves and I believe are directly correlated with the jump in crime fueled by minority despair and living under the yoke of white supremacy. To paraphrase a famous line from the classic 1976 film “Network”, they’re “mad as hell and not going to take it anymore”.

The title of a rigorously peer-reviewed study published October 29th proves the point: “COVID-Related Victimization, Racial Bias and Employment and Housing Discrimination Increase Mental Health Risk Among US Asian, Black and Latinx Adults”.

The fact is that compared to Whites, minorities in the US suffer a higher proportion of Covid-related deaths and after-effects. They also have higher unemployment and incarceration rates as well as being crime victims.

The American system of government is paralyzed and broken. It’s not just rogue Democrats like “moderate” Senators Sinema or Manchin who gutted Biden’s human infrastructure legislation, it’s the system itself! It’s controlled by, and on behalf of, a tiny minority who command an army of lobbyists who use carrots (financial contributions) and sticks (funding opponents of incumbents) to enact legislation that benefits them at the expense of others. As a result, the rich pay little or no taxes but reap huge windfalls. To add insult to injury, during the pandemic U.S. billionaire wealth surged by 70 percent or $2.1 trillion. That’s more than $6,300 for every person in the United States.

People purchase firearms in a gun shop in Las Vegas, the United States, on Oct. 4, 2017. (Photo/Xinhua)

The orgy of gun violence is a tragic consequence of this broken system. Many of the laws to promote gun rights and to prevent commonsense gun safety measures were achieved by the powerful and feared National Rifle Association. Together with their allies, they were even able to pack the US Supreme Court with conservative justices who have negated the long-standing Constitutional prohibition against the free possession and use of guns, except by state militias. Now they are poised to soon decide a case that will likely overturn centuries of Anglo-American common law jurisprudence, and allow concealed weapons to be carried in public with few restrictions. It’s little wonder that in the worst year of Covid, 2020, there were more than 19,400 gun homicides in the US, a 25 percent increase from 2019, not to mention 24,000 gun suicides. By comparison, China had 7,379 murders from all causes in 2019. This mirrors my personal observations in both countries.

In the US, we’ve been conditioned to hate communism for more than a century. I think it’s part of the reason for Cold War 2.0 with China but as someone who’s very familiar with both countries, knowing that no one model fits all countries, I try to look at comparisons objectively and dispassionately. Anyone who does can see that the China model is producing superior results and that the system is continually fine-tuning itself, using tools like the very successful five-year plans (FYPs) and their related model of whole process democracy which includes a national legislature, the National People’s Congress, and an associated advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. In addition, input from all stakeholders is vigorously solicited.

Per-capita income statistics tell the story. In 1953 at the start of China’s first FYP, per-capita income was about $50, now it’s $10,500, an increase of 210 times. It’s still rising and projected to be multiples of that by 2049. By comparison, US per-capita income grew slowly in the last 40 years.

It should come as no surprise then that in public opinion polls in China, even one vast multi-year study conducted by Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, Chinese people’s ratings of the effectiveness of their government, already high, has risen, even during Covid. By contrast in the US, like on so many matters, people remain split and divided. By not working together, America is suffering, China is soaring.


The article reflects the author’s opinions, and not necessarily the views of China Focus.