Questions for John Kusumi, China Support Network
China Support Network co-founder John Kusumi addressing a rally in Washington, DC.
Epoch Times reporter Simon Thomas caught up with China Support Network co-founder John Kusumi recently. Kusumi is an outspoken critic of the human rights and economic policies of China's Communist Party. CSN was founded in response to the 1989 student massacre on Tiananmen Square. The organization supports democratic reform, human rights, and freedom in China. For more information, see http://www.chinasupport.net.
Thomas: When you ran for president in 1984 at the tender age of 18, your platform was your philosophy, Practical Idealism, which enumerates five principles: reality, as best we know it, is to be accepted at face value; the purpose of life is to live; people are important; that which is good for people is right, that which is bad for people is wrong; and, avail yourself of a chance to improve the world while you can. What are the theoretical roots of Practical Idealism?
Kusumi: I grew up in the 1970s as a "gee whiz geek." Space exploration fascinated me, as did the television shows of science fiction like Star Trek. But, the youth in America in the 1960s had taken idealism too far. The hippy lifestyle, flower power, and the slogan "peace, love, and happiness," came and went without changing society. With practical idealism, I tried to forge a union between best intentions and desire for best outcomes, on the one hand, with a "practical" or "pragmatic" side on the other hand.
Thomas: What is the connection between Practical Idealism and the China Support Network?
Kusumi: Practical idealism is a point of view, and it informed my own eyes as I founded the China Support Network. The China Support Network arose in response to the outrage and the tragedy at Tiananmen Square, but an intersection with practical idealism was not by design.
Thomas: There are so many countries to support change in. Why did you single out China?
Kusumi: I think that China singled itself out. Viewing the Tiananmen Square massacre on TV, among many things, it was clearly the sight of a troubled and conflicted society. With June 4 (1989), China blazed its way onto television screens worldwide, and seared itself into the awareness of a generation. It was a defining moment for a generation.
Thomas: In your book, Activate This, you are critical of America's trade deficit with China. You first explain the deficit as a business loss to [America] and then explain how the trade deficit is bad for America in terms of jobs, wages, strength of the dollar, inflation, cost of living, and industrial base. If trade deficits are so bad, why does America's trade deficit with China continue to grow?
Kusumi: The tendencies of business are to seek the lowest costs. Chinese leadership is beating America at its own game, introducing "dirty pool" in certain economic practices, like manipulating the currency value, and in using slave labor in Laogai camps. America must object to unfair practices that tilt the economic playing field. The trade deficits with China are increased, partly because America, under the influence of the business lobby, fails to stand up for itself.
Thomas: In your writing, you claim that China has been getting away with things, and we support that by trading more with them. In fact, you say China seemed to thumb its nose at America by beginning to persecute Falun Gong practitioners after we signed a trade deal with China in 1999. Do you think we have a double standard with China?
Kusumi: There is certainly a double standard in U.S. treatment of China. The double standard can be viewed as questions. "To American leaders, why was communism and totalitarian dictatorship bad in the Soviet Union, and in China, we take communism and totalitarian dictatorship as good, or less troubling?" "Why does the White House object that trade with Cuba supports the regime, while acting like trade with China does not?"
Thomas: Recently you said that Jiang Zemin should be the next dictator brought to justice. Why? How would you imagine it happening?
Kusumi: I am a supporter of the International Criminal Court, and its prohibitions against war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity. Domestically, inside China, the CCP has gone to war with groups including 1989's college students, and the Falun Gong practitioners of China. It follows logically that the impacted groups have murder charges for Jiang Zemin.
Thomas: This year is the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre. Has the possibility for democracy improved or gotten worse in China?
Kusumi: There is hope for China's future because China knows about democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.
Thomas: China is notorious for human rights abuses, what are your thoughts about China persecuting Falun Gong?
Kusumi: It was paranoia if Jiang Zemin thought that Li Hongzhi was a politician. The five years of persecution, and how Mr. Li handled it, shows that Li is not a politician. The fear of Falun Gong was misplaced. If matters work out well in the future, Li Hongzhi is going to be remembered as a genius who saved China, because for all of China's leadership to face, he put three issues on the table: Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance. It makes you wonder, what is the CCP's banner? "Lying, cheating, and stealing?"
Thomas: Why do you think that many media haven't made it a priority to cover what you claim is really going on with China?
Kusumi: There is a mix of reasons for the silence of mainstream media in the U.S., but add up all the reasons, and it still appears shameful how the U.S. media have handled China. I realize, however, that my own group, the China Support Network, is among the voices on this issue, and that we must do better in our relations and work with the U.S. media.
Copyright 2004 - The Epoch Times (Aug 17, 2004)