March 22, 2015

Safire/Lee, 1999

Q [Safire]: But you're not critical of [the Chinese] for cracking down on this.

A [Lee]: It's China. A completely different set of rules. I don't know. We had a ... he is now paralyzed. He was our Ambassador to Brussels, and he was educated in Singapore, and he went to China. His father sent him to Nanking to study during the war. And he wrote up these experiences in his biography. I mean, it's a history of ... oh, just brutish force. How can you change that overnight?

Q: How can you say it's just China, or Asians are different?

A: I'm not saying that Asians are not human beings. I'm just saying that, if they don't punish people that way, people are not afraid.

Q: Right.

A: I mean, you take the way they shoot their criminals. It's a public demonstration. They bring them in, bent, pushed, humiliated. You kneel down, I shoot you in the back; one bullet. And they make the family pay for that one bullet. And it's a public demonstration.

Q: That's rule by fear.

A: Ah, no. It's to terrorize others into not doing the same thing.

Q: That's rule by fear.

A: No. Because they haven't gotten a police system that can maintain a different kind of regime.

Q: But isn't that wrong?

A: Who are we to decide whether it's right or wrong? That's the way they are, and that's the way we have to deal with them.

Q: Okay.

A: Can we change them?

Q: Why not?

A: [Laughter] You try.



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