Vogel expresses this tendency most directly when he talks about thinking about the situation from Deng’s point of view, and it is quite shocking that he should do so.
When I was studying at Harvard, I met Vogel many times, and in the course of writing his biography of Deng, he sought me out for an interview. I should call him my teacher.
However, there is an ancient proverb that says: “I love my teacher, but I love the truth even more.” That is why I cannot refrain from openly questioning Vogel’s academic standpoint.
If suppressing the democracy movement by shooting people was a correct policy decision for the sake of China’s unity and preserving the foundation of the CCP’s rule, as Vogel suggests, then what reason would we have for condemning the Nazis’ massacre of Jews? After all, when Hitler did the things he did, he also said it was for the sake of a rising Germany.
More importantly, Vogel should answer the following question: As a Western academic, when you are making judgements, what is it that stops you from seeing things from the point of view of the value of human life, and instead makes you view matters based on totalitarian rulers’ ability to maintain their hold on power?
Wang Dan is a visiting associate professor at National Tsing Hua University’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
Translated by Julian Clegg