Next, Ma’s letter addresses Xi’s attempt to appropriate the Chinese dream unto himself. For years, Xi has wielded state apparatuses to write about a “Chinese Dream.” Ma describes his alternative: to “realize the dream … requires participation by a lot more people than just Jack Ma and persistent effort by generations of Aliren.” Ren in Chinese refers to the people. The alternative dream would open access to political power to more people, to more “ren,” in the Peoples Republic of China.
Ma’s references to Alibaba’s “scale” and its “unique culture,” which is Chinese and which the Communist Party claims to monopolize, may thinly shield Ma from Communist Party attacks. His statements illuminate communist self-contradictions. Two examples: First, Ma notes Alibaba’s successful operations over the five years since he resigned from his role as chief executive, an amount of time equal to half the time Xi could serve under China’s constitution — except that Xi had term limits removed. Second, Ma invokes China’s accolades for Ma’s successor, Daniel Zhang. In 2018, the Communist Party’s news media named Zhang China’s No. 1 chief executive. If the party attacks Ma now, it would have to contradict itself.
Throughout his letter, Ma reiterates Alibaba’s choices to develop “droves of talent,” rely on Chinese people and promote creativity. His letter should urge readers not only to compare a governance structure that makes millionaires of ordinary people to the failures of the Communist Party’s governance, but also to consider Ma’s plight as a successful entrepreneur. Twice he refers to his blessings.
In contrast to those ruled by the Communist Party, Americans have the freedom to shelter victims of fear, injustice and oppression. Not only should U.S. leaders contrast Ma’s humble self-criticism with Xi Jinping’s grandiose self-descriptions, they should support Ma and his Aliren, or Alibaba people, with all the weight of their commitment to protect all lives, liberties and individual pursuits.
Patrick Jenevein has worked with Chinese entities for 25 years and is chief executive of Tang Energy Group, chairman of Pointe Bello and a board member of the Dallas Committee on Foreign Relations. He wrote this column for The Dallas Morning News.
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