Ecological Civilization: Xi vs. Trump

Imagine a society that is exactly opposite Trump’s vision for America. Just feast your mindset on that for a few moments and guaranteed, you’ll smile! And, maybe even chuckle in delight, as a tingling sensation enlivens your body. And, maybe, since there’s no way to contain that beautiful feeling of gleefulness, run to the window, and yell at the top of your lungs, MAKE AMERICA TRUMPLESS AGAIN!

Neighbors come running and gather below your opened window and bow down to the ground in homage and thankfulness, feeling great relief after so many brutal months of angst and fingernail biting and waking up in the middle of the night screaming. They’ll ask you to run for governor or senator or any office and on it goes, as you are labeled the great savior of all time… the Noble Peace Prize yours for the taking…. All of Europe breathes a collective sigh of relief. The planet realigns itself and spins better, even a bit faster. Special little meteors shoot thru the night sky in celebration, dancing and changing color in midair, a beautiful spectacle of fun and delight, such as never seen before. The universe collectively celebrates!

Honestly, really, think about it, after all, a person only goes around once, so might as well shoot for the farthest fences, go for the roses. With that upbeat preamble, here’s some double-good news: Xi Jinping’s recent address to the National Congress of the Communist Party in Beijing included the following language.1:

President Xi called for “Ecological Civilization… harmony between human and nature… we, as human beings, must respect nature, follow its ways, and protect it… encourage simple, moderate, green, and low-carbon ways of life and oppose extravagance and excessive consumption.” (Ed. – Whoa! That kind of language could get you shot in America.)

Xi outlined plans to “step up efforts to establish a legal and policy framework… facilitates green, low-carbon, and circular development and promote afforestation, strengthen wetland conservation and restoration and take tough steps and punish all activities that damage the environment.” All perfect headliners for ecology magazine.

Xi talked about transcending parochial boundaries with a mission to “make new and greater contributions to mankind… for both the well-being of the Chinese people and human progress.” Wow! Maybe communism is a pretty good idea after all.

Which brings to surface a provocative question: How is it possible that Xi spent an evening at dinner with Trump? What could they have possibly talked about? Mindsets so far apart you could drive an 18-wheeler between’ em and not scratch anything. Maybe Xi likes golf. But, wait a moment, in January Xi closed 111 Chinese golf courses because of misuse of arable land and need to conserve water.

Furthermore, according to recent scuttlebutt, Xi has been campaigning against decadence. Ergo, imagine the eerie silence at the State Dinner at Mar-a-Lago, a pin drop echoed.

Seriously, Xi also commenced an anti-graft campaign some years ago, prompting immediate removal of his name from Trump’s Rolodex.

Xi’s anti-corruption campaign over the past few years takes aim at crooks; e.g., the death penalty for the ‘godfather of Chinese coal mining’ for taking $160M in bribes. Trump would’ve put him in charge of the EPA. Xi’s list of crooks ran all the way up to Sun Zhengcai, a high flyer in social circles destined to replace Xi, sentenced to life in prison for bribery. By all appearances, Xi imprisons personality-types that dwell in Trump’s Rolodex.

Of course, it’s very easy to dismiss Xi’s embrace of moderation, providence, and clean green living as political rhetoric, but rhetoric does not exist in a vacuum. As stated by Jeremy Lent: “Just as Trump’s xenophobic vision spells potential danger for the world, so could it be that Xi’s ecological vision could offer a glimpse to a hopeful future?”

Words have meaning, especially when spoken by international leaders, and words lead to action towards conclusion, or real happenings, real tangible stuff, like coal plants or solar panels, like stricter auto emission standards or easing standards, like no drilling in public parks or wide open drilling in public parks, like opening the Arctic or closing the Arctic to Shell, like separating children from immigrant parents or allowing them to stay after years together in America, like setting a positive All-American upright moral tone for the country or a tone of anger, hatred, acrimony, alienation, contempt, disgust, prejudice, grudge, animus, revenge, hostility, and revulsion… antagonism, malice, ill will, antipathy, and bold-faced gall.

Also, within that mix of devious behavioral craziness, a vast assortment of cowardly, mean-spirited changes to policies that formerly protected the environment and formerly protected citizens, all of this eventually crawls under the skin, eventually pushed to the limit, as follows: Still, waking up in the middle of the night screaming, staring at the ceiling with rapid eye-blinking in a state of confusion, wondering what’s so bothersome to cause unprovoked screaming in the middle of the night.

Then, sitting upright, realizing the screaming in the middle of the night doesn’t seem natural; plus the neighbors don’t like it.

  1. Jeremy Lent, “What Does China’s ‘Ecological Civilization’ Mean for Humanity’s Future?” EcoWatch, February 9, 2018. []
Robert Hunziker (MA, economic history, DePaul University) is a freelance writer and environmental journalist whose articles have been translated into foreign languages and appeared in over 50 journals, magazines, and sites worldwide. He can be contacted at: rlhunziker@gmail.com. Read other articles by Robert.