Li Ao's Speech At Tsinghua University
This is my full translation of the speech at Tsinghua University as published at Phoenix TV.
I was just hugged by a pretty girl, so I am warm all over. May I take off my jacket? You too can take off your jackets. This place seems to be a bit warm. No need to be polite. Please excuse me.
Mao Zedong said that the 1911 Revolution has not yet been completed. When I arrived at your university, I found out that it really has not been completed. Isn't this the Great Qing Empire? The Great Qing Empire at Tsinghua. This seems to contain political meaning. I have heard a saying on the mainland: The Great Qing Empire Beidafang (=name of a place of internal exile as well as meaning the "barren Beijing University"). I was just told not to make fun of Beijing University. So even though I am in Tsinghua today, I will spare Beijing University.
Three years and seven months ago, President Bush of the American imperialists stood here and told everybody a lie. Did you see his speech? He said that Tsinghua was built with American support, which is to say that it was donated by America. He said that Tsinghua was build with donations from America. President Bush told you such a lie.
Let everyone think about it. Back then, a group of patriotic Chinese caused trouble for our nation. They were the Boxers who fought with the Allied Forces of Eight Nations. Of those eight allied forces, only the Austro-Hungarian empire is no more. The other seven countries are still around, especially that awful little Japan. When the Allied Forces of Eight Nations came to China, they demanded money from the Chinese and the Chinese could not afford to pay. Let us use the 1894 Sino-Japanese War as the example. China had to pay Japan the equivalent of two years of its gross national receipts, which is equivalent to three years of Japan's gross national receipts. Therefore, the Chinese went bankrupt.
The Americans also named their price. They said that they would be merciful and they would only require the reimbursement of military expenses. When the bill was delievered, it was found out by a clever Chinese person named Liang Cheng, who was the Chinese ambassador in the United States. He calculated what the actual military expenses were and found out that the bill was two and a half times as much.
So Liang went to see the American Secretary of State and said, "Since you say that you only require military expenses, how can you claim this much?" The Americans wanted to be reasonable and they wanted to save face, so the American Secretary of State was quite embarrassed. What to do? The clever Chinese ambassador Liang Cheng said, "Why don't you donate the money to build a university?" The Americans agreed and this why Tsinghua University exists today. Therefore, the origin of Tsinghua university was that the Americans overbilled, we nailed them and we got our money back. That stupid, aggressive and detestable American president Bush Junior wanted to say that he gave us our university. So I am going to rip up the copy of his speech. Do you think that I did right?
Our China has always been aware of the foreigners. Why did we build a Great Wall? The Great Wall was built to keep the outsiders out. Every generation did that. The Great Wall today is not the Great Wall of the First Emperor of Qin, and it is not the Great Wall that fell at the crying of Meng Jiangniu. It is a new city that was built from the old one.
We realized that after some time around the wars of 1840 and 1842 with the British that those were the real foreigners. Meanwhile, everyone else whom we had been trying to shut out were really our own people. Only after the British appeared did we realize who the true foreigners were.
At that time, a national hero named Lin Xezu appeared. After the Opium War, Lin was found guilty and exiled to Xinjiang. On the road to exile, Lin wrote a secret letter to his good friend and said not even Lord Guan or Gu Fei could have helped in the war against the British. Why? He said that we cannot see the enemy but the enemy can hit us. Why? They have cannons and we cannot defeat them.
Lin wrote, "But you cannot publish this letter that I am sending you. If you publish it, they will say that Lin Xezu is unpatriotic. If the truth comes out, it will affect my entire reputation. Therefore, this matter cannot be told." Why did this happen? Because we found the real foreigners and we cannot defeat them. From that time on, China was subjected to continuous bullying.
China faced two problems -- how to avoid being bullied and how not to starve. Today, after so many years, Hong Kong has finally been returned. Today, nobody dares to bullly China now. Here, I will tell you openly -- only one party could do this and that is the Chinese Communist Party.
People believe that I like to scold people, but I also like to praise people. People should get whatever they deserve. I must say that the conclusion is correct. Someone just said that I talk like this only because I am in Beijing. You are forgetting that when I am in Taipei, which is a part of China, I also say that. I also tell everybody that the credit goes to the Communist Party. We are definitely rich and powerful now.
When we were still poor, the Japanese made fun of our Foreign Minister Chen Yi: "You Chinese people are so poor that you don't even have pants to wear, but you still want to build an atomic bomb." The tough Chen Yi said, "Even if we have bare arses without pants, we will still build our atomic bomb." I think that is an incredible stance. Did this really happen? It is real. Should we blame the Communists? Let us look at the details.
Do you remember the Tang poem in which the army came to the village to round up military conscripts? The young men had run away already. Even the old men had run away. The three sons had already been captured. There was only an old lady in the house. She told the soldiers, "There is no one in my home. There is no one in the room -- just the grandson who is still an infant to be nursed and the mother who has to nurse him. However, they cannot come out to see you." Why not? Because they had no pants and no skirts to wear. As of the Tang dynasty, the Chinese did not have pants to wear. It is a little bit too far-fetched to make the Communist Party responsible for what happened in the Tang dynasty.
I read a report from thirty years ago. A group of people went to Kansu to inspect agriculture. They were thirsty and they asked a farmer for water. After entering the farmhouse, the farmer greeted them warmly . As they drank the water, they saw a cotton blanket on the bed and someone was moving underneath. They were curious and asked the farmer if someone was sleeping. The farmer said no one was sleeping. "Then why was the person underneath the blanket?" The farmer said, "I don't want to hide anything from you. She is my daughter. You are guests. She cannot come out because she has no pants to wear."
Here is another pantless story that I have heard from somewhere else. I have good friend in Taiwan named Li Qinghua, whose father is Li Huan who had been the "Premier." He told me personally that when they were soldiering in the northwest, some families had only one pair of pants. When the farmer came out, everybody else inside had no pants. When the farmer's wife had to come out, the farmer bared his arse inside. Our China had been very poor, and it cannot be blamed upon the Communists.
But we have to say that everything that happened after 1949 must be laid upon the Communists. Should the Communists bear responsibility? Well, what kind of mess did the Communists take over in 1949? The Kuomintang took everything that it could to Taiwan. Personally, I took along 500 books. The Kuomintang took away all the gold in the national vault. At the time, the gold was valued at 300 million American dollars. Today, that does not mean much. But at that time, it was the sum total of all the money that China had. The Kuomintang took that money and everything else that it could take.
You may have read the Shakespeare play in which the king was fleeing and saying that he would trade his kingdom for a horse because only a horse can save him. When the Kuomintang left, they took everything that they could and left a barren China behind. They cleaned out the national vault. They blew up all the bridges that they could. They took away everything that they could take. But they left behind three million bad elements to cause trouble. The bandits and the Kuomintang spies were left behind on the mainland. This caused the Communists a lot of stress in trying to manage poverty as well as the security problems. We grew up under those kinds of circumstances. Do you know that the China today was the first time that we have a flourishing age since the Han and Tang dynasties?
When I was in middle school, I wrote an essay to criticize a professor. Later on, he wrote me back. You do not know this professor, but he left mainland China and Beijing University an amusing record. He was the one who named The Lake With No Name. This person is Qian Mu. His favorite sentence was "Never seen since the Han and Tang dynasties." He wanted to see situations which have never been seen before since the Han and Tang dynasties. Today, let me that you that I, Li Ao, has seen it happen.
Everybody should know how much price was paid to get this little bit of accomplishment. No only did tens of millions of heads rolled, but we also spent a long time mired in ignorance. During the Opium War, a famous Chinese thinker Yu Zhenjie died. He was speaking out about the inhumane treatment of Chinese women. He wrote an essay about the foreigners. He said that the foreigners were physiologically different from the Chinese. He said that the Chinese person's heart has seven holes but the foreigners only had five; the Chinese have six pieces in their lungs but the foreigners have only four. Chinese men have two testicles but the foreigners have four. Therefore, you can imagine that at the time when the Opium War first started, the best thinker in China held such pitiful and shallow ideas about the foreigners. When we had to fight them, we always lost and we tried to negotiate with them. All we experienced were defeats, defeats, humiliation, humiliation.
Finally, 1949 came. The People's Republic of China was established. Poverty was our biggest threat. There was a joke at the time. When our relationship with Soviet Russia was still good, there was a joke about the relationshop between Mao Zedong and the Soviet Russian ruler Nikita Khruschev. Mao sent a telegram to Khruschev: "Give us food. We are poor. We have no food. Give us bread." Khruschev replied to Mao: "Comrade Mao, there is no food. You will have to tighten your belts." Chairman Mao's second telegram to Khruschev said: "Please send the belts over."
People say that I don't get as much applause as Lian Chan. That is because I am too exciting and you don't even have time to applaud. I have spoken many times but I don't like this type of hall. Why? Do you know? Because it is a semi-circle. According to manners, I should look at each of you, from left to right then from right to left. I feel like an electric fan.
Does Mr. Liu think that my speech so far is safe? The outside rumor is that my relationship with Phoenix TV has been terminated. Let me tell everything -- rubbish!
Back then, Mr. Hu Xi was still at Beijing University. At the time, Beijing University had both Communist and Kuomintang students. One day, the two sides quarreled over something in the hall. Mr. Hu Xi appeared in the hall and the Communist students stood up, pointed at Mr. Hu and yelled "Chinese traitor!" Mr. Hu is an educator, so he calmly and patiently said, "There are no traitors in this house."
Today, on this earth of our motherland, there is no one who does not love China, no one wants to cause chaos, no one wants to cause trouble for you, no one wants to bring up reactionary talk and no one wants to lower public morale. But some people say that your speech has problems. What Comrade Deng Xiaoping said was that some comrades' thinking needs to be corrected eventually. He said, "I am willing to wait." But let people not forget that I am already past 70. I can't wait too long. I hope that you change a bit quicker.
Today, I speak to you. Everybody thinks that I am a liberal. "You are going to Beijing. You use to scold the Kuomintang, you scold the Democratic Progressive Party, you scold the Americans and you scold little Japan. When you get to Beijing, will you scold the Communist Party?" I ask myself, "Do I dare to scold the Communist Party? Should I scold the Communist Party?"
Let me tell you. If there is something to scold, I will. But you have discovered that I am not scolding the Communist Party. I have even abandoned my own thing right now, and that is liberalism. Everybody must think, "This is strange. Li Ao says that he is a liberal. My friends all say that Li Ao is a liberal. Why are you giving up liberalism today?" Let me tell you. I am not going to talk academic theory with you. There is so much academic theory about liberalism since the 17th, 18th and 19th century about liberalism.
So I will only talk about two portions. I did not go into details at Beijing University. First, liberalism is about looking inside oneself. If I can liberate my kind and not be tied down by those thoughts, then I can liberate myself. This is a reform and opening within myself. If you can do that, you are a liberal who is responsible to your own self. The other portion is the relationship with the government. The relationship with the government is the most interesting portion. For liberalisim since the 17th century through to the 20th century, what sorts of liberty were people fighting for? Those things are abstract, without clear appearances.
Let me tell you. Liberty is like love. You have to offer instances. Do you remember the English poetess Elizabeth Browning's poem: How many ways do I love thee? Let me count them one by one. I love your eyes, I love your nose, I love your ears. The Indian poet Tagore said that he likes the moles on women's faces. Dostoyevsky likes women's toes. One hundred years after the death of Pushkin, people found out from his diaries that he likes that special part of the female. Everybody's love requires instances. Liberty must also be illustrated by example. In the past, we translated it wrong. We called it the declaration of human rights. That is wrong. That is a bill.
Let me tell you how a friend described me. He said that Li Ao is friendly, he is friendly to everyone and he would never betray a friend. Love has to be listed out. By the time that liberalism can be listed out, you will notice that the ideals of liberalism have no more meaning. We will then use the bill to go to the government and ask for our freedom. That is enough. After we get it, then liberalism has been completely implemented and fulfilled. Where is that bill? The bill is in the first essay of the collected documents of the laws of the People's Republic of China. That would be the constitution of the People's Republic of China. It is all listed in the constitution, and there is more given there than for any other country in the world.
I tell you something. When I was a political prisoner, I was allowed to take a walk every day. Each time, it was for ten minutes. When I walked, I encountered other political prisoners. One day, I encountered a young 17-year-old political prisoner. I asked him, "What is your crime?" He said that he was a political prisoner. I said, "How did you get arrested?" He said that he formed a party. He said, "I read in a civic education textbook at school about the constitution of the Republic of China. The fourteenth article said that the people had the freedom to form parties." He said, "I thought that was true. I formed a party and then I was arrested." Later, the little guy committed suicide. He thought it was true, and therefore he formed a party.
You pay attention. Within the constitution of the People's Republic of China, it was all listed out article by article. This is the most complete publication in the world. Freedom of speech, freedom to strike, everything is in there. Everything is in there. I don't think this is fake. If we believe it, then it is real.
Do you know the American Franklin? His life was divided into two parts. In the first half, he was a businessman, he published a newspaper and he flew kites. In the second half, he was a revolutionary. Franklin was a very strange peron. The American poet Frost said that when he did not dare to be an activist as a young man because he was afraid to become a conservative when he got old. But Franklin was the exact opposite. The older he got, the more extreme he became. So Franklin became an American revolutionary whereas his son became a conservatie. His son born out of wedlock was a governor of the 13 American states and they became enemies.
Franklin said something that is quite moving. He said, "Where there is liberty, there is my motherland." Let me tell you that Franklin was wrong. This sentence will be re-written by Li Ao. How would that go? "This is my country and I want it to be free." Don't take that as being fake. If we give it a try, it will become real. Do not think that they are lying to us. When we treat it as real, then they are no longer liars.
Therefore, I ask you to have confidence. We should build our confidence during the best of times. What is the best of times? That is to say, today, everyone has a pair of pants to wear. Now is the time. Do not laugh. Chen Yi said, "At the time when we wanted to build an atomic bomb even though we had no pants to war, there were one billion people in China. If we give each person one pair of socks for everyone to wear and each pair of socks cost US$1, that would be US$1 billion in total. US$1 billion is enough to buy two nuclear submarines. It will make our country strong so that foreign devils won't dare to attack us. But everybody will have to go barefeet." Think about this, everyone. We have paid that price.
The people sometimes look at things differently from political leaders and national leaders. The Secretary of State during the era of American president Lincoln heard that Russia wanted to sell Alaska. How much? US$7 million, or about 2 American cents per hectare. He spent the money to buy it. The whole country cursed him. "You idiot! Why do you want some land buried under ice and snow? Why did you spend so much money?" The Secretary of State was demonized everywhere. But he said, "I purchased it today. Many years later, if my descendants benefitted from the purchase, then is it not a benefit? We don't know that."
Today, those words have been validated. If the Russians still held Alaska in this age where missiles fly, they won't even need any intercontinential ballistic missiles. Therefore, politicians look at things differently from the people.
The people don't understand. The people complain. The people are angry. During the period of extreme poverty, there were many people who fled from the area of five lakes. Many people tried to swim from Guangzhou to Hong Kong. One tragic story had a young couple swimming to Hong Kong. Halfway, the man drowned but the woman dragged her man's body and continued swimming. She said that they want to die together in a free place. This story was publicized heavily by people outside China. But let us think about this. A couple in an impoverished village wanted to have a better life and wear some socks and they left. This is forgivable and understandable. We cannot say that they were unpatriotic and ignore them. But we know that someday, we will realize that we don't want to go outside anymore. Freedom is not outside. Freedom will be right in front of us. When freedom is here after our struggles, why would we want to go outside? You think about it.
I am telling you that when I came here to Tsinghua University, I am looking at the real Tsinghua University. Do you know? There is a Tsinghua University in Taiwan. Life's changes are myserious. That school's first president was the last president of the original Tsinghua University in Beijing. The president of Taiwan's Tsinghua University was genuine. The money was genuine. What money? They are still using the treaty compensation money returned by the Americans. Today, our Tsinghua University has stood up and raised it head proudly, because it does not need money from the Americans and it won't use the shameful money that the Chinese paid the Americans. But Taiwan is still using that money, even though that amount is getting smaller and smaller. Everybody thinks this is cute. I am 70 years old and I am glad to see this interesting situation. From the fake Tsinghua University, I saw the real Tsinghua, but the fake Tsinghua has parts of the real one, and the real one does not have any part of the fake one.
Let me tell you. The young people today have a problem. I must point that out, even if this ruins your day. At the time when Tsinghua University was founded, there was a semi-secret agreement with the Americans. Within this university, 80% of the students are supposed to study science, agriculture and engineering, and the other 20% are to study politics and law. There would be no Chinese studies. We only wanted those things that will provide for a strong and powerful China Therefore, Tsinghua University is a school with a very practical foundation.
Today, you have entered Tsinghua University. You will grow older and then there will be a problem about getting old. Do you want to be a self-completed man (自了汉)? You don't care about anyone else. You only care about yourself. What is the standard? You get some money and you get a doctorate. You move to live overseas. You worry about your own life. That is a self-completed man. Let me tell you, the notion is wrong in itself. Your roots are here. You can complain about China, you can be dissatisfied, you can curse it but I am telling you that your roots are here.
You may say that my thoughts are old-fashioned. With the way that I looked at your old alumnus Hu Xi, you know that I am old-fashioned. A long time ago, Hu Xi gave me 1,000 Taiwan dollars. I donated NT$150 million equal to 350,000 RMB to Beijing University to return his gift. I am telling you, there is love and care in this world, and there is money. I am explaining here that it is not enough to be sympathetic and it is only useful and effective when you bring out the money.
During the time when I was aiding the comfort women, I sold all the letters from Hu Xi to me. During the Second World War, in China, Korea, Taiwan and Philippines, the Japanese seized the seventeen or eighteen year old girls off the streets and locked them in military camps to serve as sex slaves. They were raped repeatedly. If they got pregnant, they were tied down on door boards and given surgical abortions without anaesthetics. That was how the Japanese treated us
Later, to fend off the United Nations, the Japanese offered a settlement of NT$500,000 per comfort woman around the world. This is just over 100,000 RMB. At the time, there were 54 old ladies left in Taiwan. They are pitiful. Some are blind, some are immobile, some are still suffering from venereal diseases and nobody cares about them.
The comfort women organizations told the women not to take the money. But the NT$500,000 was very important to the women. Still, they were told not to take the money on account of national dignity and personal reputation. It was heartbreaking to tell not to take the money because they were in need. So I, Li Ao, could not bear it. I came out, I put up 100 items from my personal collection and sold them off in a public auction. We raised US$1 million, and we gave NT$500,000 each to the women. The only condition was that they must not accept the NT$500,000 from the Japanese ghouls. If you want my NT$500,000 then you must follow the regulation. If you take the NT$500,000 from Japan, then you must repay NT$500,000 to me. The Japanese tried that but I said no. We cannot take money from the Japanese. Therefore, the Japanese failed and we protected the dignity of the Chinese people, at least in Taiwan.
Let me tell you. You should pay attention that when I speak about this, I am not being high-minded. If you take the moral ground and tell the comfort women not to take the money, you are cold-hearted. The old women need that money. They were then in conflict. My method was the most practical method. You have often seen me scold this or that person, but you have not seen the practical side of me. That is very important. I mean to say today that you ought to be practical when you face the China problem and the future of China. That is to say, China is the true goal of our efforts, the objective of our efforts and the target of our sacrifices.
You must not believe the westerners' high-minded talk. When China and the United States began to establish ties, American president Carter told Deng Xiaoping that there is no freedom to emigrate from China. People did not have the freedom to leave the country. Deng Xiaoping said, "How many people do you want? I'll give them to you. Will you accept 10 million?" Carter said, "I don't even want a million." Then he changed the subject. Why? They are hypocrites. Everybody in the US Congress said, "You Chinese are are inhumane." The same problem again: we have a married couple, and we have at least a boy and a girl.
We must get over the difficulties. We must learn what we don't know. We must learn about economics from the experts. If we don't know about something, we must not pretend that we do. Mao Zedong said publicly that he did not understand economics. He told Edgar Snow that he did not economics but he knew how to make revolutions. Deng Xiaoping also criticized Mao Zedong by saying that he was a great Communist but he did not understand productivity. Today, knowing about economics is the most important thing for our nation. Today, I am very happy to see that our nation is pragmatic and practical, and Tsinghua University is grooming the talents to lead the country down a pragmatic path. Thank you!
Question: I am a student in the Public Administration School. I feel that we want to embrace you with the warmest pair of arms of Tsinghua to welcome your return to the motherland's organization. We welcome you back.
Li: What kind of question do you call that? I have never left.
Question: I believe that after your short speech of a few dozen minutes, we deeply appreciate your style of speech and your special charisma. But we like even more your identification with our motherland and your patriotism. We can feel your sincerity. The problem that I am concerned with is this. We the people at Tsinghua are not "self-completed men." We are concerned about the project of unification. For a patriot such as yourself, and this was a cultural journey for you, how can we promote the unification of the motherland through cultural exchange between the two straits? I believe that you will have a very exciting answer for us.
Li: You asked a good question, but I will offer a stupid answer. What stupid answer? You are the smart students of Tsinghua University, so don't you know the answer? You know it yourself and you are asking me deliberately to get me into trouble.
Q: I am an automobile engineering students at Tsinghua University. First, let me tell you that I admire what you talked about earlier about freedom and the personal pursuit earlier. I also admire your actions on behalf of the comfort women of Taiwan. My question is this. You have always pursued the truth and exposed the lies. We know that. There are many serious doubts about the 319 shooting in Taiwan. The US CIA information that you provided seemed to have gone away. What is the truth about the case? Will you be doing anything?
Li: The evidence that I offered is effective. The evidence about Chen Shui-bian is in the file. My evidence is in the hearts of the people. What does it mean to be in the hearts of the people? Everybody think about this. At the time, Chen Shui-bian said that the 319 shooting was done by one person shooting twice at his stomach. Two people got shot, one bullet for each person. The entire report, the entire set of lies, developed from this. But my US CIA report said that there were two people, two guns, two bullets. In other words, there is one more assassin. It also said that the assassin fired the shot and then the security personnel escorted him to leave the scene. This means that Chen Shui-bian used his 'presidential' authority to create a lie. But Chen Shui-bian and them shut the case down quickly and said that there was no such thing. Instead, they said one person, two bullets. They may have closed the file. In the hearts of the people, everybody knows that the problem has not been resolved, and that it was most likely done by two persons and two bullets.
Q: I am from the Tsinghua University Materials Science Department. I like your program <<Li Ao has something to say>> very much. In your program I often see you with a red jacket. Why did you not wear it today? What is the special meaning of that jacket for you?
Li: I did not want to wear it out. That's all.
Q: I am a master student in the Public Administration Department. From your speech this morning, I can feel your deep patriotism. I know that Beijing University treated Mr. Li Ao's speech seriously and they were very warm. But Mr. Li, you used the word "cowardly" to describe the current situation at Beijing University. The word "cowardly" is a very severely demeaning term in Beijing. I believe that you were impolite and disrespectful to your host. I don't know if Mr. Li Ao has thought about using the platform at Tsinghua to apologize to Beijing University? Thanks!
Li: I did not imagine there would be an undercover agent for Beijing University here at Tsinghua. When I studied in middle school in Beijing, there was a saying, "Beijing University is old, Normal University is poor, only Tsinghua can be tolerant." Because Beijing University is old, that was why we have to prick it harder. To prick it, I used a severe word. I want to tell you. It has been fifty-seven years before I came back. Everybody says that my accent has not changed. I tell you -- I have not changed but you have. Why? When I lived in Beijing, it was a small Beijing. I lived in the small ring within the large ring of Beijing city. Within the small ring, I lived in the yellow ring inside yellow city. Today, the ring is bigger. You have the third ring, the fourth ring and the fifth ring. In the past, we spoke very pure Beijing dialect. Today, your speech are mixed in with ours. Is the mixing of the language good or bad? I say to you that it is an advancement. When Taiwan people come to Beijing, you can tell that he is a Taiwanese person speaking putonghua. Why? He uses terminology that is different from yours. How is it different. Let me give you an example We say 疼 for pain, but the person from Shandong would say 份儿. Do you understand what I mean? The language has changed. For example, if I put on a coat and come out from a lane to have a girl come over to embrace me, the Beijing girl would say 呀, the Taiwan girl would say 哇 or 哇噻, or perhaps say, "How small!" The reactions are different. Therefore, I used that word to make fun of Beijing University and I am willing to delegate you to apologize to Beijing University.
Q: First, since you don't want to treated as a guest, I would like to welcome you as one of our own to Beijing and to Tsinghua. I would like you to explain two things to me. The first thing was that you just said that the United States had a secret agreement with Tsinghua, with the 80% and 20% allocation. I want to tell you during those decades, some people did not listen to the American devils and developed the humanities and social sciences, including people such as the four Chinese mentors Wang Guowei, Chen Yinke, Zhao Yuanren and Liang Qichao whom you must know as well as the latter Qian Zhongshu and Feng Youlan. You know that you ought to be happy about that. The second thing is something that you might be happier about. You spoke about Qian Mo. Although Qian Mo did not give anything like a Lake With No Name to Tsinghua, I tell you that the students of Tsinghua respect him very much. They not only know about him, but they respect him a lot. At least when I and my fellow students attend music appreciation class, we have indirectly learned the lessons from Qian Mo. He taught us to have bonding and respect towards classical music. My question is this. You have defined yourself as a mainland style scholar, and you are famous for having a patriotic heart. But we are very concerned that the Taiwan authorities are pushing for de-Sinofication. That will have a huge impact on young people, who are the future citizens and political decision-makers in Taiwan. How do you think that cultural Taiwan independence can be opposed? A chasm in culture means a permanent separation.
Li: When my daughter was four years old, her logic was already very meaningful. One day, she told me, "Mama scolded me. I don't like mama. Daddy, I love you. You embrace me." Do you know what the logic is? The scolding is the description of the event. Not liking mama is the united front and drawing the line clearly. The third sentence is daddy loves me That is still the united front. Daddy embrace me is a demand. This is what the Chinese Communists did. You should not laugh. The fact is that education has been a failure for Li Ao. You can ask me to stand here and tell you what I learned in middle school. You can ask me to tell you everything that I know. I count up to 'one' and then it is over. So basically, it is not good to rely on textbooks.
Here, I will have to praise my son. My son is named Li Kan. Named for when the Kuomintang stopped the suppression. My son is named Li Kan. He is a first-rate intelligent boy. He is perfectly logical. He followed me by reading extracurricular books, and he'll just get by in school. The only flaw is that he could not qualify for Tsinghua University.
Q: It seems like the Chinese people who study tradition tend to be more reserved, but you are very outgoing. How do you look at these two styles?
Li: I learned this from Confucius. Didn't Confucius attack his student with a cane? Did they want to "sound the drums and then attack" in order to show power? This is the tradition of the Chinese: to mock people; say nice things in front of them and then stab them in the back.
Q: I am a mechanical engineering student. I and my fellow students like your style as program host. We know that your sarcastic scolding style has brought you a huge reputation, but sometimes your lack of consideration also lost many supporters. As I young person who likes you, have you ever thought about whether you may have some flaws or deficiencies?
Li: You are trying to use Confucius against me, again. Confucius has said that he was fortunate in that if he did something wrong, people would know. I am lucky, because when I am wrong, the whole world knows. Isn't that just Confucius? Thank you. I can tell you that I reflect about myself. But I can tell you that sometimes I cannot help myself. There are times when I over-reacted or showed off. But I am cool inside. I am very practical, especially when it comes to counting money.
Q: I am a master student in the automotive engineering department. You just mentioned the flourishing age of the Han and Tang dynasties. I am happy to say that I hail from Shanxi province and the Han/Tang dynasties were based in our Xian. I want to ask you how you once said in your program that you would like to be a Tang dynasty person. I ask you what are your views about the so-called flourishing age of Han and Tang dynasties?
Li: You must have misunderstood. I did not say that I would rather be a Tang dynasty person. I only said that unless I can encounter Empress Wu Zetian, I don't want to be a Tang dynasty person.
Q: You have described your trip as a cultural journey. Since you are an influential political figure on both sides of the strait, can you tell us the political purpose of your trip?
Li: You are underestimating the scope of my talk. I think that the subject of politics is too small. Politics is really temporary, but culture is forever. When I was a university student in Taiwan, I encountered a professor from Nankai University. He is a contemporary history scholar named Jiang Tingfu and he said something that raised a question. He asked whether the emperor Han Wudi or the historian Sima Qian was greater? His conclusion was that Sima Qian was greater. Why? Although Han Wudi toiled his entire life in glory, he had nothing after he died. But Sima Qian, his "History" and his tragic life has lived on to this day.
Q: In 2001, I had participated in a CCTV program that linked CCTV 4 with your program. At that time, you said that you did not use a computer. Do you still not use a computer? In this computer age, the information on the internet is so rich. It can give you so much data and information. Do you feel that the computer era will influence your cultural ideas and methods? Confucius did not use a computer because there was no computers in his time. You don't have to compare with Confucius.
Li: My son helps me to use it. Actually, I feel that people who use computers are pitiful. If he receives a lot of information that arrives in a tidal wave, he must use a very sharp mind to distill the vast amount of information. Without a sharp mind, this is detrimental to people. Therefore, I agree with Einstein's comment that the imagination is more important than information. There are so many problems about knowledge. I think that the most important characteristic of equality is that the access to information is equal. We can spend very little money to obtain knowledge from computers, whereas it used to be so difficult. American president had to go across the street to borrow a bible. When Lincoln was small, the only thing he had was a bible. They had difficulty in obtaining information. But now, we turn on the computer and the information shows up. I doubt that your little brains can withstand it. Therefore, I think that the ability to quickly evaluate and to tell good information from dogshit is very important.
Related link: Li Ao's Speech At Beijing University; Li Ao's Speech At Fudan University; The Mystery of Li Ao's Tsinghua University Speech; Li Ao's YZZK Interview