Archive for the ‘International: Islam & China’ category

Why Islamic Extreme Fundamentalists Hate the United States, and the Purposes of Education in Islam and the United States.

December 25, 2009

Why Islamic Extreme Fundamentalists Hate the United States, and  the Purposes of Education in Islam and the United States.
Lawrence P. Creedon

Middle East Islamic Fundamentalism (hereafter Fundamentalists) is theocratic, deterministic and in some quarters extreme. In education its purpose is to indoctrinate adherents in its ultra conservative interpretation of the Quran, the Sunnah and Sharia law. Conversely the purpose of education in the United States is secular and democratic. The purpose of education in the United States is to assist learners in becoming self fulfilling individuals, good citizens in a democratic society, and competent workers in a world that is maximally effective for all. These contrasting views form the nexus of the conflict between the two cultures.

Extreme Islamic fundamentalists hate the United States for many reasons and among the most prominent are these five:
1. United States total support of Israel in opposition to Islamic Palestine
2. The goal of the USA is to control  Middle East oil resources for its own benefit.
3. The presence of the USA offends Islam and is a continuation of  imperialism
4. Current USA intrusion in the Middle East particularly Afghanistan and Iraq
5. The conflicting purpose of education. In Islam church and state are one.

The strongly felt views of Muslims is not based on social doctrine, democratic principles, or constitutional law, but rather on what they consider to be the dictates of the Koran. Failure to live as the Koran states, including failure to participate in ridding the Muslim world  of  infidels (non-Islam), can result in eternal damnation. Giving one’s life in the cause of Islam is heroic, it is martyrdom. It is not what the West promotes as terrorism or suicide. Muslims point out that they have defended their faith as enunciated in the Koran for over 1000 years and will continue to do so as long as infidels occupy their lands and influence their fellow Muslims.

Strange as it may seem many Americans including government authorities have been slow to grasp the depth of hatred for the United States demonstrated by Islamic extreme fundamentalists. However, that reality has not gone unaddressed by scholars. For example, Ralph Peters in his 1991 book Fighting for the Future – Will America Triumph observed: “If there is a single power the West underestimates it is the power of collective hatred.” (Ralph Peters, Fighting for the Future – Will America Triumph, 1991, p.13).  In 2004, CIA operative Michael Scheuer author of Imperial Hubris – Why the West is Loosing the War on Terrorism, writing under the name of “Anonymous,” observed:

Loving something intensely can stimulate an equally intense and purposeful hatred of things by which it is threatened. This hatred shapes and forms Muslim reaction to United States policies and their execution, and it is impossible to understand the threat America faces until the intensity and pervasiveness of this hatred is recognized.

The focus of this article is twofold:
1. The issue of hatred
2. The conflicting purposes of education

Officially the concern of the United States is not with Islam per se, but with extremist or radical Islamic Fundamentalism. Literally the word Islam  translates to mean “surrender to the word of God.”  However, the behavior of some Americans and the actions taken by a limited number of government authorities and agencies would sometimes suggest otherwise.

Not all Muslims [meaning submission to God] hate America and Americans, not all  Muslims are Fundamentalists and not all Fundamentalists are extremists or radicals. For example, the relationship in Morocco, where I have traveled, between Muslims and Americans is very cordial.

However, there is a belief among some influential authorities in the West that Islam is a religion of violence. The Rev. Franklin Graham, a prominent American Protestant Southern Baptist clergyman, in his book The Name (2002) asserted the Quran is not the word of God. The Holy Bible is God’s word.  Rev. Graham believes that the Quran sanctions violence against non-Muslims. In an interview with Religion and Ethics Newsweekly he stated: “The Quran does teach it [violence]. It is there. You can read it for yourself. And these verses from the Quran are not taken out of contest, its there”. (Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, Mary Alice Williams, August 13, 2004.)

The point of view expressed by Rev. Graham is not unique In Great Britain an official of the British Council for promoting culture and learning around the world was suspended from his post for writing that:  “all Muslims, like all dogs, share certain characteristics.” In another place he wrote that “It is the black heart of Islam, not its black faces, to which millions object.” (New York Times, 8-7-04).

Lieutenant General William G Boykin, United States Deputy Under-Secretary of Defense for Intelligence when this incident occurred, was quoted as telling an Evangelical Christian Church community that Muslims have an idol for God. It was reported in the media that General Boykin told the church congregation that he told a Muslim warlord who he was in conversation with that:  “I knew that my god was a real god and his was an idol.”  The general’s remarks were laced with other derogatory comments related to Islam and its comparison with Christianity. He is a frequent speaker before Christian fundamentalist groups. United States Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld ordered an investigation into the general’s remarks. According to an editorial in the New York Times the investigation was a white-wash and did not address the central question related to General Boykin’s remarks. According to the Times it did not address the “bigoted remarks” of the general. The report found only that the general failed “to clear his speeches with the proper [Pentagon] authorities and that he failed “to preface his remarks with a ‘disclaimer’ that the views were his own …” [(New York Times, editorial, 8-23-04].

A contrasting point of view is that of  Dr. Muzammil  Suddizi,  former President of the Islamic Society of North America. Dr. Siddiqi has written:  (www.Islam Online).

We Muslims also do not hate non-Muslims, be they Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhist or followers of any religion or no religion. Our religion does not allow killing any innocent person regardless of his or her religion. The life of all human beings is sacrosanct according to the teachings of the Qur’an…

According to the Qur’an, killing any person without a just cause is as big a sin as killing the whole humanity and saving the life of one person is as good deed as saving the whole humanity. (See Al-Ma’idah: 32)

However, … then how come the Qur’an says, “kill them wherever you find them…” as it is mentioned in Surah Al-Baqarah: 191 and Surah An-Nisa’: 89. The answer is simple and that is, you should read these verses in their textual and historical context:

Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loves not transgressors. And kill them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter; but fight them not at the Sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there; but if they fight you, kill them. Such is the reward of those who reject faith. But if they cease, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah; but if they cease, let there be no hostility except to those who practice oppression. The prohibited month, for the prohibited month, and so for all things prohibited, there is the law of equality. If then any one transgresses the prohibition against you, transgress ye likewise against him. But fear Allah, and know that Allah is with those who restrain themselves.” (Al-Baqarah: 190-194) .

It is important that we study the religious texts in their proper context. When these texts are not read in their proper textual and historical contexts they are manipulated and distorted. It is true that some Muslims manipulate these verses for their own goals. But this is not only with Islamic texts, it is also true with the texts of other religions. I can quote dozens of verses from the Bible which seem very violent, if taken out from their historical context. These Biblical texts have been used by many violent Jewish and Christian groups. Crusaders used them against Muslims and Jews. Nazis used them against Jews. Recently Serbian Christians used them against Bosnian Muslims. Zionists are using them regularly against Palestinians. .

The radical element within Islam stems in part from the Sunni Islamic Fundalmentalist Wahhabi tradition. The Wahhabis draw their name and inspiration from Mohammed ibn Abdul Wahhab Najdi (1703-1791). During the period of British influence in the Middle East Wahhabis were supported by the British government in its effort to minimize, if not destroy, Islam from within.  The Wahhabis are extreme fundamentalists in their beliefs about Islam. They are strict and literal interpreters of the Quran. They believe that all forms of Islam adopted after the 3rd Century of the Muslim era (the 10th century A.D.) are spurious and must be expunged. They believe it is lawful according to the Quran to kill men, women and children belonging to alternative forms of Islam. Wahhabis came into power in the 18th Century in Saudi Arabia where they entered into agreements with the Saud family rulers of what is now Saudi Arabia. They frequently tortured and killed fellow Islamics in order to cleanse Islam of its spurious influences. In 1932 the Wahhabis founded the state of Saudi Arabia.  In 1962 they founded in Saudi Arabia the Muslim World League . The purpose of the League was to export Islamic Wahhabism around the world. [  The Columbia Enclclopedia, 6th edition, 2001].

Sufism represents a dramatic alternative to Wahhabism. It is mystical, spiritual and peace loving. Sufism, is generally understood to be the inner, mystical, or psycho-spiritual dimension of Islam. Today, however, there is a belief among some Muslims that Sufism is outside the sphere of Islam. The essence of Sufi practice is the Sufi surrenders to God, in love, over and over; which involves embracing with love at each moment the content of one’s consciousness (one’s perceptions, thoughts, and feelings, as well as one’s sense of self) as gifts of God or, more precisely, as manifestations of God. The term “Sufi” has many points of origin. Among them is that it stems from the combination of two ancient words meaning wool and purity. Together they mean one who wears wool over purity. []

The debate over whether or not Islam is a religion of violence seems destined to intensify with the 2005 release of the movie “Kingdom of Heaven.” The movie focuses on the period of the 12th century crusades when Christians and Muslims slaughtered each other in the name of religion. Already Christian and Islamic apologists are lining up to hail the movie as historically accurate or seriously biased against Islam. The pre release is already following the debate related to the movie “The Passion of Christ.”

More than one billion people worldwide are Muslims and less than 10 per cent of those are fundamentalists.[Newsweek, 10-15-01]. And, a lesser percentage of those are extremists or radicals.  For example, in  May 2003 Casablanca, Morocco was stunned when suicide bombers  (or martyrers?) simultaneously detonated five bombs killing more than 40 innocent people. Morocco is a Muslim country governed under a constitutional form of a democratic monarchy.  Two weeks after the bombings over one million Moroccans held a march for peace in repudiation of the acts of the perpetrators. Also,   King  Mohammod VI denounced the bombers in strong language.

Islam [meaning peace] is the fastest growing religion in the world. Worldwide more than one-half the Muslim population is less than 25 years of age. In the United States there is estimated to be between six and seven million Muslims worshiping in more than twelve hundred mosques. Fifteen thousand Muslims serve in the U.S. military and many are or have served in the Middle East. The accompanying chart indicates the number of Muslims in several  non-Muslim majority  Western  countries

Canada     600,000
Italy    700,000
Great Britain    1.5 million
Germany     3.5 million
France    5 million
USA    6-7 million

It is the extreme Fundamentalists who teach in their madrasas [religious schools] that the United States is populated by infidels and is the great Satan of the world. Extremists teach that the Quran (meaning the recitation) demands that infidels (which essentially means all non-Muslims) be driven out of the Muslim world. [Quran, sura 76.4].

Extremism is a throwback to much earlier  times. The extremists in the Wahhabi tradition believe that any change in Islamic doctrine initiated after the third century is apostate and must be eradicated. One journalistic account asserts that it appeals to half-educated hordes entering cities from villages in search of a better life. [Newsweek 10-15-01; New York Times, 01-02-02].  Fundamentalism did not flourish in Afghanistan before the Taliban gained control in that country in 1996. [Rashid, 2001.

Terrorism, the primary weapon of Fundamentalism, has been associated with Islam since at least the 11th Century when rival Islamic sects used hashisbin [(assassins] to attack each other. [Armstrong, 2000].

Four Reasons for Hate

Extremist Fundamentalist hate for the United States is rooted in four pervasive reasons. The first is the continuing United States support for Israel at the expense of fellow Muslims, the Palestinians. The second is the allegation that the interest of the United States in the Middle East is to protect its source of oil and do so for its own profit motive capitalistic interests. The belief among more moderate Muslims is that in so doing America has bolstered oppressive governments that do not govern as the Quran commands. The third is the colonization of the Middle East by the West, humiliating a region once a world leader in culture, education and scientific achievement. The Middle East was the seventh century birth place of Islam through the prophet Muhammad (570- 632).

Reminiscent of China as the middle kingdom, the Middle East kings of the ancient world believed the Afghanistan region was the very center of the world and this view has persisted to modern times.[(Rashid, 2001].  During the medieval period and middle ages the Muslim world was the center of culture, education and scientific advancement. Muslims were among the most literate in the world. However, today 70 per cent of the population in some Muslim countries is illiterate. [Muslim Almanac, 1996]. During its period of preeminence the curriculum in Muslim schools and universities paralleled the Greek Trivium and Quadrivium [Trivium: grammar, rhetoric and logic; Quadrivium: arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music].

The list of Muslim achievements is extensive. Among the most significant was rescuing the works of Plato and Aristotle from oblivion, translating them into Arabic and making them available to the West.

Several of the oldest universities and libraries in the world were established by Arabs. In literature the adventures of Sinbad the Sailor and the stories of the Arabian Nights are classics.

While paper and gun  powder were invented in China, Muslims made them available to the West. Arabs invented our numbering system and basic aspects of arithmetic. They invented the mariner’s compass in support of their fleet of one thousand merchant vessels  Arabs made advances in irrigation, introduced agricultural systems and crops such as rice, cotton, spinach and sugar. They also introduced textiles, iron, steel and earthenware.[(Van Doren 1991; Ornstein and Levine 1989]

The fourth reason is the intrusion of the United States in the Quran based Muslim life style by introducing what is to Fundamentalists an infidel Western life style that is in uncompromising conflict with Islam. Fundamentalists see it as religious duty to rid the Middle East of the American infidels and do so violently if necessary. However, in countries such as Canada there is an effort underway to blend together the multicultural focus of Canadian law with aspects of the Shariah law.  Since 1991 Canadian law has granted religious authorities the power to arbitrate certain civil matters as long as the people seeking to arbitrate do so voluntarily and are free to appeal those decisions to Canadian courts [New York Times, 8-04-04].

“Under the law Jewish rabbis have granted religious divorces, decided matters on Kosher dietary laws and arbitrated business disputes. Catholic couples have gone to priests to annul marriages, while churches of various denominations have settled disputes related to inappropriate behavior of ministers and monetary disagreements within and between parishes.” [New York Times, 8-04-04].

Not unlike other religions, Islam sees itself as the world’s one true faith.  Its belief system is codified in the Quran, the Sunnah and the Sharia law. The Quran is viewed as the inspired word of God as spoken to the prophet Muhammad by the angel Gabriel. The Sunnah chronicles the habits and religious practices of Muhammad. It was recorded by his companions and is regarded as the ideal Islamic norm for every situation in life. The Sharia law known as The Path to the Watering Hole is the body of sacred laws drawn from the Quran and the Sunnah. It is the canon law of Islam.

This triad of inspired sources is the curriculum of Fundamentalist madrasas.  The purpose of education is to master each including memorizing the content. Extreme Fundamentalists believe nothing else is needed for an individual to win a place in paradise for eternity other than adherence to these three sources.

Extremist Fundamentalists believe that Americans have defiled Muslim religious beliefs and practices. They abhor the curriculum in American schools, the involvement of women in public life and their “immodest” dress, the availability in the Arab world of Western style music, television, movies and other things associated with contemporary life. They see it as a religious duty to rid the Muslim world of the American agents of Satan. They conclude that the killing of innocents such as in the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001, is justified and even mandated by the Quran. Their justification is that they are in the United States committing acts of terrorism because Americans are in the Middle East defiling Muslim holy places.

The Purpose of Education in Islam

Islam and the United States can agree that the purpose of education is the eradication of ignorance. The clash comes in defining ignorance. In Fundamentalism ignorance or ‘jahiliyya” is associated with insufficient knowledge about the Quran, the Sunnah and the Sharia law.  Jahiliyya is characterized by barbarism, licentiousness and unbelief. The choice for humankind is between Islam and jahiliyya. Those choosing jahiliyya are subject to annhilation. [ 9/11 Commission Report, 2004, p.51]. In the United States it is the lack of scientific inquiry.

In Fundamentalist  schools or madarras time  is spent memorizing from old texts. Differences in opinion are not tolerated. There is a single interpretation of the truth of Allah and it is articulated in the Quran, the Sunnah and the Sharia law.

The Purpose of Education in the United States

Seldom has the United States had a single view as to the purpose of education. If that ever was the case, it was during the colonial period and the early decades of the 19th century. It was then that what is now known as the public school was controlled colony by colony almost exclusively by the prevailing Protestant denomination within the colony.

In the not too distant past education in the United States was defined as a  Aswirling eddy@  and criticized for being Aa patchwork of historical accident and educational expediency.@ (Gross 1963). Nevertheless, at least five alternative philosophical points of view have emerged, namely, Essentialism, Progressivism (Constructivism), Perennialism, Reconstructionism and Existentialism. Here consideration will be limited to Essentialism and Progressivism (Constructivism). Among the identifying marks of Essentialism are: ..    1. Learning involves hard work and often unwilling application
2. The initiative in education rests with the teacher rather than the student
.    3. Education consists of the assimilation of prescribed subject matter
4. The school should retain traditional methods of mental discipline

Progressivism, also known as Pragmatism, Instrumentalism and more recently Constructivism, was developed in the late 19th century and first half of the 20th. Its foremost proponent was John Dewey (1859-1952). Among its identifying characteristics are:
1. Learners learn by doing
2. Education is for life itself, not a preparation for life
3. Learning should be directly related to the interests of the learner
4 .Problem solving take precedence over the inculcating of subject matter
5. The teacher=s primary role is to advise and facilitate and not direct
6. The school should encourage cooperation rather than competition
7. Democracy encourages the free interplay of ideas and personalities
as a  necessary condition for true growth.

In the United States it is arguable that there is an emerging consensus around three goals for education. The three are to assist learners in becoming self fulfilling individuals, good citizens in a democratic society, and competent workers in a world that is maximally effective for all.

Extreme Fundamentalists are not interested in any of this. For them the purpose of education is found in mastery of the Quran, the Sunnah and the Sharia law. In many Muslim countries such as Morocco, where I have taught, the goals of the public and private schools more closely resemble those of American schools than Islamic madaras.

Light Inside the Tunnel

In the past several years the World Bank has convened several conferences related to Afghanistan, including education. The World Bank has concluded: It is not easy to be optimistic about the future of education in Afghanistan. There is no light at the end of the tunnel, but there are a few lights inside the tunnel. That observation is truer now than when first uttered in 1999. The World Bank has concluded that the effort must be to harness support for education at the village level because the central government is incapable of assuming responsibility. However, that too is under the process of being changed. The World Bank has concluded that in spite of the war (the United States and coalition forces invasion of Iraq in search of weapons of mass destruction. None were found)  an absence of a functioning state, poverty, and the presence of  anti-intellectual regimes, (this is in reference to the now fallen Taliban) it is possible to move ahead with education in Afghanistan.”  [World Bank, Education  for Afghans, December 1999].
However, the reemergence of extremist elements continues to make that very difficult.

In neighboring Muslim Pakistan, President Musharrof was the first leader in the region to recognize the problem is related to the purpose of education. He has criticized the autocratic and theocratic purpose and practices of education in Pakistan and has announced his intention to bring Pakistan up to contemporary expectations. While not promoting an American style approach, he has  signaled the need for change.[(New York Times, 01-20-02].


Addressing the question of why extreme Fundamentalists hate America gives rise to the question of::  What is the purpose of education?
ÿ Is education for the eradication of ignorance through learning and the enlargement and enjoyment of life? All democracies live in the fear of ignorance. Education, on the other hand, makes democracy possible and essential.  [John Kenneth Galbraith, The Open Society, 1996, p. 71].
ÿ Is education for the purpose of perpetuating and fostering hatred born in indoctrination and ignorance? Hatred is a learned behavior.

Several conclusions impacting on the clash of cultures between east and west  are offered here:
1.  The confrontation with the United States is not with Islam per se, but with  I Islamic extreme Fundamentalism.
2. There are many reasons for the clash of cultures shedding light on why extreme  Fundamentalists hate Americans.
3. Americans do not understand Islam and try to interpret in the context American democracy. It can’t be done.
3.  Islamic Fundamentalism is theocratic, deterministic and in some instances extreme. Its primary purpose in education is to indoctrinate adherents to its interpretation  of the Quran, Sunnah and Sharia law.
4. The purpose of education in the United States is secular and democratic. The   goals are to assist learners in becoming self-fulfilling individuals, good citizens in a democratic society, and competent workers in a world that is maximally effective for all.
5. Seldom have the conflicting views on the purpose of education been addressed                  as a reason for why extreme Fundamentalists hate American. Ignorance, one of                 the other provides fertile ground for hate to take seed and flourish.,
6. Both Fundamentalists and Americans know that in order to influence, if not   determine, the future they must propagate their views among the young and do so in their schools.

Lawrence P. Creedon
February 2002, August 2004.

Dr. Creedon is a former public school superintendent in Quincy, Massachusetts, and associate professor in education at New Jersey City University. Currently he is affiliated with the  Louis Cedrone International Education Program, Framingham State College, Framingham, Massachusetts, USA..


China’s second long march: the rise of an economic trade giant

December 18, 2009

China’s second long march: the rise of an economic trade giant
Lawrence P. Creedon
The genertion that led China on its historic long march and to the
establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 has all but passed
from the scene. Before doing so, however, it set the nation on its second
long march. The goal was making China the world’s number-one economic
power. The direction was set in 1979 by Senior Leader Deng Xiaoping, who
initiated economic reforms that have produced enormous results in the most
populous country, with a population of over 1,200,000,000. China has
quadrupled its Gross Domestic Product; boasts the world’s third largest
economy, behind the U.S. and Japan; and has become the 11th largest
exporting nation. Even with these incredible advances, its economic might
continues to be more potentiality than reality.
Doing business in China is not like doing business in the U.S. or in any other
country with a market economy. While opening its trade doors to the West,
China is not interested in emulating the West as a capitalist market
economy. Neither are the Chinese signaling that their state-controlled
economy has been all wrong.
During the past 15 years, a middle class has begun to emerge in China.
Estimates are that it numbers 40-50,000,000 people, approximately threefour
percent of the total population. This middle-class minority constitutes
the new rich, and they are more interested in pursuing the “good new life”
than in who makes the decisions at the top. Meanwhile, Beijing decisionmakers
have concluded that national socialist goals can be realized more
quickly and fully by adopting China’s economy to certain Western-style
market forces.
In contemplating a trade relationship with the Chinese, there are three key
issues that American businesses need to understand: What a market
economy means to the Chinese, where to trade in China, and the direction
for getting started.
The Chinese have come to appreciate that the marketplace is driven by
market forces, but, as yet, private enterprise as practiced in the U.S. neither
is understood nor available. In China, behind everything lies the state.
Such basic concepts as market research and product or service promotion
are not fully understood, appreciated, or practiced, except in rare situations.
In part, the reasons for this is a long tradition of decisions being made in
Beijing as to what will be produced, regardless of the market forces, along
with a reliance on Hong Kong as China’s window to the West.
Since 1979, Beijing has allowed limited autonomy and local decision-making
for selected industries, as well as in the nation’s five special economic zones
established in 1980. Nevertheless, strong government control continues to
be the official position of Beijing as it moves the country toward a socialist–
not a capitalist–economy.
In a 1993 report to the central government, Chinese economists Wang
Shaoguang and Hu Angang argued that local governments have too much
economic muscle, which, they concluded, is used at the expense of the
central government. As reported in the China Daily, July 21, 1993, they
observed that, “although many [Chinese] have failed to realize it,
economists have already made clear that sustained economic development
is impossible without a strong state as its regulator and promoter.
“By their nature unregulated market systems put little or no heed to such
strategic areas as basic industries, health and education, scientific and
technological research, and the preservation of the environment and natural
resources.” Their conclusion is clear: “It would cost the country dearly if
people believed the market economy cleared them to indulge in tactics like
undisciplined speculation in real estate and securities, tax fraud, regional
protectionism and bad local tax policies.”
To illustrate the point, consider the Chinese approach to the small
businessperson or shop owner. Under the present way of doing business,
enterprises ultimately are owned and controlled by the state. However,
according to the Ministry of Domestic Trade, as the result of initiatives taken
within the past 15 years, approximately one-half of China’s small stateowned
shops have been leased to entrepreneurs. The businesspeople who
lease their stores from the government now are in direct competition with
the remaining stateowned stores. The lessees have the power to set their
own prices, purchase whatever goods they think will sell, and decide on
employees’ pay.
According to the Ministry, the leasing program has helped bail out stateowned
shops from financial difficulties and contributed to increased state
revenues and reduced government subsidies. In return for this level of
autonomy, the “owners” of the shops pay the government a standard leasing
In Beijing alone, the number of leased shops totals about 4,000 and,
according to government figures, account for more than 60% of state-owned
stores in the capital. Shanghai has over 5,000 private enterprises, the
highest number for China. The official government figures for the nation
indicate that there are 18,000,000 entrepreneurs now employing a
workforce of 42,000,000. The bottom line is that the American approach to a
market economy is not to be confused with the Chinese socialist market
Special economic zones
After a lapse of 21 years, trade between the U.S. and China reopened in
1971 with the signing of the Shanghai Communique by Pres. Richard Nixon
and Premier Zhou Enlai. For the next few years, the only place where the
Western world could deal directly with China was through the Canton Fair
(now Guangzhou). In 1972, 20 American trade pioneers attended the fair
and quickly were lost among the 21,000 attendees, mostly Chinese
expatriots from Hong Kong. In that year, sales to U.S. traders amounted to
Two decades later, the situation is dramatically different. In 1980, Beijing
authorized the establishment of special economic zones (SEZs), and change
has been taking place at a rapid rate, with these zones playing a major role.
All in the southeast China coastal region, the five SEZs are the cities of
Shenzhen, Zhuhai, and Shanton in Guangdong Province, Xiamen in Fujian
Province, and Hainan Island.
The SEZs enjoy special privileges and autonomous powers granted by the
Beijing government. They have more autonomy in trade matters, receive
special tax considerations, and increasingly are active places for
international trade.
During the first half of 1993, official Chinese figures indicate that the foreign
trade volume in the five SEZs reached a record $12,100,000,000. This
represented an increase of 18% over the first six months of 1992.
First among the SEZs is Shenzhen, the zone that rapidly is being recognized
as a mini Hong Kong. Guangdong Province, and the city of Shenzhen in
particular, is being heralded in China as the flagship of international trade.
The province now accounts for more than 20% of Chinese exports. During
the first half of 1993, this amounted to over $6,000,000,000. The region
currently boasts the highest industrial growth rate in all of China, up 27%
since 1991. The other SEZs all posted increases in trade for the first half of
1993: Shantou, $1,900,000,000; Xiamen, $1,600,000,000; Zhuhai,
$1,500,000,000; and Hainan, the newest zone, $1,100,000,000.
Xiamen, a coastal city of more than 1,000,000 inhabitants, is situated one
hour north of Hong Kong by air, to which it also is connected by overnight
ferry. In Xiamen, there are in excess of 200 companies authorized by the
government to trade with the outside world, although few of them have any
direct contact with potential trading partners in the U.S. In an effort to
change that, the province sponsored a trade mission to the American West
Coast in the fall of 1993.
Xiamen, like most other Chinese centers for international trade, relies
heavily on Hong Kong as its channel for contact with the world. It is not
unique in this regard. China long has relied on Hong Kong as its window and
passageway to the West. It is estimated that up to 70% of Hong Kong’s
trade consists of re-exports from China. While China depends heavily on
Hong Kong to be its middleman with the West, the five special economic
zones increasingly are competing as centers of international trade.
A related matter is the growing trade imbalance issue between America and
China. The U.S. includes in its trade imbalance figure with China those
products that are channeled through Hong Kong. China does not. As a
result, the two countries have very different views of the trade imbalance.
In 1991, the U.S. showed a trade imbalance in excess of $12,700,000,000,
while China, including the products channeled through Hong Kong,
maintained that it was $1,900,000,000. Nevertheless, the American trade
deficit with China is growing at a more rapid rate than it is with Japan.
In addition to the five SEZs, China has established more than a dozen “open
cities.” These are places that do not enjoy the full status of an SEZ, but have
many of the same privileges. As Beijing’s grip loosens, it seems reasonable
to assume that many of the open cities will become SEZs in practice, if not
by designation.
For those interested in opening or expanding trade with China, serious
consideration should be given to establishing contact with the trading
companies in the SEZs. Their knowledge of American business practices may
be limited, but they are anxious to proceed. Most have one or more
individuals who can speak English with enough fluency to carry on a
business meeting. Still, due to the language barrier and different
understandings of a market economy, the going is slow.
The bottom line for each of these government-owned or authorized trading
companies is that, if they do not carry their weight in trade agreements,
they face extinction as a company. Consequently, they are anxious to do
When it comes to trading with China, both now and in the years ahead,
there are enormous opportunities for those companies willing to take the
appropriate steps. To get started:
* Check the nearest metropolitan telephone directory for listings under
* Contact the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, 4301
Connecticut Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20008, (202) 244-3244.
* Contact the World Trade Center Association in your area or the World
Trade Center Association, One World Trade Center, New York, NY 10048.
* Subscribe to journals focusing on China trade such as The China Business
Review, 1818 N St., N.W., Washington, DC 20036 or the daily English
language newspaper China Daily, 15 Mercer St., New York, NY 10013.
* Access computer on-line databases, including DIALOG, Mead Data Central,
WilsonLine, NewsNet, WEFA Group, On!, USCBC, and Maxwell Online BRS.
* Make contact with an American agency, export management company, or
trade consultant who has personal contacts in China and who can facilitate
an introduction to Chinese officials.
* At some point, it will be necessary to make an exploratory, get acquainted
trip to one or more of the five special economic zones in China. Any number
of organizations can assist in making initial contacts. Among them are the
U.S. Department of Commerce, the nearest consulate office of the People’s
Republic of China, a trade consultant, and the organizations cited above.
To facilitate your trip and assist in arranging appointments, contact the
foreign affairs office of the municipal government in China where you wish to
visit. These offices have English-speaking staff members and among their
duties is rendering assistance to visiting businesspeople.
Napoleon is credited with having made the observation that, when China
wakes, it will shake the world. The planet’s most populous country has
embarked on its selfproclaimed second long march. In doing so, it is well on
its way to making Napoleon a prophet. Aggressive American business-people
might wish to consider getting in the line of march
COPYRIGHT 1994 Society for the Advancement of Education
COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

On the Road in Casablanca

December 18, 2009

On the Road in Casablanca
Lawrence P. Creedon
I recently returned from a fantastic teaching assignment in
Casablanca, Morocco. Two weeks before I was to leave for
Casablanca the city was traumatized when suicide bombers
simultaneously attacked five locations. This caused me to rethink
going there. Ultimately I decided to go. Below I chronicle a few
thoughts I had while there.
It is Sunday morning June 22, 2003, 8: AM, and I am the only patron at a
French sidewalk café. The music coming from the café is traditional Arabic.
The young male workers are Moroccan and are conversing in French.
However, they address me in English. Once again, I’m reminded that multilingual
is the norm everywhere but in the United States.
I am the only patron, not due to safety concerns; rather, because it is Sunday.
Even in this Muslim city where the “holy day” is Friday, the city is slow to
wake up on Sunday. The café just opened. As I sit here, I find myself
reflecting on a few things, and I decided to record my thoughts here.
On May 16, 2003, fourteen desperately poor and depressed young men blew
themselves up in five simultaneous bombings scattered throughout
Casablanca. They targeted five sites: three Jewish, one Spanish and one
other site. No United States facility was attacked. In addition to destroying
themselves, the suicide attackers killed 32 innocent people. According to the
news and the people to whom I spoke, the men who were all between the
ages of 21 and 32, were not highly trained. They were not long standing
dedicated members of al Queda. However, that organization had provided
them with training, financial support and supplied the bombs. In the previous
year they had succumbed to the cult appeal of radical and fanatical Islam.
They concluded life for them was without promise and that a martyr’s death
would solve it all. They would be rewarded by Allah in the next life.
Several questions come to mind as I sip coffee and observe the city
waking up.
1. Where are the Islamic fundamentalists expressing their distain for me,
the infidel in their midst?
2. Where are the menacing looking armed guards that I have become
accustomed to seeing in Christian heritage countries in Central
3. Where are the Jew haters that are prevalent in the Arab world?
4. Have I placed myself in harm’s way by being in Casablanca in the
first place?
5. Where is the anti-US sentiment?
Morocco is a Muslim nation with a democratic constitutional monarchy form of governme
It has strong ties with the United States. The Moroccan people expressed their distain for
the acts of May 16 by conducting a march for peace. Over one million Moroccans
participated. If anything about this peace march appeared in the US media I did not see it.
Immediately after May 16 an ecumenical memorial service was held at the Roman Catholi
Cathedral de St. Pierre in Rabat, the capitol of Morocco. [I visited the cathedral]. Within te
days of the bombings King Mohammod VI addressed the nation over TV and condemned
the attacks.
As I contemplated coming to Morocco I had many reservations. The
majority of those I talked with at home advised against it. For a time, I
decided to take their advice and not come here. Obviously, and thankfully, I
changed my mind and here I am.
The experience has been fantastic. I had one of my best teaching and
learning experiences ever. The people I am working with are extraordinary.
My cultural learning curb is going straight up.
Culturally, I have had a plethora of stereotypes demolished. I like that! I
had a similar awakening when I first went to China and, to a limited extent,
to Ireland. Once again, I have been reminded that stereotyping can be so
deeply engrained that I might not even realize I harbor stereotypes until I
come face to face with them.
I found Muslim Morocco be one of the safest, most hospitable countries I
have visited. I look forward to returning. Next time with Helen.
My responses to my questions:
1. Where are the Islamic fundamentalists expressing their distain for me, the
infidel in their midst?
Islamic fundamentalists are not welcome in Morocco. Morocco describes
itself as the world’s most progressive Arab state. I think that could be true.
2. Where are the menacing looking police I encountered in some Central
American counties?
The ubiquitous presence of armed guards is simply not part of Moroccan
society. On several occasions I was engaged in social conversation with
Moroccan police officers on the street. They speak English. In a congenial
manner they asked: How are you enjoying Morocco? Have you visited
before? Where do you live in the states? Etc. Questions that a local generally
asks to an obvious tourist. I never felt that I was being interrogated. And I
don’t think I was. The policeman asked me: “Don’t you speak to police
officers in the states?” I replied: “Not usually.”
3. Where are the Jew haters that are so prevalent in the Arab world?
Those who hate the Jews are no more a cancer here than in any other tolerant
land. Moroccans are aware that their Jewish neighbors populated the land
long before the birth of Islam in the 6th century. I found it interesting that a
chief advisor to King Mohammod VI is Jewish.
4. Have I placed myself in harm’s way by being in Casablanca in the first
place? Where is the anti US sentiment?
I am not in any danger here because I am from the United States, and am
visiting an Arab country. Many of my hosts don’t understand the approach
of the Bush Administration in the war with Iraq. (Neither do I, but that is
another story). They believe that Saddam needed to go, and that terrorism
needs to be eradicated. However, they do not see that terrorism born of
poverty, ignorance, and religious intolerance will end because Saddam has
been toppled.
I Am Surprised by All of This. Why?
Why should I be surprised by all of this?
I am, because not withstanding my world travels with Helen for more than a
decade, I was once again taken in by what seems to me to be the
preoccupation of the United States media to paint international events in
black and white terms. Or to paint only part of the picture. We, as
“Americans,” are the good guys [Even that term can be offensive to
Americans from Central AMERICA and South AMERICA]. Those who
disagree with us are the bad guys. And, in extreme cases: “Evil doers.” Such
a simplistic view is outrageous and resented around the world
I trust I have made my point:
1. Much of the discourse of some influential civic and political leaders in the
United States about the evils of Islam is bogus. In this my first trip to a
Muslim nation, I simply have not experienced what the zealots from the
conservative religious right such as the Rev. Franklin Graham preach
against. The world knows well that certitude in belief can beget prejudice
and prejudice can inflame violence.
2. The suicide bombings in Casablanca on May 16, 2003 were an aberration abhorrent to th
vast majority of Moroccans. The tragic incident was no more representative of Morocco th
were the Washington DC sniper and the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City
representative of the USA,[(9/11 was another story].
Well the coffee is gone! The café is getting crowded with local yuppies. The
city is awake. And, I’m off on a personally guided tour conducted by a few
graduate students from my class. They will take me to old Casablanca and
the Kasbah. Maybe I’ll find the mythical Rick’s Café, and I will run into
Humphrey Bogart, or better yet, Ingrid Bergman.
Ipse dixit!
Lawrence P. Creedon
June 22, 2003