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Lily Tang Williams is running for the House of Representative, District 44, as a Libertarian in the state of Colorado. You can find her website here .
I am an Chinese immigrant who come to America to seek freedom from the Communist China. I was born right before China’s Cultural Revolution and grew up in Chengdu, Capitol of Sichuan province, China. As you know, in China there is only one party that is truly in power: The Communist Party. The government, which is the Communist Party, controls everything: Factories, schools, the press, hospitals, land, and universities. Growing up there, I never heard of such a thing as a “private company.” There were no choices of any sort. We were all poor. We had no gas or stove, no TV, no phones, no refrigerators, and no washing machines. In the cities, electricity was rationed. In the countryside, there was no electricity.Our family of five had to live on the very low wages my parents earned. The local government issued coupons for people to buy everything from pork to rice, sugar, and flour and there was never enough. We got to buy only 2.2 pounds of pork per month for our family of five. We lived in a two room ‘apartment’, without heat in the winter and no indoor plumbing. I got impetigo every winter from the cold damp winter weather, which was common for kids to get. Eight families lived in our complex, and we had to share bathrooms (holes in the ground outside), one for all males, and one for all females. When the lights were out, no one would replace the bulb for a while so it would be totally dark to go to the bathroom. It became a quite scary adventure at night for us to go there. We had only government run hospitals which were filthy. I was afraid of going to a hospital because I might get diseases. The last two years before I left for college, we moved into a three-room apartment provided by my dad’s work-unit. It had concrete walls and a concrete floor, a water faucet and sink, but no heat. It had a shared public restroom without a shower or bathtub – but, it was infinitely better than what we had before.
I was eager to go to school when I turned 6 years old. My parents did not let me to go to school because they needed me to babysit my younger brother who was one year old. They could not afford his child care. I cried for a long time that night. My parents felt so guilty so they bought me a movie ticket next day. Finally, I went to school at age of 7. I was so happy and motivated to be a top student. As a child, we were brainwashed in public school every day. We were taught that two-thirds of the world population were suffering and living in hunger and our socialist country was the best. We didn’t think that maybe China should be counted as part of the two thirds of suffering humanity! We believed whatever the government told us because we did not know anything else. I thought the other countries must be hellish if they were worse than we were. Anyway, we chanted daily: “Long Live Chairman Mao, Long Live the Communist Party. I love Chairman Mao.” I was so brainwashed as a small child that I could see Chairman Mao in the clouds or the cooking fire. He was like a god to me. We were required to read all of Mao’s Red books, wear Mao’s buttons, write journals, and confess any bad thoughts to Mao.
We were required to conform, not stand out as an individual. I was held back to join the Young Pioneers because I was not humble enough (I told my classmates I should be in the first batch to join due to my 100% grade on every subject and they reported on me). The big powerful state from top to bottom was always watching us very closely: from Beijing’s central government to our neighborhood block committees and police stations. We had no rights, even though our constitution said we did. It was very scary that local police could stop by our home to pound on the doors at night for any reason. The government told us how to dress (Mao’s suit), what to buy and eat (coupons), where to live (household registration system) and what to read (government newspapers). The land belonged to the people (the government actually) and citizens were not allowed to have any weapons or off to prison they would go. Things have changed a lot in China since the open door policy of Deng Xiaoping really got going in the early 1980s; people have more freedom than ever before to start businesses, get jobs in another city, travel overseas, etc, but the political system is still fundamentally the same one party rule.
My favorite teacher in high school told me that he was sent to a Re-education Labor Camp because the Communist Party punished those who criticized the party even though the party was asking for feedback. His health was ruined during those years. He said “China is not a country of laws.” I was determined to study law in college. After three whole days, eight hours of testing each day, I scored very high and was admitted by Fudan University (one of the top five universities) in Shanghai law school. I became the first one in my entire extended family ever to go to college. When there I was depressed to find out that what we learned in school and what was reality were totally different things. The society was not ruled by law but ruled by men. After I became a law school faculty member at Fudan University in Shanghai, I had to be careful about what to say in the classroom or during the party political study and self-criticism meetings. My leaders in law school even intruded into my private life telling me, for example, that I received too many letters (I was too social), or I should not go to my boyfriend’s parents’ house for dinner and spend a night. I was a law school faculty member and yet I was still being treated as a child!
I realized I could not really have the personal freedom I dreamed to have if I stayed in China, so I decided to re-enter school in the USA. It was a long and stressful process for me to step down from my position and leave China. I went to the local security office to apply for my passport seven times and was treated as a deserter with papers literally thrown at my face. My law school made me sign a paper saying that I must return to my job in Shanghai after two years of graduate study, or they will eliminate my position and send my personnel file (everyone has one in China which follows you from birth to death) to my hometown in Chengdu, which would be a death sentence for my law teaching career. However, I was determined to leave and did not care about what I had to sign.
I arrived in America in 1988 with $100 in my pocket. The first ten years when I was in the U.S, I still had nightmares about being trapped in China by the government and having to dig a big hole in the ground, into the blue Pacific Ocean, so I could escape, jump into the Ocean, and swim to the United States. Even when I went back to China later to visit with my American husband in 1991, my fears would return. For example, staying at a friend’s apartment in Beijing, one night the police came to pound on the door and wanted to check our papers. Someone must have reported to them that that there was a foreigner in the neighborhood. I was pregnant with our first son at that time, and we were in deep sleep after midnight when the police’s door-pounding scared the heck out of me and brought all the childhood bad memories back. Fortunately, they only wanted to check our papers, or maybe just let us know who was in charge. Another time I was in China during June 4th (Tian An Men crackdown) anniversary for a business trip, I was in a business-friend’s car, when we were randomly pulled over by the local police to check out our IDs and search our car. They did not have to show any search warrant. I used to also travel often to Guangdong Province for business when I worked in Hong Kong. I remember the taxi drivers called the local police “mafia” because of their brutality and corruption.
I did not hesitate to become an American citizen in 1995. Here I could speak freely and have my rights protected. I do not take my new freedom for granted. I vote in every election. As a U.S. citizen, I have worked for private companies in Hong Kong and Denver. Later, I started my own business and worked hard to grow my business. For the past 15 years, my husband and I have raised three children in Parker, Colorado, enjoying a middle class life: kids, a house, a dog, and 2 cars. From the $100 I brought over from China to having my own businesses and properties, I know I am living the American Dream. All the immigrants I know who come to this country do so because they believe America is a land of opportunity and freedom. We know that if you are smart, work very hard, and save your money, you will be successful and make a nice living here. I love this country. I want my children to continue to enjoy the freedom that brought me here. I want my children to have the same opportunity I had to succeed.
By telling my own story, I wanted to share my message with you: big governments do not work; big governments are very dangerous because they eventually use force. Big government attracts people who love power and control. Big government seems to want to distract you and direct your choices to unimportant social conventions yet limit your choices on really important things like speech, self-defense, and property rights. The freedom we have in this country is precious. The governments in the US are essentially pretty good. However, we are losing more and more liberty every day. The two major parties of this country have always expanded the government (federal or state), even when they say they are shrinking them. Whoever is in power always wants to ‘do’ something, to ‘solve’ some problem. It never really works because government must use force to solve whatever problem of the day arises. Now the federal government is $17 trillion in debt from all the problems it has ‘solved’; we are losing our freedom to choose in many aspects of our life: health care, education, speech, privacy, what we want to buy to protect our families, how much money we want to keep after our hard work, etc., and even in New York drink sizes! Big government is like a cancer; it will grow and spread and keep growing if we don’t stop it. Do not believe things will always get better. I know that people are born the same everywhere, yet their cultures and systems of government can be vastly different. Our culture, our people, and our increasing reliance on more government are, I think, a very dangerous trend.
The rest of the article can be read here .