Dear Xi Jinping

I would like to ask that you not repress the protesters in Hong Kong. They are not threatening your reign in China.

The protesters do stand, however, as examples of what China should and could become, a first class society where freedom of speech and assembly are essential to the wellbeing and creativity of the population.

It took fundamental economic reforms for China to rocket into prominence in the last 40 years. And more is to come. But it won’t happen without freedom.

It is tempting for some to say that the enormous progress China has made, is primarily the result of the rule of the Communist Party.

You know that that is not true.

You have certainly provided guidance and structure, but without the fundamental economic reforms introduced by Deng Xiaoping, and the enormous talent and determination of the Chinese people, the country would not be where it is today.

Autocracy, tight governmental control, the system you represent, will eventually become an obstacle to the continued growth of the nation.

The world, Mr Jinping, needs China’s valuable contributions. Your nation should not be held back.

To your north and to your east, by contrast, Russia and North Korea stand as examples of all that goes wrong with autocratic systems. The productivity of their people has been long stymied.

While China has benefitted in part from the regimentation it has lived under and the openness to America and the West, it now needs to move to another phase of development, a new phase that requires freedom of speech and assembly as its essential ingredient.

So let Hong Kong and Taiwan stand as showcases of what is possible.

Have the wisdom and courage to allow different systems to evolve alongside your autocracy.

And learning from their experience and yours, allow for the gradual transformation that is essential for China to continue its rise to affluence and prominence.

Learn from tolerating difference right next to the mainland and use what you learn to prepare the mainland for the challenges that lie ahead.

History will not be kind to men like Putin and Kim Jong Un. They will be remembered as mere tyrants. You, on the other hand, have the option of another outcome.

And it could start right now, with you not repressing and persecuting the courageous and idealistic Hong Kong protesters.

It could start with you showing tolerance, kindness and wisdom, and by doing so signaling to the world that your nation has the power of compassion that other nations should strive to emulate.

History will forever remind us of Tiananmen. We should never repeat it.

It’s up to you, Mr Jinping.

Your choice.


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