I sent him a polite brief response, as I thought he had misunderstood my writing. It would be more accurate to say my writing has something to do with negative things about human nature than about a country. In the next email he continued to vent:
At the time I was taken aback by this. I disagreed with him on not to write anything "bad," but took his opinion as an isolated extreme, as such I didn't reply to his second email.
Since I started blogging over a year ago, the topic of the nationalistic sentiment of overseas Chinese has kept coming back, only then I realized the opinion of the early email contact is not that uncommon. I talked about this sentiment in an earlier post titled "Are Overseas Chinese More Patriotic?"
Now there is a difference between patriotism and nationalism, though not everyone shares the same view of what defines each. One terse, and whimsical, definition I have heard is that "A patriot is willing to fight for her country. A nationalist wants to argue for her country." Using that distinction, I think the term "nationalistic sentiment" more accurately describes what I'm discussing here.
Not very long ago, a cyber friend, a Chinese immigrant of my generation, told me about his uneasiness with his view regarding the CCP. Having grown up in
Coincidentally, during my recent visit to
Note those are not isolated cases. I can give you many more examples.
Upon returning to the US, I was joking with Bob that if the Chinese government were smarter, it should send all dissidents overseas instead of putting them in prison, as living the West seems to be more effective in changing views.
Seriously though, I'm more interested in figuring out what caused the strong nationalistic sentiment among overseas Chinese. There have been many discussions on Chinese nationalism in general, for example see the Council on Foreign Relations article here. However, as far as I can tell, nowadays the nationalistic sentiment is even stronger among overseas Chinese. This is especially interesting because many of them are changing their view as cited above.
IMO, there is the external factor and there is the internal factor that causes such strong sentiment, in addition to the general/historical factors cited by others.
The external factor: such sentiment has appeared as a natural balancing force against unbalanced Western media reporting on
More frequently than not, the criticisms on China I heard were not based on historical or present facts, rather they were based on ideological sentiment, often from people who knew little about China except "it's a communist country." There was also a telling anecdote posted on an overseas Chinese website: In San Francisco, on the day of the Olympics torch relay, a Chinese student asked an American student why he came to participate in the Tibet Independence movement, and the answer was "they asked me to."
I have my own reasons to resent communism, and this is based on my experience growing up in
Ever since the Cultural Revolution, Chinese people have lost their belief in communism. Those who join the party no longer do so to pursue its stated ideals (as my parents did in the 1940s), rather they join in the hope of getting power. In the old days only "the proletariat's vanguard fighters" were permitted to join the party, now it has changed its recruiting policy to be all-inclusive. I learned during my recent trip to
To have rational discourse on
One good thing that the Beijing Olympics brought was a whole lot of journalists visiting
[Added: what a coincidence - just saw a post on ESWN today about Western media's misreporting on China.]
The internal factor: many of us overseas Chinese live a far better material life than the average people inside of