Sunday, March 8, 2009

Western Ideological vs. Chinese Nationalistic Sentiment

A few years ago, a Chinese American whom I didn't know surprised me with an email, after he read a story I wrote about the Cultural Revolution. The email said,

Most writers from China like to write something negative about China, sort of justifying [why] they left China. When we left Taiwan during the 60's, even though we didn't like the government there, we never wrote/said anything negative at the expense of China (Taiwan). Remember, during the early days of the PRC, China had to do something drastic to rid of the old trash, China would not have enjoyed today's status without doing that.

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:

I don't like any Chinese writers to write something bad about China especially if they write in English, the problem is most American readers don't have enough knowledge about China, they will misinterpret what they have read and believe this is really what China is like. It is not, compare with China 50 years ago, today's China is a totally different place.

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 China and moved abroad after college graduation in the early 1980s, he had viewed the first 30 years of the CCP's rule as morally unforgivable. Yet he finds himself increasingly forgiving the CCP now, and couldn't rationally explain this softening to his own satisfaction.

Coincidentally, during my recent visit to China, I met with another friend, an overseas Chinese writer who divides his time between the US and China, and he expressed similar feelings. He is a few years older than me, and, like me, is a member of the historic and misnamed "Class 77" (the first cohort that entered university after the Cultural Revolution, in February 1978). I was telling him about my research in Chongqing regarding the history of one line of the CCP's anti-American propaganda, and his face dropped. He said my research topic had an adverse effect on him and that it was not productive to dwell on such past misinformation. This surprised me a bit because I had known him since college time, during which he was an active participant in student democracy movements. And, in our conversation that lasted for several hours, when we were not addressing the CCP in particular, he presented a clear and penetrating view of China's current problems such as government corruption.

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 China. Apparently, the media in the West did not keep up with the changing China and thus stuck with an outdated view of it, and that annoyed many overseas Chinese who are proud of their motherland's progress. Especially in early 2008, during the Olympics torch saga, the one-sided reporting reached its peak. As a consequence the overseas Chinese nationalistic sentiment also reached its peak, as demonstrated in the huge New York rally that no media reported. Around the time, I wrote a few pieces about the need for balanced reporting, see for example "No conversation on BBC" , "Cyber Voices on Tibet - A Search For Balance", and "A Sichuan Family and Tibet’s Future".

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 China in the 1960s-80s. However, for better or worse, the China of today is no longer the China I grew up in, and many Americans don't see that. To my mind, China is hardly a communist country any more. It still has a (somewhat weakened) totalitarian government, but no longer a communist one.

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 China that, nowadays, anyone who applies is admitted to the CCP. As a result many rich entrepreneurs have become party members, to complete the process of combining money with power. The party might now be called a half-breed of several things and capitalism is one of them, but it no longer believes in communism. I doubt its top leaders are still believers either. After all, Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao were both Red Guards once and suffered through the chaotic time of the Cultural Revolution. I suspect their stubbornness on maintaining "stability" has something to do with that painful experience. Though the "communist" label continues to be used by the CCP, it seems to me such a label is more for the sake of continuity (="stability") than anything else. As such, when addressing China's problems – and it does have serious problems – attacking communism is like treating lung disease with foot fungus medicine. Worse, such attacks result in aversive effects.

To have rational discourse on China’s issues, the Western media should abandon its outdated ideological stance against "communist China." If anything, China has become a country with no working ideology, and that might also be one of its problems. As a matter of fact, China is no more and no less than a problematic and promising country, and in this regard it is not unlike any other country in the world. Attacks and hatred based on ideological sentiment have become irrelevant and ill-placed.

One good thing that the Beijing Olympics brought was a whole lot of journalists visiting China, and they saw a humanly country with huge variety and diversity in people's behavior and lives. This has certainly helped the Western world's understanding of China, and thus increased rational criticism and decreased irrelevant attacks since the Olympics. Even the obstinate BBC and CNN have shown signs of change now. In other words, the West has begun to treat China factually instead of as a well-defined "communist country." This change should also help to bring down the fever of overseas Chinese's nationalistic sentiment – a return to equilibrium.

[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 China, and we are too far away to feel their daily struggles intimately. The center problem of China right now, as many insightful scholars have pointed out, is a bureaucratic power that lacks checks and is not monitored. That is the root of government corruption and people's discontent. Our distant position in overseas might have enlarged the apparent successful image of China's economic reform, but overlooked the lurking danger caused by the lack of political reform. The present trouble with the CCP is that it no long possesses its old ideological strength, but is still uses its backward political structure to hand out power.My latest visit to China has convinced me more than ever that political reform is needed and overdue. The difficult question is how to carry out a peaceful political reform instead of causing another chaotic revolution. No sensible and sane Chinese, except those with their own agendas based on self-interest, want another revolution. As overseas Chinese, we can help to bring about a peaceful reform through rational discourse. Overheated nationalism, like irrelevant ideological attacks, will not help at all. That is to say, while a balanced and updated view from the Western media is called for, we also need to put our nationalistic sentiment in check, so as not to turn a deaf ear to rational criticism or simply rebut it with anger. More on this in future posts as this one is already too long.

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think another part of this is exactly the way no one likes to hear strangers criticize their family members, even if the criticism is justified. As an American, I've been in China at times when the U.S. has done things (bombing the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia, the start of the current war in Iraq) that I don't approve of, and noticed how uncomfortable I felt at hearing criticisms of the U.S., some of which I share. I think that's just human nature.

Alfonso said...

"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."

That may be truth in some cases, but not in all of them. I do not even think in the majority.
The reason for most criticism is the perception of China government not only as an authoritarian regime but also as guilty of quite a good number of heinous crimes, which either denies or justifies.
Communist, fascism, capitalism, ecologism or whatever does not play a role in that criticism.
A criminal is a criminal no matter what he says he is or pretend to.

" I'm more interested in figuring out what caused the strong nationalistic sentiment
among overseas Chinese. "
May be frustration is one of the causes. I think it must be a difficult situation for a Chinese, specially if living in the west. On one side the advances of China have been significant but what he sees on the western media is almost constant an stronger criticism of its country, specially in areas of human rights, repression of minorities, questionable behavior of China abroad.
A dissident often brings more attention to western media than the last economic and development news in China.

For a Chinese, getting so little praise for the advances of his country (many of them gained with great difficulties and under tragic circumstances) and so much criticism must be quite frustrating.

That change is overdue, as you said, has it effects here. Quite often any positive new about China has been thwarted by a rash reaction against dissidence, protester or minorities by the government
You cannot have it both ways. For western media to fully focus on the positive progress in China, the government should change its stance and behavior in many areas.
The only change I can see so far has been to muffle them even more.
It is like trying to keep the dust under the rug, but anyone can see that there is something under it, no matter how beautifully the house has been decorated.

More than one I have seen in Chinese bloggers posts the opinion that the government is short of enlightened despotisms, guiding carefully the country through difficult times to a bring future, which justifies some of it current behavior.
I do not think so. It is just simply authoritarian, and they have been forced to liberalize the country to allow it to develop. Progress was the only legitimacy they have now.
The question is what would they do in the future. Will they put first their grip on power or the future of the country?
Nobody knows the answer to that, not even the CCP

"Even the obstinate BBC and CNN have shown signs of change now. "
CNN is not bad and BBC is a far better news channel. In an obstination contest official Chinese Media will win hand down.
Just think what would happen if Fox news constantly reported about China...
That they should focus a little more on the progress of China, agree. But a little help from China side would do wonders.
Are they capable to do it?

I myself? I try to see both sides. Personally find your blog fascinating. Through your opinion and the opinion other Chinese people I can get a better perspective of the Chinese side, views and mindset.

For me China is like bittersweet sauce, bitter and sweet at the same time.
I can "taste" both sides, but the contrast between them is still too sharp.

What I also find interesting is that people like you that suffered directly the past tragedies of China are less bitter about the country and government than many who criticize it but never lived there in those times, or even went to China

Anonymous said...

我就搞不懂了,您的BLOG一会被封,一会又正常了。不知道那帮家伙到底怎么想的。

Xujun Eberlein said...

哈,又正常了吗,应该庆祝一下。

Alfonso said...

Nothing that could not be solved with a good http tunnel ;-)

Anonymous said...

"What I also find interesting is that people like you that suffered directly the past tragedies of China are less bitter about the country and government than many who criticize it but never lived there in those times, or even went to China"

That's the whole point that's being made, the CCP is not what the CCP of Mao's era. She's able to make that distinction while many others can't or won't, rather the CCP is viewed as a monolothic entity.

Alfonso said...

Yes, the CCP today is not the CCP of Mao's era, but is still the CCP. Its grip on power may not produce today the crimes of the past, but still produces crimes.

It may also not brake the development of the country as it did in the past, but as pointed out by Xujun it is still break progress of in many areas, specially the development of a strong civil society and social moral values.

The people today are not the same as in the past, neither they think as in the past, but the system basically remains, and there still not strong checks & balances to restrain its abuses on people.

Anonymous said...

The Western media boogeyman excuse is lame. After all, the Chinese were a highly nationalistic people long before the advent of Western cable news networks and the internet. And the link you provide to ESWN proves what, exactly? That the Western media gets it wrong every once in a while? Please! Is that supposed to be some sort of news flash? Waiting around for the Western media to be perfect (or to focus on the positive) is a complete waste of time.

My take on the problem of Chinese nationalism is this - Over time, the lack of freedom of speech in China has caused the Chinese people to become a thin-skinned, ill-tempered, and intolerant bunch. This lack of speech freedoms, when combined with an educational system that valorizes all things CCP while perpetuating bitter grievances against the West and Japan, is an explosive combination.

Your attempt to distinguish between patriotism and nationalism is not very helpful. More intelligent people than you and I have spent their careers attempting to explain the difference. With respect to China, I believe that the difference often comes to this: the willingness to identify enemies. Patriotism, it seems to me, typically manifests as a particular concern (or love) for one's country, while nationalism is just as often preoccupied with defining what (or who) does not belong. That is, expressions of patriotism are generally positive and/or constructive, while expressions of nationalism are often angry and destructive. To be sure, there are nationalists in the U.S., but the existence of so many competing nationalisms mitigates against the kind of angry, apparently monolithic nationalism that we often see from China. Again, freedom of speech is what allows for the existence of multiple nationalisms. So long as the CCP is allowed to both prohibit freedom of speech and define Chinese nationalism (by means of the media and high school history textbooks, etc.), expressions of Chinese nationalism will be frequent and frightening.

In short, the problem is most certainly not the Western media. The mislabeling of a few photographs notwithstanding, the problem is with the Chinese people. For every editor or U.S. congressman who continues to regard China through a Cold War lens, there are many others who have a much more balanced view. Mistakes will continue to be made, I'm afraid - they cannot be eliminated. In the end, however, blaming the Western media is just a poor excuse - an evasion of responsibility.

Expressions of angry nationalism are far more threatening to China than they are to China's perceived enemies. Perhaps overseas Chinese should focus less on defending China against imaginary threats and more on contributing to the growth of civil public debate - here and in China.

Anonymous said...

I immigrated to the US at 10 years of age, any only recently (22 years later) returned to China for business reasons. I believe in the universality of human nature. Thus this East/West ideal conflict is based almost purely on environmental factors.

Along with the virtues of humanity, we also suffer from it's darker sides. Ideals are just that, ideals, and they serve as the beacon that guides us through the mist. But a pragmatic approach must be taken when designing/managing any institution, especially the political one.

The Cultural Revolution, according to my mom and many other folks from the older generation, took the culture out of Chinese people in a sense. People today are not as polite, genuine, or honest. And I get a sense of this from the old lady that cheats customers a few grams on every grocery purchase, to the small shop owner that sizes up the customer before naming a price, to the countless food and drug related scandals. Chinese people don't trust Chinese people period. They are more willing to believe the malevolence of people, even Lu Xun said something similar. And the CCP utilizes this sentiment to create the imaginary "Western Enemies". I understand the nationalistic and unification benefits of having an external enemy, for the benefit of those in power anyways. But am often dumbfounded by the outrage some Chinese citizens express when Chinese human rights policies are criticized by foreign government or media. Because despite hidden political agendas, the people, not the government, are the ultimate beneficiaries of human rights movements.

Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. While one can not overlook the progress China has made during the past 50 years, one can also not overlook the consequences and ramifications. For example, I read that Premiere Wen initiated a Green GDP program during the 1st quarter of 2007, calculating the cost of environmental impact in GDP. The program was quickly discontinued because the net growth for some areas were 0% when taking environmental impact into account. But without freedom of speech and press, how will the public know the cost of their actions when the government will do just about anything to maintain the appearance of a "harmonious society"? One can argue that a totalitarian government was needed to quickly bring about the industrialization and economic recovery of China; and I may consent just based on efficiency aspects alone. But the question is now that China is a economic and military power house, what is the next step? Now that those in power are reaping the benefits from China's economic boom, with no check and balances, no real audible dissenting voice (or at least no real way for that voice to gather political momentum), is anyone willing to rely solely on the "good will" of those in power to give it back to the people? Even in the U.S., this would not happen; whatever new power the executive branch grabs, they keep.

I call BS when I hear officials comment on how western ideology doesn't fit China. People should focus on what type of society they'd want to live in, not if it's east or western philosophy. Do you want a society where everyone's equal in front of the law, or the privileged ruling class and those with connections gets a slap on the wrist while everyone else gets a "fair" trial? I'd guess if you're a member of the elite you'd choose the former while the rest of us common folks prefer the latter. Do people want a government that constantly conceal, distort, and lie to it's people or one that's open and more honest? Do you want a say in the laws that govern you and affects your interests or laws that benefit few? For me, the answer is clear. A representative democratic government with built in checks and balances and irrevocable freedom of speech is the best governmental structure I've come across.

Alfonso said...

"The Western media boogeyman excuse is lame."
After reading that sentence I stopped reading your post. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

This is about tribal identity and applies to people living away from home all over the word. In my experience expats (or those with foreign ties) everywhere become more nationalistic than those who stay at home, despite or perhaps because of the exposure to different perceptions of the world. It’s something very deep in the human psyche – a tug of loyalty back to something familiar. Having glanced through some of your entries here, your own tribal loyalties are very clear.

Michael said...

Wasn't it Zhu Rongji's son who said this a decade ago after returning from university in the US - the further away you are from China the more patriotic you are?
Many overseas Chinese talk patriotic but act just the opposite, craving a foreign passport, foreign education and foreign brands.

Shahid said...

May i suggest that you study some of the questions i have:

1) Despite several traumatic experiences during Communist rule, many reforms during those days are essential for China to achieve what it has achieved today. (Has anyone studied this topic?)

2) Is corruption really a "China problem"? Is China's corruption more serious than other countries at this stage of economic development?

3) What problems faced by China today are really really China/totalitarian government problems?

Anonymous said...

This inside/outside issue is interesting because it is quite commonly observed, even across national boundaries. People from Argentina and Chile have enmity at home, but find themselves best buddies in America, as an example.

However, the steps from that to this somewhat more abstract concept of a form of government, while obvious if I think them through, still surprise me. It begs the question on both sides of the ocean to what extent the ideological bickering is being shaped by ethnic and racial differences. That, of course, is also an old story, but this post, and some of the discussion, provides an different view into it.

Xujun Eberlein said...

To all the Anons: could you guys at least number your position, e.g., Anon 1, Anon 2, (if you are too lazy to even use a cyber name), so as to make it easier to reference your comments?

@Anon 6: tribal identity/loyalty surely is an interesting factor, but what is more interesting about it is when it changes an expat's political view, which is the basis for my suggestion to the Chinese government for sending dissidents overseas instead of putting them in prison. :-)

@Anon 4: I wouldn't completely dismiss the media's role in enhancing Chinese nationalism like you do. And the media bias is not as accidental as you try to make it sound. In the ESWN example I linked to, the misreporting reflects a fixed (and common) view of the reporter on China/Tibet issues. But, of course, media is only one factor as I have repeatedly tried to clarify, and my purpose is to explore ways to help calm down the heated nationalism a bit rather than making excuses for it, if you hadn't noticed.

@Shahid: you raise good questions. I will discuss some of them in future posts.

Xujun Eberlein said...

Note: I've deleted a few malicious racist comments from the latest Anon.

Anonymous said...

>> Michael said...
Wasn't it Zhu Rongji's son who said this a decade ago after returning from university in the US - the further away you are from China the more patriotic you are?

If my memory serves me right, that saying is first spreaded out in the book "Study Abroad in America" by Chien Ning, the [elder?] son of Chien Qi-Shen, the then Vice Premier.

Leung said...

I recently read the story of the young Ming-Emperor of Jin dynasty(晋明帝) once gave two oppositie answers in two occasions to the same question of whether ChangOn or the Sun is closer. That inspires me to think that the Sun metaphore may be useful to explain the phenomenon: Think about the Chinese govt. as the Sun, there are always two aspects of it: heat and light. Living in and outside China, what one's sense feels about these two aspects are obviously very different.

Another thought: I believe that most Chinese initially hold a favorable view of the west, ranging from respectful to worshiping, when first set foot outside China. The majority won't turn "nationalistic/patriotic" in ordinary conditions. But many may go thru a phase of disillusion [of the west ideals] though, which by itself still won't trigger the massive out-pour of the anti-west-propaganda sentiment as shown in the torch-relaying period of last year. Just imagine if the French/Germany media really practice what they preach about fairness and independency, the outcome I think would be very different. As such, I think the overseas Chinese reaction is mainly a show of disappointment or at most an indignition of the west media's loss of professionalism rather than a show of "patriotic/nationalistic."

Joel said...

When I see overseas Chinese being ridiculously nationalistic, I think a big part of it is just the normal culture stress that comes from living outside your home culture.

Almost everyone who lives in another culture, no matter what country they come from, will experience cycles of culture stress in which they first romanticize, and then demonize their host culture while romanticizing their home culture. It's totally natural for overseas Chinese to develop negative feelings toward their host culture and romanticized ideas about the home culture (which they're out of touch with because they've left). Westerners in China do the same thing. It's important to realize that these feelings aren't based in reality; they're based on subconscious 'home-sickness' and culture stress.

This is part of the whole "culture stress" cycle that almost everyone experiences if they live outside their culture of origin. There's an initial honeymoon stage where the person idealizes the new culture (and how many Chinese have idealistic, inaccurate, romantic views of the rich West? millions.). But that romantic view isn't reality and can't last. Then the overseas person begins to experience the unavoidable accumulating stress that comes from living in another culture, they enter the disillusionment phase, which is a reverse of the honeymoon phase. The more they inaccurately romanticized their host culture during the honeymoon phase, the more they'll resent their host culture during the disillusionment phase. In both phases, the person has a very inaccurate view of the host culture.

It can take people two years to get over the honeymoon phase. And people can cycle back and forth more than once. Maybe it's worse for overseas Chinese because maybe their culture stress is exacerbated by "face" and modern history as it's taught in the Mainland, with emphasis on historical modern humiliations. Either way, feeling that your host culture is bad or worse and feeling that your home culture is so great -- this is totally normal experience for foreigners everywhere.

Leung said...

This cultural stress theory of romantic-disillusion-nationalistic is interesting. If this is 人(human)之('s)常(common)情(sense), it follows that "fighting" against this nationalistic sentiment may be futile, or at least won't be effective. While I agree that this cycle is somewhat universal, I also think that disillusion does not necessarily turn into nationalistic. In addition, if we looked at the three main triggering events of Tibet/SZ-earthquake/Olympics last year, the patriotic feeling of the overseas Chinese triggered by the last two events is probably inevitable, but then again, it doesn't seem to cause any harm either, or does it? Besides, unlike the T-issue, the intensity caused by the last two events won't last long.

From a long term perspective, it is probably more productive to look at the issue from the angle of seeking common ground, instead of characterizing the phenomenon as "western ideology vs. Chinese nationalistics." I suggest one common ground we can/should promote is that the media should abide by the unbiased and fairness principle of journalism. The media here covers both the west and the Chinese, and in this respect, I think the West is still ahead of the Chinese in general. Hence, it would truly be a tragedy if the West media really forfeit this ideology of the west in their behavior, as clearly demonstrated in the treatment/handling of the Tibet-related issues, while accusing the Chinese nationalistic/patriotic.

Anonymous said...

"Do you want a society where everyone's equal in front of the law, or the privileged ruling class and those with connections gets a slap on the wrist while everyone else gets a "fair" trial? I'd guess if you're a member of the elite you'd choose the former while the rest of us common folks prefer the latter. Do people want a government that constantly conceal, distort, and lie to it's people or one that's open and more honest? Do you want a say in the laws that govern you and affects your interests or laws that benefit few? For me, the answer is clear. A representative democratic government with built in checks and balances and irrevocable freedom of speech is the best governmental structure I've come across."


I had a nice chuckle. You want to tell where is this heaven on earth?

Xujun Eberlein said...

Leung and Joel, thanks for the very interesting and thoughtful dialogue! I surely enjoyed reading and it kept me thinking.

Anonymous said...

(("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."))
“History is a maiden” goes a Chinese saying,” and you can dress her up as you want”. Past Chinese official historians have written down the history with the explicit purpose of pleasing the emperors and the trend still continues. I am a Tibetan who believes in the best interest of China and Tibet, who believes that splitting Tibet away from China is not in the interest of Tibet. This is what the Dalai Lama says and believes. Yet today we are branded as splitists.
It is important to understand why the western world is sympathetic to the cause of Tibet. It is also equally important to shed away the Han arrogance behind and realistically find out why Tibetans in Tibet, as being equal citizens of the motherland, expresses their anger at the government from time to time and especially last year. Why hundreds of the young protesters who were “liberated” and educated in communist schools and who have never seen the Dalai Lama in their life shout” long live the Dalai Lama?” Many intellectual Chinese overseas understands this very well but few expresses openly fearing consequences.
Dalai Lama is in the DNA of every Tibetan from the time of the great 5th Dalai Lama which means almost 364 years and it will take another 300 odd years to erase this. It has nothing to do with class or ideological struggle. It is just faith and we all know what it means to have faith with somebody. Chinese leadership tried to take away Dalai Lama from the sight and the hearts of the Tibetans for 50 years and the faith is getting stronger.
The western world including many overseas Chinese friends understands this phenomenon and China believes that if the present Dalai Lama dies, the issue will die.
Secondly Dalai Lama is popular in the west. Almost every leader knows him personally and concludes him as a reasonable man. Where as Chinese leadership, who has never read about the Dalai Lama from independent sources, leave alone seeing him describes who is the Dalai Lama to the west. Therefore, west find this amusing!
Dorjee

Anonymous said...

As a Chinese American, I see a lot of immigrants who live in America yet wish for the rise of China - and consequently the demise of their inhabiting country.

For example, people who feel that way infuriate me. They speak about how "sneaky" and "manipulating" the US is. My comment is simple: If you don't approve of this, don't reap its' benefits.

The American Dream of Freedom, protection, equality ARE unique. America does have its problems of racism and inequality - but atleast they pretend to fight for it.

Tell me when China will have a black president. Tell me that there is no racism in China. Tell me that if they rise in power that the world will be a better place and they will not want the top spot. Basically, tell me that Chinese people are the most "just race" . If the answer is in "100 years" or that no race is a "just race" - than in 100 years I will respect the beliefs of those overseas that claim international patriotism .

Anonymous said...

No Chinese American I know wants to see the demise of the USA. What they want is a more proper and balanced representation of China in the media rather than the perpetual demonization by the western media. Most chinese, whether American or PRC, are balanced and rational. They, I, believe that both countries can progress cooperatively, rather than on at the expense of the other. Making legitimate criticisms is one thing, but what I mostly see in the western media is unnessary, even enthusiastic, demonization of China.

This demonization often also overflows to chinese american communities and casts them as outsiders in their own homes. The average american is pretty ignorant, media professionals included. With all the stereotypes, demonizations and outright lies in the media, they give no thought to the distinction whether an ethnically chinese person is actually and American or Chinese citizen. So given this fact,as an American of chinese ancestry, protecting the image of China and the chinese is protecting my own image, because in most western eyes, they are the same. The irony is that I'm probably more versed and knowledgeable about America and it's history than most americans, but that will always take a back seat to what I look like because the media is fiercely xenophobic when it comes to asians. Don't believe me? Count how many positive role models are there in western popular culture? And contrast that to all the villianous characterisations of asians in movies, books, etc.

To sum up, the unnecessary demonization of China in western media is wrong to begin with, and even more so because it unfortunately affects my life as an American who happens look Chinese. This has to stop.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you compare China with India.

Why the corruption in India is worse than China? (see Tyranny International)

India has adopted western democratic system ages ago.

You think Westrern Democrtic System can do every thing? It is the highest good?

Can you answer my question? My lovely 'democratic fighter'.

Xujun Eberlein said...

@The latest Anon: I've always wondered why so many people are so judgmental of others they know very little about, and sounds like you are just another one of those. To answer your questions: No, I definitely don't think "Western Democratic System can do everything." On the contrary, I have lots of reservations about it. Why don't you read my article "China: Democracy, or Confucianism?" on China Beat: http://thechinabeat.blogspot.com/2008/06/china-democracy-or-confucianism.html. You can google the title if the link doesn't work.

As to why I haven't written about India, the answer is simple: I'm always reluctant to write about things that I don't feel I have deep enough knowledge. However I did hear many problems with India's political system.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...

As a Chinese American, I see a lot of immigrants who live in America yet wish for the rise of China - and consequently the demise of their inhabiting country.

For example, people who feel that way infuriate me. They speak about how "sneaky" and "manipulating" the US is. My comment is simple: If you don't approve of this, don't reap its' benefits.

The American Dream of Freedom, protection, equality ARE unique. America does have its problems of racism and inequality - but atleast they pretend to fight for it.

Tell me when China will have a black president. Tell me that there is no racism in China. Tell me that if they rise in power that the world will be a better place and they will not want the top spot. Basically, tell me that Chinese people are the most "just race" . If the answer is in "100 years" or that no race is a "just race" - than in 100 years I will respect the beliefs of those overseas that claim international patriotism . "

I'm Chinese American and I actually fit that agenda you've described

But the thing is, you have to admit that the track history of america is quite "sneaky" or "manipulative".

For example, It had opposed the Haitian revolution for independence from France at the start of the nineteenth century. It had instigated a war with Mexico and taken half of that country. It had pretended to help Cuba win freedom from Spain, and then planted itself in Cuba with a military base, investments, and rights of intervention. It had seized Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, and fought a brutal war to subjugate the Filipinos. It had "opened" Japan to its trade with gunboats and threats. It had declared an Open Door Policy in China as a means of assuring that the United States would have opportunities equal to other imperial powers in exploiting China. It had sent troops to Peking with other nations, to assert Western supremacy in China, and kept them there for over thirty years. It had engineered a revolution against Colombia and created the "independent" state of Panama in order to build and control the Canal. It sent five thousand marines to Nicaragua in 1926 to counter a revolution, and kept a force there for seven years. It intervened in the Dominican Republic for the fourth time in 1916 and kept troops there for eight years. It intervened for the second time in Haiti in 1915 and kept troops there for nineteen years. Between 1900 and 1933, the United States intervened in Cuba four times, in Nicaragua twice, in Panama six times, in Guatemala once, in Honduras seven times. It had staged coups in Iran, Guatemala, Paraguay, Brazil, South Vietnam (even though this is actually justified), attempts in Venezuela, Cuba, Iran (1979) as well as many others.

We also don't view ourselves as the "just race", its just chinese-americans typically get bashed on by americans regarding their chinese background. I'm not an only one, but i'm not sure how you got through unscathed...