Friday, April 18, 2008

Refining my ideas on China, with thanks to xiaoyong

A commenter here named xiaoyong has said some interesting things about my posts on China, the wider world, and Tibet. I know nothing about this person except that they are Chinese and that English is not their first language. They made some good points, though sometimes I couldn't understand what they were trying to say.

When they made their first comment, I wanted to write something snarky like, "someone responds to posts about China overreacting by...overreacting." But there are some good points in there: China did raise the standard of living for many of its citizens. Tibet was a backwater before China took over. These things are true, but we need to have a discussion over whether the human rights violations required to obtain them were worth it.

I may have been overly harsh in characterizing the Chinese people, but I stand by my idea that an international diplomatic culture has not yet developed among the citizenry. This means that in the face of criticism, the Chinese are more likely to huddle together in nationalism and not respond fully. Plus, calling people who try to put out the Olympic Torch terrorists does not help mellow the image.

Obviously, xiaoyong is a proud Chinese nationalist. That's fine, and they do notice that people overreact and find it embarrassing. What I would ask of this person is to note the bad things that China has done and continues to do. No country is perfect, least of all the US. We have a history of slavery, problems with religious, racial and gender equality and a host of other things. I love to critique the US. When I ask my country to be better, it shows I am a part of it. I hope that Chinese citizens can find an opening to do the same and not whitewash their own past.


Anonymous said...

the chance to have a chinese national respond to your blog is 1 in a billion. they made some good points and you answered evenly. as each american has their own ideas of our leadership(some times the majority of citizens feel negatively). we should not always judge a county's people by the actions of their government.true we can only base our thoughts on the infomation we gather which is 2nd hand unless we are on the ground and get it 1st hand.

united we stand divided we fall

Zeno said...

I think the chance of a Chinese national is about one in six by population, one in twenty by internet usage. It's not all that unlikely.

Anonymous said...

What an interesting exchange!

I liked the way you handled this, zeno.

Thought-provoking and true.

peaceful citizen