Miles from Home

China Commentary– Youthful Musings on the Environment, Culture & Development

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For whatever reason, even my VPN has been failing to get past the Great Firewall of China as of late. There have been a slew of topics I wanted to comment on, including some very interesting personal experiences. Since, I am logged on now by pure luck, I will be brief.

I think one of the most fascinating things happening here in China, today, is the dialogue Chinese people are having within their own communities debating patriotism versus nationalism. Don’t get me wrong, there are roughly zero people who weigh in on nationalism’s side. The Chinese see their recent reactions to the protests, their calls for boycotts of French companies, their condemnation of all Western media as anti-Chinese… they see these things as rational steps in defense of their beloved mother.

An article in the New York Times talking about the protests read, “‘Before I came here, I’m very liberal,’ said Minna Jia, a graduate student in political science at U.S.C…. ‘But after I come here, my professor told me that I’m nationalist.'” That’s the thing. Chinese see themselves as very rational and independent. But as the article goes on to point out, rightfully so, these students studying in the States, these students protesting in big cities along the Eastern coast of China, are all those who have benefit most from China’s opening up. In effect, they are the cream of the crop, the bourgeoisie of China, looking to protect what has been given them.

For years, Chinese have been told horror stories of the way their parents grew up. It has helped them to appreciate what China has accomplished. It has also embedded in them a faulty notion of entitlement. It’s a land of Only Children, and they act like it. Greed is palpable. Self-esteem is fragile. There is no room for criticism, they do not know how to accept it because they have never been in a position to give it out. In Chinese culture, there is no complaining, no protesting. It’s unacceptable to question the government. Therefore, when they see outsiders doing just that, they are shocked.

I have written before about how this country has surpassed America in term’s of global hegemony. China has officially bought, bribed, and blackmailed its way back to superpowerdom. But this is about as far as it will ever go, until the people within this country develop a culture the world can accept or strive for. There is nothing here the world wants to aspire to… corrupt government, a devastated environment, a mute press, a cowardly civil society. Until China can realize what once made it the historical superpower of the past– a vibrant culture– it will never overcome being the world’s sweatshop.

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Written by Miles

May 8, 2008 at 3:32 am

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