A predictable response to Grace Wang’s article


Recently I blogged on Grace Wang’s editorial in the Washington Post. ESWN found a rejoinder to this here.

In my view, Grace Wang’s essay is political suicide. In the language of past history (and somewhat ironically here), she has decided to stand diametrically opposite to the Party and the People. Objectively, one can say that she is a “Public Enemy.”

Ah, yes. China, a country where having an opinion that doesn’t go with the flow is a serious crime. She should have kept her head down and accepted the abuse for not following along with the rest of the herd. After all, internet thugs know best, don’t they?

First, I think that Grace Wang is wrong. The negative impact of that essay goes far beyond her imagination. She has been completely exploited by western media.

Let’s be honest here. The trouble started when Chinese students decided to launch an internet bullying campaign and this was continued by thugs who started harrassing her family. The “Western media” had nothing to do with it. Yet of course, true to form, non-Chinese are quickly blamed as being the source of all evil by “Chairman Rabbit”. Oh, surprise-surprise, there’s more on the I.M.C.M.C.L.B. (“International Media Conspiracy to Make China Look Bad”).

If Grace Wang really wanted to solve the problems and if she loves China, she would have asked the western media to report a fuller picture of China as opposed to just satisfying their pre-defined prejudices and imaginations.

Yes, no need for Grace Wang as a young Chinese woman to try to reason with her own people on the issue in hand. Chinese regularly say that its not for outsiders to comment on “Chinese issues”. Yet if Chinese people disagree with something China does, it’s implied that they have to sort out the rest of the world first? What utter hypocricy.

I tend to think that she is too young and she is very politically naïve to hold those kinds of views.

Now we’re on to age discrimination! Yes, Grace Wang is too young to have her own political views, despite the fact she is probably old enough to vote in most democracies. Or is she too young because she disagrees with the prevailing Chinese attitude?

Mr Rabbit’s commentary is rather manipulative as it repeatedly greatly reads into non-controversial statements by Ms Wang.

This shows that she loves to learn and she has good intentions. The readers will be sympathetic, and even possibly respectful.

And you have evidence that she is lying, Mr Rabbit? Or that she should not say anything about her background? She likes languages – she’s telling the reader something about her. Don’t try to pretend she’s manipulating us – you’re the person manipulating the story here.

But one has to ask: What is the concept of China? She does not employ the concept of the Chinese people as “the multi-ethnic political entity (consisting of 56 different ethnic groups)” and she does not use the narrative based upon the relationship between the Han and Tibetan groups.

Why should she repeat Chinese nationalist propaganda? Quite clearly Chinese, whether that’s Hans or anyone else, are in many ways different and generally divided from Tibetans. When the BBC did a four-part series on China last year, there was a piece which showed a giant propaganda sign in Tibet welcoming the new railway – it was in Chinese, with no Tibetan translation, and none of the Tibetan peasants in the area could read it. That is just one example of how divorced from reality many Chinese are when it comes to Tibet – they don’t even consider how to get their message across to Tibetans in a way they can understand.

There is nothing about Tibetan history, society, policies or challenges (such as those about development and poverty alleviation).

Again, why would she talk about that? She isn’t the Chinese government’s spokeswoman. She had her own views of Tibet, and she freely admits they were unrealistic. She learnt about what some Tibetans actually thought about their situation. That’s more than most Chinese have done.

Finally, her high school revoking her diploma and reinforcing patriotic education also satisfied the western imagination.

So, again, are you suggesting it didn’t happen? Or that she should sweep the petty-mindedness of her old school under the carpet because it’s an “inconvenience” for those Chinese who want to push their own image of their country to the rest of the world?

There is much more drivel from Mr Rabbit, so I won’t bore you with a continued point-by-point analysis. But I’d like to address his closing remarks.

It was just another one-sided demonization of China; it only diminishes the minimal speech space of China within the western media. In the end, it only increases misunderstanding, alienation and conflict about China. From this angle I can only say that Grace Wang was hypocritical and opportunistic.

Quite the opposite, Mr Rabbit. The only hypocricy and opportunism is coming from you. A young university student wanted to do her own thing and she was treated disgracefully for it, as was her family. Yet you spend a few lines talking about how such criminal activities were wrong, the rest blithering on about how she was wrong to want to tell her own story in the only medium available to her that would reach many others – the Chinese media would never give her space. Well after all the lies and hate spread about her, she had the right. Your analysis was a shameful attempt to undermine her defence, whilst also being a vehicle for having a bash at the foreign media for disrupting your pride.

I would like to thank Roland for translating this entry as it demonstrates the moral bankruptcy of some Chinese bloggers like Mr Rabbit. Only by being able to read this sort of garbage can we truly understand the problems people like Grace Wang have when trying to reason with those who are themselves unreasonable. I do hope, though, that the reason no positive blog entries were posted on ESWN was not that no Chinese netizens had sympathy for her. It really would bode badly for China’s future if victims of bullying are not offered aid simply because they don’t conform.


Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 111 Comments

“… and realize that if indeed we end up slaughtering each other whole sale like we do in the good ole days, we have much more willing cannon fodders to trade against yours.”

The west has right now a lot more of firepower to compensate for that. Tactics based on human wave attacks without regards to casualties may work against a technically/tactical more advanced but much less numerous military force. Specially on your own territory where you may count also with strong civil population local support.
That might work, like was the case of the German army against Russian in WWII, Korea and Vietnam, even in CH against JP invasion.

But in case of a total war, without restrictions on use of firepower, it may be disastrous against a enemy with a stronger strategic and technological position. Specially if the fight is taken abroad.
IMHO that was the case of JP against US in pacific war. Not even massive kamikaze style attacks on ground, sea and air could do much to stop US war machine.

CH strategic position is somewhat similar to the central powers before WWI. Landlocked, sandwiched among opposing powers wary of major change of status quo, mismatch between available resources population and strategic ambitions. Presences of an outer power unassailable to then once in entered into the fray. More direct access of west powers to world resources. Better strategic position and resources to blockade mainland CH. The west would not need to conquer CH just neutralize it.
Without access to world resources plus war disruptions living condition in CH, with is mismatch population/resources would go back to barely subsistence levels.

No. I do not think a direct confrontation with the US would be a good idea. Less of all in classical old way… The way to greater power for CH must be quite different, if any. Somewhat similar to Bismarck strategy, pushing forward the limits without antagonizing too much existing major powers. Hope you do not fire to soon such a politician and get a Wilhem II in exchange.

April 28, 2008 @ 3:00 pm | Comment


In your analysis, you’re assuming that the rest of the world will just be observers in this confrontation between China and the West. I don’t htink the West can carry out the strategy you’ve stated uninterrupted by other forces or influences, as well as not to expect China’s treaty alliances come to the it’s aid.

The West might not be quite united as you might think in this confrontation. But I do agreee with you, it’s not wise for China to confront the US, even if it’s non-militarily. China needs to brush up on its financial and econcomic war skills before it can challenge the US. The US’s achilles heel is its financial system. you disrupt and damage that, then you can unleash the hell within its borders.

April 28, 2008 @ 3:09 pm | Comment


I am with Bro. Indeed China has already rewritten and continue to rewrite rules of international engagement. The west had to start to mint terms like “Beijing Consensus” in order to describe the phenomenon. Not a few multi-nationals already had to play by Chinese rules. Soon more will follow.

The rule of Power never change.
Time and Tide is on our side.

April 28, 2008 @ 3:10 pm | Comment

@Michael Turton
“Are you saying that there is some media campaign
that somehow offset or cover up Tibet, the authoritarian state, the camps, etc?”

I am not saying that. What I was trying to say is that CH is not able to through a better light on the more positive side of it current economic development. Even the crackdown in TB, by former CH levels, was milder in comparison.

I am not proposing a campaign to hide the horror of an authoritarian regime like what happened with the “final solution” in Nazi Germany or to build Potemkin villages. Rather a better media policy with west to be able to present on one side the positive improvements in CH and better justify (if possible) the negative side.

The task lies more on CH side than on west side.
The clumsy way CH handle some critical issues and the resulting reaction from the west provoke a strong counter reaction in CH limiting their strategic choices just to safe face or look strong against its population.

I find it almost funny. They manage more than once to literally paint themselves into a corner, all by themselves without need of west help.

April 28, 2008 @ 3:17 pm | Comment

“I don’t htink the West can carry out the strategy you’ve stated uninterrupted by other forces or influences, as well as not to expect China’s treaty alliances come to the it’s aid.”
The closest and more effective alliances would be the countries in you direct vicinity. But they will not be interested a big success of CH in that fight, it would change too much the status quo for their liking.
Better a big power that is far away than one right at your door step.
They main refrain a major defeat of CH or lost of face for same reasons though.
The situation reminds me of pre WWI situation in Europe. Continuous attempts to shuffle status quo in power equilibrium in Europe by major continental power, with England play one card of the other to avoid decisive rising of one of them, with more than willing help from the other ones.

Just Change England by US in this case.

“The West might not be quite united as you might think in this confrontation.”
Nothing better than a perceived alien and external enemy to unite any warring factions on ones side…

“The US’s achilles heel is its financial system. you disrupt and damage that, then you can unleash the hell within its borders.”
Do not forget they have the “printing machine”. They can print as many dollars as they want, and the country has inherent assets, natural resources and advance technology that will not be affected and also will limit any collapse of the dollar.
We are living now a paradox in EU. EU companies are complaining about a strong Euro, but the US finds itself quite happy with a weak dollar.
Funny, the main argument against EU introduction was the fear it was going to be a “weak” currency.

By the way CH has a mountain of $$. What would be be of that cash if its value goes catastrophically down?

Even in a financial confrontation, CH is more than likely to be on the loosing side, not matter how much damages they could provoke.
Besides, to who else are you going to sell your production overcapacity? 😉

April 28, 2008 @ 3:41 pm | Comment

“to who else are you going to sell your production overcapacity? ;-)”


and resource rich countries like the oil state, Russia and Brazil, as well as countries in Africa in return for their natural resources.

It’s time to change the consumption patterns to a more sustainable state. We will consume more and you will consume less.

April 28, 2008 @ 11:37 pm | Comment

Hope you do not fire to soon such a politician and get a Wilhem II in exchange.

Don’t worry. China has learned the lesson of Germany. We will let US ruin its own empire unaided, it’s doing a fantastic job so far.

True, present balance of power is not in our favor completely,not yet. Give it 40-50 year for the current power position vs US to reverse itself. I will still be alive then. Good times.

April 28, 2008 @ 11:44 pm | Comment

In 40-50 year the population pyramid in CH will be so inverted that its grandsons will be too busy taking care of their old grandmas, grandpas, greataunts and greatuncles, etc. 1 to 6/8 ratio maybe?

Grandpa: “We must conquer the world, is CH destinity”
Grandson:”Yes, yes grandpa. Now take your medicine, your getting too excited again”

Another 40-50 year more at the least to fix that problem too, at the very least. 😉

April 29, 2008 @ 12:36 am | Comment

Why would western countries reimburse china for what has happened in the last few centuries? Didn�t china invade Russia and Eastern Europe first after all everyone knows that Mongolians are Chinese right�

Seriously though regarding the comments from Dr Sun on how Manchu, Tibetan, Han, Mongolian, etc were all Chinese, I believe this was made after the republic of China was formed in 1911� This differs a bit from what he said before the Republic was formed when I believe it was stated by him that they were an outside invader. Seems like he decided afterwards to change his mind on that one when he realized all the land he would lose� Some things don’t change.

Regarding the attack on Grace and also Jin Jiang by Chinese FenQing I can only shake my head in disgust at their behaviour. Luckily many Chinese don’t think the same way as they do otherwise I would hate to imagine what could happen. Most Chinese I have spoken with here have been quite simply amazed about these attacks.

April 29, 2008 @ 12:52 am | Comment

Cao Meng,

Thanks, I will take your suggestion to read that stuff…

MFK… Classic CCP tactic, you twist my comments to demean me. I know that commies have a certain line on democracy. And I know that if someone actually talks of stuff that doesnt fall into a line, they make it so that they can be against it.

It’s like when Dalai Lama talks about autonomy and all commies do is spit and spew “evil anti China SPLITIST”

Thats how I think when you tell me that you dont think Chinese want democracy. When do I ever say China should have democracy? I never said that. I just think that the CCP will do anything against innocent people just to preserve its own spoiled life. It is corrupt as Hell and kills and tortures people only for thought crimes consisting of faith and belief in basic rights…

So I just think its more about some kind of justice or integrity than any kind of political structure. Actually I have no problem with “socialism with Chinese characteristics” (I dont care what format you all want to use to run China) its about how to treat Chinese people with dignity, dont lie to them and threaten them with torture, dont crush them and step all over their innocent ideals in order to pursue some commy religion of death.

April 29, 2008 @ 1:10 am | Comment

@ Cao Meng,

my goal is to try to “understand” – to some degree. To be foreign should be no licence to offend people. But to persuade people is one thing, and to manipulate people is another – it is sometimes a pretty fine line between the two. I don’t think of how my position might come across every time I speak, and I think it would be unpractical if I did.

I can understand that some reactions from the West bring the boxer out in you. But some reactions from China also bring out the liberal in me. It is my choice if I want to start ranting because of that, or if I still want to listen to gain information. I think both are legitimate choices, but the latter is smarter. Even emotional posts can be information, as long as I don’t feel overexposed to it.

Yes, I can understand that Chinese people currently react in a defensive way, and that they feel threatened at times. But to understand is no obligation to condone every position. To understand the Han position (it comes across as pretty united to me) isn’t to condone the Chinese government’s policy on the Tibetans, and the vocal support for it by much of the Chinese public. Neither you nor I need to listen to each other, or to Cathy. But it could be useful. This world is still too big to make us all go through exactly the same experience (which I think that’s good). But at the same time, it has become to small to keep our minds and opinions seperate from one another. They are bound to clash from time to time, and we should make the best of it.

April 29, 2008 @ 1:16 am | Comment

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