Three Minutes of Silence

Everyone in my office just stood silently with perhaps a billion others here, while outside drivers sounded their horns and sirens in unison. I was by my office window and could see people stopped in their tracks on the sidewalk, all standing still. The traffic stopped dead while the horns blared. The migrant workers in the concrete and steel pit alongside my building all stopped their work and stood up as well. Everyone faced the same direction, their heads lowered. The three minutes seemed to last a long time. For the first few seconds, it seemed a bit meaningless, and then with each passing second it took on greater gravity. There is still a hushed silence throughout the office, everyone keeping their thoughts to themselves, everyone on the verge of tears.

For all its warts, China is a spectacularly beautiful country, and I will never make the mistake again of falling for the generalization that the people here “only think about themselves.” I wish I could put into words all the grief I’ve seen here in the past several days, and the efforts of everyone I know and work with, regardless of their financial status, to give and to help. It is literally impossible not to be deeply, deeply moved.

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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: 81 Comments

I will never make the mistake again of falling for the generalization that the people here “only think about themselves.”

It is a generalisation. But it rather depends what one is talking about. There is natural concern for something like a large natural disaster – that’s very natural. It’s certainly a joke if anyone thinks Chinese never care about anything.

On the other hand wealthier Chinese wouldn’t risk their positions to raise up poorer Chinese politically.

May 19, 2008 @ 4:00 pm | Comment

Richard,

Do you think that the Sichuan earthquake is for the Chinese people psychologically a Pearl Harbour, or 9-11 – type event?

May 19, 2008 @ 4:43 pm | Comment

Amen to that. I was walking down dagu lu in shanghai an hour ago and i too was deeply moved. a couple of the people i know have cried just talking about it. it really is a reminder for us expats not to get caught up in over emphasizing the greedy capitalist attitude of our chinese friends and coworkers. perhaps this will give expats an exscuse to take a break from the obligatory china-bitching that seems the most common and involving topic among us.

May 19, 2008 @ 5:27 pm | Comment

Please keep the politics from this thread, help mourn the dead. Those that died were not politicians, mainly just school kids, true innocents. Let the recriminations wait a while longer for another thread. I stood with my chinese colleagues out in the sun, in the middle of Chongqing, I can understand how you felt Richard…the poem feels somehow appropriate…in all the noise from the horns, alarms and air-raid sirens, there did feel a peace.
Funeral Blues

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He is Dead.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the woods;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

– W.H. Auden

May 19, 2008 @ 5:32 pm | Comment

And people all over China are donating money , goods or blood actively, whether the rich or the poor.

May 19, 2008 @ 5:33 pm | Comment

That’s right, Moon.

Raj, do you believe the rich in America would risk their position to lift up the poor, politically or financially? I have never heard any story of even a single American giving up his or her position of wealth and/or power to help the poor. Generosity and selflessness – yes, I’ve heard plenty of stories about that. But if there are stories of people giving up their position of wealth and power anywhere to help the poor, they are very few and far between.

Maybe there are times when we should all stop looking for China’s defects, if only for a few minutes. Maybe this afternoon was such a time, as was the short period after 911 when even the most cynical Americans stood shoulder to shoulder and stopped pointing out how terrible America is. There really is a time and a place for everything.

May 19, 2008 @ 6:40 pm | Comment

Of course, it’s important to mourn the dead.

However, I’m extremely concerned about the wartime-pitch of mass coordination. CCTV is saying that the relief effort is a mark of the “strength and greatness of the Chinese race.”

It may be having the effect of solidifying Chinese unity/identity and the us-vs-them mentality, similar to 9-11. Worrisome.

May 19, 2008 @ 6:53 pm | Comment

I don’t believe much I hear on CCTV. I do tend to believe what i see. And I saw something really beautiful today.

May 19, 2008 @ 7:37 pm | Comment

BOB,

I don’t believe what you have just “quoted”, i.e. “strength and greatness of the Chinese race.”

CCTV would never have used that particular word “race” under this circumstance. If you are quoting a secondary source, say it, otherwise, check the original version in Chinese. It is highly likely that the original text is “strength and greatness of the Chinese people”.

I am not sure what is in your mind, however.

May 19, 2008 @ 8:36 pm | Comment

BOB,

Try to give yourself a DIY psychoanalysis … tip: “PROJECTION” …

May 19, 2008 @ 10:19 pm | Comment

“And people all over China are donating money , goods or blood actively, whether the rich or the poor.”

Yes, but here’s a predictable problem (via Danwei):

http://tinyurl.com/6o39vv (proxy required)

In case you couldn’t get to read it, the article concerns the China Red Cross’ aversion to transparency in relation to all the money it gets.

This issue should not take a back number on the basis that ‘there is a time and a place for everything’, as Richard put it; it is directly related to the number of lives that can be saved and the amount of suffering that can be alleviated.

May 19, 2008 @ 10:21 pm | Comment

Now is the time of tears and remembrance.

May 19, 2008 @ 10:40 pm | Comment

as a chinese, I had never felt pround of my ethnics all my life, forget about sending a man to the orbit or olympics or other silly showboatings, well this is the first time, because I feel we as a people, actually can give each other respect and dignity. I always thought those things have to be earned on individual base, I was partially wrong, the society and ur country men certainly can help.

May 19, 2008 @ 10:44 pm | Comment

As saddening as this is, I still hate the sensationalism very much.

The very same sensationalism that demonizes China and its people can easily turn into one that “sympathizes” with them.

People should put off the emotional bullshit and put forth some rational analysis once in a while.

May 19, 2008 @ 10:55 pm | Comment

“I don’t believe what you have just “quoted”, i.e. “strength and greatness of the Chinese race.”

No—CCTV used the phrase at least twice and at least once quoting a Chinese newspaper article. I should look at the People’s Daily, but I can’t be bothered.

The basic message of CCTV is that the earthquake victims are a metaphor for the Chinese people and the State. Love for the victims = love for the State = Love for the victims. The theme is “love” (“ai”), but it’s love of the nation and the Chinese race. They’ve even got ai t-shirts, heart pins, and a red heart encircled with entwined arms signifying love and the unity of the Chinese people/race. Weird. The State is the savior of the earthquake victims and the savior of the Chinese people and the Chinese race. That’s the message.

I remember when Bush in the wake of 9-11 said: “You’re either with us, or against us.”

Same principle.

I don’t like to listen to all the racist jargon. It’s a big turn off.

May 19, 2008 @ 11:07 pm | Comment

Where I was in Xi’an, on an average street corner, it was poorly observed, with most people looking confused at the cars beeping, and some talking away to each other and taking pictures.

Perhaps this shows nothing more than that the Government is unable to disseminate its instructions in quite the way it once could.

May 19, 2008 @ 11:08 pm | Comment

Richard, In re: “I have never heard any story of even a single American giving up his or her position of wealth and/or power to help the poor.”

Any person, American or otherwise, who gives up their “position of wealth or power” to help the poor would soon find that they were unable to do little but add another name to the list of the poor. It is their wealth, or authority, that enables them to help the poor, if they choose to do so.

In 1987 I held two jobs related to Earthquake relief in Ecuador. In the first, I controlled all U.S. air assets flying supplies into the affected area. Needless to say, I was widely sought out by many private relief agencies seeking to get their relief supplies into the zone. If I wanted a meeting with any of them at midnight, to evaluate their chances of getting something on an early morning flight, you can bet that their heavy hitters were there. After a few months I was replaced, and returned to my headquarters to a monitoring position. When I returned to Ecuador to conduct surveys, I found the same people very reluctant to meet with me on my schedule, and insisted on meeting with me, if at all, on theirs, usually on the fly. At first I was offended, but then realized that they had correctly assessed that I no longer had the power to directly assist them. They were no less concerned about the relief effort, it was just that I was no longer a “player”.

The same is true of China’s current disaster. Were 100 executives to suddenly resign their positions and/or wealth and rush to the area (tying up 100 daily rations of food, shelter, and water), they would be just 100 wanna-do-good hippies with zero ability to really help alleviate the suffering. One well placed hard nosed American contractor, on the other hand, who decides to add his (or her) expertise to the effort would likely find all sorts of Chinese officials willing to talk to them and include their talents in the overall relief efforts.

Though bloggers in the effected area might play a similar role, the rest of us mere mortals can only throw in our shekels into the common pot.

ps. Regarding generalizations about the rich, my 1967 OCS class contained an Aldrich (from Tarrytown) who was a nephew of Nelson Rockefeller, and the son of a rich Texas cattleman and oil millionaire, both of whom had joined the Army specifically to serve in Vietnam. Two thirds of our class were college graduates, and one third could be classified as from wealthy families. Yeah, I always liked that Creedence Clearwater song about: …I ain’t no millionaire’s son…, except that it was patently untrue.

May 19, 2008 @ 11:14 pm | Comment

It’s a pity the ugly Chinese behaviour at the torch relays got a lot of coverage in the western media, but the admirable Chinese behaviour at these dignified national commemorations gets little or no mention.

May 19, 2008 @ 11:20 pm | Comment

Lirelou: Any person, American or otherwise, who gives up their “position of wealth or power” to help the poor would soon find that they were unable to do little but add another name to the list of the poor. It is their wealth, or authority, that enables them to help the poor, if they choose to do so.

We are in complete and total agreement. Thanks for your comment, excellent as always.

Johnny, that was a despicable comment and it’s gone.

billy, thanks for the report from Xi’An. I can imagine that the response to the 3 minutes was very different in different cities across China.

Jinhan, it may well be “sensationalism,” but these “minutes of silence” are hardly an invention of China. Ever watch the memorial services for the Oklahoma City bombing or 911, even years after the tragedy? These minutes of silence are standard procedure, and for good reason – they cause us to think, to put aside our own melodramas and face the fact that we as human beings are all in this together. That’s why today’s 3 minutes was so powerful for me. I started out cynically, and with every second that passed I understood the bond I shared with the colleagues standing with me. It took those moments of silence for that to sink in.

May 19, 2008 @ 11:30 pm | Comment

We have a really depraved troll who is having a blast mocking the Chinese in their sorrow. Apologies. I’m deleting as fast as I can.

May 19, 2008 @ 11:55 pm | Comment

@BOB

Race’s exact translation in Chinese is 种族. CCTV would never use such a word, as stupid as they are. I believe what you heard might be 民族, which should be just translated to nationality.

May 20, 2008 @ 12:18 am | Comment

@BOB

Race’s exact translation in Chinese is 种族. CCTV would never use such a word, as stupid as they are. I believe what you heard might be 民族, which should be just translated to nationality.

May 20, 2008 @ 12:19 am | Comment

Just a contribution in thoughts as to why the Chinese are so ready in equating the so-called ‘State’ with the the common people.
In actual fact, the Chinese (as a civilisation) have a very different concept of State, Country or Nation, as compared to the Western ideal of the Nation-State. In the Chinese language, the full term meant when one refers to ‘state’ is ” is GuoJia (鍥藉), which loosely translates into state-home. This has been so for the thousands of years, right from Confucius’ times, till even now. The age-old Confucian saying is: 淇韩 榻愬 娌诲浗 骞冲ぉ涓?which translates to ‘cultivating the self, building one’s home, administering one’s state, and bringing harmony/peace to the world. Also, the Chinese concept of ethnicity is not that of ‘Race’, rather ‘People’ or ‘Nation’ as in the Chinese People(s)/Nation 涓崕姘戞棌, which has been ingrained into the Chinese from the late Qing dynasty, to 1911(Republic of China), and then further cemented during the Sino-Japanese War (later World War 2).
I have been watching CCTV too, in Chinese, and I do not get the sense of a ‘new’ divide between ‘us-them’. It is merely a continuation of the same sense of patient endurance and peserverance in the face of tremendous difficulties, as experienced by the Chinese nation/people in the past 100 years.
So, no, this is not new, there is no new Chinese psyche a la post-911.
Do be understanding and kind to them.

May 20, 2008 @ 1:26 am | Comment

ChinaFronting,

Yes, zhongzu is translated as “race”.

Minzu is also translated as “race” according to the Oxford English-Chinese dictionary (4th ed.).

Actually, when the Chinese use the term here, they’re referring to the Han people, or the Han zu. CCTV is referring to the “strength and greatness of the Han race.”

In English, the term “nationality” doesn’t make any sense in this context since they are referring to the Han people regardless of whether the Han people in question reside in Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, or overseas, etc. By the same token, one wouldn’t say “the Germanic nationality”, or the “Anglo-Saxon nationality”. The Chinese wouldn’t refer to the Hanzu as a zhongzu. They would refer to it as a Minzu. If you translation it as “nationality”, then a foreign reader won’t really understand it. Here, “race” is a better translation.

May 20, 2008 @ 1:28 am | Comment

ChinaFronting,

When the Japanese invaded China, the justification given by Japanese peasant soldiers for bayonetting pregnant Chinese women was that the Japanese were a “superior race” and the Chinese were subhumans. Of course, it’s a stupid statement because Japanese is not a race, but rather a nationality.

Similarly, the Han are not a race, but an ethnic group.

My point is that if, in this context, you translate minzu as “nationality” rather than “race” then you’re not accurately conveying the true meaning of CCTV. The word “race” better conveys the underlying racist meaning here.

May 20, 2008 @ 1:51 am | Comment

“My point is that if, in this context, you translate minzu as “nationality” rather than “race” then you’re not accurately conveying the true meaning of CCTV. The word “race” better conveys the underlying racist meaning here. ”

That’s either a gross misunderstanding or an intentional misinterpretation.

For as long as I can remember, the phrase Zhonghua Minzu has always had a pluralistic definition (as in “56个中华民族” or “56 Chinese ethnicities”). Minzu translates into ethnicity and not race.

May 20, 2008 @ 2:24 am | Comment

@BOB

Hi, when you don’t know, don’t pretend to know

May 20, 2008 @ 2:31 am | Comment

“Actually, when the Chinese use the term here, they’re referring to the Han people, or the Han zu. CCTV is referring to the “strength and greatness of the Han race.”

This is the most ridiculous thing I ‘ve heard for a while. I believe I know chinese language , CCTV 35 years better than you do. CCP is notorious for a lot of things but never known for preaching HAN racism. First off racism is the arch enemy of the comunism, they respectively sit on the extreme right and extreme left side of the political spectrum, simply to say they hate each other’s guts. Secondly Hu JinTao ‘s new found “harmonious society” value system has no place for such silly and meaningless child-plays.

You’s re a perfect example why western ppl start to critisize China, it often annoys rather than makes us comptemplate, because you dont know what you talking about.

May 20, 2008 @ 2:40 am | Comment

I have one thing to say, several western reporters say Chinese government is doing PR show in rescue activities. Actually Chinese government and people have no time to care what such stupid guys saying, because we are rescuing lives of our people, because such reporters are not Chinese, they don’t feel hurt and they can only think about Chinese people’s though with their ugly mind.

May 20, 2008 @ 2:56 am | Comment

@BOB

Remember, in Chinese the plural form and the singular form of proper noun are same. So “minzu” can refer to more than one ethnic group. “zhong hua minzu” includes 56 ethnic groups.
In China, all the people belong to one race.(except a few foreigners). CCTV will not use race to domestic audience since it is meaningless.

May 20, 2008 @ 3:02 am | Comment

Hi, BOB. This is why dictionary definitions can be misleading: while the word can certainly be used to refer to ethnicities (as in 姘戞棌澶у etc.), it isn’t used exclusively as such. With loaded terms like this, it’s best to double-check across multiple sources (particularly as the Oxford Chinese-English dictionaries give compact and frequently semi-accurate definitions, as do most pocket dictionaries).

The Chinese-Chinese 杈炴捣 Cihai dictionary I have open in front of me gives two extremely wordy definitions for the term (p.2177 in the small-print edition, which is killing my eyes), which I’ll summarize and translate as:

1) “Used in general reference to a group of people existing at a given historical or developmental stage, e.g. ‘primitive peoples,’ ‘ancient peoples,’ ‘modern peoples,’ etc. Also used in broader contexts, e.g. “the Chinese people” [涓崕姘戞棌] etc. The characters 姘?and 鏃?were first compounded for this purpose in recent years, and were used as early as 1882 in an article by Wang Tao advocating learning from the strengths of foreign powers.”
2) Used to refer to a historical body of people who have developed a common language, a cohesive territory, shared economic activities and common culture and social mores.”

The much briefer Chinese-English ABC Dictionary defines the term thusly:
姘戞棌 m铆nz煤 n. 鈶爀thnic minority/group 鈶°€圥RC銆?nation; nationality

A suggestion, for what it’s worth, from a humble translator: in the context you’re talking about, the term 姘戞棌 m铆nz煤 is probably best understood as being more or less equivalent to “people” in the sense of “the Chinese people,” “the American people,” etc. It has no racial component as such in this context, and is certainly not equivalent to 姹夋棌.

Can we end this derail now?

May 20, 2008 @ 3:26 am | Comment

Richard

Raj, do you believe the rich in America would risk their position to lift up the poor, politically or financially?

Surely that’s what at least part of the rich did when they gave the poor the vote. It’s not as if there was a people’s revolution to expand the electorate. The same applies in the United Kingdom.

Maybe this afternoon was such a time, as was the short period after 911 when even the most cynical Americans stood shoulder to shoulder and stopped pointing out how terrible America is.

Although I wish China only the best and hope it can come through the current crisis as best as is possible, we’re not Chinese (in regards to your comparison). I think what you mean to say is that many non-Americans were willing to put aside their differences temporarily.

As a more general point, though, related to what richard said about Chinese only looking out for themselves, it appears that Chinese are very willing to donate in times like this. But my Chinese friends themselves have often been sceptial on this topic, in as far as the rest of the time they’re too tight-fisted.

It would be interesting if one could survey different countries to find out who gives the “most” in terms of charity, which would probably be measured as a percentage of their income.

May 20, 2008 @ 5:28 am | Comment

I think all of us know that as a developing country still shaking off the shackles of the CR and now focused mainly on getting rich, the Chinese wouldn’t score as high as any of the developed countries on your proposed survey, nor as high as many other developing countries. This goes back to conversations we used to have here about traditional values being wiped out by the Great Helmsman, another of the tragedies of Mao’s legacy. This episode gives me a lot of hope that either the values weren’t extinguished altogether, or that new values are seeping in. This is a complex subject that would require an anthropological approach examining what is influencing them to give (CCP propaganda, guilty consciences, love of country, etc.). Instead of a flat survey of which country gives more, I would like to see a trend chart of the past 10 years showing the proportional increase/decrease in charitable donations in China – something like that, that would give us a real perspective.

May 20, 2008 @ 9:34 am | Comment

Edwin, thanks for clarification. I think you hit the nail on the head.

Raj and Richard, tracking charitable contributions is a bit more complicated than it sounds, because most of the figures available don’t account for individual giving, but rather “official development aid” or something like that. It’s government-to-government money, and you know what happens with that.

China isn’t on the list of foreign aid givers yet. The US looks stingy in government giving, but way high on personal charity. Most of Europe gives a lot of official money, but the most generous group are the Scandinavian countries.

Our moment of silence was not. However, in memoriam the government has shut off foreign cable TV for 3 days. Wierd.

May 20, 2008 @ 10:25 am | Comment

ChinaFronting,

You wrote:

“This is the most ridiculous thing I ‘ve heard for a while. I believe I know chinese language , CCTV 35 years better than you do. CCP is notorious for a lot of things but never known for preaching HAN racism. First off racism is the arch enemy of the comunism,…”

Comment:

I think that you’re deluding yourself if you think that there is no such thing as Han racism, or that Chinese propaganda appeals to Chinese racism and race-based nationalism. Terms such as “anti-Chinese”, “race traitor”, etc. abound these days. One needs to look at the context of what’s being said. “Race” is a reasonable dictionary definition of the term “minzu” as it appears in authoritative Chinese-English dictionaries. It is also a reasonable translation in the context of what is being said, and, in my view, the best translation of the underlying message that is being conveyed. It is also reasonable to conclude that Chinese people identify China and Chinese with the Han people/nationality/race.

I don’t buy into this “fart” to the effect that only “Chinese people” with yellow skin can understand and are in a position to interpret China. On the contrary, your collective ego may blind you to some very important truths.

The potential for race-based violence against foreigners is quite real in China now. One doesn’t want to be too delusional about this. Whether one translates the term minzu as people/nationality/race is quite beside the point. The point is visa-crackdowns on foreigners, propaganda playing up the strength and greatest of the Han people/nationality/race, propaganda about the dawn of a new 5,000 Chinese empire, terms such as “race-traitor”, “anti-Chinese”, comments in the Chinese blogosphere about “gang raping and beating foreigners”, comments about protecting Chinese females from Western males, etc., etc., etc., etc., etc.

Where does this thinking come from? It doesn’t come from the foreign media.

Once a majority starts to think and talk in these terms, the minority should start to worry.

May 20, 2008 @ 2:14 pm | Comment

Thanks, Richard. There’s been a tremendous outpouring here in Taiwan for the victims of Sichuan, because all of us can remember what it was like to be awakened in the middle of the night by a mighty shock. And what’s really great is that the only people I’ve heard reminding others how shabbily the Chinese treated us in Taiwan are foreigners here in Taiwan.

It’s a pity that political comments here are so shallow, when they could be so rich. I saw the headline about the school collapses in China the other day, and immediately thought that we had the same problem here — not far from my place of work is the Wufeng Quake Museum, built on the ruins of one of the many schools that collapsed during the 921 quake. Natural disasters have a way of exposing greed and corruption, unfortunately at the cost of innocents’ lives. I hope we see changes because of it…

Michael

May 20, 2008 @ 2:49 pm | Comment

Visa crack down on foreigners is a reflection of racism? and CCP propaganda promotes Han supieriority? This is absurd.

ChinaFronting says so well:

You’s re a perfect example why western ppl start to critisize China, it often annoys rather than makes us comptemplate, because you dont know what you talking about.

May 20, 2008 @ 2:53 pm | Comment

“You’s re a perfect example why western ppl start to critisize China, it often annoys rather than makes us comptemplate, because you dont know what you talking about.”

There is a disturbing tendency to retreat into a mental shell. You can’t do this. You need to be able to engage other people who see things differently in rational discussion. I hope that it is not a hopeless situation. I wish that I had studied psychology to better understand this phenomenon.

May 20, 2008 @ 3:03 pm | Comment

@richard

If a fraction of 1.3 Billion people start to give to charities it is going to have a significant impact in the country and eventually outside.

If the government does not hinder it, it could be the awakening of a stronger civil society and civil values in CH. It could also help quite a bit to close the economic divide.

Regrettably the price to pay has been too high….

May 20, 2008 @ 3:21 pm | Comment

Civil values indeed….

http://tinyurl.com/5s7wxg

First time I see something similar in CH.

May 20, 2008 @ 3:29 pm | Comment

I think the concept of “minzu” is a loophole in chinese ideology. Any one can point it out easily but this mis concept is still continuing.
“Minzu” refers to Han chinese only sometimes but some other times it refers to 56 ethnic groups, it is hard to say when it is refers to Han chinese and when it refers to the all ethnic groups together.
For example when they say Zhonghua minzu is “The descendants of dragon” obviously they are referring to Han chinese as other ethnic groups does not believe or never think that they are “The descendants of dragon”, if they say “Zhonghua minzu has more than 5000 years of history” they still refer to the Han chinese as not all the ethnic groups has the same period of history neither they stayed together as united group of ethnic groups, but when they say “long live the unity of Zhonghua minzu” they refer to all the ethnic groups.
The orinigal meaning of “hua” is Han people so “zhonghua” should also mean Han people. The government media are trying to extend its meaning as a common name for all the ethnic groups in china, but at the same time they use the same word to refer han people only. However, when this kind of mistake is made by state media it cannot be a mistake, it might be a political reason. I can say that they have a illusion that one day all other ethnic groups will be assimilated in to the “great ” Han people, until that time they use the word Zhonghua minzu with two meanings; when they have a private party they will say Zhonghua Minzu is Han people, when they talk to other ethnic groups they will say “when we say Zhonghua Minzu we meant all the ethnic groups in china” .
When you compare the old map and recent maps you will note that they have silently renamed many places to match the history they have rewritten, no wonder that they discourage the ethnic minority to wear their ethnic clothes, practice religion, they do not even allow people to wear mustache and beard as people with beard look too different from a common “zhonghua minzu”.
The illusion of turning all other ethnic groups into Han may sounds ridiculous but it is working!!!, nowadays many people belong to minority ethnic groups wears their ethnic clothes only during their own festivals/holidays, so many people are assimilated in to chinese culture, you cannot differentiate many of them from Han people.
Chinese people will be happy when all the colors are “red”, all the people in china talks in chinese language, all the people in china lookalike han chinese. A strong policy can change ones outlook, change their way of dressing but it is so hard to change the peoples mind especially by force, any one who tried to change the mind of his wife will know that fact.

May 20, 2008 @ 3:47 pm | Comment

@ Mick,

There has been a lot of positive coverage in the Western press. If you look above, I posted one example. I’ll try and post some more links to other stories. The LAT has been good, as usual.

Richard, hello! Didn’t mean to step on your post. Shanghai sent me the link to the IHT article above and I had to post it.

May 20, 2008 @ 3:52 pm | Comment

fearless,

You wrote:

“Chinese people will be happy when all the colors are “red”, all the people in china talks in chinese language, all the people in china lookalike han chinese.”

Your post above is very insightful, brilliant, in fact.

I’ll try to accomodate the Han Chinese, but I’m afraid that I may be in deep trouble since I think differently. And there’s my apparent skin pigmentation problem, albeit a Chinese person told me that eating too many carrots can turn one’s skin yellow. But I haven’t tried this yet as I’m not crazy about carrots.

May 20, 2008 @ 5:09 pm | Comment

Bob’s a troll.

May 21, 2008 @ 5:10 am | Comment

Richard,

Appreciate your kind comments. In all honesty, I don’t know what touched me more, the 3 moments of silence, or the spontaneous display of defiant patriotism that followed it.

I’ve already been in tears for much of the last week… and yet the crowds on Tiananmen managed to touch me yet again in a completely different way. Very proud of my country and people for coming together.

For those who’re concerned about the Red Cross (and I am), I suggest that you consider donating to Tzu Chi’s compassionate relief effort. I’ve already contributed significantly to them, and I believe they’re best suited for putting your donation dollars towards doing the most good.

http://blog.speak4china.com/?p=109

May 21, 2008 @ 6:38 am | Comment

The forum i normally stay around is a forum that during ordinary days, we pick up on government’s regulation or so. But during the earthquake period. Most people make agreement to delect any assulting during the period. Why? Because who are sitting in front of desktop has no right to sespect people who are rescuring people. The only thing we can do is to pray, to stand in silent and hoping any of our donation will help people suffer from the disaster. Some people post that “I was keep on donating through the cellphone since I really feel heart breaking if i don’t do so”. A lot of my friends cried during the mouring, a lot of them were question themselves about the meaning of life during the three min mourning. For many people alive, the disaster really changed them a lot mentally. Some people think the mourning is pressed by the government. However, the truth is that the government uses regulation to give a chance for one to put some time to think deeply.
And for people are picking on any wording here. “THANK YOU” for your “rationality”. Only people who is not really sad have rationality, and for human don’t feel sad during tragedy, what should I comment?

May 21, 2008 @ 8:41 am | Comment

if they say “Zhonghua minzu has more than 5000 years of history” they still refer to the Han chinese
===========================================
so you may not know chinese history. The concept of Han Chinese come after Han dynasty, which has about 2200 years. The Zhonghua minzu they mean originated from generation of yanhuang/huaxia, which is the ancient from most ethnic groups of China.

May 21, 2008 @ 8:46 am | Comment

Thanks a lot for commenitng, Licy.

May 21, 2008 @ 10:46 am | Comment

i am ethnically a manchu, however, i consider myself to be part of zhong hua min zu. i think bob is using an american perspective on race in china. regionalism exists but racism is hardly an issue. for minorities, except for uighers, we all look like the “han” chinese. most minorities in china except maybe a few have chinese name, and most can speak the local dialect of chinese. the only difference is maybe some ethnic clothing that they wear in their villages. so racism in china is a minor issue simply because of assimilation and you can’t tell minorites just from outside appearance. this assimilation is not exactly a cpp policy, i know my family changed their last name some 100 years ago. most chinese minorities such as the hui and south western tribes people has had chinese names for hundreds of years and mostly speak the local chinese dialect. actually i think reverse racism is a problem in china considering foreigners get preferential treatment interms of police protection and such. a group of western tourists were specially airlifted from the area while i doubt in a disaster let say in the US, the gov would pick up chinese tourist before americans ones.

also a point i think the western media have missed is that the disaster area is actually not a han county. most of the people are qiang, then a mix of han and tibetans. the qiang are kind of sinized tibetans who speaks a tibetan dialect but have chinese names and don’t follow the dali lama. i don’t think the chinese government’s reaction is any different or our grief is any lighter because this is a ethnic county instead of a han county.

May 21, 2008 @ 12:02 pm | Comment

THIS IS NOT A NATURAL QUAKE!!

This earthquake was caused by underground nuclear tests carried out by PRC maniacs.

This area is where the PRC geriatrics centered the nuclear arsenal of the nation.

Repeated underground tests have been carried out here and the geology of the region suffered considerably. The last few tests were the straw that broke the camel’s back – the ravaged earth just gave in.

It is very difficult to have sympathy for the Chinese populace that thrives on nationalistic jingoism and accepted such tests as a symbol of national virility. There is a price for such excess and the Chinese have paid it.

Let the world desist from shedding tears for the victims – one reaps what one sows.

Focus on the plight of the Burmese – aided and abetted by the CCP goons this nation has also been victimized by its ruling elite. The Chinese were willing accomplices to the shenanigans of their masters – the Burmese are innocent victims.

May 22, 2008 @ 4:14 am | Comment

Naradar

Do you have any evidence for your assertion? I thought all Chinese nuclear tests, including underground tests, took place at Lop Nor. Am I mistaken in this? When was the test site moved to Sichuan?

May 22, 2008 @ 7:51 am | Comment

fearless wrote lots of things, but all are wrong. Pls check it more seriously when you want to have conclusion.

May 22, 2008 @ 1:09 pm | Comment

I’ll hold three minutes of silence for the Chinese people when they have the humanity to free the Panchen Lama. What we’re seeing is not selflessness — it’s just their usual selfishness and ethnic exclusiveness, magnified by a disaster. Sorry I can’t agree with the rest of you.

May 22, 2008 @ 7:19 pm | Comment

Rohan, it may surprise you to learn that the Chinese Government and the Chinese People are not the same thing and it is not the people who are holding anyone.

Richard, thank you for your post. The silence was not hysterical nationbalism, but a dignified, tearful and genuine expression of grief. I too was deeply moved. Ignore the idiot comments.

May 22, 2008 @ 10:11 pm | Comment

Rohan

Your comments astonish me.

1) The Chinese may or may not be, as you appear to suggest, more selfish than other people. However, by what contorted reasoning do you interpret their show of grief for their compatriots at this time as an expression of “their usual selfishness”? When Americans grieved after 9/11 for fellow Americans, was that
selfishness? Is it selfish for someone to mourn a close relative?

2) As for “ethnic exclusiveness”, you should be aware that the epicentre of the recent earthquake was situated in an area in which the majority of the inhabitants, & therefore probably the majority of the victims, are not Han Chinese at all but Tibetans or Qiang, an ethnic group who are related to the Tibetans & who speak a related language. (Indeed, I’m pretty sure that Wenchuan County lies within the territory of Greater Tibet claimed by the Tibetan Government in Exile.) These are the people that the Han Chinese in the rest of China are grieving for. When victims are pulled from the rubble, their ethnicity is irrelevant to the public who mourn. Where is the “ethnic exclusiveness” in this?

3) Nobody is expecting anyone to hold 3 minutes silence for the element of the Chinese government that is responsible for detaining the Panchen Lama. The silence
was for the victims of the earthquake. On what evidence do you question the “humanity” of schoolchildren buried alive? What power did those dead children ever have to bring about the release of the Panchen Lama?

The comments you have made seem to indicate an irrational prejudice against the Chinese as a people. I hope I’ve misunderstood you but apologies if I have.

May 23, 2008 @ 1:01 am | Comment

how can patriotic americans sit idly by while the fenqing attack the sacred golden arches?

May 23, 2008 @ 4:05 am | Comment

Perhaps its time for china to consider a name change.. like the EU or the US of Amerioa .. China would do better to formally recognize its multi ethnicity and reassure those non Han that worry about being consumed by the Han majority by calling itself the US of Asia (which it basically is with 56 nationalities)
When I see a Tibetian or a Hui or a Uighur reach the positions that Barack Obama and Condolizza Rice reach then I will feel better about Han stewardship. This is not to be antihan its just to gently remind China that it is more than it thinks it is

May 23, 2008 @ 7:04 am | Comment

My family is in Vancouver, Canada and we observed the three minutes of silence as well.

May 23, 2008 @ 9:13 am | Comment

When I see a Tibetian or a Hui or a Uighur reach the positions that Barack Obama and Condolizza Rice reach then I will feel better about Han stewardship

It’s Tibetan, there is no second ‘i’. Since they’re relatively smaller in number it’s statistically not as likely for something like that to happen, but I don’t see why it couldn’t. “Han” Chinese hate eachother more than minorities as far as I know.

May 23, 2008 @ 12:47 pm | Comment

fearless,

There are so many views that I really don’t agree. Actually the Chinese words are sometimes vague. But in the xinhua news, the word Chinese minzu definitely refers to all the ethnic groups. Chinese usually use “Zhonghua minzu” to say “Chinese People”. Nobody would come to mind that “oh,it’s saying Han Chinese”. Ask ANY Chinese that what they think about “Zhonghua minzu”. Please do not imagine by yourself. Just remember the China national anthem sings “Zhonghua Minzu now is in the most dangerous moment”. A national anthem can never be so stupid to be clusive to its own people.

You wrote:

“For example when they say Zhonghua minzu is “The descendants of dragon” obviously they are referring to Han chinese…”

I think it’s because the 90% Han population plays a representative role to show what Chinese is as a whole. Should the slogan goes like this “Zhonghua minzu is the descendants of dragon-its minorities are not”. weird. This seems really exclusive. Just like we don’t say “French people are romantic, but some are certainly not”. We are talking about a group of people, there definitely are minorities.

I found that in your Wikipedia (English), there is no mention of minority ethnic architecture in the explanation of “Chinese architecture”

“The orinigal meaning of “hua” is Han people so “zhonghua” should also mean Han people.”

Again, “zhonghua” means China or Chinese, not only Han people.

“I can say that they have a illusion that one day all other ethnic groups will be assimilated in to the “great ” Han people…”

Really? I don’t think so. Minority ethnic things are popular in China. Beautiful they are. Trips to places those people live in are extremly hot. There is no intention to make them being assimilated in to Han people. There were fights among ethnic groups in wartime and the regions that ethnic groups live change from time to time in history. And there were marriages of ordinary people and royal people as well as cultural exchanges in peace time. Some minority people were attracted by the steady agricultural culture that han people had while they have to move from time to time to find grasslands to raise sheep and cows. Then they moved to live with han and was assimilated gradually. In this way, i doubt is there a pure ethnic group indeed. I am a han Chinese, and accroding to my family name “hu”, my ancestors must be in one of the minority ethnic groups.

We shared the complicated history and China was ruled twice by ority ethnic people (372 years in total). Finally, we managed to live together, just like people in many counties in the earthquake-hit Sichuan Province. I believe it is the most peaceful time in history.

“no wonder that they discourage the ethnic minority to wear their ethnic clothes, practice religion, they do not even allow people to wear mustache and beard as people with beard look too different from a common “zhonghua minzu”. ”

It sounds like joking to me. Prove to me. You talked with minority ethnic people and they told you about that? I figure not. I haven’t heard about these “discourage” or “don’t allow”, but I do see Uygur men with mustache or beard and wearing their cute ethnic hats, and women who wear ethnic clothes selling samll adornments. And I know students in Tibet wears their ethnic clothes in classroom while most han students have to wear ugly uniforms. And I saw on your western program (the famous discovery) that people were wearing ethnic clothes, happily, kindly. As for religion, I don’t know actually.@_@

Some ethnic minority people look like han people now (one of my classmate), but nobody forced them to,they changed by themselves. Han people kept beard as a tradition. But people cut the beards off now. And people seldom wear han ethnic clothes-even during our own festivals. So I think it’s modernization and market economy that is changing all of us. It’s just like having learned science about nature, Chinese abandoned the ancient gods, and now do not pray for rain as we used to do. It’s just like an ancient Chinese king learned from other enthnic clothing and then changed the style of his people’s clothing. Because he found it’s more convenient that the clothing gets shorter.
So, it’s not Westerner that changed Chinese, not han people changed ethnic minorities. It’s modernization that changed us all.
Again, there is no intention of han people to change minority ethnic people.

“Chinese people will be happy when all the colors are “red”, all the people in china talks in chinese language, all the people in china lookalike han chinese.”

I agree with the word “assimilation” that “x” used in his comment. I’m puzzled why you think this way.

May 23, 2008 @ 7:40 pm | Comment

i had a similar experience at work. my two posts were these:
http://tinyurl.com/6nlnrk
http://tinyurl.com/6fy7p2

in any case, i won’t make any generalizations.

May 23, 2008 @ 10:36 pm | Comment

@jer

Ask yourself how the average Chinese person responds to a) a Tibetan nun shot in the back by Chinese border guards, and b) a Chinese girl killed by an earthquake. That should answer your question.

May 24, 2008 @ 6:02 am | Comment

Rohan

No it doesn’t answer it. I suspect that the average Chinese person probably would respond with more grief to (b) rather than (a), if only because he or she might have bought the CCP propaganda

May 24, 2008 @ 8:18 am | Comment

Rohan,

(Sorry, this is what I meant to post. I must have inadvertently pressed “submit” too early.)

No it doesn’t answer it. I suspect that the average Chinese person might well respond with more grief to (b) than to (a), if only because he or she might have bought the CCP propaganda that the nun was commiting a serious crime against the state or whatever, or at least was deliberately & knowingly doing something wrong & was therefore not wholly innocent. (Both you & I would doubtless strongly disagree with this viewpoint.) However, he or she would see the girl killed by the earthquake as a victim of a misfortune totally outside her own control & therefore more to be pitied regardless of ethnicity.

A much better question would be: does the average Chinese person respond with grief to a) a Chinese girl killed by an earthquake, but not to b) a Tibetan girl killed by an earthquake? I am not aware of any evidence that the Han Chinese public are grieving only for the dead children of their own ethnicity. I doubt whether the average Chinese TV viewer, watching the children being pulled from the rubble, is even aware which are Han, which Qiang or which Tibetan, (except perhaps in the areas where the Tibetan schoolchildren wear their traditional dress).

But this is not the main point I was trying to make in my previous post. What I objected to was your apparent assertion that the current displays of grief by the Chinese public, & in particular the 3 minute silence, are somehow a manifestation of their “ethnic exclusiveness”. Even if there are Han Chinese who are guilty of “ethnic exclusiveness” vis-a-vis Chinese of other ethnicities (& there may well be), how does the 3 minute silence instantiate this? There’s no connection.

May 24, 2008 @ 9:24 am | Comment

Ask yourself how the average Chinese person responds to a) a Tibetan nun shot in the back by Chinese border guards, and b) a Chinese girl killed by an earthquake. That should answer your question

Yeah I asked myself that, and the thought that I came up with is that they’d probably think a) is worse because it’s a murder. Nice try with the “nun” thing though, hoping that using a female in your example would garner more sympathy.

My question is definitely answered, you certainly are a huge retard. I’m surprised you’ve lived this long without forgetting to breathe or choking on your tongue, and killing yourself in the process.

May 24, 2008 @ 12:29 pm | Comment

I’m not surprised that someone here would manage to slander 1,210,000,000 people once again in the wake of 50,000+ deaths (thousands of which were the Tibetans you pretend to care about).

I love the way how every “Free Tibet” psycho gives off this impression that he thinks he has done more for Tibetans than Chinese people, when the average ‘Han’ feeds Tibetans, gives up placement in colleges and jobs, and subsidizes minority births at their loss against their will.

May 24, 2008 @ 12:46 pm | Comment

@jer

The connection is that there is no apparent corresponding grief for tragedies that visit non-Han.

@ferin

Take up the Yellow Man’s burden–
And reap his old reward:
The blame of those ye better,
The hate of those ye guard–

May 24, 2008 @ 5:02 pm | Comment

There is a misconception of equating Han Chinese as The Chinese, and the rest of non-Han Chinese as non-Chinese. So in a discussion, the concept of Chinese is used as an racial entity as apposed to Tibetans or Miaos. So without saying any more, there is already an implied idea that Tibtan or Miao people don’t belong to China, sort of colonies or occupied territory of Han-China. Americans/Wsterners tend to subconsciously substitute Han as the White settlers, the Tibetans as Native Americans. So before any discussion, to an American/Western mind, the Chinese(Han) is already guilty. The Hans should leave Tibet or whatever other minority land.

To use the North American analogy, the truth is that the Han Chinese and Tibetan Chinese are like Cherokee Indians and Delaware Indians, both are Ancient native people of the Asia mainland, having lived side by side for thousands of years.

The American idea of race also does not work in Chinese context. There is indeed only one race in China, that’s the Asian race. The race relationship in China is more like an all White country with Anglo, German, French, Irish groups, another metaphor would be all Native American country with Cherokee, Dalaware, Miami, and other Indian tribes.

Without clerify those ideas, the way the Western media use of Chinese/Tibetan to report news is very misleading.

May 24, 2008 @ 8:12 pm | Comment

Technically there isn’t an “Asian” race, but those in the West and South have a lot of Northeast Asian admixture.

May 25, 2008 @ 4:43 am | Comment

Take up the Yellow Man’s burden–
And reap his old reward:
The blame of those ye better,
The hate of those ye guard–

Stop trying to profit from your disgusting past, white barbarities are definitely unique to your history in size and scale.

Tibetans themselves (that are part of the Communist Party) take part in the “burden” and Tibetans are “yellow” too.

May 25, 2008 @ 4:45 am | Comment

Rohan

How do you know that “there is no apparent corresponding grief for tragedies that visit non-Han”? Isn’t the evidence just to the contrary? As I commented above (post 55), it is probable that more than half of the victims of the recent earthquake were non Han. When Han Chinese weep when they see the bodies of children on TV being pulled from the rubble of Beichuan, they are perfectly well aware that the majority of those children are likely to be non Han. Wenchuan, the epicentre of the earthquake, is part of so-called “ethnographic” Tibet. (Indeed, Tibetan separatists are referring to “the earthquake in eastern Tibet”.) This is a Chinese disaster, not a Han-only disaster.

I’m not claiming that Chinese, Han or other, don’t have feelings associated with belonging to a particular ethnicity. But where is the evidence that the Han are any more guilty of “ethnic exclusivity” than any other ethnicity in China – or anywhere else in the world for that matter? OK, so if there’s a league table, what makes you put the Han Chinese at the worse end?

Remember Hurricane Katrina? Did white Americans give more evidence of grieving for the black American victims in New Orleans than the Han Chinese are doing now for their compatriots of all ethnicities? (I mention Hurricane Katrina of course because, as you will recall, a question mark was raised at the time, perhaps unfairly, about the response of the rest of America to that tragedy.)

May 25, 2008 @ 5:36 am | Comment

Oh I wish I was Tibetan
Not a Han or Manchu
I’d say, “Now stop your frettin’”
I’d say, “Dalai Lama who?”

I’d move like Michael Jackson
Yeah, I’d do a moon walk.
I’d look around for action
And I’d shake a big rock

I’d watch the flatlands tremble
Man, I’d see them all shake
I’d watch the buildings crumble
As the rain fills up the lake

I’d watch the water swirl
See the people run amuck
I’d say, “That’s not my world.”
But I’d wish them all good luck.

If I was a Tibetan
Not a Han or Manchu
I’d watch the sun a’settin’
And leave the rest to you.

Dale
http://playwrighter.blogspot.com/

May 29, 2008 @ 4:40 am | Comment

@jer

But where is the evidence that the Han are any more guilty of “ethnic exclusivity” than any other ethnicity in China – or anywhere else in the world for that matter? OK, so if there’s a league table, what makes you put the Han Chinese at the worse end?

The crimes that are being carried out before and after the earthquake by the Chinese government, with the fairly general support of the Han population, against the Tibetan population, are what lead me to put the Han Chinese at what you call the ‘worse end’. It’s strange to engage enthusiastically in torture, murder and repression and then stand up to ask for sympathy because something bad happened to you. It’s not… coherent.

Has anyone else found the new Duck format slows down their browser?

@ferin

You were the one complaining about all the good things the poor unappreciated Han are supposedly doing for the Tibetans. You seem to have missed Kipling’s point that this is what colonialists should expect. And don’t get into childish arguments about colour — race is a construct, relevant only to the extent that it is subsumed into ethnic or national disputes. And the Tibetan-Chinese rift certainly is an ethnic-national rift, as is illustrated by all the Chinese who talk about how ungrateful the Tibetans are. (If they were Chinese, you idiots, then obviously they would be grateful. They aren’t, so they’re not.)

May 30, 2008 @ 5:18 am | Comment

Both USA and PRC have their skeletons in the closet. But as a China-resident Westerner, I see one noticeable difference between the 2 countries. Everyday people seem to be following a scripted play in what they say. It’s always been like this, but during these recent torch relay and earthquake troubles, it just seems all the more obvious. There’s no voiced questions about where the donated money is going, why the buildings weren’t built to earthquake standards despite the money budgeted for it, etc. Lots of people saying how much money they gave. Not many understanding that copying the Athens 2004 practice of sending the torch overseas was just asking for trouble. We foreigners usually just listen and agree in such English-language conversations with groups of Chinese, maybe drop one subtle hint about something, but generally just gel in. Hopefully, after the Olympics, more Chinese will feel more comfortable openly questioning why things happen.

June 1, 2008 @ 3:02 am | Comment

I don’t want to get involved in questions of racism concerning the earthquake. People in China don’t know what ethnicity the victims are, and don’t even care, to tell the truth. They see only the human suffering.

But looking at people’s dismissals of fearless’s comments about the Zhonghua minzu, I would like to suggest that he is closer to the truth than many Chinese apologists would like to admit. Chinese love to tell you that there is more than one ethnic group in China. What Westerners call “Chinese” are actually the “Han” ethnic group. China has 56 ethnic groups belonging to the greater “Zhonghua minzu” (“Chinese nationality”). It is this greater 中华民族 (Zhonghua minzu) that CCTV and other Chinese media refer to, definitely not the 汉族 (Hanzu).

Unfortunately, there is a lot of obfuscation over the term zhonghua minzu, and listening to well-meaning Chinese “explain” what it’s all about is not actually terribly helpful. They are only regurgitating the official line and don’t really have the right to say things like “You’s re a perfect example why western ppl start to critisize China, it often annoys rather than makes us comptemplate, because you dont know what you talking about.”

The problem is that, as fearless points out, the Chinese tend to mix these concepts up in a way that can only be described as Freudian. For instance, I was told by one young (Han) Chinese recently, in a show of modesty, that he had great difficulty understanding the ancient texts of the zhonghua minzu. I was at a loss for a moment, wondering if he was talking about ancient Tibetan or old Mongolian. Of course, he was referring to nothing of the sort. He meant that he had trouble reading 古文 (guwen). In other words, he was using zhonghua minzu as a fancy term to refer to the Chinese, meaning the Han Chinese (assuming that the ancient texts written in 汉字 hanzi are the cultural heritage of the Hans, although I’m aware that this is probably rather simplistic). At any rate, despite the official meaning of zhonghua minzu as referring to all 56 ethnicities, some people actually use it as a grandiose way to refer to the Han Chinese and their culture. By the way, when discussing the term Han zu, we need to keep in mind that ‘Han’ is actually a fairly modern concept in many ways. Tracing the name back to the Han dynasty is fine, but this is a case where etymology is not that helpful in understanding what is going on.

Unlike our friendly contributor of Manchu ethnicity, who considers himself a member of the Zhong hua min zu, I believe that there is more complexity in Chinese attitudes to the Zhonghua minzu than meets the eye. I have spoken to a young Chinese of Mongolian ethnicity who informed me that Inner Mongolians who have a deeper knowledge of history have an extreme dislike of the term zhonghua minzu, which tries to hijack the history of ethnic minorities like the Mongols into Chinese history. Not everybody goes along with the rosy picture of a Zhonghua minzu grandly united throughout history.

As for the term 民族 minzu, the question of translating it as ‘race’ or ‘ethnicity’ is not that simple. The term ‘minzoku’ was, I believe, invented by the Japanese as an equivalent to the 19th century European term ‘race’. ‘Race’ in those days was used quite freely in expressions like the “English race” or “French race”. Since then ‘race’ in English has been narrowed down to its current meaning of ‘racial groups’, and is no longer applied to ‘ethnic groups’. So ‘race’ has changed in meaning while the original translation equivalent minzu hasn’t. When people say that all Chinese (except the people of Xinjiang) are of the same race, the yellow race, they are using ‘race’ in the modern sense. The same term minzu has been translated on other occasions as ‘nationality’ (as in ‘China has 56 nationalities’), which is a reflection of Soviet terminology. Most modern Western people find the ‘nationality’ translation confusing and prefer ‘ethnic group’ or ‘ethnicity’.

June 2, 2008 @ 5:30 pm | Comment

Ozymandias: Just shove off will you. You can look for hairline fractures among subgroups within larger groups anywhere in the whole world. But by and large China’s ethinic problems are far less serious than most places around the world-including the West. But of course Westerners will (and have) try to prise open those hairlines and create havoc. The most disagreeable aspect of Anglo-Saxons is their joy in seeing coloured people beat each other up. They love it when yellows kill each other, when Africans kill each other. They shake their heads and feign concern, but in their hearts they are exultant – “see, non-whites discriminate against and hate other non-whites and are more racist to each other than we whites are racist to non-whites” Its just too flippin transparent.

June 2, 2008 @ 5:46 pm | Comment

Further to my previous post, nothing makes Westerners feel more uncomfortable and disconcerted as when they see non-whites from different groups getting along.

I have heard that on Taiwan, many expatriate whites are peeved about the success of Ma Yinjiu in the elections and can’t hide their disappointment over improving Mainland China- Taiwan ties.

Similarly seeing a Yellow man get together with a Black man and sign deals of significant import, without deferring to Western opinion also causes Westerners obvious unease.

Psychology in a similar vein is described at the link below. Whites feel that interracial dating is an exciting romantic option for them, but feel uncomfortable when they see different non-white races dating each other.
http://www.colorq.org/Articles/article.aspx?d=2001&x=reaction

June 2, 2008 @ 6:09 pm | Comment

Here’s what I think, Wayne. You don’t like reading generalizations about Chinese people? Then stop making ridiculous claims about what “Westerners” think and how “all Westerners want to see non-white people fighting” and what have you. It’s insulting and more to the point, it’s idiotic.

I really do not understand how it is that people who scream so loudly about racism turn around and make racist generalizations.

Cut it out. I’m not in the mood to put up with this kind of crap.

June 3, 2008 @ 12:32 am | Comment

Lisa

To be even-handed then, shouldn’t you also be rebuking the “ridiculous”, “insulting” & “idiotic” “racist generalisations” in this blog about Chinese people? I can point out one or two, eg Rohan’s post 53 above.

Actually, I think Wayne has made an interesting point. (Btw he did not say “all” Westerners &c.)

June 3, 2008 @ 7:07 pm | Comment

Rohan

Your argument has lots of huge & obvious holes in it.

Just for starters, your line of reasoning doesn’t even begin to make sense unless you assume that most of the Han population of China actually believe what you yourself believe about what is going on in Tibet, (viz “torture”, “murder”, “repression” &c). Surely you don’t think that’s the case? The evidence appears to suggest that the majority of Han Chinese believe their government’s policies in Tibet to be largely benevolent & beneficial to Tibetans, (if only because that’s what their government tells them), or at least no worse than they are elsewhere in China. Are you not aware of how tightly the government controls the flow of information to the public?

In my opinion there are other egregious examples of grossly flawed thinking elsewhere in your posts in this thread, which I’m prepared to dissect later if the thread is still alive.

Meanwhile, not surprisingly, you have failed to provide any morally defensible argument to support your extraordinary claim that the Han Chinese, an entire ethnic group of 1.2 billion people, have somehow become unworthy & undeserving of the compassion that normal, decent people afford each other at times of disaster. With respect, I find your attitude, to borrow your own words, not only lacking in “coherence” & “humanity” but also redolent to a high degree of the very “ethnic exclusiveness” of which you accuse the Chinese people.

June 3, 2008 @ 7:54 pm | Comment

[...] moment affected me more than the three minutes of silence held one week later still my most vivid memory of the unhappy period. Hearing the sobbing and [...]

May 12, 2009 @ 11:01 pm | Pingback

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