Positive things about China

Note: This is a guest post by reader/commenter Ecodelta. It doesn’t necessarily reflect my own viewpoint, and it’s kind of ironic that TPD has come under attack this past year for being too positive about China. What can you do?

Ecodelta, thanks for the guest post. I hope you’re ready for some spirited comments. :-)
Richard
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Talking positive about China

I propose a post for people willing to say positive things about China.

Not a few of our Chinese posters usually complains about China bashing, and they may have a point here. Many of the posts in PD have something to do with something bad or catastrophic in the country. We seem to be fixated in the dark sides of China, but should we overlook other sides?

Yes, I know, there is much to critic about social, economic, political and environment problems, but how would you feel if the only thing anyone of you would hear about your own country? How would you feel if you will not receive any praise or at least some good comments about the efforts to improve it? About successes, about new hopes.

People in China know better than we how the situation there is, should we remember it to them all the time? They suffer it day after day, and cannot easily avoid it or change it (without risking much). And no matter how terrible it may seem to us, just go back 20, 30 or 40 years in the past. Tell me, you see any difference? For the worst or for the better?

Yet, like anyone else, they feel proud of their country, of their history, their culture and also of what they have achieved in such a sort time.

But by “bashing” them with the bad sides of their country, we risk to alienate them. We risk to loose interesting opinions and views, and also the opportunity to learn something new.

Therefore I propose I post for positive things about China. For example, just for starting.

• How about raising more than 400 millions out of poverty.
• New communication infrastructure that revolutionize (for real) transportation of good and people through the country.
• Massive movement of people from poor rural to urban areas improving their living standards.
• Young migrant women that through the possibility to get a job at the factories, get a wage that make them more independent and raise their self consciousness.
• Middle class making enough money to send their sons to better education institutions inside and abroad.
• Enough money for travelling abroad, and met for themselves the “fabled west”.
• Greater freedom for access to all kind of information, previously closed. (yes, I am aware of the limitations).
• Etc, etc, ect.

And for those of you (or us) who feel too much attracted by the “dark side” of China, please refrain yourself just for a moment, at least just for one post. No need to be impatient, there will be enough posts for criticising China, of that I am sure.

And no, I do not forget some of our respected China patriots and some of our beloved fenqins. Just do not overdo it. OK?

Regards from Ecodelta.

______________

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: 71 Comments

Something positive to say about China?

Well, one really great thing about China is that, according to many foreigners, you don’t have to know anything about the culture or the Chinese language in order to do business in China. No barriers to entry in the market! Can’t get much better than that! Because the Chinese are basically authoritarians, all that you’ve got to do is say what they want to hear, and they’ll trust you.

Another really great thing about China is that they’ll do anything if you give ‘em some money.

And if you’ve got power, then they’ll automatically fall into line. No need for persuasion. The same Chinese bloke who is an analyst for the BBC can turn around and be a Fenqing by simply changing jobs. Fantastic!

July 5, 2008 @ 1:08 pm | Comment

@Dirk

Tsk tsk tsk. Not a promising start. Next one please. ;-)

July 5, 2008 @ 1:25 pm | Comment

One really great thing about China is that if you can practice Chinese law in China even if you don’t know the Chinese language and have never studied Chinese law. What a great legal system!

July 5, 2008 @ 1:29 pm | Comment

But, seriously folks.

The Chinese have an interesting historic culture, historic philosophical tradition, and majestic country.

July 5, 2008 @ 1:42 pm | Comment

Ecodelta — I think you found the topic that shuts Hongxing up!

Orz Orz Orz.

I think you’re looking at the “wrong” positives. Should be mentioning the friendliness of the people in rural areas. The incredible beauty of the countryside. All the stuff that has survived over the centuries despite the warfare. The amazing fortitude of all the inspirational people who challenge the system. The ability of the Chinese to go forward under the absolute worst conditions of poverty and official contempt. The resilience. The “make do” attitude — whatever we have, we’ll “make do.”

Michael

July 5, 2008 @ 1:43 pm | Comment

Objectivity is obviously the biggest aim you can try to hit. This is absolutely necessary for the better cultural understanding we are going to need between China and abroad. So how do you invoke this upon two parties who are sometimes drawn further and further apart from eachother in a way of condemning eachother on completely irrational bases? Simply not to provoke or letting you be provoked is apparently to much to ask from the angry mobs on both sides, as always passionately inspired by one sided media or troubled and problematically view-blocking nationalism. The issue is quite sticky, for objective people will maybe never really inspire populair thought.

Is it usefull to mention good things about China? My answer is ‘yes, you are totally right’. And listing some argueable points mechanically will trigger some favor, but is it eventually going to do the trick? I think lots of posts on this site are really positive in another way, a way which might by misunderstood by angry mobs, but understood and welcomed by objective thinkers. It’s the same the other way around. It’s just a matter of who you’re dealing with…

But still, Ecodelta, thank you for your positive post! You can’t go too wrong with optimism, eh…

July 5, 2008 @ 1:45 pm | Comment

I know this Canadian guy who’s got this huge, bulbous nose. I mean it’s huge! A real shnozz! In order to see his face when you’re talking to him you practically have to look around his nose.

He claims that he has sex with lot of Chinese girls in China.

I suppose that from this Canadian bloke’s perspective that this would be positive?

July 5, 2008 @ 2:03 pm | Comment

No need for a special pro-China post. Just pick up a copy of the China Daily. Generally speaking, the Chinese media plays cheerleader quite well, thank you very much. Or visit another blog – ‘Blog for China’ for example. The guys over there like nothing better than to run on about how great China is doing, how marvelously perspicacious the technocrats that dominate the CCP are, and how wrong, ignorant and misguided most western criticism of China is.

Are many who post here irredeemable idiots who know next to nothing about anything? I’m afraid so. It’s only a BLOG after all.

July 5, 2008 @ 2:55 pm | Comment

Hi Hong

No, I am not interested in the interested the official “positive” views.I am interested in normal people opinions.

Put yourself in the shoes of an average CH person, whatever he may think of the government of the party, of whatever, he may has struggled more than any laowai here to improve his life. I has seen his country rise from abject poverty and repression. Yes, much is to be done, but much has been done already.

Come out of curiosity to blogs like this, to read what a bunch of laoweis think about them, about the country.

What does he find? Just critic, yes sometimes even constructive critic, but just that. Critic after critic after critic. He comes to us, and what we do. Just beat him!?

Will continue to visit this blog? Maybe not, and this way we lose some good posts.

Not only critic is needed, even if all of them were constructive one. Praise and critic must be blended together. Praise were it is due, critic were it is due. Both, not only one of them.

If you cannot see it, I do not recommend you to follow a career in education, and if you are in education my regrets for your pupils.

July 5, 2008 @ 3:43 pm | Comment

This topic reminded me of a Netease poll taken a couple of years ago which asked Chinese people whether or not they would want to be Chinese again in their next life. Nearly two-thirds of those who answered said NO. I did a quick search for the poll and came up with the following link (in Chinese):

http://www.sohoxiaobao.com/chinese/bbs/blog_view.php?id=465536

Unfortunately, the original poll and its accompanying article are no longer available (i.e., they were deleted). According to Danwei.org, the editors responsible for the poll were “let go”.

http://www.danwei.org/internet/do_you_want_to_be_chinese.php#comments

July 5, 2008 @ 3:55 pm | Comment

More on the poll can be found here (an article from IHT by Howard French)

http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/09/21/news/letter.php

Brief quote from article:

“The question seemed innocuous enough when it appeared in an online poll this month on the popular Chinese Internet portal Netease: Would you like to be Chinese in the next life?

It is the answer that proved dangerous. Sixty-four percent of respondents replied no, with some of them commenting that to be Chinese lacked dignity.

Many foreign readers of such news might have felt a sense of surprise by the results. After all, why would such a clear majority of respondents prefer not to be citizens of a country that has progressed so dramatically on so many levels in the last generation? Moreover, with signs of prosperity springing up everywhere, what would motivate a large number of the participants to invoke a lack of dignity in their lives?

The Chinese government supplied the beginnings of an answer in the days that followed the poll. The editor of Netease was removed from his job, effectively banned from meaningful work for having conveyed opinions deemed contrary to the official view.”

July 5, 2008 @ 4:04 pm | Comment

And… I suppose in a next life Hong will like to be Hong again ;-)

July 5, 2008 @ 4:17 pm | Comment

By way of comparison and by the indulgence of the hosts here I repeat a post made elsewhere several months ago:

“America’s strength? Freedom of conscience, respect for the rights of others, attending a civil society, segregation of the military from the political sphere, the necessity of a free press to investigate, question and check authority, rule of law (not, not, not ‘rule by law’) and the recognition that even as our best efforts may be imperfect we still believe in future perfectability.

“I admit most Americans do not understand much of this until after living some while in a country like China. Living in China they do learn the essential oil that is ‘sociability’, to tolerate inconvenience, to smile at nagging imperfections, understand the responsibilities of reciprocity, and to deeply experience unrequited love – loving a culture and people so thoroughly the object of our love shall never fully understand.”

And add, I do appreciate the gentle anarchy that is Chinese society, that Chinese will step around or over petty obstructions to get to where they want, and manage to do so without bullying or bluster. And when you are accepted as a friend or as a member of the clan, it is without reservation, without apology or condition, it is total, and this moves my heart.

July 5, 2008 @ 4:23 pm | Comment

But by “bashing” them with the bad sides of their country, we risk to alienate them.

A lot of people do not “bash”, and it is wrong to characterise them in that way. If Chinese people want to see more positive discussion of China from foreigners, then they need to protect the right of people to criticise it as well and listen to that criticism. All too often the attitude is “please say nice things about our country – but you are a China-basher if you do otherwise”. Clearly that is only going to alienate foreigners, not endear them.

Furthermore, a lot of criticism is directed towards the government/CCP and not the country. You need to separate the two. Again, if you continue to link the government to the country then you won’t make foreigners more sympathetic.

How about raising more than 400 millions out of poverty

Although I do not usually agree with the person who made this comment, an interesting view was put forward that many other Chinese have had their lot get worse in some respects. For example, loss of wide-spread State support for the poorest. Even if 400 million people have been lifted out of poverty, is it right that others have suffered as a result of that?

Also, poverty is relative – it all depends on how it is measured. Now that China is wealthier, has it updated its definition of poverty accordingly?

New communication infrastructure that revolutionize (for real) transportation of good and people through the country

Yes, it is good. But if China wants to be a modern country it is necessary.

Massive movement of people from poor rural to urban areas improving their living standards

For the ones who can live there permanently. For the temporary migrants they can have a terrible time trying to get access to services, even though their work is a key part of the economy. Plus State heavy-handedness in demolishing schools they set up for their children (because there are no others they can use/afford to use) is horrible.

Young migrant women that through the possibility to get a job at the factories, get a wage that make them more independent and raise their self consciousness

I can’t help but feel that’s a patronising comment, even if you didn’t mean it.

Middle class making enough money to send their sons to better education institutions inside and abroad

Certainly.

Enough money for travelling abroad

For a lucky minority, not the majority.

Greater freedom for access to all kind of information, previously closed

Again, good.

The thing is that when I talk about the problems I normally focus on the government – the country is separate from that. And when it comes to the government I don’t recognise its changes as justifying its rule or showing that it is a net positive, because it implimented those controls and restrictions in the first place. All it has done is loosen some of them, whilst also making things worse in some areas by reducing State support on those who couldn’t get by without it because of Communist policy.

So although I think better of China than I might have done 10 years ago, I don’t feel nearly as good about its government.

July 5, 2008 @ 5:26 pm | Comment

@Scott Loar

“And add, I do appreciate the gentle anarchy that is Chinese society, that Chinese will step around or over petty obstructions to get to where they want, and manage to do so without bullying or bluster. And when you are accepted as a friend or as a member of the clan, it is without reservation, without apology or condition, it is total, and this moves my heart.”

WTF!!!! You are looney tunes, buddy. Time to put down the crack pipe.

July 5, 2008 @ 5:27 pm | Comment

Dear Hong,

I sure wouldn’t trade my experience of life in East Asia over the last 40-odd years for your crippling, sophomoric cynicism. But say, I do appreciate the candid, self-confession you’ve delivered, “Are many who post here irredeemable idiots who know next to nothing about anything? I’m afraid so.”

Yours most sincerely,

Scott Loar

July 5, 2008 @ 6:08 pm | Comment

I’ll have a go in the spirit of this.
One of the things that I love about living here is the positive, balls-out attitude towards earning a living among a lot of people I meet. No-one here is content with the idea of “getting a job”. Everyone has a scheme, an idea, at least an ambition. The reasons for this may be a bit negative – that big companies here don’t yet provide good career paths. But the result is an entrepreneurial culture and lots of small-scale investment. It makes the place feel exciting and optimistic. I don’t feel that when talking to friends in Britain about work-related stuff.

July 5, 2008 @ 7:52 pm | Comment

@Scott Loar

You’d be surprise how far a bit of sophomoric cynicism will get you in China these days. Much further, in any case, than the sorry, touchy-feely, ‘The hills are alive with the sound of music’ bullshit that you’re peddling. Forty plus years in East Asia, you say? With your eyes shut, I guess. Again, enough with the crack.

The days for waxing poetic about life in the socialist paradise are long gone. You missed the bus big time. Take a look outside. Breathe deep. Get real.

But hey, way to go with the Olympic spirit. One world, one dream!

July 5, 2008 @ 9:07 pm | Comment

Raj makes good points and I wouldn’t argue with any of them. Nonetheless, I’ve lived in China for the last three years or so and I remain here because I like it. The things that I like most about China is that I find it extremely interesting, often times in spite of the systematic faults it has. China makes me feel alive, I find things daily that make me smile and make me curse. I feel that many Chinese are more alive than many other nationalities I’ve encountered. I attribute it to past suffering, living in situations where their aren’t cookie cutter prescriptions for every path or action one does.

I like China because of the the people I meet, though I don’t like them all. I like that once you are friends with someone they are very loyal. I like that people are hardworking, for instance there is a 16 year old boy that sold fruit down the street until he was recently swept away for the Olympics. That boy worked from 7:00am to 10:00 pm everyday, when he slept he opened a 5×3 foot compartment at the bottom of his fruit stand, crawled in and slept. Whenever I spoke with him though he was always upbeat and optimistic. I love street food, especially the bustle and fragrances that come with midnight snacks, though that is being swept away in Beijing also. I like watching old people do their exercises in the morning, listening to the energetic music as my bus to work drives by it.

I like that China had a lot of history, and sometimes if you look really closely you can see it in a non-artificial and non-commercialized light, and it is extra special when you realize it will be knocked down and replaced by a shopping mall later on. You learn to cherish moments here, because their is no sense of permanency. I like that people are interested in improvement. I like that people aren’t always apathetic, when was the last time you saw 30,000+ American’s destroying police cars and government buildings because of a rape and murder cover up?

I generally don’t like the people born after the mid 1980s, I find a great many of them closed minded, unable to have rational discussion, generally brainwashed, and utterly lacking in rudimentary common sense. But I have a lot of respect and truly enjoy conversing with older Chinese people. Though they may not be as thoroughly ‘schooled’ as the youth they have a lot of wisdom. I used to live in Anhui province and enjoyed it there more than in Beijing, a lot of the reason was for the gentle anarchy Scott mentioned; people there live with less artifice than those in Beijing.

July 5, 2008 @ 9:08 pm | Comment

樓上,I think “opportunistic” is a well-nigh universal attitude among Chinese in general and most especially among mainland Chinese, which explains the penchant for Chinese investment in real estate. Some years ago the Far Eastern Economic Review noted that 70%+ of the Chinese companies in Southeast Asia were founded on real estate investment; the five largest Hong Kong corporations also rose from their beginnings as real estate investment and development companies, the only five certified by the Hong Kong government under British governorship to tender for real estate development.

The ability to quickly amass capital and quickly move that capital to opportunistic ventures is also a singular Chinese quality.

I welcome correction.

July 5, 2008 @ 9:15 pm | Comment

Hong, can you contribute anything to advance the topic, even the merest fact, other than talking stink? Your brief time in China must have been a study in frustration yet will probably remain the dim highlight of your adult life. Maybe subsequent comments will prove to you your glib but inane comments reveal the mediocre course of a life stunted and soured, dumb to relief. I don’t have much hope but still… hope there may be.

July 5, 2008 @ 9:28 pm | Comment

“But hey, way to go with the Olympic spirit. One world, one dream!”

Dear Hong,

What does the Olympiad have to do with this topic? Please grab hold of yourself, yes, get up off your hind legs and use both paws, and F-O-C-U-S. Use a dictionary (that big book the elementary teacher introduced that explains big words) if need be.

July 5, 2008 @ 9:35 pm | Comment

Bashing or Constructive Criticism?

There is a clear difference between bashing and constructive criticism. The first wants China ill and the second wishes China well. You know which camp you are in.

The one thing I like the most about Chinese culture is its negative view of the political dimension of religion. Religion must be confined to the spiritual domain and not be allowed to enter the political life of the state. In the past the gentry class was always ready to suppress any spiritual movement that had a political purpose. They kept China a secular society. In the modern time this role is being played by the ideological offspring of the May Fourth movement: KMT and CCP.

This I think is a more sophisticated way to deal with religion than the Separation of Church and State doctrine in the West. There have been virtually no religious wars in Chinese history. One reason why the ancient Chinese civilization has survived to this day.

July 5, 2008 @ 10:03 pm | Comment

“I think you’re looking at the “wrong” positives. Should be mentioning the friendliness of the people in rural areas. The incredible beauty of the countryside. All the stuff that has survived over the centuries despite the warfare. The amazing fortitude of all the inspirational people who challenge the system. The ability of the Chinese to go forward under the absolute worst conditions of poverty and official contempt. The resilience. The “make do” attitude — whatever we have, we’ll “make do.”

I couldn’t agree more. The appalling conditions in which most rural Chinese live doesn’t affect their warm, hospitable, compassionate nature. Although purely anecdotal my own experience in rural China has been 100% consistent: positive. Again, purely anecdotal, my urban experience has been less than positive: corruption and incompetence at every turn, laughable infrastructure, consumerism unleashed, laziness, unfounded patriotism, etc. Thank goodness that the majority of Chinese people are rural and not the lazy, “I’m entitled to have everything” only child emperors/empresses found in the cities.

July 5, 2008 @ 10:21 pm | Comment

Everyone knows the most generous people are the poor, although that may be true of most of the world, not just China. But I wouldn’t be too harsh on those in the cities. I think that Beijing people are among the world’s best, and that’s a big reason I’m here and enjoying my life. Of course, Shanghai is a whole other story….

July 5, 2008 @ 10:55 pm | Comment

@Scott Loar

1. I AM contributing. As I made clear in my first post, I object to the idea of a thread devoted to praising China. This is my way of making clear my displeasure. Don’t like it? Tough.

2. As for your suggestion that my brief stay in China is “the dim highlight of my adult life,” I can only chuckle. You have no idea who I am or how deep my connection to China is. Suffice to say, I am a native Cantonese-Mandarin-Taiyu speaker, a recently naturalized American citizen from HK, and I am presently doing research for my dissertation at Academia Sinica (Institute of Modern History). In addition, I’ve spent a combined three years or so in Beijing and Shanghai–more than enough time to take a good look around and come to an opinion.

3. Your charming thoughts on the “gentle anarchy” (a more pathetic oxymoron you’d be hard-pressed to find) of China, notwithstanding, I find more to dislike than to like. Forget about your saccharine musings on how it “warms your heart” to be accepted “without reservation” by the clan, I’m more worried about the fates of people like Hu Jia and Chen Guangcheng who are in prison for expressing an idea. Or the 400 million who live on less than $2 a day while Beijing spends $40 billion on a big, face-saving party. Or the 500+ million who make more than $2 a day but are still desperately poor. Or the majority of the alleged 400 million at the top who have been “lifted out of poverty” only to find that they are still, in fact, POOR. In fact, after 30 years of the Chinese “economic miracle,” only 150 million earn more than $10,000 per year – and studies have repeatedly demonstrated the connection between China’s newly-minted “middle-class” and their proximity to officialdom.

4. I could go on forever, but you and this thread are not worth it.

July 5, 2008 @ 11:15 pm | Comment

How about the great Hu-hao system. The government knows exactly who is living where, with whom, and when do they get up for breakfast. This also allow the government to ensure who can have what, when, where, why, and how. And that includes all the laowai too.

July 6, 2008 @ 12:59 am | Comment

The Chinese government has great communication skills, and skills to control the communication in China and abroad. They know exactly what each say and not say. They also know how and what to say to ensure that the west is to be blamed for anything bad. This omnipotent governance is the most efficient and effective in the world. They will even control, try to, at least, the weather in Beijing in August.

July 6, 2008 @ 1:02 am | Comment

as a chinese who have been living overseas for more than 10 yrs and travelling all around the world I would say the best things about China are food, hotel and services. those 3 things China and Japan are the top2 of the world, no other country even comes close. the worst things of China are air-polutions and over-crowded ppl everywhere. you see CCP is not either the best or the worst thing of China…they are just…a goverment.

July 6, 2008 @ 1:21 am | Comment

As I Chinese, I think the issue here is not about what you are talking about, whether it is good or bad of my country, but it is about us and myself, about who we are, where we from.

Peter Beinart recently wrote an article on TIME about American patriotism
(http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1818195,00.html)

I think the same thing can be said about China once you substitute American conservative to Chinese Left and liberal to Chinese Right.

Chinese talk about the negative sides of China all the time, both in private and in public, a mere glimpse of Southern Weekend or Tianya, even Strong Country forum of People’s Daily will tell you that.

Yet the difference here is that, when a Chinese talk about these ugly things, we meant to improve the country we were born into, we acknowledge our defects because we want our country to live up to the standards it long lost or has been struggling to achieve, where greatness is found not only in the size of wealth or military, but also ideas where people all over the world could admire and follow. These ideas could be freedom that liberals struggled, communism that Chinese left had long been followed, or a harmonious society–something that Confucian had advocated for thousands of years. If the above can be seen as Chinese liberal stance

We also love our country simple because it is ours, not better how many negatives things can be find in this land, we love it as we love ourselves. It is a land our ancestors has long been fighting for and gave up their lives for its very existence.

What then, has these to do with this blog entry? I would take an example here, when a non-Chinese person, especially Westerner talk about Mao, what he or she would come up in mind is probably a tyrant whose policy caused millions of deaths, which is true. Most Chinese know this very well, in fact, our fathers and grandfathers have lived though both starvation and Cultural Revaluation and they pass these memories down to us.

I doubt if Chinese really like Westerner that has no experience of starvation and revolution to remind us about what our history was, when we can hear it from our relatives and parents.

Yet for all these misfortunes, I guess the Westerner who brought up these topics would still probably find the Chinese will alter to defend Mao and other related things. Why is that?

Part of the reason is cultural; the way Westerner brought up these topics is usually very rude in Chinese eyes. It’s like knock on someone’s door and ask him to talk about his family’s history of domestic violence, let the son describe to a stranger how his father beat his mother. Maybe this way of inquiry is common in the West, but it is not in China.

So please, when you are in China, do not do that unless some Chinese bring it up first. It is very rude, and only confirms the Chinese stereotype that the big-nose sea people are arrogant and know nothing about China. (btw, just a reminder, please do not claim you know Chinese if what you know is merely historic facts but not custom and rituals, the latter is more important and you need to follow them in action in order to convince the Chinese that you actually possess the knowledge, because the knowledge itself is practical knowledge)

The other reason for these who choose to defend Mao is more important than the first one, but I feel it is the one that is more likely to be ignored by non-Chinese. We defend him simply because we are Chinese, and he is also Chinese. He is, after all, one of us. In Beinart’s word, this is “patriotism of affirmation” instead of “patriotism of dissent”. We honor these revoluntaries because it is part of our identity. They struggled in a period when China was on the edge of total destruction after years of foreign invasions and civil war, and they finally managed to come up with a country we call home today. It is, like I said, something deeper than someone’s policy failure. It is about who we are, where we from. It is something that you cannot feel unless you are Chinese.

So, let go back to these negative sides of China NON-Chinese prefer to talked about and answer the question of, how come Chinese are annoyed by them?

The reason is actually very simple; we are annoyed because you are not one of us. You are an outsider, and you talk like an outsider. For all your concentration of these ugly things about China, Chinese will only think you are cynical and hypocritical, someone who likes to complain but not contribute, who prefer to talk about his rights but not obligations, this impression is further reinforenced by some of the satirized tones you like to use and Westerner’s usual sense of moral superiority. To put it simple, the talk of negative sides of China only shows Westerner’s indifference rather than care. Of course, this is just human nature, we complain about the place we do not feel belong to, and defend these we think that is one of ours.

I still remember some of my personal experience, I lived in university hostel in Auckland, one of my Chinese friend complain that life in Auckland is boring, then an American sitting next to her said he is offended by her words, because, well, how could Auckland be boring, it is beyond his belief! To the American, the Anglo-Season culture is part of his identity, New Zealand shares it, and he is like a fish in water in Auckland. Yet to Chinese, it is not. Because we are not the same fish, we swim in different water.

That is why, Chinese all over the world took to the streets shortly after Olympic Torch relay was disrupted. It is not a rejection of criticism; it is an affirmation of our identity when such identity was under threat.

July 6, 2008 @ 4:11 am | Comment

Leave it to A Chinese to take the thread off-track. ;)

July 6, 2008 @ 5:13 am | Comment

we are annoyed because you are not one of us

Four legs good; two legs bad!

July 6, 2008 @ 5:18 am | Comment

@A Chinese
“As I Chinese, I think the issue here is not about what you are talking about, whether it is good or bad of my country, but it is about us and myself, about who we are, where we from.”

You got the idea!

Thanks for your post

July 6, 2008 @ 5:33 am | Comment

Something tells me that coldblooded3 has been staying in different hotels than me. The service industry is not really something that “stands out” about China in my opinion. Nevertheless, I agree that the food is good.

July 6, 2008 @ 6:07 am | Comment

To That Lost Bobo Posing as Hong;

1) Making like a squalling she-ass is not a contribution.
2) I can’t understand why you, speaker of Mandarin, Cantonese and Min-nan yu, hate mainland China so much unless the similarity with Taiwan in the 60′s and 70′s is too much for you to take in.
3) Here, then, seems to be your big bitch: you don’t like the authoritarian nature of Chinese government. Well, hello… Anyone researching at the Academica Sinica should not be surprised by that fact of Chinese life (hey, look at Taiwan’s recent history) anywhere Chinese effect self-governance which includes the triads of Chinatowns, and with it comes the familiars of corruption, nepotism and cronyism. Your “concern” for social inequity especially in income seems too much of a stretch; frankly, I’m not convinced and suspect you’ve just felt around for a convenient complaint. By the way, you didn’t quote me correctly; that bodes ill for your academic competence.
4) I doubt you’ll ever leave off from throwing scat to attend the poor and suffering.

P.S. Give it up bobo, the KMT is history. That party had its chance and lost big time.

July 6, 2008 @ 7:04 am | Comment

@A Chinese:

Well said. And Auckland is boring.

July 6, 2008 @ 7:19 am | Comment

@A Chinese

I am so sick of hearing about cultural sensitivity. There is no defense of a butcher like Mao. He did nothing for China except create misery, poverty and general state of ignorance by advocating the destruction of the educated classes. Don’t like to be reminded of your history then do something to emancipate yourselves from it. Americans are guilty of slavery, genocide against the Native Americans, imperialism, and political manipulation around the world. Yet, all of their actions are brought out for the whole world to view, criticize, defend, emulate or condemn. The Chinese just beat their chests with false pride and talk about the Chinese character while trying desperate to keep everything under wraps, even from their own people. That’s nothing more than an ignorant excuse.

Next you’ll say that the Germans (or Austrians) should defend Hitler because he was German. The sheer ignorance of a certain group of Chinese pseudo-intellectuals who know nothing of the rest of the world is amazing. do a little traveling and little reading of something uncensored before you open your uninformed mouth!

July 6, 2008 @ 11:17 am | Comment

I m a chinese I dont have problems with western ppl critisize China, however I can tell in 2 seconds he does that because he truely cares chinese ppl’s interests, or he has some other agendas. for examples if he starts with ccp corruptions, bravo, and he continues with enviromental issues, I m all ears, and he moves to taiwan…I probably wont say anything, then tibet … now you hold right there, and what? Sudan? I mean dont you have to be a moral leader urself before you can ask someone else to be one?

It’s amazing how the west has failed SO miserably to capture Chinese ppl’s hearts and minds for the past 20 yrs. I remmember in the 80s we loved the America to the death, and that was an era behind the iron curtain. It’s all because the west just couldnt understand the love-hate relationship between chinese ppl and CCP, to any chinese it’s just so easy and obvious. Considering how much money they gave to all these think tanks, consultants, NGOs, and whoever else, it’s absolutly a shame.

and to the guy who questioned hotels/services in China, name any other places you can spend 70$ a day staying in a 4 star hotel, and 3$ for a nice hair-cut, plus 45 mins head massage…

July 6, 2008 @ 11:53 am | Comment

Panda Bears

July 6, 2008 @ 12:34 pm | Comment

Nice idea for a thread!

Impossible to avoid generalizing of the broadest sort on a topic like this, but I would say some of my favorite things about China are:

– the personalities of Chinese people. James Fallows captured it perfectly in the single word “irrepressible”. I would add “irresistably charming”.

– the loyalty and generosity of Chinese to people they know

– the cuisine!!

– traditional Chinese music

– flexibility and adaptability of Chinese people

– high respect for education and intellectual achievement (notable exception: respect for IP)

– respect for those of advanced age

– welcoming, friendly and helpful attitude toward foreigners (qualifier: this is written by a white western male)

– the marvelous physical beauty of Chinese of both genders

– the “gusto” which with so many Chinese approach life, no matter their station or circumstances

July 6, 2008 @ 12:42 pm | Comment

[...] Positive things about ChinaNot a few of our Chinese posters usually complains about China bashing, and they may have a point here. Many of the posts in PD have something to do with something bad or catastrophic in the country. We seem to be fixated in the dark … [...]

July 6, 2008 @ 1:31 pm | Pingback

@Coldblooded3
“It’s all because the west just couldnt understand the love-hate relationship between chinese ppl and CCP, to any chinese it’s just so easy and obvious”

That is an interesting concept. First time I hear it.

“plus 45 mins head massage…”
Head massage? I must try it! ;-)

July 6, 2008 @ 1:50 pm | Comment

Thanks, ecodelta.

July 6, 2008 @ 3:59 pm | Comment

The one thing I like the most about Chinese culture is its negative view of the political dimension of religion. Religion must be confined to the spiritual domain and not be allowed to enter the political life of the state. In the past the gentry class was always ready to suppress any spiritual movement that had a political purpose. They kept China a secular society. In the modern time this role is being played by the ideological offspring of the May Fourth movement: KMT and CCP.

I’m not sure Chinese history really shows this. First, institutionally speaking religion is a huge part of political life. The current communist regime is an exception but in Taiwan the temples are big players in local politics and are deeply hooked into the KMT electoral machine, in most cases. There are many examples, but the outstanding one is of course Yen Ching-biao, elected out of jail while serving a sentence for murder and corruption, now the local legislator for Taichung district 2, who organizes the matsu procession, the island’s most important religious festival.

But religion is also important in other ways. Historically the emperor mediated the heaven-earth link through performance of the religious rites — he had a serious religious function.

I’ve been reading on this topic for a while. i think religion is thoroughly intermingled with the culture that foreigners miss its import in many cases.

Michael

July 6, 2008 @ 4:12 pm | Comment

A Google search on “things to love about China” yields this rather interesting commentary.

http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?newsid=1142676&pageid=0

It appears to be written from an Indian perspective, but the observations about China are spot on – and nuanced sensitively. Surely, ecodelta would approve…

July 6, 2008 @ 5:39 pm | Comment

Eco,

I know you are easy goin; so I won’t worry my comment will offend you.

Your naivete plays a big role in your post. It is a lot easier to post those good things when you don’t realize the horror that is taking place behind the scenes. That’s ok, everyone has a right to their interpretation and it is not your fault that information is blocked. You said that you want to present what the regular people think is good about China and not the official glorification stuff. But, the points you originally listed were quite in line with the official glorifications and the people do eat that up through propaganda channels. I think what Micheal Turton said it quite better since it is clear that he can make the distinction between the official stuff and the people, the country, the culture. Yeah it is right that the country has come a long way (from Mao to Deng, from closed to open), but that is because of the hard working nature of the people, the people are great, they know how to manage and excell, it is not because of the party and the party has only held them back. it looks like they have moved forward but things are mighty off track. I don’t think a country and people needs to hear praises for their economic development, they reap the rewards and consequences themselves and it doenst matter what foreigners comments are, congrats, you have a market economy, whats the use of such comment?

I agree that we could always highlight more of those positive characteristics of Chinese people and culture, so i think this has been a nice post.

As for China bashing, I would agree with Raj, I really do not find that people here generally have any negative views of Chinese culture or people, they criticize the regime. If you want people to balance their views of the regime by forcing positive comments for the sake of warped Chinese people who have no ability to judge something based on morality and who desperately want their evil party to be validated and accepted, you are so wrong. if a gang of criminals who rapes, murders and steals starts whining that they are being overly criticized, will you cater their feelings or will you follow the course of justice? So the point is that the distinction must be made between party and people, that comment is more crucial for Chinese people than Westerners since what Westerners think about Chinese often comes from the way Chinese people are and how they think, it’s quite deceptive since some people cannot understand the scope of brainwashing.

Peace, thanks eco (- :

July 7, 2008 @ 1:24 am | Comment

@snow
“I know you are easy goin; so I won’t worry my comment will offend you”

Ha ha ha. Good beginning ;-)

Now, I read the rest of the post….

July 7, 2008 @ 2:04 am | Comment

@snow
I consider your post a positive one overall. No fear to enrage me… others things do, but no these ones.

With some of your points I disagree.

I am very much aware of the horror, have my own direct experiences in East Europe, before the fall of Iron Curtain. Maybe not so extreme like in CH though.

About official glorification of achievements… usual procedure in authoritarian regimes. Yes… but not a few of those achievements are real, with a lot of effort of the people there. Such governments just kidnaps them for their own use, if we refrain from acknowledging those which are real, we allow ourselves in someway to be fooled by the very government we criticize.

I do think people need to hear praises. At least from time to time. When you live in a dark place, or at least in a place not much well lighted… if you hear only dark things it will be very depressive! And if you cannot dot much about it… even more depressive.
It may also turn the very person you like to reach against you out of desperation.

Yes. We criticize the political regime and its misdoings,
“good constructive criticism” ;-)
but I consider that sometimes we are not aware of the “collateral damage” of our criticism.

Criminals in CCP? Yeah, a bunch of them! But I hardly would consider all of them criminals. Even in the Nazi party there were some good people, can you imagine?

Who were they? Misguided idealists, naive people (like me..), people who had no other options, people who saw no other way to improve their live, or find a way to improve the country;
If we consider that all CCP party members, even just top officials, are criminals… we will make the real criminals inside even stronger, and be isolated of those who are not (or have at least second thoughts..)
That does not sound like a good plan to me…

Regards

July 7, 2008 @ 2:33 am | Comment

What senseless panda slurping.

July 7, 2008 @ 7:54 am | Comment

Indeed coldblooded, but 4 star in China isn’t exactly four star in the rest of the world. I have plenty of good things to say about China, but let’s please refrain from pretending that the Chinese service industry is in any way comparable to Japan’s.
As for the massage, well, I will acknowledge that the services provided in Chinese massage parlors are far more extensive, to put it lightly, than in some (but certainly not all!) massage establishments in the US. However, I wouldn’t attempt to paint a positive picture of a system where impoverished girls from the countryside are either kidnapped or left with no choice but to massage cadres’ feet and then give them handjobs so that their father, who is still reeling about not having a boy, can build a new house.

July 7, 2008 @ 10:47 am | Comment

interesting…

Well, I’m not in China and the news rarely covers any of that really heartfelt good stuff that really could compliment a culture or personal resilience, so maybe Richard and other bloggers in China can provide more of this inspiration stuff for us to have a better understanding of thegood qualities of Chinese people.

Eco, you mentioned the people in the CCP being criminals, well since there are tens of millions in the CCP we can’t totally generalize, but they do take some pretty wacky pledges to do anything for the party and they seem to follow through with it, I think most people are in the party cause it gives them financial leverage, not because they have some ideals , the young ones maybe are tricked into believing in some false ideals of the CCP cause they haven’t experienced the senseless power mongering bloodbaths that the older folks have.

The question might be,

1. how many party officials have used their position and party membership abusively, to unjustly gain the upper hand over others?

2. How many party officials have had a hand in persecuting people who are not proven guilty in any real legal system?

3. How many party officials, such as media personal have had a hand in lying to the masses?

4. How many party people have supported the party while it carried out human rights abuses with various excuses, ignoring the suffering of the people violated?

5. How many party members have had a hand in suppressing, logical intellectual, justice seeking voices in China? Have they not suppressed the Chinese culture and inhibited a balanced social development?

6. How many party members make excuses for killing based on financial development?

7. How many party members know the extreme brutal, violent scenes occurring in Gulags and other detention facilities such as psychiatric hospitals and keep quiet?

8. How many party members know about or participate in planned and forced organ harvesting of “criminals”?

9. How many party members serve as judges in a totally corrupt and unjust legal system?

10. How many party members work as educators and fill the children etc with crap cause they care more about the party, or their own skins then the minds of children?

This can go on and on. I don’t know the answers, but if I could I would DEFINITELY put each one of them through and investigation procedure and find out which ones are criminals, I’m afraid the number is really not small, although the immoral trend and nationalist brainwashing I suppose would have a lot of people making endless excuses for their uncles who are torturers and that kind of sad pathetic craziness.

Oh wait, was this that good things about China thread? Oops…

All people who are above these crimes and still have their dignity despite all this crap are SOOOOOOOO GREAT! I really want to hear more about that kind of great people (- :

July 7, 2008 @ 12:34 pm | Comment

If I didn’t live here and see the “good news” on China everyday coming from the state media I would be more sympathetic to ecodelta’s post. In the states we get shit on everyday by our own press and people around the world, and I don’t see any people whining about not representing the good things about the U.S.A. So why do Chinese people need the world’s coddling? Why should we just play the role of your own media and kiss your government’s ass? China’s culture is neat, the country is really old, they have developed fast…we’ve heard the same thing over and over again, why do you need to hear more of it? If we waste all our time fawning over China in order to boost its national self-esteem, these problems will just continue to be ignored. Personally, I think any really patriotic Chinese would be ashamed to grovel for compliments like this…

July 7, 2008 @ 1:21 pm | Comment

@ecodelta

one positive thing you might want to do for China is go there (rather than hang out by the vietnamese-sino border) as I recall you said in a recent comment you never have. perhaps that would be an excellent starting point for you.

July 7, 2008 @ 4:09 pm | Comment

@Si

Already in the task list.

Definitively after the Olympic games.

To many people will be in CH for the games, more than usual…

July 7, 2008 @ 8:27 pm | Comment

Kites

July 8, 2008 @ 12:20 am | Comment

Totally agree with Andy Raynor and Si.

July 8, 2008 @ 12:12 pm | Comment

@ Not_a_Sinophile

I have to thank you for proved my points by typing your words

You first assumped I learned about China from state censored news and travel very little. I am really tired to point out that I have 38 English news websites in my IE bookmarks and I read them reguarly, ranging from NYT to CC.

But since you hate CCP so much, I would give you the following suggestion if you want to convince Chinese your points
1.Do not make the assumptions that Chinese know little than you, only learned facts from censored news
2.Do not make the assumptions that Chinese travel little
3.Do not make the assumptions that Chinese do not accept good intented critism

What you wrtie only makes you look funny in Chinese eyes

July 9, 2008 @ 5:10 pm | Comment

I’m tripping out on how evasive this thread is. Instead of saying “Oh, this is for good stuff about China and I have nothing to say in that regard, so this is not for me.” People respond to the very implication that there are good things about China with urgent indignation. Why not just simply say there are good things and bad, and let it be.
I have to go to class now, but, just to compare Shanghai with Norwalk, California, my hometown:
There arent many kids here who idealize violent savages intent on killing on each other
I dont run the risk of being shot, jumped, attacked for being white here.
People dont complain about foreigners not speaking the language.
People dont treat foreigners like idiots and freaks
I make damn good money here.
There are a lot less obese people here.
And, Chinese people are really friendly, even though they may all be secretly evil fascists, they are so much more friendly than the people where i live.
Also, my students don’t physically threaten the teachers here. And, there isnt drug dealing in the schools, like at the high school where I’m from.
I want to have a home in Shanghai, it’s a fun city.
byebye
p.s. my class is over now and i thought of more things.
1. the shanghai library on huaihai lu is fucking awesome.
2. jiuzhaigou, guiyang, hangzhou huangshan haunglong shan, are all beautiful,
3. all of my students are so nice and imaginative and none of them have, as of yet, harvested my fat organs
4. chinese people generally try to be reasonable and equitable and , nowadays , dont freak out and demand the deaths of arabs or abortion doctors.
5. chinese people dont say “how can you looke at the beautiful sky and not bielieve in god?”
6. so rock magazine is from china
7. In china i have bought books on the language of the Yi people, a book in uyghur, and a book on the zhu wen of the lissuzu

8. linguistically china is much more intricate and systematically fascinating than america.

For the sake of all you valiant crusaders against this evil communist empire, i should note that i have lived her for six years, I have an evil chinese wife, i work as a translator now and then, and i don’t care for answering questions with non-sequitur accusations.
But, thank you for pointing out the bad things on this thread whose topic is the good things. Let it be a wake up call to the china expats who dont complain enough!

八仙过海,反正中国不好!
生活好,工资高,因此在中国,都不好!!!!

July 9, 2008 @ 5:12 pm | Comment

Darren, I like China a lot. As you say, there are good and bad things here. I do think you diminish your credibility, however, with lines like the Chinese don’t “freak out and demand the deaths of arabs or abortion doctors” as though that is a typical American trait. And did you read the message boards after the bombing of the Belgrade embassy? There will always be assholes in every society. The jerks on that message board are not what China is, just as some crazed kid in an American school threatening his teacher is not what America is.

July 9, 2008 @ 6:10 pm | Comment

richard
you are right, that comment was unfair. thank you for pointing it out. and thanks for staying objective. its hard to deprive oneself of the joy of simplistically bashing. I do it too.

July 9, 2008 @ 6:23 pm | Comment

One thing I would like to see in this post is more comments not from expats but also from mainland CH about positive aspects in CH.

Either from the recent social/economic development of CH or which were always present in the country

July 9, 2008 @ 10:24 pm | Comment

I think what would be great would be a thread on non-political parts of China – perhaps what first attracted us to the place, culture, people etc etc. Otherwise it just comes across as repeating the same old ccp line

July 9, 2008 @ 10:39 pm | Comment

I mean comments form mainland Chinese people

July 9, 2008 @ 10:48 pm | Comment

i know, but sadly many comments from the mainland tend to be of the rabid angry kind. Good luck

July 9, 2008 @ 11:30 pm | Comment

@Si

No problem. Anti-”rabid comments” vest put on! ;-)

July 9, 2008 @ 11:52 pm | Comment

Can I just say, Darren is awesome?

Other than that, little else to add… we all know all we talk about all day long at blog.foolsmountain.com is why China is awesome, so I won’t bother repeating myself here!

@ecodelta, appreciate the effort. We’re contemplating a “negative things about China” thread, just to return the favor.

July 10, 2008 @ 4:55 am | Comment

@tang buxi

“We’re contemplating a “negative things about China” thread, just to return the favor.”

Just send me a tip when you do it. I may participate. ;-)

July 10, 2008 @ 12:30 pm | Comment

I’m a mainland Chinese, and have never been abroad :-)
here is the positive things about China
1, Food is really good and cheap
2, People are friendly.
3, Free access to information on the Internet if you know how to use a proxy
4, Value family
5, Can download music,movies,even softwares for free and lots of pirate DVDs (well, that’s a good thing in my perspective)
etc,etc,etc.

@ Raj “we are annoyed because you are not one of us’Four legs good; two legs bad!’”
not like that,it’s just national identiy,and due to the doctrine by CCP and the grievance we had in the past(manily the invasion of western countries and Japan),it’s not suprise that Chinese are sometimes a bit nationalistic. Moreover, Chinese people are not good at telling apart PARTY, GOVERMENT, NATION, STATE,ETC.

I don’t like CCP,but I have to admit that my living standard today owe to CCP. So I just can’t understand why people sometimes hate CCP so much and even think it evil. CCP is neither the best nor the worst, it’s just a party.

July 15, 2008 @ 12:04 am | Comment

@Claire

Thanks for your comment Claire. :-)

I really would like to get more opinions from people of Mainland China

Yes, CCP is not the ultimate evil nor the ultimate goodness. Some of the hefty discussions you may find here rage about where in the scale between bad and good it lies.

And in these discussions we often forget the normal people….

July 15, 2008 @ 12:41 am | Comment

[...] know, we’ve had the Shanghai-Beijing conversation before. But my trip brought it all back, and the timing of seeing what Fallows wrote — within [...]

March 23, 2009 @ 5:44 pm | Pingback

The mayor of baoding met us at the train station and had lunch with our group. We are from the USA. I was impressed and honored by such a gesture. The people of Baoding treated me with respect and hospitality. I was invited by complete strangers to have dinner on the streets of Baoding almost everynight that i was there for 1 month. The people of baoding are some of the most honorable and fun people I have ever met.

November 20, 2010 @ 12:54 am | Comment

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