How bad can one post be?

At the risk of igniting a blog war, I feel I have to point out what might be the very worst post on China I have read in a long, long time, from a blog I respect enough to include on my blogroll. When I say bad, when I say dumb, when I say wrong – let’s just say it’s the equivalent of what I’d expect Sarah Palin to write about the Iraq war, saying how it was an exercise in successful American can-do determination and that no civilians were hurt and it all went like a cake-walk. I mean the type of post where you have to willfully block out any and all hints of truth as you arrive at your own fact-free truthiness.

It’s about the milk scandal, and it could have been written by HongXing:

While dismayed by the rogue manufacturers’ ability to abuse the public for such a long time (a year, I heard), I am relieved that eventually the scams were exposed, exclusively by forces within the Chinese society. No foreign White knight was in a position to rescue the Chinese people from their rulers and deliver them from their misery. In fact, the New Zealand diary company who owned a stake in the main culprit, Sanlu Diary Corporation, was part of the problem. The Western media have been on the sideline; their opinions on this event are largely irrelevant to the Chinese public. It has been the Chinese parents’ outrage and the Chinese media’s probing and revelations that constitute the main source of the Chinese authorities’ embarrassment and the main forces that prompted them into action. Heads have been rolling, with the resignation of a mayor and a cabinet member, and an executive’s arrest.

An indigenous and home-grown momentum of change is a hopeful sign of the Chinese society at these turbulent times. The society has demonstrated the means and resilience to channel the momentum into productive movements of improving the way businesses are supervised in particular and social activities regulated in general, developing mechanisms for righting wrongs and addressing grievances. The same resourcefulness and resilience were demonstrated in the revelation of kidnapped and enslaved teenagers in Shanxi province’s brick making factories, in the organized reactions when the snow storms in southern China stranded millions of migrant workers on their way home for the spring festival in railway stations, and when earthquake struck Sichuan.

It is heartening to observe that foreign elements and forces have little influence over the Chinese authorities, on either their legitimacy or policy preferences.

The light at the end of this dreary tunnel: the commenters on this site ripped the writer to shreds, called him out on his fact-averse approach and made a fool of him, in the spirit of the blog’s title. This post is all about looking at some of China’s most shameful recent catastrophes and pointing to each as proof of China’s greatness. Now, I’m not saying China isn’t great. It is. (That and much more.) I think America is great, but I don’t point to the Abu Ghraib photos and say there’s the proof of our greatness.

The whole things is a bit surreal, like a big practical joke, like a parody of the party propagandist transforming a nation’s flaws into virtues. And then there’s the closing sentence: “This is the silver lining I see in the scandals and disasters inflicted upon us in the year of 2008″ – as if these scandals were “inflicted upon us” by some passive-voiced villain, and not by the sleazy corruption that is a defining characteristic of the CCP.

Nothing in this post seems to make any sense. It’s a Sarah Palin interview. Unless I’m missing something. Am I missing something?

______________

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: 34 Comments

Richard,

Thank you for your criticism. Rest assured this will not ignite a blog war. We welcome any constructive feedback, whether it is toward our blog as a whole, or toward one of our writers.

May I repost your entry as a comment in the original thread?

September 28, 2008 @ 10:35 pm | Comment

Please feel free. Good to see you.

September 28, 2008 @ 10:59 pm | Comment

Richard, China is not great. It is an overpopulated, third-rate developing country with the vast majority of its citizens uneducated, ignorant, living in abject poverty. It is governed by a ruthless totalitarian system. That system inflicts great damage domestically and internationally. Maybe that’s where you got “great.” Just being around for 5000 years doesn’t amount to greatness. It’s a country who’s education system is nothing more than basic propaganda at best and non-existent at worst. Heavily polluted, industrially capable only of producing second rate garbage, filled with xenophobia and false pride, China is mostly decidedly not great.

September 29, 2008 @ 1:10 am | Comment

It’s an interesting thing, this oft-repeated “5000 years old” claim, and one that often tempts me to call “bullshit.” China is not 5000 years old. Numerous (very different) political entities have existed over large parts of the geographical area that present-day China occupies, and some areas that it doesn’t. However, its system of government, institutions, flag, army, national day, newspapers, universities, and other important facets of a modern-nation state are much younger than many other countries.
This is not a criticism, and don’t get me wrong, I am totally fascinated by the place. I merely suggest that this image some people have of a monolithic, fixed nation marching endlessly and inevitably down though the centuries like some inexorable force is wide of the mark.

September 29, 2008 @ 1:34 am | Comment

Rhys, it’s always good to see people refute the 5,000 year crap.

Alternatively, the next time it comes up, counter that Japan is over 10,000 years old (tools, cups, etc having been found there that date back to such a period).

September 29, 2008 @ 1:46 am | Comment

Well actually, the oldest continuing culture in the world is indigenous Australian culture, clocking in at around 40-50 000 years. But it is not a written culture, and nor is it even a culture based on farming. Because of this cultures that rely on written sources to transmit their history find it difficult to connect with.

September 29, 2008 @ 1:50 am | Comment

Rhys,

No doubt the aboriginal aussies are the oldest. Done.

September 29, 2008 @ 2:00 am | Comment

“..the oldest continuing culture in the world is indigenous Australian culture, clocking in at around 40-50 000 years.”

Do they have a CCP too?

September 29, 2008 @ 3:52 am | Comment

Mao invented the boomerang!

September 29, 2008 @ 4:04 am | Comment

Of course He did,

Mao did the lot. There is no doubt that he is the oldest, least understood, inventor in history. Boomerang, kangaroo, woomera and parramatta.

September 29, 2008 @ 4:50 am | Comment

Did anyone force you to buy Sanlu milk? Is there a law that says you must buy Sanlu milk? By the rules of capitalism and free market, everyone is responsible for your action. You made your decision, then do not complain, otherwise you are only a loser.

Similar in American election, if you voted for Bush, do not complain about it afterwards, you made your own decision.

Those who support American democracy, yet oppose Sanlu milk, go buy some IQ points please, haha.

September 29, 2008 @ 4:52 am | Comment

Did anyone force you to buy Sanlu milk?

Did anyone force Sanlu to put crap in their product?

More importantly, consumers have a right to safe food products without having to have every item they buy personally and privately analysed in a laboratory. Or would you think this a usual evening conversation?

Man: Hi – I’m home! How long will dinner be, honey?
Woman: About three weeks until I get the results back from the lab.

By the rules of capitalism and free market, everyone is responsible for your action.

Only if someone knows they are buying/using defective products after a recall has been issued. I suppose the default assumption we should all have is that Chinese food/drink is unsafe – until we get those lab results in.

September 29, 2008 @ 6:22 am | Comment

Oh gosh, Fools’s Mountain still exists? I would have thought that it had already merged with People’s Daily…

September 29, 2008 @ 7:52 am | Comment

I wonder whether or not one can actually see China from Alaska?

September 29, 2008 @ 8:33 am | Comment

fareed zakaria interviewed wen jiaobao this weekend. i did not get a chance to watch it.

September 29, 2008 @ 10:34 am | Comment

If Palin can see Russia from her house, maybe she can catch a glimpse of China too.
Gosh, this red star dude is not very logical. Thanks Raj for pointing out the obvious flaws in his “reasoning”. Sounds like he should be in the market for some of those IQ points.

September 29, 2008 @ 11:30 am | Comment

hongxing is non compos mentis

September 29, 2008 @ 12:14 pm | Comment

so leave him be.

September 29, 2008 @ 12:15 pm | Comment

Every time I hear about the 5000 years, bla bla.. I can’t help but to think how pathetic it is. If this is an example of what a “cut from the world” human civilization can achieve after 5000 years of “uninterrupted” progress, isn’t depressing bit ?

If our “western” model is so evil and depraved, then maybe China should have stayed with their old system ? Doesn’t it tell a bit when “magically” China is emerging in like 40 years after embracing our “satanical” economical model ?

I don’t know about you, but if I was an outsider observer, my bet would go with the civilization that took 500 years to make the world what it is today. Good or bad, at least with such a model we can hope for quick adjustments in the course of the evolution.

I was watching a very beautiful video about China and its landscapes, etc. And one of the comment that stroke me was:

“Chinese, The Most Envied Race/Civilization

huge land, a pure race, culturally, great economy, great technology, strong military and nukes, most thoughtful leaders, independent political system, physically superior(Olympics), superpower

the huge land and pure race combination is enough. mutts (Americans), and losers from failed races/civilizations(small countries) envy and fear the pure and mighty Chinese race”

I seriously hope this is not the next trend that’s coming and that they will really stick to their “peaceful” rise…

Don’t get me wrong, I like this country as well and I think there is a lot of great things here.. I am just a bit afraid that the hard line might lead the way in the future and I sure hope it will not be the case. Because it could get very ugly.

Just a thought…

September 29, 2008 @ 12:23 pm | Comment

you know thse fools at (what else) fool’s mountain be talkin shit right?

I say we stryke back with vengence. Let’s show them how we do it at the peking duck.

I can talk to my boys about hooking us up with a botnet. Let’s denial of servce the shit out them.

Let’s do it.

September 29, 2008 @ 12:29 pm | Comment

Amoahin, I like Fool’s Mountain and link to them on my blogroll. Please don’t be an idiot.

Not-a-SP, China is unquestionably a great country. Unquestionably. The problem is, “great” is a word with many meanings, and I think you are equating it with “good” – something that no country on earth is.

Bao: If this is an example of what a “cut from the world” human civilization can achieve after 5000 years of “uninterrupted” progress

Who ever said the progress was uninterrupted? I am very curious about that. Most Chinese people I know are very aware that their progress was interrupted at various times, most conspicuously under Mao.

Give China it due: it’s a great country, a country that has made incredible contributions to the world, a country whose people are becoming increasingly aware of their government’s foibles and who are demanding reform; and it’s also pretty disgusting in some way, as are many other countries. But please don’t bash China mindlessly.

September 29, 2008 @ 12:44 pm | Comment

For Red Star, please read it and re read it and read it again and read it loud if it helps you memorize it. And from now on, before you post something, please remember it, and see how you feel when you type:

Sophism

In modern usage, sophism, sophist, and sophistry are derogatory terms, due the influence of many philosophers in the past (sophism and platonism were enemy schools).

A sophism is taken as a specious argument used for deceiving someone. It might be crafted to seem logical while actually being wrong, or it might use difficult words and complicated sentences to intimidate the audience into agreeing, or it might appeal to the audience’s prejudices and emotions rather than logic, i.e. raising doubts towards the one asserting, rather than his assertion. The goal of a sophism is often to make the audience believe the writer or speaker to be smarter than he or she actually is, e.g., accusing another of sophistry for using persuasion techniques. An argument Ad Hominem is an example of Sophistry.

A sophist is a user of sophisms, i.e., an insincere person trying to confuse or deceive people. Sophists will try to persuade the audience while paying little attention to whether their argument is logical and factual.

Sophistry means making heavy use of sophisms. The word can be applied to a particular text or speech riddled with sophisms.

September 29, 2008 @ 12:46 pm | Comment

http://www.chinese-embassy.org.uk/eng/sgxx/

Dunno, I read that on the Internet again, so it must be true!

Quote: “China is a country with vast territory and more than 5000 years of uninterrupted civilization.”

Ok I must admit that they use the word Civilization and not progress. But doesn’t it sound similar ?

September 29, 2008 @ 12:53 pm | Comment

Actually the Peking Man is 1 million Years Old!
So Chinese Civilization is about 1 million years Old.

If you dont believe it, you can personnaly check out
the FDA website of China ( the same competent genius in charge of all Milk products` quality of China,including SanLu and MengNui).

China’s dynastic system governemnet is over 1 million year old ( if one also including the present form of Godlike democratic government with Chinese Characteristic) has the most advance system of exploting and enslaving its citizens ( Han and non Hans included ),
by not educating them on purpose, so the majority of these brains can be easily washed with cheap baby powder,
better still with Red Slogans.

As an analogy to all the brilliant lies happening now , how else can the highly advanced corrupt Soong Dyansty charge the peasants one whole year of farm work in exchange for a Kilo of Salt? And the Peasants says it is a good deal.

Meanwhile I should be a very very happy Sanlu Customer, laden with magical Stones, says WHO.

Everbody should sacrifce One Kidney for the progress of
China and “Eat Bitter” so we can have a very very succesful Olympics with the most Golds.
Loyal citizens should continue smoking Magnificient Sound Cigaretts, SPit for another million year, wash in the river, learn from the peasants, you idiots!!

Stay Polluted, breathe in Greasy Air so the More Equal Pigs can feast in Beijing and have a very very suceesful Post Olympics Celebration.

Premier-SunTze
Warring States.

September 29, 2008 @ 1:25 pm | Comment

Bao, I can find any phrase you can pull out of a hat using google. You make it sound as though that’s a Chinese slogan. The 5,000 years I’ve heard a trillion times. Never the “uninterrupted.”

Have to go, but I’m going to consider taking down some of the nastier stuff in this thread.

September 29, 2008 @ 2:05 pm | Comment

Mindlessly bashing China? Producer of the worst products on earth. Consistently the most polluted country on earth. A country with an uncontrolled population. A country that can’t feed itself. A country with a largely illiterate and ignorant population. What are all of those “great” contributions to the world? They don’t add up to much in light of the rest of the developed world. China is a curiosity for those of us who like to travel and see how the other half lives. There is nothing, NOTHING great about China.

September 29, 2008 @ 2:06 pm | Comment

Have it your way. I would say no one with any real knowledge of China would ever agree with you. There’s a lot of shit and there’s a lot of greatness. If you only want to see the shit, that’s fine. I can make an equally awful list about America or any other country. Most of those items are related to development, and China is certainly developing pretty quickly and pretty well.

I want to ask you to keep the “China is terrible” language to yourself. Thanks.

September 29, 2008 @ 2:16 pm | Comment

China is (not so) terrible ;-)

September 29, 2008 @ 2:55 pm | Comment

Actually they improved quite a bit lately. Who can deny it? Much still to do of course. But the mesh from which they started was quite big.

How far can they go remains to be seen, and the most interesting question.

About the antiquity of the CH civilization. Some times remind me of the alien civilization described in the Science fiction novel “The mot in God’s eye”.
A civilization, far ancient than human, more advanced in many ways, but because of the characteristics of their solar system and lack of some key technologies are trapped in their planetary system. They are doomed to and endless cycle of progress and collapse…. until the human empire stumble on them.

http://www.amazon.com/Mote-Gods-Eye-Larry-Niven/dp/0671741926
“In the Mote the humans find an ancient civilization–at least one million years old–that has always been bottled up in their cloistered solar system for lack of a star drive. The Moties are welcoming and kind, yet rather evasive about certain aspects of their society. It seems the Moties have a dark problem, one they’ve been unable to solve in over a million years.”

An interesting read, politics aside.

September 29, 2008 @ 3:14 pm | Comment

Actually, I Googled what I stated previously, after posting it. After you said that you never heard about this I was curious to see if I could find some presence of it on the net.

Amongst the first results using this sentence, funnily, was a statement from the Chinese UK ambassador… I swear, I did not read this previously to posting it. But I was really amused to find such an official source stating this (I initially thought my searches would only return some obscure comments from forums). This comment was mostly based on some of the rhetoric I hear here on a frequent basis (be it the news or even relatives / friends).

Again, my intent is not to mindlessly bash China, but more to expose some common cliches that we find here and try to break them down in order to understand their underlying cause.

September 29, 2008 @ 3:20 pm | Comment

Okay, getting to the heart of the matter, does China have “great” potential? Oh yeah. The natural beauty of the country is undeniable. How about people? Most Chinese I’ve encountered, especially in rural area are unbelievably hard working, generous and hospitable. City folks, primarily as a response to the tension and pressure of city life, are less so. My wife is Chinese and she is the love of my life. I own a house in China and it’s my favorite place to be.

It’s the blanket statement of China’s current and past “greatness” that always rubs me the wrong way. The feudal society of the distant past coupled with the insanity of the recent past is not laudable. The “accomplishments” of the CCP have come at too high a price, IMHO. When the ignorant thugs who hold their countrymen as actual and virtual political prisoners finally relinquish their stranglehold, either through peaceful means or through revolution, China will have the opportunity to by become great.

September 29, 2008 @ 8:54 pm | Comment

Again, it depends on what “greatness” is to you. If it’s financial leverage, rate of GDP growth, artistic contributions, scientific knowledge, global influence – China has many of these qualities. Greatness doesn’t necessarily mean a good human rights record. In that area and many others, China is downright abysmal.

September 30, 2008 @ 12:07 am | Comment

Actually, the “uninterrupted” is a quite common trope in the description of those oh-so-lovely 4000 5000 or perhaps 6000 or a million years.

September 30, 2008 @ 1:51 pm | Comment

to be honest i was somewhat surprised to see blog for china on the blogroll here, but unsurprised to discover the poor quality of the article as it seems par for the course for the blog. but what can you really expect from a blog so lacking in self awareness and pompous enough to call itself “blog for china”?

check out the next missive from bianxiangbianqiao

http://tinyurl.com/46ao58

pseudointellectualism is reaching new heights!

September 30, 2008 @ 3:05 pm | Comment

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