How China sees itself

John Pomfret has finally updated his blog, opining on a new global poll showing the Chinese, more than any other people on the planet, have the most profound “reality gap” between how they see their country compared to how the rest of the world sees it.

A new poll by researchers at the University of Maryland and Globescan sums it up in the starkest terms. A whopping 92 percent of Chinese surveyed believe that China has a mainly positive influence on the world; whereas a mere 39 percent of people polled in 20 other major countries agree. This is the largest perception gap among the countries’ polled. (And it’s getting worse. Views about China have declined markedly over the last year.)

Indeed, the survey makes us Americans look downright switched-on. According to the poll, some 60 percent of Americans surveyed thought the United States exerts a positive influence on the world; whereas 43 percent of people polled in the same 20 other major countries think it’s mostly negative. A tiny gap when compared to China’s. (Also China now ranks below the average the US in terms of positive influence for the first time since the poll was initiated five years ago.)

To me this poll illustrates one of the most interesting aspects of the world’s interaction with China. That’s the gap between how most Chinese perceive of their country and how the rest of us do. Most Chinese people appear to believe deeply in the benevolent role that China’s plays around the globe. I saw this during the 10 years I lived in China. And I see it in the regular and friendly interaction I have with Chinese officials.

It’s not surprising to see America in second place, of course. Anyone who spends a lot of time oversees (or even reads a lot of foreign magazines online) knows just how ugly America can look in the eyes of the world, in direct contradiction to our own perception of a benevolent, generous, often selfless friend to all the world. I got over this form of mild brainwashing when I was a teenager, and I often wonder why so many Chinese people find it next to impossible to even consider the possibility that their own image in the world is far different from their own perception.

Pomfret attributes this gap to good old-fashioned propaganda, which not only glorifies China’s achievements and filters out bad news that the rest of the world sees, and also to racism, which makes all of us wary of this mysterious new rising power. In their ignorance, Pomfret says, many people simply dislike and distrust Asians.

It’s a year since the ill-fated Olympic Torch Relay, which should have been an ear-splitting wake-up call to China. Not only did the planners fail to take into account the fact that the world would not appreciate taking the torch to Tibet and Mount Everest, they seemed to believe, like Americans walking into Iraq, that they would be greeted with open arms and a lot of joy. They seemed oddly out of touch with the animosity the world feels, justified or not, over Tibet and perceived human rights abuses in China. BOCOG’s decision to include Tibet (and originally Taiwan) on the route was a decision that dumbfounded me and many others. “How can they be so dumb? Why are they going out of their way to shake a global hornet’s nest?”

[Disclaimer: Part of my work last year involved the torch relay, but nothing related to the route. If it were up to me, all torch relays would be limited to their host countries. Everyone I know was appalled at the decision to take the torch to Tibet, an open invitation to the world's activists to sabotage the event. But BOCOG, incomprehensibly, failed to see this, which is entirely consistent with Pomfret's point.]

Pomfret closes with an example of a Chinese official in denial:

Some Chinese writers, such as Yan Lieshan, a columnist for Southern Weekend, have tried to address what he feels to be this dangerous gap in perceptions between China and the rest of the world. His pieces are popular and his most recent one is powerful. Here’s a taste:

When asked about the behavior of Chinese tourists on overseas trips, Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei said he did not agree that the tourists had “backward habits” that “disgraced” the country. “Yes, it’s always Chinese who gather in big crowds and talk loud in airports and restaurants, but it’s just a habit. We Chinese are not used to the foreigners’ murmuring and whispering at a close distance either,” said Wu. I totally disagree with Vice Minister Wu.

Little voices such as Yan’s can do little to shout down the triumphalism emerging from party central in Beijing.

Yan’s comment is like spitting into a hurricane. It’s going to take a lot of time and deprogramming before most Chinese people realize their perception of China is not a universal one. And yes, that goes for America as well, though the smoke in our eyes isn’t nearly as thick.

______________

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: 99 Comments

Related to your disclaimer:
Looks like you’ve got your wish.
At least something good came out of the Beijing Olympics.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/low/olympic_games/7967284.stm

“International torch relays ahead of the Olympics have been scrapped by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).”

March 31, 2009 @ 10:04 am | Comment

They were talking about doing this for a long time. Good decision. The torch relay is way more tourble than it’s worth.

March 31, 2009 @ 10:13 am | Comment

20 other major countries agree

Other major countries, I’m guessing France, Germany, Czech Republic, United States, Canada, Japan, etc.

http://pewresearch.org/pubs/918/china-olympics

It should be noted that those countries without a huge exposure to American/European/Japanese media often hold much more favorable views of China.

March 31, 2009 @ 10:16 am | Comment

I’m a bit confused. From what I understand the question was if *in the participant’s opinion*, her country’s influence in the world is positive. They were not asked how they think the world sees them. Had they been asked that, many Chinese would have probably answered differently, with the “western media bias” getting so much publicity here. So I believe most Chinese do realise their perception of China is not a universal one, they just think the rest of the world is wrong. (Itself a problem. Guess any time 92% answer the same to a question, there is a problem of some sort).

March 31, 2009 @ 10:49 am | Comment

Pomfret’s link doesn’t work. But you can get the Globescan report at this:

http://www.globescan.com/news_archives/bbccntryview09/

1. The sampled countries are way too skewed. There are some 400 million mostly Muslims in between India and Turkey, plus Bangladesh (roughly the same population in North America), yet no country was sampled. The African continent has some 900 million people, compared to some 700 million in Europe including Russia, yet African nations are way under-represented. There are some 300 million people in South America, yet only Chile, a relatively small country was sampled. In a nutshell, the sampling strongly favored the countries normally called “the West”.

2. It seems that the sampling result is not weighed by population.

Given the seeming deterioration of China’s standing among some old European countries in 2008 — to be fair it’s been a two-way street, and how the report effectively over-sampled those countries by a a factor of at least 10, it’s no surprise of the result.

March 31, 2009 @ 11:22 am | Comment

Jxie, I just tried the link, it works, at least in Beijing..

Rachel, this is what the survey tells us, in Pomfret’s words:

A whopping 92 percent of Chinese surveyed believe that China has a mainly positive influence on the world; whereas a mere 39 percent of people polled in 20 other major countries agree.

The discussion about how this underscores China’s not realizing how it is perceived by other countries comes from Pomfret’s opining in the following two paragraphs. That is not a question addressed specifically in the poll, but an inference Pomfret makes based on the polling data. In this case, the inference is totally correct. And as I said, it applies to the US as well, which takes second place in this category.

March 31, 2009 @ 11:38 am | Comment

Based on my personal experience, I strongly doubt the overall worldwide impression on the Beijing Olympic, including the Torch Relay fiasco in Paris and London (out of a whole host of cities), “fake lip-sync’d”, “underage gymnasts” (did I miss anything?), was anything near a net negative. Not that a man’s experience necessarily amounts to much, FWIW, I’ve been to some 10 countries in 4 continents since the Torch Relay.

March 31, 2009 @ 11:42 am | Comment

I think the problem isn’t just propaganda, Richard, but also that Chinese culture/mentality appears to lack any critique of itself, the way westerners in both Europe and the US often question the way their own nations/cultures behave. When the US stamped out the Indians in the west and went off to colonize the Philippines, there was a powerful countercurrent against that, led by writers like Mark Twain (for example) and others who argued that westerners were not inherently superior. Part of that too may stem from the west’s long experience of its own technical and organizational inferiority to other cultures during the medieval, renaissance, and early enlightenment periods. But inside and outside of China that questioning of the basic of assumptions of Han superiority/chauvinism, or its constructions of, assertions about, and readings of, its behavior and the world, seems to be a lot less prevalent, and largely the work of singular individuals rather than meaningful social groups. Its fascinating to me, personally, that so many in the Chinese cultural sphere routinely travel and live for long periods in other countries, and yet retain these attitudes.

That oughtta generate some discussion….

March 31, 2009 @ 11:43 am | Comment

Richard, I meant the link embedded in Pomfret’s piece that points to the source of the University of Maryland/Globescan research. Feel free to revise my original comment and delete this one…

March 31, 2009 @ 11:44 am | Comment

[donning flameproof armor]

March 31, 2009 @ 11:45 am | Comment

Michael, I tend to agree. There are solid reasons for this, and it goes back far beyond the CCP back to ancient times. The government makes its decisions, and the people accept it. No, it’s not that simple, but that is the bottom line. Huge, monumental decisions such as the construction of the Three Gorges Dam are made in private and told to the public by decree, and extensive propaganda campaigns help ensure public alignment. Of course with the Internet and a gradual shift toward pluralism, we’re seeing this change, at least to some extent. We in America are always taught to criticize and question. 7th grade social studies was all about the checks and balances of the US government system, ending with the Supreme Court – we were taught this was necessary because government by its very nature could become corrupt, authoritarian, feudal or self-serving. Question Authority is our mantra, which is why the First Amendment is always such a huge deal. In China (and other countries, no doubt) there is no such reflexive skepticism. And once you are taught to think this way, that the government makes its decisions and they are generally for the public good, it’s not easy to let it go. More and more are doing so, however, and I think the rend is for more questions and challenges. Again, the Internet has worked wonders in this regard.

March 31, 2009 @ 12:00 pm | Comment

Let me get this straight. At the risk of debating an impossibly overly generalized topic, the West vs. China…

Michael, so are you saying the Chinese culture/mentality is inferior, since according to you, it lacks self critique compared to the Western culture/mentality? But of course in the Western culture/mentality, one can’t say it’s superior. My friend, I have no intention to debate the truthfulness of whether the Chinese culture/mentality lacks self critique, or is better or worse than having a few introspective ones such as Mark Twain while killing millions, you do realize that this is a classic case of doublespeak, don’t you? Kind of like Lindel’s indecision of whether Japanese, Korean or Chinese are the most racist people.

Richard, very cool! But did you get to find out Confucius’ happiness? I’d rather think each one of us has a path, not some have THE path.

March 31, 2009 @ 12:27 pm | Comment

This is my view of Chinese and American:

Chinese: The 99% populations of taxpayers (no votes)are cynics.

American: The 1% elites feed the rest.

By the way,I can not see any traces of mentality in the poll and its inference.

March 31, 2009 @ 12:29 pm | Comment

“Its fascinating to me, personally, that so many in the Chinese cultural sphere routinely travel and live for long periods in other countries, and yet retain these attitudes. ”

Michael, that applies to Jewish people too. Another similarity between Chinese and Jew is their emphasis on education for their kids. In fact, lots of Chinese has an good image of Jew and Iseral.

Interestingly, I have noticed that in US, when I raise this similarity, some people gives me a strange look. I never really fully appreciate this subtleness. But just a thought.

March 31, 2009 @ 12:30 pm | Comment

“If it were up to me, all torch relays would be limited to their host countries. Everyone I know was appalled at the decision to take the torch to Tibet”

But limiting the relay to the host country, as they are now doing, wouldn’t have stopped it going to Tibet.

March 31, 2009 @ 1:19 pm | Comment

but also that Chinese culture/mentality appears to lack any critique of itself

Chinese people are self-critical but the “culture” as a whole, probably not. Then again, people from different areas of China can be fairly critical of other “Han Chinese” from different regions.

there was a powerful countercurrent against that

there was a powerful countercurrent against that, which did not actually stop any of it from happening.

questioning of the basic of assumptions of Han superiority/chauvinism

It’s because so-called “Han chauvinism” barely exists in force. To get a reaction, you have to really push the limits some time. There haven’t been murderous race riots committed by Han Chinese for a long time, maybe even thousands of years.

The government makes its decisions, and the people accept it.

I would say the government is accepted as the lesser of many evils when faced with constant droughts and floods on the Yellow River, the open and indefensible nature of the Yellow River valley, constant plagues and natural disasters. The extremely harsh nature of China’s environment created the need for a strong central government. Without it, China would have been completely annihilated by nomads or food shortages and the ensuing chaos. It’s an oversimplification to say the Chinese “accepted” dynastic rule. There have been countless violent upheavals that build up when the government outlives its usefulness, and the people are no longer able to bear their excesses.

Question Authority is our mantra

I don’t think that’s speaking for everyone, to some all of this just creates the illusion that the average American actually has any power, and distracts from the fact that the mass media and churches have a vice-like grip on public opinion.

March 31, 2009 @ 2:00 pm | Comment

Media control and censorship just make too difficult to openly discuss the more shadowy aspect of internal and external issues of the country. Greats part of the population may be blissfully unaware of them.

Plus some victimization and nationalism just make too easy to deflect any criticism without even considering it.

When going abroad and suddenly they found that their high opinion about themselves is not shared by other people, first they are much surprised and then grasp to the only, for them, logical explanation. Conspiracy, bias or bigotry.
And that makes themselves to close their minds even further.

One example was the torch relay. I could feel many CH were aghast of the reception
they received. Completely inexplicable for many of them. Then, instead of trying to find and discuss the real cause, they turned back to the usual explanations.

Is there any solution for this? While the gov considers freedom of speech and free media an menace to its legitimacy, there will be no solution. And the danger of nationalist flare ups that would damage their own country more than anything else, or limit the strategic options to solve internal or external conflicts, will be ever present.

March 31, 2009 @ 2:23 pm | Comment

Steve, I’m not suprised that people give you strange looks when you unload that particular perception of Jews.

Do any of them ever say “What the F*ck! Exactly which Jews are you talking about?” Because that’s what is running through my mind at the moment.

March 31, 2009 @ 2:39 pm | Comment

@Michael and Richard

Voices of critique exist, it is an oversimplification to say that Chinese “culture” lacks the ability to critique itself. What about Han han’s calls for rationality during the Carrefour boycott fiasco? Although in my opinion a bit flaky, this young author nonetheless has a large audience that reads his books and his blog. I think this is one good example to counter the USA’s Mark Twain, but there are obviously a lot more critics out there. (I would put Yu Hua or Wang Shuo in this category as well, but many of their works have been banned and their calls for rationality from the Chinese public are usually printed in Western publications.)

But the Party has a bigger bullhorn, and control over the lines of communication, I think they are slowly giving up trying to have complete control over the information citizens receive i.e. Lenin’s repeating the lie enough until it’s accepted (not to say this isn’t still used), and becoming more adept at controlling how information moves and is consequently used throughout the system. Even at the Strong Nation Forum at Renmin Ribao you see criticisms pop up everyday, but do these ever gain steam no…this is not because people aren’t hearing them, it’s because the average citizen has little room to do anything about it other than “ding” the louzhu (i.e. say he agrees with the post).

The other issue is intellectual leadership in China since 1949 has been successfully crushed to the point that intellectuals have become glorified babysitters at the nation’s universities. The people who should be questioning things are essentially gagged. Those that do have success at home are usually Party pawns like the authors of “China can say No” or if critics they naturally find more attention abroad. The CCP has ensured that we don’t see anymore Lu Xun’s developing under their watch, (and that Lu Xun and other great Chinese thinkers who similarly advocated questioning of the status quo have been adequately mummified to ensure that they are little more than “famous authors” whose writing contributed to the CCP’s enthronement.)

Point being I tend to agree that we have to move on from thinking about China’s media as “propaganda” in the classic sense, and further be hesitant about making “cultural” arguments like Chinese culture doesn’t allow criticism. It is quite obvious to anyone that it does, and therefore the answer to why China is viewed so favorably by its people is not because they are aren’t exposed to any critical perspectives, it’s that these critical perspectives have been rendered harmless to the Party’s/Country’s image domestically through various complex means.

March 31, 2009 @ 2:53 pm | Comment

Also, I would be interested to see a study on how survey-taking is viewed in China, I wonder if Chinese look at surveys and necessarily answer them critically after reflection and based on their experience, or do they fill it out like they would the “gaokao” with what they think is the “correct” answer, or like online with which answer they “like” the most even if it may be converse to their individual experience…I don’t think we all take surveys in the same way and although as stated above I’m not that into “cultural” explanations, I have always wondered this when presented with surveys done in China.

March 31, 2009 @ 3:12 pm | Comment

Liuzhou: But limiting the relay to the host country, as they are now doing, wouldn’t have stopped it going to Tibet.?

Correct. That was just sheer BOCOG stupidity combined with a generous dose of hubris. But it would put an end to a rather silly practice that has become flypaper to any demonstrator who wants to tout their cause, knowing cameras will be set up and reporters looking for sensationalists.The global torch relay for at least the past 10 years has had little to do with the Olympics and everything to do with grabbing headlines for performing the most outrageous demonstration to disrupt the event. Why bother?

March 31, 2009 @ 3:24 pm | Comment

Andy, I never meant to say or imply they don’t critique themselves – they do, and I was careful to say the Internet now makes it easier to voice criticism and the trend is for more of it. Just that historically they have had little voice in public affairs and don’t as a rule speak out about it, or at least not publicly. And yes, there are as always plenty of exceptions. Han Hans’ call for rationality in the wake of the Carrefour crisis, by the way, was a case of the critiquer echoing the official government line, which was to NOT boycott and to lay off the French.

March 31, 2009 @ 3:29 pm | Comment

Anyway, Han han routinely questions Chinese nationalists, so is it your opinion that he is a tool of the government in preventing nationalism from getting out of hand or was he just conveniently in line at that point? As I said complex…

March 31, 2009 @ 3:44 pm | Comment

My point was the example you cited wasn’t apt, as it was actually an example of speaking out in favor of a government position as opposed tocritiquing one. That’s all. But that’s a very small observation. And yes, it’s complex and not at all monolithic.

March 31, 2009 @ 3:49 pm | Comment

You’re right…made the mistake of equating nationalists with the government, another quagmire of a relationship…

March 31, 2009 @ 4:03 pm | Comment

Ney, Just don’t believe all these Western-inspired so-called opinion polls! We shall steadfastly do what we perceive are correct policies never mind all the shits they throw at us. Of course, we shall note down our mostly consistent friendly buddies, like Pakistan, afford them all kinds of helps wherever possible & likewise our persistent detractors & reserve punishments wherever possible. Look at how reluctant we are to extent financial assistance to those poddles in former communist East Europe through the IMF. Let them go broke & subsequently disintegrate into chaos shall be the best scenario!

March 31, 2009 @ 4:40 pm | Comment

Oh, brother…

No, I’m not going to do it. Not going to engage. It’s late. I’m tired.

But, hey, good luck with all that, Overseas Chinese!

March 31, 2009 @ 4:43 pm | Comment

If you look at authors like Lu Xun and the other May 4 intellectuals, Chinese can be incredibly self-critical and even now you can come across Internet articles written in the same spirit. But the self-critique isn’t so much about “what horrible things are we doing in the the world”, it’s more like “what character/cultural flaws screwed us up and made us weak”.

Peter

March 31, 2009 @ 5:17 pm | Comment

(Probably will be filtered again.)

I agree completely with Peter. Chinese self-critique is 99% about how to improve ourselves. BTW, I don’t see much cultural or philosophical self-criticism in today’s Europe, but that’s just me.

March 31, 2009 @ 5:28 pm | Comment

Peter, again we are mixing rice and noodles. No one said the Chinese don’t self-critique.

Overseas, glad you see Pakistan as a good buddy. You can tell a man by the company he keeps.

March 31, 2009 @ 5:28 pm | Comment

A few days ago, China Daily ran a front page story emphasizing China’s great friendship with North Korea…

March 31, 2009 @ 5:34 pm | Comment

And I do question such polls. For example, I just talked to a friend of mine after I saw this blog, and he acknowledges all the good stuff the US has done for the world, but he told me he would still check “Negative” for America if he was polled. Would he travel to the US if he has the chance? Of course. He’d love to see Manhattan and feel the energy there. And he likes a lot Hollywood films and stars.

I’d check “Positve” for America, but I’m much more critical of that country and its culture than my friend is.

Frankly I’m surprised that there are still nearly 40% people in “the world” (aka the West and Japan) who like us, after the diluge of bad press China got last year and this year and probably for the next 50 years or so.

March 31, 2009 @ 5:37 pm | Comment

Woodoo: BTW, I don’t see much cultural or philosophical self-criticism in today’s Europe, but that’s just me.

Where are you looking. Serious question. What media or sources are you looking at from Europe to give you this idea?

Back to Pomfret’s piece, I enjoyed this comment to it:

Chinese leaders and “intellectuals” have spent the last decades repeating the idea that China is diametrically opposed to the US/West in virtually all ways. And because in matters of geopolitics, the US acts always in “bad” ways, it stands to reason therefore that China acts always in “good” ways. It’s a simple and stupid logic, but if you read enough Chinese newspapers or books on these issues it’s clearly what emerges.

Chinese people are socialized to perceive their country in contra-distinction to the US/West and to moralize that difference. Sure, the US has its channels of idiotic socialization and oppressive “othering”, but in China, the process is distinctive for the beautiful veneer it puts on the country’s own image as the anti-West, meaning down-trodden, magnanimous, peace-loving and virtuous. It’s not that China does no wrong, it’s that wrongness is incompatible with China. It’s almost a biological quality of the nation. In Chinese chat rooms there is often discussion of the genetic roots of Chinese tendencies toward social harmony and communitarianism, all of which is said with an apparent amnesia regarding China’s own brutal recent history. Nevertheless, to suggest otherwise can really blow the minds of people and can cause deep offense.

Very nicely said. Yeah, the US is self-righteous too, it’s just a different flavor of self-righteousness.

March 31, 2009 @ 5:40 pm | Comment

@Richard – The torch relay, particularly the leg through London, must have been the result of a severe attack of the dumb. I still can’t get my head around why anyone would think it was a good idea to go ahead with it when they knew that thousands of demonstrators would be lining the route. What on earth possessed anyone to think that having a mobile riot progressing through their city would breed anything but justified contempt for the organisers?

At the time BOCOG/IOC officials were all carrying on about ‘not giving in to trouble makers’. Here’s a newsflash for you retards: it’s a PR stunt, not World War III. The whole point of the torch relay was to garner support for the Olympics, if you know that the result of going ahead is going to be extremely negative publicity, then DON’T DO IT.

The combined effect of the PLP goons, the heavy police presence and cost of the relay, the stupidity of having such a procession in freezing conditions, the arm-band-wearing Chinese protesters running alongside the torch, was a bitch-slap to the face of London.

March 31, 2009 @ 5:59 pm | Comment

@Woodoo – That is just you. Pretty much everyday I open the newspaper or turn on the television to see commentators talking about the problems in British society, with British foreign policy, and with the direction that the EU is taking. It is the same to varying degrees in the rest of Europe.

March 31, 2009 @ 6:02 pm | Comment

FOARP, my sentiments exactly. This was soooo predictable, and everyone was braced for trouble – except BOCOG. The torch relay is an open invitation to every crank with a cause: “Come make trouble and you’ll get to be on TV for free!” The arrogance and hubris of BOCOG cannot be exaggerated, and they paid dearly for their delusions of grandeur.

March 31, 2009 @ 6:03 pm | Comment

@richard

“It’s not that China does no wrong, it’s that wrongness is incompatible with China”

absolutely. it’s a great quote. i recommend anyone who is interested in chinese education and the way this is done is to go here

http://www.pep.com.cn/

and look at their example online books. it is filled with this stuff.

it also reminds me of the time when i received an essay from a student explaining to me how the chinese are modest, because they don’t consider themselves the smartest in the world. apparently it is the jews who are the most gifted. they come first with examples including einstein and marx (what a great impact he has had on the world) followed closely by the chinese and their 5000 years of history. in respectable third place come the white people. when i asked who was in fourth place the student seemed unsure. persumably once we are out of the medal places it doesn’t make much difference. apparently this student had read this in (what she described as) a serious newspaper. i didn’t bother asking which one.

March 31, 2009 @ 6:05 pm | Comment

For all the shoot-the-messenger blaming of ‘western media’ it is remarkable that, for example, China has more negative image in Turkey than it does in the UK (where a plurality of people hold positive views), a more negative image in Jordan than it does in the US (where the negative/positive split is 3%). That China should have a plurality-negative image in South Korea – albeit by a slim margin – is not surprising, that South Africans should have a much more negative view of China is.

You have to say that some of these opinions may in part be racially motivated (the Japanese opinion in particular), but it is strange to see that a country in which thousands of ethnic Chinese were murdered as recently as 1998 in what was to all intents and purposes a racist pogrom – Indonesia – has a majority-positive view of China.

I am also a bit surprised to see that opinions of the UK are so positive (of the 20 only Germany and Canada are more positively viewed), perhaps this is because some people are given to seeing the UK as having a moderating effect on US policy – but if this is what they think then I would hesitate to agree.

March 31, 2009 @ 6:34 pm | Comment

Si, did you read River Town? If not, you would love every page. I love where he asks his students who China’s worst enemies are. They all instantly respond Japan is No. 1. I think the US was No. 2. When he asks who China’s best friends are, they all stare at him with blank eyes. It’s all about education….

FOARP, thanks for the sharp observations. Indonesia is especially interesting. (Baffling, really.)

March 31, 2009 @ 6:56 pm | Comment

Didn’t George Soros develop a theory called something like “Reflexivity”?

Doesn’t the theory of Reflexivity hold that people are basically MAD, i.e., that people base their actions on their perception of reality, which inevitably veers too far afield resulting in a reality crisis?

Soros should know: He grew up as a hidden Jew in occupied Hungary.

March 31, 2009 @ 7:29 pm | Comment

I think this survey is just wrong. Like those ‘surveys’ of the world’s most liveable cities, it uses a few simple figures to try explain a very complex and subjective issue. In my limited experience, most Chinese are quite well aware of what the world thinks of China. But they don’t want to admit it publicly. It’s like a family that knows the father beats the mother. Yes, they know what’s going on, but they’re going to stick together and defend the family honour, especially to outsiders.
Contrary to what this survey suggests, I find most Chinese have an ingrained sense of inferiority and resentment fostered by the propaganda about the foreigners 19th century humiliation of China and their technological backwardness when compared to Japan. The ‘everything in China is rosy’ is an overcompensation for that.

March 31, 2009 @ 7:44 pm | Comment

Point being I tend to agree that we have to move on from thinking about China’s media as “propaganda” in the classic sense, and further be hesitant about making “cultural” arguments like Chinese culture doesn’t allow criticism.

Boy you are so not understanding my point. My fault, writing too pithily. Nowhere did I say Chinese culture does not allow criticism. To say a culture has no critique of itself is to say that within itself it does not contain any systematic questioning or exploration of the roots of its own actions, values, and behaviors, rather, it accepts them as given and good and moves on from there. That is why the examples you give are not apropo, at least not to me.

Michael, so are you saying the Chinese culture/mentality is inferior, since according to you, it lacks self critique compared to the Western culture/mentality?

Yes, that’s right, I must be saying that. I couldn’t possibly be arguing for a more complex view of Chinese culture than “superior/inferior” or “propaganda rules all”.

To seek an explanation for “why do people so commonly behave like X” or “why do people so commonly express X” in a particular place is not to argue for cultural inferiority or superiority. I assume everyone here is wise and intelligent (well, not Math) and have long since put away childish things like that. It’s valid to ask “Why is there such a massive gap in the US and China between what they think and what the world thinks of themselves?” Perhaps that question has the same answer in both cases, perhaps it does not. But since this is a China blog, I thought we’d talk about China. Actually, I rather liked your point about the narrowness of the poll sample population, but it also applies to the US.

*sigh*

Note that I came to this conclusion living in Taiwan and watching people interact in a democracy where there is much freedom of speech, not living in China, where teh State has an extensive propaganda program. My point has nothing to do with “criticism” or with the Party propaganda apparatus. It’s lot closer to this:

“It’s not that China does no wrong, it’s that wrongness is incompatible with China”

What a sweet quote. Wish I’d said it.

Michael

March 31, 2009 @ 7:54 pm | Comment

@foarp

“for example, China has more negative image in Turkey than it does in the UK” Is it me, or does Turkey in fact appear to hate just about everyone?

@richard

yeah i read river town. fantastic book and his follow up oracle bones is equally good. unfortunately i read river town after going to china for the first time to teach english rather than before. if i had done so i think my initial visit would have been much better and smoother. it not only works brilliantly as a piece of observational journalism, but i think it is also an excellent “how to” guide on teaching english in china. hessler was clearly a superb teacher and an inspiration to his students. the only way i could say i was similiar to him was the fact that i was also given the same excretable textbook for teaching writing classes with the three gorges dam essay which he cites.

@michael

“To say a culture has no critique of itself is to say that within itself it does not contain any systematic questioning or exploration of the roots of its own actions, values, and behaviors, rather, it accepts them as given and good and moves on from there.”

excellent point. i was recently reading a book discussing differences between the philosophy of european and chiense antiquity. one of the points that really struck was that the greeks really discussed everything, whereas no chinese philosopher (at least those whose writings survive) ever really questioned the idea of the ruler as the son of heaven and the right of the ruling class to rule.

March 31, 2009 @ 8:20 pm | Comment

To be quite honest, I think comparisons of Chinese and ‘western’ culture, especially those which start with early philosophers, to be largely a waste of time. The situation here in Britain, for example, is much more a creation of Ayn Rand and Margaret Thatcher, than it is of Plato. Likewise modern-day China is largely a 19th/20th century construct. Why not refer to the Roman philosophers – who were very much supporters of the establishment? Why not refer to the ancient Britons/Germans/French – none of whom seemed very willing to brook criticism? Why refer to a few people who taught in a few city states on one part of a peninsula on the edge of a large continent?

Modern-day Chinese culture has little room for criticism of the ruling party because the ruling party has little room for it – end of story. If you wish to say that people find criticism of their own culture difficult in the PRC and Taiwan, the same applies to the rest of the world – but I have found much more in the way of free criticism of every aspect of life in Taiwan than I have on the mainland.

I suppose I should add that I am very biased towards Taiwan in as much as the year that I lived in Miaoli was among the happiest of my life, and if I could find a way of making a living there doing anything other than teaching English I would be off like a shot.

March 31, 2009 @ 9:19 pm | Comment

@Michael

“To say a culture has no critique of itself is to say that within itself it does not contain any systematic questioning or exploration of the roots of its own actions, values, and behaviors, rather, it accepts them as given and good and moves on from there.”

Thanks for the clarification…something to think deeply about, but please forgive me if I can’t take your word for it, it’s a broad stroke to brush, but maybe you have something there…

March 31, 2009 @ 9:44 pm | Comment

“it also reminds me of the time when i received an essay from a student explaining to me how the chinese are modest, because they don’t consider themselves the smartest in the world. apparently it is the jews who are the most gifted.”

As a Chinese,I like to add something you may interested in. It’s not we,the students think we Chinese the smartest people,it’s the guys like you,for example,the professors teaching in the foreign university think Chinese are the smartest people. Herein,you may ask why. I tell you why, the Chinese students in the classroom are not interactive with the classmates, and seldom raise questions,but they always come with a A score.Then the professors begin to ponder and muse:The Mysterious Orient.

March 31, 2009 @ 9:47 pm | Comment

@Amadeus – Or, sometimes they say nothing and fail abysmally. Silly generalisations like that have little to teach us.

March 31, 2009 @ 9:53 pm | Comment

That comment by Amadeus is award-winning. Let me add, blacks are great dancers and Jews control all the banks.

March 31, 2009 @ 10:11 pm | Comment

@amadeus

“it’s the guys like you,for example,the professors teaching in the foreign university think Chinese are the smartest people.”

i am not a professor (and am indeed flattered you appear to have raised me from my senior/gre taking status from the other day), but i can assure you that from my experience i don’t consider the chinese to be the world’s smartest people.

“Chinese students in the classroom are not interactive with the classmates, and seldom raise questions,but they always come with a A score.”

all of them? what, every single chinese student in the uk? really? wow……
even if that were true (and i strongly suspect that it isn’t) here’s my horrible generalisation to match yours:

assuming your assertion is correct, my answer to why chinese do well abroad would be this. in chinese schools, science and maths are privileged at the expense of the humanities and social sciences, which are seen as soft subjects. the reason why these subjects are seen as soft is the humanities and social sciences are not taught on the basis of examing differing points of view and analysing them in an essay, but being taught what the party thinks and being expected to memorise it. the sciences and maths are the only subjects which require critical and logical thinking to succeed in. the chinese when studying abroad therefore choose the science and maths subjects, and, as they are pushed to a higher level earlier than uk students do well at them. if they don’t do a science or science related subject they do mickey mouse courses like “business studies” or some such. i believe that many of my former students would do well in the sciences or related subjects, but if they produced the sort of thing i had to read in a humanities or social science subject, they would be laughed out of the room. that is, assuming they could get on the course.

nothing particularly mysterious here. if you work hard at a certain subject more than your peers, you are likely to do better than them.

@foarp

my point wasn’t so much discussing the west vs china, but pointing out that michael’s comment reminded me of something i read recently and thought would be worth raising. the reason why the author looked to compare the greeks and the chinese would be as the author chose philosophers who existed and wrote during a similiar time period, but on other sides of the planet. whilst you are right that the reason “Modern-day Chinese culture has little room for criticism of the ruling party because the ruling party has little room for it” i think it is interesting that even in times of comparative freedom chinese writers were not questioning major parts of the status quo.

apologies for the long comment.

March 31, 2009 @ 10:22 pm | Comment

“Steve, I’m not suprised that people give you strange looks when you unload that particular perception of Jews.

Do any of them ever say “What the F*ck! Exactly which Jews are you talking about?” Because that’s what is running through my mind at the moment.”

Twisted_Colour, well, maybe you are right. But following your logic, for commenter discussing chinese here, are you going to say “What the F*ck! Exactly which Chinese are you talking about?”

March 31, 2009 @ 10:54 pm | Comment

[...] this to “an element of racism” in the context of China’s unpopularity (via The Peking Duck), a factor that might apply in India’s case as well. From the geopolitical angle, the [...]

March 31, 2009 @ 11:23 pm | Pingback

RE: (Si)I was recently reading a book discussing differences between the philosophy of european and chiense antiquity. one of the points that really struck was that the greeks really discussed everything, whereas no chinese philosopher (at least those whose writings survive) ever really questioned the idea of the ruler as the son of heaven and the right of the ruling class to rule.

I strongly recommend you to read some Chinese philosophy in original text as opposed to second-hand or third-hand sources.

For me, the finest element in Western intellectual traditon is quite similiar to that in Chinese tradition:

Socrates: “As for me, all I know is that I know nothing.”

Confucius:” What you know, you know, what you don’t know, you don’t know. This is knowledge.”

By the way, you may find anti-establishment philosophy in philosophical Taoism.

April 1, 2009 @ 12:01 am | Comment

@Turton

Yes, that’s right, I must be saying that. I couldn’t possibly be arguing for a more complex view of Chinese culture than “superior/inferior” or “propaganda rules all”.

I take it back. It’s no longer about you making doublespeak. You genuinely believe this. By obfuscating it, will it be less a case of holding 2 contradictory ideas in your head? Good luck.

@FOARP

#1 Time passes. We can go back to the same place again, with the same mates or even with the same lovers… But that feeling likely won’t be there any more. It’s us, like a river, have moved ahead.

#2 Zhou Enlai once famously said he was first a Chinese then a communist. Mao earned his admiration and respect from Chinese intellects back in the Civil War with his ancient-style poems. Wen quoted Mencius (Mengzi) when he assumed the premiership. Rand or Thatcher didn’t pop out a vacuum. Methinks you are way underestimating how the inner us, and the civilization in general, are the continuation of many past generations.

April 1, 2009 @ 1:15 am | Comment

You think 60% admiration ratio is in the same class as 92% ? Interesting.

April 1, 2009 @ 1:19 am | Comment

“but also that Chinese culture/mentality appears to lack any critique of itself

Chinese people are self-critical but the “culture” as a whole, probably not. Then again, people from different areas of China can be fairly critical of other “Han Chinese” from different regions.”

“critique of itself” is critique of itself by others, while “self-critical” is critique of itself by itself. Accepting self-criticism while denouncing critique of itself is like “do what I say, not what I do.”

April 1, 2009 @ 1:30 am | Comment

@Your Friend

You said: There haven’t been murderous race riots committed by Han Chinese for a long time, maybe even thousands of years.

It is a very common mispercetpion that China has not experienced racial violence, except in case where Han Chinese are the victims, of course.

Here is just one example. There are others, much close to time.

“The scale and scope of the anti-Hui violence perpetrated by Han Chinese in the fifteen-odd years leading up to the rebellion is staggering. In 1839 a local military official organized a Han militia that, with the implicit consent of ranking civil officials, killed seventeen hundred Hui in the border town of Mianning. Six years later, in the early morning hours of 2 October 1845, local Qing officials, aided covertly by bands from the Han secret societies, barred the city gates of the southwestern Yunnan city of Baoshan and carried out a three-day “cleansing” (xicheng) of the Hui populace (Lin 1935, 7:13b-14b). Qing officials and their bands slaughtered more than eight thousand Muslim Yunnanese, regardless of age or gender (Li 1953, 5-9; Jing 1991, 35; QPHF 1968, 14:16b). Given the sheer scale of the attack and the number of Hui casualties, it is incredible that the governor-general who investigated the slaughter-although not condoning the behavior of those provincial officials and Han Chinese implicated in the massacre-lay blame for it on the Hui. “The Hui,” he memorialized to the emperor, “display a strong sense of solidarity, and their character is fierce …. The Han are simply not strong enough to stop them” (Li [18651 1974, 14:26b). Perhaps not surprisingly, these and other massacres excited rather than assuaged Han antagonisms. In early 1856, the Han gentry and the top Yunnan civil and military officials set into motion a plan to “attack the Hui in order to exterminate the Hui” (Rocher 1879, 36; see also QPHF 1968, 6:18b-19a, 8:3b-4a).” (p. 1085)

“In addition to challenging prevalent Han stereotypes of the Hui as the aggressors, the Kunming Massacre of 1856 offers equally powerful testimony against those who suggest that the Hui are simply Han Chinese who practice Islam. As the ethnic selectivity of the massacres vividly demonstrates, the Hui, in the eyes of the Han, were not an ambiguously defined or imperceptible group, even in the diverse ethnic context of Yunnan. Nowhere in any account of the Kunming Massacre are there examples of Hui attempting to escape the violence by passing themselves off as Han Chinese. This absence suggests that the Hui identity was not simply a set of internalized religious beliefs that could easily be shed or hidden to avoid detection but, rather, that it was a broader set of identifiable markers visible to both Hui and Han. Yunnan Hui often lived in separate villages (some even labeled as such, e.g., Huihui village), or they clustered in a Hui district of the city. In some urban centers, the streets that ran through the Hui neighborhoods not only identified the area as Hui dominated but also often carried derogatory connotations such as a street in Kunming called Zhuji Jie (Pig-gathering road)-an obvious slight to the Hui’s prohibition of pork (Zhang 1986, 125, 304).5 Yunnan Hui also dominated certain occupations, such as caravan trading, mining, and tanning-a domination that further spread their settlements and resulted in a broad web of commercial, social, and religious networks throughout the province.” (p. 1087f)

“Blinkered Visions: Islamic Identity, Hui Ethnicity, and the Panthay Rebellion in Southwest China, 1856-1873,” The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 62, No. 4 (Nov., 2003).

April 1, 2009 @ 1:59 am | Comment

Once not so long ago I mentioned that Deng Xiaoping was a Hakka to a Han Chinese who became visibly angry about the concept.

So I dropped the subject.

April 1, 2009 @ 2:31 am | Comment

I believe the famous chinese admiral Zheng He was a Hui.

April 1, 2009 @ 2:43 am | Comment

@Hemulen – There was also, if you like, the massacres of Manchu in 1911/12, and the slaughter of foreigners and christian converts in the Boxer Rebellion (which was also initially anti-Manchu).

April 1, 2009 @ 3:17 am | Comment

“By Lindel

Once not so long ago I mentioned that Deng Xiaoping was a Hakka to a Han Chinese who became visibly angry about the concept.

So I dropped the subject.”

do you have any understanding what Hakka is? these’re Han Chinese who migrated from north of the yellow river to south of the yangtze during 250AD when northern
China was invaded by the nomadic tribes. they’re not another ethic minority if that’s you trying to say. not only Deng Xiaoping was a Hakka but so was Mao Zedong. any Chinese with a middle school education would know that.

Please try not to make up stories to prove your point.

April 1, 2009 @ 5:19 am | Comment

Why is such a perception gap surprising? Shouldn’t that be obvious for a while now? Don’t be stupid, this is NOT a belief that needs to be justified. I don’t EVER see the west justifying beliefs like “human rights is god given and universal”, or “democracy is the only morally acceptable form of governance”, etc. Of course China would see itself as a positive influence. If they don’t even believe in the merits of their belief system, how can China hope to propagate its theory of social/economic development elsewhere?

And taking the torch through Tibet was NOT stupid. It was supposed to be a nationalistic rally and it did JUST that. The whole escapade fed nationalism and managed to unite the Chinese people on previously unimaginable level. All those “China threat” theorists won’t be happy, but CCP is VERY happy. China has always depended on and has always been immensely proud of its collectivism. Nothing to stoke that collectivist feeling better than some wounded pride and a sense of common battle front. Maybe it doesn’t serve the US well; but the CCP isn’t exactly there to serve the US, eh? It certainly serves China very well.

So, I don’t see any problem with the perception gap. China needs that sense of confidence in her own theory of society ought to look like. The nation has fallen quite a few times into the trap hole of invalidating everything Chinese and traditional and trying to become the west. And that’s just BS. So it’s great to see a change. This kind of confidence serves China well today. For all of you that find it a problem, ha, tough.

April 1, 2009 @ 5:55 am | Comment

Twisted_Colour, well, maybe you are right. But following your logic, for commenter discussing chinese here, are you going to say “What the F*ck! Exactly which Chinese are you talking about?”

That’s easy, Steve. Mainland Chinese, more specifically, Mainland Han Chinese. Not New York Chinese, Lithuanian Chinese, Polish Chinese, St. Kilda Chinese, Iraqi Chinese, Egyptian Chinese, Berber Chinese, Lebanese Chinese, Russian Chinese, Kurdish Chinese, Syrian Chinese, Bukharian Chinese, Mountain Chinese, Georgian Chinese, Ashkenazim Chinese or Madonna-style Chinese.

There may be a Chinese diaspora, but there has always been a China.

Now: What the F*ck! Exactly which Jews are you talking about?

Also, http://images.theage.com.au/ftage/ffximage/2009/04/01/010409_th_cartoon_copy_gallery__586x400,0.jpg

Heh.

April 1, 2009 @ 7:23 am | Comment

@Lindel,

The Hakkas are Han Chinese, you know. Beats me therefore why your interlocutor became “visibly angry”.

April 1, 2009 @ 7:43 am | Comment

Lindel,

Although I’ve never heard of Hakka communities in Sichuan and cannot comment on Deng’s cultural/linguistic origins, there is no doubt that Hakka are Han. In fact, the Hakka have stronger claims to Han culture than their often hostile Cantonese and Fujianese neighbours. Hakka origins can be traced to the central plains of the Yellow River valley, the cradle of Han civilization. Heavily fortified Hakka (‘guest families’ in Cantonese) villages were established in the mountains of southern China as successive waves of northern Han Chinese migrated southwards to escape the invading nomads that periodically swept down from the steppes (Huns, Turks, Tibetans, Xianbei, Khitan, Jurchen, Monglols, etc…). The Hakka are a cultural curiosity, with strong communities in Taiwan, Southeast Asia, India, Mauritius, and South Africa that have retained aspects of Han culture long since lost in northern China, while many modern day northern Chinese have nomadic origins. This is all very interesting but going off topic…What really needs to be said here is that Han is not a monolithic nor homogeneous “ethnicity” in the sense that it is often used by the western media. The disconnect between the self-image of Han Chinese and foreign perceptions, despite the multi-ethic origins of Han identity is a contradiction in and of itself.

April 1, 2009 @ 7:49 am | Comment

“Now: What the F*ck! Exactly which Jews are you talking about?

Also, http://images.theage.com.au/ftage/ffximage/2009/04/01/010409_th_cartoon_copy_gallery__586×400,0.jpg

Heh.”

Well, I do not think you answered your own question: “What the F*ck! Exactly which Chinese are you talking about?”. Replacing all the Chinese with Jew in your sentence, you got a sentence pointing to the same place, which is “nowhere”.

As to the hanging of Tibetan, it really doesn’t mean anything except for some cheap joke. First of all, there is no hanging in China. Secondly, to my knowledge, CCP always treat minority lightly for ethnic conflict.

If there is a fight between Tibetan and Han, or muslin and Han people, 90% percent of time Han people get more punishment. If you do not know that, you really do not know much about China.

April 1, 2009 @ 8:13 am | Comment

If there is a fight between Tibetan and Han, or muslin and Han people, 90% percent of time Han people get more punishment. If you do not know that, you really do not know much about China.

Source? I’m willing to believe you. What kind of punishments did the soldiers and/or their officers receive for the brutalities against Tibetans 50 years ago?

April 1, 2009 @ 8:19 am | Comment

“What really needs to be said here is that Han is not a monolithic nor homogeneous “ethnicity” in the sense that it is often used by the western media. ”

That is a message somehow ignored by most western media. Chinese, or Han, essentially is a result of melting pot effect of multi-ethnic group.

Just like US, china should ensure people from ethic group have equal opportunity to develop themselves to their full potential. But all these development should be achieved under the condition of pledging “one Nation indivisible”.

April 1, 2009 @ 8:20 am | Comment

A note to Ferin/Yourfriend: You force me to filter your comments, and I’ve been letting most in when you stick to the subject and don’t try to screw everybody up. Your last comment, which doesn’t appear, was actually intelligent and you obviously spent a lot of time writing it. But then it deteriorated at the end with the screed against idiotic bloggers and various other insults. I was debating posting it, edited, but accidentally deleted it with the rest of the spam. That doesn’t have to happen. If you could control what seems to be a hard-wired need to hurl insults at those you disagree with there’d be no problem. That’s a big IF, unfortunately, and until then I have no choice but to hold your comments. Can’t you get your points across without the invective?

April 1, 2009 @ 8:30 am | Comment

“That is a message somehow ignored by most western media. Chinese, or Han, essentially is a result of melting pot effect of multi-ethnic group.”

Then why were you trying to portray Chinese and Jews as two uniform groups possessing similar qualities? Huh?

“If there is a fight between Tibetan and Han, or muslin and Han people, 90% percent of time Han people get more punishment. If you do not know that, you really do not know much about China.”

As Richard asked: Source?

April 1, 2009 @ 8:35 am | Comment

“Source? I’m willing to believe you. What kind of punishments did the soldiers and/or their officers receive for the brutalities against Tibetans 50 years ago?”

Richard, you are essentially asking two questions. One is about the conflict between Tibtan and troops 50 years ago; the second is about the preferential treatment recieved by minority.

For the first one, the event 50 years ago was more about class warfare than about ethnic conflict. As Mao had done with land reform, most landlords across China suffered. I am not sure about the exact brutality you had in mind. Maybe you can point a source for me.

I will venture that most of brutality was between Tibetans, e.g., from those suppressed Tibetan group. (Please do not tell me there was no suppressed group. Do you know why Banchan Lama sided with CCP in 1959? Dalai Lama chased him out of Tibet and CCP sent him back with force. Power struggle everywhere. No surprise.)

Regarding the preferential treatment for minority, there are numerous:
1)no birth control
2)extra scores for college entrance exame
3)only Tibetan can get retail sale license in Tibet; The reason you see that so many Han people is because they purchased license from Tibetans. Well, it is much like people casino rights from Indian tribes,
etc….

April 1, 2009 @ 8:42 am | Comment

@schtickyrice

There has been a significant Hakka presence in Sichuan since at least the reign of the Kangxi Emperor. E.g. the writer Han Suyin is a Sichuanese Hakka (on her father’s side). Also (I think) the former PLA C-in-C, Zhu De.

You said: “What really needs to be said here is that Han is not a monolithic nor homogeneous “ethnicity” in the sense that it is often used by the western media.”

Very true.

April 1, 2009 @ 8:43 am | Comment

“Then why were you trying to portray Chinese and Jews as two uniform groups possessing similar qualities? Huh?”

I certainly do not want to digress to this topic too much and ends up Richard calling me troll. Each ethnic group certainly share some similarities, due to its traditional culture, such as Judaism for Jews and confucians for Chinese. Lots of Jews may not follow Judaism, but can still keep many elements of Jewish tradition.

Because of chinese tradition, chinese put a lot of emphasis on education. Rightly or wrongly, chinese has a perception that Jewish family put a lot of emphasis on education. That is the similarity I am refering.

If you want to be picky and still go back to you original polite question, “what the F*….”, I think you are just being rude and lack of logic thinking. Do not worry. Each people has some bad time.

April 1, 2009 @ 8:55 am | Comment

Steve, you made a blanket statement that ” 90% percent of time Han people get more punishment” and I asked what your source for it was. You still haven’t told us.

If you don’t think there was any brutality performed against Tibet and its monasteries after The Glorious Emancipation we may as well end the discussion here. I know it wasn’t necessarily good versus evil, but I do know the Chinese crushed the revolt with considerable brutality. If they hadn’t done that, they’d have a much easier time defending their Tibet policy today.

But don’t evade the issue – what’s your source for the 90 percent? If you counter by simply asking me what my source is for something, then we’ll all know you’re a BS’er. You can get out by simply acknowledging this was a hypothesis, or that you made a mistake, or you can give the source (most unlikely of the choices, I know). But if you rant on and duck the question we’ll know this is not a serious discussion.

April 1, 2009 @ 8:57 am | Comment

@Rich
Overseas, glad you see Pakistan as a good buddy. You can tell a man by the company he keeps.

They’re a bit better than the Saudis.

@FOARP
@Hemulen – There was also, if you like, the massacres of Manchu in 1911/12, and the slaughter of foreigners and christian converts in the Boxer Rebellion (which was also initially anti-Manchu).

It’s not slaughter if you’re killing armed invaders who break all your laws and try to Christianize the entire population, but military action in self-defense. It can’t be helped. A lot of innocents died in the battle, but we would call this “collateral damage” in the 21st century.

@Hemulen
The scale and scope of the anti-Hui violence perpetrated by Han Chinese in the fifteen-odd years leading up to the rebellion is staggering.

In the history of military conflict with the so-called “Islamic world” and Han China, the Muslims have always been the aggressors. There is no stereotyping there. Only in the modern age or during the Mongol Invasions were Muslims really ever “victims”. Particularly in Yunnan, the non-Muslims were treated like second class citizens (to put it lightly) and subhumans or “kafirs/heretics”. There are many records of Muslim traders abusing slave labor. The local Yi/Bai were also gradually displaced if I’m not mistaken. There was no one-child policy for Muslims, and the “kafirs” were definitely not tax exempt.

@Lindel
Once not so long ago I mentioned that Deng Xiaoping was a Hakka to a Han Chinese who became visibly angry about the concept.

That amusing but false anecdote would be more believable if you knew enough to know that the Hakka are also Han Chinese.

@Bill
Accepting self-criticism while denouncing critique of itself is like “do what I say, not what I do.”

Except when the “critique of itself” is not critique, but baseless attacks, endless negativity, outright lies and shameless insults with no basis in anything but pure hatred, it’s called “common sense”.

@Si
in chinese schools, science and maths are privileged at the expense of the humanities and social sciences, which are seen as soft subjects

Except, Si, the Chinese students in Britain exceed all other groups in the “humanities and social sciences” as well. Keep up your distortions and racial propaganda.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/chinese-pupils-eclipse-all-other-ethnic-groups-in-english-tests-436560.html

Children of Chinese origin have outperformed every other British group in English by the age of 11, according to an ethnic breakdown of exam and test results published yesterday. Chinese pupils eclipse all other ethnic groups in English tests

And these figures include recent Chinese immigrants who do not have English as a first language.

I’ll leave you to read that while you silently seethe with rage. First off, amadeus is right when he says it’s not the Chinese/Japanese/Koreans/Mongolians/Tibetans/Manchu, but many educators who are saying the “Asians” are intelligent. This creates resentment and anger in many other ethnic groups and white racist “educators”, many of which are working in China.

The Chinese themselves rarely ever give excessive praise to their children.

What we have here in this thread, ultimately, is lots of white males who hate China and Chinese people and are digging all the way back into the 64th century B.C to find acts of “racism” in the Pingpong Dynasty to justify the vile lies they spew about them. They are paranoid, insecure, full of hatred and flipflop between a perverted Orientalist fetish and full-fledged militant pan-Aryanist neo-Nazism. All this because their general tso’s chicken came out cold, and they suspected an evil racist Chinese conspiracy. Egads! Less-than-special-treatment! Let the Racial Holy War begin!

The truth is, there is no conspiracy, and the “evil Han Chinese” are mostly quite kind and humble. But you’d have to go to the countryside and suffer horrible monkey-poop 3rd world living conditions you have never experienced in the whole of your life in order to find these elusive 800,000,000 rural Chinese. Or you could just leave Shanghai, and find the friendly 503,000,000 urban Chinese.

Thanks for filtering Richard.

April 1, 2009 @ 9:10 am | Comment

If you don’t think there was any brutality performed against Tibet and its monasteries after The Glorious Emancipation we may as well end the discussion here.

Yes indeed there was, but there was brutality everywhere in China and everywhere in the world. There was a eugenics program sterilizing Roma in Sweden (Sweden, for god’s sake. Probably the most “progressive” country in the world) from 1936ish until 1975, interracial marriages between non-white men and white women was banned up until 1967 in America. It was a different world back then.

Another thing to note, that much of the cultural revolution in China was undertaken by Tibetan Communists. That does not absolve the CCP’s hand in destroying many objects of great cultural significance in Tibet, but it also is not simply a “Han vs. Tibetan” thing.

April 1, 2009 @ 9:13 am | Comment

“But if you rant on and duck the question we’ll know this is not a serious discussion.”

Richard, Ok. I only quoted my friend who had lived in Tibet. If you think it is BS because it is not published data, well, so be it. Before you draw a conclusion, I would like to say one more thing. I think you are confusing the conflict between ordinary citizen and the conflict between Tibetan and troops. When I made that state, I have the first type of conflict in mind. I guess you have the second conflict in mind.

However, the preferential treatment I listed out for minorities are well known and can be verified easily. You have been in China long enough that you really should know.

April 1, 2009 @ 9:23 am | Comment

I think you are just being rude and lack of logic thinking. Do not worry.

“What the fuck!” is an expression of befuddlement, dickhead! (now I’m being rude, get it?)

Because of chinese tradition, chinese put a lot of emphasis on education. Rightly or wrongly, chinese has a perception that Jewish family put a lot of emphasis on education. That is the similarity I am refering.

Go and find a anthropologist or a linguist and ask them what steroetyping is. By your “logic thinking” I and most of the people I know are Chinese or Jewish (fwiw many of them are).

Each people has some bad time.

Yes, I’m having a bad time. But that’s because of the ear infection tearing away at my head, not because your ideas of identity, culture and community are all buggered up.

April 1, 2009 @ 9:26 am | Comment

“(now I’m being rude, get it?)”

Okay. I got it. Relax. It is not the end of day. Nice expression of befuddlement. Education, Education. It is never enough.

April 1, 2009 @ 9:28 am | Comment

Ferin, you are being kneejerk again when, in response to a reference to brutality against the Tibetans, you brush it off with the excuse, “everyone was brutal then.” Maybe so. That’s not much consolation to the victims, however.

Your reference to baseless attacks, endless negativity, outright lies and shameless insults with no basis in anything but pure hatred is over the top. I think most people here have a lot of sympathy toward China and I see very little “pure hatred” except when Hong Xing’s around. In all seriousness, where do you see “pure hatred.” Because I’m missing it. Ignorance, maybe. Stubbornness and intransigence, maybe. Stupidity, maybe. But pure hatred?

April 1, 2009 @ 11:06 am | Comment

@ferin

“Keep up your distortions and racial propaganda.”

i am not the one distorting, just giving a generalised response to amadeus’s rather feeble comment. my point wasn’t that chinese are predisposed to being good at science or maths, my point was that if someone works harder at something than their peer group they will undoubtedly do better. the reason why the chinese do well within the uk school system (including those immigrants whose mother tongue isn’t english, but that must be a handful at best) is because of the emphasis placed on education within the chinese culture. this is cultural, not racial. i am not the one, unlike you and amadeus, who is attempting to argue racial superiority. i believe, unlike you, that anyone can succeed and become well educated if they choose to apply themselves regardless of race.

“I’ll leave you to read that while you silently seethe with rage.”

in what way do i come across as seething with rage?

“lots of white males who hate China and Chinese people and are digging all the way back into the 64th century B.C to find acts of “racism” in the Pingpong Dynasty to justify the vile lies they spew about them. They are paranoid, insecure, full of hatred and flipflop between a perverted Orientalist fetish and full-fledged militant pan-Aryanist neo-Nazism.”

what a fantastic comment. if anyone on this blog comes across as a raging, ranting racist it is you. i don’t feel angry towards you, i mainly just feel sorry for you and the hate filled world you have created for yourself.

April 1, 2009 @ 3:42 pm | Comment

Apologies Si, I should have caught that and blocked the comment. I’m working today.

April 1, 2009 @ 3:54 pm | Comment

@richard

that’s fine. if someone read my comment and thought i was being racist i am happy to clarify. his insult was so ott it couldn’t really offend. that sort of comment just reveals what he is really like, without truly upsetting anyone. it is a shame he is the way he is, as he is clearly intelligent. what a waste of a good brain.

April 1, 2009 @ 4:04 pm | Comment

He couldn’t have said it better himself: paranoid, insecure, full of hatred .

But smart, definitely smart.

April 1, 2009 @ 4:08 pm | Comment

Would anyone like some tea…

April 1, 2009 @ 4:20 pm | Comment

@ferin

It’s not slaughter if you’re killing armed invaders who break all your laws and try to Christianize the entire population, but military action in self-defense.

Given your well-documented even-handedness, I’m interested in your interpretation of the 3-14 incident in the light of the above comment.

In the history of military conflict with the so-called “Islamic world” and Han China, the Muslims have always been the aggressors.

Interesting statement. I’m curious of how you interpret the “Shadian incident” of July 29, 1974, when an entire Hui village was razed to the ground by the PLA, killing some 1600 Huis.

April 1, 2009 @ 9:57 pm | Comment

@schtickyrice
while many modern day northern Chinese have nomadic origins.

This is not quite true. According to genetic studies, the Manchu and Mongols left very little genetic impact on the Northern Han population (almost none, both in paternal and maternal lines). The Mongols often killed the women they raped, and the Mongols/Manchu usually forbade intermarriage with non-Mongols/Manchu.

@Hemulen
Given your well-documented even-handedness, I’m interested in your interpretation of the 3-14 incident in the light of the above comment.

The same thing that happens anywhere else. Unemployed young men (with the occasional woman) causing trouble. The reason that the TAR is underdeveloped is because of logistics more than anything else, not because the Tibetans “are oppressed minorities” (everyone in China is oppressed). The Manchu and Koreans have found greater “financial success” than the Han, as an example.

That and of course the remnants of 1950-1960 CIA funded trouble-making. If there was truly a widespread perception of oppression among Tibetans there would be more damage done and more rioters. The excuse that people always come up with at this point is that Tibetans are “peaceful people” incapable of violence and that’s why they aren’t more militant, but that’s all bunk as we know. Tibetans have a proud and long military history and there is no such thing as a peaceful people. If there ever were a peaceful people on this planet, they have already been annihilated by Europeans during the years 1500-2009.

Interesting statement. I’m curious of how you interpret the “Shadian incident” of July 29, 1974, when an entire Hui village was razed to the ground by the PLA, killing some 1600 Huis.

I guess Tiananmen was racial genocide as well? Murder is murder, but this is not motivated by religious bias as you’d like you portray. Unless you mean typical Communist anti-religious behavior, then sure. But tell me again, how are you able to spin this into another “Han vs. x ethnic group” conflict? The CCP is not entirely Han, and once again for those ignoramuses out there Han is not a monolithic group.

@Si
if someone works harder at something than their peer group they will undoubtedly do better.

Do you have proof that they’re working harder or are you doing a bit of “stereotyping” yourself?

this is cultural, not racial

It’s neither. How an individual performs depends partly on environment and partly on genetics, not entirely the former.

I should have caught that and blocked the comment.

If Lindel and Hemulen are not spewing thinly veiled hatred, the CCP loves Tibetans. Trying desperately to portray one ethnic group, even though it’s been said multiple times that it is not a monolithic one, as genocidal is blood libel pure and simple. It doesn’t matter if the culprits are ignorant, stupid, or drunk. That’s not an excuse for lies.

@Richard
Ferin, you are being kneejerk again when, in response to a reference to brutality against the Tibetans, you brush it off with the excuse, “everyone was brutal then.” Maybe so. That’s not much consolation to the victims, however.

No one was brushing anything off. I don’t get what point you were trying to make originally. Again, it should be noted that it was mainly Tibetan Communists partaking in the CR in Tibet. That does not absolve the CCP of anything. What I’m trying to say is that China is not the only country who commits crimes against their populace and the CR in Tibet is NOT the racial conflict the CIA wishes it was. That kind of perspective just oversimplifies things.

However there is a perception in Tibet that the CR was ethnic conflict, and there is definitely resentment among some towards other ethnic groups for this (including Hui) as a result. It needn’t be said that the CCP owes almost all of China’s ethnic groups some sort of redress, and not the laughable, insulting kind that “the West” gives to their former victims.

April 1, 2009 @ 11:48 pm | Comment

“The Mongols often killed the women they raped, and the Mongols/Manchu usually forbade intermarriage with non-Mongols/Manchu.”

Wow. Your not a racist at all, just another Han suffering from western media bias disorder.

April 2, 2009 @ 12:38 am | Comment

I have no problem with Deng Xiaoping being a Hakka or with Zheng He being Hui. I find ethnic diversity interesting.

I really have not researched what a Hakka is. I just recall reading a Deng Xiaoping biography that said he was Hakka and mentioned this to a PRC citizen who did not like the idea at all so I dropped it.

Next time I raise the issue with a Han I will remind them that Hakka are Han so they should not be bothered that I brought it up.

If I had said I think Deng Xiaoping was a Hui or a Zhuangzu then I could see why a chinese should get upset.

Personally I believe being a Han is equivalent to being a Causcasian. The Chinese calling themselves Han are probably a mixture of tribes and races that never had names or the names were forgotten thousands of years ago.

For the record I am full blooded saxon and not a angle/saxon half breed.

April 2, 2009 @ 12:57 am | Comment

Wow. Your not a racist at all, just another Han suffering from western media bias disorder.

So it’s racist to state fact now? I guess certain Mongols waltzed through the gates of Beijing or Yingqing and only did the deed after taking each woman out to dinner and a dance.

No, Lindel, the Tangut Empire had its population cut down by 90%. The Xi Xia was completely annihilated and the refugees fanned out and became the Qiang or took refuge with the Han or Southern ethnic groups, leaving behind their once glorious culture. The women the Mongols raped were more or less systematically killed in the earlier days of the empire. When they passed the Middle East after depopulating Khwarezm they did start to trend towards moderation. That is why there is quite a bit of C3 (one Mongol marker, particularly Genghis Khan’s) in those areas but surprisingly little in Northern China and Tibet.

Your constant vicarious race-card pulling is getting really old Lindel, especially when you have to reach back 700 years and sometimes into your behind to substantiate it. Get to the point, what is your personal “racial grievance” with the “Han Chinese”? Stop trying to paint it as some kind of universal battle against racism. No one is fooled.

April 2, 2009 @ 1:02 am | Comment

sorry, Xingqing.

April 2, 2009 @ 1:03 am | Comment

I really have not researched what a Hakka is. I just recall reading a Deng Xiaoping biography that said he was Hakka and mentioned this to a PRC citizen who did not like the idea at all so I dropped it.

Oh, so you brought it up as an expression of the racial chip on your shoulder and did it deliberately to provoke someone. How many times did you go around sharing this little tidbit before you found one guy who was bothered?

Personally I believe being a Han is equivalent to being a Causcasian.

No, it’s not. “Han” is equivalent to nothing among “Caucasians”, really. Maybe if the EU decides they are an ethnic group in the future, further adopts English as its official language (with German, French, etc remaining strong in their areas) and there is widespread intermarriage. That would be the equivalent of “Han”, with random neighboring groups (many Slavic nations and a few enclaves like Switzerland) not part of it for whatever reason.

Then “Han” would be to “East Asian” as “EU-er” would be to “European”. Strictly in an “ethnic” sense.

April 2, 2009 @ 1:09 am | Comment

[...] Peking Duck (北京烤鸭)的评论: [...]

April 2, 2009 @ 1:44 am | Pingback

@Lindel
“western media bias disorder.”

That was a good one! ;-)

April 2, 2009 @ 2:31 am | Comment

Yes, I guess the victims of the GLF and CR are suffering from “anti-Maoist reactionary disorder”

April 2, 2009 @ 4:22 am | Comment

Wow, yourfriend, I’ve always been under the impression that the definition of racism was: (n) the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races. Thanks OED

But you have enlightened me and now I will append “This definition is dependant upon the mood of yourfriend” to it.

@Lindel: For the record I am full blooded saxon and not a angle/saxon half breed.

What the F*ck!! (Steve, that’s how it’s used.)How would you know? Have you had a genetic assay done? My father, who had nothing better to do, traced our line back to before 1066, but I still can’t say if I’m pure anything (other than white, arsehole and load o’ sexy.)

Holy Crap!!! This thread is doing me in. I usually prefer to limit my comments to ignorant, 1-3 line snark.

April 2, 2009 @ 1:04 pm | Comment

Twisted, thanks for the LOL. Can’t believe this post is at nearly 100 comments,plus a spoof over at China Smack.

April 2, 2009 @ 4:14 pm | Comment

the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race

So I guess if I say almost all Chinese have black hair, it’s “racist”?

The Mongols did kill millions upon millions. This is not because of their genes, but because Mongolia is as hard and frigid place that conditions warlike nomadism.

April 3, 2009 @ 4:56 am | Comment

(I apologize for not all the comments)

As an Israeli living in the region (Israel being one of the most criticized/low-image countries in the world) I find this a fascinating discussion. In the way that the Chinese are discussed here, I would maybe say this sounds familiar in the way Israelis are sometimes discussed in international media. About both, China and Israel, I would say that this phenomenon isn’t Chinese or Israeli, and that the way this discussion is taking place in the comments that I did read suggests that people of all nationalities, especially those of western countries and the states, not only see themselves and their governments in a much more positive light than they perhaps should, but also that they consider themselves to be of somewhat superior culture, moral and ethics. Neocolonialism, maybe. Classic cognitive bias, perhaps.

It’s a classic cross cultural attitude that expats often adopt, especially westerners in Asia. I’ve seen this in the more developed and democratic Taiwan as well (sometimes like Michael who is commenting here). “They don’t know what they’re doing”, “they’re not self-aware”, “they still have a lot to learn”, “back home we do things SO much better”, “we ARE aware”. Are you? Do you now? Is it really?

My take on things – try and apply some cultural sensitivity and see things from a different perspective. Living in Asia and having many Chinese and Taiwanese friends has been a humbling experience for me. Though those Chinese and Taiwanese who connect with an expat like me are already not your average sample, I believe they reflect the diversity of those cultures and the fact that you can find beauty and flaws in any society. There is alot that we can criticize China, Taiwan and Israel for, but we can not apply double standards when we look at ourselves. Looking from within, Chinese, Taiwanese and Israelis sometimes employ much higher self-criticism than some of the North-Americans and Europeans I know, even if they have their own way of doing that and do show patriotic emotions to outsiders. You might not agree with their government’s bottom line actions and what you think their social reaction as people should be, but to that I would encourage you to strongly consider what your government, your people and yourself have all done in the last few years (especially since 2001).

:P ^_^

April 10, 2009 @ 5:31 am | Comment

[...] Turton adds: I think the problem isn’t just propaganda, Richard, but also that Chinese culture/mentality [...]

April 22, 2009 @ 4:25 am | Pingback

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