View from a Beijing window

beijing_smog

From James Fallows’ new update from Beijing. Along with the smog, he reports that prices there have soared, and he’s having trouble accessing social networking sites even using an industrial-strength VPN. And I want to go back? (Yes, I really do. For every negative there are many positives.)

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

The Discussion: 20 Comments

I agree with you totally and completely… “And I want to go back? (Yes, I really do. For every negative there are many positives.)”

February 24, 2011 @ 3:25 am | Comment

Same for the U.S.

For every positive there are many negatives…

February 24, 2011 @ 3:45 am | Comment

You can always spot the fenqing. No matter what you say about China, they always steer the conversation toward the badness of America, no matter how irrelevant their point may be. Tunnel vision.

February 24, 2011 @ 3:53 am | Comment

Richard,
Not much logical defence can be found for being a “Fenqing”. I have to admit that I have been a Fenqing from time to time. However, I have to point out that one of the main causes of my being Fenqing is the fact that China (not just CCP)has no voice on the international stage. China is always wrong in every dispute. A lot of Chinese are frustrated by the situation and become hostile to anything Western when they talk about China’s affair.

February 24, 2011 @ 4:04 am | Comment

CNLST, I understand. But I don’t think it’s true at all that China is always represented as “wrong.” Most press about China as a nation has been deliriously glowing. Just check out the business/finance stories on China in recent years. While there are some negative stories (Paul Krugman has written quite a few), it looks like China is a media darling, the success story of the century Where you get negative press is human rights – Liu Xiaobo, Tibet, etc. There is some very poor reporting when it comes to Tibet, and I am the first to admit that, though it comes mainly from pundits who know nothing about China, not the China-based correspondents (usually). Here’s what you need to get: nearly everything you read about every country in the newspapers is bad news. The coverage here and abroad about the fall of the US is devastating. China is not treated any differently than any other country. There is no media conspiracy against it. The whole anti-CNN nonsense has been thoroughly debunked.

I really do understand why Chinese people would be frustrated over coverage of Liu Xiaobo and Tibet and, more recently, “the Jasmine Revolution” (make that non-revolution). A lot of these stories reflect ignorance of China. Charter 08 was not embraced by the Chinese people, as some stories might lead you to believe. Many Tibetans were not at all blameless for the March 2008 riots. Etcetera. But China only makes matters worse by blacking out news and refusing to engage in a serious dialogue with the world about these issues, instead living up to its reputation as a prickly, sensitive child that can only snap back that these are domestic issues and the world has no right to interfere. Maybe they’re right, but their approach only makes things worse, not better.

February 24, 2011 @ 4:21 am | Comment

One wonders if Shaun Rein would blame the sky on cloud discoloration.

February 24, 2011 @ 4:33 am | Comment

Hey, China got props from none other Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi:

“When Tiananmen Square happened, tanks were sent in to deal with them. It’s not a joke. Do whatever it takes to stay united… People in front of tanks were crushed. The unity of China is more important than those people in Tiananmen Square.”

And they say China doesn’t really exert soft power!

But on a serious note, look over at http://granitestudio.org/ where guest blogger Yajun, a PRC native, shows how issues can be discussed in English without reverting to the 100-proof mendacity of a Charles Liu, the utter cluelessness of a pug_ster or Jason, or the cringe-inducing embarrassment of Hidden Harmonies.

February 24, 2011 @ 4:39 am | Comment

@Slim – Except, because she does not entirely support the CCP, she is discounted.

@CNLST – Right now, I am living in Poland – I have to ask, does Poland have much of a voice internationally? Does even the entirety of Europe? Or India? Or Africa? Or Japan? Or Latin America? I wonder if even the (often ineffectual) influence that the United States still commands would be sufficient for the purposes of individuals like “Chinese Netizen”?

@Richard – I had one of those moments which I think nostalgia for life in China makes inevitable the other day. I had been reminiscing with a friend who I knew in Nanjing when I lived there in ’03-’05 over Skype, and then happened to read an article with a picture showing the Nanjing city skyline. I didn’t recognise it for a moment, but then I understood why: probably half the buildings in the picture weren’t even started when I lived there. I haven’t been back since ’07, it must be almost like living in a different city now.

It’s hard to explain, the feeling was rather like that of meeting an old friend whose success has made them a different person. I would still like to go back though.

February 24, 2011 @ 5:02 am | Comment

Slim, thanks for pointing us to Yajun’s post – I just blogged about it.

FOARP, be sure to see my post on the very topic you describe from six years ago, before you joined this community.

February 24, 2011 @ 5:08 am | Comment

I’ve never espoused or really even considered the notion that China was a future domino in a reaction to events in Tunis, Cairo, Manama etc. China is clearly more economically successful than those states. But China is also more repressive — and better at repression — than those brittle, comparatively half-assed dictatorships. A mix of traditional despotism, Leninism with Chinese characteristics and technology in the service of a police state?

But you do have to wonder why the Party is reacting so nervously to the Jasmine flash mob or whatever that was. Seems a little heavier-handed than normal, even with the impending NPC and CPCCC theater season.

Could the Jasmine tweets have been a ruse by the CCP to “draw snakes out of their holes” in a tweak of the old 100-flowers tradition?

February 24, 2011 @ 5:53 am | Comment

Slim, did you mean to put this in the comments to the post above? If so, you can re-post it and I’ll delete this one.

February 24, 2011 @ 6:38 am | Comment

Richard,
It is true that China’s recent economic development has won a lot of awe in the Western media largely due to the dismissal of China’s future and even predication of “collapse” merely 10 years ago. However, awe doesn’t equal to positive feelings. The true feeling behind all this awe is mostly “threatened”. On one hand, USA(or most Americans) sees China as a threat for its economical, political, and militarial potential. On the other hand, USA lectures China how to behave. These two fundmentally conflicting positions determined not only biased but very focused reporting on China. Overseas Chinese has been bombarded by this persistant and biased report on China. I believe that’s the reason why overseas Chinese appear to be more supportive of CCP than they expected to be considering the “free world” they live in. Chinese dissidents dismiss overseas Chinese’s sympath toward CCP as “grass greener in neighor’s yard” syndrom. It is an insult on the collective inteligence of oversea’s Chinese. If decades of living in the West hasn’t convert these Chinese dissidents to CCP loyalists, why living out of China could make other Chinese see CCP any better than before?

February 24, 2011 @ 7:04 am | Comment

On the other hand, USA lectures China how to behave

The US lectures everyone on how to behave – Libya, China, Egypt, Iran. Everyone. So don’t think China gets preferential treatment.

Yes, a lot of people feel threatened by China’s rise. But as I said – and you were talking about media coverage – China very often gets damned good press. Nothing like it. The China economic miracle has become a figure of speech because of it. But the threatening part is generated by scare mongerers like the Washington Times, and by many in the left who fear China’s effect on US labor. In general the media’s coverage of China is not a single bit more biased than it is of every country – which means yes, it’s bias. Nothing close to the Chinese media coverage of the US of course. Not even close.

We’ve had this conversation before, by the way. Many times.

February 24, 2011 @ 9:15 am | Comment

The egotistical ‘slim’ strikes again.

February 24, 2011 @ 2:18 pm | Comment

What would Jesus do?

February 24, 2011 @ 2:21 pm | Comment

Richard – I did mean to post on your other comment. Sorry.

Jason – Do you understand what the word “egotistical” means? Your written record of troll behavior and not seeking truth from facts fully supports my “utter cluelessness”. To someone who normally cheers for the underdog, it is painful to watch you in action.

February 25, 2011 @ 1:34 am | Comment

Well, what Chinese netizens might want to consider is, when you “rise” on the world’s stage and have great power ambitions — and have, in fact, become a very powerful nation — you will get a lot more criticism. It’s inevitable. Take it from an American.

And that’s not making any kind of value judgment here on “right” versus “wrong” actions. The bigger the player, the more the haters.

February 25, 2011 @ 6:37 am | Comment

Jeremiah Jenne of Granite Studio, guesting at Fallows Atlantic blog, helpfully reminds us that the fenqing that seem to run wild all over the blogosphere are actually just a lunatic fringe in China. I have tended to overlook that point as I view with fascinated disgust the mindless trolling that tends to infest nearly every China-related blog and every news outlet that covers China.

At the same time, the “fringe” of a country of 1.3 billion is still a hell of a lot of people.

February 25, 2011 @ 6:51 am | Comment

To Other Lisa,
agreed. Those Chinese netizens should, better than most, understand the phrase “big trees catch more wind” (sounds much more eloquent in Cantonese).

February 25, 2011 @ 9:36 am | Comment

@Slim: not seeking truth from facts.

Well that’s the pot calling the kettle black!

February 27, 2011 @ 2:05 pm | Comment

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