Battle of the blogs: Asian bloggers face off

The comments section over at Brainysmurf are still hopping as Hong Kong bloggers Conrad and Phil, as well as yours truly, face off against charges of cynicism and worse. It’s all good-spirited (mostly, at least).

Then, I came across another site that really goes a bit too far:

For the most part, I can’t stand reading the HK bloggers (and this includes the Peking Duck, which should be considered a de facto HK blog, no matter how much time he spent in Beijing)….overall, I can’t stand their Birch Society, down-with-the-evil-reds mentality. I’ll have to go with the mainland bloggers on this one. The HKers’ cynicism against China isn’t a reflection of frustration for a place they deeply love and hopes [sic] to continue to improve, but rather a conscious attempt to maintain the insularity of their happy little gweilo lives and never have to try to bridge any sort of cultural gap.

Oh dear.

First, my blog contains many more posts about my life in China than my life in HK, so I’m not sure where he is coming from, implying that this hasn’t been a true China blog. But “Birch Society”? Any reader of this site knows I am a cautious liberal, a Democrat, something of an iconoclast and anything but a Bircher. I went to China with great expectations, and was appalled at what I found there. I must admit, before I went I had fallen for the Big Lie myself: I truly believed China was changing, its leadership was more compassionate and open minded, the press was opening up, etc., etc. Now I can only wonder how I could have been so stupid.

There is anecdotal evidence that can back up any of these upbeat claims. And it sounds so good, so convincing. I believed it. And I have never, ever been so shocked at my own naivete. Keep going back to these anecdotes, my Mainland blogging friend. Then go to Page 12 of this week’s Time magazine, which names 4 young men, ages 26 to 32, sentenced by the changing and magnanimous Chinese government “to extended prison terms for ‘subverting state power.'” I quote:

The four men were arrested in 2001 after they formed the New Youth Study Group to discuss sociopolitical issues and to write essays, some of which were posted online. Given that Communist Party organs have begun publicly discussing once taboo subjects such as political reform, the severity of the sentences — Jin and Xu have each been handed 10 years in prison and the others eight — has shocked human rights activists.

Please think about it: Ten years languishing in the Chinese dungeons for….writing essays. If, by expressing my revulsion at such acts of inhumanity, I risk being classified as a Bircher, so be it. If I tell of the corruption and badness that I saw in China and that makes me a fascist, so be it. It’s nice that you are enjoying yourself in China. But to pillory those who tell it otherwise and lump them, foolishly and incorrectly, into one generalized slot — that is inappropriate at best, dishonest and nasty at worst. I would say that virtually every bellicose word Laowai writes is false (and, I suspect, he knows it).

This same site takes an especially viscious swipe at The Gweilo: “I sometimes read the Gweilo Diaries for a perverse kick. Rabid Republican politics mixed with descriptions of his rocking gweilo life, spending $HK7000 every Saturday night, bagging a new Chinese chick every time he goes to some Wan Chai bar. It’s like the expat life my secret evil twin would live.”

Do I sense a repressed case of “blog envy”? Conrad’s readership is huge, and for a good reason — his blog has incredible energy, strong opinions he is willing to fight for (even though he’s often wrong about politics) and he’s a fantastic writer. The Comments below his posts are always bountiful and delicious. Laowai’s Comments, on the other hand, are….empty. There aren’t any. Why am I not surprised?

Okay, sorry to vent a bit, but accusations without foundation coupled with reckless generalizing are ingredients that get my blood pressure rising.

UPDATE: I hope this doesn’t make it sound as though there is a history of animostiy between the HK Bloggers vs. the Mainland Bloggers, like two armed camps. I have been in correspondence with several of the Mainland bloggers for nearly a year now, and never thought there was any friction, let alone hostility. I’m not really sure how this whole thing got started.

The Discussion: One Comment

How come there aren’t any HK bloggers in America that posts? We’re so hard to find…

November 11, 2003 @ 2:14 am | Comment

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