Xi’an insanity a repeat of the same old story

While I don’t like John Derbyshire very much, I enjoyed reading his recent article on the Xi’an student riots, one of the more bizarre events in recent weeks to come out of China. He makes some keen observations on how outraged today’s Chinese can become over perceived slights to China, and why this same patern of irrational outrage keeps on repeating.

China seems to me a very sad place. If she were a normal country, under constitutional government, China could lead the world. She has an energetic and talented population, with a higher average intelligence than any Western nation and a long, strong tradition of intellectual endeavor. If she could let go of her non-Chinese colonies (Tibet, East Turkestan), she would have a homogeneous population without any of the distractions caused by fractious minorities. With the Confucian ethic of family solidarity still more or less intact, she could run a welfare state much smaller and cheaper than those required in individualistic countries like the U.S.A. Having almost no “installed base” of 19th-century technology, she could carry out infrastructure planning and development from scratch, using modern materials and techniques. China could quite easily be a paradise on earth.

Instead, poor China is stuck in some horrible time warp. Unable to let go of her 19th-century imperial acquisitions, she garrisons vast territories populated by resentful non-Chinese peoples. Her national psyche poisoned by the humiliations of 70, 100, or 150 years ago, she snarls and spits at those who should be her natural friends and trading partners, and amasses armaments whose only purpose can be, or at any rate is, to fill her neighbors with fear and mistrust. Cumbered with a stupid, reactionary and corrupt ruling class, her people cannot make their voices heard. Instead of striding forward into the bright future that should rightly be theirs, they seethe, and burn, and from time to time boil over. Why do you treat us like this? Poor China; poor, poor China.

Link via The Cerebral Smurf.

Why do I dislike Derbyshire? Here’s why.

The Discussion: 3 Comments

I liked the essay too, but there were a few words in there, phrases that I wish he hadn’t written. I edited them out when I quoted him for that reason. It was just a touch too damning of the Chinese, but this is an issue where I think the gloves need to come off a bit so I didn’t mention that in my post.

November 15, 2003 @ 11:01 am | Comment

He obviously has some pretty strong feelings, but I found his argument to be generally sound.

November 15, 2003 @ 11:08 am | Comment

Yes, the Chinese have no one to blame but themselves, but then you might have to actually DO something about it.

Standard “blame the foreigners” game in shame obsessed cultures.

November 16, 2003 @ 7:14 am | Comment

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.