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What does it mean to be Chinese?

Seems like a simple enough question. Actually… while the question of what it means to be Chinese is very simple, it is all of the numerous, equally valid answers that make the issue complicated. We have to accept that there are different answers for different people.

Here is one answer, translated from a post written by an American-raised Chinese on MITBBS (原贴):

I was eating lunch with a good friend (both a colleague and a classmate) a few days ago. He’s a true Englishman, having lived in England from birth through university. Although he’s now attending school with me in the United States, he naturally does so with the identity of an Englishman. Whereas I, as an ethnic Chinese person raised in the United States, have in his eyes been categorized as an “American”. And I will often correct him by saying “I’m Chinese”. This time, when the topic popped up again, he laughed and asked: “From your point of view, what is a Chinese person?”

I believe “Chinese” has three different meanings.

1) From a superficial point of view, it would mean the legal definition. If you are a citizen of the People’s Republic of China, if you use a Chinese passport outside of China’s borders, then this person from a legal point of view is Chinese. Based on China’s constitution, if a Chinese citizen acquires foreign citizenship and a foreign passport, they automatically relinquish their Chinese citizenship. So, with this definition, you can only choose one between the identities “Chinese” and “foreigner”. So, if you acquire American citizenship, you’re no longer Chinese. But I don’t believe the definition of “Chinese” is limited to this.

2) “Chinese” can also be defined on the basis of race and blood. If we talk a little loosely, all of the descendants of Yan and Yellow Emperors, all of the heirs of the dragon are Chinese. Just like the song goes, “always an heir of the dragon“.

If we talk a little more tightly, if your bloodlines are 100% Chinese, then using this definition, you are Chinese, and this will never change. It doesn’t matter what passport you hold, it doesn’t matter what citizenship you hold, even if you grow up or are born in a different country and can’t speak Chinese, you’re still Chinese. But I believe that even this definition isn’t the most important.

3) I believe the most important definition is understanding of China’s language, history, and culture. Understanding of China’s way of life. These people, even if they don’t have Chinese citizenship, even if they don’t have Chinese blood-lines, they can also be called Chinese. For example, let’s talk about Dashan (ed: aka Mark Henry Rowswell). He’s completely fluent in all things “China”; even if he doesn’t have a drop of Chinese blood, when compared to those with Chinese blood but can’t speak Hanyu, he’s more Chinese. And from that point of view, someone can both be Chinese and a foreigner. And I believe that because I grew up in the United States and understand American culture, I am Chinese, and also American.

On some discussion boards, some people argue endlessly over whether someone who’s changed passports should still be considered Chinese. But I believe this is too rigidly claiming the first definition of Chinese to be the most important, or even the only definition of the term. Although I can’t accuse them of being wrong, but I have my opinion on this point. Some people raised in China choose to give up their citizenship after going overseas for various reasons; some of these reasons I can understand, some of these reasons I can’t approve of. But this doesn’t represent that they’ve relinquished their Chinese blood, relinquished the Chinese culture that represents a part of themselves. If some people insist they can forget or discard everything that they learned from the age of 20, and can forget the Chinese language, Chinese culture, and all of the traces left on them by their lives in China… then they either have saintly powers, or are only in self-denial. Our China doesn’t give us saints very often, so I don’t think we need to discuss these people too much further.

In many of those threads discussing the changing of passports, someone will mention patriotism. Now, what kind of definition is appropriate? If you have a Chinese passport, that’s proof you’re a Chinese patriot? Maybe, but that’s not a necessary condition. Many people say “I’m proud of being Chinese!” I often say this myself. But what layer of Chinese am I talking about? I believe the meaning of the first and second layers don’t really apply. No one can choose their blood-lines and where they were born. Anyone that believes they and their descendants are superior to others on the basis of their blood-lines or their place of birth… to be honest, that’s both superficial and pathetic. But to a certain degree, we can select our own culture. And I believe that, when I say I’m proud of being Chinese, I’m not expressing pride over my passport (after all, isn’t it just a red-covered little book?), and I’m not expressing pride over my Chinese blood. Instead, it’s because I was raised and live overseas, but have still maintained my Chinese language skills while trying hard to absorb the broad and deep expanses of Chinese culture that I’m proud… it’s because that I still monitor China’s development, and hope to one day contribute to China’s development that I’m proud.

What does everyone think?

Well, I will duplicate his question. What does everyone think? (On MITBBS, the most popular response has been admiration for his excellent writing in Chinese.)

UPDATE: And I can’t forget to include this version of “Heir to the Dragon“, by US born and raised Wang Lihong.

  1. Buxi
    July 6th, 2008 at 21:21 | #1

    I wanted to return to the discussion with Hemulen above about the Jewish diaspora. There are clear differences between that and the Chinese diaspora, but as I said, I believe there are also similarities.

    You talk about a distinct Jewish religion (rather than ethnicity) as being the fundamental backbone, the raison d’etre for the existence of a unique Jewish community in Europe for more than a thousand years. I believe in the Chinese diaspora, a similar statement can be made about the importance of Chinese culture. Confucianism itself is perceived as either a religion or a philosophy.

    Historically, to most overseas Chinese, their loyalty has been to the clan or home region. Of course, there were some Ming loyalists who went to Japan and elsewhere, but most ordinary Chinese have never felt any attachment to a dynasty as such, the family and the home region mattered. Unlike Jewish communities, who have no particular regional origin in Palestine, most Chinese communities have strong ties to the ancestral region. Regardless of what government that happen to be in the capital, overseas Chinese could return to their home village and meet relatives who speak their home dialect.

    I believe this is only part of the picture. Certainly, many overseas Chinese maintained close ties with a specific region/village, with every birth or marriage carefully recorded in family records for generations after these residents left their ancestral homes. And in many overseas communities, associations based on regional/dialect ties were common.

    But alongside these associations, a more generic Chinese cultural heritage was also prevalent. I’m not an academic, but I’m not aware of Chaozhou or Hakka communities forming their own schools (except for language reasons); my perception is that they freely interacted in joint Chinese schools, where they received the same fundamental education from similar classics. That sort of region-free interaction remains the popular case today, I believe. Certainly in the United States today, Chinese schools are a dominant unifying factor in just about any Chinese community.

    In other words, even though overseas Chinese didn’t have shared loyalty for religious faith, in other ways the community’s shared loyalty for Chinese culture made it distinct even on foreign lands. It seems interesting, for example, that there isn’t the same type of insular, “overseas Chinese” communities in Korea or Japan, where for all intents and purposes until the 20th century, culture across all three was largely shared.

    This just occurred to me. My guess is that one reason for the existence of this unifying factor: the imperial examinations were open to all fluent in traditional culture. In that sense, you could say that for hundreds of years, Chinese citizenship has been defined by cultural fluency rather than birthplace or passport. As long as your children were taught with the Chinese curriculum, they had the prospect for tremendous social and political advancement “in the homeland”.

    So, perhaps this explains why the “cultural view” of being Chinese seems so intuitively sensible to many Chinese! And if we were in the Qing era, perhaps Da Shan would still qualify yet for the title of Zhuangyuan.

    And it is debatable why overseas Chinese should feel any loyalty the Chinese government as it exists today or what gives the PRC government the right to define Chineseness.

    I don’t think that’s debatable at all, because I fully agree with you on at least the first part of that statement. I don’t think overseas Chinese have to be loyal to the PRC government, unless they choose to perceive the PRC as the legitimate incarnation of China.

  2. July 6th, 2008 at 21:23 | #2

    @Hemulen

    “That’s is why the Western press ignores you.”

    Thats so funny, you seem to think that the Western press is in China or report on China out of some higher purpose or out of the goodness of their heart. I am not sure whether I should be happy for you or feel sorry for you for your naivety, but I guess it depends on your age.

    I have only this to say about your above comment – Journalism is a business, a very big business, so wake up and smell the roses already will ye!

  3. Buxi
    July 6th, 2008 at 21:28 | #3

    This just occurred to me. My guess is that one reason for the existence of this unifying factor: the imperial examinations were open to all fluent in traditional culture. In that sense, you could say that for hundreds of years, Chinese citizenship has been defined by cultural fluency rather than birthplace or passport. As long as your children were taught with the Chinese curriculum, they had the prospect for tremendous social and political advancement “in the homeland”.

    To follow up on this point here… this also suggests that the cultural displacement that took part in the 20th century, especially with the cultural revolution, could mean serious consequences for the overseas community. If the overseas Chinese community can no longer maintain meaningful cultural ties with “China”, then the community will gradually disappear.

    Of course, on the optimistic side… technology is bringing us opportunities not available in years past. No longer are “overseas” Chinese truly overseas, not when China is an internet connection, a telephone set, a satellite dish, or a plane ticket away. As a personal example… I would love to send my children to Chinese-centric schools established in the West (similar to IB “International Schools” in China)… failing that, I expect to enroll my children in schools in China on at least a part time basis.

  4. Hemulen
    July 6th, 2008 at 21:47 | #4

    @Oli

    Well, now you are at least trying to debate seriously.

    I knew the PRC government declared that it will only resort to arms should the ROC unilaterally declare independence rather than that it will pro-actively wage war to achieve unification.

    And? It is pretty clear who is threatening who and which government that does not respect the right of the people of Taiwan to determine their own fate.

    You are requesting an absolute totality of information on what people think during the Sung Dynasty that is utterly unrealistic and totally at odds with historical and archaeological research methodologies.

    I don’t. I just don’t agree with the idea that the study Song poetry or archival documents would lend support to the nationalist reading of Chinese history which you seem to espouse.

    Again, you are making big assumptions about “my” government, but trust me that you will be mightily surprised if you only knew exactly who “my” government is.

    Well good for you that you are not a citizen of the PRC. You have the luxury to defend the policies of a government which you are not forced to live under.

    As for reporters, their accreditation and right to enter or to remain in any country has always been subjected to the laws and authority of their host country so that they too are not above the laws of that land.

    You know as well as anyone that this is not a question of enforcing the law, but of power. The PRC government expels whoever they like, whether it is legal or not.

    why is it exactly that you hate China or its government.

    I don’t hate China, but I don’t like the PRC government.

  5. Daniel
    July 6th, 2008 at 21:53 | #5

    It may sound a little ironic and silly for me to say this but after visiting severeal cities and small towns in the Mid-west, both Coasts and Texas in the States, it seems that there are two major institutions which appears to be more of a uniting factor among the Hua Ren communities here…The Church and the Restaurant.

    A lot of these places I’ve visited, these Chinese Churches seem to do a lot in linking people and have quite a lot of determination in preserving their heritage than a lot of organzations. I could also type endlessly at how many issues like dis-organization, personal dramas or other “problems” about the Chinese Christian community (at least the ones in North America), but I really give them a lot of credit for doing such activities. Even after the second generation, a lot of the kids and descendents of these Chinese Christians who leave the Church appear to have more affection and confidence towards their identity. At the very least, they know that no matter how different they are or what problems they face, they are not alone and can take on any challenge. Another interesting note to take is these kids are quite open minded but firm with their personal dignity.
    Overall speaking, I’m pretty sure there’s a good number of exceptions and examples countering what I just typed.

    The second one is the restaurant. Food is such a unifying factor with many people. Even when interacting with a different culture, food speaks more direct than other forms of communication. There’s a lot of diversity within Chinese Cuisines, but the memories associated with Chinese food, in it’s physical display of the Restaurant, helps serve as a constant reminder of that link. For those who haven’t worked in a restaurant or are not “restaurant kids”…the affect a Chinese restaurant in linking people does have it’s own unique qualities.

  6. July 6th, 2008 at 22:22 | #6

    @ buxi:

    But perhaps you’re talking about Wang Lihong, the singer (and actor who put in a great performance in “Lust Caution”)? He was New York-born and entirely US raised, and his primary exposure to “China”, before his professional success, was through Taiwan.

    Yes, I did look up Wang Lihong and mistook him for the author.

    If someone in China goes after American food, and likes American TV shows and music and understand the nuances… does that also makes him American?

    No, China is where that person is born and raised and those factors will forever be the fundamental influence of that person’s viewpoint. They will always instinctively think and do things in a Chinese way and see things from a Chinese viewpoint.

    And what if someone in the US likes Chinese food, reads the Chinese classics, likes wuxia books, and listens to Chinese music… does that make him Chinese?

    Not any more than an American who is a lover of all things British and there are quite a few of those people in the US.

    That’s not a snide comeback. There are a lot of people with cultural exposure to both, compatible and comfortable in both cultures.

    But their basic mentality is formed in the culture they are raised in and even if they are expat kids their first and most important influence is from their parents’ native culture, which will exist at home even in a foreign land. And that forever is their root identity, no matter how much they try to deny it.

  7. Marc
    July 6th, 2008 at 23:11 | #7

    Here is another blog about Christianity in China. This explains why Christian Chinese from Chain don’t support Chinese government.

    http://chinadigitaltimes.net/2008/06/video-jusus-in-china/

    Buxi, back to your discussion on Chinese diaspora vs. Jewish diaspora, here is a book written by a Jewish professor that may give you some new insights.

    Bridge Across Broken Time: Chinese and Jewish Cultural Memory (Hardcover)
    by Vera Schwarcz (Author)

    http://www.amazon.com/Bridge-Across-Broken-Time-Cultural/dp/0300066147/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1215385593&sr=1-3

  8. Oli
    July 6th, 2008 at 23:20 | #8

    @Hemulen

    LOL, how do you know that I am not in China right now or that I do not have more than one, two or even three or more nationalities? People now a days do fly around alot you know on board something we like to call ae-ro-pl-an-es?

    A very good friend of mine holds Czech, Irish and Australian nationalities and he speaks fluent German, his wife is Italian and you can just imagine their children’s identities. Ditto with many Overseas Chinese (OC) and yet they will also continue to support China or even its communist government should they see that a need arise. To many OC, so long as the CCP generally does right by its people and China, whether the government of China is CCP or KMT is really relative and irrelevant. To many ethnic overseas communities nowadays, whether they are Chinese or from other ethnicities, passport and citizenships, like Buxi said, are purely a matter of convenience.

    My reference to Sung Dynasty poetry was to firstly highlight that we actually do know alot about our past, provided people, irrespective of ethnicity, would just get of their fat arse and read more or visit a museum once in a while. Secondly, from Sung poetry and other records Chinese know pretty darn well the nationalist sentiments of those eras. And thirdly, patriotism comes in many forms and guises so that a PRC soldier or government officer are neither more nor less patriotic that the TAM demonstrators, Olympic Torch supporters, present day dissidents and many OC.

    So consequently, you can shove you personal issues with OC sentiments towards China and the PRC government up that part of you where the sun don’t shine. I am tired of addressing your prejudiced ignorance, in which you seem perfectly happy to wallow in and may you never be disappointed for that is the day you’ll realise just how unnecessarily bitter you have been.

  9. Karma
    July 6th, 2008 at 23:26 | #9

    patriotism comes in many forms and guises so that a PRC soldier or government officer are neither more nor less patriotic that the TAM demonstrators, Olympic Torch supporters, present day dissidents and many OC.

    You sure nailed that one. I love China. I will support the PRC to the extent it is doing the Chinese people right. I will support the KMT to the extent it is doing the Chinese people right.

  10. July 6th, 2008 at 23:31 | #10

    @Karma

    Provided we don’t get more people like Chen Siu-bian, I believe that reunification will be a much more gradual process with gradually increasing economic, social and even political ties. And just to be cloyingly poetic about it, more like two trees growing back into one, for that is the Chinese way and preference. However, countries like Japan would probably feel extremely nervous about it for it would then mean that China would exert even greater control over the arterial shipping lanes that control much its flow of oil.

  11. July 7th, 2008 at 00:09 | #11

    @Marc

    If what you say is true then you have my sympathies, however have you ever considered the possibility that many of these house churches were shut down simply because the neighbors were complaining about them to the Gong An? Not everything that happens in China is a government conspiracy and I happen to know that in many neighborhoods there are still old die-hard communists who rejects such happy-clappy :) house churches or any religious activities for that matter.

    Without intending to sound rude, but you born-again Christians can be pretty darn overbearingly pushy sometimes, not to mention sanctimonious and militant. I often get the impression that its as if once you’ve declared your love for the Almighty and baptised you become zealots. It is as though you have something to prove or to demonstrate both to the big guy upstairs and to your fellow born again Christians that you are now fully committed for self-reassurance and affirmation. So you go on a self-appointed “holy mission” to convince and to convert all a sundry about “the message” and “GOD”.

    Have you ever considered that maybe, just maybe many people just do not want all this Judaeo-Christian BS guilt trip thing lay on them? I mean seriously nobody likes it when some fire spitting firebrand tell them or their children either do this or do that, or else they will burn in hell!!! You guys may see it as the best thing since slice bread, but there are many both within and outside of China who just see you guys as being very, very annoying. But then of course, you guys will see it proudly as your very own personal cross to bear, just like the Big Guy’s little boy. Seriously though you guys are just a glutton for punishment aren’t you and if that’s the case may I politely suggest some therapeutic sadomasochism? You might even learn to enjoy that too, just like many priests and preachers already do too.

  12. Hemulen
    July 7th, 2008 at 00:14 | #12

    @Oli

    OK, you just crossed a line there with your uncalled for insults, and I don’t think I’d like to continue the discussion with you. Obviously my calling you on your opportunistic hypocrisy has struck a raw nerve. This blog is not a good advertisement for a more tolerant Chinese patriotism, a patriotism that should be no cause of concern for those of us who really like many things Chinese, but are not of Chinese origin and do not carry a library of passports with us. It may never have occurred to you that my harsh words against extreme expressions of Chinese nationalism, could just have been directed at extreme nationalism anywhere, and that my criticism is motivated by concern for China.

  13. July 7th, 2008 at 00:54 | #13

    @Hemulen

    The road to ruin are paved with good intentions, and maybe countries like China, Thailand and the many African, S. American and Middle Eastern nations have had just about enough of Western “good intentions”, so thank you very much, now shoo and go mind your own business rather than meddle in other people’s.

    As for “opportunistic hypocrisy” and the supposedly library full of passports, sorry if that was true then it would be by the serendipity of birth rather than by choice, but you are obviously too myopic to see that. As for choices, many of us do choose to support China as and when we see the need and the hypocrisy lie more in your own sanctimonious preaching that Chinese people shouldn’t be too nationalistic. What a load of overripe BS. Last time I checked China has never initiated war because of popular nationalism.

    And should you fear Chinese patriotism, then perhaps a more apt question is why is it that you fear it so and whether you are not projecting your own fear and experience onto a culture that, despite its problems, are actually a lot more mature and wiser than many supposedly “sophisticated” Western societies? Because of our culture, many Chinese know that there is nothing to fear, but fear itself and that is why China and its people have endured and persevered when so many other civilisations crumbled.

    And as for your concern for China, thank you, appreciated, but no patronising please. The Chinese people and its government know quite well what they are doing and where it is that they want to go even if they have to place certain priorities over others and that is their choices to make. So stuff it.

  14. Buxi
    July 7th, 2008 at 01:16 | #14

    I’ll step in quickly as a referee here. Oli, you know I appreciate your thoughts and we largely agree on the important issues, but let’s keep our language respectful. These are all difficult topics, and no one is here because they *have* to be… they’re only here because they want to be. I’d rather have Hemulen here with what you consider patronizing arguments so that we can mull them over.

    I know we can have a debate with Hemulen without telling him to stuff anything anywhere else.

  15. July 7th, 2008 at 01:32 | #15

    Yeah, just my lovely and charmingly acerbic personality shining through thats all.

  16. BMY
    July 7th, 2008 at 03:50 | #16

    It seems there are always misunderstanding or mis concept on people from both sides regarding a “nation” and “it’s government”

    very often , if someone loves China then labeled as “loves Chinese government/CCP” while the person just loves “China” and dose not love “CCP” . he might support some of CCP’s policies while against other policies at same time. unfortunately, I am one of these guys.

    very often , if someone criticize Chinese government then labeled as “China hater”. I can see some of the guys here don’t like CCP at all but I don’t see them “China hater”. the real “China haters” would not be bothering on this blog normally.

    we always get confused ,don’t we?

  17. BMY
    July 7th, 2008 at 04:31 | #17

    @Marc, your #145

    “Well, if you were to be in my shoes, would you want your kids to be singled out in school so that political correctness is observed? …… My older kid was made fun of after some cultural awareness day at school. Of course, we have done our part to make sure she is proud of what she is in spite of some “innocent racist comments” (what an oxymoron) from other kids at school. So I am not hostile to sharing Chinese culture, but I am hostile to those “innocent” kids who would make hurtful remarks to our kids. Do you understand?”

    I think you mistakenly assumed what happened to your kids were unique and caused by “some cultural awareness day at school”. I would suggest people like you and me ,who happen to have Chinese faces, have to live up with it ,like it or not,deny it or not.

    As a father of two, I fully understand your feeling. But I don’t think if we don’t wear Chinese customs or don’t dance a dragon would simply avoid the hurtful remarks. There is just no place in the world could live and avoid that.

    Let me tell you my story few weeks ago.

    I was on a train to the city with my kids(2 and 5). There was a anglo boy about 7-8 years old sitting in front of us with his parents. He turned around and look at everywhere in the carriage and also stared at us(for interesting I guess) when we talked. So my kids both stared at him ,of course. Then that kid spoke to my kids loudly”Don’t stare at me, your f**king Chinese.” His parents didn’t say a word. we were not wearing a “stupid old Chinese style clothe.”

    My big one asked me”what did he say?”
    I replied” I don’t know. Don’t worry about what he says.”

    there are always bully kids and ignorant people out there. you got no way to avoid them in life and I think you tried the wrong methods to avoid them. Even you are a pure white, are you able to ensure your kids not to be made fun of by other innocent kids at school?

    It’s life, mate. kids would learn it

  18. July 7th, 2008 at 05:34 | #18

    Thanks BMY – I had missed Marc’s comment in 145 in with the flurry of Oli/Hemulen exchange.

    Marc,
    Actually, I do understand, a bit. I say a bit because my kids haven’t been subjected to the sort of racist abuse as BMY’s kids or your own. My kids are half Chinese. Which, I imagine, has made an odd sight over the last 16+ years – what is a white guy doing with a couple of Chinese kids? However, thankfully, not once has anybody made a derogatory remark about my kids in my presence. (I just asked my oldest (17) about this question – it’s never come up before between us. He says that only people he knows says anything about his Chinese-ness but then everybody teases everybody – so not a big deal, he says.)

  19. BMY
    July 7th, 2008 at 07:08 | #19

    Buxi,

    a ideal came up my mind when I sit in a Chinese Anglican church to see what they were doing just for interesting if I could catch up with some faith. few little Chinese kids were taught about what happened few thousands of years ago to the ancestors of jews in present day middle east while these kids know little about what happened to their own ancestors at the same time. (not intend to offend any religion. parents have every right to put kids what to learn )

    I also always wandering what kept Jewish identity for more than a thousand years of with out a Jewish nation. Many other ancient people simply disappeared by that.

    My simple understanding is they have two things kept them survive.

    First one is a book and the second one is Synagogues .

    Why don’t Chinese people have something similar to carry on generation by generation overseas?

    There is a book, just a single book needed , record the ancient Chinese history+Confucianism+Daoism, whatever the ancient Chinese isms scholars agree to put it on. of course should have some thing similair from other ethnic groups as well.

    Then there are shrines to worship ancestors,the ancient wise(not Mao,sorry). something similar has been done in the history:四书五经and宗庙。I think one book is easier to carry and one kind of shrine to remember all instead of different clan’s own shrines are easier to maintain and pass on.

    Buxi the wise :) (I borrow CaoCao/MaBaole’s word. I really think you are much wiser than me) and other wise on the blog, do you think my idea is doable? It shouldn’t be that hard to put few books together into one. Anyone rich here can help to print the book?

    Then we go to the shrines every Sunday morning to worship and discuss the book generation after generations like others do.

  20. snow
    July 7th, 2008 at 07:56 | #20

    Marc

    for your comment #145

    I can hardly believe that you were educated in the West, for your posts impressed me as lacking a basic respect and tolerance to other people’s rights for different opinions. You have such a habit to label people whose views you dislike as isms- follower upon speculation or simply refuse to talk to the people whose background differs from yours. Shouldn’t we the mainland Chinese coming to the West have learned to get rid of or at least have exercised certain self-restraint on this CCP attitude long time ago (even the CCP itself has become a bit more open and less rigid)? I’ve seen Christians with a big heart and generous world views. I’ve also seen narrow-minded, rigid Christians who can only see things confined within doctrines. But it is the narrow-minded and rigid plus a fanatic passion and a religious self-righteousness that often appears most troubling and makes people uncomfortable.

    I am yet to see if the PBS piece falls into the typical of Western bias in reporting on Christianity in China. For decades the western media informed the world that there was no freedom of religion in China; that all house churches were brutally suppressed, and that only the house church was truly Christian while the state church was nothing but a government manipulated organ. I am not a Christian, but when I tried to meet people to rediscover China eight years ago I found all these, as many other things reported in the West, were shockingly untrue. Even by then (2000) there was already a generally peaceful co-existence of house church and state church, and the local Three Self committee had maintained working relationship with both.

    I didn’t say all house churches were cult churches. I mentioned three groups of Christians. The cult like criminal ones belonged to the third group which differred from other house churches, namely the second group, mostly dissidents. Read my post again.

    The pastor I talked with was a former “re-educated youth” from a “black” family background working in a former labor camp for nine years. He went to Nanjing divinity school (surely the Three-Self and government supported) in the early1980s and upon graduation became a teacher and vice president to a local divinity school, which has produced many graduates working in churches all over China now. He had invited theologians from overseas and various scholars to give lectures on psychology, arts, environmental issues in an effort to enable the students to have a comprehensive structure of knowledge, not confined to theology, to raise their consciousness of the issues and problems in society in China and the world, and to be in a better position to preach the Gospel with a well-informed worldview and perspective. He is against communism, but this does not mean that he cannot work with the Ministry of Religious Affairs to do as much as he can to help spreading the Gospel, he told me. Well, whose “agent” would you say about him?

    He also has this to say (I quote his own words):

    “The ideas of benevolence, harmony, reconciliation, and Golden Means in Chinese ancient philosophy always strike me as in perfect accord with Christian ideas of love, peace, tolerance, and unity. This is the essence of both great cultures. We Chinese have a special way, cultivated by our traditions, to approach the spirit of Jesus Christ and the Gospel.”

    You said you were a persecuted “house church” Christian from China. This pastor here is also a Chinese Christian unjustly punished in the past but still living in China and with a state church background. Knowing what he has achieved and reading his words above in comparison with your open despise for things Chinese (even an innocent shua shi zi wu giving great enjoyment to common people cannot escape your abhorrence), as well as with your narrow-mindedness revealed in your posts, I cannot help being tempted to raise the question as who is a better and truer Christian.

  21. July 7th, 2008 at 11:15 | #21

    @ Hemulan and Buxi
    re: 144

    I want to add to hemulan here: in the Uk and USA, media analysis groups are focused on their own domestic media almost 100%. Medialens in the UK and F.A.I.R. in the USA, backed by the work of Chomsky/Hermann, focus on domestic outlets and specifically on ‘liberal’ or ‘intelligent’ media, ignoring extremist tabloids. They are more likely to be criticising the BBC or CNN than Xinhua and their work is built around the Chomsky/Hermann western propaganda model from the book Manufacturing Consent.

    Ideas here that ‘the west’ is overtly critical of China over itself is just repeating the ill-informed opinions of fellow nationalists. Also, the famous examples taken up recently like CNN are examples that media commentators back home also regard as unreliable.

    Pressure groups have regarded CNN as completely untrustworthy ever since the creation of ‘embedded’ journalists for the Iraq invasion.

  22. perspectivehere
    July 7th, 2008 at 14:35 | #22

    @Snow / @Marc

    If you don’t mind, I would like to respond to Snow’s challenge to Marc, with a piece of scripture. The source is Paul’s Letter to the Romans 12:14.

    A bit of background: Paul had been a devout Jewish leader who persecuted Christians through arrest and torture (believing they were heretics from the Jewish faith), but after a life-changing encounter with the divine, when he went blind while journeying on the road to Damascus, followed by a miraculous recovery (an event dramatically recounted in the book of Acts), he came to faith in Jesus Christ, and went on to became the most important Christian missionary of the first century, spreading the faith to the far reaches of the Roman empire, and the author of the most important works of the New Testament, other than the Gospels.

    Paul was imprisoned and tortured, and suffered from the persecutions of certain militant members of the Jewish leadership (the Taliban of its time) and the Romans.

    He had direct experience of persecution and torture, both from the giving end and the receiving end.

    He knew what it was like to feel the power of self-righteousness as he inflicted punishment on people whose beliefs were an abomination and betrayal of his beliefs.

    He also knew how it felt to be jailed and tortured, merely for his conviction to spread his religious message.

    Paul derived wisdom from this experience, and inspired by the Divine, he wrote:

    “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.”

    Paul teaches believers that they should respond to persecution in a way that goes against their typical human nature. Paul encourages them to do so, to keep their faith, to return evil with love, and leave settling of any scores for God’s justice.

    Not all believers have the strength or courage or the grace to respond in this way.

    The link below has a reflection on the difficulty of applying this message (I do not know the poster or endorse his website, but the reflection seemed sincere and apt.)

    http://home.earthlink.net/~covenantcomputing/sealed/articles/051002Bless_those_who_persecute_you.htm

    With that as a background, I would like to say to Snow that I believe you are very perceptive of the essential message of Christianity, in your comparison of how two believers “walk the talk”. You seem to be a truth-seeker. Kudos to you, and may you continue to seek the ultimate truth.

    But I think you threw Marc a challenge to which it might be awkward for him to respond without causing rancor.

    At the same time, perhaps Marc should be forgiven for his negativity towards China. Marc obviously had a bad experience when he was there, and no amount of talk will change this until he finds it in his heart to forgive.

    Christians believe that the miraculous transformative power of Jesus will, in time and with grace, heal all wounds.

  23. perspectivehere
    July 7th, 2008 at 15:14 | #23

    @Marc @Snow @Buxi @pug_ster

    Have any of you read this:

    http://www.amazon.com/American-Born-Chinese-Gene-Luen/dp/1596431520

    @Marc – it’s okay. The writer is a Christian:

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/05/09/CM5P10823R.DTL&type=books

    I mention this work because, in comic-book novel form, it presents the feelings of discomfort and rejection that the protagonist, a teenage American Born Chinese, has towards his Chineseness. This book has been well-received and won numerous awards.

    I highly recommend it for helping both Chinese-Americans and Chinese from elsewhere to understand the character, depth and intensity of the disparagement and rejection that many Chinese in America can feel towards their ethnic background (and by extension, towards themselves).

    There are many many negative portrayals and stereotypes of Chinese and Chinese culture both subtle and explicit in America which creates a very negative psychological environment in which to live and grow up.

    Frankly, for all members of minority groups, it is difficult, but the Chinese have had particular difficulties given the U.S.’s anti-Communist stance since the 1940′s as well.

    Also, it is a very visible minority group, but one without much political or cultural clout.

    I would hope that the pro-Chinese commentators here come to understand the unique struggles and difficulties that Chinese in America had to go through and the compromises with their culture in order to survive, psychologically and physically.

  24. perspectivehere
    July 7th, 2008 at 15:29 | #24

    Some more interesting reads on Gene Yang’s American Born Chinese:

    http://www.readaboutcomics.com/2006/08/28/american-born-chinese/

    http://www.firstsecondbooks.com/authors/geneYangBlogMain.html

    http://comicfoundry.com/?p=1530

    From an Interview with Gene Yang:

    “Do you think having this book and writing out your experiences will affect the way you raise your son — or at least make you more cognizant of experiences and environment as he grows?

    GY: I think so. I went to UC Berkeley. And at Berkeley, there’s a really huge emphasis on cultural identity, so I’ve been thinking about these types of issues since graduating from there. Or even while I was a student there. And as a result I’ve really thought about how I want my own kid to grow up and what experiences I want him to have. I think it’s really important for people, especially in the modern world, to have minority experience and a majority experience. I think having those two experience gives them 1 fuller picture of what people go through. I think even apart from the book that’s something I wanted for my kid. I want him to grow up in a place where there’s signifcant fusion American population. And eventually, experience what it’s like to be in the minority.

    How close was the story to your own experiences?

    GY: I took intimates from m own life and mixed them with fiction. It’s not all from my life. Some of it is from friends and stories that I hear from peers — from other Asian Americans….

    Some of the racist that comes out of the character Timmy’s mouth actually comes from a group of students from junior high that we nicknamed the Stoners — the bad kids. And whenever we’d pass these Stoners in the hall they’d always yell these crude and racist things at us. I think that really affected me when I was young and I really wanted a character that embodied that.”

    For some Chinese in America, this is what it means to be Chinese….

  25. Buxi
    July 7th, 2008 at 16:13 | #25

    @perspectivehere,

    I have Gene Yang’s book in my bathroom. :) Great reading material, loved it. I’d highly recommend it to everyone. Makes this Cal Bear proud… although I was too busy in the engineering buildings to feel any sort of “emphasis on cultural identity”.

    @BMY,

    Buxi the wise :) (I borrow CaoCao/MaBaole’s word. I really think you are much wiser than me) and other wise on the blog, do you think my idea is doable? It shouldn’t be that hard to put few books together into one. Anyone rich here can help to print the book?

    Wow, you think big! I love it. I’m just trying to write a blog here, and you’ve already moved on to writing a Chinese testament to be passed down to all future generations of overseas Chinese… :)

    I think you’re right about the unifying factor for the Jewish community. There’s not one book for them; they actually have a collection of texts called the Talmud, which is a collection of various arguments… not so different from the Chinese four books/five classics, which is why I think the overseas Chinese community existed for so long. This makes me think that the Chinese government’s new “Confucius Institute” is a great idea for more reasons than one. Not only is it a great way to reach out to the world, it’s an even better way to reach out to the Chinese overseas.

    As far as writing a book… if that existed, I would absolutely buy it for my children. But I really think the next generation is going to be okay. How many Chinese channels are you able to get for your kids in Australia? Here in North America, we have Dish Network, which is now bringing us 20+ mainland Chinese TV networks: CCTV4/9, Phoenix, Jiangsu, Shanghai, Hunan, Xiamen, Zhejiang, Beijing networks are all available here… And of course, we have the Internet.

    I only wish there was a children channel. The only kids channel is Taiwan’s YoYo TV… I don’t have a problem that it’s from Taiwan, but the programming is horrible. And when my kids grow up, they’ll have channel V.

  26. Daniel
    July 7th, 2008 at 17:07 | #26

    I agree that media and literature would be very helpful in opening up more awareness and interests in maintaining those ties.
    Unless you are really isolated or not in touch with reality, I have to confirm that there really is a lot of negative, simple-minded images portray at the Chinese both subltle and explicit. It’s not like there isn’t any positive, oh there is a lot. It’s just overwhelming for those not-so-nice generalizations, especially for those who called it or try to make this place (the States) their home. People always try to push it off as if it wasn’t an issue, always trying to say insensitive remarks such as “why can’t you have a sense of humor”? and such. Well, if it’s not funny then it’s not funny, and it hurts.
    I understand the backbone of how people can make fun of themselves, it’s quite heart-warming if done right, but it really is uncomfortable when others who are outside your circle try to do it. Sort of like, between siblings they can joke off together about their mom but if non-relatives do it, it’s really bad.

    From my personal life and others I have come in contact, the media from overseas did sort of have a impact on our thinking. My American-born Chinese friends and I quite enjoyed the entertainment from Asia and if you think just a little deeper, the images the non-Chinese media outlets portray of us is a bit “below” in nature. There is some good shows, but Chinese history/culture and the people has so much to be confined in a few scenes.

    Which reminds me that I have a hard time believing such a book(s) containing all the wisdom and experiences the Ancients in China went through is going to be made. I mean, it’s worth a try but there’s a lot. In comparison, with a lot of Jewish people, they have their literature but it requires a lot of reading between the lines, analysis and day-to-day activities to understand a part. Some people call their religion a “work-in-progress” because historically, they go through a lot of changes. Here’s an example of the famous “The Lord is my Shepherd” but what orthodox Judaism views it. Supposedly, each word, letter and the place even size of the letters has a significant meaning to it.

    http://www.aish.com/spirituality/growth/The_Lord_is_My_Shepherd.asp

    However, back to the media, I was in Las Vegas last month and stayed at the Paris hotel. I was surprised when I turn on the TV to see nearly 10 Chinese language channels and only 2 Spanish, the rest in English, and maybe one in another European language. Which reminds me another thing. Gambling seems very prevalent among the Hua Ren communities. Is it true that casinos are not allowed on the Mainland? Any form of gambling?

  27. Oli
    July 7th, 2008 at 18:22 | #27

    @ Buxi + BMY + Others

    I apologize for my language, sometimes the acerbic part of my personality comes through, especially when I get really annoyed. Hmmm, maybe I ought to have some kids of my own, that seems to do the trick for many here :)

    As for what BMY said about a book that can be passed on from generation to generation, actually such a book do exists and there is one for every Chinese family in accordance with their family surnames. Such books are known as genealogy book or (Ju Pu) and usually has a clan or generation poem from which each character in that poem is used as each successive generation’s middle name, so that if two people with the same surname meet, they will know their generation status by referring to their middle names and know whether to refer to each other as either uncle or newphew (yeah very patriarchal). Such poems function a bit like a “mission statement” and typically invokes the clan’s duty to family and nation and aspirations.

    Sometimes there are also offshoots of the surnames so that different offshoots will have different generation poems in the book as well as listing where the offshoot finally settled, ie Suzhou Li family or Shandong Li family. These generation poems are usually at the front of the book and each male member who leaves the ancestral village or town to seek their fortune are supposed to take a copy, with a master tome residing at the ancestral hall. Where he then settles or start a family, he is expected to make entries of his children’s names and their achievements and his children after him and so on and so forth.

    And whenever he has a chance he or his children are expected to send or take a copy back to the original ancestral hall so that it can be updated by the master tome and his line also added to it, which in effect can also function like a phonebook so that others from the village can look you or your children up if they are in the area and needed your help (whether you want to or not, its a duty). And often if families, for whatever reasons had to flee their homes, this book was often one of the first thing to be rescued because it lists where one can get help.

    Unfortunately, through the hundreds of years of turmoil, although this tradition is in danger of disappearing in the densely populated urban centres, one can still find such records in ancient, closely knit villages, museum archives and records and ironically among the lines of the first generations of Overseas Chinese emigrants. And should you visit SE Asian Chinese communities and their universities (ie the University of Singapore or HK) and the older Chinatowns such as San Francisco or NY. The clan associations there will usually have such records and should be happy to provide you with a copy should you share the same surname. Resources can also be found online by googling Chinese surnames + genealogy.

    However, the picture is sometimes muddled, because many Manchus and other ethnic groups also adopted Han Chinese surnames, but OC with such background will usually also have such genealogy books with annotations of their original Manchurian or Mongolian surnames. Another intersting point is also that many Han Chinese also became bannermen during the Qing dynasty, so that they may also have an honorary Manchu name or title.

    And if anywhere in the past one or more their family’s members were government officials or even royalty, whether under the Qing, Yuan or other dynasties, the family is entitled to decorate their deceased members’ tombs’ entrances or pillars with either round balls (for commoners), two lions (for Imperial officers) or dragons (four claws) (for royal family-five clawed dragons are only for emperors). Consequently, should you visit Chinese cemeteries, especially those in SE Asia, you’ll see many such tombs with such ornaments around the individual tombs. Its also considered very bad luck for the family and the deceased to misuse such status for it would be akin to impersonating ranks and consequently the deceased member would be judged very harshly by the judge of the underworld who is supposed to determine your rewards or punishments.

  28. pug_ster
    July 7th, 2008 at 18:36 | #28

    @perspectivehere

    Hmmm, interesting book, maybe I will get the book once I will get the Chance. From various times in my life I have been around with Asians, and other times without. As a side effect of the US’ policy towards China, there is such racism toward the Chinese. The sad part of it is that there are many Chinese people are ashamed to be Chinese and chose to assimilate to the American society will face that kind of Racism anyways. It does not go away whether you try to act, live, work, marry, like an American, but you will never be a true American unless the country accept you as one.

  29. Daniel
    July 7th, 2008 at 19:05 | #29

    There are ways to deal with bigotry. It’s not perfect, but at least in American society, public institutional racism is being done away with…according to some interpretation, other people might have different ideas about it.
    Even if let’s say, Mainland China changes. It becomes very free, very open, very wealthy, very strong, etc. There’s still going to be people out there who will hate something about the Chinese. What I mean by hate, isn’t the criticisms about politics or even cultural matters. I mean real Hatred, the type that is borderline with wanting to step on you and isolate your existence for just being. Even though it’s the 21st century, where I grew up in, a small city of about 150,000 people in Missouri, some people (some that are well-educated and prominent status) there still have issues with Black Americans, more than all the other minorities. Think about how long have they been here.
    It goes for just about anyone, they will dislike one for any reason or no reason at all.

    American society isn’t really that one-sided. While there’s diversity of peoples, there’s also diversity of opinions. Some people know that politics or media has it’s dark sides, well many people do know. One method of dealing with such issues, is just think of yourself and others in an individualstic type of manner. Why should the opinions of others regarding myself matter to me, especially since they are not my friends, family or boss. It’s not easy, but generally speaking, dealing with people isn’t that easy to begin with.

    I typed all that down because I notice some people seem to want to argue grealy over details of different issues, when one has to see it as a whole. Like for an example, some people might see how we define being Chinese as racist, when it does not have to be that way, yet just by emphasizing on some details they can make it appear to be that way.

  30. Buxi
    July 7th, 2008 at 19:57 | #30

    @Oli,

    Thanks, appreciate your as always very informative and detailed post. In the modern era, it’s interesting to see how much we have lost from our traditions. Something to think about.

    As far as racism in the United States… I personally am fortunate enough to not have experienced much, fi any at all, having lived in wealthier, more liberal areas that celebrate diversity. I feel completely comfortable in American society, and I think that’s increasingly true for more and more Chinese today, especially in areas where East Asians are becoming a significant majority/plurality. I think the West has moved on light-years past where it was 80 years ago.

    But I can’t help think of the southeast Asian example. Could we see it repeat in North America and Europe? Those in the Chinese community will always, always look and act differently. If those in the overseas Chinese community begin to do very well economically, and at the same time China becomes a dominant superpower internationally… will that lead to tensions? I don’t have an answer, just a question on my mind.

    @Daniel,

    You’re right about churches and restaurants being the most obvious face of many Chinese communities in the US. I know many mainland Chinese who join a church within days of arrival, but in almost all of these cases… it’s not because they were seeking spiritual meaning, but because they were seeking a Chinese-speaking community. And there’s unfortunately just no other alternative in many Western communities.

    If you look deeper though, other shared cultural elements are in just about every Chinese community in the United States: weekly Chinese schools, Chinese-language newspapers, Chinese television. These are still important support-beams for the community.

  31. July 7th, 2008 at 21:45 | #31

    @Buxi – It is strange to note that the equivalent institutions in the expat community in China are international schools, expat rugby teams, and expat pubs! As for racism against Chinese folk in the States, a very good friend of mine is a man of Chinese descent who grew up in Greenville, Mississippi. I only asked him said it was always there in the South, and he caught his fair share of abuse, and was definitely aware of the KKK prescence in the community, although he never had to put up with burning crosses in the way that his father had. Simple resentment of acheivement may be enough to cause racist feeling, but often there are historical and cultural factors which act as the main catalyst. At any rate, I doubt that the kind of cultural and political antagonisms behind the despicable violence against the Chinese in Indonesia and Vietnam exist or ever will exist in Europe, Australia, and North America, but this does not mean we should not guard against them.

  32. Ken
    July 7th, 2008 at 21:50 | #32

    @Marc and others

    I am a Malaysian-born Chinese Christian living in the States. My brother and his family have been living/working in China for 10+ years. I understand where Marc came from. The battles between state church and house church are deeply rooted and hard to overgeneralize. We are more sympathetic toward the house church Christians simply because they are the ones who have been persecuted, but some state church pastors are also quite sympathetic toward their brethren in the house churches (according to my brother). Some state church pastors are probably “church agents” as Marc has claimed. From what we can tell, the persecution isn’t carried out by “communist government” per se. Rather, it’s done by follow Christians in the state church. It looks like two groups of Christians at one point couldn’t reach a theological understanding. One group went over to the government and used the police power to persecute the other group. To me, it sounds like America where some Christians love to get government involved to impose their doctrines on others.

    Marc, If I were you, I would not want to make persecutions a big deal at this time. You know the Big Brother may be watching. You don’t want to bring unnecessary trouble to your own brethren who are in still over there.

  33. July 8th, 2008 at 00:44 | #33

    Speaking of Christianity in China, I just read this article: Bible to be available free during Games .

  34. Re-educated
    July 8th, 2008 at 01:48 | #34

    Outsiders have always tried to preach their beliefs to China.

    First it was the Buddhist monks from India, followed by the Jesuits from Europe.

    Now the current rage is human rights and democracy activists!

  35. downunder
    July 8th, 2008 at 03:50 | #35

    Re – 145

    Here is a good read about the Christian churches in China “Not Exactly Jesus in China” http://shanghaiscrap.com/?p=850

    “Supporting Olympics and displaying nationalism on streets on other countries are orchestrated by the Chinese government. Why did those Chinese wave the Chinese flags instead of Beijing Olympic flags if it weren’t for nationalism? Have any other Olympic hosting city shown such an emotion with their country’s flag?”

    What utterly crap.

    Just let me tell you about my experience of the Olympic games in Sydney during 2000.

    For the whole year leading up to the games, the whole city and country was in some sort of euphoria.
    The city was awashed with the Australian flags. Little kids got brain washed in school come home with names of Australian team members rolling out like a toilet roll, they count how many medal the country is going to win, they learned the national anthem, they were bus to the torch relays and olympic venues, they proudly waved the national flag. During the olympics, crimes in the city was down, even the thugs and criminals felt like proud Australians.

    You know .. I know your god is great but for the non believers, the Olympics is even greater.

  36. downunder
    July 8th, 2008 at 03:53 | #36

    @Oli, re #161,

    You took the words right out of my mouth … and with alot more eloquent.

  37. BMY
    July 8th, 2008 at 05:52 | #37

    @downunder

    “Supporting Olympics and displaying nationalism on streets on other countries are orchestrated by the Chinese government. Why did those Chinese wave the Chinese flags instead of Beijing Olympic flags if it weren’t for nationalism? Have any other Olympic hosting city shown such an emotion with their country’s flag?”

    apart from what you are saying, people forgot what happened few days ago in the streets supposed to be pure Olympic before the Chinese came out in force to wave flags with emotion. Someone on this thread is still asking “why Chinese flag not Olympic flag”

    Do I beleive people’s memory been that bad? no.

    Now we came back to the arguments we had few months ago. That’s one of the reasons where this blog came from I think.

  38. BMY
    July 8th, 2008 at 23:23 | #38

    @Oli,

    Thanks for your very informative #177 about “Zu Pu” and “Jia Pu”. I would read more about.

  39. Marc
    July 9th, 2008 at 03:10 | #39

    @Ken #182

    >>From what we can tell, the persecution isn’t carried out by “communist government” per se. Rather, it’s >>done by follow Christians in the state church.

    I think you meant to say “fellow Christians.” You hit the nail on the head with this information. Evidently you understand the situation about house church and Three-Self Patriotic Movement church (or government church) in China. I apologize for jumping into the discussions on this thread out of nowhere and was harsh with some commentors here. However, the reason that I brought up house church vs. Three-Self church initially has a lot to do with nationalism. You see, Three-Self church was started by some nationalistic Chinese Christians in the early 1900′s (way before communist took over power in China). Hence they called themselves Three-Self (meaning self-governing, self teaching, self supporting). They hated Western Christians in China then. They teamed up with communist government later in the 1950′s to start persecuting other Chinese Christians who didn’t see things their way. That’s when house church Christians started to emerge. Anyway, the whole conflict started out with nationalism. I honestly see the same reason with the disagreement between the pro-China crowd and any other Chinese who aren’t pro-China. The most outrageous comment on this thread has to be by Snow when he used innuendos by quoting some cult groups in China and call them “house church.” That kind of innuendos should get anyone angry.

    Several other discussions regarding Chinese and Chinese culture in America are excellent. In case you still don’t understandn why I am so “hostile to Chinese culture” as someone alluded to, please rest assured that my feeling is of hostility. I just don’t want my kids to feel singled and hurt. Gene Yang’s comic stories have made some excellent points.

    I have been reading a lot of blogs on China, Olympics, pro-China, anti-China lately. This one is by far the best. I enjoy and appreciate all the intelligent conversations.

  40. Marc
    July 9th, 2008 at 03:15 | #40

    Oops, sorry, I made a mistake about Snow. It was actually “perspectivehere” at #137 who listed cult groups in China as house church.

  41. Buxi
    July 9th, 2008 at 06:16 | #41

    @Marc,

    Thank you for your compliments about the blog.

    I just don’t want my kids to feel singled and hurt. Gene Yang’s comic stories have made some excellent points.

    I think the greatest gift you can give your kids is pride and confidence in their traditional culture. They will easily pick up on your discomfort if you feel any at all, but they won’t understand it. Instead, they’ll just assume there’s something naturally inferior about Chinese culture. Don’t make them learn it all in college, like Gene Yang and many others have had to; I honestly believe they’ll regret it.

    Being singled out and hurt… well, I guess if you live in a truly racist or homogeneous area of the US, I have no good solutions for you… except, move to California. :) Asian/Chinese cultures co-exist in great comfort with “American” culture out here.

    Are people out there familiar with the “salad bowl” multicultural analogy? I really do believe this is increasingly replacing the traditional “melting pot” description used in the United States, and California is the perfect example. Basically, people co-exist, live/work happily alongside those with vastly different cultures, but there’s no assumption that they will all eventually “integrate”.. just like different vegetables in a salad.

  42. perspectivehere
    July 9th, 2008 at 16:22 | #42

    @Marc #189 #190

    You wrote,

    “The most outrageous comment on this thread has to be by Snow when he used innuendos by quoting some cult groups in China and call them “house church.” That kind of innuendos should get anyone angry.”

    “Oops, sorry, I made a mistake about Snow. It was actually “perspectivehere” at #137 who listed cult groups in China as house church.”

    With all due respect, I think you misunderstood the point of my comment. If you re-read my comment carefully, you will see that my comment followed upon Snow’s comment (#130) that there are 3 types of Christians in China: Three-Self, house church (dissident) and house church (non-dissident and bogus / swindlers / perhaps criminal).

    I then illustrated Snow’s taxonomy by offering Eastern Lightning as a well-known example (so well-known that even U.S. Christian groups write about them) of the third group. If you read the link I posted, you will see that U.S. Christian groups identify Eastern Lightning as a significant problem precisely because they lure unsuspecting people in by looking for all intents and purposes like other house churches, and it is only after people have joined that they learn about the dark side of these groups.

    Your comment appears to make it sound as though I’m trying to imply that all house churches are cult groups, and that I’m making some kind of innuendo about house churches. That is unjustified.

    What I was also trying to point out is the difficulty for both insiders and outsiders to identify when something is a legitimate house church (which apparently is left alone for the most part) and the cults/swindlers, which the authorities have a perfectly legitimate reason to crack down on.

    It’s not unlike the difficulties Christians in America have about whether Mormons are Christians or not. And more recently, the FLDS in Texas presented the authorities with difficult questions of wanting to suppress certain undesirable behavior (sex between middle aged men and teenagers) while not running afoul of religious freedom laws and due process.

    For many years, the so-called “Moonies” (followers of Rev. Moon of Korea) were seen by many to be a cult; however, they seem to have been redeemed somewhat in recent years, primarily because the politics of Rev. Moon fits in with the right-wing leadership in Washington.

    The problem of cults:

    I have many Christian friends who attend Evangelical or mainstream churches today who tell me that they grew up in certain splinter groups that they now would think are cults.

    From the first century on, there have been sects (like the Gnostics and the Marcionites) that have claimed the mantle of Christian, and yet were not recognized as such by the orthodox church.

    (See Henry Chadwick, The Early Church for a good introduction to the early history of Christianity).

    The problem of heretical sects for the orthodox becomes an even more perplexing one for the State – how does one regulate religious affairs and disputes between different sects? What happens when sectarian divisions flare up and lead to social and political instability or violence?

    Under the Romans, it was easy — all believers in Jesus of whatever kind were persecuted, tortured and thrown to the lions as common criminals.
    (Many Christians believe that that the church was built on the blood of these martyrs. )

    Later on the Roman emperor Constantine converted to Christianity in 312. From then on, Christianity became the official religion of the Roman empire. Christians have generally viewed this as a “victory”, because persecutions of Christians stopped, but the darker side of this elevation in status was a brutal suppression of non-orthodox groups by the State. The next 1,400 years of European history was dominated by troubled Church-State relations, as every European State had a dominant State religion (always a form of Christianity) that persecuted all
    other forms, leading to violence and wars carried out in the name of religion. It was the seeking of religious freedom from persecution by the Anglican Church that led the Puritans (another Protestant Christian sect) to immigrate to America.

    In order to avoid the instability and violence they experienced in Europe, many of the American colonies, such as Roger Wiliams’ Rhode Island (and later the U.S. Constitution) included provisions banning the establishment of a State religion in their constitutions and allowing for religious freedom.

    These freedoms led to an explosion of new religions in U.S. history, but also allowed the formation of cults. Cults are incredibly difficult to define, but people know them when they see them. Most of the time, the worst things that cults do are to their own members, like the Jonestown massacre or the Branch Davidians. Is the FLDS a cult? Depends who you ask.

    As I pointed out, in China the Taiping Rebellion was an incredibly destructive version of “cult gone bad”.

    Today there are many cults in China which Christians there are worried about.
    See for example http://www.dongteam.org/journal/cult_influence/

    The question I have for Marc is, how should the Chinese State react to these cults? How do they distinguish between the legit house churches and the cults? Assuming government officials don’t know much about Christianity anyway, how do they handle an accusation from one group about another group?

    Do you not think that, in their attempt to clamp down on the “cult” type groups, they may clamp down on the “non-cult” house church groups as well?

    Should they be condemned or applauded for clamping down on the third group?

    Let’s be fair now. Chinese government officials and police are only human.

  43. July 11th, 2008 at 08:27 | #43

    I have dark hair and dark eyes, therefore I must be Chinese.

  44. July 11th, 2008 at 09:11 | #44

    @Corbett – Your first name isn’t Ronnie is it? To be fair, most Chinese also add “and reads and writes Chinese”, actually, that’s not all that great either.

  45. perspectivehere
    July 11th, 2008 at 15:33 | #45

    @Buxi

    This is a hat trick comment, touching on Chinese-ness, democracy, and your beloved Cal.

    Yale Law Professor Amy Chua has added to the criticism of simple-minded democratization and free-market advocates.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amy_Chua

    The daughter of Filipino-Chinese parents, she was a corporate lawyer on Wall Street before turning to academic law. She published a well-regarded analysis of rapid democratization and free markets leading to economic dominance by ethnic minorities, “World On Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability”

    http://www.amazon.com/World-Fire-Exporting-Democracy-Instability/dp/0385721862/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid

    Here are some reviews of her extraordinarily original work:

    http://dir.salon.com/story/books/review/2003/01/13/democracy/index.html

    http://globetrotter.berkeley.edu/people4/Chua/chua-con0.html

    She actually uses her own family’s experience as Chinese minorities in the Philippines to make her points in her book, that transitioning to free-market democracy before a society is ready (i.e., before robust institutions exist for protection of rights and the rule of law, before education is widely available, etc.), often (not always) results in certain minority groups amassing disproportionate economic wealth, with deleterious effects on the overall development of the society and sometimes leading to ethnic violence and pogroms.

    What it means to be Chinese in Philippines and Indonesia is to be an economically wealthy but viewed with suspicion and occasionally despised minority. In times of social or economic disorder they become targets of violence and kidnapping. They were known as the “Jews of the Orient”. See http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/1514916.stm

    Oh, and her father was a professor at Berkeley.

    Are you familiar with her work?

  46. perspectivehere
    July 12th, 2008 at 02:43 | #46

    @pug_ster #178

    You wrote:

    “From various times in my life I have been around with Asians, and other times without. As a side effect of the US’ policy towards China, there is such racism toward the Chinese. The sad part of it is that there are many Chinese people are ashamed to be Chinese and chose to assimilate to the American society will face that kind of Racism anyways. It does not go away whether you try to act, live, work, marry, like an American, but you will never be a true American unless the country accept you as one.”

    ******
    I’ve been thinking about your comment and what I can say to help you have a deeper understanding and appreciation of that beloved country of mine, the United States of America.

    Then I came across this article, written by a law professor about 19th century Supreme Court Justice Marshall Harlan and his decisions in cases involving Chinese immigrants.

    http://academic.udayton.edu/Race/02rights/immigr10.htm

    Harlan is known as a hero for his forward-thinking views on racial equality as expressed in his dissent in Plessy v Ferguson, which established “separate but equal” as law of the U.S. in 1896. He wrote this:

    “The white race deems itself to be the dominant race in this country. And so it is in prestige, in achievements, in education, in wealth and in power. So, I doubt not, it will continue to be for all time if it remains true to its great heritage and holds fast to the principles of constitutional liberty. But in view of the constitution, in the eye of the law, there is in this country no superior, dominant, ruling class of citizens. There is no caste here. Our constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law. The humblest is the peer of the most powerful. The law regards man as man, and takes no account of his surroundings or of his color when his civil rights as guaranteed by the supreme law of the land are involved.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Marshall_Harlan#Plessy_v._Ferguson_.281896.29

    Yet, the same man who could write that paragraph also wrote:

    “There is a race so different from our own that we do not permit those belonging to it to become citizens of the United States. Persons belonging to it are, with few exceptions, absolutely excluded from our country. I allude to the Chinese race. But by the statute in question, a Chinaman can ride in the same passenger coach with white citizens of the United States, while citizens of the black race [cannot].”

    In United States v. Wong Kim Ark, he wrote:

    “For the most persuasive reasons we have refused citizenship to Chinese subjects; and yet, as to their offspring, who are just as obnoxious, and to whom the same reasons for exclusion apply with equal force, we are told that we must accept them as fellow-citizens, and that, too, because of the mere accident of birth. There certainly should be some honor and dignity in American citizenship that would be sacred from the foul and corrupting taint of a debasing alienage. Are Chinese children born in this country to share with the descendants of the patriots of the American Revolution the exalted qualification of being eligible to the Presidency of the nation, conferred by the Constitution in recognition of the importance and dignity of citizenship by birth? If so, then verily there has been a most degenerate departure from the patriotic ideals of our forefathers; and surely in that case American citizenship is not worth having.”

    and

    “the presence within our territory of large numbers of Chinese laborers, of a distinct race and religion, remaining strangers in the land, residing apart by themselves, tenaciously adhering to the customs and usages of their own country, unfamiliar with our institutions, and apparently incapable of assimilating with our people.”

    He also wrote (in preparing a draft paper for his son) the following:

    “[W]e are not bound, upon any broad principle of humanity, to harm our own country in order to benefit the Chinese who may arrive here…. Now, if by introduction of Chinese labor we [jeopardize] our own laborers, why not restrict immigration of Chinese. The Chinese are of a different race, as distinct from ours as ours is from the negro…. [S]uppose there was a tide of immigration … of uneducated African savages–would we not restrict their coming? Would we desist because they are human beings & upon the idea that they have a right to better their condition? … [Chinese] will not assimilate to our people. If they come, we must admit them to citizenship, then to suffrage–what would become of the country in such a contingency…. Under the ten year statute [i.e., the first Chinese Exclusion Act] we have an opportunity to test the question whether it is safe to let down the bars and permit unrestricted immigration–The Chinese here will, in that time, show of what stuff they are made. Our policy is to keep this country, distinctively, under American influence. Only Americans, or those who become such by long stay here, understand American institutions.”

    In Chae Chan Ping v. United States, the Court upheld a ban on Chinese immigration….The Chinese, the Court explained, “remained strangers in the land, residing apart by themselves, and adhering to the customs and usages of their own country. It seemed impossible for them to assimilate with our people, or to make any changes in their habits or modes of living.”
    *******
    The point of making these quotes is to show that, in its history and even up to today, there are deep-seated prejudices towards Chinese that are hard to get rid of. There are honorable people, even Supreme Court Justices, who can hold the view that all are equal before the law, and yet be blind to how their prejudices affect the way they think. They may honestly believe they are fair, and just, but they are blind.

    This is not only true of Americans, of course. However, it is kind of annoying when Americans are ignorant of, forget or whitewash their own history.

    However, real, effective and continuing change has been part of American history as well, and the changes that took place in America thanks to the struggles of African Americans have brought inumerable benefits to Chinese Americans. Their sacrifices in blood won freedom from legal inequality won freedom for you and me. The political environment in the U.S. today wants to keep that hidden from you, but you should never forget it. See

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African-American_Civil_Rights_Movement_(1955–1968)

    The fact that you and many other Asians could immigrate to the U.S. is probably due to the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965.

    “The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 may prove to be the most consequential of the Great Society civil rights initiatives. The Act removed a reference for whites which had been a central feature of American immigration and nationality law since 1790; the resulting diversification of the immigrant stream will make America a “majority minority” nation within a few decades. Many commentators contend that the diversification that resulted from race-neutral immigration policy was unanticipated, undesired or both, from the perspective of the Congress that passed the Act….[By] drawing on legislative history as well as interviews with key legislators such as Gerald R. Ford, cabinet members including Nicholas deB. Katzenbach, and other participants in the development of the Act [we] conclude…that it is more likely that Congress, largely the same one that passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, rejected the idea of America as a white nation. Congress actually intended to eliminate racial discrimination, and welcomed the diversification that it knew would result.”

    http://legalhistoryblog.blogspot.com/2008/04/three-from-chin-on-us-immigration.html

    I repeat it again: “Congress, largely the same one that passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, rejected the idea of America as a white nation. Congress actually intended to eliminate racial discrimination, and welcomed the diversification that it knew would result.”

    It is ironic, that at the same time as the Cultural Revolution was beginning in China, a far-reaching cultural revolution took place in the U.S. regarding equality between the races. The “race” issues you see today in the U.S., the split between republicans and democrats on race – this battles stem from the splits in American society that took place during the Civil Rights era.

    pug_ster – This comment was meant to give you some insight that American views towards Chinese is not only an outgrowth of U.S. policy towards China.

    It is also intended to inspire you to appreciate the U.S. Constitution and to take ownership of it as your own. No matter what other Americans may tell you, or how you feel about where you live, or what you do for a living or how people of your race are portrayed in the media, you can claim the Constitution as your own, and that makes you an American.

    America is not for white people only. When you say, “It does not go away whether you try to act, live, work, marry, like an American, but you will never be a true American unless the country accept you as one.”

    F*ck those people. You are an American and you don’t need to give a damn whether they accept you or not. Turn the tables on them….you are an American and you don’t accept their racist views, and if they don’t like it, they should leave. Like the U.S. Congress of 1965, the U.S. is not meant to be a white nation.

    The U.S. Constitution is a dreamwork in progress. This is the beauty of America, the challenge to live up to its promise.

    Fight for your rights. pug_ster — you are an American! Don’t let the bastards take that away from you, whatever your background or how different you might look or talk from people around you. You are just as American as they are.

    Support legal rights of Asians through this organization: https://www.aaldef.org/

    And please don’t look unkindly upon those Chinese who have assimilated. As the Court cases I mentioned show, part of the justification for treating Chinese unequally is because of the perception that they would not assimilate. The Chinese immigrants before you suffered a great deal, and assimilation was their means for survival. Animosity between assimilated and unassimilated Chinese is just divide and conquer.

  47. Buxi
    July 12th, 2008 at 04:08 | #47

    @perspectivehere,

    I meant to respond to your earlier comments about Amy Chua. (I had no idea she was a law professor at Yale! Impressive.)

    I’ve actually read… er.. skimmed her book. I own it, but lost it while moving. But absolutely, the message of that book was very, very interesting and compelling. It was definitely one of the first books that made me wonder, from the bottom of my heart, whether democracy was really “universal” in its advantages. She makes a very compelling case that in the wrong condition, it’s not only inefficient, it’s actually dangerous.

    I really appreciate that kind of perspective. There are a lot of people in America who take “American values” as a matter of faith, and no longer with any sort of skepticism. I think those with a more worldly experience should try to challenge that faith… I don’t mean necessarily rejecting the faith, but really thinking about possible counter-arguments for the idea that “democracy” solves the world’s problems.

    Your impassioned argument for making the Constitution “all” Americans (regardless of skin color) is really impressive, thanks. I think the United States is definitely a unique social experiment in world history… no country quite like it has existed before. I believe it still faces many challenges ahead… but certainly, Americans should confront these challenges head-on as you said.

  48. Karma
    July 12th, 2008 at 04:24 | #48

    @perspectivehere

    The Chinese immigrants before you suffered a great deal, and assimilation was their means for survival. Animosity between assimilated and unassimilated Chinese is just divide and conquer.

    Nice thought – and true enough. But there are really at least two waves of Chinese immigrants – one in the 1800′s (which suffered through a lot and, as you say, had to assimilate to survive) – and one more recent starting with the 70′s from Taiwan and Hong Kong and later also from the Mainland.

    The earlier generation obviously had to assimilate to survive. Many of the more recent however are the more privileged and snobby type who choose not to be Chinese because it seems to be the expedient thing to do.

    I think its this second group that Buxi (I know, I am putting words in Buxi’s mouth) meant to address when he said:

    The sad part of it is that there are many Chinese people are ashamed to be Chinese and chose to assimilate to the American society will face that kind of Racism anyways.

    P.S. PBS recently had a nice series on the Chinese American Experience (see
    http://www.pbs.org/becomingamerican/#)

  49. Karma
    July 12th, 2008 at 04:26 | #49

    @Buxi

    Amy Chua. (I had no idea she was a law professor at Yale! Impressive.)

    Yeh – she actually worked in a big law firm for many years before turning academic. Shows that even the most heartless of lawyers (ie in big law firms) still has hope! ;-)

  50. perspectivehere
    July 12th, 2008 at 04:48 | #50

    @Karma

    “Yeh – she actually worked in a big law firm for many years before turning academic. Shows that even the most heartless of lawyers (ie in big law firms) still has hope!”

    I know you’re just being facetious, but for the benefit of everyone else, there are all types at NY big firms. She worked at Cleary, which has a reputation for diversity and attracting mavericks and individualist types. “The firm prides itself on its quirkiness” says this review:

    http://www.lawcrossing.com/article/index.php?id=169

    “Very unique culture–eclectic and incredibly intelligent and academic”

    Vault Guide to the Top New York Law Firms pp. 57-58
    http://books.google.com/books?id=tySfUkGLzPUC&pg=PA58&lpg=PA58&dq=cleary+gottlieb+culture&source=web&ots=mRbQDIj_XJ&sig=vWfGhlQCQyKo19SlfY12zdvklGI&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=10&ct=result#PPA58,M1

    Disclosure: I don’t work at Cleary but I have friends there.

  51. July 12th, 2008 at 05:44 | #51

    perspectivehere,
    Your comments on being American are well said. It’s a strong balance to things easily criticized. There is good reason to be proud to be American.

  52. Karma
    July 12th, 2008 at 08:11 | #52

    @perspectivehere

    Are you a lawyer? For others interested about law firms – many of us lawyers are obsessed about “prestige” of our law firm. One of the most popular are the vault rankings.

    Here are this year’s vault rankings: http://www.vault.com/nr/lawrankings.jsp?law2008=2&ch_id=242&top100=1

  53. perspectivehere
    July 12th, 2008 at 15:59 | #53

    @Karma

    How did you guess?

    @Buxi

    Changing gears, I’d like to throw out a new stream of discussion: Being Chinese usually means you have some experience with TCM – Traditional Chinese Medicine.

    Whether it is reflected in thinking that certain foods or drinks have various properties of heatiness or coldness (not temperature, but more like a medieval concept of humors), to using techniques like acupuncture, massage, reflexology or herbal medicine to stay healthy, or relying upon Chinese exercise techniques like Taijichuan to build up Qi, being Chinese means knowing something about the traditional arts of health management through unique Chinese ways. This education occurs as a form of cultural assimilation over the years, as Chinese language and culture is replete with terminology and expressions and practices that flow from chinese medical concepts.

    Conflicts with the modern world may arise, however, with those who believe that TCM has no scientific basis, thus relegating TCM to the level of quackery. In fact, even in China, I believe there are both proponents and opponents of TCM.

    Wherever the truth may lie, I think the only way to judge the efficacy of TCM is through direct personal experience.

    On my part, having grown up with a Western scientific model in academic education, but also having been blessed with a mom who made delicious Chinese soup with various medicinal herbs, I’ve always had an affinity for TCM. When I got sick she would make me bitter brews which would be awful to drink but would help me get better. These methods existed side-by-side with trips to the Western doctor. It just seems natural to me to rely on both methods – I’m comfortable with it, and it’s a form of ‘hedging your bets’ by relying on more than one solution.

    Later in life I lived in Taiwan and learned from a Taijichuan teacher to avoid icy cold drinks and to drink hot water even in the summer. Drinking baikaishui is one of those “really odd things” about Chinese immigrants from the older generation (the ones that could not speak English) that I laughed at when I was younger but learned to appreciate when I got older.

    These days I rely on acupuncture and traditional Chinese massage and reflexology plus Chinese herbal medicine to regulate my metabolism and overall health. I avoid western medicines as much as possible (although I do believe in them, I also am concerned about side effects).

    I wonder what is the experience and views of others?

  54. jsb
    July 12th, 2008 at 16:38 | #54

    Is or is not the root of Chinese-ness mainland China? I suspect much of this discussion is very theoretical, i.e. that few of you have spent a considerable length of time living in the PRC. I seriously doubt that overseas-born and raised ethnic Chinese would be so enthusiastic about being ‘chinese’ if they had spent a few years dealing with the realities of Shanghai, let alone other, less developed areas of the country.

  55. Daniel
    July 12th, 2008 at 19:06 | #55

    The root of Chinese-ness will always be the family. Which is also the root of many Diaspora groups.

    As some have mention, the ties between the many Hua Ren will be stronger with their regional homelands, or more particularly the ancesotrial villages. However, even within that circle, lies the familiar relations that should outweigh whatever links one has to other groups or sub-groups. That memory of memory of all whatever cultural practices such as language, literature or family businesses/heirlooms serve as constant reminders of the origin. Even among some adopted children (some) where their families wish to give their kids exposure and knowledge about their background will have some close feelings and thoughts towards this topic.

    On the topic of TCM, I have a short story to tell. I had a car accident about 6 years ago, one which required me to be hospitalized. When I went back home, one of my mom’s friends from Hong Kong sent some TCM Herbs for me to boil and drink. Even though she was a licensed Dietrician (I believe) who study and practiced in the States for a while before moving, she said how the herbs had some chemical properties which could reach places in the body which modern medicine hasn’t quite reach as yet. Overall, the TCM process is a slow one, and she mentioned how several people she knew who had accidents like mine who developed some problems a decade or two later because some Doctors will overlooked those parts that should have been taken care of.

    I’m still trying to remember all the details, but I’m pretty sure that there are plenty of readers here who have had similar accidents or experiences regarding Medicine in general (maybe some of you work) because I really don’t understand or know how to explain. There’s a growing number of people who do treat TCM in a serious matter, such as with skeptism, consider some areas as pseudo-beliefs (magical thinking) while some are seen as placebos, yet much studies are being emphasize regarding the herbs. Some things are a little bit common sense such as the food therapy. I ‘ve read somewhere that TCM had two different branches (like there was another set of therapies and knowledge) in the past, but one sort of went away because the physicians kept it within themselves and very few students could learn it. Mostly close relatives like sons or nephews.

    Which reminds me about this “Chinese” attitude of keeping things to themselves. Even though there’s a lot to study about “all things Chinese” I think there was more than recorded or currrently remember mainly because a lot of people kept that knowledge, cultural relics and craftsmenship to themselves and the students to carry on weren’t reliable. My opinion.

  56. Daniel
    July 12th, 2008 at 19:10 | #56

    I should re-phrase a bit about my experience with modern medicine and TCM. Some things Modern medicine isn’t confident enough regarding those herbs to consider applying yet, as my mom’s friend probably would have stated as. It might be like one or two compounds in those herbs that are effective, but the thing about TCM is that you have to take it as a whole. The pharmaceutical companies might want to isolate it and turn it into a pill or liquid form but I think there are studies being pursued regarding it.

  57. Buxi
    July 13th, 2008 at 03:51 | #57

    Boy, I’d love to do an extended topic on TCM in general. It’s a heated topic in China… many are arguing exactly what perspectivehere was talking about, whether scientic method should be used to evaluate TCM. There’s another side of the story there, with numerous Western research universities doing a lot of work examining the effects of TCM. (For example, acupuncture on cancer… I know that type of work was being done at UCSF.)

    If you’ve thought about it perspectivehere, and if you have Western resources to link to… maybe we should put it into a blog post and start a new thread on it.

    @jsb,

    I seriously doubt that overseas-born and raised ethnic Chinese would be so enthusiastic about being ‘chinese’ if they had spent a few years dealing with the realities of Shanghai, let alone other, less developed areas of the country.

    The fact that you “can’t imgaine” is only a description of the limitation of your own imaginaion and knowledge, not a descripion of what we actually do/feel.

    The posters here run a wide range. I was born and spent much of my childhood in China; I have since studied, worked, and currently own a home in China. Other posters didn’t leave China until after university. Other posters here are currently in China. And then other posters are on the way back to China, permanently.

    My attachment and loyalty to being Chinese isn’t “bought” by comfort; if that was the case, I’d happily settle into my sailboat and have a cocktail, and stop blogging. I’ve seen China far poorer, far worse than it is today.. and I didn’t love it any less then.

  58. pug_ster
    July 13th, 2008 at 08:00 | #58

    @perspectivehere 196

    Thank you for the lengthy response as my experiences of racism pales compared to the generations before me. What you said reminds me of the movie War where Chang said to Rogue about Chang being married to an American “Those that can adapt will survive.” Perhaps that is what these Chinese had to do before me. You’re probably right that I should not hold my grudge towards the Chinese people whom I think has ‘blindly’ assimilated.

    On the other hand, I think of people like Gary Locke who did exact thing as he assimilated and has gotten as far as being a Governor of Oregon. This guy was a rising star to the Democratic party until he gave the Democratic response to GWB’s 2003 State of the Union’s Address. Even this guy is as American Pie as he can get and still wasn’t able to hit the glass ceiling. I doubt that things would ever improve until US stops viewing China as a competitor but as a partner.

  59. pug_ster
    July 13th, 2008 at 08:02 | #59

    Oh, I made a mistake, Gary Locke was the Governor of Washington State and not Oregon.

  60. Chops
    July 13th, 2008 at 15:51 | #60

    The Iron Hammer: Lang Ping

    “There aren’t many safe predictions going into an Olympic Games, but here’s one: The U.S. women’s volleyball team should be the most popular Americans in Beijing.

    This has little to do with the team’s prospects. It has everything to do with its coach, Beijing native “Jenny” Lang Ping, an icon in Chinese culture for leading China to an unexpected gold medal at the 1984 games in Los Angeles.

    Lang Ping holds such an exalted position that her name is in Chinese history books. Her image has been on a postage stamp. Her wedding was on live TV.”

    http://www.venturacountystar.com/news/2008/jul/08/us-womens-volleyball-coach-an-icon-back-in/?printer=1/

  61. Opersai
    July 14th, 2008 at 20:05 | #61

    I’m a big believer the western medicine is for quick fix, traditional Chinese medicine is for a better long term heal. I had witnessed many personal experience of situation when the western medicine is powerless, and traditional Chinese medicine works. Although, I, myself, is too young to have any serious illness to have benefited from the traditional Chinese medicine greatly where western medicine doesn’t work.

    My mother had been in an car accident couple years ago. Since then, she was greatly bothered by a immense back pain, which her family doctor told her to either endure, or take pain killer. Of course, taking pain killer had too many side effect, enduring the pain effected her life too much. This was healed by a few months of message, acupuncture + herbal medicine by an experienced Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor. Another case, my mother also has kidney stone, which her family doctor, again, told her either to have an operation take out the stone now, or wait until the stone grow too large to ignore and have an operation. Neither were pretty choices and have serious side effects. She recently tried a food therapy, apple juice+Oliver oil, and that had helped her to flush out some stones out of her body.

    My uncle, about 7 years back, had a small, but potentially cancerous lump on his keen. I could not remember very clearly the reasons why he could not go to surgery, but he got ride of the lump by practicing Qi.

    I believe both western and traditional Chinese medicine have it’s strength and shortcomings. Western medicine acts very quickly and effectively against urgent and emergent situations, but most times have serious side effect – it’s like Chinese saying: taking apart the eastern wall to repair the western wall (拆了东墙补西墙). The traditional Chinese medicine, on the other hand, offers a holistic healing, but it’s often very slow to show effect. Also, it needs a lot of experience from a good doctor to prescript the right kind and amount of medicine for each unique case. I think traditional Chinese medicine is especially not suited for pill sold over counter.

  62. cici
    July 26th, 2008 at 23:49 | #62

    what does it mean when a person gives you something red because i saw on my sister street that a whole line of chinese people with different items that were red waiting outside of a house to go inside and all people were dressed really nice.

  63. Jerry
    August 30th, 2008 at 09:59 | #63

    I’m new to this blog and I know these entries are from July. I am a Russian American Jew (secular) living in Taipei City. I retired from Microsoft 2 years ago. I noted several items in the comments.

    #2. Yes, Daniel, many Jews do identify very strongly with their culture, tradition and heritage. Our culture is over 4,000 years. Jews in Russia and elsewhere went through many pogroms during our many 100’s of years in Russia. Jews had been persecuted long before that.

    I do note similarities in the Chinese and Jewish cultures. Our culture is over 4,000 years. The Chinese culture is around 5,000 years, from what I know.

    The American culture (whatever that is?) seems to be a great eraser and homogenizer. I see awareness of our heritage and history slipping away; I am concerned. I think that is why Elie Wiesel is so fixed on the Holocaust. He does not want to lose our Jewish “touchstones” and the Holocaust is a huge “touchstone”. My Chinese and Cambodian friends are also very concerned with the Western effect on their children and often lovingly refer to their children as “bananas”.

    #28. Buxi, regarding my concern about holding on to our heritage, please see #2 above.

    #69. “Many Chinese believe China’s policy towards ethnic Chinese should mirror that of Israel with Jews.” Buxi, this is not a bad idea. I myself have never been to Israel, so I can’t directly comment on the effects. But my Israeli friends have told me about problems with the later waves of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. Besides the usual divisions within the religion (from ultra-orthodox to humanistic/secular), classism is now breaking out between various migrant groups. This is troubling to me. I hear that they have similar problems in Hong Kong between the Chinese, especially with the newer migrants from dà lù (mainland).

    I am not familiar with the “Chinese diaspora”.

    #94. Buxi, anti-semitism and anti-Judaism date back to over 2,000 years ago. It has been traced back as far as Alexandria and the Greeks.

    #195. ROFL. Perspectivehere, I kept reading this and saying to myself, “This sounds like us Jews.” Then I saw the BBC article, “Jews of the Orient”. I just chuckled to myself.

    I knew about the problems that the Chinese had in Malaysia, Indonesia and Cambodia. I was not aware of the issues in the Philippines. Makes sense to me, though.

    Here in Taiwan, I have been told that they really admire Jews. Supposedly, we all are “Einsteins” and wealthy. That’s a kick. Reverse racism! Wow, it is about time that we get the flip-side of all the many years of persecutions. At long last, an upside. I have experienced it several times here. Then, when I tell them I retired from Microsoft, their jaws drop and eyes widen. Too much! ::LOL::

    I grew up in Portland, Oregon. Jews were not let into country clubs in the area (hardly an Oregon phenomena). In 1912, they built their own, the Tualatin Country Club.

    #196. I agree with perspectivehere. Pugster, you are an American citizen. I could not have written it any better.

    “F*ck those people. You are an American and you don’t need to give a damn whether they accept you or not. Turn the tables on them….you are an American and you don’t accept their racist views, and if they don’t like it, they should leave. Like the U.S. Congress of 1965, the U.S. is not meant to be a white nation.

    The U.S. Constitution is a dreamwork in progress. This is the beauty of America, the challenge to live up to its promise.

    Fight for your rights. pug_ster — you are an American! Don’t let the bastards take that away from you, whatever your background or how different you might look or talk from people around you. You are just as American as they are.”

    And it is good that you have organizations like the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund. We have B’nai B’rith International. Again don’t give in to the bastards who wish to denigrate and humiliate you. And I know it can hurt, bad. My Jewish father has always told me, “Jerry, it does not matter how many times you get knocked down by life. It only matters how many times you get back up!” It is those racists who want to humiliate and denigrate you who are the weak ones, the cowards, low life, and the ones with real inferiority problems.

    Thank you, perspectivehere, for your discussion on Justice Harlan. I was aware of Plessy v Ferguson. I was unaware of his racist BS about the Chinese. I have been very aware of general prejudice directed towards Chinese and other Asian people. I was not aware of Harlan’s writings about Chinese people.

    I remember the Civil Rights movement, Martin Luther King, the Civil Rights Act and the race riots of the 60’s. Jews were in the forefront of the Civil Rights movement and died in the South when they stood up for African Americans. African Americans were treated abysmally, persecuted, enslaved, and deprived of medical care and good housing. The after-effects of Katrina still point out the mistreatment of African Americans.

    “And please don’t look unkindly upon those Chinese who have assimilated.” I agree. Many Jews converted to Christianity to save their own and their families’ lives in Europe. I remember Madeleine Albright’s shock and speechlessness when she discovered that she was from a Jewish family that had converted to Catholicism. Her parents were escaping persecution.

    Sorry for not addressing the other Jewish issues. Maybe we can in the future if you so wish.

    Mazel tov!

  64. whocares
    November 28th, 2008 at 00:08 | #64

    First of all, I was born and raised in Taiwan.

    When I was in the school, the text book taught me that I am a Chinese and my country, China, is super huge (but I can travel to nowhere in “my country”).

    When the more and more history was uncovered with the island’s increasing political freedom, I was then taught that I am a Taiwanese, and we have nothing to do with main land.

    Now I am going to finish my PhD and try DAMN HARD to find a job in the DAMN FINANCIAL CRISIS. Thanks to the internet, I can check opportunities all around the world. You know what? I DO NOT care how people call me or identify me. I will go to any country as long as they offer a CHANCE for people with skills like me TO TRY and TO DEVELOP.

    But let’s face the truth, the best place is NOT likely to be MAIN LAND CHINA, TAIWAN, KOREA or JAPAN in the short term.

    I myself even don’t care whether I am a taiwanese, chinese, indian, american, brazilian, french or whatever, simply because I DO NOT feel proud or shame for any identity. I DO NOT care what kind of passport I have because I will like it if it makes me travel freely around the globe and will dislike it if it cannot.

    So, YES, I am ready to switch my ROC (Taiwan) passport to any others as long as my request can be fulfilled.

    So, as someone born in Taiwan, I don’t see any problem with my identity, because I have NEVER care.

    PS: I like globalization, because it push people to face real issues rather than some never-ending quarrels.

  65. Hongkonger
    December 4th, 2008 at 01:09 | #65

    Li Jia Xing says: “I asked an African living in China what his reply is when asked if he was African, replies, “I am a black-Chinese.” ”

    Canadian born Li added, “I once spoke no Chinese, couldn’t read Chinese, but now I do and I’ve
    since stopped floundering over my identity, my nationality. I know I am a Chinese.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gu8tpaeIncM&feature=related

  66. Zuraffo
    December 7th, 2008 at 15:13 | #66

    There is a very simple answer to this question:

    If one wants to lay claim to being a Chinese, he or she must understand and be able to relate to the following phrase:

    普天之下,莫非王土;率土之滨,莫非王臣

  67. Opersai
    December 9th, 2008 at 03:51 | #67

    http://baike.baidu.com/view/9440.htm

    This is really an old thread, but I just happen to have read something quiet interesting (in Chinese unfortunately). The link is definition of 中华民族 (how to translate this? Chinese?) from Baidu Baiku (Chinese version of Wikipedia).

    Somethings I want to highlight that could help to understand what it means being Chinese. (I’ll try to summary the idea, perhaps someone with better English can do a accurate translation. but please pardon my inappropriate use of “ethnic” here)

    I’d like to explain the difference between “华夏族”(HuaXia ethnic), “汉族” (Han ethnic), “中华民族” (ZhongHua ethnic), which are identity that can be used for Han people at some point. First, Chinese doesn’t equal Han, but include other 55 ethnics as well, this we know. However, Han ethnic was not really a singular ethnic either. Before Han Dynasty, many different tribes interact, battle and gradually merge, and they call themselves “华夏族” or “诸夏” (where “诸” means every; every Xia ethnics). “诸”(every) here shows this identity is a commonly recognized name for several tribes, with different bloodlines. After Qin unified each small kingdoms, at Han Dynasty, gradually the identity “华夏族” was substitute with “汉族” (Han ethnic). However, not only Han lived on the land, there were other ethnics too. So around “魏、晋” Dynasty, the identity “中华” came about were used as a common identify for all people including ethnics other than Han, who were the majority. Of course, “中华民族” (ZhongHua ethnic) we use today has changed and expanded it’s meaning to clearly include more ethnic.

    2. To explain the difference of “华夏族”(HuaXia ethnic), “汉族” (Han ethnic), and “中华民族” (ZhongHua ethnic) shows Han or Chinese was ever a singular ethnic or tribe. This article also mentions the establishment of the identify Han does not stress on bloodline, but rather on culture commonality. The identity “华夏族” came about because the tribes recognize commonality between their culture. Than the this identity evolved into “汉族” (Han ethnic), and then into “中华民族” (ZhongHua ethnic). Each time to include more people, more people. The definition of Chinese definitely shouldn’t be limited to bloodline.

    中华民族的概念从提出到不断的引申和发展,在现在文辞用语中已不再是单一的中国各民族的代称,而是一个与中国的国家、民族、地域、历史紧密相连的整体的代称。

    Could someone translate this last sentence, I find it hard to express the meaning in it.

  68. December 9th, 2008 at 05:01 | #68

    @Operasai #217,

    I don’t think there is ever a time too late for a comment – esp. when you have something to say, as you do!

    You wrote:

    The identity “华夏族” came about because the tribes recognize commonality between their culture. Than the this identity evolved into “汉族” (Han ethnic), and then into “中华民族” (ZhongHua ethnic). Each time to include more people, more people. The definition of Chinese definitely shouldn’t be limited to bloodline.

    That’s fair enough – but by defining Chineseness on culture rather than ethnicity, one might ask what is Chinese culture? Is it Han language? Is it Confucianism? Is it a dynamic still-to-be-determined cultural melting pot of all peoples within the boundary of the PRC?

    P.S. I understand the answer to this question is related to the translation you requested…

    Allen

  69. Wukailong
    December 9th, 2008 at 07:34 | #69

    @opersai: That’s a very interesting text. Thanks for sharing!

    Just a thought: obviously there haven’t been a concept of the “Han people” for millennia, but different groups have mixed and been referred to in various ways. How does the modern concept of ethnic group, which obviously is a concept that originated in the Western world (and seemed to culminate in the 19th and early 20th century) change the understanding of concepts like “中华民族”? It’s the same with the minority peoples and the current categorization into 55 of them, something that might be practical but arbitrary in some ways (i.e. the 高山族 on Taiwan which are several according to another definition).

  70. Opersai
    December 9th, 2008 at 10:50 | #70

    @Allen,

    That’s fair enough – but by defining Chineseness on culture rather than ethnicity, one might ask what is Chinese culture? Is it Han language? Is it Confucianism? Is it a dynamic still-to-be-determined cultural melting pot of all peoples within the boundary of the PRC?

    Thanks for the response. You are right, Chineseness can not be only defined by culture. I think I did not formulate my idea very clearly. I meant, look at how Han ethnic came about, it’s not just stress on bloodline, which is how some ethnics are define. But also notice, the identity evolves, from “华夏族” to “汉族” to “中华儿女” to “中华民族”, the definition for each phase of those identity also evolves. When they defined themselves as “华夏族”, the tribes still had idea that they were different bloodline sharing similar culture, no, maybe better translate as customs (礼仪). Then, because Qin unified the small kingdoms, the emperor also unified currency, language etc (Han character writing had many different versions in each kingdoms back then), this set ground for a tighter core for a common culture, and as time pass to Han Dynasty, the identify evolves into “汉族” with a stronger shared culture and awareness of one unified country – 汉朝 (Han Dynasty), as opposed to nomadic tribes in the north. Then, as there were also other ethnics with different culture, customs that also lives under same ruling, the identity evolves to expand and include more people, and so the idea of “中华儿女” was vaguely established, here “中华儿女” is not same as ZhongHua ethnic ( “中华民族”), it means sons and daughters of ZhongHua (“中华”). The definition of this identity is changed again, though, the definition was vague and hazy, but it start to expand the definition beyond bloodline, beyond culture.

    Also, here is the problem of translation and the fact, as Wukailong mentions, the concept of ethnic did not exist before it introduced by the west. Though, from “华夏族” to “汉族” to “中华民族”, we all used 族, which now we carelessly translate to ethnic, but they had different meaning and definition. (Though, myself don’t really have very good grasp of the differences ^ ^;;)

    So, to conclude myself a little, our ethnic came about by interact, merging, and its definition also evolves. The identity for us was, is and will, not be same, set and unchanged. Definition of Chineseness is not limited to bloodline, culture, or land, but in the same time, these elements can not be all absent. Personally, I think being Chineseness is a self identification, and recognition from surrounding. Say, for some CBC, they don’t feel they are Chinese or live like one. What’s Chinese of them except perhaps some bloodline?

  71. Dan
    December 10th, 2008 at 04:27 | #71

    Wow, I haven’t been here for a while but interesting inqueries.

    I think it is true that in the end, it all depends on what you want to call yourself and what context. For this website for example, it’s probably more appropriate to speak about Chinese in terms of issues affecting the Mainland, those who are citizens or residents, any relations to that place.
    Since I stop reading this site, I read a lot in the local libraries, universities and email people who are knowledgble regarding aspects of Chinese culture, history, the people, etc.

    All I can say at this point is it’s a huge work in progress, and it will take a long time to discuss in through-ou details. A lot can be said of Ancient times, and personally, for sake of many conveniences I consider whatever happened or was implemented-created before the Republican era to be from the “Chinese civilization” and after that time period, part of “China” or to be more specific, ROC, PRC, etc. Although I understand that one event follows another or is based on something before but like I said, for sake of conveniences and depends on the topic.

    For those in the diaspora, it’s somewhat different. Yeah for some, other than their physical features and connections, there’s little in distinguishing them and others of different background. However, sometimes it’s how others identify you, but that’s like a whole other story to dwell into. It is possible to say you are a member of this group or that tribe without having to go deep into political terms. Many other groups of people have comparable issues as well, some that are much more complex than what is chinese.

    On the other hand, they can call themselves whatever they want, and again, depending on the context, many people won’t denied their right to self-identify themselves. Plus, if this helps, for the many people out there who have little or no interests + knowledge in the subjects associated with this topic, the word Chinese to them can bring up a thousand images, some unrealistic, some justified, some contradicting, etc. So, in essence…it’s not necessary to go far with thinking how others will think about what you are.

    Interesting story I witness was at a resturant in the states where a HK woman was working and some young man was conversing with her. She ended up a little annoyed because the man was saying how “Oh but I studied Taoism, I studied such and such, this is what you believe, this is what you do, this is what you are,etc.” She basically said no many times politely until he got his order and left. This is a mild case, but there’s lots more out there, some even more entertaining others not so innocent.

  72. NL
    February 18th, 2009 at 00:53 | #72

    Well, in danger of being swamped by the literature that has amassed in reply, thus making my response worthless (as I have not even attempted to read one reply myself), I think it’s pretty obvious what you are. You are a modern human. You have identified the largely arbitrary and superficial idea of ‘identity’ and nationality that ought to be realised en masse, but as of yet, hasn’t.

    Thanks to globalization, a shrinking of the world, and now the defunct views that racial solidarity is a worthwhile value, who are we? The sooner we realise that we are pretty much the same, and significantly (if we exclude race) distinguished by language alone-perhaps with a few social traditions thrown in, (which can be found within a single country anyway, not least of all China, thus they cannot determine ‘who you are’)- then the sooner the planet can become a utopian paradise…In my most idealistic dreams of course. In reality we will continue to search for our unique identity (paradoxically shared, of course, with millions of others), and attempt to distinguish ourselves through artificial conflict based on little more than the imaginary borders we happen to have been born within.

    Your own ambivalence is testament to the futile search for identity we 21st century humans still mindlessly, and hopelessly, engage in. If we need to sit down, and think long and hard about our differences, then they are certainly not significant enough for us to make definitive categorisations with; that is, declare ourselves this abstract concept or that, by reference to, lo and behold, some long redundant historical memories, whose burdens we artificially splice upon ourselves in a further absurd effort to discover an identity. I am 20 years old, I am not 100, 200, 500 years old etc.

    Everywhere in this world the question of identity is beginning to emerge, and everywhere, no answer can be found, why? Because we are asking an utterly meaningless question.

  73. February 18th, 2009 at 01:29 | #73

    @NL,

    Yes – I commend the kinship you feel with all of humanity – not just your ethnicity (or religious kindred).

    But we each do have different cultures and it is inevitable we feel greater affinity to one group than another.

    That aside – have you traveled the world recently? Have you noticed that most of the people of the world lead lives that are drastically differently from we in the West? In fact, have you noticed there is a great divide between haves and have nots in the world?

    Have you looked to history to see how those inequities have arisen and current politics to see how they are being perpetrated?

    It’s great to feel kinship with the rest of the world. In a way, I also do wish we abolish nationhood and have a world gov’t. I wish we could have ever lasting peace. I wish we can all have equal access to opportunities and decent living.

    I identify with John Lennon’s song:

    Imagine there’s no Heaven
    It’s easy if you try
    No hell below us
    Above us only sky
    Imagine all the people
    Living for today

    Imagine there’s no countries
    It isn’t hard to do
    Nothing to kill or die for
    And no religion too
    Imagine all the people
    Living life in peace

    You may say that I’m a dreamer
    But I’m not the only one
    I hope someday you’ll join us
    And the world will be as one

    Imagine no possessions
    I wonder if you can
    No need for greed or hunger
    A brotherhood of man
    Imagine all the people
    Sharing all the world

    You may say that I’m a dreamer
    But I’m not the only one
    I hope someday you’ll join us
    And the world will live as one

    However, until the great inequity between peoples of the world has been eliminated, that yogaesque kind of kinship you feel is a mirage, not real … and perhaps even deceitful…

  74. March 23rd, 2009 at 13:39 | #74

    This a very controversial subject, but very interesting since we all have different opinions about this topic. So, here’s what I think. I hope that I don’t hurt someone else’s feelings by doing so.

    I’m also Chinese, but I was born and raise in the Netherlands. So, I actually feel entirely Dutch, but am still proud of the fact that I’m also Chinese. I don’t think it’s a matter of what kind of passport you have but you are what or who you feel you are. Of course, you can’t completely deny the fact that you are Chinese when you don’t want to be called a Chinese because you still have Chinese features, but it’s still understandable if that person doesn’t want to be referred to as “Chinese” but rather be called a (nationality) person instead. I’m not saying this all because I feel this way myself, but I can understand that there are certain people that do feel this way. I think this could have something to do with the fact that sometimes we do get discriminated by the persons of the country we live in (not China). It makes us want to be the same as everyone else, therefore denying who you really are.

    Thanks for sharing your opinion on this matter, Buxi!

  75. raventhorn4000
    April 27th, 2009 at 21:33 | #75

    I have thought of this subject of “being Chinese” for a long time. Having grown up in China until 12, and then grown up some more in US since 12, I have been searching for the meaning of “being Chinese” for myself for over 2 decades.

    When I see another Chinese person, I often asked myself, what is it that is similar between me and another Chinese?

    It is not my language. I know simplified Chinese, while other Chinese know traditional Chinese. I know Mandarin, and Shanghai dialect, but others know other Chinese dialects.

    It is not the food. China has many regional food that some other Chinese might find too bland or too strange. My wife loves chicken feet, I can’t stand to eat it. I love jellyfish, my wife doesn’t like it.

    I looked for the thing “Chinese” all share.

    It is perhaps our shared history, which define our identity. Along with that, it is also the way a Chinese person behaves and upholds as moral priorities.

    Yes, perhaps it is the bloodline that binds all Chinese loosely in a “racial” context, but it is more than mere genetics.

    It is the stories we share and pass down generation after generation, of men like Confucius, Lao Tzu, Mencius, some of whom we have described as “divine”.

    China, is the ONLY ancient civilization that still exists. Unlike Egypt, Babylon, Persia, China survived countless civil wars, external conquests, to remain a single relatively unified nation.

    But from that, we must also ask, what part of “ancient China” has survived?

    From dynasty to dynasty, we Chinese have changed our writing, our speech, our food, our clothing, our poetry, and even our sense of beauty. In other words, we Chinese have changed ourselves generation after generation, sometimes accepting and adapting to outside influences from the Mongolians and the Manchurians.

    Yet, deep down, we remained “Chinese”.

    So what is this “being Chinese” that we have become?

    Perhaps it is the “Dao” of being Chinese, or the “Righteousness” by Confucian doctrines.

    It is the way we value education for our children, the way we respect our ancestors and our elders, the way we view the world in what we think ought to be orderly and stable? Or the way we save money? Or the way we conduct business? Or even the subtle corruptions and nepotisms? Or the proverbs that we teach our children?

    Sometimes, I like to call these collectively as “Chinese pragmatism”, the closest thing that my Western friends can understand it. It is a way of thinking that perhaps only Chinese can understand.

    It is not a race thing, it is a cultural thing. Once you truly understand the “Chinese pragmatism”, you become a Chinese in your mindset.

  76. bob
    May 25th, 2009 at 04:40 | #76

    What does it mean to be Chinese?
    I suppose it depends on what generation and where you grew up–my comments are generalizations that would vary. The basics are frugality, aspiration to achieve high goals (better to be a doctor, lawyer, financier over liberal artist), fillial piety–respect for your elders, Confucian beliefs and the accumulation of wealth — for starters. We’re sort of Jewish in some ways. Younger generations are naturally more Westernized, and the facscination with wealth may be exacerbated. This may be an unintended result of the extreme lengths Chinese parents go to push their children to excel, combined with the severe lack of material wealth in the last several centuries.

    Chinese that grew up in the West tend to have adopted Christian beliefs, whereas I believe in China, due to the cultural revolution, I am unaware of broad religious affiliations. Fillial pity, or uncontested respect for elders is a chief characteristic unlike any other western culture. I am not sure what the Japanese take on this is, but I believe it’s common in most Asian cultures. In China, I think this practice is congruent with the one-party rule, so it fits very nicely. However, I personally believe that this practice is subject to abuse, whereby a certain lawlessness can prevail when situations seem to be getting out of control and absolute power is threatened (“I’m the boss, so shut up [even if you are right]! Period!). Also, this may lead to a greater degree of corruption, as we see in China today, but we’ll need an empirical study to confirm that.

    Rambling on here… Because there is a central tendency toward business acumen and achievement, combined with the symbolic nature of Chinese ideograms, I think it’s difficult for Chinese to be right-brained, where westerners seem more left brained. We’d rather talk about making money or other facts and figures, than to create idle chatter about the latest TV characters and shows. I find it difficult to walk into a college town pub and engage in the shananigan type banter of frat boys. I want to try and do this to blend in the crowd but to do so by watching more sports and sit-coms on TV would impede my study time. I am conflicted by this, because for some strange reason, I want to be like a white person. Maybe it’s status symbolism.

    A few other points. As with many other nations, we are certainly proud of our heritage, so perhaps this is not a distinction. Also, I must say that I think Asians and perhaps Chinese, can create bitter conflicts amongst themselves and with others, all the way down to the family unit. Just look at the many film productions that are tragedies. Additionally, the Chinese of today remain vocally bitter at the Japanese for WWII atrocities. Finally, in general, Chinese and other Asians are less outwardly trusting–they need to get to know you before we take the next step. Westerners tend to be more trusting at the onset of a relationship.

    Well, that’s all folks! Have a happy and wonderful time resolving your identity!! :)

  77. Shane9219
    May 25th, 2009 at 07:19 | #77

    @bob

    Every culture has its strong sides as well as weak sides. Corruption exists in everywhere and every culture. You probably know the situation on corruption within Italian society with its ancient Roman culture, and corruption situation within India society. There is just not a great deal of media interest in it, that’s it.

    Generally speaking, the longer a civilization, the complex its society and culture are, so does the appearance of corruption under modern sense. Under newer culture setting, like US, it has a newer political foundation and may make a point to prevent things learned from lessons of older civilizations. This was also true in Chinese history when one dynasty emerged over an earlier one.

    In the West, the evolution of human relations was gradually made into contractually based. In a sense, it brought self-interest under a clear acknowledgment, so that such self-interest is no longer regarded as corruption anymore as it is written in some kind of contract. However, contractual based relations could be fundamentally unstable and inflexible, as we saw throughout western history. Contracts among various kind of entities could be easily torn up and rewritten as people please. Contractual-based modern marriage of man and woman is another good example.

    Under traditional Chinese culture, there is rule of law administrated by an emperor court, but Confucianism also tried to guide Chinese society using order (li 理) and rites (li 禮) . That could make a society more stable and elastic. However, it brought out so called ‘exception-ism”, which is to say matters are handled differently depending on nature of the parties. Thus, clan-ism or nepotism are wide spread among Asian cultures, and often accepted by “reasonable” people. However, this tradition is facing more and more attack in modern civil societies.

    [As a side note, when a Chinese dynasty failed, ancient scholars always pointed to a break-down of order (li 理) and rites (li 禮), and the need for a new emperor to establish his rule based on well established order (li 理) and rites (li 禮)]

    Regarding forming a common Chinese identity, it is an crucial task forced upon yet much delayed by foreign powers. It is still a challenging task ahead. As you know, people in modern China have been burden by social turmoils, foreign invasions and civil wars.

  78. August 10th, 2009 at 12:04 | #78

    this is part of it:::

    http://zookel.blogspot.com

  79. Joseph Reilly
    August 22nd, 2009 at 02:04 | #79

    The opinions and convictions shown in the above discussion are illuminating and interesting. I, personally,
    tend to agree with the idea that you are who and what you think you are. Thus, I am of Amerind, French and
    Irish ancestry. But, as to what I am, as opposed to who my antecedents were, I’m an American.
    I believe everyone has the right and the need to define [him,her]self. You can call yourself American, French,
    or Slobbovian.This is as it should be.
    The problem with Chinese identity,in my opinion, is that many Chinese, even in the modern world, see the
    rest of the world as “NonChinese” or “Other”. This is not the recognition of differences in language and
    culture which divide all of us, to some extent. It is a conviction that Chinese are not of the same stuff that
    Germans or Canadians are of.
    Thus, even though the Chinese will never admit it and they lie to themselves quite admirably, the Chinese
    are a profoundly racist society and one can only hope that,as Chinese have more and more contact with the world, they will come to see the error of this perception.

  80. wuming
    August 22nd, 2009 at 12:43 | #80

    @Joseph Reilly

    “The Chinese are a profoundly racist society and one can only hope that,as Chinese have more and more contact with the world, they will come to see the error of this perception.”

    Before you make such grand statement about a people, please be kind enough to show some evidence. In my opinion, you are burdened with the responsibility to demonstrate:

    1. Chinese race (a very very shaking category here already) is deeply racist in a way that other racial groups are not
    2. Point one is true in a statistical way.

    Chinese may well be bluntly ethnocentric, but the racial conception is actually imported (probably from the west) therefore can hardly be profound.

  81. Joshua
    August 22nd, 2009 at 18:10 | #81

    I hope others don’t take my message the wrong way but I want to voice an opinion of mine.

    After reading all these comments along with other information I’ve obtained plus experiences with people, the word Chinese is still very fluid and the terminology will differ in Asia and outside of Asia. Also, for the people who identified themselves as Chinese (by citizenship, heritage or whatever factors) this term differs among themselves just as much as others outside such ideas see it.

    Without adding on, let me say that in a sense, being Chinese is almost like another “world” in itself, as others have mentioned. On one hand, the Abrahamic religions aren’t integral in this world, yet at the same time it is in many ways, but only on “their terms” unlike many places. The language isn’t based on a Latin script, nor is it Semitic or Indo-European yet it’s still pretty big. Along with a lot of different factors involved, whether people like it or not, it will be hard to not see the world as “Chinese” and “non-Chinese”.

    However, it’s not an excuse to be mean to others but as it is with many societies around the world, knowledge of how big this world is will have to be filter in with them in the picture rather than how most people tend to teach it. With a large population and unique history/cultural belief(s) (I must stress the plurarity because “Chinese-ness” is very very diverse in reality)…even if many Chinese break out of this “ancient” trend of ethnocentricism and realized they are just one piece of the puzzle, they have to contend with the reality of how big this “puzzle piece” is and the shape of it is going to be one of a kind.

    I remember watching a video about James Fallows talking about his experiences, a funny note he mentioned was when he converse with the local Chinese about the negative images of Americans, they responded casually saying yeah they know but they hate people in Shanghai more. It’s sort of a interesting take but reflective of that insular feeling people often get living in most big countries.

    On a personal note…continuing with the last comments, it’s true to some extent that there are elements of racism among Chinese society (though in several ways it’s more like xenophobia or ethnocentricism…sometimes it doesn’t have to be that extreme but I’m not sure what the proper term is). There are bad apples in that society just as there are with others. However, as a minority myself in another country, based on what I’ve learned about this term, my observations and experiences, what racism is in theory and reality;this term pre-dominantly deals with shallow-physical features rather than the complex demographic “criteria” many ethnic groups have. A lot of these related issues at times can not be based on looks alone. The “Chinese look” isn’t easy to define.

    Also, since it’s partially complex than the racism I’ve witnessed and learn (which is really degrading for those who know what I’m talking about) , I wouldn’t throw around this term too much. In a way, it abuses it because different forms of bigotry requires different tactics to deal with. We can link and find similarities between prejudice towards Racial groups, Women, Sexual Orientation, Religion or Foreign, but they all have their own terminology and in many profound ways can not be lump all together. However, sometimes you have to call it as it is.

    That’s my opinion, as far as I’m aware and concerned.

  82. pug_ster
    August 25th, 2009 at 01:53 | #82

    You know, I’ve had an a sort of an disagreement with a term ‘Saving Face’ to an owner of a blog site, who is an American who is living in China. The disagreement got sort of heated and in turn, banned me from posting from their site. He made comments like: “I’ve asked you before and I’ll ask you again, why do you play your 愤青 role from America? I don’t understand why such a nationalistic Chinese person chooses to live in the United States instead of China.” It reminds me when I first moved to a neighborhood that doesn’t have alot of Chinese living there and some people living in my neighborhood would made these sort of racist comments at me.

    I think in the end, he doesn’t understand how it feels like an Chinese living America is. America was supposed to be a place where you can express your opinion without being suppressed even when your views are not popular, and this person did just that. I’ve said in comment #178 that unless America respects you as who you are, then I don’t consider myself a true blooded American.

  83. August 25th, 2009 at 03:12 | #83

    Here is my e-mail from my friend Bai Ding with the title Hand shakes with the mid Westerners.

    Bai Ding has over 30 years in US and spent one day in Indiana and felt the discrimination against Chinese.

    ——————–

    I have been staying out in Indiana’s Bloomington for a few days. I
    just became a grandpa to a really cute little boy from my daughter.

    It is clear that this area is different from New York City. Indiana
    is very white. Between Indianapolis and Bloomington, there is a
    Martinsville which is a Klu Klux Klan stronghold.

    The people are not as sophisticated as those from the East or West
    coast. Their accent is obscure. In fact the Mid Western people are
    quite obscure to the Chinese, and vice versa Since my kids are there
    and we have been visiting them for many years, some of my experiences
    were not so pleasant.

    Some guy refused to serve my car and I rounded
    up driving with only three cylinders running. One time the waiters at
    the Denny’s Diner refused to serve us without us showing them our
    passports.

    And one time, my wife was searched at the airport and the
    TSA said, “We have to be careful because of people like you.”, etc.
    That time I raised hell at the airport and scared the hell out of my
    wife. The TSA could have just done their job (searching my wife)
    without making these remarks. Why they had to say something like
    that? But each time, someone (who’s also white), calmed me down and I
    rounded up shaking hands with the idiots. Who has the time to tangle
    with these nonsenses? I don’t.

    I began to learn about these people. Today I walked by a fire trucks
    with four firemen asking for donations. I looked at the sign and it
    was for Muscular Dystrophy. They looked at me and didn’t know what to
    say to a gray hair Chinaman. Not sure if I understand English. They
    just smiled and said, “Howdy!”. I said to them, “So this is for
    muscular dystrophy? A good cause!” and I pronounced the medical term
    perfectly. Then I dropped $5 in the can. It was early in the
    morning, they have just started the day and here I was. It must be my
    American accent and low key mannerism made them delighted. They
    jumped.

    One guy said, “That’s right, you got it perfectly right. You
    know your stuff buddy! Thank you buddy!”. Then I started talking to
    them about Jerry Lewis’ kids (The late comedian used to have this
    annual drive) and then the Indiana Colts. After all, I am a football
    fan. I even helped them soliciting donations as more people passed
    by. Later, I was rewarded a large pop (or soda) and a lot of
    handshakes.

    Prejudice and ignorance go hand in hand. I began to understand their
    mentality. They stare at you because they don’t see that many of you
    around. But if you talk and manner their way, they will love you.
    The truth is, these are very polite, kind and easy going people. They
    always greet you with a smile and say “hello”, “how are you” and
    “thank you”. And they are always ready to assist you if you ask. So
    many are very generous to my children especially in the school. And
    once they get to know you, there is no more barrier. So I think it
    all comes down to knowing each other. Knowing people is always the
    key to any relationship. It is only human to stare. It is also only
    human to shake hands, even with Mid Westerners.

    Just a day’s experience of my life.

  84. August 25th, 2009 at 03:17 | #84

    Hi Ding Bai,

    Wow! Just one day, you learn about the rest of US outside your NYC village. Welcome to America finally!

    Prejudice and ignorance come hand-in-hand as you are a living proof. I do not blame the old generation in an isolated part of US as their image of a Chinaman is some one with a pigtail working in railroad, laundry, and Chinese restaurants that serve cat meat.

    Denny’s had a poor reputation and they suffered from a lawsuit and lost for the same reason. They never learn and I skip going to Denny’s for life even for the free breakfast! If you do not mind,

    I had a Chinese professor at U. Mass. at Amhert wrote in the college newspaper 35 years ago, “If you do not believe a Chinese can teach in college, please come to room 1234 in Engineering Building.”

    I have my share of discrimination experience:

    * When I was in beautiful Calgary 25 years ago with my American co-worker in a country fair (Stampede Festival), every one starred at us like we’re UFOs.

    * After I got the highest award in my department, some managers treated me very rudely and said a lot racially discriminated language behind my back – and the message came back to me (intentionally?). My work place was a phone company with a lot of uneducated Irish playing politics all day long.

    * I never play my Chinese card except once. When I got a bad table in a Vegas show due to no tips to lead me to my table, They’re scared to hell when I shouted for seeing their supervisor and they gave me the best table. I could have too many drinks and scared my wife too.

  85. Shane9219
    August 25th, 2009 at 18:25 | #85

    AsiaTimes: China’s birthday movie has many seeing red

    “The current stir is over whether ethnic Chinese actors and actresses holding foreign passports should be allowed to appear in a film marking the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

    The movie, Jianguo Daye (Lofty Ambitions of Founding a Republic), is about preparations to found the PRC in 1949. After Japan’s surrender in 1945 at the end of World War II, a civil war broke out on mainland China between troops controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the ruling Kuomintang (KMT).

    In three years, communist troops had swept into control of most areas of the mainland. In 1949, the CCP moved its headquarters to Beijing in preparation for the founding of a new republic to replace the KMT’s Republic of China (ROC), which fled to the island of Taiwan. The new movie tries to recreate this historic event.

    The 30 million yuan (US$4.39 million) movie is produced by the state-owned China Film Group and directed by its chairman and chief executive, Han Sanping. It is scheduled for release on September 17, two weeks ahead of the 60th birthday of the PRC on October 1.

    It is expected to be a big hit. As China grows stronger, patriotic and nationalistic sentiments are on the rise, and the film will tap into this. Given the movie’s likely popularity, just about every Chinese actor – from superstar to starlet – wanted a role.

    According to Jianguo Daye’s official website, over 170 Chinese actors and actresses, including many superstars, have been signed up. An envious Hong Kong film director said, “It would be a director’s lifetime dream to direct a film starring just a few of these stars. But Jianguo Daye has them all.”

    Many of the major roles are key historical figures, such as Mao and Zhou Enlai, the first premier of the PRC, and the stars are clamoring to be a part of this action. These include kung fu superstars Jackie Chan and Jet Li, one of the best-known Chinese actresses, Zhang Ziyi, Hong Kong actor, comedian, screenwriter and film director Stephen Chow and another Hong Kong celebrity, actor and producer Andy Lau. Directors John Woo, Feng Xiaogang and Chen Kaige are also willing to play cameo parts, even if only for a few seconds.

    The fuss began after the producer publicized the cast of Jainguo Daye, with bloggers claiming that more than 20 of the actors were not Chinese nationals but foreign passport holders. This immediately provoked uproar among China’s netizens,

    “It is a new march into China by the allied forces of a foreign power to celebrate the birthday of our republic,” one wrote on Mop.com, an entertainment website, alluding to the invasion of China by the Eight-Power Allied Forces in 1900. ”

    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China/KH26Ad01.html

  86. MG
    October 10th, 2009 at 13:43 | #86

    Born in China and living abroad for many years, I have asked myself many times what does it means to be Chinese? I feel there are nationality Chinese, emotionally Chinese, ethnically Chinese and ethnically Chinese. Some people can be all. Some can be some of them. Although patriotism is important for keeping identity and benefits of country, I don’t think being Chinese should be that an important identity for everyone. You don’t have to be Chinese because you want to be a Chinese. Everyone can choose they way the prefer to live and think and you know how Chinese you are.

  87. Lobsang
    January 21st, 2010 at 20:26 | #87

    I would like to thank the bloger………giving people chance to share their thoughts.
    I am from Tibet, was born in Tibet and I know mostlly both good and bad about Chinese and its governemnt. I would say Chinese people are trusted and hardworking people. meanwhile they are tiny bit better or educated than Tibetans. But I woud like to say each and every Chinese and Tibetans to excel their study and fight for DEMOCRACY. Tibet and China be the best friend and best neighbor country.

  88. Otto Kerner
    January 21st, 2010 at 22:18 | #88

    From your lips to 天’s ear, Lobsang. Unfortunately, I don’t think the Chinese — certainly not their government — are very interested in being “just friends” with Tibet, or any kind of neighboring country. A Tibet Info Net report on the recent high-level CCP meeting on Tibet policy and the choice of Padma Choling the new nominal governor of Tibet is entitled “More of the Same”.

  89. r v
    January 21st, 2010 at 23:31 | #89

    Beware of Greeks bearing gifts. (those crazy democratic people).
    Beware of strangers coming to be your “best friends.”
    Beware of human beings with too much “interests” in others and too much time on their hands.

    Much ado about nothing,
    To convert all thy woes into hey nony nony…

  90. Lobsang
    January 25th, 2010 at 00:17 | #90

    Hello Otto Kerner, I highlly appreciate for ypur point of view. Pretty much true but more than that I can say things will change in China & its government within 10 to 15 years.

  91. jenny
    February 3rd, 2010 at 15:08 | #91

    Thx for your nice writing, Buxi.
    Talking about being Chinese, its quite confusing with the terms of Huaren and Huaqiao.
    Actually, Im writing thesis about Overseas Chinese Policy
    does the policy include both Huaren and Huaqiao?
    It would be really nice of you if you can help me with some journals or articles related to this issue.
    Thx a lot, Buxi!

    best,
    Jenny

  92. 2010
    June 23rd, 2010 at 15:11 | #92

    http://www.salon.com/sept97/00roy2.html

    “Do we ask, “What does it mean to be American? What does it mean to be British?” as often?” replies author Arundhati Roy. Her first novel, “The God of Small Things,” won the English-speaking world’s most premier honor, the Booker Prize, is published in more than 20 nations, has hit No. 1 on the Sunday Times of London’s bestseller list and is climbing the New York Times

    Western Interviewer: “What does it mean to be an Indian novelist today? What does it mean to be Indian?” Will readers find the answers to these questions in “The God of Small Things”?

    You know, I think that a story is like the surface of water. And you can take what you want from it. Its volubility is its strength. But I feel irritated by this idea, this search. What do we mean when we ask, “What is Indian? What is India? Who is Indian?” Do we ask, “What does it mean to be American? What does it mean to be British?” as often? I don’t think that it’s a question that needs to be asked, necessarily. I don’t think along those lines, anyway. I think perhaps that the question we should ask is, “What does it mean to be human?”

    I don’t even feel comfortable with this need to define our country. Because it’s bigger than that! How can one define India? There is no one language, there is no one culture. There is no one religion, there is no one way of life. There is absolutely no way one could draw a line around it and say, “This is India” or, “This is what it means to be Indian.” The whole world is seeking simplification. It’s not that easy. I don’t believe that one clever movie or one clever book can begin to convey what it means to be Indian. Of course, every writer of fiction tries to make sense of their world. Which is what I do. There are some things that I don’t do, though. Like try to make claims of what influenced my book. And I will never “defend” my book either. When I write, I lay down my weapons and give the book to the reader.

  93. June 24th, 2010 at 15:11 | #93

    @2010

    Right. And this is a reminder for me there are great thoughts around the world and always instructive to broaden our perspectives.

    The answer to this question is always dependent on what motivates the question in the first place.

    That also seems to be Buxi’s conclusion.

  94. bert
    December 7th, 2010 at 22:45 | #94

    TonyP4 said,

    * When I was in beautiful Calgary 25 years ago with my American co-worker in a country fair (Stampede Festival), every one starred at us like we’re UFOs.

    Just like everyday life for a foreigner in China!

    * After I got the highest award in my department, some managers treated me very rudely and said a lot racially discriminated language behind my back – and the message came back to me (intentionally?). My work place was a phone company with a lot of uneducated Irish playing politics all day long.

    At least you (a foreigner) got the highest reward. In China they would never allow that unless you were some CCP ass kisser.

    * I never play my Chinese card except once. When I got a bad table in a Vegas show due to no tips to lead me to my table, They’re scared to hell when I shouted for seeing their supervisor and they gave me the best table. I could have too many drinks and scared my wife too.

    Are you saying you got no place or you got someplace because of your Chineseness? How does Chinese fit into this equation?

    All of these many posts shows that there is actually no race called “chinese”, it is just a nation state today. Have fun but don’t glorify it too much.

  95. Rhan
    December 8th, 2010 at 00:26 | #95

    Recent history shows that Chinese rarely glorify anything unless being provoke. And I am not too sure the habit to condemn and critisise this and that, here and there like what the West did could be another form of glorification?

  96. April 21st, 2011 at 09:26 | #96

    Many times I witnesses two “Chinese” men argue this point. “You’r not a real Chinese,” the first says, “I’m a genuine Chinese, unlike you,” counters the second. For a long time I wondered what exactly triggered this in those who engaged in it. Then I moved to China.

    Living in China “changed” me, or should I say, opened my eyes. I began to understand, on the concrete level, what the old quip, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” I dressed more conservatively, got a local bike, not a Flying Pidgen, that required a ration cupon, and explored “my” new Country, Shanghai.

    One day, at the international school, picking up my kid on my bike, I was accosted by an “important” American…”So, she said, have you become Chinese now?” Her jewelry flashed on her exposed neck, her heels painful but “smart,” and her clothes a bilboard for yuppies. I was startled, but had no answer for her.

    Then, one day, in a disagreement with a “Chinese,” she “accused” me of being “American.” Now, how can that be an accusation, I instantly wondered? But my reply, without thinking, was “I am more Chinese than you are.” In fact, several “Chinese” had gathered to watch this exchange, and I had my share of supporters, who whooped their agreement with my statement.

    So, in my opinion, being Chinese is hard to define, but you know it when you see, or feel it.

  97. April 22nd, 2011 at 06:39 | #97

    “But my reply, without thinking, was “I am more Chinese than you are.” In fact, several “Chinese” had gathered to watch this exchange, and I had my share of supporters, who whooped their agreement with my statement.”

    Right on, Kathy. :)

    Be proud of your Chinese side. It’s not what you look like, or your birth place, or your bloodline, it’s how you feel about yourself, like you said.

    *Which reminded me of one of my funny days, when I told my American friends that I was going to start a Crusade (jokingly), and “convert” them to the Chinese ways,

    Starting by giving them all “God-given Chinese names”. (Because so many Americans bugged me about getting an “American” name that would be easier for them to pronounce. So one can see that “raventhorn” is just so much easier to remember than my 2 syllable Chinese name!)

    I prepared a Chinese name for 1 friend, a very poetic sounding name. And it took him a while to learn to write it, but he seemed to thoroughly enjoy the process of learning his “new” Chinese name.

    But experience is one not of “conversion”, being Chinese is about how one feels about oneself, exploring one’s own “Chinese side”, and perhaps obtaining a Chinese name for oneself symbolically.

    In ancient times, many Chinese had 3 names, 1 given by his parents, 1 given by himself, and 1 given by his friends.

    One does not change from 1 name to another, but rather inherit all the names as his own, embracing all of their meanings.

    You may be American and Chinese, embracing all sides of yourself that you have discovered from within.

    May you find all your names and thrive in all of them.

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