New Yorker's "Angry Youth" a must-read

This article is a comprehensive look at a few young Chinese nationalists, both inside and outside of China.  I recommend it completely.  If the facts and people presented in this article became recognizable in the West, this blog would (almost) have no reason to exist.  Thanks to FOARP (I believe) for recommending this in an earlier thread.

45 thoughts on “New Yorker's "Angry Youth" a must-read

  1. it drags too long. nontheless props to the author for starting to listen.
    after march 12th fiasco, China will adopt a new strategy dealing with the west, is the west smart enough to learn something also? I doubt it. their sense of superiority will keep their eyes blind.
    also my fellow chinese should get used to the criticism from the west, they shit over you, give them a finger and move on with ur buessiness, dont lose any sleep over it.

  2. Excellent piece. Very informative. Some of the individuals featured in the piece could pass for some of the commentators here, it would seem. Thanks for the link.

  3. The New Yorker article is a thorough piece and cover an emerging trend in China, that is, China’s Internet generation. It’s about individual stories and not an analysis of the underlying phenomenon. There are some common misses in article:

    1) Boycott of Carrfour frizzled. No. It succeeded. The French had to back track and sent people over to say regrets. Had to balance their views. Sarkozy has to come and watch Olympics.

    2) Li Datong. I thought he was fired. Here he is mentioned a newspaper editor. An important piece information is not given.

    3) Protest of Japan in 2005. For two reasons not one: UN security council seat and the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed train using Japanese technology. The results are now clear. The protest succeeded again.

  4. @Netizen –

    “No. It succeeded. The French had to back track and sent people over to say regrets. Had to balance their views. Sarkozy has to come and watch Olympics”

    Any evidence to back that up? Who do you mean by ‘the French’? As far as I can see, Sarkozy had always phrased things so that he would be able to go anyway.

    “The protest succeeded again.”

    I don’t think there’s any evidence whatsoever that the United Nations Security Council decision was influenced by the protests at all, if anything, the government allowed the protests to go ahead as a way of justifying its policy – not the other way round. As has been noted before on this blog, permission is almost never given for demonstrations.

    @Moneyball – Here we go, the same old tropes: “sense of superiority”, “give them a finger”, “They shit all over you” – really, why do you bother trying to speak to us ‘westerners’ if that is what you think of us?

  5. @FOARP,

    Let’s debat facts not oppinions. I said this, you said that. That’s fine. But let me say my piece. If I got my facts wrong, you can correct them but don’t correct my oppinions.

    I’m still waiting for you to back up your claim that Dashan had some websites blocked.

  6. @Buxi,

    I was thinking about writting a post on China’s internal dynamics and the forces shaping the future of China. It’s more about structural dynamics instead of the telling of individuals’s stories in the New Yorker’s.

    Basically, I see following forces shaping China: the ruling technocrats, liberal intellectuals and activists, new leftists, and the young netizens.

    Ruling technocrats have power but lack legitamacy. They are afraid of losing control and act cautiously.

    Liberal intellectualls and activists are idealistic but marginalized because they look to the west for moral support.

    New leftists are concerned about the free market and the gap between rich and poor but lack vigorous alternative to market reform. They are the former maxist true believers.

    Then the young netizens are not in the power structure but have benefited from China’s free market reform. They consider themselves the true protectors and inheritors of China.

    These forces try to compete and influence the masses of China. If you see President Hu Jintao’s recent chat with netizens in this light, you may find out he was trying there: try to bring the netizens under the fold, but not likely to success the ruling technocrats themselves move to netizens’ positions in many policy issues: government transparency, accountability, anti-corruption, rule of law, etc.

    I’ll add more meat to it later.

  7. Correction: If you see President Hu Jintao’s recent chat with netizens in this light, you may find out he was trying there: try to bring the netizens under the fold, but not likely to SUCCEED UNLESS the ruling technocrats themselves move to netizens’ positions in many policy issues: government transparency, accountability, anti-corruption, rule of law, etc.

  8. If the activists thought that they were defending China’s image abroad, there was little sign of success. After weeks of patriotic rhetoric emanating from China, a poll sponsored by the Financial Times showed that Europeans now ranked China as the greatest threat to global stability, surpassing America.

    This is due to western media’s dirty trick to portray Chinese ‘s protests as “aggressive” “ugly”, “supress Tibetants”…….

    As soon as Chinese say anything against western main stream we are immediately labled as “brainwashed” “Chinese government’s mouth piece” by those stupid westerners. The author of this article did the same work in a much hidden way.

    Little he explored why the western media gave such biased reports about Tibet and the west’s hidden agenda.

    Today ‘s Chinese youth are armed with Internet. They are much better informed and more mature politically. Not like us the students on TianAnMen square, so easily manipulated.

  9. @Netizen – I don’t believe I ever said he actually did get some websites blocked, however websites have been blocked after criticising him, and then only unblocked after removing the criticism. Now, attributing these things to Da Shan may seem a touch paranoid, but he did force Sinosplice to take down a very mild parody of him as it was no. 2 on the results list for a google search for ‘Da shan’, check it out:

    http://www.sinosplice.com/life/archives/2004/05/09/derisive-dashan-rip

    But to be frank, I simply dislike the man’s work, let’s leave it at that. I was questioning your interpretation of those facts, and seeing if there was anything to back it up. I’m not trying to silence anybody.

  10. To be honest, when I first saw that video, with its wacky conspiracy theories about a western plot against China, and its occasionally iffy English, I assumed that it was written by a high school student. This article came as quite a surprise.

  11. Buxi is so right: “If the facts and people presented in this article became recognizable in the West, this blog would (almost) have no reason to exist.”

    Just last year, hardly any mainstream media was bashing China, they were all praising China’s peaceful rise “和平崛起”, and even President Hu was Time’s Person of the Year 2007 runner-up.

    At the beginning this year, the Olympics homestretch, pro-Africa activists crawled out of the woodwork, but that was still PR manageable. But suddenly the Tibet riots happened, the subsequent media bashing, boycott threats and torch protests, led to the “Angry Youths” coming to China’s defence.

    Then the blogs (including Fool’s Mountain) discussing China appeared.

    The “Angry Youths” and the anti-China forces were about to come to blows, but fate again, or rather natural disaster, intervened – the Sichuan earthquake, and the situation diffused, at least for now.

  12. @FOARP,

    dude u need to face the reality. the reality is most of westerners think china is an evil empire(of course we dont think we are). the other reality is most of chinese think the west has a conspiracy against china(of course u dont think u have). how did it happen? I remmember in the 80s we loved America to death…I remmember LA 84 gave chinese team a heartfelt welcome, so what have changed everything? if you put some effort to find that out, you would have answers to a lot of questions.

  13. Wow, no mention of 50 Cent Party… You mean stuff that are not anti-government on Chinese blogsphere is actually real/unpaid?

    Maybe there’s hope for Old Media after all. If Rebecca’s GlobalVoices lot of bloggers is gonna replace stuff like this, then may God have mercey on us all.

  14. @Moneyball – Not to get all religious on you, but Jesus had a good one on this: “Ye shall know them by their fruits: Do men gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles?” (Matthew 7:16)

    @Charles Liu – I’ve always thought ’50 cent party’ was a bad translation, here’s why:

    1) The first time a people see it they will think its something to do with hip-hop

    2) Five mao is not the same as 50 cents, any more than 10 shillings would have been in the old pre-decimalisation system in the UK. Five mao is five mao, the fact it happens to be half of a yuan does not make it the equivalent of fifty cents. The only place where you see fen nowadays is in banks and in large supermarkets like Carrefour, where they insist on giving you fen in your change, even though they cannot be used anywhere else – I think this could well be a scam by them to get you to come back.

    3) ‘party’ has more than one meaning

    4) It leads to confusion about how much they actually do receive – are they receiving 50 US cents, 50 HK cents, 50 Canadian cents, 50 Australian cents, 50 Euro cents – or what?

    5) There is a long history of using foreign words to represent foreign political concepts and entities – Ostpolitik, Agitprop, Perestroika, Glasnost, Gestapo, Stasi, KGB, Politburo, Kamikaze – what is so wrong about using a foreign word in this case?

    As for the whole Wumaodang controversy, I think that the Chinese government is unlikely to be that bothered about what is said on blogs in which the majority of commentators are foreigners. That said, the CCP does monitor what is said on Chinese websites, and this does include having people make pro-CCP comments. I don’t think you will dispute any of this. What is not known is the extent of this activity, and I do bear in mind that the scale of such operations may be quite small.

  15. But liken it to “Fi’ty/G-Unit” is funny to rap fans like myself.

    I know you are impartial to WMD – I’ll give it to ya; it’s clever.

  16. @moneyball
    “the reality is most of westerners think china is an evil empire”

    Each time I heard the words “evil empire” I just can help images of Stars Wars to come to my mind.

    Laser sabers, Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Prince Leia, Han Solo etc.

    Even in that film good and evil where very much mixed up.

  17. @ Moneyball

    “the reality is most of westerners think china is an evil empire”

    err… no they don’t. Check out the much-publicized recent Pew Global Attitudes survey. (Some of it displayed with a little commentary here: http://www.onlyredheadintaiwan.com/2008/07/notes-on-pews-global-attitudes-project.html)
    It would seem that in Britain 47% of the respondants viewed China favourably and 53% viewed America favourably. In other words, only 6% of British people put China in a more favourable category than America.
    France seems to be the most anti-China and anti-America country in Europe- perhaps “freedom fries” and Carrafour boycotts have something to do with that?

  18. haha , It is so true “I remmember in the 80s we loved America to death”

    I loved everything American then:American democracy,American movies,American dressing code,American songs,American English, what Americans eat for breakfast , what a American pen looks like ,and …very long list

    But still, China need learn many things from America,Britain,Spain,New Zealand and other countries…三人行,必有我师焉。Alibaba reminded me to pick up圣贤之言。Thanks,Alibaba.

  19. @FOARP,

    You have good anylize of wumaodang. “That said, the CCP does monitor what is said on Chinese websites, and this does include having people make pro-CCP comments.”

    But not everyone is that open minded(which is impossible) like you, JL and other no-Chinese on this blog.

    I know quite few of the authors and commentators here get called to be wumaodang mostly on other China related English blogs.

  20. @kui

    If the activists thought that they were defending China’s image abroad, there was little sign of success.

    I agree. But I think the more important thing is for the activists to find a common voice. I think we found that. The way such diverse group of Chinese people across the globe suddenly found themselves spontaneously unified by a common cause to defend China – including its gov’t – is quite surprising and unprecedented. This is all the more surprising given that Chinese – especially in foreign lands – aren’t known to be especially active in politics.

  21. “France seems to be the most anti-China and anti-America country in Europe- perhaps “freedom fries” and Carrafour boycotts have something to do with that?”

    Haha, imagine the day when the angry French people rises up against the US and China! 🙂 They must be the only country to have been boycotted by two superpowers.

  22. JL,
    “It would seem that in Britain 47% of the respondants viewed China favourably and 53% viewed America favourably. In other words, only 6% of British people put China in a more favourable category than America.”

    It’s funny, I don’t know if it’s the same in other countries, but 47% approval isn’t that bad. As long you are above 50 you are good.

  23. @kui: “As soon as Chinese say anything against western main stream we are immediately labled as “brainwashed” “Chinese government’s mouth piece” by those stupid westerners. The author of this article did the same work in a much hidden way.”

    Well, newspapers here talk about “western media” all the time, but seldom care to quote it or even let people read it. People in the West don’t necessarily think Chinese people are brainwashed – the ultra-nationalists are doing a good job of providing that image themselves.

  24. JL,“It would seem that in Britain 47% of the respondants viewed China favourably and 53% viewed America favourably. In other words, only 6% of British people put China in a more favourable category than America.”

    You meant to say only 6% of British people put US in a more favourable category than China?
    this poll is misleading, they should just ask what’s ur top3 most unfavorable countries in the world,
    the answer will be, Iran, China, North Korea.

  25. @Wukailong
    “Haha, imagine the day when the angry French people rises up against the US and China!”

    Be afraid, very afraid. You have no idea what the French are able to do. 😉

  26. re: 23 above

    I agree with this.

    If the international media reports are such false and obviously unbelieivable rubbish, then why doesn’t the government allow everyone in China access to them.

    I mean, if international media reports are so obviously false, then there isn’t much danger of anyone believing them right?

  27. @Moneyball – Why would a ranking be any more accurate? As for the UK, I can tell you that the results would be something more like “The US, Russia, China – in no particular order”

    @Kui – I was at the demonstrations here in London, and the sight of groups of arm-band wearing Chinese students marching along waving the Chinese flag and singing the Chinese national anthem (whilst, apparently, protesting the politicisation of the games) is not one that gives you the impression that strident nationalism is a dying force in China.

    @deltaeco – Yeah, they’ll insult your cookery (and in doing so hand you a major sporting event) and try to replace Chinese words used in France with French ones (and totally fail).

  28. @vadaga,

    Because when regular Joes in China see these obviously false and biased reports against China, they would hate the West more, it’s bad for business.

  29. @Moneyball – I have seen no ‘obviously false’ reports, even the whole Anti-CNN thing was concerned with a few croped photos lacking proper tags, and a poorly worded comments by a single commentator on CNN. Examples like the ‘China gene dopiing’ thing are mainly examples of poor headline writing (which, by the way, is MSNBC’s fault, as they the headline was added by them).

  30. I envision the next stage of Chinese nationalism, overcoming the antagonistic attitude toward the West with a more realistic attitude of indifference and irrelevance, and moving on to a more internal-looking and constructive phase of national unity. The Chinese emotional divorce with the West brought by the shattered Olympic dream enhances their psychological home-coming, renturn to caring for fellow Chinese (with the new labor law, reform of the medical care system, more humane treatment of migrant workers etc.).

  31. @FOARP

    I have seen no ‘obviously false’ reports, even the whole Anti-CNN thing was concerned…

    I guess sometimes truth is in the light of the beholder?

    Anyways – the issue here is not just about the falsification of reports, but the general cynical attitude the western press has toward China.

    For example, NY Times recently published an article titled “China Presses Hush Money on Grieving Parents.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/24/world/asia/24quake.html?em&ex=1217131200&en=b55b1170339f4b63&ei=5087)

    The NY Times made a big deal of local officials trying to “buy off” grieving parents so they wouldn’t protest.

    That is just another typical example of western cynicism. In my eyes, the officials are responding to the grieving parents by trying to compensate them. Why sensationalize it as “hush” money?

    Now – I know one big issue in China is gov’t accountability. If the officials are compensating parents so local gov’ts can continue to siphon off $ to build shoddy schools, then I would call this a “buy off.” But there is no evidence this is going on.

    I also know that another big issue in China is judicial independence. If the issue is that it should be the courts not the gov’t officials doing the compensating, this sort of “compensation” may be too ephemeral, because it can disappear on a dime through a policy change … but then even so, this should be discussed as a structural problem in governance – I wouldn’t call this “hush money”…

    The cynicism and bias of the Western press toward China is deep and widespread. When it comes to China – it’s a free for all – including intentionally sensationalizing the stories at the expense of true journalistic integrity.

  32. I envision the next stage of Chinese nationalism, overcoming the antagonistic attitude toward the West with a more realistic attitude of indifference and irrelevance, and moving on to a more internal-looking and constructive phase of national unity.

    That would be great! But I think until China becomes a true super power, Chinese nationalism will always have components of both optimistic self-reliance as well as defeatist victimism…

  33. I think Chinese should distinguish West politicians and media from ordinary people in West.

    From my experience in America, Ordinary middle class americans are very nice people, they really feel sad when they see a dog is killed. If they hate the chinese government, it is cuz they really think the current CCP is no difference from what it was 40 years; if they support free tibet, it is cuz they really believe Tibetans are tortured by Han Chinese.

    I dont know how chinese government will be able to dissolve such sentiment, buy a TV station? I dont think that is possible, cuz… there is no free media either in West.

  34. @FOARP,

    You think their cover on Tibet is fair because you are one of them. I think it’s unfair because I am one of us. You think a few cropped photoes are just technicality errors, I think it exposes their hidden agenda below the so called journalism. There’s no point to argue, because there is no absolute truth to this, there’s only reality, and preception is reality.

    I am one of the most liberal Chinese you could find in China, you are probably a liberal yourself, and the gap between us is like milkway. Imagine exposing the wingnuts from your country to the wingnuts of our country…star war…no, that’s a no-no.

  35. Why pissed at NYT? Its stock is traded at decade-low, and valued at around half of SOHU now. A media outlet is a source of information for its readers. If the media outlet’s reporting is subpar, its readers will suffer — the smart readers will deflect and ultimately this reflects in its stock price. NYT is known to produce Judith Miller and Jayson Blair in the past. Look at its report on China’s “medal factory”. My goodness, they sent a reporter who mostly covered domestic sports in the past, and had to rely on somebody’s translator. Yet the reporter had no problem in the first few days intellectualizing the Chinese sports system as a whole.

    To me, if anyone wants to know the facts, figures and truths that he can use to understand the world and predict the future better, he should drop NYT long ago from his daily reading list, regardless how the newspaper makes him feel.

  36. @Moneyball – One of who? ‘Westerners’? Look, I know some of the small people in the journalism industry (and yes, I will call it an industry) and they are not bad people. Certainly they would not do the things you accuse them of. There is no conspiracy.

    I would not call myself a ‘liberal’, I am a conservative. The truth is something I believe should be conserved. Of course, I myself make off-hand comments and am lazy, but this is not lying. Chinese media has the advantage of being told what is true and what is not true, western media does not have this advantage – they have to decide the truth themselves. If they lie, or are lazy and off-hand, there are a good number of people out there – including Chinese people – who will call them up on it.

    @Karma – If it is ‘hush money’, then those who do not ‘hush’ will receive punishment – and they have, as I’m sure you’re aware.

  37. @Wahaha: “From my experience in America, Ordinary middle class americans are very nice people, they really feel sad when they see a dog is killed. If they hate the chinese government, it is cuz they really think the current CCP is no difference from what it was 40 years; if they support free tibet, it is cuz they really believe Tibetans are tortured by Han Chinese.”

    Couldn’t agree more. I know of nobody who wants to contain China just for the hell of it.

    @Moneyball: “There’s no point to argue, because there is no absolute truth to this, there’s only reality, and preception is reality.”

    Looks like subjective idealism is on the rise.

  38. Why so much laughing at the French ?

    Indeed, thinking France is still a influential country is an arrogant mistake, and often complicates politics and makes other people look down on us.

    But surely standing up for what you believe should be praised right ? When France was so openly critic of the war in Iraq, should it have just shut up and remembered it was not a powerful country any more ?

    True, there’s really not much France alone can do against either the US or China, but then one could say the same about anything. Hell, is there anything this blog can really do about any of this ?

  39. @vadaga,

    If the international media reports are such false and obviously unbelieivable rubbish, then why doesn’t the government allow everyone in China access to them.

    Why should China allow access to them, just because they’re false and unbelievably rubbish? I get the feeling you’re implicitly suggesting China blocks them because the opposite is true: they’re accurate and unbelivably great. Neither true nor logical.

    And what’s this about blocking, anyways? NY Times and CNN has been accessible online in China for years, if I remember right. (Nothing is blocked in Beijing right now, so I can’t check.)

    The “noise” about the biased media reports really didn’t originate from the Chinese government, but from the Chinese overseas (like us) who have plenty of opportunity to read it for ourselves.

  40. @Frenchy,

    Welcome. 🙂

    True, there’s really not much France alone can do against either the US or China, but then one could say the same about anything. Hell, is there anything this blog can really do about any of this ?

    I hope you’re not insulting the influence of this blog. 🙂

    I think France might be guilty of taking itself too seriously. If you disapprove of your friend’s (or even neighbor’s) behavior, you might want to find the opportunity to make that disapproval clear. In the case of the French public, there is apparently no wrong opportunity… everything is okay in the name of Libertie.

    I still remember Sarkozy’s “human rights minister” announcing as far back as April or May that there were “Three Conditions” to his attendance at the Opening Ceremony. It’s like telling your neighbor you’ll only come to his birthday party, but only if he publicly promises to stop drinking and cheating on his wife.

  41. @FOARP,

    @Karma – If it is ‘hush money’, then those who do not ‘hush’ will receive punishment – and they have, as I’m sure you’re aware.

    That’s not at all true, as I’m sure you’re aware.

    Those who follow the law have not been punished. Those parents have every right to pursue all legal avenues available to them. They can petition, speak to the domestic + international media (obviously they have been), and file law suits. There is no indication in the document that they’ve been asked to sign that they’re giving up ANY of these rights.

  42. @Buxi
    “It’s like telling your neighbor you’ll only come to his birthday party, but only if he publicly promises to stop drinking and cheating on his wife.”

    What did the neighbor´s wife said about it?

  43. @deltaeco,

    What did the neighbor´s wife said about it?

    You tell me your wife won’t come to the door. Well, I’ll only come to your birthday party if you promise to go into counseling with your wife.

    @FOARP,

    @Buxi – Parents who have protested in public have been arrested, as you well know.

    No, that I do not know. I do know some have been “detained” for breaking laws on public assembly, but I’m not aware of a single parent that has been legally arrested (which requires prosecutorial approval). Are you?

    Again, “hush” money to mean would imply a promise to never speak to the media, to never file a lawsuit. Any indication that’s the case? What happens if a parent takes the money and still proceeds with their legal rights, and keep talking or the AP, or pursue a lawsuit? Nothing. And in my opinion, that’s exactly what they should do.

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