This is the full session between Niall Ferguson and James Fallows at the recently held Aspen Ideas Festival. Allen had posted excepts and we promised you the complete discussion as soon as it became available. Niall Ferguson had coined the term “Chimerica” to describe the symbiotic relationship between the economies of China and the United States. He currently sees this relationship as being in jeopardy, while James Fallows feels the relationship is far stronger the most realize. This video is slightly over 75 minutes.
Niall Ferguson is Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University and William Ziegler Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. He is also a senior research fellow at Jesus College, Oxford University, and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.
Ferguson is the author of many books, including The Cash Nexus: Money and Power in the Modern World, 1700-2000 (Basic, 2001), Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power (Basic, 2002), Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire (Penguin, 2004), The War of the World: Twentieth Century Conflict and the Descent of the West (Penguin, 2006), and The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World (Penguin, 2008). Ferguson writes for the British and American press and is a contributing editor for Financial Times.
James Fallows is National Correspondent for The Atlantic, where he has worked for more than 25 years—based in Washington DC, Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and now Beijing. In addition to working for The Atlantic, Fallows spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for President Carter, two years as editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction. Fallows has been chairman of the board of the New America Foundation since its creation in 1999. His latest book is Postcards from Tomorrow Square: Reports from China (Vintage, 2008).
I’d also like to include two recent pieces from Jim Fallows from newest to oldest, regarding the recent events in Urumqi. The first is called A Uighur Speaks About Pork:
13 Jul 2009 09:58 pm
After I posted this picture from Shannon Kirwin, three days ago, of a help-wanted notice at a restaurant in Kashgar that said “Han Chinese only,” one response ran through the vast majority of messages from readers in China. It is the argument I quoted here. “Uighurs are Muslim,” many correspondents said. “Chinese restaurants serve pork. It would be an insult to the Uighurs to suggest that they apply.”
I had my own guesses about the response, but I asked another correspondent who (to the best of my knowledge) is a Muslim Uighur who reads Chinese. I asked: would Uighurs in Kashgar view the sign as a favor to them? Here is the reply I just received, with some addenda from the same correspondent after the jump.
“Han Chinese only” simply is a discrimination. Uyghurs are desperate to have jobs and long have been complaining about “Han Chinese only” requirements. Uyghurs don’t eat pork, but “Handling pork” doesn’t mean eating pork. That ad includes not only chef position but also waiter/waitress and supervisor positions, which don’t require to taste the food. In fact, I’ve seen many Uyghur students both in United States, Europe and Japan work as waiters/waitresses. They don’t eat pork and bacon, but happily perform the task. They have no problem with carrying the plates, and cleaning them.
“The job ads I’ve sent to you earlier [quoted after the jump here, and very much worth re-checking] was posted on Kashgar Teacher’s College web site. One of them is about “Dean of College” position, which also has “Han Chinese Only” requirement . The other ad is about several positions, including computer instructor and lab assistant position. Most of them have “Han Chinese Only” requirements, which explain that an Uyghur can not apply for the jobs even if she/he has the similar educational background and skill set to her/his Chinese counterpart, simply beacuse she/he is Uyghur.
“Postal service is a government institution in China. “Postal Hotel” [the one with the “Han only” sign] is Postal service owned company. The Kashgar Teacher’s College is, an institution which has has more than of half of the student population is Uyghur, also a government owned institution. If the job ads by government institutions are so discriminative, the situation in private chinese companies is anybody’s guess.”
To repeat the correspondent’s important previous post: the two sites below, http://www.uyghuramerican.org/forum/showthread.php?t=13929
are ads for colleges in Xijiang, which specify “Han only” as a requirement for the job. The ads are in Chinese, but that part is clear. The correspondent adds:
“I want to stress couple things to the “angry” Chinese people.
“1) On the first day of the demonstration, Uyghur students brought Chinese flag. They’ve asked government to bring justice who killed Uyghurs in Guangdong [who were beaten to death after being accused of rape]. Nobody said they were against the Han people. The demonstration was about complaining government’s handling of the case, not expressing hatrid to Han people. It was not even splitting the nation. If Chinese government and media are fair, why they never mention it was a demonstration (at least at first), not a riot. I urge every “angry” Chinese think about it.
“2) Even Chinese media reported that the demonstartion started much earlier than the riot. If the original plan of Uyghur students was to attack Han people, why they waited until the late evening until they got shot. If they have started the attack earlier, couldn’t they attack more Han people? ( Don’t get me wrong, I condemn physical attack they did).However, I wonder why those Chinese people don’t think something happened in between. I believe the “hatred” is the product of Chinese government action.
“3) Again, here is some information about what happened. I urge every “angry” Chinese take a look and think by themselves. Loving their country is shouldn’t be blindly trusting their government. Nationalism might be good thing, but it should come after being a good and thoughtful human.
There is more to come, from the “other side.” Because of travel and, gasp, “work” I have let a lot of these back up.
Here is another called On Uighurs, Han, and General Racial Attitudes in China:
13 Jul 2009 06:57 am
Three more views on racial attitudes and tensions in China, following this and previous dispatches.
From a foreigner with experience in China:
Regarding the “no Uighurs” sign, that type of thing is pretty common in China. Many advertisements for foreign English teachers will include something like “Whites only” or a “Looking for Caucasian teachers” sentence somewhere in the text. Additionally, many a native speaker have flown from their country to China only to find upon arrival that regardless of the applicant’s qualifications, the job could only be performed by a white person. At these times the Chinese are usually polite and a little embarrassed (most Chinese are very nice people and mean no harm), but they will remain very firm in their conviction that a person with darker skin than theirs could not possibly make a good teacher.
I have experienced this on a number of occasions. But after living in China for a while I realized that what we would consider racism in the West is simply a deeply ingrained cultural characteristic of mainland Chinese people. White skin (the Chinese like to consider themselves white) and or being a Han (the dominant ethnic group) means a person is good. Dark skin or not being Han means a person is inferior (and more likely to be a bad guy/a thief/incompetent etc.). It does not equal KKK style hatred. It does not even mean a Han Chinese wouldn’t be friends with a person from India or Africa. It simply means that if a person is non-white or a member of certain Chinese minorities, they simply are to be considered less smart, less competent and less trustworthy than the average white person or Han. [Ed note: This accords with my observation, with the caveat that I have observed this all as a middle aged white guy. Early discussion of Obama in China fit this pattern — but changed after he took office.]
On a lighter note, the Chinese are not inflexible and when exposed to nice people of color they usually will change their minds quickly. [Agree, as with Obama.] However, the tendency towards ethnic and racial chauvinism is a current running through Chinese culture that is unlikely to change in any meaningful way anytime soon. “Truths” are rarely challenged here.
From a person with a Chinese name:
Your mentioning the sign [“Han Chinese only”] in Xinjiang provides half the question. It’s pretty obvious why the Uighurs are angry, but that doesn’t explain why Han Chinese in Xinjiang are angry. I think that if you see this simply as a majority group trying to crush a minority group, then you miss the fact that the average Han Chinese in Xinjiang probably feels as oppressed and repressed as the Uighurs, and since they are competing for the same pool of jobs. Just because you are Han Chinese doesn’t mean that you are going to be in the Politburo.
One very tricky problem for the government is that if they start encouraging preferential treatment for Uighurs, this may have the effect of increasing resentment among Han Chinese in Xinjiang. Remember that this whole thing started in Guangdong, when you had a Han Chinese worker that spread a very nasty rumor against Uighurs working for a toy factory, because the Han Chinese worker was fired.
This seems similar to the situation in the US south where you had class conflicts on top of racial ones. There tended to be less racial tension in the upper classes, because people weren’t fighting each other over jobs. This also accounts for another curious thing which is that while there is a lot of sentiment among college educated Chinese against the foreign press, I’ve detected absolutely no sympathy for the Han Chinese demonstrators in Xinjiang amount college educated Chinese. In fact, if you ask them privately I think that most Han Chinese outside of Xinjiang think of them as thugs and hooligans. Also, the amount of anger directed at the foreign press seems to be a *lot* less than it was during the Tibetan protests a year ago.
There is another irony here and that a lot of the condescending attitudes that Han Chinese have toward Uighurs, and which provoke a nasty reaction are pretty much the same condescending attitudes that the West has toward China. in both cases, what causes the anger is this idea that “you aren’t smart enough to solve your own problems so we smarter people have to solve them for you.” Something that I’ve noticed is that there are a lot of people that have been quoted offering advice for what China should do, and this misses the point that given the mess in Iraq and the long struggle for social equity in the United States, there is no particular reason to think that outside solutions would work better than the solutions that Chinese come up with.
I am Chinese American and I think that Uighurs are “Chinese too” and should be treated fairly and their rights and interests should be respected.
Anyway, as long as they are not fairly treated, the they will continue to agitate and Han Chinese will suffer too.
I think we should have a civil rights law in China (like we do in the USA) that protects Chinese minorities too and that bans discrimination.
Besides, just because you don’t want to eat a certain type foods, does not mean that you can not cook it. [This in response to Chinese arguments that since Uighur Muslims can’t eat pork, the restaurant is doing them a favor by saying they can’t apply for a job.] A lot of Han Chinese have food preferences, but they can cook whatever on the menu that the customer wants.
I have traveled to many countries around the world, including Europe, Asia. and South America. and the USA is only one of the very few countries that have laws protecting minorities and baning discrimination.
I think that this is an American example that the rest of the world needs to adopt.
Many more in the queue.
I’d suspect most here are more in agreement (including myself) with James Fallows than with Niall Ferguson, but there are salient points made on both sides that can hopefully add to our discussion.