There has been a lot of coverage in the U.S. media lately about America’s Asia ‘pivot.’ In particular, U.S. seems to be taking sides with Vietnam and Philippines in their disputes with China.
The U.S. relationships with these two countries are nothing but complex. When the Philippines was colonized by the Spanish, the U.S. took sides with the Philippines to oust Spain. Little did the Filipinos knew they would have to fight the Americans in yet another attempt to gain freedom. Filipinos estimated 1+ million were killed as a result of that war. The story in Vietnam was not that dissimilar. The Vietnamese were fighting to end French aggression. After the French withdrew, the United States went in on the grounds of stopping Communism from spreading. From the North Vietnamese perspective, it was a new imperialist, and they were fighting yet again for their freedom. Again, with millions dead. Continue reading South China Sea, two opposing views from Philipines on the U.S. Asia ‘pivot’→
The Economist recently announced a dedicated weekly section on China. It said, China is the second country for them to have done this for, followed only by their singling out the United States since 1942. In my view, the extra attention they give to ‘China’ as a topic is hardly going to help Westerners’ understanding of China. Their editorial staff really needs an overhaul, as one of their reader observes:
You need an editor and staff with some personal background in China (and I don’t mean expats with Chinese spouses). You need better academic resources. And somehow you must all learn that western values are not universal values, and that all cultures are internally legitimate yet benefit from external contact. To fail in this regard will simply amplify existing cultural misunderstandings and cripple the great impending social and political globalizations that must follow the economic one already in progress.
The Economist’s coverage of China is bigoted, as exemplified by their debut article – which I am rebutting in this post (my rebuttal on the right). If The Economist is genuinely interested in improving China for the Chinese, they’d be able to discuss the issues and policies specifically – not a wholesale rejection of the China ‘model.’ Continue reading The Economist, it is time for a new editorial overhaul→
‘So solidly built into our consciousness is the concept that China is conducting a rapacious and belligerent foreign policy, that whenever a dispute arises in which China is involved, she is instantly assumed to have provoked it.’
— Felix Greene, 1965.
When a superpower is engaging in full hegemonic and supercilious display, another country with slowly increasing economic clout and rising international status can raise apprehension. When countries are used to a bigger country that is settled for some years in a bullying position, someone starting to come close to that bully’s level of power, however remotely, has the potential to raise various concerns.
This rise is often wrongly construed as a zero-sum game – the newcomer challenging the bully’s position. In such a case, the existing bully, in its efforts to manipulate popular conceptions about the comparatively-unknown newcomer, will (hypocritically) spread the myth that the newcomer is, and always has been, overtly aggressive. If this myth-making and spreading is successful, even to a small extent, it can negate the effect that the newcomer might have in compensating for or balancing the bully’s hegemony and its hubris. The newcomer’s assurances about its peaceful rise will then be dismissed as deception. The focal point of the bully’s containment policy will be to encourage and manipulate various types of pawns against the newcomer. If such pawns already exist, then they will be fostered and strengthened, and in case they don’t, new ones will be created (Or as Stephen Walt terms it, “a competition for allies”).
(This Chinese New Year greeting came via raffiaflower, and I took the liberty in sharing it. DeWang)
Every language has a word for love. But Chinese is probably the only language that has so many possible written variations of the emotion. This has been the way, even since before Qinshihuangdi unified China and imposed standardized measures, including the universal script. Yet the writing variations of the old kingdoms are still known today. In a park on the way to Huangshan (one of the five sacred mountains) I came across this stone tablet, with at least 50 versions of the word `love’ 爱! (picture attached) Sure beats Elizabeth Barrett-Browning’s: How do I love thee!
Today also happened to be the day before new year (除夕)in the lunar calendar. I would like to wish everybody a happy, healthy and prosperous dragon year. Instead of the usual heavy subject matter, I would like to talk about something more light hearted. I am in a holiday mood today so I will address some concern about the lack of creativity in TV broadcasting in China. Instead of using academic discussion I will simply provide a link to a hot TV series that has taken my sister by storm. She is the one that actually sent it to me. In fact she considered this love/history drama so good that it triumphed all works from Taiwan and HK (of course that’s her personal view).
The TV series is “步步惊心” or “步步驚心”loosely translated as “Startling by Each Step”, I know the translation is always so corny. It is about a modern girl who went back through time to the later reign of Qing Kangxi period. If you are familiar with this period, you will know the palace intrigue that took place. Although it is considered science fiction, the costume and cultural aspect is very accurate. The author of the original work is 桐华. She did an awesome work by inter-weaning love and politics into the story.
This blog will be a continuation of the interesting dialogue started by Oli on human rights and China. I agree with Oli that Chinese culture does have considerable resources to take into account concerns raised by many human rights discourse. The value of human rights is universal and ancient. Many such values, though implicitly already there in Chinese culture, may be accounted within a modern Chinese cultural framework. Continue reading Human Rights Revisted→
As you may know, there is a heated high-profile war being waged in the U.S. now over a new bill called SOPA (“Stop Online Piracy Act” in the House) and PIPA (“Protect Intellectual Property Act” in the Senate). The bills have been temporarily put on hold, but the issues highlighted by the controversies will not go away.
We are here to offer a balance that is sorely lacking in the mainstream Western press about all things ‘China’ and ‘Chinese.’ Some of you might have wondered how this endeavor is fairing as we approach our second year. Allen and I are grateful of the authors and those of you who come here to comment. This short post is a ‘thank you’ and an example of the real impact this is having in getting more balance out there. Continue reading Hidden Harmonies bloggers and readers make a difference→
At Chicago, a Chinese boy was brutally beaten by seven teens, including a girl who lured him into an alley where the beating took place. An article filed by NYDailyNews.com said, “Cops don’t believe the attack was racially motivated.” I will update this post as I learn more. WARNING: video is violent. Continue reading Chinese boy attacked by 7 in Chicago→
After reading DeWang’s recent post on Dan Harris’ post titled “Chinese Students In America. It’s Bad Out There”, I couldn’t but help to saunter over to China LawBlog to have a look – and boy, was I in for a shock! Here is what appears to be an intelligent person – a practicing lawyer (ok, I may biased, maybe most lawyers aren’t that intelligent, after all) – spouting what looks to me to be hate epithets towards a specific group of people.
Zhang Weiwei was a translator to former Chinese leader, Deng Xiaoping. We have a prior article (translated from Chinese) of his arguing there is a progression for which ‘democracy’ can be achieved, but more than that, China should borrow and adapt practices that are useful for China’s own conditions. In this interview (use this link if the embedded video below doesn’t show) with Al Jazeera (h/t Ray), Zhang provides a ‘Chinese’ response to strongly held notions in the West about “multi-party democracy,” explains how China is advancing her ‘model’ through localized experimentation, and details what he means by the ‘civilization state.’ (See also Martin Jacques.)
Ma Ying Jieu has won what has been a tough and closely watched election in Taiwan. Emphasizing close relations with the mainland, Ma celebrated the victory as a victory for the people of Taiwan. The DPP, with charismatic (and “native Taiwanese”) Tsai, gave stoic (and “外省人”) Ma a much bigger challenge this time (characterization by my deep-green family-in-laws), losing to Ma by what looks like a 51.6 to 45.63 margin (compared to the 58% to 42% margin in 2008). While the issue of independence has been much toned down this time, relations with the Mainland still dominated the election, with issues of the economy also a major issue.
On November 29, 2011, the Washington Post cited on a page 1 story a study done at the Georgetown University that China’s nuclear arsenal was 10x as large U.S. government official (and experts) estimates. The study and the article drew a great deal of attention. The information was false. MIT Associate Professor of Political Science, M. Taylor Fravel, has done an excellent write up of this controversy, and his analysis also revealed exaggeration of Chinese troops bordering India. Continue reading MIT Professor, “Open Sources and Information Laundering”→
Dan Harris over at China Law Blog made a bold post today relaying complaints students at the University of Washington have for their fellow international students from Mainland China. He qualified that the complaints were directed at students from China and not of students with Chinese ethnicity. He also qualified the students whom he got the complaints were “sophisticated, intelligent, and well-traveled.”
(On January 5, 2012, I sat down with Shaun Rein, founder and Managing Director of the China Market Research Group, to talk about China. He gave us his insights into major events of 2011. In this hour-long interview, we touched on many topics: pollution, CNN and Christian Bale’s recent run-in with Chinese police, food safety, Weibo, and so on.)
YinYang:2011 was another eventful year for China. Just when her bullet train seems unstoppable, a fatal collision left the whole country in doubt. China achieved space docking, something only the U.S. and Russia have managed. Then there was Tiger Mom.
I have invited a real China expert to weigh in on these events and other events that mattered to China. What were the Chinese narratives? How did the Chinese feel about them? I couldn’t have found a better person to do this with. Continue reading A conversation with Shaun Rein on China→