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Tiananmen and Freedom of Speech

FreedomIn the lead up to the “25th Anniversary” of the Tienanmen Square Incident of 1989, we are hearing everything again of how a great sad chapter of Chinese history has been – and continue – to be covered up. A politically activist museum even opened in Hong Kong earlier this month. Old, tired politically activists are freshly interviewed by the major Western media outlets again (Guo Jian by FT, for example). New books are published, as reported, for example, in this Washington Post piece.

Even though times have changed, the narrative has not. As 1989 fades ever back further to memory, Western pundits try to re-frame the issue more and more as a current freedom of speech issue. In the Washington Post piece linked above, for example, it is reported:

The contours of today’s brash, powerful China were shaped by decisions made in the immediate aftermath of the Tiananmen crackdown.

China’s leaders are personally vulnerable because they trace their lineage to the winners of the power struggle that cleaved their party in 1989. … The party’s ultimate goal is ensuring its own survival, and it has clearly decided that it needs to keep a lid on discussion about Tiananmen in public, in private and in cyberspace.

China’s online censors are busy scrubbing allusions, no matter how elliptical, to June 4. As the anniversary nears, judging by precedents set in recent years, the list of banned words and terms will grow to include “64,” “today,” “that year,” “in memory of” and even “sensitive word.” History is apparently so dangerous that China’s version of Wikipedia, Baidu Baike, does not have an entry for the entire year of 1989.

Just days ago, I stumbled across “Tiananmen,” written by the British poet James Fenton less than two weeks after the bloody repression. A quarter-century later, his words are still true, perhaps more so even than before.

 “Tiananmen

And you can’t tell

Where the dead have been

And you can’t tell

What happened then

And you can’t speak

Of Tiananmen.”

I do not want to get into a political discussion of the Tienanmen incident in this post (although interested readers might refer to here). What I want to touch on here is just this notion that China is somehow being oppressive in not allowing people to have a no-holds-barred discussion of the 1989 Tienanmen incident, where fiction can be liberally presented as facts, where people are allowed to incite freely others over the events and politics related to the Tienanmen incident.

The reason China does not allow many of the so-called books on Tiananmen from the West to be published, as the Washington Post article above accuses China of, is because to be honest, the West has an infatuation with a false myth of Tiananmen – as described for example in this article titled “The Myth of Tiananmen Square” in the Columbia Journalism Review (see also this piece titled “Wikileaks: no bloodshed inside Tiananmen Square, cables claim” from the Telegraph, or this piece “Let’s Talk About Tiananmen” from nsnbc International).

Imagine if all the Chinese (media, scholars, government officials, and most citizens) are brain-washed to intensely believe all the 911 conspiracy theories that accuse the U.S. government of being the mastermind behind orchestrating and then covering up the events of 9/11/2001?  How would the U.S. react the China’s incessant pushing of their version of 911 as the official truth?

Before you say nothing: imagine we live in a world where the U.S. does not have the resources and technologies to carryout widespread surveillance as the N.S.A. is doing today. Imagine also if 911 – besides being a tragedy in terms of human lives lost – is also loosely tied to a genuine political struggle in the U.S. 1Imagine also that we are living in a world where it is China that outspends the U.S. in military spending by an order of magnitude, where it is China that has an gdp per capita that is almost a magnitude larger, where it is China that has built a military alliance stringing around the world.

Would the U.S. really be that sanguine about allowing all the falsehoods to be freely promulgated?

To be truthful: in China, discussions of issues behind Tienanmen are freely tolerated – even encouraged – today. This includes discussions about official corruption, democracy, wage inequality, working conditions.  What is not tolerated are foreign-sponsored color-revolution activities thinly masked as free-willy trumped up allegations, accusations, smears and out-right falsehoods.

Still not fully convinced that China is not suppressing speech on what happened in 1989 – especially when compared to the vaunted “free speech” standards of the U.S.?

Let’s move briefly away from the U.S. and compare what is accused of China with what is happening in Japan.  In many ways, Japan is a better comparison than the U.S. because while Japan is still considered to be stronger than China by most measures (economic and military), it is not the world’s super power, like the U.S.  While it is unfathomable how China can be a threat to the U.S. in the foreseeable future, it is not difficult to imagine how China might threaten Japan 20, 30 years down the line if both nations remain on frosty terms and if current development trajectories of both nations continue.

In Japan, recently when artist Katsuhisa Nakagaki producted artwork called for “more intellectual and thoughtful politics by protecting Article 9, acknowledging the folly of paying a pilgrimage to Yasukuni Shrine and thwarting the current administration’s right-wing slant,” the work was promptly banned by Japan’s museums.

In an article titled “Fearing controversy, museums shy away from political art” by Asahi, it is reported:

Museums throughout the country have long faced the difficult question of whether or not to display art that could potentially be viewed as political propaganda.

The latest controversy surrounded the call for the removal of a 1.5-meter-tall dome, a piece of an exhibition by the association of contemporary sculptors held in February at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum.

The artwork by Katsuhisa Nakagaki, 70, featured messages such as: “Let us call for more intellectual and thoughtful politics by protecting Article 9, acknowledging the folly of paying a pilgrimage to Yasukuni Shrine and thwarting the current administration’s right-wing slant.”

According to the museum, the ousting of the work was warranted because of an in-house rule that states the museum “can opt out of an event endorsing or opposing a certain political party or religion.”

Nakagaki protested the museum’s decision, saying, “The museum is supposed to protect artwork.”

But in the end, he chose to have it shown without the messages, to allow his artwork to remain in the exhibition.

Akiko Komuro, deputy director of the museum, defended the ruling by citing the museum’s status as a public entity.

“As long as it is operated by taxpayer money, the museum is expected to be politically neutral,” she said.

Nobuko Takahashi, chief of the Tokyo metropolitan government’s section in charge of cultural facilities, supported the museum’s decision, saying, “An art museum is a venue for artistic expression, not a political dispute.”

But Koji Enami, professor of constitutional law at Waseda University, criticized the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum’s response as an “overreaction and misuse of its main principle.”

“Art and politics are deeply entwined, and countless numbers of artworks were created to criticize politics, including Picasso’s ‘Guernica,’ ” he said, referring to the artist’s representative piece centering on the German aerial bombing on the town of the same name in Spain in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War. “The museum’s demand for the removal of artworks is rather political.”

A member of the museum staff … noted that in recent years people have grown quick to react to exhibits concerning the interpretation of history and Japan’s relations with South Korea and China.

In summer 2012, paintings and sculptures based on the theme of “comfort women” were pulled from an exhibition at the museum after talks between museum officials and representatives of the exhibition organizer. The step was taken after the museum received a flurry of inquiries from the public asking if the exhibit represented the museum’s official position on the controversial issue concerning women who were forced to provide sex to Japanese soldiers before and during World War II.

The following summer, the museum took a pre-emptive measure for an exhibition centering on a similar theme. In order to avert complaints, messages demanding compensation from the Japanese government, which were attached to photos of a comfort woman statue, and other potentially contentious articles were removed before the opening of the exhibition.

So we see what appears to be routine censorship of un-savorable political speech. Yet this is the same Japan that possesses an advanced economy and that is widely recognized in the West as free and democratic.  What’s going on?

With the recent rise of S. Korea and now the rise of China, many Japanese that are raised on the mantra of the superiority of Japanese culture – of the Japanese race – are feeling more and more threatened.  To protect that political identity of Japan, many feel it necessary to prevent inciteful speech, of which telling the truth about WWII atrocities are now considered a part.  So now in Japan, freedom of speech is constrained to freedom to make neutral speech – which really means, freedom to be neutered speech – speech that have no political impact.  And even this freedom will have to be further constrained by the soon-to-be implemented vaguely worded, draconian secrecy laws.

In Japan, in ways that is clearer than that in U.S. because Japan is more “regular” (more “mortal”, less “exceptional”) in a way that the world’s sole “super power” is not, we see how the notion of freedom of speech – of freedom itself – is more a rhetorical construct than some Universal Principle.   The work of articulating and defining what freedom is or is not about is political and does not – cannot – reside in any notion of freedom itself.  Instead it necessarily lies in the framing of a political agenda – or a world view that supports the political agenda – that precedes the discussion of “freedom.”  Once that worldview or agenda is framed, “freedom” naturally flow.

Too often, people accuse China as lacking freedom of speech.  I counter, too often, this occurs because these people do not respect – or even recognize – China’s interests, history, social-economic circumstances, geopolitical challenges.  We are not arguing about “freedom” per se folks – a vacuous concept if there is one – but wrestling over the framing of the political agendas, history, culture, and politics that precede the discussion of “freedom.”

Can it be that “freedom” – like “liberation” – is in the eye of the beholder?  If so – can it be presumptuous – or even insincere – to label categorically a restriction on speech as “censorship” when it might also be seen as a duty of governance?

Notes:

  1. In my opinion, the government response to the Tienanmen Protests was only tangentially about democracy and corruption.  The reason martial law was declared, the real reason things got violent, was because of the ideological struggle between factions that want China to continue opening up and factions that want to slow things down.  A worker’s movement was formed and riots ensued. The movement was turning fast into a flash point for a showdown between the two political factions, a showdown that was not in the interest of the nation.
  1. pug_ster
    May 31st, 2014 at 05:05 | #1

    Every time this year, Western propagandists want to spark a “debate” with the Chinese as if they want to put some kind of Cone of shame on China. It has gotten to a point where almost all the people in China just don’t care anymore. These Western Propagandists often brag about how great they are telling everybody how ‘oppressive’ other countries are while ignoring how oppressive they are.

  2. United Chinese Diaspora
    May 31st, 2014 at 05:18 | #2

    I have never been to China so I can’t comment on what is the truth behind what happened in Tnmien. I can only relate from personal experiences and therefore to a certain extend my opinions are biased. What I know for a fact is that things Chinese in Canada are always put in the worst light possible. For example, recently in Richmond,BC, there was a big uproar about Chinese businesses putting up Chinese only signs. And the media started to suggest that the Chinese are bullies and they are trying to suppress the local white people by forcing Chinese on them. The reality is that less than 1% of the signs are in Chinese only. From the media and the group of people who wanted to drum up anti-Chinese feelings, you would think that all of the signs in Richmond were in Chinese and that the Chinese were the abusers. Please go to Richmond BC and see with your own eyes and you will find that the Chinese are in fact the ones being bullied. When I was a kid, I remembered that most of the signs in Vancouver Chinatown were written in Chinese only, by contrast today 99% of the signs were in both Chinese and English, why the all of the sudden the Chinese were the invaders and abusers now.

    What would happen if the Chinese businesses start putting up signs in both Chinese and one of the Native languages?

    Another example would be about shark fin soup, so if you would go to Sun Tsui Wah restaurant on Main street Vancouver, you would find a group of white people in front of the restaurant protesting the restaurant’s selling of shark fin soup, but do you see anybody protesting about the Japanese slaughter of dolphins and whales?

    My point is this, while I have no inkling as to what really happened on June 4th, 1989 in Tienenmien, I am quite sure the Western media’s take on the matter is not really about freedom of expression.

  3. raffiaflower
    May 31st, 2014 at 10:37 | #3

    The Square has too much propaganda value for the Western spin-meisters to simply give up without a shrug.
    This is the founding place of New China and symbolizes, in a way, the soul of a nation; to associate TNM with bloody repression, disrespect for life, etc, is to hardwire the idea that the Chinese government, maybe the Chinese people too, live outside the modern codes of civility.

    Imagine the dis-information opportunities that flow from there!! I am surprised that alleged cyber-spying, maritime disputes, etc, are not all somehow blamed on that place and date.

    Tracing back the coverage, once it was `tens of thousands’ died in the Square; then it became `tens of thousands, possibly thousands’; then `thousands, possibly hundreds’. The falling sky caught up with Chicken Little and, hey, it didn’t happen the way he said it would.

    Recently read a pre-TNM article about pin-up boy Wuer’ Kaixi. The story describes deaths that happened in the streets around and leading up – but not in – the Square itself. Something missing…in the myth of the massacre in the Square?

  4. ersim
    May 31st, 2014 at 11:21 | #4

    For the West, there is always a very thin line between historical events and “myth making”.

  5. N.M.Cheung
    May 31st, 2014 at 12:00 | #5

    Recently New York Times restarted the TAM anniversary offensive by publishing on the editorial page an article by Murong Xuecun stating his willingness to martyr himself to join his friends in jail for discussing TAM incident. I was not impressed by his bravado, but I do hope the Chinese border control can do better to deflate his ego by denying him his re-entry and instead strand him back in Australia.
    I was not without sympathy for the students then in 89 for protesting against corruption and memorializing the death of former Chairman Hu. Yet when the protest dragged on I suspected tragedy would result as events has a momentum of its own spinning out of control. It’s easy to talk about strategy on paper but not that easy to manage 1.3 billion people and their real lives. As the Chinese proverb of “Talking military strategy on paper” illustrated, the Kingdom of Chao got buried by Qin when her emperor believed the propaganda spread by Qin spies that the commander of the military should be thrust to the talking young genius rather than the old reliable and cautious general.
    Still on the 25th anniversary I would like the Chinese government to change direction, from avoiding mention of TAM incident to mounting a counter-offensive to fill the blank pages, so a new generation would be aware of history rather than letting her enemies fill the blank pages. In the aftermath of TAM incident there were pictures of burnout buses and dead soldiers published in Chinese newspapers. It was completely ignored by western media, but with more sophistication today I think it will complement Xi’s anti-corruption campaign and educate the younger generation.

  6. aquadraht
    June 1st, 2014 at 02:11 | #6

    The comparison with Japan is interesting. I want to stress another perspective: The number of casualties of the crackdown of the nothing less than peaceful unrest in Beijing in June, 1989, cost a number of casualties of about 400-600 according to Chinese statements, the number including tens of serviceme of police and army. The US embassy (in wikileaks cables) estimates the casualties somewhat higher, around 2,000 , most of them rioters and protesters.

    Ok. A few days ago, the US ambassador in Kiew conferred with the newly elected (more or less elected) Ukraine president Poroshenko about quelling the insurrection in the eastern oblasts of Donezk and Lugansk. The ambassador encouraged a violent crackdown, assuring that 2000 killed in the populace were fairly acceptable, and the USA would do their best to influence world public opinion and belittling the affair even in case of higher casualties.

    As a sidemark, the population of the region in question is about 6.5 million, fairly less than Beijing in 1989. Planning to kill thousands, in cold blood, is not a “massacre”. Of course.

  7. pug_ster
    June 1st, 2014 at 08:12 | #7

    @N.M.Cheung

    I agree. The Chinese government should tell its people about its entirety about how this fake colored revolution was put down that allowed the Western Propaganda to ‘score’ against China every year with its ritual of fake accusations against them. The Chinese people can handle the truth more than its government think they can believe.

  8. United Chinese Diaspora
    June 1st, 2014 at 18:43 | #8
  9. Sleeper
    June 2nd, 2014 at 01:45 | #9

    I’ve told those who would like to attack the government by using “the square of 8 incident” for thousands of times that “if Beijing government was overrun at that time, most of you wouldn’t have survived to discuss such incident here now.”

    It’s the reality that billions of Chinese people have witnessed. It’s pathetic that some fools know nothing about history and think such incident can be a dagger striked into the government’s heart.

  10. raffiaflower
    June 2nd, 2014 at 10:16 | #10

    The clown Gordon Chang is at it again. On cue. Could TNM Happen Again?, he posits on The National Interest, and gets bitch-slapped soundly by the first commentor W.Chua. Hurray!!
    And, as I said in an earlier comment, the Western MSM will blame everything not just in China, but in this world – even Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction, if they could – on that day in history at the Square.
    Just in time, LA Times trots out an `opinion’ piece by some obscure history professor Joe Renouard: The hardline China of TNM,on a global scale.
    Just one line from the op-ed:“ China remains an authoritarian, one-party state whose leaders see domestic activists and international human rights laws as threats to their sovereignty.” See?

  11. United Chinese Diaspora
  12. Charles Liu
    June 3rd, 2014 at 09:34 | #12

    Some people are waking up to the 6/4 TAM “Snake Whacking Day”:

    http://www.google.com/#q=Tiananmen+myth

  13. United Chinese Diaspora
    June 4th, 2014 at 08:29 | #13

    If you want to test censorship at the CBC, try to make comments that are pro-China and you will find that your comment will not show up.

  14. Charles Liu
  15. June 4th, 2014 at 23:27 | #15

    @Charles Liu

    That’s a good one – in terms of framing the massacre as a Western myth creation.

    These are also good in that vain.

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/what-really-happened-in-tiananmen-square-25-years-ago/5385528 (also here: http://www.pslweb.org/liberationnews/news/what-really-happened-in.html)

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2011/07/01/commentary/black-info-and-media-gullibility-creation-of-the-tiananmen-myth/

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/wikileaks/8555142/Wikileaks-no-bloodshed-inside-Tiananmen-Square-cables-claim.html

    http://www.theweek.co.uk/politics/22535/both-china-and-west-have-distorted-truth-about-tiananmen-square-protests-and-massacre

    http://tiananmenmyth.blogspot.com/ (giving references to several other sources)

    Save for the first one, each of these articles, while calling the Tiananmen massacre a myth, also suggests, to varying degrees, that China is also up to hiding something hideous…

    Fortunately, I also did recently come across this book. http://outcastjournalist.com/index_files/tiananmen_square_massacre_power_of_words_vs_silent_evidence.htm

    It gives much needed perspectives on the Tiananmen masscre myths.

    Will give it a review soon…

  16. June 5th, 2014 at 16:53 | #16

    By the way … in case people missed it. The picture I have of a person breaking free have two meanings. It may symbolize of course the “protester” trying to break the bond of oppression of the Chinese gov’t. Or it may also symbolize the mass of Chinese breaking the bond of oppression of history … from which 6/4 is liberation. Take it what you will. Freedom – liberty – is in the eye of the beholder.

  17. Charles Liu
    June 6th, 2014 at 11:41 | #17

    Or 6/4 itself breaking free from the bondage of western propaganda. Some of the worst propaganda I’ve seen on this 25th anniversary needs to be called out. For example NTD TV is Falun Gong propaganda outlet supported by grey money thru US government linked quasai non-profit Friends of Falun Gong:

    http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2001/134/145/2001-134145670-1-9.pdf

    Check the list of directors – Annette Lantos is Congressman Tom Lanto’s wife, and Mark Palmer is prominently linked to congressionally mandated National Endowment for Democracy.

  18. United Chinese Diaspora
    June 6th, 2014 at 21:39 | #18

    I watched “The Gift” starring Cate Blanchette last night and for my whole life I have always thought of Americans as in the character portrayed by Blanchette; selfless, naively courageous and tirelessly searching for the truth. For the past decade or so, my view of the American people have not changed but what have devastated my trust and believe are the American institutions: the governments, politicians; corporations; media; CIA; NED; and of course the NSA.

    From personal experience, I found increased intolerance against Chinese people than ever before. From the work place to the market place – injustice and intolerance against Chinese people are rampant.

    This is unfortunate because I hate to see such a great nation succumb to sleaze. The mainstream media and the NSA with their sophisticated mind altering mastery have brainwashed a young generation of hate zombies against the Chinese. Imagine this generation of young people growing up hating Chinese people based on forced fed lies.

    At work several white people have gang up to sabotage my job – I swear that I have always been co-operative and peaceful – it is more of a case of preying on the weak. I am conflict aversive and dislike troubles but it seems like that attracts even more attacks. I find the young more ruthless and vicious – who is the coward here?

    Is this what the new generation of young white people going to represent?

    I have read about Mao’s Red guards and Hitler’s youths, and I can see the parallel of the present day young white people. Are the media and the NSA doing these kids favours by brainwashing them into hate zombies?

  19. N.M.Cheung
    June 7th, 2014 at 07:28 | #19

    @United Chinese Diaspora
    If you have read “Quiet American” by Graham Greene you would know what people view themselves, naïve, selfless, courageous, and search for truth may be viewed differently by others as Ugly American, high handed, arrogant, self-centered, preaching Christianity and democracy while sowing destruction. U.S. has been the lone super power on the top of the heap for over 60 years. Most were on the top of the economic pyramid and can feel magnanimous toward the third world. Now that China may have passed U.S. on total GDP while the middle class in U.S. is stagnating and young people has a millstone of student loans on their neck, it’s not surprising jealousy and sense of threat prevail. Especially when Chinese-Americans not only outperform other minorities but whites in SAT and in total income. In the age of information where it’s easy to google for information most of the search in internet is for pornography, where the myth of TAM massacre easily debunked still dominated in mass media like the New York Times. Most of the young Chinese-Americans, especially male, are socially inept, introverted and not good at self promotion, in general not good at office politics and networking. I would not worry too much on it.

  20. United Chinese Diaspora
    June 7th, 2014 at 18:06 | #20

    @N.M.Cheung

    Thank you for your input.

    “Most of the young Chinese-Americans, especially male, are socially inept, introverted and not good at self promotion, in general not good at office politics and networking.”

    While this statement is very accurate in my case but does that give white people the right to bully someone because he is not good at office politics and networking?

    If your statement is true then there must be a lot of young Chinese suffering tremendous emotional stress like I do. What happened to human rights?

    In a global context, I can see the parallel with China being bullied because it is not good at world politics, I think we would all agree that China needs to improve in the PR department.

    You said in a previous comment: “I would like the Chinese government to change direction, from avoiding mention of TAM incident to mounting a counter-offensive to fill the blank pages, so a new generation would be aware of history rather than letting her enemies fill the blank pages. ”

    This is so true.

    The Chinese government has this insecurity that is in fact doing itself a disservice. Like a maladroit presenter, its fumbling words fail to convey the true message about itself. But does that give the West the right to bully China because it is not as slick as the US in bullshitting.

    China took 400 million people out of poverty, yet the media is complaining about 260 (including Chinese soldiers) that died at TAM. The West asked China to get out of Tibet when nobody ever mention that under the same logic, white people should be out of North America.

    China failed miserably at office politics and networking. Perhaps both China and I should sharpen up on the bullshitting department. Seems like white people love to feed on BS than the truth.

    I think this is why I am leaning more and more towards being a China sympathizer.

  21. ersim
    June 9th, 2014 at 08:59 | #21

    @United Chinese Diaspora
    When it comes to bullying, the West has a great historical track record. Throughout history the West never respected nor tolerated anything that does not fit their fanatical ideology of the Judeo-christian worldview of total dominance. Western society as a whole practices and follows such fanatical ideology of very aggressive bully tactics. China’s “mistake” is not to follow the same exact behavior of a thug.

  22. United Chinese Diaspora
    June 10th, 2014 at 00:08 | #22

    @ersim

    I am not qualified to speak about China because I am a child of North America. I see, touch and smell North America but my view on China is on the dreamy side of romanticism. The US produced some great people like Martin Luther King Jr., Jimmy Carter, George Carlin and in Canada Pierre Elliot Trudeau and Jack Layton, but the sign of the times for North America is the dearth of leaders with conscience and courage today. Today’s leaders rely on lies and deceptions; blaming China for all the ill they themselves created. Bullying is a true sign of cowardice. The NSA brainwashed a whole new generation of hate zombies against the Chinese. And I meet them on the streets, in the stores, at work. This new generation of brainwashed zombies are programmed to hate and create enemies and blame others, specifically China, for their own failures. Where are they going to get capable world leaders?

    Again I could be wrong, but I think China or Russia will be in a much better position to field candidates for world leadership.

    So why should China degrade itself by involvement in thuggery.

    Thugs are the ones that starve the Cuban people with sanctions; China could have easily taken the same route against the Philippines, just send the 300,000 domestic maids now working in Hong Kong back to the Philippines, but China is not following thuggery.

    China charts its own course, whether it will be successful or not, only time will tell. I certainly hope China will not follow the way of the West as I bear witness to its failures.

  23. Black Pheonix
    June 13th, 2014 at 10:43 | #23

    @N.M.Cheung

    @United Chinese Diaspora

    I am reminded of a common story among many Chinese Americans and Chinese immigrants.

    1 of my friends has a PhD, worked for high tech companies for more than decades, but still not able to advance, keep getting downsized.

    He said to me once, he couldn’t understand why. He worked very hard, but others get promoted.

    I asked him, why he didn’t go to China to work.

    He said, he remembered all the corruption of “guanxi” in Chinese companies. He said he wouldn’t like it there. That was part of the reason why he left.

    I said, why does he think that he could do better in US?

    He said, in the US, people can succeed without all the corrupt “Guanxi”.

    I said, that’s his mistake in assumption. In US, there is “guanxi”, which is called “networking”.

    He said, “networking” is not “guanxi”.

    I said, who made you believe that?

    **

    that’s the problem. Many Chinese believed that they escaped China’s corruption of “guanxi”, when in reality, they were thrown into another system of relationships and networking that they couldn’t master.

    They believed that if they just worked hard, they would be recognized and be rewarded.

    But it is the same in US, just different networks.

    **

    I also seen too many Expats in China complain that they couldn’t stand “guanxi”.

    Yet, many of them also left the West, because they couldn’t stand the “networking” in the West.

    It’s the same game, that some people simply couldn’t succeed in.

    There is no exceptions, Same game, different nations.

    **

    I believe, too many of us have been misled / brainwashed into believing in the system in the West.

    That we believe that it’s a fair(er) game than in China.

    No. I have seen enough to realize that it’s the same corrupt game. I live in DC. It’s never a fair game.

    Let’s not live under the delusion any more.

    Face reality: We have to kissass, we have to lick boots. If we don’t do in China, we have to do in the West. That’s how you climb up. Doesn’t matter where.

    Self-proclaimed honor means very little. Even if you save your honor, you are still someone’s slave.

  24. United Chinese Diaspora
    June 14th, 2014 at 05:04 | #24

    @Black Pheonix

    Your comparison between quanxi and networking is perceptive and true.

    Reminds me of a story where a white man went to visit his wife at the cemetery and he saw a Chinese man putting some food in front of the Chinese man’s wife’s tombstone and the white man asked the Chinese man if he thought his wife would come up and eat the food in which the Chinese man replied by asking if the white man would think that his wife would come up and smell the flowers that he brought her.

    White people will always think their shit smell better than everybody else’s.

    @N.M.Cheung

    I just finished reading “The Quiet American”, it is a great novel and thanks for the referral.

    The story covered the period between 1952-55, the innocent idealistic courageous naive loving Pyle is the metaphor for the bygone America. That was the America that I had respected and much esteemed. But today, with Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Crimea, pivot to Asia, the present day America is much more sinister and totally lack integrity and courage.

    Despite the fact that both Fowler and Pyle had the utmost desire for Phuong, they had treated her as an object, something below them; the book described her as being regarded akin to a dog.

    White people loved their dogs; Pyle loved Phuong the same way.

    Phuong is the metaphor for white people’s colonial objects. Phuong is there to serve a purpose but she can never be their equal. Pyle’s plastics killed innocent women and babies, Heng orchestrated the killing of Pyle and Fowler facilitated; Fowler was sorry. Pyle was fogged by the idealism of the York Harding democracy, followed instructions from the OSS, committed atrocities albeit in naivety. Pyle paid for this with his life and Fowler was sorry; the dead women and babies appeared to be less significant; something below them.

    The remnant of white exceptionalism is revived by the half white Obama; and I see this at my office where white people feel that Chinese people are below them. Like Phuong always viewed as subservient.

    This book is very well researched. At times, the author bravely attempted to be apologetic for the inequality and devastation of colonialism. Saying sorry without correction is meaningless.
    Unfortunately the book is a failure in conveying the message when today we can clearly see the demise of the white conscience.

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