Eminent Domain

China's Free Speech Sting

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Remember those protest zones that Chinese officials promised to set up for people who wanted to criticize the government during the Olympics? It turns out they weren't really needed:

Officials say that they received 77 protest applications but that nearly all of them were dropped after the complaints were "properly addressed by relevant authorities or departments through consultations."…

At a news conference on Wednesday, Wang Wei, the vice president of Beijing's Olympic organizing committee, was asked about the lack of protests. He said it showed the system was working. "I'm glad to hear that over 70 protest issues have been solved through consultation, dialogue," he said. "This is a part of Chinese culture."

One way of solving protest issues is re-education through forced labor. Two frail old women were arrested for "disturbing public order" and peremptorily sentenced to a year in a labor camp after they applied for permission to protest the way they were screwed over when the government seized their homes for redevelopment. (They were never compensated and never given the new apartments they were promised.) Police told them they could avoid serving their sentences if they shut up and stayed out of sight. This, evidently, is a part of Chinese culture.

Some observers say the arrests of people seeking permission to protest may indicate intragovernment dissension. Others think "the authorities were using the possibility of legal demonstrations as a ploy to lure restive citizens into declaring their intention to protest, allowing the police to take action against them."

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  1. Letting a million flowers bloom, but slowed down, so the cops can head all of them.

  2. What Chinese government officials seem to always fail to realize is that WE CAN SEE THROUGH THEIR SHAM! I guess if they’re doing it for national unity by trying to convince other citizens of China that “see, nobody is protesting” then they can gain support. But as far as the international stage part of it goes, we’d respect them a whole lot more if they just let people protest than we would if they did what they’re doing.

  3. the authorities were using the possibility of legal demonstrations as a ploy to lure restive citizens into declaring their intention to protest, allowing the police to take action against them.

    Geez, that idea’s not going to work nearly as well the second time around.

  4. You don’t suppose they learned this from us, do you?

    “If you wish to express your First Amendment right to protest the President’s policies on ________, you must get in the dog kennel Free Speech Zone with all the other protestors. And please fill out this request for your FBI ‘assessment’.”

  5. Forced labor, or the possible horrors of a

  6. It is sad that the difference between China and America is one of degree, as opposed to basis.

  7. What Chinese government officials seem to always fail to realize is that WE CAN SEE THROUGH THEIR SHAM!

    The US media is completely silent on this kind of thing, being unable to extract their tongues from the anuses of Chinese government officials during the current Festival of Chinese Olympic Awesomeness long enough to do any, you know, reporting.

  8. The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves.

  9. Clicked too soon. Props to the NYT for being the sole exception, apparently.

  10. [REDACTED]

  11. Reminds me of my fun conversation with China supporters at school…

    CS: The Chinese Communist Party represents the people, and it performs the people’s will.
    NW: How do you know? If there were one person who it didn’t represent, would he be able to say so? Would anybody know?
    CS: …

  12. Props to the NYT for being the sole exception, apparently.

    They occasionally earn their pay. It is fascinating, though, how many stories or ledes are researched and written by *reporters* that end up on the editor’s floor.

    It’s not always the reporters’ faults.

  13. Nigel, you have “China supporters” at your school?

    I’ve met a few people who were enamored by the *culture*, but the government? That’s a new one on me.

  14. “The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves.”

    LOL.

  15. Elemenope, they’re from China. I don’t get it either. One guy admitted that the human rights situation there was a clusterfuck. The rest WHARRRGARBLed.

  16. It is fascinating, though, how many stories or ledes are researched and written by *reporters* that end up on the editor’s floor.

    Editor: What the fuck is this? There’s no human interest, here. How am I supposed to sell papers with this crap? Don’t babies fall down wells anymore? Jesus! I’d give my left nut for a missing sorority girl, right now.

  17. Elemenope, they’re from China. I don’t get it either.

    One of my ex-girlfriend’s co-workers was from China. If she brought up anything that could conceivably be construed as criticism of the Chinese government, he went into panic mode and would just regurgitate positive talking points about the government as if he was being listened to by Big Brother. She said it was pretty creepy.

  18. In China, government protests you.

  19. What Chinese government officials seem to always fail to realize is that WE CAN SEE THROUGH THEIR SHAM!

    Tru Dat. The Chinese government thinks that the world has spent the past week awed by their ability to make everything run like a well-oiled machine. How can anyone say there’s something wrong, when everything is so clean and new, and the people all seem so happy? Not a single thing allowed to spoil the effect the government tried to achieve.

    The world, however, has spent the past week creeped out by the obvious Potemkin-village aspect of their performance.

    Or, at least, I have, and I doubt I’m the only one. That the diving and gymnastics judges have been noticeably favorable to the Chinese teams only makes it worse.

  20. joe, I agree. I haven’t talked to anybody with a more favorable opinion of China out of this. Even after talking about how amazing the opening ceremony was, they talk about how it was creepy.

  21. This, evidently, is a part of Chinese culture.

    No, this is a aprt of any collectivist government no matter in which part of the world.

  22. Anyone in China who actually filled out a complaint form needs reeducating. How stupid do you have to be to fall for this stunt?

  23. for permission to protest the way they were screwed over when the government seized their homes for redevelopment.

    So how is China different than the U.S. again?

  24. The US media is completely silent on this kind of thing, being unable to extract their tongues from the anuses of Chinese government officials during the current Festival of Chinese Olympic Awesomeness long enough to do any, you know, reporting.

    That’s not totally true. Why just this week I have been hearing some hard hitting investigative reports about the fact that 3 of the female Chinese gymnasts might actually be under age 16 and may have received falsified government papers in order to participate in the Olympics. The media is determined to get to the bottom of this conscience shocking scandal!!!!

    You can’t fault the poor media. They have limited resources you know. They have to prioritize what’s most important. Clearly whether or not a gymnast is skirting the arbitrary age limits and denying America’s greatest athletes the gold medals they deserve is much more important than whether or not an authoritarian regime is suppressing speech and protests and lying to the world to protect it’s international image.

    How can we expect the US media, which responds with a collective yawn when our own government curbs our rights to freedom of speech, expression and peacefully assemble to protest our government, to even pay token notice when it happens in foreign lands?

    How is that gonna sell ads and classifieds?

    Priorities people…and right now the priority is to make sure as many people tune in to NBC and it’s affiliate networks and hit ESPN.com et al to find out results of the glorious games in Beijing. And stories about authoritarianism in China won’t do that will they? In fact they run the risk of some people choosing not to watch and participate in this charade. And that above all else can NOT happen.

  25. geez, paul, if you really don’t know the answer to that question, go live over there for a while. come on, cut the crap.

  26. So how is China different than the U.S. again?

    Because in America, you have the unfettered right to protest after the government takes your home. For all the good it does.

  27. Nigel Watt,

    I think the opening ceremony only seems creepy in the context of 1) what everyone knows about the Chinese government and 2) the fact that everything else, including the man-in-the-street interviews, seems to be just as tightly choreographed as that display.

    If an Olympiad held in, say, Rome had an opening ceremony that looked like that, everyone would have said, “Wow, that’s neat,” but because it’s Beijing, it confirms what people already know, or fear.

  28. So how is China different than the U.S. again?

    No Black people work at KFC in China

  29. joe, I think we’re in agreement. It may not even be rational to find the opening ceremony creepy, but people are, proving that this has been a PR flop for China.

  30. It is sad that the difference between China and America is one of degree, as opposed to basis

    That’s rather idiotic, but thanks for playing.

  31. Two frail old women were arrested for “disturbing public order” and peremptorily sentenced to a year in a labor camp after they applied for permission to protest the way they were screwed over when the government seized their homes for redevelopment. (They were never compensated and never given the new apartments they were promised.)

    Oddly enough, the ladies don’t seem to consider this detail insignificant enough to just skip over.

  32. “I’m glad to hear that over 70 protest issues have been solved through consultation, dialogue,”

    translation: “Make us look bad and we’ll kill your whole fucking family!”

  33. Those self centered chinese women deserve what they got. How dare they complain about something trivial like their homes being torn down & having no place to live.

  34. Nigel,

    I called it before the torch reached Asia – this is a PR debacle for the Chinese government, Seoul in reverse.

    That’s why the people demanding Bush make a big show of protesting and speaking out were so wrong-headed: because doing so would have just distracted everyone from the real story, made the Chinese government more sympathetic, and given them the opportunity to dismiss all of the criticism.

    They spent billions of dollars to advertise that they are creepy totalitarians. Nice move.

  35. you have “China supporters” at your school? … they’re from China

    The propaganda succeeds more often than not.

    because it’s Beijing, it confirms what people already know, or fear

    And the stories of performers crapping in their diapers didn’t help.

  36. Rhywun,

    I think the term you’re looking for is “doublethink”.

  37. My dad once went to a conference not too long ago where there was a Chinese guy (still a Chinese citizen) giving the keynote, but then when one of the paper topics discussed the Chinese government, the guy had to go outside and not listen to it for his own sake, or so he said.

  38. If I saw a few hundred Americans, or Brits, or Brazillians, or Japanse, or Greeks performing a routine like that, I’d think “Wow, they chose to work really hard to make that just perfect.” I see it in China, and I think “Damn, what did they threaten those people with?”

    Even if it’s not true, that’s the impression the Chinese government is creating, and like Reinmoose said, I don’t think they realize that.

  39. jimmy:

    compare and contrast.

    Warrantless Wiretapping Supporter Upset Over Chinese Spying
    thinkprogress.org – Yesterday, Sen. Sam Brownback expressed fear that “foreign-owned hotels in China face the prospect of ‘severe retaliation’ if they refuse to install government software that can spy on Internet use by hotel guests. he seems more concerned about the Chinese government’s spying practices than the eavesdropping being conducted right here in the US.

    ==

    The military trainers who came to Guant?namo Bay in December 2002 based an entire interrogation class on a chart showing the effects of “coercive management techniques” for possible use on prisoners, including “sleep deprivation,” “prolonged constraint,” and “exposure.”

    What the trainers did not say, and may not have known, was that their chart had been copied verbatim from a 1957 Air Force study of Chinese Communist techniques used during the Korean War to obtain confessions, many of them false, from American prisoners.

  40. If I was the Chicoms, I would have done this better. I wouldn’t have stopped *all* the protests, just the dangerous ones (Free Tibet, Religious Freedom for Christians, Falun Gong, etc.). I would have given permits to some folks who were protesting local-government abuses which I was about to crack down on anyway – assuming the local govt. in question didn’t have too many ties to the central govt. This would reinforce the idea that any abuses in the system are due to “corrupt local officials,” not us. Then I would actually *sponsor* a few protests of my own – like the handy anti-Japanese protests against WWII war crimes. Anything to keep the protest numbers up. Then there would be some telegenic photo – look, real protestors! China is open to criticism!

    When the Olympics were over, I’d sent the most annoying protesters to reeducation camps.

  41. I pretty much agree with joe on the actual success/failure of the Fabulous Festival of Chinese Olympic Awesomeness.

    I find it somewhat disgusting that practically every news celebrity in America is in Beijing right now, and sucking up to the Chinese just as hard as they can.

  42. The world, however, has spent the past week creeped out by the obvious Potemkin-village aspect of their performance.

    I would like to believe that was the case. My gut feeling, though, is that the majority of the people in the world haven’t thought about how tightly scripted this all is. I haven’t met a single person outside the Internet who said this seemed creepy to them. If everyone you know does think this is creepy, then perhaps you might not have a representative cross-section of the public among your friends.

  43. prolefeed –
    a number of people i’ve talked to both in my personal and work life have thought some aspect or another of how the Chinese have handled the olympics was creepy. There’s no dearth of material to be suspicious over. The top ones that come to mind are the revelations about the little girl who “sang” at the opening ceremony, the limitation of internet usage by journalists in China, and the protest zones.

  44. I find it somewhat disgusting that practically every news celebrity in America is in Beijing right now, and sucking up to the Chinese just as hard as they can.

    Meh… they’re just doing their jobs.

    Some *athlete* protests would be awesome.

  45. Anyone watching the Olympics for the sports actually gets a pretty strong dose of this as well. The announcers go on and on about how good the Chinese are at synchronized sports like diving, but my skin crawls with the realization that that skill is honed through the annihilation of individuality at a very young age.

    And the Chinese gymnast scandal has more to do with all of this than one might think. The Chinese just faked the the documents and basically dared anyone to contradict them. They seem to think that producing documents that the government can change at will automatically makes them authentic. Reality doesn’t figure into it; reality is what they make it.

  46. If I was the Chicoms, I would have done this better.

    I think they feel they handled this perfectly. They want all their subjects to understand that any public criticism of the regime will not be tolerated.

    The ruling Democratic party in Hawaii runs the legislature much the same way. They go into the caucus room, tear each other apart, then come out and vote in lockstep. Every now and then some actual democracy breaks out, and it’s so refreshing, but for the most part its that eerie “stay or message or else” thing.

  47. Two snaps up for “the Fabulous Festival of Chinese Olympic Awesomeness.”

    Does anyone else think the judging, particularly in the gynmanstics competition, is just adding to the effect?

    C’mon, there were some numbers being put up.

  48. You people need to visit China and get a real sense of what is going on there. And I don’t mean take the tour bus though Bejing and the Great Wall segment they take all the tourists to. The Chinese people are pretty awesome considering what they have to deal with on a daily basis.
    There are actually 2 China’s. China number one runs the country, China number two is everybody else. They are both connected through family ties, knowing “somebody” is essential to success. China number one is scared shitless of the potential of China two. China number two is just plain scared of number one. China number one lives off the productivity of number two, most are very content just to have a job and a place in the social order. China two wants opportunity, success, wealth, a path for their family to a better future. It is very pragmatic and realistic about what can be achieved and how to go about it. China number one wants to maintain the status quo.

    One day China number two is going to throw everybody in China number one into the Ocean. They know it and are going to do everything in their power to put that day off as long as possible.

    In the meantime, I urge you to visit the country while you can. It’s an amazing place you could not see all of if you had 10 lifetimes. Get away from the big cities where retarded American and European tourists are busy ruining the experience with their antics. I guarantee you won’t regret it.

  49. some crazy numbers, even.

    SugarFree, my wife asked, “Where are the pictures of (Chinese athletes’) families? We see everyone else’s mom and dad cheering for them. Where’s this girl’s family?”

    Where indeed.

  50. prolefeed –
    a number of people i’ve talked to both in my personal and work life have thought some aspect or another of how the Chinese have handled the olympics was creepy.

    Reinmoose — it must be nice to have friends who get libertarianism. I’m surrounded by people who tolerate the odd notions I have about politics, but they’re clearly puzzled about this outlier who won’t shut up.

  51. I find it somewhat disgusting that practically every news celebrity in America is in Beijing right now, and sucking up to the Chinese just as hard as they can.

    R C Dean

    What would you expect? China is the model of “public service”.

  52. joe,

    Actually, my wife had an answer for that. When I said “Where do they get these perfectly uniform girls (size)?”

    She replied: “They have millions in orphanages to choose from.”

  53. And yes, they got to the judges in a lot of subjectively-judged sports. One Chinese girl actually landed on her knees on the dismount and got a higher score than the American who had a small hop.

  54. I think there will be a lot of negative stories after the games are over and the reporters are home.

    The whole get arrested when you turn in your protest form reminds me of The Simpsons’ episode when Wiggum sent out notices to all the people with outstanding warrants that they had won a boat.

  55. SugarFree, my wife asked, “Where are the pictures of (Chinese athletes’) families? We see everyone else’s mom and dad cheering for them. Where’s this girl’s family?”

    Joe, did you see that documentary a few years back about the little girls they train up for gymnastics? Awe-inspiring, fascinating, sad, creepy all at the same time.

  56. I didn’t, Paul.

    I hear they get those girls at 3 or 4 – and I mean, get them. They stop living with their families, like Sparta or something.

  57. Again, a lot of this comes from previous perceptions, but every time an American athlete wins, I see their smile as “Great! All that hard work paid off! Feels awesome to be a champion…”

    When a Chinese athlete wins, their smile looks to me like “Maybe they’ll let mommy and daddy out of education camp now. Maybe I’ll get to avoid the factory for 4 more years!”

  58. The whole get arrested when you turn in your protest form reminds me of The Simpsons’ episode when Wiggum sent out notices to all the people with outstanding warrants that they had won a boat.

    Police actually do that.

  59. I hear they get those girls at 3 or 4 – and I mean, get them. They stop living with their families, like Sparta or something.

    Yes. Very much like the old Soviet system, except I never believed the old Soviet system was as draconian as this.

    The documentary was…

    Awe-inspiring: because of the amazing discipline the training regimen demands.
    Fascinating: Even though they ‘get them’ everyone seems to be on board, including many of the parents.
    Sad: These girls have no childhood. It’s literally ripped from them so as to immerse them for this life.
    Creepy: See also: fascinating– because even the parents are on board. One little girl had a father who would travel thousands of miles, maybe twice a year to see her. During and interview with the father, he said he beat his daughter when she cried and said she wanted to go home. This would horrify us, yet you could see in his eyes that he loved her. Very different set of cultural norms going on over there.

  60. he said he beat his daughter

    Man, my day’s already crappy enough without hearing that…jesus tits.

  61. I used to work for Chinese people. My observation: they love their kids like life itself, and devote their lives to providing them with opportunies; and, they smack them at the drop of a hat.

  62. The Chinese government brings shame upon the Chinese people.

  63. Paul,

    Cultural norms are quite bizarre by US standards. An acquantince of mine is from Vietnam. He goes back to visit family after being in America practically his entire life. He finds out his cousin is having a birthday and decides to get him a cake and a gift. When he sets the cake down in front of his cousin and gives him the gift, his cousin bursts into tears. They don’t celebrate birthdays in Vietnam and his cousin sobs for something like an hour and just says over and over thank you and that he loved his cousin. Wierd.

  64. Joe,

    I work in an Asian restaurant now. Asian people go off on their kids. My third day in and some old man just for no reason smacks this kid walking by. His niece was apparently “making a face”. So the old man smacked it right off. The kid didn’t even cry!

  65. The kid didn’t even cry!

    Yeah, you noticed that, too?

  66. …and yet, Naga, I’d “catch” the family – kids and parents alike – stifling the impulse to give each other a hug or some other “unseemly” demonstration of affection.

    Old school, I guess.

  67. The kid didn’t even cry!

    That is a result of the “I’ll give you something to cry about!” approach.

  68. Joe,

    They weren’t even sitting at the same table!!! The old man was sitting with his wife I guess and the kid was with this party of 7 or eight. I’m kinda jaded about it now, I guess. Don’t even blink when I see stuff like that anymore.

  69. It works for Obama…

    Obama, Fan of Chinese Ports, Trains, and Airports
    Obama, yesterday: “Everybody’s watching what’s going on in Beijing right now with the Olympics , Think about the amount of money that China has spent on infrastructure. Their ports, their train systems, their airports are vastly the superior to us now, which means if you are a corporation deciding where to do business, you’re starting to think, ‘Beijing looks like a pretty good option.'”

  70. Epi, Joe,

    LOL. It’s actually got me interested in Asian culture quite a bit. I’m accepted by the serving staff cuz I was raised Baptist. Baptists are really big into the spoil the rod not the child approach. We compare beatings sometimes.

  71. Conversely, Asian kids are REALLY touchy-feely with their friends, it seems. It’s weird and kinda creepy.

  72. There was a comment by the Diving crew during one of the initial competitions, I think womens platform synchro, that one of the Chinese competitors, who like the gymnasts are shipped off to the diving boarding school at age 3 or 4, had had a period around age 12 when they didn’t want to be a diver anymore, and missed their family and wanted to go home. The family said ‘no, you can’t come home, you need to stay there’ basically because it was honorable, and would bring good to the family.

    I think they also mentioned that those Chinese atheletes get a one-day visit with their parents. Once. Each year.

    There are Americans that wish our atheletes could beat them, but I don’t think any westerner would be willing to give up so much.

  73. Thank you for cutting and pasting from Hugh Hewitt’s blog, Barry.

  74. “The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves.”

    Comedy Weapons-grade plutonium!

  75. http://hughhewitt.townhall.com/blog

    Nice work, Barry.

    If Hugh Hewitt says something is creepy on the front page of Townhall.com, it must really be creepy.

  76. One day China number two is going to throw everybody in China number one into the Ocean. They know it and are going to do everything in their power to put that day off as long as possible.

    In the meantime, I urge you to visit the country while you can. It’s an amazing place you could not see all of if you had 10 lifetimes. Get away from the big cities where retarded American and European tourists are busy ruining the experience with their antics. I guarantee you won’t regret it.

    Wouldn’t I want to go *after* they’ve thrown the politchiks into the Ocean? You’re not good at selling it, dude.

  77. “Thank you for cutting and pasting from Hugh Hewitt’s blog, Barry.”

    Pssst…it’s a direct quote. What? You want me to alter it to fit your preconceptions?

    And it’s not from Hewitt’s blog, but if it were, does that mean it can no longer be referenced???

  78. Elemenope | August 22, 2008, 12:42pm | #

    Nigel, you have “China supporters” at your school?

    I’ve met a few people who were enamored by the *culture*, but the government? That’s a new one on me.

    In the early nineties, at Virginia Tech, some people who were at Tianneman Square spoke in one of the lecture halls one evening to a mid sized crowd (200 or so).

    There were a considerable number of Chinese students in the audience that heckled the speakers during the talk, calling the speakers traitors. Even the less extreme ones during the Q&A period basically made the Corleone ‘you don’t take sides against the family or speak of family business to outsiders’ type argument.

  79. And the thing to remember, these hecklers were mostly apolitical math/science/engineering types, normally not the sort of doctraire crusaders that compose the majority of campus activism squabbles both then and now.

  80. And FWIW, I can totally put myself in the head of the Chinese citizen, who, although has problems with his government, winces when other people criticize it.

  81. One day China number two is going to throw everybody in China number one into the Ocean.

    There must be some cultural thing that keeps everybody in line. Because the peon to government admin ratio is so huge, if they decided to go kamikaze, there’d be no stopping them.

    This might be why the CP is so intent on squashing any dissent.

  82. jesus tits

    A Chinese friend of mine told me his parents used to hang the kids upside down by their feet when they mis-behaved.

    None of my Chinese friends have a particularly good relationship with their parents.

  83. And I don’t mean take the tour bus though Bejing and the Great Wall segment they take all the tourists to.

    Yeah, I did the tourist trip in 2001. Loved it but wanted very badly to ditch the guides – who seemed compelled to take us to every goddamn silk and jade outlet store along the way.

  84. “One way of solving protest issues is re-education through forced labor. Two frail old women were arrested for “disturbing public order” and peremptorily sentenced to a year in a labor camp after they applied for permission to protest the way they were screwed over when the government seized their homes for redevelopment. (They were never compensated and never given the new apartments they were promised.) Police told them they could avoid serving their sentences if they shut up and stayed out of sight. This, evidently, is a part of Chinese culture.”

    They had it coming.
    I hate old people.

    Ruthless

  85. “””translation: “Make us look bad and we’ll kill your whole fucking family!””””

    They could probably send a goon squad to America if they really wanted. Think about all the information likely collected to enter the China and rent hotel rooms. And all the intelligence from cell phone calls and Email.

  86. There must be some cultural thing that keeps everybody in line. Because the peon to government admin ratio is so huge, if they decided to go kamikaze, there’d be no stopping them.

    This might be why the CP is so intent on squashing any dissent.

    There’s a cultural thing that keeps everybody in line in every country. In the US, it is done by allowing people to be mostly free while attempting to stop others from infriging upon one’s rights. Granted, its not perfect; but we try.

    China is different. Throughout history, they seem to normally have a strong state. That’s just the way they do things. You have the state, and you try to work up your standing with the state.

    Take Russia as another example. They go from the Tsars to the Communists to Putin and his people. Different on the surface with varying degrees of abuse. However, when you get down to the core of the system its not much different.

  87. Rhywun: It isn’t the propaganda succeeding, it is the fact that they get pissed at the sort of summary dismissal you are dishing out with no background at all. Double for Naga Shadow. The more the West says: “Well, obviously the Chinese are just victims of propaganda/not allowed to say what they really mean” the angrier they are going to get. They know what they are saying, and they mean it, and they have thought about it a lot more than you have.

    And maybe Episiarch’s co-worker’s cousin’s girlfriend’s dog’s Chinese buddy could have considered that rather than regurgitating government talking points that guy might have been saying things he meant, and had thought about. I’m not arguing that you should agree with them- I’m arguing that you ought to understand that they might not be entirely the product of propaganda and conditioning. They might be what the guy really thinks, after some consideration (and some propaganda ;).

    What I’ve heard from young Chinese is both anger at their government, more freely expressed than you might expect, and, to a much greater degree, anger at the West for its depiction of China. It’s one of those “I can call my kid ugly, but I’ll kill you for doing it” kind of things and we’d do well to understand it since we aren’t in a position to just march into China and set things up as we wish them to be.

  88. The more the West says: “Well, obviously the Chinese are just victims of propaganda/not allowed to say what they really mean” the angrier they are going to get.

    My mission is not to protect the delicate sensibilities of people who can’t take criticism that goes against the carefully structured tales they’ve received throughout their education.

    It’s one of those “I can call my kid ugly, but I’ll kill you for doing it” kind of things

    Yes it is. And that’s exactly the way the Chinese government likes it. Dude, what you’re describing is the exact result of the propaganda they receive–which consists of a lot of nationalistic bluster combined with playing the victim. Oh, and complete suppression of embarrassments like that little squabble at Tiananmen Square.

  89. Slave labor camps are the traditional and typical of glorious Chinese history and cultural.

  90. Rhywun: I’m not suggesting that you ought to refrain from speaking to protect delicate sensibilities. I have not done so even in cases where it made future entrance to China a bit dicey for me, which was a serious concern for me at one point. I’ve also failed to avail myself of the really profitable opportunities that being a Chinese-speaking American computer programmer offers, largely because of concerns about where that profit would come from. And even in the recent past I can recall an instance when a young Chinese man, with whom I had spoken to only over the internet, stewed over something I’d said for a couple of hours and then called me at 4 AM (EST) from Beijing and yelled at me for an hour.

    If it were up to me the guys who ordered Tiananmen would be hung from the neck till dead.

    The problem I have is that a lot of people are failing to understand a lot of things about Chinese perceptions of China and of the West, and that in some cases the Chinese perceptions are not as far off the mark as people want to think they are. I can’t lay it all out here, but let me just say that it is a huge mistake to think that young nationalist Chinese are just zombies spitting out the propaganda they’ve been fed. They are working from a set of assumptions I don’t share, but some of the conclusions they are coming to make a lot of sense, for them.

    They are thinking freely, which is what we ostensibly want, but they are coming to conclusions we don’t like much- we ought to try to understand why that is the case, rather than dismissing them as “creepy”.

    I should add that a lot of them are both nationalistic and not crazy about the CP. But they recognize, correctly in my opinion, that the CP has done a better job of shepherding China into modernity than anyone would have expected in 1989. If you’re coming from the background of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, modern China is not so bad in comparison, particularly if you are a big winner in China’s modernization sweepstakes, as my correspondents tend to be.

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