Home > China China, Discover People, Self-Improvement > The “Battle”: How Should China Face Western Criticism?

The “Battle”: How Should China Face Western Criticism?

It is interesting to trace how Americans talked about China in the past few years. They were talking about human rights, then intellectual property rights, then environmental problems, then Tibet. And at the same time, they are amazed by what is happening in Beijing and Shanghai, and they couldn’t stop talking about those shopping malls, clubs, Sichuan food, and oriental culture. Hosting the Olympics Game and World Expo doesn’t make you the most developed country in the world, and China obviously is not there yet. But it does attract tons of eyeballs. It attracts praises as well as criticism.

Every country has its own problems and issues. Sometimes I feel one has no right to comment on other country’s problem if first of all, you actually have exactly the same problem, and second of all, you have no idea what is really going on on the other side of the world. I read “Snow a while back, the Nobel Prize winning book by Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk. I am not a big fan of the political part of the novel, but there is this one quotation that really caught my eyes: “If you write a book set in Kars and put me in it, I’d like to tell your readers not to believe anything you say about me, anything you say about any of us. No one could understand us from so far away.”

It is a brilliant quotation. And I couldn’t stop but thinking, it is very true that we can’t understand someone from so far away, but do we really understand ourselves and each other, even when we’re actually so close?

It’s probably all about judgment. People usually judge too easily, but a lot of times they are wrong. Because people see things they want to see, not things as they truly are. But the truth is, there is no truth. We have taken our positions long before knowing the truth. We were born Chinese, or we were born Republican, or we were born Catholic. We base our judgment not only on sometimes twisted observations, but also on our own positions. For example, a few years back, an American, barely recovered from Sept. 11, would be highly unlikely to go against a retaliation project carried under the name of seeking WMD (weapon of mass destruction). 

Nationalism is powerful, and sometimes disastrous. It is hard not to become a nationalist when your country’s very sovereignty or national security is being challenged. Aside from that, religion and ethnics can also be very powerful. Think about the genocide between Turks and Armenians. Each side has their own stories, with both historical and current support from academians and politicians, and a significant number of testimonies. Each side makes the conclusion that the other side committed a crime of genocide against them, provides comprehensive evidence, and degrades the other side as a lier who betrayed the facts of history. But there are so many examples of this, you hear two completely different stories about FLG in China and in the US. You are confused for a while, and then you realized you probably cannot trust either side. 

Thus, judgment is not easy. And for all the problems China is facing today, we hear this sentence over and over again: progress takes time, so please give us time.  Sometimes I wonder, why don’t give China time then? The whole world witnessed what kind of changes were brought about in the past two decades in China, and why are people doubting China now? 

The logic is easy. The western countries are afraid of a country with 1/4 of the world’s population suddenly decided to develop itself with an amazingly fast rate, which happen to have adopt an ideology fundamentally different from their own (Actually I am not so sure about that right now, especially when we look at the intensive government intervention and regulation after the financial crisis in the US). They are challenged because their balance of power is not stable anymore (I learned that back in college). It is perfectly understandable, actually. If it’s not FLG, not Tibet, not IP, not Olympics, it WILL be something else. There will ALWAYS be something to talk about, to worry about, and to exaggerate about. That is what politicians do. That is what excites the media and the public. That is what evokes a deeper and more furious version of nationalism, and that is what makes the world crazy. 

What is the appropriate response for China now? Nationalism is necessary but not enough, and too much nationalism can only be harmful (Asking Google to get out or blocking facebook and blogspot will probably not go a long way). Instead of blaming other people for blaming them, China should focus on improving their own national power, educating their next generation, and further enhance political freedom. Think about a girl who constantly complains that there is no guy approaching her. Instead of pure complaining, she should simply try to improve herself, both from the inside and the outside, and sooner or later her self-confidence will be boosted, and she will become a better person, with both a more educated heart, and a more beautiful face.

So please, instead of picking on other people, simply try to improve yourself. Ultimately, it is never a battle against other people, but one with yourself.

What do you think China should or should not do?

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