Saturday, 14 March 2015
Being Defensive About China
I can’t help being unfashionably “defensive” when it comes to the daily barrage of China bashing tirades. Why? Because I see the smokes of a “propaganda invasion” everywhere. Perhaps it’s just my paranoia? So what if it is. They said China was paranoid in kicking out Google and Facebook, and continue to say so with a straight face even after Edward Snowden so, there you go. Plus paranoia would be an affordable price, given the abominable examples in the Middle-East, Africa, and Eastern Europe.
In this unconventional struggle, in some ways a mutation of imperial invasion, China is still at a historical disadvantage. Most China sympathisers — Chinese or foreign — have been too traditionally silent, even timid.
China is far from perfect. A country this size and complexity will never be. Just common sense. Utopian seekers should keep walking, and look somewhere else. Nonetheless, the country has done a miraculous job rising from the ashes of neo-colonialism; self-destructive corruption, cynicism, and diffidence induced partly by opiate dreams; barbaric invasions by democratic drug lords and a demented neighbour; and a civil war. During this painful reincarnation process, still on-going, it has managed to redistribute wealth with commendable equitability, though the wealth gap has widened alarmingly in recent years. The penetration of new wealth has also created numerous side-effects, including reappearance of corruption and annoying nouveau riches — an inevitable developmental stage experienced by all developed economies, though never before at this scale and speed.
However, instead of encouraging China to continue with this historic success, or offer constructive suggestions, the Western propaganda machines have been manically demonising. It makes one wonder what blinds them from China’s measurable achievements in not just economic, but also human terms. In assessing a continent-size country, we have to look at the big picture: Life expectancy was 35 in 1949. It’s now in the mid-70s. Infant mortality has plunged steadily, now approaching that of the USA, the richest nation with only 1/5 the population. Lifting 400 million out of abject poverty and urbanising 300 million peasants in just a few decades is no mean social feat. I won’t repeat the partial list previous posted in “Authoritarianism with Chinese Characteristics” here. Yet, say anything negative about China, and it’d be embraced eagerly as unquestionable “fact”. The daily predictions of China's "imminent collapse" are more akin to voodoo than prognosis. We need to ask why.
Were I not Chinese, I’d probably be just as defensive about China, just like I now do about the defenceless folks in the Middle East. Millions of them have been killed or ruined unprovoked, then demonised heartlessly. Hardly anyone cares. A dozen or so provocative cartoonists got gunned down in Paris, and it became a sensation of the century. Similarly, a few heads got gruesomely sawed off, and a deafening global outcry was orchestrated. What about the thousands of deformed babies in Iraq, born after depleted uranium bombs had been nefariously dumped without even a contrived excuse? [Link to Living Ghosts] Are these grossly disproportional responses a manifestation of subconscious racism? cultural supremacy? or the brainwashing power of international propaganda? I don’t wish to give any murder moral excuse, but the world has lost all sense of fairness and proportion, yet become more opinionated and self-righteous.
Lastly, returning to China’s shortcomings, who is more aware and openly critical than President Xi Jin Ping himself? The top boys in Beijing are not only concerned, but also taking rectifying actions with unparalleled resolution and efficiency. More senior officials, including army generals, have been fired or demoted in China in the last two years than the USA has in the past two centuries. China is also doing an astounding amount of work to improve the environment, another inevitable victim of industrialisation. Sincere and well-meaning bystanders can surely afford to wait a bit for results, rather than jumping up and down, spraying accusatory cliches, and wagging hysterical fingers at those who are busy fixing monstrous problems?
James Tam 2015.3.14 @ Guo Du