Friday, July 18, 2008

Sources of Chinese national pride

By China Watcher

Part 1

Yesterday, I came across a blog article concerning Chinese national pride in the BBC which was openly debated and it has somehow generated an immediate interest in me and also, perhaps to many people especially from the West who may be wondering or puzzled by why there were so many supporters even from ordinary people of Chinese origin, both in China and from overseas, of the Chinese central government stance on the issue of Tibet, Xinjiang and the Olympics.

The author argued that the source of the national pride or immense patriotism was from the many events called the Century of Humiliation comprising the Treaty of Nanjing (1842) and the numerous Unequal Treaties, Destruction of the Summer Palace (1860) and the Japanese Occupation (1931 – 1945). According to him, the series of humiliation leads to the development of suspicious feelings towards the West and the Japanese which until today these sentiments have not really receded. The Western devious motives were being reinforced by the unfortunate occurrence of events like the Belgrade Embassy Bombing (1999), the US reconnaissance plane crashed on Hainan Island and the demand by the West for China to combat world’s pollution as a developed country.

The Tibetan riots and the disruptions to the Torch Relays in London, Paris and San Francisco lends further weight to the belief that the West is frustrating China efforts from taking its rightful place as a major power of the world. The soon-to-be-held Summer Olympics in Beijing is actually China coming on stage to show the world of a modern China which has made remarkable progress in its economy and human advancement over the past 20 years.

I can only agree partially to his supportive viewpoint that the Century of Humiliation was the cause of the “blinded loyalty” to the motherland. My most important reason behind this phenomenon is the imbedded Confucianism philosophy which has played an important role in the daily lives of the average Chinese. Chinese customs, its cultures and the promotion of filial piety in societies have to a large measure assisted to strengthen the fact of unceasing loyalty to the rulers (emperors) to always obey unconditionally and willingly. If you take a look at the Korean and the Japanese societies, even to this day, the traditions of filial piety runs very deep in its modern institutions. The education system in these countries which is heavy on confucian values also plays a part in shaping political opinions.

Confucian tenets emphasizes more on the importance of families, groups and hierarchies over individuals have much to do with the present rulers thinking of giving prominence to collective rights and order or stability of societies. Western societies which emphasize more on individual rights, freedom of speech and the high tolerance of dissent (protest) or differences in opinions within societies are the other extreme form of political and social institutions for its people. Somehow, the West fully subscribed to the fact that its form of governance through democratic institutions is the best and acceptable standards for people throughout the world. The Western viewpoint is such “If it works in our societies, it should work for them”.

With such clear differences, it is obvious that the West would not be able to find it acceptable of an institution that would give more focus on collective rights as against an individual and an orderly society as against the permissible level of dissent that would deemed rude in eastern customary rites. The clashes between the East and West beliefs are real and if this is not resolve, there would be more conflicts of this nature with the rise of China and India.

Most of the influential media throughout the world are still controlled by the West and the majority of them are adopting pre-conceived standards or thoughts that other than democracy ideals and practices, other forms of institutions like managed authority and controlled dictatorship are unacceptable and “enemies” of free institutions and must be condemned.

It is of no surprise that China, an authoritarian country (I would not use the word communism here like what the foreign media did on most occasions to lobby support from anti-communist groups due in part to China’s almost capitalist economy), has become the favorite among the media bashers of the West. Russia (perceived dictatorship and regressive democratic rights) and even Singapore (managed democracy with lesser than acceptable human rights by western standards) are not being spared using the media’s own standards of human rights and freedom of press as a basis to criticize the ruling administration of these countries. Some of these media namely the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CNN, The UK Guardian are constantly critical of China. Most of the reports coming from such sources are never positive. These media are an extended arm of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders and Free Tibet Campaign, just to name a few.

Even a homeless person in China who was inadequately compensated to move out from his broken hut to make way for a highway received full coverage in the media which otherwise would go unreported if it happened in the US or UK. I would not even want to dwell into the many fabricated stories produced by these media over the past few years, which are numerous.

The superficial and bias reporting without any circumstantial proof also created a sense of unity among the Chinese people and that it is time to stand up against these foreign institutions hidden agenda. The constant barrage of anti-China news with similar themes like China’s older generations who lived through the cultural revolution were not heard, the younger generation was brainwashed, the intellectuals were mere government puppets and the government was awfully corrupted were repeatedly alleged in the reports coming from the West. No wonder the Western people have developed a distorted view on China.

Most of them have never set foot on China and yet they can form critical opinions of China. I casually asked a Caucasian while he was having a holiday in my country about Chinese people and he retorted, “You Chinese people are all the same – barbaric and you have no love for animals by eating them. I was taken aback by such verbal attacks. I am now pondering the question, “Who is actually being brainwashed – the Chinese or the people in the Western world?”

To be continued in Part 2

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