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March 07, 2007

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nanheyangrouchuan

China deserves to have sky fall on it:

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=gulja+massacre

http://china.notspecial.org/archives/2007/02/10_years_later.html

yeah, everything is wonderful.

Kaiser Kuo

@ Nanheyangrouchuan: And who suggested that everything is wonderful? I don't think either Mr. Zakaria or I did; I certainly never would. Nothing's more counterproductive than blithe "China is beyond reproach" versus blanket "China is evil" nonsense. I would urge you and all commentors to refrain from it. "China deserves to have sky fall on it" with some links to an instance of brutality isn't what I'd call productive commentary that contributes to a more nuanced understanding. Maybe I'm hoping for too much.

davesgonechina

@Nanheyangrouchuan: That's hardly fair. Why should some poor white collar wage slave in on the East coast be punished for the brutality of Wang Lequan and his ilk? It's not China that should have the sky fall on it, is specific Chinese people. Big difference.

As for Zakaria, I thought this was refreshing:

"It might be time to admit that we really don't understand China."

He then goes on to say that assumptions about the the role of property rights, Communism, the rule of law and free floating currencies go unexamined, even though China turns all those generalities on their head, saying:

"So, instead of learning from facts and revising theory, we assume that the facts are wrong, that China is one grand charade."

Wow, an American editor flat out saying that the accepted wisdom on China ain't working? Say it ain't so! And then he says:

"Americans, by and large, don't understand this because the basis of American nationalism is ideology."

Ah, is that fresh air I smell? No way Fareed is gonna get anywhere with this storyline - no invasions, no sweeping revolutions? Come on man, that stuff don't sell!

Kaiser Kuo

@Davesgonechina: Word.

nanheyangrouchuan

""It might be time to admit that we really don't understand China.""

The same can be said with many other countries, because what works in one country does not work in another. The fact that Iran is actually quasi-democratic yet managed by strict Islamism, some African countries have actually reformed their government while richer, more advanced neighbors bend under an el-presidente says that every culture is different and unique though the individual people seem to cherrish the same values.

The Chinese gov't has broken all the supposed rules but look at the results for 800 million people. Now is China so special?

Kaiser Kuo

@Nanheyangrouchuan - Ummm... yeah. What am I supposed to see when I look at the results for 800 million people? The half-full or half-empty glass? For me, it's hard to ignore the basic fact of that many people undergoing that level of absolute improvement in living standard over that short a time. So yes, I think China is rather special. But sure, I grant you there are plenty of other countries "we really don't understand." I dare say most of them outside the familiar Western world.

Anyway, look, you're very welcome to comment here, but let's try to stay on topic, and not confront any old comment putting China in a reasonably good light with a tirade against (Han) Chinese treatment of the Uighur people--an issue which, judging by your chosen email monicker, you care about, as do many people I respect. 'Kay?

davesgonechina

@Mr. Chuan: "The Chinese gov't has broken all the supposed rules but look at the results for 800 million people. Now is China so special?"

Well, what are the results? As Zakaria points out, after suffering through

"the collapse of the monarchy, warring states, the Japanese invasion, civil war, the communist takeover, the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution."

in rapid succession, perhaps those 800 million feel better off because things have stopped being completely insane for a good thirty years. Maybe they value that immensely. Maybe they like not having famines or self criticism sessions. And maybe they set their expectations too low, but I ain't gonna be the one to blame them for that. Are you?

It won't last - no one can be satisfied with merely not starving or worrying about the Red Guard for very long. But on the other hand, I get the impression alot of the rural population are deep cynics. They've seen oceans of snake oil promising a better life, and many as a result seem to believe that life is what it is. I personally think that the rule of law, freedom of speech and property rights would make their lives better, but I don't think saying the whole country deserves the sky to fall on its head will make them more receptive to my argument.

China Law Blog

I too am a big fan of Zakaria and I always love reading what thoughtful people who are not "China people" have to say about China. Makes for good perspective. If you have not already done so, you should check out Tom Barnett's blog also. He has a good understanding of China, based on his excellent understanding of world politics.

88

>>the collapse of the monarchy, warring states, the Japanese invasion, civil war, the communist takeover, the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution. But in the past 30 years, China has enjoyed stability,

There is a glaring omission from that list and it wasn't 30 years ago. It wasn't even 20. Although that event wasn't on the scale of the CR or the GLF (that much is true), I think it would be more accurate to say that China has enjoyed about 18 years of stability. Other than that, I think Zakaria is close to the mark at least in so far as the outlook of the typical Chinese person. Then again, my cousin-in-law in Hubei just asked me if he could transfer 200,000 RMB to my bank account in the States because he thinks China is going to collapse in the next two years. So you always have to fall back on "we don't understand China."

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