On one particularly hot day in Urumqi, I decided to head to a small, hole-in-the-wall dumpling house near the center of the city for lunch. I ordered noodle soup and baozi stuffed with pork and veggies. As my food came, an old, half-drunk Han Chinese man sitting at the table next to me struck up a conversation. As he peered out from over his soup, he began recounting his struggles during the Great Leap Forward.
“When I was young, we didn’t have any meat to eat. People would literally take the bone out of my bowl as I tried to eat it. It was a struggle to survive.” As he was talking, he noticed that two young Chinese nearby were snickering at him. They seemed more interested in the most recent fashion craze than learning from their elders—both had crazy, only-in-China dos, as well as jeans with all sorts of bling on them. “You see these kids,” he said, “they don’t give a damn about the past. They don’t understand what Mao did, nor do they really care. They are only focused on the making money.”
The China-Tibet Olympics commotion depresses.
We all knew CCTV was a joke. Now we are disappointed to learn that the BBC has a political agenda as well, joining what Mick Hume of The Times calls the newest Olympic sport—”China bashing.” No Pulitzers for this mess. CNN will win the gold medal in “China bashing” for mislabeling Nepalese crackdown pictures as Chinese (the single most effective Chinese propaganda tool in years—good job CNN!); the BBC will have to settle for the silver for their coverage of the London Olympic relay.
Ignorance and facile thinking lead many to believe that we live in a Manichean world. The Axis of Evil and declarations such as “you’re either with us or against us” are inextricably linked to President Bush. Academics, liberals, and the majority of conservatives have quarreled with this simplistic formulation of international affairs. Many of the people who attack the President for his rhetoric or rail against the “War on Terror” may repeat many of the President’s mistakes when talking about China if they are not careful.