Thursday, April 14, 2005

Opinion_Japan and China, who is the victim?

An open letter about the relation between Japan and China has iginited great response in all of my classmates in Hong Kong. Only another girl and me, who are from mainland, were involved in the bunch of back-and-forth emails, with other talkers from different countries including U.S., Canada and Hong Kong. That girl showed in the email her great discontent to the people who argued with only limited knowledge about the history of Japan and China, and I tried to be "neutral" in my email to balance the two. Then I found nobody really understand, or talk about the emails we both wrote. Then I became muted, that girl never responsed, and all the other mainland girls kept silenced, too. Is that because Chinese always respect other's arguments, and most of them will keep silent if they don't agree with others?

If I explain it as the cultural difference in the arguments on the relation between Japan and China, it will look like silly because we are already in a era called globalization. But not many people try to understand the difference, either in the culture or government behavior, because the people are educated so differently. The newspaper and other media I see here is totally, or mostly, different from ones I read in the mainland, though they are both useful. I will not try to point out which is right or which is wrong, because there is not a universal standard.

I once heard one of my foreign friends said that "Patriotism is the worst thing for the Chinese". Yes, to the other countries, especially the not-that-friendly ones such as U.S., they will hate that because it means the people always support their countries, or the Chinese governments, in some extent. But to China, it may be a better thing because people will have nothing to believe if they lose patriotism. The dangerous thing is that China will collapse if people have nothing to believe, and how about the money of those foreign investors' money?

I would like to say I keep a open mind to what people say about Chinese and Japanese. And I will keep the good habit, too. But should I keep silent all the time, or say it though others may not respect or even read?


無塵工作室 said...

They are both in the wrong (in the sense that they had both done diplomatic harm to each other), that's what I say; none is better than the other. however, these riots are merely agent provocateur, the real issues lies in the sea - not those islands, but the oil that's underneath it.

However, I don't like America's strtegic move of backing Japan to maintain their influence of power in the far east region.

If these people never really took your viewpoints seriously enough, I doubt that their arguments will stand under scrutiny either; just like what I said before about viewing china through foreign eyes: They won't undetstand the situation over there at all.

Whale said...

On the contrary Amy, there is a universal standard to right or wrong regarding newspaper and media, that is that they tell the truth without any bias. Now we all know neutral and unbias journalism is rare nowadays in this commercialised sextor, where there are conflicts of interests coming out of every pore, but most media still tend to be truthful...we hope.

Andrea said...

Yes, you're very right, there are cultural elements in this whole issue. But it's so hard to explain in just a few paragraphs what they are all about!!!

Haruki Murakami tried, in one of his book, The Wind Up Bird Chronicles. I hope one day Chinese people will have a chance to read it and they will understand it much better the emotions and confusions the Japanese had on the war.

Anonymous said...

A lot of us see the Chinese government encouraging protests against Japan because it's a good way to avoid people wanting other things like a better justice system, human rights, and less poverty, especially in the west of China.

Instead everyone complains about the Japanese.

If you are all so angry at Japan, why aren't you even angrier about the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, which killed millions of people? Is it because you only know what the government tells you about these things? Or maybe it's because if you all protested against the government you would be all sent to jail.


joann said...

Just first thoughts on a quick read of the post and the comments:

I have to agree with Dave's comments. Despite whatever what other people have done to the chinese, more terrible things happened during the chinese cultural revolution.

the chinese are very messed up. before pointing fingers at others, let's examine ourselves first and admit our own faults and the things we've done wrong. let's correct our own history books to the best of our abilities. let's admit what Mao and the CCP has done. let's admit that we're selfish little people looking out for ourselves.

I mean, really, unless we admit to ourselves the situation, what right does any chinese have to point their fingers at the japanese/or any country for changing their own history books?

But there is more to think about here and to examine...

I do not totally agree with the Chinese point-of-view on Japan, and I do not agree with Japan's revision of history, either. So I'm on neither side.

Amy or koala said...

hi, Joann, thanks for the commment, though I am not quite agree with your comment. Asian Wall Street journal also wrote an editorial story saying that Chinese should have a look at its history first. But come on, these are separate topics. No one could be totally right, which doesn't mean the people have no right to criticize the others. Plus, Chinese cultural revolution is sort of internal matter, while some Chinese have already criticized it seriously. Japan's invading into the other Asian countries is another, which affected the people in more countries. I could understand you are neutral at this issue, but I don't think the wrongdoings by some Chinese should be used by others as an excuse to critize Chinese's protesting to Japan.

Anonymous said...

amy, I think that you, and many other chinese, have a long way to go to realize how the rest of the world thinks and to what extent the dangerous way China thinks about its people can do damage to the world.

you state things in such matter of fact statements, that chinese people won't have anything to believe in if they don't have patriotism...

that's the mentality of a fascist government, and you are reflecting that thinking in your civilian mentality.

doesn't that trouble you?

are you ever aware of how much your thinking reflects the forced thinking of your government on you?

it should be incorrect to state that people can't believe in something else besides their government or their nation.

the spirit of democracy is a spirit, adn everyone in the world can participate.

why do you think this hold over of deng's "against spiritual pollution" is so strong, still, in china? it's because the CCP is a weak cartel that can't survive the questioning of its own people.

you do not question your government, because, like te victim of domestic abuse, you reflect the government's own insecurity.

read more marx. it's ironic that all that stuff is in the leninist and marxist readings of long ago.

CCP is a farce!

Anonymous said...

and i would like to add, your first move may be to deny that.

something else that abuse victims do to claims that their abuser is hurting them.

wake up,China!

you have more power than your government.

Anonymous said...

"If the ruler is regarded as the superior of the subject, as being by the nature of his position presumably wise and good, the rightful ruler and guide of the whole population, it must necessarily follow that it is wrong to censure him openly, that even if he is mistaken his mistakes should be pointed out with the utmost respect, and that whether mistake or not no censure should be cast upon him likely or designed to diminish his authority."

Sir Stephen, James Fitzjames, "A History of the Criminal Law of England."

Following this logic, if the CCP is not censuing the public, it feels the public is right. Therefore, the public is actually the ruler? If the government does not act like a responsible government in an international incident, the people rule.

It's a case of government defaults.

Anonymous said...

Amy, you are right that the matters of the Japanese imperial army 80 years ago and the cultural revolution ~40 years ago are different things.

(For what it's worth, I'm still angry at the way these textbooks are approved in Japan, even though the actual numbers of readers are very small (there are different textbooks, and the one my classmates used in Japan did tell the true story about Nanjing))

My point to you is that you have more to fear from your own government than Japan. Right now, and in the future, the chance of Japan harming you or any other Chinese person is very small. But many Chinese people are hurt by the Chinese government every day.

Japan has been helping China's economic development for the last twenty years, yet now Chinese people throw stones at Japanese restaurants and talk about killing Japanese people. In the cultural revolution, young people tortured and sometimes killed the teachers that had helped them from a small age.

Has anything changed?


shulan said...

Dear Amy,
I always become frightened when people are too patriotic. They tend to stop thinking and are only led by their emotions. Very often the result is violence against someone who is considered an enemy. We just witnessed that in Chinas major cities. This time only against things, but who can guarantee, that the violence won't go against people, when the atmosphere becomes more heated next time.
Patriotism also is a mighty political weapon. To call your political opponent unpatriotic is the best way to silence him, when you’re living in a deeply patriotic society. America after 9/11 is the best recent example.
If patriotism really is the only thing that holds China together, China is a dangerous place to go for everyone who could be the next "enemy" of China.


無塵工作室 said...

I may have to step in on this I'm afraid.

First of all, please don't view China through democratic eyes. I mean, if Chinese people were as politically active as Englishmen or Americans, then Dave and everybody's viewpoint will stand as valid, I agree; however, I urge that everybody who hasn't yet been to China before to go and have a look for yourself - I can safely assume that the Chinese nation is in fact to most politically inactive nation on this planet, because the poor comprised 99% of the population of 13+ billion.

The Chinese government manipulated the minority who cared or thought they cared, I have no doubt about it, however it doesn't mean that every Chinese is patriotic and wants to invade Japan.

If one talked to people who lived in China (especially the remote parts, like my origin from ages ago), one will find that they simply don't care about politics. Some may think that's this is the Chinese government's censorship wrong doing, but one question I've asked these people were, "don't you think there's something wrong with it? I mean, censorship and all that stuff?" I was even pointing at the TV when I asked them. Their answer was simply, "As long as I can feed my family and work, I don't care." Not just farmers, even high fliers and students that went to study in foreign countries, they neither care or intend to care.

Sir Fitzjames' statement would stand if countrymen were politically active, what about for the Chinese people that aren't politcally active at all?

A lot of Chinese people went on to riot alright, but that's like 0.00000000001% (approx.) of the country's whole population. Also, historically riots were like this violent anyway, remember the National Democratic convention in LA in 2000? Protestors rioted as well, and the police opened fire on them. Riot or not, plastic bullets or not, why did the police opened fire? Yes that's not exactly solving matter in a civilised manner either, but who or what provoked them to open fire? (However I will not go into this anymore, it's a different matter)

The truth is, most Chinese don't really care much about politics, and merely wanted to live their humble lives, so does the people still has fear for the government? The answer would ring similar to the question: "if one doesn't believe in God at all, does one still fear his omnipresence?" One can say that the Chinese government suppresses it's people, however try to think of it in reverse - if the people don't care about it in the first place, what harm will it do them? At least not by mere censorship and these suppression, because it won't bother them. What bothers them is corruption, but that's another matter.

Some may say that this is immoral as well, the government regime should change, even collapse, and be more liberal, however that's also another matter and shouldn't be discussed on the topic of past war crimes.

Some would like China to change very much, especially stop 'what's been regarded as effective tyranny', but please, please try to see things from different perspectives. China is neither patriotic or democractic, and the people had no intention to be so. This planet doesn't have to be a democratic one and there are countries that doesn't run on the democratic system. This society is neither absolute or black or white, there are also many shades or grey, amongst other colours, like it or not.

The rioting action or the inaction of the Chinese government should be condemned, however that also goes to the right-inclining actions of the Japanese government.

Finally, this is one of my thoughts recently, "People elect their governments (or not), however their government doesn't necessarily represent them. The only people the government represent are themselves, even though some politicians think that they represent the people."

Anonymous said...

You just represented a billion and change people by dishing out some cliches about their political apathy.

if you have studied modern theory and postmodern thought, you would have realized by now that Politics is not about government. you allude to it yourself in your last quote.

people are political, no matter if they wave a flag, cast a ballot or swing a fist.

people want change, they want a home, they want food, they want to be respected.

those are all political needs.

and when they get pissed, that's a political spirit.

for someone who claims to know china, you seem to want to shovel a lot of dirt on them and their mentality.

apologist for tyranny, that's what you are, my friend.

help the people of china.
forget about pride.

無塵工作室 said...

Haha, alot of theory there. First of all, what I stated was an 'observation', and to be honest, it was aimed at the democratic governments around the world (not just the US, my country of UK as well), not China. Why? The mass was never in the Chinese equation anyway.

However, theories are afterall, theories, and such description of reality, I'm afraid, doesn't necessarily equals reality. IN THEORY, politics is about the people, especially democratic system (how idealistic), this I agree, because it's a theory, if it doesn't stand then people won't be learning them at all. Try to do this, observe around you and the planet that revolves around you, can you truly say that politics is about YOU, or THE PEOPLE?

"people want change, they want a home, they want food, they want to be respected. those are all political needs."

First of all, the context of "change" here is too vague, if it's like the Californians electing Schwarzeneggerzeggerfeggerleggger (forgive me if I've spelt his name wrong) to become governor of California, then fair enough. However, does getting new double glazing window counts as political change? I haven't learn post modernism and all that you know so well, so you have to clarify the definition for me old chap. I am merely citing definitions from the little dictionary of mine.

My friend, I don't mean to offend you, I'm just curious, are you working? Not those part time jobs you have during drunken college times or in a band or whatever, ones that your whole family, your wife and kids, your house and car mortgages, your pension depends on? I am, and so if you haven't please try it, I'm sure that wanting a home and/or food has nothing to do wth politics, in a sense that the government doesn't feed me, in fact that's more like microeconomics (the company you work in), maybe a little macroeconomics (international competition) as well. For us poor working souls that aren't Warren Buffet, if the government doesn't bring any drastic changes into the system that will affect my company and me, frankly I don't give a damn. Earning my house (or to repay the mortgage in some sense) is only my hard earned pay, I am merely an imp in the vast entangled world of economics and politics.

When people have more immediate worries to think about, most (not all) would tend to think about that istead of what they want from their government (or what they can do for their government, in the case of JFK), political agendas are the least of their worries.

Now, RESPECT as a political need, is that on a personal level or the nation as a whole? Please enlight me, with all your post modern theories and thoughts, and I'm not being sacarstic. Respect has to be earned, not by your own country but yourself; no one can disrespect you if you have self respect, disrespect only hits you when you don't even know what and who you are.

I don't shovel dirt on them, you merely haven't asked yourself (and thought about) the question the I posed for you up there? I will say it (or rephrase) again, in case you missed it the first time - If the people themselves don't even care about it anyway, can you still apply all those theories onto them, that assumed people want change, their house, their car, their money, their food, nice weather, no heavy rain, no flooding, no draught, and just a good harvest?

Me? Tyrant? How interesting, I now look like a chimp, thank you for your kind comment.

Anonymous said...

first of all i am working.

second of all, there is a difference between politics and a political act.

think about it.

you are trying to use my own argument against me, but you have ended up using a counterargument entirely different than that which i proposed.

it is very simple: it is naive to say that chinese people are all fine, as gu does. in many cases they are worse off, and the fact that china is filled with a rural population that suffers from inadequate health care (only 16% of China's health care is funded by the government), and of that, 2/3 is in the cities, where only 1/3 of the people of china live, means that china can in no way be considered fine.

that's just one example.

developing nations are not fine.

and a developing nation operated by a mafia of communist cohorts is certainly not fine.

chinese people, abroad and in china, see life in china as a dream, as some kind of rural pastoral.

it most certainly is not.

hence. wake up, china.

your people are suffering. maybe not ALL of them, but it is a certain "political" fact, mirrored in socialist thought, that if my neighbor suffers, I suffer.

China is suffering, or at least some percentage of its people are. and those people are angry.

so am i.

Amy or koala said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Amy or koala said...

Ok, this annoymous guy, I was trying not to argue with you because I don't like to talk to the one who even don't want to disclose his or her name in the argument. But you have two fundamental mistakes I couldn't bear any more:

first, health care in China is not as expensive as in U.S, where you couldn't afford the hospital fee without any support . In rural areas, the medicines only cost several cents per pill, which most people could afford. Things could not be perfect, of course, but you could look at here, an article about health care in China from U.S. congress to have a better review.

Second, any country including yours will have people who suffer hunger. Ok, let's say about the richest country in the world. I once met an American single mother who could't afford her and two childen's living in her states. So she came to Hong Kong. Agriculture is one of the most important problem in China, I remember Premier Wen once said. Here is an article from describing a better picture of China:

Having said that, I would like to talk with the people who want to help solving the problems existing in China now, without just saying "wake up, China".