Despite that this is a inspired article, this sentence still interrupt my immersive reading. Such claim has always been ridiculous to me, but it is still too often spoken to be ignore. Chinese has unique own point of view to their history, which includes legends and myths. Check this ( http://camphorpress.com/5000-years-of-history/ ) if you have interests.
When you compare Chinese history to European history, there's a lot more parallelisms than you might expect from the popular conception. The Qin unification in 221BC is fairly contemporaneous with the rise of Rome in the west (who dispatched the Carthaginians in 201BC and the remnants of the Macedonians by 146BC). The Han dynasty collapsed around AD184 (with the Yellow Turban Rebellion), which stabilized into a three-way (later two-way) partition by AD220 that lasted until Sui reunification in 589; this unification persisted until the collapse of the Tang dynasty in 907. Similarly, in the West, the Roman Empire collapses in the Crisis of the Third Century (235-284), and reemerges in a mostly permanent state of division between Western and Eastern Empires. The Eastern Empire persisted until its defeat in 1204, whereas the Western Empire disintegrated over the 4th and 5th centuries but recoalescing into a Merovingian dynasty (Clovis I reunited most of modern France and Germany by his death in 511, although it was promptly divided on his death) and later a unified Carolingian kingdom that became the Holy Roman Empire when crowned by the pope in 800. Although the empire again divided on Charlemagne's death, it did stabilize as a Kingdom of France in the west and a HRE in the east, with a contested bit in the middle.
1) Confucius, if he existed at all, could have been a contemporary with Herodotus. How many modern statues of Herodotus can you think of? My guess is not many, but statues of Confucius in China abound. The Chinese government draws a certain amount of legitimacy in tying itself to Chinese history. How many Western governments are trying to draw legitimacy from ancient Rome or Greece?
2) Also consider that every Chinese people is at least familiar with a few lines in ancient Chinese books like Art of War, Analects, Dao De Jing and Han/Tang/Song poetry in the written language. Can you think of a comparable piece of Latin or Greek writing that the average Westerner knows by heart? How many people can recite Virgil and Homer? Bonus if they can do it in the original Latin or Greek.
The West has used the aesthetics of the Roman empire as a basis for the trappings of power right through the modern period (see: Napoleon; US civic architecture). The direct reliance on legitimacy as deriving from a historical connection to Rome was basically only broken by the rise of the nation-state idea in the 19th century.
We still hold up the example of (a rather simplified view of) Athenian democracy as an example of the ancient legitimacy of democratic and republican institutions in some schools' civics classes.
Maybe it isn't as specific and concrete as the Chinese use of history for legitimacy, but I think the influence is there.
More fun info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_Rome
Overtly, very few if any. But look at the education curricula of the US--you get a large dose of Roman and Greek history. Discussion of the structure of US government literally drew parallels to the structure of the Roman Republic and Athenian democracy. Our government structures are designed in edifice to be replicas of the ruins of Rome of Athens. Even our math curriculum is derived from Greek mathematicians.
Where the difference exists is that Western countries do not claim to be an unbroken continuation from ancient Rome and Greece as China does.
> Can you think of a comparable piece of Latin or Greek writing that the average Westerner knows by heart?
The New Testament of the Christian Bible, which was written around the height of the Roman Empire after all, certainly before the Tang and Song dynasties you mention. Most people have probably read the Odyssey or the Iliad at some point (and definitely can relate the basic plots of these books). Writings of Plato are also pretty likely to be well-known to most people, but most especially philosophers. And I hear that doctors have to recite a famous passage from Hippocrates as part of their studies...
This is a taboo subject among Western politicians nowadays. The answer is that Mussolini's fascist Italy and Hitler's Nazi Germany did this all the time.
Also consider that every Chinese people is at least familiar with a few lines in ancient Chinese books like Art of War, Analects, Dao De Jing and Han/Tang/Song poetry in the written language.
I very much doubt that the average Chinese city-dweller, nevermind subsistence farmer, can recite those ancient works by heart.
Furthermore, I doubt any Chinese person, apart from a scholar, could actually write down a few lines from these works in the original seal script. I would even go so far as to say that the average Chinese person would struggle to write anything but the most common characters in modern Chinese without the use of a phone or computer.
If you're looking for a Western text comparable to the Dao De Jing that many Westerners know then look no further than the Bible. There are millions of people who can rattle off Bible quotes by heart.
They might not know it but its still ingrained, influences their culture and laws.
That's far less strong of a claim. If we're only talking about cultural influences then it's not hard to show how much of an influence the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Homeric Epics, and Plato's dialogues have had on Western cultures. It would be harder to point to a cultural element which had not been influenced by one or more of these ancient works.
> There are millions of people who can rattle off Bible quotes by heart.
And how many Western governments claim to derive their legitimacy from biblical prophecy? (Whichever version thereof.) Israel comes to mind.
Talk about the elephant in the room!
So I don't think it hash that much parallelisms to European history history
The parallels aren't perfect, of course. But it should thoroughly dispel the notion that Chinese history is wholly unique and unreplicated.
That is the official account of the Chinese history by the succeeding dynasty to record the important personals, their lives and big events from the previous dynasty.
That is a very unique tradition though. The fact that the ancient Chinese does recognize a chain of dynasties and heritage and succession therefore, is unique to China, not by other Western countries.
Point being: how much of that trend is real, and how much of it is useful propaganda spread down through the ages.
Maybe it wouldn't be far fetched to argue that Eurasia had only 3 distinct persistent cultures: Romano-Greek, Persian/Islamic/Turkic, and Han. I know this is a gross simplification but it's not a bad framework to begin with.
Modern mens fashion (suits, pants, waistcoats) seem to have come from the Islamic world, especially Iran.
For example: early Roman emperors reseble latin-American caudillos more than they resemble medieval kings. Later emperors however introduced trappings of Royalty that we would still recognize, often in imitation of Iranian models.
As for China, there was a concerted and largely successful effort to destroy its cultural heritage during the "Cultural Revolution", by the party that remains in power today. Hardly unbroken.
Let's take religion as an example. In Malaysia, Taiwan, and Singapore, traditional temples are still "alive" with popular and active ceremonies, while most temples in China I went are just dead buildings: people lived there and do things have nothing to do with divine, CCP-permitted official events, foreign tourists, modern decorations that have no integrity, etc.
It's just sad to see those religious sites dying. The spiritual essence died, during exactly the Cultural Revolution.
I also had this view that buddhism is a faith that promotes peace - which might be true, but you still have the same human beings behind it. History proves my naive idea wrong.
If you mean buddhist temples, that's at max 2000 years of history.
It's technically the same party but the gang of four were thoroughly repudiated by Deng and his successors. 10 years of insanity can't kill a culture.
Its hard to start a society again, if you really had a goverment supported near-anarchy for ten years.
10 years is indeed a long time. It's not enough to break the education-based continuity, but it is absolutely enough to break the personal cultural continuity.
My experience of 15 years living in China is, very few people have experienced that personal continuity, to the point where disciplines like Chinese medicine, taiji, traditional music, etc, are best carried on by people in Taiwan or even the US.
Looking at other ethnic Chinese dominant areas, Hong Kong/Taiwan, which are supposedly unaffected by cultural revolution, I don't think the mainlanders are any way 'less' Chinesey than they are. The young people I met from HK/TW, their lack of understanding/knowledge of ancient Chinese history/literature is really embarrassing, yet they are pretty proud of such.
Not to mention that before KMT takes over, Taiwan had been colonized by Japan for 50 years, and Hong Kong by British for 100 years. If they can retrain/recover their Chineseness shortly after WW2, and being hailed as epitome of Chinese culture, I can't see how mainland China can't sustain its own culture from a 10 year madness.
Only thing I felt is probably I am personally less superstitious, thanks to the on paper atheism from the CCP.
Back to the 5K-year claim. It seems just rhetoric, but it actually enlarges unnecessary national pride, and then rhetoric becomes an unchallengeable truth. The "truth" then sounds so true that foreigners starts to believe it without hesitation.
Once I had a chat with an American friend, about Chinese character system and its ability to maintain information through the past five thousand years. I was astonished that nowadays some foreigners might still view East Asia as the mysterious Far East.
> In a new paper published Thursday in the journal Science, Wu and his colleagues describe geological evidence for a catastrophic flood on the Yellow River in about 1900 B.C. — right around the time the “Great Flood” was said to have taken place.
There are tons of cases of non-myth non-bullshit sites in China, and yes, unrecorded in traditional history.
- spices and condiments for chinese cooking,
- seeds, nuts, and canned vegetables that are not common here
- asian meat preparations like fish ball, vietnamese beef ball
I've been told many times by members of the older generation to never buy food made in China. Stories (rumors?) of plastic mushrooms and polluted ingredients abound.
It’s just too good to care.
It looks like this:
At Asian supermarkets, they should be less than $5. I usually see them them at Ranch 99 (a Chinese chain supermarket) for 3.99.
But the price can vary if you go to a predominantly Korean or Vietnamese supermarket.
I'm sure there are more in terms of processed food. I used to look at processed food packaging for babies and toddlers very closely. There are actually a lot of processed foods where the country of origin is just not listed. If you read carefully most of them just list the country where the food was packaged and not where the ingredients were sourced. When you call them to ask, their customer reps have no answer. Emails go unanswered as well. It could also be just be sourced locally, but they just suffer from a lackadaisical PR dept.
I wouldn't be surprised if cod & tilapia from China end up in the US restaurants and supermarkets as well
As a Russian I find chinese ultra-unrealism pretty wimpy. We've got cooler, more fierce stuff.
Then nobody was sure that this judge had ever study law. She said she went to some college in Georgia (the country) which said she's not on their records.
Often after some time evolution start to became for reaction an involution and if people in that country are lucky evolution+involution result after some time in a new stability "golden period", but that's rare...
Edit: actually, the English version appears to have been adapted significantly, providing details that would either require no explanation for a Chinese audience, or that could get the author into trouble with the authorities. But the version that the translation was actually based on might not be public.
That said, there's plenty of madness at loose in the world. When we in the US get our own house cleaned up, finger-pointing will see less absurd.
We could do with a lot more understanding and a lot less context-free outrage if we're gonna get through this century with the peace intact.
Maybe we should be talking more about the Iraq war in the USA, considering our actions led to the death of hundreds of thousands of people.
I contend the opposite: The only way to survive the next century is if we identify sources of death and misery, and (try) to hold leaders accountable to stamp them out.
And their big foreign policy power play consists of building infrastructure for other third world countries. Turns out you can do that for 10 countries cheaper than invading one.
Yet the popular opinion ever since dragonfly was proposed is that they're the worst country ever. How about some perspective?
We'll ignore the whole part about stealing everyone's intellectual property as a matter of business and that activity in the South China Sea. How about Taiwan?
>Yet the popular opinion ever since dragonfly was proposed is that they're the worst country ever.
People criticize their shitty actions because they are shitty. Nobody said they are the worst country at all. They just said that a company who cares about organizing the worlds information and not being evil shouldn't partake in oppressive censorship.
The Chinese actions in Xinjiang are an overreaction, and wrong, but:
1) Every western country has an equivalently bad record regarding reaction to terror attacks and/or separatist movements.
2) Nobody in the tech community cared until the dragonfly thing came up and they all went on wikipedia looking for reasons to hate China.
The way people talk about China these days reminds me of McCarthyism more than humanism. I have to wonder, if China were less successful, and the people were poorer, would they be less upset? They're fine with buying cheap goods, after all..
vs. stuff like
> yet the popular opinion ever since dragonfly was proposed is that they're the worst country ever.
> Nobody in the tech community cared until the dragonfly thing came up and they all went on wikipedia looking for reasons to hate China.
Nobody cared? Went on Wikipedia looking for reasons to hate China? Is anyone allowed to guess about the causes of such sophistry, or does that just go one way?
Maybe you want to take a crack at why?
How come China specifically rockets to the top of HN whenever someone finds some negative press? And why did it start after dragonfly was proposed?
But you're right that it's important. We've got to keep building up cultural connections and avoid a cold war. Everyone loses from that. It would be a travesty to give up the amazing human gains of the last 30 years.
And I can't say much about "hate pieces" or whatnot just yet, I only just started to track the rank, score, and comment count of HN stories. So far it seems to go both ways, both things critical of China and positive articles can get penalized. I started doing it because I was suspicious, but then I continued doing it because it helps me find interesting things I would otherwise not have seen (at least not on HN).
That was never higher than page 6 (the colored bands are pages). And frankly, that's a more interesting and solid article than anything else I saw on HN about that "CRISPR baby", including comments. Oh by the way, did you know the doctor is now missing? If you do, it's not thanks to HN:
This one had plenty traction, but wasn't allowed to run its course in peace either:
(all graphs go from right to left, dots are in 5 minute intervals, rising line is number of comments, and there green dots mean < 10 comments, yellow < 100, orange < 1000 comments)
To be fair, here's one example I spotted where something got flagged that was not critical of China, and while I can't judge the quality of the article compared to others on the subject, I would say it's a perfectly fine and interesting topic for HN:
It's too early to tell, ask me again in 3-6 months. Manipulation of public discourse, even if it's by said public itself, by groups flagging what they don't like, by definition has a public effect that can be measured. Drawing conclusions as to why something is happening is much harder than to find out whether it's happening, but even that will take time. Though the end result will probably be "it's a mess, all sorts of fuckery going on, impossible to tell where one sort of fuckery ends and the next one begins". I do not envy the moderators of this site, that's for sure. But it'll make pretty graphs so there's that.
For the stories I mentioned here's the "worst moments", first column is rank, second is age in minutes, third is score:
I'm trying to err on the side of caution where I can, eg. since a high number of commments can penalize a story IIRC, and I don't know what that number is, I only compare with stories that have less or same number of comments. One thing this can't account for is penalties for getting a lot of comments in a short amount of time (different from total number of comments), so I just ignore that. And instead of figuring out the actual age of a story, I take the "N minutes/hours/days ago" at face value. That also sometimes gets adjusted, here's an example of a very benign post:
The vertical line is the age jumping to a lower value than it had in the previous timestamp. If I had to guess, I would say this story was flagged by users, then the flags were removed by mods, and shortly after the age was lowered, because it was already too old so removing the flags didn't have much of an effect. Or maybe that's automatic, I have no idea.
Two more examples of adjusted age, though with these I recorded no instances of what I described initially (stories with lower score being higher and all that)
I have no conclusions at this point, but already the strong feeling that it'll be hard if not impossible to draw conclusions. One thing I want to try is to overlay the course of stories that "ran their course" (maybe haven't been seen in the top 10 pages for 3 days or so) into one image, but I need a whole lot more data for that to be useful. I ignore all stories that were already existing before I started this, so it's all still very sparse:
Notice the occasional shifting up of things, I have no idea what that is yet. The black "lines" are sponsored stories (like $company is hiring $position etc.), i.e. no data for that spot.
2) Most if not all of the china-haters display an astounding lack of context or cultural/historical awareness when talking about China. At their absolute best, they're presenting the xinjiang thing with no context and attempting to define the entire country with it (my wikipedia snark). Or reciting their 5th grade lessons about Russian communism as if that's relevant. At their worst.. it gets really ugly.
Here's what I think is going on: They're against dragonfly 'on principle', but then they hear the case about increased access for Chinese people being a net good. This causes dissonance. How to resolve it? Make the Chinese the bad guys. No more dissonance.
Those of us who know recent Chinese history are very suspicious of such ideological righteousness.
Google search might be convenient for citizens, but claiming that convenience outweighs the moral forfeiture of Google rubber stamping political censorship is a huge jump.
If you don't care about censorship, then it might be obvious to you that Google should move into China. It's not to people who care.
> then they hear the case about increased access for Chinese people being a net good. This causes dissonance.
Not for me, since it's not about "what's good for Chinese non-dissidents", it's about what people who aren't already complicit with totalitarianism must not make themselves complicit with. You can do what you want, but I'll withdraw my support. If someone is a friend with someone who normalizes totalitarianism, I won't be their friend. Nothing more, nothing less, and from where I'm sitting, not my loss at all. What you think turns it all around to a "net good" doesn't even register for me, it's like a few grams on one end of the scale, hundreds of tons on the other.
I'm the kind of humorless German who thinks Germans who "don't want to be bothered about history" should not be allowed to vote (well not literally, but I have no respect for what they are "comfortable" with, I respect history and the demands it places on us, on anyone who would call themselves intellectual doubly so). Compared to that, China and Google and the US have nothing to move me with. There isn't even anything there to hate, for me. They are noobs in a very real sense, never achieved basic mastery in anything I would consider crucial and the minimum, and now innoculate themselves against said mastery. I'm pretty sure that's the distinction between "noob" and "newbie". Oh, and everybody looking down on them is a "hater", can't possibly be someone who knows something they don't. It's always virtue-signalling, never virtue. What must not be can't be.
I can't speak for anyone else. But if you implicitly lump me together with someone I may utterly disagree with on a thousand things, then I'll talk back.
2 fluff pieces, and the story that the linked comment attached to flagged off the front page right quick.
Speak for yourself. I've been working on privacy projects like TOR for years and have been critical of the GFW since long before dragonfly.
>have to wonder, if China were less successful, and the people were poorer, would they be less upset
Nope. Probably even more upset. People aren't happy about North Korea either and North Koreans aren't rich. I'm happy Chinese citizens are doing better financially. I'm disappointed in their oppressive government.
Yes, we do. Anything gushing about a country always brings people out to point out the flaws in fawning over it. The only thing that seems to be unique is using whataboutisms in criticisms of pro-china articles as if the Iraq war excuses abhorrent behavior in China.
Again, the US constantly fucks up, but that has nothing to do with criticism of China on an article about China.
In recent years I have been seeing this over and over, not just in China but also in the West. Two examples are the rise of Trump and Brexit.
China has a new approach to control. It's not Orwellian. It's not the USSR's. It's not a police state. It's a new thing. It's the gamification of authoritarianism.
The previous system of control was run through the "work unit", when almost everybody worked for the state. The party mostly acted through work supervisors, rather than cops. That started to come apart once there were more private employers. The social credit system is an attempt to get back that level of control. It's going to be interesting to see how this works out.
And like all gamification systems, it's already being gamed.
The citizens and enforcers who figure out the tricks win, everyone else suffers, and resentment builds.