For example, China never had the Magna Carta event that Western civilization had centuries ago, enabling a foundationally disparate view of government and society eons ago.
This is not a criticism of you. It's an explanation why you can't understand. You need to transplant yourself into Chinese history to understand its people. That in turn will help you understand its domestic policy, economic policy, foreign policy, and more.
Have gone through that process myself, lived in China for almost a decade now. I also didn't get it at the beginning. I'm an overall China bear, think its final destination is to be like Japan, but mainly due to secular trends beyond China's control. That doesn't stop me from figuring out things that I didn't know before. It's weirdly educational, as I didn't realize how intellectually arrogant, ignorant, and unwilling to consider other perspectives I was before. Perhaps still am. :)
America for instance is perceived to be a more dangerous place to live. By official numbers (which is what people see), you're much more likely to be raped or murdered in a big American city than in a Chinese one. The streets aren't covered with homeless people, used needles and human faeces in China. You don't get $x0,000 healthcare bills for simple procedures in China. Big Chinese cities don't have "no-go zones". Your kids won't be bullied for academic success, they'll be bullied for academic failure. Your kids are much less likely to be exposed to hard drugs and drug users in high school. Sure, this may not actually be due to the efforts of the authoritarian government, but that doesn't stop people crediting the government for it.
Europe is also seen as dangerous. There is no political correctness in China, and many middle class Chinese fall relatively far to the right of the political spectrum by western standards, viewing Europe as a failing state ravaged by Muslim immigrants and undermined by its coddling welfare policies. A Chinese friend, who grew up in a relatively poor part of China but is now stably middle-class, recently went on holiday to Italy, and one of the first things they said when they returned was that they were shocked by how poor everybody seemed there.
For ambitious Chinese, many feel they have a bigger chance of making it big in China. Count the number of ethnically Chinese tech company CEOs in Chinese companies vs US companies, for instance. The "bamboo ceiling" is not present in China, and due to the population the sheer number of job opportunities for professionals is bigger than most other countries can offer.
You were expecting Chinese tech companies to mostly have non-Chinese CEOs? ;)
Would you dare to criticize the government if you were in their position? This video does a great job at illustrating the situation your Chinese friends face: https://vimeo.com/44078865
A number of my Chinese friends are well-educated, and many of them received masters degrees from top universities in the US. Many of them make 6-figure salaries when converted to USD, working for the likes of IBM, Tesla, and Walmart, as well as your usual Chinese big companies and smaller startups. But I honestly do not see a lot of difference in the opinion proportions when I compare my rich, educated friends with my poor, non-educated friends.
Look, I'm a Christian, right? As a Christian, I'm very well aware of what my Chinese friends could face, especially my Christian Chinese friends, if they cross the government. I know what's happened in the past too. It's a complex situation where yes, some people are afraid. But in my experience, the afraid people are outnumbered by people who are satisfied and very optimistic. And many of my friends who are satisfied are not blindly satisfied. Again, they're educated, intelligent, and aware. They see that the future is complex and have chosen to agree that the government's current policies are mostly the best way forward. They can match me hit for hit in any debate.
Again, when I did a deep dive into Chinese history, I started to see very deep currents that influenced why China's domestic policies, economic policies, and foreign policies are what they are today, and why they make sense in this context. Would I ever want to become a Chinese citizen? No, I can't agree with a lot of this stuff. I just understand it better than I used to.
A friend of mine who got his masters in environmental science at Texas A&M said to me, "The west thought that we needed democracy and freedoms to be happy. Honestly, we just wanted a better standard of living, we don't need that other stuff." The actual comprehensive sentiments of my friends are of course a bit more complex, but one of the commenters here who speaks as an African empathizes quite well with this general sentiment.
If the economy every collapsed into oblivion, I guess we might see another revolution. China has had a lot of them in the last 100 years. But these guys mostly have confidence in their government. They feel things are getting better, not worse, and they feel this will continue. That's just a survey of my friends from all walks of Chinese life.
I don't think anything is gained going back and forth here. You have your set of friends who tell you one thing, and I have my set of friends who tell me something else. I think it's easier for me to believe my set of friends, as I think they're quite a diverse group across multiple demographic dimensions. If your friends are likewise so diverse, I don't know, what should I say? For whatever reason, the two of us are being told different things by people we trust.
That is kind of the stalemate isn't it? But I'm just wondering, what are you actually advocating here?
I don't think you're advocating for authoritarian rule generally as you mention you wouldn't want to become a Chinese citizen yourself.
I think you're advocating for people to learn Chinese history and that the CCP's decisions would make sense in that context.
I do know a bit about Chinese history and their government's decisions do make sense in historical context (as did Stalin's decisions), but they are still bad decisions made by practically evil people.
They are an authoritarian government. The people are happy living under authoritarian rule? Fine, Stockholm syndrome is a thing. That still doesn't make authoritarian rule OK in my opinion. Some may differ on that, but I actually would go so far as to say "authoritarian governments are bad" full stop. And yes it's a sliding scale in that the US is authoritarian in many ways, I'm not ok with that either. I think China's people are in an abusive relationship with their government; many of them are so abused that they've come to love their abuser, or think they do. A whole society trading their freedom for gold and rationalizing it any way they can. But do we actually disagree?
edit: This reminds me of a business case about cross-cultural work I had to learn for my MBA. It is amazing how much a real-life company failed in China only simply because lack of cultural understanding led to immense distrust between the two parties, even though both parties really actually wanted to work with each other. But their cultural ignorance could only lead them to both believe that they couldn't trust each other, as they were completely misunderstanding each other's messages and signals. I can see that happening in general when analyzing another person's society. The point of the case was that cultural misunderstanding tends to lead to negative assumptions, rather than benefit of the doubt. :endedit
I am definitely mostly saying that I've learned that the world has a lot more nuance than I realized when I was younger, and that we'd all do well if we realized that. It allows for better dialogue among people, especially with those who are different from us. For example, I imagine if Americans can figure that out, the American government and society will be much stronger; instead, there just seems to be an insane amount of partisanship that makes things worse, and no way to cross the aisle and bridge the gap.
I will say that despite all the issues I have with the Chinese government, I will not say that "authoritarian governments are bad" full stop. I used to think like that. I don't anymore after realizing how the world is not so black and white. If we demonize a third party, it is easier to not understand the third party. The people responsible for deradicalizing ISIS converts that ran away from Europe are able to understand deeper root causes. They don't just hate people for joining ISIS, nor do they just simply hate ISIS. They are able to understand the other side, and it is because of their expansive knowledge and empathy that they are able to communicate with such people.
As Ender Wiggin once said: "In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it's impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves."
Martin Jacques is an excellent scholar who I think understands China really, really well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imhUmLtlZpw
I just don't buy this moral relativism.
In some societies, it's ok to beat your wife. But I think to normalize this behavior as a simple difference in cultural practices would be doing a disservice to the global political discourse and the larger concept of human rights.
Concepts like "due process" and "freedom of speech" are maybe less clear cut than "Is it ok to beat your wife?" But are they really? I think every society ought to have those things. They are major political innovations to come about over the last few hundred years. To do otherwise would be a regression. Yes that's a judgment. So is "beating your wife isn't ok". Understanding why someone beats their wife doesn't make it better either. It's just something that you shouldn't do.
As far as governments, disappearing people for saying mean things about the president is something that they shouldn't do. There's nothing to understand, they just shouldn't do it. I don't think this should be a controversial opinion. It's possible to understand different cultures while still standing up for what I would consider to be basic human rights and due process. I'm lucky I can do that from here, because to do so in China would be a jailable offense.
Change it from beat your wife to spank your children in clear cases of wanton disobedience to make my logic easier to digest. I wouldn't spank my future kids. My wife definitely won't, and she has an even stronger opinion than I do on it. But my parents spanked me when I misbehaved. Did that make them bad parents? Should I paint them evil? If I want them to change for when they babysit my future kids, does it help to paint them evil? It certainly won't open any dialogs. It would close the dialog. And understanding why they spanked me from a cultural and historical perspective allows me to better have that dialog with them.
Look, my original point was simply this: I reported that many of my Chinese friends did not feel horrified or afraid of their government. Though they know there are issues, they are for the most part satisfied. We've really gone on a tangent to talk about some of my own opinions, but I do think it's always good to have dialog with others anyway.
When I talk about how Chinese history affected my understanding of current Chinese government policies, I am talking about 5000 years of Chinese history, not the small blip that is post-Mao.
You could try to be a voice for the voiceless, rather than another chair on their neck.
> My Chinese friends who like the job their government is doing outweigh my Chinese friends who don't.
They don't, not to me, and not ever. Not even a million such people can "outweigh" one dissident who gets tortured.
> When you speak of me doing a great disservice, it speaks of a moral superiority in your mind.
And when you have a problem with that, you assume some kind of moral weight on your behalf, just because you'd like to have it, yet you offer nothing but "more people are fine with it than resist it", after decades of murder, no less.
Secondly, outweigh here simply means outnumber. If that was unclear, I'm sorry. But I will say that Chinese people with whom I speak are sick of hearing westerners claim the moral high ground when they see what western countries do around the world to both other countries and their own citizens, and I have to admit they have a point. Pot, meet kettle.
Thirdly, there is a difference between (1) claiming to have or accusing others of having moral high ground and (2) simply acknowledging that different well-thought-out opinions exist.
Look, I'm done with this topic on this thread, OK? If you seriously want to discuss it in detail, you're welcome to DM me on Twitter, my username is my username. I'm always up for a lengthy discussion about anything, though I shall go to sleep now, given the time zone here. :)
Yes I know, but that's still meaningless. Many people having an opinion is the same as one person having it.
> Chinese people with whom I speak are sick of hearing
Let them argue, or be sick of it. There's people sick of being tortured, there's murdered people literally without number because they weren't counted, who are utterly expelled from humanity and just shrugged off, while their murderers have banquets, there's mountains of work about totalitarianism, these things don't budge one inch in my mind even if all 7+ billion people on the planet were "sick of hearing about it". That just demonstrates how little they know, that they think that even begins to matter.
> when they see what western countries do around the world to both other countries and their own citizens
Yes, that means I don't say yes to more of it. More here https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19187297 and here https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19227920
> Pot, meet kettle.
So I can't make "assumptions" about you, but you can simply equate me with "Westerners" first, and then those in turn with the worst Westerners do or tacitly approve of? Come on. I'm the kind of guy who without any irony demands an arrest warrant for Blair and Bush, to start with. What I say doesn't make it happen, but that doesn't mean this Westerner isn't on the barricades about all sorts of stuff, for nearly 2 decades now. You don't even have the faintest idea how readily I criticize "my own", and how much of my life I dedicate to it.
So now I should make an exception for Chinese totalitarianism? No. I actually know an elderly person who was robbed by a gang of people who were traced back to China by the police, I'm already being attacked by what you think should be left to fester.
> If the totalitarian conqueror conducts himself everywhere as though he were at home, by the same token he must treat his own population as though he were a foreign conqueror.
-- Hannah Arendt
This is the reason why European and American colonialism HAS to lead to internal repression. It's also the reason why the totalitarianism in China HAS to spill out. The whole world is at at stake, and has been at stake for a long time now, people get born into that process without being aware of it, and consider free fall a nice sensation. They actually think Our Big Brother protects them from the differently colored Their Big Brother (and then we have little sub-poles within those to identify with and kill all our thought and agency with), instead of them being the walls between which all of life will get crushed, utterly and irrevocably, if we don't stop playing games. That's what I see, though it would take more time and space than we have here to unpack. China, with all its history, and all its people in it, currently or ever, is but a speck in light of all that. So is the US, Europe, anything or anyone you could mention. That's "where I'm coming from".
> simply acknowledging that different well-thought-out opinions exist
Then show the thought! That a lot of people share it or are "sick" of this or that, isn't anything. And it stands against a giant corpus.
> Look, I'm done with this topic on this thread, OK?
I understand, this can be exhausting and I kinda barged in with a chip on my shoulder late to the party. But I'm done with Twitter before I ever started with it :P So take care, don't take it personally.
My stance can be summed up as, I want to be able to look at least Sophie Scholl into the eye without blinking or blushing -- anything and anyone else, no matter how numerous, is secondary, those are mere contemporaries. We'll all be gone in 100 years, and while I don't claim any objective claim to anything, my outlook is a lot longer than 100 years, and lot wider than the super thin slice of people who happen to be currently living. And while we can't really fathom what future fates could hinge on our decisions, and it may be moot to even enter that into consideration, that still at least hangs there in the background of my mind, like some vague amorphous cloud.
That is very sad. :/
That's what visibility controls are for. You don't have to let everyone see what you post, and I have many friends who use that to post things critical of the Chinese government, mostly on topics like censorship or the relationship to Taiwan, especially when the referendum on gay marriage was in the news.
Did you get bull/bear mixed up, or do you not like Japan?
edit: If you want to see a really bearish outlook for Japan, see the issues with their population decline. If they don't figure out marriage, birth rates, or immigration, they will have a lot of problems in the future. They're already having problems. I think Japan will figure it out. But no way you can say that Japan currently looks like it has a good future.
And if immigration becomes the solution, Japan just becomes more of a cultural term, rather than an ethnic term. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but Japan already tried to do that before, and gave up.
But here they go again, and again for mostly less skilled work, I guess.
Well, a lot of them were rather close to that before the revolution. I mean, it's one thing to "not starve" and quite another to have your living standards raised substantially. People are happy to give up freedom for better living standards. Imagine if you could live two, three wealth/social classes higher than your current one, and all you need to give up is your right to criticize the government. That's pretty tempting to me, and I'm sure to a lot of other people as well.
I think the best antidote is to steadily improve living conditions. Don't keep your lower class in intergenerational poverty and all that.
What’s more officially it’s “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era" Read it, they really believe it. I know people are having a hard time believing it because it’s anathema to them.
And, in HK, people are rather worried about the future and what will happen in the coming years.
Then why pursue them? Why back leaders that do useless things?
At some point along this line of though, you have to admit that your leaders aren't working in the interest of the great majority of citizens if what they're doing is not effective and if they don't step aside because of that...
> The concerns are warranted, but the interest approaches zero in the culture here.
Sounds like the same kind of apathy that westerners react to many serious topics with.
I think we have a lot more in common than not. Your leaders sound just like ours and so does your average persons reaction to their policies.
tbh seeing how there actually IS a middle class in china now, and it's in the hundreds of millions now and is growing, it's hard to argue that it's not "effective" for "the great majority". That's quite an accomplishment.
(The treatment of this in Three Body Problem is fascinatingly oblique, for example)
Different kind of firewall
Thanks for the comment though, it's nice to know that someone heard what I was saying.
I must have... The last ones I remember are from like 2014, and as I recall there wasn't much signal in the noise. Feel free to link me to the most recent discussion (DDG shows me nothing - zero results - for the past month when I search "surveillance" on this site, no idea why).
While it might not be a prerequisite, isn't it sort of important context? Because I haven't seen any signs of improvement on this front, while I've seen a very sharp rise in the number of China related posts.
> "you point out that the poster has an interest in stories about China, but not how that's a problem."
I mean, if this site and it's users want to talk about China that much more than the US that's fine, but how is it a problem for me to point that out? And is it perhaps a little disingenuous to call a consistent 40% China related post history with over an 80% negative connotation "an interest in stories about China"?
In the past month there have been 51 articles with the term "surveillance" in the title, though that's not a metric I would use.
I'd not like to see this normalised.
But I heartily encourage you to try it, and let me know how it works out for you. Perhaps you can get away with it by making 51% of your posts about random tech debris.
Deepwater Horizon, where reporters, scientists, and anyone with a camera were barred from the entire area.
The Dakota Access Pipeline, where Stingrays were used to prevent news getting out, and no mainstream reporter went for days.
Coverage of Sanders' 2016 campaign, where he had roughly 5% of the coverage Trump got.
Whistle-blowers getting exiled / jailed while the whistle-blowees walk free.
The no-fly list, which you could end up on without any due process, and have no way to appeal.
There is no shortage of examples... if you look. I even seem to remember certain important stories getting removed from various social media forums...
"The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum" - that's a system.
That dismissal is too easy. OP has noticed the disparity in news output regarding the matter. China as well as other countries have an established surveillance creep problem. I read OP's question as: "unless the problem in solved in those other countries, why is it mainly China in the news now?" and not "We didn't solve the problem, so we're not allowed to criticise China", which would be "whataboutism".
> And I don't think there is anything in the world that can compare to what China
Who knows? At least China is transparent about it. Other countries have cracked down so hard on whistle-blowers that it's become impossible to know what's going on in secret.