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How is China able to provide enough food to feed over 1B people? (quora.com)
594 points by carapace 27 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 330 comments



The country I don't understand how they do it is Bangladesh. A country the size of New York State with 164 million people. (50% of the US population). As I understand it, they generate 90% of the food they require.


The answers below are misleading by omission. While being on a river delta makes for fertile land, Bangladesh was nowhere near food independent a few decades ago. It was made so due to modern crop varieties and modern farming methods:

> During the last two decades and a half, important changes occurred in the realm of rice production and profitability. First, the cost of producing rice is several times higher than potato but the rate of profit is more than double for potato. Second, the yield of wheat, jute and potato has increased over time but the yield of rice has almost doubled from 2.16 t/ha in 1988 to 3.7 t/ha in 2000 and about 4.6 t/ha in 2014.

More than a factor of almost four increase in the yield of a staple crop that has been grown in that region for a thousand years is a technological miracle.


You raise a very good point about the increase in yield, but the reason Bangladesh has so many people in the first place is the fertile land. The lack of self-sufficiency in recent times may be due to the famines caused during the British Raj era.


No, that’s not possible because of population growth.


From the wikipedia[0]:

>The country is notable for its soil fertility land, including the Ganges Delta, Sylhet Division and the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Agriculture is the largest sector of the economy, making up 18.6 percent of Bangladesh's GDP in November 2010 and employing about 45 percent of the workforce.[233] The agricultural sector impacts employment generation, poverty alleviation, human resources development and food security. More Bangladeshis earn their living from agriculture than from any other sector. The country is among the top producers of rice (fourth), potatoes (seventh), tropical fruits (sixth), jute (second), and farmed fish (fifth).

[0]:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bangladesh#Economy


The information is outdated and no longer true: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Textile_industry_in_Bangladesh


The reason so many people live there is precisely because they generate so much food. The ganges delta is perfect for farming rice (sans climate change)


Easy answer: Ganga-Bramhaputra delta (I do not know what they call it in Bangladesh).

To get a perspective: look at the map of egypt and map of their population density. Half the country is pretty much in Nile Delta and most of the rest is along Nile.


The subcontinent, and especially India and Bangladesh, have ridiculous amounts of arable land. India has more than any other country in the world.


But the dependence on monsoon balances it out, even makes it lopsided, except may be in some northern parts that rely on snow fed rivers.


besides the US


According to Wikipedia[1] the title goes back and forth. In 2012, the latest year for which the article has numbers, India had more. Despite being 1/4th the size of the US.

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arable_land


didn't know that! Thanks.


A slight sea level rise will cripple farming in a large part of Bangladesh. I'm not optimistic about their future.


What can we do as computer scientists to best militate this risk and protect human life?


Make sure the Bengali alphabet is working in whatever software you are doing.


Even better create robust Bengali NLP models.


How does that help? I'm being serious in asking.


It makes IT tools more accessible to the common person in Bangladesh. More likely to use it correctly, to master it.


Almost certainly, nothing. Wrong skill set.


Maybe not directly but software engineers are in a good position this days to find work easily and get a good salary. Maybe support financially organizations that fight global warming?


Ask yourself in Bengali: "Dil ki doya?" (Translated: Is there mercy in your heart?)


Pay for their plane tickets out of there


It is up to their alley. Giving birth to less children, raising them better, solving poverty. Knowing Bangladesh, unlikely


Or they could maintain the same birth rate and use technology that was well understood before anyone in this board was born. Huge portions of the Low Countries have been prosperous and below sea level for centuries. It requires dykes, ditches, windmills and uninterrupted competent engineering organisations. Dutch history shows that’s adequate for keeping land 2m below sea level inhabited and rich. Any rise greater than that and they might have to break out technology more advanced than windmills. It’s a massive engineering challenge but unless Bangladesh is built on limestone so the bedrock is porous it’s an engineering challenge that WWII technology would have been sufficient to.


Unfortunately the geology and geography of Bangladesh means that dikes won't be effective. What worked in the Netherlands won't work there.

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/the-unfoldin...

Closer to home, South Florida will eventually have similar problems. The whole region sits on permeable limestone so dikes are pointless.


It's all but certainly too late for birthrate changes alone to reduce population within the anticipated timeframe.

That leaves emigration or mortality increases, barring further food miracles.


Yes, regards water level it won't do much (I missed parent's point), but it doesn't hurt to have less children and give them better education vs the way it is now.


It has a lot to do with the Asian diet, this includes India and Pakistan too.

Most people in those countries do not consume large amount of meat, massively reducing their need for large amount of agricultural land.

Soil fertility is just part of the equation, does not explain Egypt, Pakistan and a multitude of other countries.


FYI India has more arable land than USA at the moment: https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/AG.LND.ARBL.HA?end=2016...


yes.. and also three times the people


It isnt a competition. The point I was trying to make is that India not only has highly fertile land, but also a lot of it to theoretically feed its people without relying on others.

As you said, US has only a 3rd of the population. This is probably the reason they are the largest exporters of food in the world.


That says 6x less per person


>Most people in those countries do not consume large amount of meat

You clearly haven’t been to Pakistan anytime recently


Chinese farm productivity is shite, and the government knows it.

It is true that the state throws absolutely colossal amount of resources on geoengineering and agriculture, yet to little effect.

China is nowhere near Holland or other advanced agriculture player in calories production per unit of labour.

Out of close to a 100 officials I went by through my career, I only managed to befriend two. From those two, I barely know in the most generalised terms of what is happening in top tiers.

Agriculture meetings are alleged to be the non-stop shit show, an every day crisis, and a way to demotion for the prime majority of cadres put on the agri committees, as most of them fail at the task.

Provincial level party executives all send their deputies instead of themselves to them as they fear demotion and penalties if they say something silly at those meetings.

Chinese bureaucracy does not deserve much credit there. Were that much of money be given to just anybody moderately competent, China would've long beaten even Holland on that.


I don't think that calories production per unit of labour is a big concern when you don't export produce and you've got access to so much labor and a socialist economy where food prices are fixed and jobs are all but guaranteed.

The Dutch have a stronger focus on produce export and a higher income per capita, so they have to be a lot more efficient in order to be competitive in the global economy.


calories per unit labour is a good measure of how advanced the agriculture tech is. Just because labour is cheap, doesn't mean it's efficient - and imagine if that labour could be spent on other things (while still maintining the output).


I understand that, but China is still industrializing and has an enormous abundance of labor. They have over 425 million farmers (and a decade ago, that number was 700 million). At achievable efficiency, that could easily be done by as few as 50 to 100 million, but then there just wouldn't be any available jobs for the other 300+ million people. China is already using workers in massive unneeded building projects and has an army of over 2 million soldiers and who knows what else, just to keep the unemployment down.

A higher produce efficiency is not only not needed, it is unwanted. Full labor market participation is of much more value to the Chinese right now than the efficiency of the produce industry.


One thing that's not mentioned is that the freshness and variety of produce available in China is fantastic. There's much less refrigeration and transportation, so there's a good chance the produce you buy at the local street market came from nearby fields very recently. Seeing this as a visitor from the US is quite a revelation.


That's especially true for seafood.

Chinese love seafood and fish, they consume quite a bit of it as hinted by the article. But they usually also want to buy it alive.

Therefore in supermarkets and even restaurants you usually have tanks with live fish, crabs, etc. As fresh food as can be.

Regarding vegetables, the north is actually not that north by European standards and is sunny in winter (Beijing is at the same latitude as Ibiza...). This means that in places like Beijing they can have solar greenhouses that can produce fresh, local vegetables all year long even when it's freezing outside (winters are much colder than in Europe).

See for example: https://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2015/12/reinventing-the-gree...


It's mentioned in the section where the author discusses the wide use of greenhouses to grow produce.


Which places did you visit, and observed this?

I bet it's characteristic for large cities where the amount of produce consumed is large, and prices are higher.


Beijing, Xi'an, Chengdu, and a handful of villages nearby them. Also some roadside farmer stalls in between. I'm sure the quality and variety vary, but the sample I saw was impressive.


The government offers subsidy to the farmers to ensure base supplies such as rice to be kept low priced. Usually the farmers in China cannot complete with the farmers in the US in terms of cost, coz the local prices are not determined by free market but by the gov. I see this as a benefit of big government (but bad for the local farmers)


> and prices are higher.

If it's anything like Chinatown produce in the U.S., it will be quite cheap:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/why-fruits-and-veggies-are-so-c...


The author has made no efforts to hide the fact that he's a China apologetic and CCP propagation puppet. The fact is that the majority of the country's rice and corns are imported (from SE Asia or N/S America), which are Chinese main calory source. Another often overlooked fact is that China has built a vast crops storage network across the nation, for the fact that a small interruption in food supply chain could cause huge humanitarian disaster, and the new crops will rotate out old stale crops, which are barely eatable but sure, they're better than nothing. Most Chinese even have no idea of this, that their daily rice supplies are usually 5+ yrs old, unless you pay a premium to buy them from Whole Food equivalent super markets in China.


> Most Chinese even have no idea of this, that their daily rice supplies are usually 5+ yrs old

Even during the Maoist period 'new rice' was given out/sold once a year for celebration. Everyone was aware they were eating rotated granary rice.

Storing crops against famine (and eating the old, stored grain) is an ancient tradition [1] dating back to at least 6000 BC, and in China, guarding against famine was one of the earliest tasks of the Chinese proto-state.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Granary


" most of the population in India claim to be vegetarians"

At most a third of India is vegetarian.

http://theconversation.com/the-myth-of-a-vegetarian-india-10...


Sure, but even among the remaining 2/3rds, meat consumption is much lower, compared to other regions where they typically eat meat every meal.


Thanks for sharing. Awesome writing style by the author!


This whole post has a Factorio vibe of x->y->z, I'd read a blog from this author just breaking down infrastructure.


You should check this out. Same author. He has quality answers on Quora.

https://www.quora.com/As-a-Chinese-person-what-do-you-think-...


Completely agree. The form of this quora answer is as interesting as the content itself.


What's also overlooked is that China went through one of the worst man made famines in history, and the government has internalized many of the lessons (paid in blood) from that affair.


The author has other great answers in a similar structure too!

https://www.quora.com/profile/Janus-Dongye-Qimeng


The author writes well, but presents an unbalanced, Mainland-Chinese-Propagandist views. This does not make for "great answers".

Also.... who is asking the questions?


true, I can stomach the propaganda, but that aside, the way he links each chunk of the story together is really fun. Hes like a college professor that I would of loved to have , where every lecture was a mini adventure.


One of them that has very interesting tidbits: https://www.quora.com/As-a-Chinese-person-what-do-you-think-...


Wow, Japan consumes more seafood then all of the US states combined and the EU countries combined? That’s amazing.


Japan has 50% more coastline than the United States.

Where I sit, 1000km from an ocean, seafood is pretty remote. Sure, it gets flown in and flash frozen isn't horrible, but it isn't fresh.


A lot seafood is flash frozen these days, even next to the coast and even in japan. It’s just the best way to deal with parasites. I don’t think you can eat sashimi in the USA that hasn’t been flash frozen.


lake/river fish usually have parasites and must be cooked.

I was under the impression that ocean fish don't have the same level of parasites.

You would never eat a catfish raw.



Those sat shots totally remind me of the intro to the blade runner where they show the densely packed structures https://i2.wp.com/rosettedelacroix.com/wp-content/uploads/20...


The question should really be "How are many national economies keeping innumerable people hungry, even though there's plenty of food to go around several times over?"

In most places in the world it's easy and cheap enough to produce food and distribute it. Actually, it's so easy and cheap that many world states artificially subsidize agriculture/livestock farming/etc. to prevent them from collapsing due to low prices.


Because powers that be want control more than they want happy, well-fed, even productive population.

Ask any organizers of international food programs. In most cases local authorities will demand that they, not the international do-gooders, distributed the food. When they get hold of that food, they keep it under lock and key and distribute in a way that supports the existing power / social status structure, not in a way that helps most hungry people. Some food could even rot unused, but not given away to the hungry.

The problem is not a lack of food. The problem is that certain power structures emerged on top of traditional food-deficient economy, perpetuate it to stay in power, and can't be fixed by injection of food from the outside.


Reminds me of Russia today which banned certain import of food (like Parmesan for example and many others) then publicly and demonstratively destroyed it, airing on state TV, using trucks etc. Even few live goats got under truck. That's the most surreal thing I've seen.

Meanwhile we have people who die from hunger.


Anytime you give a person group the ability to distribute necessary goods, you will organically create a patronage system.

That patronage system will out-compete other, non-patronage systems, because it will have a stronger internal power base.

There are only 2 classes of solution that work here, where “work” = “not accidentally create/enable a patronage scheme”:

1. Impose power from outside, non-locally. This is generally frowned on, as it’s basically colonialism.

2. Withhold the flow of outside aid, as this takes away the resources the local power structure is free-riding on to sustain its power base. This is also generally frowned on, as it feels like useful resources are being withheld.

Because both solutions are unacceptable, the status quo and its power structures persist.


Doesn't the fact that they're subsidized to keep them from collapsing due to low prices mean the opposite of it being easy and cheap?

If the subsidies were removed, the farmers/etc would need to raise their prices to pay for whatever the subsidies paid. That new higher price would reflect the real cost of production. The subsidies are there to keep prices low and accessible despite a higher cost of production.


Well if you take corn for instance, we use a large portion of that to create high fructose corn syrup. The government subsidizes it to keep prices low, so that it's cheap enough to stick in everything from soft drinks to salad dressing to bread. We don't actually need all that sugar; it's keeping Americans fat and unhealthy. But I'll leave you to draw the obvious conclusions about what a fat sugar-addicted population does for revenue.


We also turn the corn into ethanol and force everyone to add it to their auto fuel, and they want to increase that amount. Which is, in essence, forcing everyone to burn corn.


Is it really that much of an evil scheme? Isn't it just dating back to sugar tariffs? Wasn't sugar the first tariff in the history of the US?

It seems more like it's just an entrenched industry. Corn especially now that it's tied up in gassoline and Trump's trade war.


> Is it really that much of an evil scheme ... seems more like it's just an entrenched industry

Same thing, really. Entrenched industries usually find themselves a nice feedback loop and dig in. The nature of capitalism allows them to ignore any negative externalities of their product. They ship out corn-sugar and dollars roll in. They don't deal with the realities of diabetes and heart disease caused by their products. Heart disease is the #1 killer in this country. Diabetes is #7. If we want any hope at combating this, we need less sugar in this country. But big sugar is indifferent to this, and that's where the evil comes in. In fact, they know this is happening, but the calculus is clear.


Thats not an example of an economic externality. Externalities are about effects on third parties not involved in the trade.

The problem here quite simply is that people kove sugar. Arguble some historical regulatory mistakes made suger consumtion too high but the primary reason is people demand.


An externality is a cost someone incurs that they didn't consciously choose. They can absolutely be involved in the trade. For one thing, excessive sugar intake is a blight on children. Childhood obesity is an epidemic on this country fueled by the corn industry. Excessive HFCS is in everything from applesauce to bread to juice boxes. It's hard to argue children are actively involved in the trade.

But it applies to adults too who purchase the goods. Most people if you ask them don't realize how much sugar is in the food they consume, and they don't understand the connection between sugar consumption and heart disease. No one chooses heart disease.

People can read a percentage or a gram count on the packaging, sure, but the nature of sugar is that of addiction. It's not just that people like sugar, it's that we are wired to want to consume it, and Big Sugar takes advantage of that by loading a surprising amount of our food with too much of it. Many people are surprised to learn their bread has sugar in it. Even with soda they are surprised just how much is in a can if you measure it out physically on the table in front of them. People aren't well-informed about what they are consuming and the long term health related effects, and even if they are they are too addicted to stop. Big Sugar knows this and takes full advantage, because millions of people dying every year does not affect their bottom line (and they can easily replace their old, dead customers with new, young ones)


Yep, but small nit. Farmers don’t really “raise their prices”. With commodities you can’t really raise your prices. You either sell at the market price or sit on it. And sitting on it is really dangerous with perishable commodities.

Look at mines, oil companies, etc for other examples of industries with participants lacking the ability to raise their prices.


Yes, that's why the subsidies are there, to keep them from collapsing. Raising their prices when the subsidies are removed is a hypothetical scenario to highlight what the real cost of production probably is. In reality, they'd probably realize that it's hopeless to even try.


World-wide more people die from the "side effects" (i.e., obesity) of too much food, than not enough food.

https://www.pri.org/stories/2014-11-28/more-people-die-eatin...


Junk food is not "real" food


Any single food in inappropriate quantities can be called junk food, any food eaten in moderation and with variety can be appropriately nutritious...


In the world of abstract logic, perhaps. In practical reality, no.

Some foods are just more nutritious than others, and some foods cause more trouble than the nutrients that they provide. There is junk food that is just based on empty calories and toxic elements that then have to be worked on by the body to just remove (much more so than other food). You could say that junk food is perhaps better than no food, if someone is really starving. But it does not magically become good for you because you eat it "in moderation and variety".


FYI: “toxic elements” is a quack term when it comes nutrition. Everything is poisonous (i.e. “toxic”) at the right dosage level.

Also, a “nutrient” is just something that promotes growth and provides energy. That makes olive oil and sticks of butter a lot more “nutrient rich” than a pile of broccoli. Nobody will survive on the latter alone.


Regardless. Death is death. And while we have traditionally feared shortage, the truth is excess - albeit of the wrong "foods" - is now the bigger problem.


Yes, although it's globalizing a pretty big problem. What you said is absolutely true in countries that are adopting a more modern western diet (eg. those upping their intake of processed foods, more meat, tobacco/alcohol, etc. + a bunch of factors around things like AIDS, malaria, diarrhoea, etc. not killing them before those things have a chance to do so which all usually take much longer.

If we're talking about many countries in sub saharan Africa for instance though, I'd say shortage is still a problem and probably going to get worse with climate change since Africa is particularly vulnerable (literally read an article about this yesterday but can't find the link right now)


> "How are many national economies keeping innumerable people hungry, even though there's plenty of food to go around several times over?"

I never see this question on TV. What I mainly see on Tv is talk about political strategies, result surveys and the like. Climate change is one of the few things that I see being discussed. And even that has a lot of this let's talk about politicians positions and poll results.

I want to see more about how to improve the world. Does anyone know any good on-line resources about this? Because mass media is doing a poor job. And we need them to do a better job.


https://thebreadbook.org/ - Peter Kropotkin argues that there's now enough industrial capability to feed, shelter, and clothe everyone, but this capability is poorly distributed. Notably he wrote this over 100 years ago.

https://global.oup.com/academic/product/no-shortcuts-9780190... - Jane F. McAlevey examines the difference between the ineffective activism of the last 40 years and successful movements like the Civil Rights Movement and the industrial labor movement. Her work is also explained well in this interview - https://www.currentaffairs.org/2019/04/jane-mcalevey-on-how-...


>Notably he wrote this over 100 years ago.

Is that notable in a good way or bad way? Anything written for the population densities and totals 100 years ago is woefully out of date.

100 years ago there were homesteaders in the western US who were given free acres of land just for being there.


A huge part of Kropotkin's arguments are about what's possible with the technology of the time. This is even more relevant now with 100 years of improvements. It's a strong contrast to the futurist "everything will get better by default because technology."

Population densities are higher now but Kropotkin was writing before the green revolution. Our capability to feed everyone has grown dramatically in the intervening time


Opinion:

The tough truth is that improving the world at that scale is mostly about politics. Politics is how the nations allocate resources to problems.

You maybe want them to talk about the technical fundamentals of the problem but the important bit is usually the politics.

[A sibling comment says to look at TED talks. This is an excellent idea. Then, after a couple of years, ask why none of the solutions have been implemented, and you are ready to get interested in the politics.]


In the 1950s, building a moonbase would have been an engineering and technological challenge.

Today, it's basically a political and economics challenge, to convince enough people it would be worth while to spend the time and effort to do it. Which is not to say there wouldn't be engineers involved, solving new problems, but we already know enough of the solutions that it's not really the sticking point now.

(Which is to agree with you, a lot of things are organizational problems at this point.)


> "Today, it's basically a political and economics challenge, to convince enough people it would be worth while to spend the time and effort to do it."

There's a quote by (I believe) Winston Churchill - which I can't seem to find atm - that goes something along the lines of:

Winning a war/battle is relatively easy. It's convincing them to let you fight that's far more difficult.


The 50s were during the Cold War so building a moon base was absolutely a political challenge. It just so happens that it was an internal political challenge rather than an internal one.


Politics is the wrong word. Not everything is about the state. Its about property rights distribution and the ability to trade.

Politics of course often leads to bad propert rights distribution and limitations to trade.

But I prefer this definition because in many places de-facto property tights are privatly enforced and defended and its produce is not effected by state level politics.

You overall point is certainly true, bad governance leads to a lack of food.


> Politics is how the nations allocate resources to problems.

That's a hard pill to swallow, but I fear you're right.

Shouldn't government's priorities be establishing rule of law, courts & justice, national defense, and regulating commerce? How did massive taxes, a huge budget, and political fights over resource allocation ever get thrown into the mix?

A historian once said that democracy fails when people begin voting themselves into the nation's purse [i.e. voting for politicians who promise them money].


Because rich people don't get rich by spending money. With unfettered capitalism taxation is the best system available to keep the wealth from pooling at the top, so the government is needed to decide what to spend the money on.


>Because rich people don't get rich by spending money

That’s an oft-repeated but incorrect trope. You can’t save your way to being rich. Rich people are either born rich or they spend lots of money on investing into businesses (their own and others).

You also made no supporting argument for why the government is needed to decide what to spend some peoples’ money on. If we eliminated the top 1% and gave everyone else in the US the resulting few thousand dollars each, do you think that would eliminate the need for taxation going forward?


Why should maximizing the well-being of the people not be a government priority?

Any system, including someone's anarcho-capitalist fantasy, determines allocation of resources. Some are just more humanitarian than others.


Because it’s a fantasy to think there is even agreement on what “maximizing the well-being” means. The people running the re-education camps in China probably even think they are doing that.


A fundamentally American idea is that maximizing freedom results in maximum well-being of the people.

Though that idea was footnoted: not so with people lacking in moral virtue.


You might be interested in supporting Andrew Yang: https://www.yang2020.com/

All he talks about is the problem of resource redistribution through the means of a basic income, $1000/month to every citizen!


It’s too bad his arguments for basic income aren’t backed by better arguments. His whole example of his wife not being valued by the market makes no sense because personal caretakers are super expensive on the market.

They just chose as a couple to have her take care of her own son as a caretaker instead of her working and them hiring. That’s not a failure of the market anymore than the market not valuing my car because I refuse to sell it.


"Redesigning Civilization with Permaculture" http://tobyhemenway.com/videos/redesigning-civilization-with...

With integrated carbon-neutral fuel production: http://www.alcoholcanbeagas.com/node/277

> "Alcohol Can Be a Gas!" (subtitled Fueling an Ethanol Revolution for the 21st Century) is an information-dense, highly readable, profusely illustrated manual, covering every aspect of alcohol fuel from history through crops, hands-on fuel production, and vehicle conversion. It's the first comprehensive book on small- to farm-scale alcohol production and use written in over 90 years.


It's mainly focused on how to do good with your career but 80,000 hours (https://80000hours.org/) has a lot of resources and articles about basically what problems out there make sense to tackle and then career pathways to do so. Alternatively Effective Altruism (https://www.effectivealtruism.org/) has a bunch of resources more closely aligned with just understanding how to do the most good possible. If you're looking for something more one-off and easier rather than a career change or something significant, I recommend Givewell.org which ranks some of the charities that they've verified do the most good at the lowest cost and donating to one of them!


You could try TED (or TEDx) talks. For example, a couple of titles I see by skimming the video list are "The living tech we need to support human life on other planets" and "5 challenges we could solve by designing new proteins".


The main reason there is not enough food for everyone is that farmed land is hoarded by a few people, and agricultural production is targeted at crops with high market value. In other words, because agriculture is treated as an activity that must turn a profit, instead of a vital resource for the survival of the population in a country. Rich countries are able to subsidize their agriculture, but this is even more important in poor countries. In that case, starvation is the result of most internal agriculture being targeted at exports. Land owners can make a lot more money exporting their production to rich countries, where there is a large market for higher priced products, instead of the cheaper crops that could be sold internally.


People need to be motivated by death in order to work, or so I'm told by many who argue against government programs to feed the needy.

mandeepj 27 days ago [flagged]

ha ha. What a logic to tackle a question - let's change the question itself. I guess you have never witnessed or heard about green revolution. Welcome to the real world.

> In most places in the world it's easy and cheap enough to produce food and distribute it.

source?


Please don't be a jerk on HN. If you know more than another comment, share some of what you know so we all can learn. Alternatively, it's fine not to post. Either way, please don't break the site guidelines: https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html.


Well simple really, there are still many shitty governments out there and not much of anything that we can do about it. worse is when they get sufficient weaponry it pretty much puts them off limits for any intervention and in some cases lets them blackmail others.

look at Venezuela and even North Korea, then look who supports these regimes that allow the governments of each to keep themselves in power. We cannot do much more than harm the people of countries like these two but surely trade sanctions or limits can be applied to their supporters.


The US is actually causing incredible harm by its trade sanctions against Venezuela, with the US being that country's main trade partner:

http://www.economywatch.com/world_economy/venezuela/export-i...

A special UN rapporteur sent to Venezuela suggests the sanctions are causing death due to lack of things like Insulin.

https://therealnews.com/stories/un-rapporteur-us-sanctions-c...


You are probably very young if you believe that fantasy.

Who is this "we" that it's so worried about the welfare of humanity?

Read about the interventions of first Europe and then the USA in the global affairs.

You can check how sugar, then cotton and later oil interest have shaped the world. Or even fruit (1).

(1) - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Fruit_Company


This one book is filled with so much information. Hands down one of my favourite books. If you ever wanted to understand how sugar shaped the world.

https://www.amazon.ca/Sugar-Barons-Family-Corruption-Empire/...


One thing that is not mentioned in the article is the massive amount of soy beans that China imports each year (approximately 90 mmt in 2019) to produce feedstock for their hog herds and acquacultures. Most of the soy beans are imported from the US (pre trade war), Brazil and Argentina.


I see 3 sushi restaurants on the same street, start to extrapolate in my head, and wonder how we hadn't extinguished most edible fish species decades ago.

From what I've read and heard on the subject, my understanding is: (1) some we have (touched upon at end of Jiro Dreams of Sushi, for example), (2) we are in the process of doing so to most the rest, (3) fish farms are increasingly making up the difference.


Farmed fish is not much better. It's still fed with fish and farms are really bad for the ecosystems around them (too many nutrients cause dead zones)


Fish stocks are being depleted. We are running the earth down.


extrapolating a small sample size will probably produce unreliable results.

also its possible that there are 3 sushi restaurants on the same street because of the Hotelling model of spatial location (good vid explaining that: https://youtu.be/jILgxeNBK_8)


Another perspective on how China is able to provide enough food:

- In Shanghai 96% white-collar workers have at least one disease of the "food triad" (diabetes, fatty liver, hypertension), up from ~80% in 00's.

- In Beijing 26% of the whole population is overweight or obese, up from 11% in 00's.

- China has the largest percentage of obese children in the World, only competing with Mexico.

So there is enough food, but this food is low quality empty calories to "feed" 1B people, not nourish them.


This doesn't pass the smell test. China had 1 billion people in 1982. In 1985, obesity rates among children were 0.03% for boys and 0.12% for girls. They were able to produce enough food to feed 1 billion people in the 1980s, but there were nowhere near as many obese people. Within the time period of your stats (obesity rates up ~2.5x since the 00s), China's population has grown from 1.3B to 1.386B, basically a negligible increase.

A more likely explanation is that the arrival of cars, fast food, and a middle-class lifestyle is making Chinese people obese, just as it's making Americans obese. Studies show a direct correlation between obesity rates and rates of car ownership in China.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obesity_in_China


You can't be serious, right?

I don't question any of your data or even your conclusion, but do you really think WHITE-COLLAR workers having diabetes is a proof of " food is low quality empty calories"?

To me, it's more about the fact that lots of young people (or people in general) in urban area have poor lifestyle. Barely has anything to do with the lack of food quality or nutrition.

And I highly doubt this phenomenon is unique to China.


Right. As a certified nutritionist and soon to be registered dietitian, I can be serious. :-) Diabetes or hypertension are not that much related to the lifestyle. Not as much as fitness industry wants you to think. Besides being highly genetic, diabetes is also dependent on availability of simple carbs, in case of China, is white rice of which average Chinese person eats 320g per day.


I think you still missed the point. I'm not arguing with your conclusion, but the way you "prove" it.

Keep in mind the topic is "how is China able to provide enough food for 1.4 billion people", which implies they must have some efficient or cheap way. And I'd agree "rice" probably is one of the reason.

However, you firstly used "Shanghai's white-collar" as an example, which is the least representative group for this topic (because how cheap the food is is less of a concern for the high-income groups).

You also mentioned obesity, which only dramatically increases when China got richer. Again, totally irrelevant to the topic. If anything, Chinese people probably eat less rice now due to the increase of variety.


In Japan they also eat truckloads of white rice, and they are generally quite healthy.

I do not thing that being a dietician gives you much authority to comment on the cross-cultural socioeconomics of nutrition, sorry.

The claim that the Chinese are fat and unhealthy because they are force-fed empty calories remains unproven.


Does that necessarily mean that the food is low quality or just that there are more options and many are considerably unhealthier than the more traditional options (eg. more processed foods easily available now than in the past)


Ultra-processed food is "low quality food".

That's because: (1) it's rich in toxins due to the industrial processing and (2) it has a poor proteins/nutrients to energy ratio.

Nutrient hunger is a thing. Proteins are regulated by the brain. Micro nutrients might be regulated by the brain as well. When you eat ultra-processed food, you end up eating more food just to get the nutrients you need to live.

Ultra-processed food is also rich in calories, often being high in carbs and high in fat at the same time, a very unnatural combination that floods the brain with dopamine, making you overeat and crave for more.

You basically can't get lower quality than this.


None of what you or the other comment say prove the claim that China (or Mexico) offer such limited nutritional choices that they are the cause of those health conditions, as opposed to unconstrained individual choice.


I'm not talking about China. I was just making an observation that "low quality food" is ultra-processed food. So if the Chinese are now eating ultra-processed food, like many of us in the US or Europe, then it's no wonder that obesity and diabetes is on the rise.

> "as opposed to unconstrained individual choice"

There's no such thing, you're not aware of many of the recent findings.

I recommend you go read: https://www.stephanguyenet.com/thehungrybrain/


What toxins are these and why are they bad? The liver is quite capable at removing actual toxins and using that terminology makes you sound like a quack.

(2) is a valid point, but (1) should be entirely prevented by the FDA.


Many additives and colorants used in US food are banned in Europe for example. I wouldn't go as far as to call them toxins but they're at the very least suspected to be a net negative for the human body.

But again à lot of it is a question of dosage. A bottle of coke a week might not do much, a bottle a day and it's a whole other story.


Heavy metals and various industrial chemicals for example:

"The most neglected threat to public health in China is toxic soil" -- https://www.economist.com/briefing/2017/06/08/the-most-negle... (2017)

All the things in their air and water (Quote from the article: "Wen Jiabao, a former prime minister, once said that water problems threaten “the very survival of the Chinese nation”.".

- https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-pollution-soil/chin...

- https://www.iisd.org/blog/toxic-soil-china

- https://www.chinadialogue.net/article/show/single/en/10949-C...


more than 1/3 of Americans are obese. the US is one of the fattest countries in the world. Does that mean Americans are poor people who can only afford empty calories? wake up. people just like to eat unhealthy stuff when given the chance?.


>Does that mean Americans are poor people who can only afford empty calories?

I don't know if it's because they can't afford better or don't want to eat better, but in the US there is a considerable relationship between income/education and obesity. The poorer you are, the more likely you are to be obese. 50% of the US makes less than $30k a year, and that group probably amounts to somewhere around 75% of the obese people.

https://www.stateofobesity.org/socioeconomics-obesity/


I don’t think the difference is due to income directly, but more to do with class/social expectations. Eating is a very social activity, and the way people eat is strongly linked to their individual and group identity.

Healthy eating simply isn’t prioritized by some people/groups, and others don’t value it at all.


> Does that mean Americans are poor people who can only afford empty calories?

Yes, of course. Is this rhetorical? Obesity and wealth are highly correlated.


In pure dollars, Americans might be richer than Chinese, in food (dollar per calorie) purchasing power... perhaps not.


Obesity and many of those issues don’t really have much to do with food quality. A lot of it is due to nothing more than overeating.

Going to China and eating with Chinese people, it’s a very easy thing to do. Chinese food portions can sometimes make American food portions look downright tiny—and a lot of it is colossal chunks of meat with vegetables.


I cannot believe 96% number do you have citation for this?


This quora answer is pure CCP propaganda, why is this post on the HN home page?


Freedom of speech I guess?


Freedom of speech and I guess HN is an international community? On the post, as the author said, seeing is believing. Whether or not it's CCP propaganda, it's facts.


“Seeing is believing” really doesn’t make any sense in the modern world. And facts don’t exist in a vacuum, they are presented with a specific narrative, some are just omitted, some are plain lies (China bringing joy to Tibet population by providing better food, really?).


I find it informative to see other points of view and an impressive number of facts that are presented in this Quora answer, rather than just the Western point of view, which arguably could be also called as "propaganda". Let's not go this route.


That’s irrelevant IMHO. I’m not saying that the link shouldn’t be shared on HN, which would potentially be a matter of freedom of speech. But the HN homepage isn’t a neutral list of links ranked by users, there is a specific algorithm to give visibility to some topics and not others, and admins ultimately decide what is there. For example you can easily see that politically controversial topics are often quickly downgraded from their high rank, if they reach the top. My question is why should a piece full of CCP propaganda (not just facts, they are clearly spun in a CCP friendly narrative) be in the homepage? That’s clearly not what the platform strives for.


China leads world in production of:

- Rice - Wheat - Lettuce - Cabbage - Cauliflowers - Eggplant - Potato - Spinach - Carrots - Cucumber - Pumpkin - Sweet potato - Grapes - Peach - Apple - Plum - Strawberry - Tomato - Tea - Beer - Pork meat - Sheep meat - Peanut - Egg - Honey

https://twitter.com/spectatorindex/status/106956943987883622...


This is probably the best article I've read on Quora!


Imports of grain from Canada?


Awesome self-burn about the quality of Chinese 'honey' there.


Is an infrastructure planning issue, if they don’t plan for food while expanding population, the population wouldn’t expand anyways!


Also more CO2 means increased plant growth.


Perhaps the question should be how do 1B people feed themselves despite the government of China.


I can’t imagine the US being as efficient at anything as China is at growing food.


What does this even mean? Almost 300 million people are agricultural workers in China, versus 6 million in the US. Despite that, we produce nearly the same quantity of food and export 140 billion dollars of food every year. The US has plenty of efficiency shortcomings, but in agriculture, the US agricultural sector is a modern marvel of engineering and efficiency.


US produce is industrial feedstock, not food.

In the Brexit-headed UK there is considerable discussion about this, some Brits don't consider US food to be edible. Phrases like 'chlorinated chicken' get mentioned.

Are those soy beans fed to people or pigs? Same with all that corn. None of it can be eaten, it has to be processed into corn syrup or fake potato crisps. There is no modern marvel of engineering, it is monoculture, as if nothing was learned from the dustbowl. It is also heavily subsidised. Watered by fracked aquifiers. To international tastes it is all bland, adulterated and not really food.

Those exports also put people out of work on the global market so they are not growing their own food, just importing nonsense like American maize.

I am not into Chinese food but I know that Chinese people don't consider U.S. food as having much taste, not even real food.


The funny thing with US soy beans is that the majority of our edamame and fresh soy beans are frozen and imported from China or Thailand even though we literally have fields everywhere growing soy beans across the country.


I agree with you, the farming in the US should be much more efficient than China, the US has much much larger flat lands and modern agricultural machines.

On the other hand, there are far less flat lands but mountains and deserts here in China. But the engineering and infrastructure is getting better and better.


Are they efficient? They certainly produce the most, but that's a given considering they have 1.386 billion people to feed. Proportionally it's impossible to say if China is more or less efficient.


They are more efficient (intensive) at output per acre, but (much) less efficient per unit labor. A more or less reasonable market allocation of resources would dictate a similar outcome with the relative abundance of labor (becoming less so, therefore also getting more capital intensive and more efficient on labor input) and scarcity of land per capita.


What about India or that whole part of the world


Yeah sorry - that answer is the sort that glosses over a huge amount of facts to present a clean a-b-c dependency tree along side a decent heap of sino philia.

So in particular the point on fish farms- fish farms are hard, the fish need many different things to be happy and not sick or affected by parasites.

This means medicines, treatment and more - further this is only viable if you have transportation, refrigeration and markets.

Those make a larger difference than the base technology. Without the transfer and storage tech, the rest is simply bottlenecked.

Further this

>Those Tibetans have no time to go to temples for worshipping any more, instead, they have to work in the greenhouses taking care of tomatoes. This is why Dalai Lama is not so happy to hear this.

Is simply Chinese propo. The Dalai Lama is unhappy, if at all, because China has taken over what used to be an independent nation, decides how their religion should operate, crushed dissent and even ostracized their own citizens who made the mistake of talking to Tibetan protesters to do the very simple human thing of figuring out the other side.

(Voting behavior and soft shilling of the poster in the thread is also pretty odd.)


> fish farms are hard

Yes and no. Some fishes are really, really hard to culture. Other are very forgiving and easy if you know what to do. Aquaculture shaped China since thousands of years. They have a lot of population in part because they have carps. Is a very efficient way to recycle waste in food.


> Voting behavior and soft shilling of the poster in the thread is also pretty odd

I'm not sure if you're talking about the HN thread, but such insinuations break the site guidelines here. Experience has shown that the vast majority are imaginary.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

I've written about this a great deal for anyone who wants more explanation: https://hn.algolia.com/?query=by:dang%20astroturfing&sort=by...


Apologies dang. I had made the comment with awareness of the rule, and thought I had reason to be confident. However Based in your reply, I can edit my comment and remove the offending section.


The dalai lama is upset because their old way of life is no longer possible. Whether or not that old way of life is preferable for most people is debatable. Under old Tibetian rule, slavery was rampant and mutilation is the go-to punishment for disobedience.


How is it possible that Quora knows my first name?


Oh boy. Lots of things in the top answer that western folks will, uh... question. Informative and complete nonetheless!


I was really impressed by the top answer until I read this statement.

"I mean, the Chinese government has also forced Tibetans to build a massive amount of greenhouses on the Tibetan plateau. Those Tibetans have no time to go to temples for worshipping any more, instead, they have to work in the greenhouses taking care of tomatoes. This is why Dalai Lama is not so happy to hear this."

What??


You should post the following paragraph as well:

"As a result, the average vegetable price in Tibet has reduced by 90% over the past decade and they don’t have to import vegetables from nearby provinces anymore. Most of the Tibetans can finally afford to eat watermelons. Who doesn’t like eating watermelons?

You know that most Tibetans historically only eat yak meat, milk, cheese, and bread? They couldn’t grow anything in such a harsh climate. Only monks could have the luxury to eat vegetables. Now it is the solid proof that the Chinese government didn’t just destroy temples in Tibetan culture but helped them eat vegetables and fruits."


The logic is a bit dubious. The Chinese had a pretty crappy diet when they invaded Tibet. Whether the China invaded or not, the food quality would have risen, just like most of the rest of the planet.


It's definitely an impressive response, but it also looks like the sort of state sponsored responses typical of Chinese propaganda. That's not to say it's inaccurate, just biased.


The comment basically says that China has forced the Tibetans into slavery. Is that typical of Chinese propaganda?

> the Chinese government has also forced Tibetans to build a massive amount of greenhouses...they have to work in the greenhouses taking care of tomatoes.


If you are interested in seeing what Tibet is like today (literally) this vlogger is currently travelling through it (some of the farthest corners) in a camper: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJPCo6WJCb0aXShfcDDUffg/vid...

This episode https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2BtvivdbOw may be relevant to how "forced" is used in the original comment. The video shows villagers collecting trash off the sides of a remote highway to keep the land clean. On the face of it the video looks like a volunteer/community service outing but villagers are actually paid. It is not the most pleasant work, but they look happy to be doing it (and probably do not mind keeping their environment clean). The Quora answerer could have used "forced" to describe the same scene out of a sense of sarcasm (since everything is presumably "forced" there) and he would likely be tickled that this brings slavery into the discussion.


What do you mean when you say "since everything is presumably 'forced' there"?

If it is forced labor, even if paid, the distinction between forced labor and slavery is trivial compared to the distinction between forced labor and freedom.


And there are other chilling mentions of the government forcing citizens to do things, reeducation camps, and surveillance throughout the article (all listed as good things).


Did Chinese government ever mention liberty as a value?

Their story is peace, satiety, social harmony, collective achievement and glory — as long as subjects conform.


I think to many Chinese people, being forced to do something that is perceived as for their own good is seen as a good thing. It's kind of in the Asian culture that the end justifies the means, as opposed to Western culture where you are free to do as you choose but you bear the consequences.

Not saying it's wrong, just a different perspective.


> being forced to do something that is perceived as for their own good is seen as a good thing

I sometimes wonder if Los Angeles commuters would actually be better off and happier if the government (somehow) had the legal right to force us all to use buses and rail instead of individual cars.


The government(s) were the ones who built the roads and mandated minimum parking lots.


Absolutely, you're right. I'm just wondering what would happen if the government reversed course.


Well China's national anthem makes a point about her people not being slaves... so much for that fantasy. That said, it's still a great accomplishment being able to provide cheap produce (that we take for granted) to the middle class in Tibet, a region that's not known for it.


Yes. It seems like it's not the kind of thing a government should be saying because you're from the west. Forcing someone to do something that betters their lives is not seen as bad or propagandized as bad in China.

The basic point in the post is "Look, those Tibetans no longer waste their time worshiping gods and are instead working hard to better their lives thanks to the Chinese Government."


Tibet used to be a feudal serfdom with the Lamas lording over everyone else. Most Dalai Lamas were murdered by their rivals for control over the country. So yeah, of course the Lamas are upset that they're no longer in power.


I'm entirely certain this is tongue-in-cheek humour playing on western stereotypes about China.


Anyone with even a basic knowledge of farming knows how specious this statement is.


There is also: "Some of these Uyghurs, Kazakhs are sent to the reeducation camps and they are forced to learn Mandarin Chinese and the latest drip irrigation techniques to save water and reduce costs."


As well as "Local fishermen and farmers are actually forced to learn the latest solar technology and sustainable techniques provided by professionals from the local Chinese government." I'm not sure if the author is using the term forced the same way a normal english speaker would use it.


"forced", i suspect is being used in this context to mean "not given an alternative occupation".

China has strict rules on what you can do and where you live. Think of it as a passport - a social passport, similar to a social security number. To enrol your child in school, they need this social passport. To get subsidies or to work in gov't, you need this social passport.

By threatening to take it away, the central gov't can "force" people to do what they want. It's not slavery, since there's no physical coersion (as far as i m told). But not doing it means losing out a lot of stuff - and this may even affect other people related to you (for example, your relatives). This puts social pressure from your peers and relatives to make you conform - as they may not be as willing to make sacrifices for any idealism, even if you are.


Sounds like sarcasm to me...


When I read this, I think back at the chaos in Hong Kong right now. I wonder what's going to happen in the weekend?


A lot of superdefensive people over at quora everytime you ask a question about china.


Even the first answer has “Western media won’t tell you this”. Like there’s some western conspiracy to downplay Chinese agriculture industry.

The Chinese media is constantly telling their people that the US is plotting against China and is hostile to them, so the citizens don’t get any crazy ideas like democracy and human rights. While simultaneously amplifying the bad news coming out of America to show the ‘dangers’ of western culture.

Plus there is a large group of astroturfers constantly scanning the web for mentions of China (aka “50 cent army”).

I don’t blame the individuals for holding these views but it’s something to always be conscious of when reading anything online about China. And I say that as someone who loves their country and people, just not their cultural controls.


The tone is honestly understandable. It pains me to bring up this cliched point, but is the US media not constantly telling us that China is hostile, China is plotting? As someone with a foot in both worlds, US coverage of China is _at least_ equally warped. It's funny; to my parents and relatives in China I'm perceived as having a US bias, but everywhere else I get characterized as being too Chinese.

It's hard for me to emphasize enough how little typical Westerners understand about Asia. It goes both ways but I think they're doing a better job of it - at least in my opinion, China appreciates US culture much more than the US appreciates Chinese culture.


> It's hard for me to emphasize enough how little typical Westerners understand about Asia.

I bet the typical human knows very little about life and culture outside of their specific environment. A typical city-dweller knows little about rural life even in their own region, and vice-versa.

It's weird how easily we fall into a trap of saying "look how ignorant x people are". I mean, of course, it's a big world, and we're busy, so it's pretty hard to not be ignorant.

Maybe a bigger mistake is thinking that "Media" (news etc?) is an education system. It's not and maybe it's not supposed to be. We need to come up with a better system/expectation/culture around continuous education, but even in the best case that can only apply to the subset of the population that has the time and resources and interest to take part.


> I bet the typical human knows very little about life and culture outside of their specific environment. A typical city-dweller knows little about rural life even in their own region, and vice-versa.

I think this is certainly true, but at the same time, I've never met an American (even an otherwise 'uneducated' one), who was under the impression that London or Berlin are backwoods villages that struggle to keep the lights on, whereas I have certainly met people that think Hong Kong is. So then the question becomes "yes people are generally unaware, but what is it about Asia specifically that makes it seem like there is an even larger lack of awareness compared to somewhere like Europe?"

In regards to the rest of your comment: I wholeheartedly agree, but I don't think it comes down to "time or resources". Some of it does just come down to personal habits/preferences. Without passing any judgement, there are plenty of people who spend their evenings watching The Bachelorette when they could just as easily be using that time to watch The Travel Channel (or Discovery Channel if it was still actually educational), but they actively choose not to. I think that's a societal thing much more than it is a time or resources constraint.


Maybe it's because of historical ties to Europe, both a partially shared culture and history?

As for the asymmetry. The US has been considered one of two, then the only, global superpower for the last 70 years, inundating the whole world with their culture the whole time.

Reminds me of a course on models, where they talked about "celebrities". Those who are seen by and influence most people, but don't know and aren't influenced by most of said people (might need to clarify that)


When the US was a backwoods nation, London and Berlin were world capitals, and Hong Kong was a backwater fishing village, so American culture does not have the same ingrained respect for Hong Kong that it does for European cities. That being said, I don't know if you are using Hong Kong as a stand in for major Chinese cities, but Hong Kong emigres make up a disproportionate amount of ethnic Chinese American immigrants, and the way many of them talk about the mainland, one might think mainland China is having a problem with the keeping the lights one.


At the founding of the US, China was the #1 economy in the world. This view of the world among Europeans is partially based of racism and racist accounts of the world going unchecked.

The most investment-worthy economies on the planet have been in Asia for the past couple centuries (if you understand buying the dip), this fact is an economic threat to Europeans with a zero-sum view of global capitalism (has been for at least 2 centuries). The rest writes itself....


That is sort of the thing. It isn't so much that people don't know as that it doesn't register as important. Hans Rosling ended up devoting much of his life promoting a fact based view of the world after learning first hand that some of the absolute top students in Sweden had an obsolete world view. The West is used to being "the first world" were most important things happen. But increasingly we are the ones "on the other side". In most of the West large government programs aren't on the table, so that doesn't register as important to us. I am not even sure there is much that can be done about it. It is literally history in the making really.


> In most of the West large government programs aren't on the table, so that doesn't register as important to us. I am not even sure there is much that can be done about it. It is literally history in the making really.

Well said....I'd agree that not much can be done based on the current nature of both political and public/personal discourse, but can the quality of this discourse not be improved? From where I sit, this is quite literally the biggest problem, and I see very little initiative from any camp to improve it. On the contrary, there are plenty of people who are in positions where they could make a difference, but seem to be completely unable to even consider the idea that there is even a problem in this area.

History in the making indeed!


> I'd agree that not much can be done based on the current nature of both political and public/personal discourse, but can the quality of this discourse not be improved?

Probably. But I also don't think the discourse matter as much as it used to. It used to be that to have a voice you had to build something. So the discourse was meaningful as in reflected what was going to happen. Today everyone has a voice and therefor the discourse more reflects whatever people want it to be but not necessarily what happens. That is why we can discuss things seemingly forever while they largely remain the same.

In that sense I think Rosling was right in refusing to be negative. Not, as some people think, because he thought everything was getting better but to show that they could better. When you provide your own signal with substance other people's promises or dismissals become less relevant.

The really hard part is that the West has increasingly lost the narrative. So now we have to translate what China does to our own environment. We want the long term thinking, investment and development but not the authoritarianism.

Which is what China did with the whole "Chinese capitalism". No longer did they have to come up with things from scratch in their own system, but could translate from the Western narrative by buying companies or technologies.

So you have to find a way to show people that it can be done in a way that fits into their narrative by taking their concerns seriously.

But honestly for some countries it might be too late. I believe in fairness as something to strive for, but from a greater perspective reality doesn't really care what people think or how things should be. Countries who can't provide things that matter are going to lose, unless they can come up with something else. Which would probably be war, so they still lose.


> Probably. But I also don't think the discourse matter as much as it used to. It used to be that to have a voice you had to build something. So the discourse was meaningful as in reflected what was going to happen. Today everyone has a voice and therefor the discourse more reflects whatever people want it to be but not necessarily what happens. That is why we can discuss things seemingly forever while they largely remain the same.

You're not wrong, but I tend to disagree. I would say because everyone now has a voice, the nature of discourse is more important than ever. And if you look carefully, it tends to be full of delusional thinking. Black and white thinking about things that are extremely nuanced. Opinions stated as facts. Mind reading.

I would say the reason we can never get things done is because almost no one realizes they don't actually know very well what they're talking about. Such people are incredibly easy to divide and conquer.

> The really hard part is that the West has increasingly lost the narrative. So now we have to translate what China does to our own environment. We want the long term thinking, investment and development but not the authoritarianism.

Agreed. We used to be capable of it though. It seems to me figuring out how to regain that capability is to start to look very carefully at exactly what's going on, perhaps assembling a list of commonly believed or published "facts", that aren't actually facts. "It Ain’t What You Don’t Know That Gets You Into Trouble. It’s What You Know for Sure That Just Ain’t So."

> reality doesn't really care what people think or how things should be

Getting people to realize fundamental truths like this would be a good place to start. I suspect before too long, large amounts of people would start to realize how delusional current Western beliefs are, and then maybe we could finally start to get some change. But as long as everyone is still asleep, I think it's status quo as far as the eye can see, until we are bypassed by the rest of the world, or as you say resort once again to our old standby: war.

I think there's reason for hope, but not until we realize the problem.


>It's funny; to my parents and relatives in China I'm perceived as having a US bias, but everywhere else I get characterized as being too Chinese.

Haha, I can relate. I'm as white as they come but I spent some time living in Singapore and traveling the rest of Asia. In Asia I was obviously "the American", but when I got home to the US I can remember a few distinct times where I was called a "wannabe asian" or something similar just because I was talking about how phenomenal public transit is in major Asian metros compared to the abysmal state of US public transit.


I am as "egg" as they come (white on the outside and yellow in the middle) but I am consistently abused by Chinese trolls. I love China but loathe the Chinese trolls.


[flagged]


> I'm sorry to say but you eggs are probably fully aware of why only men are so crazy about Asia.

I'm not exactly sure what you're referring to, but I can only imagine that you're referring to Asia's sex industry?

I don't know where this stereotype comes from. Is it a holdover from older generations, perhaps? I've traveled nearly every East/Southeast Asian country, met hundreds of fellow male travelers along the way, and hundreds more otherwise, and only a handful (literally less than 5 that I can even think of) that openly partook at all in any kind of "red light district activities". Most looked negatively on it and it certainly isn't something that would cause men to be "so crazy about Asia".

(If that isn't what you're referring to, please explain your comment)


It might be that the parent poster took your use of "egg" as the sexual orientation meaning [1], instead of taking the metaphor more literally. It probably depends on the circles one lives in, words are often contextual.

The word was standing out a bit in your sentence, which made me wonder if that was the intended meaning for a sec. But I didn't quite get their post either, and now that I re-read it, the explanation I offered seems less plausible.

[1] As per https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=egg "Transgender person who hasn't come out yet"


I have known and worked with several mainland raised Chinese and there is no doubt that the schools in China teach anti-American propaganda. Whereas America does not teach any anti-Chinese propaganda in their schools.

This is really kind of weird since it was the Americans who provided the Burma-to-China airlift during WWII that allowed China to expel the Japanese from China. Furthermore, if you look at world trade balances since 1978 it is America, and only America, that has carried the burden of an imbalanced trade relationship with China of billions of dollars per year; year after year.

I'm not anti-Chinese in any way, I've traveled through the country three times, but the facts are the facts.


If I could I'd upvote this 100 times, it's funny to see people thinking their side is the "one true side of the story", be it the US or China. If you haven't lived in both worlds and understand values and cultures of both, don't be so quick on your feet to think your existing beliefs are the entire truth.


Didn't you here? American capitalism/democracy won history and now it's over.


This. So much this.

I've spent all my adult life bouncing between the US and China. It's fascinating to see the biases from both sides. In some cases, it's outright propaganda, but most of it is just plain, simple lack of familiarity further fueled by otherwise benign nationalism.


What are the biggest misunderstandings of Chinese culture you encounter from Westerners?


Americans are way more defensive in preserving their perception of China whereas Chinese are removed from the political machinations and marginally curious about US culture at best

In other parts of “the west” nobody is deathly afraid of being disappeared by the Chinese government and just raves about how energetic Shanghai is

I think Americans are the outliers here, over emphasizing the darkest parts of China and should consider re-evaluating.


I found that comment a bit bizarre, too, as an American.

Many (most?) people in America simply don’t care about this or have any general curiosity about the world outside of them. America is the land of fast food and unsustainable cheap beef; we have a president that denies climate change, so it’s no wonder that there is simply no interest in understanding sustainable fishing by a large portion of the population, regardless of which country is succeeding at it.

That is much different than some kind of conspiracy like that post implied. I think it’s actually worse than a conspiracy because it shows widespread ignorance and no desire to seek out the information or analyze the food we eat and it’s impact on the environment. America doesn’t need a conspiracy to hide this, they won’t seek it out anyway.


Steve Jobs once said that when he was young, he was convinced that most TV was a conspiracy to make people stupid; but when he got older, he realized the truth was much worse: TV is just giving people what they want.

China today is in many ways very much like the U.S. in the middle of the 20th Century. New technologies and markets are creating rapid, wide-spread growth in living standards. At the same time, government and media encourage a culture of national pride bordering on paranoia, combined with intense pressure to conform. The U.S. grew out of it and I hope China does too.


Of course Americans aren't in general interested in fish farms. Most Chinese are equally unlikely to know anything about their country's aquaculture development (not to mention sustainable ones). I don't believe the sarcasm is literally aimed at people's ignorance, but more at prevailing general notions (and closed-mindedness) about anything China related. The writer has a Ph.D. from University of Cambridge and still lives in Cambridge. He is entitled to his opinion of what he thinks as biases in the Western media. To me the "biases" much more reflect what the media think that their readers would like to read and believe than a conspiracy to "mislead" their readers.


Americans work longer hours and save less than most other developed nations. Plus they don’t have extensive social safety nets. If you’re struggling to get by it’s hard to be curious about the world. Also the country is ginormous.


This seems like a ridiculous hypothesis.

America works longer hours, but not the most. Canadians save even less than Americans and have more debt.

And the US has one of the highest median incomes in the world (with a few exceptions).


For income, one interesting metric would be the distribution. How much do most people make?

Because the US is also a developed country where 15$ an hour with pretty much no coverage is considered "good" in some parts (ie good enough to work as a Facebook content moderator rather than making Big Macs at the local McDonald's)

Edit: I might be a bit rusty on US social safety net & health benefits


It seems there's a lot of blame put on "the media" because there is a common mindset that someone else ("the media") is responsible for informing everyone, rather than anyone taking on any kind of personal responsibility of informing themselves. This manifests a lot in regards to Asian countries where many westerners (specifically Americans, possibly others idk) get the impression that China/Asia is nothing but a bunch of uncivilized villages, and they never learn otherwise (because they never educate themselves and/or "the media" never educates them).

And I don't think it is just astroturfers, either. Given the above paragraph, I think it's understandable that many Chinese become quite defensive about the fact that they/their countrymen aren't, in fact, savages. I spent some time living in Asia, and even just from that (without any stronger roots like growing up there or having a culture based there), even I personally became quite frustrated and 'defensive' when having to constantly inform my American friends that yes, they do have electricity and running water in Singapore. I can imagine that someone actually from those places would be even more defensive.


> having to constantly inform my American friends that yes, they do have electricity and running water in Singapore

I’m afraid to ask where in America is that common sentiment about Singapore. The only misconception I’ve ever heard about Singapore is being executed for possessing chewing gum.


I used to work at a very large (and reasonably well-educated) company that had coworkers from everywhere (LA, SF, Seattle, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Miami, NYC, etc) and it was quite a common misconception amongst almost all of them (and to be fair, I also met a handful of Europeans who thought the same). Also very common was the belief that Singapore is a city in China.


> Also very common was the belief that Singapore is a city in China.

Yeah, that does not surprise me. Americans are not always that great at global geography.

I'm not sure why that is. Of course the country is huge, and American culture is such a dominant force that it is not so hard to live your entire life and never learn much (anything?) about a relatively small city-state far away in Asia. If you've never met anyone from Singapore, this doesn't surprise me at all.

It still feels like something that the US should be better at as a nation, though.


I don’t think you would ever hear something like that in Seattle. I’m guessing deep south somewhere?


One of my Seattle coworkers was one of the specific people who I was thinking of when writing the above comment, actually.

I think it's less common now due to stuff like pictures of Marina Bay Sands going viral over the past several years, as well as movies like Crazy Rich Asians "educating" people that Singapore is a modern city. But around ~2010, not so much.


I’m still not seeing it. A lot of my generations introduction to Singapore was via articles like wired’s Disney Land with the Death Penalty (still banned in Singapore to this very day). The Singapore being apart of China is even weirder for someone who knew nothing about Singapore (why would they even know it was populated by mostly ethnic Chinese?).


You're citing a piece of literature that famously contrasts Kowloon Walled City [1] as preferable to Singapore, and yet you are confused why people are misinformed and uneducated about it?

1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kowloon_Walled_City


I didn’t say the article had problems, but Singapore lacking electricity wasn’t one of them.


I think you are making the classic nerd mistake of assuming the average person has done as much self educating as you have.


I heard they don't even have internet in the deep south.


Pretty sure that was true when I was living there (unless 300 bps model dual up counts).


I grew up in China and had all my education in China up until my undergrad. I got my PhD in a top US school. I consider myself highly educated even in US standards. When I was in China, I was very concerned about my country and my government. I was worried and feeling hopeless of my country. Man, was I young and naive. I have since lived in the US for almost ten years. Five years for my PhD and almost five years for a high tech job. Throughout the years, I have learnt what's called bias, political games, double standards and western media hypocrisy. I can browse a free internet as opposed to a "censored" internet in the China. However, instead of hating my government more, I start to appreciate my government deeply. I have seen changes of my country in the past thirty years. Without the leadership of my government and the CCP, none of these would be possible. These comments are from a highly educated person who has deep and extensive experience of both countries, can and is capable of thinking independently. And these are not only my opinion, these are consensus of all my educated generation working in the US. If this is something bewildering to you who only consume information from western media, I don't blame you. I encourage you to visit and see for yourself.


I can appreciate your point, but I think it'd be good to say why. I'm European, so for example I found the GFW to be a refreshing and ultimately beneficial contribution to the world, simply because it maintains diversity - a global monoculture would cause serious problems. This isn't to say that Chinese policies are right, but rather that going against the West does not automatically signify malign intent. Indeed it is perfectly reasonable to be skeptical of the West, it has so many problems. But what exactly is China's context for so confidently treading it's own path? Is it not wanting to repeat the mistakes of the West? How exactly can that be achieved? I think that is part of the PRC's direction, but not entirely. What are the nuances?

Edit: I feel obliged to point out that supporting the GFW is not that same as supporting Tiananmen Square. In the same way I'm sure supporting Google/Facebook etc does not imply support for the Opium Wars.


The major powers attempting to put roadblocks in the way of China's ascent were quite instrumental in aiding China's decline over the past couple centuries.

I think the trust deficit coming from the East towards the West is more warranted than many in the west like to admit.


Chinese propaganda is definitely part of reason Chinese people online are unusually defensive. However, it doesn't help that a lot of "facts" about China that circulate on the internet are completely false. "Facts" like this one:

> Plus there is a large group of astroturfers constantly scanning the web for mentions of China (aka “50 cent army”).

The 50 cent army is really a China-only thing. I highly doubt that China thinks that the most effective use of their limited number of fluent English speakers is argue with people on Reddit and HackerNews.


They’re running concentration camps for a million people, on the grounds that some small number of them might end up being Islamic terrorists in the future. I don’t think paying a few people to sow discord on Reddit would be the most absurd use of resources they have.


Uyghurs who are devout Muslims impede development and are generally hostile to the Han Chinese. Redditors in America, on the other hand, literally have zero effect on China, so the party doesn't care what they think. Sowing discord might make sense, but it definitely wouldn't come in the form of defending China on internet forums.


> Uyghurs who are devout Muslims impede development and are generally hostile to the Han Chinese

i really want to know if there's any legitimate reason why the uyghurs are being imprisoned and "re-educated". Do they actually post a threat? Media coming out of both sides (US and china) are untrustworthy. The US media paints it as a nazi concentration camps. China calls it reeducation because they want more conformity and prevent civil unrest (and that sounds pretty reasonable, if the uyrghurs are really plotting etc).



Thanks! That was quite enlightening. I barely heard any western media coverage of this riot https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/July_2009_Ürümqi_riots


They’re pretty unambiguously concentration camps. The Uyghurs aren’t getting gassed yet, and maybe China never plans to go that far, but if you watch the BBC’s footage from inside, the sanitized version China wants to show the world is still very bad. They don’t even bother pretending that everyone in the camps has done something wrong.

(But that doesn’t mean China fabricated the underlying issue; they really do face a large problem with Uyghur terrorism, with many attacks having multiple casualties in the past decade.)


I got downvoted here on HN for saying things like "living in China isn't so bad. " A huge number of people on this site think it's something akin to North Korea.


"The Chinese media is constantly telling their people that the US is plotting against China and is hostile to them"

But the US is openly hostile towards China (and not just president Trump) - you don't need the Chinese media to notice that. Also, if you follow US media a bit carefully, you'll notice things like the "Pivot to Asia" (https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/03/14/pers-m14.html), the layout of US military bases around China and so on - which, well, kind of constitutes plotting.


Western media likes to portray asians as either brutes or poor or stupid or nerds.


Chinese domestic media threatens to nuke US just any godly day, but saying that, you should also know that quite a number of Chinese media personas were sacked for wrong gestures towards the West in their English language medias, and their military bamboozlers were few times sent to jail over unauthorised threats to USA made in small, nobody known military newspapers.

I heard once that 50 centers were at some point prohibited to do anything English language, to avoid Western ire.

Though, it seems to become much less of a case today.


Chinese domestic media is for the most part trash and it's well understood that it conveys the views of the ruling political class. It has never even pretended to be an unbiased source of information.

As far as the Chinese domestic media threatening to nuke US just any godly day, I highly doubt it and I've never seen this. Their domestic media is much more focused on internal development and accomplishments. It serves the purpose of reminding the people how great the Central Government is, which is the CCP's primary objective. International affairs (even with the U.S) are an afterthought. You won't find nearly the amount of vitriol directed towards the U.S that the U.S media directs towards China.


The US media is also trash. It's a different sort of bias. A bias towards big business.


Show us the links for those things in your comments. I don’t see any of these


The most upvoted answer is probably the most awesome pierce of information I’ve seen in 2019 though, holy socks that’s a great Quora answer.

And it’s the top answer, clearly distinguishable from the answers you’re referring to, which I think is better than most social media, HN included.


There are a lot of snide remarks in that answer, however, detracting from otherwise great information. (Eg what does the Dalai Lama and Uighur oppression have to do with this?)


I am grateful for these "snide remarks", as to me there is nothing so important and interesting as trying to bring humans out of oppression and suffering (no matter who is the instigator).

Something I found amazing (horrific) when reading the article: what if this writing only sounds snide to us, but not to others? Consider your examples:

> Some of these Uyghurs, Kazakhs are sent to the reeducation camps and they are forced to learn Mandarin Chinese and the latest drip irrigation techniques to save water and reduce costs. Moreover, each village is assigned with one or more communist party members to guide them through to make sure that they don’t mess up the newly cultivated land.

> I mean, the Chinese government has also forced Tibetans to build a massive amount of greenhouses on the Tibetan plateau. Those Tibetans have no time to go to temples for worshipping any more, instead, they have to work in the greenhouses taking care of tomatoes. This is why Dalai Lama is not so happy to hear this.

This is horrific and dystopian to me. But imagine if you believed the Uyghurs/Kazakhs are inferior peoples, and that Tibetan temples/monks are evil. You could read these paragraphs and consider all of this to be positive. I wonder how popular that type of thinking is in China.


> But imagine if you believed the Uyghurs/Kazakhs are inferior peoples, and that Tibetan temples/monks are evil.

That's a big stretch. More likely that

1. The author, like many Han Chinese people, was raised in a completely atheist environment, and just don't put any value on religious activities at all.

2. Again, like in many East Asian countries, Chinese people value/praise hard work above "enjoying life".

So, what you see as horrific and dystopian is seen as progress and a sign of a thriving community.


> what does the Dalai Lama and Uighur oppression have to do with this

The snark likely comes from the fact that Xinjiang is consistently portrayed in Western media as a nightmarish, dystopian, Orwellian hellhole suffering under the iron fisted oppression of the Communist Party. They ignore the very real benefits that have been afforded to millions of poverty-stricken people in Xinjiang via progressive government policies, while tunnel visioning solely on human rights abuses.


It has absolutely nothing to do with the answer, however. Xinjiang and Tibet are complicated, China has obviously improved their economies and has obviously trampled on human rights. Both of those things can easily coexist (the same could be said about western colonialism, one doesn’t excuse the other).

The western media does report those things, it’s just that the Chinese media only focuses on those pieces from the western media that it wants to be defensive about. Call it tunnel tunnel vision if you will.


I don’t disagree with you that the two can coexist. I’m saying the mainstream publications have skewed most people’s perception of Xinjiang so far out of the realm of reality that they would likely be absolutely shocked if they ever actually set foot there. World class airports, modern agricultural techniques, a high speed rail system that would put the ones in NY or London to shame [1]. Stray from the “dystopian Xinjiang” narrative and you’re automatically branded a 50c army propagandist.

I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw a sensational exposé about alleviating poverty through technology-driven, sustainable farming in Xinjiang, in a mainstream publication. On the other hand, I don’t have enough hairs on my head to count the number of condemnations and denouncements.

This is likely the cause of frustration that you see seeping through in answers such as the one posted.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHCs582uUx8


Meanwhile California can't even put together a high speed rail line between SF and LA because of Human rights.

Your right to have good public transit is being violated by someone else's right to not have a rail go through their lawn. Protect that man's right to a lawn at all costs.


human rights, property rights, labor costs, and a lot of slow and costly government procurement processes


So is your argument that they should be grateful for what they e been given? Because this is an absurd argument. Nowhere is it written that they can’t have both be treated like the rest of the country and economic prosperity like the rest of the country.

This is just a bullshit way of justifying oppression using the economic development they would have received anyway.

People make the same absurd arguments about slavery, and lack of suffrage, and it’s just as obviously bullshit in those cases as it is in this one.


I recommend reading comments in this thread:

"Tibet used to be a feudal serfdom with the Lamas lording over everyone else. Most Dalai Lamas were murdered by their rivals for control over the country. So yeah, of course the Lamas are upset that they're no longer in power."

"I’m of the opinion that it’s impossible to achieve economic progress with social upheaval, threats of separatism and terrorist attacks. Economic progress is incompatible with the others.

It's the extreme poverty and lack of economic opportunities which drive destabilizing forces such as these.

Prosperity by means of terrorism then separatism is the path offered by the WUC and ETIM.

Prosperity by means of forced “re-education” in vocational skills and poverty alleviation plans [1] is the one offered by the CCP.

I think it’s the CCP’s gambit that when there is economic prosperity in the region, there will be room for expanding human rights. There won’t be a need or desire to separate from a system which you are actively benefiting from and when that threat goes away, so do the armoured patrols and surveillance mechanisms.

[1] https://www.reuters.com/article/china-poverty-xinjiang/china...


Re-reading my comment, I should have actually written “I don’t disagree with you that the two can coexist, but only in certain contexts”.

I’m of the opinion that it’s impossible to achieve economic progress with social upheaval, threats of separatism and terrorist attacks. Economic progress is incompatible with the others.

It's the extreme poverty and lack of economic opportunities which drive destabilizing forces such as these.

Prosperity by means of terrorism then separatism is the path offered by the WUC and ETIM.

Prosperity by means of forced “re-education” in vocational skills and poverty alleviation plans [1] is the one offered by the CCP.

I think it’s the CCP’s gambit that when there is economic prosperity in the region, there will be room for expanding human rights. There won’t be a need or desire to separate from a system which you are actively benefiting from and when that threat goes away, so do the armoured patrols and surveillance mechanisms.

[1] https://www.reuters.com/article/china-poverty-xinjiang/china...


It didn’t really work for the British, it didn’t work for the Afrikaners, it didn’t really work for the Americans, why do the Chinese think they will get it right?


If I understand the point you’re trying to make correctly, you’re likening China’s claim to Xinjiang to that of the historical colonial powers?

Because if we’re going to go down that road, I have to warn you that the Xinjiang story is not nearly as black and white as the British, Dutch or American stories.


I’m pretty aware of the history: the Qing brought the Uighurs into north Xinjiang to genocide the Mongolians, who already killed a bunch of Han living there already. Still, again, nothing in history has shown that China is any better at colonizing lands than the west (or even the Russians).


No. Xinjiang, or whatever its name was, was controlled by the Chinese government more than a thousand years before the Qing dynasty.

China didn't really colonize, if colonization means to move there and enslave the natives.


I'm glad you know the history there. It's definitely more convoluted than most people think.

> nothing in history has shown that China is any better at colonizing lands than the west

I agree - I guess historically speaking, China just hasn't colonized enough countries to have a decent sample size.


>They ignore the very real benefits that have been afforded to millions of poverty-stricken people in Xinjiang via progressive government policies, while tunnel visioning solely on human rights abuses.

And I'm sure that many folks made the argument that Africans working on plantations in the South had a higher standard of living than where they came from.


> Xinjiang is consistently portrayed in Western media as a nightmarish, dystopian, Orwellian hellhole suffering under the iron fisted oppression of the Communist Party

That’s because it is, and if you visited you wouldn’t be so flippant about it. In large part because a tourist can’t even make a stop in the area without getting their own personal police minder.

It’s little different than North Korea.


I’ve visited Xinjiang in 2006, before the 2008 riots mind you, but it’s just another Chinese province and you wouldn’t know there was trouble going on if it weren’t for the armed police, extra internet fire walling, and so on.

That is not to say there isn’t a problem, but hanging out in Urumqi is definitely nowhere near as interesting as hanging out in Pyongyang.

Tibet is much harder to visit, foreigners have to apply for a permit (which you don’t need to visit Xinjiang).


I prefer the approach to Xinjiang deradicalization over our methods in Iraq and Syria.


Hitler had some great social programs too, what's your point?


Woah.

I thought you were being hyperbolic.

Man!

That was a well fleshed out answer. Is Quora always like that? Or is that a one off kind of thing?


One-off. Most stuff on Quora is a thinly veiled advertisement for something - at least when I search for something and end up on Quora.

But there are exceptions - and boy is this article a great example of that.


If you follow the right people you can have a good experience. I try to strike some balance to avoid echo chambers. If you've ever wanted to learn the perspectives on life and fighting of a convicted war criminal/terrorist then Quora's your place.

The thing I absolutely loathe, however are these clickbait answers - always about sex - written by anonymous users and normal answers that - because the photos load before the text - have borderline porn to draw people in. It ruins the site.



I enjoyed having my perspective on China as a country expanded; I don't hear many positive things about it, and the environmental focus is genuinely refreshing, in stark contrast to my own country's idiocy in that department.

With that said, nothing outweighs their government's human rights violations. Nothing. I know the U.S. has some of its own, but not to an extremity nor scale nor public acceptance that comes anywhere close to that in China.


The very existence of America is a human rights violation, vis-a-vis the original inhabitants and African slavery. Not to mention the multitude of similar abuses those same Europeans caused over the rest of the world. China's violations are certainly serious, but it's just not comparable to the sheer extent of the West's.


I was of course only talking about the present and future. That's what matters when it comes to foreign policy.


We are tied to so many treaties and agreements made in the past, that I believe this is not the case.


> China's violations are certainly serious, but it's just not comparable to the sheer extent of the West's.

Within recent history this just isn't true.

In fact I'm not even sure it's true over history going back to the creation of the colonies: Decades spent under communism - millions dead, freedom totally unknown and nothing to show for it. I don't know to assign magnitude to anything like that, but to say they aren't comparable is wrong.


India never had a famine before the British landed on its shores, when all was said and done, they stole over $45 trillion dollars worth of value from that single nation...

I imagine Africa's stolen loot was many times larger (just the gold export records from South Africa are staggering), not even counting the rest of the world. China would have to maliciously work for decades (maybe centuries) to do the same kind of economic damage that Europe did to these regions.

Realize we are comparing the Chinese, who invaded almost nobody in the last 2000 years, to Europeans, who have invaded almost everybody just in the last 500 years. Not even close here....


How many people do you estimate died unnecessarily under Mao?


The Dzungar People might disagree, if they were not killed off: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dzungar_genocide


> the original inhabitants

could say the same about China's history, how many ethnic groups have been genocided because they didn't want to be ruled by the Han


"Nothing" you say? What about wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, with hundreds of thousands killed in the name of lies hidden behind "human rights" narrative?

It's rather glaringly clear that we, Western populations, are constantly fed with biased information from Western media, making us believe that our utopian notion of "human rights" is superb and that we know how to achieve it, at least in theory, while in practice our US-led coalition used these beliefs only to justify its tragic agendas leading to hundreds of thousands of casualties; that's much worse effect than what China induced in Tibet and Xinjiang, no matter how you look at it.

Yet, after all this, we still somehow believe that we have an upper hand in the "human rights" game?


Both countries are equal in terms of human rights violations. It's not popularized, but the US has a good amount of this stuff as well.


Aparting from political views, it does depend on types of questions are asked to some degree.

Like 'Do China have cars?'

Questions without basic googling. Well, even this type of questions, there are still many people who try to answer it by statistics.


Usually either:

1. Paid Chinese State-sponsored propaganda/troll [1]

OR

2. Super nationalist Chinese person (most are) either from China or abroad who take major offense when "their" views are challenged.

[1] https://foreignpolicy.com/2015/06/17/how-to-spot-a-state-fun...


Besides being a broad generalization, your point #2 applies to basically anybody on the internet who has their views challenged, to be honest. Doesn't need to be a paid troll or nationalist at all.


I'm Chinese, I think the trolls (50 cents army) is mostly just a joke/meme. But I might be wrong.


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