May 18

Who is Tang Buxi?

Written by Buxi on Sunday, May 18th, 2008 at 6:23 pm
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A regular poster asked me to talk a little about myself in a previous thread.

I don’t want to get into a long discussion of my history, life, and professional resume (or at least not at this time).  But I do want to explain why I’m active here, and why I’m contributing to this blog.

I am a Chinese citizen residing in the United States.  My career (and young family) keeps me very busy, but this… sharing my thoughts, sharing the thoughts of the Chinese people… is something I felt I had to do.   Many, many Chinese have been motivated by the vast disconnect between West/East over the last 2 months to share our voices.  I see Chinese voices posting on Western blogs, newspaper sites everywhere I look, something that was extremely rare even 12 months ago.

We’ve been silent, we’ve been passive for years.  But we’re now in a new era, where our unity, our values, our convictions should be on display for the whole world to see.  Now is not the time for the Chinese people to cower in shame before Western criticism.  It’s time to stand up and explain our values and perspectives.  Mutual respect can only come after mutual understanding, and there’s far too little of the latter right now.

I love my people; if nothing else, this is the least I could do to further their interests.

And on a personal note to S.K. Cheung… that’s something I hope you (and other overseas Chinese) posting here will consider as well.  I don’t intend to lecture you, or force any values on you.  But I do want to make a small personal appeal to you: remember that regardless of how long you’ve been outside of China, regardless of how poorly you speak/read/write Chinese, in the eyes of many Chinese, you are and will always be welcome as a member of the Chinese family.

How you respond to that emotion is entirely up to you.

I recognize that some overseas acknowledge only a genetic relationship with other Chinese, but have little interest in anything more; no cultural ties, no social ties.  I don’t in any way condemn those who see themselves this way.

Keep in mind, though, that China has a long history of overseas Chinese (even Sun Zhongshan held US citizenship) playing a key role in giving back, in working to build and strengthen the country of their ancestry.  Although China and the Chinese people have come a long way over the past century, we still have far to go.  Your well-intentioned support and love can have a dramatic impact on our nation and people.

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26 Responses to “Who is Tang Buxi?”

  1. Eugene Zhao Says:

    Dear Buxi,

    Well said! You have done something I have thought about doing, but have not got to it for various reasons. You said everything I want to say in terms of the need to set up a blog like yours.


  2. CLC Says:

    regardless of how long you’ve been outside of China, … you are and will always be welcome as a member of the Chinese family.

    I just want to add that, unfortunately, many people in the US still treat citizens with Chinese descent as outsiders and view them with suspicion.

  3. Allen Yu Says:

    My family was from Taiwan (300+ years of history there, before that, we were from guang ping in FuJian province).

    I’ve been in the States for almost 30 years. Currently in the S.F. bay area working as an IP attorney. Did my graduate work in engineering at UCLA. Recently got my J.D. from Harvard.

    I second everything Bu Xi is doing here and said above but am busy like everyone else. I’ll try to contribute as I can…

    I also feel an urge to get the Chinese perspective out and to reach out to other Chinese after the last 2 months. In that endeavor, I have set up a website (keeptibetfree.net) regarding Tibet.

    A purpose of the site is to link to several of the more objective web resources on Tibet.

    Another part of the website will be a set of FAQs. I intend to get the first set up early this week. I welcome anyone’s feedback. If people want to participate in making the FAQs, please contact me through the contact me section of that website.

  4. jim Says:

    I don’t always agree with you, but I am glad to get your perspective. At least you attempt to respond to comments (at least you HAVE comments), which is more than I can say for Roland (ESWN).

    , sharing the thoughts of the Chinese people

    I lived in China for more than 5 years and I still spend about 4 months of every year there. (I’m American – not an ABC). Anyway, I just want to point out that you probably shouldn’t pretend to be speaking for “the Chinese people” here. Just speak for yourself, because that is all you are doing anyway. Also, when you say you are “sharing the thoughts of the Chinese people,” you are only contributing to the stereotype in the West that “all Chinese think the same way.” Just my opinion.

  5. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Buxi:
    I appreciate your honesty and openness, and also that of the other regular contributors here. I was born in HK, but my family moved over 30 years ago. The ONLY reason for our move was 1997. My parents wanted absolutely nothing to do with the CCP in any way, shape, or form. They moved earlier than most so that their kids could firmly establish themselves here. They left good jobs in exchange for much harder lives, for the sake of their kids. And I will be eternally grateful. But because in their minds, the CCP drove them out, I will forever be opposed to the CCP.
    My parents still have many ties in HK, but I have very little. As I said before, my background informs my opinions, and they are of a definite western persuasion.
    I speak Cantonese as well as the next guy; I can read so-so (but certainly not the simplified version). And my writing is laughable.
    WE are probably of similar age, and at similar points in our lives with multi-faceted responsibilities, which makes me even more impressed at your capacity on this website. I applaud your passion, and your methods. I have not experienced the aspersions that CLC seems to allude to, but I am also not so naive as to think that they have disappeared, even in 2008. I think your ability to engage someone like Jim, who clearly is of a different background and with different opinions, but of similar sophistication, speaks to your success thus far. I wish you continued success in the future, and will continue to follow your work. The irony is that the ones who spurn reasoning for vitriol, and who prefer personal attacks to polite exchanges, on both sides of the divide, will remain the most elusive to your reach; but they are the ones who need the voice of moderation the most.

  6. Bing Ma Yong Says:


    You are doing a great job.

    I have similar experience: I’ve been living in the west for some years and had never writen to any blog regarding anything. I rarely went on mainland Chinese websites . I have been always busy with work and kids and had never cared about the west media’s bias towards China in the past.

    But the events in the past two months were just too much to bear. So I raise my voice here and there.

    I also echo one of Jim’s points: one might just able to speak for oneself.

  7. Jane Says:

    Thank you Buxi. Keep up the good work.

    Jim, I don’t think Buxi is pretending to speak for the Chinese people here. The purpose of this blog I think is to introduce the framework/paradigm/perspective by which many Chinese analyze some issues.

    The West has a framework/paradigm/perspective of its own. For a long time, the West treats its framework/paradigm/ perspective as the standard and as the point of reference. Now the Chinese are telling the West, that theirs is equally valid and it is time that their voice be heard as well.

    With one in every five person on this planet being Chinese, I think we ought to listen to them.

  8. ChinkTalk Says:

    Jim – what I find patronizing is that the Western media pretend to speak for the Chinese people in areas of human rights, democracy, and government. And the Western media lie to their own people – preying on the ignorance of the general populace. Gees, this sounds a lot like what the West are accusing the Communists of doing to their own people.

  9. LuJunyi Says:

    I only recently started reading this blog (and by recently, I mean…today). But this is a great blog and a great forum to read–your writing is both sophisticated and enjoyable, and I think it brings an oft overlooked perspective to the table. I am a former Chinese citizen who has been living in the US since I was 3, and only recently became a citizen, and I think I have been struggling my entire life to bring a distinctly Chinese-American perspective to the table.

    Kudos, and keep up the good work! I will be reading daily from today!

  10. Buxi Says:

    I really appreciate all of the kind comments above. I’m very gratified to know that I am not alone in my feelings.

    As we say in Chinese…
    when the water arrives, the channel will be formed (水到渠成).

    When the conditions are right, the right steps will be taken. I’ve become convinced that we are the representatives of a new generation of Chinese, comfortable in the West while remaining connected and informed about Chinese issues. Technology (both the internet and inexpensive travel) has made this possible, but a new openness in society (both Western and Chinese) is also a critical factor.

    I know many Westerners who are curious about China, but have little idea that their media is only giving part of the story. I know many overseas Chinese who have a personal interest in understanding their country, but many of them are deeply conflicted… they’d like to respect and love their roots, but the only voices they’ve heard has told them there isn’t much to love.

    We have the opportunity, and in my mind the responsibility, to help bridge this gap. I want to tell everyone that informed, principled, peace-loving people can love modern China. I want all of us to understand, and especially the overseas Chinese who have been shy and silent for far too long, that all of humanity has many reasons to be proud of modern China.

  11. Buxi Says:


    I’ll take your comment as a reminder. Jane and BMY are completely right. I don’t want to speak for the Chinese people. I have my political disagreements with probably hundreds of millions of Chinese, and I’m often drawn into heated political debates on Chinese websites. I do want Americans to understand that there’s a diversity of opinion in China, and I will post a few topics later today that proves precisely that.

    But there are also numerous points on which almost all Chinese agree, and yet which most Americans + Westerners simply don’t comprehend. Those points are the topics I’ve tried to emphasize here.

  12. Buxi Says:

    S.K. Cheung,

    I thought that might be your background, to be honest. 🙂 Someone with Cantonese-last name raised in Canada… odds are pretty good that they’re a member of an entire generation of Hong Kong’ers who emigrated in the mid-1990s.

    Of course, you’re more than your background. So, I’d just invite you to learn more about Hong Kong and modern China so you can come to your own conclusions. Our parents’ generations have their own thoughts and conclusions, formed after decades of personal experience. The last 10-30 years however have literally been a revolution in Chinese affairs, and everything they knew has been turned on its head, and they’d probably admit that themselves. You owe it to yourself to re-learn and re-evaluate the facts.

    I am going to send you these links to the Hong Kong University’s Public Opinion Programme, a series of on-going surveys about public opinion in Hong Kong.


    As you look through the second chart, you’ll see that your parents weren’t alone in their concern. Many (most?) Hong Kong people were disturbed by what they had heard and read of “Communist” China, and had very little confidence that China would live up to its obligations.

    But you’ll see that with time, their concerns have largely been alleviated. Look through the POP results… look at their feelings towards the Hong Kong + Beijing governments, and how it has evolved over time. Look at how they feel about their rights and freedoms, and how it has evolved over time.


    I was actually in Hong Kong in 1997 to *celebrate* the handover, but I understand those who did not. But I’m glad to say that over the past 11 years, the Chinese experience in Hong Kong is precisely one of those things that all of us should be proud of.

  13. jim Says:

    I want to tell everyone that informed, principled, peace-loving people can love modern China.

    I don’t think anyone really disputes that. What a lot of people dispute, both in the West and in China, is that “informed, principled, peace-loving people” can love the Chinese government. That is always the disconnect, right there.

    For example, if you want to talk about the US, I do NOT think it is possible for “informed, principled, peace-loving people” to love the Bush administration. And in my view, the people who really love and understand America should hate the Bush government.

    In my opinion, Chinese are much more likely to equate the government with “China.” So when outsiders criticize the government’s policies, they take it personally, as if they are attacking “China.” This is a huge source of misunderstanding between Chinese and the West.

  14. jim Says:

    I just want to add this to my last comment:

    There are Americans who think almost exactly like some Chinese in this respect: any criticism is treasonous. They questions the patriotism of others. They accuse others of being duped or brainwashed by foreign powers. They wrap themselves in the flag and see enemies everywhere. They see all media as biased against them. Anyone who disagrees with them “hates America.”

    Whether they are Chinese or Americans or Italians, people who think like this all suffer from what Einstein called the “infantile sickness” of nationalism.

    If I am “anti-” anything, it is not China nor the CCP; I am simply anti-nationalist in all of its manifestations, anywhere and everywhere.

  15. Buxi Says:


    What a lot of people dispute, both in the West and in China, is that “informed, principled, peace-loving people” can love the Chinese government. That is always the disconnect, right there.

    Well first of all, many in the United States have no idea where the Chinese government begins and the Chinese people start. If Americans criticized the Chinese government for not doing enough to handle health care reform, or not doing enough to curb judicial corruption, or in censoring internet discussions… most Chinese people would simply applaud and agree, not get annoyed or upset at “foreign criticism”.

    But when Americans criticize the Chinese government for committing genocide and invading Tibet, the Chinese people won’t stand for it. When American criticize the Chinese government for imprisoning a US-funded dissident in Hu Jia but don’t acknowledge the far greater amount room given for domestic dissent, it reads like myopic hypocrisy.

    As the quote goes… My Country! When right keep it right; when wrong, set it right!

    You can come to your own opinions as to whether I’m informed, principled, or peace-loving.

    But I love my government for what it has done right, and I want it to keep it right. I love my government for the economic progress over the last 30 years; I love my government for its rapid response to the recent earthquake; I love my government for bringing prosperity to a massive developing country, an act not duplicated by any other government in the modern post-WW2 era.

    The Chinese government has also done many things wrong, for which I hate it. I’d be willing to list them here, but do I really need to? Is there anyone in the English-speaking world that isn’t aware of what the Chinese government is, and continues to do wrong?

  16. Allen Yu Says:

    From Jim: “I do NOT think it is possible for “informed, principled, peace-loving people” to love the Bush administration.”

    Jim. I’m afraid that kind of tone can stop rather than start conversation though…

    Go under the issues. Try to explore (not attack) each other’s assumptions. I think that’s the best way to foster conversation…. Shine a light on others’ assumptions; let others shine lights on your assumptions. At the end of the day, both sides can still stand by their assumptions. But if the others is to change their mind, they can’t be “shouted” to change their mind. They need to change their mind on their own terms, in their own ways – usually by re-examining their fears, beliefs, and assumptions.

    Making conclusory remarks – or denigrating the others’ views as somehow baseless – I think that will stop rather than start conversations .

  17. S.K. Cheung Says:

    Thanks Buxi, I will check out those links. I might even show my parents. To be honest, I haven’t polled them on their thoughts regarding China in recent years…we’re just content with where we are now.
    From my limited recent blogging experiences, I do agree with Jim that an anti-CCP voice is not distinguished from an anti-China voice. Despite what Buxi has said, many don’t seem to grasp the difference.
    I also agree with Allen, however, that most people on a blog come with an opinion, and are not carte blanche. I enjoy this site for the tolerance of differing opinions, and to explore other people’s assumptions so that I may hopefully refine my own point of view. But I doubt anyone here is in the business of changing someone else’s mind, nor would they be likely to completely change their own.
    I’m with Jim that November 08 and January 09 can’t possibly come soon enough.

  18. Buxi Says:

    From my limited recent blogging experiences, I do agree with Jim that an anti-CCP voice is not distinguished from an anti-China voice. Despite what Buxi has said, many don’t seem to grasp the difference.

    S.K. Cheung,

    You missed my point above. An uninformed voice that attempts to be “anti-CCP” easily becomes anti-China, because it doesn’t recognize the difference between the two.

    I will rephrase again what I said above: a foreign voice that criticized the Chinese government for poorly managing the 城管 would not be seen as anti-China by the vast majority of Chinese… the fact that most Westerners probably have no idea who the 城管 are and why they should be criticized is precisely why what much of the criticisms coming from Westerners end up being rejected as ignorant, biased drivel.

  19. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Buxi:

    I don’t think those who find the CCP objectionable would limit their criticism to just their management of “zing-gwoon” (sorry don’t know how to say it in mandarin, just cantonese). And if “the other side” can’t fathom CCP shortcomings beyond that, then perhaps Westerners also have some basis for rejecting unconditional support of the CCP as being motivated by ignorance and bias.
    If the objective is to bridge the gap between the two sides, it seems that if a speaker takes pains to enunciate the distinction between CCP and China, that the reader should take him/her at their word. Likewise, I don’t think Americans would interpret criticism by a PRC citizen of the Bush administration as criticism of all Americans, or of what the US stands for.

  20. Buxi Says:

    S.K. Cheung,

    We’re really running around in circles trying to force hats onto each other.

    I’ll just agree with you that Westerners absolutely *can* distinguish between the CCP and the people if they educate themselves and take care to “enunciate the distinction”. I hope you’ll also agree with me that the Chinese people *can* also distinguish between criticism of our government and ourselves, when such a distinction exists.

  21. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Buxi:
    I can certainly so stipulate, at least for myself. I also appreciate that there is a difference between “can” and “do”, in the context of our recent exchange. My hope is that people on both sides not only possess such capacity, but actually utilize it.

  22. Lee Wee Shing Says:

    Dear Buxi,

    I am a 2nd-generation Malaysian-born Chinese, educated, lived & worked for more than 10 years in New Zealand but now back in Malaysia. My mum & dad were poor, illiterate Chinese immigrants from Guangdong & they slipped into Malaysia in the 1920s before Malaya got its independence in 1957.

    Malaysia/S’pore, like much of ex colonial S E Asia, were staunchly anti communist,so by extension anti China. During my early school years, we were not allowed to read, hear & communicate with our ancestral land & we were taught China & Chinese communists were evil & monstrous. There was a deliberate virtual black-out on everything concerning China.

    Somehow, mum & dad conveyed to me lots & lots of information about China & I really began to show intensed interests on China when I was attending Auckland University in NZ (Malaysia’s news was tightly controlled). That was when I combed all the books & news magazines on all matters concerning China. This intensed curiousity turned into a flood of love & sympathy at China’s externally-imposed isolation. My conclusion on China’s sufferings rests solely on the laps of the evil West. It was from the 1990s onwards that I had taken up the uneviable tasks to peel off the ugly, seemingly benevolent face mask of the West in all the comment sections of all the main stream Western news sites & I thoroughly enjoy doing so right up to todate.

    By the way, there is a huge pool of China-loving local-born Chinese in S E Asia. All we have to do is to establish a suitable platform to pool these forces together.

    I just cannot possibly describe my love for my ancestor’s motherland, China & by extension its people & government. Just loving you, China!

  23. Buxi Says:

    Lee Wee Shing,

    Thank you very much for your comments.

    I especially admire your parents and other overseas Chinese who fled China out of desperation, but still believe they should love the country of their ancestry. They don’t “owe” anything to China… anything these overseas Chinese have today has been achieved by their own hands and accomplishments.

    This is a little bit different than myself, for example; I feel I “owe” China and the Chinese people for the opportunities that it has given me in life, and that’s part of the motivation I have for giving back. I think their and your love of China is more “pure” and admirable than even mine.

    Whatever the case, as long as overseas Chinese do not forget their roots and their country, China has hope. I think many Chinese respect and admire the Jewish people for how well the diaspora in different countries has been able to support each other and their new homeland. I hope that we will be able to do the same.

    I’m also glad that finally, after centuries of being a weak burden… China has become strong and successful enough that countries in southeast Asia now don’t have an option but to stop their oppression of your identity.

    I will disagree with you on one point, however. I don’t think we can place all of the blame on the West. As I said elsewhere, I believe the West is only guilty of being selfish, little else. There are many Chinese who’re more responsible for our pathetic history over the last 200 years. We can’t waste our time blaming others for not helping us, for taking advantage of our own weakness.

    As long as we finally learn from our history and stay on track, we will succeed even without the West’s assistance and understanding.

  24. paul Says:

    Thank you Buxi, maybe here i am the least professional one , i have read your blog for a day ,and i understand the greatness of regonition. First someone like you who live abroad is welcomed to your motherland at anytime , and i’d like to be your friend. I have read your points , it is very profound and that is what a Chinese people should do-not to argue but to introduce a true China to the foreign people, The foreigners’ misunderstandings are all result from that they do not understand China enough, I am a graduate of 2008 and i have many foreign friends, they told me that when they first came to China, many of their friends advise them not to go , just because they do not have a good impression on Chinese , but when they come to China ,they found that Chinese people are so nice and all of them love here very much. one of them is from Canada and now is settled down here. I think as time goes on, as more and more foreigner come to China in person, they will know a different nation !


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