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May 20

Chinese voices – Those who love America

Written by Buxi on Tuesday, May 20th, 2008 at 4:42 pm
Filed under:Analysis, culture | Tags:,
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Some Chinese have spoken of their disillusionment after watching Western press coverage after recent Tibet riots, and others have spoken of how their opinions changed after they have actually *lived* in the United States… but even so, many Chinese have a deep love affair with all things American. For many, the United States government can do no wrong (while the Chinese government can do little right).

In an effort to add some depth to Western knowledge of Chinese voices… here is the translation of a thread celebrating the American government’s support given to China, after the recent earthquake.

This thread is from KDNet’s Cat’s Eye (猫眼) forum. This is also one of China’s most popular discussion forums, and a well-known gathering place for those who tend to have a more “rightist” political world view. Criticisms of the Chinese government tends to be most common. (Also see earlier introduction to Tianya.)

I don’t translate this message to suggest that this is a common view amongst Chinese (not at all). I post this message to reaffirm that the Chinese marketplace of ideas is thriving, and many, many different world-views are openly competing for attention and support.

SICHUAN EARTHQUAKE

Posted by 中南海二锅头:
(From the official Xinhua news agency): Forty-seven members of the United States House of Representatives have sent a letter to Chinese ambassador Zhou Wenzhong, offering their consolations in the aftermath of the Sichuan earthquake. The chairmen of the United States House of Representatives Working Group on Chinese-American Affairs: Rick Larsen and Mark Kirk, as well as other committee members expressed in this letter their strong sympathies, especially in light of the tragic injuries and deaths widespread amongst school-children. The American people are thinking of the Chinese people, and have kept them in their prayers. At this moment of difficulty, America stands with the Chiniese people, and are ready to provide any kind of help to the Chinese people. If China requires them, the American government’s relevant authorities is ready to send rescue crews to the earthquake zone. On May 13th, the United States House of Representatives held a moment of silence in order to express their sympathies for the victims of the Sichuan earthquake.

Posted by wangbj:
American House of Representatives, as a member of the Chinese people, I offer you my deepest respects! Your actions have ignored differences of country and race, and have shown only caring for the lives of people! The dignity of humanity! I again express my deepest respects, and hope to model ourselves after you!

Posted by 愚蠢涧:
The United States just donated another $26 million. This is just another example that you’ll only see the true bonds between men during a time of disaster. America, I love you.

Posted by 愚蠢涧:
Some Chinese are still cursing Americans every day. Comparing the quality of Americans and the quality of Chinese… I’m really embarrassed to be a member of the Chinese race.

Posted by 669064:
Of course, you have to understand what Americans are! America is a country with people from all around the world, it’s basically a glorious smaller version of the United Nations. The legacies of people from all nations can be found in America. The United States has the most races of any country on this planet, and no race has more than 1/4 of the total population. It’s really surprising that so many races can peacefully co-exist and thrive. Being an enemy with the United States means you’re an enemy with all of the people of the world.

Posted by 锐利服:
America – the son of God.

Posted by 无畏使者:
Glorious America!

Posted by 南宁王生:
As a result of many years of propaganda, a substantial number of Chinese (especially those with simple minds) have the biased view that Americans like to get involved in the affairs of others, and these Chinese have developed a negative reaction to this sort of intervention. But what they don’t know is that if the United States didn’t like to “intervene”, no one would’ve stood in the way as Japan conquered China, southeast Asia, and the rest of the world.

Only because the United States likes to intervene:
– was Hitler prevented from swallowing the USSR, all of Europe, and the world;
- did China enter the United Nations Security Committee as a victor;
- did Taiwan escape Japan’s colonialism and return to the motherland;
- did the South Korean people escape the Kim family’s bloody rule, allowing them to live a prosperous and happy life in a democratic and free country;
- did Europe and Japan quickly return from post-war devastation and quickly return on the road to modernization;
- did China avoid a nuclear attack from the Soviet Union;
- did Kuwait avoid being slaughtered like a little lamb by Saddam, and all of the Middle East avoided the heavy hoof of Saddam’s rule;
- was the Iraqi people liberated from Saddam’s violent dictatorship, given the right to vote, and a happy/glorious life as a free citizens;
- was the ethnic Chinese in Indonesia ultimately saved from ethnic rioting;
- do the Myanmar people have any hope of surviving in the face of overwhelming natural disaster;
- was the Internet, GPS, and other modern technologies spread to every corner of the world, allowing us to sit here idly discussing these issues;
- only because the United States likes to intervene has world peace been maintained, and the principle of righteousness can grow…

In conclusion: the world has righteousness because of the United States; humanity knows happiness because of the United States.

Posted by 解放在即b:
God has sent the American people to rescue the Chinese people.

Posted by 花花的哥哥:
America – the bigger brother helping all of humanity down the correct path.

Posted by wolfgen:
The American people and government have always stood with the Chinese people; this is a principle that has been verified through innumerable events.

Posted by 2383304:
Only because of America is this world full of hope!

I can find no media report suggesting that the United States has donated $26 million as mentioned abovel the US government has so far given $500k as an “initial” donation to the Sichuan earthquake relief effort. The US government has also subsequently flown relief goods (tents, ready-to-eat meals, generators) “worth $1.5m” to Chengdu.  President George Bush offered condolences and support. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi issued this statement with the same.

(I wonder how many Americans would recognize or agree with this view of their own country and government!)


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20 Responses to “Chinese voices – Those who love America”

  1. Will Says:

    Interesting. As an American, I certainly don’t think that the 43 Congresspeople were doing much more than showing a little decency (and maybe getting a little publicity). As for donations, the US does give out a lot of money after disasters, and often doesn’t get respect for it. I recall reading an article in the English-language Beijing Review after the tsunami that showed a picture US military helicopters delivering aid to Southeast Asia. The article accused the US of trying to expand its influence in the region through giving aid. It’s interesting to see the opposite side of the coin; that is, seeing people who are unabashedly enthusiastic about America. Still, I put just as little stock into opinions that say “America, I love you!” as I do opinions that say “America, I hate you!” Both are emotional responses to a particular government action. I’m sure if most of these commentators sat down and thought about America’s role in the world, they’d be less enthusiastic. However, I also believe that those who talk about how much they hate America would probably not hate it so much if they thought a bit more about the situation.

  2. Raul Duke Says:

    Being a long time student of China and a former resident there, I am happy to see that there are still those who see the potential of both the US and China as nations, as well as the potential for the relationship.
    In response the the comment at the end concerning US aid and amounts given. There are many souces besides the media that will give you the numbers. In all, through government, organizations such as USAID, Bank of America and others, aid from the US to China in the wake of the Sichuan earthquake has far exceeded $26 million. More importantly, critical supplies such as blankets, lanterns, generators, and tents have been sent via US Air Force aircraft. Ultimately it is this type of assistance that is needed in Sichuan. The Chinese government has over $1 trillion of US currency in its reserves right now. The people of Sichuan need shelter, clean water, and help in recovery, NOT money. There are many things for which the US can be criticized, but giving aid to nations in crisis is not among them. Concrening the fact that you may not agree with the positive sentiments expressed here about the US, if you are a US citizen yourself, I am proud to say that the constitution (and rights granted to you thereby) says that you are 100% entitled to your ill-informed, and poorly thought out opinion.

  3. Buxi Says:

    Raul Duke,

    Just want to clarify that the above thread is talking about donations exclusively from the American government. Merging in donations from American civic + business organizations really doesn’t do the United States any favors in this comparison, since total donations from the US has also been dramatically dwarfed by donations from other countries.

    I say the above without any hint of criticism, by the way. Very few average Chinese donated to the victims of the Myanmar typhoon, and I couldn’t possibly blame Americans for not donating their hard-earned dollars to a disaster in a distant foreign country. I’m more than satisfied settling for prayers and sympathies from the American public, which many in the United States have graciously provided.

    I have a pretty balanced view of the United States all and all, very much a moderate by American standards I believe. I very much respect what the United States has achieved, but I also understand its limitations. I’m not a US citizen, but hopefully you’ll still say I’m entitled to my opinion. Don’t get caught in the false assumption that Chinese nationalists must hate America; we’re not Islamic fundamentalists, the American “way of life” is not something that offends or threatens us. This isn’t a zero-sum game; we don’t need to weaken America to build the strong China that we hope to see.

    As far as my “ill-informed and poorly thought out opinion”… all I can say is I suspect most Americans are probably equally skeptical that “the world has righteousness because of the United States; humanity knows happiness because of the United States.”

  4. Will Says:

    Actually, Raul Duke, if Buxi is in the United States, all of the rights (including free speech) enumerated in the Constitution apply to him, regardless of his citizenship. If he is not in the US, he is still entitled to his opinion.

    I’m an American and proud of it. Still, I recognize that the US is only one country, albeit a very large and powerful one at the moment. Anyone who sits down and thinks for a bit about world history, politics, economics, etc. would very quickly come to the conclusion that the US is neither a wholly positive nor a wholly negative force in the world, and that though the US has done a lot of good in the world it has also done more than a few bad things too. Blind patriotism is not true patriotism. I accept reality even though I don’t always approve of it; I admit my country’s flaws even though I also remember its virtues.

  5. B.Smith Says:

    I just found this website today after reading China Law Blog; it’s very interesting. I was wondering if Buxi could provide the source for his statement that donations from the U.S. have been “dwarfed” by other nations. I’m curious to see where – and how – this data is collected, especially in light of the many, many channels in which to donate.

    I have some Chinese friends who were pleasantly surprised at the US reaction. A month ago they were angry at the US for supporting the Dalai Lama, etc., and viewed the U.S. as opposed to China. I think this is a great opportunity for everyone involved to see that just because someone disagrees with you politically doesn’t mean they’re “against” you. Debate and disagreement can be good things, they lead to greater insight and they identify problems that can then be solved. We may have strongly differing views, but we can still help each other when needed.

  6. CLC Says:

    @ B Smith

    This from Chinese embassy website (http://www.china-embassy.org/eng/xw/t435347.htm )
    Saudi Arabia offers $60 mln aid to China, U.S. delivers $0.5 mln (05/15/08).

    I understand most US aid will come from private charities, but I think the total will still be far less than what Saudi Arabia has offered.

    Meanwhile, the Canadian government announced it would provide 1 million Canadian dollars (about 1 million U.S. dollars) to China. It will aslo match private donations made to aid groups working on disaster relief in Myanmar and China. (http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/World/2008/05/15/5580861-cp.html)

  7. Buxi Says:

    B. Smith,

    When we’re speaking of government funds, I think we can safely count on governments publicizing their donations. This isn’t the kind of stuff that needs to be done under the table. The US ambassador to China has spoken often about the $500k “initial” grant + subsequent material aid.

    By point of comparison, in addition to the huge grant from Saudi Arabia… the Taiwanese government immediately pledged a donation of 2 billion NT, which translates into about $70 million USD. Even India pledged $5 million.

    As far as non-governmental donations, it’s just common sense from watching the news coming from different countries. It gets a little iffy figuring out how we want to “account” for these gifts; I’m a Chinese citizen that donated to a Taiwanese charity located in the US… how are my donations counted?

    But Japan and Taiwan are both raising huge amounts of money from both private enterprises and individuals. Taiwan’s Formosa Plastics Group (led by founder/president Wang Yung-Ching) personally donated nearly $15 million USD. Just about every other Taiwanese business has also donated huge amounts. Just about every convenience store in Japan has a donation box for the Sichuan earthquake at this point.

    Taiwan and Hong Kong have both held large-scale benefit concerts, with Taiwan’s president Ma Yingjiu personally manning the phone lines. Ma Yingjiu and out-going Pres Chen Shui-bian + VP Annette Lu (both of the pro-independence DPP) all donated $10k+ *personally*. I don’t recall the numbers exactly from the Taiwan concert this weekend, but I believe it was on the order of $150 million+ USD. Much of this is because many ethnic Chinese of all political backgrounds have really been very personally touched by the suffering seen in this earthquake.

    In the mean time, many Chinese have been monitoring donations from US-based multinationals. McDonalds and KFC, for example, have been heavily criticized for “only” donating 1 million RMB each (at last those are the numbers I last heard).

    I appreciate as mentioned above the sympathies + prayers Americans have been sending to China… but in terms of cash dollars, it’s no contest. (And it shouldn’t be a contest, really.)

  8. B.Smith Says:

    @CLC and Buxi,

    Thanks for your responses. I thought we were speaking of total donations from countries, including private and government donations. The American government didn’t donate much, but I hope people will not misunderstand that. Traditionally in America, charity is the responsibility of the people, not the government. People donating directly is much more efficient than the government collecting taxes, then donating. At least, that is my view. I know many people in America who have donated, including my family and many friends, and we have encouraged others to also donate. Evangelist Franklin Graham alone gave $285,000 USD on May 15th. I’m not trying to boast about this, I just don’t want people to think that we don’t care. We do.

    At the same time, it’s not a contest, and my own personal view is that Americans, as well as many other Westerners in wealthy nations, should be giving a lot because we have been given so much in life. The earthquake has been a terrible tragedy, but it has the power to bring a lot of people together.

  9. admin Says:

    Admin’s note. This comment was emailed in by RD

    Before China criticizes anyone abroad, it should be remembered that a sense of entitlement is always wrong. Does a drowning man dare to criticize the color of the rope he is thrown to save him? I dare say not. Donations are a gift and every dollar or tent, or MRE should be appreciated. That’s the end of that story. The “American” response to this tragedy has been enormous, totaling $26 million and growing. Additionally, the US government has offered much more if China asks for it. Let’s not forget that America is made up of Americans and not the government. The Chinese “government” gave 5 million to the US after Katrina, but which private citizens in China gave their millions? The point is, you say “thank you” for what someone gives you, no matter what. Some here should think back to what was surely taught by their mothers and fathers, though it may have been some years ago. You are not “entitled” to anyone’s help. When you get it, be grateful.

  10. admin Says:

    Admin’s note. This comment was emailed in by RD

    Well met, Will.
    Blind patriotism does no one any good. I am old enough to know that and young enough to live by it. Both the extended time that I lived in China, and my current occupation (US government) paint my thoughts on this issue. I whole heartedly agree that recognizing US mistakes (Bush, Patriot Act, Iraq war, to name a few) is essential to any kind of meaningful progress. However, living in a country like China, living with Chinese people (not within a foreigners community) speaking only their language, eating only their food and understanding the little things that make life difficult for the everyday people there has a profound effect on one’s appreciation for what the US stands for…as cliched as that sounds. Our country is flawed indeed, like any other, but if Americans stop being proud of what is good, then we will not remember how to maintain that good and nuture it.
    Cheers,
    RD

  11. nanheyangrouchuan Says:

    Those criticizing the lack of pure cash handover by the US gov’t need to remember that it takes money to run those relief operations. Food, fuel and other logistics that are being performed not just by any Americans but the US military. Don’t see too many expats rushing from their luxury lives in Shanghai and Beijing to work around the clock like the men and women in US military uniforms that the whole world, especially China, loves to hate.

    These same people are breaking their backs to help Burma (or would if they were allowed by the junta)

  12. Buxi Says:

    I can only applaud those Americans who are both patriotic and realistic at the same time. I say that as someone who believes that’s precisely what the best of us Chinese are: both patriotic and realistic.

    It seems many Americans still have this persistent false belief that Chinese (especially the nationalist young) “hate” America. I personally think that’s extremely far from the truth. Criticism of American can boil down to one sentence that perhaps American patriots, if they took a close look at their own society, would not disagree with: America looks out for itself above all others. I don’t dispute that America does much good around the world, but not if it means compromising American interests.

    I think that’s perfectly understandable, especially because the United States is a democracy. Look at the presidential debates in your country (or any other democracy); how often are Chinese interests or Mexican interests argued for? Has any candidate running for office in America expressed concern over Chinese jobs being lost, or the high price of gasoline in India?

    Even in the on-going debate over Iraq, how important are Iraqi lives versus American lives? If there was a solution that could guarantee not another American life would be lost and American interests could be preserved… is there any doubt the United States would embrace this immediately, even if it means sacrificing the political rights and lives of average Iraqis?

    While this is understandable, it leads to anger in countries that wished we could have the same security that Americans can take for granted. I wish that China had the ability to guarantee its access to energy, even in the presence of determined political enemies. I also wish that China had the ability to dictate to the world economic order, demanding protection for those struggling economically in China (see: American farm subsidies, IPR treaties).

    And I think probably many of us, on both sides of the Pacific, suspect that American interests might be negatively affected by rising Chinese strength. There is much concern that this means the United States will take steps to slow China’s rise. I don’t think any of us can say that this concern is groundless. It will take the efforts and wisdom of both Chinese and Americans to find a way to cooperate in this process.

    But the bottom line is: being a Chinese nationalist doesn’t mean we wish the United States ill. It only means we hope to see our country as able to defend our interests as effectively as your government is able to defend yours.

    PS. B. Smith, I’ve read a little of the younger Graham’s work in China over recent years. I think he’s shown amazing vision, foresight, and understanding in cooperating with the Chinese government. As an evangelist and religious leader, he could’ve easily turned to rhetoric and made himself a harsh critic of China. But instead, I believe he’s really made himself a friend of China; I’m not Christian, and I don’t support active missionary work in China… but I respect his faith the way he has practiced it, and I respect other Chinese who choose to follow his teaching.

  13. Bing Ma Yong Says:

    I can’t agree more with RD :”The point is, you say “thank you” for what someone gives you, no matter what.”

    There might be some American interesting behind some of American government’s good action but I beleive the donation from a housewife in a suburban house of Chicago only shows good hearted people want to help others.

    And I also agree Chinese people should learn more from American people regarding the care of the victims by disasters happen in other region.

  14. Eric Says:

    Buxi: I’m an American, but I (and many other left-leaning Americans) think that our government’s policies of the last few decades have been disastrous, and have run contrary to the beliefs America was founded upon.

    Therefore, it’s unpleasant to read your statement of criticism of US exceptionalism that ends with “It’s not that we hate the US, its that we want to be able to be bullies the way you guys have been!”

    While I respect your wishes regarding China’s ability to protect its economic issues, the tone of your response is unfortunate.

  15. Buxi Says:

    Eric,

    Perhaps here’s a better way of phrasing it.

    I hope China will one day be strong enough to make our own decision about the society we want to be: either an exceptional one, or an universal one.

  16. bill t Says:

    Eric,

    “It’s not that we hate the US, its that we want to be able to be bullies the way you guys have been!”

    You shouldn’t be surprised at all. Buxi’s views are very similar to those of the typical American neocon. He just wants someone like Bush to run China. He just wants China to be the “bully” instead of the US. Uber-nationalists are the same in every country. Just as “liberals” are usually the same in every country.

  17. Buxi Says:

    bill t,

    Rather than being a bully, I’ll settle for China having 20% of the wealth and influence on this planet… seems fair to me, considering that China has 20% of the world’s population.

    Bush is certainly a nationalist, and so was Gandhi, so was Chen Shui-bian, and so is the Dalai Lama. Loving your country doesn’t necessarily mean you have to lie. And if you looked carefully through history, you might find a few incompetent lying liberals, too.

  18. Nimrod Says:

    bill t,

    I disagree. Neocons want to export American values and system by forceful (i.e. non-cooperative) action, in a bid to guarantee security for the US. Very few Chinese hold such extreme views.

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