“True Pride” – Time magazine
Just a few weeks ago, the west’s view of china was dominated by thuggish torch guards, hypersensitive nationalists and a repressive government. But since the earthquake in Sichuan, the immense state-led rescue effort and the outpouring of charity from the Chinese people has taken center stage. Has the country really changed that much? Not really. The two phenomena on display — nationalism and compassion — are related facets of the vast, multidimensional nation that China is. When it comes to my homeland, I feel them both.
But I became perplexed by the behavior of the supposedly neutral media. No report of China was ever complete without a mention of Tiananmen; no Chinese interviewee ever had anything positive to say about his or her life. It seemed to me that Western media were exclusively highlighting the worst side of China.
My Western compatriots, normally so skeptical of the media, seemed to buy this depiction of China. Friends would tell me in low, excited tones that they were going to China. Would they be arrested? No, I would say: Chinese criticize the government all the time.
China is proud of its culture but also curious about other ones. Chinese people genuinely regard the Olympics as a wonderful way to introduce the world to their home. Opening your doors only to have them flung back in your face with misinformed and misguided moral disdain is deeply insulting. The Western press and public opinion are filled with condescension toward China, and the attitude that the West alone knows what is best for all peoples.
Perhaps my views qualify me as a nationalist. Personally, I have always thought of myself as trying to understand China and explain what the Chinese point of view might be. I have loved my international upbringing precisely because understanding — and appreciating — diverse cultural perspectives helps me overcome misconceptions, respect others and settle differences. The Sichuan earthquake, tragic as it was, has shown the world the compassionate face of Chinese nationalism. The human spirit underpins it and connects us all.
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