Oct 01

The Value of Being a Chinese on the 59th Anniversary of the PRC

Written by Nimrod on Wednesday, October 1st, 2008 at 8:05 am
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Today, on National Day, some 190 thousand passers-by, strangers to each other, packed the festively decked-out Tian’anmen Square to watch the Flag Raising Ceremony.

Although 2008 doesn’t make a “round number” anniversary, so much has transpired in this troubled year to make it almost seem like one. On this day, we translate for you the following editorial published in the Beijing News (新京报), titled Today, let us remember the value of being a “Chinese”:

Today is the 59th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic.

To the history before 1949, this was a day that witnessed the independence and liberation of the Chinese nation; after October 1st of 1949, this was a day on which a country formed uniform institutions and identified with its sovereignty. At this moment, as we enjoy the peace and comfort of the “Golden Week” holiday, remembering the value and meaning of being “Chinese” is especially important to this country of ours in transition.

In terms of the astronomical calendar, October in China is beautiful autumn; but in terms of the political calendar, October 1st is a new beginning. For the most part of 2008, 1.3 billion Chinese people used their own ways to record their stories, and 1.3 billion Chinese people moved the world with their sincerity.

In 2008, Chinese people experienced the natural disasters of rain and snowstorms never seen in history, topped by the devastating pains of the Wenchuan Earthquake. The immense lethality of Nature destroyed the lives and homes of some compatriots, and rewrote the distance between life and death in kinship, friendship, and love. But at the same time, the efforts of our fellow countrymen are also changing lives. China successfully hosted the 29th Olympics and Paralympics according to her promise to the world; and based on her own scientific research, China successfully completed the Shenzhou 7 manned space mission, and realized the first space walk by a Chinese citizen.

If the National Day of 2008 has anything else of remark, then it must be the happenstance that it is the 30-year anniversary of the Reform and Opening. This wild and leaping movement in history was the key decision determining contemporary China’s fate, as well as a deep transformation that will decide the lives of future Chinese people and their relation with the world. Under the historical backdrop of the Reform and Opening, as we pass through the day of the 59th Anniversary of the founding of New China, we are brought this inspiration: that concern for the dignity, lot, and rights of men is the true force that spurs us to ceaselessly outdo ourselves, to choose to learn, and to transform.

Of course, all grand historical narratives always summarize into the fate of individuals. Whether it was during the snowstorm disaster, or during the national casualty of Wenchuan Earthquake and the heartaching tainted milk powder incident, or the great Olymipcs and soaring dreams of Shenzhou that uplifted us, the judgement of history rests on the standard of whether Chinese people derived benefits and avoided harm, whether they received benevolence when sought, whether they received love when needed. Here we had mutual aid between teacher and student, and also sportsmen who dared to excel, not to mention the selfless dedication of volunteers, and the generous salvation by everymen. Their choices did not necessarily profit them then, but were sufficient to benefit others into posterity. And this is exactly connected with the fundamental aim of the Reform and Opening: to let all countrymen experience the dignity brought by the Republic and share in the fruits of development — releasing and growing the society’s productivity, realizing the country’s modernization, letting Chinese people get prosperous, and rejuvenating the great Chinese nation.

This National Day is somewhat different from the past in that the value of people is more brilliantly radiating from the disasters and glories that we experienced. We feel both regret and uplift from everything they went through, yet we treasure more the care, dignity, and confidence that all those things embodied. Because when we pass through this uncommon year, “Chinese” is breaking free from just a historically shared form of address, and more and more becoming a name with a common tale. It determines that we are owners of a common physical boundary, cultural heritage, way of life, and even habit of thought. It also determines that while we each may have fate far and widely apart, we are still all a part of the fate of the country. We not only need to have the willingness to ensure every countryman is joyous before the country is, but also to have the courage to hoist up the millions onto one’s own shoulder.

Recently, Premier Wen Jiabao said during an interview with a reporter, that whenever he read “Meditations” of Marcus Aurelius, he could always be deeply moved by its contents, and would get one conclusion from it: that great men of sway are ephemeral, leaving only a story, sometimes merely half of one; only the people can create and write history. Drawing from happiness and calamity, this country will inevitably find its ultimate value in history. It makes it worthy for us to collectively think about and anticipate the future on the occasion of the 59th Anniversary of the founding of New China.

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28 Responses to “The Value of Being a Chinese on the 59th Anniversary of the PRC”

  1. RMBWhat Says:


    Right on! More value!

  2. RMBWhat Says:

    Okay, let me comment. Sure, I know some of you will explain blah blah more blah…. blah blah China exploitations… blah blah western exploitations… China is helping by building infrastructures…blah blah blah American propaganda… blah blah blah… real human lives… blah blah… I’m naive … blah blah… blah blah blah…

    The fact is .. the reality… is this world is f***ed up.

    I can’t wait to go back to CHina next time and get my ass kicked, or arrested, or hunted down like a dog by the human search engines… LOL.

    I don’t care. Bring it!

  3. bianxiangbianqiao Says:

    The year 2008 has indeed been eventful. Sure there are new beginnings. But there have also been a lot of closures. The Olympics certainly have closed a door in my mind and left something behind, to the past.

  4. Netizen K Says:

    Happy China National Day!

    2008 is an eventful year. It at least prove China is not as fragile as some academics think. But it has many problems. Further reform, political reform is required.

  5. TonyP4 Says:


    You must be a Chinese basher. Are you a Tibetan, white extremist…? If you’re a Tibetan, I understand. Otherwise I feel sorry for you.

    By any yardstick, China is on the right track although many problems have to be fixed like any other country. The problems have been amplified by the west.

    * Compare China today to 30 years ago. Where are they behind?
    * Compare India (similar in population size) and China. See what they have accomplished in last 30 years. Any educated Indian even with the highest nationalism will tell you China is doing far better.
    * Even comparing to US, 85 % Chinese feel a better future vs 25% (from my memory).

    What yardstick you use?

  6. TonyP4 Says:

    RMBWhat, the web article on China’s investment in Africa you posted the link to is very biased and some facts have been twisted.

    The simple question: is Africa better without the Chinese? Most Africans will tell you NO, I bet.

    Africa had been robbed by the west far worse without giving any back. China’s non-string investment is good but the west is saying the opposite without saying what the west did to Africa. The basic human right is to work and survive. It is not a long-term solution to give them tons of food, but infrastructure for them to mine their minerals and water resources.

  7. WillF Says:


    What the West did in the past is not a justification for what China’s doing in the present. If you want to argue the merits of China’s investment strategy in Africa versus the (in my opinion, deeply flawed) Western strategy of dumping food and aid without building the economies of African nations, go ahead. But inserting references to the West’s past exploitation of Africa inserts needless rhetoric that appeals to the reader’s emotions rather than his/her brain.

  8. Bob Says:

    WillF, looks to me this African leader has a pretty good idea what China (vs the West) has meant to his country and the continent:

    Time for the west to practise what it preaches

    When it comes to China and Africa, the European Union and the US want to have their cake and eat it. In an echo of its past colonial rivalries, European leaders and donor organisations have expressed concerns that African nations are throwing their doors open too wide to Chinese investors and to exploitation by their Asian partners.

    But if opening up more free markets is a goal that the west prizes – and extols as a path to progress – why is Europe fretting about China’s growing economic role in Africa? The expansion of free markets has indeed been a boon to Africa. But as I tell my friends in the west, China is doing a much better job than western capitalists of responding to market demands in Africa.

    The battle for influence in the world between the west and China is not Africa’s problem. Our continent is in a hurry to build infrastructure, ensure affordable energy and educate our people. In many African nations, African leaders are striving to reinforce robust economic growth in a sustainable manner and reduce “brain-drain” incentives that have led to an exodus of well-educated Africans to Europe.

    China’s approach to our needs is simply better adapted than the slow and sometimes patronising post-colonial approach of European investors, donor organisations and non-governmental organisations. In fact, the Chinese model for stimulating rapid economic development has much to teach Africa.

    With direct aid, credit lines and reasonable contracts, China has helped African nations build infrastructure projects in record time – bridges, roads, schools, hospitals, dams, legislative buildings, stadiums and airports. In many African nations, including Senegal, improvements in infrastructure have played important roles in stimulating economic growth.

    These are improvements, moreover, that stay in Africa and raise the standards of living for millions of Africans, not just an elite few. In Senegal, a Chinese company cannot be awarded an infrastructure-related contract unless it has partnered with a Senegalese company. In practice, Chinese companies are not only investing in Senegal but transferring technology, training, and know-how to Senegal at the same time.

    It is a telling sign of the post-colonial mindset that some donor organisations in the west dismiss the trade agreements between Chinese banks and African states that produce these vital improvements – as though Africa was naïve enough to just offload its precious natural resources at bargain prices to obtain a commitment for another stadium or state house.

    In the past, the political power-play between Taiwan and China often spurred Asian investment on the African continent. Today, however, economic relations are based more on mutual need – and the economic reality that the EU and the US cannot compete with China. A number of big projects in Senegal had initially been funded by the Taiwanese, but in 2005, Senegal abandoned the politicisation of development and opted for decisions based on a free market.

    I have found that a contract that would take five years to discuss, negotiate and sign with the World Bank takes three months when we have dealt with Chinese authorities. I am a firm believer in good governance and the rule of law. But when bureaucracy and senseless red tape impede our ability to act – and when poverty persists while international functionaries drag their feet – African leaders have an obligation to opt for swifter solutions. I achieved more in my one hour meeting with President Hu Jintao in an executive suite at my hotel in Berlin during the recent G8 meeting in Heiligendamm than I did during the entire, orchestrated meeting of world leaders at the summit – where African leaders were told little more than that G8 nations would respect existing commitments.

    At the same time that China has been especially nimble, the prices and quality of goods coming from Asia give African governments no choice other than to buy Chinese, Indian and Malaysian goods. For the price of one European vehicle, a Senegalese can purchase two Chinese cars. The proof is in the parking lot at the presidential palace in Dakar. Low-cost Chinese Chery and Great Wall models are giving Senegal’s middle and working classes access to a new car, a sign of our emerging consumer class. We are even using these affordable Chinese cars in a pilot project to reinsert unemployed women into the workforce by creating a fleet of taxis called Sister Taxis. When products are affordable, innovative programmes become realistic.

    China, which has fought its own battles to modernise, has a much greater sense of the personal urgency of development in Africa than many western nations. Last year, the Chinese Eximbank pledged $20bn in development funds for African infrastructure and trade financing over the next three years, funds that outstripped all western donor pledges combined. News of the Exim commitment caused a fuss in some quarters of Europe. But western complaints about China’s slow pace in adopting democratic reform cannot obscure the fact that the Chinese are more competitive, less bureaucratic and more adept at business in Africa than their critics.

    Today I find myself at the heart of an economic struggle with the EU. If Europe does not want to provide funding for African infrastructure – it pledged $15bn under the Cotonou Agreement eight years ago – the Chinese are ready to take up the task, more rapidly and at less cost. Not just Africa but the west itself has much to learn from China. It is time for the west to practice what it preaches about the value of market incentives.

    Abdoulaye Wade is President of Senegal and the above article was written for Financial Times in January 2008.

    link: http://us.ft.com/ftgateway/superpage.ft?news_id=fto012320081150031702

  9. TonyP4 Says:


    China’s approach to Africans is better than the west because they had been close to that stage before. Thanks for the article. It confirms that China is doing right to Africa, despite what the web article from RMBWhat says (another Chinese basher?).

  10. Allen Says:

    @TonyP4 – I don’t think RMBWhat is another China basher. He just thinks the world is rigged (nothing wrong with that) – and is a legitimate world basher! 😉

    @Nimrod – thanks for the translation!

  11. MoneyBall Says:


    USA is still the biggest importer of Africa’s natural resources. China is the second.
    Dont even try to portray the West as a non profit charity organization to Africa.
    When talking about “exploitation” between China and the West to Africa, it’s not present v past, its present v present.

  12. GNZ Says:

    If the African states were still part of the European empires they would be better off than they are now – slavery would be long gone (as it was by the time most of them got independence), They would probably still have decent life expectancies and they wouldn’t be fighting all those wars or being run by people like Mugabe. They are an example of how groups get together to fight an unfair elite and just succeed in putting an even worse elite in place.

    As to current policy I think the European (EU) policy is more well meaning – i.e. it is about uplifting Africa – but it is also funneled through organizations heavily influenced by politics and that cripples it’s effectiveness so much so that it is often counter productive. the problem is that helping a country often requires making tough decisions and aid agencies are very bad at making tough decisions.

  13. Charles Liu Says:

    Good one Bob, on the “throwing their doors open too wide to Chinese investors”. It’s pretty much in the same vein as crying about Tibet while standing on ones own blood soakded North American ground.

  14. chriswaugh_bj Says:

    Geez, I was hoping to see discussion of that TBN editorial….. Oh well, might as well join the fray: What the “West” is doing to Africa now is no justification for what China is doing to Africa now, but it does highlight the extreme hypocrisy of certain “Westerners”- particularly those media and other elites- who harp on about the evils of China while conveniently ignoring their own countries’ abuses. Some people need to open a Bible to Matthew chapter 7 and start reading from verse 1. I don’t have a Bible handy, so allow me to paraphrase: Do not judge others, for the measure you use to judge others will be used to judge you. Why would you offer to remove the speck from your neighbour’s eye when there’s a log in your own eye? Yeah, I know, rough, rough paraphrase. At the very least, they could learn from Bono, put on some cool shades, and hold all elites equally to account (but don’t learn Bono’s convenient shifting of financial assets to countries with more appealling tax regimes….)

    Anyway, that editorial: When I saw the headline, I thought oh no, here we go… I was expecting some ridiculous late 19th century racialist bollocks. But no, I was wrong. That’s actually a pretty good piece of writing. Now, if only those fine words for National Day could be turned into everyday reality for all China’s citizens. Well, so long as China keeps treading this path in the current direction, it should be ok.

    And it’s an excellent translation, too. But might I recommend the term “compatriot” instead of “countryman”? It’s gender-neutral, applying equally to male and female, and when broken into its constituent parts, very clearly means “of the same fatherland”. But that’s just me nit-picking, ignore me, you did a superb job.

  15. Leo Says:

    I read through the whole Daily Mail. First I thought, oh terrible, then I thought, wait, where is Chinese colonialism?

    The opening scene has absolutely nothing to do with Chinese. They are just buyers. They don’t even hire the workers. If these workers, or freelancers, don’t like 3 dollars a day, please, they can go anywhere where they would like.

    The rest of the piece accuses Chinese somehow corrupting, manipulating Africans, which reminds me of old vicars accusing evil outsiders corrupting, polluting, the pure minds of village lads. How come Chinese corrupt, manipulate innocent Africans? That brings me again back to the merry old time when an assort of British, French, American, gunships patrolling the Yangtze up to Chongqing, warning the government in Beijing or Nanjing that they concede on this or that or there would be serious consequences. I ask myself, where is the gunship, where is the Chinese soldiers, where is Chinese’ warning/threat/blackmails?

    The accusation that Chinese bring in their own workers is really malicious. So long it is not specified in the law or contract, anybody can hire anybody from anywhere. What’s wrong with that? The author sounds as if Chinese commited another genocide.

    Whatever China has done in these countries, these countries are souvereign and independent to accept or refuse.

    Up to now, a lot of Western countries still import minerals from China, mostly at a very low price, nobody claim that the West is exploiting or colonizing China. When China wanted to impose an export tax on coke a few years ago, the EU went to WTO to complain about unfair trade practice. A lot of Westerners break Chinese laws and bribe Chinese officials on a daily basis and find it is Chinese law stupid or it is China’s system’s own faults. Should the Chinese turn back and accuse Americans, Europeans, of exploiting, manipulating, colonizing China? Should we force American, European, MNC to contribute to Chinese communities by hiring Chinese only and building highways, schools, and hospitals for the commnity? We know if the Chinese dare to ask for this, the world record FDI will dwindle to a halt immediately.

  16. WillF Says:


    Don’t put words in my mouth. My point was merely that TonyP4 seemed to say something along the lines of “The West did so many bad things in Africa! China is so much better than the West was!” That may be true, but it has nothing to do with whether China is conducting sound business practices in Africa today.

    And don’t get me wrong. I think that on the whole the Chinese approach to Africa is far better than the current Western approach. But the use of the “big, bad colonial-era West” imagery is cheap pandering.

  17. RMBWhat Says:

    I’m not bashing China. I KNOW full well the hypocrisies of the west, lol. Matter of fact,being a nice guy in this world will get you people merked (Democracy! We spread peace and love around the world. LOL! So much lies).

    All I’m saying is people outa to have some conscience. And my other point being that I hate the human specie in general. Right, I’m a world basher. Naive I may be, but I don’t care, especially being a revolutionist from behind a computer… Hehe.

    And reading these posts on the different views is great.

    Jeez, I scare myself. I’m not really this nihilistic…I just went off on a tangent and started to type like a monkey. I really am not that dark man. I’m not a nihilist.

    Life IS meaningful…Love is beautiful. For who? You? Or some poor dude living on $1 a day?

    Jeez, I really need to do more, to give back to the community. To help people.

  18. wukong Says:


    The Dailymail’s choice of the stock photo is quite interesting: straw hat, buckteeth and twisted facial expression, isn’t that your typical chinaman or what?

    And I love how the author Peter Hitchens insists on calling Chiina’s capital “Peking”, while anyone who’ve watched the 2008 Olympics – 2/3 humanity according to IOC – would’ve known it’s Beijing. Supposedly some British still insist on calling Zimbabwe Rhodesia, and I noticed when British or its media talk about HK reunification or return to China, it’s always a “handover”. The sun has set on the British empire long time ago, it’s high time for Peter Hitchens and his likes to shed their white man’s burden.

  19. TonyP4 Says:


    Either you misinterpret my comment or you “put words in my month”. First, I did not say China is doing bad to Africa. Second, I never said that due to the west did bad stuff to Africa and it justifies China to do bad thing.

    Read the comments again and let me know how you interpret.

    My post:
    “RMBWhat, the web article on China’s investment in Africa you posted the link to is very biased and some facts have been twisted.

    The simple question: is Africa better without the Chinese? Most Africans will tell you NO, I bet.

    Africa had been robbed by the west far worse without giving any back. China’s non-string investment is good but the west is saying the opposite without saying what the west did to Africa. The basic human right is to work and survive. It is not a long-term solution to give them tons of food, but infrastructure for them to mine their minerals and water resources.”

    Your post:
    “What the West did in the past is not a justification for what China’s doing in the present. If you want to argue the merits of China’s investment strategy in Africa versus the (in my opinion, deeply flawed) Western strategy of dumping food and aid without building the economies of African nations, go ahead. But inserting references to the West’s past exploitation of Africa inserts needless rhetoric that appeals to the reader’s emotions rather than his/her brain.”

  20. TonyP4 Says:


    Here is a link to on-line bible


  21. S.K. Cheung Says:

    In the xinhuanet photo, what are all those people taking a picture of?

  22. Nimrod Says:

    S.K. Cheung,

    They were taking a photo of this:


  23. pmw Says:

    Peter Hitchens? An idiot, by his own brother’s account.

  24. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Nimrod:

  25. Hongkonger Says:

    wukong # 18

    You could basically ignore Peter Hitchens, who was once a highly acclaimed journalist but now a has-been. Someone the anti-war British MP, George Galloway describes as, “A pathetic man who suffers from the unique anomaly in the natural order of metamorphisis, by going from being a butterfly back into a slug.”

  26. EB Shanghai Says:

    HKer #25

    Actually, I remember that Galloway made that remark in reference to Peter’s brother, Christopher Hitchens, in one of a series of public debates they had a few years ago.

  27. Hongkonger Says:

    EB Shanghai ..You are right. Thanks for pointing that out. My mistake, apologies.

    Hm, two Hitchens siblings, neither whose writings are worth the time.


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