As you likely know, it’s very rare that we dedicate an entire post to linking something on another site. The reason for this is not that we consider our site better than anyone else’s, it’s just that we’re trying to make sure this site is primarily a source of original reading material for you. Things are more interesting that way.
That said, we’d be remiss if we didn’t point you in the direction of Jeremiah’s blog, which has followed an excellent if snarky post on the National Day parade as viewed by jaded China bloggers (like us!) with a great post on cultural fears and how they effect our perceptions and expectations of government. The latter post is, I think, a must-read whether you’re Chinese or “Foreign”. Here’s a taste, but please do check out the original flavor:
I try to remind my students that the question to “What do you fear most?” looks very different from the Chinese historical experience, particularly that of the last 140 years or so.
From the Chinese perspective, particularly as written in the history textbooks used in PRC schools today, the greatest horrors have not come at the hands of the all-powerful state, but in times when the state was too weak to defend itself and the people. Think of the depradations of the European imperialist powers in the 19th century at the expense of a rapidly weakening Qing Empire. There is the starvation and disasters of the warlord period in the early 20th century, when China was for all intents and purposes Afghanistan on steroids, and the ‘central government’ consisted of a parade of military leaders in control of the 10 square blocks around the “Presidential Palace” in Beijing. Even under a period of relative prosperity in the 1930s, Chiang Kai-shek’s control never extended much past a few central provinces in the Yangzi region. Locked in struggle with the CCP, the Nanjing government lacked the political will or wherewithal to build a new society or improve the lives of China’s rural population, and soon even that gargantuan task would take a back seat to mere survival as the forces of both the KMT and the CCP were overrun by the Japanese onslaught.
Even if we look at the latter half of the 20th century, a period not covered quite so thoroughly in the PRC school curriculum, the personal experience of so many Chinese during the Cultural Revolution serves as fresh reminder as to what happens when the central government abandons order and stability in the name of “idealism.”
Bravo! And while we’re being lazy and linking other people’s stuff instead of doing our own work, this is worth reading too.