Discussion Section: Western Fenqing?

Bear with us today, it’s a long road to the question.

A few places around the China blog community have linked Bob Page’s excellent article “Are online relationships between China and the US boiling over? Rednecks against Red Guards?”, which is itself a response to Kaiser Kuo’s excellent lecture at UNL, “Shouting Across the Chasm: Chinese and American Netizens Clash in Cyberspace”. Kuo said of the relationship between American and Chinese netizens:

Each side seems well prepared to believe the worst about the other. But this is the Internet we’re talking about, which many of us believed would bring down barriers and usher in the death of distance, the good times of a global village. Instead, it has made us more fractured and tribal […] It’s also true within America, where nowadays you only read the political blogs and viewpoints of those who happen to be on your side of the political aisle.

Listen only to those who are shouting the loudest on each side and one could very easily conclude that this is a war between Red Guards and rednecks.

With this thought in mind, we were interested to stumble across this post on popular video gaming blog Kotaku, which concerns the spat between two government bodies: the Ministry of Culture and General Administration of Press and Publication, which Warcraft’s Burning Crusade expansion is caught in the middle of. The original post seems fair enough and — perhaps unsurprisingly — the comments range from intelligent and reasoned to…well, something else entirely. We think they’re interesting, especially when compared and contrasted with the netizen comments about the West in ChinaSMACK posts. Here are some samples:

First, I would like to say I don’t know what China is like. Never been there. I’m SOMEWHAT educated. I go to college, whatever that counts for. Maybe the reason people in China are so into WoW (I can’t even give an estimate of how many are addicted, but I know half of all registered users for WoW are from that region right? I’ll work with that) is that it just plain sucks to live there? Just a blind guess, no offense to anyone, I would LOVE to be terribly mistaken.

I mean, I hear kids are learning multiplication tables when they’re like 4? I was still learning to wipe my own ass when I was 4 (sometimes still can’t do it).

Isn’t that the theory we got going on with Japan? Their social structure is so intense a lot of the men are somewhat.. despondent?

I don’t know. But I’m thinkin’ the issue goes beyond WoW. WoW is just the most attractive, easy, and cheap escape.

Again I swear to God if someone takes offense and calls me a racist uneducated bastard I hope you get mauled by a bear. A bear with swords. And lasers.

Also feel free to tell me what it’s like in mainland China!


Hey China. Maybe if your country didnt suck so much and your citizens were actually worth something and could make a life for themselves, they wouldn’t need to have fulfilling virtual fake lives in online games.

It’s the most logical thing to do if you are to build up home grown video gaming force. Nothing can rise from the pummelling that WoW would dish to all competition. I bet this has nothing to do with skeletons or violence issues. China is not letting a foreign company drain it’s gaming potential revenue. I bet a chinese rip off of WoW x Final Fantasy is being made right now to be released next year. Biggest smoking nation on Earth? Get ready for the biggest MMO community that Blizzard [the company that makes WoW] could only dream about.

This is just until they cook up a totally castrated version of the game that shows absolutely nothing resembling violence or morbidity and kicks you off after 90 minutes of play with a cheery “Give thanks to the party for wisely regulating your time!” message, presumably.

Looks like Blizzard is having a hard time figuring out who to bribe.

All in all, seems to me they look pretty similar to what Chinese comments about a comparable Western issue might be. Some crazy, some reason, and plenty ignorant. Still, as Kaiser Kuo put it,

I want to make it clear, lest you think that I feel that the burden of understanding or the blame of misunderstanding should fall squarely on Western shoulders that I personally believe there is ample blame to go around.

Indeed. Kaiser Kuo makes some prescriptions for remedying the misunderstanding from the Western side — his audience, like the audience of this blog, was primarily Western — which Bob Page summed up in his article in so concise a format that we’re just going to steal it:

1. Do not be condescending with Chinese on the Internet. They know how to access information and circumvent firewalls, using proxy servers and virtual private networks. Do not assume they are brainwashed drones. It does not support constructive dialogue.

2. Learn what Chinese people actually think when their defenses are down. The conversations taking place when it’s not believed ‘whitey’ is around are decidedly more nuanced. Westerners can read this dialogue, translated into English from Chinese, on “bridge blogs” such as ChinaGeeks, ChinaSmack, ChinaHush, and Danwei. (Another valuable resource: EastWestNorthSouth*.) [*sic, he means EastSouthWestNorth]

3. Read a book of relevant history. China is freighted with historical baggage, and it’s not something Chinese people easily shrug off. To start, Kuo suggests “The Search for Modern China” by Jonathan Spence.

The real purpose of this post, though, is to put the question to you. Do you think it’s important for regular people in China and the West to understand each other? What more can we do to stem the tide of extremism and raise the volume and visibility of some of the more moderate, sensible dialogue that’s happening in both places but rarely heard about outside their borders?

0 thoughts on “Discussion Section: Western Fenqing?”

  1. Sadly those are provinces with many white English teachers in them. The rate for Chinese people, like all other crimes, is much lower than the general European rate and the severity of the crimes is generally less… though still abominable.

    A literature review of 23 studies found rates of 3% to 37% for males and 8% to 71% for females, which produced an average of 17% for boys and 28% for girls


  2. C. Custer:
    “And as for traffic, that has nothing to do with Chinese being “more selfish” than anyone else …”

    Perhaps you’re right, but where I’m from (which is admittedly much less densely populated), people driving cars will instinctively slow down or stop and let people cross the street, even when they are not required to by law. My experience here is cars will speed up and honk their horn.

    But the one that really gets me is cars driving in the bike lanes and honking at workers pedalling those little transport three-wheeled bikes. I guess I shouldn’t care … it wasn’t me, after all.


  3. S., I really shouldn’t bother to reply to your rabid, hateful racism, but just so you know, the word farang simply means Westerner. It doesn’t carry any negative intrinsic meaning, but it can be used as an insult depending on context or modifying words. “Farang kee nok” is one example, which translates as “Bird shit Westerner,” a play on white color that is actually just crap in the end.

    The polite term for a Chinese person is “Khon Chin”; the term “jaek” connotes a loud, aggressive and money-grubbing Chinese person.

    I’m quite sure I know Thailand, its culture and language much better than you do, so you cannot cloak yourself in your “Chinese-ness” ; its irrelevant.


  4. @ Joseph: Try living in a US city. I’ve spent a few years living in China, and a few years living in a US city, and I can tell you that MY worst encounter as a terrified pedestrian was in the US, not China.

    I think for China you need to adjust your understanding of what honking means. In the US, people honk rarely, and if they do, it tends to mean “Get the f*ck out of the way!”. But in China, in my experience anyway, people honk much more often and the message seems to generally be “I am here, please be aware of that”. Which makes sense given that so few people follow traffic laws.


  5. @ s: “many white english teachers”…well, that’s convenient, isn’t it? If sex abuse happens outside China, it’s white people’s fault, and if it happens in China, it’s also white people’s fault? Give me a break. There are a billion reasons why that argument is absolutely stupid, but there’s really no reason for me to lay them out. Anyone who would genuinely content sexual abuse happens in China because of white English teachers (who make up a tiny, tiny minority of the population) is either too couched in their views to ever change or utterly and completely moronic.


  6. White people commit crimes at 6-8x the age adjusted rate compared to Chinese Americans, so I would not be surprised if a specific city which was colonized extensively by Asiaphiles would end up seeing 1-10% of its sex crimes committed by foreign males.

    people driving cars will instinctively slow down or stop and let people cross the street, even when they are not required to by law. My experience here is cars will speed up and honk their horn

    Try going to New York, Taxi drivers will practically park on your face if you don’t clear the streets 1 millisecond after the lights change. To be fair, the pedestrians in New York are incredibly obnoxious and often deserve to be run over.

    The main problems with China is that 1) there is not enough regulation 2) the drivers are fairly inexperienced given that they are new to the whole car and driving culture and 3) it’s simply too crowded.

    Driving in all developing or recently developed nations is more or less a nightmare. Russia and Malaysia have fatality rates 3x higher than China’s, Iran is 5x higher, etc.

    But please continue badmouthing 1/5th of the world’s population based off of your ethnocentric worldview, as if Shanghai or whatever cozy foreign colonized city you live in represents the other 1.3 billion Chinese people.

    And no, you can’t be racist towards whites so stop with that already, it’s pathetic.


  7. “And no, you can’t be racist towards whites so stop with that already, it’s pathetic.”

    That comment itself is extremely telling.


  8. China Daily newspaper ‘badmouths’ Chinese:
    (from Nov. 13 Metro section)
    About 99 percent of Beijingers say they queue for buses and trains, but there are still etiquette problems in the capital, according to the latest data.

    An investigation by Renmin University of China and released by the capital civilization office found that the standard of public behavior has improved since the last year’s report.

    Li Jianguo, from the capital civilization office, told METRO that 98.95 percent of people surveyed did not push when getting on buses and trains, up from 97.8 per cent last year.

    Meanwhile, the number of people who gave up their seats to the aged, pregnant women and disabled on bus was unchanged at 98 percent.

    The research found that 98 percent of people were happy to offer help when asked for directions, 1 percentage point higher than last year.

    Liao Fei, an associate professor at Renmin University of China and lead researcher of the investigation, said there remained problems with the standard of public behavior in Beijing.

    “Most civilians lack the basic etiquette knowledge about public communication,” Liao said.

    For example, people who spoke very loudly in public restaurants often did not realize they disturbed others, Liao said.


  9. Joseph,

    As your redneck compatriots would say, “love it or leave it!” But please, stay where you are, as I think you must be spreading virulent anti-Americanism with your shining charm.

    Yes, how pleasant Americans are, with their orderly transit, Dairy Queens, swimming pools, and golf courses. The Iraqi people know this, as these charming segregated, barbed wire enclosed American cities are forcibly occupying their own country.[1] The thoughtful American siting in their air conditioned luxury in Iraq must think the Iraqis don’t have transportation, electricity, or sanitation because Iraqis are a selfish people. The truth is that Americans are parasites on the Iraqis. Americans are parasites on the Chinese people, the Chinese who do the real productive manufacturing work Americans don’t do. But the parasite Americans benefit from the wealth the U.S. empire steals from China, Iraq, and Third World countries.

    (1) http://blogs.nybooks.com/post/234068970/dairy-queen-and-barbed-wire


  10. I been living in American for a long time now and i have to say Kaiser Kuo is right on the money. The older generation thinks of China as “the red communist”; the evil and oppressive country. The present generation thinks China as this cheap, brainwash and copycat of western culture. It is very hard to argue with them without them bring these subjects up; however, i don’t blame them. Everyday you turn the news it is always something negative about China. From history book to mainstream media and their parents, China will always in their eye is a 3rd world country. I understand China have a lot of issues and some of the media in the U.S does show is true but I just hope for the sake of 1.3 billions of people in China do make it to become a developed country without lose it’s true Chinese culture and dignity.


  11. As a previous poster made reference to Bo Yang, I read up a little on him, and found that he passed on last year:

    Bo Yang (柏杨), an essayist, novelist, and popular historian famous for his influential book The Ugly Chinaman, passed away from lung disease, the AP reports:

    “In many of his essays, Bo told Chinese that their culture — a source of pride for centuries — has many shortcomings. He criticized the Chinese as selfish, unconcerned about other people’s rights and being too willing to tolerate the abuse of power.

    He argued fervently that those qualities hurt democracy and favored authoritarian regimes.”

    To the two posters above: The US certainly has many shortcomings, some of them incomprehensible to me and many others; the war in Iraq is probably criminal as are the big money folks on Wall Street. You’re right. It’s true. I’ll admit it and fervently hope that our new democratically elected president can provide the leadership to change things. I fear however that millions of Americans are irredeemably beyond reason as they hunker down in their trailers with their Bibles, shotguns and Fox News.

    I fail to see what that has to do with a debate on whether inherent individual selfishness (is self-absorption a more palatable term?) has slowed China’s progress, but hey, I agree the US is indeed a mess.


  12. Joeseph

    I do not believe at all that it is the Chinese culture that leads to authoritarian what the Chinese do lack is that of individualism. Everyone thinks that if China turn to democracy all of its problem will go away but it won’t. We see it in the west the more Democratic the more people are divided. Chinese people value unity and we will use any mean necessary to hold our country together; just look through our history and culture carefully and you will understand it. China right now are hungry to become rich. There is still about a billions of them are still poor and living in poverty. Once we get to the point of develop country then there will be changes. There is an old saying in China “when there is food and clothing there will be ethics”.


  13. I fail to see what that has to do with a debate on whether inherent individual selfishness (is self-absorption a more palatable term?) has slowed China’s progress

    Not nearly as much as it has slowed the rest of the world’s progress. Chinese people simply are not very selfish, and anyone with half a brain and even a meager understanding of China’s history knows this.

    China suffered from too much tolerance and too little natural resources. That’s about it.


  14. It is important to be precise, in that the U.S. is not a democracy, but a republic.
    “democracy” is a process; by which people are chosen as representatives of a larger constituency, not that much different then in the PRC. In both systems, it
    is the question of holding those representives accountable for thier actions and policies,that is the rub. In all honesty, at the present moment in history, the “governance” of China seems to be in more capable hands. The complexity of governing China seems (to me) almost insurmontable, and yet it is being done
    and being done rather well. I traveled widely in my younger days, and found most of humanity to be surprisingly generous. The Chinese I have met have been very generous and the ingrained respect for courtesy, scholarship, the work ethic , sense of humor and a highly developed, deeply rooted esthetic sensibility, makes China,and its people, one of the most fascinating manifestations of humanity… and you aint seen nothing yet. Well I have got to go check the cows, clean my shotgun, and get started on the new Sarah Palin book. Y’all have fun.


  15. S., I thought you said it all came from foreigners …

    Sexual abuse in minors is ‘prominent’: Expert
    By Zhang Yan (China Daily)

    A child protection agency in Beijing said cases of child trafficking, domestic violence and sexual abuse have increased this year.

    The Beijing Youth Legal Aid and Research Center spoke to METRO on Wednesday, two days ahead of Universal Children’s Day, that is being celebrated today.

    The center is the only legal aid organization for minors in Beijing. This year it received more than 500 calls for help, a 50 percent increase from last year.

    Vice-director of the center Zhang Wenjuan said minor’s rights are not being well protected.

    “In Beijing, child trafficking is not a serious problem, but domestic and sexual abuses are quite prominent,” she said.

    In June 2009, a primary school mathematics teacher molested an 11-year-old student surnamed Zhang in Chaoyang district.

    The student complained of pain on the evening of June 12. She informed her parents that her mathematics teacher had sexually assaulted her in the school’s computer room that lunchtime.

    The father of the child told Chaoyang police of the incident the following day and the teacher was detained for 14 days.

    A police investigation revealed the teacher had previously molested other girls but his victims were too frightened to report anything to the school or their own parents.

    “The punishment was too light. He should have been put into jail,” the girl’s father told METRO on Wednesday.

    Zhang Wenjuan, the center’s vice-director, said she is talking with the father to consider suing the mathematics teacher.

    She added that molestation cases by teachers were a nationwide problem. Zhang said these teachers take advantage of their privileged status to abuse naive minors.

    “Children are not mentally or physically mature, and they lack the ability to distinguish right from wrong. This makes them a big target,” she noted.

    Zhang advises parents to pay close attention to their children and talk with them about any problems.

    “They should learn what is happening in their school and follow the physical and mental condition of their children,” she said.

    Although human trafficking is considered rare in Beijing, children in single-parent families and those of migrant workers are still the largest risk groups.

    “These parents are often busy making money and can’t pay close enough attention to their children,” Zhang said.

    But the vice-director said the real problem lay in the current law to protect underage citizens in China, last revised in 2006.

    “According to the current law, abused minors must collect evidence themselves to sue their parents. This is ridiculous,” she said.

    The government should establish a system to help minors report problems, and that civil affairs departments should set up anti-domestic violence safe houses for abused children, Zhang said.

    Today is the 50th anniversary of the UN’s Universal Children’s Day. In 1959, the assembly made a ‘Declaration of the Rights of the Child’ to protect minors around the world.


  16. “Well I have got to go check the cows, clean my shotgun, and get started on the new Sarah Palin book. Y’all have fun.”

    What did she write, a coloring book?

    Me, I’m going to settle back with a little lead-tainted water and read this interesting feature in the state-controlled newspaper about the Eco-Cities of China.


  17. A child protection agency in Beijing said cases of child trafficking, domestic violence and sexual abuse have increased this year.

    Hm I wonder, does it have to do with the increase in white foreigners? Definitely.


  18. She informed her parents that her mathematics teacher had sexually assaulted her in the school’s computer room that lunchtime.

    Why the hell are they hiring white American math teachers now?


  19. Original question was…”is it important for regular people… to understand each other?” and with amazing rapidity turned into name calling and the obligatory inclusion of some form of sexual perversion. I got to tell you Charles
    you are a dedicated man. It takes a special kind of endurance to wade through these tall weeds. I have to admit I was really enjoying the begining of the conversation (KAI is always worth reading) K. Kuos lecture was pretty insightful
    and I have been following the feedback as I can. I had high hopes; but alass….
    In the long run it will be the Artist of China that define the “Chinese Century”. The arts in the west have become stagnant, self-referential, and elitist. As was mentioned above. “when there is food and clothing there will be ethics.” ….and
    there will be a tidalwave of creative energy, the likes of which the world has yet
    to see. I am an old man and I doubt I will get to see the full flowering, but the
    signs are everywhere. Politics, economies, national interest are all important. All
    of humanity rides the back of a tiger at this moment… Keep planting catnip.


  20. Congratulations Custer, now you have Joseph who repeatedly dodges legitimate questions and counterarguments from many other bloggers (including you) and insists that the Chinese are culturally (and by association) racially inferior, and s who uses far more outrageous racist words but is essentially his counterpart. This blog should be fun down the road.


  21. “Congratulations Custer, now you have Joseph who repeatedly dodges legitimate questions and counterarguments from many other bloggers (including you) and insists that the Chinese are culturally (and by association) racially inferior…”

    Typical misrepresentation. Cultural relativists/apologists will often trot out the race card (if I may mix metaphors) when any commentator dares to ask a question or assert an observation that is less than glowing. That is indeed the easy way out. My original question remains: Has the inherently “selfish” (self- and family obsessed) outlook of the Chinese inhibited the nation’s ability to cooperate for mutual advancement?

    The aforementioned Bo Yang, whom I have read after he was cited in this very forum — a Chinese who was imprisoned in Taiwan for 11 years for his open questioning of the KMT — essentially held that view.

    Again, the Chinese people I know are admirable in many ways — friendly, intelligent, humorous, hard-working. Many of them have had problems/been victims of what I would characterize a selfish system of guanxi … and their lack of being on the “in crowd.”


  22. Right because Americans and other whites don’t have an incestuous plutocracy controlling nearly all aspects of their economic life, with a strong mind to racial and cultural supremacy.

    The Chinese are the least “selfish” of peoples on the planet- they tend to care more about the “greater good” than whites do- much more. They don’t believe in the destruction of other peoples and races (your Free Tibet propaganda aside). They don’t believe in “convert or die”. They don’t steal wantonly like whites in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. They don’t have an impulse to dominate others for the sake of the ego.

    Whites, on the other hand, have always been extremely violent, self-centered and immature when it comes to political action. Whites are less individualistic and also less collectivist at the same time. How is that possible? Well, most whites take their corporate media and church brainwashing as the gospel truth and obey them without question. This is not a sign of effective group action, it only as a vessel through which the individual white expresses his close-mindedness and bigotry through ruthless ladder-climbing. However, on an individual level, they are much more likely to undermine the interests of several others to serve themselves and themselves alone- their families be damned, the Iraqis be damned, the Vietnamese be damned, the Koreans be damned, the slaves be damned, the Injuns be damned…….

    The Chinese, on the other hand, are more generous, more kind, and more selfless. It’s a pity you only hang around Westernized Chinese, which are almost as greedy and immoral as the West.


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