Discussion Section: Predictions for 2010

2009 retrospectives have been done to death, as have decade retrospectives (even though the decade isn’t over until 2011). It’s been a pretty depressing decade anyway, so let’s just steam on ahead and talk about what’s coming. Break out your tea leaves, and peel your eyes for portents of the China to come. What changes do you expect to see in China in 2010?

One good thing we might see is internet access in Xinjiang, finally.

Also, though it’s unrelated, check out this story for a good laugh. Why is a prostitute boycotting Chinese people in the UK for something the Chinese legal system did? Who cares who a single prostitute chooses to boycott? Why is a preacher writing about this in the newspaper? The world may never know.

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0 thoughts on “Discussion Section: Predictions for 2010”

  1. I’ll kick this one off myself:

    1) A lot more internet blocking. The blacklist/whitelist thing isn’t clear, but either way, I doubt this humble website can go another year without getting the permanent GFW treatment, and I think a LOT of other blogs are going to learn the same thing. And Xinjiang has showed us the government is willing and capable to just take the internet away entirely and close the loopholes that allow uncensored access if they want to get hardcore about it.

    2) Less interesting political discussion online. Even though the GFW grew this past year, there was more freedom of speech being practiced in online circles than ever. However, with Liu Xiaobo arrested, the government has sent a message that even discussing things like social problems or reform on the internet can be considered a crime.

    3) More ethnic tensions in Xinjiang and Tibet, although probably not more large-scale riots there. Never know, though.

    That’s all for now…

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  2. ” I doubt this humble website can go another year without getting the permanent GFW treatment”

    Really? If so, do you believe there’s content on your blog which the current government deems inappropriate and marked for future censorship?

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  3. @ Mark: Yeah. We’ve been blocked twice before, and I can’t imagine our coverage of Liu Xiaobo is likely to make us any friends, not to mention translations of Ai Weiwei, our discussions of racial prejudices many Chinese people deny existing, etc. etc. We might make it, but having been blocked twice in less than a calendar year already, and with the government talking about increased censorship on all fronts of the internet, yeah. I’m not too sanguine about it.

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  4. I would say that more censorship in general. Western media and blogs tend to focus on the blocking of websites because even a reporter in London or New York can write the story. What’s less covered is other forms of censorship. For example, the popular show “Wo Ju” was pulled from the airwaves in China because it covered themes that made the government nervous. Likewise, even print media is increasingly being monitored. I was waiting for a taxi the other evening when the infamous “chengguan” pulled up and started sifting the titles of a newspaper vendor. What’s fascinating is that the government IS willing to sacrifice economic development in the name of censorship. Look how many Chinese recently had their websites shut down for arbitrary reasons. Many of these “blocked” vendors then established their sites on U.S.-hosted servers! The Wall Street Journal has a good story yesterday about the fact that China is losing the information war on the Internet. They can block sites, but people can still get the information.

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  5. I’ll just write down some wishes for 2010 instead.
    Easily get in touch with friends in Xinjiang when they are at home(not when they have to travel out of Xinjiang to get online.)
    Through some odd/miracle way, Liu Xiaobo can stay out of prison, or just have some privilege of not suffering.
    Hope China can progress little by little towards the bright future. I hope.

    Plus, I know it’s probably cheesy, but anyway. It’s been a great pleasure reading your blog. Thanks for the brilliant articles and all of the informations about China. Wish you have a nice new year, C. Custer.

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  6. Two years ago I planned to go to Tibet, then the riots came; last year I planned to go to Xinjiang, then more riots there… Where do I plan to go this year?

    More censorship, a bit more of instability. Gorgeous Expo (the best since the Big Bang for sure), amazing Guanzhou Asian Games (surpassed every imagination). Taiwan still there and counting down for their 100 year anniversary of the Republic of China (aka the rebellious province).

    Harmony under heaven, making friends of foes. 天下大同,化敌为友。And I should help uncle Hu with the speeches…

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  7. C. Custer, if I were you, I wouldn’t take it too personally if this blog were blocked in China. I’ve been travelling to and doing business in China ever since 1993 and I’ve learned after several years that talking about such topics like politics, religion, racism, activism, poisoning, government corruption, scandals, etc. etc.(the list goes on and on) are pretty much taboo and they’re just not topics Chinese society and culture wish to discuss about in an open manner that you and I would want to. And believe me, during all my times in China, I’ve tried many, MANY times to bring discussions like this to the topic with the Chinese friends and acquaintences I’ve made and at the very least, take a positive step forward with these issues by at least talking about them. And every single time, the conversations either go nowhere or they’re killed off before I can even really begin. It can be a very frustrating experience for guys like us trying to have open discussions about issues in China but after spending a long time in China, I’ve simply come to the conclusion that it’s simply part of the culture to be like this and there was little I could do about it(and believe me, I’ve tried my best).

    To relate to you one of my own personal experiences, I once tried having a discussion during dinner with this one government official I knew about religious freedom in China. While religious freedom in China is a lot better than in the former Soviet Union or Saudi Arabia, let’s not lie to ourselves: it’s not really all that great. I attempted to talk to him about how house churches were being cracked down on but he brushed me off a lot of times and had a rebuttal at every point of the conversation, behaving as if none of the points I brought up were relevant. The conversation basically ended with him telling me that religious freedom is guaranteed to all people in China and that everyone was free to worship as he pleased. Back then it was a really frustrating experience for me. So believe me, I know every bit how you can feel.

    This is not to knock you, C. Custer, because I think you’re a very helpful and moderate voice who genuinely wants to help and to make a difference in Chinese society by trying to discuss issues of corruption, riots, and food poisoning to take a positive step forward. But to be blunt, you’re just slamming your head into a brick wall over and over again(figuratively speaking), expecting it to break down at any minute when the truth is you’ll probably end up splitting your own skull before then. You’re not going to change people or the society and you’re not going to make a difference over there(as much as I hate to sound like some drill instructor who puts people down). I’ve tried to do it for nearly two decades and failed miserably. Your results probably won’t be too different than mine, which will inevitably lead to frustration and stress on your part.

    However, I do want to commend you on doing what you do, by discussing these issue to try and have society move forward. The government feeling threatened about this is only a sign of paranoia and insecurity on their part and if 2010 is any indication of increased censorship, I’d say you should feel honored you were selected since it shows that you’re a brave soul who dared to venture forward and be open and honest about your opinions. As for me, however, I’ve basically given up on trying to talk about these things since, to be honest, it’s kind of pointless. Whenever I go to China these days, I just go there for business and to relax and treat my trip as a vacation(which it should be)… not as an opportunity to preach a social gospel anymore(which is going to be ignored by a lot of people anyways). C. Custer, you’re the kind of guy with good intentions who wants to make a difference and there’s no way I can fault you for that. But if you want to save yourself the stress and frustration from not being able to discuss political and social issues in China the way you want, I’d suggest you simply kick back and relax like I’m doing from here on out. Quit worrying about stuff you have no control over and just have fun while you’re over there.

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  8. @ kailing: Yikes, were do you plan to travel this year? Let me know, so I can avoid it. And stay away from Harbin!

    @ Mark Eckhart: I appreciate the compliments and the sentiment, but I think you’ve misunderstood my goals and intentions with this site a bit. Rest assured, I have no delusions of grandeur or of changing Chinese society (the only thing that can do that is Chinese society itself). I do think, however, that productive discussion about these issues can and does occur with Chinese people. The issue is, it has to be voluntary, and it cannot be “preaching a social gospel”. This blog affords an opportunity for people (including me, obviously) to learn more about Chinese society and to engage in discussion about contemporary Chinese issues. It’s more for my own edification (and that of Westerners in general) than it is a pulpit from which I wish to preach.

    That said, Chinese people are frequently a part of the conversation both in the posts (via translations, interviews, email exchanges I’ve had with people, etc.) and the comments, and I think the important factor here is that their participation is voluntary. If the person you’re talking to doesn’t want to discuss an issue, then of course you’re going to get nowhere. But there are people who do want to discuss these issues in China, and their participation in these discussions has been evident on this site even in its thus far rather short life span. (For probably the best example, see the whole racism series of posts).

    Of course, not everything that gets said is productive, but there are people discussing the issues openly, and that’s valuable in and of itself, I think…

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  9. Custer your second point is wrong. Ever since the Chinese society was introduced to the Internet, interesting political discussions have always been with us. From the late 1990s till now, I’ve been a witness of the process. Online discussions about 64 were abundant (albeit always quickly deleted) when I was in college, and it’s still the same for this topic, the only difference today being there’s more topics ranging from energy security and ethnic issues which were rarely discussed among ordinary citizens 10 years ago. Tianya’s bitter zatan and guoguan have always been buzzin’ and the staunchly anti-commie Kaidi is always alive and kickin’. And now you have websites like anti-cnn whose tone you might not like but which in many ways resemble conservative forums in the US. (I frequently visit say Michelle Malkin’s webpage to balance the Paul Krugman and Frank Rich articles I had just read.)

    Liu Xiaobo is punished because he put those virtual discussions into action. So even though this government has been tightening its rule for the past 7 years (my writer and editor friends are extremely fed up), I still regard Liu’s sentencing as an extreme case that will not be easily or frequently repeated. But if anything, my prediction is “interesting” political discussions will increase as they always have.

    I also predict that China’s trade frictions with other countries will increase due to exchange rate issues, but since you never write anything about it I won’t go into details.

    And a couple of words to Mark Eckhart: Political discussions abound when Chinese friends and families get together, everywhere. I just came back from lunch with one of my two extended families and again they started talking about corruption. Everywhere I went, cosmopolitan Shanghai or poor Guizhou, local business people or government officials, after 30 minutes into the drinking, talked about corruption, things they would hesitate to talk about if there was a foreigner among them. This “nei wai you bie” stuff drives some expats crazy, but it is what it is.

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  10. “I do think, however, that productive discussion about these issues can and does occur with Chinese people. The issue is, it has to be voluntary, and it cannot be “preaching a social gospel”. This blog affords an opportunity for people (including me, obviously) to learn more about Chinese society and to engage in discussion about contemporary Chinese issues. It’s more for my own edification (and that of Westerners in general) than it is a pulpit from which I wish to preach.”

    I agree with you that discussion about these issues do occur amongst Chinese people and that Chinese posters often come to this site voluntarily to post. But in all the years I’ve spent in China, I’ve noticed that Chinese society as a whole, has a much different way of looking at these things than Americans such as you and I. So yes, while there is discussion about these issues here on this board and amongst Chinese society, it’s not the kind of discussion we expect and the general tone and direction of these discussions we have often go astray and are not discussed in the manner in which we wish them to be. Also, engaging in discussion about contemporary Chinese issues is, in itself, a way of trying to induce change or some kind of effect onto Chinese society. I’ve done this as well during my travels and while my goal wasn’t to start some revolution, it was certainly to see if I could at least start discussion on social issues(such as the Cultural Revolution) to at least take some step forward. Nothing much came out of it, needless to say.

    “That said, Chinese people are frequently a part of the conversation both in the posts (via translations, interviews, email exchanges I’ve had with people, etc.) and the comments, and I think the important factor here is that their participation is voluntary. If the person you’re talking to doesn’t want to discuss an issue, then of course you’re going to get nowhere. But there are people who do want to discuss these issues in China, and their participation in these discussions has been evident on this site even in its thus far rather short life span. (For probably the best example, see the whole racism series of posts).”

    I realize many of them participate here but like I said before, Chinese posters and Western posters often subscribe to a much different way of viewing these issues and the wider world. Hence why, while these discussions do take place here, both sides can never seemingly agree on how to deal with the issue and nothing productive ends up happening regardless of the discussion on the important issue. The Chinese worldview is simply different from ours and we’re going to have to first admit this before we make any progress in our discussion with them. Call it trying to “save face” or however you wish, but Chinese posters simply have a different way of slicing and analyzing these topics than you and I do. It’s almost as if they do have some opinion on the topic but they just don’t like it if you or I bring it up. Of course, this just leads to both sides arguing semantics, accusing each other of hypocrisy, picking at each other’s nations’ flaws, etc. etc. Then frustration ensues on both sides. To be honest, I’ve seen this happen on many, many topics on your blog. It goes something like this:

    You bring up a social contemporary topic in China.

    Chinese poster objects to the way you present the topic… or sometimes the topic itself.

    You defend yourself.

    Chinese poster retorts that you’re being biased, unfair, etc.

    You feel Chinese poster is being unfair in his/her assessment of you and get a bit more peeved.

    Chinese poster purposefully skirts the topic and brings up how America, England, France does such-and-such and how you concentrate only on China, effectively changing the topic or sometimes playing it down.

    You feel righteous(or perhaps sometimes self-righteous) anger swelling up inside of you and defend yourself, telling them that you don’t believe in such-and-such because you really believe so-and-so.

    More mud slinging sometimes ensues.

    End result: Discussion goes nowhere.

    The conversations in your blog don’t follow the exact same formula I listed but it’s very similar in many cases. In the past, I’ve tried to get discussions amongst Chinese acquaintences started on a wide range of issues(my two main ones being the Cultural Revolution and Tiananmen Square) and yes, there is a discussion on it. Yes, Chinese people do talk about it amongst themselves and with me. But there’s still that disconnect between Eastern and Western thought prevalent in the conversation which inevitably leads to a really vague discussion which accomplishes nothing at best. At worst, it turns into a pissing contest over who’s done more bad stuff.

    At the end of the day, though, Chinese netizens still don’t really like or care for what we have to say(no matter how legitimate a topic we bring up is) and we ourselves just have an extremely difficult time understanding their whole point of view. It’s frustrating to be sure, but when you have stuff like this happen almost all the time in conversations between Western and Chinese posters, it’s a sign we’re all doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result each time(kind of like putting the same pie in an oven many times and then expecting a cake or a cupcake to pop out after baking time is over). Me? I’m cutting my losses and from henceforth, starting on this New Year, concentrate on what my real goal in China has always been: make money and have a good time with my vacation.

    Cheers.

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  11. “This “nei wai you bie” stuff drives some expats crazy, but it is what it is.”

    I agree. It used to drive me crazy too. But now I’ve come to accept it for what it is.

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  12. @ wooddoo: I don’t see Liu Xiaobo’s posting of a document on the internet as really putting much “into action”. Sure, it’s more formal looking than the forum posts you’re talking about, but there was no action whatsoever, it was all still just words.

    And the fact that he was punished so harshly for posting some words online may not scare everyone, but it is, I think, going to scare some people. Time will tell, though.

    @ Mark: Enjoy your vacation, then.

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  13. It is action. There is a physical result – a document. Online political discussions are always ephemeral in that they are constantly shifting and are just a way for people to get their opinions out of their chest before moving on with other stuff in their life. Almost all of them bear no fruit, just like most of the posts here.

    The document Liu and other scholars wrote is a product, fruition of their discussions. It’s not like “taking it to the streets” action, but it is action. The censors are going to allow political discussions because even if they don’t want to, they physically can’t control the Internet unless they completely isolate the Chinese online community from the world, but that would mean economic collapse. But fruition like Liu’s manifesto is not something the commies can stomach.

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  14. Hmm? I saw my post 20 minutes ago responding that I believe Liu’s document is action. But after I came back from dinner now and refreshed the page, it’s gone…

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  15. Second to what wooddoo said about exchange rates. I also foresee increased tensions due to backdrafts from Copenhagen. Some would say they predict an increase in unrest due to things like increased censorships and restrictions on freedoms, but I doubt it. The fenqing always rant and rave online about how they’re going to protest this and won’t stand for that but in the end their screaming never amounts to anything.

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  16. Ya know… I can’t help but agree with what Mark Eckhart is saying. C. Custer, if you want to go ahead and continue trying to discuss these issues with Chinese folks, knock yourself out. You probably won’t get too far in any of this dialogue to be honest. No matter what, a lot of your pleas will just fall onto deaf ears because Chinese people can be really stubborn and don’t like listening to what foreigners tell them. How do I know this? I’m an ethnically Chinese Hong Kong native myself and I have a hell of a time trying to convince other Chinese people of the merits of free speech and democracy myself.

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  17. @Mark, Your frustrations are understandable but one thing you don’t understand is China’s History and why the Chinese would act this way.

    Religious freedom – Although religious freedom is allowed, they don’t want any religious figurehead that go against the Chinese government. If you look at the Taiping rebellion, millions of people died because some religious nut went went after the Chinese government.

    Akmal Shaikh – Look at what happened to China as the result of the First and Second Opium wars.

    liu xiaobo and political prisoners – Unfortunately, his clever ideas in Charter 08 does have conflicts with the Chinese Authoritarian system. There are political prisoners in many countries and in China is no exception.

    To Vincent and Mark. One misconception that many Americans think that US is always right and others are always wrong and why is it ‘our right’ to impose our values onto them. That is simply not true.

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  18. @ pug_ster

    “Your frustrations are understandable but one thing you don’t understand is China’s History and why the Chinese would act this way.”

    Umm, I do know Chinese history. And frankly, I don’t appreciate how you’re assuming I don’t have any knowledge of Chinese history. Would you like it if I told you, “Well Pugster, I understand your frustrations but you really don’t understand such-and-such.”? I bet you wouldn’t. Want to know why? Because it would be condescending and rude of me to do so without even knowing whether or not you have knowledge on such topics.

    “Religious freedom – Although religious freedom is allowed, they don’t want any religious figurehead that go against the Chinese government. If you look at the Taiping rebellion, millions of people died because some religious nut went went after the Chinese government.”

    Totally understand this. I’ve seen one of my family members involved in a cult before and know first-hand how bad it can be. But it doesn’t necessarily mean every religion is some potential earth-shattering evil cult who wants to overthrow the government and kill millions in the process.

    “Akmal Shaikh – Look at what happened to China as the result of the First and Second Opium wars. ”

    No argument from me here. He should’ve known better.

    “liu xiaobo and political prisoners – Unfortunately, his clever ideas in Charter 08 does have conflicts with the Chinese Authoritarian system. There are political prisoners in many countries and in China is no exception.”

    Honestly, I’ve not kept up with recent Chinese political/human rights news for a long, long time so I can’t really say anything about this Liu Xiaobo character(nor do I really care at this point). And I’ll pretend you didn’t say there are political prisoners in every country, etc. etc. I’ve heard the “Well, China isn’t the only guilty one! Other people do it too!” argument used so many times that I’ve become de-sensitized to it.

    “One misconception that many Americans think that US is always right and others are always wrong and why is it ‘our right’ to impose our values onto them. That is simply not true.”

    You’re right that Americans can have this attitude and I’m not exempting myself from this. At this point, however, I can say for the most part that I no longer really engage in this behavior. Honestly, China is China and if it doesn’t want to change, it doesn’t have to. Whatever. It’s your country, not mine. It’s your right(and the right of other Chinese) to do whatever you want in it. I’m not here to be the Chinese equivalent of Tom Cruise’s “The Last Samurai” at least not at this point of my life(back then, I’ll admit I tried to play out this archetype). I can accept the reality that Chinese will always have their own way of thinking, regardless of what anyone else says. However, I don’t think C. Custer and some of the younger expats understand this fundamental reality. Hence, why Western expats and Fenqing have discussions on Tibet, Xinjiang, Tiananmen Square, etc. which go on and on without actually going anywhere. And why both sides end up being frustrated and stressed at the end because nothing is ever accomplished and why both sides are simply too pig-headed and stubborn to want to lose face over these things.

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  19. @Mark,

    The reason why I thought you didn’t understand Chinese history was the disagreement with some Chinese Official in #7 about religious freedom. There are tens of millions of Christians in China, no?

    I did recall a recent incident where a bunch of Uighur asylum seekers in Cambodia who were deported back to China after the Xinjiang riots. If it wasn’t for the Christian Missionaries, these Uighurs would have never escaped. I’m sure that most Christians are law abiding citizens and would never do such a thing. But I’m sure that some Christians would be cracked down because they are at odds with the Chinese government.

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  20. Of course, pugster. The annoying part is when some Christians do something stupid, and then the government decides to do body searches on every person entering every church in China. It’s sort of like how someone posted a video of alleged police beating monks on youtube and bam, youtube is blocked. And then a woman creates a facebook group with the theme of discussing protesting the government and bam, facebook is blocked.

    Don’t mind me, I’m still bitter that it’s difficult to keep in touch with my friends and family.

    Anyway, Mark and Vincent, I think you’re misunderstanding the fundamental purpose of this blog. I’m not Custer, of course, but I think he’d agree with me when I say that the main purpose of this blog is not to beat our heads against a brick wall and complain or lecture about issues in China. Rather, if you’ll notice throughout this blog’s history, a lot of posts are in fact translations of Chinese bloggers. Providing foreigners who can’t read Chinese well enough to be able to fully understand what the author meant originally (like me) is an important part of bridging the gap between Chinese and western modes of thought. Hence the reason this is called a bridge blog. For my own purposes, I’m subscribed to this blog’s RSS feed because it provides me with a way to read insightful interpretations from both western commenters/bloggers like Hearne and Custer and Chinese commenters like wooddoo and Wahaha. It also serves as an excellent news source that’s a little less debase than chinasmack.

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  21. Running a bridge blog, the blogger should open to the idea that s/he could be wrong, therefore avoid the judgment calls like “Appalling Racism” or “It IS racism, period.” When blog post like http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/malcolmmoore/100015804/chinas-black-pop-idol-does-not-expose-her-nations-racism/ appeared, the blogger may need to re-examine the facts and logic.

    One thing I don’t agree with many western or westernized bloggers is the way of thinking. China is big enough that you can always pick one particular example and magnify it to a humongous -ism. Some time ago when I was reading a Creative Writing textbook in English I was a bit shocked when finding out that was indeed the way the students were taught to write: start by picking one interesting/shocking/tantalizing story. This may be OK journalism, but IMHO fairly bad way of thinking. Most expats have not lived in China for long enough to form reliable empirical evidences, therefore it may be a good idea to pay more attention to the Chinese side of the general experience.

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  22. @Mark,

    “The government feeling threatened about this is only a sign of paranoia and insecurity on their part …”

    For many Chinese this actually is the sign of strength, that the government is always on top of things and indeed has a lot of 忧患意识 (consciousness of grave danger). I don’t necessarily agree with them but just to give you a different perspective.

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  23. “For many Chinese this actually is the sign of strength, that the government is always on top of things and indeed has a lot of 忧患意识 (consciousness of grave danger). I don’t necessarily agree with them but just to give you a different perspective.”

    Indeed some Chinese may have this perspective, but to a lot of outsiders, the government doing this is usually seen as being paranoid, insecure, and fearful of anything that can challenge its power.

    “Most expats have not lived in China for long enough to form reliable empirical evidences, therefore it may be a good idea to pay more attention to the Chinese side of the general experience.”

    Honestly, how much longer do we have to live in China before we finally “get it?” I’ve done my best to listen, learn, and identify with the Chinese side of things but I’m still verbally castigated when I try to express my own views. I’m sure there are other expats who feel the same frustration I do about this.

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  24. “Anyway, Mark and Vincent, I think you’re misunderstanding the fundamental purpose of this blog. I’m not Custer, of course, but I think he’d agree with me when I say that the main purpose of this blog is not to beat our heads against a brick wall and complain or lecture about issues in China. ”

    The fundamental purpose of this blog may not be to make a 360 degree change in China nor is it to start a new revolution. C. Custer’s original goal may not be to try to beat his head against a wall and complain about issues but from what I see, that’s what keeps happening on this blog. While being fairly moderate and open-minded for the most part, Custer still has his opinions, biases, and subjective notions of what he believes is right and wrong and he hasn’t hesitated to express it in several topics(and ended up very frustrated and pissed off when the discussion goes astray). To think that this blog is completely objective and neutral is just as folly as assuming the CCP is this benevolent, peaceful entity who cares more about the people than its own power(okay, an extreme analogy, I admit, but I think you get the point).

    “Providing foreigners who can’t read Chinese well enough to be able to fully understand what the author meant originally (like me) is an important part of bridging the gap between Chinese and western modes of thought. ”

    I don’t mean to sound like a spoilsport but this supposed objective of bridging the gap between Chinese and Western modes of thought hasn’t really succeeded from what I can see. If this objective were successful or in the process of succeeding, then we wouldn’t see all these back-and-forth bickering in USA-PRC relations(which has been going on since the 70s I might add… so roughly we’ve had well over thirty years of relations and trying to bridge the gap and yet, there’s still a giant disconnect between the way Westerners and Chinese think) . If this gap can be bridged, then expats like Custer wouldn’t be having all these back-and-forth exchanges with angry young Fenqing and giving himself brain damage by figuratively slamming his head against a steel wall over and over again.

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  25. @Mark: “Honestly, how much longer do we have to live in China before we finally “get it?” ”

    I said “most” expats, not “all”. If you know enough then that sentence does not apply to you.

    You do have the right to think differently, so do the Chinese you talked to, don’t they? Is there a good reason that everyone have to agree on everything to be friends? Could it be possible that the other side also think they’ve known your points good enough but simply cannot agree with you, then they do not want to spoil a good time therefore your treatments of diversion? If you can’t agree with each other, why not just keep the differences and move on? In this sense, I actually agree with your point that “Honestly, China is China and if it doesn’t want to change, it doesn’t have to.”

    As in all relations, people can stay cordial as long as the different opinions are not used as weapons in disputes. If you have to bring up your opinions about China every time you meet with a Chinese, the way Mrs. Clinton et al suggested, that of course shows a tendency of forcing own opinions on the others, doesn’t it? I don’t think every Chinese you talked to have as strong ideas on how your country should be run. That, indeed, explains many Chinese’s impatience joining such talks. I myself only join in when I feel unusually having nothing better to do. So indeed, most of the time I do “concentrate on what my real goal” is and avoid the scene. Note that I avoid the discussions about my own country and not some remotely relevant countries. In that sense I cannot understand a few expats who spent years spewing their disgusts and discontents about China. It’s not good for mental health, I guess, unless they don’t really believe in what they said.

    As for the religious freedom arguments, in my previous discussions with expats I’ve brought up the idea, that as long as the religions interfering with the politics, they do not enjoy total freedom. The nation has the responsibility to regulate the religions so that religions do not become major political forces. Religions can’t have it both ways. You don’t have to agree with it but that’s how many Chinese see it. On the other hand, you also need to keep in mind that your historic experience on religious freedom may not apply to China. China was never big on monotheistic religions that are intolerant to other religions at the core. The reason historically China do not have many religious wars may arise from this, therefore the lower priority of the religious freedom.

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  26. @Mark: “Indeed some Chinese may have this perspective, but to a lot of outsiders, the government doing this is usually seen as being paranoid, insecure, and fearful of anything that can challenge its power.”

    Does this lead us to the conclusion that the Chinese government cares more about how its own people sees things than what the outsiders think? If so I would like to congratulate the Chinese government on properly sorting its priorities.

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  27. I expect to see more discussion of the Chinese oligarchy. China resembles a latino country much more than western Europe or north America; particularly, I think of Ecuador, but Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Bolivia, much the same, middle (and better) classes living in gated communities and gaudy villas with broken glass-topped walls surrounding them, and their kids all overseas… as Miami is for the monied of SA, perhaps the San Gabriel Valley will be for wealthy Chinese. Opulent golf courses, like those of Hainan, and amazing yachts and luxury cars all over the country… like the polo fields of rural Colombia or the velveteen foothills that border Bogota. The income disparity in China is most closely duplicated in Bolivia or Colombia, from my pov, and it is amazing that China doesn’t have the festering violent class divisions that seem to be part and parcel of the fabric in so many places of SA… but this can’t last, it never has.

    I expect much stronger jockeying between Hu Jintao and his non youth-league rivals, and a deeper divide between he and Xi. Everyone wants to hold the reins, and it’s getting late in the day.

    I expect another major, major food-related controversy.

    I expect China mobile to do something about all that damn spam.

    Happy 2010 everyone

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  28. Sorry, the above post left out the folllowing, that I expect to see more talk of the Latin Americanization of China, which i have heard some mention of.

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  29. @ CnInDC: Regardless of what the Telegraph says (I read that article a while ago), calling a black person a “n*gger” or 黑鬼 is racist, period. Yes, bloggers must be open to new viewpoints, but that doesn’t change the FACT that those are racist terms.

    Ignorance is NOT an excuse. If I go to China and start selling porn on the street, I’m going to get arrested, right? If I say I didn’t know that was illegal because in the US, selling porn is OK, is that going to get me un-arrested?

    Intention does not change effect and the effect of what some of those netizens said was racist, just as this text is showing up on the website in the color “black”. It’s not a “try out a different perspective” thing. If you don’t think calling a black person “n*gger” is racist, pick up a dictionary and read the definition of “racism” and “racist”.

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  30. Mark, Vincent, etc: Please stop attempting to explain why I write this blog, or making assumptions about my emotions and reactions to posts. You don’t know me; stop pretending you have some idea of what’s going on in my head.

    For the record, I have been extremely pleased with the discussion that’s happened on this blog so far this year, which may give you some idea as to whether or not your theories about me being “extremely pissed and frustrated” are accurate.

    I do get annoyed by a few things, though: ad hominem attacks against others, and people acting as though they know me because they read a blog I keep in my spare time.

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  31. “You do have the right to think differently, so do the Chinese you talked to, don’t they? Is there a good reason that everyone have to agree on everything to be friends? Could it be possible that the other side also think they’ve known your points good enough but simply cannot agree with you, then they do not want to spoil a good time therefore your treatments of diversion? If you can’t agree with each other, why not just keep the differences and move on? In this sense, I actually agree with your point that “Honestly, China is China and if it doesn’t want to change, it doesn’t have to.”

    Not everyone has to agree on everything but whenever Westerners and Chinese have dialogue on issues relating to politics, it always appears to be side-tracked by personal egos, vendettas, and perhaps the biggest factor of all, cultural differences. I’m not saying this is good or bad, just not is usually tends to turn out.

    “I myself only join in when I feel unusually having nothing better to do. So indeed, most of the time I do “concentrate on what my real goal” is and avoid the scene. Note that I avoid the discussions about my own country and not some remotely relevant countries. In that sense I cannot understand a few expats who spent years spewing their disgusts and discontents about China. It’s not good for mental health, I guess, unless they don’t really believe in what they said.”

    I don’t know what to say… expats are a diverse lot and it would always seem there will always be those who want to come to a country to spread his own views and expect the local populace to obey. Make no mistake, these kind of expats do exist. But on the other hand, there are just as many expats, if not more, who are open-minded, tolerant, and willing to hear the Chinese side of the story. They, however, can be turned off if they see angry Fenqing mouthing off about how foreigners are the source of all China’s troubles or anything like that.

    “As for the religious freedom arguments, in my previous discussions with expats I’ve brought up the idea, that as long as the religions interfering with the politics, they do not enjoy total freedom. The nation has the responsibility to regulate the religions so that religions do not become major political forces. Religions can’t have it both ways. You don’t have to agree with it but that’s how many Chinese see it. On the other hand, you also need to keep in mind that your historic experience on religious freedom may not apply to China. China was never big on monotheistic religions that are intolerant to other religions at the core. The reason historically China do not have many religious wars may arise from this, therefore the lower priority of the religious freedom.”

    Actually, I agree with you this time. I think having religious freedom in the context of a secular society may be the best system where one religion doesn’t get too much power. As long as you keep in mind that not all religions are made up of crazy fundies who want to overthrow the government, I think we can all come to a consensus here.

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  32. “Intention does not change effect and the effect of what some of those netizens said was racist, just as this text is showing up on the website in the color “black”. It’s not a “try out a different perspective” thing. If you don’t think calling a black person “n*gger” is racist, pick up a dictionary and read the definition of “racism” and “racist”.”

    What is this third grade? A politically correct tolerance camp where everyone has to conform to leftist standards? If the word is “n*gger,” then say “n*gger.” Don’t put some star over it like you’re a TV executive trying to censor female breasts on live television to please angry parents. The fact that you’re taking this so personally now is telling about how much you let stuff like this get to you. [censored -ed.]

    As far as I can see, if Chinese don’t want to accept blacks, they don’t have to. No, I’m not some die-hard Neo-Nazi who wants to bring back slavery. Rather, I’m a libertarian who believes that whatever the individual wants, it’s up to him to decide. If Chinese society as a whole doesn’t want to accept blacks, Indians, Mexicans, or whoever, then that’s their right. It’s also your right to condemn what you perceive as racist if you so choose but you can’t just point a gun at a xenophobic Chinese person and tell him that he has to change and see everyone else as equals. It’s not your job to do that. It’s up to the Chinese individual to change his worldview if he so chooses. He has to do this out of his own free will too. You preaching at him and getting upset probably won’t change his mind much. Ultimately, it’s up to Chinese people themselves to want to change.

    And thus, what I previously said about you getting upset over these things has become a self-fulfilled prophecy.

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  33. “Mark, Vincent, etc: Please stop attempting to explain why I write this blog, or making assumptions about my emotions and reactions to posts. You don’t know me; stop pretending you have some idea of what’s going on in my head. ”

    Then what is the purpose of you writing this blog? Previously you said that this blog was for your own edification. Edification is usually defined as personal, moral, and spiritual uplifting. I want to ask you in what way you feel this blog gives you spiritual and moral uplifting? Through discussion of these topics with others? Through learning more about Chinese society? Blogs, by nature, tend to be more personal and reflect the views of the author. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, really. ChinaGeeks is, naturally, a pulpit for you to express your own opinions and be one of many viewing glasses for expats through which China can be see. Of course, you have other people here expressing their opinions as well but for the most part, this blog is written through your perspective. I’m not condemning you for this. I’m just saying that just like with every other blog, yours has its own agenda and its own way of viewing things. That’s not a condemnation of you or your character, it’s just the truth.

    “For the record, I have been extremely pleased with the discussion that’s happened on this blog so far this year, which may give you some idea as to whether or not your theories about me being “extremely pissed and frustrated” are accurate.”

    In some of your comments on the other topics, you do tend to get angry and personal whenever you feel a discussion isn’t going your way. Especially when Fenqing derail the conversation.

    “I do get annoyed by a few things, though: ad hominem attacks against others, and people acting as though they know me because they read a blog I keep in my spare time.”

    I’ve not made any ad hominim attacks against anyone. In fact, I think much of what I’ve been saying has been constructively critical of both expats from the West and of Chinese ultra-nationalists. However, I’ve not made personal insults against anyone here.

    Also, while it’s true that I may not know you on a personal level, the blog you keep is essentially an online journal through which your writings, thoughts, and ideas can be explored so in that essence, the things you say on your blog can and will be seen as a reflection of your person or character.

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  34. This blog is not an online journal. It is an expression of my perspective, yes (on the posts that I’ve written, anyway, there have been other contributors and guest posts, and I don’t agree with everything I translate); however, the reason I keep it is because having to update it forces me to learn things about China I otherwise wouldn’t. I read dozens of news sites in English daily, and scan 50+ Chinese blogs for interesting stuff. It’s a way to keep my education going while I’m not formally enrolled in school. Of course the things I say here reflect on my character, but having some idea of what sort of person I am is very different from you talking about how I am “pissed and frustrated” with the way discussion has been going on this site. I repeat, nothing could be further from the truth.

    I never said you had made any ad hominem attacks, I was just listing things that annoy me. And the only time I can recall getting frustrated with commenters (read: s) is when they do that, or repeatedly try to discuss things that aren’t related to the post (also a favorite technique of s’s).

    I do reject the idea that “the Chinese” have “their own way of thinking” because it is ridiculously general and useless. The Chinese, like everyone else, have brains that function the same as ours, and the differences in their ways of thinking vary from person to person and come, I believe, from family, culture and education background. We can talk about general trends, but the idea that a productive dialogue between Westerners and Chinese is fundamentally impossible because of some inherent “Chinese” trait is ridiculous, and flies in the face of my own personal experience talking about these things with Chinese friends, as well as my experience on this blog.

    For example, and this is just an example, in the past couple weeks I’ve been having a fascinating email exchange with a friend of mine about the Liu Xiaobo incident and its significance for the future. Despite the fact that she is Chinese, we have been able to discuss this rather controversial issue quite productively, and I personally have gained a lot from the exchange so far.

    So, if it’s OK with you, I’m going to keep banging my head against the wall…

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  35. Re: the racism thing, I’m not taking anything personally, nor am I saying that Chinese people need to accept black people. Just saying their response to Lou Jing fits the definition of the word racism.

    And I censor the word because some American schools (like the one I work at) use software that blocks websites with racial slurs automatically (although admittedly it’s a bit hit-or-miss). I’m going to edit yours for the same reason.

    So, again, please keep your assumptions about my feelings and motives to yourself.

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  36. Mark wrote:

    “If Chinese society as a whole doesn’t want to accept blacks, Indians, Mexicans, or whoever, then that’s their right.”

    Which society decides things “as a whole”, and how would you be privy to such info? Have the Chinese been polled (to a man) and given you the results of their acceptance of various groups?

    The word is an expletive, and if you know what it means, why do you demand anyone write it as you want to see it? For someone who needs to tell state that he believes in individual freedom and doesn’t care for preaching, you sure do indulge a lot in the latter and seem to misunderstand the former.

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  37. I like to see the word censored. I don’t indulge in expletives against Chinese, and i wouldn’t sit for any against blacks either. Decorum still carries some weight.

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  38. “Which society decides things “as a whole”, and how would you be privy to such info? Have the Chinese been polled (to a man) and given you the results of their acceptance of various groups?”

    If a society doesn’t want to change and chooses not to accept something, they don’t have to. The same goes for individuals. If Chinese society thinks ball-point pens are the bane of humanity, then they don’t have to import ball-point pens into the country to use. Same as for individuals. If someone in China feels negatively about soccer players, it’s their right of association not to associate with soccer players.

    “The word is an expletive, and if you know what it means, why do you demand anyone write it as you want to see it? For someone who needs to tell state that he believes in individual freedom and doesn’t care for preaching, you sure do indulge a lot in the latter and seem to misunderstand the former.”

    Why do I demand that people write it fully? Because we’re not in grade school and if a word is to be written, then write it out as it really is instead of childishly saying “The N word” or whatnot. Yes, put quotations around it to show that you’re not using the word as a derogative, but don’t try to hide it just because you find it distasteful. I can guarantee you that I don’t misunderstand individual freedom. People should be able to express whatever views they like, even if their opinions are taboo or unpopular. That’s what freedom is all about.

    “I like to see the word censored. I don’t indulge in expletives against Chinese, and i wouldn’t sit for any against blacks either. Decorum still carries some weight.”

    I don’t indulge in calling people racial insults either. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to childishly censor a word people write just because I personally find it distasteful.

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  39. “This blog is not an online journal. It is an expression of my perspective, yes (on the posts that I’ve written, anyway, there have been other contributors and guest posts, and I don’t agree with everything I translate); however, the reason I keep it is because having to update it forces me to learn things about China I otherwise wouldn’t. I read dozens of news sites in English daily, and scan 50+ Chinese blogs for interesting stuff. It’s a way to keep my education going while I’m not formally enrolled in school. Of course the things I say here reflect on my character, but having some idea of what sort of person I am is very different from you talking about how I am “pissed and frustrated” with the way discussion has been going on this site. I repeat, nothing could be further from the truth.”

    I apologize for assuming you’re angry over the way how some of the discussions have gone. I’m glad to see that we agree that this blog is essentially an expression of your perspective and worldview even though it may not be your journal per say.

    “I never said you had made any ad hominem attacks, I was just listing things that annoy me. And the only time I can recall getting frustrated with commenters (read: s) is when they do that, or repeatedly try to discuss things that aren’t related to the post (also a favorite technique of s’s).”

    Totally agree. It frustrates me too when Fenqing derail the conversations I try to have with them by changing the subject. I’ve lost count of all the times it happened to.

    “I do reject the idea that “the Chinese” have “their own way of thinking” because it is ridiculously general and useless. The Chinese, like everyone else, have brains that function the same as ours, and the differences in their ways of thinking vary from person to person and come, I believe, from family, culture and education background. We can talk about general trends, but the idea that a productive dialogue between Westerners and Chinese is fundamentally impossible because of some inherent “Chinese” trait is ridiculous, and flies in the face of my own personal experience talking about these things with Chinese friends, as well as my experience on this blog. ”

    You misunderstand me entirely. I’m not saying productive dialogue between Westerners and Chinese is fundamentally impossible. I am, however, saying that cultural differences and different worldviews come into play whenever these conversations get started. These things will have to be acknowledged so that the discussion can indeed move forward. Yes, I also believe that Chinese people, like anyone else, have functioning brains. But having a functioning brain does not necessarily mean they have to agree with you or all the things you say. There will always be those Chinese who agree with you, those who sit on the fence, and those who disagree with you.

    “And I censor the word because some American schools (like the one I work at) use software that blocks websites with racial slurs automatically (although admittedly it’s a bit hit-or-miss). I’m going to edit yours for the same reason.”

    If you’re doing this for work-related reasons, then I can totally understand and respect that.

    “So, again, please keep your assumptions about my feelings and motives to yourself.”

    We all have assumptions, feelings, and motives. Just because I don’t know everything there is to know about your feelings and motives doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

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  40. @Custer: “Regardless of what the Telegraph says (I read that article a while ago), calling a black person a “n*gger” or 黑鬼 is racist, period.”

    I disagree with you at multiple levels:

    – Calling a black person “nigger” is, in most circumstances, a symptom of racism, but not the racism itself. Equating the two is like diagnosing every high temperature patient as having H1N1, showing only how rigid and dogmatic this whole racial concept has been perceived. Even Merriam-Webster takes notes of the intentions and contexts that “its use by and among blacks is not always intended or taken as offensive” (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nigger). Without going beyond the skin-deep slur-ism mapping and at least examining the intentions and contexts, you run the danger of driving all the racists into using every word extremely political correctly but then the intentions and effects still harbor the most racial hatred.

    – Even at the semantic level equating 黑鬼 to nigger is problematic. I would literally translate 黑鬼 to black ghost. Some expats choose to use “devil”, but I think that is a lot more powerful, evil, and scary than 鬼 in Chinese is intended. The Chinese term itself, or to be precise the term 鬼, 鬼子, or ghost, is surely derogatory in most circumstances, but do they carry the same weight of racial hatred and discrimination as “nigger”? If you believe they do, then how do you explain Chinese calling foreigners 洋鬼子 (foreign ghosts), or Japanese 日本鬼子 (Japanese ghosts), or even wives calling their husbands 死鬼 (dead ghost) but never use the term on Uyghurs, Tibetans, Huis, Miaos, and Koreans, etc.?

    – I agree many Chinese (as a cultural but not as an ethnic group) have deep-rooted culture-centric and/or nation-centric views of the world. The self-indulging is indeed sometimes annoying and is an obstacle for the nation to rise. However this is not the same racism as of a black people being discriminated against in the US. If there are indeed some racial contents in the Lou Jing related web comments, I would consider they were the recent imports, mostly from the US. Saying in general Han Chinese have deep-rooted conscience of ethnic or racial superiority is simply against the commonsense. Only a bit more than 100 years ago Han Chinese was ruled by Manchu and discriminated against in many ways. So where does the superiority come from, I wonder?

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  41. To drive the idea a bit closer to home, consider this analogy: “calling a woman a “b*tch” or 婊子 is sexist, period.” However during the last election I’ve heard more than once Hilary Clinton supporters, sometimes women AND feminists themselves, calling Nancy Pelosi the B word. IMHO this is more about their outrage towards Pelosi the person than exposing their inner sexists.

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  42. @ CNInDC: I agree that there are circumstances where “n*gger” can be used in a way that isn’t racist, as could 黑鬼 I suppose. But we’re not talking about whether or not there are circumstances.

    Go read some of the comments from those threads in Chinese if they aren’t blocked, then come back and tell me there’s no racism in there.

    Of course, there’s plenty of racism. And you’re welcome to blame call that a “Western importation” but I think we both know that’s pretty weak. The subjugation of Han people by Manchu rulers (and manchus generally), for example, is evidence that China had concepts of race and racial discrimination before any real Western influence.

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  43. @Custer:

    – I’ve read some, but not all the comments on KDS. Like most web brawls they quickly become uninteresting. I would think most occurrences of the race related comments are like the Clinton supporters calling Pelosi the B world. They were more targeting the person and behavior than the whole race. I feel quite unnecessary to be ultra-sensitive, up to the cultural revolutionary 上纲上线 (http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E4%B8%8A%E7%BA%B2%E4%B8%8A%E7%BA%BF)

    – I think there’s a huge gap between the fact that historically the majority Han Chinese had been discriminated against by the invaders in their own country and the speculation that Han Chinese people has a general tendency to discriminate against another race that never was a noticeable component of the Chinese population. I think in general Chinese people tend to be quite tolerant. As soon as the Manchu governing was overturned Sun Yat-sen proposed 五族共和, and Manchu was not discriminated against ever since.

    – My claim that the racial discrimination against the black people is foreign imported is based on my general experience. My parents did tell me they knew a Han woman who married to an African student back in the 60s. It was considered unusual but not in a bad way. Lou Jing’s mom did similar things. If there were deep rooted racism you’d expect few black people in China got Chinese dates. Quite the contrary I think.

    – A noticeable contradiction about racism in Chinese: on one side a few China hands claim that Chinese generally discriminate based on the skin color, on the other hand they also believe the lighter skinned Uyghers are also discriminated against by Han, but here the skin color isn’t giving them the same advantages Chinese gave the Caucasus. The “theory” confuses me.

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  44. “And Manchu was not discriminated against ever since.” See, that’s the sort of statement that rings my “crazy unprovable historical claim” sensor.

    Re: the “skin color” theory, you’re misunderstanding it, which is probably why you’re confused.

    Like

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