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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Why Number 1 means a lot to 1.3 billion people

Had a good long chat with the dad today about his views on China today and how they want to be number 1 really badly, and this was echoed in the papers. It's really a simple deal for the Chinese. They see themselves as victims of the West's unjust methods of the past (and probably still very much so today) and they're just making an effort to redeem themselves. Whether this machine of redemption has been so overwhelming that the Chinese consciousness loses touch with reality is really and possibly a figment of Western imagination.

My dad had an excellent anecdote. He related how present Chinese premier Wen Jiabao told the West - "You give me one big problem, it isn't a problem because I can divide it by 1.3 billion people and it becomes a small problem. But if you gave me 1.3 billion small problems then we have a really big problem." And this one was even better. In response to the accusations on Human Rights and Freedom of Movement, Deng Xiaoping, arguably the architect of contemporary econimic powerhouse China - "Fine, how about we just let them all go and do what they want. Will your countries, i.e. Australia & America take them in?" Perhaps the West never stopped to think of the consequences of such lip-service. And by letting them go - I doubt many countries would be able to take those quantities without seriously impeding their own way of life. One perspective of such considerations is this - China (read the communist party) is doing a damn great job at keeping a quarter of the world in order and productive. Would the world prefer if they all went amok instead?

Understanding China requires a little bit more finesse as we are dealing with quantities and qualities that few of us can fathom easily. More reading to do.


From the New Paper 13 August 2008
by Zhen Ming

Source - Ming, Z. (2008) The Boston Brahmin - Why Number 1 means a lot to 1.3 billion people. The New Paper.

"Numbers mean a lot to the Chinese.

It was no coincidence that at 8.08pm, on the eighth day of the eighth month of the eighth year of perhaps Team China's eighth millennium as a civilisation, they finally had their moment.

The critics, of course, ask: But at what expense?

They point to the human rights abuses and curbs on freedoms.

But for the full story, one should first take a walk on the ruins of the Summer Palace, or Yuan Ming Yuan, not far from the Olympic Park.

This will evoke the time when Britain forced opium on China which "enslaved a generation of Chinese and caused corruption that dwarfs anything in present-day China", as writer Richard L King noted.

"The burnt Summer Palace remains a symbol reminding China of its past weaknesses and humiliation," said Travis Hanes and Frank Sanello in their book, Opium Wars..."


I think this second-hand source of information makes it quite clear - an eye for an eye, really, is the name of the game now. And yes, this overseas-born Chinese is certainly aware of the influence of second-hand media information can be rather misleading. Still - the quest continues.