Wandering China

An East/West pulse of China's fourth rise from down under.


Is China a homeland, basis of identity, a source of tradition and historical capital, or an imagination imposed one me?

One more month to go before submission.

All good things to come, I trust.

Filed under: The Chinese Identity

Long overdue post

The journey has been tiring and satisfying.

Here’re the opening few paragraphs of the dissertation thus far. Progress has been slow, and it’s been one that’s painstaking. Here goes.

There is a growing sense of fear1 today in the world today as communist China awakes from the doldrums of recovering from the Cultural Revolution and a century of humiliation from the West and Japan.2 China is well underway in transforming from a ‘Sleeping Dragon’ 3 into a global superpower. Benefiting from ‘capitalist roader’4 Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms from 1978, China is now on a path of ascendancy alongside a growing Asia-Pacific region. Deng had then famously declared, “To get rich is glorious”, and was the chief architect behind communist China’s ‘socialist market economy’. The paradoxical formula of communism and a market economy had allowed China to surge ahead, experiencing accelerated growth on many fronts. The world and in particular, the West, is beginning to perceive the resurgent China as a threat that will ultimately upset the balance of the world. Current indicators such as China’s growing economic, military and political might are just the tip of the iceberg.

This negativity is not only imagined by the West. It has also been imagined and further felt as a disconnect by sections of the Chinese diaspora who left the mainland at various times in history to reside all over the world today. Although there is little consensus5 on an apt description for the ethnic Chinese residing outside mainland China today, they can be broadly described as ‘Huayi’ 6, people of Chinese descent. These overseas ‘Huayi’ are descendants of the Chinese diaspora, the biggest human movement in history. Whilst ‘Huaqiao’ (first generation Chinese who left the mainland and the ancestors of today’s ‘Huayi’) viewed themselves as temporarily abroad rather than as permanent emigrants7, the ‘Huayi’ have, over time, assimilated into their host nations’ culture and now found themselves with little in common with their Chinese roots other than they way they looked and spoke. Them being Chinese, had become more of a simple ethnic definition that transcended political borders, rather than a cultural one linked to the mainland.

There was now a disconnect that needed to be bridged. Their feelings towards their land of ancestry today have been shaped by a number of factors. They include the varying periods of separation from the mainland, which is compounded by a understanding that is perceived through second-hand sources such as the media, or word-of-mouth. These factors usually exclude the primacy of actual experience, or a deeper and holistic understanding of China and what it means to be Chinese. An example below shows the feelings of a 20-year-old Singaporean Chinese student –

“PRC (People’s Republic of China) people are scheming, shameless, unethical, selfish, immoral and uncouth. For them, the means justifies the end. They can be very thick-skinned and openly ask for money without any shame. It is not surprising that their Singaporean counterparts shun and despise them. There is a big PRC population in Singapore – FTs, PRs and converted citizens. OK – this is an opportunity for the PRC community in Singapore to show how gracious and generous they are towards their own countrymen. Let time tell.” 8

This is about to change. Indicators from the aftermath of the Beijing Olympics in 2008 show that China is beginning to master the use of cultural production and its agenda setting ability to great effect, informing the world they are out to make friends, not war. An article by Sheng Ding9 sets the scene for this paper. He noted that scholars had been questioning whether a authoritarian and nationalistic China would be able to adhere to international norms and fully integrate into the existing global system without causing friction to the status quo. He proposed that China was well aware of this, and was on the way to establishing a favorable national image, a China that was peaceful and responsible with great power. This ultimately creates a friendly international environment for its ascendancy – a sign that China is now placing great importance to nation image building as foreign policy.

Filed under: Uncategorized

China plays victim for its audience

Another pertinent one – China’s learning how to use the media to good use. Cultural revolution media usage redux.

China plays victim for its audience
March 17, 2008 in print edition A-1
Source http://articles.latimes.com/2008/mar/17/world/fg-chispin17 (Date of Access 7 September 2008)

Even as China faces global criticism for its crackdown on Tibetan Buddhists, it’s winning the battle that it most cares about: support for its policies among Chinese back home.

One key factor is a media strategy that, while still blunt and heavily reliant on censorship and propaganda, shows more nuance than usual for the lumbering Communist Party.

This last week the government has used something it traditionally viewed as a big negative, any suggestion that it’s not in total control, to its advantage by going large with print, still and video coverage of Tibetans attacking Han Chinese in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, and destroying their property.

Not only does this rather ironically paint the Chinese state and its massive police force as something of a victim, analysts said, but it also stirs up feelings of fear and anger among many Han, the nation’s majority population, that add a personal dimension to the riots.

At a political level, the coverage has also bolstered the government’s assertion that its archenemy, the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, is masterminding the protests from abroad and the atheist government’s long-standing contention that Tibetan monks are anything but neutral, nonpolitical and peace-loving.

Many of the videos china/20080315/101987.shtml of the on the state-run CCTV website have been shot and edited to point up crimson-robed monks bashing and burning with the best of the mob. And to the extent the Dalai Lama has stopped short of outright condemning the monks and the protest, China gains points.

Click here for full article.

Filed under: Uncategorized

The Division by the Han

Just the article I needed!

China misfires with divisive ‘people’s war’
By Wu Zhong, China Editor
Source http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China/JH27Ad01.html (Date of Access 2 September 2008)

“HONG KONG – Chinese leaders can now let out a long and satisfied sigh of relief: the Beijing Summer Olympic Games have ended safely and without the interruption of any unsightly incident.
But the security of the Games was not achieved without cost. Certain heavy-handed tactics served to polarize China’s ethnic groups and the government must now devote greater efforts to establishing solidarity between them. This is particularly important considering the growing distrust of the majority Han ethnic bloc towards the minority Tibetan and the Uyghur people.

China’s Han majority accounts for over 90% of the country’s 1.3 billion population. Many Han believe the successful Olympics
came at a great national price. They were humiliated and angry when the Olympic flame was dogged by Tibetan independence activists in overseas torch relays. They were shocked and outraged on hearing that the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), an exiled group seeking independence for Xinjiang, had threatened to launch terror attacks against Olympic venues.

A series of terrorist attacks did rock Kashi and Kuqa in Xinjiang before and after the opening of the Games, leaving dozens dead, including policemen. According to Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang, the ETIM is suspected in the attacks.

Still, subsequent terror strikes in Xinjiang were successfully contained and Beijing and China’s other venue cities were not attacked. This was due in part to tightened security in Xinjiang, but also to the so-called “people’s war” launched by authorities against attempted sabotage of the Olympics.

In the long term, however, the “people’s war” may have increased the Han majority’s suspicion of Tibetan and Uyghur minorities.

Following the first terror attack on armed police in Kashi on August 4, the Beijing Municipal State Security Bureau, the city’s secret police, posted public notices asking citizens to alert them to suspicious persons or anything that “attempts to create ethnic conflicts, instigate national secession and threaten national security”, media in Beijing reported. It was unusual for the State Security Bureau to make such a high-profile move. Reading the Chinese text, it was easily understood that Uyghur and Tibetan “separatists” were targeted.

Society in Beijing is well organized. In collaboration with a local police, several community committees (jumin weiyuanhui) are set up to help maintain social order. Members of such committees are normally housewives, retired cadre or workers familiar with the community. They keep an eye on strangers and inform the police of any abnormal happenings. Despite the rapid expansion of the city and increased social mobility, the system remains intact.

And with the recent surge of nationalist and patriotic sentiment, Beijing residents – who are mostly Han – were more than enthusiastic to help contain any attempt to sabotage the Olympics. Tibetans and Uyghurs generally have different physical characteristics from Hans and could be easily identified when arriving in a typical Beijing neighborhood. For ambitious Tibetan and Uyghur activists, the secret police notice must have been, at the very least, a deterrent…”

Full article here…

Filed under: Culture, Han

Bigger betta soap.

Random soap action from Indonesian grocer.

Filed under: Random

Wow. China used planes, rockets to prevent wet end of Games

China used planes, rockets to prevent wet end of Games

Mon, Aug 25, 2008
Source http://www.asiaone.com/News/Latest%2BNews/Asia/Story/A1Story20080825-84145.html Date of Access 1 September 2008

BEIJING, CHINA – Meteorologists dispatched eight planes to release rain dispersal chemicals and fired 241 rockets into incoming clouds to ensure a dry Beijing Olympics closing ceremony, state media said Monday.

Rain clouds from the north of China had started to move towards the capital on Sunday afternoon, Guo Hu, head of the Beijing Observatory, was quoted by the official Xinhua news agency as saying.

“We decided to use planes to cover a larger area, along with firing rain dispersal rockets from the ground,” said Zhang Qiang, an official at the Beijing Weather Modification Office, according to Xinhua.
Meteorologists also fired more than 1,000 rockets into clouds on August 8 to prevent showers from ruining the opening ceremony — the biggest-ever operation of its kind by China.

China has long dabbled in rain dispersal and rain-making technology, using a vast array of chemicals to either induce or prevent rainfall.

Scientists have viewed the technology as promising, but acknowledge that no method has been developed to objectively prove that such techniques work.

Filed under: Beijing OIympics

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