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The Hidden China

The anniversary of the massacre at Tienamen Square is approaching, and with it the obligatory mention that the government is suppressing mention of the atrocity, let alone protests or memorials. That statement, however, is a bit less than completely accurate. While official media has indeed censored mention of Tienamen, it's not at all as if the people of China are unaware of the event or have forgotten. China is a great nation of over a billion people, whose intelligence and conscience is quite alive and responsive. China does not react to events in the same way that we do in the West, nor does she sleep unaware of her wounds. The China to watch is not the propagandized one in Beijing, nor the popular images in the news or media, but the deep demographic currents of the people in the main. China has more than one dimension, and is stronger below the surface than it appears.

Richard Nixon made many mistakes in his life, but he knew China. Like the United States, China is made up of different regions and people from different sub-cultures, who seldom agree with their neighbors on even important issues until there is a crisis. The people of China hate corruption, which is why they rejected Chiang Kai Shek and the Kuomintang. They despise tyranny, which is why the communist government works so hard to spin everything from wars to television programs. They have learned thrift from lean years, and their history shows a deep devotion to family and chivalry; even today historical plays and movies about virtue and knights (or Shaolin monks) are tremendously popular.

And they love America.

Chinese usually refer to the United States as 美国 Meiguo*, which means 'beautiful country'. Chinese immigrants began coming to America in the early 19th Century, and despite becoming the first race to be specifically barred from citizenship the Chinese have long considered America their friend. The U.S. was the only major power to honor all of its promises in the resolution of the Boxer Rebellion, including the creation of Tsinghua University by American educators and benefactors. The United States also stood by China in resisting invasion attempts first by Russia in 1900 then by Japan in World War 2. Nixon parlayed that respect for American non-imperialism into an alliance against the Soviet Union, which actually fought a prolonged war against China for over twenty years along their border, with casualties reportedly greater than one hundred thousand dead.

It's really no shock that Chinese invest in the United States, whether in stock, land, or treasury notes - they have done so for generations as much as possible. Chinese routinely send their children to universities in the U.S. if they can afford to do so, they listen to American music and watch American movies. Chinese are more pro-American than most Europeans.

This is not to say, at all, that the government in Beijing is about to become Reaganite or follow the ideals of John Kennedy. Nor should it be taken to mean that China has abandoned its cultural legacy, both as a nation and in the regions and towns and families that have grown and thrived for centuries. But there is a living, active China that is hidden from the dispatches of Hu Jintao's government, one which remembers the dead of Tienamen and works for a future for all China.

*corrected by Mister Tan


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Comments (13)

Love your stuff.Sm... (Below threshold)
Mister Tan:

Love your stuff.

Small fix that only someone who knows pinyin would notice -- Meiguo, not Meizhou. The former is America the country, the latter is the American continent.

Thank you, Mister Tan. I w... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Thank you, Mister Tan. I will correct the entry anon.

COUCHING LIBERAL HIDDEN COM... (Below threshold)
Flu-Bird:

COUCHING LIBERAL HIDDEN COMMIE

Want some more corrections?... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Want some more corrections? First, it's Tiananmen, not Tienamen. Second, the anniversary was not approaching when you posted this yesterday; the anniversary was yesterday.

The people of China hate corruption, which is why they rejected Chiang Kai Shek and the Kuomintang.

Wow, what an ignorant oversimplification. The KMT lost to the CCP largely because they were inept, made some huge mistakes, and were unprepared to fight effectively against the CCP's guerrilla army. The new jīn yuán quàn currency they implemented failed and further damaged the economy. They ceded the non-urban areas to the communist army, which proved to be a fatal mistake. That's why the KMT lost and had to retreat to Taiwan, which they pretty much stole from the natives. Corruption was a problem, yes, but certainly not the biggest one.

And they love America.

A lot of them actually dislike America. More do admire us, but quite a few certainly do not.

Chinese usually refer to the United States as 美国 Meiguo*, which means 'beautiful country'.

That's technically what the characters mean, but they don't call us that because they think we're beautiful. They choose characters that come close to the foreign word, phonetically. The Mei (pronounced "may") in Mei Guo is an approximation of the "me" sound in America. Guo means country. You see similar transliterations in other countries (Fa Guo is France, Germany is De Guo, England is Ying Guo, etc.) as well as proper names (Clinton is kè lín dùn, Lincoln is lín kěn). The actual meaning of the Chinese characters is not meant to translate, and Chinese speakers know they are reading a foreign name (otherwise those names would be largely nonsense).

The United States also stood by China in resisting invasion attempts first by Russia in 1900

What are you talking about? In 1900 the United States and Russia were both part of the Eight Nation Alliance that put down the Boxer Rebellion. Russia was not invading China.

Nixon parlayed that respect for American non-imperialism into an alliance against the Soviet Union, which actually fought a prolonged war against China for over twenty years along their border, with casualties reportedly greater than one hundred thousand dead.

Where'd you get that number? The worst of the border disputes following the Sino-Soviet split in the 60s took place in 1969, and only about 1500 died at the very most.

But there is a living, active China that is hidden from the dispatches of Hu Jintao's government, one which remembers the dead of Tienamen and works for a future for all China.

Well, that's true, but I wouldn't take your word for it. You obviously know very little about China or the Chinese.

1. Tienamen refers not just... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

1. Tienamen refers not just to the intiial attack, but to the series of brutal reprisals by the government.

2. Chinese ideograms do not directly translate to western letters. My spelling is as valid as yours, mantis.

3. I explained my reasoning as to why and how Chinese love America, while all you did was piss and moan. And it was the Chinese who chose their word for America, knowing what it meant. You are a craven, bitter little boor to pretend otherwise.

4. Russia's attempts to - ahem - "annex" portions of China at beginning of the Boxer Rebellion were one reason the US sent in troops, and its post-war attempts were also rebuffed primarily by US diplomats and Marines. I am not surprised, however, that your knowledge of history is as piss-poor as everything else you spew, mantis.

5. Only a complete moron would trust the official figures from Moscow and Beijing on the casualties. Mine come from a DIA extrapolation of the conflict, forces committed, and known/suspected battles.

6. My wife is from China, I have friends and relatives there and I have obviously done more traveling than you, mantis. Sorry but your trips to General Joe's Chopstix and watching a few episodes of Kung Fu do not establish your credentials in the area.

But at least you read it all the way through this time before your spleen blew onto the comment section. You must be so proud.

I loved your post D.J. and ... (Below threshold)
MichaelC:

I loved your post D.J. and I must add that your "fisking" of Mantis was just about as enjoyable. Heh.

Tienamen refers not just... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Tienamen refers not just to the intiial attack, but to the series of brutal reprisals by the government.

So what, by anniversary you meant several weeks?

Chinese ideograms do not directly translate to western letters. My spelling is as valid as yours, mantis.

Only if you consider whatever the hell spelling you invent as "valid." Since it's not Wade-Giles (t'ienanmen), Yale (tyananmen), or the pinyin that I used (which is what they use in mandarin speaking China, of course), it's not exactly what I would call a recognized romanization.

And it was the Chinese who chose their word for America, knowing what it meant.

Sure, they know what their own characters mean, but you miss the point that their transliterations of proper names is not meant to be translated from Chinese. The characters are chosen for their phonetic characteristics, and specifically to ensure that the name chosen does not in fact mean anything in Chinese.

Russia's attempts to - ahem - "annex" portions of China at beginning of the Boxer Rebellion were one reason the US sent in troops,

So you're saying that in order to stop encroachment from Russia into China, the US allied with Russia and six other countries to put down a anti-foreign rebellion that was in opposition to that very encroachment, as well as that of other European powers? Nonsensical.

and its post-war attempts were also rebuffed primarily by US diplomats and Marines. I am not surprised, however, that your knowledge of history is as piss-poor as everything else you spew, mantis.

post-war? Which war? WWI, WWII, the Russo-Japanese War? Do you have any idea what you're talking about?

Only a complete moron would trust the official figures from Moscow and Beijing on the casualties. Mine come from a DIA extrapolation of the conflict, forces committed, and known/suspected battles.

Gotta cite?

My wife is from China,

You embarrass her. You should just keep quiet.

I have friends and relatives there and I have obviously done more traveling than you, mantis. Sorry but your trips to General Joe's Chopstix and watching a few episodes of Kung Fu do not establish your credentials in the area.

You're a funny, if stupid, guy. I would bet I've spent more time in and been to much more of China than you ever will.

Mantis: " would bet I've... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Mantis: " would bet I've spent more time in and been to much more of China than you ever will"

IF that were true, one would never know it from your comments here.

But I should not hold that against you, Mantis. Spite and lying are all you know, hmm?

Spite and lying are all ... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Spite and lying are all you know, hmm?

I understand you're unable to consider it anything else when people point out how little you know, but that doesn't make it so.

Actually mantis, it's just ... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Actually mantis, it's just you and your insult-only habit of commenting. You are off-topic, belligerent, and far from accurate. In this thread alone, all you have done is spout opinion and derision, and you have not only missed the point you can't even back up your own claims.

Really now, why should anyone treat you as anything more than a badly-behaved adolescent whose parents give him too much free time? Certainly no one here takes you seriously, mantis.

"Actually mantis, it's just... (Below threshold)
max:

"Actually mantis, it's just you and your insult-only habit of commenting."

"You are a craven, bitter little boor to pretend otherwise."

"I am not surprised, however, that your knowledge of history is as piss-poor as everything else you spew, mantis."

"Sorry but your trips to General Joe's Chopstix and watching a few episodes of Kung Fu do not establish your credentials in the area."

"But at least you read it all the way through this time before your spleen blew onto the comment section. You must be so proud."

"But I should not hold that against you, Mantis. Spite and lying are all you know, hmm?"

"Certainly no one here takes you seriously, mantis."

Wrong. There is someone on this thread not worth taking seriously, but it's not mantis.

Actually max, all you did w... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Actually max, all you did was confirm my point. You did not even try to address the post or the topic of China. Mantis was full of venom, but at least he started with China on his personal spit-fest.

Chinese usually refer to... (Below threshold)
Paul_In_Houston:

Chinese usually refer to the United States as 美国 Meiguo*, which means 'beautiful country'.
.

FYI - In Korean, their word for America ( 미국 , pronounced "me gook" ) means the same thing.

(This might explain the term "gook" used for them during the Korean War.)

=




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