Twofish's Blog

August 8, 2008

Blinded By the Firewall: Why the Chinese Think The World Loves China – Not

Filed under: china — Tags: — twofish @ 11:35 am

I hate articles like these that

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/06/AR2008080602512.html

http://pewglobal.org/reports/display.php?ReportID=261

The Pew Global Attitude Project is this wonderful treasure trove of information which is why I hate it when someone takes one number from it and generalizes to make faulty conclusions.

First of all, you see similar disconnects between the US opinions of itself and world opinions of the US.  Also, if you look at the numbers you’ll see that attitudes toward China vary wildly from nation to nation.  There are places in the world with wildly positive views of China (Russia and Pakistan) and places in the world with wildly negative views of China (Japan and Western Europe).  So when you ask someone “what does the world think about China” and then you don’t specific “where in the world” then you aren’t going to get a good answer.

The reason that I think that the Chinese firewall *doesn’t* have that much of an influence on Chinese attitudes is that if they did, you’d see marked shifts in attitudes between Chinese in China and overseas Chinese who live outside the firewall, and my anecdotal impression is that you don’t.

The notion that Chinese are ignorant and propagandized is something that really hurts political change in China, since it gives people the idea that “if those poor Chinese knew the truth, that they would come to our enlightened way of thinking.”  It’s rather condescending, since I don’t think that the average Chinese is more ignorant about the world or more susceptable to government propaganda than the average American is.  And it’s not true because it implies that the more contact China has with the West the more likely it is to adopt “enlightened Western attitudes” which I doubt is the case.

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4 Comments »

  1. :The notion that Chinese are ignorant and propagandized is something that really hurts political change in China, since it gives people the idea that “if those poor Chinese knew the truth, that they would come to our enlightened way of thinking.””

    It doesn’t hurt or help “political change in China.” Ignorance about other culture and being fed propaganda(including being self-righteous about others being “ignorant and propagandized”) is the norm of human race, not the exception. In that sense, it doesn’t help or hurt. (Or rather being cynical myself, I would prefer my competitors remain in the dark especially a powerful nation such as US. They never know what comes after them and when they realize it, well, it’s too late. You see, competition and being a winner are parts of humane nature too.)

    Comment by anonymous — August 8, 2008 @ 4:32 pm

  2. “Ignorance about other culture and being fed propaganda(including being self-righteous about others being “ignorant and propagandized” is the norm of human race”

    It is not a “norm” of human race. It is a sad reality of human race, just like humans have the animal part of its being. To be a human being, you have to fight this reality, rather than to celiberate it as “norm”. The fighting itself defines human being, and promises that our civilization will continue and the world has a hope to become better.

    Comment by Demin — August 9, 2008 @ 8:49 am

  3. Actually, I disagree a lot about id/ego/superego division that comes from Plato.

    One thing that I find interesting is that people that see themselves as “fighting self-righteousness and cultural ignorance” often end up being extremely self-righteous and cultural ignorant. It’s actually rather funny once you see it.

    You have to watch out for anything that makes you think that you are “better” than someone else, including the idea that you are “better” because you are better at fighting the animal part of the soul.

    One of the ironies is that the “animal part of the soul” is what makes us fight for *anything*.

    Comment by twofish — August 9, 2008 @ 3:32 pm

  4. Twofish, thanks for your comment. Actually I myself prefer Nietzsche much more than Plato. But as I understand it, while Plato’s superego thing is dangerous because it implicates a moral hierarchy, Nietzsche’s philosophy has much chance to descend into nihilism. It is due to the latter part that I response to the first comment. It’s the tension that human bears. While “self-righteousness and cultural ignorance” could be said as a certain “norm” or “nature” of us, certainly there are baser ones and better ones of them. The same is with competition. Surely moral hierarchy, which I deplore as much as you do, should be avoided, but still we’ve got to have hope for a better future.

    Comment by Demin — August 10, 2008 @ 12:28 am


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