Fight Between Foreigners and Local

Last Sunday, I went to buy some Sushi in the Biyun International District. Near Carrefour, I witnessed the fight between a foreigner (actually his Chinese driver) and a local safeguard. When police (110) came to bring everyone involved away, I am still in deep thinking about what is going on in this society.

The Story

I didn’t see the first part of the story. When I see it, I just found the safeguard used the plastic sign board to hit the rear of a black Passat, and the driver and a tall foreigner (should be American from what he said later) immediately rushed out and the driver start to beat the safeguard, and very quickly they formed a position that no one could move. Many people came and wanted to break them apart.

The Foreigner

The foreigner was very upset, and used the top of his voice to shout to the safeguard. Obviously he didn’t know Chinese and this is something he said:

“Keep your F*** hands out of my driver.”

“You hit my car. I will call police. You need to go to jail!”

“You are over. Bye bye”

“I took your photo. You cannot run away. You are done!”.

Something like that, and I could not hear it clearly.

The Crowd

Very quickly, the crowd gathered and this was their comments:

“Get out of China, foreigners!”

“This is not 1930s. You go away.”

To the driver: “Why you a Chinese work for Americans like a dog? You betrayed your country”.

To the driver: “There are enough people like you before liberation. You are not a Chinese.”

“Now China cannot beat American. That is the reason they dare to beat our people here.”

Most of the people are nearby flower sellers, and other people who sell goods on their cart.

My Thought

I am confused. In this case, for the crowd (which I would say is a very good example of the current majority in this society), it does not matter who is right or wrong, the only thing matters is who stands on the Chinese side, and who is not. I admit I completely have no information to judge who is right and who is wrong, since I didn’t see the beginning of the story, but the strange thing (very common in current society) is, no one really care about the reasoning process. There is a power (anti-foreigner) hidden in the society that can be easily triggered at any time there is a conflict between Chinese and foreigners, or between China and other country.

I’d like to make it fair for everyone. For people who are foreigners and reading this blog, I want to explain the reason why there are such a strong power hidden there. The current education about history is, foreigners invaded China and pull the country into half a century of poverty and humility disaster. People feel very proud of the current strong country that history may not repeat itself.

If you ask me, as an independent thinking (I hope so), I think the current nationalism education is dangerous. If someone can fight for something just because of hate of another country, or they were told this is a conflict between his/her country and another country, that can be very dangerous. That is the case in Japan and Germany in WWII.

I was very surprised to realize how deep this kind of hate is and how deep the scare in people’s heart. That is the reason I feel very puzzled. I am not sure what is the right way to handle it, and the right way to think about it.

My readers, what is your comments? Do you want to share with us the similar stories you experienced and the results?

P.S. The result of story is, they were all brought away by police (someone called police), and I don’t know what happened next.

77 Comments

  1. Oh oh … How’s this going to go over with the angelic chimes of “北京欢迎你” next year? I can scarcely dream about beibei giving the knee-knee to some laowai with a chip on his/her shoulder or worse the lusty nihonjins!

  2. yes, seems this state of mind is hard to change, this predetermination.

    i came into similar circumstances before.the way i see it, we need to communicate more.

  3. I like this very thought provoking subject, were some japanese-owned businesses vandalized a couple of years ago? Unfortunately this happens in every part of the world almost on a daily basis for decades and centuries, and is it because of politics, discrimination, racism or brainwashing, I can’t tell. I am of mixed race (part chinese with a U.S. passport) and very confused in these type of conflicts. I agree more communication and education is needed but the mindset is hard to change.

  4. Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel — Samuel Johnson.

  5. Wow Jian Shou… interesting… last year I was in the ‘wedding market’ area of Shanghai with my father-in-law, when a person there started arguing and wanting to pick a fight with my father-in-law… absolutely no reason and unprovoked. My wife was pulling her dad away, but I moved in to step between the agressor and my father-in-law… quite a large crowd of people were gathered and this man was obviously out of control – perhaps somewhat not ‘right in the head’… I was fully prepared to take this guy out if he physically struck my father-in-law, and he knew by my presence and ‘chesting up’ to him that I would have meant business… my shanghai dialect is not good enough to understand what was being said, but based on your story, maybe it was lucky that it didn’t erupt into violence – perhaps I would have been on the receiving end from the locals… interesting that although I said or did nothing except move myself into a position to be able to defend my elderly father-in-law, the police and security started pushing me and manhandling me to move me from the scene – the agressor just kept yelling abuse and was left completely alone by the authorities – perhaps now I understand the reason for this behavious in this very strange situation… I must say this was a one-off incident and I have not experienced anything like it in Shanghai before or after.

  6. Oh – and Jet So – why the racial connotations??

  7. About thirty years ago, China was opening her door to the west in needs of investments, foreigners rushed in with capital and technologies, on the side, the authority granted the foreigners in China with special immunities such as:

    Immune from any misdemeanour charges

    Don’t have to queue up with local residents for anythings

    Entitle to enter best restaurants or hotels where local residents are forbidden from entering…….and many more benefits.

    At that time, foreigners – both caucasian and Chinese from Hong Kong and Taiwan walked the street of China like a Emperor.

    This injustice caused the Chinese resident with a attitude of either admiration or resentment towards foreigners, and today when China is strong and rich, the mentality still persists.

  8. As a Chinese citizen I’m feeling that a lot things in China are broken.

    People don’t have trust on others, people always keep opposite minds and keep making it left-winged in real life, young hate decisions made by elder.

    A lot things are broken.

    Some people trying to fix what is becoming broken, and many of them found such efforts are simply rushed away by time.

    So I have a question, if we don’t try to fix what is becoming broken but we turn to fix education, free the poison from ourselves, and teach our next generation that there are possibilities in this world, to choose means freedom and think before go.

    Will it be different then?

  9. Good God, the opium war is over ! move on ! yes, the white man knows about this history too and none too proud about it. Lets not become the rightious bastards that everyone eventually hates. This baggage from the past is killing our progress as a people.

  10. Well, Nice point. But I don’t think it happens only in China. In western countries like United States, this kind of thing happens as well. This is part of Patriotism. If you are a foreigner in any other country, you will be somewhat treated like that. And I feel like although people in United States you met are mostly polite and nice, that’s just the upper level of the whole society not everyone. You will find some offensive people if you get into the middle part of the country.

    To me, I have no problem with this kind of attitude. China need this kind of patriotism more rather than losing its pride and hope of being strong again.

  11. I agree with Yanging.

    BTW, to some degree, I feel your thoughts are a little bit biased. Did the crowd see the first part of the story?

  12. I don’t know what they saw. My guess is, they are the same as me – didn’t see the first part of the story. You know, these guys are only noticed by the crowd and me after they the safeguard hit the car, or they start to fight. Otherwise people may not pay attention to a car or a safeguard if they behave normally. BTW, I am at the rear of the car when the safeguard hit the car. I didn’t know anything, and I happen to be one of the closest witness. My GUESS is, the car didn’t stop when the safeguard asked them to, but this is only my guess.

  13. to Yangqing and ZJ, what does “Patrotism” in other countries have anything to do with this incident or WJS’s entry? Are you saying that just b/c similar types of problems exist in other countries, the people in China should not think about these issues and try to promote rational thinking rather than blind nationalism.

    This type of response is really fustrating. So often when Jianshuo points out an issue, someone will say oh but it also happen some where else. So what!!! if you are a true Patriot, would you not want to improve yourself, your own society, your own country, regardless of the conditions in other countries?

  14. When I was in Shanghai, I noticed that there were the truly civilized people, and then there were those who were not that polite. It’s true that you find this EVERYWHERE in the world and not just in China. Some Singaporeans put me off too.

    China’s national pride is very great because it is a great country, in terms of size, history, culture, achievements, talents and other attributes. And sometimes this pride becomes unpleasant when it tries to assert superiority over another race or country. On the other hand, I see the same thing in the US, where they always like to act as the Big Brother, even when their opinions are not asked for, or even welcome. I guess to some extent, some Chinese are only trying to regain that lost “strength” and power of the great Middle Kingdom China once was. And I think it’s only right to want the best for your own country.

    But I also agree with JL that true patriotism is not blind nationalism. I don’t think there is any easy solution to this issue. With humans, there’ll always be the problem of pride, lust and greed. And that is why there’ll always be fights and wars, whether we like it or not. True peace will only come when each of us changes our mindset towards others. Restricting the outward behaviour will never be enough, as you never know when that inward hatred will be triggered if you don’t resolve it.

    Like what I’ve mentioned in another post, we must stop generalizing people. 我们不应该用一竹竿打翻一船人。 It’s difficult, but we must try to see each one as an individual. This will surely help us to understand one another better in this world we live in. For everyone who wants to be less racist, I strongly recommend watching the movie “Crash”….. again and again.

  15. BTW, I think you mean “security guard” rather than “safeguard”. The latter is something that’s quite different :)

  16. Hi JL,

    Thank you for replying my comment. I feel like you somewhat misunderstood my point. I was not saying the behavior of those people was right. I’m always against the irrational reaction just because someone is a foreigner. But what I really wanted to point out was that it was not such a big deal as Jianshuo tried to make. It happened everywhere even in the most advanced countries like US. And I pointed that out to let the readers of this blog know people in China was not as bad as you are likely to conclude from this article.

    And you are right, we need to improve our society our country and our people of being more polite. But it doesn’t take one day to make that happen. I believe if those people are richer and remove those offensive feeling about foreigners by traveling outside of the world to know more about it. They will know how to be polite. I’m not too worried about that because it’s part of our culture of being polite to guests.

  17. As great a country China will be, it would appear that the hearts of the people cannot go beyond narrow and petty. Having pride in our country has absolutely NOTHING to do with dogmatic bullying of our guests. China will be great only when the world thinks so. NOT because we think so.

    For now, the lack of honesty regarding our weaknesses will be our Achilles heel.

    I have pride over what China WILL be, I am proud to be a chinese when I travel. But at home, I know things are far from perfect. Facts don’t lie.

    A smart person knows he has much learn while a fool knows everything.

    Currently our lack of modesty regarding minor acheivements is disturbing.

  18. I have been in China a long time and also traveling in so many other cities and I will say that usually the people is nice to foreigners, that doesnt mean they wont take the chance if its given to raise the prices or something like that, but usually they will try to make the foreigners feel glad and like the country. Sometimes even allowing them to feel they are right, so they dont get a very disturbed image of the country or people they are visiting.

    Nationalist that is not product of thinking is the flame waiting for wood or explosives. Its dangerous, will provoke unnecessary violence at the minimum offend and will never be real love for their countries, its like a bad religion or a fanatic who just follows passion nonsenselessly!

    Hope China (and many other countries of course, but every individual,by personal decision) be able to learn from the past, forgive and keep on…

  19. Hi JL,

    You misunderstood my comment. The topic of Jianshuo’s article is very good. The blind patriotism does exist, I admit that. I just commented based on what I felt after I read the article. Since Jianshuo mentioned he didn’t see the first part, I was wondering if the crowd saw something that led to that situation. As in Jianshou’s response, if he was sure that the crowd didn’t see the first part either and said those irrational words, then the incident could be linked to blind patriotism.

  20. This is an imp topic. The ‘scene’ enacted on the road is symbolic. This situation happens in other sphere of business, travel etc also. While, some of this happens in other countries with varying degrees, the consistency here is unique.

    The foreigners are treated with great respect here but everyone knows the underlying reason.

  21. I do agree one comment that the government did not treat its own fellow citizens equally as foreigners being treated. Injustice always causes resentment, hate. When I was in China, I need to get approvement to go to Shenzhen, each time. But if you hold HongKong passport, foreign country passport, you can go there freely. I hate for being treated like this.

    One possible reason why the safeguard hit the car could be that he did not get respect from the driver and the passenger (unfortunately a foreigner), and he got very angry. As a human being, we all have dignity, we all want to be respected.

    From you description, it seems all those people that support the safeguard share a same common backgroud: they are not repected from the society, from the government. They found a way to vent their resentment to the society by supporting the safeguard.

    So be understanding, not just judgement.

    I do not agree with JS’s point that those people did not quest wrong or right.

  22. I do agree one comment that the government did not treat its own fellow citizens equally as foreigners being treated. Injustice always causes resentment, hate. When I was in China, I need to get approvement to go to Shenzhen, each time. But if you hold HongKong passport, foreign country passport, you can go there freely. I hate for being treated like this.

    One possible reason why the safeguard hit the car could be that he did not get respect from the driver and the passenger (unfortunately a foreigner), and he got very angry. As a human being, we all have dignity, we all want to be respected.

    From you description, it seems all those people that support the safeguard share a same common backgroud: they are not repected from the society, from the government. They found a way to vent their resentment to the society by supporting the safeguard.

    So be understanding, not just judgement.

    I do not agree with JS’s point that those people did not quest wrong or right.

    Also, I am strongly against the correlation between this event with WWII. JS is kind of an elite now in China. But you need to go to those people’s life to understand the feelings of those people. Then you will not make those judgement.

    I also does not agree the patriotism. There is no patriotism issue here.

  23. @Rick, thanks for sharing your thought, and I agree with you the point the discrimination (or just different treatment) cause problems in China between the two group of people.

    I want to clarify that I am not the person who correlate this event (this very normal event) to WWII. It is the crowd who correlate it. The majority of the people saying something like “You foreigners invaded China 50 years ago, and now that time is over, and you cannot do the same as you did”. The other part said: The driver should not drive for a foreigner “like a walking dog” (in their own words).

    That is exact the reason I write this blog article. If it is just a local person and a foreigner fight, there is nothing significant in this matter.

    For the patriotism, it is always two-sided knife. It is useful (I mean the positive patriotism, like love for one’s country), and it can also be dangerous (when it is used to against another country, in which case we also use the word nationalism).

    Personally, I was shocked. If you check all my blog entries about this, I wrote that there is no discrimination against foreigners (as far as my experience is concerned) and people are very nice. That was always my opinion.

    This even touch me a lot that when there is a fight, the history buried deep in normal people’s life burst out, and this power is astonishing, even for a local residents.

  24. Jianshuo:

    If the passenger in the car hadn’t been a foreigner but a rich-looking mainland Chinese businessman, do you think things would’ve happened the way they did? In other words, would the confrontation had taken place in the same manner, and the crowd gathering to watch?

    Max

  25. @Max, good point. I assume the answer is “Yes, crowd will come”. No matter what happened, if something happens, the crowd will gather and try to understand what is going on.

    Let me just imagine what happens if it is a rich man. I believe the crowd will turn to stand side by side with the security guard, but for different reasons. They may think the rich is bad, I guess.

    So this is a good point you just brought that (if you allow me to over generalize this event) the society now is against people who are rich.

  26. Problem is, there are so much news about the rich and crooked that one automatically assumes all rich to be crooked.

    If a foreigner confronts a local, the former is always assumed to be the aggressor first, and past injustices are dug up regardless of it’s relevancy to the dispute. It’s sad but somehow we have to move away from this mentality.

    I think the reasons behind all this may be the frustration of the people left behind while the new rich(foreigner included) fluant their wealth. The income gap if it continues to widen will only cause such events to increase and escalate.

    Reality is, were this a fight between two regular man in the street, nobody will give a damn.

  27. Excellent post Jian Shuo Wang and great comments. I am very much on the side that patriotism is like communism. It is great in theory but in practice it works to promote the worst elements of humanity.

    There is nothing wrong with being proud of your history, culture or country, but if it causes you to hate other nations’ people based on what you think their perception of you is, it needs to be put in check.

    Unfortunately mob mentality is not known for its great compassion and level-headedness. It’s just a whole lot easier to gravitate to the familiar than it is to stick up for what is right.

    I had a British friend of mine step in and stop a drunk Chinese man from repeatedly smashing a Chinese girl’s face into the front of a car. His reward? The other Chinese that were standing around and watching the man beat the girl then turned on the foreigner and kicked the crap out of him.

    There’s no excuse for behavior like that. No amount of perceived historic “wrongs”. It’s just not right. Period.

  28. This is my first time visiting this blog, but some strong points are being made.

    I think that regardless of how far the situation deteriorated, there are some basic points.

    First, the security guard is there to do a job. He is being paid to record entries and exits, not exert his opinion on anyone. If he hit the back of the car, then he had obviously already let them pass by. That should have been the end of it. We all have things we don’t like about our jobs, people we deal with, but that doesn’t mean we can physically harm others or their property. If the guard cannot handle this, then he is certainly in the wrong job.

    Second, this car is the driver’s livelihood. If the guard attempted to damage his car, he has a right to be angry. He probably could’ve handled it better, but still has a right to be upset. He makes his money by driving people who are willing to pay him to drive. If that is a foreigner who pays him, the money spends the same way.

    The fact that people were willing to condemn the driver for making an honest living through foreign money is complete hypocrisy (and precisely what has no relevance to the specific situation). I am absolutely sure that every one of the people selling fruit or flowers would have turned around and sold as much as they could to the foreigner if he had asked, probably with a smile, a higher markup, and without a hint of irony.

    To be sure, foreign money and investment is one of the very reasons that China is seeing a revival in its economy and standard of living. Any of the newly international brands coming from China all benefited from foreign investment and/or technology. Opening doors to trade and investment helps all involved to better their life. (And I’m sure that avoiding queues was not a bargaining chip in investment negotiations. These are not the kinds of things that foreigners ask for, these are things their Chinese partners gave them. If anybody wants someone to resent, look to the people who insisted on this.)

    Regarding Stephen’s comment about the Us vs. Them mentality that persists even “today when China is strong and rich”, I would be willing to bet that China’s strong and rich would have nothing to do with this incident. It seems more that the people shouting insults are rather the ones being left behind. Either way, the fact that they made it a foreign issue is wrong.

    China has a spectacular history that foreign cultures, to be frank, hold with a bit of awe. There is a long time of contributions of which to be proud. However, you can’t be proud and pull out the Victim Card when it’s convenient to do so. Either China will keep allowing unfortunate events to stunt her growth, or she will continue to expand as a world power and move forward as a true leader.

  29. Yes, I have experienced this first-hand in China. I have seen a couple situations where large group of drunken Chinese men start getting violent, screaming “I will not let a laowai disrespect me in my own country!” I have also been the target of some aggression by a crazy farmer, which thankfully led to nobody being hurt.

    Westerners try to interpret it the same as racism in the U.S., claiming it is just because of economic problems or class struggle. But that is totally wrong. People also say it is because China has been victimized by foreigners. This is also a lie — it *might* explain hatred of Japanese, but cannot explain this hatred of Americans.

    IMO, this attitude is a very deep cultural thing for Chinese. Confucian culture is anti-individualistic, but also very competitive. So boys from a young age are told that they need to do “heroic” things, but never for personal glory (always for the family and the country). And girls from a young age are taught that they need to protect the family and extended family from all harm. So the identity of being “Chinese” is stronger than individual identity.

    This is made much worse when westerners do not understand the desire of Chinese to save face. When a westerner does something to publicly criticize a Chinese person, and makes that person humiliated in public, every Chinese person in the area feels like they are being attacked and disrespected. Chinese people don’t normally publicly reprimand each other as much as westerners do.

    So it is a powder keg situation. Any time you have a foreigner publicly and flagrantly disrespect a Chinese man, it could easily lead to a mob situation. I have predicted this many times about the Olympics. This is going to happen frequently. Imagine the following scenario:

    1) Group of three Australian “tough” guys who are slightly drunk, standing in line/queue

    2) Some Chinese guys jump the line, since that is how lines work in China

    3) The Australian guys are angry. If this happened with a white guy in Australia jumping the line, they would beat him uo.

    4) They yell at the Chinese guys and tell them to get in line. They think they are being nice, since they should just beat the guys up (they think)

    5) The Chinese guys start screaming “laowai disrespecting us!”. A mob forms.

    6) The Australians decide they have a chance to beat the mob, and fists start flying

    The same kinds of fights will erupt over traffic rules. That is why I am avoiding Beijing during the Olympics.

  30. @Joshua Allen

    Unfortunately, it is a highly plausible scenario.

    There is too much of the “us vs them” mentality.

    I hope one day the chinese can see that it is through the support of many “outsiders” that allowed it to florish.

    As much as we love to hate the Japanese, they too have made very significant investments in China.

    These investments keep our people employed and benefits both sides.

    I feel a little sorry that everytime their government makes a faux pas, they freak out and barricade themselves somewhere “safe”. (however since most of the time nobody gets hurt I just laugh) We can’t hate them forever.

    With regards to America, it’s a bipolar relationship. As much as we would like to see them as a friend, it was not too long ago when our embassy was bombed by them, and our fighter jet knocked out of the sky by their spy plane. The blanket blaming of the quality of our products when most of it was due to design faults of Mattel, The supply of weapons to Taiwan… need I say more ?? We don’t hate them as much as we don’t know what to make of them. We know for sure that if one day Texas wants to go independant, we won’t sell arms to it. But what the heck, the US is always confusing to her friends. Not that the French cared much about it, but “Freedom Fries” ?? come on ! why don’t they just shroud the statue of liberty- a gift from the French !

  31. Of the above fighting incident, if you take away the foreigner’s factor, it is purely a clash between rich and poor, law defying vs ignorance.

    If someone is comparing Chinese patriotism to pre-war era of Nazism of German and Imperialism of Japan, it is totally wrong. Nazism is to revenge the injustice of Versailles Treaty and the land and German people annexed by Poland. Japanese Imperialism is to seek better livelihood for her nationals in the era of great depression.

    What China need is folkways to a social norm and not revisiting the past unfavourable events in history.

  32. Mr. Wang,

    Thank you for your tale and balanced perspective. We really don’t know what happened here, and we’ll probably never know the exact cause of the altercation. I am grateful for your journalistic integrity. This is why I enjoy your blog so much, actually.

    Anyway, in response to your question, I must reiterate on point mentioned by many of your other readers. This kind of mutual bigotry happens everywhere, not just in China. Cultural ignorance is a global phenomenon. As an American I can assure you that it exists in the states, too. It’s just something open-minded (perhaps open-hearted) people will have to deal with now and into the future.

    That being said, I must actually take a partisan view on this particular issue, but not for the reasons you might expect. As an avid bicyclist, environmentalist, and advocate for pedestrian right-of-way, I am more inclined to side with the Chinese citizens who yelled at the American and his driver. We have different reasons for being angry, of course, but the object of our ire is mutual.

    There is a massive shift happening here in China, we all know that, and the growth of the automobile epitomizes this change. Though the crowd in front of Carrefour didn’t realize it yet, what they are railing against is not foreign identity but foreign imperialism. The car has become an obvious and readily-available metaphor for this kind of forced, Euro-centric culture.

    There is simply no excuse for a wealthy, foreign, car-driver (though Ms. Daisy apparently wasn’t even driving his own car!) to beat a local, under-privileged worker. Damage done to his material possessions is entirely beside the point. This whole scene smacks of upper-class elitism, not to mention extreme arrogance, and is the seed for continued cultural ignorance. What an ass!

    It’s a good damn thing I wasn’t there, Mr. Wang. I would have read that dude a riot act–and in my native English, mind you. If it had been on a U.S. public street, where bikers are far less tolerant, he would have gotten a chain upside his tail lights. Every human behind the wheel of a car should remember this: you don’t own the road, and your beloved, gas-drunk car is not an extension of your body.

    Public space is public space. Maybe we foreigners have forgotten that fact.

  33. @stephen, “Japanese Imperialism is to seek better livelihood for her nationals in the era of great depression.”

    You seemed to be justifying what the Japanese did with that one single line. Let me ask you, did their seeking of a better livelihood include throwing babies into the air and piercing their bayonets into them? Did it include raping women and killing the men? Did what they did during WWII really give them a better livelihood for those 3 years and 8 months?

  34. I’d like to apologise for being so antagonistic in my previous comment. Was in a bad mood, but a few slices of mooncake has cured that. :p

  35. This is a great discussion, and a very in-depth one.

    @Joshua Allen, I think the scenario you described are very likely to happen, although it is for sure to happen. The identity of Chinese is so important in the history of China, and every round government is trying to enforce it after 1911.

    With my limited history knowledge, and my maybe biased reasoning, I think this kind of patriotism really help between 1911 to 1945 when the people is under foreigner attack, and will continue to contribute to the prosperity of the country, but we also have to be aware of the downside of this “being Chinese” mindset, that may prevent the society from proceed for a better future, or be a better country citizen in this global world. As answer to many questions, there is not absolute yes or no for this. The world is much more complicated than yes or no.

  36. @stephen, you are right. If it was a rich guy driving the car, not a foreigner, the same scene may be happening again. However, this is completely another case than the case I stated. There are different kind of conflicts hidden in the current Chinese society. The hate by the poor to the rich is obviously one, and so does the (hidden) hate to foreigners when there is a conflict between foreigners and Chinese.

    The crowd may criticize both the rich, or the foreigners in the same manner, but for completely different reason, and shows two different tension in the society.

  37. @all,

    Finally, I have to emphasis that we are here not to judge who is right or wrong, since unfortunately I didn’t see the first part of the story, and so everyone can just “guessing” what happened. We just take the chance to really think about the conflict situation involving foreigners and locals.

  38. Ling, I am discussing the ideology during the pre-war era of WW2, and you are referring to war years and the afteramath, are you singing the wrong tune?

    3 years and 8 months? Are you referring to the war years endured by the American?

  39. @stephen, I’d like to hear more about your thoughts on the difference the patriotism in China (I am referring the bad effect of it, or more commonly referred to as Nationalism) and the Nazism, and Japanese Imperialism? I admit I do worry about the massive hatred against Japan recently. I am worried that if it is out of control, it may cause another disaster. I my opinion, we should remember the history, and really learn the lesson about what caused war, instead of encouraging hatred in the name of “remembering history”.

  40. @stephen, ya i think i misunderstood you. History never was my best subject. But what do you mean by the war years endured by the Americans? Did the Americans have a hard time during World War II? I’m sorry but I thought some other nations suffered much more. Guess this is the blind men and the elephant thing again.

    @Jian Shuo, yes, i agree that we should let go of the past and not let it hold us back from whatever the future may hold. However, I still cannot accept how the Japanese (most of them) can blatantly attempt to rewrite history and refuse to apologise. I guess it has to do with their culture. I’m glad the Germans didn’t have such a hard time making restitution after World War II.

  41. I like to discuss this subject but now is not a good time to do so as the content may challenge the bottom line of your authority.

  42. Many Amarican soldiers died fighting the Japanese. If not for them, much of Asia might still be fighting a war of resistance against the Japanese. The British and French were pretty much emasculated at that point.

    American civilians might not have gone through the horrors of war, but they willingly sacrificed their sons to fight a war for their friends.

    @stephen

    Saving face is a big thing in Asian cultures. Very often the gulity party will not speak about their mistakes. But they might do something they perceived as restitution and hope they are forgiven.

    I don’t think the Japanese truely understand the magnitude of what they had done. Problem is as the years goes by, with the lack of education, they will understand even less. Question is, do we continue to pass their debt to their descendants ?

  43. @ling,

    “However, I still cannot accept how the Japanese (most of them) can blatantly attempt to rewrite history and refuse to apologise.”

    Where are your facts on how MOST Japanese blatantly attempt to rewrite history? If you’re talking about the revised textbooks, a vast majority of schools REFUSED to use them. Is that what you’re talking about? Also, no Japanese person who was not involved in the war of aggression (IE, basically all Japanese under the age of 65) owes ANYONE an apology. The disaster wrought upon Asia by the Japanese imperial army was a travesty, yes, but it was in the past. People shouldn’t have to apologize for crimes they didn’t commit.

  44. @Steve, okay. I’m sorry I was wrong to make such a stupid statement. Please forgive me and my ignorance. Thanks.

  45. @Steve, I agree with you on this part. I stood exactly the same side of the massive crowd in China before on the issue of text books in Japan, but recently, after really seeking for the truth, and I know more about the text book issue. Just as you said, it is one version out of many versions of textbook, and it does not represent the majority. It is the local media itself twisted the fact and create something far from the fact.

  46. @Jian Shuo

    So just what are the Japanese are teaching their kids about the war ??

    Is it glazed over by two sentences ? or nothing at all ?

    Why are the youths always surprised when they visit sites around memorial sites around Asia regarding the war ? Whay are they when told always expressed shock at what their country did ?

    All I know is that when their minister commented that the bomb had to be dropped to end the war, it caused a huge uproar in their country. Why ?

    Why is it that until today, more events were organised for the victims of the bomb than the people they slauthered in Asia ??

    Just my 2 cents

  47. @wonton, this is useful observation. By stating that the text book issue is not completely as many media reports, I am not saying that Japan is doing a good job. The situation you mentioned is true, since people in Japan don’t know too much about history, especially those younger generations. I think it is the right thing to keep speaking loudly about what the truth of history is by showing the evidence. History makes future, and we have to be respectful to history, and let it reminds us all the way to the future.

    However, I do think that we are doing a even worse job than Japan about history. If there are just few places mentioning wrong facts (or just ignoring the facts) in Japanese textbook, there are pages and pages of wrong facts in Chinese textbook. I was also shocked (maybe even more shocked than people in Japan to see their OWN history) to face the history of my own country. Talking about the China’s Role in Korean war, China’s role in Anti-Vietnam War, do we know what we did outside China?

    For what happened in China in the last few decade, we know even less. Many history in China has already been burned into dust for many younger people, even the event is just within 20 years.

    Also, for the aggression of Japan into China, I believe we should focus on what is the structure of government in Japan that leads to the war, what mentality leads to war, and what we can do to keep peace. That is the more important thing to think about. However, the current education about history is all about hate – “they killed many of our people, let’s remind this hate forever, and never, never forgive them…” I don’t like this kind of attitude, since if this spread widely enough, this may just leads to another war.

    I am not thinking Japan has done enough, but that is not the excuse for us to do the same thing.

  48. I read a very interesting book just lately – it was titled “Mao Tse Tung – The Untold Story” and was written after much research and many interviews with Chinese people and Mao’s peers and party members throughout his reign and build-up to his leadership and actions (spanning his life from his birth to his death), and visiting the many sites around China (and other countries). I will not go into all the details of the text here, but I’m sure it would not be allowed in China today.

  49. @AussiePB, I read the book of Mao. What a shock for me. I was amazed by how the same history fact (like the Xi’an Event) can be told of completely different stories behind it. This consistently shocks me when I read these stories. For me, it was a tough time (lasting for about one year) to face “another version of history”, the completely different version.

    Of cause, this book is strictly banned in China, and recently I heard of people got caught for bring this book into China.

    When facing the two versions of China history, I am confused and don’t know which one to believe. At least, I start to re-think about history, and start to wake up and seek for truth. More and more evidence I found out was against what’s on my textbook. It is not exaggerated to say my history textbook about recent history is a book full of lies. That is the reason we need GFW to protect the lies.

  50. Hi Jian Shuo – I thought you might be familiar with this book – what would be the penalty for someone bringing this into China? Or would it just be confiscated?

  51. @Jian Shuo, wow, what you’ve shared is very new to me. By the way, what does GFW stand for?

  52. @Jian Shuo

    Don’t believe everything you read.

    The history of the opium war written in 1850s will be very different from the one written in 2007.

    The view outside China may be different from within.

    Perhaps, like you said, they are different parts of an elephant.

    For example, Saddam Hussien is generally regarded as somekind of monster by many western countries. But he was able to provide peace to much of his country, and prevent sectarian bloodshed. Something the Americans were unable to do. Is the country better off now?? I’m sure from W. Bush’s point of view, I’s a great improvement. I am not saying that the killing of Kurds was an excusable crime. But whatever in Saddam’s reasons, we will never know. But it is interesting to note that even Iraq’s neighbour Turkey is afraid of them (Kurds). A hundred years from now the view might be quite different.

    Stephen wrote : “Japanese Imperialism is to seek better livelihood for her nationals in the era of great depression.” Perhaps so, but it certainly does not include developing germ warfare and testing it on the vanquished, neither does it include mass killings of the Chinese throughout Asia. It would be so easy to just say ‘lets move on”

    What I am concerned about the Japanese is that without an admission of responsibility and the absence of education, Imperialism will rise it’s ugly head again. Not possible ? happened twice in Germany. I don’t think there will be a third because the people did the right thing. Nazism is widely reject because of education.

    I have no problems with the Japanese born either before or after the war. Most were not involved. And many responsible are dead or will be soon. But I am concerned about the tales that are spun in their popular culture turning disgrace into heroism. Celebrating the soldier’s samurai spirit, while continuing to wrap themselves as “victims” just like everyone else.

    Can anyone blame China for building up it’s army and freak out everytime Japan flex it’s military might ?

    Just WHO are the victims of the war ??

    The bully who got slapped in return ???

  53. @wonton, exactly. No one should fully believe in what he/she reads, no matter it is in China or outside China. However, different point of view (as stated in the book Mao or other English books by Chinese) does help me (at least) to re-think about history. That helps.

    I agree with the part you said about Japan. Education should be strengthen to prevent the war again. Peace is so precious. Everyone knows it, but it is harder than people’s imagination to keep it. If anyone say it is easy, look at the war everywhere, and the potential war by the inclining attitude toward war around us.

    For your last question, “WHO are the victims of the war?”, my answer (let me put disclaimer here: it may be controversial) is, both the Chinese people and the Japanese people are the victim of the war.

    I want to say, the normal people in Japan or German are also victim of the crazy thing done by those people who control government or military. They also suffer a lot during the war. In this meaning, the people in China and Japan should stand firmly together, hand in hand, to fight against those attempt to break peace, no matter under what cause those attempt is.

    In a war, no one is a winner. This is the fact of war. No one – both the aggressor, and the victim country – lose. It is the thinking that war can solve problem that we (people in both Japan and China) are fighting again, not the people of Japan.

    Just my 2 cents, and as always, I am open with more thoughts about this matter.

    @Ling, GFW = Great Firewall

  54. To put the FACTS in perspective – Saddam didn’t just kill Kurds… he is responsible for atrocities to civilians (including many, many innocent women and children – must have really scrared the Turkish people) and ‘mass’ graves are still being discovered…

    Death Statistics attributed to Saddam in Iraq:

    Iraq, Saddam Hussein (1979-2003): 300,000

    Human Rights Watch: “twenty-five years of Ba`th Party rule … murdered or ‘disappeared’ some quarter of a million Iraqis” [http://www.hrw.org/wr2k4/3.htm]

    8/9 Dec. 2003 AP: Total murders

    New survey estimates 61,000 residents of Baghdad executed by Saddam.

    US Government estimates a total of 300,000 murders

    180,000 Kurds k. in Anfal

    60,000 Shiites in 1991

    50,000 misc. others executed

    “Human rights officials” est.: 500,000

    Iraqi politicians: over a million

    …and just for the record, the book we’ve been dicussing was written by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday – Jung Chang spent ten years researching the material and speaking with first-hand witnesses, including (but not limited to) family members, party members and army leaders – also referenced many writings, letters and even poetry written by the chairman…

  55. @wonton – hi – one more point… you are quite correct in that many ‘western’ countries did and still do percieve Saddam Hussein as a ‘monster’. However it was the Iraqi people who tried, convicted and executed Saddam for crimes against humanity, so I’m not sure if singling out westerners’ perceptions is necessary in this case.

  56. Like I said, don’t believe everything you read.

    Amen.

  57. Jung Chang…Wild Swans, yak yak.! see me suffer. Tedious book. forgot most of it. so sue me.

  58. @wonton…. :D

  59. Last year when I was hit hard by a taxi while walking in a crosswalk with the pedestrian greenlight my reaction was anger and I shattered the guy’s window with my fist. I was immediately surrounded by people shouting at me in Shanghainese. The hatred in their eyes was surprising. After all, I was the only one bleeding and I felt I had a right to be angry. A Canadian-Chinese lady explained to me that the crowd was shouting anti-foreigner curses and that she would call the police before it got worse. This was right downtown in Shanghai – by Xintiandi – an upscale area of professionals. I was shocked by the treatment I received and the hatred in people’s eyes.

    I later thought about what would happen if a Chinese person had this situation in my country (USA) and asked myself if American’s would have unanimously ganged up on the Chinese guy that had been hit by a driver. Honestly, I don’t think so. They would be more likely to criticize the driver – no matter what his/her race was. I think years of nationalistic education has created a very dangerous mentality in China that could easily lead to wars.

  60. Good article, but since 3 years in China I’ve seen/heard so many things like that (sometimes I was involved) and many times just having this -bitter- feeling…

    I wanted to leave France in order to see what was going on elsewhere in the world… I’m sometimes still ashamed to be French, mostly because French people are no more proud of their nation. When Chinese dogsbody workers go to some building site in Africa, they say that they do it for their country. But as Jay said “years of nationalistic education has created a very dangerous mentality in China”.

    So, is there a properly middle???

    That’s “funny” because yesterday evening I was precisely speaking about globalization with my girlfriend (Chinese). I told her that, since 60 years, China has been sheltered from this effect, due to political reasons, but I think that in the future it won’t be anymore the case. Therefore, Chinese people would maybe, one day, have a big shock because their country is changing faster than them (see China’s freshly new involvement in international affairs… Deng Xiao Ping had foreseen that…).

    Maybe foreigners have done mistakes one century ago, but it was related to Chinese history at this time (a spoiled empire), then the “redeemer” came. But now China is doing all over the world what foreigners wanted to do in China one hundred years ago: conquer market shares!!! And they succeed! Chinese people still thinking that foreigners want to invade again Middle Kingdom are just assholes (but they represent 95% of the population…). I’m deeply sad for them, actually they are good people… they are just victims of… brainwashing…

    P.S.1: Jianshuo, I disagree only on one point with you: when you say “the society now is against people who are rich”. I think that’s the case in Western countries, and in the end I reckon it’s more jealousy than other thing. But in China, -my feeling is that- everybody wants to become rich! That’s simply due to this crazy consumer society…

    P.S.2: If I would be involved in such kind of event, I would just try to be a greater bastard than my assaulter(s). It’s useless to try to speak/discuss with somebody who is deaf (Jianshuo, it reminds me when you were writing about “Jay walking”. Here, these are the same people… It’s not only a question of difference of culture, it’s also because we’re not from the same era). Maybe I’m stupid to say that… Anyway it will be nice to read this comment in 20 years hahaha

  61. There are multiple versions of most events in history. The version record these events from the diiierent perspectives that support their political, ideological and cultural viewpoints. Particularly, they are written to support the writers objectives. They are attempst by the writers to empower themselves by influencing positively, as many readers, listeners and viewers as possible. And each of them thinks they have the only “right” version. It is all about establishing and maintaining power.

    On the more localised scene as described in the opening article of this blog, visitors to any country should remember :When in Rome, do as the Romans do”. The same applies in Beijing, Shanghai etc. There are authorities, diplomats etc to protect the rights of visitors without them interfering with the locals. Locals are not experienced in dealing with visitors, especially those who believe their home cultures, laws etc are applicable or superior.

  62. tooscaredtotell

    October 23, 2007 at 3:13 pm

    When up against a great wall with no escape, people will blame others; they are too insecure, ashamed, embarrassed, confused etc. to face anything else. Deep down they’re not sure why they are so successful now, but attributing it to they’re current leadership (or blood) really boosts their ego.

    I find the people here really despise all foreigners… its very depressing. Any nationals believing they are loved while others are hated is extremely optimistic. I only get by, by pretending these people love everyone, (I guess the same way they get by, by pretending they love all so called barbarians).

    Yet, I will stay and stay, continue to learn the lingo, and maticulously uninvest my interests as I work towards my final depature in the coming years. Only, if I could have know before, maybe I wouldn’t have come here; I’m not sure.

    But, I do have to admit its an interesting place. And now for the commonly heard sarcastic echo: “bye bye” or “buy buy”, (I take comfort in interpreting it as “by,by”… just getting by and on my way out)

  63. the white volcano

    November 30, 2007 at 3:48 am

    wow, JS..i know it is Nov..but, just saw this..

    as a p/t resident of Shanghai, i have found nothing but beauty and calmness of from the passerby that continually amazes my smile and sunny disposition..not a hint of hatred about,

    “get out of our country, laowai..”

    or my favorite one, coming from four lovely older taiwanese ladies one evening..

    “these shanghai girls are losing there soul to the foreigners..it’s a disgrace..”

    hence i turned to them and one by one, smiled indistinctly..making them never utter such an indecency again

    but your comments and underlying fervor of full general acceptance of the feeling of china towards an “invader”,

    before you really get down to your own personalized, cross cultured monarchy..

    you (china) need to accept that this world is one with each other…

    not separate..

    never will…never can be..

    please, try not invoke

    “Get out of China, foreigners!”

    “This is not 1930s. You go away.”

    please,

    you’ve been to america..

    and you know that that s*** doesn’t fly here anymore

    even though we are a young country, we wiped it out a long time ago

    why don’t you ever help those around you and your country instead of just reporting it?

    you are getting tired, it seems, slowly waning towards the direction of dissent and depression

    snap out of it and stand up not for just your country’s pride and history, but also for tomorrow’s history

    tomorrow’s pride

    you should have walked up to the crowd and started a peace movement

    change the attitude one citizen at a time

    really disappointed

    sorry

  64. This attitude is not confined to China alone. I am an Australian travelling through China for 3 months, and have to admit that Chinese people in Australia are subjected to abuse because of the lack of better understanding, the fear that Australian’s are losing thier jobs to better skilled workers and universtity positions to better educated Chinese. The truth is that while many more Chinese in Australia are being welcomed they are entitled to do so as a birth right in western society.

    I take the attitude that we all must work together, striving to understand cultural difference and to accept that we do not always see eye to eye. Many people and myself welcome any and all foreigner to Australia in any capacity to ensure that our own culture is evermore enriched by these others.

    And for those of the opinion and attitude that others should not be accept or allowed, help us all change this mindset.

  65. People are the same everywhere.. you get these incidents everywhere but it’s often the govts. fault with “patriotic education” and militarism. People can be guided into any direction if the powerful wish it.

    Just at this time is a bad time to learn anything from Americans. They’ve murdered over a million people in Iraq, much much worse than Saddam, and there’s no peace in sight. There have been over 4 million “ethnically cleansed” under US-American supervision in Iraq, and a the civil war is far from over. Most of Europe hates them for that, because the Bush gangsters have broken many important principles of our civilisation.

  66. In 6 years I have seen this a lot of times, yeah. I have a story, but not about myself.

    My friend had a scooter and was eating noodels in a small place with his Chinese Girlfriend. Outside they saw a guy push his bike into the parking area violently. My friend’s scooter was scratched then fell into the road.

    When my friend came out, he asked the guy to pay for the damages in a controlled way but they guy immediately started shouting and cursing. Straight away a crowd gathered who talked directly to his GF calling her ‘traitor’ and ‘whore’ – over a small incident involving a bike!

    The police came and handled it quite well. They saw it was small bike issue and took everyone to the local station to avoid the crowd.

    This is ignorant and willfully violent racism – it’s present in most countries. Like Jianshuo points out, it is often fanned by narrow education or propaganda.

  67. Yeah, people behave in diffent ways at time. If your freind parked his scooter in a proper lot and not obstructing the way,

    this particular problem shld not hv happened at all. It is not about education or propaganda but common sense.

    My two cents worth !

    Cheers

  68. I would like to share what I have learned over the years in politics with the people here and please ponder on this…

    “Patriotism is a form of (reversed) discrimination”

  69. TO aetherunknown

    January 23, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    Yeah I totally agreed with your observations of Australia. However, you will realized that typically people who feel threatened and offended by “outsiders” and “newcomers” are people who are right at the bottom of the social ladder – the poor, the underprivileged and uneducated (or maybe the “not as educated”).

    For example, I am very sure a highly successful lawyer in Sydney would not mind making friend with a equally successful entrepreneur from China…while he / she might steer clear of a garbage collector from his/ her own country.

    Discrimination happened as a result of senseless fear of outsiders and changes…often a result of an inferiority complex

  70. Mass media plays great role in the society balance, thinking, idealogies, etc. There is a saying “a pen can be mightier than a sword”.

    In history there are great incident happened and turned to become a history forever:

    1. Watergate scandal that brings down the President

    2. Timor-timor racial crisis which eventually started with a gangster fight over a “territory” that is so happened from two different religion.

    3. Princess Diana’s death which is indirect cause by the persistent chase of the media.

    4. lot more…

  71. Rick,

    Do you know any citizen from rest of the world has to apply a visa to enter China? In case you don’t know.

    From a diplomatic point of view, it is fair if other country require a visa for Chinese travallers.

    Tell you a good point of having a China passport. You will be looking upon as a terrorist because China has its own stand, never side any big blocks and link with terrorism activities. If you’ve holding certain country’s passport you can be label as terrorist eventhough you’re a CEO.

  72. @aetherunknown – I have been accused on many occasions of stealing jobs from local Singaporeans because I live and work here (which is ridiculous)… this goes on no matter which country you’re in.

    @DC – I do not need a visa to enter China, because I travel using APEC card (Asia Pacific Economic Co-Operation), of which both China and Australia (along with 17 other economies) participate. This gives me a sort of diplomatic status, and I’m pre-cleared to enter any of these economies for the next 3-years. Chinese nationals that travel regularly for business can also apply for this ‘pre-cleared’ status for the participating economies – most civilized countries in our small world are getting closer and adopting strategies for improved trade.

  73. Just pass by. Is the nationalism dangerous or not? Is it bad or not? I cant just say yes or no because it has both good effects and bad effects on the whole country and its people, isnt it?

  74. I am very interested in the language, culture and the healing with herbs.

    My daughter-in-law is Cantonese from mainland China.

    I am trying to learn Mandarin because she said it is easier.

    I like to learn the charters but find it hard to remember.

    Speaking the language is very hard.

    My grandson will grow up speaking both English and Cantonese.

    Your story about people not getting along is common in all areas of the World.

    People won’t take the time to learn about another’s culture, and believe that they are right and everybody else is wrong.

    I don’t believe in right and wrong, but I do believe in differences, and it is OK to have a different view.

  75. Hi everyone! I’m so glad to see a blogs that are so intelligent and thoughtful.

    I am an American living in China. The people who know me personally treat me very well. I’m sure the other bloggers feel this way also.

    I can identify with many of the experiences mentioned here. Nothing identical, but I am aware of the sentiment.

    Although all of these stories are undoubtedly true, there is one factor that makes life for foreigners more difficult here. It is the negative representation of China in Western media.

    China’s government has done so much GOOD for China. The market reforms and development, which have played a part in lifting 400 million people out of poverty.

    Do our country’s media outlet’s mention this? NO. They focus on the negative, and when they can’t find anything negative, they make it up!

    It’s no wonder that foreigners who come to China are so shocked by the development here. The Western media’s biased depiction of China is tantamount to censorship

    Of course the foreign sentiment would still exist if it weren’t for this problem. But the Western media certainly doesn’t help those of us who live and worke in China, and have a deep love for this country.

    Yes, sometimes we have to deal with minor incidents, like the ones mentioned here, that bring an underlying anti-foreign sentiment to the surface. But its a whole other ballgame when some ignorant “journalist” in the US calls China “a bunch of goons and thugs”. When that happens, you don’t need to be in the wrong place at the wrong time for a backlash. There is no escape from that.

    So what can we foreigners do about this? All we can do is try to take things one step at a time. First and foremost, if you live here, LEARN TO SPEAK CHINESE. If you speak Chinese, you can show locals that foreigners are not as “foreign” as they may think. And it also implies a feeling of respect. Do what you can to act as a personal embassador of your country.

    Anti-foreign actions make me feel hurt and betrayed, but I still say long live the PRC.

  76. A taxi driver held me down physically and hit me in the face after I refused to pay an inflated fare. I responded by trying to break free and punched back. A large hostile crowd immediately surrounded the taxi and began threatening to kill me. Some men in the crowded repeatedly struck me on the head. That day taught me a hard lesson about China. If you are in any kind of dispute with Chinese people violence is always an option for them and passersby will almost certainly take their side, regardless of who actually did what.

  77. Jianshuo,

    I am a foreigner who lives in China. Although at first I didn’t realize it, now that I have lived in China five years I have become very much aware of the irrational nationalism and, let’s face it, racism which many Chinese people are burdened with.

    I’m really happy to see that some Chinese like you remain reasonable and can see things objectively.

    I really wish that all the intelligent Chinese like you would do more to change the attitude of their fellow countrymen. I’m glad you’ve written about this here. How about you try writing about it in Chinese on Weibo?

    Keep up the good work anyway, and have a look at my blog if you have time.

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