After what happened to the Olympic Torch in Paris on April 7, 2008, the movement to boycott French products started to spread across China like wild fire on grassland.
Conversation with Wendy
Last morning, when Wendy and I were waiting in the long line at the SinoPec gas station to fill gas to our cars, Wendy said people in her company already started boycotting French products after what happened in Paris. She added: “I will not go to Carrefour any more, and I won’t consider French cars in the future.”
Besides Wendy, when I talked with my other friends, most of them (well, to be honest, 3 out of 3 persons) said they are going to boycott French goods.
No to mention tremendous posts in the BBS space to boycott French product. This is after the 10-20 year boycotting of Japanese goods in China. It seems to me (please note: only me) that everyone is urging boycott of French Products these days.
I don’t want to talk about others. Just share what is the Paris reaction impact on me.
Impact on Me
Thanks to this blog, which is a good source for me to understand the world better. There are point-of-views from every country, and many of them are conflicting dramatically. Guided with my approach to the world: “Seek first to understand, then to understood”, I really learned a lot. For many times, comments that does not make any sense to me turned out to make some sense after I read similar comments or read it after some time. I tried very hard to understand what is going on in Tibet, how Tibet people think, and why the Pro-Tibet people think it is reasonable for Tibet to go independent. I tried to understand first, or to listen first. Unfortunately, I was quite shock when I saw what happened in Paris.
I may rate myself as a Pro-French person before April 7. There are “France Year” in China and I participated in some program, and there is a following “China Year” in French. I have good friend Clarie in French, and I have workmate in France. The country has a very good imagine for me.
All of a sudden, Paris showed strong Anti-China tendency, and I saw it on YouTube, and on BBC, and CNN. I don’t know what others think but what Paris Mayor said and the newspaper headline in the following day seem outrageous for me. If you need an example, I am the person in China who were turned from Pro-France to Anti-France within few days. Well. I may not consider myself as ANTI-France, but at least, I don’t think France is a friendly country at all.
P.S. There is something very interesting about the different news I got. The anger in me was not triggered by what I saw in media in China, on the contrary, it is from western media. On CCTV, and local news papers, the theme was still “Relay in Paris went on smoothly. Although there are extremely small group Pro-Tibet guys trying to disturb the relay, the Paris policemen did wonderful job to make the relay a great success”. Or “The torch was never FORCED to be extinguished. It was just according to the plan…”. It is obvious that the government want to either save some “face”, or avoid trigger big reaction (like boycott) to the event. Although people may argue whether the government (or the Party) has the right to cover the truth (not just “extremely small group of people”, CNN told me that it is a very big portion of the people), they don’t want any instable factor inside the country. Is it the right thing to do for the China government is to soften the conflict? Personally, I think it is the right direction (although I agree covering and tweak the truth is the wrong method).
I believe boycotting is an immature way to handle problems. It works only when you want to create more problems. Things will look like this:
- French boycott Beijing Olympics in Paris, which leads to
- Chinese boycotting French goods, which lead to
- French or European country boycotting Chinese goods, which leads to
- Even bigger boycotting in China….
The circle goes on and each round get bigger. If that happens, people in France and China are joining hands again. This time, they are working together to create a worst future for human being, or used their joined effort to break peace :-) So as always, I am a big believer of communication, or a “bridge”, instead of boycotting.
Although I don’t want to be to quick to judge whether it is right or wrong in this complicated world, I firmly believe, this time, that people in Paris did something wrong. Taking me as an example, they successfully turned a friend into an enemy (well, again, I am not an enemy yet. Just I feel we are not friend any longer). If this is what they want, good. Well done. I suspect I am not the single Chinese who feel this way.
Government or People?
In international affairs, it is really hard to distinguish government of a country or people of a country. Many protests are against what the Chinese government is doing. For many things, if I am allowed, I will join the protest also, for example, to remove the Great Firewall, or to fight against abuse of tax payer’s money… In many events, I can tell the protest is for the government, which I have no problem at all. “Count me too!” I would even say so for some particular protest.
This time, they really made a mistake. Although I understand some of them are still protest again government, but it is well received as a protest for the whole China, as a country, as its people… Olympic is very special to people in China, and choosing the wrong target caused big reaction.
The other day, when the US Congress US-China Relationship Working Group Delegation visited Shanghai, my friends in the team asked my opinion about whether it is right to boycotting Beijing Olympic. (Don’t be surprised that I am willing to be involved in this kind of discussion. Since I am trying to understand what’s in American’s minds, and what’s for the best interest of the peace between the two countries, both of us, me and my friends, are very open to communicate about sensitive issues concerning US China relationship), I said “No. Please don’t do it and it is very dangerous. Olympics is like the Wedding Ceremony of PEOPLE in China, not the government. Imagine your reaction if someone try to ruin YOUR wedding, instead of your governor’s wedding?”
Now the wedding of 13 billion people started to be ruined. Its not the government official who are not happy, it is everyone in the country who feel being hurt. Please understand the difference, and think about what is going to happen.
Again, Educate me and Others about What you Think
As always, I don’t want to pretend that I am always right. By sharing exactly how I feel in this event as a normal people in China, I can provide more valuable information than news report. This is just my perspective (everyone has an angle, right?)
If you think people in Paris are doing something right, tell me and my other readers why (I am curious, and I don’t have an answer). If there is someone who are French, and even participated in the relay, share what you think? No offense at all by this post, I just want to understand what do you think? Why it happened?