I wrote the following in response to a reader, mac, just now. I want to share it with everyone (with little bit editorial change). The original comment is here.
@mac, calm down. I like discussion, although I don’t expect myself to answer every single comment, and even if I try to join some discussion, I will try to carefully state what I believe, with no expectation that the other end may agree with me or even understand (understanding is the hardest part, although people often claim to be).
Back to your questions, I hope I am in the position to say I understand your feeling. The collapse of value system after knowing many truth will be the main theme for many people in the next decade in China. I experience that during my month long cross North American trip in the winter of 2004.
Turning from trust of what we are educated since we were born, to completely lose trust is a very hard time for everyone who ever experienced it. I was also turned very negative for some time. However, as Tommy described it very well, that is also not the whole story. After 4 years of seeking for the truth (via this blog, and many other ways), I feel pretty calm now, and I started to learn more about China. After that, I am even more confidence about the future of China. I started to understand the root of many imperfection of the country, then we can solve it one by one. The good thing is, when we try to discover, there are many promising solutions for many problem.
As you mentioned in your question 1, 2, 3, GFW is certainly a shame in our country. With the wisdom of the great nation, we are still not able to remove it. There are even more serious problems within this country, like people’s right to make decisions, pollutions, economic imbalance, unfair treatment to people in remote area like Tibet, and Xinjiang, morale standards… I can list many of them. However, that is not the whole story. There are so many bright side also – the economic improvement, the slow but gradual awareness of the political needs of more people, and the transform of the society, just to name a few. We are the people who need to contribute to a better China, instead of just complainer, like those outside the country.
Young Generations like myself tend to be able to identify a problem, but often fail to solve the problem. The feeling that they cannot change anything turns into desperations and anger. Many problems are easy to identify, just like the potential conflict between China and France (the criss around Torch relay). My belief is, I need to do something to HELP SOLVING the problem, instead of doing something just because everyone is doing, and don’t care about the consequences. My way of doing it is to start conversation between people in France, British, US, and all the other countries to talk with people in China. Although it is not as big as people may wish, I think at least it is a solution I can think of.
Again, I’d like to help if you think my experience is worth to listen. However, don’t expect me to help you understand how the world is working (I don’t know yet), and it took me four years to understand a little better than before. Sometimes, only time can help.
Besides that, I wrote another comment back to Confused regarding the three questions they don’t know about Chinese:
@Confused, good question. I guess that is the key questions many people may ask.
First question, why anger against France is stronger. For several reasons. Reports from blog and message from people in France described that it is not just the protesters, many people (bigger portion of common people) in Paris joined the violent protests (I saw many pictures with body attack). Besides that, three particular events gave people strong impressions about Paris: 1) Disabled girl Jin Jing was attacked on the wheelchair by Pro-Tibet protester. 2) The Paris Mayor hanged banners in the city hall, an action perceived as representing the city, instead of just protestres. 3) The headline about “the miserable defeat of China” in the major newspaper. This is my guess about why anger against Paris is stronger than UK, and US. For UK and US, based on what I learned, people still think it is the Pro-Tibet group who made the trouble. For Paris, it is clearly the government (and some extends it to the people there) who are anti-China. This perception may be far from the truth, just as China’s image in the international stage, but that is how the whole thing is “PERCEIVED”.
For the second question about there are Chinese product in Carrefour, as I said, boycotting is an immature way of handling problems. It is based on the simple judgment that the world is completely black and white, and boycotting French Products “ONLY impact those French”. However, the current world is a well connected world, and it is so hard to distinguish who owns which part. If you ask people who boycotting some product, they may also get very confused, and may ask back: “Well. It seems so. So, tell me what’s next I can do just to make them feel bad?” I want to make it very clear that I don’t like what is happening in Paris, especially those *violent* protesters, I don’t think boycott really do the work.
For the last question, about why Chinese tend to take criticism for government so personally, there are two reasons, I think. First, due to 50 years of education by the current government, people have formed the thinking logic that the Party = the Government = the whole country. To the extreme extend, people are educated that the Party is the mother, and Chairman is the Sun…. This believe may fade out a little bit in the last 20 years, but is still there. For this part, I think it is more of a problem in China, instead of the rest world.
The second reason: because it is Olympic. If it were not Olympic Games, people may not take it so personally. Olympic is a dream of Chinese people for 100 years (please note: this is long before the current Communist Party was formed). Being invaded by many countries in the 1800s, and being a backward country for even longer, people in China do want to find a change to get back to the center stage of the world. That is the dream of almost everyone. For people outside China, it may be hard to understand the importance of this Game to normal people in China. So, by definition, Olympic don’t have too much to do with the government, in some sense. Unlike people in many other country who just take it as a sport event, people in China don’t think it that way. So, because of this, any attack to the Olympic Game in Beijing is the attack to the people.
Just as I told delegation from the US Congress, it is like the big fat wedding ceremony of the PEOPLE, not the government. Ruin the opening ceremony of a company is not a big deal for its employees, but to ruin someone’s wedding is completely another story.
In conclusion, I won’t say who is right or wrong in these unpleasant days. However, I do hope people understand each other more. I hope people in China to understand not to take political protest too personal, and hope people in France and other country to understand, people will DEFINITELY take it personal if you attack Olympic Game.