News From China

Yithian

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Chinese government dismantles outdoor buddhist statues: https://bitterwinter.org/all-outdoor-buddhist-statues-must-go/

Last time I was in Dali, Yunnan, they had just closed all mosques in town. Seems like they're serious about cracking down on religion again.
Have they ever considered that the way to encourage loyalty to the state might not be to abolish all alternatives but to be a decent state?

You can generate a lot of patriotism and support by, well, running your country well. China is fast-becoming a (literally) toxic and political dystopia.

I won't go into the politics of the matter, but when you jettison your culture for (first) ideology and (second) money, you'll eventually wake up and find that you live in a toilet.
 
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James_H

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Have the ever considered that the way to encourage loyalty to the state might not be to abolish all alternatives but to be a decent state.

You can generate a lot of patriotism and support by, well, running your country well. China is fast-becoming a (literally) toxic and political dystopia.

I won't go into the politics of the matter, but when you jettison your culture for (first) ideology and (second) money, you'll eventually wake up and find that you live in a toilet.
For the average person on the mainland, though, life is better than it's been for a long time. There's a lot of prosperity, great products to buy, lots of things to see and do, etc. Quality of life is also better than it ever has been in the 20th Century in terms of things like health, public services etc. Couple that with highly controlled access to information, and 'the man on the street' doesn't see a problem at all. Also nationalism is highly encouraged and many people in China are very reactive to any criticism of the state or of anything 'Chinese' and will dismiss any negative information about China out of hand as being simply untrue.

At least that's the impression I get. Of course there are critics, but they have to keep their heads down because it's the kind of place where you can get in big trouble for being vocal.
 

Yithian

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For the average person on the mainland, though, life is better than it's been for a long time. There's a lot of prosperity, great products to buy, lots of things to see and do, etc. Quality of life is also better than it ever has been in the 20th Century in terms of things like health, public services etc. Couple that with highly controlled access to information, and 'the man on the street' doesn't see a problem at all. Also nationalism is highly encouraged and many people in China are very reactive to any criticism of the state or of anything 'Chinese' and will dismiss any negative information about China out of hand as being simply untrue.

At least that's the impression I get. Of course there are critics, but they have to keep their heads down because it's the kind of place where you can get in big trouble for being vocal.
What you say is true--certainly chimes with what I've seen on my brief visits--but they're sailing into the choppiest of waters with full-sail. I am not an environmental Cassandra by any stretch of the imagination (although let's recall that she was actually right), but when I see the smog in Seoul and note the fact that it is literally so bad in the spring that people stay indoors, and then I note that even the masssaged indices show that multiple cities in China and India are significantly worse for significantly longer periods, I think that they're sitting on a health timebomb (wait for the cancer figures in twenty years).

And it isn't just physical health. We don't read a fraction of the tales emerging from China (language barrier etc.), but there is a clear picture of an increasingly atomised society. Now this is true everywhere in the developed world, but the cultural safety-nets that insulate people from the depredations of hyper-capitalism are more eroded in China than, say, in Japan, Korea and Taiwan (No, I'm not going to pretend that it's part of mainland China). Those horror stories that seep through to us: slaves kept in animal sheds, massacres in childcare centres, drivers 'finishing off' pedestrians they've hit, endemic sexual abuse etc.: when you bear in mind that's the tip of the iceberg, I think (to mix my metaphors) we're getting a glimpse through a crack in the curtains at a society in poor mental shape.

Again, I am quite relaxed about societies that allow successful individuals to accumulate great wealth (a rising tide raising all ships), but in China (and worse India), philanthropy is at abysmal levels and, frankly, the first thing newly minted tycoons do with their wealth is educate their offspring outside of China and relocate their families overseas. Yes, similar things happen elsewhere, but it seems to be the norm in China.

Controversial points, but what are we here for if not to float ideas: the Chinese are (excessively) chauvinistic and nationalistic, most of the wealthy east-Asian populations are, but with the Chinese it seems to be an extension of a semi-solipsistic individualism: the Chinese are a great 'race' (this would be more fairly phrased 'the Han Chinese'); this is because I am one of them and I prefer to think that I am great, so the group I am part of must also be great.

With Japan and Korea (smaller, more homogenous and more geographically limited societies, although historical homogeneity is changing in Korea, to an extent), it's more of a case that they view themselves as a family and view their society is a family of families (this too is breaking down, slowly). Couple this with a myopic historical education that focuses squarely on the local and over-emphasises that local role in the overall tapestry of world history, and you get a similar chauvinism ('behold all we have done!'), but one that is less self-centred. That may not seem like much of a distinction, but one is easier to alter than the other as it doesn't directly challenge the individual's sense of self-worth.

So many of these factors are in play elsewhere, too, but owing to the size of the Chinese population and the rapidity of economic and cultural change, they're going to get the dark underbelly of all that advancement in spades. We can only hope that they gain a concomitant appetite for controlling their own fates and begin to demand real representation and accountability.

Lest readers think this is all too harsh on the place, I will say simply that I could write (and have written) far more negative things about the state (and the State) of modern Britain, but that is not the title above this thread. I also have considerable affection for Hong Kong and Hong Kongers.
 
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Chinese government dismantles outdoor buddhist statues: https://bitterwinter.org/all-outdoI or-buddhist-statues-must-go/

Last time was in Dali, Yunnan, they had just closed all mosques in town. Seems like they're serious about cracking down on religion again.
Any reports of Buddhist liberation movements in China? Buddhists aren't necessarily peaceful given the examples in Myanmar, Thailand, Sri Lanka and lets not forget that most of the Gurkhas are Buddhists.
 

Mythopoeika

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Have they ever considered that the way to encourage loyalty to the state might not be to abolish all alternatives but to be a decent state?

You can generate a lot of patriotism and support by, well, running your country well. China is fast-becoming a (literally) toxic and political dystopia.

I won't go into the politics of the matter, but when you jettison your culture for (first) ideology and (second) money, you'll eventually wake up and find that you live in a toilet.
Probably because to do so would actually require some higher-order thinking and competence across the board. Joined-up thinking, if you will. It's actually easier for them to send in thugs to dismantle stuff and kick up a fuss rather than to sit down and engage with the people.
 

skinny

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Controversial points, but what are we here for if not to float ideas: the Chinese are (excessively) chauvinistic and nationalistic, most of the wealthy east-Asian populations are, but with the Chinese it seems to be an extension of a semi-solipsistic individualism: the Chinese are a great 'race' (this would be more fairly phrased 'the Han Chinese'); this is because I am one of them and I prefer to think that I am great, so the group I am part of must also be great.
A good post, Yith. I agree on most points. The final argument doesn't IMO represent the complexity of their perceived narcissism, however. There exists an intertwinement of the indirectness of han culture, of its nature strongly collectivist and hierarchical, and traditional filial piety which although tempered by exposure to the attractive elements of pro-choice individualist societies remains a core value of every generation. What characterises the current type of hardwired mentality most is fear. The threat of punishment for contravening in any way the prevalent social authority freezes out any appeal to critical response outside the groupthink.

The incumbent regime knows this and they have indeed formalised conformist self-glorification as official state policy known as United Front. The policy is established throughout mainland China but has its tendrils extending strongly outside China through the actions of its expatriate citizens, a strategy they call huaren canzheng or "ethnic Chinese political participation". This manifests most candidly in foreign political and business influence, but is also heavily engendered in the control of Chinese student learning at foreign universities, where CCP plants keep a close eye on the students both in and out of classrooms.

All of this serves to keep the minds of their people inside the collective bottle Add unfettered consumerism and rampant greed to the mix within the burgeoning new wealthy class, and there's no need to worry about internal criticism. The big daddy at the tip of the pyramid has all of your cares well in hand, so let the choir sing of our glorious achievement. Sloganeering is all that's required to turn the herd in any direction you see fit.

I felt pity for the mental plight of some of my students, but once you acknowledge the fact of that great stone wall, pretty soon you stop banging your heart against it.
 
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