Free speech and its likes, from this side

Seattle, WA

I think it's mighty presumptuous of America to assume all Chinese care as much about unfettered freedom as we do. As a parent of 2 young children I for one wish our government would sensor many of the hate and pornographic websites.

On the one hand our media tells us there are over 10,000 mass protests in China each year, on the other hand they tell us Chinese are not free to protest their government. On the one hand we are told China censors the internet, on the other hand we always see plenty of Chinese posters on websites like the NYTimes, Economist, WSJ voicing their opinion. Which is it? And btw if any of them so much as dare to voice support for their government, they are immediately attacked by US posters as government stooges paid to post CCP propaganda on the internet, brainwashed by government censored media etc. As if all 1.3B Chinese are a bunch of automatons who can't think for themselves.

I wonder if it ever occured to many Americans that maybe they are the ones who are brainwashed by their media to think what these cold war relics want them to think about China? Just because our media is free does not mean they are unbiased. Especially in the case of China, there is plenty of bias to go around from our left leaning, self-righteous, arrogant media.

It's preposterous for America, a young country of 200+ years with a population of 300M to try to tell China, a country of 4,000 year history and a population of 1.3Billion, how to run their country. The height of arrogance especially considering where America is today -- we are a culturally, morally and economically bankrupt country. Yet we want to preach to the Chinese to be more like us? Word to our media and the self-righteous liberal left, the Chinese are not stupid. Infact, they are probably the people with the highest IQ on the planet.

Arrogance brought down the Roman empire, the British Empire, the Japanese empire, the Soviet Union after their attack of Afghanistan, and even the modern economic miracle that is Japan. It is now bringing down America with the 2 wars that we imprudently engaged ourselves in, the credit crisis is just the final nail on the coffin. America would do well to shut up and listen for a while instead of continuing to talk to hear ourselves talk.


Since Obama is lecturing Chinese youth about freedom of twittering, let's not forget the cases of Elliot Madison and Michael Wallschlaeger, two New Yorkers who, as a result of their twittering about events at the G20 protest, had their Pittsburgh motel room raided by police on September 24th. On October 1st, Madison's home in Queens was raided by the FBI and the NYPD, who searched it continuously from 6am to 10pm, and seized a large amount of Madison's personal property, including a confidential list of the clients he serves as a social worker. He and his wife, Irene, are now under investigation, and Madison and Wallschlaeger are now facing an array of criminal charges, all because they tweeted publicly available information about police on the streets of Pittsburgh who were attacking protesters with nightsticks, dogs and acoustic weapons like those used to disperse crowds in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Phil Greene
Houston, Texas

China blocks nasty pictures on the internet, while the US does not, but instead monitors these sites with massive law enforcement to catch some poor sad sack if he downloads them and then throws him in jail. Chinas approach is more rational and leaves more people free. Who is the civil libertarian here?


So what, really, is the difference between the Chinese government hand-picking and screening the town-hall participants and the fact that staged debates and presidential forums in the U.S. also are conducted in this manner? Why do we criticize what we participate in by our own free will? And why, really, is anyone surprised at the way the Chinese handled this?

A. H.
Vancouver, Canada

When I read the many comments lamenting the staged nature of Obama's Q&A session in Shanghai, and that the audience was made up of carefully selected party members, I couldn't help remembering the staged speeches and rallies George W. Bush attended throughout his presidency. Bush and Cheney's public appearances were typically filled with reliably loyal Republicans. The questions asked were softballs. Protesters, sometimes just those who were identifiably liberal, were often herded into designated 'protest zones' (surely a violation of the 1st Amendment right of assembly). Is this so different from what we see in China?


What is not indicated, unfortunately, in this news report, was the fact that Obama underlined Human Rights. In doing so, he was referring to all such rights and called them, importantly, Human Rights. Underscoring this right in China, a totalitarian state, was important and probably did not pass unobserved.

The right to adequate Health Care is considered a Human Right, since the Declaration of Human Rights by the UN in 1947. See Article 25 of that document. The US is signatory to that document. Its passage was one of Eleanor Roosevelt's proudest moments, who had championed the Declaration.

And where are we today? Still light-years away from instituting the principle in our own country. The British were not so doltish. They got started on their National Health System in 1948.

But, of course, we are not the Brits. No, no Public Option for us. That smacks of Socialized Medicine. Can't have that, can we.

And now the counterpoint, still from this side


I am a Chinese student who studied in US for many years. Let me explain to you on several points and let you understand better of the situation.

For the youth league member issue, firstly, you need to understand the member structure of this organization as well as the Young Pioneers group. By the end of elementary school (the sixth year) most students are enrolled in the young pioneers group but it doesn't mean these kids are all for political purpose. Students who studied hard and earned higher GPA are generally encouraged to become a member earlier. So is the youth league, when I was in my first year of middle school, only less than 10% students enrolled in the youth league and they are all elites in the class and by the time I graduate (12th grade) from high school, more than 80% students are youth league members. Being a youth league member doesn't mean you are all for some political ideology, it's just a system and if a student is enrolled, he feels proud in some way because his achievement academically and extracellularly are generally acknowledged and praised by his or her classmates and teachers. The youth league membership automatically expires when you reach a certain age (it's 25 if I remember correctly).
So it's quite normal that the majority of the students in the town hall meeting are Chinese youth league members. And it is a traditional custom in China that the hosts wants to show the best site of (their institution or home) to a guest, especially to a foreigner high profile guest. This is considered a courtesy to treat customers in Chinese culture. And when I was in college, whenever there are any foreign visitors coming to my department, our advisor asked the best students who can speak better English and have higher GPAs to accompany them, inevitably, these students are highly likely to be members or even leaders of the youth group or even the communist party since like all the other organizations, these organizations prefer to enroll the elites of the university into these organizations and it's quite normal that elite students want to join the party or be the leaders of the league, since in some way, this gives them better job prospects in the future.

While we treat you seriously in courtesy and bring our elite students dressing in fine suits to accompany your president. You interpret this as a way the party is manipulating and cheat your president? This is actually not the same time the west misunderstood China, every time China thinks it prepares well in any event and makes sure every detail went smoothly (eg, using a good-looking girl standing in front while having another girl with good voice sing as her in the Olympics), that's the effort, the hosts are trying to present their best side to the guests and to the world. And you interpret this as some malicious manipulation?

Please, you arrogant and ignorant people, learn to respect and understand people from other culture. People use the most traditional courtesy to treat each other on formal occasions in oriental countries, eg, people bow to each other in Japan as a way to show respect and courtesy and People in China tend to use their best resource and people in fine attire to host the guests.
Would you please not to interpret everything in your American way and regard anything not consistent with your thought as barbarian and authoritarian? SHOW SOME RESPECT AND UNDERSTANDING TO OTHER CULTURE!

Simply ask the Chinese students you ran into who had the education career in China (middle school to college) if he or she was ever a member of the pioneer or the youth group, I'm telling you the truth: the majority of them were! That's just the way people lead in China, don't be so rude as to interpret these members as giving a false showcase.
Americans, don't be so rude and arrogant, would you? Not everybody has the same lifestyle and culture as you!

No comments:

Blog Archive