"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Saturday, May 01, 2010

On why China acts like a brutal bully all the time

"I say that a man must be certain of his morality for the simple reason that he has to suffer for it." - G. K. Chesterton

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China: Humiliation & the Olympics

"China’s ambivalence toward the developed world, especially the United States...

'[The protagonist] is a paradox. He feels superior, because of the length and depth of the Chinese civilization from which he comes. However, at the same time, despite all of its extraordinary development and change, because China still lags behind America, he personalizes this reality and feels insecure'...

Any suggestion of foreign superiority, or even condescension, toward Chinese may intersect with their own sense of historical victimization and insecurity to create a volatile chemistry.

“We Chinese carry the burden of our history with us and the question of Western humiliation is always unconsciously inside us”...

“Throughout the ages Chinese have had only one way of looking at foreigners,” lamented China’s most famous essayist and social critic, Lu Xun, almost seventy-five years ago. “We either look up to them as gods or down on them as wild animals”...

A particularly important element in the formation of China’s modern identity has been the legacy of the country’s “humiliation” at the hands of foreigners, beginning with China’s defeat in the Opium Wars in the mid-nineteenth century and the shameful treatment of Chinese in America. The process reached an understandable high point with Japan’s successful industrialization and subsequent invasion and occupation of China during World War II, which was in many ways psychologically more devastating than Western interventions, because Japan was an Asian power that had succeeded in modernizing, while China had failed.

In the early twentieth century, a new literature, with a new historical narrative to match, arose around the idea of bainian guochi, “100 years of national humiliation.” By taking up its own victimization as a theme and making it a fundamental element in its evolving collective identity, China ensured that certain traits would express themselves again and again as it responded under stress to the outside world. Highlighting their country’s history as a victim of foreign aggression led Chinese leaders to rely on what Gries calls “the moral authority of their past suffering.” Indeed, China’s suffering at the hands of foreigners became a badge of distinction, especially during the period in the 1960s in which non-Western countries vied with one another to appear the most “oppressed” by imperialism, and thus the most incipiently revolutionary...

An expression, wuwang guochi, “Never forget our national humiliation,” became a common slogan in China. Indeed, to ignore China’s national failure came to be seen as unpatriotic. Since then, Chinese historians and ideological overseers have never ceased to mine China’s putative past sufferings “to serve the political, ideological, rhetorical, and/or emotional needs of the present,” as the historian Paul Cohen has put it...

The idea that a nation might restore itself to greatness by emphasizing, even “celebrating,” weakness may seem counterintuitive...

In any event, since 1949, a significant part of China’s effort to create a new national identity has been based on the dream of restoring the country’s territorial integrity, which patriots viewed as having been fengua, or, “cut up like a melon,” by past foreign incursion. This dream was of reunifying China as a multiethnic state composed of Han (central Chinese), Man (Manchurians), Meng (Mongolians), Hui (Muslims), and Zang (Tibetans), as well as bringing back into the fold of “the sacred motherland” those parts of the old Chinese empire that had either been pried loose by imperialist powers or had broken away during times of weakness...

In 2001, the National People’s Congress even passed a law proclaiming an official “National Humiliation Day”...

What these Chinese at home and abroad chose to see on television was not oppressed Tibetans seeking a redress of grievances, but China again under siege and again being demeaned in the most public of ways.

China’s restless search for a more self-confident, less-aggrieved persona has paradoxically been made more complicated by other wounds not directly related to foreign attacks: for much of the past hundred years Chinese themselves have also been engaged in a series of assaults on their own culture and history...

The cancellations of these successive efforts at self-reinvention have left Chinese with an uncertain sense of cultural or political direction. The country has tended to swing from one experiment to another, seeking refuge in a series of large-scale, but never definitive, makeovers. It is therefore perhaps understandable that a more robust sense of cultural and political self-confidence has remained elusive. So, partly in shock, and partly in disappointment, China responded to the demonstrations against its Olympic torch with incensed outrage, rejecting any suggestion that its own actions could have contributed to, much less have ameliorated, Tibetan demands.

The protests ended up highlighting a China that was not what most Chinese had hoped to see on display during the run-up to the games. Old-fashioned police controls were tightened and rhetoric that harkened back to Mao’s revolution made China look retrograde, just when it desired most to look modern. (For example, the Party Secretary of the Tibetan Autonomous Region, Zhang Jingli, was quoted in the Tibet Daily as calling the Dalai Lama “a wolf wrapped in a monk’s robe; a monster with a human face, but the heart of a beast.”) Militant attacks on China’s critics and foreign broadcasters like CNN and the BBC that reported the torch’s interrupted progress around the world soon flooded the Internet. In cities like Seoul, protesters began to be shouted down, even beaten, by Chinese counterdemonstrators.

What was surprising was that many of the most indignant counterdemonstrators were young Chinese, born during the post-Mao era. Better educated and more worldly than older Chinese, one might have expected them to have been exempt from the China-as-victim syndrome. But, perhaps because they, too, were products of the Party’s propaganda, many of them have turned out every bit as nationalistic, perhaps even more so, than their elders...

Given the lens of disappointment through which many Chinese saw the Tibetan uprising, it was hardly surprising that indigenous protesters, the exile Tibetan movement, and even the Dalai Lama himself quickly came to be viewed as traitors, creatures of foreign forces conspiring to snatch China’s prize—its new world status—from its grasp...

'The state-driven championship mentality still reflects a combination of Chinese can-do confidence and the country’s lingering inferiority complex. A nation that obsesses over gold medals is not a self-assured nation'"


This article is surprisingly sympathetic, instead of asking them to act like a mature nation.
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