wrote of the gloating to be read in chat rooms and websites throughout
China following Sept. 11 and the role of education and propaganda
in creating a class of young Chinese intellectuals with "a
chip on their shoulder."
cannot help but notice the fire in every young Chinese student's
eyes when discussions turn toward China and its relationship with
the rest of the world.
after year students are told of how Japanese invaders raped, murdered
and pillaged their way through China, of how the US-supported Jiang
Jie Shi (Chiang Kai Shek) and took part in the torture and imprisonment
of Communist patriots, of how the Chinese army defeated the Americans
in Korea and drove them back across the border.
little students heard about Tiananmen Square in 1989 had to do with
the death of soldiers and the role of the West in inciting rebellion.
As another white-bread Falun Gong protester gets dragged out of
the infamous square, nationalist sentiments harden, as do attitudes
toward meddling foreigners.
class I would be asked if American culture was beautiful. My answers
usually started with all that I loved, and I then qualified those
answers with all that I felt was in need of improvement. I thought
these questions absurd, so I asked them in return, expecting a similar
response. Instead, the entire class would roar their approval and
unequivocal support. In a land where self-criticisms take the place
of detention in schools, there exist so very little national self-criticism.
When I looked into the eyes of my students and saw their fervor
and listened to them give voice to patriotism, I thought of another
call and answer session I heard while studying history in school:
Wollt Ihr den Totalen Krieg? JA!
the Rise of China is a fact drummed into the heads of all college
students every time they sit and listen to yet another rendition
of Deng Xiao Ping Theory and how it opened China to the world and
created an economic powerhouse. Chinese students are convinced that
the growing economy will propel them into superpower status, so
convinced in fact, that they tend to overlook the widespread poverty
keeping the majority of their countrymen in the dust and mud.
this is where the patriotism falters, stumbles and gains a perspective
on itself. Today's college students know nothing of the past and
hear little from the media or their parents. The period leading
up to the opening of China is best forgotten and buried under massive
construction sites, foreign investment and applications to foreign
universities. And with the opportunities abroad that today's students
have, they will most likely ignore the past and focus on a future
filled with job offers, scholarships and money.
these ardent patriots leave behind is the vast majority of China:
poor, ignorant and lacking in opportunity. This majority was mobilized
in the 1920s after the fall of the Qing dynasty and promised a new
life under Communist Rule. The literature of the 1920s coming out
of China was revolutionary and threw off the yokes of decadent feudalism.
Realism and hardship and the depiction of the common man was prized
and encouraged. Lu
Xun, alternatively hailed as a revolutionary and vilified as
a counterrevolutionary led the charge toward the creation of a literature
that would represent the people of China, not the leaders.
Chinese students know the book, A
Dream of Red Mansions, but it seems they learn little from
it. The book ridicules the excesses and whimsical rule of the Emperor
and his vassals while pointing out the eternal suffering of the
common Chinese. But for all its talk of Socialist Society with Chinese
Characteristic, all the CCP has created is a feudalistic system
with a different name and an alternating cast of Emperors.
patriotism of the students and the patriotism of the people are
different. The students beaten down by Deng Xiao Ping Theory,
the People's Daily,
an education system geared toward indoctrination and an economic
boom that has sparked intense competition as well as high hopes look toward a future in which their personal gain will benefit
the country (i.e. get rich, be a patriot).
people, beaten down by Mao Ze Dong Theory, poverty, the Cultural
Revolution and an economic boom that has sparked intense competition
as well as high unemployment rates look toward a future in which
their personal sacrifice will benefit the country (i.e. suffer,
be a patriot).
and fissures will develop in these two classes of Chinese patriots
when the economic growth fails to meet the expectations of the students
and alleviate the poverty of the rest of China. One can only hope
the CCP will not channel their anger toward the outside.
printable version of this article
is a teacher living and working in China. His articles have appeared
in the South China Morning Post, the Minnesota Daily,
and elsewhere. His exclusive Antiwar.com column (usually) appears
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