in the Twin Cities Governor Jesse Ventura has just announced that
he will not run next term, to everybody's surprise. His was a reign
of frustration and entertainment and I am one of the few who will
miss him. His replacement will surely be boring and bursting with
of the last great efforts of the Ventura Administration culminated
in a Trade Mission to China that ended June 15. The mission included
delegates from the wide spectrum of Minnesota business: agriculture,
pharmaceuticals, various soft and hardware hawkers, oilseed squeezers,
aluminum products, smokestack sweeps and a few reps from local universities
including the University of Minnesota's China Center head, Yang
Hong. The purpose was to catch a ride on the China wave and capitalize
on the ties already forged by business and education over the past
60 years - both 3M and the U of M have extensive ties and holdings
in the country including a sister university in Nanjing and a head
office in Hong Kong.
summer a group of Minnesota journalists toured China and wrote a
series of articles on China's economic miracle, growing national
pride and increasing desire for more freedom. The editorials were
infused with the theme that the Bush Administration's hard-line
stance was in complete contrast with the wisest approach to China,
that being more contact, more business, more understanding. The
columnists were understandably impressed and touched with China's
past present and inevitable future.
himself refused to bring up human rights during his trip to China,
despite (or perhaps because of) a dedicated and vocal group of Falun
Gong practitioners, human rights activists, Chinese Christians/Lutherans
and the largest Chinese student population in the nation right here
in the Twin Cities.
and women the world over are convincing their elected/bribed officials
that the China is the Enemy mode of thought that preceded 9/11 is
faulty, self-destructive and self-fulfilling. The more Americans
learn about Chinese past and present and the true nature of America's
role in that history, the less room there is for misunderstandings
both America and China have difficulty with these new roles.
the US sit back and watch an ascendant power take what is "ours"
in the Pacific? Intimidate the Koreans and Japanese? Deal with whomever
they please, even the Iranians, Afghanis and Pakistanis? (Oh my!)
Can we sit idly by as Pax Americana is replaced with regional stability
built on local foundations?
for China, the past carries nothing but the stench of humiliation
at the hands of foreigners. Betrayal, war, disgrace - ending in
the final crumble of an ancient and powerful empire. The last fifty
years have been for the Chinese a revolution not only of themselves
but also a self-imposed isolation from the Other, who is held responsible
for the demise of old China. Only after this period of inner chaos
away from the prying eyes of foreigners could the Chinese rebuild
their nation into a semblance of a whole.
with isolation over and contact in full swing, the Chinese are scrambling
to control that which was their undoing and which may yet be in
the future. Hence the trouble with the embassies: where does China
draw the line with foreign conclaves? Should the Koreans and Japanese
be allowed to give asylum on Chinese soil to those who would otherwise
languish under Chinese laws? And the trouble with the Internet:
Last year's Strike Hard program instilled the fear of God in Netbar
owners yet the number of users skyrockets with each new report.
The Chinese love the web - and much of the traffic is actually in
chat rooms as opposed to informational/subversive sites like Antiwar.com.
But the government still dreams of a great firewall to keep out
the foreign influence so as not to corrupt the Chinese youth.
last week I listened to a sermon in the Chinese Lutheran Church
about immigration and the trials and tribulations of raising children
in a nation as devoid of morals as the US. The faithful nodded in
grim agreement as the Father spoke of sex education in the schools
and crime on the streets.
trip and the possibilities that will result are already signs that
the worst is over. Soon we'll be telling jokes about each other
and ridiculing stereotypes and generalizations: the hallmarks of
true, non-negotiable cultural exchange. Business and curiosity will
drive both nations into those hazy zones of contact - kicking and
screaming if need be. China's transformation is well-documented
and closely watched by old Hands and gritty reporters, but how the
US will be affected by a larger does of East Asia seems to be less
printable version of this article
Matuszak 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 Fridays.
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New Post-9/11 Status
Room for Growth
Back in the USA
Missing the Boat?
Sweep 'Em Off the Streets
Chinese Embrace Progress
War May Reveal New Superpower, Part II
War May Reveal New Superpower
Chance for a New Friendship?
as a Way of Life
Markets or Supermarkets
Towards World Significance
on the Road to Capitalism
American in China
the Street in China: A Report