What’s going on in China? Well, who the hell knows really. I’d love to hear stories from those who are living there, working there, or who have friends or family there that might throw some light on China right now, right when it’s on the edge of a new, and perhaps the most difficult, period of its post-Mao existence. A period in which the inhabitants of this fragile giant will have to handle, not just a new leader, but a slowdown in their rising prosperity—and maybe even a collapse.
How will Chinese people react to their having embraced western prosperity, and it seemingly rejecting their efforts? How will we know?
Not all of China has experienced a boom. This wonderful Penn and Teller jaunt through the stranger parts of China is unexpectedly revealing. And sometimes grotesque. And awfully “bearish”—parts two and three especially.
Violent nationalism is too frequently the last resort of the dispossessed. We’ve watched the nationalistic sabre rattling going on between Japan and China over the Senkaku Islands (if you’re Japanese)—or is it the Diaoyu Islands (if you’re Chinese)—a few rocks in the East China Sea over which a battle is going on about their possession, and their name. Just a bit of opportunistic headline grabbing from a few self-serving nationalistic politicians? Well, think again. Anti-Japanese feeling in China goes back a long way (and vice versa) and when prosperity dies and old hatreds are allowed to re-emerge and become a new focus (as they did in, say, Yugoslavia, after the iron fist of Tito disappeared) things can get very nasty indeed. In fact, they already are.
Here’s the smiling staff of a Chinese Audi dealership. The perky slogan on their banner reads: “We will kill every Japanese person even if it means deaths for our own.” Fun times!
The clip “explains” it all.
Think this is an isolated incident? Think again. It seems part of a national wave of nationalistic sentiment directed (at the moment) at the country that invaded and committed savagery on so many Chinese seventy years ago. It ranges from the bizarre…
…to the creepy (according to Google translate, sign says, “I am willing to give free blow jobs to those whom want to fight the Japanese devils for eight hours today”) …
…to the violent. Especially if you’re in a Japanese-owned shop, a Japanese restaurant, or driving a Japanese car…
And if you were horrified by Christchurch children being urged and trained to protest by their teachers, how about this:
There have been demonstrations in Yunnan, Hunan, Xian, Nanjing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Shanghai…
Frightening, right? Especially because China and Japan did $345billion worth of trade last year, yet a battered Japan “is shuttering Chinese facilities as mainland anger spreads.” And because Japan is a US ally. And because US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta, while urging “restraint.” says “the United States would stand by its security treaty obligations to Japan.”
China is at a crossroads.
The whole Pacific region might be too.
Maybe a very good time to consider signing up for Scott Powell’s online Asian History course, “Japan, China, and India: The New Era of the Balance of Power”—for which the Chinese component has just started.