Sunday, 18 November 2018

“Nationalism works: the rise of China is proof” | SCMP

 I popped over to the Zhuhai International Aviation Expo.A bit boring TBF. 

Some good points in this letter below, by one Jack Ravenswood of Shenzhen. But we're left with the uncomfortable fact that what Trump and co — and many on all sides who support his anti-China trade moves — what they are trying to do is get China to change the very behaviour that is driven by the sort of nationalism mentioned here. To change, that is to say, its protectionism, IP theft, its predatory mercantilism and the rest of it. 
Ravenswood mentions Chinese women's bound feet. Happens we were discussing this last night. Wife's granny had had bound feet. Or partially bound feet, as the emancipation happened during granny's early years. Granny's own father had ripped off the binding cloths. The whole thing about bound feet had been about showing status — proof that one didn't need to do work involving a lot of walking, but had instead the luxury to stay at home. 
Later the status reason for binding morphed into a more sexual attraction. Men came to love small feet, the smaller the better. Weird, what?  
Anyway, to take Ravenswood's point, imagine if all they learnt about in China were the horrors of foot binding and the depredations of the Boxer Rebellion. And so, what a horrible country China is. 
Fair enough, but a touch more learnt about the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution and June 4th Tiananmen massacres, might be good. . No?  But maybe that's the price to be paid for this robust and successful nationalism of Beijing. Maybe it’s only one or t'other. Self-hate or self-love. Yi Fen Wei Er. I wonder. 
For sure, what's happening in China is the Great Forgetting. Not a one I meet on my regular jaunts across the border , no one under 60, knows of the Great Leap Forward famines let alone the Gang of Four and Tiananmen. 
Now read on, the letter in today's Post:
Your editorial, "The folly of nationalism laid bare" (November 13), misses an important point, perhaps because it is too close to home.
The extraordinary growth of China in recent decades has everything to do with nationalistic policies that put Chinese interests first.
One of the oft-unstated reasons for Facebook and Twitter being banned in China is so that Tencent, a local Chinese company, can have that market to itself. China's immigration policies are likewise very restrictive, favouring Han Chinese above all other groups. I wonder, what would China do if a "migrant caravan" were headed for the Chinese border, brazenly flaunting its intention to break Chinese immigration law when it arrived?
The contrast between Chinese nationalism and American anti-nationalism is perhaps most apparent in their different approaches to national history. Ever since the disruptive cultural changes of the 1960s, America has been questioning itself about its moral worth as a nation. There is an increasingly popular narrative of American history which only emphasises American malfeasance. This caricature informs much of the anti-Trump, anti-nationalist resistance, which shouts that "America Was Never Great." They learned that in school – American schools.
Imagine a truncated and distorted version of Chinese history which only talked of binding women's feet and foreigners killed during the Boxer Rebellion. Imagine Han Chinese being told that their numerical dominance in China is a problem, and the only way that they can validate themselves as human beings is to make way for other groups to replace them. No self-respecting Chinese would accept such a narrative, nor should they.
Indeed, when the Chinese government says that they want to restrict the amount of Western thought in Chinese education, I think, "What, don't they want to be self-hating and divided, like us?"
The concern expressed by anti-nationalists like French President Emmanuel Macron is that nationalism can degenerate into chauvinism. That is true, and it's a danger that should be guarded against. But anti-nationalism has the potential to morph into anti-patriotism and ethnomasochism, and many elements of present-day America and Europe testify to this.
As Li Xiaojun recently told American and European critics of China's policies in Xinjiang: "Look at Belgium, look at Paris, look at some other European countries. You have failed."
He was right. But the reason they have failed is precisely because they lack healthy instincts of patriotism and self-defence, and, like it or not, the cure for this deficiency is nationalism.

Jack Ravenwood, Shenzhen 
"Nationalism works: the rise of China is proof"
Print version headline: "Nationalism has spurred rise of China, while self-loathing Americans have a lot to learn"