When Bill met Hu

(Inspired by Private Eye)

With its economy on the rise, China is rapidly becoming best friends with western business and yet it is still a communist state with an appalling human rights record, widespread censorship and a large proportion of its population living in abstract poverty. It is this dichotomy which makes China a country of contradictions.

You can’t help but feel that this economic prosperity has done more to brainwash the Chinese people into a position of political indifference than the Chinese government could have ever dreamed of post-1989. In other words, if you have a comfortable life with all its materialistic trappings who cares about the government? Of course on the flip side, while a few prosper those on the bottom of the heap are no better of, in fact, the indicators in some areas show a steady decline in well-being. The ironic thing is that these people are in the vast majority and history has much to say about what happens when you push the majority too far…

Still, the propaganda continues. 1989 still hangs in the air but has been all but erased from the collective memory of a population where careless talk really can cost lives. Even the children of the intellectual elite, when presented with a photo of the Tank Man, could not identify this iconic image. I think this just about says it all.

I’d recommend anybody watch this excellent documentary from PBS. Perhaps a few multinationals also might think about re-evaluating their corporate ethics statements also!

Update (29/06) – Please read Stephanie’s comments after the break for a much better insight into the situation by someone who would know much better than me!

David avatar

2 responses

  1. Thanks Stephanie for you insight into the situation – you have explained the situation far better than I ever could. I stand corrected – using the word “brainwashed” was to strong.

    Whilst I agree totally with what you said about the US media being a propaganda machine I personally felt that the the documentary I mentioned was quite well balanced. They interviewed many Chinese people as well as westerners and the view they presented was not just a negative one.

    Please do not think that I ridicule Chinese people as a whole, this is not my intent at all. The only problems I have are with the communist government – how can the world stand by and watch whilst they needlessly kill so many innocent people every year and squash peoples rights? I am not saying western governments never do these things but at least we have a recourse to do something about this when they do.

  2. Stephanie He avatar
    Stephanie He

    I felt the “anger” over the lack of freedom and inequality in China while reading your article. As a Chinese, I am not pround of those “backwardness” spotted in your lines. I loathe them as much as you do, even more. However, please think twice commenting that Chinese people have been “brainwashed” by the booming economic development, before understanding at least some of Chinese history, before you visitiing China yourself. Chinese people have already been suffered unprecedented catastrophe of western colonisation and the Sino-Janpanese war during the last centry. Poverty, econimic and social backwardness are the outcomes of those horrific historic past, which is still visilbe today. What Chinese people (well, at least the majority) are longing for is a healthy, adundant normal life withouth wars, killing and hatred, as other people across the world. Chinese people are not unaware of the poigant social issues, but just to have better life, to build a better home for the next generations is the priority. Remember, there is a large Chinese population who don't know what freedom of speech is, what democrary means. All they need are bread and bed.

    Communist propaganda? Absolutely notorious! But which country or nation does not have some degree of propaganda? There are more propaganda in the U.S. than in China, I would say. Chinese people dare not raise voice against the Communist Party in public but many do criticize it in private. American people have the freedom to express themselves, but they believe the propaganda. Media is the most powerful propaganda tool in the states, too deceive to not to believe under the disguise of camera. Do you believe what they said in that documentary? Doesn't it look so real in the video? That's how they get you! That's what I call propaganda.

    Please do not isolate China from the world because of its poor human rights recode or other issues that discomfort you. We are just normal human beings working so hard for a better life, as we all are. Tank Man will never be forgotten. He has already in the China's history towards modernisation and democracy.


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