Wednesday, April 30, 2008

China striking back

Having had enough of criticism, the Chinese are finally biting back! About 6,000 Chinese people, mostly students, took to the streets in Seoul earlier this week and physically confronted anti-Chinese protesters and riot police during the Olympics torch relay. According to the Korean media, they beat up a Korean citizen with a flag pole and threw stones and bottles at the police.

And there was a New York Times story today about how Chinese college students in the U.S. are speaking up for their home country, becoming increasingly hostile toward the Western media which they think are blatantly biased against China. That sentiment is expressed well in this poem cited in the story.

"When we have a billion people, you said we were destroying the planet./ When we tried limiting our numbers, you said it is human rights abuse."When we were poor, you thought we were dogs./ When we loan you cash, you blame us for your debts./ When we build our industries, you called us polluters./ When we sell you goods, you blame us for global warming."

Well, they may have a point. The world is blaming so many things on China, but certainly, China isn't the only country is the world doing those things. And it shouldn't feel good to get so much negative attention.

But we are talking about China here, a country with a billion people. Yes, that many people can destroy the planet, if they keep doing horrible things, and if that many people build industries freely, it'll pollute the environment like hell. There are ways to keep the billion people without doing too much harm to the planet and there are ways to control the population without abusing people's basic rights. There are ways to build the economy more cleanly.

As its economy grows, China is having greater impact on the world, and it needs to learn to act more responsibily and openly as a member of the global community. And yet, China is going backward, which is why people are getting angry.

I read that China is basically kicking out foreign students by not extending their visas until the Olympics is over, while restricting visa issues for foreigners as a way to deal with growing criticism overseas. Who are they holding the Olympics for after all? That kind of paranoia certainly won't help bolster China's image, nor will hysteric responses the Chinese have shown elsewhere.

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