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No favour

An interesting article in The Guardian newspaper here. Just cast your mind back to the fuss over Sharon Stone’s comments, the storm in a teacup over the tea stains advert, the fiasco of the poster showing Tibetan monks on a rollercoaster, and a few other recent ‘insults’ to the Chinese nation. In every instance someone apologised unreservedly for each of these slurs against the Middle Kingdom and there was some kind of step-down – but why? Ms Stone’s comments were foolish, but did they matter? She is an actress not an intellect; did anyone genuinely expect intelligent comment? The slogan used by Procter and Gamble to advertise their Ariel detergent employed an idiom commonly used in English, ‘all the teas in China’, which somehow came to be seen as an insult to China. And the [mis]interpretation dreamt up by the Chinese blogger who stirred the brown stuff to set off the furore over the Coca-Cola poster is so stunningly far-fetched it borders on the surreal. Isn’t it time this great nation learned to accept that not everyone in the world is going to say nice things about it, that not every reference to ‘China’ amounts to a slight upon their motherland and, most important of all, learn to discriminate between trivia and serious comment?

Ma Jian argues that constantly apologising is not the way to deal with these over-reactions. According to the teachings of Kongzi there are three types of good friends and three types of not so good friends and Ma argues we are rapidly setting ourselves amongst the unreliable ones, but that is only part of the story. Not only are we pandering to a bunch of over-sensitive, nationalist halfwits but we are doing ourselves even fewer favours by encouraging them to become ever more vociferous and demanding. By repeatedly telling them, in effect, that we are wrong and then giving in to their demands are we not making future dealings with the Chinese people, and government, more difficult? If there was some truth in the complaints made an apology or change of stance would be in order but that has not been the case, and caving in to hysteria does no-one any good.

As a general rule people, and governments, respect those who are honest, they have more respect for those who are strong and more still for those both honest and strong. The Chinese people and government have the right to hold their own views on the world, about everything from the cosmos down to which is the best football team, and they also have the right to know that there are other viewpoints in existence in the world but must accept that not all of them are parallel with their own. If they are to regard us with respect, just as we should with them, there has to be a reason for that but our present kow-towing is not it.

The PRC government has a point when it says that it is unacceptable for outsiders to interfere with matters which are purely internal to another nation – and by that I mean no-one has any more right to dictate what sort of posters are pinned on hoardings in other countries than they have to dictate what colour socks we wear.

Related posts: The Hurt Feelings Of The Chinese on China Rises

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  1. […] posts –  No favour Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)The three wonders of EllaUncategorizedChinese New […]

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