Saturday, June 9, 2012

China-related thoughts

It would seem that history never really goes away. Just ask the Chinese censors on the Great Firewall (GFW) who spent a good part of June 4, 2012 trying to erase the anomaly from the Chinese stock exchange that dropped 64.89 points on that particular day. For those who are unaware, June 4, 1989 was the date of the violent crackdown by the Chinese government on (largely peaceful) protesters in Tiananmen Square. And it's often referred to as 6 4 in Chinese so the numbers hold some significance. So, when the Shanghai stock exchange dropped 64.89 points exactly 23 years after 6/4/89, it certainly prompted some effort on the part of the GFW to ensure that people would not be disharmonized (and yes, I use that term on purpose) by such a coincidence. Indeed, in a country where so much effort is put into erasing this event from history, this is not surprising. However, what may be somewhat surprising is how many people in China unofficially realize this and will not let it go no matter how much pressure is applied to enforce the erasure - as evidenced by the commentary on Weibo (the Chinese Twitter, if you will). Equally surprising, perhaps, is that the Chinese government continues to wear blinders on this subject and refuses to realize that the only way that it will ever truly go away is to open the history books and try to deal with it as honestly as possible. Of course, the fact that the government has not dealt openly with any other incident in its short history (including the Long March, the Shanghai massacre of communist partisans in 1927, the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution or any other incidents regarding the corruption of its members - mot notably Mao himself) does not make this an isolated incident.

As an aside, this is not to suggest that other governments deal honestly with their own history, including various democracies. They are often similarly dishonest. The difference, if not always true, is that most of them (particularly in democracies) can and are held to account for their mistakes and misdeeds and there can be open discussion among those citizens (for the most part). It is quite clear that this is not the case in China.

And, while we're on the topic of the Chinese government looking, um, well, foolish, how about the fact that it is again calling for the US government (namely, the US embassy in Beijing) to stop producing data on the environmental pollution issues that plague China (and Beijing specifically). After all, it's making China look bad. Heaven forbid that honestly reporting on environmental pollution that is legitimately dangerous to the citizens should make someone look bad and want to encourage them to remedy the situation! No, the entire point is to maintain the power structure which is obviously hard to do when those idiot Americans are telling people what they already know because they see it everyday - the pollution where they live is dangerous to them. While the Chinese government makes some valid points about a single site making a statement about the overall pollution level in the area, this just obscures the fact that the government is simply wanting to hide facts from its citizens for fear it may be held to account - as, quite frankly, it should. Instead of trying to find reasonable solutions, the government spends more time and effort seeking to assign and avoid blame for issues. Unfortunately, this will probably only make it more likely that it will inevitably fail to last in the same fashion that it continues to fail those it alleges to represent.

No comments:

Post a Comment