Zhengye -- Tue, Aug 2, 2005
I was warned against talking politics while I was a teacher in Shijiazhuang. Never directly -- but subtly, it was made clear that politics and religion where pretty much off limits. I decided not to be a crusader and keep my lips pretty much shut for four months. As anyone that knows me, a pretty tough feat for me.
But now after biking for one month with Fang Wen Guang and Wen Ray -- the politics card hit the table. It came in the context of a discussion of vigalante justice -- supposedly still an all too common thing in China -- and spilled over into a discussion of Iraq, 9/11, and the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in 1997.
Let me just note that the political discussions with the "people on the street" have grown considerably since Xi'an -- highly correlated with the growing muslim influence. Bush has become less popular and Iraq isn't a very friendly topic...
So back to the dinner discussion -- the take-away is that even though most Chinese won't come out and say it, they don't think very highly of American foreign policy. Iraq is motivated by "money, oil, and military strategy"; 9/11 was greeted with cheers (unoffically) by most Chinese people; and bombing a Chinese embassy is not a good thing...
Not remembering much about the Belgrade incident -- I read up on it and it seems like a pretty bad blunder by the US. I can see how the Chinese aren't that happy and the Chinese press helped make sure of that. Who really knows what happened, but it wasn't good none-the-less, the most we can do is keep saying we are sorry and hope we can move on. I encourage you to read these two articles if interested in refreshing the memory: http://www.isop.ucla.edu/eas/NewsFile/Bombing05-99/990617-ussd3.htm; http://www.wsws.org/articles/1999/may1999/bomb-m10.shtml
The only sad part of this is that I haven't been able to have these discussions until now and even then -- Fang Wen Guang and Wen Ray don't really like having them. Just like in the US -- politics has become a taboo subject that is considered off limits by many. People are very afraid to disagree with others and get truly upset when they do.
To me it is truly inane; look people don't always agree and that is ok. My view of Iraq, Bush, Belgrade or many other things that I have relatively little access or time to do a through analysis of should have little bearing on what you think of me (and has little bearing on what I think of you). We should enjoy these debates soley to get our minds thinking -- to pose questions to ourselves so that when posed with difficult decisions like choosing our politicians and getting involved in politics we have some reasoned thought behind our decisions. Or moreover -- just to learn what others are thinking.
It's happening all over -- we are shutting the doors to ourselves closed -- locking the chains and hiding in our supposedly safe little isolated worlds. It scares me, this how prejudices form, hatred forms, etc. Enough of the soapbox. Love you all ;)