“In my country…”

A Chinese writer’s recent speech delivers unflinching social criticism:
“In my country, the job of the press and electronic media is to promote the government,not to report the truth. The education system is tasked with instructing the people to be loyal to the government and keeping the people ignorant, not with disseminating knowledge. As a result, many people have never grown up intellectually even though they are adults. Even today, many people in my country still are nostalgic for the catastrophic Cultural Revolution that ended over thirty years ago and still promote the cult of personality. Some people still deny that the unprecedented great famine of the early 1960s ever occurred, and insist that the millions of deaths by starvation is a fabrication.
[..]
“In my country, there is a strange system that rewards liars, and with the passage of time, people have become accustomed to lying. People lie as naturally as they breathe, to the point that lying has become a virtue.”

I’m curious about how much of this would ring true for those who grew under Communism in eastern Europe and Russia.

And here’s an interesting piece on how such criticism are sometimes met by people in China: Agents of Conformity

5 thoughts on ““In my country…””

  1. I’m sorry to say I don’t agree with many of the sentiments being expressed here. Every country, not just China, engages in propaganda. I don’t find the news any less accurate in China than in Australia and the UK. I read and write comments for the New York Times and Foreign Affairs in the US and they distort the truth as well. For example, when Bob Dylan came to China Maureen Down in the New York Times claimed Dylan sang songs that were only approved by the Central Committee of the Communist Party. On his own website, Dylan denied this and said he had never been asked to submit any play list of songs for approval.

    Anyway, in China all the news does not promote the government in China. If you read the China Daily everyday like I do you will hear about dozens of corruption scandals and suggestions on how the government could do better. I also write articles and published comments for the China Daily and most of them are critical of the government. My main criticisms that get published of the terrible education system and the lack of media and diplomatic skills by government spokespeople.

    On education, for example, the system of education is terrible because every school, college and university has a communist official for a president. They should be run by career educators such as teachers and university lecturers.

    What has been overlooked is that China and the Chinese don’t have the media skills and understanding of foreign cultures so they behave like clumsy panda bears on the international stage. They don’t even realize, half the time, that they are presenting China in the worst light possible. Americans, in particular fooled, because theoir own country has skilled people who are very good at presenting not only America’s interests but their own. Steve Jobs was the best example. China can’t promote itself to save itself.

    The worst aspect of all this is now plain. When Obama was in Australia he made it plain that his goal was to replace China’s communist government with a democratic one. In other words, he was going to do a ‘Libya’ on China. I didn’t come to China to change anything. If I wasn’t happy here I would go back to Australia. I can honestly say that I have experienced my freedom here than anywhere else. I like other countries and other peoples too. I enjoy the diversity of the world and just play by the rules of where I am and I have lived in my 70 years nearly everywhere. Yes, I have also been to the US and lived for a while in New Orleans.

  2. “In my country, there is a strange system that rewards liars, and with the passage of time, people have become accustomed to lying. People lie as naturally as they breathe, to the point that lying has become a virtue.”

    Is this really that different than anywhere else? In the US, we’re taught to be “politically correct”, and paper over the “truth as we see it” with polite smiles and lies. Liars and connivers scramble up the heap, while honest men get beaten down. I think this is the human condition, not a trait that is unique to the Chinese…

  3. Hi there Ross
    Nice reading your comment. I met you years ago when you were UNSW’s postgraduate advocate. I recently had a young woman from Beijing staying at my home while she did an MA. Driven by the need to, in her own words “be better than everyone else” she had been brought up by her parents to do nothing except study as hard as is humanly possible. I do not know how China will go with its educated section being like her. She was quite unwell because she ate so poorly and would hardly leave her room for days, so no exercise.
    I would like to catch up one day and my email address is ccdotfinlayatoptusnetdotcomdotau.
    Kind regards
    Christine

  4. I agree with a lot of what is written here ie: in China lying has become a virtue … and … This happens elsewhere as well … and … Chinese discourse is much more lively than we think … and … China’s has a very bad international PR machine

    But:

    In China the lying and propaganda are a blunt club, visible and constantly threatening, and if you try and block it, you will be descended upon by thugs and wumao.

    Not only does this not happen with regularity in the US, or in other Western countries – and I know that Occupy will be brought up, and the Wall Street corruption, and 911 and all the things that have happened in the US – but the truth is, getting thrown in jail for writing something does not happen like it does in China.

    And for those who would deny it, consider that this reality applies to CHINESE only. Obviously a white guy from Oz rarely experiences Chinese state oppression, and in fact rarely experiences it anywhere on earth. But for Chinese, the self-censorship and constant pressure to conform is oppressive and omnipresent.

Leave a Reply