Is "Unhappy China" Just A Show?

Last Thursday (April 2) I saw on ESWN the translated piece by David Bandurski at China Media Project and sighed. I had done the translation of the same piece on March 31 (Vancouver time) but didn’t post it immediately as I wanted to write and post the piece about the Chip Tsao case and translation first.

Anyway, here is my translation of the commentary (one major difference between my piece and Bandurski’s is that he skipped the second last paragraph of the original text but I did the full translation) (smiley):-

"When I first heard about the book 'Unhappy China', I thought that it was about the laid-off workers being unhappy, or the peasants who lost their land being unhappy, or the university graduates not finding work being unhappy, or the stock investors being unhappy, or the victims of tainted milk powder being unhappy. Because if the steam of such unhappiness can be let out, then it would mean China has achieved progress. However, the authors of the book have put their sight on a much more macro level – they are talking about the whole Chinese population being unhappy about Western countries. To deal with this unhappiness, there is a need for a group of heroes to 'lead our nation in accomplishing the mission of managing and better utilizing more of the world’s resources and of playing the world’s police force'.

Oops, we have almost been misrepresented yet again. Say, if we were faced with invasion by an enemy, we should feel angry rather than unhappy. The relationship between nations is not a romantic one and there is no need to act coquettishly. If it were a matter of international dispute, then that should be dealt with through diplomatic negotiations to arrive at a win-win situation, and not through blowing one’s nationalistic trumpet. From the interview, it seems the authors believe in naked Darwinism – since the world adopts the rules of the jungle; and if the Western countries want to play rough and hegemonic, we should do the same. Therefore China should aim at a big goal, which should be ‘first to be the world police, and second, to manage more of the world’s resources that China not yet owns in order to bring benefit to the world’s population’. Even Hitler’s old slogan of 'using swords made in Germany to grab lands for her ploughs' has been revived and given a new Chinese name of 'using swords to conduct trade' (持劍經商).

Other than the abovementioned, one cannot see the authors conveying much of a basic concept in the book. They also talk about 'domestic politics being distressed', but that is due to the anxiety of having to fight for hegemony. Using Song Qiang’s (宋強) words (one of the authors, who earlier wrote 'China Can Say No'): ' 'China Can Say No' wants to say that China only wishes to lead its own people, whereas 'Unhappy China' wants to say that China is able to lead the world.' But if China wants to lead the world, she would have to already have superb qualities in all aspects as well as dignified respectability. Obviously the ‘unhappy’ authors think otherwise. They think that China is already capable of leading the world, and they deliberately oppose the ‘soft power' issue. But then this way, their talk about domestic politics appears empty, while their talk about foreign policy appears hubristic. And if their ultimate aim is to topple the capitalistic system, it will not be accomplished by just 'conditionally breaking up with the West'; they will have to liberate the whole world to achieve that goal.

These authors are neither rightists nor leftists. They are the 'strategy theorists' of this era and all they care to think about is how to win over politicians. They move from the standpoint of 'power' and hope to attract politicians’ attention one day. In the Qin Dynasty, there used to be a scholarly group called 'School of Vertical and Horizontal Alliances' (縱橫家) whose thoughts were different from Confucianism, Moism or Taoism. They did not have a fixed set of value concepts and they spent all their time instilling thoughts in the royalties, using their tongue as their weapon, trying to win over opponents from all directions, constantly changing tactics without ever learning. Yet they were still able to grasp the prevalent tide of opinions and rationalize their theories, and they were only speaking for themselves. Given the circumstances, their proposed strategies were at times effective. By comparison, the 'unhappy' authors are way out of line with reality and logic and their opinions seem biased, like talking to themselves, with no substantiation. They like to blame everything on other people’s conspiracy and just make a fool of themselves.

Speaking of winning over opponents from all directions, certainly the 'unhappy' authors who have been enjoying the fruits of our open and reform policy are far from deserving such a compliment. Perhaps the red guards of the old days are more worthy of such – destitute as they were, they were still capable of conveying the thundering message that China was the world’s epicenter of revolution. They even went to neighboring countries to join in their revolutionary wars. But what good came of all that? The fact is that China has always followed her own path of logic in her development. From 'China Can Say No' to 'Unhappy China', 13 years have lapsed, and the message is no less agitating. But unfortunately, China has never relied on such books to achieve progress, neither have such books caused her to go into reverse.

The book is said to be selling fast, and has expectedly attracted the Western media’s attention. Ordinarily I would not comment on people’s motive on writing a book, as it is always an arguable point. But according to Rose Luqiu (a Phoenix TV journalist): 'On the day the book was launched, one of the authors told me that it is a marketing tactic to publish a book with controversial viewpoints, so as to arouse arguments.' This makes me feel I have wasted my time on seriously commenting on a commercialized nationalistic show."