Monthly Archives: May 2009

When NYT Criticizes, China Must Have Done Something Good

In its monthly or weekly or even daily China-bashing campaign, New York Times published this report To Protect an Ancient City, China Moves to Raze It. I have no interest to quote its content here since it is as disgusting as NYT’s other China-bashing articles. Usually, when NYT criticizes China, it means that China must have done something GOOD to its people. The issue reported in this article is no exception. I would like to quote some comments of the article here. Thank God there are still many non-self-righteous people here in US who actually care about the people living in those places!

From PC of Brooklyn, New York: This is another NY Times’ “Damned if they do, Damned if they don’t” China bashing article. I wouldn’t be surprised that next month there will be an article portraying that the Chinese government develops modern high apartment buildings for the Han Chinese while not modernizing the lives of the Uyghurs whom live in these old, dilapidated huts in utter squalor.

From Jie of New York: My hometown in China is also an ancient city dating back to over 2000 years ago. My family had lived in a historic neighborhood before I was 14. The house was dilapidated, with no modern plumbing or sewage. And my standard for being “modern” is really low – I would have been thrilled if we had a toilet that flushed. In winter, my mother had to hand-wash our clothes in freezing water that my father carried back from the local well. No doubt we jumped on the first opportunity to move into a state-built, “Stalinistic,” apartment building. The whole city (which is in a Han area, by the way) has been turned upside down by “modernization” over the past 30 years. Except for a few “intellectuals,” no one complained.

I do think of our old neighborhood all the time since it is filled with memories of my childhood. So a couple of years ago, when I learned that the city government had preserved and restored part of the old city to maintain the city’s status as a “historically and culturally famous city” and to attract tourists, I flew back to visit our old neighborhood. However, to my unpleasant surprise, I didn’t enjoy it at all. Instead, I pitied the people who stayed in the neighborhood (as they do themselves). I even felt guilty for having wished that the neighborhood be preserved because I witnessed again how inconvenient it was to live there. So when I read that the Kashgar government is demolishing 85% of the run-down city, my reaction was “Why not the other 15%?”

Will my feelings change as I grow older? Maybe. But the point is, the issue in the article is not as simple as the article suggests. For those commenters who throw around terms like “genocide,” “authoritarian government,” “communism,” you are the reason why Americans get the reputation for being arrogant, gullible by the mass media and even plain stupid, which others don’t deserve. For those who have visited Kashgar (or any other historic town for that matter) and pity its demolition, I beg you to think for a second about the people who actually live there – the inconveniences, hardships and even health hazards they have to endure for your enjoyment of “history.” To ask some people to endure these “for the greater good” (assuming it is greater), now that’s Stalinistic.

From Jason B., Massachusetts: It sounds so awful doesn’t it…a monolithic government displacing people from their ancient, picturesque (to those of us who don’t have to live there), and historic dwellings.

The reality is that these are old mud structures with no sewage, fire hydrants or garbage collection, havens for disease and built over an earthquake plagued geological fault.

Maybe we should all take a deep breath, put away our tourist cameras and self-righteous indignation and understand that ultimately, the people will benefit by becoming part of the 21st century.

I mean who among you would want to live like your ancestors did 500 years ago?

From Paul of New York City: These are old, ugly, unsanitized and dangerous buildings. Why should these people live live animals in the 21st century? These are human being, not animals to be entertained by tourist, whom all live in modern buildings.

From Ham of Los Angeles: To American tourists who came from modern, air-conditioned homes, this is historic and exotically beautiful. To those who actually live there, this is a dark, dusty, uninsulated, plumbing-less, depressing ghetto. I know. I lived in one before. It is just so arrogant and cruel to expect other people continue to subsist in such inadequate environments simply for our own travelling enjoyment. We should ask how to retain the characteristics of the old town while rebulidng, not whether it should be rebuilt. With the few exception of some elderly people, you won’t find too many who aren’t excited about moving to the new homes.

From Cis of New York: I though the NYTIME’s readers would have know better than throwing slogans aimlessly, until I saw someone using “genocide”. Do not abuse that word! It is disrespectful to every victim who was and is being killed in genocide. Talking about how to treat racial and ethnic minorities, at least the Uighurs culture is not “protected” and “preserved” in reservations. (Yes, it is sarcasm.)

From GL of Seattle, WA: It always annoys me when people decry the tearing down of “ancient” cities to be replaced with modern structure, simply because OMG it’s so historic and such a beautiful tourist destination(even if they have zero intention to ever visit it).

Would any of you like to live in a non-earthquake proved riggety old building without modern plumbing in an earthquake zone? Try and live in these places please before you opine. These places do not exist simply for your viewing pleasure. People actually live there 365 days a year for their entire lives.

For all we know majority of the people in that town are probably happy that they’re finally getting a comfortable modern home to live in. But of course the author of this article is so biased he would never allow us to know such people exist, and if they do, they just don’t know any better.

China is not India or the West. They believe in assimilating minority cultures rather than allowing different minority groups to form their own separate cultures and countries within their country. It’s smart nation building, pure and simple. Eventually modernity and economic prosperity trumps all. What good is “culture” if you live in eternal poverty compared to your next door neighbor, ride on donkeys when your neighbors drive by in cars? Sure it’s nice for the tourists, but would you rather ride the donkey or the car, everyday for the rest of your life?

People who advocate every ethnic group holding on to their language and culture without assimilation should just look at how that is tearing apart India, and is slowly tearing apart the US and much of Europe. The US has a large minority group who would rather speak Spanish than English, leading to the chaos in our education system. The UK, Germany, and France are all struggling with large influx of muslim immigrants who refuse to assimilate into the mainstream Christian or secular culture. I applaud what China is doing. Instead of letting these minority groups holding on to their identity then discriminating against them like we do so hypocritically in the West, they encourage acculturation to deter discrimination. Chinese are very practical people. They have no time to be hypocrites like we do in the West, they’re too busy trying to feed 1.3B people and avoid civil strives.

Above all, stop being so self-righteous and always telling other countries how to run their country! We can barely keep ours in one piece and running!

Leave a comment

Filed under China, Media Watch