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To Understand Better Our Competitor - China

Jul 29, 2008
In my view, the current relations of US and China is like a marriage of convenience. There are so many joint ventures between them, and they would rather stay married, at least for a while, than divorce. But nothing will remain unchanged as time goes by. Sometimes affection might germinate if they keep the communication open; other times they might tear apart if they shut off one another.

Our mainstream media, particularly the TV, should play a major role in helping them understand each other better, but their report is lop-sided. It is true that China has made huge mistakes and has enormous problems. But they also have made giant progress. When it comes to report China's mistake or misfortune, the media present it in vivid image and detail. I don't recall they have ever reported anything positive about China in vivid image and detail. That won't help us understand China.

While lying in my couch with a broken leg, I watched the Phoenix TV in Hong Kong. One day a talk show host interviewed three children, two girls and a boy, about twelve years old. They were rewarded, for their good grade, to tour Beijing. Each was given $100 yuan, about US$13, a windfall for a child from a backwater village. When asked how she had spent it, the girl answered that she had bought a storybook of Greek Mythology and someday she wanted to write stories too. At this point I couldn't help bursting into tears. That was me, except that I was a privileged girl living in the greatest metropolis of China - Shanghai, and at that time the common fate of girls from the countryside was to be sold as child bride or slave-maid or into brothels. How many of us know such stories from China?

Shunning to report on China in a "fair and balanced" manner, is a sort of sophisticated form of the 1882 Exclusion Act which aimed at Chinese only. Historically United States has had a tendency to turn its back on Chinese. In my book, RETURN TO THE MIDDLE KINGDOM, I describe how Eugene Chen, with the support of Sun Yatsen, designed a policy to "appeal to America's best instincts;" how after the betrayal of Stalin in 1927, the Chinese Communist Party began to distance them from the Soviet Union.

Suspicious of their Soviet ally, Zhou Enlai started to approach Americans since mid-1930s. But the American politicians, with little knowledge about China, would rather lump the Bolsheviks and the Chinese communists together. One result was that when Stalin egged on North Korea into invading South Korea, the American government ignored China's overture for dialogue. What China wanted to do is what China is doing now: Using their influence to restrain North Korea. Finally both sides sit down and talk things over the recent North Korea crisis. But why waited until after such a huge cost of lives and resources? Refusing to talk with someone we don't like is not the best policy. This is a lesson we mustn't forget.
About the Author
Yuan-tsung was born in China, and immigrated to USA in 1972. Her first book, THE DRAGON'S VILLAGE, (was published by Pantheon, and) its Penguin paperback sells an average of 3,000 copies per year since 1981. Her latest book (nonfiction), RETURN TO THE MIDDLE KINGDOM, is now available through the Union Square Press of Sterling Publishing. Visit Yuan-tsung Chen.
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