Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Being Nice Enough and Brainwashing: Two Chinese Responses About a Japanese Mother and Anti-Japan Protests in China

The post about the recent experiences of a Japanese mother in Shanghai during a period of anti-Japan protests in China has received a number of responses. I will now share two of them. They are both from Chinese citizens yet express rather different perspectives.

The first is from a Shanghainese reader who has spent some time living in Australia:
You need to understand the war between Japan and China was serious, people like our parents' grandparents were living in FEAR as well. They [Japanese] CAME to OUR country and did stupid dirty things and currently Chinese are doing things IN our country so it's none of anyone's business. If they [Japanese] don't like it they could leave. I said that [about what Japanese people did in the past] because it's a very important part of why those older Chinese people (like the doorman) act very weird and sensitive on this issue. Also, allow me to remind Americans or Japanese or people from anywhere else that YOU used to say Chinese don't express what they think or what they want to say in the public. Now they did it, you think they are scary. Why has everyone been so harsh to Chinese? Chinese are exactly the same as your people. Don't forget Japan also had anti-Chinese protests lately, and don't forget in America there's a bunch of Muslim issues waiting to be solved. Honestly, Chinese don't need any of those foreigners who provide a good voice for China. And you certainly can't judge if any of these Chinese people are wealthy or educated because of their opinions on DiaoYu island issue or any China Vs Japan issue. Unfortunately, heaps of people who are well educated and wealthy dislike the history thanks to Japan. They have been nice enough living with the history and treating Japanese in a friendly manner. Because we know that the [Japanese] government is the government and that it is different from the Japanese people. Btw, especially in Shanghai those people who attended protests were not local Shanghainese (maybe only tiny little bit). On Weibo heaps of Chinese are more positive on this political issue and asking for the violent protests to be stopped. WHY CAN'T YOU SEE THAT???
I want to first respond to the question at the end of her comments. The main goal of the earlier post was not to provide a comprehensive overview of the island dispute or of the recent protests but instead to share a single person's experience that provided an important perspective on the protests' impact. So my answer to the question is "I can." I did not mention online examples of Chinese showing their disapproval of the violent protests* because they did not appear to be relevant to the Japanese woman's experiences.

The reader's comments reflect several important issues, and I have no doubt that a conversation with her would enable a deeper understanding of her viewpoints. There is much more I want to say, but I feel I could do it more effectively through some separate posts later. Also, I think it is best to simply follow her thoughts with those of another Chinese reader. He lived in the U.S. for a period of time and now works at a multi-national company in Shanghai. His comments were not written in response to the other reader's comments, but they can almost be read as one:
Thanks for writing up the article on the anti-Japan protests in China. People need to understand the effects of their actions. As a Chinese, I'm sad to see all the violence that's been going on, even in a modern city like Shanghai. I know that most Chinese don't agree with this, but 60+ years of anti-Japan brainwashing propaganda is hard to simply ignore. I think that China is setting itself back 10 years in the world's eye and has squandered away the positive image it built up through the 2008 Olympics and 2010 Expo. Chinese always think they're the victims. Historically that was true at times. What Chinese fail to appreciate is that if they want to be considered as equal or better than the West, they also need to act responsibly. The Sino-Japan relationship is difficult due to the Japanese occupation of course, but that war ended almost 70 years ago. China needs to learn how to forgive but not forget if it wants to become "superior". Otherwise it's no better.
And with that I conclude this post. More is on the way...

*Regarding a main claim of the linked-to-post, "On Weibo, Japanophobic mobsters are far from the majority", it would be helpful to see findings from a more rigorous analysis. Additionally, it is worth noting that Weibo users are certainly not a representative slice of all China. Nonetheless, the examples provided are striking. And they show that the Hongkonger I met is not the only one in China who thinks that bombing the islands might be a good way to resolve the current dispute.

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