A Chinese Canadian journalist, Joanna Chiu, has just published a book, entitled, China Unbound - A New World Disorder (Annansi Press 2021 Canada), one more book (not quite as those bashing China books mushroomed out in the recent two years) that is taking an ideological stand of liberal democracy against authoritarianism or totalitarianism. I read her very well written introductory chapter and an author interview and book review by Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, entitled, How Unheeded Warnings about China Are Now Hurting Chinese Canadians (Axios Interview, October 26, 2021). From what I have read, I have sensed that there is a spin in the interview article which is contradictory to my observations on China view by Chinese diaspora in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Africa and Asia. It is true that there is a ‘bashing China’ movement surging up, for instance in Australia, UK and the U.S., but that effort, though seemingly endorsed by government official positions, is not accepted by the majority of global Chinese diaspora. The mainstream media, though more visible, does not reflect the organic view expressed in cross-nation Internet community such as mailing lists, blocs, and social media. Before we elaborate on this observation, we first discuss the main points about China expressed by Ms. Chiu, who is a Hong Kong Born, Canada educated, Chinese Canadian journalist reporting on human rights and discrimination issues.
Ms Chiu described her great-great-great grandfather’s life as an immigrant to Canada, being badly mistreated and discriminated. He went back to Hong Kong and years later Ms. Chiu’s father immigrated back to Canada. It is understandable that Ms. Chiu has a strong feeling about racial discrimination as shown in her book discussing how hate crimes surged when the Pandemic was blamed on China (example, Kung Flu was used to call the COVID-19 virus). She also was critical of China’s handling of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang. On this issue, there are ample evidence showing that the “genocide” and “concentration camp” stories are fabricated charges. Many witness accounts can be found on the YouTube not only showing Uyghurs’ prosperity in Xinjiang but as a whole they grow more in population than Han people. They also have far better education and job opportunities than China’s neighboring Muslim populations who become envious of the Uyghurs. XinJiang’s cotton industry grow to 60-70% of world market share which is the real concern of the West about Xinjiang. Unfortunately, there is always a few dissidents who get featured in the West mass media for bashing China purposes. Ms. Chiu is obviously influenced by her sources of information thus formulating her opinion about China accordingly. But we cannot ignore the vast organic views, especially views of those visitors to Xinjiang having no axe to grind.
Chiu’s reporting on Human Rights perhaps alienated the Chinese government leading to sanctioning her entry to China. Human Rights is a noble topic to discuss, but ignoring historical discrimination and cruelty in colonial days and today’s HR issue (such as American Indians and blacks in North America) but selectively picking on Tienanmen event, one incident happened more than three decades ago, just do not sit well with anyone with an objective mind. The understanding and interpretation of HR and discrimination issue cannot rely on a few selected interviews or documented cases simply because of the complexity involved. China’s national policies evolve with time just like the U.S. human rights movement progress with time. The slope and direction of change are far more important than one or two data points. Chiu accuses the current day’s oversimplified and opposing views about China, but she seems to fall into the same trap by making oversimplified conclusion on Chinese government, Xi’s ideology and Chinese people’s reaction to the ever changing CCP and China instead of drawing on the broad opinion of Chinese Diaspora about China. Globally and recently, Chinese diaspora is converging in support of China simply because of China’s performance as a nation, rising economically, lifting people out of poverty and improving living conditions including minorities in significant strides. In contrast, the West has slowed down in progress and has been transforming from self-confident to feeling threatened. Chiu’s report on rising hate crimes against Chinese in Canada is a clear evidence.
Chiu is confused with systemic discrimination in US/Canada arising from racism (which was received by many Chinese for years and perked up recently when relation with China being politicized, distorted reports from media and government's manipulations) and personal discrimination. In Chiu’s case she took a political stand with Canadian government (Huawei, Ms Meng and Kovrig), wrote biased articles demonizing China about Xinjiang and got revenged by other Chinese Canadians. It was China’s unyielding position that finally won the freedom for Ms. Meng, Global Chinese diaspora overwhelmingly approve China’s actions. Calling those Chinese Canadians working for China is ignoring the fact that more Chinese diaspora are disgusted by “China bashing” hence taking revenge on Chinese Canadian journalists who wrote negative stories about China.
Sadly, the U.S. democracy over the past 250 years made slow progress and lost in major goals in building a government system really for the people not for a few financial oligarch or organizations to control the country. China’s one-party system is definitely more authoritarian but it is more for the people (regardless whether it is afraid of people’s uprising or out of true ideology). China would moderate capitalists control and their wealth power to lift people out of poverty elevating into middle class. That is why China now has a large middle-class population (more than the U.S., EU or any other country). Chinese citizens now travel the world spending money, helping or saving other nation’s economy like that of Italy, Australia or Canada. The Anglo-Saxon countries felt threatened but reacted with an unfair competition plan by building an alliance targeting China. The West claims that the target is on CCP not on Chinese people. But CCP enjoys 80-95% approval ratings in China. Here in the West, the political leadership can hardly get above 50% favorable rating. Our political leaders felt threatened. Unfortunately they seemed to recall only the history of dealing with a weak China and Asia during colonial days using military force to solve disputes. But time has changed, China has risen. China never exported her system to other country like the U.S. did. The so-called China Threat is all internally generated or fabricated to cover up the government’s incompetence (taking ten years to build a subway, no high speed rail, deteriorating infrastructure, etc. in contrast to CCP’s successful continuous five year plans for decades). A real solution is to wake up and honestly reflect on our past successes and failures and contemplate how to compare, cooperate, and compete with China for the benefits of the people.
Ifay Chang. Ph.D., Inventor, Author, TV Game Show Host and Columnist (www.us-chinaforum.org) as well as serving as Trustee, Somers Central School District.