Grow Up China

Hu HarmonyIt’s been a long time since I’ve felt the need to criticize this nation with such a blanket statement as “grow up China”, but in watching and reading the country’s reaction to Obama coming to office – I can think of nothing more relevant to say.

I’ve spent the last year looking at China as a victim. A victim of poor journalism during the Tibetan riots, a horrible earthquake that killed thousands upon thousands, and overt agenda-pushing criticism during what was supposed to be a kickass party. And through it all, I did, I felt sorry for the country.

However, in reading some of the reactions around the Web (specifically at the always volitile China Daily), I just can’t help but shake my head and hum “two-steps forward, one step back…”

Maybe I’m just not getting it. Perhaps you can all help me to better understand how a nation’s media can slice and dice Obama’s inaugural speech to better suit the party line and then criticize Obama’s administration for officially stating they plan to “work to ensure that China plays by international rules.

But then, really, it just goes back to that “victim” bit, doesn’t it. I keep hoping that something will happen on the international stage that offends China and the country will just brush it off with a, “Pshaw, don’t be an ignorant ass. We’re above all that…” But faithfully the country disappoints me and instead bursts out into a tantrum, exclaiming, “Bu.. bu.. but Tommy hit me first!”

When Obama, in his inaugural speech, said, “Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions,” he wasn’t trying to insult the Chinese people. He was saying that the world suffered under fascist regimes and communist regimes, and the way to bring down such regimes is through diplomacy and a belief in liberty.

According to The Telegraph, the above line moved one Sina.com member to write: “Obama is such a brainless country bumpkin. It is already the 21th[sic] century and he still connects fascism with communism. This is a true failure of the USA.”

The amazement, for me, is that anyone in China actually believes they are still a communist state.

But paradoxically, the fact that “to those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history” was also harmonized from the speech did a fantastic job in painting a big Evil Empire star atop the “Communism with Chinese Characteristics” (what most of the rest of the world simply calls “capitalism”, because it’s shorter and easier to say).

Now granted, Obama’s administration has some balls insinuating they have some sort of moral high-ground for ensuring anyone “plays by international rules,” when it’s been a long time (if ever) the US has done so itself. And as much as his presidency is, imho, the best thing to happen in politics during my lifetime, there’s undoubtedly a hard road ahead for the US as it navigates the numerous problems it is mired in.

What irritates me is that China tries hard to prove that it is a super power, (hoping to be) equal to the almighty US of A. Armies of fenqing gather daily and face the West with large mirrors and well-rehearsed, but deeply flawed, rhetoric. The country’s moderates add sensibility to the discourse through the use of smaller mirrors and slightly more educated rhetoric.

None of it illustrates to the world that China is ready for anything more than a timeout. Countries, much like people, don’t gain true power by crying “it’s not fair!” every time something doesn’t go their way. And, they most certainly don’t garner the respect of others by not being able to gracefully handle criticism.

So, as my dear parents said to me not too long ago: if you want people to treat you like an adult, act like an adult. Or, to put it another way, grow the hell up.