January 06, 2020

The myth of a new China
Dead center on the front page of The New York Times' last Sunday edition of 2019, a headline: "As it detains parents, China weans children from Islam." Its subheading, equally ready for distribution to newspaper stands in Beijing: "New boarding schools redirect faith from religion to party."The story itself, available online under a different — better — title, is compelling and well-reported. It effectively conveys Beijing's galling oppression of Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other ethnic minorities, many of them Muslim, in China's western provinces. Yet even there, the language seems unduly circumspect. For example, facilities hedged by armed guards and barbed wire where children are forcibly isolated with an explicit intent of breaking up families and erasing their religious and cultural heritage are called "boarding schools" — which, I suppose, is technically not wrong, but neither is it right when the term conjures, for many Americans, visions of Harry Potter's Hogwarts and its real-life counterparts, elite educational institutions reserved for the most privileged children.Such strange descriptive treatment of perhaps the most systematic program of ethnic persecution on the planet today is hardly isolated to a single Times article. (In fact, the Times has published numerous important reports on the Uighurs' plight.) As The Week's Matthew Walther has noted, this despotism is too often downplayed or outright ignored in the narrative of a "new China," a prosperous, modern nation that has left behind the murderous communism of the last century. This narrative is not entirely groundless — China has changed, a lot, in recent decades — but in many ways that matter, it's a myth.The myth of a new China is useful to Beijing, but it is not purely a Chinese export. The American account of the Cold War quite naturally pairs the China of Chairman Mao with Joseph Stalin's Soviet Union, and that link makes it easy to forget that when the USSR dissolved, Beijing didn't.China never had a glasnost, despite years of Western expectation. Protests in Tiananmen Square did not produce a Chinese perestroika. There was no Chinese equivalent of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Three decades ago it may have seemed, as this 1989 Christian Science Monitor piece opined, that China's movement toward "economic modernization" would bring it "face to face with the inevitability of pressure for political liberalization." Now the connection of consumerism to social freedom looks far more tenuous."Socialism with Chinese characteristics" has produced a strange amalgam of autonomy and coercion. China's nail houses and gutter oil suggest a laissez-faire attitude unmatched anywhere in the United States, yet these small markers of economic liberty coexist with a terrifying surveillance state, public executions, and treatment of minority groups like the Uighurs for which "genocide" is not too strong a word. The "social credit" system is a waking nightmare. Reports indicate religious texts like the Bible and the Quran soon will be edited to "reflect socialist values," a throwback to Mao if there ever was one, and religious persecution more generally is spiking.Rising authoritarianism is a hallmark of the tenure of Xi Jinping, China's newly minted "president for life." Once cast as a potential Mikhail Gorbachev of Beijing, Xi has proven to be anything but. By his own account in a 2013 address, the "profound lesson" Xi learned from the fall of the USSR is the danger of allowing national leaders' "ideals and beliefs [to be] shaken." For Xi, reform means getting back to Mao, not away from him. Thus Xi's "presidency has been characterized by an insistence that all individuals in positions of responsibility devote more serious study of and adherence to Marxist-Leninist doctrine," explains Ted Galen Carpenter at The National Interest. Xi is "determined to enhance and perpetuate his dominant role," Carpenter continues, and he has used his growing power to move China "toward greater repression and regimentation, not greater liberalization."The Beijing of Tank Man is, in many ways, still the same Beijing. Likewise the Beijing of the Great Leap Forward (estimated death toll: 30 million) and the Cultural Revolution (estimated death toll: 1 to 10 million), and the Beijing that has violently repressed the Uighurs and sought to eradicate their culture since the end of World War II.This is not to suggest the China of 2020 is indistinct from the China of 1970. Far from it. Economic quality of life has enormously improved thanks to Beijing's qualified embrace of the open market (and it continues to improve under Xi). In 1981, 90 percent of the country survived on $2 or less per day; today fewer than 1 percent do. I lived in China's Shandong province for a year in the mid-1990s, and the contrasts I observed returning to the country a decade later were almost unbelievable. Signs of new wealth were everywhere, most visibly in the explosion of personal vehicle ownership. And despite Beijing's increasingly powerful censorship apparatus, the internet allows communication and information access at a previously impossible scale.Nor do I want to suggest this brutal statism in Chinese governance warrants U.S. antagonism, whether in the form of a break in diplomatic or trade relations or, God forbid, military conflict. The ethics here may be irreducibly complex — anyone who has a simple answer to whether it's better to buy Chinese goods or boycott them is a liar or a fool — but it is hardly disputable that isolating or attacking China would add to the suffering of many ordinary people. War doesn't gentle totalitarian regimes; foreign meddling may provoke a more severe tyranny; sanctions are like to do the poor and powerless more harm than good.There is no obvious route to ending Beijing's cruelties, among them its efforts to eliminate the Uighurs as a coherent community. And I can offer no conclusive argument for how our rejection of the myth of a new China will accomplish anything, practically. Still, I am certain it is necessary.The truth is that China has changed much in the last 50 years, but also that recording a history of only change obscures a great continuity. And though a modern Tank Man could not be expunged from national memory as the original was, he could still be disappeared, tortured, and killed. Half a world away, there is little to nothing we can do about this. But we can, at least, refuse to call the next Tank Man's prison a "re-education camp" and his children's brainwashing a "boarding school."More stories from theweek.com America is guilty of everything we accuse Iran of doing The hawks were wrong about everything Pompeo and Pence reportedly pushed Trump to kill Soleimani. Pentagon leaders were 'stunned' Trump agreed.
Related Stories
Latest News
Top news around the world
Coronavirus Disease

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

Around the World

Celebrity News

> Latest News in Media

Watch It
Issa Rae and Yvonne Orji Dish on Season 5 of ‘Insecure’
October 23, 2021
KA7ZEjY3rvk
Kristen Stewart Opens Up on 'Eternals' LGBTQ Inclusion, Ruby Rose Battles with WarnerBros | The Take
October 22, 2021
7d3MFpaP2L8
AT&T Stock Falls Following Q3 Earnings Results
October 21, 2021
LZNkmpoVefA
JoJo Siwa's MAJOR "DWTS" Hair Transformation
October 23, 2021
4cF2KFqVccI
Kendall Jenner & Devin Booker's Courtside PDA
October 23, 2021
Zfp0pDcZAJU
Necessary Realness: Kravis Engaged & Scott Disick's Red Flags | E! News
October 23, 2021
qxT1EMh6s3o
Teresa's engagement, Lala's breakup and more Virtual RealiTea drama | Page Six Celebrity News
October 22, 2021
pL6thz9zRWc
Cynthia Bailey wants to protect husband Mike Hill from ‘reality TV curse’ | Page Six Celebrity News
October 22, 2021
TO1ltz90FV0
De Niro’s estranged wife won’t get half of his acting income | Page Six Celebrity News
October 22, 2021
SIQj1AuioZs
Sisqo Has Advice For Drake On Dealing With Impostors, Don't Sue Them | TMZ
October 22, 2021
VkjnwYMtkRo
Snoop Dogg's 50th Birthday Party, Fully Lit Old School Playas Ball | TMZ TV
October 22, 2021
kc62svaZeVo
Leslie Jordan Conflicted Over Dave Chappelle Special and Netflix Controversy | TMZ TV
October 22, 2021
te1ul4AYesM
TV Schedule
Late Night Show
Watch the latest shows of U.S. top comedians

Sports

Latest sport results, news, videos, interviews and comments
Latest Events
19
Nov
ASIAN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group H
Sydney FC - Shanghai SIPG
17
Nov
UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE A: Group Stage
Spain - Germany
14
Nov
UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE A: Group Stage
Germany - Ukraine
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester City - Liverpool
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Arsenal - Aston Villa
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Valencia - Real Madrid
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
AC Milan - Verona
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
West Bromwich Albion - Tottenham Hotspur
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Bologna - Napoli
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Genoa - Roma
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Atalanta - Inter Milan
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Lazio - Juventus
08
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Bayer Leverkusen - Borussia Monchengladbach
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Leicester City - Wolves
08
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Wolfsburg - Hoffenheim
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Valladolid - Athletic Bilbao
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Levante - Alaves
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Sociedad - Granada CF
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Torino - Crotone
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Getafe - Villarreal
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Borussia Dortmund - Bayern Munich
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Everton - Manchester United
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Chelsea - Sheffield United
07
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Atletico Madrid - Cadiz
07
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Barcelona - Real Betis
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Augsburg - Hertha Berlin
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Stuttgart - Eintracht Frankfurt
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
RB Leipzig - SC Freiburg
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Rotherham - Preston NE
07
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Parma - Fiorentina
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Watford - Coventry
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Norwich City - Swansea City
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Blackburn - QPR
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Derby County - Barnsley
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Huddersfield - Luton
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Nottingham Forest - Wycombe Wanderers
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
West Ham United - Fulham
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Sheffield Wednesday - Millwall
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Brentford - Middlesbrough
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Birmingham - Bournemouth
07
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Sevilla - Osasuna
07
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Benevento - Spezia
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Crystal Palace - Leeds
04
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group G
Ferencvaros - Juventus
04
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group G
Barcelona - Dynamo K.
03
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group A
Salzburg - Bayern Munich
03
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group D
Atalanta - Liverpool
Find us on Instagram
at @feedimo to stay up to date with the latest.
Featured Video You Might Like
zWJ3MxW_HWA L1eLanNeZKg i1XRgbyUtOo -g9Qziqbif8 0vmRhiLHE2U JFCZUoa6MYE UfN5PCF5EUo 2PV55f3-UAg W3y9zuI_F64 -7qCxIccihU pQ9gcOoH9R8 g5MRDEXRk4k
Copyright © 2020 Feedimo. All Rights Reserved.