I’m not exactly sure how these things happen, but the other day my blog post got put up on a Chinese website (the section was later deleted). The title of the article had been translated pretty well. The name got translated to “China Sees Red,” which isn’t quite what I take it to mean, but its close. The post there led to some interesting discussion and a few naïve comments (it is still the internet, no matter the country). The big question though was; who is this American to judge China?
It’s a fair question, so let me introduce myself. I had wanted to work in China since I was 16 and spent the 5 following years studying Chinese Language and history. I was enchanted, like most people, by its long history and rich culture. When I finished college I joined a Chinese charity organization and volunteered for two years in rural Guangxi, before spending a year in Chengdu and finally arriving in Nanjing for two more years. Over these past few years I have traveled to more than 30 Chinese cities.
The things I saw there made me love China in the same way that I love my home country. However people who know me back in the States would tell you that I am no more critical of the things happening in China than I am of the things happening in the US. I have a sense of patriotism for both countries, and during the 2008 Olympics I even cheered for China over the US from time to time.
My definition of patriotism might differ from yours. To me it means loving the country, but it doesn’t mean that I have to love the government. I have devoted a big chunk of my life to helping the Chinese people. So when China became the second biggest GDP, I was excited for what that might mean for all of my former students. When Nanjing remembered the Japanese invasion, I bowed my head in silence, even if my Chinese coworkers didn’t. At the same time, when policies are made that limit freedom, or when the poor are exploited for the sake of the rich, I am going to complain, because I truly love this country.
The purpose of this blog, as I see it, is to provide an alternative view of the most populous country in the world. The means I’m going to try to avoid whining about things that I don’t actually see or experience. It also means though that I’m not going to be referring to China as “resplendent,” or “admired by the world” like the People’s Daily does.
My hope is that by reading this blog, day by day, people will come to a better understanding of what China is really like for the people living here. I hope that this will help China from seeming like a faceless mass and help people to start seeing the individuals who make up my second home.