The Blame Game and Paranoia in China

Politicians in many countries are fond of taking credit for everything that goes well and blaming all troubles and failures on others. So China is not unique in blaming everything that goes wrong or doesn’t work well on “foreign forces.” But this practice by the Party in China is even more egregious because people in China live in an information vacuum.
In the absence of intelligent debate or critical opinions – and blasted and bolstered armies of by government-paid bloggers — too many people in China believe this baloney. As a result, anti-foreign nationalism increasingly lies just below the surface in Chinese society.
The past quarter century of exponential growth in China has created a society in which anybody under age 40 considers breathtaking improvements in their living standards to be the basic benchmark of life. The Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution are distant historic events that their parents and grandparents talk about, much like my generation born in the US in the 1950s couldn’t relate to the Great Depression.
The Chinese government now runs scared of the Chinese people’s outsized expectations. As the Party is increasingly unable to meet these expectations, let’s hope that the blame game doesn’t get out of control. China has been on a path to be a rational and reasonable member of the global community of nations. It won’t be able to continue on that path if demonizing foreigners is the government’s best defense against its own people’s unfulfilled hopes and dreams.
Ed Wong of the New York Times provides an interesting look into the growing paranoia.

Excerpt:

In the past three months, some significant foreign groups have been subjected to intensifying pressure from the authorities, reflecting growing fears here about the influence of foreigners and Western liberal ideas…

At least 60 activities organized by the United States Embassy in Beijing — including cultural forums, school programs, ambassadorial visits — were canceled between February and April because of interference by the Chinese authorities, and some European missions have been similarly pressured. Several university conferences involving foreigners have been canceled, and the Ministry of Education is stepping up warnings to Chinese scholars heading abroad that they not take part in “anti-China” activities or engage with groups that promote democracy.

The scrutiny has applied to some nonprofit groups, too, with several — particularly those that receive financing from the United States government or the European Union — being visited more frequently by tax officials.

At the same time, China has waged its harshest crackdown on liberal speech in years: hundreds of Chinese have been detained, imprisoned, beaten, interrogated or put under house arrest.

The government had for years guarded against Western influences, including blocking sites like Twitter and Facebook, but those restrictions have intensified since revolts began sweeping the Middle East and North Africa.

…Senior Chinese officials appear to believe that the United States in particular helped set off and sustain the uprisings that toppled dictators in the Arab world. In mid-February, messages appeared on the Chinese Internet calling for people to hold similar protests across the nation. Some of the people spreading word of the so-called Jasmine Revolution are Chinese who live overseas.

Link: http://nyti.ms/jJqAru

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About James McGregor
James McGregor is an American author, journalist and businessman who has lived in China for more than 25 years. Currently, he is chairman of APCO Worldwide, Greater China. A professional speaker and commentator who specializes in China’s business, politics and society, he regularly appears in the media to discuss China-related topics. McGregor is the author of the books "No Ancient Wisdom, No Followers: The Challenges of Chinese Authoritarian Capitalism" (2012) and "One Billion Customers: Lessons from the Front Lines of Doing Business in China" (2005). He also wrote the 2010 report "China’s Drive for ‘Indigenous Innovation’ – A Web of Industrial Policies." From 1987 to 1990 McGregor served as The Wall Street Journal’s bureau chief in Taiwan, and from 1990 to 1994 as the paper’s bureau chief in Mainland China. From 1994 to 2000, he was chief executive of Dow Jones & Company in China. After leaving Dow Jones, he was China managing partner for GIV Venture Partners, a $140 million venture capital fund specializing in the Chinese Internet and technology outsourcing. In 1996, McGregor was elected as chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China. He also served for a decade as a governor of that organization. He is a member of the Atlantic Council, Council on Foreign Relations, National Committee on US-China Relations and International Council of the Asia Society. He serves on a variety of China-related advisory boards.

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