The Quintessential China-US Debate

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I’ll start the week by pointing you to a very excellent edition of On the Media, one of my absolute required-listening podcasts each week – Journalism with Chinese Characteristics. And the subtext of the post reads as follows:

There is real investigative reporting in China, itís just not done under a free press flag. Instead, practitioners mind an unstated set of rules, keeping themselves safe by employing tactics like using excessive jargon and exploiting government rivalries…

The program itself doesn’t present particularly new facts or opinions about China.† If anything, in the last few years, there is no shortage of Chinese voices in international media talking about how China isn’t what you might remember from the movies or old stereotypes. That the country is modernizing fast and people have alot of new freedoms that are comparable to whatever you have in the west.† That said, OTM provides a nice group of voices who communicate their experiences and opinions in a manner worthy of listening to.

What gets me about the interviewees in this podcast is that they come back to the classic China-US comparison talking point: The freedom criticism.† So they point out how strange it is that there are “free Tibet” protests on the streets of the US, and yet the US occupies Iraq and has guantanamo bay.† To which there are no protests on the streets of China saying “Free Iraq.”† The arguement brushes over the well known hypocracy and goes right for some kind of lack of reciprocity.

My response would simply be as follows, once and for all let it be said, that it is our right and responsibility as human beings on this earth, to protest and engage in some form of acknowledgement whenever and wherever human lives are being destroyed and opressed.† Moreover, that you might be American and on the streets protesting what takes place in Tibet, does not mean you automatically believe your own government is doing just fine and you support the occupation of Iraq.† Hell, you probably attend those demonstrations as well.† But protesting human rights violations in another country does not require that you live in a country where human rights are perfectly respected and it shouldn’t result in silencing dissent anywhere in the world.

Just because you have the capacity to repeat all the terrible mistakes and crimes of the western world, dear China, does not mean you should.