Sunday, August 17, 2008

The bad bad badiness of China

China, and the Chinese government in relation to the Olympics, has come in for serious Cold War flashback hardons from news media hacks who soared on the coat tails of geopolitical conflict without any real understanding of the issues, and who hope they can do it again. But China isn't under Mao, or even under the folks who ran it during the '80s, but is a liberalizing country that has opened up the range for freedom of speech and travel for its citizens substantially in the last few years. It's also the country that makes half the stuff you wear and use, and it ain't the Communist Party that's substantially ordering that stuff built, it's Chinese capitalists cooperating with the Chinese government some. Which makes conservative fist waving over China that much funnier. Wave your rhetoric with righteous indignation all you want, at the end of the day you're still going back to a home filled with Chinese goods.

And although there are of course serious problems, not just with some civil liberties but with general popular democratic control, things like Xinjiang and Tibet, I'm not overly concerned about things like 300 Bibles trying to be smuggled into China being seized. Unlike Falun Gong, I'm pretty sure the reasons for the bible seizing have to do with questions about imperialism instead of general religious control. The U.S. is still the dominant economic power for the time being, and potentially flooding China with western religious literature, linked to missionary organizations in the United States, no doubt brings back spectres of colonialism, where economic and political domination often followed missionaries' footsteps.

Of course China is an authoritarian country, but there isn't going to be a 1989-esque collapse of the social system to be replaced by a naive idealism that conceals free market capitalism as the secret "End of History" towards which everything is tending.

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