One Nation, Out of Touch

No, the headline doesn’t refer to the US.

Instead, I’m suggesting the continued obnoxious behavior of the Chinese government toward, well, the entire world, has gone too far.

The latest volley: China, which takes offense at almost everything yet yields on nothing, complained that recent remarks made by a CNN newscaster were offensive. And when the network tried to apologize, China said “no dice.”

Enough already. I was in Shanghai last week, as protesters around the globe raised their collective voices against the tyranny of top Chinese officials. Insofar as I could tell, most of the activists were up in arms over China’s lack of democracy and other basic freedoms. Yet the spin — some call it propaganda — in the English language Shanghai Daily consistently referred to the protesters as “Tibetan terrorists,” thereby conveniently if not inaccurately lumping the longstanding critics of China’s social policies in with the relatively smaller groups calling for independent rule in Tibet.

And the paper didn’t miss an opportunity to (try to) stick the knife in the West. When Australian’s top government official announced opposition to a boycott of the Olympics, the above-the-fold headline the next day read, “Australian PM Backs Games, Harmony.” That’s the kind of non-sequiter I’d expect in The Onion, not in one of the two English language newspapers in the world’s most populous nation. But there it was, in big type, hold the irony.

China’s thin skin is more in line with school playground follies than forward-looking actions of the world’s next superpower. Having witnessed firsthand the pollution, poverty, legal and political morasses and yes, lack of basic freedoms (blogs, for example, are banned), I would think China has more to worry about than what a random network journalist has to say.

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About Mike

Mike Buetow is editor-in-chief of Circuits Assembly magazine, the leading publication for electronics manufacturing, and PCD&F, the leading publication for printed circuit design and fabrication. He is also vice president and editorial director of UP Media Group, for which he oversees all editorial and production aspects. He has more than 20 years' experience in the electronics industry, including six years at IPC, an electronics trade association, at which he was a technical projects manager and communications director. He has also held editorial positions at SMT Magazine, community newspapers and in book publishing. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois. Follow Mike on Twitter: @mikebuetow

21 thoughts on “One Nation, Out of Touch

  1. Mike,

    I really enjoy reading your articles. They are always poignant and right to the point. Please keep up the good work. It is very much appreciated.

    Not all of us get to see firsthand what you are witnessing in China. I speak for myself, and I’m certain for many others, when I say “Thank You” for posting the reality of what appears to be our future… vis-a-vis China.

    I am absolutely stunned (now almost on a daily basis) how OUR government and our corporations have more or less mortgaged (if not conceded) our future to such a tyrannical country.

    David

  2. Hi Mike,

    I don’t want to appear an apologist for the Chinese Government because there is no doubt it has serious problems in the area of human rights and democratic institutions. However I have to point out that the West doesn’t exactly have a clean nose when it comes to the same issues.

    ‘Spin’ = propaganda and that’s an established and sophisticated Western technique for making sure the truth is suppressed, no less than in China, but perhaps a little more subtly.

    And terrorists? That’s what we call them in the Gaza Strip, but they’re “freedom fighters” when they’re on our side. Women and children die both ways – tell me, what’s the difference, apart from the words?

    I’ve been to China too, and spoken at length to various people who live there. They want peace and tranquility just like we do. They love their kids just like we do. They want their government to maintain law and order, without threat to society, just like we do.

    In the end, we aren’t any different. China just happens to be playing catchup to the West, something like sixty years later. We’re complaining now about how they’re doing that, forgetting that we did it that way too. We trampled on sovereign states, economically, politically and sometimes physically, to get what we wanted. Now it’s their turn.

    And in the world’s playground, they have the bigger stick when it comes to getting their way. And we’re no longer the only bully. Instead of getting what we want when we want it, we have competition.

    And we don’t like it.

  3. Mike, David,

    I sort of disagree with you guys on this.
    Especially for you Mike..

    I am working in Shanghai, and currently going around on business trips quite frequently. I actually can’t see the protestors that you are talking about in your article..

    The protestors that I have seen, are in fact the Chinese who are protesting against the fallacies of the CNN reports and also the medias around the globe, who are bias in their reports for this issue on Tibet.

    As you are accusing the papers of China of putting sticks on the west, why not look at the medias on the west? Why should the western medias confused politics and the Olympic games? False reports are false reports. One false reports will cause enough image damages to China.

    … and I am not even a China guy.

  4. … and by the way…

    regarding the french government’s recent protests (which actually might have stemmed from the false reports from the western medias…)

    The chinese people worldwide (Not planned by the Chinese government) is, I think, planning stage a major boycott for the french goods and mainly, at Carrefour.

    Good luck to them!

    Imagine the revenue lost, worldwide….

  5. The sponsors of the Olimpics are the key.
    The west should not boycot the games.
    The people in the democratic world should send a clear message to the sponsors that they will not watch the games, or at least the opening ceromony.
    This is worth millions or billions and this is the only real leverage the west has over the Chinese regime.
    China spent billions on the olimpic games and it wants the propaganda and the business in return that will come from the TV coverage and the tourism.
    Take this away from them and see what happens…
    The west should promote the alternatives to China like India and not become so dependant on a huge tyrany like the Chinese regime.
    The people in China are good people.
    It is only the regime that needs to be dealt with.

  6. David, thanks for your kind words.

    ****

    Andy, there’s spin, or the attempt to put the best slant the news, and then there’s propaganda, or outright lies. To suggest, as Chinese media and government (which are one and the same) are doing, that everyone who criticizes China is a) from Tibet and b) a terrorist (an extreme pejorative if ever there were one) is slanderous. China’s government has been under attack from human rights advocates, political leaders and many, many others for decades; certainly long before the broadsides in Tibet began.

    And yes, the West is guilty too. Does that mean we ignore China’s (broad) failings? I don’t think so. We crank up the microscope and turn up the heat.

    ****

    SK, take a look at the Olympic Charter (http://multimedia.olympic.org/pdf/en_report_122.pdf). One of the handful of premises on which the entire Olympics rests is the pursuit of man’s basic freedoms. I understand that at some point — probably during the late 1970s as Pres. Carter was gearing up to boycott the Moscow Summer Games — the rather simplistic view that the Olympics should be free of politics was promulgated. But that’s not what the Charter asserts. And none other than IOC President Jacques Rogge said earlier this month that, “I am very concerned with the international situation and what is happening in Tibet … The International Olympic Committee has expressed its serious concern and calls for a rapid peaceful resolution in Tibet.”

    This piece in The Nation (http://www.thenation.com/doc/20080505/editors) encapsulates the argument better than I ever could:

    “If China, with the support of the IOC, plans to use Beijing 2008 as an advertisement for Chinese nationalism and market ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics,’ it can hardly complain when protests raised by or on behalf of Tibetan and Uighur separatists; the victims of genocide in Darfur and repression in Burma; Chinese unionists, farmers, environmentalists, AIDS activists and other internal dissidents flip the script and borrow a bit of the spotlight for their respective causes.”

    ****

    Thanks everyone, for adding your thoughts. Dialogue is critical; suppression of that dialogue only adds to the problem.

  7. Fortunately, some forward looking manufacturers have already seen the dismal future of manufacturing in China. They’re moving to Vietnam. Not a big jump, but certainly a move in the right direction.

  8. Mike, Ed,

    Well, no one actually knows whether moving to Vietnam is a good move or not, apart from the theory that Vietnam is cheaper than basically anywhere currently.

    If you have been to Vietnam, you will know that moving to Vietnam is not as simple as everyone thought. The mentality and the technologies there are miles behind. add together the mentality and attitude of the locals… therefore, if you think the future of manufacturing in China is dismalling, you are in for a major headache in Vietnam.

    Sometimes, hidden costs are higher than the cost which are on the surface.

    Regarding China vs Tibet again..

    What happened if one of the states (some activists) in the US starts a riot to gain the state’s independance from the US?

    What do you expect the US government to do?

    “You want independence? OK.. there you go….”

    You quoted something from The Nations, which is btw another western media. If you ask anyone from the Asian region, they might tell you that The Nation is bias as well…as the CNN, BBC etc etc.

    If Tibet vs China is indeed China’s fault, then why don’t the Medias from Asia said so…

    Joe,
    Well,
    Tell this to your athletes that your entire nation will not see them perform on TV.
    Olympics is about sports.Period.
    Some people spent their entire life waiting for an opportunity to compete in the olympics.
    The last thing they need is the politicians (who know nuts about the glory of standing on the stands) to step in and destroy their dreams.

    You want to discuss about Human rights, discuss in the World court. US is not as as saintly as you thought.

  9. …Boycott the Olympics…

    then don’t call this the Olympics games would be a better idea.

    No international events are ever complete without the US, or China or Soviet Unions…simply because they will not known as world champions without ever competing with competitors from these countries.

    Your world champion in Soccer means absolutely nothing if Brazil boycott your games.

    So what you have won the Gold in Diving, your gold means nothing if China boycott the games as well.

    Btw, Joe,

    You are contradicting your own statements. You mentioned that China people are good, only the regime is not good. If this is so, Why don’t you see Chinese people go against this so called tyrants? Yeah, maybe the chinese are dumb…

  10. SK,

    I admire your defense of the “indefensible”. However, it rings hollow in the realm of truth and justice.

    Sure, the US has had its illustrious past and continues to take its own questionable actions. There is no excuse. No single country is without sin and we should all be held accountable for our actions.

    It is obvious that the IOC made a huge mistake picking China to host at this point in time. It is clear that they are no where near deserving enough to warrant it.

    IMHO, we shouldn’t be doing business in China to the extent and quickness with which it has happened. It should have been done in a more measured and prudent manner. But, greed won the day and here we are.

    The end result is that it has weakend the US in many ways… some which are yet to be realized. I blame our biggest corporations and our government for throwing caution to the wind and setting full sail without regard to the MANY ramifications that have materialized over the past decade. Anyone with half a brain should have been able to see it coming.

  11. David

    Oh well,

    Feel free to leave the country then.
    You bring all your businesses with you, and do not worry for them, investments from other places will automatically replace your “berth”.

    If China is to sever ties with US, No prizes for guessing who the bigger loser will be. Thank god that you are not one of the big companies CEO or the president of your country. Else you company might be in tatters by now.

    Tibet belongs to China as with Texas belongs to the US.
    As I mentioned in my previous posts, What happened if one of the states (some activists) in the US starts a riot to gain the state’s independance from the US?

    What do you expect the US government to do?

    The picking of China is by a voting process by countries all over the world, and not by the decision of IOC alone.

    。。and stop blaming US poor economics or your weaknesses on China. If you don’t stop blaming others and look at your own nation’s weaknesses, then you will forever stalled in your footsteps. China is neon lightyears behind the US 50 years ago, and they are catching up rapidly.
    Certainly, you are not expecting the undeveloped to stay undeveloped, aren’t you?

    and You are right..

    Anyone with half a brain in the US, should have been able to see it coming.

    Sometimes, it is best to leave other countries to manage their internal affairs alone, especially your government does not know a hoot about the issue. You stick your nose into basically everything, while ignoring your own nation development, your own people’s welfare, your countriy economic etc. You send your people to Iraq, destroying families, other people’s countries etc (while destroying your own people’s families in the process), yet you have the guts to come out here to tell everyone about the supposedly “tyranny” of China? You harped around Iran, North Korea doing researches on nukes, while your own country spending billions of your people’s money on the same researches.

    Hypocrites.

  12. David
    Apr 17th, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    Mike,

    I really enjoy reading your articles. They are always poignant and right to the point. Please keep up the good work. It is very much appreciated.

    Not all of us get to see firsthand what you are witnessing in China. I speak for myself, and I’m certain for many others, when I say “Thank You” for posting the reality of what appears to be our future… vis-a-vis China.

    I am absolutely stunned (now almost on a daily basis) how OUR government and our corporations have more or less mortgaged (if not conceded) our future to such a tyrannical country.

    David

    ***
    maybe one day when you have the chance to see first hand, then you will know which is the truth or which are just media propagandas.

    Mike,
    you mentioned there was a riot in Shanghai the previous week before your blog entry. Care to provide me the details?
    Locations, date etc.

  13. SK, I’m not sure what “riot” you are referring to. I made a comment about “protesters around the globe,” but those persons were not in China; they were in South America and Australia and France and the U.S.

  14. Hey SK,

    Wow SK. Apparently, you just needed to vent. I hope you feel better now.

    When you decide you can be mature, honest, stick to the facts, and not subvert my comments and their meaning, then maybe we can have a useful debate.

    In the meantime know this:

    I don’t disparage the Chinese people. The government, however, I do. As I do many of the actions that our own government has taken over many decades. It’s time for ALL of us to learn from our past mistakes and to move on toward a peaceful and prosperous future. Right now though, that isn’t happening.

    China has been afforded a perfect opportunity to join the ROW and build a stable well functioning global community. The world has opened their markets to Chinese goods. And, many companies have poored hundreds of billions of dollars into China from which they AND China have benefited.

    The down side is that the playing field is not level for many other economies. And, the corporations that are there along side the Chinese government are in no hurry to help solve that problem. It is an opportunity that both are exploiting and it’s creating what can become a huge backlash before long.

    There are many issues that China has continued to do nothing about such as … human rights violations, WTO violations, pollution, currency manipulation, counterfeit goods, intellectual properties rights violations… I can go on and on.

    Don’t blame “media propoganda” for the negative image that China represents to those who are paying attention. China’s government has built that reputation all by itself.

    The US has its own set of problems that are decades in the making. There has been a good mix of righteousnous and greed that have propelled our forays into the middle east and beyond… for which we are presently seeing some of the downside of that ambition. That doesn’t justify the attacks on us nor the retaliation in kind. And it’s no excuse for China and others to take complete advantage of the situation either.

    What we need on this planet is mutual respect for each other, fair trade, preservation of culture, and sensible management of the global environment. That takes a great deal of cooperation…

  15. Sigh…

    David,

    It seems that you are resorting to personal attack here by accusing me of immature and not willing to look at the truth. If you are incapable of discussing and accepting other people comments, then this will be the last time I respond to this blog.

    I don’t need to vent my anger. Why should I? I am not a Chinese citizen. I am only one of the foreigners working my ass off in China. Their issues are none of my problems at all. I just could not stand chauvinists who can’t see through the truth.

    Go and check Youtube to find out the western media propaganda about China vs Tibet issue. and how they potray China in a negative way by putting “fake” pictures and “fake” news. Look for “Tibet”, “Fake” and you will see how Nepal policemen became China policemen in the CNN news. Then you tell me whether if China should not blame the CNN and the western medias for faking evidences of China “molesting” Tibet? or do you want to say that China is faking up all the evidences of the CNN fake evidences to fool people such as myself? Now, even the US people staying here in China is accusing CNN of spreading lies to smear the Chinese. Even the Tibeting monks are standing up against their own Dalai Lama.

    What sort of level playing field you are looking at, David?

    When all terms and conditions are benefitting US and the western countries and China is not making any profits?
    When US and western countries are in total control of everything, while China and the rest of the world remain a “yes sir no sir” sort of nations?
    That maybe the case a few decades back. As i mentioned, nations developed. when nations such as China and India develop, the current developed nations such as the US, French, UK, are afraid… because they do not want these nations to develop, as they will be some form of “threats”. They want China to remain “stupid”, remain as “farmers” as what are potrayed in Hollywood movies where Chinese are still living in huts. COme to China yourself… and you would be amazed at the speed of development here.

    You are right when you mentioned that US and China are not playing on a level term. US is already a developed nation whereas China is still in a learning process and a still-developing country. Therefore, China is always at a disadvantage situation in WTO as they are the new kids on the block. There are always countries like the US, UK who will assert “their big brother superiority” over China, will all sorts of “rules and regulations” that China must follow, else they will be violating WTO laws and so so ..

    There are still lots of shits in China. The government is trying to improve this as well. China is not like the US, who has been well developed, equally across the nation. China is still very poor. The level of development is focused on a few major cities and then slowly apread across the nation… but very very slowly, as these processes need time.

    You mentioned all sorts of issues in China, that the China government seems doing nothing about. Thats their problems and their people seems comfortable about that. So whats your problem? Leave the Chinese issues to the chinese… and mind you own businesses. Chinese are no idiots and I am here to prove it, first hand.

    and how on earth is China manipulating the currency? Again, you are blaming the US currency issue on the Chinese Yuan. This is pathetic.

    Again,
    Don’t waste yout time to reply to me as I am not coming in here again.

    Mike,

    Thanks for this column. Really enjoyed “answering questions” here. However, it is really time wasting responding to people, who already have their mind fixed on how evil or bad China is.

    I would like to round up my points with a final response to your first blog.

    You mentioned:
    “China, which takes offense at almost everything yet yields on nothing, complained that recent remarks made by a CNN newscaster were offensive. And when the network tried to apologize, China said “no dice.”
    ****
    CNN first published a fake news with fake evidences about China and Tibet. The Chinese government pissed off. Then CNN apologized, apparently, but not before accusing the Chinese to be sort of “stupid, barbaric and ignorant”. I mean, Is this the kind of apology that qualified to be an apology?

    What I feel is:
    No matter what China do, they will still be potrayed as the greater evil in the Tibet issue. if you have been to Tibet, you will be able to see what are the developments that the chinese government has brought to Tibet and what the Dalai regime is trying to do there.

    Before, there are nothing there. Now, the children now can enjoy educations, the people there are enjoying infrastructures. Tibet now also a major attractions for tourists, which brought lots of income to the people of Tibet. People there are getting exposed to new things, someting which the Dalai regimes are not comfortable with, hence the rioting.

    Again..
    Thank you for this blog.
    It has been……”educational”

  16. SK,

    The depth of your ignorance about world affairs is truly astounding. However, I am extremely grateful that you have posted your “views”. It helps us all clearly understand the mindset of those that choose to parrot mis-information. It’s an excellant example of why we have so many problems in the world today.

    Goodbye and peace be to you and your loved ones.

  17. Gentlemen,
    i spend some time to read your comments and keep silence even i really have some words to say.
    Now, after the earthquake, i think i need to say someting.

    first, I am a Chinese,worked in Shanghai,born in 1970’s.
    Second,as a Chinese, i would like to tell you,do not read and understand China with some discrimination emotion.
    We are all not blind, we are not dumb.
    As a human , we do not have the differences with you, yes, we love our kids, just like you.
    We love our parents, just like you.
    We love China, because it’s our motherland.
    We wanna see the improvement of the goverment, but not to overturn them.
    After the earthquake, i am sure you have some different idea of China,right?
    some times i am so sorry of my poor English, otherwise i could share you much more voice of China.
    By the way, please, do not stricture China and Chinese, just named freedom and justice.

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