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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

October 17, 2007

Written by C.N.

Burma Events Highlight Differences Between Chinese

When many Americans think of China, I am confident in guessing that they tend to see the Chinese as one united collective, mobilized and indoctrinated to all think alike, and to behave as if they were all the same. Especially in the wake of all the recent international attention and criticism directed at China for various problems, it’s probably not surprising if people lump all Chinese together. Unfortunately, as New American Media reports regarding how Chinese bloggers view recent events in Burma, this view is rather simplistic and ultimately, grossly inaccurate:

Chinese people weighing in on the Internet are split over the conflict in Burma, with democracy activists furious over the government crackdown and nationalists protesting that China has no role to play in quelling the conflict. Democracy activists have dubbed the crackdown on Buddhist monks “Burma’s Tiananmen Square protest.” . . .

The confrontation among Chinese people on the Internet is intense, but they are not quarrelling about Burma — they are slandering each other concerning their own country. . . .

Pro-Chinese government voices are called “young soldiers” in online forums because most of them were born in the late 70s or early 80s. They are younger than the government critics, who include democracy movement activists, or “old soldiers.” The “young soldiers” have grown up in an open society and experienced the economic development and prosperity of recent years. Compared to the older generation, they are more confident about their country. . . .

In contrast, Asian Times columnist Pan Xiaotao warned of the danger of forgetting China’s own movement against pro-democracy activists, writing that, “In the 1989 Tiananmen Square protest, the Chinese government did the same thing as what the Burma military government is doing now.”

I actually think it is a healthy sign that Chinese have differing views on the recent events in Burma — it goes to show that not all Chinese think alike and that there are disagreements and debate on important social issues. Hopefully this will help to dispel the notion that all Chinese are the same, a particular stereotype that is also frequently applied to Asian Americans in general.

Beyond that, debate and discussion in fact form the basis for democracy. Unfortunately, it’s getting past those first few steps that seem to be so difficult in China.


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Copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le. Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Burma Events Highlight Differences Between Chinese" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2007/10/burma-events-highlight-differences-between-chinese/> ().

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