The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


Here's a long email I got from a good Chinese journalist friend which is typical of the views I've been getting from local, Joe soap types these past few weeks of anti-western rage in China. The email is in response to a debate we had about why a friend of mine from China's restive Uyghur (or Wei) muslim community can't get a passport (the reason being Olympics 'stability and security,' he's told by officials). Many Tibetans I've met have a similar problem. So if the average Chinese is fine and dandy with the government here, what are we westerners expending so much time and effort demanding Beijing to give its people more human rights? Should we stick to seeking more rights for Tibetans and leave the rest of China to the government the average Chinese appears so content with?

"First of all, I am not a politician. I talk to you because we are friends and I am a Chinese. I hope I can help you know Chinese people more and give us more understanding.

I feel sorry about John if something really unfair happened on him as a Wei minority person recently. You think that's discrimination. I also believe Chinese government can do this kind of things because recent days Xinjiang region and Tibet region are not stable so government has to take some actions.
I also believe Chinese government and even Chinese people are not open enough when we have problems because we are afraid of losing face. Face matters a lot in China and it could date back several thousand years ago.

But can I say something else to help you know more? Ok, if you think it's discrimination for John, then I'd like you to tell if these are discrimination for Han people. I believe China central government support those minorities with many preferred policies, financially and spiritually. I don't know too many details but I definitely know minority people can have many kids if they want. They can go to universities with less points than Han people. Wei people and Tibet people can have their knives with them when they go out but Han people can't. Do you think it's very fair for Han people? Have you ever heard that Han people protested against these before? We only heard too much violence in Xinjiang and Tibet and those gang destroyed public facilities and killed normal people. Do you think those people will become kind after they get independent? Do you think they are not terrorists?

Think how the US reacted after 9.11? They thought everyone from Middle East was a terrorist and they took tighter action to foreign people who were in the US and wanted to enter into the US. Why you don't understand Chinese government is doing something to Wei and Tibet people? People always take what they have for granted and complain for wha they are short . It is unfair to John but don't think it is discrimination and ignite Chinese people's hate. Unfair things are always there and it takes time to get over. Wei people has more privileges than Han people, please think of this as well.

Western countries always mention human rights, but I think they just emphasize more on individual rights and don't take it as a whole. I would like to take my family as an example and I hope you will get something. My family is a very traditional Chinese family. They didn't have stable income since they were only normal farmers in the beginning.  Just because China reform and open policy, my dad could have chance to go out and make money. Considering there are four children in my family, I think my parents really did a good job to have our four children get educated. My mom once said, "I think you dad is really great. Considering we are only Noon Min family, but he could support four kids to go to university". And my dad said, "our family is here because you mom managers our family well". They appreciate each other very much even they don't say "Xie Xie, Dui Bu Qi" at all. I learned to say them till I went to university. So if you ever go to my hometown and people don't say "Xiexie and Dui bu qi" to you, don't think they are rude. They just don't get used to.

Now let me think back, I think my mom even pays much more hard-work to our family. My dad has been busy making money and my mom looks after the whole family. She is very generous to give out and she has very good relationship with the neighbors and relatives. Chinese marriage is not only something about one man and one woman but a relationship between two families. My parents take each other's family as their own family. They take responsibilities for both when they need them. My dad gives every coin he earns to my mom and my mom takes good care of them. My dad seldom spends money himself and he just leaves most family things to my mom to deal with. Only when there are some big things that need my dad to decide, then my mom will let my dad do. Otherwise my mom will arrange everything. Their great mutual trust makes me admire very much.

Their four kids - my older sister, older brother me and my younger sister all have a decent job compare to other our fellows. My parents feel happy because they think we will have pension at least when we get old. My mom feels sorry for my dad because my dad even couldn't get pension even he has been working till now. He couldn't get it because of his farmer's identity.

But my parents never complain. Their attitude towards life, towards our education is very influential to us. I never look down on myself for my farmer's family. I never complain that I have too little to share to others. I seldom make time to complain life if something bad happened on me. I don't have time to do it. Even I was put a waitress position in my first job because other people thought it should be good enough for a graduated girl who grew up in the countryside to work in a city, even I was rejected by Canadian embassy because they thought I was not well-established and I wouldn't go back to China, unfair things are everywhere that not just happened on me. I only made effort to improve myself. I got recognized and promoted after my hardworking during my first job. I am sure I will go abroad after I make me strong enough. I don't have time to complain.

People, who think other people look down on them, must look down on themselves first. They should raise their awareness of improving their own first. China, as a big family, is trying to make every nationality in the right place. Our government is making big efforts to improve. We never look down on Tibet people or Wei people because they are Chinese too. Even we have problems, that's our domestic problems and China has ability to get through completely.

Some countries ignore Chinese history and Chinese culture and offer a hand saying they will help those people who get discriminated in their countries. If all in all could say there is discrimination, my parents have right to say it too. But they never say it instead, they think their life is getting better and better and they can't complain. My mom is happy to act a supporting role and she thinks man is a main power in a family. Many people think I am independent woman but if I have to give up something to complete my man, I will do it.

I have attended a discussion that a lady who came from Harford university, thinks it's ridiculous that Chinese prefer boys than girls. She thinks women should have more voices in political field. I just think she is ridiculous too. If she ever lives a rural area in China, if she knows to harvest the crop is a team work, then she might know why especially in rural China, boys are more important than girls because they need more labors. And girls often are a member of their parents-in-law. It's Chinese tradition.

Chinese people do have a lot of bad habits. To spit in public is indeed disgusting. I think this habit there is just because those farmers work in the fields and they don't find a right place to spit. It happens in big cities because most people in big cities are from countryside too.

Westerners should learn more about Chinese. We are trying to improve and we often pick on our own problems too but don't expect we'll ignore our Chinese identity.It's good if you help people to have different voices. But I would suggest you release something unfair in China later on but not in this sensitive time."

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Nuggets from our archive

2004 - The CLUAS Reviews of Erin McKeown's album 'Grand'. There was the positive review of the album (by Cormac Looney) and the entertainingly negative review (by Jules Jackson). These two reviews being the finest manifestations of what became affectionately known, around these parts at least, as the 'McKeown wars'.