Aug 1st, 2008 by ravi
China: not bad enough

Reviewing a collection of China themed books in the NYRofB, Orville Schell unintentionally offers an insight:

China: Humiliation & the Olympics – The New York Review of Books

So, partly in shock, and partly in disappointment, China responded to the demonstrations against its Olympic torch with incensed outrage, rejecting any suggestion that its own actions could have contributed to, much less have ameliorated, Tibetan demands.


Instead, at this penultimate moment, as Xu Guoqi, author of the timely new book Olympic Dreams: China And Sports, 1895–2008, has noted, “Through their coverage and handling of the Beijing torch relay, the West seemed to remind the Chinese they were still not equal and they were still not good enough.”

The real problem China faces in its exclusion from the club is that they are not bad enough — they are vulgar and amateur oppressors! So it is the lack of sophistication, rhetorical and philosophical preparation, that permits and compels European nations, with the blood of Africa and Asia on their hands, our own USA, with an ongoing illegal action in Iraq that has cost hundreds of thousands of lives, to lecture China on its deplorable human rights.

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3 Responses

  • Dr Anonymous says:

    Right on! I thought the article was actually interesting, but that’s probably because I don’t know enough about China to know what component is misplaced fear-inducing commentary and what component is an effective analysis. But more than that, I was just happy to see you speak from a standpoint that so clearly understands how contemporary geopolitics works :)

  • ravi says:

    Dr. A, its not that I know more about China, and from what I know, I think a lot of the analyses of the growing resentment in China is fairly accurate. But the amusing thing to me is that this sort of resorting to psychoanalysis is not uniformly applied… the great powers are analysed (mostly) in ahistorical and ideological terms (often terms set up by themselves). I don’t expect, for instance, any analysis of what it is in the collective US psyche that requires NBC to report that the US did win the “total medal tally” in the recently concluded 2008 Olympics, though, as NBC gracefully offered, China came in second on this count, which is not (to paraphrase NBC) bad at all.

    I just visited your blog, and found your summary of the Tamil issue in Sri Lanka quite on target.

  • Dr Anonymous says:

    I’m not sure i have a summary except to throw my hands up and say it was multicausal, rooted in history (and historical political economy), and that matters after independence of all sorts didn’t help. I suppose one might argue that there was less room for policy maneuveur in Sri Lanka than in India, but, then, one can say almost anything one wants to about places one knows slightly more than very little. kettikilli, on the other hand, who wrote the post, is quite insightful :)

    Collective analyses of the U.S. psyche are fun – it was particularly interesting when they devalued the Chinese economy by about 40% on the basis of PPP – couldn’t tell EXACTLY what the motivation was there – reassurance of themselves or a political maneuver by the financial elite and their friendsint he state.

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