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2008/05/28

Differences in Foreign Policy/Differences in Personal Decisions

From our Shangai correspondent:
The US and China couldn't take a more different approach to foreign policy. America believes in "spreading democracy" the world over and often gets involved in another country's domestic issues when morals (with or without quotation marks)(and definitely oil as well) come into play. China, on the other hand, likes to be the pleasant neighbor that nobody sees or hears from. It keeps to itself and let's other countries handle their own problems. I've come to realize this extends down to the people from each country.

Over the weekend, I saw an incident in an area packed with weekend shoppers where a woman came running through the square shouting for help. A man in pajamas and sandals was chasing after her and when he caught her, the man grabbed her ponytail and ripped her to the ground, then started dragging the hysterical, crying woman across the ground. The woman would occasionally grab hold of a lamppost and stop the progress, but ended up being dragged all the way to the curb. By this point, a large group of shoppers and pedestrians gathered around to witness this shocking sight. Over 50 people, including security guards, stood around watching the guy swear at the woman and abuse her and nobody did anything but stare. The man hailed a cab, threw the woman into the car, got in, the cab drove off, and the crowd dispersed.

In the US, I could imagine two results if the above situation took place. The first would be that people would go about their business while pretending to ignore the scene, though someone would call the police. The other is that a few people would get involved, make sure that the two parties were separated, and wait for the police to arrive. While Chinese love to “kan re nao” (watch the commotion), they won’t get involved in anyone else’s affairs, no matter how brutal or public they may be. The US is the opposite, people, like the government, are always going to get involved in other people’s affairs. With the oft discussed lack of personal space in China, at least in the old days, one would think it would be the other way around.

I always believed the Chinese approach to foreign policy was appropriate, especially culturally, and that if the situation truly called for it, China would ultimately intervene. Seeing the brutality of the scene I witnessed this past weekend, I’m not so sure anymore.

2 comments:

chamberoftenthousandflowers said...

"China, on the other hand, likes to be the pleasant neighbor that nobody sees or hears from. It keeps to itself and let's other countries handle their own problems." - which planet did you say you had been living on?

chinaphil said...

More great myths of our time...
In the second half of the 20th C, China was going through internal convulsions and was dirt poor. That's why it didn't intervene much in other countries' politics (apart from Southeast Asia. And North Korea...)
Now they've got a bit of money, they're hurling it about. First targets, SE Asia and Central Asia, Africa. Next is the middle east. It's not going to be long before you discover that China is at least as interventionist as the USA. It's not going to be pretty.