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A China Lens on America

President Barack Obama meets with Chinese President Hu Jintao during the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, Monday, April 12, 2010. (AP)

Chinese President Hu Jintao is in Washington for a rare visit this week along with heads of state from all over talking nuclear security. 

But China is different. Bigger. Booming. Challenging the old order of the world. Challenging the USA. 

If President Hu went out in the streets of America, how would it look to him? To eyes fresh from China today? 

We’ll ask that question. We speak with New Yorker writer Peter Hessler, who’s just back from years in China, and more. 

This Hour, On Point: how the U.S. looks from rising China.


Peter Hessler, staff writer for The New Yorker. His latest book is “Country Driving: A Journey Through China from Farm to Factory.” Listen back to the On Point show about it. His new article for The New Yorker, about returning to the U.S. after years of living in China, is called “Go West: Scenes from An American Homecoming.”

Jia Cheng, a 28-year-old graduate student at Harvard Business School. She has moved back and forth between the two cultures as a businesswoman working for both McKinsey & Co. and Goldman Sachs. She grew up in Shanghai and graduated from Fudan University.

And later this hour, a Pulitzer chat:

We speak with Anthony Shadid, reporter for The New York Times. Yesterday, he won the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for his work with The Washington Post. The Pulitzer board lauded his “rich, beautifully written series on Iraq as the United States departs and its people and leaders struggle to deal with the legacy of war and to shape the nation’s future.” Shadid won his first Pulitzer at age 35, in 2004. He’s appeared on On Point twice over the past year, including last month before the elections. We hear his latest thoughts on Iraq’s future.

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  • cory

    Like an old, fat alpha male. Once fearsome and now toothless and docile. Ready to be abused and eventually replaced by the young dragon (sigh).

  • Huyu

    The world should know that other than praises for our fellow men in other countries, we Chinese have nothing to say about other inhabitants of our shared planet. We would always find faults with ourselves for only then we can strive to improve, even if it proves to be less than possible. Looking in the mirrors of the somewhat ugly reflection that is ourselves and wonder when and how we can become prettier is the clearly favored of our pastime. Certainly sticking our nose into other people’s knickers is not one of our habits.

    Picking at other people’s laundry, certainly not our job! We are neck deep ourselves. But, commerce, we are most enthusiastic for.

    These are nice knickers indeed. I have in possession 1,000 different styles here to satisfy your most basic and exciting carnal needs. Drop a call, and we can do business, just like Lady Baroness T. said.

    We have so many our own problems, if you know them yourself, your mind probably will explode. For years we have only curled up in our own well-holes, it is only with some little openness we realized how far we have fallen behind, totally unfitting to the land of such basic human inventions like paper and printing. Worse yet, now with people traveling more widely, everyone has to adjust to new realities, and hell can break open with little brawls as sometimes my spit flies off to your fragranced face and yours on mine. Because of our retardedly developed venting machines and rule of law, we usually get off by breaking your nose, or sometimes chopping a few heads off especially for some of our violent fellows and tradition seeking long-knife carriers. I sometimes wonder how the Messers like Mr. Hu and Wen can ever sleep; the jobs have to be a life expectancy killer bordering on self-assisted suicide, and so little pay, and not even a mistress or two. Saving the world will just be the last straw for the life of these gentlemen.

    If you see any Young & Restless (FengQing) like our proverbial Mr. Han, just please please please, ignore him. How does he know that no one ever falls off the train in China while speeding at 200 miles per hour, and how would he know perhaps some people prefer to sit on the roof of the train for a more splendid view, and indeed superior air to breathe in the scorching sun at a more leisurely pace.

    While their patriotism is admirable, it is not what most of us think in China. There really is nothing in the world that we want other than to get the next Bottle of White Wine (read expensive), my wife’s next Gucci bag (fake actually), any my kids next lessons (rote learned anyways), the next car, the next house, or the next mistress (with less than desired ohoh, of course). To claim that China will lead this or that really is just a little bit over the top; that one really got my plum in my mouth wriggling.

    For such mundane matters, we prefer to delegate to Uncle Sam. Nice Uncle indeed, who spend the money, resources, and man-power to trouble shoot for all us in the world. It is a good bargain, especially we also get to collect a little interests, we are already getting used to it.

  • Wait one minute…

    I listened to the program and was disturbed by Peter Hessler’s belief that China was just in a lower stage of industrial revolution, and that America doesn’t need manufacturing jobs, and that China will catch up to our level. I am glad he is changing his tune.

  • Wait one minute…

    I guess Peter has not changed his tune. Notice he said China has more workers and nothing about thier pay or treatment.

  • Wait one minute…


    Why are you challenging your guest when she honestly says her experience is limited to business school education?

  • JacFlasche

    The Chinese people are psychologically incapable of tolerating individuality. They have, and will react violently to nonconformity. Their leaders (like leaders everywhere) are only concerned with maintaining and increasing their own power. This is a recipe for disaster.

  • Zeke

    One thing we can’t assume is to let China’s success at climbing the GDP curve(or how it says it’s doing) blind us to all the wrong it is doing.

    Like the Soviet system before it, China can report progress any way it wants. But do you think that it is really more open, or just allowing small concessions while waiting for the its cellphone-and-tv youth to drown out the Tiananmen Square generation as a social force? Is Tibet any better off? Does the Hong Kong/Macau feel like they have a stake in their own future or are they just routing points for contracts in China since their return to the “mother country”? Do S. Koreans appreciate the decades of effort by the Chinese to prop up their Northern neighbors? I am sure Taiwan appreciates kind promise to militarily “defend” its territory from undue imperial influences of the West and Japan?

    Don’t let your “multi-polar” world view and “post-colonial” narrative see China with rose colored glasses. At the end of the day China probably doesn’t care about those talking points either, but they are too convenient as a cover while it horns in every deal at the trouble spots of the world and bullying its neighbors. They need to be dealt with carefully and constrained whenever possible. Clinton’s whole “strategic partner” deal ends with Chinese missiles having more reach than ever at the end of the 90s. Their ascendancy with their current type of governance won’t make it better for America or the world. Do you think we will have more stability as China continues to try to be the hand behind the puppet on any number of locations that stymies US interest? What happens when one day it becomes the gatekeeper of Asia-Pacific trade if it got hold of Taiwan and threatens Japan? Have we developed multiple sources of resources to offset that possible threat? Look to the food safety, lead paint, and currency manipulation issues of the past few years to what kind corrupt, ambiguous conduct you can expect from its government. Trust, but verify.

  • http://www.freerangechicken.com David White

    How much do Chinese know about their history of the last 100 years, the competition between the communists and the nationalists, the american help during WWII, Tienanmen Square?

  • M.J. Young

    I can’t help but wonder how Chinese “ascendancy” would look in 10, 20, 30 years, especially in comparison to American “ascendancy” during the mid-20th century(?)

    A Question for Mr. Hessler:
    How are Chinese political and economic sectors approaching sustainability into their growth?

  • JacFlasche

    Take Norinco: a Chinese company. The biggest employer in the world. Owned by a cabal of Generals and politicians, largley worked by prison labor (slave) main product: AK47 and other arms. Corruption is part of the bedrock of China. China is a country that was founded by a person who is second only to Stalin in the people that he is personally responsible for having murdered. You can’t find out anything by talking to Chinese they are brain washed and fearful to the man. You can learn less by talking to the scumbags who made a fortune exporting US industry to China.

  • JacFlasche

    Where is the voice of the Chinese disaffacted?

  • Greg

    I guess it should come as no surprise that there is, as the caller put it, an electricity in China’s air. The world is their oyster, much like it seems to have been for generations of Americans up until now. One star rises and another sets.

    As a citizen, worker and business owner I’m a little discouraged. Our future is in doubt. I don’t want handouts from my government, I want to live in a more equitable society.

    Maybe it’s time to get the Chinese edition of Rosetta Stone.

  • Zeke

    Where is the voice of the Chinese disaffacted?

    Posted by JacFlasche, on April 13th, 2010 at 11:51 AM

    Seriously, they got two people on who have professional and business need to go back and forth in a very “play along to get along” society, and therefore better say something nice. For so many other issues and conflicts around the world NPR gives voice to the dissidents, but here we got two people who politely give us the “say something nice about the US, say something nicer about China” template for an hour. Give us someone who doesn’t need to go back and have nothing to lose in China then maybe I won’t need to think the economic optimism is a choice word for the only channel for the personal fulfillment, all others shut off by the state, and that the “comfort” of crowds in Shanghai is euphemism for “overcrowding”.

  • kung fu

    Seeing Hu Jintao and Barack Obama together smiling reminds of the Karl Marx phrase “Workers of the world unite!”

  • Greg


    Tom did prod the guests to give us the flipside. Peter told us that the Chinese tend not to stop and smell the roses and Jia said she liked our buildings more.

    Maybe it would have been prudent to talk about sweatshops and rural life. We did only hear about the big city, upwardly mobile Chinese. Peter finds that the people are curious about everything (just a small sign of intelligence and vitality) and we heard from Jia that Chinese people who know each other well don’t censor themselves during conversations.

    As long as the Chinese maintain a non-interventionist, non-violent policy outside their borders, they will also not have to worry about underwear bombers and people flying planes into their buildings.

  • Janet

    We don’t need China or their cheap goods. They will never allow any imports into their country and are the most dishonest people in the world.

  • Wait one minute…


    The host should not be the balance. He is a moderator. The host should not “prod” guests to give opinions that, in my view, were superficial observations about American culture.

    That is not Ms. Cheng’s fault mind you. Her experience, as she said, was rather limited to business school education, here and in China.

  • http://www.filipinoboston.blogspot.com akilez

    There will be no Walmart, There will be no cheaper products that are sold in America, The quality is good but not better and the last, look at you Iphone and Blackberry are they made in china? of course how about your High Class Jeans that you paid $200 for a pair it is still made in China.

    Americans should accept the changing global market, manufacturing, sales and economics.

    If the Japan’s laborer are cheaper Do you think America will send it’s manufacturers to Japan for better quality than China I guess not Because Japan is so expensive.

  • http://www.filipinoboston.blogspot.com akilez

    what the BIG DEAL about China?

    American company has been sending their manufacturing industries for the last 3 decades and you guys Just started to complain about China?

    If America labor force are paid cheaper.JOB will stay in America. Don’t blame the Chinese Communist Capitalist Government blame the American companies who out source the Jobs. Blame the US Government for having very expensive standard of living put an air on tires will cost you 75 cents in other countries Air is Free.

  • http://FlusterCucked.blogspot.com Frank the Underemployed Professional

    I suspect that the Chinese think we are completely retarded. Our trade policies are functioning to enrich them while impoverishing us.

    We refuse to change our trade policies because we adhere to free market dogmatism and our politicians serve the wealthy and upper classes who are benefiting from it in the short term. The Chinese must be laughing at our foolishness in the same way that we looked down on them for being a backwards communist nation in the past.

    Frank the Underemployed Professional

  • ageofaquarius

    Posted by akilez, on April 13th, 2010 at 1:20 PM

    Akilez, thank you, finally someone is speaking with some sense and harsh truth which some people just have trouble to face it here.

    Some comments made here are so hateful toward China, not even realize the problems started out from U.S. domestic and trade policies. It never fails that blaming others is always easier and convenient.

  • wavre

    Who’s your daddy now,America?

    Hu is your daddy.

    ( i know, I know…too easy,I just couldn’t resist:)

  • Ariel

    What would happen if the president of China were to roam an American street? In a way, that happened in 1989 when Boris Yeltsin made an impromptu stop in a supermarket in Houston. That probably influenced how he regarded the need to dissolve the Soviet Union once he took over. See:



  • Zeke

    Ageofaquarius, I don’t think my purpose was to lay blame, or to be hateful. Well, in past comments you already show a very strong lean towards the opinion that the Chinese need a strong hand to protect them from undue Western influences, as well as the assertion that they just need a “full belly and decent comforts”, and they could be sustained for thousands of years. But don’t you see that is exactly the mirror of what you accused of the “religion” of Western democracy? As long as they are content the government can do anything for the greater good then? I am glad we don’t apply that standard here. Also, that view discounts the experiences of the Chinese-heritage (I am not restricting this to one nationality alone) Diaspora. Singapore, Taiwan, pre-unification Hong Kong all experiences much greater degree of openness AS WELL as prosperity. And SG and TW are still trending toward greater westernization and reward for individual imagination and skill – should they give that up too? That shows culture is a changeable thing, no one is born to acquiesce to the state and get a job and life in return. How much kindness and good will between citizens of different countries is one thing and is up to them to foster it, but no country should be above examination of their motives, that’s not hateful, that is cautious(perhaps even suspicious). And nothing balances caution like measurable beneficial outcomes from international relations between countries, so until I see some more value, I am always going to pick the political candidate that advocate caution rather than buying into the success story of China.
    Is there greater emphasis on cultural continuity and social cohesion in Chinese culture? Sure, but even that is not monolithic. If anything my disappointment is that the guests never clarify what values they pick up and which ones they discard. Anyone who has done work overseas knows the “your architecture is great + example #XYZ” is what you say when you don’t have anything nice to say – basic handshake manners. Ageofaquarius, your cultural perspective is all well and good, but at some point a Jingdezhen porcelain vase is just vase, you pay for it and you get the merchandise you want – though wouldn’t you prefer to be able to pick the one YOU want rather than the one your culture picks as needing your careful hand to preserve?

  • ageofaquarius

    Posted by Zeke, on April 13th, 2010 at 5:54 PM

    Zeke, I simply can’t understand this notion of caution and portray of China as a threat and someday she will “dominate” and “invade” other nations. And it is also so short sighted when in general, people view China’s past and future from simply one region “communism” when her people are made of long history of values.

    I can assure you that as a Chinese ethnic, I am also intimidated by the impact and influence of China, good or bad. There are so many serious issues to be tackled. But as far as China’s domestic policies, and how she wants to transform her political future, it’s up to China and the Chinese people, not American or other foreign nations. No one intervene America’s domestic policies even when there are so many social injustice happening everyday in this country. No one is telling America how to legislate her domestic policies until all the damages are done and spread to every corner of the world. I want to see people apply one standard, not double standard when it comes to criticism.

    Everything was mutually agreed on international trading, give and take. Today’s U.S. economic problems are not originated and caused by China, they are decayed from within, American. Having said this, does not give green lights for China’s problems, but it is Chinese have to fight for them.

  • ageofaquarius

    Spelling correction — “region “communism” should be “regime”.

  • joshua

    Tom asks–does America feel competitive. This guy really didn’t answer the question. i live in China. I’ve been here four years. I have not been back and I havn’t left China. I don’t think there is a ‘increased’ drive in China. That’s a false statement. It’s just overwhelming because there are way too many people. When You have one billion people moving to and fro there are a lot of problems and a lot of noise and a lot of pollution. Of course its going to seem very productive, but actually Chinese people–I’m sorry, this wil seem prejudice, but most Chinese are lazy and unmotivated when it comes to work–yes they work many hours and often dont pay attention to weekends–but that is because they have no choice–they are obedient above all else. but at work they find every way possible to skate y from work and make excuses–even my girlfriend! They find ways to sleep, play video games, wander away, talking on their phone…they are extremely forgetful,,,and their mind simply isn’t developed (educated) enough–certainly not creatively-they are basically drones-following orders and never ever challenge the boss. When you suggest it they say no, you cannot-it is the way it is–so progress simply doesn’t happen. All progress is top down. So it is very slow. Most progress in China is an impression–on the surface–but underneath–there really is no progress, at all. its a third-world country and mentality cloaked in progress. Yes, there are many hungry Chinese, but the majority is conditioned and angered when challenged (just like Americans.)

    people are group orientated in China because they cant do things themselves and hide in groups…like the young lady says-in America you have to everything yourself-in china there is always a slave–and that is how they are treated. A common Chinese, a student, will not even pick up a piece of litter–afraid to lose face and be seen as a peasant–the slave class. No one pitches in, no one lends a hand, no one really cares or is afraid to show it. That is why they have almost no innovation. they are not motivated to do for themselves. parents wash their underwear until they are thirty, if not forever, or until married. This generation is called the lost generation–because they don to care about anything, and they are entitled.

    Nothing is deep in China–their conversations consist of hobbies, and celebrities, and their great love–their first love–they know nothing about society, or philosophy, anything–its not deep.

    There is no economic freedom in china–every business is bullied by th elocal mafia–the police. The local mafia forces the business to pay them in order to keep shop. many Chinese complain they cant make money because of this mafia-police system. Really, the police her are little more than thugs. They stand and watch when crime unfolds before their eyes.

    She is a liar–all her friends ask such questions. Its on the tip of every tongue. they see us as selfish, over-sexex sluts, with guns. In China, they sexualize white women (thier image of western women) in advertizements, but wil never ever use Asian women in such ways. Im asked all the time if im racist–when they learn I’m America–first question.

    Nationalism is extreme in China–on a dangerous level. Ignorance abounds. They definitely see the gov. as best big brother.

  • free thinker

    Why did Obama bow down to that socialist thug Hu Jintao?

  • Brett

    Trade with China=NIxon’s final revenge!

  • ageofaquarius

    *** Why did Obama bow down to that socialist thug Hu Jintao? ***

    This kind of statement only proves my comment earlier about people’s biased and hateful attitude toward China. This is also the kind of attitude of “labeling” hybrid pragmatic system that suits different people, will push American back to developing country someday.

  • ageofaquarius

    Posted by joshua, on April 13th, 2010 at 7:38 PM


    Part of your comments are true. The lost generation are the by-product of one child policy and economy boom. It has become a societal problems, the good news is they are aware of this and trying to restore values. There are lots of good Chinese traditional values originated from Taoism and Confucianism, hopefully those values will be taught by parenting and educations. But to generalize their people with this lost generation are over simplifying people in China. China are made of diverse generations of people. So you have the older/wiser/educated, older/uneducated, the younger/naive/materialistic, the younger/educated/academic, and the all in between. To say they are all this and that, is not a diverse observation.

    I personally believe part of reasons Chinese become nationalist is originated from the era of foreign intrusion in the 18 hundreds, the opium wars, later the Japanese, etc… Chinese always have criticized themselves as scattered sands, they only unite when they face foreign intruders. China emperors were so corrupted and decayed within, that gave opportunity for intrusion and revolution. This part of history has taught Chinese a painful lesson – be united when facing pressure from foreign force. One doesn’t need to be born in China to learn this part of shameful history. Taiwan, Singapore are all good models of democracy by Chinese people, they all want to safeguard their value, culture and their country, only China is bigger in size, it seems intimating, other than that, there’s no difference from American defending their own country, emphasis: “defending” NOT “offending”.

  • joshua

    to ageofaquarius–above–you really don’t know what you are talking about–China interferes in politics all over the world–when Chinese interests are in play.

    part of the reason health-care in the USA was watered down–on Obama’s visit to China–Hu made it clear to Obama that china did not approve with universal health care–a single-payer option in the USA–because USA has a debt to china and it would be costly to run such a system. china trades and supports tyrannical dictatorships all over the world currently committing genocide as in Darfu, Myanmar, Congo, and Zimbabwe. You are interfering with the internal structure and society when you support such regimes–you are making it impossible for people in those countries to a live a peaceful life. China (the sate) and citizens are buying assets all over the world and doing business in America–they buy US bonds–that is influencing the economy and the politics–our way of life. So stop spewing such idiotic rhetoric–you are brainwashed.

    What is ‘Chinese-ethnic’–either you are an expatriate living in the US–therefore you are Chinese or you are an immigrant working towards US citizenship which would make you American. You cannot benefit from American citizenship and still declare loyalty to China–the motherland. Either you are an American or you are not. Where is your loyalty?

    Money always interferes in culture–and china is spreading money everywhere. Even the Philippines claims China has brought corruption to the Philippines–Chinese officials and citizens by-passing laws and regulations–especially housing codes, real estate laws and business property laws. You cannot say China doesn’t interfere. it most certainly does. China is not the nice guy its like to portray itself as. Its most indifferent to human suffering.

    China interferes in other nnations–such as Taiwan–whatever you think it is an independent nation with a divergent culture, independent government and politics and military. It is not CHina. Tinet is a nation. China invded it in the fifities. it wasn not nor is it China. Its is terriroty of China–conquered by China but not by consent. You might say the same thing of Mongolia and the other so-called autonomous regions. The only one China has any legitimate claim over is HOng Kong–that is China. But the Muslim province in the north, Tibet, Mongolia, and Taiwan are most definitely not China. Just because you share the same appearance or background doesn’t make you the same nation. If that were true then America would still be under the dominion of England as well as Australia, Canada, South Africa, and New Zealand. Every nation in the world is false–the lines drawn by wars and imperialism. What is a true nation? if one separates–so be it. i would advocate for the separation of New England from the USA. We are diverging in culture and interests. Only a fascist centralized government keeps us from separating.

  • joshua

    to ageofaquarius–tou write–”I personally believe part of reasons Chinese become nationalist is originated from the era of foreign intrusion in the 18 hundreds, the opium wars, later the Japanese, etc…”

    Its not fair or sane to credit all culture today on things that happened so long ago-its sound like a grudge–hate–passed down from generation to generation–which no longer has any merit. The massacre by the japanese in china was terrible-but it happened to a different people long ago-there are few alive who even lived back then. The Japanese today have no connection to it and have probably been conditioned–brainwashed–not to know anything of it–they dont learn about it–they were different japanese commiting these crimes–not the same people. I can not blame the sone for the crimes of the father–let alone the great-grandfather. I achknowledge it, i work to correct it–any negative resonance, but I dont hate people i dont know who did nothign to me. people in the west dont hate Germans because of the nazis so many years ago. It would be ridiculous. nationalism in china–hate, fear–is taught in China, b families, and by the government. You can even see it in Chinses cartoons for children–the Japanese are always vicuos little viallin soldiers. Most of the TV programmes are about the Chinese revolution or foughting the Japanese imperialists–its like–move on man. Teach forgiveness, not hate–don’t cling to the past–look towards the future. Be aware of the past–but not live in it. I think Confuscious is whats wrong with your society. Taoism has more to offer–concerning liberalism and the environment. I think the reason the government clings to Confucianism is to emphasize a dictatorship and obedience–blind obedience. Loyalty above ll else. The mafia does the same thing.

    I’m aware of the good people in China. But largely they are uneducated–and I’m talking about the so-called–educated. Its very sad to me to see how nationalistic and extreme the so-called educated are–its the reverse in truly educated–free-thinking countries. Such nationalism will be responsible for tragedy. Such nationalism created the Nazis, and the Japanese imperialists. Such nationalism is what is wrong with America today. Its the reason why so many people can support American terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan and all over the world. A large part of America is truly ignorant and nationalistic. Patriotism is the virtue of the viscous!

    I have a a lot of criticism of America too. That’s the difference between a freer county and a totalitarian country like China–i can criticize my country and leads to innovation. In china there are though-police everywhere like Lord of the Flies. Books are censored. Ideas are censored. the internet is censored. classrooms are censored. Speech contests are censored….

  • joshua

    To geofaquarius–i just want to add that you are completely right about the comment above –”socailist thug”

    The best things about China are the few socialistic tendencies. Socialism is a good thing, and sadly Americans have been brainwashed to think it is some kind of evil–when it is everything they want and need. They just don’t know what it means. people who make such comments are usually of an un-educated or improperly educated racist class of people who tend to be extremely ignorant and hateful–due to gov. propaganda and years of family-hate.

    In no way by my comments above do I intend to foster hate or fear of the Chinese. i am simply stating reasonable observations based on four years of living in China. There is a large part of Chinese people who I find it hard not to love–the innocence in their eyes, the sweetness–from my perspective–like little children. But there are a lot of people in China and like anywhere else people are individuals, some you love,some you like, some irritate you. And because they are hungry for information–it doesn’t ake much, if you are patient, to educate them, and get their minds revolving-to open their eyes. Sadly, most Chinese are geared towards exams–(as America seems to be degrading into) but when Chinese people do open their eyes, they are much more willing to see the world as it is, than Americans are–Americans need a good shake–’wake the hell up America!’ Get with the program, instead of trying to force empire on people and fictitious wars of terror to sell guns and bombs like the latest cell-phones.

  • joshua

    The comments above about cheap labor are true and Americans are angry with their gov. for these things, angry with corporations, and angry t Chinese for getting jobs and polluting our environment. The difference is most Americans have worked many years to fight for civil rights, labor rights, better wages, and benefits–we bled for it. And the Chinese don’t even want these things for themselves–or their brethren–they are happy to eat the scraps on the floor form the big mans table, and any kind of organizing for better conditions gets crushed by your totalitarian government. many Americans don’t even see this as us and them issue–they see it as a human issue–American business, western business go to china to exploit slave labor–inhumane conditions, and no environmental regulation–while the Chinese beg for more and see it as a good thing. The protesters you see in the west chanting for human rights or free Tibet are not political–and certainly not patriotic–they do it because humans, no matter what race or nationality–are suffering, and they believe it to be wrong. While most Chinese don’t see any problem at all and participate in the brutality and oppression of fellow citizens–exasperating a global fascist system called the WTO. people need to stand united against all fascist organizations, and corporations and all Corporate-aristocracies whatever country they hail from–America, China, Thailand, Europe…people are being marginalized and reduced to numbers and drones and slaves by a very small billionaire elite. Sadly, most Chinese worship money, so change will have to come from America and Europe. The Chinese are too afraid and too much in love with fascism.

  • http://FlusterCucked.blogspot.com Frank the Underemployed Professional

    Donald Trump seems to agree with me that the Chinese think we are foolish:


    “…I know China, I know many of the people in China, I know many of the big businesspeople and they’re laughing at us. They think we’re so stupid and our representatives are so stupid that they can’t even believe what they’re getting away with.”

  • Cowan Nar

    Thank you, Tom and On Point team. Your shows are regularly excellent, but this one was particularly great for me, as I am about to end a forced six-month hiatus outside of China and about to return to Beijing next month. This show totally pumped me up and focused my concentration about the next chapter in my China adventures.


  • Dave Heide

    Modern Chinese culture peaked in the mid to late 90s.

    On the heels of Deng’s decrying an open door to artistic and creative freedom as ushering in spiritual pollution, the communist party, i.e. the Chinese government, clamped down on the free expression of ideas that had continued underground since Tiananmen.

    After the massacre, youth counterculture in China continued in an abstractly artistic and less confrontational form – helped in part by unintended aspects of global influence caused by the unabated economics of the open door policy.

    At this time, the Chinese government moved to stamp out cultural elements that might support political criticism while at the same time instituting a suffocating culture of hyper-industry and production. The authorities did so by appealing to a reservoir of overweening patriotism and xenophobia that was the result of China’s only still-developing place in the modern world after its long and rich unbroken history of civilization.

    Ten years later, the result is a mainland China having a culture still stilted, brainwashed and superficial rather than the dynamic and vibrant global destination of ideas that was about to emerge.

    While we all may be enjoying cheaper light bulbs because of it, the world is surely a poorer place.

    Dave Heide

  • ageofaquarius


    I gather you are a person fight against injustice, you mean well. But at times I feel you also experience self contradiction.

    For instance you asked me which country I am loyal to, that contradicts your denouncement of nationalism. I am a U.S. citizen, immigrated from Taiwan after finishing college there, continued my education in the U.S. and have lived here for 20 some years, never left U.S. I can remember my impression of American people and her politics when I was here for only 4 years, and that has changed a lot since then. I’m sure you’ve seen a lot for your 4 years in China, but I can imagine you’ve only scratched and experienced the “surface” layer of her culture.

    I care about the political and cultural issues, especially U.S. and China due to my personal background. I still have friends and families in H.K., Taiwan & China

    You pointed out we need to forgive, move on and learn lessons from past, and I was doing the exactly that to point out how Chinese come about their nationalism mentality. To understand a culture and their people’s mentality, we have to understand their history, not for the purpose of holding grudge or retaliation, but for deeper understanding. If you want to talk about “forgiveness”, Chinese practiced that very well. China didn’t ask any compensation, NON….from the atrocity by the Japanese after Japan surrendered. And I still remember all of students in the classroom learning the atrocity committed by Japanese and German, we were so outraged and sad, not because what race of people they performed those unimaginable cruelty on, it is simply because how can any human do such things to another life. You may not believe this, at the end of chapter, we were always reminded by our teachers and parents – traditional Chinese virtues — Forgiveness, Tolerance, Love & Peace. (寬容) This is what I learned from our schools in Taiwan, ironically Nationalist Party at that time in Taiwan are dictating party, but I give them credit for teaching history without planting hatred. I don’t buy into this notion that China government teaches their students hatred toward Japanese, or any other foreigners. Funny thing is I feel more angers from older generations when they talk about modern history, somehow the younger generations either care less or stay neutral. In general, Chinese people don’t hate, they are just very wary of foreign news media rhetoric and Japanese, who still regard themselves the best race among Asian, up till this day, to me this is more dangerous.

    What is worse that Japan gov. doesn’t teach the truth about their invasion and atrocity in WWII, they were taught those invasions are mission of liberation. If they don’t teach the truth of history , how can their future generations learn and to identify themselves? This is even worse than China teaching their people to be wary.

    I’m interested in balancing some overly biased views here, to pass judgement on who’s right or wrong is not my intention here. But you seem to blame everything on China, pollution, U.S. economy….etc. You seem to be so thorough about what’s going on today’s political world, but you forgot a good portion of their pollution are contributed by American consumers and other nations, you seem so busy pointing blames, you become tunnel visioned.

    may I ask, why are you still there in China? Being there is part of your contribution to your own blame. I agree with you on many levels in U.S. domestic issues, and I do work hard to educate and participate myself to do anything within my ability to improve our domestic and international policies, one needs to examine oneself and take responsibilities to improve oneself, change only comes from within.

  • ageofaquarius

    **** I have a a lot of criticism of America too. That’s the difference between a freer county and a totalitarian country like China–i can criticize my country and leads to innovation. In china there are though-police everywhere like Lord of the Flies. Books are censored. Ideas are censored. the internet is censored. classrooms are censored. Speech contests are censored….****

    Seriously, what freedom have people practiced changed human into a innovation and a better world, except for ultimate purpose of “profit”. Are we really better off today when people mistaken freedom of speech as freedom of talking heads. When everyone is talking at the same time, no one is listening, it’s the end of freedom, the beginning of abuse freedom.

    Everyone wants “take” freedom here, but no one wants to “pay” responsibility. When we were born freedom that was fought for by our older generations, we take them for granted. Even the corporations want freedom of individual right, and they got it. They sure know how to abuse every right of their freedom.

  • zootechnician

    I understand the Neanderthals and the Beijing prehistoric men are trying to get alone here. But is it really going to work? Sigh…

  • dagege

    The thing that really’s got me wondering is what’s going to happen when 20 million guys in China come of age and have no one to date?

    Will that cause a war or a massive outbreak of crime?

    And what about when parents get old and sick? I doubt the old party brilliants in Beijing thought about just one offspring to take care of two elderly parents -under China’s horrific health care system- as a logical consequence of the one child policy. Gad zooks!

    It doesn’t portend to be very harmonious at all.

  • ageofaquarius

    Posted by dagege, on April 14th, 2010 at 11:14 PM

    Dagege, that’s right, there are plenty of problems too manage in China, that is why it is so important to stress stability to manage problems in a less radical way. Want to know any government in this world wish for disorder & instability when managing over 1 billions people after the wake of their previous more repressed system. It is quite a gigantic challenge.

    Watched last night’s Charlie Rose, interviewed Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. His views are well balanced. Great conversations.

  • john

    Asking how the US might look through a lens made in China is like asking a lobotomized patient how the one in the next room is doing with electro-shock.

  • dagege

    thanks for considering, ageofaquarius.

    I am not big fan of material stability so much as I am emotional stability.

    That is, only when a people have faith in themselves do they move forward.

    All peoples must be allowed to make their own mistakes, bloody their own knees and to learn their own ways so that they can grow.

    It is truly dangerous when they become powerful without doing so.

  • ageofaquarius


    ***It is truly dangerous when they become powerful without doing so.***

    I think China knows all the potential dangers, they have addressed these concerns, but mostly are not published or played here in U.S. medias. Being able to read Chinese helps me to get more realistic and balanced views.

  • ageofaquarius

    ***I understand the Neanderthals and the Beijing prehistoric men are trying to get alone here. But is it really going to work? Sigh…***


  • Ishmael

    Two of my favorite discussion topics on this show! As one with years and years of E Asia living experience (alas, only a tiny fraction of which has been in China, but Confucianism rules the day everywhere and China is the Dragon, not possible to doubt), many of the comments by the two guests voiced very familiar thoughts.
    Jia Cheng’s ideas about the abysmal state of services in the US are totally accurate: one thing the US totally lacks is the human touch; people there are totally in love with the impersonal (think Starbucks, WalMart, mega-this and mega-that, from churches to shopping malls)….and that most ridiculous of customs, “tipping”, where you have to pay (bribe) someone for — get this — *doing the job they have been hired by someone else to do*.
    The US by comparison — to E Asia, that is — is a very, very cold place, (Jia Cheng has noted this, as did one of the callers), the largest provincial place in the world, Hessler made the comment about the almost complete lack of interest in places outside of the US … live abroad for many years then go back to the US and try to have an intelligent discussion about international affairs and you might as well be talking to used coffee grounds …. But that is largely because “everyone wants to learn English and come here, so why should I care about those ‘other’ places?”

  • ageofaquarius


    Funny that you mention “tipping”. I feel the same way. I love dinning out, but not in love with the overly excessive unwanted service. They serve you in a superficial way, they ask you how the food is when you have mouth full of food in your mouth, they don’t wait until you answer, they walk away. Too much service when we don’t need them become distracted and interrupt you flowing conversation. I don’t think it’s fair to put the cost burden on consumers when we dine out when dining is already expensive without even tipping.

    When the first time I visited China, I left tips on the table, the waiters ran out to give us back our money, and said “sorry, we can’t accept this”. Ironically we got great service in China “whenever we need it”. They are quick, efficient, in big cities and small towns, and my conversation was never interrupted, now I call that freedom! Because I don’t feel I’m pressured.

    I don’t mind people not interested in other countries or thinking they are the center of the world as long as their governments can be self sustained, and no interaction needed, like China in the 18th century and earlier than 18th century, until Britain forced China opened ports with guns and canons. But if a country’s livelihood & resources depends on other countries, then being interested and knowledgeable about other cultures become very important.

  • ageofaquarius

    ****Funny that you mention “tipping”. I feel the same way. I love dinning out, but not in love with the overly excessive unwanted service. They serve you in a superficial way, they ask you how the food is when you have mouth full of food in your mouth, they don’t wait until you answer, they walk away. Too much service when we don’t need them become distracted and interrupt you flowing conversation. I don’t think it’s fair to put the cost burden on consumers when we dine out when dining is already expensive without even tipping.****

    Sorry, I didn’t make it clear, above comment was referring to dining in U.S.

  • ageofaquarius

    ****(think Starbucks, WalMart, mega-this and mega-that, from churches to shopping malls)****

    Talk about churches, the guest Peter Hessler mentioned the Chinese don’t care about building temples and churches, which is important part of life. Well, maybe for him or other American, these are not the first priorities most Chinese care about when they have to struggle and tackle other issues. Besides, who’s to say any religious rituals equates freedom and important part of life. Being spiritual doesn’t have to have rituals, churches or temples. For example, the original ideas of Buddha wasn’t meant to be rituals in the temples, it is an individual practice to reach enlightenment, later people turn that into a organized “religion” when it was simply a philosophy of way of life.

  • ageofaquarius

    ****to ageofaquarius–above–you really don’t know what you are talking about–China interferes in politics all over the world–when Chinese interests are in play.****

    joshua, actually China are being blamed NOT to interfere enough with their buying power. There’s a difference between imposing and sanction.

  • ageofaquarius

    joshua, you know what, I guess being a Chinese, I’m a little slow when sarcasm and patronizing is actually all over the place. My light bulb just went on that you actually “hate” Chinese. LOL!!!!

  • http://www.kiva.org/lender/james1061 James S. Klich II

    The United States is a global citizen. We all need to work as one and try to improve life for everyone. If we do not do this, we will all fail.

  • http://www.dnbasia.net Broc Smith

    American Working in China for Over a Decade
    “The Tragic Kingdom or; Prisoner in a Chinese Theme Park”, (found on most book dealer websites; Amazon, Barnes and Noble etc), is a behind-the-scenes look into the field of design and build in China. The book is a profile of the personalities, culture, and psychology of the world’s most massive looming superpower as seen through the eyes of an ex-pat American.

    “I have lived and worked in China for over ten years, competing within their system, making my way as everything from a freelance artist in small operations to a senior designer for large corporations. I have witnessed a formidable decade in which China has commanded a modern presence on the world stage. I have participated in the planning, designing, and building of mega-theme parks in Beijing, world-class aquariums in Shanghai, gigantic malls in the Pearl Delta, resorts in Tibet, and panda relocation projects in the foothills of the Himalayas”.

    The true stories and themes found in The Tragic Kingdom, spring from one man’s journey. At the same time they disclose truths about a globalization that eventually will impact every economy, lifestyle, and person on the planet.

    For more information please log-on to my site; http://www.dnbasia.net
    Also available at:
    http://www.amazon.com – The Tragic Kingdom or; Prisoner in a Chinese Theme Park
    http://www.barnesandnoble.com – The Tragic Kingdom or; Prisoner in a Chinese Theme Park
    Broc Smith

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