Zhang Wen (章文), a thirty-something writer/editor and former head of the editorial department of Xinhua’s Globe magazine, makes the case for “clear-minded” patriotism in China in a recent blog post, translated by CDT’s Linjun Fan:
As the new year approaches, I’d like to say a few words out of my heart, to boost the spirit of myself and my friends.
To the Chinese people, the past year was one of great joy and great sorrow. It was also a year of heated debates on several major incidents. Fervent public opinions were aroused on the Tibet Independence incident, Carrefour boycott, the Olympic Games, etc. Among all the debates, the topic of patriotism and betrayal is the most conspicuous one in 2008.
As we have seen, anyone that tried to keep a calm mind and to comment reasonably on the incidents was labeled as a traitor. The more passionately one spoke about the issues, the more patriotic he was regarded. The case of the Olympic torch bearer Jin Jing illustrated the phenomenon well. She was highly lauded as a patriot after she bravely defended the torch in France. However, shortly afterwards — surprisingly and almost incomprehensibly — she was belittled as a traitor after she said she didn’t support boycotting Carrefour.
The dramatic change in public opinion toward Jin Jing vividly reflected the mentality of contemporary Chinese people. Narrow-minded patriotism is still the mainstream ideology. The mindset of people in a weak nation still dominates the general public. Whereas the attitudes of tolerance, magnanimity, and responsibility are being formed slowly and with great difficulty.
I never doubt the sincerity of my fellow countrymen’s patriotism, just as I never doubt the patriotism of those who kept calm in the face of adversity. We all love this country and this land. We differ only
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