Chang Ping: Truths And Illusions About Self-Identity

changpingFrom EastSouthWestNorth blog, translated by Roland Soong:

The nationalist feelings that have been rising and falling in recent years reflect the anxiety of the Chinese people over their self-identity. Our anxiety is causing the whole world to be anxious about that anxiety.

Are you Chinese? Why is that so? What is this question important? Why be so sensitive? How shall the Chinese people get along with people from other nations? Conversely, how shall people from other nations get along with the Chinese people? Why do they hurt the nationalist feelings of the Chinese people so readily? Is obtaining American citizenship a betrayal of the motherland? If so, how can we explain the rage of the American Chinese during the anti-CNN affair last year?

… My greatest enlightenments this time are the immutability of self-identify and the right of individuals to form their own identities. In all the previous “insults to China” incidents, our most frequent mistake is deny others of the right to form their own identities and instead demand that they have to think uniformly. If we realize that each person has many truths and illusions about his self-identity and each truth and illusion is different, then we can understand why people have different reactions to the same issue.

The most important thing is that each person should accept responsibility for his choice and not worry about the attitudes of other people. If you have a view about the Diaoyutai Islets, then your main effort should be to articulate your views loudly and clearly and even put them into action. You should not be spending all day watching your neighbors and be prepared to denounced them at any time.

Zhang Ping, who writes under the pen name Chang Ping, is one of China’s most respected editorial writers. He won an annual award for his news commentary column in China’s most liberal and influential newspaper: the Southern Weekend. He served as deputy editor of the Southern Metropolis Weekly until March of 2008. Before that, Zhang served as director of news of Southern Weekend as well as deputy editor of the Bund Pictorial. He was removed from the Southern Weekend deputy editor position in 2001 after the paper published hard-hitting investigative reports. He has also worked for the Chengdu Economic Daily, China’s first market-oriented publication. Zhang Ping is currently the chief researcher of the Communication Research Institute of the Southern Metropolis News.

May 2, 2009 10:52 PM
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Categories: Culture & the Arts