Evan Osnos: The Top Ten China Myths of 2010

Evan Osnos debunks the top ten myths about China this year. His top three:

1. Dissidents no longer matter in global diplomacy. Fact: After China joined the World Trade Organization and hosted the Beijing Olympics, the image of the impassioned, ink-stained inmate began to seem as retro as a Cold War spy swap. When the presidents of China and the U.S. convened, they could hardly be expected to have more than a ritual exchange of differing opinions on human rights before moving on to more practical matters of mutual concern. But then the Nobel Prize Committee chose , and, instead of turning a blind eye and ignoring it, China vowed to punish Norway and advised other countries to stay away from the ceremony. , who had been little known beforehand, became famous in China and abroad. China confronted a full-blown diplomatic crisis. (Spy swaps are back, too.)

2. No company can afford to antagonize China. Fact: Google even had a good year doing it.

3. China is parting ways with North Korea. Fact: When a leaked U.S. State Department cable suggested that Chinese diplomats were whispering about the need for change on the Korean peninsula, some in the West saw a glimmer of daylight between the “lips and teeth,” to use the unlovely old metaphor for that special relationship. But the Chinese government contains a large, variegated range of opinion, and for the moment the consensus is far more in favor of protecting Kim as a defense against a refugee crisis and a U.S. troop presence on China’s eastern border.

December 9, 2010 12:24 PM
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