America: a ‘Foolish and Backward Nation’

As Hillary Clinton visits China, Tea Leaf Nation’s David Wertime translates an anonymous satirical essay on America’s many supposed failings compared with the author’s native China. The post also appears at The Atlantic as part of a new content partnership announced this week.

The U.S. is actually a giant, undeveloped farming village. In middle school, teachers teach students that the more developed industry gets, the greater harm the natural environment suffers. For example, in an industrial city you should find chimneys everywhere, large factories everywhere, dust everywhere. That’s the symbol of industrialization! But the U.S.? You hardly ever see chimneys, occasionally you’ll see a few small ones but they’re just decorations for houses. Instead there are clear rivers and lakes everywhere, and there aren’t even paper factories or steel smelters by the riverbanks. The clean and fresh air is a symbol of primitive society. There’s not even a trace of industrialization!

[…] American elementary school students don’t have lofty ideals. From the start, elementary school students don’t have any intention of becoming officials. … There are none of the class presidents, class secretaries, or the committees I had when I was young. After class, it’s as if they have no homework. There’s no way you can even mention it in the same breath with Chinese primary school students’s homework. Schools place too much emphasis on a moral upbringing, making little kids focus on becoming qualified citizens first, getting to the long-term ideals later. Becoming a qualified citizen? What a corny concept.