Cool Reflections on China Fever – Zhang Jiehai

From The Southern Weekend (in Chinese), translated by EastSouthWestNorth:

Here, I wish to solemnly tell everybody — for any research done by a foreigner on China, you can put up a question mark first. Especially, those foreigners who come to make some short trips in several major cities in China and are greeted and shown around by Chinese people. You might as well as not listen to what they say. That is not because they are stupid, but because the situation of our nation is too special.

Generally speaking, their error was this — they only paid attention to the development and prosperity of Beijing and

Shanghai and they don’t know about the poverty and under-development of the rural villages in the central and western parts; they only pay attention to the styles of the hotel lobbies in China and they do not know how many

elementary school students did not even have desks; they only pay attention to the super-purchasing power of Chinese tourists, and they do not know that Chinese tourists seldom get to go out of the country and when they do, all the relatives will ask them to buy things — thus, they are not only spending their savings of many years but they are also spending the savings of many years of other people; they only note the trade imbalance between China and the United States, but they do not know that if we ship a planeload of clothing, we will not get an airplane back; they notice that they see stuff everywhere that is made in China, but they not know that there isn’t much that

is invented in China.

I am saying all this because while looking at the mainstream of rapid development in our country, it is also necessary the grim side of the problem too. As for the comments by foreigners on China, we do not have to feel humbled and we do not have to be complacent. After all, we are the ones who understand Chinese matters best and we must rely on ourselves to solve China’s problems.

Zhang Jiehai (张结海) works for the Shanghai Academy of Science, Social Sciences Academy.



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