Why China Should Not Fear Open Debate

Victor Mallet, a Hong Kong based Asia editor of the Financial Times, published following OP-ED on the Financial Times:

Every writer on China knows that even mild public criticism of the middle kingdom generates vitriolic and sometimes deranged responses from Chinese nationalists. Among the more printable reactions to my previous column was an e-mail suggesting that I had an ingrained hatred of China and asking whether I had been castrated or my ancestors bullied by Beijing.

Such anger, erupting spontaneously in messages from people who can rarely be drawn into a reasoned debate, illustrates a problem lying at the heart of Chinese foreign policy: the absence of vigorous public debate inside China on the important international issues of the day.

The crisis in Darfur and its impact on this year’s Beijing Olympics is one example. The announcement by Steven Spielberg, the US film director, that he was withdrawing as an artistic adviser to the Games because of China’s feeble response to human rights abuses in Sudan was couched in conciliatory terms. Far from advocating sanctions, Mr Spielberg still wants to see the Olympics.

Read also: Politicizing Beijing Olympics Unacceptable by Ding Gang on the People’s Daily.


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