What’s Behind the Recent Boycott?

China Newsweek’s Mo Zhixu 莫之许 (Beijing-based) in his recent op-ed, “Why am I against the boycott,” revealed the core reason causing boycott–the mixed feelings of pride and a lack of self-confidence of China’s young generation. Partially translated by CDT:

The young generation who grew up in the reform and opening era are not so narrow-minded. Well, what is the mood reflected by their recent boycott of Carrefour which quickly spread through the Web?

In response, many people have pointed out that part of the hostility toward the West stems from the old ideological education, and part is from the one-sided and inadequate access to information. In recent years, on the basis of the old ideological education, a so-called commercial nationalism is becoming popular: from “China Can Say No” to the “Currency War,” from “the Reference Information” to “the Global Times,” all carefully cut the information from the outside world then publicize it in a commercial way. Such practices have gained a large audience. Under such education and information, an atmosphere of hostility and distrust has spread among groups. When a special event occurs, such a sentiment will explode. I think a number of young people supporting the boycott are dominated by such an irrational mood.

However, things are not so simple. I noticed that Charles Zhang (CEO of Sohu), such a public figure, is also in favor of a boycott. It shows that in addition to the above kind of irrational mood, there is another factor that has been neglected. I think this factor is the psychological need for the West to respect them, the mainstream domestic and overseas Chinese. In the past decades, China has made considerable development and progress. This achievement has been exaggerated as the “China miracle” by some people, or even considered as an inevitable prelude of “China’s rise”. Therefore, to some people, this self-confidence and expansion is an extreme feeling of pride. It seems that China’s development and progress are already quite successful, so that it is not the time for the outside world to pick on its faults. However, this feeling has always been rejected. Because it is undeniable that these years’ development and progress are more reflected in the economic and social fields, and there are still many shortcomings and defects in the political and cultural fields. The coexistence of progress and stagnation, development and backwardness, is a fact. It is a normal observation for the outside world to pay more attention on these weaknesses and shortcomings. But for those people who feel too good, this observation has become distorted and ignored. Then, when such feelings integrate with the kind of irrational mood, no wonder a conclusion is drawn that the Western world is hostile.

It is strange that in fact a huge lack of self-confidence hides behind such a good feeling. Generally speaking, if there is sufficient self-confidence, others’ accusations and criticism will become a driving force for progress and correction. On the other hand, being over-sensitive to the criticism of others and accusation to a large extent reflects a lack of self-confidence. “I feel good,” in fact, is established on the basis of subconscious shortcomings and deficiencies. In my view, it is the core secret of the recent boycott–the mixed psychological feelings of pride and lack of self-confidence. Because the lack of self-confidence has always flowed in one’s heart, one is reluctant to face it. When others point it out, one becomes more angry.
It is can be seen that a boycott dominated by this perspective is not under the control of the so-called ultra-nationalism, whose goal is to return to a closed state. The goal of the recent boycott is to lead to a new relationship. When China and the rest of the world are more deeply embedded with each other, China requires a relationship in which the outside world can give him more respect and understanding, less discrimination and prejudice.

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