Ying Ma: Finding China, in Far-Flung Lands

Ms. Ma is a New York-based lawyer. She writes on The Wall Street Journal:

The nationalist frenzy arrived quickly. As soon as Chinese art collector Cai Mingchao refused to pay for two bronze sculptures for which he had successfully bid $40 million at a Christie’s auction, China’s newspapers, Internet chat rooms and blogs rushed to crown him the country’s new national hero. In the view of numerous Chinese citizens, including Mr. Cai, the artworks were looted from China by European powers in the 19th century and should be returned to China, for free. The Chinese government agrees.

Far away from the nationalist hoopla created by Mr. Cai’s act of patriotism, I try to go about my business of being the Chinese woman I am by eating as much Chinese food as possible on my vacation in Southeast Asia. In the region’s warm climate and easy smiles, I banter in Cantonese with the men and women who serve up fish head dishes, congee and roast pig.

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