Comments on Power to the
(Blogging) People
Banlance of culture


and an au courant Beijing Consensus

From Tom
Friedman’s NYT op-ed

“China for the
first time has a public sphere to discuss everything affecting Chinese
citizens,” explained Hu Yong, a blogosphere expert at Peking University. “Under
traditional media, only elite people had a voice, but the Internet changed
that.” He added, “We now have a transnational media. It is the whole society
talking, so people from various regions of China can discuss now when something
happens in a remote village — and the news spreads everywhere.” But this
Internet world “is more populist and nationalistic,” he continued. “Many years
of education that our enemies are trying to keep us down has produced a whole
generation of young people whose thinking is like this, and they now have a
whole Internet to express it.”

While a more
nationalistic perspective is inevitable to a certain degree during a country's
economic and social progression, we should also keep in mind that China's
younger generation is vastly more educated and globally minded than their
elders. And, though free speech rights in China are still – for the most part –
culturally opposed to what many of us are used to in the West (and this
includes communication on the Internet), the untested newness of the
“Internet factor” is perhaps what is most intriguing as we experience
an au courant Beijing Consensus develop.

Posted at 09:02 AM



Victoria, BC

September 15th, 2010

10:29 am


“a whole
generation of Chinese schooled by the government on the notion that the U.S.
and the West want to keep China down”

Don’t be too eager to blame this belief on CPP propaganda. First of all,
Chinese people nowadays can often read English and find any opinion they want
on the Internet, and are loath to believe anything the Communist party says and
admire the West. But the Western media and blogosphere in general are making it
hard to refute this conclusion. Americans
can be just as nationalistic as anyone, just witness the recent anti-Muslim
Secondly, I am completely educated in the West and even I believe
the US and the West want to keep China down. Anyone who often reads English
news on China should see my point, especially Foreign Policy. Everything is tainted by their overblown
fears, which is a shame, because I think Chinese are inclined to like America.
The US has China completely surrounded, has hundreds of military bases
worldwide, has been continuously starting wars for decades, and still thinks
China, who has not fought anybody since 1979, is the aggressive one. Basically,
no one but the US is allowed to pursue their national interests. Some Americans
are determined to look into the future and see an enemy in China.
Wish hard
enough and it might come true.




September 15th,

10:32 am

Tom did not
mention his “Cyber Tribe” impact—the huge Chinese diaspora, much
more pro-American than the Chinese-in-China blogosphere. Within the next few
years the biggest tug-of-war for China's soul will be fought between the
international host-nation Chinese (diaspora) and the origin-nation Chinese
(China). In the coming age of “Global
Cultures,” these battles between host-diasporas and origin-nations will be
the real challenge of what each culture will represent deep into the 21st
Some cultures will be tailor-made for the International stage as
Global Cultures, some not. Since Italians invented the Global stage, look to
them to have a sparkling new 21st century Renaissance! China will again have
its Marco Polo.




September 15th, 2010

9:38 am

No, Friedman,
China still controls the people and their is little or no free speech.

There is no freedom of Religion, no right to bear arms etc. etc.

China may have many new skyscrapers that enthrall you and others—but the Government is Militantly against
Real Freedom.



New York, N.Y.

September 15th, 2010

9:40 am

Sooner or later,
China is going to demand regional hegemony. The Middle Kingdom shall rise
again. The United States needs to seriously start thinking about what it’s
really going to do when that day comes. When push comes to shove, would we
really defend Taiwan all the way? Will
we fight, or will we acquiesce like Great Britain acquiesced to the United
States over control of the Western Hemisphere in the 1890s?


Jake Wagner

Santa Barbara, CA

September 15th, 2010

10:11 am

According to Plato’s Republic, the best form of
government was not democracy, but a tyranny ruled by a benevolent philosopher
The idea behind this
was that in a democracy, the people as a whole usually don’t make terribly good
decisions for themselves.

Mao Zedong was a disaster, but he was followed by a series of increasingly
capable Chinese leaders, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin and finally Hu Jintao, the
current leader. The last two of these were trained as engineers, not as lawyers
or community organizers. Chinese leaders made many decisions that stepped away
from communism towards capitalism, and would have been unpopular if put to a
vote. Consider the one-child policy for example. Yet these decisions have
helped China prosper in the modern age.

Meanwhile the world’s most prosperous democracy has made a series of very bad
decisions, many of them wildly popular with an electorate which becomes more
and more poorly informed as time goes on.
The US invasion of Iraq and the deregulation of US financial markets are two
decisions with disastrous consequences which come to mind.
Even now,
neither Congress nor the president has the integrity to face genuine problems
realistically. For example, we need to raise taxes to bring the looming
national debt under control, as well as provide a much better safety net for
America’s poor. We need to control illegal immigration, and push Mexico to take
responsibility for its own poor. We need to achieve zero population growth so
that we can live within the constraints imposed by a finite planet, and so

Plato suggested that democracy was
inherently unstable, and that instability is becoming all to apparent within
the US. Meanwhile, if Friedman is right, the internet may have the opposite
effect of making China more democratic, and ending its period in which Chinese
decisions were made by better informed but benevolent leaders. The point is
that in China this is not necessarily an improvement, as the American
experience demonstrates.
Nothing lasts forever. But although America’s
badly functioning democracy dooms it to a period of decline, there is no
guarantee that China will replace it as the dominant world power.



Tokushima, Japan

September 15th, 2010

10:27 am

Living in Japan
for nearly a decade, I am well aware of the imperialistic trends that dominate
China. While denouncing any agression against their notion of peace, the trend
is to dominate every possible “niche” of society, be it an
international science committee or a political issue. While, as an example, Japan's
TV is mostly sport, cooking or quiz oriented, on a visit to China 5 years ago, I was aware of the large amount of war
movies on TV that should remind the viewers that “this” was not over,

even if the new tactics are smiling with peace. In my hotel in Guangju, a show
room offered items for sale, with among others an almost live-size bronze
statue of a storming soldier. This probably reveals a degree of uncertainty at
the government level. Social unrest in the form of strikes, significantly
against foreign employers are another symptom of today’s China. There is no
doubt that the blogosphere will reveal more of that in the near future.



Paris, France

September 15th,

10:27 am

It’s good to hear
that democratic fervour, an interest by the populace in their state and their
leaders, is finding a vibrant outlet to support it. But I can only hope that
this online blogosphere is more responsible than our own early forays into the
online unmoderated world: the case of the drudge report comes to mind or even
our most recent ethical introspection over the wikileaks documents release.

We were fortunate enough, in both cases,
to have a free press, with editorial standards and codes of ethics, to then
take this online fervour and translate it into an ongoing researched, sourced,
and ethical political debate. But are similar safeguards available in a
control-state with a locked-down traditional media establishment?

Here’s to hoping it works for the best. China has so much to offer across its
diaspora and its country. At the moment,
the world is only getting to see a small thumbprint of the greater picture
it would be shame if this greater China doesn’t receive the exposure it so
richly deserves.




September 15th,

10:31 am

Hopefully the
nationalistic tendencies Friedman describes
will be counter-balanced by the fact that the younger generation in China is
much more internationalized and educated than its parents in terms of knowing
more about the world (including being more exposed to Western values and
ideas), visiting other countries, learning English, conducting multi-national
commerce, studying abroad, practicing capitalistic business, etc. With that
comes pride and confidence, but also hopefully thoughtfulness, understanding,
and some degree of rationality and moderation.




September 15th,

10:38 am

As long as China
continues to grow and prosper it is unlikely to display its nationalism too
broadly. The danger is when times get tough and people who are used to double
digit economic growth get restless. They
will start to blame the government for their troubles and the government in
turn will need to blame parties outside of China.
Then just wait.

At the risk of sounding like an alarmist, it’s just a matter of time before
China asserts itself and then all bets are off. I for one plan on having my
young infant learn Mandarin.


Penny Whites


September 15th, 2010

10:38 am

There is a decades
old myth about the US-China economic relation: Without US consumers, Chinese
economy would collapse?! It wouldn’t hurt to ask this question: can most
America consumers afford relative expensive stuff Made in USA? Evidently not.
The matter of fact is: vast majority US consumers can only afford cheap stuff
in Wal-Mart, Kmart etc. Nobody force us to buy Chinese goods. We do it
Patriotism rarely dictates consumer
behavior, Economic does.




September 15th,

10:38 am

Are you kidding
me? It’s really ironic that you think the Chinese government cares what their
people say and think. If they want
everyone eating ice cream, then it’s vanilla for everyone.
America is no
different, if you want everyone to consume oil you make huge vehicles and

Each and every American has the ability to make purchasing decisions at home
and at work. So let’s get it done and start buying American or at least buying
from pro-American democracies. Where is the patriotism in buying a Chinese
drill press or a Chinese pair of shoes? Where is the patriotism in buying a
non-American car? Shame on those retail companies and consumers buying pants or
shirts from Pakistan when those pants and shirts can be made in America. Our
troops are coming back from war and the only jobs available for them are
part-time, minimum wage jobs with no benefits. We are consuming our heritage
and we are loosing the war to serve the global economy with quality American
made products.



Thousand oaks

September 15th, 2010

10:38 am

Ever since China
rattled about making a new currency, the cat was out of the bag. They can
rattle on about the dangers of Capitalism as everyone can see that greedy CEO’s
gave away the store, decimated the American supply chain, and now the American
people have no place to work. However, the China engine hums as American CEOs
salivate at the Chinese market which can never be theirs, because China won’t
let them. With a planned economy and top
down control, US can never compete as we have a messy democracy with no way for
long range planning because our election change our government every two years.
Wither goes the United States.


Stafford Smith


September 15th, 2010

10:38 am

Instead of making people more tolerant and
international in outlook, the electronic blogosphere tends to make us more
narrowly tribal. We reach out into the network, but only to those who mirror
our views.
I wonder what
Marshall McLuhan would have said about that.




September 15th, 2010

10:44 am

The parallels between the rise of China and Germany
are troubling. If/when their bubble pops and they have a serious economic
slowdown, will China turn overtly fascist?
This scenario is not as far-fetched as it may sound.
China is de-facto fascist in many ways, if you look at the substance of what
they're doing rather than at their “communist” label. They're one
leadership change away from becoming a pretty nasty and aggressive neighbor.



Albany, NY

September 15th, 2010

10:45 am

American bloggers
are totally full of themselves and their self-perceived influence, why
shouldn’t China’s be? If the voice of
the people spoke and nobody listened, did it make a sound?




September 15th,

10:45 am

If the unfiltered message from the ambassador were as
the same tone of the majority of news published in the Western media outlets
related to China, soon the West will find out that it´d be indifferent to have
it filtered or not by the malign Chinese media




September 15th, 2010

10:52 am

Your naivete knows no bounds.


Alex K.

San Diego, CA

September 15th, 2010

11:24 am

At moments like
this, the people of the developed Western democracies, the ones who purchase so
many PRC-manufactured goods, would do well to remember whose serene, bloated
visage is printed on every paper denomination of RMB. Boycott the PRC!




September 15th,

12:49 pm

Mr. Friedman has this rather uncanny talent for
talking about trees when he is lost in the forest.
This is not a Chinese phenomena. Mass (or mob)
democracy is sweeping the world. It is most organized in China for some reason
but it certainly exists everywhere. The Tea Party is a child of this phenomena.
The blogosphere in English seems far more jingoistic than the population at
large (at least I hope so). Almost like
it has become an outlet for the baser instincts of people which are often
suppressed in ordinary face-to-face social intercourse.

I see old-style political institutions withering in the heat of massive social
networking everywhere. If early experiences in China (such as the ability of
Internet chat to ostracize and punish people in the real world without any sort
of trial) are a clue to the future, civilization in general is in for a bumpy
ride. This has nothing whatsoever to do with the accumulation of power in China
and everything to do with the tidal wave of new social interactions that no one
understands or has any remote idea of how to channel.

It almost seems as if all the norms of
civilization that have been painfully accumulated over thousands of years are
being swept away by this technological tsunami and that the human race is going
to have to relearn how to communicate in positive ways, almost from scratch.


Michael D. Houst

Barrington, NH

September 15th, 2010

12:50 pm

Hu Yong is either
deluded, or is just a mouth for the
Chinese government
with his comment of, “China for the first time has a
public sphere to discuss everything affecting Chinese citizens,”. You can’t have government censorship on one
hand and freedom of speech on the other.
Which leads me to beleive that
he’s just another chinese shill.

Yes, the West fears China as a threat to their economic power. They’ve just
surpassed the U.S. in total energy consumption; and will likely pass the U.S.
in GNP in the near future.

And unlike the U.S. and Western nations, China is not saddled with a background
of Judeao-Christian inhibitions to “play-nice and share”.