Sunday, August 10, 2008

Is the Western media biased against China because it is a rising global power?

The Olympic's opening ceremony and the build up to the event has been shrouded in both praise and protests from the Western world (in particular).

While this major event has been China's chance to showcase its new prowess to the world, it has also opened China to significant criticism on issues ranging from human rights abuse to pollution.

But the West has been criticising China for decades. Why is this time so significant? And is this another case of western imperialism - an attempt by the West to impose its standards of freedom and democracy on a country that is not ready for such an order, which the Europeans and Anglo-Saxons themselves took centuries to establish?

Everyday I read the news from the region, the US and UK, there is an indelible "us-them" complex, with finger pointing on one side and blame shifting on the other. Yet, I have read other academic journals that have very convincingly argued that the rise of China is not necessarily a threat to the US and its allies, apart from their ego.

And the more they try to defend their egos, that have been failing along with their economies, the more they are actually fanning nationalistic pride in China, that has been rising and spreading like a bush fire, both to the detriment of China and the West.

Still, I think we, as Asians, are over reacting a little to all this criticism, which is good for China. If it were not the Olympics, I dare say we would be much more receptive to Western censure on China.

That said, I do agree with the stance that this is another case of the West trying to impose a one-size-fits-all definition of human rights and civic liberties on a country with a completely different historical path and socio-cultural context, not to mention political structure and ideology.

If history has taught us anything, a sudden change imposed from the top can be catastrophic, often resulting in the opposite of the desired outcome. Russia's Glasnost policy (1985) which opened up freedom of press fully and suddenly, contributed to Gobarchev's fall, and Russia today is none the freer.

China must and will open up freedom of press and civil liberties, but at its own pace, when its people are ready and matured enough to handle these new freedoms. Trying to impose the kind of freedoms and human rights standards that the West enjoys on a people who have not had any experience with such freedoms can only result in abuse, and ultimately a draconian backlash from the communist party and further clampdown on what little freedoms the Chinese people enjoy today.

*The Olympic cartoon is from:


tumduck said...

Interesting reads! I hv finally found a blog to supplement my diet of world affairs news! Perhaps better than the ST coverage? *grin* Any chance you will be doing Op-Eds in your blog? cheers!

hamzah said...

The sudden implementation of the Glasnost policy has nothing to do with the country's lack of freedom now. He allowed voices to be heard, open churches ,free the dissidents and ultimately ended communism. It also made it possible for the media to depict problems in soviet life and society such as crime,prostitution, economic problems,environmental degradation, and homelessness. If you think that this is bad, then you obviously believe that hiding such important societal-problems away from the public is a great thing. Even if the issues faced by the soviet society are being kept away from public sight, it is inevitable that they would find out about them eventually especially with the rise of the internet. And the activists & nationalists within the country would still fight against the state and for their independences, regardless of the 'mao-like' military clampdown that would happened as a result.

Freedom of expression & information aren't the only issues here. China is also responsible for other human rights abuse which i will highlight later on. Amnesty's standards on human rights should be ,mostly if not all, adopted by any countries that are morally right. What has china done wrong? Putting people to death for drug trafficking,tax fraud,bribery & embezzlement is just fucked up/wrong. In total there are 68 crimes AND a lot of them include non-violent crimes. Whatever happen to 'an eye for an eye' ?

The west is more concern for the well-being of human beings than they are to being anti-china. I'm sure the conscience-driven Chinese within china share similar opinions towards the chinese government.