Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Foreign Policy Misreads Chinese Youth’s Attitude Toward US

By Mu Lu

Mar 23, 2021 11:02 PM

Photo: VCG

Chinese youth are being labeled anti-US even though they may not have any relevant ideas. Meanwhile, those who have pinned such labels have asserted that changes in the attitude of Chinese youth on the US and the entire Western world will spell trouble "for liberal democracy and Beijing's relations with Washington."

In a Foreign Policy magazine article, the authors attribute the changes to "the recent spate of hate crimes against ethnic Chinese in the United States" and "Western countries' abject failure to contain the COVID-19 pandemic."

These two factors, however, are not much more than a catalyzer. The root cause is that American values and culture are no longer as attractive as they used to be. 

Chinese youth are very proud of their country's rapid development and love their own culture. An arduous battle against the COVID-19 epidemic has made Chinese people trust their government more than before. The Foreign Policy article claims that, "Beijing's relative success at conquering the pandemic may have convinced many young, foreign-educated Chinese that China's political and social values produce better outcomes than Western ones." But the fact is, it is the West's handling of the pandemic - buck-passing, attaching no importance to ordinary citizens' lives, anti-intellectualism, and so on - that has helped them see the decline and distortion of Western values. 

The magazine recalled the good old days when Chinese youth appealed to learn lessons from the West and admired Western-style democracy. The authors of the article seem to be in a state of denial, refusing to admit to the problems of the West - even though some quotes they cite point the flaws out. 

The article says nothing about China's development and changes and how Chinese people have benefited from them both materially and spiritually. It emphasizes the political elements behind the changes of Chinese youth, especially "a dialing-up of Chinese Communist Party propaganda." 

Reading here, we can find that the purpose of this article is to criticize China politically after all. It portrays Chinese people's critiques of the West's problems as the result of China's manipulation of nationalism, but it is reluctant to admit that the West does have systemic problems. 

The magazine thinks the current generation of Chinese youth is more patriotic than their parents, and this "will inevitably steer the direction of Chinese policy in a more nationalist and culturally assertive direction." If being patriotic is a practice of nationalism, is there any country in the world that is better at manipulating nationalism than the US? Anti-China sentiment the US politicians have incited now unfortunately has turned into racism that further rips the US apart.

The "melting pot" has already become a cradle of racism, and the justice and transparence the West prides itself on have turned into lies veneered by the emperor's new clothes. These crises are ultimately the US' own crises. But if one cannot even realize and admit to a crisis, how can the crisis be addressed?

Actually, the current generation of Chinese youth does not shy away from learning lessons from the US, because they rationally and objectively see the gap and believe there are things worth learning. It is precisely because they have maintained an open mind that they refrain from impulsively and blindly resisting or demonizing the US or the West. This kind of inclusive objectivity should be what the US and the West should learn from the attitude of Chinese youth.

The author is a reporter and commentator with the Global Times. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

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