Chinese opinion – world opinion?

It is safe to say that world opinion – if there is such a thing – is US and Western opinion. Is this about to change?

Xi Jinping, the presumed next president of The People’s Republic of China PRC, is visting the US at the moment. He has been there before, so this is a wide visit, full of good intentions. Mr. Obama did not smile broadly when they met, judging from pictures in the media. Why not is not clear. Perhaps his head is full of thoughts about the coming years – things are going to change for both coutries. One is going up, the other is going down – relatively speaking. Time will show what happens, the future is not always fully predictable. Obama is a president in times of transition, and there is little he can do about it. Maybe he is still president in 2013.

Xi Jinping (习近平) is an interesting man, both personally and also when looking into the background of his father. Xi Jinping is an engineer with a doctorate in law, wide practice in the Chinese system of government and politics. His father was both a friend and a foe of Mao Tse Tung, living in political darkness for a long time, being called a liberal. We will know more about what Xi Jinping stands for in the coming years. Xi Jinping is clearly well versed in many kinds of human affairs.

We must, being wise and with reasonable foresight, prepare us for the  changes that will come. First we must learn to understand the thinking of the Chinese, the politics, the culture, the business methods, the philosophy. Perhaps learn a bit of the Chinese language too – some Mandarin?

Viewed from China the US is a strange nation. Many things going on there can not and will not take place anywhere else on the globe. The Chinese have just celebrated the new year with age old customs – food ceremonies, festivities, seeing your family, thinking. Differences are huge.

The Super Bowl, the biggest TV event in the US, happened a few weeks ago and we may wonder what the Chinese think of this most American of spectacles. Think about how the Chinese TV viewers respond to sports and other big “global” events piped into their homes via satellite, being a long-closed-off society with its own deep and rich historical culture.

Americans think of their spectacles as world events, but the truth is that a large number of nations in the world is barely interested in these strange goings-on. It is only in the American imagination that these events are perceived as  world events.

The world of news is dominated today by American news – sport, electioneering, health questions, business, wars, politics, deaths of popstars – the Americans are everywhere. They have put high pressure on their publishings – remember they are only 5% of the worlds population.

So what is to be expected from the Chinese – what reactions do we see? Will it matter to the rest of us what they think? Remember that Chinese culture is strong, going back thousands of years, it is not easily shifted.

Quoting from Chinese Pod, a Chinese Language service in Shanghai:
“The biggest TV draws for foreign events in China tend to have an element of “Chinese-ness” to them. The NBA has always had fans in China and their game broadcasts have long been popular, but ratings exploded when Shanghai-born 姚明 (Yáo Míng) joined the Houston Rockets in 2002. An estimated 200 million Chinese in the Mainland tuned in to see 姚 play  against another Chinese-born big man, 易建联 (Yì Jiànlián) in 2007, so the drawing power of a home-grown element in a foreign event is not to be discounted.
Long before Beijing hosted the Summer Olympic Games in 2008 millions closely followed how their homegrown athletes were doing on the world stage. Indeed, competing in sports, as well as using them to prove and strengthen national identity, is a notable part of Chinese cultural identity, so an event like the Olympic games in which the results can be seen to represent strengths and weaknesses of particular countries seems made to be a hit in China.
The Chinese – and the rest of the world – tend to look at US presidential elections with a mix of confusion and bemusement. Contrary to popular belief, elections are not a foreign concept in China, with People’s congress deputies and officials at the local level standing for election regularly. US elections elicit puzzled looks. The scale and amount of money spent on American elections strike many as ridiculous and unnecessary, and many are inclined to dismiss the circus-like proceedings; “People think the capitalist way of campaigning is all about making up fake stories to slander your opponent, that it’s just a political show,” as one prominent academic in China put it. Interestingly enough, former President Bill Clinton enjoys substantial popularity here in the PRC, and there are even Clinton-brand condoms to be found (draw your own conclusions). Known in Chinese as 比尔·克林顿 (Bǐ’ěr·Kèlíndùn) or simply 克林顿, Clinton’s second inauguration, in 1997, was the first to be broadcast over the internet, giving those in China with internet connections the chance to see one of their favorite American leaders take office again.
This year even the Super Bowl, the championship of a sport very few Chinese follow, was broadcast live on a handful of stations in China. One of the biggest global stories of the last few years, however, was the death of pop star Michael Jackson, who was widely-mourned in China. Jackson was one of the most popular Western stars in the PRC (”MJ, you are our god!” one netizen wrote), and his death was a constant topic of discussion both on and offline in China. Whitney Houston’s death last week elicited similar if smaller-scale reactions.”

So what is it the other way around – do the Americans intend to pipe Chinese TV into their homes – the Chinese events often attract far larger audiences than the American ones – and how is American media treating Chinese activities, presenting Chinese news – fairly or with a spin?

Opinions come and go – we are all subjective people, we do not always get the full truth, it is sometimes made up for us, so beware. Go there, talk to the Chinese, get to know them, then we shall all benefit.

Heavier stuff is coming up to in matters of world opinion – economics, politics, environmental issues – the contest in on.

How is the new world opinion made? True, informative or with a spin? We shall see.

To learn some Chinese try Chinese Pod

Del på FaceBookDel på Nettby Post til Twitter

2 Responses to “Chinese opinion – world opinion?”

  1. otis says:

    prerogative@flurry.brownings” rel=”nofollow”>.…

    tnx for info!…

  2. adam says:

    trace@fatigues.redoute” rel=”nofollow”>.…


Leave a Reply