Let’s Look at the Bad in Every Country

China, I don’t mean to single you out. I’m using you as an example to get to my main points regarding what I think about every country ought to do.

Every country needs to recognize its good and bad sides.

I’m the type of person who sees the bad more than the good but it’s not necessarily a pessimistic thing to do because once the bad of something comes to my mind, I think. Thinking makes life worth living.

When I was in China as an expat teaching English for two years at a private university, I read the China Daily newspaper (a newspaper that was published in English for the purpose of foreigners to be able to follow Chinese news and for the Chinese to practice reading in English [I loved that paper]) almost every evening at the university library. This was between summer 2011–2013.

There were regularly articles about the United States accusing China of its poor human rights record detailing the injustices against the Uygur minority in Xinjiang Province (in northwest China), and the Tibetans, and the Falun Gong practitioners who were arrested in large numbers in 1999 and whom were subjected to the worst torture in prison that I have ever read about, and anyone who wrote negatively but honestly about the Chinese Communist party, and the Christians who have lost their churches due to the government having them demolished, and the more than 250 million migrant workers who are discriminated against for their socioeconomic class, who often have trouble enrolling their children in school in the cities they worked in due to the lack of residence permits that are hard for them to get.

There was one long article in one issue of the China Daily paper that targeted the human rights abuses of Americans. I read through the whole article agreeing with how the article detailed how America ought to deal with its widespread bullying problem in its schools, the way that prisoners are treated in prisons across the country, police brutality, the overt and subtle racism that is rampant all around the nation and the piles and piles of cases of sexual assault and harassment and domestic violence. I thought that the writer of the article wrote an excellent article about how the United States needed to tackle its own human rights violations but I disagreed with how the writer dismissed the problems that existed in China. Freedom of speech and the press was and is still restricted there. There are many human rights lawyers who have vanished, most likely taken away to prison and languishing there just for their work as human rights lawyers (many of those lawyers have been intimidated into silence and traumatized for life from how they were viciously treated in prison). I know little on how the Chinese perceived their government, whether they revered their government or if they just followed what everyone else was doing and decide not to have any opinions about what their government was doing. I have noticed many Falun Gong practitioners in various countries informing people of the abuse that the Chinese have inflicted on them with photos and details of torture that I can’t get out of my head (how anyone can be cruel and without a conscience committing vicious and getting paid for it is beyond me). The Chinese government has a strong, tight hold on its people. When I taught Chinese university students in a city not far from Shanghai, I learned that that generation of students didn’t know anything about the Tiananmen Square Massacre that took place on June 4th, 1989 (the event resulted in student-led demonstrations in Beijing against the total control the government had on its citizenry). When any government censors certain events of its country’s past from the Internet or tells false information about certain past events to its people, this is, in my opinion, a violation of the people’s rights to the truth. I spoke to one young man candidly about that horrific event (and he was well-educated, well brought up) and he said that the reason why so many people were killed that tragic day was because the government didn’t know how to approach the protesters any other way since the government had never confronted such a situation before in all of China’s history, according to him. I thought it was unusual that a government which is supposedly made up of well-educated and competent individuals could only come up with violence and force in order to get the protests to end (without starting any dialogue with the protesters, without offering to listen to what they had to say but simply crush and threaten them into silence — just imagine). I don’t believe that that was the best way to have managed the protesters at the time particularly when the protesters were young and unarmed.

Big human rights violation. Yes, this is past. However, it’s still relevant when connected to how the Chinese are still very much kept from questioning and initiating any useful dialogue regarding other ways the country can be improved or managed now.

I’m not painting a bad image of China. I acknowledge that China has many wonderful traditions that I like very much such as giving out mooncakes whenever October comes and giving red envelopes filled with money to children and single adults every Chinese New Year in order to wish them a lot of prosperity and good health (and the same is done for newly married couples); the Chinese have a reputation for being hospitable and giving people (I still remember good hosts there) and I loved the old architecture I saw in some Chinese cities. I also like that the Chinese prize hard work and study. I would like to say, though, that every part of China needs to be acknowledged and I don’t feel that the negative sides of that country are spoken of enough (but then the Chinese government is known for being menacing and ruthless to dissenters). At least, I don’t like that the Chinese are proud of their nation without recognizing that their country has flaws. It’s possible to love your nation but still point out what’s wrong with it.

I personally think it’s absurd not to think about how a nation could be better. It’s absurd not to think about how to fix big problems that a country has.

The Chinese absolutely refuse to speak about its human rights record. Yes, The United States has huge problems but I notice quite a lot that Americans do discuss all of the problems that that article I mentioned earlier described. There are many celebrities that openly campaign against school bullying for example. There is virtually no open dialogue that I know about that exists in China.

China has told the United States to shut its mouth and mind its own business and repeatedly tell the US to look at its own problems and banish all of them first before they could mention to other countries that they had problems to solve. I understand that it’s annoying to a lot of people worldwide that the United States acts as what many people may call as ‘the world police’ and it’s especially mostly due to the US knowing very little about the cultures of the countries that they perceive have problems that need urgent attention. I understand this but, regarding China, this doesn’t explain why so many Chinese have gone overseas and have spoken up about the injustices that are happening in China. There are many Chinese in China who are certainly dissatisfied as well.

I often speak about a country’s problems myself.

I don’t do this with any intention to imply that I don’t like a country’s people nor do I think that any culture is ‘backward’ or ‘primitive’. I mention the bad qualities that every country has because there’s always room for every country to consider how to improve their citizens’ living conditions. I like to think that a country’s leaders are like managers at a company except on an enormous scale: a country’s leaders are obligated to ensure quality of life and happiness for the citizens of their country. With many Chinese people speaking out against abuses and injustices, I don’t regard China as doing a fine job of making sure that it’s citizens are happy and I understand that China has more than a billion people so that country has a ton more people to satisfy than just about anywhere else but the fact that citizens’ voices aren’t even heard means that China has a lot to face up to.

Misleading citizens on how much better they are doing than every other country on the planet, falsifying information about past historical events, wiping out any statements that the government regards as words that oppose them and educating citizens to perceive their government as above and beyond anyone and thing on Earth don’t ensure a decent quality of life.

China is doing a wonderful job of growing its economy. It’s doing a great job in establishing excellent English education in its schools. However, China shouldn’t turn a completely blind eye on its human rights issues.

Not only China, but every country in the world should open its to their human rights problems. Every country needs to work on how the present and future generations could maintain being the best people they can be. Every country needs to make it a point to keep figuring this out and to keep this topic open and on the table at all times as long as a country remains a country.

There should be enough of announcing unconditional national pride without noticing what negative, hard-to-discuss issues need to be addressed.

Author of ‘A Girl All Alone Somewhere in the World’, ‘Confessions and Thoughts of a Girl in Turkey’, ‘From Just a Girl Grown Up in America’. (Amazon.com)

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