There is something I wish to add to Matt’s (Laowhy) analysis. The “optimists” should ponder over the reason why China is the only country in the world of its size to maintain its borders for more than 2,000 years. The CCP is often chastised for its inhumanity, but is the CCP wholly to blame?
While Shanghai was locked down recently, there was an anecdote going around. When people were asked whether they would rather stay at home or be transferred to the temporary shelter if they were tested positive, almost everyone said that they would rather stay at home. But when asked if their neighbour were tested positive, almost everyone said that they ought to be taken to the temporary shelter.
Believe it or not, this is the mentality that has made China great through the centuries. People only focus on the big picture and what benefits them. They have no concern for what happens to the unfortunate minority. Forget about Private Ryan and let’s move on. That’s what 正能量 or “positive energy” is all about. That’s why 闷声发大财 worked so well. It’s only on rare occasions that bullying and unfair treatment are called out. Very few would fight the system and its bullies. Most people just struggle to get into a position where they can bully and treat others unfairly. Revolutions only happened when everyone suffered the same misfortune.
The great Lu Xun once said, “we can easily become slaves and become very happy about it”. We can see it in the new narratives doled out by the CCP vis-a-vis the Tiananmen massacre and Hong Kong never being a colony. The young can be forgiven for not having lived through history, but folks older than me have embraced the lies distortions, hypnotised by a faith that is almost religious.
It’s practically in the blood if not the DNA to submit to a son of heaven. Theoretically, China saw the end of imperialism in 1911. Mao Zedong, before he came to power, swore to move the mountains of imperialism and feudalism. He swiftly reintroduced them once he got a taste of power.
Every Chinese person is capable of great subservience if he is poor and powerless. Once he acquires wealth and gains power, he becomes a ruthless despot. To prevent the country falling back into de facto monarchy, there must be some form of checks and balances in the system to preempt such outcomes. Sadly, democracy is yet to catch on with descendants of the dragon.
Deng Xiaoping tried to prevent Maoist dictatorship by limiting terms. Xi Jinping brought it right back. As Chinese science fiction author Ni Kuang once said, China has merely been swinging from one side to the other over 5,000 years. One moment, you may see the new China with a new model for success, the next moment, it’s back to the old China again, spiralling towards defeat. The only way to break the cycle according to Nobel laureate Liu Xiabo – 300 years of Western colonisation.
Like Matt, I wish I could return to the China I once knew.