This is to continue the last post, which is actually a conversation with a friend.
The stories in China have a completely different thread than those in the west. To understand China and things happening there, you have to have some knowledge of this thread. Here is a brief rundown of Chinese recent history. (I don’t intend it to be complete and academic as this is just from a conversation with a friend. This is just intended to be a very basic introduction for beginners. However, I still feel it should be tremendously helpful.)
When China’s door was opened by first the Opium War and then by many other wars, China was sunk into a huge crisis. Land was occupied by various countries and we were robbed a lot of money. Those robbery alone probably was enough to make a rich country poor. There was really no way for China to fight with the westerners, who had the cannons and all those much more advanced weapons. At that time, we were really in the crisis of losing our country, our culture and our race. (Just to remind you, it is a very different world 200 years ago. Then you were invaded and occupied, you might really lose your country. It is not like our current time, when countries’ identities are mostly settled and recognized.) So at that time, we were really thinking that we were losing our country and becoming slaves of other countries. It is war after war after war. Countless wars. A lot of suffering. So the Chinese intellects are thinking how to save China. So there is always a big debate in China whether we should learn from the west and adopt the western things or we should keep our own system. For people who advocated learning from the west, there were people who advocated only learning the science of the west. There were some other people arguing instead that we have to learn the whole western system, there is no way of only learning the science without learning the whole western system.
So Chinese intellects started to translate and introduce western ideas. They felt China needed an educational movement on a massive level. They said China needed its own renaissance, like the one Europe had. So it was about enlightening the people, educating the mass. However, this educational efforts could not continue very long since the country was sunk into deeper and deeper crisis and a lot of people felt that the top priority, the emergent task is to save China first. That means they wanted bloody revolution. They needed military. So there was the revolution. But the revolution was still modeled with the western capitalism ones like those in Britain and America, with the advocate of private property and democracy (although China definitely didn’t have a good base for that as the mission of education was far from accomplishment).
After world war one, the western countries gave the land of China that was occupied by Germany to Japan. China was fighting on the allied side during the WWI. So this really made many Chinese very angry and disappointed with the western capitalism. At the same time, the new Soviet Union treated China very well. So the Chinese intellects seeking medicine for saving China thought they found new hope and thus started studying the revolution of Russia and communism. Communism at least has a very noble purpose, although its theory and practice have many flaws. At that time, it seemed to be the real solution for China’s crisis. A lot of intellects, many of who are the same ones who have been advocating educational movement and western democracy, turned to communism for solutions.
Since the supposed Chinese Renascence was never accomplished, the soil was still the same. It was still the same old culture. Combined with the inherent flaws of communism, it turned very disastrous for China after the founding of the new China.
Revolution accomplished. We saved ourselves from the crisis. The system was changed. But the education was far from its mission. This is why I devote myself to education and peaceful social changes, and why I think the most important thing for China is the cultural communication with the west on the bottom level of the normal people on a massive scale.
The media in the west started to report more and more news about China, but without providing the whole historical thread and context. If you don’t see the whole picture, you can report any news you want according to your own presumed image of China. If you presume that China is just a communism country and run by dictatorship, you then just report news that fit your presumption, and there will be always enough news to feed your presumption. I think it reflected the self-obsessed mindset of the west. This is my impression of the (mainstream) media in US. This is also the way that I felt Chinese media reported news in US.