Wednesday, August 10, 2011

China's inferiority complex

Within a Reuters story about the launch of the People's Republic of China's first aircraft carrier, there was this citizen-on-the-street reaction to the news:
"An aircraft carrier is the mark of major powers," Pan Chunli, a 29-year-old IT technician in Beijing told Reuters.

"China has grown dramatically. The whole world should take a fresh look at China, viewing it as a rising power that it has the ability to defend its rights and territory."
"The whole world should take a fresh look at China." That statement signifies an undercurrent of resentment at being overlooked, at being dismissed by the rest of the world.

China would be a force to reckon with even if it were thoroughly confident in itself and its prospects. The fact that its populace carries a chip on its shoulder, though, makes the rest of us view it with apprehension rather than respect. And while some claim it's better to be feared than respected, fear doesn't make for harmonious relations.

(Yeah, it can be argued that the U.S. is feared more than it is respected these days, so you could say it's a bit hypocritical for a U.S. citizen to be harping on this subject. Or you could see my opinion as that of a sadder, wiser observer of this kind of great-power nonsense. Does China want to follow the U.S. down that dead-end road?)

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