Author: Xia Feijun source: feijunsixianghui (ID: feijunsixianghui)
For a long time, one of the major misunderstandings of ordinary Internet users and even some think tanks in observing and analyzing the United States is that they pay too much attention to a few politicians and the US government, while ignoring the overall attitude of the American society towards China.
I have seen a point before, and I think it is very reasonable, that is, the US government has a deep “mass foundation” for China. Many Americans think it is time to “repair” China. Although many Americans and Western countries hate Trump and Biden, they support them in suppressing China and deeply agree with their reasons for suppressing China.
Once such cognition and public opinion are formed and solidified, our external environment will become worse and worse.
Don’t say that public opinion is useless, nor that the historical process is determined by a small number of people. The west is an election society. On the one hand, politicians must cater to the public opinion and attach importance to public opinion. On the other hand, although politicians have a term of office, the observation and attitude of the people towards China have a profound impact.
A few sober and sober American think tank scholars also pointed out that China’s understanding of the United States is shocking. If China wants to avoid major strategic misjudgments about the United States, it must objectively and deeply study the United States, especially the American society, the middle and lower classes and the younger generation. It is not the Trump and Biden who determine Sino US relations, but the cognition of ordinary Americans about China.
Wu Guo, a Chinese American scholar who has worked and lived in the United States for many years, said that China always believes that a few politicians are not friendly to China, and the vast majority of Americans are friendly to China.
However, according to his observations over the years, there are no political, business and academic figures in the United States who are truly “friendly” to China. On the whole, the psychological distance between most Americans and China is still very far, and even they have great misunderstanding and hostility.
This article synthesizes some observations and thoughts of Chinese American scholars. From their eyes, we can see an American society full of suspicion towards China. It can be predicted that with such public opinion and mass foundation, no matter who is in power in the US government in the future, Sino US relations will be full of twists and turns.
Chinese American scholars: I am deeply surprised by the prevention and hostility of American young people to China
Some people often say that it is necessary to distinguish the US government from the American people, saying that the relations between the two countries should place hopes on the younger generation. But how does the younger generation in the United States view China?
There is a report that an American professor asked students in class what to do if the United States and China had a military conflict. Several students answered, nuke, (attacking China with nuclear weapons). Such an answer by American college students shows the extent of their hostility to China.
The vast majority of Americans live in small and medium-sized towns, and the vast majority of American students have no more experience and knowledge except in the towns where their homes and schools are located.
However, American media rarely report any topic positively, which is of course the characteristic of Western news. However, the impact on students is that they can not get much information about China from the media, and almost all the negative news they get from the media.
At the end of the semester, when they selected topics and studied China, they were almost always critical and accusing: the environment was polluted, ethnic minorities were excluded, corruption… Very few students viewed China positively.
On the one hand, American young people will be attracted by Chinese culture, such as Chinese food, festivals and languages. However, on issues related to national security and international relations, almost all American College Students contacted by several scholars hold a defensive and hostile attitude towards China.
Many American College Students’ interest in China, the so-called “China fever”, is often a kind of research interest in the enemy, that is, know thy enemy. It is not necessarily out of goodwill curiosity, although this intention is usually hidden deep.
Almost all of the undergraduate students who studied China under the guidance of a Chinese scholar discussed China’s naval development, submarine strategy, African policy and South China Sea Policy in the way of countermeasures.
Although they usually show enthusiasm for learning Chinese, like Chinese culture, and have been to China, during the research and writing of the paper, these American young people are almost in line with the official attitude toward China. It can even be said that what they hold is also the official position of the United States.
Just this summer, some students told the scholar that the reason why they studied China’s South China Sea policy was because they thought that China “threatened” US allies.
On the other hand, Chinese college students and young people, even if there are young people who have doubts about the United States, there are few young people who really sit down and study the United States in depth, systematically and hostly.
“Anti American” is probably also out of dissatisfaction with US hegemony. It will not be studied systematically and in depth for the sake of opposition, let alone go to the extreme of attacking the United States with nuclear weapons. It is more an emotional reaction and self-defense psychology.
The difference between the two may not be easy to notice, especially those Chinese people who are happy to see that Americans can speak a few words of Chinese and think that the other side is “friendly”. American college students have a strong sense of politics and national defense and are interested in specific strategies and tactics, which many Chinese scholars did not expect in the past.
A reality that must be faced squarely is that the misunderstandings, doubts and even hostility of the United States towards China today are widespread at all levels of society, and will increase with the growth of China’s national strength, because the competition between the two powers has been recognized as inevitable by the United States’ own political culture.
On the one hand, quite a number of Chinese young people believe that the United States is trying to contain China and prevent China from becoming as powerful as the United States. On the other hand, American young people also have serious distrust of China’s strategic and diplomatic intentions, and even stronger reactions.
As pointed out by American scholars, competition among big countries is inevitable. Denying its existence and blindly emphasizing mutual tolerance will not convince Americans, and American culture advocates power and hegemony in the deepest place. It is a natural and reasonable value for Americans to control, dominate and let others act according to their own will. Another big country cannot convince Americans that it can not “dominate”.
It should also be pointed out here that after translation, China’s diplomatic principle of “hiding one’s strength and biding one’s time” usually means “hide your power, bide your time” or similar meaning. However translated, this idiom sounds to American young people, but it means that they will eventually fight for hegemony after holding back for a while, which just confirms the assumption that “a strong country will dominate”, It is not conducive to explaining China’s diplomatic and strategic objectives to the outside world.
The national character and culture of the United States determine that it is difficult to be friendly to China
Because of the rapid urbanization and industrialization in history, American society and Americans have the spirit of contract and the concept of legal system, but this is accompanied by the ubiquitous smart calculation and self-protection.
With a long time of contact with Americans, the Chinese people will feel that they rarely hear what they really think from the heart. What they say is high sounding, watertight and very smooth.
Many Americans will turn their eyes when answering questions, well, well, thinking about how to speak smoothly and not to be caught.
On this point, if you communicate with other foreigners who are also in the United States, you will feel that other Asian and European colleagues in the United States are easier to express themselves frankly than native Americans.
Unfortunately, many Chinese still imagine “simple and straightforward” Americans.
In the self-protection and individualistic society of the United States, due to the lack of real communication, high protection of privacy, and back-to-back disclosure among colleagues, Americans tend to be highly nervous.
Many adult Americans rely on antidepressants to maintain their enthusiasm and politeness. Many people suffer from manic depressive bipolar disorder and have to rely on drugs and psychotherapy.
Americans at the bottom take a lot of drugs, drink too much and eat too much, blaming globalization and immigration for their own unhappiness.
In fact, the 9 / 11 incident has dealt a great blow to the confidence of the entire United States. Christian civilization, the mainstream of American society, has been struggling with Islamic civilization. At the same time, racial tension between white people and black people has not been really eliminated. The rise of China has brought an extremely complex crisis and unease to the Americans from the outside.
The American character is inherently strong and principled. No matter what the direction is, it is the characteristics of Americans to be calm and firm, and to be guided by their fundamental interests. It is also a major deviation in thinking that Americans are talkative and can be influenced by exchanging and compromising small interests.
We need to realize that English civilization is in essence a highly rational, shrewd and even ruthless strong civilization. The civilization originated from nomadism and maritime trade is fundamentally different from the civilization based on agriculture. Even the former thinks that the latter is “industrious” but actually weak and confused.
“Old friend of the Chinese people” is unreliable
Whenever China US relations encounter difficulties, we always like to invite some so-called “old friends of the Chinese people”, former US politicians and business elites to come here for advice and advice.
An article in the New York Times in 2019 noted that China is confused about the current situation of the United States, the demands of the Trump administration and its personal style. In order to solve this confusion, it seeks to directly meet with some old politicians, business leaders and some American “experts on China issues”
In fact, understanding the United States through the “China experts” of the United States rather than China’s own “American experts” shows that the mutual understanding, knowledge accumulation and talent reserve between China and the United States are seriously unequal, and China is seriously lacking in in-depth understanding and objective research on the United States.
The “China experts” of the United States are regarded as guests of honor by us. Although we do not rule out well intentioned suggestions, there are a few people who will really look at issues from China’s perspective and think of China. The deep-rooted distinction between “self” and “other” in American culture and even the whole western culture may not be imagined by ordinary Chinese people.
However, the consultation on the American business elite leaders has just entered a misunderstanding, inevitably falling into the perspective of elitism and commercialization, and seriously lacking understanding of the middle and lower levels of the United States. It should be noted that the most influential political influence on the United States is the vast Midwest states and ordinary Americans, not the few elites on the East and west coasts.
To understand the United States, we need to really go deep into the American people. Peter Hessler, an American journalist and writer, has written many books on various aspects of Chinese society, which are indeed well written and very true. However, on the other hand, no one in China has studied the United States as deeply as He Wei. Even to understand the real China, he has to translate his books.
The United States has many sources of information for its research on China, and the researchers are also very diligent and have made great achievements. The American attitude toward learning is worth learning. No matter what the position is, at least we have done a good job in data collection and comprehensive analysis.
On the contrary, there are many domestic experts and scholars who come to the United States as visiting scholars. However, many of them, apart from staying in the University, are just sightseeing and shopping. Very few people, like He Wei in China, conduct in-depth interviews with Americans, make friends, track their lives, and then tell them all in a down-to-earth manner. As a result, China’s “American hand” is far less than the “China hand” in the US government, universities and think tanks
The United States is the external factor that has the greatest impact on us. Our great cause of reunification, economic development, ethnic issues, the surrounding environment, and international space are all strongly influenced and pressured by the United States.
It is said that if China wants to avoid major strategic misjudgment of the United States, it must study the United States more objectively and deeply, especially to understand American society, American culture and ordinary Americans.
In the late 1980s, after visiting the United States, Professor Wang of Fudan University wrote a book called “America against America”. In the preface of the book, he said a very insightful remark, “During my visit to the United States, I have a purpose, that is, to understand this number one capitalist country in a more detailed and realistic way. We should look at it as a history, a culture, a nation and a system, rather than just focusing on the White House, Capitol Hill and abstract dogma concepts.”
This passage is still not out of date today.