On China

I’m talking to that 犹太IMO金牌 again. I first asked him if he knew the Riesz representation theorem, the statement of which I saw today. He said he used to. Then I brought up Shizuo Kakutani, who was quite a genius mathematician, who created some generalization of the aforementioned theorem or something like that. His daughter Michiko is also a distinguished writer. On that I said:

Lol I haven’t gotten to meet many Japanese
They don’t emigrate much nowadays, so patriotic
They’re so well organized and efficient
Produces lots of top mathematicians too

He responded with “china weak.” And “china deserved to get fucked by japan.”

On that, I was like:

Haha
China was super weak back then
Of course, the situation has reversed/is reversing
China is still behind Japan in many advanced areas, but it’s just a matter of time
Japan lost to America in WWII
China on the other hand could defeat America in the Korean War
Thanks to communist ideology

He said that “china did not defeat america.” I responded:

It was a stalemate whatever
But China proved it could get even with number one in the world
When she was still very behind
In any case, in the war in North Korea, America clearly lost, America had to flee
If China had better logistics and equipment probably could’ve taken over the entire Korean peninsula
Because of the Korean War, many of those top Chinese in STEM in America returned
There were negotiations as America knew if they let them return these people would serve their enemy
People contrast that to the brain drain after reforms
The younger generation of Chinese do not have the type of selfless patriotism that the older generation did
Lol you don’t like China
I think America lost its best chance to bring China down, that was during the 89 protests
That was actually kind of close
It’s quite remarkable that China recovered so well. When you’re down, it’s really hard to get back up.
In any case, by 1970s, people in China knew that the most difficult/critical period was past.
And that China had succeeded at it
It’s like earning money, the beginning is the hardest, once you’re rich and high up, it’s almost impossible to fail

He says: “fuck china. china anti human rights.” It’s funny how so many people say that, and I believe privately, or not so much, many in the world have a rather low opinion of China. Though I’m Chinese, I wouldn’t say I really care; it’s just a perception as far as I can tell, not something that can be objectively defined. When I grew up in America, I kept hearing this negative stuff about China and was wondering what was going on. Back a decade ago, China was much less developed than now, and perhaps because of that, the bashing sometimes feels to have subsided quite a bit now compared then, but maybe not, considering that even a guy like him will say that. Whether he genuinely believes it, that is another matter.

On this, I’ll give some of my thoughts. Recall that I said in my chat with him: “when you’re down, it’s really hard to get back up.” This is in general, it applies to individuals as well, with unemployment and such. In the context of the chat, I was referring to the century from 1850 to 1950, when China kept being beaten and made little progress when the rest of the world was advancing rapidly, including China’s foe from the East, Japan. Back then, many intellectuals desperate believed China to be hopeless and on that, even advocated the abolishment of Chinese characters. I believe China was very fortunate to get out of that, as it could have easily been much worse. The international situation, in particular the world’s having been exhausted after WWII destruction, gave China the opportunity to win the civil war, ending a century of violent internal strife that had severely hampered development. The Korean War did much to help Chinese regain their confidence. It proved Chinese military ability for the first time in modern history, much needed at the time, and America blundered by letting China do so. The 1950s was a golden period for China, during which with Soviet aid, China modernized essentially, developing the industrial foundation that even after the Soviet Union withdrew its support for China, though it had a significant negative effect on development, China was able to do okay. In the 60s, the international situation was very unfavorable for China, but by 1970, China was high up enough in terms of capability that America had no choice but to recognize it, seeing that there was no way the old regime in Taiwan could retake the mainland. At that time, China was still extremely poor standard of living wise, but there was already a fair degree of technological sophistication. China was also very lucky not to suffer the demise that the Soviet Union did that is literally impossible to recover from. Why that did not happen, why America did not succeed in 1989 in bringing China down, is a very complex question. The Chinese elite were not as foolish as the Soviet ones. Since then, China has made tremendous progress in terms of developing economics and standard of living and also STEM, and though of course, China is still behind in certain areas, it is only a matter of time as many believe before the gap closes. Throughout the last 60+ years, these “experts” have doubted the PRC, but the PRC keeps proving them wrong. Maybe these “experts” should stop deluding themselves on many matters.

I’ll give my personal opinion. I believe that every individual, every nation, should develop in a way that’s most suitable for them. Copying someone very high up blindly usually leads to disaster, because that high up person is genuinely well equipped enough to do what you are realistically unable to presently do. Instead, try to find something that hasn’t been tried before without large risks that you have an argument might be successful for you. This was exactly what China did and is still doing, so far to great success. China was lucky to switch its system at about the right time compatible with its circumstances. In the 1950, China was emerging from a century of war and stagnation, and the odds seemed so against her. Many could not believe that the communists would win the civil war, as ill equipped as they were. They did so, according to many, by developing a unique way of combat. It shocked the world that with it, China, avoiding its weaknesses, was able to succeed against the most powerful country in the world at war. China had no air force or navy at that time, with the exception of what of that had just been provided to China by the Soviet Union. China also made the right choice of using the Stalinist style economy that had already been proven to be successful in the Soviet Union, which enabled her to modernize very rapidly in a decade. China, as far as I can tell, had no intention to go to war with America and no expectation that it would. If not for MacArthur’s foolish and miscalculated decision to invade North Korea, China probably would have established normalized relations sooner or later and would not have leaned so one-sidedly towards the Soviet Union, and would not have taken such extreme measures at home subsequently. Another major success was that China was able to establish relations with America before Mao’s death on relatively good terms, owing to the capability China possessed at that time in addition to that threat posed to China by the USSR brought about common interest between the two. China did not stick to the old planned economy, instead embarking on a mixed economy with gradual proliferation of private enterprise, seeing perhaps that it was past the stage when the Stalinist style economy was needed. At the same time, China did not fall for the market fundamentalism that America has, and simultaneously, China kept its faith in developing a political-economic system suitable for the stage that it was at amidst enormous pressure, especially after the death of the USSR brought about a tide of “the end of history” in international political thought. Now China seems to be doing quite well, with rapid development economically and also in science and technology, and about to become competitive at the forefront in arenas at which she had been seen as backward. As this happens, Chinese, with a deeply engrained inferiority complex, becoming more confident in themselves and in their system, which with political bias aside has many advantages, such as long term planning.

It is interesting how many very intelligent people in the West, including the person I mentioned in this very post, believes some rather peculiar notions on China related matters. It still puzzles me where they’re coming from with all that. They can not like China or see China as a threatening competitor (and I won’t be offended by that, as people are entitled to their own view), but they should still try to be objective, as unpleasant as the facts may be for them to bear. Penalizing someone or downgrading someone’s ability or accomplishment out of an antipathy for that person’s background or political/religious beliefs is the act of a little person, an insecure person. Also, when you discriminate against someone and they still beat you, it’ll only make them more formidable and yourself more insecure.

Last but not least, I’ll reiterate again that Anglo culture is still dominant across the globe, as a legacy of British colonialism as well as subsequent American supremacy. With that said, international discourse will necessarily be biased towards the interests of that group, an obvious fact that apparently still needs to be noted, and a rationalist would apply some correction to account for the bias. On the other hand, Chinese language and culture is still alien to most of the world, and a derivative of that is that there is much vital information accessed little outside of China of much more validity than what the Anglo media chooses to promulgate. I know that there are ones keen on using such means to alter political opinion and whatnot, so as to bring down a regime they don’t like, as was done in Ukraine in 2014, but these are rogue tactics that will eventually reflect badly on its instigators. Plus, time and time again, Chinese have proved not foolish enough to fall for these tricks.