January 06, 2005
These things are not the same
My thoughts on the Chinese Government's inadequate response to the tsunami crisis has generated some debate. One commenter said my comments are an insult to the Chinese people. That's a common comeback when anyone makes a comment on China. The problem is it confuses two very different entities: the Chinese people and the Chinese Government. The Chinese people have been very generous in donating to tsunami relief. The Chinese Government, while starting to catch up, has been slow in offering aid and assistance and have squandered a chance to lead the way in responding to the disaster and assert its role as a regional power.
This is an important point and I'm going to repeat it. The Chinese people are not the same thing as the Chinese Government. Attacking the Government is not a sleight on the Chinese people. While the CCP says it is the sole representative of all Chinese, the truth is that it is not. It's a crucial distinction.posted by Simon on 01.06.05 at 11:04 AM in the
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Very important distinction. Governments may or may not worry about geo-political image/fallout/roles/whatever but the pizza delivery guy, the hardware clerk, and the office receptionist who are writing checks for any amount they can are not concerned with that crap in the least. They just want to help. And for all the right reasons.posted by: Rob on 01.06.05 at 12:12 PM [permalink]
Of course we can all agree that this is a very important distinction. The Chinese government is not the same as the Chinese people and doesn't necessarily speak for all of them at the same time or even promote their interests in the best ways. The same can be said of all governments everywhere in all time periods.
But the statistics I posted on my website listed money pledged by the government. Just glancing at the statistics you posted in your "Smoke on the Water" piece, it seems that in China the government contributions are more substantial than those coming from individuals (save Hong Kong of course).
So I'm afraid we'll have to agree to disagree here, Simon. I see no point in lambasting the government about this, especially when all of us--realistically--do not feel comfortable with Chinese influence in the region growing anyway.
I still think that after all this initial grandstanding dies down, and the people of the affected regions begin the long process of recovery (I've seen reports saying this will take many years), they'll need to figure out where to spend this huge pile of money everyone from all over the world has donated. How do you think it will be spent? Personally I think China will be supplying the relief effort in the years to come and that only then will we be able to see the full picture of their contribution.posted by: Matt Waters on 01.06.05 at 04:24 PM [permalink]
simon, thks for making the clarification. i fully understand the difference between the people and the government, especially in country like china. that's the reason i only refer "part of your post" to as an "insult". in this case, chinese people (including many firms and non-profit organizations) took the initiatives, therefore i see it more like an aid from chinese people rather than from the government.posted by: bingfeng on 01.06.05 at 10:33 PM [permalink]
simon, thks for making the clarification. i fully understand the difference between the people and the government, especially in country like china. that's the reason i only refer "part of your post" as an "insult". in this case, chinese people (including many firms and non-profit organizations) took the initiatives, therefore i see it more like an aid from chinese people rather than from the government.posted by: bingfeng on 01.06.05 at 10:33 PM [permalink]
99% of all this "money" has only been PLEDGED. Not donated, PLEDGED. That means that most of it will never actually change hands. Easy to pledge, hard to give.posted by: Lei Ming on 01.09.05 at 08:49 AM [permalink]