China: Are We Opening Up or Closing Down?

Most of us thought that the year 2008 would be the start of a newer-still New China (as in: PRC). Increased openness, the removal of cyberblocks, and the introduction of the world’s fastest rail service. For a moment, we thought that we had left everything negative behind us.

In 2009, things started being a little bit more different. It looked like the authorities would start clamping down on things a little bit more, but this was Chinese National Day — at 60. (You had to let it Party, so to speak.) But lately, things have been going a little south. It looks like the dream has been downsized, as more negative news seep out, new trunk lines get downgraded, and curricula changed — often for the worse.

Leftist nationalism is one of the more scarier parts of Chinese society these days. It’s not just about replacing English with pinyin or dumping English altogether. It’s about rejecting things that are valued elsewhere — and it’s not (just) “universal values”. There is increased scepticism towards the West (but let’s be fair — they’ve their problems as well). In the world we’re in right now, there is an excess — I’d say a crass excess — of negativity. It’s not just about wars, bombs, repression and stuff like that. The overall atmosphere is increasingly down.

It all comes at an interesting time. In 1978, Deng Xiaoping took the wraps off major reforms that ended Mao’s repression in the form of the Cultural Revolution. In 2013, Xi Jinping unveiled similarly drastic reforms. The reforms are there. We shouldn’t be closing down any further. It’s not that much of a good idea to let narrow-minded people ruin the show “just because they think they are saving China”. China is saved by means of being brave and doing things in new ways. The Republic was a radical departure from the dynasties, and 1978 was a huge departure from what was then a “really” Red China pre-1978.

Will 2014 be the start of yet a newer-still-than-newer-still China?

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