Lee Siu Hin: Journey to My Home 2009--Building Bi-national China-US Solidarity and Understanding

Part Six: Obama Goes to Beijing -- Chinese Points of View

November 17, 2009
Zhuhai, China


Greeting from Zhuhai, China..middle of my China-U.S. bi-national solidarity working trip.

U.S. President Obama is visiting China, while there's flood of news from U.S.-western corporate media, Chinese points of view are not published by western media. Therefore, I have enclosed you few news commentary, analysis from Chinese newspapers.

*Also here's discussion form created by Global Times (http://www.globaltimes.cn)--one of the major English newspaper in China:

My view on Obama and China-US relationship http://forum.globaltimes.cn/forum/showthread.php?t=8480


Cautious public praise for Obama's China visit

Global Times November 15 2009


Editor's Note:

US President Barack Obama began his first visit to China Sunday, and will be in the country till Wednesday, sparking much attention from the Chinese public. The following are interviews conducted by Global Times reporters Chen Chenchen and Wang Yuan with four Chinese citizens from different industries. Each discussed their personal thoughts on Obama's visit and China-US relations.


Yuan Yue, founder and chairman of Horizon Research Consultancy Group, China's biggest independent professional research and consultancy firm conducting public opinion polling

According to Horizon Group's latest survey, conducted this June in China's 10 major cities, ordinary Chinese people's favorable attitudes toward the US are at their highest point for years – 63.8 percent of the 3,000 participants "emotionally like or very like the US,"63.98 percent agree that "the US is economically the most important country for China,"and 33.57 percent consider that "the US will become China's closest partner in security cooperation."

The Obama administration has generally delivered positive signals to China in the past months, despite the recent trade friction between the two countries. In my experience, trade conflicts do not trigger grass-roots anger, unless such conflicts exert significant impacts on economic situation.

Besides, according to our survey, currently more than 60 percent of Chinese agree that "the US welcomes China growing strong, and keeps cooperative relations with China,"though more than 30 percent think that "the US is trying to prevent China from growing stronger."The former percentage is much higher than that of two or three years ago – during the Bush administration, the figure was about 40 percent.

Nowadays, some US politicians have unprecedentedly shown their modesty when speaking of China. It's also expected that Obama will continue to encourage China to adopt economic stimulus policies. The US's modesty satisfies the psychological demand of ordinary Chinese as citizens of a grow-ing power.

Most Chinese understand that China is not the most powerful country in the world. Moreover, the US is not adopting a containment policy.

Some 10 years ago, before former President Bill Clinton visited China, our public opinion polls showed that only 40 to 50 percent of Chinese people held favorable attitude toward the US.

However, the percentage surged to 79 percent after Clinton declared the newly phrased policy toward Taiwan during that visit. Obama may also declare his government's detailed policies toward China during his visit, or wait and see what he can get from the US-China cooperation.

Ordinary people in the two countries are actually quite similar to each other. Both are open-minded, diligent, pragmatic and willing to try fresh things. Many Chinese use US computers, shampoos, and observe American festivals, just as Americans nowadays use chopsticks, play with toys made in China, and wear clothing manufactured here.


Rao Jin, an Internet entrepreneur and founder of anti-cnn.com, a grass-roots online forum established after the March 14 protest in Tibet in 2008

Most of my friends care about Sino- US relations, but not deeply. I personally have positive expectations of Obama's visit – but not that high.

Like many young people in China, I watch US TV series and log onto US websites, like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. A question keeps haunting me – is the information my friends and I put on these websites safe? Will our information be easily snatched especially within the circumstance of tense international relations?

We see from TV series like Prison Break that agents from US intelligence agencies like the CIA have such great powers that they can easily acquire someone's private information, and even make the person disappear.

Admittedly, this is fiction. Nevertheless, such things do take place in reality. In the US, fierce debates are going on over how to provide detailed protection of privacy – since they are still tangled with their own problem, why are they qualified to arrogantly criticize Internet usage in China?

The cultural values of the two countries are different. The Chinese advocate common efforts and common victory, whereas Americans upheld heroism – it's often an individual hero who saves the mankind and the entire world.

According to my surveys and observations, a great number of Chinese youth still has a simplified and beautified perspective toward the US and other Western countries.

I often ask many college students to use one adjective to describe other countries, and the answers are astonishingly unanimous – "open"or "free"US, "gentle"Britain, "romantic"France and "efficient"Germany.

I hope anti-cnn. com will develop into a real grass-roots media source in the future, providing information for multiple fields besides political news and guiding more reasonable Internet communication.


Yang Dongping, co-founder and vice president of Friends of Nature, the oldest Chinese environmental NGO, established in 1994

Environmental protection and climate change are key issues in Sino-US relations. It's very encouraging that Obama has begun taking a positive attitude toward these issues, rather than disregarding the interests of the whole of humanity.

I personally think that China should take on more responsibilities to curb global warming.

Though China's per capita emitted sulfur dioxide is much lower than the world average level at present, its total discharges are extremely high. My colleagues and I believe that China should step up efforts to reduce the energy consumption and carbon emis-sion. It's good for China and the world in the long term.

As high carbon-emitting countries though, China and the US are different in their energy consumption structure. China's economic development highly depends on coal, and the energy efficiency is very low.

The major problem with the US, however, rests on its lifestyle of over-consuming resources, which has set a bad example for and greatly influenced China.

Therefore, China has to change its energy utilization structure and advocate a low-carbon consuming lifestyle. At the governmental level, China needs the US to provide advanced technology for clean and high effective energy on favorable terms.

But we believe it is right that China should emphasize the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. Considering China's current situation, it's reasonable to protect the country's actual interests of economic and social development.

Zhang Xin, co-owner of a factory with about 300 workers in Dongguan, Guangdong Province that produces shoes and bags for export

As a trader, I am most interested in Sino-US economic and trade relations. The recent financial crisis in the US has impacted my business badly.

In previous years, I had an average of nearly $10 million of orders every year, many of which were from the US. But as early as in 2006, things went bad and orders, especially from the US, fell rapidly. To tell the truth, my firm made a loss in recent two years.

But the situation seems to be improving this year, maybe because the US begins to recover. So I hope China and the US can cooperate on economic and trade issues.

I know that some Southeast Asian countries are also mainly exporting labor-intensive products, but I am very confident in "Made in China"products.

My friends brought me some sample products made in other countries, but their quality control cannot compare with ours. I am proud that with the same prices, "Made in China"is always the best.

Moreover, after suffering brought by the financial crisis, the US needs to increase export to recover. China has such a large population and thus it's a huge market. Isn't a growing China good for the US?

In addition, each country has its own advantages and disadvantages. US movies and books impress me with their great respect to freedom and human rights. But it's not absolute, and racial discrimination is still commonly seen in the US.

Thus no one should consider themselves to be morally superior to others. The US should not react negatively to China. I believe that Obama is clever enough to know it.

China is not so powerful yet, but it has great potential.



Obama needs deeds, not just pretty words

Global Times November 08 2009
By Tian Wei

When one thinks about how much work US President Barack Obama has these days, one can appreciate the trouble he's going to have in making his upcoming trip to Asia.

Economically, US unemployment just broke into double digits with 10.2 percent of the American labor force now without a job.

Economists are talking about a "jobless recovery." You can imagine how dangerous that is for the fate of any politician. Politically, though the House of Representatives just passed the healthcare plan, it still has to be debated in the Senate. It may fail there, and is already bogging down so many other issues the administration tried to push forward.

Exhausted on the issue, Obama apparently did not even have strength to go after his opponents anymore when making his final, pre-vote plea for the plan in his Rose Garden recently, but only relied on rhetoric for the bigger cause, calling on Congress to "choose a better future for generations of Americans".

As if those troubles were not enough, Republicans in the US have already taken concrete steps toward recovery with gubernatorial victories in Virginia and New Jersey. Their morale has been boosted after united e. orts to oppose almost all key issues put forward by the White House.

Of course, there are other challenges facing Obama, such as whether to commit more troops to Afghanistan, or, with Copenhagen only three weeks away, the looming issue of climate change.

Obama deserves enormous credit for making the political choice to take the time to do his Asia trip. He is not like his predecessor Bill Clinton, who skipped two Asian summits because of domestic political challenges.

Obviously, Obama is not coming to Asia to show off American strength this time, as her weaknesses are currently much more apparent. Rather he seems to believe it is essential to restore American leadership and solve the problems by involving others in the process as well.

With this trip to Asia, Obama will have visited 20 countries in his first year in oª ce, the most of any US president in history. This is certainly a great record by itself. But what is more important is not just his sincerity but also his credibility.

People naturally compare former US President George W. Bush and Obama. Even though the latter can be more eloquent in delivery, the former, once he said he was going to do something, no matter how diª cult it was, followed through.

For example, when former President George W. Bush said he was going to attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, he did despite a great deal of pressure not to do so.

When Bush made clear in the White House when meeting with his Chinese counterpart President Hu Jintao that Washington was against the change of status quo from either side of the Taiwan Straits, he followed through by making this clear to Chen Shui-bian, then Taiwan leader.

We can also consider the domestic situation facing the Obama administration.

Despite rhetoric against protectionism, the White House did sign a bill limiting the imports of Chinese tires for the protection of a minor interest group, the United Auto Workers.

We have to wonder if this administration still has enough political capital to move forward on some of the crucial issues for the international community?

Even if there is enough political capital, is it willing to invest? Is the US Congress fi nally going to give it the authority to move forward?

Many believe that the nature of relations between Beijing and Washington has been changing over the years, and has now reached a truly global level over issues like climate change and the fi nancial crisis.

As the nature of the relationship evolves, it is especially crucial for the Obama administration to show its credibility if it wants the Chinese or others in Asia to step up.

Tian Wei is the host of “Dialogue” on CCTV's English Channel, and the main anchor of CCTV's special coverage of important domestic and international events. Previously, Tian worked in Washington D.C. as a correspondent, and covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan



Chinese-Americans taken at face value

Global Times November 09 2009

By Rong Xiaoqing 
For American-born Chinese, it really doesn't matter how white their heart is and how much they have adopted Western values – when they deal with their "motherland," China, their yellow skin always defines them.

In an era when China is becoming such an important global force, this can be a big advantage, but there are also some downsides.

For the positives, you just have to see how US Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and US Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, both ethnic Chinese born in the US, have been treated on recent trips to China.

When they were in China together in July, they were treated like rock stars. There is a lot of pride among Chinese to see two of their own at the top of the administration of the superpower.

They didn't give them a completely free pass. Chu's speech at Tsinghua University was considered too scientific and not much fun. And Locke has been described as too serious and not interested in "small talk." There is also disappointment that neither can speak much Chinese.

Indeed, in some ways their being Chinese opens them up more to such "family" criticism.

But it didn't stop Locke from wrapping up a highly successful second trip to China in late October that resulted in both countries vowing to loosen restrictions on importing – a pretty big deal at a time when the rest of the world worries about some kind of trade war breaking out.

Caucasian politicians who speak fluent Chinese, such as Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd or US Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, may get a lot of respect as friendly guests, but they can never quite be embraced in the way that Chu and Locke are.

Of course, in the US it has often been a struggle for American- born Chinese.

Both Chu and Locke have publicly stated their pride in being ethnic Chinese. But if they are reflective of the average American-born Chinese, the pride may not have been there in the early stages of their life because bearing a Chinese face could at time be a burden.

It may be politically incorrect to base judgments and preferences on facial characters in the US, but this doesn't mean it doesn't frequently happen.

When kids are teased or trashed by peers only due to the way they look, when they are told to "go back to their own country" while the US is their country, and when they are forced to study a second language and culture at weekends while other kids play games, it's understandable that the Asian country they may never have visited seems more like a source of bitterness. This was even more the case when China was close to the bottom of the world's social pyramid.

While the US domestic environment hasn't changed much in the past few decades, China has rapidly moved to the center of the world. And that has struck a chord with Americanborn Chinese. They seem to be more willing to be associated with China than ever. I've even met young people who refer to China as "my country" despite their American nationality.

David Henry Hwang, the playwright who is best known for his award-winning Broadway show M. Butterfly, once told me he hated being called Chinese when he was a kid. But now he quite enjoys it.

"Now I fly to China once or twice a year to learn more about it. I like the fact they think I am Chinese. I am overseas Chinese but I am still Chinese. I think it's me getting older and China has changed a lot," Hwang said.

Still, American-born Chinese and the Chinese in China can sometimes be as different as chalk and cheese. 

The former may not understand why boycotting the French supermarket chain Carrefour because of French support for Tibetan independence is considered patriotic. And the latter may be hard pressed to take comedian Rosie O'Donnell's mimicking of Chinese talk in the phrase "Ching Chong" as offensive.

The former may never be tired of searching for their identities, and the latter is without confusion and therefore may not have much interest in the topic. And, although all are called Chinese, nobody expects Locke and Chu to represent the interests of China.

But what could really cool down the newly formed sense of belonging of American-born Chinese might be the fact that sometimes their face can become a drag, even in China.

Take my friend Jason, who has recently gone for Englishteaching jobs in China and been frustrated.

The recruiters didn't bother to hide their disappointment when they saw his Chinese face, and those who would hire him only offered him a much smaller salary than his Caucasian coworkers.  The fact that Jason was born in New York and holds a bachelor's degree in English didn't seem to matter.

The face may not reflect values or talents, but, for many, it's still the first way they're judged. The author is a New York-based Journalist

Religion still plays vital part in struggle for earth's future




My Photo Album from China

Also, More Beijing Photos: One Two Three Four Five Six


More stories of my trip will be coming soon….


Previous Reports

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five


Reports from my past trips:

Journey to My Home: June - July 2008
Journey to My Home: Hong Kong and China 2004
Lee Siu Hin
National Coordinator
National Immigrant Solidarity Network http://www.ImmigrantSolidarity.org
Peace NO War Network http://www.PeaceNOWar.net
Action LA Network http://www.ActionLA.org