America has a fear-based relationship with China and I blame America.
For the longest time, we’ve been in denial about an unspeakable truth: China’s brand of communist-capitalism, as a government system has been more effective in modern times than democracy, or what America actually has in reality, a corporate oligarchy. It’s as ugly a truth to accept as the bad guy getting the girl or the rich kid getting off by the cops. Things shouldn’t be like this, we tell ourselves. We believe there are omnipresent forces like God and karma, but never realizing our arrogance to understand that we’re hypocrites to the receiving end of our own greed and corruption. In other words, America is the nice guy who is, in reality, an asshole complaining about other assholes doing the assholry better.
And so, with the now-familiar tactics of currency manipulation, buying off American politicians to create unfair trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, China has used our greed to become dependent on them. They ingeniously made rules like banning American social media in China so that Chinese social media like Weibo, WeChat and Tik Tok can thrive for Chinese capitalists under the first-hand supervision of the Chinese government. They also imposed a trade rule where any foreign tech company that did business in China needed to give them their specs and China, in turn, will have the full rights to share those specs to other Chinese companies (google Chinese car companies some time and see how eerily similar their cars resemble, say, Ford or Chevy models. Some look exactly the same with a mere logo swap). China pulled this off with the salesmanship ease of a blackjack casino dealer: they revealed their unfairness upfront, dangled the possibility of a few winning dollars and American tech companies ate it up.
We did this to ourselves.
China became the world’s dominant super power because they understood the cynicism of human nature. While Americans complain that China cheats, has human rights violations, renegade on promises they make to their own territories, China denies none of this. Instead, the Chinese is baffled why America, with its own cheating (war profiteering and Wall Street), its own human rights violations (police brutality) and its failure to take care of its people (awful Medicare system) is so hellbent on telling China how to run its country. Perhaps had we accepted our own greed, owned up to the reality that our government is just as fueled by corruption, we might have held a stronger discipline in giving in to the temptation of giving China every aspect of our society. It would’ve put us in an actual position to tell China how to run their country; we, instead, should be lucky they aren’t telling us how to handle the pandemic or the George Floyd situation. Democracy is us fooling ourselves that we don’t do ruthless government practices — and that makes us do ruthless government practices half-assed.
The (somewhat) failure of the Disney’s Mulan remake is the latest example of a greedy American corporation blaming China for an inevitable implosion on trying to grab both East and West business (with, admittedly, the pandemic in this case as also a big factor). Yes, there are examples like Avengers Endgame (also owned by Disney) making the biggest box office sale of all time. But, as the NBA once found out, China doesn’t see themselves as business partners; they see themselves as corporate overlords. In 2019, the general manager of the NBA’s Houston Rockets posted a personal opinion about freeing Hong Kong. China threatened the NBA to fire Daryl Morey. Admirably, the NBA didn’t follow that order and took the temporary loss of millions in lost revenue, but it was one of many examples that China frequently orders American companies around. It’s an abusive relationship with an imbalanced power dynamic.
Which is why I’m glad the Mulan remake was widely disliked.
Some of it’s for movie purposes like the historic inaccuracies and stereotyping (or, in my case, lack of Mushu), but most people in the West boycotted it because the lead actress was pro-Chinese police in the current #freeHongKong situation and because the film thanked the Xinjiang, a region abusing human-rights violations against the Uighur Muslim minority. The Chinese government, in turn, punished the movie because of the boycotts. Disney was punished because regular Americans under their own free will, decided to criticize China. Absurd? Perhaps. But when we let ourselves depend on a foreign government to dictate our economy, these absurdities will continue despite our outrage.
As an Asian-American, particularly a Chinese-American, I’m usually happy to see any kind of empowerment that helps the status of our people. However, I want this empowerment and embracement of Asian cultures to come through the positive exposure of things like sushi, kpop, martial arts and movies like Parasite. What the Chinese government is doing to the world, including to other Asian countries and its own Chinese people are deplorable. I, as an Asian-American, don’t feel the least bit empowered by China, because as long as I have a hyphen and the word “American” beside my title, I’m not one of them. And all the Mainland Chinese who have immigrated to other countries are also not one of them; we’re traitors to the Chinese government. China is a threat to everyone and every foreign business because they run their economy akin to a controlling rich parent giving their child nice things…as long as that child never criticizes and follow orders. Does America do the same thing? Yes, but not anywhere in this extremity.
All I see today is proof that China’s brand of Communism-Capitalism is effective and the world has, reluctantly or not, adhered to it. It’s time to acknowledge that parts of the Chinese governing system have been working. Do I like this fact? No, I do not. I want democracy to actually work and it still can, but democracy only works when its being watchdogged. A democracy without true checks and balances by the people to is representatives is not a democracy — it’s just an inefficient version of Communism owned by rich corporations who are wasting our time not running our country efficiently. We focus too much on issues like social justice and culture wars when the things needed to make real changes to those and others are done on the political level, one that’s currently run by many politicians influenced by the Chinese government. I’d welcome an America that didn’t pretend to be holier-than-thou. The Chinese government do not virtue signal. The Chinese government do not pretend to be ordained by God. Shit like this makes us lose focus — and yet, here we are on square one, still blaming China for American problems. Stop being afraid of losing the Chinese market; take a stand through demanding policies that help American businesses and sacrifice short term profits for long term solutions. Vote for politicians that take a stand against Chinese business influence. We should be tired of China being the biggest cancel culture snowflake.