• Andrew Johnston

A Crisis of Harmony: The Root

Let's talk about China for just a moment - the first of many moments to come, I'm guessing. You see, Americans don't exactly like the Chinese at the moment.

My guess is that this isn't shocking to you, either because you've seen the polling already or because you have enough sense to infer what's been going on in the world over the past few years. We've got us a trade war, a controversy over Hong Kong, and that was before the whole planet went on lockdown. Pandemic-related xenophobia is a global phenomenon, but in the U.S. in particular it has pushed public opinion to new lows.


So maybe this isn't late-breaking news, but here's something you might not have known: The Chinese have the same take on the U.S.

That's right - Chinese people have a lower opinion of the U.S. than anywhere else in the Western world, or even Japan, of all places.


It's a situation that defies easy narrative. Blame the former stat on conspiracy theories and China-bashing media loudmouths and you probably not too far off the mark, but why would the Chinese have such antipathy towards us? Propaganda, you might say, or censorship; they've been brainwashed, they don't see how noble we are, etc. At least, that's what I usually hear.


But that's all too simple, isn't it? These two countries have a relationship that's contentious but close, and goes back a long way. There's a history that's seldom explored in our history textbooks, one with deep valleys, but also high peaks. We were an ally in the Big One and an enemy just a few years later. We have over 2 million Chinese immigrants, a third of a million Chinese students, and some 5 million total people of Chinese descent.


So what do we do when we don't understand? We go deeper.

I can't claim to understand everything there is to know about China, or Sino-American relations. Hell, most days I struggle to understand Americans. That's why I'm getting my information from sources who would actually know these things - Chinese people, the same ones often sidelined and overlooked by Western media narratives and our hero-villain-victim view of the people of the world.


It's a small start towards understanding. At the very least, it'll be one more laowai YouTube channel with a bitter host complaining about Chinese culture or spreading conspiracy theories. But you're here to read, so keep an eye on this space - there's more to come.

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