I felt that some things were left unsaid in my entry yesterday on the Olympic scandal involving China. What were left unsaid are my broader thoughts on China as a whole.
Despite the fact that I have been an American citizen for more than six years, I cannot deny the fact that I spent 11 years of my life growing up in China. To some degree, China is still my homeland, and one can never forget one’s home. As such, I still identify with Chinese people, and consider myself linked to the place. In some ways, I grew up with China, in the sense that my coming of age coincided with tremendous growth and expansion in China itself.
Therefore, I can’t help but be conflicted over the state of modern China. On the one hand, I am immensely proud of the fact that China has brought more people out of poverty in a shorter amount of time than any other nation has ever done in history.
On the other hand, I cannot endorse the policies made by the Chinese government. True, the Communist Party may have been partially responsible for China’s economic growth, but as someone with parents who lived through the Tiananmen Square massacre, I am confronted with this legacy of authoritarian repression.
But therein lies the rub: when is the cost of economic development too high? Is repression a necessary price to bring people out of poverty and modernize the most populous country on earth?
On this point I have no clear answers whatsoever. Modernization has historically always been accompanied by drastic social and political upheaval, but how much is too much? I have no idea. Maybe it’s a case of can’t having your cake and eating it too, but if this is indeed the case, then I also have no idea which side I’m on: liberty first, or welfare first.
I can only hope that after a period of economic development and modernization, Chinese people will finally be able to have some meaningful political liberties. But this is not an inevitable destination, and therein lies the uncertainty.