Sunday, August 20, 2017

China is not the problem - we are

Another day, another instance of China being awful.

(And I hope by now you all know that when I say "China", I mean "the CCP" or "the Chinese government". Countries can't be good or bad, but governments certainly can be).

This time, they demanded that Cambridge University Press (CUP) delete around 300 articles in China, so scholars within China would not be able to access them. Essentially, telling them that they must block access to academics, who now cannot operate in China with a full bevy of information.

I don't even need to say why this is a problem. If you are only permitted to read, know and say certain things to appease an authority, you cannot work within true academia. It is simply not possible; the two things cannot co-exist. Either you have academic freedom and access, and as such may be an academic, or you don't, and therefore can't. Scholars in China (I'm not quite ready to call them "would-be scholars", but give me a few years) are now fed a "sanitized", Party-approved view of their country rather than the truth - and the two are quite different indeed.

I have said in the past that I don't know how one could even seriously study many of the humanities in China. Certainly history would not be possible. Now, the situation is much more dire.

But you know what? Imma say it.

China is not the problem.

We are the problem.

We - the West, not-China, CUP, everyone else who does what China orders them to do - are the problem precisely because we listen.

Haters gonna hate, Qyburn gonna Qyburn, and China gonna China. You can't expect anything else from a government such as this. You know the old advice column adage that you cannot change others, only your response to their behavior? And that often, the problem is that you are enabling or validating their behavior by tolerating it? That your horrible relative is not the problem so much as that you still listen to that horrible relative, or, even worse, expect that horrible relative will miraculously start acting better than they always have?

That's what we're doing. We're making excuses for an abusive entity. We're enabling China. They (the CCP) are going to do this, that's just how they are. They are the horrible relative or toxic co-worker. You wouldn't attend a Nazi rally if your racist aunt told you to, and you wouldn't hand over the reins of a project you love just because your narcissistic coworker demanded to be put in charge, so why would you (generic "you") get a demand from shitty, toxic, horrible China and actually do it?

CUP was ordered to make those articles unavailable in China. CUP is the problem, because they actually did so. Regardless of the origins of "Chinese Taipei" and Taiwan's participation in international sporting events, at this point in time the IOC and other international sports bodies are "forced" use "Chinese Taipei" because China insists on it. The IOC (and others) are the problem, because they actually do so.

Reuters - which sucks by the way - publishes reams of pro-China nonsense because they are afraid of the CCP (yes, I do believe that this is the reason). The CCP is not the problem - they are what they are - Reuters is, for letting fear of being banned in China guide their editorial line.

Every time we do what the CCP demands, we are the problem. Every time we don't stand up to them, that's on us. No, there are no excuses. Either you do the right thing, or you don't. Either you are a trustworthy news or academic source, or you're not.

It is quite clear that China's mid-term goal is to control how every other country interacts with China, and to control its message to such a degree that everyone around the world is essentially made to accept a CCP view of China and its history. It is also quite clear that their long-term goal is likely to control not only how we interact with China, but also how the world works. They are happy doing away with true academic freedom in China for now, but someday they will want to do away with it everywhere. They're happy to insist on their version of Chinese history and politics in China now (and only encourage it elsewhere), but their ultimate goal is to get everyone in the world to believe it because they don't know any better. They are happy now to make demands on organizations like Google, CUP and the IOC (and Reuters, though perhaps through being more scary than directly threatening) and more for now, but ultimately they want final say over all content they don't like.

They are satisfied to force the continued use of "Chinese Taipei" on Taiwan, but eventually, we will all be, in some form or other, metaphorically speaking, "Chinese Taipei"-ified.

And it will be our fault, because we listened and obeyed.

Shame on you, CUP, and everyone who listens to the toxic demands of the Communist Party of Chinai

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