Friday, December 16, 2005

They Just Don't Get It

A pair of articles from Simon World's latest roundup discuss the inability of the Western media to understand China. Despite their similar goals, the articles are completely different. From The American Thinker comes China's Exports in Perspective, which argues that a misunderstanding of multinational corporations results in the media overstating China's economic clout. Howard French brings us an article from the People's Daily Online entitled "Western media's misreading of China 2005." As it is from the People's Daily, you should already know the theme.

First, the American Thinker post:
This [International Herald Tribune article] creates the false impression that many Chinese firms like Lenovo are gaining ground on their American rivals in areas involving the most advanced technology. In this story, Mr. Lague overlooks some critical points:

First, the main reason China has increased its high-tech exports in recent years is that more American companies like Dell are setting up shop in China and exporting finished products to the U.S. In fact, around 60% of China's total exports come from the final assembly factories of foreign-invested firms.

More importantly, much of the critical technology, which creates most of the product's value, is still imported from subsidiaries in developed countries (like Japan and Singapore).

More humorous is the People's Daily article:
We know that the world's misreading of China is not limited to 12 things. To eliminate these misunderstandings the maxim by Alghieri Dante "Follow your own course, and let people talk" is of no help here. We must meet the world's suspicions or even hostility with a more open attitude. We cannot extinguish rumors, but we believe that "rumors are stopped by the wise" and China will make more people wise with its own magnanimity.

It appears that the article will then pick 12 'misreadings' and show them to be wrong. Here is one on the topic of China's growing military strength, the article offers this misreading for debunking:
The Military Power of the People's Republic of China 2005 released by the US Department of Defense says, "China has a long-term ambition to extend its military clout to whole continental Asia. In the future, China's leaders may be tempted to resort to force or coercion more quickly to press diplomatic advantage, advance security interests, or resolve disputes."

And now for an intellectual deconstruction of the argument, which will in turn facilitate its destruction:
Is that really so?

Even more humorous is the People's Daily's take on China's relationship with Zimbabwe. Myth:
"Zimbabwe has belonged to China."

When westerners speak of Zimbabwe they do so with some tone of jealousy. In contrast to the deteriorating relationship between western countries and Zimbabwe, China has kept traditional friendly relations with African countries including Zimbabwe.

Ah, now I see the light. I need to read the People's Daily more often. Then and only then will I truly understand international relations.