“Who can stand in the way of the march of history?”

Evan Osnos’ recent article in the New Yorker presents the most nuanced rendering of present-day China. A panel speaker in a conference I’ve attended said that China is so complex two people could say two entirely different things about China, and they could both be entirely right. The views, sentiments and philosophies of the middle-class Chinese youth, the primary gatekeeper of China’s future, is well represented in the Osnos article. From where I sit, I see a cross-strain of Western ideologies and inherently Chinese values, like nationalism, pervading the post-Tiananmen generation. Chinese Publisher Li Datong states in the article that the Chinese “young conservatives” (described by Osnos as “neocon nationalists”) possess a conservatism “distinct from a status-quo conservatism, because they are not satisfied with a country that has only a status-quo and not a principle.”

The article is also written very well. You have to allot a bit of time though as typical of NewYorker articles, the report sprawls to a breadth of 6,000 plus words. The stacatto tone of the ending paragraph, with sterling economic use of short sentences, is pure awesomeness. Short sentences is the shit y’all!

Sinologist Orville Schell, in a recent Newsweek cover article, states

While honest criticisms should not be muted just because Chinese leaders find them grating, we foreigners should be mindful of this complex psychological landscape. In reacting to contemporary events, we tend to forget just how deeply implicated we are in how China came to experience and view the modern world. This long relationship has created a still rather unyielding tension as each country interacts with the other. Despite the fact that China has gotten closer than ever to escaping from this past, it’s important to understand that its leaders and people are still susceptible to older ways of responding to the world around them. Now is not the time to provoke them further and impede their progress toward a new, more equal and self-assured sense of nationhood.


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