Tuesday, May 06, 2008

MORE ON CHINESE NATIONALISM

On the new generation of Chinese nationalists:

Hardly uneducated know-nothings, young nationalists tend to be middle-class urbanites. Far more than rural Chinese, who remain mired in poverty, these urbanites have benefited enormously from the country's three decades of economic growth. They also have begun traveling and working abroad. They can see that Shanghai and Beijing are catching up to Western cities, that Chinese multinationals can compete with the West, and they've lost their awe of Western power.

Many middle-aged Chinese intellectuals are astounded by the differences between them and their younger peers. Academics I know, members of the Tiananmen generation, are shocked by some students' disdain for foreigners and, often, disinterest in liberal concepts such as democratization. University students now tend to prefer business-oriented majors to liberal arts-oriented subjects such as political science. The young Chinese interviewed for a story last fall in Time magazine on the country's "Me Generation" barely discussed democracy or political change in their daily lives.


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