Booming China gives the American dream a low rating

PEKING - A scene in A Native of Peking in New York, a television series set in the United States that was this autumn's ratings success on China's state television, said a lot about current Chinese attitudes to the US. The hero, a Chinese immigrant who makes a fortune in New York, only to lose it in the 1987 stock market crash, is berating his daughter.

Since her arrival in America, she has turned into a wilful, high- living young woman who has married her boyfriend's father. America, the film seems to be saying, is a lawless, exciting, amoral place.

While this may be the view of average Chinese, that of China's professional America watchers has been even further removed from reality. In his book Beautiful Imperialist; China perceives America, 1972-1990 David Shambaugh of London's School of Oriental and African Studies writes: 'Old habits die hard, and it was not until the mid-1980s that China's America watchers apparently concluded that the US was not on the verge of a socialist revolution led by an aroused proletariat.'

For the first two decades after 1949, China's view of the US was one of fear. At the end of the 1950s, in the shadow of the Korean war, there was the fear of a US military strike. Richard Nixon's visit to China in 1972 broke the ice, and led to full normalisation in 1979.

Since the June 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre relations have been dominated by antagonism between the two countries. The annual stand-off over China's Most Favoured Nation trading status, US opposition to Peking's Olympic 2000 bid, the sanctions imposed on China for alleged proscribed military sales to Pakistan, US arms sales to Taiwan, and US lobbying over human rights issues all have fuelled China's anti-US propaganda machine.

What scope then for progress in Seattle? President Jiang Zemin said this week he hoped his meeting with President Bill Clinton would help 'put the past troubles between our two countries behind us at an early date'.

China's scholars tend to be divided on the likely outcome of the meeting, though the fact it is taking place is seen as a breakthrough. But Zi Zhongyun, President of the Society for Scholars of Sino-US Relations, in a Chinese media press interview, said this week: 'It is hard to say that the relationship will warm up in a short period of time.'

A senior Chinese foreign policy adviser said: 'Given the domestic economic and political situations, it is difficult for China to make compromises at the meeting. The US image in China has become worse even among intellectuals. China's economy is booming, many young people have stopped worshipping the US.'

He added: 'People also accuse the US of applying a double standard to issues of human rights. The US supported (Boris) Yeltsin's crackdown in Moscow simply because the US likes Yeltsin's system, regarding it in the interests of the US.'

Very few Chinese can understand that human rights is the cornerstone of US foreign policy, he continued. 'They think economic issues are the real focus, while human rights are just something used to intimidate others.'

The US Secretary of State, Warren Christopher's recent warning about human rights and MFN had been 'like reprimanding a child. The Chinese will never take such a dressing down,' he added.

Since the pre-Seattle offer by China that the International Committee of the Red Cross might be given access to Chinese prisons, Peking has stressed this concession is made to the international body, and not to the Americans.

Chinese scholars would like to see a US presidential statement that explicitly supports China's opening and modernisation drive. But President Jiang, the policy adviser said, would never do anything 'that would make him look like a traitor'.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
Super BowlAfter Katy Perry madness it's back to The Independent's live coverage of Super Bowl 49!
News
See what Twitter had to say about the first half of the Super Bowl
News
people
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher A specialist primary school i...

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

The super-rich now live in their own Elysium - they breathe better air, and eat better food, when they're not making beans on toast for their kids

The super-rich now live in their own Elysium

They breathe better air, eat better food, take better medicine
A generation of dropouts failed by colleges

Dropout generation failed by colleges

£800m a year wasted on students who quit courses before they graduate
Entering civilian life 'can be like going into the jungle' for returning soldiers

Homeless Veterans appeal

Entering civilian life can be like going into the jungle
Sam Taylor-Johnson: Woman on top

Sam Taylor-Johnson: Woman on top

Fifty Shades of Grey director on bringing the hit to the screen
Shazam! Story of the $1bn 'what's that song?' app

Shazam: Story of the $1bn 'what's that song?' app

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch