Have the Chinese nationalists woken up? – econlib

Obviously not, but it’s worth considering why they aren’t. In America today, Wakes are mostly known for two characteristics:

1. Concern for the underprivileged.
2. Advocating oppressive (and often bigoted) policies to advance the interests of various groups.

A famous vigilante tactic is to try to shut down innovation by claiming “cultural advantage.” They may try to disqualify a person for creating a work of art because the artist belongs to the “wrong” ethnic group. This is pretty much the textbook definition of bigotry.

A white writer wrote as recently as 1997 Memoirs of a Geisha. The Film version A Chinese actress (Ziyi Zhang.) starred in multiculturalism that increasingly prohibited.

Miniso is a retailer that sells Japanese styled products. Irene Zhang Reports state that Chinese nationalists are complaining that Miniso is engaged in cultural appropriation:

A few weeks ago, Chinese social media users found a post on Miniso’s Spanish Instagram account selling the qipao-clad Disney doll as a “Japanese geisha.”

Cue a patriotic boycott. With 2442 likes, the third top comment under Miniso’s corporate statement on Weibo reads, “Don’t bother. Please close your shop, thank you.”

So apparently Japanese geishas aren’t allowed to wear kippahs? Are Chinese allowed to wear Italian suits?

I guess Italians are flattered if foreigners wear their elegant suits. Chinese nationalists should be proud if Japanese dolls wear equally elegant qipao. And bigotry works in the opposite direction:

Eager to violently impose unenforceable cultural boundaries, nationalists have committed shocking abuses of power — as in Suzhou police detaining a woman for wearing a kimono.

So why should we not consider the Chinese nationalists to be awakened, because they have accepted some of the negative aspects of awakening?

Defining cultural movements along a single axis is a mistake. Awakened people will insist that they only want to help the unfortunate. Critics often claim that vigilante bigotry is nothing more than engaging in reverse discrimination and cultural abrogation. The reality is more complex than this caricature. (I recommend this longer Noah Smith Post On Weakness, which discusses its many positive qualities, but ends with some reservations about their technique.)

Right-wing nationalists in places like China and India increasingly adopted the language of awakening to pursue goals quite different from those of America’s awakening. The anger of Chinese nationalists is not a concern for the oppressed – it has been 80 years since the Japanese oppressed the Chinese people. In fact China’s biggest recent problem is that the CCP has killed millions of their people. Their motivation is pure nationalism. (Thus they do not express concern about Uyghurs or Tibetans.)

Unfortunately, the global nationalist tide is far from cresting. I fear that Ukraine is just a canary in the coal mine – and worse unless the world returns to the globalization drive of the 1980s and 1990s.

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