BBC Chinese Department Reporter Qing Shang (尚清)
The recent appearance of a new book named “China is Unhappy” on the market in mainland China has caused hit discussions in the bookshops, and it is being enthusiastically boosted by the media.
This book’s author, Xiaojun Song (宋晓军), said that last October he and a group of friends chatted together. Afterwards, he organized the content of their conversation to form this book.
Therefore, perhaps this book should be called a conversation record.
This book’s full name is “China is Unhappy: Great Time, Big Goal and Our Internal Disorder and External Invasion” The reason that this new book of 340000 characters has caught people’s attention is because it proposes bold and even somewhat extreme stating opinions to China’s foreign policy.
In the book the viewpoint has its impulsive force, is filled with phrases, such as “Tear the West’s veil in pieces”, “Westerner’s thinking oneself infallible is the result of our spoiling”, and “Cannot let the US willfully kidnap the world”.
This book suggested that China as a great nation in the rising should “hold the sword to do business”, China should “conditionally break” with the West. It should not constantly flatter the West, fawn on the West, and integrate with the West.
From “Say No” To “Unhappy”
The US weekly magazine “Time” reported on March 20 that “China is Unhappy” was another bestseller of nationalism regarding the discontentment about the Western influence to China, in particular the US, since the book, “China Can Say No”, was published in 1996.
Published in 1996, “China Can Say No” was once very popular in mainland China. Almost every young intellectual had a copy of the book.
The author of “Say No”, Xiaobo Zhang recalled that at that time he was enlightened by the book, “Japan Can Say No” which was published in Japan. In addition, “the theory of China’s treat” emerged in the US, which impelled him and several other young scholars to rethink about the US and how China should face the US.
In a sense, the book “China Can Say No” aroused the ideological trend of nationalism to aim at the West for the first time since China has gone on the road of reform and opening-up policy.
13 years later, the several “angry young men” who published “China Can Say No” were reunited. They once again expressed their righteous indignation to some western countries and politicians who resisted the Olympic Games, and enclosed and blocked up China because of issues regarding human rights and Tibet before and after Beijing Olympic Games.
Should Take Actions When It’s Time to Take Actions
They are obvious different that “China Can Say No” which is relatively holding back inside, but “China is Unhappy” starts to advocate taking initiative to launch an attack. One of the authors, Xiaodong Wang (王小东), explicitly mentions about the concept of “penalty diplomacy” when he talks about the Sino-French relations. He thinks that since French President Sarkozy has adopted constantly changing and contradictory manners to China, China should make public stand to punish and retaliate it.
He thinks that China’s Prime Minister Jiabao Wen skipped France during his European tour was a put in place protest, which demonstrated “The Chinese diplomacy finally stood up straight”.
However he doesn’t approve that the Chinese government often uses rewarding the obedient western countries to punish the western countries which make troubles. For example, if the US made trouble, then I would buy Airbus. If Europe stirred up trouble, then I would purchase Boeing.
He thinks that the western countries have in fact consistently restrained China. Nevertheless, today Party A acts and tomorrow instead Party B will act. He says that in dealing with the problems of the West, China cannot adopt the strategy like making friends in a kindergarten that today you and I are good, but he and I will be good tomorrow.
In addition, Xiaodong Wang also suggests that China’s mainstream media should stop beautifying and deifying the West and let the people clearly recognize the West’s “ugly truth”.
“Conceals One’s Abilities” and “Vents Spleen Diplomacy”
Since the 90’s, the Chinese diplomacy has basically followed the policy of “Conceals One’s Abilities” which was proposed by Xiaoping Deng. It means that not to take the lead and carry the flag, but still to be capable of outstanding achievements.
According to this strategy, China has adopted the putting off disputes, and mutually winning and benefitting principles. For instance, it has adopted this strategy in solving the problems of developing the East China Sea oil-gas field and South China Sea marine resource.
30 years passed by, China’s overall national strength has been promoted greatly, but it still continues its diplomatic policy of being too reserved and not tough enough. Should it also follow the rule of jungle of international relations, and adopt some “vent spleen” diplomacy?
In other words, should the heroic undertakings among people like resisting Carefour, protesting CNN, and showing but not selling the national treasures be included in the Chinese official foreign agenda?
The former Chinese ambassador in France and the Institute of Diplomacy Chair, Jianmin Wu affirmed the diplomatic strategy of “Concealing One’s Abilities” once again as a guest on the Sohu Net on March 7.
He said that the netizens had said to him that the Chinese diplomacy has been too soft, Chinese GDP is already the third in the world, China should act fiercely and resolutely when it’s time. This looks like very much that it vents its spleen. However, when carefully thinking about it, this idea is superficial and has only hundred harms to the country but not one good benefit.
Jianmin Wu believed, “Soft and hard is only the method, and is not the goal. So called tough and fierce is not China’s tradition, and is not our policy.”
Brainless and Unhappy
“China is Unhappy” also causes the different reactions among the Chinese folks. Some people call it the narrow ultra-left nationalism ideological trend gaining ground. Some thought that this is the moral courage which China needs the most now.
Mainland blog writer Xiaofeng Wang compares this book to a 1960’s Chinese cartoon named “Brainless and Unhappy” in the same way. He thinks that this book is “the Chinese left wing elite’s complaining anthology and has touched some Chinese people’s certain G spot.”
The animated cartoon speaks the story of a pair of funny guys, “Brainless” and “Unhappy”. Brainless designed a 99 stories tall building without an elevator. “Unhappy” went to the top floor to act the role of tiger in a play. Because he was unhappy with the tiger being killed by Song Wu in the play, he acted vigorously protest and the tiger could not be killed by a hundred blows. The play director was so angry that he showed the whites of his eyes…
Then is actually this kind of “unhappy” ideological trend is brainless, or does “concealing one’s abilities” cause certain people unhappy?
The question is whether “acting tough and resolute when it should” can make China have the real great nation status? Can it really play a part in “ten thousands nations coming to pay respect to China and China becoming the most superior nation”?
Perhaps, “China is Unhappy” has raised more questions than the answers which it gives.