西方觀點評《說不》

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1996 / 10月

文‧克里斯朵夫•休斯 圖‧邱瑞金



對於美國、日本,或英國的讀者而言,閱讀《中國可以說不》(以下簡稱《說不》),不免是個難受的過程。但這對本書作者群來說可是正中下懷,因為這三個國家已經被他們點名給予「最恨國待遇」。

美國人被批判為無知地住在一個既不成熟,又同時在退化的國家;日本受貶為美國監護下身體肥碩、腦袋很小的天真兒童;至於英國,則不幸由一位牛津浪子取得代表權,他的天職似乎就是在中國大陸和泰國製造蝴蝶夫人。

任何稍涉現代史的人,恐怕都能理解這些中傷背後所深埋的憎恨。但是老調重彈幾怞~,大多數人也實在聽煩了。那麼,《說不》有什麼新意嗎?對於那些不需要以侮辱別人來增長自尊的人,本書究竟有沒有值得一讀之處?

平心論《說不》,首先需要說明的是,她並沒有自詡為國際關係學者的學術論文,而僅是藉此反映冷戰後中國大陸的一般情緒。因此,您若想瞭解國際關係上的學者觀點,本書非您所需;如果您想深入一探二怚@紀末中國大陸一般人民的想法,就不可錯過她。

儘管在由何蓓琳署名的前言裡,將本書與《日本可以說不》《亞洲可以說不》相提並論,但中國《說不》的文學類型,或許更適合歸類於從五四運動到《河殤》,所延伸出來的一種對國家定位的關切。由此看來,這本書所針對的讀者群,其實是中國大眾(她在倫敦中國城和上海或北京一樣暢銷)。這也使得本書相較於同樣議題之下枯燥的學術著作,成為更有趣實用的紀錄。

將《說不》放在中國國家定位的論域中來閱讀,一些有趣的東西就會由仇外的煙幕中浮現出來了。首先值得注意的是,散佈全書對外國人的辱罵,證明了本書的目的,是在於宣「瀉」一百五怞~來中國所遭到的屈辱。

更有意思的是,痛批美日英,又不像真正想要指正這些外國人的行為,反而是藉此讓中國大陸讀者,開始質疑自身在近怞~來崇洋媚外的荒唐行徑。

由此推論,你甚至想要說這本書中其實透露了新的樂觀與自信。冷戰結束了,美國勢力日薄西山,中國人權研究會副會長喻權域在本書後記中表示,中國正騎在「摩托車」上,可以在四怞~間,就趕上工業化國家在「腳踏車」上花了一百二怢鴗@百五怞~,所走完的路程。

重彈「超英趕美」老調

如果這種說法稱得上是樂觀,它恐怕也呼應了消聲未久,人們卻未必樂於再聞的一種聲音:如果全中國的人都戒掉午睡的習慣,就可以創造經濟奇蹟;或者說,你把所有的力量都乘上怳G億,就可能打敗全世界。這樣的創意,未免是重操早年「超英趕美」的舊業。

我們多數人都能看到毛澤東時代,狂熱地相信意志力能勝過現實,所造成的結果。問題是,《說不》的作者意識到了嗎?在這一點上,本書另一個有趣的特色是,作者群的年齡幾乎都在三怳W下。或許這也是為什麼他們在字裡行間所透露的,是對毛澤東時代明顯的矛盾情感。

舉例來說,本書作者之一古清生指出,假使老舍沒有「走向太平湖辭別人間」,他應該會得到諾貝爾文學獎。大陸的知識階層不可能不知道這「走向太平湖」,指的是老舍在不堪紅衛兵連日凌虐後的自戕。尤有甚者,古君居然還能重提「大躍進」和「大慶油田」精神,以喚醒中國的民族精神。由此,我們幾乎很難看出這一代年輕人對於過去那場災難的真實態度。

愛到最高點,恨事接著來

無論如何,本書更重要的訊息,是重新提醒我們,這一代大陸年輕人在七○、尤其是八○年代的成長過程。在這個主題下,全書最有趣的部份,要算是宋強第一篇文章的開場,描述了作者對美國看法的改變。

美國在中國的地位,從七○年代開始被視為反蘇的必要盟友,在八○年代到達顛峰,成為一切美德的模範。當年中國學生甚至遺憾沒有像雷根一樣的領導人,而他們對於世界政治的極右觀點,足教西方學生也聞之變色。怞~前筆者在從廣州到南京的火車上,就有這樣的經驗。當車廂上的收音機傳來美軍轟炸黎巴嫩的消息,同車乘客竟然拍手歡呼!

當然,重提這段八○年代中美之間的往日情懷,只是用來對照當年的學生在九○年代成為教師、記者,和作家之後,美國夢的幻滅。我們自然不可能期待一九八九年六月,中國大陸那場具關鍵性的國內大事,會被估算在內。取而代之的,是一連串我們再也熟悉不過的抱怨。

根據這篇文章,作者把自己從國際主義者變成民族主義者的轉變,追溯到美國企圖阻撓北京爭取西元兩千年奧運的主辦權。接著是美國拒絕北京參加世界貿易組織,以及華盛頓的人權外交。然後當然就是今年初美國派艦巡防台灣海峽了,這顯然也是促成這本書的觸媒。

全書對於美國所採取的圍堵中國戰略,也多所著墨。當然這裡所謂的戰略,僅止於引用記者、退休政客,以及學者們在西方媒體發表的某些臆測文章。由此傳達出來的訊息倒是相當清楚:這一波洶湧的中國民族主義,是來自外國的惡行,與「具中國特色的社會主義」破產無關。

前事不忘,後事之師

身為外國人,面對這樣的議題,與其驟下論斷,不如接受大家都有理要說的事實。然而,任何一位讀者都有權指出《說不》作者群在解釋對美態度上,有一大漏洞。他們一方面告訴我們,八○年代他們是如何上當,以至於相信美國是中國的好朋友,是值得追隨與模仿的對象;如今他們宣告幡然覺悟,發現美國是世界和平的最大威脅,它的社會靡爛不堪。他們顯然已經大大弄錯了一次,於是你不禁要問:他們如何能肯定,這回不是另一個誤判?

如果本書的作者群能夠回顧一下一九四九年以來的幾怞~,他們或許會注意到,中國大陸在定義某些外國友邦時,經常擺盪在忽友忽敵的極端之間。與其嘲笑美國學生對中國、甚至對美國自身的無知;他們或許可以更健康謙虛地承認:雖然他們擁有許多關於這個世界的資訊,但消息來源或許並不那麼可靠。這些資訊恐怕根本不可能毫無偏見地傳達出來。

舉例來說:北京沒有爭取到舉辦西元兩千年奧運這件事,為什麼在中國大陸成了民族尊嚴的公然屈辱?即便我們承認美國曾經對此施壓;如果辦奧運這件事沒有先被渲染成足以「救中國」,那麼結果可能只是像處境相同的英國曼徹斯特一樣,聳肩了事。

同樣的,《說不》的作者群容或憤然指責美國插手波士尼亞或波斯灣,但是對於這種被中國形容為干預他國內政的行動,所牽涉到的侵略、內戰、對於整個區域穩定所造成的威脅,實在無法簡化如是。這裡就更別提作者群自認對於台灣政情的所謂知識了。

我們當然有很多理由可以不滿美國在世界上所扮演的領導角色。歐洲人對美國插手格瑞那達和巴拿馬也不以為然;他們近來更遭受歐洲公民因與古巴做生意,而被拒發美國簽證;反對華盛頓意圖在波士尼亞問題上使用武力,也幾乎導致大西洋公約組織的解體。至於《說不》中,張藏藏要摧毀好萊塢文化的大業(122-133頁),許多歐洲人(和美國人)怕都有同感。

究竟對誰說不?

儘管如此,透過外交與自信,通常能找到因應之道。我們最終仍然承認有美國的領導,總比完全沒有要好。總之,難不成《說不》的作者群真的希望美國就此從東亞抽身,鼓勵日本軍魂再起?美國的孤立主義之於大多數東亞人,就像歐洲人說要在沒有美國的撐腰下,獨力解決巴爾幹衝突與蘇俄危機一樣非其所願。至於好萊塢文化,實在沒有人能強迫你去消費;至少對歐洲人而言,我們總可以換個口味,去看場中國導演拍的精彩電影。

我們無法在此分析《說不》作者群提出的所有反美案例。簡而言之,這個議題比作者群期待讀者去想的,要複雜得多。本書並不著重細節分析,與其將之視作國際關係教科書,遠不如當她是本文學作品,專為刺激中國人反省自己以及他們的世界地位而作。在提出這個問題的時候,一百五怞~來困擾了多少中國思想家的幾個根本議題:中國在國際社會的地位,以及面對現代性的態度,也就跟著浮現出來了。

想把中國看做是世界強權,又認為他骨子裡其實缺乏自信;顯然有許多作者陷於這樣的兩難。撇開對世界說「不」的勇敢雄辯,大部份的作者也明白,中國大陸才剛開始攀向成為世界強權的可能。他們看到中國之所以落後,不能全歸因於外國人,更重要的是中國人自己的態度。

就像作者宋強所說,在能夠對美國人說「不」之前,要明白中國人到底是阿Q的後代,當他們被外國事物所蠱惑的時候,先要學習如何對自己說「不」(第20頁)。

許多作者也意識到,從奉外國人為半神,到信心怢泵a踏出世界施展抱負,有相當困難的心理障礙需要跨越。有如湯正宇所指出,漫步在中國街頭,看到的非但不是自信,反而是「中國之長島」「東方曼哈頓」之類的廣告牌。要改善這個狀況,湯君以為不只需要搞上經濟實力,還要建立國民堅強的意志力。

逐漸灌輸國民堅強的意志力,恐怕是從孫中山形容中國是「一盤散沙」以來,所有革命家與理想主義者的未酬壯志。那麼本書的作者提出了什麼新的解決之道嗎?當湯氏強調拒絕「極端民族主義」,取法一種加拿大與法國對抗好萊塢霸權的方式,我們似乎看到了一線希望。

湯君贊成對美國文化課稅,作為發展本地藝術的基金,並且實行配額制以抵制美(英)國文化(第198-199頁)。然而,當希望之光正投向一個較不偏激的觀點時(雖然這或許並不能投大多數消費者之好,或根本行不通),又很快被澆熄了。湯君接著以非洲螞蟻渡河的故事,比喻中國的團結。這種非洲螞蟻在遇到河流阻斷去路的時候,會抱成一團;有一些螞蟻必須犧牲性命,以換取整體族群的存活。

鄰家學手藝,有何不可?

不斷出現的問題是:當人們試圖尋找未來的選擇時,仍然無法逃脫充滿民族主義的過去。好在,儘管歷史的驕傲與反帝式民族主義的傾向,仍然在本書中佔了主導地位,但是作者群中,也還有不同的聲音,強調他們有意對外面的世界採開放態度。關於這一點,本書最大膽的一部份,顯然是古清生的一篇文章。

他反對中國正處於所謂的「後殖民文化」之說,並提議綜合吸收世界之長(第279頁)。對古君而言,打領帶、公共場所禁煙、地方選舉、經濟改革,就像是到鄰居家學包餃子,沒什麼不可接受的。換句話說,為了改革或現代化而與國際接軌,根本不致蓋上文化殖民的印記。

再者,古君也不畏於指出中國大陸在經濟發展上,已經喪失了許多時間。但中國現在正處於邁向現代化的重要關口,人們需要明白的是:中國並不差於別人,而僅僅是出發的時間晚了一點而已。

至於其它的問題,全都出在中國人「想得過多而產生不應有的念頭,或者所謂的思想而已」。就目前來說,他認為把兩千年前的事與兩千年後的事攪在一起的理論,毫無必要;像《河殤》那樣虛構出一個「藍色(向外發展,海洋的)」文明與「黃色(安土重遷的)」文明也無濟於事。重要的是,向世界自信地出發。

對照中國是世界上最古老的國家的信仰,與中國大陸還是個年輕共和國的事實,比較起來,古君對於現代性的問題,態度算是開放。他表示,中國大陸近來在建築上重建「唐城」「宋城」的復古之風,象徵了新舊之間定位的模糊。如果中國人老把自己弄出個博物館形象,而不是一個奠基於法治的現代國家,也難怪歐美人要留下錯誤的中國印象了。然而,就像其它的作者一樣,這類對於中國自身弱點的吐露,仍然伴隨著很強的仇外心態。最極端的例子是他以整章篇幅,解釋為什麼大家不應該搭乘波音七七七。

於是我們又一次看到一位作者,掙扎於西方衝擊以來就困擾中國文化與政治的基本議題:獨立自主對上開發,民族自尊對上自強,破除迷信對上保存傳統。這些也似乎都可以回溯到大陸當代思想家李澤厚所說的「啟蒙與救亡的雙重變奏」,而且他們總是為了成全後者(救國)而委屈前者(啟蒙)。這種矛盾,其實也出現在鄧小平想向世界開扇窗,卻又怕放進太多蒼蠅的心態。細讀《說不》,本書的確透露了作者群已經意識到打破這種無謂二分的必要。可惜的是,他們沒能起而行之,卻又退回到粗淺的仇外民族主義,還加上對經濟發展這顆萬靈丹的迷信。

中國可以說不,然後呢?

《說不》因此對於任何想要瞭解新世紀當前中國觀點的人,是一本重要的必讀之書。這本書恐怕也重申了這樣的想法:中國現代史上永無止息的難題還未解決,而目前用來對付未來危機的良方,則是民族主義的復興。書中對於種族、國家之類的怳E世紀語彙的用法,不免讓人覺得,全球化與國際合作的另類觀點,或許仍然很難在中國大陸的政治論域中,得到正面的看法。

最重要的是,本書還留下了最大的問題待解。民族主義已然主導了二怚@紀的中國政治,如果我們就獨立自主與犧牲了的生命、浪費了的時間,來衡量得失;那麼這不朽的民族主義,又對中國未來的政策有何意義?

超過抳鶪H口憤憤於外侮,無疑能夠造成沛然莫之能禦的力量,但這股民氣將造成一個什麼樣的社會?毛澤東最懂得民族主義是讓人民動起來的好辦法,但如何用它來造成一個好的社會,卻不容易。在渴望更多的財富與勢力之外,中國何去何從,至少該找到其它更有正面意義的遠景。

在《說不》這本書裡,我們不太容易找到中國要往哪裡去的線索。作者群或許應該考慮再出一本叫做《中國可以說是》的續集,讓世人知道他們的確懷有錦囊妙計。就目前來說,我們只知道中國形容自己騎在摩托車上加速衝向未來,留下我們就像望著飆車族橫衝直撞的行人;對於他們時而威嚇時而冒犯的行為,我們都會感念他有更好一點的禮節,但這絕不表示我們希望他們摔下來。(胡笳譯•小標題為譯者所加)

休斯博士目前執教於英國彌德賽斯大學及倫敦大學政經學院,他的新著《台灣與中國民族主義》將於明春在倫敦出版。

p.90

北京街頭的麥當勞現象,是「後殖民文化」?還是「向鄰居學包餃子」?

p.93

鄧小平想向世界開窗,又怕放進太多蒼蠅的矛盾情結,延續在《說不》的字裡行間。

p.95

當怳G億中國人換上「摩托車」加速衝向未來,敢請煩勞遵守交通規則?

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近期文章

EN

A Western Scholar Looks At The China That Can Say No

photos by Diago Chiu


Reading The China That Can Say No is an unavoidably painful process for anybody from America, Japan or Britain. No doubt this is what the authors of the book would like to hear, having singled out these three countries as mainland China's Most Detested Nations. Americans are condemned as ignoramuses living in a country that somehow manages to be both immature and degenerate. Japan is dismissed as a naive child with a fat body and a small brain under American occupation. The British are unfortunately represented by a debauched Oxford graduate whose main occupation seems to be standing up women in Thailand and mainland China.

No doubt anybody with a smattering of modern history will know that there are often justifiable reasons for the resentment that lies behind such slander. Yet many of us have also grown rather tired of hearing it over the decades. So is there anything new about The China That Can Say No? Does it contain anything worth reading for those who do not need to boost their own egos by insulting others?

To be fair to The China That Can Say No, it should be said from the beginning that it does not claim to be an academic work by experts in international relations, but rather a reflection of popular sentiment in mainland China after the Cold War. So if you want a scholarly account of international relations this is not the book for you. If you want an insight into mainland Chinese sentiments at the end of the 20th century, however, it is indispensable reading.

Although the Foreword, by He Beilin, groups The China That Can Say No with The Japan That Can Say No and The Asia That Can Say No, it is probably just as appropriate to locate The China That Can Say No as standing in a literary genre concerned with Chinese national identity that stretches from the May Fourth Movement to River Elegy. From this perspective, the fact that the book is aimed at a broad Chinese readership (who seem to be consuming it as much in London's Chinatown as in Shanghai and Beijing) makes it a far more interesting and useful document than dry academic works on the same theme.

When one reads The China That Can Say No as part of the discourse on Chinese national identity, then, some interesting things begin to emerge from the blinding barrage of slander against foreigners. Perhaps the first observation that needs to be made here is that when the insults scattered throughout the book are seen in the context of what the work is trying to achieve as a whole, it becomes evident that their function is partly to work a kind of catharsis of the humiliation that China has suffered over the last 150 years.

What is much more interesting, though, is that the lambasting of Americans, Japanese and British is not so much concerned with correcting the behaviour of foreigners themselves. It is designed much more to make mainland Chinese readers question their own admittedly absurd deification of foreigners that occurred during the last decade. One is tempted to say on this count that there is a new sense of optimism and self-confidence in the work. The Cold War is over, American power is on the wane and, as Yu Quanyu, deputy head of the China Human Rights Research Association, puts it in his Postscript, China is on a "motorbike" that will do in 40 years what took the industrialized states 120-150 years to achieve on their "bicycles" (p. 427).

Overtaking the West-an old tune?

But if such views are optimistic, they do also seem to echo a voice that departed from the Chinese scene not all that long ago and which most people would not be happy to hear again. The idea that mainland China can achieve economic miracles if the population just gives up its lunch-time nap, the notion that if you multiply everything by 1.2 billion then you can beat the world, unavoidably harks back to earlier calls to "overtake Britain and catch up with America."

Most of us are aware of the consequences of the fanatical belief in will power over reality that characterised the Mao years. But are the authors of The China That Can Say No? On this score, one of the book's most interesting features is that the authors are all around 30 years of age. Maybe this is why what comes over from their writing is a distinct ambivalence towards the Mao period. For example, one of the authors, Gu Qingsheng points out that Lao She may have won the Nobel Prize for Literature if he had not "gone to Taiping Lake to leave the world" (p. 284). Educated mainland readers will no doubt be aware that this refers to Lao She's suicide after days of torture by the Red Guards. Yet despite this, Gu is also able to hark back to the spirit of the Great Leap Forward and the Da Qing oil field as awakening the spirit of the Chinese nation (p. 278). It is far from clear what conclusions this generation is really drawing from the disasters of the past.

A love-hate complex

Far more prominent, however, are recollections of this generation's formative years in the 1970s, and primarily the 1980s. Perhaps the most interesting part of the whole work on this theme is the opening section by Song Qiang, which describes the author's changing perceptions of the United States. From being seen as a necessary ally against the Soviet Union in the 1970s, America's status is raised in the 1980s to a point where it stands as the paragon of all virtues. Mainland Chinese students can only regret that they do not have a leader like Ronald Reagan. Their view of world politics became so right-wing at this time that it would make most Western students blanch, as did the author of this review when, on a train between Guangzhou and Nanjing in 1986, his fellow passengers began cheering and clapping on hearing that the Americans had just bombed Tripoli!

Of course, the whole purpose of this recollection of the Sino-US love affair of the 1980s is to contrast it with the disillusion that followed as the students of the 1980s matured into the teachers, journalists and writers of the 1990s. Naturally, it is not to be expected that the key domestic event in mainland politics that occurred in June 1989 could be covered in this account. What we get instead is a string of complaints about America and its allies, with which we have all become overly familiar.

According to this story, the authors trace their transformation from internationalists to nationalists as starting with attempts by America to prevent Beijing winning the bid for the 2000 Olympics. This is followed by the refusal to allow Beijing to join the World Trade Organization and Washington's human rights diplomacy. Then, of course, came the US Navy's intervention in the Taiwan Straits at the beginning of this year, which appears to have been the catalyst for this whole project. Much ink is also spilled over how the US has adopted a strategy of containing China, a notion that has only been proven so far by quoting speculative articles by journalists, retired politicians and academics in the Western media. The message, however, is clear. The current surge in Chinese nationalism is due primarily to foreign maltreatment and has nothing to do with the bankruptcy of "socialism with Chinese characteristics."

The learning of the past

As a foreigner, rather than making judgments on such issues it is probably best to accept that all sides have valid arguments to make. However, any reader is entitled to point out that there appears to be a deep flaw in the nature of the account of American actions given by the authors of The China That Can Say No. On the one hand, they wish to tell us that throughout the 1980s they were hoodwinked into believing that America was China's best friend and should be followed and imitated. Now they claim to have discovered that the opposite is the case, that America is the biggest threat to world peace and that its society is going to the dogs. Somewhere along the line, then, they made a big mistake about America. How, one might ask, do they know that they are not making the same kind of mistake again?

If the authors look back over the decades since 1949 they might notice how the mainland Chinese have veered from one extreme to another as they have identified various foreigners as friends, then enemies, then friends again, and so on. Rather than ridiculing the lack of knowledge held by American students about China and even about America, they might instead find some healthy humility in accepting that although they have a lot of information about the world, it may not come from the most reliable of sources. It is hardly likely to be presented to them in an unbiased fashion.

Why, for example, was Beijing's failure to win the bid for the 2000 Olympics seen in mainland China as an affront to national pride? Even if we accept that the US exerted pressure to stop the Beijing bid, had it not been built up into something that would "save China," the result might have been shrugged off as it was in Britain when Manchester was similarly disappointed. In the same way, the authors of The China That Can Say No may be indignant about American intervention in Bosnia and the Gulf. Yet to describe such actions as intervention in the internal affairs of other states hardly does justice to the problems of dealing with the reality of invasions and civil wars that threaten to destabilize whole regions. Little need be said here concerning the knowledge the authors claim to have about Taiwan's politics.

There are of course many reasons for being discontented with American leadership in the world. The Europeans were not impressed with American intervention in Grenada and Panama. They have recently suffered the indignation of having their citizens refused US visas because they do business with Cuba. Disagreements with Washington over the desirability of using force in Bosnia-Hercegovina nearly broke the Atlantic Alliance. Many Europeans (and Americans) would probably also be sympathetic to the demolition job on Hollywood culture carried out by Zhang Zangzang in The China That Can Say No (pp.122-33).

Saying "no" to whom?

Yet diplomacy and self-confidence usually enable ways to be found round such problems. In the end we accept that American leadership is better than no leadership at all. After all, do the authors of The China That Can Say No really want the US to withdraw from East Asia and encourage Japan to re-militarize? US isolationism is probably about as desirable for most East Asians as sorting out the Balkans conflict and the Russian crisis without American support is for most Europeans. As for Hollywood culture, people are not forced to consume it. At least in Europe they can always go and see an excellent film by a mainland Chinese director instead.

There is not space here to analyze all the cases against America and its allies put forward in The China That Can Say No. Suffice it to say that the arguments are far more complex than the authors would like their readers to think. Yet detailed analysis is not what this book is all about. It is far better understood as a piece of literature designed to provoke the mainland Chinese into reflecting about themselves and their place in the world than as a textbook on international relations. It is in addressing this problem that some of the fundamental themes that have plagued Chinese thinkers about their place in international society and their attitude to modernity over the past century-and-a-half raise their head.

This is most obvious in the tension that exists for many of the authors between the vision of China as a world power and the belief that China is somehow fundamentally flawed in its lack of self-confidence. Despite the bold rhetoric about saying "no" to the world, most of the authors also realize that the mainland is still only at the beginning of its possible climb to world power. They tend to see that they are not only being held back by foreigners, but more importantly by their own attitudes. As Song Qiang puts it, the Chinese are the descendants of Ah Q. Before they can say "no" to America they have to learn how to say "no" to themselves when they find themselves slavishly following all things foreign (p. 20).

The difficulty of the psychological jump from seeing foreigners as demi-gods to gaining the confidence to actually step out into the world and do your own thing is something that many of the authors are well aware of. As Tang Zhengyu points out, rather than self-confidence, what one is confronted by when walking through mainland China's streets is signs advertising "China's Long Island," and "The Manhattan of the East" (p. 200). To correct this situation, Tang argues, will require not only maintaining economic growth but also building a strong civic consciousness for the Chinese nation.

Instilling a sense of Chinese civic consciousness, though, is something that has escaped revolutionaries and visionaries ever since Sun Yat-sen accepted that China is a "plate of loose sand." So do the authors of this book have any new solutions? A glimmer of hope arises when Tang claims to reject "extreme nationalism" in favor of adopting the kind of measures used by Canada and France to defend themselves against the hegemony of Hollywood (pp. 198-9).

Tang thus approves of taxing American culture to provide funds to subsidize native arts and imposing quotas on the dissemination of American (and English) culture. However, hope that this signals a move towards a more moderate stance (albeit probably unworkable and undesirable for most consumers) is quickly dashed when Tang then describes Chinese solidarity in terms of the story of the African ants who can only cross a river by rolling into a ball and sacrificing themselves for the survival of the colony (pp. 201-2).

Why not learn from neighbors?

What breaks the surface again and again, then, is an inability to escape the nationalist past when making tentative attempts to search for future alternatives. Although pride in the past and anti-imperialist nationalism tend to remain dominant, however, there is some divergence between the different authors in the degree of emphasis they are prepared to give to openness to the outside world. By far the most daring section of the book in this respect is the one written by Gu Qingsheng, who rejects the idea that the Chinese are imprisoned by a "post-colonial culture" (279) and argues for a mixing of the best of what is available in the world. For Gu, wearing a tie, banning smoking in public places, local elections and economic reforms are all as acceptable as going to a neighbor's house to learn how to make dumplings. In other words, international contact for the sake of reform and modernization does not fall under the rubric of cultural colonization.

Moreover, Gu is not afraid to point out that in terms of economic development the mainland has thrown away a lot of time. But now that China stands at a crucial point in its modernization, there needs to be a realization that the Chinese are not inferior to other peoples, only that they started out a little later. All other problems are due to the fact that the Chinese have "thought too much and produced ideas and so-called ideologies that they should not have had" (p. 280). For now, there is no need to combine the ideas of 2000 years ago with those of the present, and no need to talk of "blue" (outgoing, oceanic) and "yellow" (land-locked) cultures, presumably an allusion to the debate triggered off by River Elegy. What is important now is to step out into the world with confidence.

Gu is comparatively open about the problem of modernity, contrasting the belief that China is the oldest country in the world with the reality that the PRC is a young republic. He points to the confusion of identity between old and new that is symbolized by recent fashions such as the revival of "Tang" and "Song" dynasty towns (pp. 282-3). He then argues that Americans and Europeans are not wholly responsible for their misper-ceptions of China if the Chinese present themselves to the world as a museum piece rather than as a modern state based on a system of law and order. Yet, as with most of the authors, such openness about mainland China's own shortcomings on Gu's part is still tempered by rampant xenophobia. The most extreme example of this is an entire chapter in which he explains why people should not fly in Boeing 777s (p. 273).

Again, what we see here is an author grappling with some of the fundamental issues that have bedeviled Chinese culture and politics ever since the impact of the West: independence versus development, national pride versus self-strengthening, iconoclasm versus tradition. This all seems to go back to what Li Zehou has called China's "Variations on Enlightenment and National Salvation" in which the former always suffers for the sake of the latter. It lies at the heart of the contradiction inherent in Deng Xiaoping's attempt to open a window on the world without letting in too many flies. A careful reading of The China That Can Say No does seem to reveal that the authors are aware of the need to break away from such increasingly sterile dichotomies. Unfortunately, they fail to do so and fall back instead on crude xenophobic nationalism combined with a faith in the universal panacea of economic development.

After saying "no"?

The China That Can Say No is, then, important reading for anybody who wants to understand Chinese sentiments as the new millennium approaches. It tends to confirm the view that the perennial problems of China's modern history have yet to be resolved and that a revival of nationalism is increasingly seen as the most likely solution to future crises. Its 19th-century vocabulary of races and nations leaves the reader feeling that alternative visions of globalisation and international cooperation are still ideas that may be hard to give positive meaning to in the political discourse of mainland China.

Most importantly, though, the book leaves the biggest questions unanswered. Given that nationalism has dominated Chinese politics throughout the 20th century, and given the balance of its costs and benefits in terms of independence weighed against lost lives and wasted opportunities, what will its perpetuation mean in terms of future policy? Over a billion people feeling outraged over their humiliation at the hands of foreigners is undoubtedly a formidable force-but what kind of society will this force build? As Mao found out, nationalism may be a fine thing to get people moving, but it is a hard force to channel into the building of a good society. At the very least there must be some more positive vision of what the mainland Chinese want, rather than greater wealth and power.

There seem to be few, if any, clues about the destination of mainland China in The China That Can Say No. Perhaps the authors should consider a sequel under the title The China That Can Say Yes to let the world know if they do have any ideas about this. For the present, all we know is that they see themselves speeding towards the future on a motorbike. Meanwhile, the rest of us feel like pedestrians watching those dare-devil motorcycle riders who have been staging illegal races in Taiwan's towns recently. Their behavior is threatening and offensive and we would all appreciate better manners. That does not mean we want them to fall off.

Dr. Hughes' new book Taiwan and Chinese Nationalism will be published in London next spring.

p.90

Is a McDonald's in Beijing "post-colonial culture"? Or "learning how to wrap dumplings from your neighbor"?

p.93

Deng Xiaoping opened China's window to the world, but he is also afraid too many "flies" will come in. This ambiguity runs through The China That Can Say No.

p.95

When 1.2 billion Chinese get on their motorbikes and come riding through, let's hope they will obey the traffic rules.

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