Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Whose Propaganda?

This post had to wait until I got home, as it surely would have been blocked by that lovely Chinese censoring.

On the sleeper train from Shanghai to Beijing, Rachel, Brandon, and I shared a car with a Chinese man. He was sweet and bubbly professor, and he bought us all dinner and beer. (Love that old-fashioned sense of male chivalry!) He conversed with Rachel in Chinese for the most part, but he talked to all of us some about China in general. Definitely a patriot, as most people in China are I suspect. (Doesn't seem to be a lot of dissent. Plus with all that Olympics/World Expo hope pulsing everywhere, it's a time to be proud of China.)

Then we began to talk about some sensitive issues, which made me nervous, but he cheerily enlightened us with his opinions. He told us it wasn't that surprising to him that Rachel and I had seen a woman with bound feet at Yuan Garden. They haven't died out yet, though the woman was probably very old. In fact, his mother's sister has bound feet. He said that the bound feet was an "attractive/fashionable" look during the Ting and Ming Dynasties. We danced around the reason WHY the look was so "popular." I didn't want to go there.

He agrees with China's one-child policy. It doesn't matter really, he says, because he only wants one child anyway.

But then the light conversation took a turn, though I think it was unnoticeable to him. He said a few things that utterly shocked us. First, he said the events that we have learned occurred at Tiananmen Square (not clear about whether he was referring to the protests in 2001 or in 1989--probably 1989) actually NEVER HAPPENED. He saiyou "Tianamen Square is not what you know." He said that some English actress had been visiting Beijing and upon returning home had decided to spread lies throughout the West. He said that our media is biased and doesn't give us the whole truth. How ironic for him to be saying that, as chances are the news he gets is state-controlled.
Rachel was more than a little disgusted. She said she didn't need to be fed the same-old Communist propaganda and delusions that she'd heard a hundred times. I was floored. It was clear he truly believed what he was telling us. He truly thought that nothing had happened, that the rest of the world had conspired against China.

How common is this kind of brainwashing?

Scary.

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