The mythical Chinese; and reality

The most malicious myths about China and the Chinese come from people who know nothing of China.

The most malicious myths about China and the Chinese come from people who know nothing of China.

Yegor Aleev / TASS
Russian culture is replete with typical myths about the Chinese, which have no relation to reality. We outline some of the existing preconceptions, which are far from reality.

1. The Chinese claim Siberia and the Far East: No. Siberia and the Russian Far East belonged to the Manchu people, traditionally enemies of China. Although there are aggressive nationalists in China, they do know their history. Officially and unofficially, the Chinese have no claims on Russia. The border is recognized by both Russia and China, unlike other borders, for example, between China and India. The absence of any claims was officially established by Deng Xiaoping and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1989.

2. The Chinese are a militant, aggressive nation: history indicates quite the contrary. They are a people who have lost almost every war and have been defeated by practically everyone imaginable. Ingenious traders, excellent craftsmen and artisans, peasants, manufacturers of technically complicated goods; these are the Chinese. But they are not soldiers: they have no love of war, and despite efforts of the current government to change this thinking, many experts nonetheless doubt that it will be successful.

3. The Chinese are settling in Russia. Actually, the opposite is true. The bogeymen of the 1990s, when the Chinese were supposedly emigrating to Europe through Russia. Since then, the size of the Chinese community in Russia has dropped sharply. Immigration officials consider everyone except the Chinese to be a problem; the Uzbeks, Ukrainians, Moldovans.

4. The Chinese are disciplined and submit to an authoritative government. Not now, not anymore. Even under Mao Zedong, there was a dynamic and active society. It is the same today. There are plenty of reasons for scandal and scandals are raised. It is another matter that the majority do not provoke the basis of authority, and do not think about whether they need western democracy.

5. The Chinese are similar to us, like brothers. Well, not entirely. Year after year, surveys show that they have a great deal of respect for Russians, and they consider Vladimir Putin to be an example for their own leaders. But in general they don’t find Russians very interesting. In Russia, the most varied surveys show the same tendency. People of the two countries are very different. The one thing that unites both is a profound and very non-western conservatism which form a basic part of our core values.

6. The Chinese are unfair partners, almost predators. Do not believe this. Simply put, they can count money and trade right down to the last cent. However, compared to the West, China is completely devoid of ideology. China does not export its values or political wisdom, nor does it link these to its economy. This is valuable.

From practical experience, the most malicious myths about China and the Chinese come from people who know nothing of China and repeat unreal myths.

First published in Russian by Ogonyok.

All rights reserved by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

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