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Monday, August 14, 2006

PRC resists the urge to be Americanized

The People's Republic of China has long profited from Western influences and ideologies. Since Deng Xiaoping's economic reform of the late 1980's, China has seen tremendous economic growth and has become a major player of the global trade, especially in the recent years. Although the ongoing development is clearly biased against the rural population, the people, on average, still benefit from this economic boom and are a lot better off than they would've 30 years ago.

The Chinese people are now tasting what it is like to be a First World citizen, from high quality living standard to a pastime in consumerism. However, the transition from a Third World country to an attainable First World standard of living and being a dominant player of the global trade do come with a hidden cost - a cost which may strip away the cultural identity of China. Unlike many Western-influenced countries of Asia Pacific (i.e. Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, and etc.) that has long since volunteerily surrendered its full or partial culture identity in exchange of First World living standard, the Communist regime has now realised the impending identity crisis and tries fervently to prevent the hostile takeover, including a recent all out bans of foreign cartoons from prime time television.

Unlike its strict censorship of the Internet and the exclusion of distribution rights of selective movies and videogames, which are necessary for the suppression of anti-totalitarian ideology in a repressive state. This desparate attempt of banning foreign cartoons from prime time television is clearly the PRC's contempt against hostile cultural takeover, often a side effect of Westernization. The word "Westernization" is also misleading when most of the First World ideologies are a direct consequence of American culture. So, it is no longer "Westernization" but in fact "Americanization". Which is even more harmful when you considered most of the American pop culture to be empty and toxic.

So, I wonder when will the PRC succumb to pressure from the US to widen its market and accept its fate as the next Americanized nation? The pressure would sure be unsurmountable especially with the approach of 2008 Summer Olympic in Beijing. Coupled with the accusations of suppression of free speech and expression from the international community, it is only a matter of time before the PRC relent and embrace the true cost of its economic boom!

We, the Canadians, are not doing much better in terms of retaining its own identity. Apart from hockey, native arts and the Molson Canadian, we're not too dissimilar from our southern neighbors.

For the curious few who wish to know more on the invasion of American pop culture across all continents, I strongly suggest Chapter 12 of Rogue Nation by Peter Scowen.

2 comments:

Kat said...

Oh I don't doubt it. I heard a scary statistic a long while ago about the rate of Japanese weight gain since the inception of American cuisine. Culture and Religion seem to be synonymous. It's all cult behaviour in the end. And we all succumb to it in one way shape or form. On a grand scale it's pretty devastating huh? Kinda like how we'll fight to preserve endangered animals but fail to see the true decline of our own species. Sure, change has it's place but shouldn't we be preserving cultures beyond the national sport?

speed_demon said...

All I'm saying is although the "Western" culture brings convenience and freedom, any nation that is embracing it has to evaluate how far it is willing to sacrifice (both culturally or socially) for the "exchange" of this new found "freedom".

For sure, it's a lot easier to draw this boundary if you are a totalitarian state like China than it is if you're Japan or South Korea. The former can easily impose the authority over its people whilest it would be an outcry of free expression on the latter.