Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Meme: the Chinese are becoming like us

Gucci store in Shanghai
One of the most stubborn myths about China is that the country and its inhabitants are becoming very fast Westernized. Journalists make a living by promoting this misunderstanding, based on the assumption that the Chinese want to become like us.
The pattern is more fodder for psychologists than for historians or even journalists, but I was mildly shocked by this PSB Newshour item. It got onto my radar screen because two of our speakers, Kaiser Kuo and Jeremy Goldkorn participated, and I did assumed they know too much of China to just subscribe to this rather superficial notion of the Chinese become more like us. Well, they did not.
But then, the item develops in a curious way, starting heavily on promoting the myth, showing some superficial pictures of Gucci adds and a range of experts who actually did not support the myth. It did not deter PBS or our reporter: they did not note the experts did not agree with their meme.
In that way, again fodder for psychologists.

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