The danger of confusing "patriotism" with economic opportunity

The Economist is one of the best, if not the best, magazine in this world, in my view.

However, there are misses, from time to time.

In the current issue there is an article called "Land of the Yellow Emperor - The dangers of confusing patriotism with ethnic pride", and under a heading called "Chinese nationalism".

No doubt the line between patriotism and nationlism is very thin. It is also true there the Yellow Emperor as an icon is related to both patriotism and nationalism issues. However, the preeminent reason for what we see (and what the Economist reporter observed) is something he hinted but failed to spelled out.

  • Governments in Shaanxi and in Henan province, which claims to be the emperor's birthplace, are competing (and reportedly spending millions of dollars) to make their respective Yellow Emperor shrines pre-eminent. Officials in Henan say they are expecting 20,000 emperor-worshippers this month.

Yes, 20,000 tourists is not a lot, but it will grow. This is the underlying reason for the "Governments". To read the Eocnomist you need to pay keen attention to each word it has chosen, the subtlety and the message underneath. Yes, it is about money, tourism yuan, which means GDP, which in turn means promotion. The reporters has very carefully placed the last sentence and used plural and capital letters in the word "Governments" (competition among the provinces). If you have toured China you would have seen these "Yellow Emperor" phenomenon is nothing new. It is not about 'patriotism', it is about money.

There are other lines one can nitpick, which could draw vehement criticism from the anti-cnn.com crowd, such as

  • "China has produced little convincing evidence of any terrorist campaign within its borders" -- seems the bus bombs in Beijing and Urumqi did not count, however, the Economist could have added "in recent years", which may be a more reasonable statement

  • "The state media's focus on the alleged pro-Tibetan bias of the Western press in covering the violence in Lhasa has triggered an outpouring of anti-Western sentiment on the internet." -- rather the opposite is true. i.e. it is the internet which started the sentiment and the state media only followed. The Econmist, in its prejudice against the government, played down the power and the will of the people, be it justifiable or not.

It is the nuance and subtlety of wirtings as such which really cultured the "outpouring sentiment".

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