You think our neighbors to the east are just sitting back to watch us wallow around in this self-inflicted mudpile of a Shut-Down? Oh, no, there are plenty of comments, both positive and negative, zipping around from the other side of the planet-and they may surprise you. The view of the U.S. as the great imperialist devil who corrupts the virtuous Chinese citizen has pretty much faded by this time in our mutual history. With China sending over 194,000 college students to the U.S. last year (with many more pining to get their chance) and their being the largest single holder of U.S. debt, one may imagine the Chinese have plenty to say.
Weibo, China’s own unique crossbreed of Facebook and Twitter (both of which are blocked there, by the way) has plenty of interesting comments to make on the surprising coincidence of the U.S. government shutting down on their country’s 64th birthday, October 1st. Some of it is couched in a sly humor: Yu WenQi comments, “”Do American people celebrate China National Day, too?” Another funster with the onscreen ID of “Angry Potatoes” says, “What shutdown? It’s the US adopting our week-long National Day Holiday.”
Others take a position of disbelief (one can almost hear the forehead slap): “The US government shuts down on China’s National Day, I feel like my world view has been put upside down. To beat the US – what we learned on Maoist Theory classes is no longer a day dream.” Which makes me want to grab one of my Chinese college friends and ask them exactly what goes on in those Maoist Theory classes back home!
Okay, we do have our fans over there–doubtless McDonald’s, Starbucks and Levi jeans have left their mark upon the hearts of young Chinese everywhere: Furious Generation states, “The system in the US is indeed superior. Their government can be shut down without causing any chaos in the society.” Another way of looking at the situation is to compare the way in which the two governments work, which brought out “The job of the US federal government is to serve, not to dictate.” Considering this comment is from a policeman serving in Jiujiang City Public Security, I think this makes for an insightful, not to say, very brave, comment!
Another startling comparative statement from a China netizen: “The US government isn’t an omnipotent government. A shutdown won’t cause social unrest and instability. The Chinese government is an omnipotent government. A one-day shutdown would lead to a paralyzed society.” from Western Waters, who is gutsy enough to show his own system’s dark side–I find that refreshing (though I’d take some pepper-spray with me on my evening walks, if I were him).
And yes, the Shut-Down has its plain ole annoying side as well. I mean, how would you feel if, during your country’s week-long vacation (known as “Golden Week”), you’d planned a trip here, bought tickets, found a babysitter and packed your clothes, only to arrive and find most of the national parks and sites closed? “I flew so far to get here but there is nothing to see,” complained a female Henan tourist visiting Washington told China News.
If we are honest about it, there are justifiable worries and comments which illustrate the downside of the situation here. We all remember the Summer 2011 Fiasco, and few government officials are happy about his latest manifestation of our financial faux-pas. Xinhua news agency, the official Party mouthpiece said, in an editorial on Wednesday, “The United States, the world’s sole superpower, has engaged in irresponsible spending for years.” Xinhua also added, “With no political unity to redress its policy mistake, a dysfunctional Washington is now overspending the confidence in its leadership.”
On a more scary note, China Digital Times produced an article citing fears that such a governmental shut-down may lead to questions about the long-term ability of the U.S. to handle military situations and balance-of-power issues is Southeast Asia-nobody here wants Obama and his crew to look weak to the gangstas of the world.
In the end, though, I think most Chinese have taken our situation with a fair amount of good humor, with perhaps a dose of I-told-you-so. I detect admiration and perhaps a little wistfulness in some comments, so I’ll leave you with this quote from a leisurely Pirate in Sichuan, “It is clear that there is an economic cost for the fairness and equality of a rule-of-law system and constitutionalism. Only then is it a true democracy; the shutdown is just the result of a two-party standoff. Only in this kind of society do you have rule and order, not tyranny. China isn’t like that. The government runs extremely smoothly — no need at all to worry that it might shut down. In this regard, I envy the U.S.”