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Jimmy Kimmel’s insensitivity hints at dated mindset

By Liu Zhun Source:Global Times Published: 2013-10-31 0:18:01

American comedian Jimmy Kimmel finally apologized on Tuesday for offending China and its people on his late-night TV show that was aired by the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) on October 16.

In a skit on "Jimmy Kimmel Live," a child had said that killing all Chinese people would save the US from paying its debt. Kimmel's reply to which was, "that's an interesting idea."

After the show's broadcast, protests erupted in the Chinese community, both at home and abroad, and many liberals from Western countries joined in.

Protesters criticized Kimmel for not correcting the child's inappropriate remark. ABC apologized on behalf of the show in a closed letter to an Asian-American rights group called 80-20, one of the main backers of the protests.

However, ABC's sorry did not douse the fire. Most protesters saw the broadcaster's apology as "insincere." Kimmel himself had not said sorry.

Although the comment was made by a child, the episode has in some ways, offered a reflection of mainstream public opinion in the US on China.

It is difficult to read what the US is really thinking when it looks at China especially with China expected to play a bigger role in geopolitics alongside the US in future.  

Sino-US relations cannot be viewed in the same light as those of the former Soviet Union and the US during the Cold War. China and the US have a more complicated relationship. Economic engagements draw the nations close while competition and disparity keep them apart.

China has a special place in American public discourse because at nearly $500 billion, trade between the two nations is the biggest economic engagement in the world and China is also the biggest foreign owner of US debt.

But the US possibly still views itself as the world's "big brother."

It is not easy for a country which has been proud of its "exceptionalism" for a couple of centuries to admit that it is not exceptional any more.

The US should begin to accept and adapt to China's rise, as well as look out for a new global order in which more nations instead of just one may start to matter.

Posted in: Observer