West should learn about China with an open mind before making judgments
Published: Nov 11, 2021 05:05 PM
Western smear Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Western smear Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Editor's Note:

It seems that the US and other Western countries are not stopping their efforts to smear the Communist Party of China (CPC). How are the Western countries misreading China? Can the US-led West objectively view the CPC in the future? Global Times (GT) reporter talked to Jan Oberg (Oberg), director of Sweden-based think tank Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research, on these issues. 

GT: The US and other Western media have been smearing the CPC. This has backfired, and instead enhanced Chinese society's support of the CPC. What are the reasons behind this? By launching a smear campaign against the CPC, how is the West misreading China?

Oberg: It is fair to say that the generalized West does not understand China - and that the Chinese understand the West better thanks to curiosity, travels, English-speaking and the need to learn from all the world. 

My impressions from my own limited travels in China are that the Chinese people are sad about that smearing, but do not at all accept it. There is a huge difference between criticizing a system to fight or destroy it and to criticize it to improve it. The more I study the global behavior of the US, the more I sense its psycho-political projection. That is: You smear and blame others for doing something you do much worse yourself - to stand out as good. But what you do is to project your own dark sides unto the others. 

The US and the West is in a multi-dimensional crisis and its last Manifest Destiny will be downwards. But instead of putting its own house in order first, it argues that someone is even worse. Whether true or not, it soothes like a shot soothes the drug addict but it is not a solution.

GT: Many of the Western media's China-related reports have deliberately ignored the CPC's positive role in the development of China and the whole world. Why can't the West view the CPC objectively?

Oberg: These elements of the West seem to make the fundamental mistake to believe that it can understand China by only applying Western concepts. It would be good if it could first learn with an open mind and heart, and then make its judgments and shape its policies. One answer is that China's socio-economic development during the last 30-40 years has been mind-boggling and unique. I know this because I visited China for the first time in 1983. This cannot but be perceived as a challenge by some others, and it is therefore essential that China maintains humility and empathy and avoids tit-for-tat diplomacy. Gandhi remains essential: Never reciprocate in kind because then you become your opponent - do something else, such as nonviolence against violence.

Another answer is that China is a new type of both/and or eclectic society that combines elements into uncharted futures. It's one huge historical experiment. And it has already solved problems that the West has still not with more resources and time. This includes the eradication of poverty, tremendous education and research. It entails a vibrant cultural creative life.

This is also a new situation for China itself, and requires an innovative global diplomacy. And, with a helping hand from its friends, I hope the US and the West will eventually see win-win in cooperation rather than losing by confrontation. Peace politics and dialogue are the names of the future. That is why I hope to learn much more in China in the future, both as a scholar and as an art photographer. And I also hope to live long enough to make my tiny contribution and see the perfectly possible better world unfold.