Thursday, January 25, 2007

Before attacking the coffee, appreciating the Japanese

Before writing a now infamous irate blog post lamenting the presence of a Starbucks in the Forbidden City, a beating of an aesthete's butterfly's wings that initiated an international typhoon of commentary (here, here and here) newscaster Rui Chenggang wrote an astonishingly brave post about what the Chinese people need to know about Japan.

Here is the English translation of the post, courtesy the great minds at

Rui appends a non-descript photo of the Gion district to illustrate just one of his many contrarian points:

"The most glorious period in Chinese history is the Tang dynasty. We are proud of that. But if you walk down the streets of Xian today, you will not be able to trace Chang'an city (note: the capital of the Tang dynasty) back then.

Do you want to see what Chang'an looked like approximately? Please proceed to the city of Kyoto in Japan. Kyoto was constructed according to the structure, architecture and city plan of Chang'an. Our Chang'an is fuzzy and vague today, but Kyoto is well-preserved in Japan. We must say that this is our sorrow."

So perhaps Prime Minister Abe's charm initiative is having a catalytic effect, giving the Chinese elites enough breathing room to open a national conversation on the Sino-Japanese relationship and helping them redirect the energies of Chinese hypernationalism.

Note particularly that Rui's post dates from September 30 last year ...

1 comment:

Jun Okumura said...

I mostly agree with your assessment of Rui Chenggang's post. including its historical/political context.

It is probably less than "astonishingly brave", particularly since Rui gives the nod to the official narrative, and given the Sept. 30 date for Rui's original post. I am tempted to think that the narrative had been carefully vetted before it was posted. But does it matter? The parameters of the discussions have shifted. And it is a good thing for us, in Japan.

Do you think that thinking people in the Abe administration are paying attention?