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Nationalism works, just look at China: self-loathing Americans have a lot to learn

  • The extraordinary growth of China in recent decades has everything to do with nationalistic policies that put Chinese interests first
  • European nations lack healthy instincts of patriotism and self-defence, and the cure is nationalism
PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 November, 2018, 8:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 November, 2018, 3:08pm

Your editorial, “The folly of nationalism laid bare” (November 13), misses an important point, perhaps because it is too close to home.

The extraordinary growth of China in recent decades has everything to do with nationalistic policies that put Chinese interests first.

One of the oft-unstated reasons for Facebook and Twitter being banned in China is so that Tencent, a local Chinese company, can have that market to itself. China’s immigration policies are likewise very restrictive, favouring Han Chinese above all other groups. I wonder, what would China do if a “migrant caravan” were headed for the Chinese border, brazenly flaunting its intention to break Chinese immigration law when it arrived?

US secretary of state warns China to ‘behave like a normal nation on commerce’

The contrast between Chinese nationalism and American anti-nationalism is perhaps most apparent in their different approaches to national history. Ever since the disruptive cultural changes of the 1960s, America has been questioning itself about its moral worth as a nation. There is an increasingly popular narrative of American history which only emphasises American malfeasance. This caricature informs much of the anti-Trump, anti-nationalist resistance, which shouts that “America Was Never Great.” They learned that in school – American schools.

‘Hongkongers must stop walking, stand still for national anthem’

Imagine a truncated and distorted version of Chinese history which only talked of binding women’s feet and foreigners killed during the Boxer Rebellion. Imagine Han Chinese being told that their numerical dominance in China is a problem, and the only way that they can validate themselves as human beings is to make way for other groups to replace them. No self-respecting Chinese would accept such a narrative, nor should they.

China calls for help to boost ‘national team’ to meet 2030 deadline in AI

Indeed, when the Chinese government says that they want to restrict the amount of Western thought in Chinese education, I think, “What, don’t they want to be self-hating and divided, like us?”

Xi has transcended Western thinking, says foreign minister

The concern expressed by anti-nationalists like French President Emmanuel Macron is that nationalism can degenerate into chauvinism. That is true, and it's a danger that should be guarded against. But anti-nationalism has the potential to morph into anti-patriotism and ethnomasochism, and many elements of present-day America and Europe testify to this.

As Li Xiaojun recently told American and European critics of China’s policies in Xinjiang: “Look at Belgium, look at Paris, look at some other European countries. You have failed.”

He was right. But the reason they have failed is precisely because they lack healthy instincts of patriotism and self-defence, and, like it or not, the cure for this deficiency is nationalism.

Jack Ravenwood, Shenzhen