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Monday, April 28, 2008

Aotea Square China rally: Good nationalism/Bad nationalism

Earlier on the SNBC (see below), we had been discussing ANZAC Day in the context of "good nationalism vs bad nationalism." In that vein, I'll break down a few of my thoughts about the scene at Aotea Square:

The profusion of "I China" t-shirts was good nationalism. Sure there's a terrible regime there, but there's also one of the world's oldest cultures, and cheap electronic goods. What's not to love, apart from the torture of dissidents and other miscellania?

In fact, one guy we bumped into suggested many marchers were just there because it was like a Chinese street party, with a whole lot of their compatriots in one place at the same time. I'll go out on a limb and say that any day that a migrant community can get together and reclaim the streets for a few hours and not have to feel marginalised is probably a positive.

Seen through that filter, all the singing of ridiculous nationalist anthems, the flag waving and the obnoxious car-revving and horn-honking (which was really, very loud and literally went on for hours in the CBD) was more an instance of good nationalism too - it had more in common with the Waitangi Day tube pub crawl in London attended by thousands of drunk New zealanders than it did with say Nuremberg.

And yet. Bad nationalism was never too far away. I didn't see the biffo between Tibet protestors and marchers - and it was pretty margin of error stuff given the numbers there. I've seen anti-anti-GE protestors get a bit of roughing up during these big events.

No, the problem was the signs. Cheery, happy, obviously not evil kids, holding up "Taiwan supports China" signs. Or "stop the violent lama." Or "BBC are liars." These kids weren't thugs - but as far as the repressive regime in China is concerned, they are zombies. Their views are the product of around twenty-years of individual indoctrination.

As always, I'm a sunny optimist in these matters. I do think that three years studying in New Zealand (or even better, living here permanently) will open the eyes of the children of an oppressive state. But the job will be that much harder with organised state chauvinism like yesterday's rally trying to keep their blinkers on.


At 28/4/08 2:30 pm, Blogger MikeE said...

The last photo

"One World, One Dream, One China"

is too much like

"Ein Reich, Ein Volk, Ein Fuhrer"

to even be funny.

At 29/4/08 11:12 am, Blogger Paul said...

"Taiwan supports China!"?
Why isn't it "TAIWAN was, is and will ALWAYS be part of CHINA"??


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