Editor’s note for Friday, April 24, 2020

Dear Access member,

On April 30, particle physicist and prolific essayist Yangyang Cheng will chat with me and my Sinica Podcast co-host Kaiser Kuo about her experience of the pandemic as a Chinese intellectual in the U.S.: the slow American response, the blame game, the perils of scientific illiteracy, and the expression of grief and mourning. Register here.

Love the Chinese people but hate the Communist Party? In the Oxford Political Review, Kerry Brown writes:

Over the last quarter of a century or more of thinking about, living in and engaging with China, it is a line I have often heard. The problem of the contemporary People’s Republic, it goes, is not with the country, or the people — it is with the ruling party. We love Chinese people, the holder of this line says, we have no truck with them. It is with the force governing them that we take issue.

Brown goes on to attack that way of thinking as binary, lacking in nuance (a tainted word these days, but still), and ultimately undermining the agency of real Chinese people.

On the other hand, it’s hard to be critical of “China” without attracting assent from racists and human garbage — the “Chinese people eat dogs” / “they’re all brainwashed” type. This is especially the case in the U.S., where SupChina is based. But then again, there are plenty of racists who use the “love the people, hate the Party” formulation as a cover for their bigotry.

It’s a very difficult time to be involved in any kind of relationship between China and the outside world. I don’t have all the answers. I can only suggest kindness and tolerance for individuals, but relentless truth-telling when it comes to the flaws of the Chinese (and any other) government.

Thanks to my colleagues Anthony Tao, Kaiser Kuo, and Lucas Niewenhuis for talking this through with me. But they don’t have all the answers, either!

Our word of the day is Trump owes tens of millions to the Bank of China (特朗普欠中国银行几千万 tèlǎngpǔ qiàn zhōngguó yínháng jǐ qiān wàn).

—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief