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StChris

What happened in China in....(short documentary series covering modern Chinese history, with English subs)

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StChris

I just discovered today that a channel I often watch for their movie reviews also have a really good history series, where they summarise all the significant events that occurred in China that year (starting with 1978). Each episode covers a single year and is around 10-20  minutes long. They pretty much touch all aspects of life (politics, popular culture, sport, economy etc) and the shows are well edited, with lots of interesting archival footage. Even better, they provide pretty good English subtitles too, so you can enjoy them whatever your Chinese level.

 

Here's the recent 1982 episode as an example. It details the breaks being put on the 改革开放 policy, Coca Cola's overly "capitalist" marketing techniques incurring the ire of the party, Thatcher meeting Deng, Michael Jackson and much more:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJwwpzSx-ec

 

https://www.bilibili.com/video/BV1Af4y1q7Tw?from=search

 

The fact that the channel is also available in China raises an interesting question - what happens when the show gets to 1989? Staring the show in 1978, rather than say 1968, itself avoids some uncomfortable events. Maybe the series will stop in 1988? Of course, there could be some other, less famous, events that happened in 1978-88 that get left out for "reasons". If anyone knowledgeable about the period spot any glaring omissions, or have any interesting personal insights, then please point them out. Maybe some of our more senior members even visited or worked in China during this period. I would love to hear any personal memories.

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vellocet

Only the 1982 episode has English subtitles.

 

Funny, the Wenzhou people going to prison for doing business under socialism.  You know what you call the black market in a capitalist country?  The market.  Of course Wenzhou people were always the first making money. The first legal private business license in China was issued in Wenzhou in 1978, you can see it here in the museum.

 

Westerners always obsess over the 6/4 incident while Chinese are pretty blase about it.  I chalk this up to older people remembering CNN's relentless coverage of the event, back when cable news and satellite TV were novel and interesting for their own sake.  It became a founding event in CNN's mythology and they still ride that horse today.  

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Jim
1 hour ago, vellocet said:

Westerners always obsess over the 6/4 incident while Chinese are pretty blase about it. 

Not sure what circles you move in but that's not the case with a fairly wide group of working class Beijingers of my acquaintance. For several of the older ones it broke their relationship with the Party in a way even the Cultural Revolution didn't.

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vellocet

Ah, there's the rub.  Most people don't live in Beijing.  

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Jim
3 minutes ago, vellocet said:

Ah, there's the rub.  Most people don't live in Beijing.  

It was quite a wide social movement, there were street demonstrations in dozens of cities. Wouldn't be surprised if those who lived through it elsewhere also remember, though the memory hole does seem to have worked on the younger generation to a large extent. As a counterpoint, one academic I know who did time for his part now thinks the Party had no choice but to send the troops in. My point is really I think it's a bit more significant that you're giving credit to, though I've not conducted any national survey obviously.

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Flickserve
9 hours ago, Jim said:

As a counterpoint, one academic I know who did time for his part now thinks the Party had no choice but to send the troops in


was that a recent change of opinion for him?

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Jim
2 hours ago, Flickserve said:

was that a recent change of opinion for him?

No, he's been saying it for a good ten years now; combination of disillusionment with universalist ideals and that sort of chauvinist nationalism/incipient new right stuff off the internet, I'd say, he got involved in that Han costume revival thing as well for a bit. 

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StChris
19 hours ago, vellocet said:

Westerners always obsess over the 6/4 incident while Chinese are pretty blase about it.  I chalk this up to older people remembering CNN's relentless coverage of the event, back when cable news and satellite TV were novel and interesting for their own sake.  It became a founding event in CNN's mythology and they still ride that horse today.

 

Yeah, it was a pretty small, insignificant little trifle really, probably not even worth including in the 1989 episode 🙈🙉🙊

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vellocet
4 minutes ago, StChris said:

Yeah, it was a pretty small, insignificant little trifle really, probably not even worth including in the 1989 episode 🙈🙉🙊

Literally nobody said that.  You are making an absurd absolute argument. It's a variant of a strawman argument. An absurd absolute is a restatement of the other person's reasonable position as an absurd absolute. For example, if your point is there is high crime in Detroit, the absurd absolute would be your debate opponent saying something such as "So, you're saying every person in Detroit is a criminal." When someone incorrectly restates your opinion to you like this, you are seeing cognitive dissonance. 

 

Okay, I'll bite: what else happened in China in 1989?  I bet nobody else can name a single event.  Of course someone will do a search and find something, because someone is wrong on the internet.  It strengthens rather than detracts from my position that Westerners obsess over the 6/4 incident because that's all they think of when 1989 is mentioned.  Heck, look at the Wikipedia page for 1989 in China: there isn't much else there!

 

5 hours ago, Jim said:

chauvinist nationalism

Hey, did you know Canada has this too? Most people have never heard of it, but it's actually quite active and vocal. 

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roddy

Absolutely, you need to look to at Chinese websites to see what people are really concerned about. 

Quote

5月21日——台风布伦达在上川岛附近登陆广东省。

5月29日——被窃后偷运到美国的流行于春秋战国时代的中国战国铜敦从大洋彼岸运回北京。

5月31日——邓小平在同两位中央负责同志谈话时指出,有两条事情需要向人民作出交代。第一,要更换领导层,这是最重要的一条。第二,要扎扎实实做几件事情,体现出我们是真正反对腐败,不是假的。

6月份

6月2日——日本首相竹下登内阁总辞。

6月4日——波兰举行首次议会民主选举,团结工会候选人瓦文萨当选总理。

6月4日——伊朗总统哈梅内伊获推选为伊朗最高领袖。

6月7日——中纪委发出《关于严明党的纪律维护党的团结统一的通知》

 

Every time someone tells me "Oh, Chinese people don't care about [this / that / the other]" I wonder to myself how much choice they have in that not caring. 

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timseb
4 minutes ago, roddy said:

Every time someone tells me "Oh, Chinese people don't care about [this / that / the other]" I wonder to myself how much choice they have in that not caring. 

 

This.

 

1 hour ago, vellocet said:

Literally nobody said that.

 

No strawman, you made your point of view pretty clear by saying westerners are "obsessing" about it.

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markhavemann
21 hours ago, vellocet said:

Westerners always obsess over the 6/4 incident

I have to agree here. How many westerners are still going on about any of the awful things done in vietnam 50 years ago? two million civilians killed, 11 million became refugees. That's WWII level stuff... Wikipedia even has a special page for war crimes in committed in Vietnam. But I'm not sure I've ever heard it mentioned, and it wasn't THAT long before Tiananmen. 

 

Not to mention other incidents of systemic (is that the right word?) violence etc. Only they weren't committed by a country whose ruling party has "communist" in the name, so it's not so convenient to demonize these. 

 

Not to say that one bad thing justifies another (or that I know enough about any of this to say what's good or bad), just that things definitely seem to be a little unbalanced. 

 

 

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roddy

I honestly don't think that's the case. If you're interested in China, or you live in China, that's going to affect what you 'obsess' (or, y'know, think) about. There's constant concern about these issues in Western countries. Unscientific as it is*, do a search on here for "Iraq" and "Tiananmen" and you get only twice as many results for the second term - despite it being a massive sodding landmark, and this being a site about China.

 

To say that people talk too much about Chinese things when they're discussing China is, it seems to me, not massively relevant. In this case "It was 30 years ago and there are more up-to-date issues to worry about" would be a better tack to take. 

 

* ie, very very.

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markhavemann
3 minutes ago, roddy said:

"It was 30 years ago and there are more up-to-date issues to worry about"

Isn't that pretty much the same thing as obsessing about it though?  

 

Almost nobody mentions stuff about the cultural revolution and great leap forward (which one was the really bad?), even though it was pretty bad. I think it has to do with how powerful and iconic that photo is. 

 

7 minutes ago, roddy said:

and you get only twice as many results for the second term

A good point, but I also find that my (very limited) conversations with people who actually care about China haven't really touched things like Tiananmen, but it seems to be such a tenacious topic in western media of all kinds, and for people who don't know much about China. Maybe this is partly from not really knowing else about the country. 

 

 

 

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timseb
26 minutes ago, markhavemann said:

I have to agree here. How many westerners are still going on about any of the awful things done in vietnam 50 years ago? two million civilians killed, 11 million became refugees. That's WWII level stuff... Wikipedia even has a special page for war crimes in committed in Vietnam. But I'm not sure I've ever heard it mentioned, and it wasn't THAT long before Tiananmen. 

 

I'm not sure I follow your reasoning here. The Vietnam War is possibly the most famous war of the second half of the 20th century. It is also a war. I hope we can agree that what happened that day in China was not that?

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timseb
6 minutes ago, markhavemann said:

Isn't that pretty much the same thing as obsessing about it though?  

 

 

That massacre was the defining moment of the killing blow of the democracy movement in one of the world's most important countries. It was a shocking moment to all who followed those events. Just because there is a war going on in Syria doesn't mean awareness campaigns of the Holocaust is "obsessing about the Holocaust".

 

6 minutes ago, markhavemann said:

and for people who don't know much about China. Maybe this is partly from not really knowing else about the country. 

 

Are you suggesting Western scholars of China don't think the massacre is a biggie? If so, you're wrong.

 

  

6 minutes ago, markhavemann said:

Almost nobody mentions stuff about the cultural revolution and great leap forward (which one was the really bad?),

 

Almost nobody? For real?

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markhavemann
26 minutes ago, timseb said:

I'm not sure I follow your reasoning here. The Vietnam War is possibly the most famous war of the second half of the 20th century. It is also a war. I hope we can agree that what happened that day in China was not that?

 

"Estimates for the number of North Vietnamese civilian deaths resulting from US bombing range from 30,000–65,000"

 

"RJ Rummel estimated that American forces committed around 5,500 intentional democidal mass-killings between 1960 and 1972, from a range of between 4,000 and 10,000 killed in democide"

 

So waging a "war" 13000 km away to push your own political agenda justifies killing tens of thousands of civilians? Calling it a "war" doesn't make it better. 

 

American dropped napalms on farmers, China used tanks to control student protests.

 

23 minutes ago, timseb said:

Just because there is a war going on in Syria doesn't mean awareness campaigns of the Holocaust is "obsessing about the Holocaust".

A good point.

 

23 minutes ago, timseb said:

Are you suggesting Western scholars of China don't think the massacre is a biggie? If so, you're wrong.

I'm suggesting that the common idea that "people in China eat dogs and cats, and the governments rolls tanks over people if they disagree" is because most people don't know much else about China.  

 

23 minutes ago, timseb said:

Almost nobody? For real?

Go to 50 random westerners and ask them what the words "The great leap forward" or "the cultural revolution" mean to them... My school history books definitely didn't touch on those. 

 

I feel like this thread has been hijacked and maybe this could be a long discussion that doesn't really belong here. 

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timseb
5 minutes ago, markhavemann said:

So waging a "war" 13000 km away to push your own political agenda justifies killing tens of thousands of civilians? Calling it a "war" doesn't make it better. 

 

 

The most basic definition of a war is "a state of armed conflict between different countries or different groups within a country". Arguing it's not a war just because it's some certain distance from one of the country's borders is something I haven't heard of before.

 

And: The Cold War and it's consequence of proxy wars is most definitely part of most western curriculums. If would be intrigued to know what criteria you would use to design your own history curriculum.

 

5 minutes ago, markhavemann said:

I'm suggesting that the common idea that "people in China eat dogs and cats, and the governments rolls tanks over people if they disagree" is because most people don't know much else about China.  

 

You're moving the goalposts.

 

6 minutes ago, markhavemann said:

Go to 50 random westerners and ask them what the words "The great leap forward" or "the cultural revolution" mean to them... My school history books definitely didn't touch on those. 

 

So the new definition of "almost nobody" is suddenly "not a vast majority"? Good to know.

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roddy

Maybe take a day between posts to slow things down?

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timseb
24 minutes ago, roddy said:

Maybe take a day between posts to slow things down?

 

Sorry. Triggered.

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