The Corner

The Real China

From a reader:

Dear Mr. Goldberg:


I have appreciated your past articles exposing Thomas Friedman’s ridiculous envy of so-called “progress” in China. But his latest article demonstrates beyond doubt that he has no clue about the real China or its people. Contrary to his protestation, his opinions are based on illusion and have no credibility whatsoever.


My wife was born in Shanghai and we visit her family there often. We also have traveled to many different provinces in China, including to adopt our two precious daughters. In all our travels, I have never come across anything that can be accurately described as “space age,” “ultramodern,” or “well-appointed” with the exception of the rare, isolated facility designed specifically to impress visiting foreign businesspeople or dignitaries and gullible journalists who are being led around by a governmental tour guide. 99% of the construction in China built for the average Chinese citizen over the last 10 years is comparable both in terms of quality and creativity to public housing built in Chicago, St. Louis or New York 40 or 50 years ago.


If Thomas Friedman bothered to visit with real Chinese families and saw how they actually lived, he would realize that his admiration for China is misplaced. He would no longer stand in awe of its buildings but rather would admire those Chinese citizens who have managed to remain inspired by the dream of freedom and liberty despite the oppression of their government.


(I still have to travel to China so please keep my name confidential in all respects. By the way, doesn’t that request say all that needs to be said about China?)

Yeah, when Friedman talks about the glittering, space age stuff it reminded me of Henry Wallace (FDR’s VP, former editor of The New Republic) and his visit to the Soviet Union, where he found one penal camp after another to be idyllic and often so much more impressive than the way we did things back in the U.S.

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, will be released on April 24.

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