Sunday, January 18, 2009

Selective Memory and other notions (Erin K. Patterson)

Hello again. Now that the seminar is over we all have time to breathe what little air is left by the multitudes of people everywhere. Looking back over the time we've had here there is one thing that sticks out to me as a splinter made of titanium in my foot.

We visited the Embassy of the People's Republic of China on a blistery Thursday with the 2 longest escalators I have ever run up and the longest windiest bridge in Washington DC. Once we got there we were ushered into the room where our presentation was, and dare I say it was beyond boring. The majority of us, I believe, fell asleep. I know I did. But for what parts I was able to stay out of a comatose state, I noticed some errors in the Minister Counselor Zhang Ping's PowerPoint. First of all he read the entire thing off the slides, and skipped a few as well. One of the slides in particular stuck out in mind. It stated that every U.S. administration has supported the One China Policy. This policy states that there is only one China and that island of Taiwan is a part of that China. Minister Counselor Ping gave this slide a millisecond before he moved on. The sparked a curiosity in me, because I had thought that the United States had officially recognized the country of Taiwan as its own entity. I've now found out that I was wrong. Yes I can be wrong. Though we have never officially recognized the Taiwanese, we have not said that Taiwan is a part of China. Twice has the Taiwanese President been invited to the United States. Since we trade a lot with both of these countries and our ties are very close the United States has seemingly taken a somewhat neutral stance on this issue. Perhaps that is why he skipped this slide.

He also gave the America-China relationship a beautiful lovely Bambi-cutesy glow. Did someone forget Korea? Remember its this little tiny "conflict" that lasted 3 years. The United States was on the side of the South Koreans and who was it.... was on the side of the North Koreans. Oh Yes. It was China. I watch M*A*S*H, I know China was there, I knew that even without the help of a wonderful sitcom. Funny how it wasn't all. As one can tell, this has really ticked me off. My Gramps was a parachute jumper in the 101st Airborne during the Korean Conflict. So I was personally offended by this lack of respect for the Americans and the Chinese soldiers that died to stop the fighting within Korea.
What also surprised me was that none of the students brought it up in the Q&A session after the PowerPoint. I didn't bring it up because I was ready to get out of there, but in hindsight I wish I had called China out on that.

After attempting to listen to the presentation, the realization on the limited press and the oppression in China is so profound in their media. It made me appreciate the free press we enjoy most of the time here. Can you imagine the Daily Show or the Colbert Report in the People's Republic of China. The country where they wouldn't let a little girl sing at the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics because she wasn't "pretty" enough. I think that China is as obsessed with their image as a middle school girl. They can't stand to have anything negative to be said against them without retaliation. What a wonderful country we live in, where we can bash ourselves into a bloody pulp and be fine with it completely...almost always. There are limits for everything and everyone.

The Inauguration is technically tomorrow and the Metro is already insane. Sam and I visited Museums at the Smithsonian stop. By the time we both finished, we couldn't even get near the station there or at Federal Triangle. I cringe to imagine the chaos that will ensue on Tuesday. Hopefully we will all survived and not be trampled by tourists(more touristy than us) who don't know what in the heck they are doing.

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