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The Internet and China-US Relations (互聯網與中美關系)
The Internet and China-US Relations (互聯網與中美關系)
楊恒均     阅读简体中文版

嫉惡如仇 從善如流
楊恒均微信號:yanghengjun2013

歡迎分享轉發



編者按

美國THE DIPLOMAT網站2014年起推出楊恒均專欄,將楊恒均的部分博文翻譯成英文。本平臺將選登部分文章,供英語愛好者閱讀。



The Internet and China-US Relations

By providing an alternative to mainstream media, the internet can increase mutual understanding.


By Yang Hengjun

May 17, 2014



Although today China-U.S. relations are not bad, the relationship remains very complicated. There are many factors affecting China-U.S. relations, some of which are very serious. This is why President Xi Jinping proposed the establishment of a “new model of major country relationship” …

This is a government level-affair. But regardless of how governments interact, it will not prevent civil organizations and writers from using whatever platforms they can to promote people-to-people exchanges and increase mutual understanding between the two peoples. This is the most important kind of “public diplomacy,” and in the long term, it may be the most meaningful. In the era of globalization, open societies and open information, it is public knowledge and opinion that ultimately decides the direction of the bilateral relationship.

Over the past ten years, I have witnessed the ups and downs of China-U.S. relationship… The “married couple” of China and the United States began to stumble, especially after 2008. The U.S. media was blunt in criticizing China, and the Chinese official media also began to highly publicize the conspiracies and evil deeds of America. As a result, some young people who couldn’t even find the U.S. on a map grew passionately angry towards the U.S. You would think the forced demolition of their homes, their low salaries, and even Chinese government corruption was all part of a CIA conspiracy. Some people were even dying to sail to the U.S., occupy Washington D.C., and attack the White House.

But the media tides quickly changed again. The “married couple” weren’t arguing anymore. I’m not sure whether they’re sleeping in the same bed, but they’re sitting on the same bench and starting to dream — both the “Chinese Dream” and the “American Dream.” The “married couple” of the U.S. and China had made peace, but the media could not be idle. In a strange coincidence, another evil neighbor turned up at just the right time. This time, it was Japan. The official media got riled up again, and accused the United States of supporting Japan… The United States was attacked just for existing. It got so bad that the sushi lovers didn’t even dare to go to Chinese-owned Japanese restaurants, for fear of being called a traitor.

Discerning people can easily see that the media, which always speaks with one voice, failed to report impartially on the mistakes and ulterior motives of politicians. The media also failed to publish different viewpoints. Truthfully, the media’s role was harmful. The rise of the internet made up for this deficiency. Although China has no independent non-profit organizations engaged in “public diplomacy,” we have “non-paid” writers to provide some positive energy for foreign relations. Over the past decade, I have mostly focused on China’s domestic political reform and democratization process, but I’ve also written hundreds of thousands of words about international relations.

When China-U.S. relations were at their most tense, I wrote that China’s only choice is to have a good relationship with the United States, which is in line with China’s national interests. While China and Japan were quarreling, I wrote a number of articles to remind them not to let things get out of hand. Of course, most of my articles were written to introduce what I have seen and heard to those young people who may never have a chance to travel abroad to see for themselves. Any strong bilateral relationship between two countries must be established on people’s knowledge and understanding of each other. Ignorance, misunderstanding and misguidance will only lead to prejudice and antagonism.

I’ve written a lot of blog pieces to increase the average Chinese reader’s understanding of the United States, reduce misunderstanding and ease hatred. After China-U.S. relations hit some bumps in 2008, a lot of young people were led by the mainstream media to believe that America’s democracy and freedom of expression were fake. They thought that the public had no right to protest, that criticizing or making fun of Obama would lead to punishment. So during a visit to the U.S., I put on some clothes that were clearly printed with cartoon images making fun of Obama and I walked in a circle around the White House. During my time in Washington, I wrote an article protesting the U.S. government bureaucracy. I posted the pictures and articles on my blog that same day, hoping some young Chinese netizens would gain a better understanding of the United States. Chinese netizens live in a place where making fun of even a mayor is likely to result in punishment or even time spent in a “reeducatation through labor” camp (thankfully, such camps have been abolished). I have to apologize to Obama — it’s not that I actually dislike him. I just used him, a bit carelessly perhaps, but I know that the American president is fair game for being “used” or criticized.

Later, the retired U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates wrote a book commenting on the political figures in the U.S. He had some words of criticism for everyone in the administration, from the president to the secretary of state. This was well-covered by China’s mainstream media. There’s nothing wrong with reporting on it; it’s in line with the facts. However, some attempted to conclude from Gates’ book that U.S. democratic system is fake, and the U.S. government deceives the people. This was too much, and would give the wrong impression to those Chinese readers with incomplete information and limited thoughts. At that point, as someone with a blog and a microblog, I had an obligation to remind everyone: Have you seen a retired Chinese defense minister be allowed to expose the inner workings of the incumbent administration and directly criticize the president and secretary of state?

Listen to both sides and you will be enlightened, heed only one side and you will be left in the dark. Watching CCTV’s daily news program Xinwen Lianbo can make you happy, but if you don’t combine it with reading blogs you may soon become a happy fool. Over the years, hundreds of internet writers have all helped ordinary Chinese people understand the outside world. With the new platform of the internet, it will be harder for those people trying to manipulate public opinion to arouse hatred or to divert attention to achieve other purposes. “Public diplomacy” is not only doing things that the government cannot do. It also means taking steps to prevent the government from doing unsavory things.

Compared with China, the views of the American people have a more direct impact on foreign policy decisions. Sadly, although some Chinese internet polls show that positive perceptions of the U.S. are increasing, in America, unfriendly or even hostile attitudes towards China are increasing. China has some plans for overseas publicity, and has invested a lot of money in this, but they either don’t understand the environment overseas or they’re unwilling to understand and have no way to change the workings of the bureaucracy. For whatever reason, China’s overseas publicity often doesn’t get good results, and sometimes gets things completely wrong, which actually creates negative publicity. To increase the American understanding of China, I think it would be better to rely on the local Chinese-American community as well as NGOs like the National Committee on U.S.- China Relations and the older generation of China experts and U.S. diplomats. The U.S. media should be comprehensive when viewing China and try not to demonize China.

In China, we bloggers are on the grassroots levels. We are impacting a large number of ordinary people who don’t have much influence themselves. However, I believe that when thousands of ordinary people learn the truth, embrace diversity, and begin to learn how to express their views through the internet and new media, they will not only be able to affect those influential policy-makers, but will be a great force that cannot be ignored. So I think that the China-U.S. “new model of major country relations” needs one more clause: Society should be open and information should flow freely, in order to ensure that people of the two countries can move from knowledge to understanding and finally to mutual respect. Let’s work together.


This piece srcly appeared in Chinese on Yang Hengjun’s blog. The src post can be found here.

Yang Hengjun is a Chinese independent scholar, novelist, and blogger. He once worked in the Chinese Foreign Ministry and as a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council in Washington, DC. Yang received his Ph.D. from the University of Technology, Sydney in Australia. His Chinese language blog is featured on major Chinese current affairs and international relations portals and his pieces receive millions of hits each day. Yang’s blog can be accessed at www.yanghengjun.com


原文:


互聯網與中美關系



文 | 楊恒均


雖說現在中美關系還不錯,但還是很復雜的。影響中美關系的因素很多,有些還很嚴重,所以習主席提出了要建立中美“新型的大國關系”。一開始美國方面不冷不熱,這段時間發現中國的崛起勢不可擋,北京也確實有誠意要建立新型大國關系,試圖避免歷史上不同政治制度大國之間的權力更替一定會有熱戰或者冷戰的歷史宿命,美國這才從政府到智庫開始關注“新型大國關系”,想搞清楚“新型大國關系”的內容。


中方擺在“新型大國關系”最重要位置上的就是互相承認和尊重各自的核心利益(coreinterests)。但恰恰是這一點,目前還沒法達成共識。對北京來說,最大的“核心利益”就是政局穩定與執政黨的領導地位不動搖(one-partsystem),可在外交與國際場合,直接說出這樣的國家“核心利益”頗令人難堪,于是就有些含糊其辭,希望美國人心領神會,可美國人偏偏假裝聽不懂。當然,我能理解,要讓美國公開承認和尊重這種“核心利益”同樣是強人所難,不但違背了美國230年來的立國理念,也有背他這些年在世界各地打拼的目標。所以,“新型大國關系”要想落到實處,還有相當長的路要走。我希望不是“不可能的任務”(mission impossible)。


上面說的是政府層面的事,但不管政府之間做什么,并不影響我們這些民間機構與民間寫作者利用力所能及的平臺,增進民間的交流,增加普通民眾對對方的了解,這也是最重要的一種“公共外交”,從長遠老講,恐怕更有意義。在全球化時代,在開放的社會與信息公開的時代,真正決定兩國關系走向的,最終還是取決于民眾的認知與公共意見。


過去十幾年,我親眼見證了大陸和臺灣關系、中美關系與中日關系的風風雨雨。1997,兩岸關系劍拔弩張、一觸即發,怪嚇人的,后來幾乎是一夜之間,風平浪靜,啥事都沒了。我從那時開始意識到不報道真相、不允許不同意見的媒體實際上起了推波助瀾的作用,是很危險的。但我們什么也不能做,當時五千多個電視臺、報紙幾乎都是官辦的,報道的口吻千篇一律,弄得所有的人(除了北京和李登輝之外)都認為兩岸這對“兄弟”肯定要再打一仗,好像不弄死幾百萬中國人就對不起列祖列宗似的。


不久,兩岸這對“兄弟”就如膠似漆了,倒是被喻為“夫妻”的中美兩國開始磕磕碰碰,尤其是2008年后,美國媒體對中國不客氣,中國官媒也開始大張旗鼓地宣傳美國人的陰謀和邪惡,弄得一些連美國在地球上哪個方位都不清楚的年輕人開始熱血沸騰,一說起美國就咬牙切齒,好像他們的房子被拆、工資太低以及政府的貪污腐敗都是中央情報局的陰謀,恨不得立馬渡海到美國,占領華盛頓,血洗白宮。


很快,媒體的風向又轉了,中美這對“夫妻”不吵架了,我不能確定他們是否已經“同床”,但已經坐在同一張板凳上開始做夢了——中國夢同美國夢是相通的嘛。“兄弟”不鬧了,“夫妻”和好了,可媒體不能閑著,巧的是這時正好又跳出一個一衣帶水的惡鄰——日本。官方背景的媒體又起勁了,用當初指責“美國支持臺灣”的一模一樣的口吻與句式指責美國現在又在支持日本……美國真是躺著也中槍啊。最后弄得一些喜歡吃生魚片的人都不敢去中國人開的日本餐廳,担心被扣上“漢奸”的帽子。


明眼人一下子就能看出,只能發出一種聲音的媒體,沒有能夠在政治人物失誤或者別有用心時堅持公正的報道,刊登不同的意見,實則扮演了很壞的角色。互聯網的出現,彌補了這方面的不足。我們雖沒有非盈利(non-profit)機構從事“公共外交”工作,但我們有“非盈利”(no-paid)寫作給外交提供一點正能量。過去十年,我主要關注中國國內政治改革與民主化進程,但也寫了幾十萬字的國際關系評論文章。


在海峽兩岸緊張時,我寫了大量的呼吁兩兄弟坐下來談,主張北京通向臺北的路不必繞道華盛頓;中美關系最緊張的時候,我認為同美國搞好關系是我們唯一的選擇,符合中國的國家利益;中日大鬧時,我寫了多篇文章提醒他們別玩過了……當然,我更多的博文,還是向那些也許一輩子都沒有機會出去看看的青年人介紹我所有見所聞、所思所想,我認為,任何牢固的雙邊關系,必須建立在兩國民眾對對方的認知與理解上,無知、誤解與誤導只能導致偏見與對抗。


我有很多這類旨在增加中國普通讀者對美國的了解、減少誤會、緩解仇恨的博文。例如2008年時中美關系出現了一些問題,大量青年被主流媒體引導認為美國的民主和言論自由都是虛假的,民眾沒有抗議權,針對奧巴馬的批評和丑化行為會遭到打擊報復。于是在不久后一次訪問美國時,我穿上一件明顯印有丑化奧巴馬漫畫圖像的衣服,繞著白宮走了一圈,還在華盛頓期間寫了一篇抗議美國政府官僚機構的文章。我當天就把圖片和文章發在博客上,很多年輕的中國網友通過圖文多少增加了對美國的一些了解,要知道,他們可是生活在一個“丑化”鄉長都有可能被打擊報復甚至送去“勞教”的地方——謝天謝地,在網友的鼓噪下,“勞教”好像已經廢除了。不過,我得對奧巴馬說一聲對不起,我不是真不喜歡他,我只是利用了一下他。有點不地道,但我知道,美國人的總統就是用來“利用”和批評的。


再如,前段時間美國的退休國防部長蓋茨寫書點評美國政壇人物,幾乎把從總統到國務卿的所有白宮人物都批評了幾句,這件事在中國的主流媒體上被報道的比較多,這當然沒什么,也符合事實,但一些試圖由此引申出美國的民主制度虛假,以及美國政府在欺騙民眾等等的做法,就過了,會給信息不全甚至連思考都被限制的部分中國讀者留下錯誤的認識,這個時候,作為博客和微博作者,就有必要點醒一下:你沒看到人家一個退休的國防部長都可以揭露現任政府的內幕,直接批評總統和國務卿嗎?


兼聽則明,偏聽則暗,看新聞聯播可以增加幸福感,但如果不結合老楊頭的博文看,你可能很快就變成幸福的傻子。這些年,像我一樣的成百上千的網絡寫作者,多多少少對中國普通人理解外部世界做了一些貢獻。有了互聯網這個平臺,一些人試圖靠制造輿論來激起仇恨、轉移視線達到其它目的做法,恐怕都不會那么順利了。“公共外交”不僅僅是做政府無法做的事,還要設法避免政府做一些不太好的事。


相比中國來說,美國民眾的意見對當局的外交決策具有更加直接的影響,但我們痛心地看到,就在中國的一些網絡民調顯示中國人對美國人的好感在上升時,美國人對中國的不友好甚至敵視的比例卻在增加。中國有一些外宣計劃,也投入了不少錢,但由于他們不理解海外的生態,或者不愿意去理解,也無法改變自己的官僚作風,效果往往不是很好,有時甚至做多少錯多少,更有一些起到了反面宣傳的效果。我認為增加美國人對中國了解的這種工作,還得由當地的華人華僑以及像“美中關系全國委員會”,以及老一輩中美問題專家和美國外交官來做比較好。美國的媒體看中國也應該全面,不能抱妖魔化的心態。


在中國,我們這些博客作者走的還是草根路線,影響的是巨量沒有多少影響力的普通人,不過,我相信,當成千上萬沒有影響力的普通人了解到真相,接受到多元,并開始學會通過互聯網和新媒體發聲時,他們不但能夠影響那些有影響力的政策決策者,其本身就是一股不容忽視的巨大力量。因此我認為,中美“新型大國關系”的內容中應該加進一條,那就是開放的社會,流通的信息,確保兩國民眾之間也能做到從了解到理解再到相互尊重。讓我們一起努力吧。


楊恒均 2014.2.27



2015-08-23 08:54

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