Scattered Musings on an Early Fall Sunday Morning

Nice day today and certainly looking fall-like with the trees now showing their colors.  A bit sore too as spent most of yesterday with the annual rite of fall tree pruning.  Could leave them to grow but with the trees of my neighbors having now grown well beyond any attempt to trim them expect for hiring professional/expensive tree services…..

Early this week on the Fujisankei TV broadcast for Japanese expats here was a borrowed piece for ABC News (which I don’t watch ever) on what was characterized as an aggressive program supported/funded by the Chinese government to teach the Chinese language here. According to the broadcast, through this program, there 3,000 places offing instruction I the Chinese language, some as showing the broadcast, are immersion-like programs for small children.

Also highlighted were fears the program may be used to show impressionable children videos of the Chinese side of the Korean War.

This says two things to me. First from the Japanese point of view, it signals a fear, a real one too I believe, Japanese is being eclipsed, out done by the Chinese and for this I would say in part the Japanese have only themselves to blame.  True the Chinese have their own ethnocentric issues –after the characters for China mean “middle Kingdom’, or center of the world.  But I also believe they have in part gotten over that as such inner worldliness caused it and its people so much grief in the last century.   But I believe the difference between the two countries and their outlook towards the outside can be summed up by a comment from a cousin of mine, president of a large firm here, which does business which China. 

He said that in meetings with the Chinese he been  asked how conditions could be made easier for his company to do business in China, a remark that floored him in view of his business experience in in the United States.  I could equally say the same about a foreign firm trying to do business in Japan; simply beyond imagination.  Japan simply doesn’t know how to deal with a Chinese ‘dynasty’ in its strong, outward expansionist phase (aka the dynastic cycle).  Or with the outside world for that matter.

This is not however, to say I am naive not to believe China does not has its own agenda.

The second is the concern by some parents participating in the Chinese immersion programs their children may be indoctrinated by being exposed to Chinese-produced videos about the Korean War, showing most likely the U.S. is an unfavorable light.  But one has to remember in a conflict each side has for better or for worse its story.   For example, while traveling in the UK many years ago, we found ourselves in a local library and for kicks-and to kill time- looked at a history book particularly how the American War of Independence was treated.  From what I saw I don’t recall much that stood out save that the author/publishers needed a lesson in where battles were fought in the War of Independence as it had some place names dead wrong.

Having studied Chinese history,   I do not regard the entry of the Chinese into the Korean War as any sort of villainy as I believe it is commonly depicted in history books here.  Anyone with even a smattering of knowledge of Chinese history will understand no matter who was in charge; China has always regarded its neighboring counties as spheres of influence and with any perceived threat by foreign powers through the countries bordering it, it has reacted, as the Ming Dynasty did in the late 1500’s in response to the Japanese invasion of Korea.

So it has always been a wonder why no one in the U.S. at the time didn’t take a look at Chinese history and seen that Chinese intervention was a distinct possibility as a.)  A Chinese client state stood close to being obliterated, and b.)  Foreign armed forces had reached one of its borders.   So any Chinese depiction of the conflict not doubt does show U.S forces/actions unfavorably, given past history, it shouldn’t be a surprise either.


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