....I would expect that China's history books have reamed Japan pretty well because of their nasty behavior in China in WW2, so public support of China policy (like they care about support) is going to be high. However, I am still reeling from a conversation with my two hip, 27 y.o. colleagues, who I hang with and who have had dinner with my wife and I.Jim Mann argued in The China Fantasy that the urban middle classes would ally with the State to enable them to maintain their position and assets and lifestyle against the masses below.
The subject of Taiwan and Japan came up obliquely, I mentioned that Taiwan people have an affinity for Japanese culture that developed during their "benevolent occupation". Ding! Wrong fact to bring up. They jumped on top of me and robotically stated "Taiwan is a part of China and China was never occupied by Japan". Along with various statements about hating Japanese.
After collecting my senses, I asked how they could explain how my parents-in-law both speak Japanese if they were not educated by Japanese. They accused me of stating that their history books are wrong. Of course, I explained how every country's history books are wrong, that they are a tool for whoever is in power.
College educated (maybe that makes it worse), one has worked for 3 foreign companies and is a sparkling personality. That's why it is so disturbing, it means perhaps 99% of the people are misinformed about such a significant and recent fact of history. Hearing about propaganda and seeing the effect of it, are different things.
The State also connects to the educated urban middle classes in another way -- many of these hip, educated types are in service businesses that are dependent on the state flows of credit to local construction and land development -- real estate, law, accounting, engineering, consulting, interior design, architecture, and similar, or on foreign firms which are there on the sufferance of the State and buy and sell to and from its firms and projects. Westerners, especially Americans, have weird dramatized ideas that Leninist states like China or the KMT state on Taiwan succeed by a kind of coarse and obvious repression, but the reality is that they succeed by getting buy-in into the System from constituencies whose support they need. If you see past the surface, the KMT and CCP govern in the same manner: both Chinese Leninist parties co-opt their needed constituencies using flows of money and credit out of the central government to the construction-industrial state and those it feeds.
I suspect this is why so often you hear about educated urban middle-class professionals in China who are savvy analysts of Chinese government domestic politics and who are often properly and creatively skeptical about what they are fed about the domestic situation, but who immediately become mindless authoritarian blusterers if Tibet or Taiwan is mentioned. Such hollow nationalism represents a safe area in which hip urban types can display agreement with the State. While ignorance at the domestic level can be perilous for the assets of the rising middle class, bombastic nationalism is cost-free. Taiwan is thus all too useful.
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