Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Japan + China = Love + Hate

Okay,so I missed the boat when it came to writing a Valentine's Day themed blog entry; but I thought I would make amends by commenting on the strange relationship I've noticed between China and Japan whilst I've been here. As a child growing up the earliest memory I have of any exchange between Japan and China was the textbook controversy in which the Japanese government was accused of forcing ignorance upon its people of Japan's role in murdering Chinese during the Second Sino-Japanese war.

And so it comes that whilst here I have picked up on some intersesting things in the way Chinese people react to Japanese here in China. I do not want to get too profound or historical in anything I may say; I am simply pointing out the curiousness I have encountered.

My Japanese friends often assure me that they are detested by Chinese people; but I have rarely noticed any manifestation of this supposed contempt towards them. In one incident in Harbin, my Japanese friend and I were asked by the driver to get out of the cab on his learning of our nationalities (my friend subsequently became a Korean person for the rest of our time there!), yet outside of this there is nothing but fascination.

From Chinese comic stores where the owner wants to know which Japanese manga series would be worth importing for his store, to guys in a nightclub who want to know whether Japanese girls are interested in Chinese guys ( my Japanese friend says Taiwaners are wanted, mainlanders less so).

In another incident we went to 中关村 (Zhongguancun) to buy a external memory drive. My friend offered the peculiarly strange Japanese coin with a hole in the middle of it in an attempt to secure a cheaper price. I thought we might be laughed away. Instead the Chinese seller asked if we had any more.

Last semesters' Chinese father took up an anti-Japanese stance; yet both of his cars were Toyotas. For all his words; when push came to shove Japan seemed too enticing. He comically tried to explain the cars were made in Chinese factories, but his explanation didn't cut the mustard with me! Perhaps he took the anti-Japanese standpoint; but I heavily doubt any Japanese national has done anything against him personally.

These and innumerable other incidents leads me to believe that Chinese people are fascinated by Japanese people; and in China see them as representative of a wealthy culture which they would love to imitate/be a part of. Any supposed hatred seems one of two things:a cultural knee-jerk reaction stemming from generations' old history, or a way of subverting envy and masking inferiority complex.

I have quite a lot of love for Japan. I think China also has a secret crush...

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