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ERIC Number: EJ878896
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 3
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0037-7724
Panda-Huggers and Dragon-Slayers: How to View Modern China Today
Gifford, Rob
Social Education, v74 n1 p9-11 Jan-Feb 2010
Panda-hugger and dragon-slayer are phrases used to describe two different kinds of China-watchers, and increasingly, two different types of people in the general public. A panda-hugger is someone who says that almost everything going on in China is good, that China's progress is a great thing for the world, and that any problems are peripheral. A dragon-slayer is someone who says the situation in China is terrible, that China is a threat to the world, and that any positive developments are just window-dressing. These two extreme positions have long characterized those who view China from the outside. The point about China today, though, is that it has become infinitely more complex than it ever was before, and being either a panda-hugger or a dragon-slayer is becoming increasingly untenable. In the 1960s, it was simple. China was Communist. Chairman Mao was responsible for the loss of millions of lives within China, and intent on exporting Communism round the world. In the context of the Cold War, the Western world was right in analyzing China as a threat and as an enemy. Now the situation is very, very different, and Western readers, listeners, and viewers need to be aware of how different it is. The complicating factor, though, is that now there are many hundreds of millions of people in China who are much happier than they were before. There is a new Chinese middle class, who owns apartments, cars, laptop computers, and who vacation in Thailand and Europe. Even rural farmers, whose lives are still desperately poor in many parts of the country, have seen many benefits in the reforms of the last 30 years. So, while some of the old paradigms are still true in many parts of China, they are now untrue in many parts of China too. And that's the problem. Which is the real China? The answer is: it all is, good and bad, and people have to make sure their views on China reflect the complexity of the reality on the ground. In this article, the author offers some suggestions of what to do and what to read.
National Council for the Social Studies. 8555 Sixteenth Street #500, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Tel: 800-683-0812; Tel: 301-588-1800; Fax: 301-588-2049; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: China