Burgers, Bowling, and the Myth of Americanizing China

Burgers, Bowling, and the Myth of Americanizing China

Recent coverage of Chinese events demonstrates that the American media’s strange love-hate relationship with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is alive and well. Now, as in the past, we see shifts between periods when China is presented as a big bad place that poses a threat to all we hold dear and periods when it is presented as a land of decent people on the verge of converting to our ways and buying our products in record numbers—as soon as they overcome the lingering hold of a few outmoded traditions. There are some novel aspects of the current situation. The idea of an “evil empire” has displaced the “Yellow Peril” and “Red Menace” in the rhetoric of demonizers, for example, and those promoting the Americanization line have a new set of favorite images, which involve describing China as a land where people go bowling, buy stocks, and eat Big Macs. The general pattern remains constant nonetheless, with just one key difference: swings between demonization and romanticization, which used to take place over the course of years, now occur much more quickly.

...

Lima