Extracted from an interview by a Chinese reporter to the American site PR Newswire. Full translation underway.
The original article can be seen here.
An article on July 12 on PR Newswire, originally titled: “How “Free” are the Chinese?” based on a Chinese reporter interviewed on China evoked the comment from some American netizens that Chinese people don’t understand freedom.
Is that true? In general, freedom in China is more philosophical. It focuses on social connections and is based on human decency. By contrast, freedom in the United States is more rebellious. It focuses on individual desires and is based on human weaknesses.
Above all, American freedom is rooted in struggle and combat – for example, the struggle against colonialism and slavery. This may be related to the fact that the people involved have not enjoyed true freedom historically, which makes them sensitive to what they perceive as “freedom. Western media coverage of American protests against mandatory masks, for example, is largely a protest against government interference in personal freedom.
In China, on the other hand, freedom is more of a state of mind that people seek. It is the result of the magical coexistence of Confucianism, which encourages benevolence and propriety, and Taoism, which seeks transcendence. As a result, people will do what they want to do without crossing certain boundaries.
Second, America puts individual freedom and rights first. They do help each other and work hard, but the individual definitely comes first. In China, on the other hand, there is no freedom to speak of without considering the group to which the individual belongs. It’s more of a trade-off. For example, if I don’t wear a mask during an epidemic, I will scare the people around me, and if I get infected, I may infect others and increase the medical burden. In this case, I would rather sacrifice some of my own freedom to protect the greater freedom of others.
In addition, Americans believe that people are born sinful and guilty, while the Chinese believe that human nature is inherently good. As a result, Americans are skeptical of the intentions and motives of others, while the Chinese are more likely to believe that leadership is acting in their best interests. Thus, when asked to wear a mask, Americans first question whether it is an infringement on their own freedom, while the Chinese are more likely to think first: this must be a scientific way to protect them.
Both Chinese and Americans value freedom, but have their own definitions of what freedom means. We cannot judge (others) by our own standards in the name of “universal values”.