China Beat Archive



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March 29, 2008 in The China Beat


Copyright March 29, 2008. Used by permission.


The cover story for the May/June issue of Good Magazine, just hitting newsstands, is “Don’t Be Scared of China.” Living up to their moniker as “media for people who give a damn,” Good’s China issue encourages readers to learn more about China and embrace, not hate, in features like the tongue-in-cheek play on tabloid Us Weekly’s “Stars…They’re Just Like Us” photo spread that declares “They’re Just Like Us…They Like Hip Hop” and “They’re Just Like Us…They Go To Vegas.”

Though this approach at cultural exchange is well-intentioned, it continues a particularly egocentric understanding of China as a recipient of American (increasingly presented as global) culture rather than a generator of trends of its own. This tendency crops up in the cover story—“Ten Reasons Why China Matters To You” by Thomas P.M. Barnett—in which reason number 8 is “Because China’s transformation echoes much of America’s past.” When Barnett writes that “right now, China is somewhere in the historical vicinity of ‘rising America’ circa 1880,” he reiterates this progressive view of history and its accompanying notion that there is a trajectory of development (exemplified by England and the United States) along which all nations travel.