How "free" are the Chinese?

BEIJING, July 12, 2021  /PRNewswire/ -- A interview with reporter Xu Ruyi from, on China and America's view on freedom:

In the comment section of our last episode, an American user said that they (the Chinese) will never know freedom. Is that really the case?

I really have done my homework on this topic. In summary, the freedom in China is more philosophical; it focuses on social connections, and is based on human decency. In contrast, America's freedom is more rebellious; it focuses on individual desires, and is based on human weaknesses.

First, freedom or liberty in America originated from struggles and battles — against colonialism and slavery for example. It is probably related to the fact that the people involved had never enjoyed any real freedom in their history — this has made them very sensitive to what they consider their "freedoms".

For example, many western media covered protests in America against the imposition of face masks; to a great extent those involved are actually protesting against interference in individual freedom on the part of government. In contrast, in China freedom is more like a philosophical state we pursue — it's a result of a magical co-existence between Confucianism, which encourages benevolence and courtesy, and Taoism, which pursuits detachment. So, people will do what they wish without crossing certain boundaries.

Secondly, America places individual freedom and rights first. They do help each other, they do work hard; but individuals come first, and that is an absolute. In China, it's simply not possible to talk about freedom without considering the groups a person belongs to. It's more of a trade-off. For example, if I choose not to wear a face mask during the pandemic, I will alarm the people around me, and if I get infected, I may infect others and add to the medical burden. In this case, I would rather sacrifice some of my own freedom, to protect the greater freedom of others.

Thirdly, Americans believe humans are born sinners; Chinese believe in natural kindness. As a result, Americans are skeptical of the intentions and motives of others, whereas Chinese are more likely to believe that their leadership is acting in their best interests. So when there is a requirement for face masks, an American will probably question first whether it represents an intrusion of his or her freedom, while the first thing that comes to a Chinese mind is more likely to be: This must be a scientific way to protect me.

Both Chinese and Americans value freedom, but both have their own definition of what it means. We cannot, in the guise of "universal values", judge something against our own standards, regardless of the other's intrinsic features. Such a one-sided approach means that the value is no longer universal.

What's your take?

China Mosaic

How "free" are the Chinese?