I’d love for the reader to explain his objections some more, because I don’t want to put words in his mouth.
It sounds like he wasn’t happy that a flag representing a government founded on Marxist, communist, and/or Maoist principles was flying so prominently in downtown Walnut Creek—and so close to City Hall.
The reader referred to it as a “communist China flag,” then said, “Yeah, I understand it’s Chinese food, but come on! How ‘bout an American flag next to it at least?”
What do you think? I know a flag with such strong associations with communism pushes some people's buttons. Even though communism as a political ideology is rather passé--not including occasional retro commie blasts from Nepal, where communists have made themselves the nation’s leading party, or from Peru, where the Maoist Shining Path guerrillas continue their sporadic terrorists attacks.
But isn’t communism—the kind we associate with Marx, Trotsky, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, or other 20th century utopian ideologues—so last century? Okay, sure the People’s Republic of China—better known as mainland China—is the most populous nation on earth (1.2 billion people), and it is ruled by the Communist Party of China under a single-party, authoritarian system.
But how “communist” is the Communist Party of China, or the People's Republic of China? Only about 5 percent of people in mainland China belong to the Party. Then there was the rule of Deng Xiaoping (de facto leader of China from 1978 to the early 1990s). He introduced a social and economic philosophy termed “socialism with Chinese characteristics” that merges a market economy with a socialist political system.
In terms of discussing contemporary Chinese political systems, I'll be the first to admit that I'm flying without a net, and it would be nice if some expert on modern China or communist theory weighed in. But, it it sounds to me like China is more capitalist than stereotypically communist. At the same time, I understand that China’s government, with its single-party system, is not as democratic as many of us would like.
Back to OI-C Bowl? Does any of this high-falutin' political economy/ideology stuff have any bearing on how we should react to the People’s Republic of China flag flying hanging outside this restaurant?
On a somewhat related topic, it is common to go into an Italian, French, or Mexican restaurant, and see the colors of those country’s flags, or the actual flags themselves, flying as part of the restaurant’s décor. I’m a big fan of Thai food. Any Thai restaurant worth its fish sauce will display photos of the Thai royal family, a display—like that of the Italian, French and Mexican flags—that is an exercise in nationalist pride. (And, yes, technically, Thailand enjoys democratic rule, so, by that measure, we Americans like Thailand. But how democratic is a country like Thailand that continues to be plagued by rampant vote buying, corruption, and regularly military-backed coups?)
And, compared with the Italian, French, and Mexican flags, is there something different about a display of Chinese flag--a bright red sheet with its five bright yellow stars--on WC’s popular North Main Street? In terms of color scheme and design, this flag is reminiscent of the red-and-yellow hammer-and-sickle flag of the Soviet Union. Of course, both the flags of the USSR and of the People’s Republic of China were and are controversial symbols of the communist ideology with which we Americans were so long at war. Cold War-wise, that is.
For many people, seeing this Chinese flag won’t provoke the same sentimental reaction they might get from seeing an Italian, French, or Mexican flag. Suburbanites of mainland Chinese origin might have a different reaction.
Also, you might have a more open and welcoming attitude towards the PRC, following the Beijing Olympics and in light of our complicated relationship with that country in the midst of the global economic crisis--with that country emerging as the United State's largest creditor.
Is China our new economic BFF on the world stage? Should we therefore show its red-and-gold-star flag some respect? Or is China our new big, bad superpower enemy, and should we treat that country, and its flag, with wariness?