"Sinocism is the Presidential Daily Brief for China hands"- Evan Osnos, New Yorker Correspondent and National Book Award Winner
Li Delin did not like the Western press coverage. In a post on his Sohu blog titled “Americans Don’t Get Excited, It Was Just a Creation Out of a Piss 美国人别激动，那只是一泡尿的创意“, Li criticizes the attention, both because my post suggested possible anti-Semitic undertones, and because he thinks in general that the press is making too big of a deal of his book. Li says he had no ulterior motive, and that his publisher and a staffer came up with the idea for the book over a piss and then hired Li to write it.
As for any anti-Semitism, I should have given more perspective in my original post beyond that it contains “an undercurrent of anti-Semitism”. Apparently some Chinese people think that Isreali Shar Pei dogs are an especially smart breed. In my experience, Chinese tend to like Jewish people because they believe that the stereotypical Jewish person places very high value on family, education and money–just like Chinese do. In fact, some of my friends have told me that if their daughters have to marry a foreigner they hope he is Jewish. As anyone who has lived in China knows, the Chinese are very open about discussing other races and religions, sometimes pejoratively, sometimes not.
Growing up I was taught to try to avoid viewing people through racial or religious prisms. Maybe that makes me too sensitive, or maybe not. I read through this book and thought about the firestorm that would erupt if Matt Taibbi or others had written about Goldman Sachs and said they had the IQ of Israeli Shar Pei Dogs (p. 26), referred to founder Marcus Goldman as having Bavarian Jewish blood (p. 217), or described J. Aron as a firm “with pure Jewish bloodlines” (p. 249). And these are just references I found skimming through a handful of chapters in the book; there are no doubt more.
To my Jewish readers, do you think this has anti-Semitic undertones? Or are these just innocent descriptors used by Chinese with no inhibitions discussing foreigners?
The bigger issue I have with the book is the very strong nationalist sentiment, and especially the idea that Goldman is out to get with China. That just does not conform with reality. People who know me know I am no Goldman defender, but if an author is going to bash the firm I hope they at least do so with facts, of which there are plenty to justify attacks on the bank.
I purchased the official copy at a state-owned Xinhua bookstore. There is also at least one pirated version available online that does not contain any reference to Israeli Shar Pei dogs. As for calling this a bestseller, the rule of thumb as I understand it is that for every official copy sold in China there are probably 10 pirated versions read. Assuming 100,000 sold, that would mean 1 million or more people have this book. No matter what the government thinks of Goldman Sachs, more and more Chinese think they are anti-Chinese banksters. And that can’t be good for Goldman’s business in China.
Thanks for reading, and remember the best way to read this blog is to subscribe by email, especially if you are in China, as Sinocism is still blocked here. You can also follow me on @niubi or Sina Weibo @billbishop.