Recently, every conversation I have had with friends seem to revolve around the financial meltdown, and I have noticed an interesting phenomenon: those who have not shown any interest American politics before are now well versed in all of Obama’s domestic policies; those who had been eager to witness America’s decline and public humiliation are no longer dare to think those thoughts; those patriots who had wished for China alone to prosper and overtake the capitalist empire of the United States are now hoping for Obama to succeed as well; Chinese immigrants who before had only loved China are beginning to embrace the U.S. as well.
Why the Sudden Change?
There are some who never wish the U.S. well, either due to prejudice or because they are preoccupied with their affairs in China and cannot relate to the economic environment in America. These are not the type of people I wish to talk about today.
Then there are others who are only in the U.S. for the exotic and foreign culture, who plan on leaving in two to three years and develop more in China. These people also do not care much about the rise and fall of the U.S.
Most of the remaining immigrants have careers, homes, families and children in the U.S. They have been working hard for years or even decades to settle here, and now they have just been met with this crisis. In addition to the unthinkable fear of losing one’s job, things like salary cuts, the rising cost of education and falling property values are enough to pull your hair out. These people, including myself, do not wish for America to continue on its downward spiral.
A friend in the Sino-American textile trade is suffering from lack of sales.
Another friend who usually travels back to China two to three times a year could live in style when the dollar was worth eight yuan. He tell me, “ I’m not going back this year. With the fall of the dollar, going back once almost cuts my bank account in half.”
A friend said in a self-deprecating way, “The U.S. isn’t even finished yet and those in China are already looking down on us who wanted to ‘capture the zeitgeist’ and emigrated the first chance we had. Before, it didn’t even matter how we did in America, we could always brag and be envied. Now, not only are we poor, but we are even laughed at in China. I can’t even face my friend anymore. The only things we have now are more children and faster cars.”
A buddy of mine summed up the grief of immigrants: “When China doesn’t prosper, we face the ridicule of foreigners. When America doesn’t prosper, we face the ridicule of our fellow Chinese people.”
Yet maybe this is the law of nature: the one in charge is the one with money. In the not too distant future, when a dollar is worth just three yuan, or when the plane ticket home cost $2000, who can afford to go back? Don’t even mention trying to buy a house or retiring in China. Count your blessings if you won’t be thought of as a refugee.
These are the reasons we wish for the United States to reclaim its wealth and power.
Think about the day you can no longer afford to travel to China, the day you are forced to lower your standards of living, the day you are constantly berated with the thoughts of paying for your child’s college tuition, paying off the mortgage on your house, trying to sell your house, paying back loans, taking out more loans, maintaining your retirement fund. One catastrophic year has undone decades of hard work. “If America is bad, and only China is good, then where does that leave us?” says a friend, a resident of the United States. “It’s already too late to go back.”
Thus, when we exclaim our patriotic and nationalistic slogans, how many of us really understand the consequences of this crisis? When we debate our loyalty to our motherland or to the land where we live, shouldn’t we also consider our own personal interests as well?
The anticipation many of us feel for the U.S.’s comeback, especially now, far surpasses the hope for China’s prosperity. Does this really mark a shift in our own stance on patriotism?