China and Dubai: Two sides of the same coin?
In my travels, what I have noticed is that every country or city that I visit has its own flavor, its own vibe that fills me with an acute understanding of the place. And even if it is obvious it has to be mentioned that every single one of those places always differ from the descriptions that I’ve received from outside. They say that your reputation precedes you, and that was the same notion that I had before I visited both China and Dubai. They are supposedly the most autocratic unfree nations in the world but the West views both of them very differently.
First the commonality. Both of these nations are rich beyond measure and today are a hub for business and networks. Both have strict laws, one is islamic and the other is communist, so you don’t have the right to practice any other religion in both these places. Both these places are surveillance states with the government having the absolute power that enforces itself upon people with secret police.
But when I talked with the locals, most of them were quite happy with their lifestyles. Yes, they were being surveyed, but they also felt protected and safe. The Chinese especially are very nationalistic and have a long tradition of living under the state’s control. To them, the communist revolution only annexed one emperor with another and most of them support the government despite being influenced by western ideas of democracy. Yes, the problems still arise and the great internet wall that China has created for the Chinese does affect free speech but the same can be said for even democratic nations like the US and UK, who also censor free speech. Dubai on the other hand has a laxer system but since it is a muslim nation, their punishments are absolute and that is why people still love living there. But on the other hand, Dubai is one of the most visited places in the world while China doesn’t even come in the top ten.
So, why are they judged by different lenses?
First reason for this is obviously the challenge. Dubai never challenges the western influence and in fact thrives because of it and thus stays their best friend. While on the other hand, everybody and their grandmas know that China has always been preparing for retribution against their century of humiliation that took place during the colonial era and thus nobody trusts them. But everybody works with them regardless because there is no other manufacturing and intelligence powerhouse in the world except for China.
China is openly hated, however, even Hollywood and the United Nations lower their necks before them and their agenda. Even though the #FreeTaiwan is very prominent in the western societies, seldom do any of their representatives even acknowledge it. The US itself plays a doublespeak game when it comes to China. Recently, when Nancy Pelosi went to Taiwan, she was condemned by China but White House gaslighted the world by saying that they still support one China policy even if their own foreign affairs minister was meeting someone from the opposite side of the table.
On the other hand, Dubai and UAE are mostly looked upon in a positive light so much so that US’s former President Donald Trump visited their country multiple times over the course of his terms and made sure that their oil deal remains strong and prominent. We can see how much suffering and pain the Middle East oil brings to the world and yet, the ruling West does not even question the means by which it is extracted.
Whatever may be the case, I believe it is true that we should not judge a book by its cover. Unless you’ve studied the place, been there, lived with the locals and understood all the levels that run the events, you should always keep an open mind, because who knows what you may find…