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Panda Huggers and Dragon Slayers

“Panda-hugger” and “dragon-slayer” have become popular terms in recent years for describing two different kinds of China-watchers. Rob Gifford defines the terms as follows: “A panda-hugger is someone who says that almost everything going on in China is good, that China’s progress is a great thing for the world, and that any problems are peripheral. A dragon-slayer is someone who says the situation in China is terrible, that China is a threat to the world, and that any positive developments are just window-dressing.”

A large focus of our course will be how we can avoid these two extremes of the China-loving “panda-huggers” and China-bashing “dragon-slayers” as we teach students about China. After watching Eric X. Li’s Ted Talk, “A Tale of Two Political Systems,” please share your thoughts on one, two, or all of the following questions:

  1. Some have accused Eric X. Li of being a “panda-hugger” and mouthpiece for CCP propaganda in the West. Do you think this is a fair critique? How do you think Eric Li would respond to this accusation?
  2. What aspects of Eric Li’s video did you find most persuasive? Do you think that western viewers would be more receptive to his arguments now than they would have in 2013, when it was originally released?
  3. How can we critique Li’s article without being a “dragon-slayer”? Is there any room for critique of Li’s video in terms of his methodology or even logic?