Members of the Charlottesville community hold a vigil for Heather Heyer following last Saturday's protest organized by white nationalists. Photo: Reuters/Kate Bellows/The Cavalier Daily

Chinese state-run Global Times took some time on Thursday to reflect on the events that have transfixed many in America over the past week.

The editorial (link in Chinese) unsurprisingly characterized the Charlottesville violence, and reactions from all sides in America, as unrelatable to the Chinese public. China could not abide such divisiveness, and likes stability in politics, the commentary explained, further questioning whether America would always be so resilient:

From the viewpoint of Chinese society, the current division regarding values in the US is shocking. American society is able to on the one hand endure this kind of conflict, while at the same time maintain “normal functioning.” Perhaps this can be considered part of the social ethos of America.

Over the past few days, many Chinese people have seen Americans destroy statues, write “reactionary slogans” on the Lincoln memorial, bringing to mind “destroying the Four Olds”, with people even saying that America is undertaking a “Cultural Revolution.” They are partly joking, but the sentiment reflects the “abnormal” Chinese people see in America today.

The conflict sparked in Charlottesville is not a simple race conflict, it is a more broad-based and deep opposition of values, one faction of which is all white, while the opposing liberal camp is made up of people of all races. This kind of division and disorder, even if in another Western nation, could possibly lead to a disastrous attack on the functioning of the country. You can’t deny that America is the world’s most able to endure torture of any country in the western world.

But the ability of America to emerge unscathed from political upheaval has its limits. In the 1960’s, racial conflict spread, but America was at the peak of its power, the confidence of American mainstream society was riding high, and unity in the face of the Soviet challenge easily kept internal divisions at bay. The direction America was going at that time was clear, partisan and racial fighting did not shake the foundations of American mainstream society.

Today the balance of power in the world is slowly changing, eroding the confidence of American society, this will certainly fall along with society’s ability to endure problems. […]

Chinese society usually doesn’t take a stance of letting social problems alone. This country is cautious, advocating nipping in the bud, placing importance on a situation as soon as it appears. Maybe this is because there are too many lessons to learn from China’s long history. We don’t dare letting go of our society’s unity for one moment and won’t carelessly test the limits of our society’s endurance. We like a stable and comfortable feeling in our politics. […]

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