First of the other FACES posts. This one is dedicated to a couple of the events at the conference. The first is the government simulation we did. They separated us into two teams according to our country of origin (U.S. and China) and told us the situation. The situation was that there was an island, A+B, ruled by a monarchy. The island is assumed to be self-sufficient and of a similar technological level of Earth today. Speaking of which, the existence of Earth has just been discovered in another dimension. Suddenly, an earthquake splits the island into island A and island B and causes the disappearance of the queen. Island A had a population of roughly 130, divided into five tribes. Island B has 30 people from two tribes. The islands are the same size and have the same resource. The jobs of the American and Chinese sides was to come up with a system of government for islands A and B respectively.
I was part of our side’s foreign policy team, and we assumed that since the population was concentrated on our half, we were the city, while island B consisted of the outskirts/farms. Since they had four times the resources as us, we knew we would have to establish contact with the opposite island and reintegrate. Also, since we had the larger population, we figured we could offer military protection and manufacturing services in exchange for B’s resources (and protection from Earth, the planet of imperialistic assholes) and a policy of open borders to encourage reintegration between the two halves. The more politically astute of your will recognize this as China’s policy towards places such as Taiwan, Tibet etc. It did seem perfectly logical to us though, as before all seven tribes were one nation, there would be no predisposition for the tribes to be hostile to one another.
The Chinese side on the other hand, patterned their government on the American electoral system (as did we with some differences, I won’t bore you with the details), and had a policy of attracting our intelligentsia while maintaining separation so as to avoid having to prop us up economically. When we pointed out that if they didn’t reintegrate, we would run out of resources and turn into a slum (especially with our intelligentsia gone) and have no choice but to invade with our superior numbers. The Chinese side countered that they would pursue nuclear weapons as a first strike deterrent, and we pointed out that no nuclear weapon is precise enough to strike one half of the island without influencing the other. We sadly then ran out of time, and I would have loved to have some more time to explore the situation. My biggest takeaways though were that with circumstances reversed, Chinese and Americans instantly adopted the others’ policies, which makes you realize things wouldn’t be so different if you were in someone else’s place. Also, one of the Chinese delegates told me afterwards that one of the reasons they refused our overtures of reunification is because China in general has a heavy distrust of international relations backed only by goodwill, and that social/political Darwinism were very large influences, namely might makes right (as in the case of the South China Sea you could say). A pity the discussion couldn’t last longer, but gave me food for thought in the future.
Secondly, you’ll remember my project for FACES was to set up a counseling app for Chinese LGBTQ youth aimed at raising awareness. A combination of my lack of preliminary research and a lot of AWOL group members resulted in a lot of wasted time, and when the conference came we basically had to say how we fucked up and what our new project is. Fortunately, we were still more put together than some of the groups. So what’s our new project? One of my teammates who was occupied by thesis this past semester suggested doing some videos focusing on connecting Chinese and American LGBTQ youth, sort of like Buzzfeed in the sense of “10 questions Chinese LGBTQ Youth have for Americans and their responses” and vice versa. Other current ideas include coming out stories focusing on American-Born Chinese kids and their parents, emphasis on the parents. Family is incredibly important in China, and one of the main cultural obstacles to LGBTQ acceptance in China is the perceived incompatibility of gay relationships and traditional family structure (one of the cornerstones of Chinese society). So we figure focusing on whole families to show that being gay in no way at all precludes having a healthy family.
Whether or not we pull that off remains to be seen as it requires some work and expertise that I don’t really have. After talking with the Beijing LGBT Center, it also came about that a service not currently being offered in China is Chinese language articles on queer events abroad, whether big news or interest pieces. So a more sustainable side of the project is just to translate articles from Pink News, Auto Straddle and other sources of queer news and events. I’m not only excited to start flexing my translation muscles again, but also to help raise awareness for the global LGBTQ community in China. My research project here in Xi’an will not only focus on this, but also perceptions of gender identity in China, more on that later. That’s all for today, check back next time for comedy!
Here’s a sample of the kind of material we’re looking at, fun news with a light tone and interesting content. We won’t only be focusing on the US of course.