There are two dominant narratives about China: “China is awesome and we need to learn as much as possible from the country” or “China is super-scary and we have to make sure it doesn’t take over the world.”

Each of these narratives has a simplicity and emotional appeal that makes them extremely seductive, but ultimately both are inaccurate. That’s why “China hands”—those of us tied to China, its language, people, and culture—feel compelled to explain how the idea of China is so different from the reality on the ground.

Given the volume of exaggeration and hyperbole surrounding the conversation about China, those efforts are laudable, but they usually do not go far enough. We must wake up to the fact that almost all the current issues around technology are global—not regional or national—in nature. Not only is there a need to dial back the xenophobic hawkishness or, alternately, the manic enthusiasm for China’s rise, but we also have to look with clear eyes and an open mind at what is actually happening. And that begins at home.

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John Artman

John Artman is the Editor in Chief for TechNode, the leading English information source for news and insight into China’s tech and startups, and co-host of the China Tech Talk podcast, a regular discussion...