True Pride

Ian Teh / Panos for TIME

Civic duty
Chinese volunteers in the quake zone

Just a few weeks ago, the west's view of china was dominated by thuggish torch guards, hypersensitive nationalists and a repressive government. But since the earthquake in Sichuan, the immense state-led rescue effort and the outpouring of charity from the Chinese people has taken center stage. Has the country really changed that much? Not really. The two phenomena on display — nationalism and compassion — are related facets of the vast, multidimensional nation that China is. When it comes to my homeland, I feel them both.

I left China in 1989, just after Tiananmen,...

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