While I'm in this curmudgeonly, fenwai state of mind....
10 Things China Is Really Good At
1) Inventing stuff (but then not fully developing or utilizing it)
China anticipated the rest of the world in inventing paper and the printing press, yet never achieved mass literacy. First to invent gunpowder, but never made that much progress with artillery and rocketry. Invented the compass, but never did much maritime exploration. Strange.
2) Failing to invent stuff
Like an alphabet. Really, how hard is that? The Koreans managed to transform their character-based system into a very serviceable syllabic alphabet nearly 600 years ago. Amongst the reasons why China still hasn't achieved a high level of literacy....
3) Discovering stuff (but then forgetting about it, or not telling anyone)
The great pioneering voyages of Zheng He ("pretty tall for a eunuch!") were never followed up on. If you believe Gavin Menzies, he even discovered America, but then "forgot" about it. Of course, nobody does believe Menzies.....
4) Claiming credit for other people's work
China likes to claim that it developed the atom bomb independently, when in fact it just bought the technology wholesale from Russia (which in turn had stolen it). It also likes to claim that it liberated itself from Japanese invaders and brought WWII to an end in the Pacific theatre; the American campaign in the Pacific, the atomic bombs, the signing of the Japanese surrender aboard the USS Missouri - this is all rather glossed over.
5) Forgetting its own history (sometimes)
1989? Nothing much happened that year, did it? 1966? A good year for the roses?
6) Clinging tenaciously to its history (at other times)
Gosh, yes - Xinjiang and Tibet have been "part of China" since the Yuan Dynasty, don't you know?
7) "Assimilating" invaders
The Mongols conquered China. Therefore Mongolia became retroactively a "part of China". Most Chinese like to think that Genghis Khan was Chinese. Incredible. Same deal with the last Chinese Empire, the Qing Dynasty, which ruled from 1644-1912: they were outside invaders from Manchuria; but they became "Chinese" by the act of invading. That should really make anyone think twice about invading China!
8) Paranoia, conspiracy theory, and bearing grudges
The bombing of their Embassy in Sarajevo was a 'secret plot' to humiliate the Chinese. And they are never going to forgive the US for it. They just don't buy the "cock-up" theory of history. Western sympathy for the Dalai Lama is a conspiracy to dismember China. The sack of the Old Summer Palace in Beijing is still very much a live issue and an ongoing source of grievance nearly 150 years after the event. Etc., etc., etc.
Many Chinese - the fenqing, at any rate - are capable of disowning Genghis Khan's Mongols when you point out that they were a bunch of murdering pillaging bastards who laid waste to half a continent; but then reclaiming them when they remember that they created the "Chinese" empire that included Xinjiang and Tibet. Mongolia had historically "always" been "part of China", yet was allowed to retain its independence from China (asserted since 1911) at the end of World War II, after a referendum; this has never been (and will never be!) an option for Xinjiang or Tibet; no inconsistency there. Etc., etc., etc.
10) Boring its population into acquiescence
The National People's Congress has been meeting this week, so there have been a lot of interviews and political speeches on TV. Chinese political rhetoric is a thing of wonder, truly: no emotion, no variation of pace or tone, little or no meaningful content..... and very, very, VERY long-winded. A cruel and unusual punishment.
OK, I'm done. For now.