The Living Force
I've never lived in the US, but I did live in China. And I asked about a hundred of people what they thought of their government. Only ONCE did I notice one person being uncomfortable with the question, and he said "we can't say anything, it's bad". All the other times, the reply was along these lines: "China is a big country, and there are too many of us. The government keeps us together, there is unity in spite of the hundreds of ethnicities. No, it's not perfect, but I love China and feeling Chinese. We may not be able to criticize the government, but we can do whatever else we want". I wondered at times whether it was simply patriotism or part of the "brain-washing", but then I saw half of my students and friends planning on going abroad, or on forming their own companies, thinking for themselves. And people in rural areas seemed just as happy going about their lives. If the government was THAT tyrannical, it wouldn't allow that. It's not just that the Chinese workers are all "exploited working ants", or they would lack the creativity that we are witnessing in their economy. And the poor working conditions, when present, were imposed by private companies, not the government.
I just wanted to add to this: I lived with a girl from Hong Kong for nearly a year. Her and her family moved to the UK temporarily as her stepfather was British, but they all are planning to go back to Asia. Due to property prices and costs of living in Hong Kong they want to move to mainland China this time. My ex-house mate's mother has family in China and she spends lots of time there each year. If China was as bad as western media portrays it to be I'm pretty sure someone who spends 4-6 months a year there and the remainder of the year in Europe wouldn't want to move there permanently. Yet they are all waiting for the youngest daughter to finish school so they can go back.
My ex-house mate herself has lots of friends there and she was always telling me how much she disliked London. The costs of living are so ridiculous here that she had little money left at the end of the month, while her friends in China had much more disposable income and higher savings despite actually making a bit less. I once discussed what I read in this SOTT article with her and she confirmed this is largely correct:
Home ownership has been called "the quintessential American dream." Yet today less than 65% of American homes are owner-occupied, and more than 50% of the equity in those homes is owned by the banks. Compare China, where, despite facing one of...
I used to work near London's Chinatown in a serviced office building and there were plenty of businesses owned and run by Chinese people there. Over the years I made quite a few acquaintances and friendships there and I never steered clear of water cooler chat. I never even once heard someone speak negatively about China. Whenever someone went back for a holiday I got to hear stories about their family gatherings, visiting friends, travelling, and doing tons of shopping. Rarely anything political was mentioned. When asked if they missed China most of them said 'yes' and many planned to eventually return.
In my experience the Chinese aren't overly trusting of strangers and they keep their thoughts to themselves for a long while before opening up. But over time I did have a lot of meaningful conversations with quite a few people, including socio-political topics. Although there were things they liked more about the UK or London, and there were things they didn't like about China, in general those conversations weren't much different from chats with other expats.
I only once met a Chinese guy who deviated from this pattern. He was a consultant in our firm and he was panically afraid of having any online presence. When we became suspicious he said that the Chinese government was after him. But I don't know any details about that so he may or may not have genuinely done something to deserve the government's interest in him. I guess this may show how people who find themselves in trouble with the law are treated but for all I know they guy could have committed a serious crime.
So the picture is a complex one I think. Although what I described is circumstantial evidence I know more Polish people complaining about Poland than Chinese people complaining about China. And I'd think that once out of there they'd feel free to badmouth it if it was so horrible.