When China opened its doors to western trade a few hundred years ago, it eventually led to a disruptive period of foreign colonization (Because, in case you didn't notice, Europe really enjoyed that back then). For a country that possessed such a long, prosperous past, giving up pieces of itself for the sake of swift economic progress was not something the government and its people agreed upon. When those in charge allowed additional openness and more and more of the west moved in, being called "Yellow sick men" became an everyday endurance for Chinese citizens, especially those in the lower classes; witnessing the results of government/western greed and corruption -- extreme social class segregation within one's own society that wasn't manifested internally and naturally -- would quickly become unbearable; being battered by the invading Japanese armies served as even further proof that only the Chinese could understand the Chinese -- only the Chinese people could save the Chinese. Soon, fast-forwarding pessimism against the west emerged, isolation became a method of self-healing, and both mentalities became primary reasons the wave of nationalist/socialist ideals came to possess such a stronghold upon the people. Everything eventually transforms into a communist legacy, starting with a frightening period called the Cultural Revolution in which all foreign ideals are banned for "tainting" 5,000 years of culture, as many thought they did years ago. The resulting government manages to control its people a great deal for the next few decades.
And now, in the 21st century, it's the western media criticizing the government that their ancestors had a hand in creating. And it's China constantly hiding itself again behind an overzealous amount of paranoia -- disguised as national pride.
So...history repeats itself ironically? I would hope not.
For China's government: Do NOT possess such doubt towards your citizens and the rest of the world. When you close off completely in "fear" of negative press, you prevent the observation of abuse as WELL as progress. When you exercise excessive control, you prevent the freedoms that were denied to everyone during that period of chaos that set the whole country back at least a few centuries. When will you realize that countless years have passed since so many looked down upon you? When will you realize that foreigners nowadays want to respect you but can't because of so many reasons that you unnecessarily caused? Stop trying to save face already. Trust your people, trust the world.
For Everyone Else: Do NOT assume you understand the underlying principles of Chinese belief or how its historical background has affected such principles. Live through an ordeal similar to the Cultural Revolution alongside a billion other people, and then see if you can govern those who come out from it and simultaneously develop a nation economically as well as China has within a few decades. Just because you maybe anti-Communist does not mean it has done nothing but damage to China; just because China is not up to your standards doesn't mean they can change overnight; just because you only hear about CCTV's propaganda doesn't mean media outlets like Phoenix TV aren't thriving and serving as a sign of better times ahead.
I am Chinese-American, and I'm proud of my heritage despite my personal differences with its current state. I believe that Beijing is the rightful host of the Olympics in 2008. I believe that the country can change in a positive way -- but not all of that change does has to adhere to what the rest of the world wants it to do.
ETA 08/15/08: I've made this post public.