Rugoz wrote:Is there?
Most people don't have a clue about Chinese ancient history.
I think there is bias in a lot of the popular media depictions. Not exclusively.
Anecdotally, I remember studying Chinese history in public school--especially middle school. I remember the video lessons we watched being rather fear inducing. I remember topics such as torture being covered. I also remember depictions of the Great Wall focusing much on the hardships endured by the workers, while also minimizing any successes of the project (maybe this was accurate, but I don't really know for sure--as an open invitation feel free to enlighten me if anyone has insights).
I also remember the videos relaying this particular anecdote, which I needed to cross reference from Wikipedia:
King Goujian's army was known for scaring its enemies before battle because its front line consisted of criminals sentenced to death who committed suicide by decapitating themselves. However, in the passage, "越王句踐使死士挑戰，三行，至吳陳，呼而自剄。", the literal translation of "死士" is "soldiers (who are) willing to die", not "criminals sentenced to death". "自剄" means to "commit suicide by cutting one's throat," which was a common way to end one's own life in Ancient China.
It's interesting stuff, which is worth learning about, but as a middle schooler I remember finding it all a bit terrifying, and coming away with a somewhat jaded view of China's history.
What's more, I don't think such details in isolation present a very sound view of Chinese history. There are an abundance of incredible details from China's ancient history. It's possible that ancient Chinese philosophy is a touchy topic because of religious connotations. But the society was plenty advanced. It's thought that China had developed proto-capitalism way back when, for instance.
I contrast this with the rather romantic traditional view (which I also had taught to me) of Medieval Europe (which contemporary historians have seemingly often tended to take a different tact on). I don't recall ever learning about the Spanish inquisition/European torture in public school. It's possible that the Inquisition gets into that religious ground again and so is controversial for public school, but in looking back I tend to perceive a bit of a contrast. But than, some of that is probably a reflection of prevailing ingrained societal bias favorable to one's own cultural heritage, and not necessarily a cynical plot (though I never really said it was a cynical plot, I simply said it exists).
In any event, I really was just basing what I said on my own perceptions. I could be wrong, and you are more than free to disagree.