Eric X. Li, whom both YinYang and I know personally, recently gave this TED presentation on the ideological worship of two political systems – communism … and electoral democracies. As usual, I find Li’s perspective insightful and interesting. It certainly takes guts to stand up and speak against the predominant religion in the world! Now I appreciate even more how Galileo must have felt in confronting the Catholic Church!
I do want to make a quick note about one of the two questions the host at Ted asked of Li at the end of the talk. The host asked about how a non-elected government can legitimately set the agenda without feedback in the form of contested elections. Li talked about how the Chinese government – at all levels – takes surveys of the people on all types of issues, from what people think of the garbage collection at a local level to what people think about the direction of the nation on a national level.
This exchange reminded me of the adversarial vs. inquisitorial approach to resolving legal controversies. Read more…
For the last week or so, Hong Kong has been (very publicly) celebrating the “rule of law” that it claims it has exhibited in letting Snowden leave the country despite strong U.S. pressure to arrest and extradite him. The Hong Kong government made this official statement after Snowden left Hong Kong.
The US Government earlier on made a request to the HKSAR Government for the issue of a provisional warrant of arrest against Mr Snowden. Since the documents provided by the US Government did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law, the HKSAR Government has requested the US Government to provide additional information so that the Department of Justice could consider whether the US Government’s request can meet the relevant legal conditions. As the HKSAR Government has yet to have sufficient information to process the request for provisional warrant of arrest, there is no legal basis to restrict Mr Snowden from leaving Hong Kong.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying later cited the government’s action as “a good example to illustrate the rule of law and the procedural justice that we uphold.” The people of Hong Kong for the most part do back Leung’s sentiments. Even those who suspects illicit political motives seem to concede that Hong Kong did right following its laws, protocols and procedures.
While I am proud of Hong Kong in standing up to U.S. in the Snowden affairs, I urge caution that this is a triumph for rule of law. Rule of law connotates an absence of arbitrariness, an objectivity that is devoid of human whim and of politics. But if the public thinks the Snowden case resulted from an objective, fair and impartial application of rules, I urge them to think twice. Read more…
Have you thought to yourself, “man, this talk about freedom, God, human rights, and we are for good while people we don’t like are evil has become so trite and boring?!” I actually thought the following round-table of Vladimir Putin dishing out his views on America refreshingly interesting. I have my opinions, but I often wished American politicians would be equally willing to be frank about how they feel towards certain issues in practical terms rather coated with so much righteous non-sense.
The American Left hates China, the Right hates China, and Chen Guangcheng is stuck in the middle of two very passionate groups gunning to be the thought leader of America’s democracy battles and the war on China’s soul (or lack of):
Peter Lee wrote an interesting piece at Asia Times titled “India places its Asian bet on Japan” today regarding his take of India’s recent rapprochement with Japan. Before reading this piece, I had regarded Singh’s recent trip to Japan as nothing much more than two second-rate power trying to form a second-rate alliance against a perceived first-rate power. But perhaps there is something more…
Here is an excerpt of Lee’s article:
In a dismaying week for the People’s Republic of China (PRC), India turned away from it, and gave further signals that it is ready to move beyond the narrative of Japanese World War II aggression that has informed China’s Asian diplomacy and anchored the US presence in Asia for over half a century in favor of a view of Japan as a leading and laudable security actor in East Asia.
I don’t know if there is a term in the diplomatic lexicon for “deep tongue kiss accompanied by groans of mutual fulfillment”, but if there is, it seems it would be illustrated by the encounter between Indian President Manmohan Singh and Japanese PM Abe Shinzo in Tokyo on May 27-29, 2013. Read more…
The Chinese blogsphere is rife with indignation on how Michelle Obama pulled a Political Snub On Peng Liyuan. Apparently, Michelle decided to attend her daughter’s 12th birthday party in Washington instead of be in California to host Liyuan for the pivotal bilateral meeting between presidents’ Obama and Xi.
A friend of mine who lives in Shanghai wrote a quick WeChat update today:
which roughly translates to:
“Today is June 4th. Let’s pay homage to those young Chinese who perished in the cause of freedom and democracy.”
(For an in-depth article on June 4th, read “Let’s Talk About Tiananmen Square, 1989” and in Chinese, “且谈1989年的天安门事件.”)
Many of our readers’ reaction might be: “oh no, another idealist who is sold on the ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ religion!” Not so! In fact, there are many in China who use these two terms as a way to solidify grievances they have with Chinese society. They mainly see China as more backwards compared to richer countries like the United States. When asked what China is more backwards on? Many a response come as, “we have less freedom and democracy.” Read more…
North Korea is the most vilified nation in the world. But in truth, it should be considered the shining city on top of a hill as far as human spirit is concerned. HOW???
You wouldn’t think that by what you typically read in the international news (dominated by Western media). Oh, the people in North Korea are so wretched. They eat dirt, have no freedom, live in a police state (I’ve argued it is the U.S. that is the reigning police state), and are constantly bombarded with suffocating, stale state propaganda. Poor North Koreans. Look to the South – see how free, how happy, how prosperous they are! Read more…
After getting their communist hands caught in the cookie jar with cyber espionage and covert theft of our technology and IP, the sneaky Communist Chinese are shifting tactics and resorting to overt acquisition of our safe, efficient pig husbandry and processing technologies to save their crumbling communist pork industry rife with disease, contamination, poison, censorship, lack of freedom.
They have to be stopped. Write to your congressman, boycott Communist-China-made products and turncoats who sell out to the communists. Burn all your possessions contaminated with Communist-China-made parts, like you and your neighbor’s cars (especially if they are ChiComs.) The evil Communist Chinese even force-feed Tibetan babies rotten pork (Tibetans abstain from pork as muslins) while wrapping them in flea blankets infested with smallpox.
Communist China is evil, we are great, USA, USA, USA…
Freedom loving, patriotic but not nationalistic, America
Recently, Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, a prominent Japanese politician, raised a storm in Asia when he pronounced that the “comfort women” Japan enslaved during WWII as “necessary.” According to this BBC report, Hashimoto said:
In the circumstances in which bullets are flying like rain and wind, the soldiers are running around at the risk of losing their lives…. If you want them to have a rest in such a situation, a comfort women system is necessary. Anyone can understand that.
On May 8, Japan’s government lodged a “strong protest” with the Chinese government over an article that had run in the People’s Daily in which two academics questioned the basis of Japan’s sovereignty over the Lewchew 琉球 (in Japanese, Ryukyu) islands. The Chinese side of course rejected the protest, and opinion columnists the world over have been weighingin. The current press furor has produced exciting developments in Lewchew’s main island of Okinawa, where in May 15 two professors have founded the “Association of Comprehensive Studies for Independence of Lew Chewans”. Already, there exists in Lewchew rising tensions between natives and nationalist Japanese, a latent history of cultural and linguistic abuse of Lewchewans, and a culture of protest upon which independence campaigners can piggyback. The only missing ingredient in this karmic tinderbox of anti-Japanese sentiment is international diplomatic support for Lewchewan separatists, which does not seem to be forthcoming from China. The Wall Street Journal soberly notes that “individual commentaries”, such as those in the People’s Daily, “don’t necessarily reflect the views of top political leaders, and Beijing officials on Wednesday gave little indication that the commentary represents a potential shift in policy.”
Once in a while one runs into articles that seem to fly against convention wisdom, that seem to tear at the veil of world injustice, that seem to open one’s eyes to provide insight into the causes of so many of today’s ills. This article titled Why There is So Much Pro-War Reporting from “the Big Picture” blog is one of them.
In reading this article, I note how the article also parallel a lot of what Norm Chomsky (Manufacturing Consent) and David Swanson (War is a Lie) have written about pro war sentiments. Yet, I still feel that this article is flawed in so many ways. We are only scratching at the surface of, not diving deep into, the problem.
The article points to 5 major reasons why free media is not so free, and why it’s so pro-war. Read more…
For some time, I have been on a hiatus from the blog. That does not mean that I was tuned off from what’s going on in the world. Despite my temporary leave of absence, I till end up devoting non-trivial amounts of time to corresponding over emails with friends … and editors on this blog about current events.
I was just about to send another email when I realized that instead of not blogging, and just emailing, perhaps I can do some short posts (taking less than 20 minutes each, say) and share my thoughts here and there. It’s not the way I usually blog, but maybe I can do a few of those before I get time to get back to the way I used to blog.
STUPIDITY, a formidable globalised trend, is gaining momentum. Living in Hong Kong, I can feel its pressure wave on my face each morning I wake up. This 21st century bliss seems a Darwinian mystery at first.
Idiot genes don’t serve any obvious evolutionary purpose, yet are present in prodigious abundance. How did that happen, I wonder? Perhaps people supported imbeciles because they’re cute, or pathetic enough for charity? After all, plenty of garbage DNA, such as those that make pooches, are bred for their adorably lack of intelligence.
Unfortunately, both conjectures don’t stand up to observation. Read more…
In light of President Xi’s latest visit to Russia, it would be appropriate to provide a nuanced perspective to the current state of Sino-Russian relations. It is understandably difficult for the western media to deliver this kind of nuance; this difficulty stems not only from western biases against both Russia and China that obstructs objective analysis, but also the complications inherent in bilateral relations. For the sake of brevity, I will make just two observations which is inadequately emphasized in modern-day discourse on the Sino-Russian bilateral relationship – incentives for cooperation and Russia’s true value as a “comprehensive” strategic partner. Read more…
By now, the Cyprus government is still haggling with EU (and its banks) over how to save Cyprus economy, without anyone paying for it.
But just a few days ago, they almost managed to get away with a “deal” to pay for it by “taxing” 10% of all bank accounts in Cyprus. This didn’t have much of a shock value in the West, except for perhaps in Cyprus, where the populous protested and forced their representatives to vote “no” on the “deal”.
It should come though as no surprise for the pessimists, because Western Democracies have had a string of such “deals”, which gives new means to the lack of accountability.
Allen and I had a chance to chat with Professor Ann Lee a little over a year ago, and we continue to see her moderating the warped perspectives in the Anglophone press. In this short CNBC video, she debunks Professor Peter Navarro of UC Irvine. Actually, she’s mostly debunking CNBC’s narrative. China’s urbanization rate is still only about 52%. When China’s industrialization finishes, about 1 billion people would have moved. Demand for urban housing is astronomical in China this day in age. As Lee says, China is implementing various policies to curb escalating real-estate prices. Allen often like to say – this is an economics issue, but as you see in the narrative below from CNBC’s reporter and Peter Navarro, this issue sounds ominous and political doesn’t it? Kudos to Lee for sticking to her points which we wholeheartedly agree with.
CNN recently repeated an article from Financial Times on the news China has temporarily overtaken the United States as the world’s largest net oil importer. In spinning this news, their narrative went as follows:
“China has overtaken the US as the world’s largest net importer of oil, in a generational shift that will shake up the geopolitics of natural resources.”
First of all, China offers a lesson to the world, and especially to the NATO countries. You can become the world’s #1 net importer of oil without invading and occupying countries. You simply trade. China just did it. And, the last time I checked, it doesn’t appear China is upsetting any geopolitics. Is China kicking out American bases anywhere for oil? Nope. America may withdraw some ships from the region because America is becoming less dependent on Middle East oil, but that is on America’s own accord. So, all we have here is CNN and Financial Times agitating fear within the American public; corporate media and military industrial complex on display.
The following is a re-posted review (find the original on Amazon.com) of the book “Bend, not Break” by Ping Fu. For those who don’t know the context, this book is an “autobiography” detailing the horrors Ping Fu supposedly faced during the Cultural Revolution (a summary of her side of the story is on Wikipedia). When Chinese netizens started to investigate and voice skepticism about the accuracy of her stories, Ping Fu and her defenders in academia and media labeled these actions “online terrorism”. This is not surprising, given that anyone – especially someone believed to be ethnic Chinese – who supports the Chinese government and the PRC, or simply voices skepticism about western political/ideological dogmas, is immediately labeled as part of the “fifty-cent party” or a “brainwashed fool”. Well, here at Hidden Harmonies, we have some of the most infamous “brainwashed online terrorists” around, so we could hardly let this one go without giving it some proper attention. Enjoy the book review, everyone (for those who do not wish to read such a lengthy review, I’ve bolded some parts of the text to draw attention to the key issues).
Recently, Zack brought to our attention a great article at Asia Times by Thorsten Pattberg, who is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Humanistic Studies at Peking University. Pattberg dedicated his life to study Chinese philosophy, political thoughts, and culture in their original meanings. He concludes:
Western people are curious like all the people of the world. If someone gave them Chinese taxonomies, they would look them up, familiarize with them, and internalize them. They would stop calling a junzi a (British) “gentleman”, or a (German) “Edler”; instead they would call a junzi just this: a “junzi”.
To put “culture” back in a more economic perspective: Nations should compete for their terminologies like they compete for everything else.
I was too quick to disagree with the need for China to explicitly compete for her culture and for preserving her ideas in her own taxonomies, assuming a richer China will somehow automatically cause the problem to correct itself. So, I was really happy today seeing perspectivehere chiming in on this topic and later on Allen giving a good gist on what this means for him. I recommend Pattberg’s article linked above in its entirety and of course perspectivehere’s and Allen’s remarks below. Read more…
Searching on “China” in Russia Today’s Youtube channel led me to the following video from PressTV, which towards the end, I then learned it’s an Iranian station. It features three panelists, all from the United States and the U.K.. They all seem to agree that the U.S., U.K., and Japan are hijacked by a Wallstreet-London financial empire nexus of sort. Most readers will find this conspiracy difficult to accept. I certainly hope that a nuclear war is not so imminent nor likely. While the main conclusions are questionable, the panelists do offer unconventional views (absolutely unvarnished). Perhaps they are right though: it is time citizens of the world unite! Read more…
Joseph Nye recently spoke to NPR’s Neal Conan about the disputed islands in the East China Sea between China and Japan. Overall, I think Nye adds a helpful voice of moderation within the American public discourse on this issue. In the U.S.-China context, I also fully agree with him that if there is any sort of containment towards China, it is certainly not the same type as conceived by George Kennan against the former Soviet Union where United States allowed no Soviet students and had virtually no trade. However, when Conan posed America’s encirclement as the source of China’s containment fear, I thought it was a mistake for him to outright dismiss the concern in the fashion he did. First, here is how Conan phrased the concern:
CONAN: Yet if you were a Chinese admiral sitting there on the coast and looking out to sea and trying to figure out how to get your navy into the Pacific, all you could see was a series of islands from Japan in the north, all the way down to Australia, all United States allies, all controlling chokepoints that would prevent you from sending those vessels to sea.
The Founding of the New Republic
Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, two events are so controversial that they almost cannot be discussed rationally or void of politics. One of them is the Great Leap Forward of 1958, and the other being the Cultural Revolution of 1966. A reference to history cannot be avoided for any event, more so an event as significant as GLF. The PRC was founded in 1949 October the 1st. What most people didn’t realize is, on that day, the Communist Party of China and its military arm, the People Liberation Army controlled less than 2/3 the territory of modern China. Areas such as Chongqing, Guangdong, Guangxi, Fujian, Sichuan, Yunnan, Guizhou, Hainan, Xizang, Taiwan etc are still under the control of various Nationalist armies. In fact, Gansu and Xinjiang was only taken by the Communist in September. It would be June 1950 when all those regions except Hainan, Xizang and Taiwan were to be liberated.
In his latest essay (in both Chinese and English), Eric X. Li wrote, “Many developing countries have already come to learn that democracy doesn’t solve all their problems. For them, China’s example is important. Its recent success and the failures of the West offer a stark contrast.” Of course, Li is not arguing that democratic systems are invalid. He merely argues that the universality claim is invalid. He also explains how China’s system is meritocratic, and despite a single-party rule, is able to be very adaptable. For those who genuinely believe in universality, they would do well by explaining why a country as rich and as powerful as the United States is plagued with problems of dismal approval for her politicians and incessant budget crisis nationally and locally. Read more…
(This article is published here with permission from the author. His bio and links are at the bottom of the article. In sharing this article, he writes, “I am particularly happy that the piece will address Chinese readers. It had already been translated to Italian and Spanish; plenty of support for China coming from Latin America.
All the best, Andre“) [Update 20130109: In regards to the Cambodia-Vietnam-China relationship, make sure to check out reader Mulberry Leaf's contention in the comment below.]
The Irrational, Racist Fear of China
by ANDRE VLTCHEK
Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, and Libya are in shambles, crushed by the heavy boots of Western imperialism.
But we are told to fear China.
The entire nations of Indochina were bombed back to the stone age, because Western demi-gods would not tolerate, and felt they did not have to, tolerate, what some yellow un-people in Asia were really longing for. Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos – millions of tons of bombs dropped on them from strategic B-52’s, from dive-bombers, and from jet fighters. The falling bombs rained on the pristine countryside, murdering children, women, and water buffalo – millions of people perished. No apologies, no admission of guilt, and no compensation came from the tyrant-nations. Read more…
It’s been some time since I last blogged. And my new year resolution is … to BE MORE REGULAR AT BLOGGING!
I actually have an excuse this time. In November, my grandmother – with whom I am close – passed away. In December, my second son was born…
This period of change has gotten me to reflect more deeply on life … and for here, to reflect once more why I spend the time to blog.
Life can be so short … so precious. There are so many people to touch, relationships to build, places to travel, creative endeavors to pursue. And blogging as I often do about the heavy hands of politics and history can be emotionally draining. Read more…
As Abigail Washburn shows us with her banjo and music, it’s actually really easy to connect with the Chinese and yet be so captivating. What an awesome soul!
When America throws her weight around with petty politics, she is squandering her privileged position to affect our world towards greater good. Judging from the audiences response, I guess I am encouraged her message is not lost. To the Americans who engage China and the world with a heart like Washburn, bless you.
Freedom – like God – should not be about daily politics. It is about creating an environment where people can actively participate in democratic governance. Freedom is at best a conviction to be tried, practiced, continually demonstrated and validated, not a value or ideology or religion to be preached and imposed. (Allen)