Take the little quiz below, and find out what kind of Chinese you are (politically). The questions and answers give great insight into the common points of conflict that divide the “left” and the “right” amongst Chinese.
This comes to us from MITBBS, a US-based chatboard popular with many overseas mainland Chinese.
First, an explanation of the unique terminology used… these are more commonly used at MITBBS than the ones used at Tianya discussed earlier:
- Old General (老将) – these are the “rightists”, critics of the Communist Party and pessimistic about modern China. They are called “old” for the stereotype is that many have been here for decades, perhaps since Tiananmen ’89, and unfamiliar with modern China.
- Young General (小将) – these are the “leftists”, supporters of Communist Party policy (but not necessarily the Party itself), and optimistic of China’s future. They are called “young” for the stereotype that they’re young, misled, and not familiar with the depth of corruption in China.
These are only rough labels, and stereotypes often don’t fit. Many of the old generals are recent arrivals, and many of the young generals have been in the West for decades. And the vast majority of mainland Chinese are moderates somewhere in between.
Enough said, onto the survey:
——————- begin translation ————————–
MITBBS – Old, Middle, Young General Political Position Quiz
I – Political position quiz (total of 14 questions, and each answer has a point value. Add together the points for the answers that you’ve selected.)
1. How do you see the Communist Party?
A: The Chinese Communist Party is where China’s hope lies. Without the Communist Party, we wouldn’t have the accomplishments that we can claim today. (+3)
B: Some things could be better, but its role in China can’t be replaced at the present. I support the Communist Party. (+1)
C: Communist Party’s governance really does have numerous problems; some are being fixed, but for now at least others are not. (+0)
D: The Communist Party’s long history of single-party rule and other historical burdens means it can never make fundamental changes; therefore, political reform in China is unlikely to make progress. (-1)
E: The Communist Party is a cruel, inhumane mob that rules through violence; fighting the Communist Party is the best way of loving our country. (-3)
2. How do you see the Chinese government?
A: It’s a glorious government that has helped the Chinese people defeat numerous obstacles. (+3)
B: Some things are done poorly, but things are changing, and we should look forward. (+1)
C: A government that’s in the process of adopting very slow changes, but no one is clear on where these changes will ultimately lead. (0)
D: It’s many past mistakes are so deeply ingrained, I don’t have too much hope. (-1)
E: It’s similar to the Third Reich or the Khmer Rouge, one of the bloodiest governments in human history. (-3)
3. How would you evaluate the government’s method of using force to repress the 6/4 incident?
A: Absolutely the right thing. Those violent rioters should be killed, seeing them killed pleases me. (+3)
B: After seeing the dissolution of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, although perhaps the exact methods were overly violent, it was still the right decision. (+1)
C: The riots of course had to be stopped, but they could have used gentler methods. (+0)
D: Regardless of the situation, using military force on students and average civilians is simply a mistake. (-1)
E: The 64 Massacre is a crime against humanity that can never be forgiven. (-3)
4. How would you evaluate the government and students role in 6/4?
A: These so-called students were violent rioters egged on by Western anti-China forces. There is nothing wrong with their deaths. (+3)
B: The government and students all made mistakes. Some of the irrational decisions made by the students led to an unmanageable situation, they made the bigger mistake. (+1)
C: Very difficult to say. It’s a tragedy that we should try to put behind us. (+0)
D: The government and students all made mistakes. The government’s self-contradictory actions led to an unmanageable situation, and they made the bigger mistake. (-1)
E: The Chinese government was a butcher; one day, this blood debt will be repaid with blood. (-3)
5. How would you evaluate Mao Zedong?
A: Savior of the Chinese people, the greatest person in Chinese history. (+3)
B: Like Deng Xiaoping said, he had accomplishments and mistakes, but the accomplishments out-weigh his mistakes. (+1)
C: The final judgment of Mao Zedong isn’t something we can make right now; we’ll have to wait for history to decide. (+0)
D: Mao Zedong made many mistakes, and the deep impact they had on Chinese society far outweighs his contributions. (-1)
E: Violent emperor, the shame of all Chinese. (-3)
6. How do you perceive the United States of America?
A: Evil empire, and one day it’ll be eliminated from Earth. (+3)
B: America is a strong country, but I don’t have too many good feelings towards it; many of its glories are fake and inflated. (+1)
C: Discarding all ideologies, there are many things we can learn from the United States. At least China and the United States shouldn’t be directly opposed to each other. (+0)
D: Although the United States has some problems, it’s still a great nation. (-1)
E: Democracy’s beacon, and the dedicated enemy of all dictators. America represents the hope of the Chinese people. (-3)
7. What do you think US foreign policy is?
A: The United States’ primary foreign policy objective is subverting China.
B: At heart, US foreign policy is motivated by its own interests. The values it claims to export aren’t what they appear to be. (+1)
C: Although it’s partly motivated by its own interests (at times in a very ugly way), but it still plays a role in defending universal liberal values. (+0)
D: Its primary goal is to maintain global balance and push forward democracy worldwide; in the process, it benefits its own interests. (-1)
E: It pushes forward universal liberal values, and opposes all dictators. (-3)
8. How do you see the Taiwan problem?
A: The Taiwanese are race traitors who’ve turned their back on their ancestors. We should use nuclear weapons in Taiwan; one country can not be divided by two systems. (+3)
B: If we have to fight we have to fight, at the very least, we can fight them onto the negotiation table. (+1)
C: We must reunify with Taiwan, but I hope we can do it peacefully. (+0)
D: We should respect the choice of the Taiwanese; after all, the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China have equivalent stature. (-1)
E: Taiwan is the pride of all Chinese; hopefully Taiwan can reunify China as a democracy. (-3)
9. How do you see the democracy question, when it comes to China?
A: So-called democracy and freedom is really a tool used by anti-China forces in the West. People don’t need so-called democracy; centralized, collective rule is more effective. (+3)
B: We need democracy, but right now China isn’t ready for universal suffrage/elections. Besides, China is already pretty democratic. (+1)
C: From a long term view, the Chinese people needs democracy to restrain the governments’ power. But this is an issue for the Chinese people, and has nothing to do with the West. (+0)
D: Of course China needs democracy; otherwise, we will never integrate with the world. (-1)
E: We hope the United States can overthrow the violent Communist regime, and return power to the people. (-3)
10. How do you perceive the speech and reporting done by the Southern Metropolis media group?
(editor’s note: Crusading newspaper + magazine in Guangzhou that both critics and supporters are willing to call China’s CNN, but for very different reasons. Accused of being overly critical in the aftermath of the Sichuan earthquake)
A: Southern Metropolis has completely become race-traitors, a tool in the hands of anti-Chinese forces. It should be suppressed harshly. (+3)
B: Brain-dead speech and arguments, but they have the right to speak. (+1)
C: Nothing wrong with what they’re saying, but the timing isn’t appropriate. (+0)
D: I believe there’s nothing wrong with any of their content or reporting style. (-1)
E: In this environment of heavy suppression from above, a media outlet that only dares to touch sensitive subjects, is still being assaulted by some people. (-3)
11. How do you see the Carrefour boycott?
A: We should boycott. We should burn down all of the Carrefour stories, and kick them out of China. (+3)
B: We should rationally boycott, force them to voluntarily withdraw from the Chinese market. In the long run, the losses of Chinese suppliers will be made up elsewhere. (+1)
C: Hard to say; a boycott itself isn’t very rationally, but it really has let the world hear the voice of the Chinese people. (+0)
D: A boycott is far too extreme. The only ones who suffer are Carrefour’s Chinese vendors. (-1)
E: Brain-dead action. Our priority now shouldn’t be boycotting Japanese or French goods, but rather “idiotic” goods (editor’s note: referring to nationalism). (-3)
12: How do you see the role of international rescue squads in the Sichuan earthquake?
A: We shouldn’t have let them come. Letting foreigners deep into the heart of our military establishment is a crime. (+3)
B: After they finally came, they weren’t very useful; just a foreign policy move. (+1)
C: The current solution is the best way: open up the roads, and then let them come in and help. (+0)
D: we should invite their help; we shouldn’t let even one life slip away. (-1)
E: The Chinese governments decision to resist outside assistance in the early days, means they squandered the peoples’ lives. (-3)
13. How do you see the proposed “nationalization” of the military?
(editor’s note: The People’s Liberation Army is currently under the direct control and leadership of the Communist Party; some have discussed making it a non-political force that serves a “civilian” government directly. Similar to Taiwan’s situation up until a few years ago.)
A: Those calling for this have other motives; the Party’s absolute leadership over the military is the core root of China growing stronger. (+3)
B: I don’t think this is a big deal, no potential for chaos anyways. (+1)
C: It’s a good idea in theory, but the conditions for this aren’t quite ripe. (+0)
D: I support the nationalization of the military; no political party should have its own armed forces. (-1)
E: Should have done this long ago. The Communist Party’s iron-grip on the military is a clear indication of its bloody nature. (-3)
14. How do you see the Cultural Revolution?
A: The Cultural Revolution was great; some of those rightists needed to be confronted. Really, too few were killed. (+3)
B: The Cultural Revolution had some wrong parts, but also had some right parts. At least Chairman Mao’s original intention for the movement was positive. (+1)
C: We’ll have to let history decide; we don’t know enough right now. (+0)
D: The Cultural Revolution was of course wrong; didn’t Deng Xiaoping already reject it? China will never have another Cultural Revolution. (-1)
E: The damage left by the Cultural Revolution runs deep and far. Just like Germans collectively considered and faced up to their guilt under the Nazi Regime, all Chinese should do the same with their roles. (-3)
II. Point adjustments (please multiply the appropriate value to the sum total from the first section)
1. What kind of labels have been attached to you (during online discussions)?
A: Basically everyone accuses me of posting for money. (Multiply your score by 1.2)
B. I’ve been labeled with all sorts of strange and conflicting labels: 50-cent, race traitor, wheelie, panda-licker. (Multiply your score by 1.05)
C: I’m very low-key, no one has ever labeled me. (Multiply your score by 1)
2. How do you see those who disagree with you?
A: They’re race traitors / they’re defending a violent regime, all of them should die. (Multiply your score by 1.1)
B: They’re brain-challenged, I really don’t know what they’re thinking. (Multiply your score by 1.05)
C: We have different perspectives, but I can discuss issues with some in their group. (Multiply your score by 1)
D: I disagree with their arguments, but I will defend their right to speak them. (Multiply your score by 0.9)
So, what kind of political Chinese are you?
I am a +4.
Pretty close to a Middle General, but still leaning in the direction of a Little General.
Here are my scores:
15. 1.2 multiplication factor
16. 0.9 multiplication factor
final score = -14.0
i must be as old as the hills …
-14 as a total score… and -4 on #8 alone? We might as well chip in and buy you a custom-fitted “race traitor” hat! 😉 Do I have to reveal my scores too?
EDIT: Here goes…
+1, +1, +1, 0, +1, 0, +1, 0, +1, -1, +1, 0, -1, -1 = +4, *1.05 = +4.2
Wu Di says
I seriously that doubt such binaries can adequately capture the diversity of Chineseness and Chinese opinions. Such stereotypical views also make it ‘conveniently’ easy to put us into drawers labeled ‘race traitor’ or ‘nationalist rage’.
Just a quick note on those questions: when looking at some of the so-called ‘moderate’ answers (+0), for example to questions number 4 or 14, it appears as if ‘moving on’ without actually trying to find answers (and responsibilities) makes us moderates. I seriously doubt this rationale, and the usefulness of such simplifications.
Only open discussion and engagement, about specific issues and larger views, with each other and the outside world, and without putting such labels on each other, can help us find out who we really are and where China should be heading.
That such openness (free expression) is severely hampered not only by China’s government but also by some Chinese citizens, makes me sad, and less ‘moderate’ than I would be otherwise.
6 x 1.05 x 1 = 6.3
Unfortunately, I don’t know what that means. But it was interesting to read the questions.
#8 is interesting. A position of non-reunification is a -1? And at the same time, reunification is assumed in the other 4 answers.
汉奸 is “race traitor”? I’m a self confessed noob to Chinese politics and rhetoric. I know that 汉人 is the Chinese ethnic majority. 汉语, 国语, 普通话, and 中国话 all mean about the same. 汉语 refers more to oral language, 国语 is used more outside the Mainland. 汉 is used for China and for the Han ethnic group. 汉奸… I can see how it could be translated as traitor to the Han race but is not more traitor to China? While it’s not the first time I’ve read translations with “race traitor”, I’ve always been curious about it.
In the West, or at least where I come from, terms like “race traitor” would be the hallmarks of the drivel from bigots. Aryan Nations, Neo-Nazis, KKK, and other kooks would use such language. So, when I stumble across it in a Chinese context, it always gives me pause.
China officially recognizes 56 ethnic groups. I know this because of friends in China proudly telling me so and because of the official promotion of that information.
So… what is meant by “汉奸”?
I translate 汉奸 as race traitor, but that’s my literal translation. It’s really is a standard term that many Chinese grew up with.
I don’t think you can judge this term by Western standards. Aryan Nation, KKK have some pretty outrageous definitions of what it means to betray the “white race”… I don’t think many of us believe marrying or befriending outside your race is any kind of betrayal. The Chinese version isn’t anything like that white supremacist version.
Historically, it’s most often used to describe the many Chinese who collaborated directly with Japanese forces during World War II. If we were to translate by meaning, I would translate 汉奸 into what Europeans called WW2 collaborationists: Quislings.
汉奸 should not be translated into “race traitor”. In modern Chinese language, it just simply means traitor and has nothing to do with the 汉 ethnicity as it literally appears.
See “Hanjian” in wikipedia.
1: +0.5 (strongly agree with first half of B, but not so certain with 2nd sentence)
3: +1 (pains me greatly to say so)
6: +0.5 (I am simply skeptical of the U.S.’ intention towards a peaceful emergence of China)
7: +1 (which explains my answer above)
8: +0.5 (all other considerations aside, I see it also as a simple matter of national interest)
9: +0.5 (would have gone with B except for its last sentence)
10: +0.5 (don’t feel qualified enough to comment, but “brain dead”?)
11: +0.5 (you need to hit the French somewhere, even if symbolically, to give notice. But to drive Carrefour out?)
13: -1 (can’t see what “conditions” should hold it back)
1: *1.05 (just got called Panda-licker)
I guess I am a moderate, as far as being on this blog goes. 🙂
If you look at human history around the world, having some sort of rough binary is almost unavoidable. There will be a situation A, and humanity inevitably line up either in support or in opposition of situation A. This is why there are conservatives/liberals, republicans/democrats, red states/blue states, leftists/rightists, old generals/young generals…
… of course once you dig deeper into the issue, you will find the same fracture point that allows you to divide even further. If all conservatives were wiped off the surface of the planet, liberals would very likely self-divide into two equal chunks. It’s the human condition.
But you should know that there is literally a ton of discussion on MITBBS on every single one of the topics above. We’re only a few weeks away from 6/4, and MITBBS will inevitably be taken over again by both old and little generals revisiting our opinions on those events. Every other week, some aspect of the Cultural Revolution is debated and discussed.
This poll, in my opinion, is a very good overview of the common conflict points and splits the difference pretty well on what a “moderate” position is. And surprisingly (to me at least), many people ranging from -20 to +20 on MITBBS seem to agree on that point. If there’s one criticism, it’s that it might be a little biased to the negative side. Many believe -5 is closer to the “zero point” moderate position.
Frankly, I think the value of “debate” is over-rated. It’s almost impossible to change anyone’s opinion after they’ve given serious thought to an issue. All you can do is provide information they might not have otherwise been aware of. When we’re talking about the above for the Chinese community… there’s no new information to provide. I personally believe positions and opinions will only change when new events happen.
S.K. Cheung says
(-)23. And the funny thing is, in the West, i consider myself a liberal (maybe not quite to the bleeding heart extreme) (ie center-left on the spectrum). I must go see if Fox News has a China blog; if I find one, I’ll post the link here…that might be a real eye-opener.
I’m really not surprised at all. 🙂
The widespread perception amongst the vast majority of Chinese is that those in the West have absolutely no clue what we want and what we think. Bleeding heart liberals in San Francisco broke the hearts of many Chinese who live in this area when it declared it would be receiving the Olympic torch with “alarm and protest”… and what’s frustrating is that they had no idea what they had done.
That really was one of the motivating factors for me, in wanting to write more on this subject. That is precisely the gap we’re trying to fill with this blog.
Wu Di says
Thanks for your considered response. I see your point, and in a way you hit the nail right on its head: debate is only useful if those who engage in it see value in it, if they go in it with an open mind, ready to change their opinion about things. That’s why in China there’s so little debate and so many ‘polls’.
What I find so disappointing whenever I talk to people about any of those issues that ‘poll’ brings up: that I face so many closed minds. This is what I find reflected in this ‘poll’. It does bring up “common conflict points” but unfortunately it only encompasses rather unimaginative possibilities for thought and action. So forgive me if I’m tempted to assume that this ‘poll’ was developed by someone with very preconceived notions of the world. It is neither particularly scientific nor objective in any way, and it doesn’t heed possibilities that go beyond those or see the nuances that are embedded in A, B, C, D, and E. In other words, it limits the potential of debate to a conveniently simplified matrix.
Arguably, what’s needed in China now is not so much new events (although those can be catalytic) but an ability to think freely, a willingness to express our nuanced opinions, and an openness to actually engage in a debate about for example these issues in that ‘poll’. As you point out, there is some of it on MITBBS but most of it is about putting people (and oneself) into drawers and not about thinking outside the box.
But do you really, seriously doubt the (potential) value of public debate? (I may have misunderstood, and agree with you if you mean that debate in China is often less of a debate and rather some kind of rhetorical infighting)
Do you really believe that only outside events drive debate? Look around you, look at the example of the United States. Debate is driven not by outside events but by ideas, ideas backed by powerful interests (take for example the idea to invade Iraq). Those ideas require creativity, and creativity comes from not being pressed into certain narrow strait-jackets that please the authorities or whoever else.
You’re telling me about the binaries of human history, and I’m telling you, yes, I see them. But that doesn’t mean that they are inevitable, or even that they have ever been a good idea.
Human minds may have become almost hardwired around binary simplifications, but then, doesn’t the Internet give us the chance to open up to diversity and understand the complexity of issues, the value of debate, the chance to *not* see anyone who has a complex and hybrid view that doesn’t fit in with preconceived notions of ‘reality’ as either a ‘flip-flopper’ or a nut-case?
Positions and opinions change when we are willing to (and working hard to) think critically about what is happening right now, and not (only) when new events happen.
Just my 2ct.
I do look around, and in my humble opinion, what I see proves my point more than yours. If we take out the continued bad news coming out of Iraq, has anyone’s opinion on Iraq been changed through debate and “ideas” alone? Has there been any particularly powerful or insightful statements or speeches after 2003 that changed minds?
I don’t know how closely you follow discussion on MITBBS, but I really don’t see much distinction from the tone of discussion on most American discussion sites. Whether you’re talking about Daily Kos or the Rush Limbaugh forum… how much exploration of the issues do you see?
As I said above, I was pleasantly surprised that people -20 and +20 on MITBBS all felt the questions + answers were well-written and representative. I don’t think these questions are closed minded at all… I really believe they cover the most common positions pretty comprehensively. Was there anything specific you thought was problematic?
Don’t forget to tell us where you rank on the spectrum, too.
Yeah, some of the questions were weird considering its point value(the taiwan reunification one comes to mind), plus, I really couldn’t answer some of the questions. My incomplete score was -1.
Funny aside, I don’t know if people discussed this, but what this survey considered “right” is America’s left 🙂
Yes yo, so I don’t know what my -6.3 means. Most of the points came from question 8 and 14.
And I understand what Wu Di is saying. Really, these sort of polls or quizzes should be seen as a sort of amusement rather than deep political insight.
Buxi, when the torch was in SF, I listened with dismay to Richard Gere go on about things he doesn’t have a clue about. And he had an audience lapping it up.
Allen Yu says
I am a 6
Wu Di says
You are right about the missing distinction from the tone of discussion between MITBBS and most American discussion sites. But I wouldn’t characterize what’s going on on MITBBS / Daily Kos / Rush Limbaugh as ‘discussion’ or ‘debate’ at all. It’s mostly rhetorical infighting, some entertaining pastime activity for comment trolls and those who prefer to spend their time sharing their opinion than working on improving it.
And sorry if I haven’t been clear on this: what I meant when I mentioned Iraq was that the idea of invading Iraq came first, and the idea (and the people that pushed it) was powerful enough to then first control and ultimately virtually kill the debate, by making it seem unnecessary and politically incorrect. Only now, 5 years after the invasion, slowly the idea (!) to retreat from Iraq is gaining momentum.
Again, I would tell you where I rank, but to me there’s no easy A, B, C, D, E choice so any number would be completely arbitrary. Let me elaborate, using question 9 as an example:
In my own humble little opinion, I would say that answers A, B, and C all make very good points and are correct at least for some cases and when stressing some considerations. I wouldn’t be able to decide on one of them without making specific assumptions about the questions or answers, and the more I think about a question the less I’m convinced that one of the possibilities is the correct answer. All of them are, in a way.
Another point: What’s missing is a working definition of ‘democracy’; how could anyone distinguish in a meaningful way between A, B, C, and even D without a definition of the key term of debate? And of course there’s a bigger issue here: Should we simply adopt one of the Western conceptions of what ‘democracy’ might mean, or pick any of the forms of democracy currently available ‘on the market?’ I’d rather say that any form of democracy that could eventually evolve would evolve through social change *from within*. Assuming some form of ‘democracy’ without seriously pondering and debating what kind of underlying social change we want to see and bring about in China is counterproductive. Value-laden discussions about ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ have to be looked at with a very critical mind concerning their hidden meanings and realities.
But another point: I find answer 9 D rather silly, as if a China permeated with ‘democracy’ is automatically integrated with the world. Seriously, how much can someone simplify?
Yet another point: in E the answer begins with “We”. This seems odd to me, as if choosing E would require anyone to be affiliated with a group of ‘traitors’ that’s in bed with the US. This is not necessarily the case.
And last but not least, let me pull together again why I prefer to refrain from ranking myself on that spectrum:
1) because I don’t think it’s useful
2) because it makes it easier for others to put me in a specific drawer
3) because I feel that more debate and discussion are necessary before I can commit to what is the best solution for China
4) because I fear that if I commit myself now to one specific answer then it’s hard to remain open to different opinions and develop innovative answers that are better than A, B, C, D, or E.
Sorry for not being able to tell you where I rank on that spectrum. I would if I could.
Buxi, I do see a big benefit in “conveying an accurate image of China” to the outside world (see the ‘about’ of this blog) and commend you for this heroic effort! I’m just pointing out that this is a huge task — s China’s image is constantly developing and dynamic.
This is in regards to your statements that democracy should be defined before the survey(question 9 was it). IMO, it doesn’t necessarily need to be define and here is why.
IMO, these surveys try to get a feel of what you think, so the reader is allowed to employ his/her own baseline assumptions. Yes, in the democracy question, it had different meanings in each choice but that is fine. Someone who believes in an American democracy will gravitate(in theory) to immediate democratization and would not understand a statement saying china is really democratic because he has his own assumptions. The opposite will be true for someone who has another definition in mind, but that is fine. It’s an attempt to get your world view and assumptions are key.
I agree that words like freedom should be well defined in the beginning of a debate, so we get all our assumptions out in the open and we can truly debate. Time and time again, Tibet for example, you have both sides with their own assumptions, they form their own conclusions, and then commence attacking the opposing conclusion using their own assumptions :-), and you wonder why these debate deteriorates into a name calling match and an exchange of slogans.
I echo the thoughts of mutantjedi though, and I feel this survey is an amusement, so don’t take it too seriously 🙂
S.K. Cheung says
“Bleeding heart liberals in San Francisco broke the hearts of many Chinese who live in this area when it declared it would be receiving the Olympic torch with “alarm and protest”” If that’s the case, Chinese people need to exercise more 🙂 You seem to depict Chinese people as being extremely sensitive to even the slightest slight.
I wouldn’t call the post March 14 riots reactions in the west, including in the SF, the “slightest slight”.
If after 9/11, the French ran newspapers with front page headlines of “We are all Arabs today!”, would you still think it as the “slightest slight”?
I came out somewhere around -8. But there were too many questions where I didn’t agree with any of the options given, so I reckon I’m neither a 老将 or a 小将, I’m a 老外。
It seems obvious that you’ve been raised with only Canadian values, and with the perception that these are universal values. As a 1st or 1.5 generation immigrant, I think that’s an opportunity lost. You had the *option* at birth of understanding two different cultural/social perspectives.
Let me turn this around for you.
Many Chinese (seeing things with only a Chinese cultural/social perspective) believe that the fact Tibetans are well-fed, have numerous material possessions, have a high life expectancy, have advantages when applying for university, and have numerous legal rights that other Chinese do not… that should be enough. If some Tibetans are upset that they can’t carry the picture of the Dalai Lama, well, then they’re just being “extremely sensitive”. I don’t think that’s a wise way of understanding the situation; do you?
yo, wudi, and mutantjedi…
Definitely, don’t take the survey too seriously. No one has to order a “old general” T-shirt, and no one is obligated to memorize the slogans of their political faction. I’m not taking notes here, and no one’s postings will be marked with a special flag indicating its from a “little general”.
But I don’t think it’s fair to say this is just entertainment… heck, the survey wasn’t all that fun, was it?
To respond again to Wu Di’s comments above: this survey isn’t intended to stifle or block discussion. These aren’t the only “acceptable” answers to what are in fact complicated questions, and for each of us to figure out what the right answer is… more discussion and learning is necessary.
But the point is that many of us have discussed the above issues at length, and these answers are a decent approximation of the most common answers.
Don’t you think we could use the same exercise for American issues?
What are your feelings on the Iraq war?
– A: George Bush and his cronies are war criminals who lied to the American people, and deserve to be tried for treason. +3
– B: George Bush exaggerated the facts and has poorly managed the war war effort, and I wish he was never elected to office. +1
– C: George Bush might not be the brightest guy, and we’re paying a heavy price. But I’m not sure there’s a better option. 0
– D: Bush has eliminated Saddam and increased American security; the price also hasn’t been so high compared to past wars. -1
– E: George Bush has preserved the American way of life from Islamo-fascists that would otherwise be crashing more planes into our buildings. -3
You brought up question #9… and the truth is, I’ve seen Chinese argue for every single one of those options. Answer D, for example, about China needing to become a democracy to “integrate” into world society… I’ve absolutely seen Chinese make precisely that argument, that the rest of the world is essentially united in democracy and democratic values, and that China will remain isolated until we learn these values as our own.
See this thread for an example of the many Chinese who would echo that statement:
So, don’t use this survey to define yourself and your beliefs; don’t use this survey for “fun” alone. Use this survey as a way of getting a basic overview of what “most” Chinese, at least those who’ve considered these issues at depth, have ended up concluding and rallying around.
If anyone want to explore any of these issues and answers in more detail… let me know, and I’d be happy to take a shot at relaying all of the common arguments I’ve seen. Should we talk about #9, for example? Or the Cultural Revolution? 6/4? Southern Metropolitan media group? (No questions about nationalization of the military please; that’s one issue I’m mostly clueless on.)
S.K. Cheung says
perhaps I overstepped with the analogy. However, it also seems incongruous to compare the torch protest to 9/11.
S.K. Cheung says
my point was that Chinese should not be so sensitive. If Tibetans got their knickers in a twist just because they couldn’t carry the Dalai’s picture around, i would also be telling them that there are larger fish to fry. Nothing to turn around there.
I never claim that my values are universal; in fact, I think I’ve spent many a post saying exactly that: no one’s values are universally applicable to others. So at the end of the day, people have to decide for themselves…I believe the word is self-determination. And I think that is a plenty adequate way to understand the situation.
“Many Chinese (seeing things with only a Chinese cultural/social perspective) believe that the fact Tibetans are well-fed…”, and again, I could ask this till I’m blue in the face, but I wonder what Tibetans think?
I didn’t compare the torch protest with 9/11. It’s the murderous March 14 riot by ethnic Tibetans that I was referring to. And guess what many in the west decided to do? They came out to protest the torch and shouted for free Tibet. How is that not an equivalent of the analogy I constructed?
Oh, and some of them didn’t even know where Tibet is.
Wu Di says
What the ‘poll’ shows is how many diverse opinions there are out there, even among Chinese, and this is interesting (albeit not surprising) to me — and I assume also to lots of 老将 and 小将 and also to 老外. Fact is that the official government view and the view portrayed in mouthpiece, emmm sorry, I mean mainstream, media doesn’t reflect that diversity, at least not if you don’t read between the lines.
So I wouldn’t say that the ‘poll’ has been useless or has *only* entertainment value.
Discussing any of the issues in the ‘poll’ in more detail sounds like a good idea!
Roland at ESWN (who also gave his answers above) gives a detailed explanation of his answers on his excellent blog:
He also does a better job than I did of giving a better, more clear explanation of why this quiz is significant and interesting.
You’re absolutely right about that. Chinese “mainstream” media serves the Communist Party. The fact that there’s little diversity there is by design. But “mainstream media” aside, China is a far more open place than many in the West give it credit for (which is one of the themes of this blog).
For those who care about the issues, there’s really no piece of information available to the West that’s unavailable in China. All of the discussion about Hu Jia or censorship aside… no one in China is being arrested today for watching or passing around Carma Hinton’s excellent documentary: “The Gate of Heavenly Peace”, for example. This material is censored and kept from being spread “publically”… but for those interested, the information is there.
Also, the Chinese have never been shy about talking politics (except perhaps around a foreigner)… you can always get a detailed report on whether a mayor is corrupt in any Chinese city just by asking your cab driver. And the Internet is magnifying this by 1000 times.
some of the choices are quite limited. i.e. i cannot find the right one that describes my view.
I am a -8×1.05x.9=-7.38, but there are many choice
but there are many choices i was forced to pick.
By saying that such polls/quizzes are more for amusement isn’t the same as saying it is “just entertainment.” My meaning was more… I scored a -6.3 but I won’t consider someone who also scores a -6 or so as someone who is like minded, nor would I consider someone who scored a big + number someone who is diametrically opposed to me.
I found the questions and the answers extremely interesting. They are reflective of ideas and perspectives that people have. For me, it is more parts of the mosaic that is China. So, I’m greatly appreciative for Buxi to take the time to translate it for us.
gosh…i am definitely a 骑墙派…
Buxi, a similar survey was posted on 水木 and 未名 BBS last year. Thousands of people took that survey and posted their answers. See it here:
Great survey! More technical than this version, but might be interesting for people to look at too. I’ll probably translate that into English as a blog post for later… unless someone beats me to it and volunteers? 🙂
I came out -0.3 (left) on politics, and -0.3 (left) on culture. 0 on economics.
Any theories on why the Beida responses were more “right” leaning than Qinghua responses? I thought the two would be pretty similar!
Wu Di says
I agree that the questions and answers were extremely interesting, and (as MJ wrote) “they are reflective of ideas and perspectives that people have.”
Just a little caveat: they don’t allow for much thinking outside the box.
Buxi, thanks for translating that survey!
I can’t find the survey you mentioned, except some plots of collective results.
Wu Di says
I agree that “China is a far more open place than many in the West give it credit for” and that’s one reason why I really appreciate your blog — bringing this diversity across to a Western audience that is lulled in by FOX News, CNN, or other media driven by certain agendas is very necessary these days.
Since you bring up the censorship thing, I happen to be a friend of friends of Hu Jia, and frankly, although people may not get arrested for watching that documentary you mentioned (which is being passed ‘under the counter’ to those interested who have open-minded friends, even though Youtube remains blocked in China most of the time), it is illegal (!) to own a copy and theoretically one could (!) get arrested for watching it.
Also, limiting the spread of information that offers venues for new perspectives is enough to stifle societal change. And I don’t think stifling the possibility for change is a good idea for any society.
As I’m sure you know: some of the 80后 generation have no clue what happened in 89. Scary. When has ignorance ever led to a change for the better?
Asking your cab driver or neighbor may tell you which mayor is corrupt, and I’ve met lots of very outspoken people in China. But the cab driver you mention won’t step up and do something against it as long as he feels it’s hopeless.
Anyway, in response to your last comment I’d just like to say that it’s probably best to not defend the status quo too much. (I don’t think that’s been your intention.)
I get -5. There are many questions don’t carry my answers. I see my self as middle man +-1.
For example the #1 question, I don’t say I support or I’ll fight CCP. They have policies I support and policies I don’t support. If there was a second party who had policies I support more, I’ll vote for the other party. If CCP had the best of all policies I agree with compare to other parties, then I’ll vote for CCP. there is no other political power, I have no much option for now. I support a reform than a revolution.
Another example is 6/4. I see it was brutal massacre as a result but it was a technically heavy handled mistake by people had no experience and no means to deal with protest or riot. It should be officially recognized as a tragedy and mourn the lost and learn the lesson and we move on. if the top called in the 38 infantry surround Beijing as a military coup to against political rivals(Mao and LinBiao did this to round up Peng, Luo, Lu ,Yang then finally LiuShaoQi in the end) and only used riot police(there was none) with water cannon and tear gas to resolve protesters in ChangAnJie, there wouldn’t be a lost of hundreds of lives.
Different survey author might have different zero point.
15 x 1
16 x 1
As for the survey mentioned by KL, this is what I’ve got.
KL’s survey is in a box/frame in the center of that page that he linked.
Many on MITBBS have argued -5 should be the “zero” moderate point. So… you’re right, you’re a moderate +/-1.
Strange, I just can’t see the box/frame. Using IE doesn’t change either.
Here’s a direct link… I haven’t walked all the way through it, but I assume it works fine here even if it’s not embedded in a frame.
Thanks. The direct link worked. My scores are -0.4, 0.8, 0.
S.K. Cheung says
you’re correct in that I misread your earlier post. However, my “slightest slight” remark was in relation to torch relay protests, vis-a-vis your “SF” notation. I don’t think the “west” had anything to do with the riots themselves, unless you subscribe to the various conspiracy theories.
But even if you refer to the 3/14 riots themselves, how is that a parallel to 9/11? The loss of life doesn’t compare; the loss of property (I don’t think, but I could be wrong about this one) doesn’t compare. And one was people rioting on their own soil, while the other was foreigners flying jets into sky-scrapers and government buildings.
I wasn’t saying that 3/14 was equal in scale to 9/11. And I wasn’t referring to some western conspiracies behind the 3/14 riot either. (However, this doesn’t mean that I believe foreign forces didn’t play any role in fermenting troubles in Tibet.)
I was merely using 9/11 as an example to construct a scenario to show you how wrong, both in terms of the media coverage as well as the protests greeting the torch, the reactions to the 3/14 riot had gone in the west in general. (And yes, a significant portion of the hostility shown towards the torch in SF and elsewhere was in response to the 3/14 riot.) So, does the lesser severity of 3/14 in comparison to 9/11 make these hostile reactions in any way right and acceptable?
In recent days, there were quite a number of instances of reporters/commentators raising 9/11 in assessing the impact of the Sichuan earthquake on China. There is certainly some validity to such a comparison. However, for me and for many other Chinese as well, the ignorant and vicious attitude demonstrated by many in the west towards China earlier this year is our 9/11 already. Why do you think this blog was established in the first place?
This is a really long way to say: No, those protests against China and the torch were not the “slightest slight”.
S.K. Cheung says
I would actually say that the earthquake dwarfs 9/11 in almost every measurable way…lives lost, property damaged, people displaced, physical area of devastation. The only difference is that one was a natural disaster and the other was man-made. I don’t know how the psychological impact would compare, since I’ve been fortunate enough to have not experienced either.
I agree that the torch protests stemmed from events of 3/14. I was of the understanding that the SF protest was peaceful, and that the violent ones were in London and Paris. As far as I’m concerned, as long as people protest peacefully, that is well within their right in a democratic society, and there’s really nothing for people to take offense to. I do agree that violent protesters who break the law should be punished as allowed by the law, both in the West and in Tibet.
I see you point about both 9/11 and 3/14 being violent events. However, whatever protest occurred during the torch relay, as I understand it, was directed towards the CCP RESPONSE to the riots, and not in support of the riot, the violence, or the rioters themselves. That seems to be in sharp contrast to your 9/11 scenario, where the French would have been celebrating the violent act itself.
So I agree that the west should not celebrate the 3/14 riots themselves; but if China takes offense to western opinion about her response to the riots, that seems disproportionate to what I feel is “not-too-big” a slight.
So I agree that the west should not celebrate the 3/14 riots themselves; but if China takes offense to western opinion about her response to the riots, that seems disproportionate to what I feel is “not-too-big” a slight.
Are you making an effort to step out of your perspective, or are you just going to repeat what you “believe”?
Let me give you the Chinese perspective, again. We see nothing to complain about in terms of the CCP response to the Tibetan riots; those who violate the law should be punished, period. Those in the West who then subsequently protested the Olympic torch, those in the West who decided to accept the Olympic torch “in alarm and protest” over basic law enforcement…? That was absolutely disproportionate.
And in what way was the Chinese reaction to these protests disproportionate? Those who protested CCP actions cheered and waved their flags; in some extreme cases, a few even became physical towards what they saw as symbols of the CCP. When we went on the streets, we cheered and waved our flags; and in some extreme caess, a few of us became physical towards what we saw as symbols of the Tibetan independence rioters.
S.K. Cheung says
“Are you making an effort to step out of your perspective, or are you just going to repeat what you “believe”?” I’m not sure what you mean. Of course I say what I “believe”; don’t you? I’m not sure how NOT condoning the riots and NOT condoning China’s response deviates from my prior perspective.
I have no problem with punishing those who break the law. We kinda like that in the west too. It’s when the response is disproportionate, or if the punishment exceeds the crime, that westerners get a little fidgety. So rioters should be subdued with riot police, and not the PLA. And rioters should be sentenced, but life in prison (as was the case for some of them)?? ARe you serious?
BTW, in your years in the west, in case you haven’t noticed, “basic law enforcement” does not typically require the armed forces, nor of isolating the area and removing all foreigners. That to me is disproportionate. And as I’ve said elsewhere, that our perspectives diverge should surprise no one.
AS for the Chinese response, I did not say it was physically disproportionate. My statement was that: “You seem to depict Chinese people as being extremely sensitive to even the slightest slight”, insofar as the western protest of CCP’s response to the riots. I have no problem with CCP supporters being boisterous and vocal; you’re merely exercising your democratic rights.
I’m sorry. I’m getting lost here.
In my opinion, the only point of comparison between 9/11 and the earthquake is the solidarity to help people in need. After that, politics on each side of the pacific come into play.
9/11 and 3/14 have very little points of comparison. You want to find something in North America to compare with 3/14, perhaps look at Prime Minister Trudeau talking about the FLQ. Keep in mind that this happened in Canada. Tanks in the streets would be very shocking.
Oh my! I am just watching that interview with Trudeau. Much of his argument could easily have been directly quoted by, say, President Hu in defense of the governments action against the Tibetan separatists.
Background on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/October_Crisis
Still, each of these events are not clones of each other.
But, what motivated me to start this comment was the apparent distortion attempted by S.K. Cheung. Perhaps I’ve misunderstood? I think I understand you suggesting that the reasons for the US protests of the Olympic Torch relay was primarily about the CCP’s response to the violent actions of the Tibetan separatists? But the big banner unveiled on the Golden Gate bridge was “Free Tibet”. But I listened to speeches made by protesters that were stridently pro Tibetan separatists. I can understand how people outside of San Francisco might be confused about the message meant as it seems that I too got it all muddled up. But no, we didn’t get the message wrong. Not with monks in red marching with portraits with the Dalai Lama. Not with the likes of Richard Gere gushing about a Tibet that never was. Not with huge banners calling for a Free Tibet. The message clearly was “free Tibet from the evil communists.”
There seemed to be absolutely no acknowledgement that the Tibetan, to borrow a word from Trudeau, bandits set out to kill people as well as to destroy property.
Watch Trudeau’s reaction to the reporter questioning him about the tanks in the streets. Would you have any government do nothing in the face of such lawlessness? Would you have them do nothing to protected life and property? But the protesters were not looking at it that way. They’re agenda was Tibet separatism.
Now. What about that phrase “slightest slight”? Perhaps it was just poor choice of words on your part. Alliteration can be so seductive. I was in Beijing this last February. I met people who were very excited about volunteering during the Olympics. Of course, the cab drivers were keen to point out the site. Signs are everywhere. I am also not unaware of people being displaced to make room for the construction. Perhaps some of these changes were not always that welcomed. Many caused a lot of hardship. But the games are important.
And then on 3/14 Tibetans go on a rampage to kill Han people and destroy Han property, a racist attack. In the West we see reports with Nepalese policemen beating monks as events happening in Lhasa. How often is the story about the 5 girls dying in a fire set by the rioters told in the West? The list can go on but what irked me was that when the death toll was reported, the West first quoted the Tibetan separatists numbers then mentioned the Chinese numbers second. In effect they were giving the separatists story more credibility.
And then, the “protests” during the torch relay. Protest if you must but attempt to snuff out the flame? Assaulting the torch bearer? I’m sorry. I really could rant on about this but it won’t get the dialog anywhere. I just find it absurdly difficult to comprehend that someone could not understand the hurt the people in China would feel. The games are a time to be proud in China. So much good has happened over the last few years (still lots to do).
The Chinese are not being oversensitive about this.
Heehee, nowadays all volunteers are in Sichuan so you can’t find one and have to depend on yourself 🙂
As for the Beida and Qinghua difference, did you forget your last post on Tsinghua students? They are conservative, which means they would like to stick to the current system…Qinghua students always look down on Beida students and vice versa…Beida is definitely more leftish(which means right-wing in the survey)…
BTW: I got politics 0.5, culture 0 and economics 0.4…oh, i thought i should be more “right” on the economics coordinate…damn, as a tsinghua student i am ashamed to have similar scores as beida students……
0(isn’t there a different answer beside opposing or agreeing with democracy?)
what does that mean?
And rioters should be sentenced, but life in prison (as was the case for some of them)?? ARe you serious?
Well, if you had one of the family members or loved ones were burned to death (the victims include both Hans and Tibetans) by the rioters, you might not be asking this question.
BTW, just as a comparison, recently a US court sentenced a Chinese American to over 24 years in prison for trying to send public domain info back to China. That’s practically a life since for him.
Well in theory, anything > 0 (and some say > -5) makes you a leftist little general, more sympathetic with the Chinese government than “average”.
Looking at your answers, you’re an optimistic moderate just like me. 🙂
I question who’s more familiar with the West. Based on your comments of the American Civil War + black separatism in the US, it really seems like you’re very unfamiliar with Western history.
Here are a few Youtube videos that might fill in another knowledge gap:
S.K. Cheung says
To Mutant Jedi:
you understood me correctly, that I think the SF protest was towards the CCP response. However, it would not and does not surprise me if people made that into a “Free Tibet” rally in the process.
However, that’s not the same as condoning lawlessness or the violence of the riots themselves. I just tried to make a distinction that westerners protesting the CCP response are not condoning violent acts, as opposed to DL’s example of the French condoning the violent acts of 9/11 themselves. And I think Chinese are being overly sensitive to take offense to westerners expressing dismay not at the fact that the riots were put down, as they should have been, but in the manner with which the CCP did so. So I’m not suggesting that the CCP should have done nothing, but perhaps something more proportionate. The Tibetans, after all, were not armed like the FLQ were. Nor had they kidnapped politicians.
I don’t think there’s much point in discussing the facts as they were reported in March: the CCP’s version, i don’t believe, and you are equally justified for being cynical at the western/CNN take. However, it was China that turfed out the foreigners, thereby preventing them from reporting on the events more fully. And I for one don’t blame CNN for not splashing the xinhua news feed onto their homepage.
I also agree that the Paris and London protesters crossed the line with attacking the torch bearers; but to my understanding, that didn’t happen in SF.
S.K. Cheung says
I was actually referring to the 1st 30 rioters that were tried in late April, I believe. I read about it on CNN, but they were reprinting something from a Chinese newspaper (I can’t remember the name). THese first 30 were tried in one day, and all convicted (of course, wouldn’t expect anything else). Several (I believe 3) were sentenced to life in prison. However, this newspaper made a point that these people had NOT been charged with murder. So my point was that I’m not sure what crime would warrant life imprisonment, if these were not the guys who killed people.
SO as to your point, yes, the ones who did the crime should do the time, but again, the punishment should be proportionate to the crime. I wouldn’t have a problem if the ones convicted of murder/manslaughter were given such stiff sentences, but to my understanding, that wasn’t the case. On a side note, when have you ever heard of 30 people being tried in ONE day, 6 weeks after the offense. Doesn’t allow much time for each defendant to mount much of a defense. Does that sound like a fair trial to you?
S.K Cheung touches upon a point that I’m keenly interested – due process. How is the law applied in China? Fairness and transparency in the legal system goes locked step with dealing with corruption.
I know there has been reforms. For example, in April, Xinhua had an article, interestingly titled “New law boosts lawyers’ rights“. The law talks about the defense lawyer’s right to private access to his client. What sort of impact has this law had? What is the due process in China?
S.K. Cheung says
you’re right, the 4500 national guard were there in LA. And they made barricades, enforced a curfew and restored order, without necessarily beating the heck out of even the rioters. And considering it was LA, those rioters were likely much better armed than the Tibetans.
As for your views on the Civil War and apparent black separatism, those can be filed with the list of other stuff we disagree about.
The Lawyer Law (律师法) isn’t due to go effect until June 1st, so it hasn’t had any impact yet. I do agree with you it’s a significant piece of reform. It won’t satisfy Western critics focused on “national security” cases (since those are explicitly exempt), but it will have significant impact on Chinese society as a whole.
The Chinese press is full of stories about prosecutors and police investigators studying the new law carefully, so that they better understand its implications.
It won’t be an easy transition. This particularly reform represents a major step away from “tradition” in Chinese criminal law… traditionally (ranging all the way back into dynastic history), getting the accused to confess was the primary goal. And when the accused wouldn’t cooperate, of course this means torture + abuse naturally popped up.
The new law talks about defense attorneys playing an active role in the investigation and helping their clients from day one. Instead of a battle between police and accused (which is a situation ripe for abuse), the conflict is now going to be between prosecutors and defense attorneys, and the only tools they have will be evidence and law.
But don’t get too optimistic about quick progress. There will continue to be abuses in the Chinese legal system, because the “quality” of Chinese attorneys, judges, and law enforcement remains very low. Something like only 25% of judges have legal degrees. Many attorneys and police have very poor formal education as well.
It will take another 20 years before the people educated in the ’80s began to take senior positions in the legal system. Until that happens, we shouldn’t be surprised by poor implementation.
Talk about a major paradigm shift, eh! From a goal of securing a confession to determining a verdict based on an adversarial system between prosecution and defense before judge or jury.
This also explains how the process can be so swift. I read the story about an expat who got caught in Shanghai driving without a license. He went from arrest to detention in hours. The account was a bit sparse on the legal details but he was compelled to sign a document (a confession, I assume) or things would go worse for him.
Hmm… the plea bargain system we have here reminds me of traditional Chinese law. Most of the media and popular focus is on how the people everybody knows is guilty gets off with a lighter sentence because of a plea bargain. But I watched a case of a friend of mine that made me think more about due process. In her case, she was told that a trial could result in severe penalties. It would be better for her to plead guilty (which she was adamant that she was not). Because of the cost of defending herself and because of the risk of harsher penalties, the crown obtained their confession.
S.K. Cheung says
1.”It won’t satisfy Western critics focused on “national security” cases (since those are explicitly exempt)”. I don’t think the West (US) has any right to complain about that as long as there is a Gitmo and secret CIA prisons overseas. However, it would also depend on how you define “national security”…since CCP seems to couch many of their concerns in terms of maintaining societal stability. So is a peaceful protest a matter of national security, etc…
2.”Something like only 25% of judges have legal degrees. Many attorneys and police have very poor formal education as well.” As you’ve pointed out to me many times, I don’t know China, but how on earth can one be tasked with practising or interpreting the law without showing the proficiency for same?
To S.K. Cheung:
“how on earth can one be tasked with practicing or interpreting the law without showing the proficiency for same?”
I’m not sure either since I know very, very little about Chinese legal system, but I’ll make a guess. Though there’s only about 25% of them that’s qualified, there’s a much greater demands. Not everyone qualifies, probably a good deal doesn’t, but that’s what we have to work with – to keep the system running. Be practical and make the best out of what we have and improve on that.
I don’t know China, but how on earth can one be tasked with practising or interpreting the law without showing the proficiency for same?
There’s nothing wrong with a lack of knowledge, and I appreciate you asking the question. Frankly, I think the answer does a very good job of explaining “what’s wrong” with China that many in the West don’t understand.
Keep in mind that before 1950, literacy rates in China were approximately 3%. The concept of law and lawyers was generally speaking non-existent. Education rates began to increase quickly after the PRC was established in 1949, but this all stopped again during the Cultural Revolution.
From about 1966 – 1976, not a single Chinese person attended university (or really learned anything in high school). No one practiced law… all laws were basically wiped off of the books.
By 1980, there were basically no college-educated people in China under the age of 40, while “practicing lawyers” were probably 50+ years old. China slowly began to ramp up its education system again… but China needed courts, and didn’t have many options. Many who joined the legal system at that point came directly from other careers (many from the army)… at best they passed a basic certification test.
As a result, China simply hasn’t had the time to train enough legal professionals (or any other sort of professionals). We’ve had to settle with who was available. I don’t mean to say these judges didn’t pass a (basic) certification test, but without attending university and ideally post-graduate school of law, without becoming apprentices in a legal system to lawyers 20-30 years their senior… well, the quality of their work can be imagined.
China’s university system didn’t start graduating enough people until probably the last 5-6 years… but these are all people in their 20s, and that’s why I say they won’t be able to take on roles of responsibility for another 20 years.
Even in the US, there are no specific qualifications to become a judge.
Buxi, your brief history of law in China is very helpful. Thanks
Oh, in Canada, for the lower courts, you’re looking at practicing law for 5 years before becoming a judge.
I mention US and Canada because often we make opinions about China from the West without really knowing what’s going on here first.
With regard to China’s right being more like America’s left, I think that is not too hard to understand.
American politics is known to be right of center generally whereas Chinese politics is known to be left of center. From there, any identification with/distancing from the traditional ideological leanings of a country, regardless of the current ideological value, also get labeled by left and right. The inward-looking or nationalist groups in both countries identify with and are labeled with the leanings of their respective countries (left in China, right in the US). The outward-looking or internatinoalist groups in both countries identify with and are labeled with the leanings of the opposition.
Thanks for clarifying your thoughts. Those 30 rioters were sentenced ranging from 3 years to life. They were quickly tried and convicted probably because the evidence against them was strongest/clearest. It could also be that the court was under the government/public pressure to mete out swift punishment.
To answer your question, was the sentencing process up to the international (western) standard? I would say no. And as the discussion on this and other threads shows, China’s legal system has much to be desired, to put it mildly.
However, I do take issue with your contention that since no one was charged with murder, no one should be sentenced to life in prison. There are numerous crimes besides murder that are punishable by life in prison. Obviously there were rioters who got much lighter sentences, presumably they committed less crime. Yet, arson, robbery and attacking law enforcement officials are serious crimes in any modern society. So if the accusations against those 3 rioters are true, and the sentencing was according to current Chinese laws, then I don’t see those 3 life sentences as an overly harsh punishment. Moreover, as far as I know, many life sentences in China eventually are commuted to a 15 year term.
Speaking of harsh punishment, the US supreme court ruled several years ago that sentencing someone to 50 years/life in prison for stealing 9 videotapes (thanks to the 3 strikes law), did not constitute “cruel and usual punishment.” And no wonder the US actually dwarfs China in terms of people behind bars; despite it has a much smaller general population.
S.K. Cheung says
In Canada, “left”=liberal. I would hardly characterize Chinese politics as “liberal”, at least the way I understand it. It seems the US/Canada “center” is miles from the Chinese “center” position.
However, your description certainly explains why I score way right on this test, even though here I am a liberal.
S.K. Cheung says
thanks for the explanation. All I can say is, if I’m ever in China, and somehow end up in court, hopefully I get the one judge in 4 who’s actually been to law school.
Your summary of the state of education in China leads me to another question. IN HK, we learned Chinese (the full-on version). SO what’s the deal with this simplified stuff? Based on your account, and I don’t mean this to be derogatory, but did the CCP make up their own version just to make it easier for people to learn how to write? From what I’ve seen, entire parts of words are left out, or parts with complex strokes are replaced with an “X” (like the inside section of the word for country). And if that’s the case, as literacy improves, why don’t they go back to the “true” version?
S.K. Cheung says
You know what, if the law on the books for arson, robbery, etc is life in prison, then I would think it to be unreasonably harsh, but knowing that those were the legal ramifications, if you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime. My suspicion (no basis in fact, just my guess) is that those are NOT the typical prescribed sentences for such crimes. My suspicion is that they guys got a little something extra, because, as you put it, “the court was under the government/public pressure to mete out swift punishment”. Regardless of the sentence, however, I hope there is at least a presumption of innocence in China. How do you go from presumed innocent to 30 guys found guilty in ONE day? It’s not only the nature of “justice”, but it’s speed, at least in this case, that makes me think that this is just the CCP’s way of “sending a message”. And a legal system that is manipulated in this way simply deserves no respect. And the people who did said manipulation would not be deserving of much more either.
Trolling eh 🙂
Here are my thoughts…
In the 80’s, when I took Chinese in University, the course started out with the traditional form. I was happy about that because I was very much aligned with HK. Literacy didn’t seem to be the reason for simplified characters as HK and Taiwan didn’t seem to have a problem.
As my program progressed, the focus shifted to the simplified form. I wasn’t a happy camper, even when my Taiwanese teachers mentioned that most of the changes were based on cursive forms and that the topic of character simplification wasn’t limited to the PRC, the KMT also talked about it in the 30s/40s.
For various reasons, my studies in Chinese were suspended until recently. Now, I’m focusing on the simplified characters. A bit part of my reasoning is still political. Things are not like they were 20+ years ago.
Another part of my reasoning is…. My eyes are not that good anymore. Traditional forms are harder for me! The strokes tend to all blend together into a blob.
I’ve had a couple decades to think about this. The simplified forms are a bit easier. Many of the changes are not really new as they were part of the cursive form. And some of the changes actually make better sense, for example: 认/認.
And Simplified Chinese isn’t going away.
Language evolves. English isn’t the same as it was in the 14th century. If a billion people are using 简体, that must now be the “true” version.
S.K. Cheung says
well, it might be popular, it might be expedient, and it’s certainly pragmatic, but whatever Chinese I can still write will be the “old-fashioned” style. I agree language (as all things do) evolves. But as of this instant, there’s only one correct way to write English.
Yes, absolutely, literacy and easier education was the primary reason for simplified Chinese. Imagine the world’s largest country with a population that was 97% illiterate… special challenges require special policies.
As far as it changing back, why would it be necessary? It’s already become the dominant character set; why force 1.3 billion to relearn? Most educated Chinese are just fine with both as it is as well; I can read newspapers in traditional Chinese (although I couldn’t write), it’s just a little more tiring. (Singapore has also adopted the simplified Chinese character set, by the way.)
Keep in mind that the change in character set wasn’t even the most significant change in Chinese writing in the 20th century. The most revolutionary change came in the 1920s. Before that point, for all 2000 years of Chinese history since Qin Shihuang forced a single language on his empire… almost everything was written in “literary Chinese” (文言文). It was a very antiquated and flowery form of Chinese that made it absolutely impossible for average Chinese to understand what was said; I can read traditional characters, I can’t read literary/classical Chinese.
But many Chinese revolutionaries who worried about the collapse of our nation decided that “literary Chinese” was keeping our people back. Therefore, 2000 years of tradition was wiped out almost overnight, and “plain Chinese” (白话文) became the way writing was done. Now, Chinese newspapers, books, documents (including those in Hong Kong) are written in exactly the way any one of us would talk. I don’t think you’d advise that we re-learn classical Chinese, right?
All of these things *combined* are what’s finally (after centuries of struggling) allowing our country to be reborn as a modern country. Again, special challenges, special solutions.
This is basic questions that need to be asked. Is there a presumption of innocence? If the job of the legal system is to obtain a confession, I expect that it is the other way around – presumption of guilt.
Given what Buxi told us, I don’t think it was necessary to have any sort of manipulation of the courts to get the swift processing of the 30. Confessions no doubt were obtained. How they were obtained could be varied. Confront the criminal with witnesses and video evidence, what can he say? Once obtained, how long would it take to wrap up the process?
I’m not surprised at the sentences. There were some very serious offenses involved.
That sort of legal process is scary. Mix it with corruption and anybody can find themselves on the wrong side of the bars.
I think that is why there will be more reforms as more people’s lives improve and have more to lose and have a venue for their voices.
Your version is pretty close to what I expect probably happened. Video evidence would be shown; eyewitness reports written by others would also be shown. It would also be made very clear that cooperation translates into lighter sentences. Defense attorneys should be available for consultation, and to make sure the proper process happens in court… but wouldn’t be able to “organize a defense” in the Western sense.
As far as presumption of innocence or guilt… I don’t know what the legal principle is. But there isn’t trial by jury, instead criminal trial is by a body of judges who hears the evidence (similar to the US Supreme Court). I assume they simply decide which direction is more “likely” and go in that direction.
I don’t believe its true at all these 30 people were tried in the same day, however. I believe they were all sentenced on the same day, and if I recall correctly, it was more than a month after the riots themselves.
I firmly believe, and I think most Chinese share this sentiment, that legal reform is probably the most important thing we need to achieve in the near future.
Oh yes, I forgot about 文言文. Good point.
Actually, English is one language that gives itself to change. Colour me Canadian or color me American. 🙂 Word usage and grammar rules have changed (much to the chagrin of the language police) over the last 50 years.
S.K. Cheung says
To Mutant Jedi:
I don’t think I’d want to know how the confessions were obtained. The presumption of guilt is the scary thing…apparently similar situation in Mexico, which I discovered with the coverage of the Brenda Martin case…no doubt you’ve heard about it too, as it was all over Canadian media.
maybe i misread the story, but I thought they said they were tried in the same day. But you’re right, it was almost 6 weeks to the day after the riots. Which is why the story stuck in my mind, because my first thought was: how’d they get 30 convictions a month and a half after the incident, that’d never happen in Canada.
S.K. Cheung says
“Colour me Canadian or color me American”: that’s cute, I like that. I’ll take mine with a “u”, thanks! 🙂
If we want to go back the “true” form of Chinese, how far do you think we should go back? to before Qin? Where there was 30? 40? or even more ways of writing a single character, each character have at least 10-20 strokes. Or even further back? When it was closer to forms, when our ancestor created it?
It’s not the first time Chinese writing is changed or simplified. And it’s not only CCP that changed Chinese. And Chinese isn’t the only language that changed. Why, this is so blasted because it’s done by the evil commies!!
I can read traditional fine, learned it over a summer, when I had no choice by read traditional. The two really aren’t that different, and quiet quick and intuitive to pick up. But, I can’t write though.
S.K. Cheung says
you’re right, tough to define “true” form. With time, looks like the stuff I learned in HK will be going the way of the dodo bird. And I’ll be able to read even less CHinese than I can now.
I have a friend in Taiwan who learnt to read simplified characters but doesn’t write them. Don’t give up on reading.
I don’t think you have to worry though. It’s fairly easy to learn to read both form. Where I live, Canada, many thing are written in simplified, and many are in Traditional. Most of my friends are able to read, some with greater difficulty, some were more comfortable. Also, the internet should be of help. I have many friends from Taiwan, who reads Traditional, but can read simplified if they must.
The Chinese script comments make for an article all by itself. I think it should be separated out.
That said, I would like to say that one shouldn’t get too attached to a script, as it is but a font. Well, something more than a font, but at the root of it (if you examine the historical development of the characters) that is what it is. Still, the Traditional Script has an entrenched role, and it is the preferred font for ceremonial settings. That isn’t going the way of the dodo bird! That’s an elevation to a high status!
CCCP changed Russian script too during the early days – made Russian way easier to use / read / write.
bill t says
Let me give you the Chinese perspective
Do you see the irony in this statement — at all? You seem to say this over and over, even on a post in which you are seemingly trying to highlight the vast array of opinion in China. So did all Chinese select you as their representative or what? Why don’t you just say, “Let me give you my perspective” instead of constantly presenting your perspective as if it speaks for all Chinese?
I think you’re making a mountain out of a molehill here. Maybe he should have written “the perspective of a Chinese”, but there is nothing wrong with identifying the perspective as having a Chinese character, which is what I think he meant.
Within the context of Buxi’s comment, I believe his phrase of “the Chinese perspective” is entirely reasonable. There wasn’t that many instances in which a significant majority of the Chinese population, in or outside of the country, was so strongly unified in the perspective and feeling of a particular subject. It is rather evident in the surprises expressed all over the western media regarding the overwhelming outpouring of support from Chinese of all walks of life in every part of the world for China and the torch in response to the ugliness in the streets of London and Paris as well as most of the vocal media outlets.
Total = 4
Total after adjustment: 4 * 1.1 * 1.05 = 4.62
* I don’t know what the heck is “posting for money” accusation in the first adjustment category, but I guess it relates to the labels/names people have been calling me. Considering those labels/names are quite consistent, I pick the factor of 1.1.
But damn, I didn’t know I am such a moderate … lol … on another forum I frequent, I am decidedly perceived as a China defender.
Bob, what can I say… you’re amongst friends now. 🙂
I got -27.
My god. I got a +12. No wonder that I have a label sticker on my head as a CCP spy, working for Chinese government, should be deported……
Wow, interesting test. I scored -3, but like Sun Bin said, some of the questions are hard to give a clearcut answer to. And surely not even the most crazy nationalists would stand up and cheer for the cultural revolution, would they?
I am not Chinese so I did not do the test. Great to see that the quiz invites one to look beyond black and white thinking, a rhetoric which many Chinese media share with US one.
A lot of Europeans here in China actually see a lot of similarities between US and CH political bodies: overtly state controlled media, brainwashing citizens with blind nationalism and ideology power rhetorics brandishing all critical voices as state undermining, huge state driven discrepancies of rich vs. poor, struggles between local vs. national political instances, military power as the ultimate right to defend national interests,…
For a communist country, CH is doing a bad job in making sure power and money are equally spread.
I guess they are relying on the legendary survival instincts of the Chinese people.
I tried to find : “The Gate of Heavenly Peace”, but youtube has been blocked for three weeks already. Moreover, a google search had as consequence google is each time blocked for 5 minutes. How can I find it?
Too bad my blogspot is also blocked. I would like to refer my readers to your site and 东南西北.
“For a communist country, CH is doing a bad job in making sure power and money are equally spread.
I guess they are relying on the legendary survival instincts of the Chinese people. ”
In China, this is called “socialism at its earlier stage”. What you see from the economical side is the result of market economy. People need economical motivation in order to get developed as a whole. China need a phase of wealth accumulation at people’s level as well as national level after losing almost all of it to the West and wars.
Guess you are from a small European country with a kind of utopia thinking. You apparently still don’t know China yet. There are some similarity between China and US since both are big nation, but not a lot.