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Grace Wang wins "Chinese Youth Human Rights Award"

Grace Wang Qianyuan has apparently been awarded the 8th annual Chinese Youth Human Rights Award. This award is granted by a select group of dissidents (veterans of Tiananmen in 1989), and includes with it a “minimum $1000 cash award”.

Her acceptance letter firmly plants her in the corner of the dissidents, and dashes the insistence of some that she was a “moderate” voice. After all, she chose to end her acceptance letter with a quote from Patrick Henry’s famous speech:

There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable–and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come. It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace– but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God!

I think it’s notable that she leaves out the last and most famous sentence from that speech: “I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” I guess that’s one choice she isn’t quite ready to adopt.

Many of Grace Wang’s earliest critics described her as the next Chai Ling, a student dissident leader of the Tiananmen protests now widely pilloried and hated. The description now seems surprisingly accurate.

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  1. DJ
    June 3rd, 2008 at 00:15 | #1

    I wasn’t particularly sure what to think of Wang Qianyuan since she became famous (or infamous, depending on one’s perspective). First, I don’t exactly condone the acts of the so-called “Internet lynch mob”. Second, there were more than enough opinions being thrown around. Last but not the least, I (wanted to) give her some benefit of the doubt in terms of her real motives and actual acts. (It doesn’t mean a strong benefit of the doubt, mind you.)

    Now I merely pity her.

    I always felt that the life of an exiled Chinese “democracy champion”, “human rights activist”, or “political dissident”, once he/she joins the rank of professional anti-China noise makers, must be a lonely one. As soon as one gets on the pay roll of the CIA or its collaborative organizations, monetary or honorary award wise, it’s hard to wash off the stink to ever regain the trust of the mainstream Chinese inside or out of the mainland. I wish Wang a warm and fuzzy life in that corner, knowing well that she will remain forever a castoff of her people.

  2. yo
    June 3rd, 2008 at 00:38 | #2

    Can you guys recommend any materials that can provide a balanced view on Tiananmen 1989,(preferably a movie :-)). I personally know very little about it outside the iconic picture of tank man(As an aside, check out any story about China on MSNBC, there should be a picture of tank man on it).

    Also, why is Chai Ling hated and by whom?

  3. AC
    June 3rd, 2008 at 00:48 | #3

    yo,

    Here is a documentary by PBS:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7ou2-Kv4UA

  4. AC
    June 3rd, 2008 at 01:03 | #4

    The reason why Chai Ling and some student leaders are so hated by us fellow students is that they could have avoided the tragedy by stopping the protest, because even an idiot can tell it was going nowhere. Chai Ling wasn’t even at the square on 6/3 (she fled), yet she told the story like she was there. She is an Oscar worthy actor. It’s all in the PBS documentary. Watch it and enjoy her performance.

  5. yo
    June 3rd, 2008 at 02:41 | #5

    AC,
    ahhhh, Front Line, excellent, I like their work! Thanks!

    Also, interesting perspective. I was very unaware of the sentiments you expressed. When you say “fellow students”, do you mean fellow protesters at Tiananmen, students part of the general movement, or both?

  6. June 3rd, 2008 at 03:10 | #6

    I’ve sometimes wondered if a reason Tian’anmen so taboo is that it could have should have stopped, the action of the government paused even itself. It got out of control. Like a fight within a family that went too far and dad doesn’t want to talk about it. Thoughts?

  7. Buxi
    June 3rd, 2008 at 03:21 | #7

    Well, you guys have set the scene perfectly… as many of you noticed (and the Chinese internet-space has definitely noticed), we’re only a few days away from the 19th anniversary of 6/4. And regardless of political position, many of us agree it’s one of the most tragic events in recent Chinese history.

    As a result, many (overseas) Chinese chatboards are bombarded with 6/4 discussions. And every year, these discussions are heated and very controversial. We will definitely bring you some of the common points of view being argued.

    We will also try to catalog some of the most authoritative resources available. “The Gate of Heavenly Peace” (just Tiananmen in Chinese) is considered the most fair, authoritative source we have at hand by most people… so I’m really glad AC linked it above. Here, I’ll repeat the link again:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7ou2-Kv4UA

    The Chai Ling interview is here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8fGgkSNkP0

    If anyone here has first-hand experience from 6/4 (does that include you AC?), we’d love it if you could submit your thoughts and impressions as well.

  8. Nimrod
    June 3rd, 2008 at 03:32 | #8

    Say what you want about the Internet lynch mob, but their bullsh*t-meter is excellent. They sniffed this Grace Wang out from the beginning. It’s hard to fool them.

  9. Jane
    June 3rd, 2008 at 04:15 | #9

    Both sides are at fault in the Grace Wang affair:

    1. The Chinese students at Duke acted like an angry mob. It’s a good lesson for them: even if you are right, if you do not present your argument properly, you may end up looking like the person at fault.
    2. The West has a tendency of believing anyone who disagrees with the Communist Party as a visionary democracy advocate. That is hardly the case. The Fascists hated the Communists but they were hardly any better. The lesson being just because Grace Wang seemingly deviated from the view of the majority of Chinese students doesn’t mean she has any more political sophistication.

    I don’t think anyone knows enough about Grace Wang to judge her fairly. And the truth is, there probably isn’t anything to judge. She is most likely just an average Chinese sutdent and at twenty years of age, it is highly unlikely that she has a high level of political sophistication.

    So the point is, don’t pay any more attention to Grace Wang. Again, let’s focus on something that’s more worthwhile. For example, it is true that Chinese people have a greater mob tendency: i.e. Grace Wang and Fan Pao Pao. Why is that so? Why can’t they just accept that people are different. There are selfless and selfish people in the world. Even each individual has good and bad sides. So instead of relentlessly going after Grace Wang and Fan Pao Pao, perhaps it’s better to state your criticism and move on and devote the majority of the discussion to how to improve Chinese society so that it brings out the best in its citizens.

  10. KL
    June 3rd, 2008 at 04:25 | #10

    I heard that Chai Ling has been allowed to come back to China, is that true?

  11. EugeneZ
    June 3rd, 2008 at 04:54 | #11

    The youtube video clips brought the memory back. After 19 long years, these memories are still vivid in my head. 6/4 is not only an unresolved national tragedy, it is also an unresolved personal truma for those of us who went through it. While watching the “blood is on the square” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4PJVLTrjt0), I realized that a lot of emotion, rather powerful in nature, is still buried deep somewhere inside me. We may be too young, too naive, we may even have been misled, but the passion was high, the suffering all too real after the crackdown, the love for our motherland 100% pure.

    We have come through that unfortunate part of China’s recent history and all moved on. In between, we have learned a lot about the sophisticated world we live in, and our political views have changed accordingly. But 6/4 is still too raw, too emotional, too personal for me. Perhaps someday I will be able to reflect upon it, and write it about it as well, but not now, not yet.

  12. yo
    June 3rd, 2008 at 06:00 | #12

    Jane,

    “The Chinese students at Duke acted like an angry mob.”
    I feel that is an unfair characterization of the Chinese students at Duke. For one thing, Grace had her Chinese defenders at Duke. Also, what have Chinese students at duke done to deserve this characterization as a whole?

    “it is true that Chinese people have a greater mob tendency”
    This issue is not a matter of fact, and is extremely debatable. First and foremost, what do you mean by Chinese people? all, some, what strata? Again, Grace had her Chinese defenders.

    To go further, consider the KKK. I think you can agree that they have a mob mentality(e.g REAL lynching mobs, burning crosses, etc). Therefore, would I say that Americans have a mob mentality? No, because KKK members were a subset of white Americans and it would be unfair to characterize all white Americans as such. Same applies here and IMO, your above statement was an unfair over generalization.

    As for Grace Wang, I never thought her views were anything thought provoking or inspiring, and I’m still baffled how she got to write a column piece for the Washington post. But hey, Bush got elected twice so anything is possible eh?

  13. Nimrod
    June 3rd, 2008 at 06:13 | #13

    Well, I don’t know. I think Chinese people have more social settings in which they will gravitate toward a collective decision. Call it the mob mentality if you want, but it happens in all societies because it is human nature, but I think it is true that it happens a bit more in China. Of course culture is only a guide. People still have common sense. From the beginning to the end, it couldn’t have been more than a handful of people harrassing Wang or her family, despite what the breathless press wants to portray (as if all the overseas Chinese got in on the act, pshaw!)

  14. S.K. Cheung
    June 3rd, 2008 at 09:06 | #14

    Speaking of 6/4, whatever happened to Wong Dan and Ng Yee Hoi Hay (sorry, only know how to say their names in Cantonese). They seemed to get as much press as Chai Ling at the time.

  15. Anon
    June 3rd, 2008 at 13:40 | #15

    I basically agree with Jane’s comment. I see absolutely no justification for the lynch mob behavior that Grace Wang had to suffer. And if people think that the entire student body of the Chinese Duke community has been singled out, well, where are the dissenting Chinese voices? Just look at any website where this has been debated, and you can clearly see what voices that are prevailing.

    Also I think it is more worthwhile to pause for a while I consider where Chai Ling or Grace Wang learned this all-or-nothing rhetoric.

  16. Buxi
    June 3rd, 2008 at 15:03 | #16

    Anon,

    I’ve discussed the lynch mob behavior involving Grace Wang. It’s a repeating theme on this blog. The Internet lynch mob has nothing to do with nationalism and politics… it has to do with a poorly regulated but very popular Internet space that regulates *all* morality, period.

    See:
    http://blog.hiddenharmonies.org/?tag=wang-qianyuan

    S.K. Cheung,

    Hmm… don’t know who Ng Yee Hoi Hay is… 4 characters, so are you refer to Wuer Kaixi? Name doesn’t really work.

    As far as Wang Dan, he’s still very much active, and involved in the “Chinese Youth Human Rights Award”. He has repeatedly petitioned for a renewal of his Chinese passport so he can return to China, but so far the Chinese embassy has refused. He is graduating this year from Harvard with his PhD after… god, 12 years? … his parents will be joining him for his graduation ceremony, the first time they’ve met face to face since he left.

    Wang Dan and the dissident community he’s a symbol of aren’t thought of highly amongst many overseas Chinese. There’s a great deal of cynicism that they have achieved nothing, and will achieve nothing. There’s also a great deal of suspicion that they’ve gotten in bed with “anti-China forces”… Wang Dan especially has also been accused of taking secret money from the Taiwanese-independence seeking Chen Shui-bian.

  17. Wahaha
    June 3rd, 2008 at 15:40 | #17

    In the history of China, traitors have been among the most hated, ever heard of Qin Hui ?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qin_Hui_%28Song_Dynasty%29

    Grace Wang was considered as a traitor in the eyes of Chinese, Chinese dont consider her as human right fighter or another chinese like in 6/4 who just try to express her opinion. That is why she was harassed. Just like a traitor in USA, American wouldve treated a traitor in the same way.

    If you can read Chinese, go to a Chinese website and ask their opinion about Grace Wang and you will hear something like Grace Wang = little Qin Hui of modern time. As Jane’s comment, what can you expect from a hater ?

  18. Nimrod
    June 3rd, 2008 at 16:43 | #18

    Ng Yee Hoi Hay is exactly Wu Er Kai Xi, although… god, what a terrible mangling.

    Chai Ling went to B-school, married an American, and went on to start some software company specializing in educational institutions’ needs.

    Wuerkaixi went to Taiwan, married there, and used to have a regular talk show on TV.

    And Wang Dan… always mired in rumors about him and his boyfriend/husband… is he still at Harvard?

  19. June 3rd, 2008 at 16:48 | #19

    I thought Jane presented a great point and laid it out nicely. Personally, I can also see that yo’s point that generalization is not the accurate way to express things, and there are certainly calm and rational Chinese voices regarding this Grace Wang affair, but for the most part, Jane is right on the money. Well done Jane!

    Both her bashers and “supporters” (read: people such as the Scott guy whose last name I couldn’t remember, who helped her pen the Washing Post piece, and may, directly or indirectly, have anything to do with the emotionally-rousing quotes?) should leave her alone for a while. My sentiment (certainly it could be wrong) is that she is too young to have a good grasp of things. For crying out loud, she is a 19-20 year old teenager.

    As to most democratic movement leaders, for the most part, I felt they are pretty pitiful. I admired them when I first came to the US more than 10 years ago, but not any more. That’s not to say that I think democracy is not important, though, which is whole another topic (how to get there, in what form, etc.) that will take too long to explain.

  20. yo
    June 3rd, 2008 at 17:01 | #20

    Anon,
    Check out ESWN’s pieces on Grace Wang. There you can see she had her Chinese defenders at duke.

    “Just look at any website where this has been debated, and you can clearly see what voices that are prevailing.”

    My view is similar to Buxi’s. Your statement illustrates exactly my point, WEBSITES. Who are posting these comments? How many posters? Where are they from? Are they representative of an entire community? Are they even different people? For all I know Anon, you are Jane or I’m Buxi 🙂 The anonymity of the internet should not be lost on us nor the types of forums that posters choose to gather(e.g. a Republican forum where they uniformly bash on the dems. and vise versa).

  21. yo
    June 3rd, 2008 at 17:20 | #21

    Ji Village News,
    Scott Savitt is the guy’s name and I agree 100% that Scott was a bad influence. And you said it right, he helped Grace pen the Washington Post column. IMO, Grace’s critics should be very careful in using the Washington Post Column to attack her because lord only knows what role Scott had to do with it.

  22. AC
    June 3rd, 2008 at 17:21 | #22

    @yo

    Well, I should have said “many of the fellow students”, because obviously I can’t speak for all the students. I can only speak for myself and many of my friends.

    @Buxi

    I was a college student in Beijing at the time. Like most of my fellow students, I participated in the demonstrations, but I wasn’t an active member of the movement. I was not at the square that night because my parents forced me to stay home, so I can’t tell you what happened in the square. I lived in the east side of Beijing (near where the new CCTV building is located). My apartment is on the 4th floor. From my balcony, I saw the troops moving in and they fired warning shots as the trucks drove by. I didn’t see anybody killed. The next morning I went to the street, I didn’t find any dead bodies or blood on the streets. That’s all I can tell you about what happened.

    At least at the beginning, 64 wasn’t a “democracy movement” at all as it is portrayed in the Western media. Many of us were simply not happy about the corruption in the government, especially those gaogan zidi (高干子弟). We were only a bunch of kids, what the hell did we know anything about democracy?

  23. June 3rd, 2008 at 20:31 | #23

    @Wahahaha – “traitors have been among the most hated, ever heard of Qin Hui ?” – I always thought that the most hated had to be Wang Jingwei, although, weirdly, I did meet someone in Nanjing who spoke up for him.

    However, since Mao, Sun Yatsen, Chiang Kaishek, Zhou Enlai, Deng Xiaoping and many other people currently worshiped as heroes in one part of the Chinese speaking world or another were all labelled ‘traitors’ and ‘criminals’ during their lifetimes you’d think you’d be more circumspect about how you use the word ‘traitor’.

  24. Jane
    June 3rd, 2008 at 21:41 | #24

    @Yo,

    I see your point, but I was speaking in very general terms. Based on my own observations through the years, I believe the Chinese have a greater tendency to fall into mob like hysteria. It’s probably one of the key weaknesses of Chinese society. It’s not a character weakness of the Chinese people, indeed most are very nice people. It’s a weakness of culture and institution, whereby a society is more susceptible to irrational and opportunistic forces. The prime example is the Cultural Revolution, a time when voices of reason were quashed by the worst elements of society. Why did such absurdity happen in the first place and happen for ten years! Why did nice people become Red Guard mobs?

    Yes the US has the KKK and even the McCarthy withhunts. But the KKK never became a mainstream country wide movement, and Joseph McCarthy was discredited quickly. So it tells me that despite its flaws, the US society has an internal mechanism to prevent extremists from hijacking a society to something like the mass madness of the Cultural Revolution. If American society veers to something too extreme, there is a counter balancing mechanism to swing the pendulum back to the middle. I think Chinese society needs something like that. I don’t know what it is, maybe bloggers, maybe the internet, maybe a more solid middle class.

    I don’t have all the answers. But I think most would agree with me that the “mob mentality” is a weakness of Chinese society.

  25. Nimrod
    June 3rd, 2008 at 22:40 | #25

    Jane, can you identify the counter balancnig mechanism of American society? It would be interesting to think about that. If you asked me, I’d say it is the respect for the rule of law. That is again a cultural trait, although it can be instilled pretty quickly (on the order of a few years) if done within a closed system like some kind of model city. Shenzhen or Shanghai are good candidates, perhaps.

  26. Wahaha
    June 3rd, 2008 at 23:02 | #26

    Forap,

    I dont know what you are talking about, I never heard any chinese labeled Mao, Sun Yatsen, Chiang Kaishek, Zhou Enlai, Deng Xiaoping as traitors.

    Traitor is a person who sold his/her soul to an organization or country that will do great harm to his/her motherland.

  27. Wahaha
    June 3rd, 2008 at 23:05 | #27

    Jane called Chinese (protesting against Falun) in Flushing, NY, “mobs”.

    Hopefully, people here will understand what she means by “mobs”.

  28. Wahaha
    June 3rd, 2008 at 23:09 | #28

    As the comment :

    If American society veers to something too extreme, there is a counter balancing mechanism to swing the pendulum back to the middle.

    Let us see how american government balanced :

    The current oil price, one effective way is that Government put pressure on those oil companies giving away some of their profits. Did you ever hear your media talking about ” the pocket of oil companies is getting fatter and fatter.” ? Bush will never do that, Obama wont be able to do that even he wants to.

    NRA, the national rifle organization, why cant congress pass a simple and reasonable law of background check ? and Read your media, it is like either complete ban of gun sale or no control at all, like there is nothing in between. Why didnt your media set up a column talking about effective law that keep guns from criminals ?

    Even in economy recession, no money is spared on military,(you know that one less SR-71 plane wouldve saved a big city for a year.) NEVER !!! WHY? Lockheed Martin corp wouldnt allow that !!! Did you ever see your media talking about cutting military spending ?

    In 1998, when government had surplus for the first time in 20+ years, Greenspan suggested to pay back some debts with surplus, which is the idea of Reaganism. What happened ? Nothing !!! You know why ? cuz Wall street didnt like it, they wanted to use those money to booming the economy so they could keep making millions and millions of dollars.

    Now about New Orlean, since after the first 1 month of Katrina, how often do you hear media talking about rebuilding Katrina or the current situation in New Orlean? what happened to those people who lost their house ? How were those schools that were under water during Katrina ? Why was there no reports? Why not government order one less SR-71 plane ? 100 million dollars wouldve done tons of help to the poor people in New Orlean.

  29. Nimrod
    June 3rd, 2008 at 23:40 | #29

    Wahaha, you and Jane are talking about something different. She wasn’t talking about the extremism of ideologies but extremism of action. Or maybe she was confusing the two, also. Well, let’s not confuse the two.

  30. Wahaha
    June 3rd, 2008 at 23:57 | #30

    Nimrod,

    My post is for her comment : “Based on my own observations through the years, I believe the Chinese have a greater tendency to fall into mob like hysteria. “

  31. Jane
    June 4th, 2008 at 02:22 | #31

    Counter balancing mechanism of the American society, off the top of my head:

    1. strong middle class: happy citizens make good citizens
    2. solid political institutional foundations, including checks and balances between the branches of the government
    3. strong civil society: educational institutions, charitable institutions, religious institutions and a strong tradition in philanthropy, look at Bill Gates and Warren Buffet
    4. open society which allows the free exchange of information and ideas

    I do not think the US is perfect, in fact it can never be perfect, there is always work to be done to improve or correct the system. Wahaha also pointed out many of US’ shortcomings. But as bad as these shortcomings are, they do not come anywhere close to the mass madness of the Cultural Revolution, when China crushed its own best and brightest to pieces. That’s the point I was trying to get to. The US (or any other nation for that matter) is not immune to mass hysteria, but China seems to have a stronger tendency. And once it is unleashed, Chinese society does not seem to have a strong mechanism to correct itself. Look at the fate of those who dared to speak the truth during the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution.

    I personally suspect Grace Wang is an attention seeker without much substance. But that’s my personal impression based on very limited knowledge and anecdotal evidence. If I were a Duke student, I would have either talked to her and explained to her why I disagreed with her actions or I would have simply ignored her and let the matter rest. I wouldn’t go publish her address, family details, write how terrible a person she is simply because I disagree with her actions. She has done nothing illegal and perfectly within her right and I have no right to infringe upon her personal space simply because I don’t like her. If I had done that, and if there were ten people like me, I would call that a mob.

  32. Wahaha
    June 4th, 2008 at 03:06 | #32

    West democracy is built on wealth and 3 utopical assumption :

    1) It assumes that individual will speak out out of kindness, and care about the interests of other people.

    2) It assumes that individual is intelligent enough to anticipate the negative effect of his speech.

    3) It assumes that public will understand his speech in his way.

    None of assumptions above holds in reality. The 1992 Los anageles Riots is one of those examples. The TV station didnt expect a single tape would lead to total disaster.

    Although the west democracy bascially give “good” people the right they deserve, but it also gives 100 times more people the right of being greedy, being selfish and not respecting the right of most people.

    For example, in New York, as government has to respect several people’s right of sleeping overnight in the park, millions of New Yorkers lost their right of enjoying night walk in the park.

    Cuz of freedom of speech, TV and Movie are full of sex and violence; Children only care about themselves, no respect to teachers and their hardworking parents.

    Unions fights for every dollar avaliable even during recession, never care the overall situations, as result, lot of city and state government bankrupted.

    People have to lot more than necessary for medication cuz of insurance so that doctors dont have to worry about 30 million dollar lawsuit.

    Billions of dollars are paid to those lawyers who already had millions dollar in their account.

    Free media ? what a joke.

    A soldier died in Iraq, his mother protested in front of white house for several month, did you ever see a picture of her misery ?

    Who fooled Americans into the stupid war in Iraq ? the media.

    In earthquake, chinese media put great pressure on riches to donate, why didnt media in US force oil company to do something for Americans ?

    While every westerner knows the tank man in Tiananmen Square, do you know famous picture of a little palastian boy in front of tank ?

  33. Wahaha
    June 4th, 2008 at 03:12 | #33

    The following is by a british who at least viewed China objectively. and I dont understand why so many westerners believe their system is universal solution after already failing in lot of countries.

    ______________________
    China’s new intelligentsia

    http://www.prospect-magazine.co.uk/article_details.php?id=10078

    ……..
    At the beginning of that trip, I had hoped to get a quick introduction to China, learn the basics and go home. I had imagined that China’s intellectual life consisted of a few unbending ideologues in the back rooms of the Communist party or the country’s top universities. Instead, I stumbled on a hidden world of intellectuals, think-tankers and activists, all engaged in intense debate about the future of their country.
    ………
    While it is true there is no free discussion about ending the Communist party’s rule, independence for Tibet or the events of Tiananmen Square, there is a relatively open debate in leading newspapers and academic journals about China’s economic model, how to clean up corruption or deal with foreign policy issues like Japan or North Korea. Although the internet is heavily policed, debate is freer here than in the printed word (although one of the most free-thinking bloggers, Hu Jia, was recently arrested). And behind closed doors, academics and thinkers will often talk freely about even the most sensitive topics, such as political reform.
    ……..
    But the spread of the Chinese model goes far beyond the regions that have been targeted by Chinese investors. Research teams from middle-income and poor countries from Iran to Egypt, Angola to Zambia, Kazakhstan to Russia, India to Vietnam and Brazil to Venezuela have been crawling around the Chinese cities and countryside in search of lessons from Beijing’s experience. Intellectuals such as Zhang Weiying and Hu Angang have been asked to provide training for them. Scores of countries are copying Beijing’s state-driven development using public money and foreign investment to build capital-intensive industries. A rash of copycat special economic zones have been set up all over the world—the World Bank estimates that over 3,000 projects are taking place in 120 countries. Globalisation was supposed to mean the worldwide triumph of the market economy, but China is showing that state capitalism is one of its biggest beneficiaries.
    …..
    Yu Keping is like the Zhang Weiying of political reform. He is a rising star and an informal adviser to President Hu Jintao. He runs an institute that is part university, part think tank, part management consultancy for government reform. When he talks about the country’s political future, he often draws a direct analogy with the economic realm. When I last met him in Beijing, he told me that overnight political reform would be as damaging to China as economic “shock therapy.” Instead, he has promoted the idea of democracy gradually working its way up from successful grassroots experiments. He hopes that by promoting democracy first within the Communist party, it will then spread to the rest of society. Just as the coastal regions were allowed to “get rich first,” Yu Keping thinks that party members should “get democracy first” by having internal party elections.
    ……
    Chinese thinkers argue that all developed democracies are facing a political crisis: turnout in elections is falling, faith in political leaders has declined, parties are losing members and populism is on the rise. They study the ways that western leaders are going over the heads of political parties and pioneering new techniques to reach the people such as referendums, opinion surveys or “citizens’ juries.” The west still has multi-party elections as a central part of the political process, but has supplemented them with new types of deliberation. China, according to the new political thinkers, will do things the other way around: using elections in the margins but making public consultations, expert meetings and surveys a central part of decision-making. This idea was described pithily by Fang Ning, a political scientist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. He compared democracy in the west to a fixed-menu restaurant where customers can select the identity of their chef, but have no say in what dishes he chooses to cook for them. Chinese democracy, on the other hand, always involves the same chef—the Communist party—but the policy dishes which are served up can be chosen “à la carte.”
    ….
    China is not an intellectually open society. But the emergence of freer political debate, the throng of returning students from the west and huge international events like the Olympics are making it more so. And it is so big, so pragmatic and so desperate to succeed that its leaders are constantly experimenting with new ways of doing things. They used special economic zones to test out a market philosophy. Now they are testing a thousand other ideas—from deliberative democracy to regional alliances. From this laboratory of social experiments, a new world-view is emerging that may in time crystallise into a recognisable Chinese model—an alternative, non-western path for the rest of the world to follow.

  34. Wahaha
    June 4th, 2008 at 03:20 | #34

    Do west really care about human right ? Let us see.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/03/opinion/03tue1.html?_r=2&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

    Between human right and money, which one does US government pick ? Which one do most Americans pick ?

    Face it, without money, the utopical democracy cant survive.

  35. overseaschinese
    June 4th, 2008 at 05:34 | #35

    Again, in its statements on Grace Wang and Wang Dan, this site has showed that it is not a site for debate but rather for propagandizing narrowminded CCP views. You have no evidence to claim, as you do above, that the majority of Chinese dislike Wang Dan. Patriotism cannot be founded upon an exclusionary ideology, for the health of our society; those who exclude and deride those with opinions not perfectly shaped by the hypernationalist masturbation of the Chinese media are in fact the true traitors and shames of the nation. We get so excited about 5000 years of history, yet get overly sensitive about the critiques of dissidents? If China is really so great, we should be willing to recognize that our nation is more than the Party, and that voices disagreeing with the Party can also be “Chinese.” otherwise, I guarantee, you will be simply creating an alternate reality and alienating people such as myself who are thankfully endowed with the ability to think independently and take in others’ opinions.

  36. JL
    June 4th, 2008 at 05:58 | #36

    @Wahaha

    FORAP is prefectly correct, Mao Zedong was called a traitor by the GMD, just as the CCP called their opponents traitors.
    It’s easy to call someone a traitor (in any country), but you should bear in mind that historically those people who are called ‘traitors’ do often end up being seen more positively (and the reverse can happen too).

  37. Buxi
    June 4th, 2008 at 06:05 | #37

    overseaschinese,

    You have an over-inflated sense of your own knowledge and position. I am more than willing to give you fair and equal ground to make your own arguments, but you’re deluding yourself if you believe I have time to worry whether you are “with us”, or whether you instead feel alienated.

    The fact that Wang Dan is not popular with the overseas Chinese community does not make him a bad person: it only makes him unpopular. If I had specific criticisms about him, I would make it explicit. Frankly, other than being mostly irrelevant over the last decade, I have no reason to criticize the man. I’ve never suggested that he (or Grace Wang) are not Chinese.

    I am not editorializing about Wang Dan, nor am I repeating CCP “propaganda”. I’m merely making an observation as to how he’s currently observed by a majority of the mainland Chinese overseas. I make this observation on the basis of interactions with my own circle of friends/peers, and also on the basis of years of involvement in discussion sites popular with overseas Chinese.

    I have no plans to pretty up the Chinese community just so that you can be properly proud of your attachment to us. The Chinese community is what it is, 1.3 billion human beings with a variety of desires and attributes (good and bad). I’m comfortable with my identity and my community, and I am only seeking here to portray it accurately.

  38. Buxi
    June 4th, 2008 at 06:10 | #38

    Jane,

    I agree with you that mainland China has had a tendency towards irrational mass movements. Part of it is cultural; there have been quite a few irrational (in my opinion) mass movements in Taiwan in recent years too…

    But part of it is also related to mainland history. Because of the desperate poverty and backward state we found ourselves in in 1949, right or wrong, the Communist Party has repeatedly relied on public “awakening” ever since to achieve national objectives. Whether it’s killing birds or finding steel, or fighting foreign imperialists and making revolution… mainland China has had for 60 years been embedded in a culture of constant struggle.

    That’s definitely leaving a legacy here.

    However… I have no idea if you’ve seen the Youtube videos, but it seems to me Duke students on the quad carried themselves properly and engaged in intelligent debate. The only problem here is the Internet mob, and I’ve already ranted about the Internet mob in other threads.

  39. Buxi
    June 4th, 2008 at 06:15 | #39

    JL,

    I have no idea what Taiwan teaches about Mao Zedong. But while Jiang Jieshi was painted with many evils on the mainland, but as far as I know, he was not regularly accused of being a “traitor” (hanjian).

    Can you provide evidence otherwise? Or did you just make that statement up?

  40. overseaschinese
    June 4th, 2008 at 06:28 | #40

    “Can you provide evidence otherwise? Or did you just make that statement up?”
    Chiang Kai-shek was regularly linked to American imperialists. If this does not make him a “hanjian” (note the quotation marks) I don’t know what could.
    Did you just make the statement up about Chinese views of Wang Dan? I think so. This website isn’t even worth the cyberspace.

    Also, way to avoid the substance of my points. YOu don’t have an issue with Wang Dan because he is irrelevant. You, sir, are millions of times more irrelevant than Wang Dan or Grace Wang outside of your circle jerk of mainland nationalism. You have an issue with Wang Dan because he expresses a different opinion, and any exclusionary nationalism is inherently flawed- just look at the contradictory nature of your statements that you want to express a mainstream Chinese views, while later saying that “you’re deluding yourself if you believe I have time to worry whether you are “with us”, or whether you instead feel alienated.” It seems that the only mainstream view that you want to represent is that which accords with your own political attachments.

  41. S.K. Cheung
    June 4th, 2008 at 06:41 | #41

    To Wahaha,
    what are you still going on and on about?
    Democracy is NOT built on wealth, but allow the accumulation thereof if one can attain it. It does not require utopia; it exists already, albeit with imperfections.
    The LA riots weren’t because Rodney King was beaten, but because the cops weren’t charged for it.
    In a democracy, EVERYONE has rights, and you don’t get to arbitrarily decide who the “good people” are.
    And because everyone has rights, those of the homeless in NYC are just as worthy of upholding as those who would like to stroll through Central Park. Not to mention that NYC citizens never lost such rights, but it was their choice if they chose to exercise them.
    As for today’s TV/movies and inappropriate material, that’s what parents are for. If children aren’t turning out to your expectations, you might first want to ask the parents why, before laying the entire blame on society.
    Unions are there to represent their members, and to prevent abuse of workers. If their contracts are too rich for you, you might want to direct your displeasure towards the government negotiators.
    Your distrust of doctors and lawyers seems to be based on massive over-generalizations.
    If government forces someone to give money, I believe that’s called a tax, and not a donation. And it’s a slippery slope if you say that profitable industries should bear the burden of special taxes just for them; should there be a Microsoft Tax since they’ve done well over the years?
    I don’t think anyone would disagree if you said many examples of western democracies are imperfect, or that the US is imperfect. Does that mean to you that China is perfectly fine the way she is now, and should remain in its current state for all eternity?

  42. overseaschinese
    June 4th, 2008 at 06:44 | #42

    “The following is by a british who at least viewed China objectively.”
    Is being something that you agree with one of the standards of “objectivity”?

  43. yo
    June 4th, 2008 at 07:05 | #43

    Jane,
    I still have to disagree with your pretense that Chinese people themselves are more prone to a mob mentality as opposed to say Americans. I think we are looking at the same things but we just disagree.

    In the base of your argument, you are singling out instances like the Cultural revolution. For me, I don’t think the Cultural revolution is a sufficient example to show Chinese Society tends to be unable to regulate itself. It was one example under extreme circumstances. Nor do I believe the existence of a bunch of over zealous online vigilantes portrays a weakness in Chinese society even in general terms. If it does, then this weakness exists in many other cultures.

    Now back to the KKK and McCarthy examples. Actually, the KKK had around 6,000,000 members at its peak and was in fact very widespread and influential. Second, the “Red Scare” lasted for 13 years and happened in 2 non- consecutive occasions. Both the KKK and “Red Scare” lasted longer than the cultural revolution. And there are other examples like Slavery, which lasted for more than a 100 years, the interment of Japanese Americans to concentration camps during wwii, and the majority of Americans supporting the decision to go into Iraq the second time based on shoddy intelligence (like the wide held belief Saddam caused 911), etc. In all of these instances, there were counter balances, yet they still happened. For the record, I’m not America bashing, these instances by no means define the U.S.

    For me, mob mentality is more so a human nature thing as opposed to a cultural thing. Sometimes, a group of like minded individuals gather together and sh!t happens, unfortunate as that may be.

  44. Buxi
    June 4th, 2008 at 07:30 | #44

    overseaschinese,

    Chiang Kai-shek was regularly linked to American imperialists. If this does not make him a “hanjian” (note the quotation marks) I don’t know what could.

    Well, it doesn’t. It makes him a running of the American imperialists, but it doesn’t make him a hanjian. You might not understand the difference, but many Chinese do.

    As far as Wang Dan… I don’t think he’s an interesting enough topic that I’ll waste a lot of time translating messages about him. You will either have to learn Chinese and read for yourself, or you can just ignore my observations of what most overseas Chinese communities believe.

  45. overseaschinese
    June 4th, 2008 at 13:52 | #45

    No relation between “running dogs” and “traitors”? Even a quick google search shows how quickly the two are used together. If you want to continue denying the link, go ahead.

    Also, I “have to learn Chinese”? What does this mean? Guess I’m not Chinese enough again, right?
    WHile you constantly feign to be incapable of representing a “Chinese viewpoint,” you frequently provide “observations of what most overseas Chinese communities believe.” I hope that others aren’t falling for it, and I’d just like to let you know that the statements made here do not represent me or many of the other members of the overseas Chinese community that I know: it’s more the delusions of an infatuated state-ist.

  46. Wahaha
    June 4th, 2008 at 14:27 | #46

    overseachinese,

    There is difference between running dog and traitor.

    “Running dog” usually means that a person loses his dignity.

    “Traitor” means that a person loses his soul.

  47. Wahaha
    June 4th, 2008 at 14:58 | #47

    Sorry, S.K,

    After being in USA for 10 years, I think west democracy is built on wealth. Maybe we should frist clarify what west democracy is.

    To my understanding, west democracy consists of two parts :

    1) the voting system that allows people involved in decision making

    2) the right of every individaul is respected in the system.

    None of them is true under the system.

    For (1), the election system determines that the elected in office will not offend the interests of rich people, they will ALWAYS put the interests of rich people on the top of the list.

    The result of (2) is that often the rights of majority are offended, as it “encourages” people to be greedy and selfish.

    In USA, (2) has caused tons of problem for society in last 15 years. Union is just one of them and it also show why wealth is the base for west democracy.

    West government will never scrafice the interests of rich for ordinary people, as the examples I showed you have proved. When ordinary people and unions have some requests like raising salary, government will be forced to use its own money or borrow money. (in China, government’s media will put trememdous pressure on riches to share the burdens, like the donation after earthquake.)

    The outcome is clear : in 50s and 60s, USA had tons of money in their pocket, the government was able to satisfy any request by its people, raising salary, medication, etc. Then the government ran out of money in mid 70s, and Carter’s government could find way to solve it. Then why suddenly everything was OK under Reagan ? he borrowed the money to satify the appetite of every individual.

    Now, the government is in big trouble, it cant borrow money anymore, AND it wont scarfice the interests of riches. Then some people have to scarfice, who scarfice first ? the poor people first, like the illegal immigrants and poor people in New Orlean. do you know that there are still Katrina victims living in tents ?

    Can the system solve the problem ? no, it cant, as the interests of riches cant be offended in such system.

  48. Wahaha
    June 4th, 2008 at 15:10 | #48

    To make it clear :

    In west democracy, down to earth, the right of individual is the right of being paid or compensated the money the individual thinks he/she is entitled to.

  49. Buxi
    June 4th, 2008 at 16:06 | #49

    overseaschinese,

    No relation between “running dogs” and “traitors”? Even a quick google search shows how quickly the two are used together. If you want to continue denying the link, go ahead.

    Also, I “have to learn Chinese”? What does this mean? Guess I’m not Chinese enough again, right?

    Did you google the two terms in English…? Again, the two terms mean different things. Some people might be both. But I honestly don’t know how many people consider Jiang Jieshi a traitor. All I remember is Jiang Jieshi’s harsh condemnation of traitors during the post-WW2 trials of those who had collaborated with the Japanese invasion.

    As far as you having to learn Chinese… I think I’ve said this repeatedly. You have a chip on your shoulder as far as being Chinese, but that’s your cross to bear.. not mine. I couldn’t care less whether you should be labeled as Chinese. This world has 1.3 billion of us, and that’s enough… I don’t care if you’re with us or against us.

    I wouldn’t have even had any idea whether you could read Chinese… many “overseas Chinese” do, you realize. But if you’re going to doubt my representation of what many of the Chinese are saying about Wang Dan, Grace Wang, or any of these other issues… then do yourself a favor and check out the Chinese forums.

    Otherwise, you’re only reading only second-hand reports in English, selected and translated for you by people with political motives. That includes me.

  50. Buxi
    June 4th, 2008 at 16:13 | #50

    West government will never scrafice the interests of rich for ordinary people, as the examples I showed you have proved. When ordinary people and unions have some requests like raising salary, government will be forced to use its own money or borrow money. (in China, government’s media will put trememdous pressure on riches to share the burdens, like the donation after earthquake.)

    I think many Chinese agree with you. There’s much about Western democracy that concerns me, if it were copied over into China.

    You know, this all comes back to our historical legacy. The United States (and Western Europe) developed democracy as a direct solution for overthrowing corrupt, feudal kings who had lived off of their people for close to two thousand years.

    But in China, we don’t remember our dynasties in the same way the Europeans do. Perhaps Western Europe has had few good kings, but Chinese history is filled with memories of excellent emperors and excellent times (of course… this history is written by the emperors). Who cares if the rich class control politics, many in the West are content as long as there are no kings or emperors.

    Instead, partly because of our Communist background, we’re more concerned about the ability of a certain “class” of people to rule and influence the country through back-door deal politics. We see democracy as a solution for balancing out this class, for eliminating the “little” problems that have arisen over the last 100 years… but Western democracy doesn’t do that very well.

  51. Anon
    June 4th, 2008 at 17:46 | #51

    @Buxi

    It is amazing to see how 10 years in the US makes Chinese into experts into European history. (That’s quite an American attitude, by the way.)

    The United States (and Western Europe) developed democracy as a direct solution for overthrowing corrupt, feudal kings who had lived off of their people for close to two thousand years.

    The United States has existed since 1776, not for 2000 years. But you knew that. And as far as Europe is concerned, the heyday of feudalism was between 500 and 1500 AD. And if you cared to study European history, you would know that democracy is a product of power-sharing mechanisms in feudal Europe, in which nobility and royalty shared power. When new classes emerged, they wanted a share too, which led to different arrangements and different outcomes in different countries. Britain had a glorious revolution, France a more violent one, and so on.

    Europe has had few good kings, but Chinese history is filled with memories of excellent emperors and excellent times (of course… this history is written by the emperors).

    Instead, partly because of our Communist background, we’re more concerned about the ability of a certain “class” of people to rule and influence the country through back-door deal politics.

    Excellent emperors in China? Yes, there are some, usually one or two at the beginning of each dynasty. There are also long periods with incompetent emperors and division, several hundred years for a fact. As for European counterparts, you just might want to look at into early modern Europe and few strong kings and emperors and a lot of back-door politics.

  52. Buxi
    June 4th, 2008 at 18:22 | #52

    Anon,

    You’re confused. I’ve been in the United States for far more than 10 years.

    You can accuse me of being overly general in describing the intellectual traditions that drive American/European history, but I’m not too embarrassed by what I squeezed into that one sentence. My point wasn’t to compare the British and French revolutions, but to simply state that the political philosophies which originated from Europe (whether we look at Hobbes, Locke, or Tocqueville) were at root motivated by what they saw as tension between the average populace and the corrupt or at least incompetent self-serving nobility + royal class.

    And that’s different from the Chinese intellectual tradition. As far as excellent emperors in China… China’s advantage in per capita GDP, wealth, stability, and population when compared to Europe was clear and obvious until the Industrial Revolution changed the rules for ever. Keep in mind as well that for most of the last thousand years, bad emperors or not, average citizens could become members of the nobility through intellectual achievement.

    I’m not applauding the Chinese imperial system. I’m only saying that from 200 BC until 1700 AD, our internal structure wasn’t as rigid and “bad” as the European equivalents. And thus, we have different views as to the dangers of authoritarian government.

  53. S.K. Cheung
    June 5th, 2008 at 04:21 | #53

    To Wahaha:
    clearly we disagree about definitions. I’ve been in Canada 30 years, and perhaps the US/Canada differences affect our perspectives on how our societies work, but I certainly don’t share your distaste for a western-style system.
    “1) the voting system that allows people involved in decision making 2) the right of every individaul is respected in the system. None of them is true under the system.” I’m not sure how your examples “prove” your points. Elected officials represent their constituents, and get re-elected if the majority of his/her constituents are happy with their work. I don’t know if you’ve been shafted by your local rep, but I don’t see how you can generalize to say that only the rich get represented. I don’t know how individual rights and freedoms encourages people to be greedy etc. Greed is a human characteristic…and based on what Buxi and others have said, it appears that this problem also befalls Chinese society, minus the rights and freedoms.
    Unions have been around a lot longer than 15 years. And I’m guessing that union members would find it humourous that you lump them in with the wealthy elite. So I don’t know what your examples have proved, but certainly not your point.
    You’re right, in times of natural disaster, those with the most meager means suffer disproportionately. And that’s wrong. And the slow pace of disaster relief for Katrina victims is inexcusable. But I don’t see how this serves as an indictment of the entire western system.
    You seem to think that a democracy should provide a level playing field of financial means; well, that’s just not the case, nor is that the purpose of a democracy. I’m not sure what good it does to lay the blame for all that ails society at the feet of “rich” people.
    “In west democracy, down to earth, the right of individual is the right of being paid or compensated the money the individual thinks he/she is entitled to.” I’m not sure what this has to do with democracy. Again, you seem to equate democracy (and many other things) to money. But in a free-market economy, an individual will be paid what the market will bear, NOT what he/she thinks they’re entitled to.

  54. Wahaha
    June 5th, 2008 at 05:09 | #54

    To S.K,

    1) There is difference between “You can vote.” and “Your vote counts”. If elected senators and congressmen had represented the interests of people, they wouldve put pressure on those oil companies with fat pocket to give up some of their profits. If the media had been the voice of ordinary Americans, it wouldve bashed those oil companies. If media and politians ( “elected” by people ) had put the interests of people above riches, there wouldnt be Katrina Victims living in tents.

    2) West democracy grants that the individual right must be respected, but millions of people take advantage of that and try to realize as much profits for themselves as possible. For example, in New York, a woman was injured cuz of explosion of an underground gas pipe, he sued government for $100,000,000; cuz of this kind of ridiculous lawsuits, doctors and company have to charge lot more to pay for the insurance and lawyers, as result, people have to pay lot more than necessary for medication.

    3) Unions have existed for over 70 years. The job of a union is getting as much money and benefits as possible for the people it represents. As every union asks for money from government, those unions quickly eat up governments’ surplus during good time and often bankrupt the city and states during economy recession (as governments cant offend the interest of riches).

    I think now you know what I mean by “In west democracy, down to earth, the right of individual is the right of being paid or compensated.”

  55. Wahaha
    June 5th, 2008 at 05:27 | #55

    I didnt say that the system in China is perfect, it is NOT. but with 1.3 billion people, West democracy would lead to complete chaos. Imagine that there are 10+ parties and numerous unions, imagine 1.3 billion people try to get rich, imagine that many people ask for big compensations if government try to build a highway, there would be no infrastructure; Shanghai would still be like it was 30 years ago. Just look at India, you will get a picture of how China would look like with West democracy.

  56. Wahaha
    June 5th, 2008 at 05:57 | #56

    Let me use an example,

    6 people have two cakes for their lunch and dinner. For some reasons, one fat person (the riches) has to eat 50% of a cake for each meal, and every individual of the remaining 10 people THINK he is entitled to 15% of the cake.

    50% + 5 x 15% = 125% > 100%

    When lunch comes, the fat one eats 50% first. Now comes the problem, Not enough cake for the remaining 5 people, the best solution would be each one eat 10%, but one of those 5 people (let us say his name is Smith) is not willing to give up his rights (he thinks he is entitled to). AS THE RIGHT OF EVERY INDIVIDUAL MUST BE RESPECTED, Smith cant be forced to accept the deal, so there is no agreement. Without any choice, they have to take out the 2nd cake,

    Now everyone’s appetite is satified, but how will they solve the problem in dinner ? (another question is, what would they do if they only have one cake for lunch ?)

    That is what I mean “West democracy is built on wealth.”

  57. S.K. Cheung
    June 6th, 2008 at 04:10 | #57

    To Wahaha:
    1. in the west, you can vote and your vote will count. But your vote won’t “count” for more than mine, and vice versa. I’m not sure how much weight you think your vote deserves. For the last several quarters, oil execs have been marched before congressional committees to justify their profits. But at the end of the day, how much can, or should, you compel a business to essentially earn less? And although a special tax on oil companies might have appeal to the masses given the prices at the pump, is that a road you want to go down? Does that mean every profitable company should expect extra taxes? Where and how do you draw the line? As for the media, I think they’ve done a fine job of shining the light on oil profits. What kind of “bashing” are you looking for, exactly? I agreed previously that Katrina victims should have been better cared for.
    2. In the west, you can sue for whatever you want. Doesn’t mean you’ll win; and doesn’t mean a judgment in your favor will be as “rich” as you asked for. But are you saying that people shouldn’t be allowed to sue? What if someone has a legitimate grievance? What’s their legal recourse then? I much prefer our legal system and to have freedoms and rights, than to not. I think medications are expensive because drug companies have to recoup their costs and make a profit; I don’t think it has anything to do with doctors and HMO’s. WIth your reasoning, you might want to tax drug companies extra too.
    3. I think unions have been around much longer than 70 years. A union can ask for all they want, but doesn’t mean that a government has to acquiesce to those demands. That’s why it’s called a bargaining process. And with a union, you have “collective” bargaining; if you do away with unions, since they bother you so much, imagine the logistics of negotiating with workers individually! That would be chaotic. But at the end of the day, if government wants stuff done, it’s going to have to pay for it, whether the rate is negotiated collectively or individually. In your scenario, if you don’t want a government deficit, sounds like the best way is to do away with government altogether.
    So I still have no idea of what you speak. But let me ask you, does that mean in China, people should not be paid for the work they do?

  58. S.K. Cheung
    June 6th, 2008 at 04:22 | #58

    To Wahaha (#55):
    your complaints seem entirely financial. I don’t want to misrepresent your views, but it seems that it bothers you that people might try to better themselves financially. Gasp! Isn’t that what the CCP is trying to do even today? Many posters have commented that China is still developing, and is starting to emerge as a power. I would like to think that continued development will foster a society with more collective and individual wealth. I don’t think there’s any problem with that whatsoever. And while I do not hold the CCP in its current form in high esteem, thanks to blogs like this, i’m beginning to realize that any future shift to greater democracy in China will not be a carbon-copy of the Western version. Yet it seems that, if a China-centric form could be realized, most people here would be in favor of it, at least in principle.
    And democracy, such as it is, is more than money and salaries and lawsuits and unions. I’m no expert, but rights, freedoms, representation, rule of law seem but a few of the pillars. Those are features of my society that I hold dear, and it’s a shame you don’t.
    As for government building infrastructure, at the very least there is a bidding process…and the contracts go to the lowest bidder. So again, you can ask for the sky to build that highway, but there’s a pretty good chance you won’t be getting the work. I don’t follow how your logic goes from western democracy practiced in China = no infrastructure.

  59. S.K. Cheung
    June 6th, 2008 at 04:31 | #59

    To Wahaha (#56):
    your “example” is completely arbitrary, and not very meaningful. But for the sake of playing along, the solution is simple: you put a person in the room in charge of your precious cakes (let’s say that person’s name is “government”…goofy name, I’ll admit, but some parents come up with real doozies). And “government” (powerful dude, that guy) decides how he’s going to split stuff up. So some may “want” 50%, or 10%, or whatever, but that doesn’t mean they’ll get it. So at the end of the meal, everyone’s gotten something, but probably not as much as they wanted at the start, while “government” can move on to something hopefully more meaningful than supervising meal-time…and this would at least start to approach what happens in real life in a democracy. And it doesn’t seem like an insurmountable task for China, either.

  60. Wahaha
    June 6th, 2008 at 05:43 | #60

    To SK,

    West democracy has its good side, but it also has its bad side.

    One, the fat one will get 50% even if there are 10 extra people. two, what if someone not willing to take only 10% ?

    In Pasadena, Los anageles (see the map), there was a project that connects the highway 210 and 110.(it would solve the problem of traffic jams inside LA.) The project has been discussed for over 30 years, but it couldnt pass as the residents in Pasadean dont like the noise.

    With west system in China, how many years would Chinese people have to wait before a highway between Shanghai and Beijing was built ?

    You did list something good about West democracy, but YOU CANT DDNY there are lot of bad things caused by the west democracy, at lease in USA, right ?

    In a developing country or a country with lot of people, those bad side will be magnified (cuz there is no enough cake.) While West democracy has brought some very serious problems into the richest country on earth with 300 million people, WHAT MAKES YOU BELIEVE that West system is so perfect ? (there were reports about how illegal immigrants were mistreated in USA.)

    BTW,you are living in a country with only 33 million people and very few riches. Of course you dont feel any pressure as there is always enough cake for everyone.

  61. Buxi
    June 6th, 2008 at 05:47 | #61

    I don’t follow how your logic goes from western democracy practiced in China = no infrastructure.

    S.K.Cheung,

    I think it’ll be hard to logically convince you, to give you the proper sequence of logic so that you too deduce democracy = no infrastructure.

    Instead, I think you might make more sense of it by induction, by looking at real world events. Go look at India. Google India’s railway system, as well as the Golden Quadrilateral project.

  62. S.K. Cheung
    June 6th, 2008 at 06:24 | #62

    To Buxi:
    I’m not asking to be convinced, cuz that’s not going to happen anyhow. Just like I’m not here to make futile attempts to convince you of anything. But I’d actually like to see some logic to the aforementioned point that is actually logical, because logic I can appreciate. So while I might disagree, I can at least see the point; right now, the vision is a little foggy on that one.

  63. Buxi
    June 6th, 2008 at 06:37 | #63

    S.K. Cheung,

    Well, I’ll try to explain the scenario in India to you then.

    Infrastructure projects have several key characteristics:

    1. they span large amounts of land,
    2. they often require many years of construction;
    3. they often require strategic planning at a high level;
    4. they are often very expensive, and require a long, long time before they pay off their initial investment (20-40 years).

    In a democracy in a poor country, any of the above are very typical stumbling blocks.

    1. acquiring land is difficult. Governments can declare eminent domain, but not if a populist candidate promises to protect the local land-owners (or at least get him a better deal).

    2. maintaining a project for a long period of time is difficult. You can’t allocate the capital for a 10 year construction project in year 1, and be done with it. (Well, you can, but then 90% of your capital are gathering dust.) Instead, you need long-term political commitment that funding for this project will be available in year 1, year 2, year 3… all the way through year 10. This doesn’t exist in India, not when a couple years later a new local government comes up and decides not to fund their part of the project. (And why should they? They’re not going to win any votes by finishing a project someone else launched.)

    3. rather than a simple top-down approach where projects are coordinated (you build an airport, and I in the neighboring county won’t)… local governments in India serve only the voters in their districts. So, you have huge waste in capital.

    4. a long pay off is difficult for a democratic government to justify. If I take money out of the budget to fund a subway that won’t be completed for 10 years, then that just means I don’t have money to spend on populist programs (more subsidies for the poor?) today… which one is going to help me win my next election?

    That’s the logical explanation. As far as whether the logic proves true, again, look at infrastructure projects in India and other developing nations. And then compare to what we’ve achieved in China.

  64. S.K. Cheung
    June 6th, 2008 at 06:40 | #64

    TO Wahaha:
    “West democracy has its good side, but it also has its bad side.” I absolutely agree. I’ve never said the west was perfect. The “west” can do better, and I don’t want to be misunderstood as saying that it’s all sunshine and pina coladas. On the whole, for me, the good far outweighs the bad. I suspect the vast majority of people in the west feel the same way, since there’s no move afoot to adopt the CCP way. As i said, I’ve also come to realize that a “prototypical western system” may not work in China (and I put it in quotes, because there’s no such thing…the system in Canada is different from the US, which is different than Britain, etc…so already, each nation has to devise a system that works for them); that any political “modernization” in China will require a unique Chinese solution. But my hope is that, given the possibility of such a solution, more and more people will show an interest in same, and that there will be less and less desire for the status quo, in due time…
    I guess your latest example points to NIMBYism. Certainly quite prevalent in the US and Canada, and not always a good thing. I am inferring that there is no such thing in China, based on your example. However, your example depicts China as a “my way or the highway” system, while here, the NIMBY’s will be heard, and may even be appeased to a certain extent. I’m not sure that government responding to local concerns is such a bad thing.

  65. S.K. Cheung
    June 6th, 2008 at 06:56 | #65

    To Buxi:
    your example depicts the situation in any democracy, rich or poor. The political ramifications of long-term capital projects exist in democracies of all stripes and sizes. But presumably, the higher the level of government, the larger and more ambitious the project, and vice versa. So hopefully, a township is not proposing to build an “interstate” that goes from nowhere to nowhere. And a democracy still has levels of government with varying jurisdictions, such that you can still get a top-down approach…the only difference is that the people at the top were put there by those at the very bottom (ie. the masses).

  66. June 6th, 2008 at 09:11 | #66

    @Wahaha –

    “Forap,

    I dont know what you are talking about, I never heard any chinese labeled Mao, Sun Yatsen, Chiang Kaishek, Zhou Enlai, Deng Xiaoping as traitors.

    Traitor is a person who sold his/her soul to an organization or country that will do great harm to his/her motherland.”

    What an incredibly simple-minded statement. Successful political figures are always praised once they are successful, but revolutionaries are rarely popular before the success of their revolution – hence the labels such a ‘traitor’, ‘running dog’, ‘criminal’ which were attached to all of the people I have mentioned during their lifetimes. Do you imagine that Qing-era officials approved of Sun Yatsen? Or that the KMT had any great love for Mao? Please!

  67. MN
    June 6th, 2008 at 09:13 | #67

    Cheung:
    NIMBYism certainly do exist in China. Two examples, Xiamen PX factory and Shanghai Maglev Train. Although I entirely agree with you that it’s not always good thing. A large part of people’s fear of pollution from PX plant or radiation from an extension of Maglev Train is hyped up, coming from unconfirmed rumors passed on through text messaging or online forums, similar to “earthquake prediction” rumors.

  68. Wahaha
    June 6th, 2008 at 14:24 | #68

    FORAP,

    Are you trying to win the debate on internet ? I dont care if I lose face on internet.

    People determine who is traitor and who is not, a couple of people dont make a person a traitor. Like Falun, when they were crackdown by Chinese government in 1999, Chinese people didnt hate them (some of them maybe quite annoyed), even after the incident on tiananmen square in 2001, most most Chinese people still didnt hate them, only kept distance from them; it was until their naked show recently that made Chinese people hate them.

    Dont call me biased or what, I chated on chinese website. If you dont believe my view of Grace Wang, then find a Chinese website and post a question like “is grace wang a traitor ? ” and see what you get.

  69. Wahaha
    June 6th, 2008 at 14:52 | #69

    to you comment :

    “On the whole, for me, the good far outweighs the bad. I suspect the vast majority of people in the west feel the same way, since there’s no move afoot to adopt the CCP way. As i said, I’ve also come to realize that a “prototypical western system” may not work in China (and I put it in quotes, because there’s no such thing…the system in Canada is different from the US, which is different than Britain, etc…”

    I believe most west people believe their system is the best in the world, as with all the troubles they are experiencing now, I didnt see people complaining about the system. My point is that :

    (1) As people in West lose more and more benefits and privileges (like in USA), the weakness of West democracy and west system will start coming to the surface or show their true color. Like Katrina, no body care about them; like current suppress on illegal immgrates, they are often hold in jail without any charge. (In China, if the earthquake victims still live in tents after two years, it would be a problem of human right and corruption of the government. Quite funny, isnt it ?)

    (2) My conclusion that West system would not work in China NOW is based on the current situations in lot poor or developing countries, especially the situation in India and Russia.

    No need talking about India. In Russia under Yeltsin, there was widespread corruption under the democratic system, ( so who said that the problem of corruption would be solved with west system ? ) Yeltsin had pathetic 2% approval rate when he resigned. and People in Russia gave the power back to communist party, and selected a former KGB as their leader.

    If People in Russia dont mind a KGB being their leader, what make people in West believe that people in Russia care more about their human right than a strong Russia ? and I dont see why Chinese should be any different.

    It is hard to believe that a couple who dont have a decent house, and dont have enough money for their child’s education, dont have a secure financial future, and go onto the street and yell “I want human right !!! ” that is ridiculous and childish.

  70. June 6th, 2008 at 15:02 | #70

    @Wahahahaha –

    even after the incident on tiananmen square in 2001, most most Chinese people still didnt hate them

    Who are you trying to kid? Were my eyes and ears deceiving me when the majority of Chinese people I knew told me they wanted to kill Li Hongzhi? Or that the FLG was an evil cult?

    Where did I say that Chinese people don’t think that Grace Wang is a traitor? The majority of people one sees commenting on Chinese sites seem to be of that opinion – but what does that matter? Has she sold state secrets? Has she carried out acts of sabotage? Has she spied against China? Did she do anything except express her opinions? In what way then is she a traitor?

    On the other hand, in what way is she a human-rights protester? Who are the people who gave this award trying to kid?

  71. Wahaha
    June 6th, 2008 at 15:14 | #71

    What the heck ?

    Chinese people hated Falun in 2001 ? give me a break. No chinese protested against them until last month.

    Grace Wany betrayed Chinese people. That is what MOSE CHINESE BELIEVE, yes, I used ” most” again. That makes her a traitor in the eyes of most chinese. While you think it is her right to support “free tibet” , Chinese consider it is betrayal. Just like most Americans would consider whoever join in Al Queda is a traitor even if he has done any harm to US.

  72. Wahaha
    June 6th, 2008 at 15:18 | #72

    BTW, Falun was always allowed to join in the parade in Chinatown, US.

    and I dont think they will show up in parade next year.

  73. Buxi
    June 6th, 2008 at 15:18 | #73

    S.K. Cheung,

    your example depicts the situation in any democracy, rich or poor. The political ramifications of long-term capital projects exist in democracies of all stripes and sizes.

    Of course, that’s absolutely true. There are a few minor differences in a developing nation, but the basic gist is right.

    The primary difference is in the implications of delaying a long-term capital project. In an already modernized developed country… so what if that road doesn’t get built? At worst, 20 years later you’ll deal with some severe traffic, and property values drop. Big deal.

    What happens in a poor developing country? You stay embroiled in poverty. In the case of India, you have a 35% illiteracy rate. You have generations of hundreds of millions of people born into, and dying of poverty.

    I’ve called democracy a “luxury” good before, and I firmly believe that’s what it is.

    Poverty isn’t one of those things you get used to, it’s a horrible, horrible thing… think of the millions of illegal Mexican immigrants that live a life of deprivation without rights in the United States. Think of the thousands of Chinese immigrants that risked blowing themselves up building the railroads of the American West. Why did they do it? Because they could earn a few more dollars here than at home, that’s it.

    So, that is our point. As someone who’s lived it, I tell you that poverty (or at least lack of modernization) is a disease. It’s a horrible, painful, dehibilitating disease that afflicts more than 50% of humanity. And many increasingly believe that democracy only makes it more difficult to recover from this disease.

    I’m not in the United States so that I can vote. (Obviously, since I can’t vote.) I’m in the United States because it has the social/physical infrastructure to provide for a higher standard of living for myself and my children. Selfish, really… like a lot of Chinese I’m wondering if I shouldn’t be back in China and doing more to help build my country.

    But one thing is clear: in another 3-5 decades or so, I believe China will have the physical infrastructure to provide for that higher standard of living, and I hope that future generations can then decide if they can enjoy the luxury of democracy.

  74. S.K. Cheung
    June 7th, 2008 at 04:58 | #74

    To MN:
    I agree that all those who criticize China on the basis of some “earthquake prediction” fantasy are beyond the pale. And Nimbyism can run rampant in these Western parts…seems to be an outlet for people to whine about stuff big and small. But I’d rather that than the people not being heard.

  75. S.K. Cheung
    June 7th, 2008 at 05:11 | #75

    To Wahaha:
    if your point is that a Western (let’s say US) system isn’t going to work in China TODAY, I don’t think too many people would object. But I would disagree with the sentiment that a democratic system could NEVER work in China. As with all things, I think and hope that the “truth” is somewhere in between those extremes. I just hope that the concept could be embraced, while the timeline might remain flexible.
    “It is hard to believe that a couple who dont have a decent house, and dont have enough money for their child’s education, dont have a secure financial future, and go onto the street and yell “I want human right !!! ” that is ridiculous and childish.” I would agree that basic human needs must be satisfied…and one could debate how “decent” a house one truly needs until the cows come home. But if and when that happens (and I think most would agree in the analogy of China that the question is not “if” but “when”), then what? How “affluent” do you have to be before you start to object to an absence of rights and freedoms? My opinion is not very.

  76. S.K. Cheung
    June 7th, 2008 at 05:13 | #76

    To Buxi:
    well, Audi already sells more cars in China than in the US. So hopefully Chinese people will be able to afford the luxury of democracy sooner rather than later.

  77. Nimrod
    June 7th, 2008 at 05:19 | #77

    S.K. Cheung and others,

    You may want to read this excellent paper by John Thornton, which appeared earlier this year in Foreign Affairs.

    http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20080101faessay87101-p0/john-l-thornton/long-time-coming.html

  78. Buxi
    June 7th, 2008 at 05:56 | #78

    To Buxi:
    well, Audi already sells more cars in China than in the US. So hopefully Chinese people will be able to afford the luxury of democracy sooner rather than later.

    We’ll talk about “when” China is able to afford the luxury of democracy later on. But I will point out that South Korea, Taiwan, and Spain all successfully adopted major political reforms (from their high-growth authoritarian governments) *after* their per capita GDP reached $7000-$8000 USD level.

    I don’t think that’s a firm number, since social conditions are very different… but I think that can give us a rough guideline. If that’s the level, then China is still probably at least 15-20 years away.

  79. June 7th, 2008 at 08:56 | #79

    @Wahaha – So if I understand your argument correctly, mouthing off at some protest is the equivalent of joining Al Qaeda? I still fail to see how she could be said to have ‘betrayed’ China, unless you see China as being at war with everyone who does not agree with its policies.

    And yes, as far as I know a hell of a lot of people hated FLG and wanted to kill Li Hongzhi in Nanjing, Shanghai and Shenzhen back in 2003.

    @Buxi – If democracy is a luxury, how come we had it here in the UK long before the average GDP which you describe was reached without it noticeably cramping long-term growth? Of course, if you use the PPP figures China has already pretty close to that limit and should reach it in the next five years – can we expect change then?

  80. Buxi
    June 7th, 2008 at 15:13 | #80

    @FOARP,

    @Buxi – If democracy is a luxury, how come we had it here in the UK long before the average GDP which you describe was reached without it noticeably cramping long-term growth? Of course, if you use the PPP figures China has already pretty close to that limit and should reach it in the next five years – can we expect change then?

    Because it’s not the absolute number that matters, but the *relative* (compared to the rest of the world) that matters.

    Think about specific reasons *why* a poor, developing nation might struggle with democracy. I’ll give you my top two:

    – corruption. Officials being paid at “local” developing world salaries are tempted by developed world standards. A local official approving a contract with a multinational company is negotiating with someone making 10x his salary.

    – income inequality. The best, most talented people in today’s globalized world get paid at (or close to) developed world rates, even if they live in a developing world. This leads to dramatic, fundamental inequality in just about every developing economy.

    Think about China’s developing status. Even the most ambitious of us are assuming we won’t reach remotely developed status for another 20 years. So, from beginning to end, that’s a 50 year transition period.

    A *democracy* with this type of fundamental inequality can’t keep high rate growth going for 50 years while avoiding crippling corruption. At least, none of them have been able to do it in recent history.

    So, do you see why the UK and the United States would be different? The world was far less interconnected at the time, and both were early benefactors of the industrial revolution.

    In the year 2008, we should really focus on what’s been happening the last 50-60 years, in the post-WW2 period. And in that era, history shows a dismal record for democracy in developing nations.

  81. yo
    June 7th, 2008 at 16:10 | #81

    Buxi,
    I agree in your analysis of Chinese income. China is not close to your stated limit. According to the National Bureau of Statistics of China, average wages were around 2000-3000 USD in 2006. Given that China’s rate of growth is not sustainable, I would say China would not reach that mark until decades from now. Assuming it is sustainable(which I already said is highly unlikely, I’m using a 10% growth rate!!!), the earliest would be around a decade according to my analysis.

    I think lost in this conversation is what “democracy” is and why it is relavant. In fact, there are many different democracies and I never felt that democracy was the ends from the means, rather a potential means to an end.

    In addition, China is already experimenting with local level democracy. According to wen jia bao, he wants china to move to a socialist democracy….so….France? 😉 While reform is slow, it’s in the right direction which I see as an effective means to curb corruption. It is my hope that China implements local level democracy in the upcoming years, it’s definitely doable imo.

  82. S.K. Cheung
    June 8th, 2008 at 06:30 | #82

    To Buxi:
    you’ve said many times previously that corruption is one of the PRC citizenry’s main complaint TODAY. What is your reasoning that democracy would make it WORSE?
    As for GDP as a measuring stick, it seems to me that while democracy benefits the individual, it is a societal system. And so while the per capital GDP is low, considering there are 1.3 billion of them, Chinese society’s GDP doesn’t seem as far removed from some of your other examples.

  83. Nimrod
    June 8th, 2008 at 08:17 | #83

    S.K. Cheung,

    Your question is like asking an atheist why they don’t believe in Jesus, what harm is there? Well, the atheist retorts, why don’t you believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster?

    Maybe “how could it be worse” is the wrong question to ask. Maybe you ought to ask, how could it be better? Indeed, how could it? Do we have any evidence at all? Do developing countries that sport “democratic” systems do better in terms of corruption? Which?

  84. June 8th, 2008 at 10:16 | #84

    @Nimrod – It is fairly obvious how it could be better – an open system of government with a free media would allow corrupt officials to be exposed and voted out of power. The KMT’s recent victory in Taiwan was far more driven by the perceived corrupt nature of the DPP than it was by any reaction against Taiwanese independence.

  85. Buxi
    June 8th, 2008 at 14:41 | #85

    @FOARP,

    @Nimrod – It is fairly obvious how it could be better – an open system of government with a free media would allow corrupt officials to be exposed and voted out of power

    A great, idealistic explanation that’s proven false in reality. The sad truth is, corruption in many developing countries is institutionalized. Look at Mexico and India… that’s absolutely the case in both countries, where legal judgments are bought and paid for.

    Why doesn’t an open system with a free media allow the voters to punish the corrupt? Because their only alternative is often another political party with a similar level of corruption.

    An electoral system is only going to help you if you can vote in a *clean* politician, and what if none exists? Even worse, what if a *clean* politician has no way of winning an election in these countries, because they don’t have the economic and social resources to run a competitive campaign? What if voters can’t distinguish between a clean politician and a dirty one?

    That’s all theory. Bottom line, go look up the Transparency International Global Corruption Perceptions Index. You’ll notice that the rankings are very much correlated to economic achievement, but NOT correlated to political structure/type.

    The KMT/DPP example just goes to show all of the pieces you need to have an effective democracy that monitors corruption: well-educated electorate, an experienced/well-compensated legal system, and candidates with international credentials who are probably (hopefully) clean. Mainland China doesn’t have any of the above, yet. The average level of education in mainland China remains extremely low, and will not reach Taiwan’s level for at least another 2 generations. Judges/lawyers are paid mainland Chinese rates, which makes them very susceptible to bribes. I’m sure we have our own Harvard-educated Ma Yingjiu, but the mainland’s population is 60x that of Taiwan… we need 60 Ma Yingjiu’s to effectively run our country.

  86. yo
    June 8th, 2008 at 16:40 | #86

    Nimrod,
    You hit the nail right on the head and perhaps that would be another discussion for another time. China has problems, what can “democracy”(in whatever form) do for you? 🙂

    Buxi,
    In regards to corruption, good points and you bring up a very important distinction that I didn’t realize. Democracy and separation of powers are not necessarily the same thing.

  87. Nimrod
    June 8th, 2008 at 21:30 | #87

    FOARP Says:

    @Nimrod – It is fairly obvious how it could be better – an open system of government with a free media would allow corrupt officials to be exposed and voted out of power. The KMT’s recent victory in Taiwan was far more driven by the perceived corrupt nature of the DPP than it was by any reaction against Taiwanese independence.

    +++++
    And Taiwan is at a higher level of socio-economic development generally known as the “developed world”. FOARP, it’s not like I haven’t considered the theory of democracy or its philosophical underpinnings. It’s that I’ve considered it too well. It’s a nice theory. It’s clean, beautiful, and satisfying in the way that good theories are. But so are many other social theories. It’s not like there is a lack of these through the ages, especially out of the West. China has been trying some of these Western handiworks in the last century on the basis that they were nice, beautiful theories. Should I name one? How about communism? “A classless stateless society based on common ownership and means of production.” Sounds nice. Why doesn’t it actually work, damn it? Well, sorry, that part isn’t in the theory.

    Now in your response, you’re talking about an open system, a free media, etc. That isn’t just the theory of democracy that S.K. Cheung wrote about any more. That is a whole way of life, and just as Buxi pointed out, there are even more pieces to the puzzle than the two you mentioned. And that’s the way it has to be. America isn’t a democracy. Never was, never has been. It was set up as a republic with an English way of life, because the founders had the good sense to know the difference between the theory and rhetoric, which they used to justify independence, and the practice, which is nothing more than a small evolution on the English system, not a “revolution”, despite that it’s called the Revolution.

  88. June 8th, 2008 at 23:28 | #88

    Good points.

    The worlds biggest democracy, and they even speak English, India is rife with corruption. Elections are bought. The story is anecdotal and second hand, but a friend of mine was sitting in the office of a very wealthy man in India during an election. Unhappy with how a vote was turning out, a phone call from him was all that was required to fix it.

    Prosperity. With prosperity comes education. And something important… A sort of enlighten self-interest. If I’m a poor man who hopes just to feed himself and his family, my goal is to be invisible. What do I care about a corrupt judge? But if I am prosperous, my kids can attend a college, and I might be able to save some money, then that corrupt judge is a threat. He could take much away from me or from my kids. I am also now more interested in a free media – I want to learn more about what might threaten me or my family.

    Thus it is no surprise that corruption is correlated to economic achievement rather than political structures.

    As China’s economy grows, the government will have to adapt. If they are wise, what will evolve is a system that is reflective of the Chinese culture and perspective. I’m curious what that will be.

  89. S.K. Cheung
    June 9th, 2008 at 05:45 | #89

    And I’d also be curious when that will be, because, based on the prevailing sentiment in these parts, we may as well pack up and check back in a couple of decades. Although China’s grasp may be limited today, I’m not detecting an overwhelming desire to do much reaching either.

    To Nimrod:
    the reason to ask why democracy would make corruption worse is because democracy is more than fighting corruption. So if there’s already corruption today, and let’s say democracy doesn’t make it worse, then it’s time to see whether democracy’s other virtues outweigh the costs and risks of its implementation.

  90. Buxi
    June 9th, 2008 at 06:52 | #90

    And I’d also be curious when that will be, because, based on the prevailing sentiment in these parts, we may as well pack up and check back in a couple of decades. Although China’s grasp may be limited today, I’m not detecting an overwhelming desire to do much reaching either.

    A couple of decades sounds exactly right to me.

    Perhaps its my engineering/finance background talking, but I see things in a very simple mathematical way. China’s per capita GDP is at a certain level, and China’s social/academic development is at a certain level. Both of these can only grow at a very slow rate. GDP will grow (god willing) 8%-10% annually, while academic development will grow even slower (as a percentage of total population).

    No matter how I look at things, I just don’t see any sort of universal sufferage as being a good thing for China for *at least* 20 years.

    However, I am also very confident that if we had a time machine and we could take a look at the situation in 40 years (on the long side)… China will have an excellent government and political system. Why do I say so…? Because *every* wealthy nation has what appears to be an excellent government and political system, whether it’s Singapore’s benevolent authoritarian rule or the wildest form of democracy. China’s priority (in my personal opinion) should be getting wealthier, wealthier, and even wealthier.

  91. Nimrod
    June 9th, 2008 at 07:29 | #91

    S.K. Cheung,

    On the comment of packing up and checking back, I don’t understand what’s the hurry. I really don’t. By all accounts China is moving pretty fast and reaching at many things all at once, but you (like many others) seem to be focused narrowly on whether China is using one particular magic potion and that only.

    At the risk of sounding like a broken record, democracy is a means to an end, not an end in itself. China is moving ahead to solve its problems by a variety of means. If 20 years later the ends are reached and looking back the means used in the process fits the label called democracy, fine. And if not, who cares? The ends are reached. You believe in the magical powers of one-person-a-vote direct elections, fine. I don’t. But … it’s like some prosetlyzer keep buzzing at your ear, telling you when you gonna convert, when you gonna accept Jesus, today or tomorrow, maybe next week or no, could do you no harm, really couldn’t, convert, convert, why are you waiting! No wonder it’s not convincing anybody.

  92. June 9th, 2008 at 12:53 | #92

    @Buxi – I don’t buy the whole argument about corruption being caused only or mainly by poverty, I would say that it is more arguable that corruption is the cause of poverty. The whole thing being solved by a country reaching a level of income relative to the rest of the world also seems somewhat suspicious, for one thing it makes foreigners the main cause of corruption. “If it weren’t for foreigners making China look poor and bribing Chinese officials with our foreign money then China wouldn’t be so corrupt” – is this your point? I will accept that a higher standard of living might attract an essential element necessary for the formation of a relatively non-corrupt society to other countries, but I am not sure this has occured in China. At any rate, the only thing equivalent to the 党外 movement that allowed free elections to develop in Taiwan was the 6/4 movement.

  93. Buxi
    June 9th, 2008 at 15:56 | #93

    @FOARP,

    @Buxi – I don’t buy the whole argument about corruption being caused only or mainly by poverty, I would say that it is more arguable that corruption is the cause of poverty

    I really don’t see that as a reasonable argument in the undeveloped, non-modernized countries. Flip back the history books to 50 years ago. The countries that are developing today are basically the same ones that were “developing” then. Modern corruption isn’t the problem; original sin (of being poor) is the problem.

    I don’t see recognition of the income disparity as “blaming” foreigners. It’s only blame if we believe that the other party could do something about it… what, should we make the rest of the world poor so that corruption goes away? Of course not; the solution is an emphasis on development and growth.

    As far as the dangwai movement in Taiwan, even basic political liberalization didn’t start until Taiwan was significantly wealthier than mainland China is today. In 1990, Taiwan’s GDP per capita was something like $7000-$8000, 2-3 times more than mainland China’s current level. And to grow the economy by a factor of 2-3, we are really looking at probably 20 years.

    That’s my personal time-frame for seeing China transition out of our current political model.

  94. yo
    June 9th, 2008 at 17:06 | #94

    FOARP,
    “I would say that it is more arguable that corruption is the cause of poverty.”

    What’s your argument?

  95. Wahaha
    June 9th, 2008 at 17:29 | #95

    To, S.K.

    if your point is that a Western (let’s say US) system isn’t going to work in China TODAY, I don’t think too many people would object. But I would disagree with the sentiment that a democratic system could NEVER work in China.

    My answer :

    I never say Chinese should never enjoy democracy. If you had read chinese website, you wouldve known that Chinese government has started experiment of election in some area.

    But I strongly believe West democracy is built on wealth. All you have to know is about the situation in poor commuities in USA. Did you ever go to New York, Phil and Washington ? Did you feel safe renting a cheap motel in those area ? Now, China has lot of communities much much poorer than those area.

    The other is that West democracy “encourages” that people put individual’s interests and right above public’s interests, this is cancer in any society and it is far more deadly and devastating in a poor or developing country.

    Please dont use your community as a criteria what you are explaining democracy. I am sure you have a good family and live in a good communitry, go to a big city, find a poor community and have a walk overthere, or even better, find a restaurant, enjoy your lunch (if you are brave enough, have a dinner over there).

  96. Wahaha
    June 9th, 2008 at 17:56 | #96

    To FORAP,

    So if I understand your argument correctly, mouthing off at some protest is the equivalent of joining Al Qaeda? I still fail to see how she could be said to have ‘betrayed’ China, unless you see China as being at war with everyone who does not agree with its policies.

    My answer,

    In most countries, people have strong believes, no1 is allow to cast any doubts on those believes.

    40 years ago, John Lennon foolishedly claimed that “they are more popular than Jesus. He was bashed by all the medie in USA and was forced to apologize.

    About 1 year ago, a small newspaper in Eurpoe mocked Muhammad, the prophet. You know how much trouble it made.

    China has had 2000+ years of history. It is chinese’s deep believe that China must be united. You may question it is not a religion, but it is even above religion in the mind of chinese. We think we are a family, there is no discrimination against Tibetans under CCP, under KMT or under Qing dynasty, cuz they are part of our big family.

    It is not policy, it is believe, a believe that cant be bargained in the mind of Chinese, West like it or not.

  97. S.K. Cheung
    June 10th, 2008 at 06:12 | #97

    To Nimrod:
    I can accept that any system is a means to an end. But what is the “end” you seek? Is it economic prosperity? Once that is reached, then what? It seems there are large numbers of PRC citizens who are still economically and educationally disadvantaged. What happens in time when the floor of the entire society is raised? Might there be a new “end”? Will people be satisfied with improved finances alone, or might better means and better education provoke a desire for other things…like evolving rights and freedoms, a larger voice in societal affairs, etc. Call it what you will; the label is unimportant, but I think the concepts are transferable.
    And in so saying, democracy as I know it is more than universal suffrage and direct representation. Nothing magical about it. It provides for rights and freedoms, and protects the weak and disadvantaged. It isn’t, however, a religion. And your disapproving of it worries me not one iota. It seems I have done as well in convincing you as you have me.

  98. Buxi
    June 10th, 2008 at 06:15 | #98

    I can accept that any system is a means to an end. But what is the “end” you seek? Is it economic prosperity? Once that is reached, then what?

    It seems rather dubious for us to wave our hands in the air and talk about what our grand-children might want to have in 50 years, when they have economic prosperity approaching Western levels.

    All Nimrod and anyone else here is ready to talk about is what we’re looking for today. The immediate need and agenda is clear, and very important to us.

    Those in the West are facing the question you seem to be asking. You should ask Western societies whether there’s an “end” to the on-going quest to increase wealth and accumulate international influence.

  99. S.K. Cheung
    June 10th, 2008 at 06:15 | #99

    To Buxi:
    you oft mentioned the per capital GDP gauge. But China’s national GDP is already huge compared to many countries. How do you reconcile that CHina as a society might be financially ready for more even if the individuals aren’t?

  100. Buxi
    June 10th, 2008 at 06:19 | #100

    Isn’t it self-evident that per capita GDP is what really matters?

    Hong Kong, with a population of 6 million, has a “small” net GDP. But is there any doubt that its social and political characteristics are closer to the developed West than, say, Bangladesh…?

  101. S.K. Cheung
    June 10th, 2008 at 06:25 | #101

    To Wahaha:
    “Did you ever go to New York, Phil and Washington ?” – yes, and they were democratic cities last I checked. Is personal well-being and physical safety a prerequisite for democracy? Does the CCP guarantee one’s physical well-being in some dark alley somewhere in CHina?
    “Tibetans under CCP, under KMT or under Qing dynasty, cuz they are part of our big family.” – my point all along, is that it might serve to ask Tibetans if they share that sentiment.

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