Home > Letters > The Chinese debate – Part 2: Democracy and the economy

The Chinese debate – Part 2: Democracy and the economy

Thanks to one our visitors (Traveler, Youzi, 游子), a debate about fundamental issues that divide many Chinese has been brought to our blog (see comment in earlier thread).   In this post, I want to express my opinions on the economy, democracy, and the Chinese government.

I also want to send a few sentences to Mr. Wahaha: please do not so easily “represent” the Chinese or the Chinese government. I don’t know if you’re an oversea student or overseas Chinese, but regardless of China is strong or small, it doesn’t have anything to do with you having greater face and authority in the face of Westerners. Furthermore, China’s economic growth is the result of hard work by Chinese citizens, and not the government’s charity; our lives are improving, because these are the returns from our own work, not because of a government or certain political party has bestowed them on us.

Now, we get to a topic that has nothing to do with Western media and being overseas.  Now we get to a topic that has to do only with being “left” or “right”, being a supporter or opponent of the current Chinese government.  This topic should be kept separate from the topic above.

Let me start by sending a few sentences to you, Traveler: please do not so easily assume that we hope for a strong China because we need “face”.  I will not speak for Wahaha, but many of us are extremely successful, and do not need to borrow face from anyone.  We can silence ourselves on China tomorrow, and we will not suffer for it.  We can cut ourselves off from China tomorrow, and no one in the United States will force us back.  Here’s a bit of advice for you if you ever come to the West, and are embarrassed by an association with the Chinese: if nothing else, we can always pretend to be Japanese.  No one in the West could possibly know the difference

If Wahaha cares, if any of us care, it’s because we actually care out of true compassion and love, not because we’re forced into it by a hostile West.  We have numerous relatives, friends in China.  Many of us.. first, second, even third generation.. feel our Chinese identity strongly, and we care about the interests of our Chinese brothers and sisters.  I admit it, I am a truly selfish 真小人: I have not been able to give up my salary in order to go back to China and work directly for my country and my people.  But beyond that, my conscience tells me to love my country, and to care for my country.  This is the simple truth for many Chinese overseas.

In contrast, we feed the government. In terms of the government designing policies that advance the economy, that’s its job. If you can’t do it, then get out. Do you really want us to feel gratitude? As far as Russia and India’s poor economy, what does that have to do with China? What does that have to do with democracy? Why don’t you compare to North Korea and Cuba as examples? Besides, you don’t have a good grasp of Chinese history, and hope you can keep making an effort in trying to better understand China.

You are not the only one making this point.  Many Chinese overseas, the same ones who care about China because their conscience demands it, ask the same question.  This is more or less a divide between “left” and “right”.   I will give you my personal explanation, as someone who stands more on the “left” side of the political line.  I can’t stress enough that I’m not speaking for the Chinese, for the community, for anyone but myself.

The world changed dramatically in 1945; it was the end of the imperial era, and the beginning of a new, globalized world. If you look at the history of the world since 1945, you would notice a few things.  Since 1945, there have been numerous democracies, rich and poor.  But there has not been any successful poor democracies that can act as a model for China’s future development.

This is one reason why the example of India is interesting; India has been an open democracy for 60 years, but its democracy hasn’t solved many of the problems some activists in China naively point to.  But many Chinese look down on India, and insist that there are other cultural factors at play here.  If you were to study the numbers, you will see that India is not alone.  Any democracy that was extremely poor in 1945 remains poor today… (unless they won the lottery, by being located on an oil well.)

We can talk about any poor democracy you’d like: Brazil?  Mexico?  Go find a reference book, and we can look at any poor democracy you would like.  China’s GDP per capita today is about $2500 (US dollars)…  find me a successful country that was a democracy with the same economic level, find me a country that can be a positive model for China’s future development.

Let me talk about two common problems that many believe exists in China, and talk about them in the context of poor developing democracies:

Corruption:  The theory is simple: if one political party is corrupt, then you elected in a different political party that is (or promises) to be clean.  But what if both political parties are equally corrupt?  What if both political parties can’t win office, and can’t rule without the help of corrupt elements in society?   What if the media itself is corrupt?  In India (and any other poor democracy), corruption is absolutely pervasive: you can buy legal decisions, business licenses, and government support.  Look at the Corruption Perceptions Index published by the Western group Transparency International.  Corruption in India, after 60 years, remains as bad if not worse than corruption in China.

Economic growth:  The theory here is also simple: democracy shouldn’t hurt economic growth, and might even help it by improving governance, by eliminating corruption.  Simple, but again, naive.  The statistics on this are obvious; no developing country in the last 5 decades has managed to transition into a democracy without showing a slow-down in its GDP growth rate.  Not a single one.

I think there are many possible explanations for this.  When you look at the example in India (and any other poor democracy), it has been incapable of long-term capital investment.  India, Brazil, and Mexico has been unable to build the physical infrastructure that you take for granted in China.  Railways and bridges often take many years to build, and then many decades before they repay their investment.  For a democracy in which election campaigns are run on 4 year cycles, that doesn’t calculate.  A local official is better off taking construction money and turning it into short-term subsidies for the poor, even if the consequences of this missing infrastructure is that the poor will stay poor, for longer.

Let me talk instead about the positive examples, and there are some.

Many of the “rightists” in China immediately point to South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan.  Why should we compare ourselves to India, Brazil, and Mexico?  Why can’t we be like the other east Asian countries that we’re so culturally similar to?  But this is all wishful, selective thinking, and not supported by the numbers.  Let’s talk about each of these countries briefly.  Because I don’t have a better way of describing “poor” versus “rich”, we will look at GDP per capita:

Japan: Japan was devastated after World War II, of course.  But it had been a modern nation since the Meiji Reforms of the 1860s, and this software infrastructure was never destroyed.  By 1955, only 10 years after the end of the war, Japan’s GDP per capita was already at $6000 USD, more than double China’s current level.

South Korea: South Korea wasn’t a democracy until approximately 1990.  Its GDP per capita at the time was about $6000 USD, more than double China’s current level.  Under authoritarian rule, it had an extremely high growth rate.  After becoming a democracy, its economic growth rate immediately slowed.

Taiwan: Taiwan also wasn’t a democracy until approximately 1996 (first presidential elections).  In 1996, Taiwan’s GDP per capita was about $12000 USD, more than 5 times mainland China’s current level.  Under authoritarian rule, it had an extremely high growth rate.  After becoming a democracy, its economic growth rate immediately slowed.

Spain: Spain was not a democracy until the late ’70s; its first presidential elections were in 1982.  At the time, its GDP per capita was about $6000 USD, almost three times China’s current level.  Under authoritarian rule, it had an extremely high growth rate (“Spanish Miracle”).  After becoming a democracy, its economic growth rate immediately slowed.

I am hopeful for China, but I’m also realistic.  I am not convinced that China will rewrite the history books, and do something that has never been accomplished by any previous poor democracy.  I am not convinced that China would become like South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, or Japan.  I fear that China would instead look like Brazil, India, or Mexico, stuck in a persistent state of (relatively) low economic growth, forever lagging behind as the developed world leaps ahead to the next generation.  For those who disagree, I don’t understand your blind faith.  What, in your mind, makes China unique amongst all nations?  Why will China be able to break free of the force of gravity?

On the other hand, what will happen in 15 or 25 years if we continue with the present path, if we maintain our current growth, if we stay on our road-map for economic expansion?  What will happen when China is 4 times as wealthy as it is today?  What will happen when China’s GDP per capita crosses the $10000 (USD) boundary?  A look at the history books, a look around the world tells us that amongst the wealthy nations of the world, there are no poorly run or corrupt nations.  Most wealthy economies have become democratic, with a few exceptions in Hong Kong and Singapore.  I can only assume that at that point, like every other society which has come before it, China will follow in South Korea and Taiwan’s footsteps at that point, taking a huge step forward towards an open, fair, law-based society.

15 or 25 years is a long time to wait.  And I understand that I, very hypocritically, am living outside China’s borders even while I prescribe that bitter medicine.  If there’s a better option for China, I would love to hear it.  I have no blind love or loyalty for the Communist Party, but nor do I have blind love for the seductive, misleading words of naive idealists.

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  1. Cao Cao
    June 28th, 2008 at 09:48 | #1

    @ BUXI the WISE

    1. A shame that you don’t respond. After all, as one of the site’s moderators, you said many things which are not only unsupportable but inflammatory as well. It’s clear to me that this site is appropriately named, though the operative word appears to be FOR – as in “Blog FOR China”. Those who express contrarian opinions are tolerated, though not really very welcome. In any case, you have failed to defend many of your assertions about FU JIESHI. You welcome FU JIESHI back to respond to certain comments, but you still haven’t responded to mine – or MA BOLE’s for that matter. How deliciously hypocritical of you. Easy to hide on the internet. Then again, why hide at all? It all seems pretty cowardly.

    2. No crystal balls here. I am not the first to say that China will become old before it becomes rich. You really haven’t heard of this before?

    A quick net search results in many reputable studies.

    A good report is here (downloadable pdf): http://www.csis.org/media/csis/pubs/grayingkingdom.pdf

    And here are a couple of alarming quotes from the report:

    “CHINA IS ABOUT TO UNDERGO A STUNNING DEMOGRAPHIC TRANSFORMATION.
    Today, China is still a young society. In 2004, the elderly—here defined as adults aged
    60 and over—make up just 11 percent of the population. By 2040, however, the UN
    projects that the share will rise to 28 percent, a larger elder share than it projects for the
    United States. In absolute numbers, the magnitude of China’s coming age
    wave is staggering. By 2040, assuming current demographic trends continue, there will
    be 397 million Chinese elders, which is more than the total current population of
    France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom combined.”

    “A YOUNG NATION IS ABOUT TO GROW OLD. THIRTY-FIVE YEARS AGO, THERE WERE
    eight working-age adults aged 15 to 59 in China for every elder aged 60 and over. Today,
    there are six. Thirty-five years from now, assuming current demographic trends continue,
    the number will fall to just two. By then, there will be twice as many elders over the age of
    sixty as children under the age of fifteen.”

    Here are a couple of quotes from a non-U.S. report on the subject: http://base.china-europa-forum.net/rsc/fr/documents/document-1110.html

    “In comparison with the level of socio-economic development in developed countries: based on criteria such as per capita GNP, degree of industrialisation and urbanisation, social security, and the fact that China is becoming an ageing society with a level of socio-economic development below that of developed countries, China is indeed ‘getting old before getting rich’.

    In comparison with the level of socio-economic development in South Korea: both China and South Korea are developing countries but South Korea had an advanced economy before becoming an ageing society. If we observe, either that country’s per capita GNP, the per capita GNP calculated by purchasing power parity (PPP); or the degree of its urbanisation, industrialisation and social security, we can say that South Korea belongs to the category of ‘getting rich before getting old’, while China is just the opposite.”

    There are also essays on the subject at http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/02/16/bloomberg/sxmuk.php (International Herald Tribune) and http://www.china.org.cn/english/China/183524.htm (People’s Daily).

    Plenty more where those came from.

    Happy reading, BUXI the WISE. 加油中國

  2. 游子
    June 28th, 2008 at 13:05 | #2

    Translation by Buxi, comments and criticism, please let me know

    BUXI先生,看到你的回贴,我很遗憾地发现,你的论述并无足够的说服力,而且还夹杂了一些不尊重对方的语句,例如“blind love for the seductive, misleading words of naive idealists”。在你说这些话时,你是否反省自己也可能犯了同样的错误?你说过你对国内的论坛也有所了解,比如天涯、猫眼等。即使如此,“中西贯通”的你所说的许多观点,也并无超出天涯、猫眼的水准。在此,我就一些问题进行简明阐述。

    Mr. Buxi, seeing your reply, I regretfully find that your description isn’t sufficiently convincing, and also contains some language that’s not respectful of your opponents. For example, “blind love for the seductive, misleading words of naive idealists”. When you were saying this, did you consider whether you were making the same mistake? You said that you have some understanding of the bulletin boards in China, like Tianya and MaoYan. Even so, as someone who “knows both East and West”, many of your perspectives aren’t above the level of what you see there. Here, I will simply elaborate on some of these issues.

    1、关于左右之分的问题。请你注意,左右之分,在中国与西方是不同的。在西方,无论是左派还是右派,对自由、民主、法治的态度都是肯定的。其区别,不过是在保障自由和基本人权的基础上,政府是多承担一些责任还是少承担一些责任。而在中国,左右之分却是要不要自由、民主、法治以及自由 、民主、法治是否服从于“中国特色”的区分。

    1. In terms of the left-right divide. Please notice that the divide between left and right is not the same between China and the West. In the West, regardless of whether you’re on the left or right, attitudes towards freedom, democracy, and rule of law is supportive. The only difference is, on the basis of protecting freedom and basic human rights, whether the government should accept a little more or a little less responsibility. But in China, the division is between whether we want freedom, democracy, rule of law, or should we continue to obey “special Chinese characteristics”.

    2、关于印度等民主国家经济是否落后的问题。这个问题很奇怪,因为实行民主政治的国家,经济有好有坏,我不知道你为什么单挑你认为不好的国家来证明。或者你认为,不实行民主政治的国家,经济就会变好?即使有的民主国家经济不好,你又如何推导出“中国若实行民主,经济就会变坏而不会变得更好”的结论?再说了,实行自由民主,保障人的权利,本就不能以功利主义的逻辑来辩论。请问:你是愿意当一头锦衣玉食的猪呢,还是愿意当一个生活清贫的人?即使你愿意当前者,也不能因此推论别人也和你一样。还要提醒你的是,中国目前的经济也只是比以前好,而从人均算,仍是国际上的落后者,没有什么好炫耀的。另外,有的民主国家虽然穷,但从来不搞什么政治运动,不会有很多人遭受甚至死于政治迫害,这笔帐,不是两个小钱就能抵销的。

    2. In terms of whether the economy of India and other democratic countries are backwards… I think this question is very strange. Because amongst the countries that are democracies, there are those with economies both good and bad. I don’t know why you only picked the countries that are poor as evidence. Or do you believe that, countries that do not implement democratic rule, the economy is better? And even if some democratic countries have poor economies, how do you conclude that “if China implements democracy, the economy will become worse and not better”?

    Besides, implementing liberalism and democracy, protecting the rights of man, you can’t use this sort of utilitarian logic to debate. I want to ask you: do you want to be a well-dressed/well-fed pig, or do you want to be a person living the simple life?

    And even if you wish to be the former, you can’t conclude that others are like you. I also want to remind you: China’s economic is only better than before, but from a per capita basis, its still backward on the international scale, and not something to brag about. Besides, although other democratic countries are poor, they never implement political movements that lead to suffering or even death.

    This account can’t be evened out simply by drawing an equal sign between time.

    3、中国以及中国人这两个词,由于其过于广泛的内涵和巨大的数量,极容易被滥用。就以你我而言,一个生活在国内,一个生活在国外,生活环境和思维方式都大相径庭。就是在中国内部,不同省、民族之间都有很大心理差距,甚至比两个不同国家的差距还要大。时至今日,随着民众生活水平的提高和个人权利意识的觉醒,如果仍然沿用以往的政治高压手段和思想控制,已经很难维系国家的完整和民族归属感了。政府已经觉察到了这一点,但如果不采取实质性的政治体制改革以尊重和包容不同群体的权益,光靠挥舞爱国主义和民族主义这两杆破旗,是不可能解决根本问题的,只会浪费宝贵的改革时间。坦率的说,海外中国人作为一个特殊群体,除了在外国作形象大使,对国内的政治影响力几乎可以忽略不计。听说有些海外中国人已经入了外国国籍,这些人还要把自己看作中国的代表,其心态比较奇怪。

    作为一个中国公务员,我个人以为,如果你是一个真正关心中国未来的海外华人,最好还是回到国内来,不仅能了解目前中国各阶层的真实想法,也好为改进这个国家出一份实实在在的力量;如果你不想回国,计划在国外一直生活下去的话,最好还是放开胸襟,了解并接受当地民众的习俗和价值观,争取融入当地社会。

    3. The two terms China and Chinese, because of its broad meaning and large numbers involve, can very easily be abused. Just use you and me as an example: one lives in China, one lives outside China, our living environment and thought processes are widely divergent. And even within China, between different provinces and peoples are tremendous psychological differences, perhaps even greater than those between two countries. As time has passed, as the people’s living standards have grown and as awareness of personal rights has woken… if the traditional methods of political pressure and thought control are used, it’s already become very difficult to maintain the China unity and a sense of belong to the Chinese people. The government has observed this point, but unless it implements effective political reform that respects and tolerates the interests of different groups of people, it will not resolve this fundamental problem simply by waving the worn-down flags of patriotism and nationalism. Instead, it will only waste valuable time that should be spent on reform. Candidly speaking, overseas Chinese are a special group. Other than acting as ambassadors for China’s foreign image, their influence on domestic politics can basically be ignored. I’ve heard some overseas Chinese have already taken foreign citizenship, but they still see themselves as China’s representatives, and that’s a strange mindset.

    As a Chinese official, I personally believe that if you’re really overseas Chinese who cares about China’s future, the best thing is for you to return home. That way, not only will you better understand the true thoughts of different classes in modern China, you will also be able to lend your strength for practical improvements. If you don’t want to return to China and plan instead to continue to live overseas, then the best thing to do is to open your chest, and better understand and accept the local people’s habits and value system, and attempt to integrate into their society.

  3. Leo
    June 28th, 2008 at 14:37 | #3

    1. The grouping of left in the West is not only different from China, also from the rest of the world. As a Mexican professor put it, there is no left in the US politics, there is only the right that are not so extremely right.

    2. Regarding your “你是愿意当一头锦衣玉食的猪呢,还是愿意当一个生活清贫的人”, if there is a choice between being well-fed Saudis/Singaporeans or free Haitians/Indians, most people with a clear mind would prefer the first.

    3. Influence by the overseas Chinese is and has been enormous. Dr. Sun Yatsen was a overseas Chinese with US citizenship, Deng was an exchange student, Ma Yingjeo was a green-card holder, for example.

    Regarding your “如果你是一个真正关心中国未来的海外华人,最好还是回到国内来”, the notion is totally nonesense. China is an overpopulated country with scarce resource. To get out is a way to leave more room for the rest.

  4. Buxi
    June 28th, 2008 at 14:41 | #4

    @Traveler,

    I probably will not have time to respond in depth to your post today… but I’m sure by the time I get back, others will have written more.

    I will say one thing for now. My previous comment was perhaps rude in places, and I will try to keep my own emotions in check. However, in my own defense… I am embarrassed for you, by some of the unfair assumptions you have made about overseas Chinese, including many of the posters here. If you show greater respect to others, then you will also earn my respect.

  5. June 28th, 2008 at 14:52 | #5

    I total agree with you in some parte!
    But way stop to hope? do you really thin life in China is better the in Brazil,Argentina,Chile or even Mexico?
    I dont think you Know what your are trying to say!
    sorry for

  6. June 28th, 2008 at 16:18 | #6

    Democracy is not a cure for corruption. It is also not an automatic protector of individual rights and freedoms. It is also expensive and inefficient. How much money has been spent on the US Democrat race? 100’s of millions of dollars? I heard a billion dollars suggested without the commentator batting an eye. As for inefficient, just watch the inaction on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. How much time does it take to hash out the gossip about some guy and his girlfriend? (Yes yes yes, national security, biker gangs, forgotten dossiers but the guy has already resigned.)

    Bill Gates has left Microsoft. If the corporation was democratic, it should hold an election amongst the employees to elect the next CEO. Perhaps Mikey the Zune geek would win. I’m sure the shareholders will feel greater confidence in the company with a popularly elected Mikey than with Ballmer (I know I sure would). (Yes, I know I’ve got the details wrong, but it is a metaphor okay.) Mikey doesn’t know anything about running a company yet there he is sitting in a seat of power. What’s going to happen? Aside from the stock tanking, some unelected bureaucrat will certainly be ready to take poor Mikey under his wing. If corruption was issue before democracy, I expect that would get even worse after democracy.

    So, why would anyone want to saddle a poor and corrupt economy with a system that is expensive, inefficient, and will likely put inexperienced people into positions of power?

    I like my democracy. I’m pretty confident that the underlying corporate culture of the government machine will work with the elected officials in a non-corrupt manner. In other words, elections can keep the top officials accountable to the people they represent. Thus, even though the process is expensive and inefficient, I think it is worth it. I make a point of voting in elections because I think it is worth it.

    But if there was widespread corruption in Canada or if the economy was very poor, our democracy would be a disaster. A democratic system is like a huge building. Build it on sand, it won’t stand. Sitting on the outside of China looking in, the issue of corruption is severe. Tofu buildings, while it cost the lives of many people, is only symtomatic of the problem. People need to look at the simple cultural building blocks to solve this problem. For example, while talking to a guy on a train from Hong Kong to Beijing, he was giving me advice on how to charge for consulting services. He told me to use the 80/20 rule. Only expect to be paid 80% so work your quote to cover your work within the 80% and overcharge the 20%. This way, the other guy can ‘cheat’ you out of the 20% and you’re not suffering from it. That practice is a brick in a Tofu building.

    The role of government is to provide security and enable prosperity. At this moment, the Chinese government, in my opinion, must deal aggressively with corruption. Along with corruption, it needs to continue with legal reforms. Also, for the sake of security and prosperity, the issues with specific ethnic minorities needs to be looked at with an open mind. The fact that 3.14 happened, and happened with such venom, means that something is missing from the equation. And what about migrant workers? Extremely important to “enable prosperity” but they are also vulnerable to mistreatment from corrupt employers. “Provide security” means that the government has a responsibility to these people to make sure that they are protected and not forgotten about.

    Personally, I feel that the burden of democracy is counter-productive to China’s development at this moment in time. At some point in the future, the principles of security and prosperity will demand democratic reforms. However, I do feel that now is the time to think about what those reforms will look like.

  7. Nimrod
    June 28th, 2008 at 16:21 | #7

    What Youzi says about overseas Chinese does have a grating, dismissive attitude about it but I’ll try to read it as candid advice. Let me make two points on that:

    1. Since China unfortunately does not recognize dual citizenship, I have always thought that for overseas Chinese to acquire foreign citizenship (and renounce Chinese citizenship), it requires a big step — in other words, that is the threshold in my mind. I know others may differ on this, but I’m of the opinion that whatever place you are a citizen of, you do your duties there. That way, citizenship means something. But many of us have not acquired foreign citizenship. Many of us are still Chinese nationals, by choice. Why? We can’t travel as conveniently, we can’t vote, we can’t run for office, and we can be deported — to China — in the extreme case, There would be absolutely no benefit and no point in this, if we took no stake in China.

    2. On the flip side, there is nothing to prevent Chinese nationals — the same as you — not only to have our views counted as Chinese views, but indeed to influence the direction of our country. China isn’t there yet, but if it had your favorite “Western-style” democracy, we’d have the same number of votes as you: one. Many Western countries even support dual citizenship. In that case, even more of us would have that vote. I hope your understanding of Western society is deep enough to accept this very simple democratic value.

    P.S. Even more than this, I’ve detected in Youzi’s prior posts the notion that those whose interests are misaligned with his should be shut up. The acid test for this is whether Youzi believes overseas dissidents or non-Chinese (Western) foreigners should shut up? Should they, Youzi? I’d like to remind Youzi that one of the benefits as well as risks of “Western-style democracy” is indeed that people whose interests are against yours are also valued the same, and there are lots of them in China — forget us overseas Chinese. Not only will they not shut up, but they may vote your interests down. They may even vote your rights away, not like this hasn’t happened before. “Western-style democracy” by itself doesn’t guarantee anything. It’s only a platform. The people who run it, if they all had the same bare-knuckle impulses, will only ruin it.

  8. CLC
    June 28th, 2008 at 16:42 | #8

    @Traveler,

    It seems that you are quite sensitive to rude/disrespectful words. If so, please also be respectful to others.

    As I mentioned in the other thread, calling people who disagree with you as “shit youth” does not further your argument. Calling people who have a different mindset as pigs is not a way to show respect. By the way, Buxi has graciously translated all your posts, but I have yet to see you expressing any gratitude.

    As to your disparaging remarks regarding overseas Chinese, you are not only insulting millions and millions of Chinese. It also reflects badly upon you.

  9. DJ
    June 28th, 2008 at 17:17 | #9

    @CLC,

    Well said. I was just about to comment right along the lines of yours.

    @Traveler,

    One more question: you seem to be able to read all the English writings just fine, is there a particular reason for you to prefer not to write in English? (I know you started the whole commenting process by saying writing in Chinese might seem even more patriotic. I just hoped that you were kidding. Or was that a dig at those of us using English?)

    This site is meant for exchanging ideas with the English language based readership. It would be helpful if your comments are directly readable by them.

  10. June 28th, 2008 at 17:27 | #10

    I’ve got to learn to read Chinese…. I’ve got this feeling that I’m missing some of Youzi’s colorful language in Buxi’s translations. 😉

  11. little Alex
    June 28th, 2008 at 18:54 | #11

    @Leo

    #2: 呵,做人不能為五斗米而折腰啊。

    #3: Yes, all of them lived aboard for long periods of time, but they did all come back to China eventually.

  12. June 28th, 2008 at 19:38 | #12

    @Buxi – Brazil has an exchange rate GDP close on 7000 USD, and the slowdown in GDP growth in the cases of economies like South Korea and Taiwan started before democratisation – between 1960 and 1980 Taiwan averaged more than 10% Y-O-Y growth, it was after 1980 that the slow down occured. Explosive economic growth occurs when you have an educated population with non-crippling levels of corruption and instability and the improvements that need to be made are relatively simple. Hell, Japan’s explosive post-war growth happened post-democratisation – in fact Japan was a democratic society of a kind as early as the 1920’s as a result of the Taisho movement. And once again, democracy has been successful in countries with GDPs much lower than 6000 USD – in fact the original industrial revolution happened in a country that was in the process of steadily extending the franchise.

    I think your argument has shaky foundations, but I can see that you’ve thought it through and it could very well have some degree of truth to it – at the very least democracy in a country in which the majority of people lack the education necessary to read newspapers or understand what the politicians are talking about is a challenging prospect. All the same – do you really think that the CCP will give up power when the time comes, or do you think that they would attempt to hang on to power and risk a civil war?

    Finally, none of this excuses refusing to allow free elections in Hong Kong.

  13. AC
    June 28th, 2008 at 19:52 | #13

    @游子

    “… 这个问题很奇怪,因为实行民主政治的国家,经济有好有坏,我不知道你为什么单挑你认为不好的国家来证明。…”

    Well, why don’t you show us a successful example then? (那您为什么不找一“好的国家”来证明您的理论呢?其实你不用找了,我找过了,世上还没有出现过这样的国家。) Please don’t tell me your answer is “all rich Western countries are democracies.” They didn’t become rich and free by practicing democracy alone, most of them acquired their wealth by practicing capitalism, colonialism and even slavery. It took the West a long time to get to this far: capitalism (+ colonialism & slavery) -> wealth -> more educated people -> spread of knowledge led to further accumulation of wealth -> a large middleclass -> enlightenment -> trial of the representative form of government -> end of colonialism & slavery -> voting right for women -> voting right for blacks. This process took hundreds of years.

    We all agree that China has many serious problems. And we all agree that freedom of speech and democracy are desirable (As far as which form of democracy is good for China, it’s another topic for another time). No disagreement on those points between your camp and our camp.

    What we disagree is whether the Western model (i.e. multi-party democracy + free speech) is good for China at current stage of it’s development. Please correct me if I’m wrong, your theory (solution), is let the Chinese people have freedom of speech and adopt the Western model NOW and most of China’s problems will be solved, right?

    Well, practice is the sole criteria for proving one’s theory. The biggest problem of your camp is that you don’t have any successful example of practice in developing countries to prove your theory, not a single one! Available facts show these is nothing but failures. The big hole in your theory, which your camp don’t want to admit, is that there are prerequisites (先决条件) for the democratic model to be successful. An orange tree that carries good genes will bear abundant fruits when planted in the right soil and in the right climate, but it can barely survive if you plant it in the wrong kind of soil or in the wrong climate.

    What is the main prerequisite for the democratic model to be successful, you may ask? Well, please allow me to quote Mr. Bill Clinton, “IT’S THE ECONOMY, STUPID!” To prove my point, I’ll refer you to the examples Buxi listed in his original post above. We have facts to back it up, and facts speak for themselves.

    All successful democracies were already rich before they became true democracies. And at least so far, none of the developing countries who adopted the democratic model are successful. These are undeniable facts. A good political system doesn’t necessarily mean it will produce good results, good POLICIES do.

    How do I define success?
    – Above average GDP growth.
    – Above average GDP per capita.
    – Above average life expectancy.
    – Above average literacy rate.
    – Above average universal healthcare.
    – Decent infrastructures.
    – Reasonable achievements in science and technology.
    – A decent military.
    – Rule of law.
    – Free speech.
    – Below average human rights abuses.
    – Below average crime rates.

    Well, you get the idea.

  14. somebody
    June 28th, 2008 at 20:27 | #14

    All of you have stange point of view.

    I think that Democracy don’t have any affect on the growth or weath of the nation or its people. That maybe your information was wrong or something didn’t go right. I think that it is best for China if China can feel its people and let most of its people live a happy live where they can pursue their dream without trouble other or the nation (Or not to start some crazy cult). That is the best thing that a leader of the nation should do, not focus on getting some people more weath or something like that, it is doing what is best for its people.

    Also I think that some people in India don’t find getting weathy is important to them, that they just want to live a happy life without trouble other or the nation and if they is what they want, why not? Also if you are forgetting that India the second fastest growth rate, that they are second only to China. So I know your data has some mistake in them.

    Speak of doing what is best for the people, do you think that in the future they will use Robot for everything, and there are only engineers, banker, and executive in the world, that everything is control by AI and machine, that lead to most people being poor??? Kind like the Roman Empire long before. That Varies of technology are removing simple jobs and raise the requirement for getting a living and make things much harder?
    Every now and then I hear about all of these job losses in the western nation, kind of make you wonder that there can only be so much job in the world!?? Also do you know how much nature resources the world is using today!! As alot of nation getting more weathly, their demand will increase by much every year, so there is no way the earth can keep on doing it forever, right!! I am not talking about oil for fuel, I am taking about everything from iron to plastic (Basically everything we use!!).

  15. AC
    June 28th, 2008 at 20:32 | #15

    Translation by Buxi, comments/criticisms welcome.

    “另外,有的民主国家虽然穷,但从来不搞什么政治运动,不会有很多人遭受甚至死于政治迫害,这笔帐,不是两个小钱就能抵销的。”

    Also, although some democratic nations are poor, but they never implement political movements, and not many people die of political persecution. This account can’t be balanced this easily.

    无一例外,穷的国家的人的寿命都很短,这笔帐, 游子先生又是怎么算的呢?

    Without a single counter-example, people in poor countries live shorter lives. How does Mr. Youzi calculate this account?

  16. June 28th, 2008 at 20:43 | #16

    Oh, a few more stats:

    Malaysia – Nominal GDP per Capita 6,700 USD – Democratic since independence, at which point its GDP was lower than China’s is now. Is it a example positive? Not really – but more positive than that of the CCP.

  17. AC
    June 28th, 2008 at 20:45 | #17

    “Also I think that some people in India don’t find getting weathy is important to them, that they just want to live a happy life without trouble other or the nation and if they is what they want, why not? “

    That’s a pretty cheap shot. Yeah, unless they are starving (which hundreds of millions in India are).

    Which one would you pick when you are starving?

    A. Free speech and the right to vote.
    B. Food.

  18. June 28th, 2008 at 20:49 | #18

    @AC – Why didn’t the UK and France suffer an economic collapse on the scale of the USSR’s after granting independence to their African and Asian colonies? Mainly because the colonies were in fact loss making enterprises – really very few people in the UK got rich off the empire, and the state was steadily impoverished by the expense of policing and maintaining them.

  19. AC
    June 28th, 2008 at 21:00 | #19

    @Cao Cao

    What is your point? I don’t get it.

    – Are you saying democracy will reduce the number of old people in China?

    I just can’t find the logical connection between the two.

    – Or are you saying China should get rid of the one-child policy?

    So if that’s what you had in mind, which of the following would you prefer?

    A. A lot of old people.
    B. Overpopulation which might lead to starvation.

  20. somebody
    June 28th, 2008 at 21:07 | #20

    What I mean was I think it is possible that some people in india just feel that getting their basic need meet is enough, that they focus the rest of their live on other things. Also is is that important for the nation to be weathly, I think getting basic need meet and be happy and be able to enjoy life is enough for now, lets focus on how to let people live that life.

    Thank You
    Weining Chang

  21. AC
    June 28th, 2008 at 21:10 | #21

    @FOARP

    “Why didn’t the UK and France suffer an economic collapse on the scale of the USSR’s after granting independence to their African and Asian colonies? Mainly because the colonies were in fact loss making enterprises – really very few people in the UK got rich off the empire, and the state was steadily impoverished by the expense of policing and maintaining them.

    Their economy and the industrialization process benefited from the resources they extracted from the colonies. They were already industrialized, rich and had a sophisticated economy before they gave up those colonies.

  22. June 28th, 2008 at 21:30 | #22

    The industrial revolution in the UK started before the era of world-wide imperialism, the main things imported from the colonies were foodstuffs, cloth, rubber, and oil – the same things we import from the third-world nowadays. These both were and are traded for manufactured goods.

  23. AC
    June 28th, 2008 at 21:32 | #23

    @FOARP

    “Hell, Japan’s explosive post-war growth happened post-democratisation – in fact Japan was a democratic society of a kind as early as the 1920’s as a result of the Taisho movement.”

    Yeah, right. Why didn’t you mention before the war, both Germany and Japan were already industrialized and powerful? And after the war, their “software” (i.e. the know-hows, knowledge and talent which can take decades to acquire) was still there. Not to mention the help they got from the West because the West tried to make them into successful models of democracy.

    Where do we get that kind of help now?

  24. June 28th, 2008 at 22:06 | #24

    @AC – China is quite capable of being equally as powerful and threatening as Germany and Japan – that threat would be much reduced if China democratised.

  25. DJ
    June 28th, 2008 at 22:40 | #25

    FOARP,

    Hmm, I thought democracy => (world) peace has been thoroughly proven to be a very nice wish.

  26. June 29th, 2008 at 00:04 | #26

    FOARP,
    Democracy ≠ peace.
    Imagine a character like Bush in Beijing facing Taiwan 20 years ago. It’s election time and he’s got a legacy to make. Shudder.

    Peace is secured by having competent defenses and players that recognize the cost of war vs imagined benefits. Also political and economic stability are peace’s best friends.

    But isn’t China making friends with Japan? Cross strait relations improved? But no elections in China… odd, eh

  27. Michael
    June 29th, 2008 at 01:27 | #27

    @MutantJedi & DJ,

    I think you two have missed the point–the democracy-promote-peace argument refers to the peace that has been maintained among the democracies since World War II, as contrasted to the non-peace among the socialist/communist and other non-democratic countries over the same period.

    Since china has an authoritarian political system, China’s rise unavoidably has a huge implication on the West’s and the US’s ideological supremacy. Thus the hypothesis goes that if China becomes a democracy as well, it will not be perceived as a big threat to the current international liberal order dominated by the US as it is now.

  28. 游子
    June 29th, 2008 at 01:45 | #28

    Translation by Buxi

    @AC
    关于你所说的“先决条件”,请注意,先决条件也是需要社会努力去追求才能达到的,不是等天上掉下来的。可以说,如果不实行体制改革,现行的官僚体制以及既得利益者恰恰是实现你所谓的“先决条件”的最大阻碍。因为他们恰恰是现行体制的受益者,你竟然设想他们会为改变现行体制而努力创造“先决条件”。你的逻辑可以这么比喻:等你学会了游泳,你才能下水游泳。而这种逻辑,也是既得利益者最喜欢的借口。

    In terms of your “necessary conditions” (for democracy), please notice that these necessary conditions also require society’s efforts to achieve, and not something that falls from heaven. We can say that if we don’t implement reforms in the political structure, then today’s bureaucracy and those with vested interests are precisely the biggest obstacles to achieving these “necessary conditions”. Because they are benefiting from today’s system, and you really believe that they will make efforts to create the “necessary conditions” for system reform. I can give this metaphor for your logic: wait until after you learn how to swim, then start swimming. This type of logic is precisely the type of excuse used by those with vested interests.

    我曾说过:“有的民主国家虽然穷,但从来不搞什么政治运动,不会有很多人遭受甚至死于政治迫害,这笔帐,不是两个小钱就能抵销的。”你的反驳是:“无一例外,穷的国家的人的寿命都很短,这笔帐, 游子先生又是怎么算的呢?”在此我请问你:中国现在是穷还是富呢?中国在二十年前又是穷到什么程度呢?又穷又有政治迫害,AC先生如何看待这点?似乎在AC先生的脑子中,中国是个富裕的国家,而且许多人死于政治迫害都不算什么,比穷死要强。在这里我要特别提醒AC先生:你能跑到西方去生活,肯定不是生活在中国的穷人。WAHAHA先生引述的“何不食肉糜”的故事(但他的中国历史没学好,引述有误),估计也可适用于你身上。

    I said above: “Some countries are poor, but they never implement political reforms, and not many people will die of political persecution. This account can’t be balanced easily.” Your rebuttal was: “Without a single counter-example, all poor countries have shorter living standards. How should this account be balanced”?

    So I ask you here: is China poor or rich right now? How poor was China 20 years ago? China was poor and faced political persecution, how do you see this point? It seems that in Mr. AC’s brain, China is a wealthy country, and that many people are dying of political persecution isn’t important, better than dying poor. Here, I want to especially remind Mr. AC: if you can live in the West, then you’re definitely not a poor person living in China. Mr. Wahaha’s story that “why can’t they eat meat porridge) (ed: similar to ‘let them eat cake’), I think can be used on you.

    关于民主与经济的关系,这个问题太复杂。我认为二者之间没有必然关系,而且我也从来没有以发展经济作为实施民主的理由,我不是功利主义者。相反,恰恰是许多反对在中国实行民主的人,以实行民主会导致经济落后为理由。显然这个理由是站不住脚的。在这里我就不再重复观点,也希望你们不要再把经济和民主扯在一起说事。

    In terms of the link between democracy and economics, this problem is too complicated. I don’t believe the two are inevitably linked, and I’ve never seen economic development as a reason for implementing democracy. I am not a believer in utilitarnism. In fact, many of those who are opposed to democracy in China, use an excuse that implementing democracy will cause the economy to fall backward. Clearly this excuse can not be supported. I won’t repeat myself here, but hope that you will not link economics and democracy together to make a point.

    关于“中国特色”的问题,简单地说,我不管你是“中国特色”还是“北朝鲜特色”、“古巴特色”,凡是自由 、民主、法治这样的价值,总有本质内涵是不会因地域而变化的。将一些与自由 、民主、法治基本特征完全背离的东西,也就是专制的东西,贴上特色民主的标签,是很多人都会使用的政治伎俩。这一招也不是什么新鲜东西,已经骗不了人了。

    In terms of “China’s special characteristics”, simply said, I don’t care if you’re talking about “North Korea’s special characteristics”, “Cuba’s special characteristics”… the value of things like freedom, democracy have inner value that does not change from place to place. And things that are basically opposed to freedom, democracy, and rule of law… pasted over with a sign reading “democracy with special characteristics”, is the kind of political tool that many people know how to use. This isn’t anything new, and can’t fool many people.

  29. Michael
    June 29th, 2008 at 02:44 | #29

    @游子,

    “你能跑到西方去生活,肯定不是生活在中国的穷人”

    If you can run away and live in the West, then you’re absolutely are not a poor person in China.

    I don’t know whether this is true with Mr. AC, but generally speaking this is a misconception. Many poor Chinese can immigrate to the US if they alreay have relatives in the US and their relatives file immigration application for them to come. Some poor Chinese, especially from the Fuzhou area, have even entered the US illegally and then obtained legal status by various means. Not all Chinese who have been able to come to US were because they were rich!

  30. DJ
    June 29th, 2008 at 03:15 | #30

    Michael,

    I deliberately kept my comment on democracy/peace implication short because it is a very complicated subject to be properly discussed. Suffice to say I don’t disrespect the expectation behind the concept but I don’t subscribe to it.

    As to restrict the application of that theory to “peace that has been maintained among the democracies since World War II”, you do realize that it conveniently helps ignore the big elephant in the room, right?

  31. AC
    June 29th, 2008 at 04:04 | #31

    Translation by Buxi

    @游子

    “关于你所说的“先决条件”,请注意,先决条件也是需要社会努力去追求才能达到的,不是等天上掉下来的。可以说,如果不实行体制改革,现行的官僚体制以及既得利益者恰恰是实现你所谓的“先决条件”的最大阻碍。因为他们恰恰是现行体制的受益者,你竟然设想他们会为改变现行体制而努力创造“先决条件”。”

    In terms of your “necessary conditions” (for democracy), please notice that these necessary conditions also require society’s efforts to achieve, and not something that falls from heaven. We can say that if we don’t implement reforms in the political structure, then today’s bureaucracy and those with vested interests are precisely the biggest obstacles to achieving these “necessary conditions”. Because they are benefiting from today’s system, and you really believe that they will make efforts to create the “necessary conditions” for system reform.

    We have been debating for two days, you have made a lot of assertions, but you haven’t show us a single fact or example to support your points. I am really disappointed.

    你的逻辑可以这么比喻:等你学会了游泳,你才能下水游泳。而这种逻辑,也是既得利益者最喜欢的借口。
    I can give this metaphor for your logic: wait until after you learn how to swim, then start swimming. This type of logic is precisely the type of excuse used by those with vested interests.

    Please don’t put words in my mouth. No, that was NOT my logic. If I have to use your metaphor, I would say you have to be fit first before you try swimming.

    在此我请问你:中国现在是穷还是富呢?中国在二十年前又是穷到什么程度呢?又穷又有政治迫害,AC先生如何看待这点?
    So I ask you here: is China poor or rich right now? How poor was China 20 years ago? China was poor and faced political persecution, how do you see this point?

    China is still a developing country, it’s still a poor country. But it has come a long way since reform and opening up under the current political system. During the past 20 years, it has outperformed ALL developing democracies in economic development. And it has lifted more people out of poverty than any other country in human history. For the first time in China’s 5000 year history, hunger has been eliminated in China. Don’t these overwhelming FACTS mean anything to you? Has it ever occurred to you, that maybe, just maybe, there is a slightest possibility that China’s system is better then the ones of those developing democracies?

    似乎在AC先生的脑子中,中国是个富裕的国家,而且许多人死于政治迫害都不算什么,比穷死要强。在这里我要特别提醒AC先生:你能跑到西方去生活,肯定不是生活在中国的穷人。
    It seems that in Mr. AC’s brain, China is a wealthy country, and that many people are dying of political persecution isn’t important, better than dying poor. Here, I want to especially remind Mr. AC: if you can live in the West, then you’re definitely not a poor person living in China.

    Here we go again, please stop making those assumptions and stop putting words in my mouth. It’s kind of annoying, and it doesn’t help you to make your point either. I’d prefer you to use numbers and facts to shut me up. Also, please stop pretending you represent poor people in China. Whether I am poor or rich doesn’t have anything to do with the points I made. You can attack my points, please don’t attack me, the person. I would assume that when a person is starving, the first thing comes to his/her mind is food, not the right to vote.

    关于民主与经济的关系,这个问题太复杂。我认为二者之间没有必然关系,而且我也从来没有以发展经济作为实施民主的理由,我不是功利主义者。相反,恰恰是许多反对在中国实行民主的人,以实行民主会导致经济落后为理由。显然这个理由是站不住脚的。在这里我就不再重复观点,也希望你们不要再把经济和民主扯在一起说事。
    In terms of the link between democracy and economics, this problem is too complicated. I don’t believe the two are inevitably linked, and I’ve never seen economic development as a reason for implementing democracy. I am not a believer in utilitarnism. In fact, many of those who are opposed to democracy in China, use an excuse that implementing democracy will cause the economy to fall backward. Clearly this excuse can not be supported. I won’t repeat myself here, but hope that you will not link economics and democracy together to make a point.

    I suggest you to read some books on subjects such as “Age of Enlightenment” and the development of the democratic movement. You need to understand what democracy is and how it came about first, before you advocating it.

    As a matter of fact, the democratic movement itself is a product of the economic development. A large middleclass, is THE foundation of any successful democracies.

  32. 游子
    June 29th, 2008 at 04:53 | #32

    Translation by Buxi
    AC:

    我同样也很失望。我的观点,当然是基于我在中国所观察和体验到的事例,只是你不了解也不愿相信这些事例罢了。我也不可能在这里写一篇论文来一一详细证明我的观点。信不信由你。但从你的反驳看,你不仅缺乏对中国现实的体认,在逻辑上也是漏洞颇多。

    I’m also disappointed. My perspective is based on what I’ve observed and experienced in China; it’s just that you don’t understand or aren’t willing to believe these things. I can’t write a dissertation here to prove my perspective in detail. It’s up to you whether you want to believe me. But based on your rebuttal to me, not only do you lack recognition of China’s current reality, you also have numerous holes in your logic.

    “A large middleclass, is THE foundation of any successful democracies.”
    什么叫“成功的民主”?以什么标准来衡量?不成功的民主又如何?难道在你眼里,还有“成功的专制”么?我一再说明,民主与经济不能混合讨论,民主也不是服务于经济的手段。象你这句话,我也可以倒过来说:正是有了民主,才可能产生一个庞大的中产阶级。可怜的脑子。

    What is a “successful democracy”? What standards should be used to consider this? So what if democracy is unsuccessful? Are you saying that in your eyes, there is “successful authoritarian rule”? I will repeat myself: democracy and economics can’t be mixed together, and democracy isn’t a tool for servicing economics. This sentence, I can simply turn it around: only if there’s democracy, can there be a large middle class. Pitiful brain.

    “If I have to use your metaphor, I would say you have to be fit first before you try swimming. ”
    你要这样说也可以。但问题又来了:我现在的身体状况是否适合游泳,凭什么要由别人来决定。你说我不适合,我就不适合了?你说不适合民主就不适合民主,说什么时候适合就什么时候适合,难道民主必须由专制的人来决定?荒唐的逻辑。

    You can say it this way if you’d like. But the question comes: why do I have to let others decide whether my body is good enough for swimming? You’re saying I’m not fit, then I’m not fit? You say that democracy isn’t appropriate, then democracy isn’t appropriate; when you say it is appropriate, then it is appropriate? Does democracy really have to be decided by people in an authoritarian system? Absurd logic.

  33. EugeneZ
    June 29th, 2008 at 06:14 | #33

    I know that I live in an interesting world when I read the debate between “Traveler” and Buxi. 游子, a government employee in China, advocates western style democracy, preferraly instantaneously. Buxi, an articulate overseas Chinese living in the US, argues that democracy should be postponed until a later date, when China can “afford” it.

    There is something to be said about this based on my own personal expereince. In 2002, after living in the US for 13 years, I went back to China, I lived in Shanghai and worked (for an American company) for 4 years. I moved “back” to Silicon Valley in 2006.

    I remembered that I was very much like 游子 while I was in China, but 2 years after my return to US, my views today are much more like Buxi’s (on the topic of democracy for China).

    I think that the bottom line is that a repressive, undemocratic society is quite unpleasant to live in – if you actually live there, and you happen to be not among those who constantly worry about where your next meal comes from. When I was in China, I had strong negative feelings about all kinds of injustice in that society, including but not limited to corruption, systematic discrimination based on Hukou, and lack of fair and just judicial system. I was outraged when my part-time nanny was going through great pain in her personal life. She had to send her teenage daughter back to Anhui countryside because there was no way for her to enroll in any high school in Shanghai. I figured that such unjust discrimination based on where people were born would be unthinkable in a democratic society like the one in USA. I am not sure if there is why “traveler” is such a strong fan of western style democracy, but I do know some people in China who harbor romantic but rather naïve views about the western style democracy.

    I sense that Buxi’s position on democracy for China is more based on rational thinking and careful studies of history, and the conclusion is that it is in the best interest of China and Chinese People to postpone the experiment of democracy until the economy can be further developed. To a large degree, I am with him now that I do not suffer any emotional torment by staying away from real life examples of the evils that are natural part of a repressive political environment.

  34. my_mother
    June 29th, 2008 at 06:31 | #34

    Hey Michael,

    “Since china has an authoritarian political system, China’s rise unavoidably has a huge implication on the West’s and the US’s ideological supremacy. Thus the hypothesis goes that if China becomes a democracy as well, it will not be perceived as a big threat to the current international liberal order dominated by the US as it is now.”

    Is that hypothesis kind of simplistic? You forgot the economic factor in that equation. Ideology is just a convenient excuse prescribed to dumb people like myself. Ultimately, economic interests are going to be the real friction points.

    But of course, dumb people like myself don’t understand a lick about economics anyway. That’s why we suck the ideology explanation down like free soda.

  35. Leo
    June 29th, 2008 at 06:47 | #35

    @EugeneZ

    Regarding the hukou system, it is more complicated than just discrimination and unjust. If there is a free election, most Beijing and Shanghai residents will be fore retaining the system. It just makes the city liveable and manageable. If allowing the provincial migrants to flood in, the infracture will soon collapse and further development will be difficult. Just look at the Bombay new airport story.

    I may now seem to speak from a privileged position, but I am one who was born in Shanghai and forced to leave because I had no hukou there. I felt sorry to leave but I have never felt being treated unfairly. I just take it as my fate and the life in an impoverished province was not at all that wretched. My experience is not alone, there is another guy who comes from the countryside but does not think the hukou all that evil http://weizhoushiwang.blogbus.com/logs/23350191.html . He describe it, together with the sweatshop brouhaha, as moot created by the intellectuals.

  36. JD
    June 29th, 2008 at 07:01 | #36

    It’s increasingly apparent: the Chinese economy is a mess. An environmental catastrophe, infrastructure and real-estate bubbles, surging inflation, and endemic corruption powered by the unification of government/big business.

    A few, thanks to their cozy connections, have become amazingly rich while the majority see some modest improvement, at best. The few won’t be able to fool the many with a “don’t worry be happy” message much longer. It’s not the ultra-rich elite who will bear the pain (how many already have “plan b” assets and passports abroad?) when reality sets in.

    If the governing authorities have built their legitimacy on the strength of the economy, then they will soon realize that a facade of strength is not enough. With so much cash stashed away do they really care?

  37. my_mother
    June 29th, 2008 at 07:18 | #37

    Hey JD,

    I don’t get it. Are you telling these things from a Chinese stand point of western stand point?

  38. EugeneZ
    June 29th, 2008 at 07:32 | #38

    @ Leo, thanks for sharing your view and personal story. I hope that you understand that I have a pretty solid grasp of the complexities of the issues in China, such as the Hukou system. I have lived in both countries back and forth 2 rounds, and I like to read, observe and think. But the point is that the personal story of our nanny (“Xiao Fang”) did stir up a pretty powerful reaction of compassion in me which made me think and search for the answers. Her daughter was born in Anhui but was raised in Shanghai, and Xiao Fang, though her hard work, was making enough money to support herself and her daughter. There was nobody in her home village to look after her daughter, and the mother-daughter bond was such essential liveline for both of them, being separated is really a family tragedy. Xiao Fang was always an optimistic and happy person, she loved singing, always set high standard for her work, proud of her work, and is a person of great integrity. Seeing her go through the agony of family separation and constant worrying about her daughter’s well-being and prospect of education made me sad and mad. I would not suggest that she take it as her fate or something like that. But in the meanwhile, there is not much I or anyone could do to help. The root cause is the Hukou system, which as you pointed, is a complicated issue.

    For those of us who believe in liberty, democracy, and most of all, human equality (of rights), we need to make a compelling case, and one way to do it to give face to the human sufferings. The reasons for not advancing democracy ( or advancing it slowly) are all too convincing as well, as nicely laid out by fellow bloggers like Buxi and Nimrod. The argument of sacrificing people like Xiao Fang for the greater good (the economic development of China as a nation state) is all too tempting for privilidged people like ourselves.

    All I am saying is that I do not have good answers on this type of big topics. But again quoting “Star Wars”, only the Siths deal in absolutes …

  39. S.K. Cheung
    June 29th, 2008 at 08:50 | #39

    Clearly, Buxi and many other overseas Chinese here have the linguistic skills and requisite sophistication to succeed in any segment of society. All the while, they’ve maintained a level of interest and understanding of issues in China that is very admirable. Perhaps Traveler has a somewhat romanticized view of the west that in reality we fail to live up to. However, I find EugeneZ to have smacked the nail upside the head. While many might have a dispassionate view of the subject (and hence perhaps a more objective one), this guy Traveler is giving us the visceral goods, cuz he has the fortune (or misfortune) of living it 24/7/365. He is but one guy (or girl), and I suspect many mainland Chinese will agree and disagree with him. But for us sitting out west, it seems unfair to discount his thoughts without having to walk a couple of miles in his shoes (and let’s face it, even for those who once may have done such walking, you haven’t in a while; and if you’ve got a green card, you’ll never have to again). So while an economic analysis might explain why a democracy might not work in China today, that a guy wants one so badly despite obvious hurdles speaks volumes.

  40. S.K. Cheung
    June 29th, 2008 at 08:58 | #40

    To FOARP #12:
    “do you really think that the CCP will give up power when the time comes” – I’ve wondered this myself. I brought it up on an earlier thread but didn’t get any bites. Much is made of the Chinese economy and its growth, and the assumption and hope is that this prosperity will trickle down to the masses eventually. Once a magical GDP number is reached, presto, we’ll have the key ingredient to tackle political reform. I presume any such reform will vehemently reject the status quo, and I would equate the status quo to the CCP’s penchant for oppressive tactics. Why would the CCP knowingly, willingly, and actively promote and support a sequence that would ultimately result in its downfall?

  41. June 29th, 2008 at 11:25 | #41

    @SK Cheung – Because once the CCP has climbed up on this tiger they are going to have to ride it – the end of explosive GDP growth will also be the end of them.

    Given China’s size, its widely spread population, the varying level of support for the CCP one finds between fairly open cities like Shenzhen and more conservative cities like Nanjing, civil war is at least a possibility.

  42. June 29th, 2008 at 11:29 | #42

    @MutantJedi, DJ – Imagine someone like Tony Blair or Ehud Barak in Beijing now – can you seethe Taiwan problem continuing for much longer? Anyway – at which point during the last ten years have liberal democracies fought each other?

  43. June 29th, 2008 at 11:38 | #43

    Oh, it would also seem that the CCP is not the guarantor of stability that some assume:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/chinese/simp/hi/newsid_7470000/newsid_7479700/7479750.stm

    First Tibet and now this? Thousands rioting and a burned 公安局? Obviously they are trying to show their love for 警察叔叔!

  44. June 29th, 2008 at 11:51 | #44

    Mother, from an official Chinese perspective, all is basically fine and the government is effectively dealing with problems as they arise. From an outside-China perspective, no one really knows what’s going on and although there appear to be major problems it is nothing really new – China remains a black box.

    The basic situation is that economic challenges remain underestimated, both officially and by western analysts, and instability is rising quickly. There’s nothing on the horizon to signal a more optimistic future, and so it looks like things may soon be a whole lot worse. If China’s economy is really so tightly tied to its political power, look out.

  45. perspectivehere
    June 29th, 2008 at 15:48 | #45

    A comparison that comes up often is between China and the Philippines (a democracy since 1946, interrupted by the U.S.-supported Marcos dictatorship from 1972-1986).

    Many Filipinos I know look to China enviously for its ability to develop its economy over the last few decades, while shaking their heads at their own government’s inability to get anything of substance done. The Philippine economy only survives by remittances home from its vast numbers of overseas foreign workers.

    In my view, the Philippines is a prime example of an Asian developing country that adopted a democratic system and the results leave much to be desired:

    Entrenched elites (large landowning and business families) continue to exercise predominant political control. Journalists and political activists are targeted for extra-judicial execution. A recent poll called the current government of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (“GMA”, the daughter of former Filipino president) the most corrupt ever. Presidents have been removed in “people power” demonstrations, but these actions were unconstitutional, and is a sign of continued instability.

    China has surpassed the Philippines in GDP per capita ($2,458 vs $1,582 according to CIA World Factbook 2007 figures).

    In the Philippines one sees vast scenes of urban and rural poverty, child prostitution, and air and water pollution.

    The recent ferry disaster and frequent large numbers of deaths due to flooding, earthquake or volcanic activity present the face of a country with a poorly developed infrastructure that is unable to protect its people from the effects of natural disasters.

    And yet curiously, there are those in the Western mainstream press that regularly lauds the Philippines’ messy democracy over China’s authoritarians:

    See “Brawling Democracy vs. the Totalitarian State”
    http://www.iht.com/articles/1997/09/19/edmirsky.t.php as an example from 1997.

    That article appears to suggest the imminent fall of the Chinese government by noting that “discontented peasants are now regularly kidnapping officials and attacking Communist Party premises, and spreads from province to province”. And yet, despite the regularity with which we hear predictions of the Chinese government’s demise, all the predictions have been shown to be premature.

    See “Is Democracy in Retreat in the Philippines?” for
    http://www.manilatimes.net/national/2008/feb/05/yehey/opinion/20080205opi2.html for a local’s comparison of Philippines with its Asian neighbors.

  46. perspectivehere
    June 29th, 2008 at 15:55 | #46

    Another interesting article comparing the Philippines with China and other Asian countries.

    “22 years after revolution, Philippines lags ‘far behind’ neighbors”

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0WDP/is_2008_Feb_25/ai_n24327749/print?tag=artBody;col1

    “The Philippines’ battle for economic success is far from won, according to the ADB study titled ”Philippines: Critical Development Constraints.” In fact, it said, the Philippines lags ”far behind” its Asian neighbors, including China, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, in its success in stamping out poverty.”

    “In 2003, the study said, about one in four Philippine families or 30 percent of the population was living on less than $1 a day.

    ”Two of every three poor people in the country are in rural areas and depend predominantly on agricultural employment and incomes. Poverty incidence among agricultural household is about four times that of the rest of the population,” it said.

    In contrast, it said, China and Vietnam started with higher levels of poverty than the Philippines during the early 1980s, but their absolute rates soon dwindled and became lower than those of the Philippines in the early 2000s.

    ”China’s absolute poverty rate was about 10.8 percent and that of Vietnam about 8.4 percent. Both Malaysia and Thailand have virtually eliminated absolute poverty,” it said.

    Unlike its neighbors, it said, the Philippines has ”consistently” lagged behind its neighbors in providing jobs to its growing labor force.”

  47. AC
    June 29th, 2008 at 16:25 | #47

    @游子

    I can see where your problem is. You assume a lot, but you never bother to find evidence to support your assumptions. And that’s the reason why many of us here think you are a very naive person.

    I am a science major. One thing I learnt in school is that theory must be proven by practice. If you tell me you have the theory for a perpetual motion machine, I will ask you to build one and show me how it works, it’s simple as that. If you insist that Western style democracy is the cure for all China’s ills, the least you can do is show us a successful practice in a country with similar conditions as China.

    我同样也很失望。我的观点,当然是基于我在中国所观察和体验到的事例,

    The fact is, you haven’t told us anything we didn’t already know. It’s not your observation and experience we have problem with, it’s your solution we have problem with.

    只是你不了解也不愿相信这些事例罢了。

    It’s your assumption.

    我也不可能在这里写一篇论文来一一详细证明我的观点。信不信由你。但从你的反驳看,你不仅缺乏对中国现实的体认,在逻辑上也是漏洞颇多。

    I don’t need a thesis, I just need an example, it’s not much to ask. And would you please be kind enough to point out where the flaw is in my logic?

    什么叫“成功的民主”?以什么标准来衡量?

    I gave you my criteria in comment #13.

    不成功的民主又如何?

    An unsuccessful democracy means the problems you cared so passionately about will not get solved.

    难道在你眼里,还有“成功的专制”么?

    Yes, Singapore comes to mind.

    象你这句话,我也可以倒过来说:正是有了民主,才可能产生一个庞大的中产阶级。可怜的脑子。

    Of course you can put it that way, but you have to prove it. I proved my theory with historical evidences in the West and other developing countries, now it’s your turn to do the same.

    你要这样说也可以。但问题又来了:我现在的身体状况是否适合游泳,凭什么要由别人来决定。你说我不适合,我就不适合了?你说不适合民主就不适合民主,说什么时候适合就什么时候适合,

    I am not interested in discussing swimming, it’s a bad metaphor to begin with. Again, I proved my theory with historical evidences, what is your theory based upon?

    难道民主必须由专制的人来决定?荒唐的逻辑。

    Another assumption. It’s you who are being ridiculous here, because you are not debating with what I actually said, you are debating with your own assumption of what I would say.

  48. Michael
    June 29th, 2008 at 16:50 | #48

    @mother,

    “Is that hypothesis kind of simplistic? You forgot the economic factor in that equation. Ideology is just a convenient excuse prescribed to dumb people like myself. Ultimately, economic interests are going to be the real friction points. But of course, dumb people like myself don’t understand a lick about economics anyway. That’s why we suck the ideology explanation down like free soda.”

    Yes, the economic factor is important. I have no doubt that the neo-cons in Washington DC, when they talk about democracy/peace or freedom for Iraq, have US’s national interest deep down at their heart. The largely stable Sino-Ameircan ties over the past years, one could say, also due to the caculation of realist politics and economic interests. However, I do hold the expectation that if Chinese and Americans were to share the same values and culture, or have some sort of convergence of their different political systems, we will see less of the now-infamous China Syndrome in US politics or the media bias that have so often annoyed you. This, of course, is not a pretext to promote democracy in China without due consideration to the consequences of what might happen to China and the Chinese who are the ones will be affected by it. Suffice to say that like 愈可平, I think democracy is a good thing. The real question for China now is not whether it should have democracy, but on how to initiate and carry out political reforms to help it eventually become a stable, prosprous democracy, with Chinese characteristics or not.

    You might consider stop using “dumb people like myself” if that is the cover, as I suspect, for you to attack and look down on people who have idealistic views or believe in certain things that you happen to disaggree with. Would you call Dr. Sun Zhongshan a dumb person because he thought 三民主would make a strong, modern China and went on to risk his good life to lead a revolution that overthrew the Qing dynasty?

    The mistake of you and Buxi alike is that you are too econometric in worldviews. In that corner of world, you would never understand people like 胡佳or游子, as who has fiercely stated: “你说我不适合,我就不适合了?你说不适合民主就不适合民主,说什么时候适合就什么时候适合,难道民主必须由专制的人来决定?荒唐的逻辑。”

  49. EugeneZ
    June 29th, 2008 at 19:13 | #49

    When I watched the 60-episode “Walk Toards Republic”, I did think that Sun Zhongshan was idealistic, and even naive, and history proved that was the case. The republic in Nanjing had to be handed over to Yuan Sikai, and later China was plunged into civil war. However, Sun Zhongshan did play the key role in overthrowing the Qing dynasty, and his idealism, pashion, and love of his motherland shined through until this day and age, he was indeed the father of modern China, even though his dream of a democratic China has not yet been realized fully.

    @Michael, I agree with you that we need to be careful with our worldviews becoming too econometric. 游子 deserves a lot of credit because he brings to the discussion a much needed Chinese perspective, even though he might represent a small segment of the Chinese society. Youzi, on the other hand, would serve himself better by refraining himself from making sweeping conclusions about the overseas Chinese and their motivation for participating in political debate and activism. He is not in a good position to do it because of his own limitation of life experience …

  50. June 29th, 2008 at 20:14 | #50

    FOARP #42

    Sadly, I’d expect a Bush type to be more likely elected than a Blair type in China, especially after the emotions stirred up post 3.14. By the way, I saw Blair on the BBC last night discussing Middle East politics. He stated an interesting test of democracy in response to an assertion of making an made by Muslim democracy: It isn’t a democracy unless you can change the government by an election.

    As for the war record of liberal democracies… it has been nice that we’ve had a common “enemy” and it has been nice to have had nuclear weapons. It has also been nice that culturally we seem to evolved to the point where we can see that the benefit of trading goods between nations far out weighs the benefit of trading bullets.

    However, these liberal democracies certainly still want to shoot guns. But instead of shooting them at each other or at people who could nuke them back, they pick on Arabs, Africans, or Asians.

    If the economic stakes were not so incredibly high, I have no doubt that the liberal democracies of Europe would still be killing each other. And certainly there has been some lighthearted musings in Canada about an US invasion for our oil.

    FOARP #43

    This story seems to be outrage against the police for calling the brutal rape of a high school student as a suicide. Aside from the act of rioting, how is this like Tibet? Linking the event to Tibet is provocative and actually, in my mind, detracts from its importance.

    If I read the BBC report right, the police beat family members and friends of the girl who approach them with an alternate theory to suicide. I’m guessing that this isn’t the first time the cops have enraged the public with their actions, otherwise this wouldn’t have got the traction it got. Here’s the report the English version of Xinhua:
    http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-06/29/content_8456602.htm
    The Xinhua version lacks some context presented in the BBC version 🙂

    Assuming the BBC report is more complete… Good government provides security and the people couldn’t care less about what happens during the Olympics when their children are threatened by the incompetence or corruption of the police force. Moreover, the greater social order is not maintained by squashing the discussion around this event.

    I cautiously see such events as this one as positive steps towards two of Wen’s three pillars of democracy: judicial independence and supervision.

  51. June 29th, 2008 at 20:15 | #51

    I wish I could read Youzi fluently.

  52. Buxi
    June 29th, 2008 at 20:32 | #52

    @MutantJedi,

    I’ve got to learn to read Chinese…. I’ve got this feeling that I’m missing some of Youzi’s colorful language in Buxi’s translations. 😉
    ..
    I wish I could read Youzi fluently.

    You’ll have to take my word for it, but I think I’m doing a pretty good job of translating what he’s writing… I don’t think I’ve left off even one sentence. But there are always cultural implications that may be difficult to get across. If anything catches your eye as surprising or unexpected (from a Chinese-reader’s reaction), let me know, and I’d be happy to explain.

  53. Buxi
    June 29th, 2008 at 20:50 | #53

    @FOARP,

    I think your argument has shaky foundations, but I can see that you’ve thought it through and it could very well have some degree of truth to it – at the very least democracy in a country in which the majority of people lack the education necessary to read newspapers or understand what the politicians are talking about is a challenging prospect. All the same – do you really think that the CCP will give up power when the time comes, or do you think that they would attempt to hang on to power and risk a civil war?

    I don’t think the foundations are quite that shaky… although I’m not an academic, and I’m really not trying to generate a universal rule of politics, where GDP > some number X is equivalent to magical political success. Exactly as you suggested, I’m just trying to talk about underlying trends; human societies are complicated experiments, and the world is always changing… but for those of us concerned about democracy in today’s China, there are real concerns.

    I, for one, expect the CCP to give up power when the time comes. I am not aware of any counter-examples in human history.

    Granted, many whisper at the possibility of a rich, nationalist government (like Nazi Germany or Militant Japan) that hangs onto power by promising greater projects ahead… but in both of those cases, the ideology of both governments were obvious in advance. Mein Kempf was written decades before Hitler came to power, and Japan’s government had a long-term goal of being the “British empire of East Asia” by the end of the 19th century. In other words, we should’ve known what was coming.

    What is coming for “Communist China”? The Communist Party still talks about dictatorship of the working-class, but what does that mean? The “Three Represents” might be a lot of propaganda nonsense, but it also does mean a government that represents all of the people. The Chinese nationalists in the world might be passionate, but few of us talk about enslaving neighboring nations and peoples in order to acquire more “living space”. (Taiwan or Tibet, some might say? Define “neighboring nations and peoples” in our terms, and then evaluate our ideology again.)

    I don’t know if the Communist Party will be a Western, multi-party democracy. But I personally would be out-right angry and an opponent of this government if it continued to control speech and media the way it does today… in 15 years. I would be an opponent of this government if it did not make local government far more transparent.

    As far as Hong Kong… my bottom line is: with Hong Kong’s level of development, it deserves a government that is not paternalistic, that is transparent and very responsive to the demands of the people. No one but the people should “lead” Hong Kong”.

    But I think the government happens to be doing the thing in freely allowing free speech, free media, and free assembly rights in Hong Kong. Those are the things that matter to me. I also believe in greater democracy, especially in the legislature. I’m not going to put a litmus test on this however, and say that anything less than universal elections for the Chief Executive position “isn’t democracy”.

    I’m really not absolutely convinced that some sort of indirect democracy won’t work better… look at the Minister system in the United Kingdom, for example, which is completely different from the American model and doesn’t include a popular vote for the chief executive. Is it completely ridiculous to say that Hong Kong, and China at large, might evolve into something different and possibly just as desirable? I say, let’s see how the current system works before suggesting that democracy absolutely equates to multi-party elections with open campaigning.

  54. Buxi
    June 29th, 2008 at 20:56 | #54

    @FOARP,

    Malaysia – Nominal GDP per Capita 6,700 USD – Democratic since independence, at which point its GDP was lower than China’s is now. Is it a example positive? Not really – but more positive than that of the CCP.

    You also mentioned Brazil above. Clearly, these countries have done better than China over the last 6 decades. But I have two counter-points:

    – they have not done better than Spain, South Korea, and Taiwan… all authoritarian nations that grew explosively into developed status, before settling into the “luxury” of democracy.

    – and more damningly, they have *not* done better than China over the last 3 decades, and that’s the period that I think is most significant. I would throw the CCP’s record for the first 30 years out the window. The “open up and reform” period of the PRC is a complete, total repudiation of everything that has come before it. It was really a miniature revolution.

    And this is a point I feel I should make. I am not claiming that non-democratic rule provides guaranteed success in development; after all, how many failed non-democratic states are out there!? There are many of them, and for at least 30 years, China was arguably one of them. But I do believe that non-democratic but good government is the only way to grow a country into prosperity… I increasingly believe that both of these are necessary conditions for a poor, non-developed country.

  55. Buxi
    June 29th, 2008 at 21:03 | #55

    @somebody,

    I think that Democracy don’t have any affect on the growth or weath of the nation or its people. That maybe your information was wrong or something didn’t go right.

    I disagree. I think democracy has a clear effect on growth and the wealth of the nation.

    I think there is a huge problem with discussion on democracy in China. Many Chinese (and Westerners of course) seem to know only two countries: China, and the United States. But these are not the only examples out there. I don’t think we should look at only poor democracies, but I do think we should look at all democracies.

    If we look at all countries that were democratic but poorer than China in 1976, you will not find a single country that is “doing better” than China today.

    I think that it is best for China if China can feel its people and let most of its people live a happy live where they can pursue their dream without trouble other or the nation (Or not to start some crazy cult). That is the best thing that a leader of the nation should do, not focus on getting some people more weath or something like that, it is doing what is best for its people.

    Well, that’s a different story. If your point is that the average Chinese person shouldn’t try to get wealthier than $3000-$5000 per year, if your point is that the average Chinese people shouldn’t expect to travel the world… then okay, maybe we shouldn’t worry about growing the economy.

    I have a different view. I think the economy is the most important thing in the world.

    Being in the United States, I see millions of Mexicans cross the border illegally from Mexico. They are leaving a democracy with a free media and a free press; they are entering a country where they do not know the language, where they have no legal rights, where they can not vote, where they can be deported at an instant… so, this makes me ask myself a simple question: If democracy is more important than economics, then why are they in the United States? Why are millions of people giving up the democratic right to vote, just so they can live as a slave in a wealthier society?

  56. Buxi
    June 29th, 2008 at 21:07 | #56

    @somebody,

    What I mean was I think it is possible that some people in india just feel that getting their basic need meet is enough, that they focus the rest of their live on other things. Also is is that important for the nation to be weathly, I think getting basic need meet and be happy and be able to enjoy life is enough for now, lets focus on how to let people live that life.

    Have you heard of the Naxalite movement, in India? These are basically communist rebels trying to overthrow the Indian government, sort of similar to the Communists in 1920s. They are growing in strength, now with activity in multiple provinces.

    Why do they exist? Because the economic gap in India is far greater than it is in China, and for hundreds of millions of Indians, they are not getting their basic needs met, and they do not believe Indian society allows them to improve.

    I think all Chinese need to do two things:

    – visit the United States, so that we can all understand what a successful, wealthy democracy looks like… so that we know what to aim for.

    – visit India, central America or Mexico, so that we can all understand what a poor, developing democracy really looks like. I haven’t been to India, but I read much about it. I have been to Mexico and central America, and from what I have seen, those who have high theories about democracy can’t explain what I saw there.

  57. June 29th, 2008 at 21:29 | #57

    @Buxi – And visit Europe – to see how countries have learned to live in peace with their neighbours, and have established democracy on the ruins of dictatorship. Seriously, I think the American example singularly inapplicable to former dictatorships – the power granted to the president under the American system is excessive, the constitution is unclear on many points (especially as to who has the power to commit soldiers to war), and there are insufficient safeguards on the power of the state to imprison. Add to this aberations like the death penalty and the right to bear arms, and you have a rather abnormal society.

  58. Buxi
    June 29th, 2008 at 21:40 | #58

    @Michael,

    The mistake of you and Buxi alike is that you are too econometric in worldviews. In that corner of world, you would never understand people like 胡佳or游子, as who has fiercely stated: “你说我不适合,我就不适合了?你说不适合民主就不适合民主,说什么时候适合就什么时候适合,难道民主必须由专制的人来决定?荒唐的逻辑。”

    I will address Youzi’s point in a second, but I wanted to quickly provide one quick observation here.

    Let me demonstrate how econometric I am in world view… I wonder if Hu Jia would’ve said half the things he said, if he wasn’t receiving a sizable grant from the United States’ National Endowment for Democracy, as of 2005.

  59. Buxi
    June 29th, 2008 at 21:41 | #59

    @EugeneZ,

    When I watched the 60-episode “Walk Toards Republic”, I did think that Sun Zhongshan was idealistic, and even naive, and history proved that was the case.

    I love that series. To me, the fact that series was only shown on CCTV once is one of the greatest reasons for criticism of the Chinese governments’ censorship system.

    Your comments are otherwise right on.

    About students of migrants… I think the story of your nanny is tragic. China’s economic growth depends on urbanizing much of Chinese society, and keeping the children of rural migrant workers out of the cities doesn’t make sense on any level. But you mention this was 2006? The truth is, starting in 2007 there has been dramatic improvement on this. Not all rural migrant children have found a school yet (it will take a few years), but at least the central government has finally made one thing clear: the children of rural migrants without hukou must be provided with local education.

  60. June 29th, 2008 at 21:46 | #60

    @Buxi –

    I, for one, expect the CCP to give up power when the time comes. I am not aware of any counter-examples in human history.

    Soviet Russia experienced an anti-democratic putsch which might well have led to civil war, Germany of course experience several during the Weimar period. Spain experienced a putch in 1982, and the one in 1936 of course was successful – butonly after about a million Spaniards died. Argentina, Brazil, India, South Korea, Thailand, Japan, the Phillipines, and Chile have all experienced at least one Coup d’etat.

  61. Buxi
    June 29th, 2008 at 22:16 | #61

    @Traveler, Youzi, 游子,

    AC, EugeneZ… and many others have already made many of my points for me. But I want to emphasize again what I believe:

    – first, I completely agree that any one of us are unqualified to “represent” the Chinese people, and especially the poor people residing in China. That’s exactly why I have put in the time to write a “dissertation” (well, a small one) in order to list out my logic. I’m not representing anyone but myself, but as a Chinese citizen and as a Chinese person, I have the right and responsibility to share my thoughts with others. I will continue to try to convince the Chinese people (and the world’s people) that I am right on these points, because I believe I am.

    On the other hand, you are completely unqualified to represent the Chinese overseas… as you have already done on numerous occasions. You blindly believe the theories that pass around forums like Tianya and MaoYan about the Chinese overseas, without having any idea what motivates us and what our lives are like. You have not yet replied on “Part 1” of this thread, and I hope that you do.

    Here is one valuable lesson we’ve learned in the United States which you apparently do not yet recognize: logic and truth has no home. Americans and Europeans can be more right about China than someone from China, if they’re properly informed. The same is just as true for overseas Chinese.

    – second, you said repeatedly:

    关于民主与经济的关系,这个问题太复杂。我认为二者之间没有必然关系,而且我也从来没有以发展经济作为实施民主的理由,我不是功利主义者。相反,恰恰是许多反对在中国实行民主的人,以实行民主会导致经济落后为理由。显然这个理由是站不住脚的。在这里我就不再重复观点,也希望你们不要再把经济和民主扯在一起说事。

    In terms of the link between democracy and economics, this problem is too complicated. I don’t believe the two are inevitably linked, and I’ve never seen economic development as a reason for implementing democracy. I am not a believer in utilitarnism. In fact, many of those who are opposed to democracy in China, use an excuse that implementing democracy will cause the economy to fall backward. Clearly this excuse can not be supported. I won’t repeat myself here, but hope that you will not link economics and democracy together to make a point.

    If the problem is complicated, then why do you ignore it? If you are going to advocate for democracy but believe the link to economics is complicated, then I suggest you spend time to understand the link. You may not have to write a thesis, but the truth doesn’t need a full thesis to validate. You should be able to justify to yourself (or to doubters like me) what you’re saying with a few simple sentences.

    I’ve talked about my points of view with numerous Americans, Canadians, and Europeans. Not all agree with me completely, but most (like even FOARP here) will grudgingly agree that “I have a point”, rather than insisting that the two things are completely unrelated. Why are you so convinced later on that the two issues have no link? What do you know what we don’t know?

    What you are missing, what you are ignoring is that if China becomes a democracy today (or tomorrow, or in 5 years)… it will not look like the United States, western Europe, Japan, South Korea, or Taiwan. The economic and education gap is just too significant. So, while you’re advocating democracy for China, you should put in the time to consider what a democratic China would look like. If you reply to this post, I hope you will do that exercise. What existing country would a democratic China look like, and why?

    Many naive idealists in China would say at this point what you said above: you don’t care about wealthy, you only want a fair, democratic society.

    I don’t think you know what you’re asking for. I don’t think you know what a poor, democratic country looks like. It’s not simply a version of the United States, where people ride bicycles instead of driving cars, and drink water instead of wine. A poor democratic country looks like Brazil and India, where the economic gap is huge and absolutely unacceptable (in my opinion).

    As long as China remains an open economic society, there will be people capable of earning a salary equivalent to what they’d make in the United States. There will always be Microsoft programmers, GM engineers, and real estate developers, and these people will always have wealth similar to what Americans make. They will live in exclusive cities, exclusive communities. These cities will be filled with neighborhoods of slums, because those who cut the hair and wash the floors of the wealthy will still make more money than being a farmer at home.

    And what will follow? The same kind of corruption you hate in China today, and constant conflict. We will alternate between governments that promise economic growth by favoring the rich, and governments that promise equality by favoring the poor… both will be corrupt.

    I say this based on what I see in every other poor democracy on this planet. I’m not aware of any exceptions. I’m not picking India because it looks bad; I’m picking India because it’s the closest example to what a democratic China would look like. Go look at a listing of countries by GDP per capita, and pick out the democracies that are close to China in economic level. Let’s talk about what life is actually like in those countries, and how close they are to your ideal.

    And yet you might still insist that you don’t care about economic growth. But I think the vast majority of humanity, the vast majority of Chinese do *not* feel that way. How do I know? Because I see so many people around the world smuggling themselves into countries that are wealthy, even without any democratic rights in their new homes. I rarely see people smuggling themselves into countries that are free, but poorer. How many people have fled from Singapore into Malaysia or India, do you think?

    And most importantly, as I have said before, this is all a process. No one here is rejecting democracy in the future; we’re only rejecting a major change in political system at the present. A wealthy China can very easily become a successful democracy, because we have so many other examples to look to. South Korea, Spain, and Taiwan: they all made the transition into successful democracies, but they did so when they were far wealthier than we are today.

    Let me end this post by talking about something we agree on, however. We can agree on the need to “practice” for democracy. We can agree on the need for continued reform. I do not believe China should be a multi-party democracy today, but there is no excuse for limiting intelligent, reasonable debate over political topics. There is no excuse for limiting the media who are tracking down problems in Chinese society; the media should be encouraged to identify every single corrupt official, no matter how high they might be. There is no excuse for a legal system that is still not truly independent. There is no excuse for government spending that is still hidden from the people, for how easy it is for corrupt officials to steal and take advantage of the people.

    These are all things China needs immediately. Some of these things I see hope for. On the media, Guangdong seems to be taking the lead with Wang Yang’s support, and I read Southern Metropolis every week. On the legal system, I see hope, but the case in Guizhou reminds us how far we are from success. On free debate, I personally think the Chinese internet is making progress.

    On limiting government corruption, well, I certainly think China is moving too slowly on this point. The news this month that a prefecture in Xinjiang is forcing its officials to announce all of their assets is just a reminder that the *rest of China* doesn’t have to do that.

    So, we don’t disagree that the Chinese government needs to reform, and I believe we all have a role in “pressuring” the government to move in the direction that we want to move in to. But even while you’re pressuring the government, don’t forget the dangers of pushing too hard. There are worse alternatives to what China has today, and a poorly implemented democracy is definitely one of them.

  62. June 29th, 2008 at 23:02 | #62

    Buxi #52. Thanks – I really do appreciate your efforts to make Youzi as well as other sources accessible. I hope Youzi appreciates your (plural) work on his behalf.

    FOARP #57. Let me add my voice to the caution against the American model of democracy.

    FOARP #60. What the CCP will do when the time comes is the trillion dollar question. Will they lead or be pushed? If they are committed to good government, then things ought to flow okay. If they falter, Chinese civil war is not something the world would want to see. The bigger the Chinese economy the more devastating its collapse would be to the rest of the world. I guess we will see what their true colors are over time.

    Prosperity and security. Ultimately democracy provides the greatest security for the citizenry because the leadership of the government can be replaced. Why is it important to security to be able to do this? Because as citizens, the greatest threat to your security comes from government because the government can remove your liberty. Ultimately, in some form, that will be the need in good government that the Chinese citizens will demand – the ability to replace the leadership, hence democracy.

    Will the CCP do the “right” thing when the time comes? I think/hope so. Perhaps it won’t be so much the CCP but something that it becomes? The “Communist” part of the name carries so much baggage they might want to change it… but don’t follow the Canadian example of party name change that produced CCRAP for a brief time.

  63. EugeneZ
    June 30th, 2008 at 01:53 | #63

    The collapse of China (either as an economy or as a united country) has been predicted many times in just my lifetime, it never came true, and I do not think it will ever do. The death of China’s demise (be it the economy, the political system, or a united nation state) is greatly exaggerated. Chinese people will find a way, the government’s policies will envolve, as it has been in the last 30 years to prevent such a catastrophe. That is my firm belief.

    I do not think the CCP will be willingly to give up power by their own desgin. “Those who gain power will try to hold on to power” – it does not just apply to the Siths. Instead, the government will have to keep adapting to a more and more open society in China, and eventually it will lead to some form or shape of democracy. There is just too much stake for everyone, and all will try to avoid some kind of meltdown of the Chinese society, and Chinese people have the ingenuinity to figure things out. The current trajectory the country is on gives me confidence, although I think that political reform needs to accelerate.

    On top of that, it requires strong leadershop to tackle other fundamental issues such as energy resources, climate change (and China’s contribution to it due to all the coal power plants), environment, etc. With the unprecendented rise of emerging economies around the world, there are suddenly so many more people consuming energy, water, food, everything, and the earth has become a very crowded place, and everyone is being affected.

  64. Oli
    June 30th, 2008 at 02:33 | #64

    FOARP, I’m sorry, I’ve tried, I truly have, but I just cant let this go.

    @FOARP #16

    “Malaysia – Nominal GDP per Capita 6,700 USD – Democratic since independence, at which point its GDP was lower than China’s is now. Is it a example positive? Not really – but more positive than that of the CCP.”

    The above statement alone shows that you know diddly-squat about Malaysian politics, I suggest you look deeper into the nature of Malaysia’s “democracy” before saying that its been “democratic” since independence, ditto Japanese democracy. What a joke!

    @FOARP #18

    “@AC – Why didn’t the UK and France suffer an economic collapse on the scale of the USSR’s after granting independence to their African and Asian colonies? Mainly because the colonies were in fact loss making enterprises – really very few people in the UK got rich off the empire, and the state was steadily impoverished by the expense of policing and maintaining them.”

    Again, the above statement is such a jackass joke of a revisionist reading of British colonialism. Liverpool and many other UK cities and as an island nation with limited resources, her economy on the whole began on the scarred backs of the slave and sugar trade and the colonies, while the industrial looms of Manchester were the precise reasons why Gandhi advocated that India should weave its own cloth rather than simply exporting the cotton at a depressed price to Britain who then weave it into cloth and resell it at a “value-added” (read higher) price back to India.

    It was not that Britain couldn’t “afford” to police its colonies, but rather that after WWII she was forced to give up her colonies because in general terms:

    1. Britain owed the US a hell of alot of money under the lend-lease program which she only finished paying off in the late 1990’s I believe.

    2. The US refused to support the UK (Suez, etc.) and France (ie Vietnam) in their quest to retain their colonies because this would in effect lead to closed markets for US goods and influence.

    3. So, the US switched off the flow of credit, but left enough of a trickle to keep Europe afloat (ie the Marshall Plan) and without which the whole of Europe would probably have had an economic collapse.

    4. On top of all that the natives, after having fought against the Japanese, often as communist partisans, or fought for the British Empire or the French Republic against the Axis powers around the world were getting restless and uppity.

    So the colonies were NOT loss making enterprises, but rather that Britain couldn’t afford to make further “investment” in post WWII’s petroleum driven world economy because of a very big “cash-flow” problem caused by WWII and the US cutting off credit.

    The Brits always like to think that they bequeath their colonies a much better legacy after they left, when in fact many of today’s post-WWII conflicts, from Africa to the Middle East, to the Indian subcontinent to Asia, find their origins in Europe’s and specifically Britain’s colonial adventures.

    So Brits like FOARP likes to continue to think that Britain’s colonialism was benign (actually the concentration camp concept was invented by the British during the S. African Boer Wars), hence they have nothing to appologise for whilst continuing to ride America’s coat tails on the world stage like a henchman and constantly trumpeting its “special relationship” with the US, as though the US gives a fig most of the time. All this would have been funny in a pathetic sort of way if wasn’t so damn tastelessly offensive to the victims of the British Empire everywhere.

  65. June 30th, 2008 at 03:14 | #65

    EugeneZ, the Chinese political structure and economy have collapsed at least two times within the last century, and suffered numerous additional calamities. A third collapse is far from implausible. China has grown to complex for its outdated governance system and the loss of Confucian discipline on the bureaucracy has hastened its present decay. The CCP has shown no tendency towards implementation of a modern democratic, political system suitable for China. It is currently trying to hold on to power by holding on to the money (by any means possible) and re-inforcing levers of control, not by liberalizing the politics. Additionally, the current leadership appears weak – not strong – as the growing instability and reactionary responses continue to demonstrate. The CCP’s reign as Emperor is not eternal, despite what the CCP wishes to believe.

  66. EugeneZ
    June 30th, 2008 at 04:36 | #66

    @JD,

    I am a Chinese, and I care deeply about the fate of China as a nation state and a people, I could not care less about what will happen to CCP. If the rule of CCP ends in China at some point in the future, as long as the country becomes more prosperous and the society becomes more open and just, I would be perfectly happy. And to that end, I am an optimist. I base my optimism not on wishing thinking or blind faith but on many years of observation and studies, and most importantly my personal experience.

  67. Nimrod
    June 30th, 2008 at 04:50 | #67

    JD wrote:

    [The CCP] is currently trying to hold on to power by holding on to the money (by any means possible) and re-inforcing levers of control, not by liberalizing the politics.

    ++++++
    I don’t think that’s the case at all. The CCP is trying to hold on to power by creating an ever bigger tent, as we’ve seen in the past decade. It is also not trying to re-inforce control in a blanket way, but is becoming much more specific and targeted in what it controls while letting social pluralism develop.

    How well this will work I don’t know. I’m not entirely convinced, but it’s helps to get the right idea about what is actually happening.

  68. Buxi
    June 30th, 2008 at 06:12 | #68

    @EugeneZ,

    I do not think the CCP will be willingly to give up power by their own desgin. “Those who gain power will try to hold on to power” – it does not just apply to the Siths. Instead, the government will have to keep adapting to a more and more open society in China, and eventually it will lead to some form or shape of democracy.

    I’m a little more optimistic than you! After all, what happened in Taiwan?

    I don’t think a government that always talks about trying to implement democracy (like the Communist Party does) can get away without providing it in an open, wealthy country. I just don’t see how that’s possible. But I do think the resulting type of democracy might not look like Western democracy.

  69. June 30th, 2008 at 08:38 | #69

    @Oli –
    1) We finished paying for lend-lease last year, but the debt was not crippling, rather the expense of projects like the NHS and the military expansion needed to confront the USSR were.

    2) The effect of Suez was far more psycological than real, and the people most effected were the British and French public.

    3) By October 1956, of the major non-European-majority colonies which existed in 1919, India, Pakistan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Burma, The Phillipines, Libya, Syria, Malaya, Lebanon, Tunisia, Sri Lanka, and Morrocco had all become independent. The ‘winds of change’ speech was still a few years in the future, and was prompted as much by events in Ghana as by Suez, Nkrumah was elected in 1954.

    3) Saying that the US ‘refused’ to support France in Vietnam is rather odd, given that they largely financed the war there. It would be more accurate to say that they preferred not to commit their own soldiers, or use nuclear weapons to stop the Vietminh (there is a debate over whether this was ever proposed).

    4) We could argue back and forth about what the true legacy of the British Empire has been, but the poorest of the former colonies is very poor, the richest is extremely rich, so I cannot think it was entirely bad or good.

    5) By the early the fifties the colonies that remained most certainly were loss-making enterprises as far as Britain was concerned. The inability of most of the Sub-Saharan former colonies to pay back the loans they took out at independence is connected to this.

    As for Malaysia, the structure of Malaysia democracy was warped first by the communist insurrection, and then by Islamic fundamentalism, but it is still there – the make-up of the government may still change through the ballot box.

    Britain’s economy did not become the world’s largest because of the colonies, but because of the industrial revolution. If all that was required were slaves and colonies Spain and Portugal would be running things to this day.

  70. June 30th, 2008 at 09:31 | #70

    Nimrod, on reform it depends what you’re actually referring to and over what time period. However, the current intention of reform is not to loosen the levers of political/economic control but to re-assert them. Despite these intentions, authorities are indeed losing control (which is why they are increasingly trying to re-assert it). Furthermore, their attempts to “grow the tent” look poised to take a big hit and if that does indeed happen the means of control will similarly be jeopardized.

  71. June 30th, 2008 at 09:44 | #71

    EugeneZ I share your optimism that China’s stability does not depend on the CCP remaining in power. Also, a more open and just society would of course be a positive development. Fighting against a more open and just society in order to retain political control, a direction which the CCP may currently be taking, is the most direct path towards increasing instability. Depending on what you mean by the “collapse of China”, I’m simply pointing out that it has historical precedent and doesn’t belong in the “not possible” category.

  72. raffiaflower
    June 30th, 2008 at 11:41 | #72

    Democracy in Malaysia was not warped by the Emergency. In the words of a former foreign minister, the Westminister-style of democracy, grandly bequeathed by the Brits (together with the Internal Security Act) was not the ideal model for the country post-1969, and it was rolled back.
    I suppose if the presence of ballot boxes is indicative of a democracy, Malaysia is clearly such an entity. Of course there should be other indicators such as freedom of the press, judiciary independence, etc.

  73. Oli
    June 30th, 2008 at 14:08 | #73

    @FOARP

    “Saying that the US ‘refused’ to support France in Vietnam is rather odd, given that they largely financed the war there. It would be more accurate to say that they preferred not to commit their own soldiers, or use nuclear weapons to stop the Vietminh (there is a debate over whether this was ever proposed).”

    Oh they financed it all right! Just enough to bleed the French to curb it of its colonial ambitions, but no more, and to stop/delay the Vietnamese Communists and to give their own South Vietnamese clients time to try to establish themselves.

    “As for Malaysia, the structure of Malaysia democracy was warped first by the communist insurrection, and then by Islamic fundamentalism, but it is still there – the make-up of the government may still change through the ballot box.”

    Another hilarious statement that is a FOARP classic! Mind telling us how the Malaya communist insurgency “warped the structure of Malaysia(n) democracy”? Sounds grand, but do you even know what you are talking about there, laddie??

    As for Islamic fundamentalism in Malaysia, I think you are 40 years too early and totally off the mark, LOL!! Islamic fundamentalism was never an issue in Malaysian politics. But since I am feeling generous I’ll tell you what has always been the leitmotif of Malaysian political discourse – its racial politics – and maybe you should research why before you dig yourself deeper!! I suggest you also consider how Singapore came about.

    “Britain’s economy did not become the world’s largest because of the colonies, but because of the industrial revolution. If all that was required were slaves and colonies Spain and Portugal would be running things to this day.”

    I’m so laughing my head off here matey, you are on a hell of a roll!! I think you got your chronology and cause and effect totally wrong, did you even do AS level history??? When did you think Britain acquired her first colonies, especially in the West Indies and North America? When did the Industrial Revolution began? What social and demographic forces laid the foundation for the Industrial Revolution? How was the Industrial Revolution financed? Which revolution came before the Industrial Revolution? I’ll give you some big hints just so that it wouldn’t go over your head, potatoes, crop rotation and animal husbandry.

    You seriously need to relearn your own nation’s history before embarrassing yourself further, but I have to admit that it does provide a quaint but tragic sort of entertainment value on a slow Monday. Anyway that was my last word on the matter since its obviously off topic to this thread and I shall leave you to stew in your ignorance of your own nation’s history.

  74. Wahaha
    June 30th, 2008 at 16:27 | #74

    @游子

    Your comments “democracy isn’t a tool for servicing economics.”

    answer :

    That is ignorant. The students started the demonstartion 19 years ago in China cuz they believed deomcracy would make China strong.

    ______________________________

    Your comment, “你的逻辑可以这么比喻:等你学会了游泳,你才能下水游泳。而这种逻辑,也是既得利益者最喜欢的借口。
    I can give this metaphor for your logic: wait until after you learn how to swim, then start swimming. This type of logic is precisely the type of excuse used by those with vested interests.”

    That is another stupid comment. How human civilization improved ? learning from histroy, do you know that ?

    Shock therapy is well known as bad remedy and You just come here talking about slogans and “rules”, why dont you show us a successful example ?

    As I said on the other thread, you have no idea how west deomcracy works and what it can “accomplished”.

  75. Nimrod
    June 30th, 2008 at 16:42 | #75

    FOARP and Oli,

    You are both half right. Spain and to some degree Portugal did run the world, until France then England took over, so it’s undeniable that colonies and slaves are good for something. I think that something is (1) building up the venture capital and (2) relieving the home country of excess labor. Now still you have to have productive uses for (1), so industrialization was also critical and England came around at the right time for that, but England would not have been able to get industrialization going at all if it weren’t for her triangle trade of slaves, raw material, and finishd goods.

    But I want to further focus on (2), because it was also responsible for the rise of the West, and it is relevant to China. Remember how I said a 20% increase in China’s urbanization requires building an entire Japan and an entire US, and Buxi said it is extremely difficult to create enough jobs to absorb all the rural labor? Well, England (and many other European countries) were at that place during the height of colonialism all the way into the 19th century. Guess where all of those disgruntled peasants went? Youzi mentions all the “rebellions” in China, well guess what, I’m not at all surprised. Ever heard of the enclosures revolts in 17th and 18th century England?

    If the West would be so kind as to vacate and let 800 million Chinese peasants colonize their land, I’m almost certain China would do quite well with its remaining urban population. I’m not holding my breath on that, so why don’t we and Youzi all just get back to work on modernizing China.

  76. Wahaha
    June 30th, 2008 at 16:43 | #76

    Your arrogant, barbaric, idiotic, asisine question “请问:你是愿意当一头锦衣玉食的猪呢,还是愿意当一个生活清贫的人?” is F@#$ing insult to all chinese who are fighting for decent and better life.

    We are talking about what kind of system fits China better and can do better and faster at helping hundreds of millions of Chinese living better. You are entitled to your opinion, but you dont have the right to laugh at people who work for better life.

    Now go back to your cell and comfort yourself.

  77. DJ
    June 30th, 2008 at 20:34 | #77

    Wahaha,

    Please tone it down a bit. I understand your emotion. Many of us on this blog are not exactly happy with some of the language choices and attitude from Traveler and some have politely but firmly criticized him for it. There is no need to retort with insults.

  78. Wahaha
    June 30th, 2008 at 22:51 | #78

    @DJ

    Sorry about that. but it is almost impossible to argue reasonably with this guy. let me illustrate by an example.

    Suppose a kid with low math IQ had failed math test for several years, so the parents of the kid went on searching for a tutor.

    There were several tutors recommended by their neigbhor Youzi but the tutors didnt have good record in helping kids with poor math score, as they were not very patient. So the parents hired another tutor who was patient.

    After two semesters, the kids not only passed the test, he got a B-minus, but he still had great trouble in solving trigonometric problems.

    Later the parents met YouZi and happily told him about the tutor.

    YouZi questioned : ” Why cant your kid get at least A-minus ? didnt the tutor know that your son still has trouble in trigonometry ?”

    “Can you name a tutor who couldve done as good as my kid’s tutor ?” replied the parents.

    YouZi countered : ” I dont care, your son is a bad student cuz he doesnt know how to solve trigonometric problem; and the tutor you hired is a lousy tutor cuz your son couldnt even get A-minus. Adios.”

    The parents are speechless.

    ______________________________

    and I am sure that the parents will change tutor in the future if they later find the tutor cant improve their kid’s math any further. Of course, every time they meet YouZi, he will complain why the tutor is not fired yet.

  79. Wahaha
    June 30th, 2008 at 23:04 | #79

    Here is one most recent report about democracy in China.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/29/AR2008062901981_pf.html

  80. June 30th, 2008 at 23:07 | #80

    @Nimrod – I was at a talk today given by the IPI here in London, Jon Dudas, the head of the USPTO, was giving a (rather content-free) speech on the future of IP. I thought of the ‘triangular trade’ and how the world nowadays is developing into a not un-similar situation – with IP being mainly created in the developed world, licensed for use in the developing world for manufacturing goods which are exchanged for raw materials in the undeveloped world.

  81. June 30th, 2008 at 23:16 | #81

    @Oli – When a country is in the middle of an insurgency it allows the creation of powers which may be misused – this is not rocket science. The industrial revolution started in 1750 abouts, way before the Raj in India, the colonisation of Africa, the settlement of most of the American continent. Please grow up, of course I know the history of the enclosures. As for islamic fundamentalism – just speak to any Malaysian woman about the creeping use of the hijab, and the erosion of religious freedom in Malaysia. Of course I am aware that Singapore was part of the Malay union, and that race is also part of politics there.

  82. Otto Kerner
    July 1st, 2008 at 04:17 | #82

    By the way, I think that “it is extremely difficult to create enough jobs to absorb all the rural labor” is an odd way to look at things, although the current mainstream of economics does often encourage us to look at things that way. To look at it in the simplest way, what drives the expansion of the economy is the ability of the people to do a good job at things (not just their personal capabilities, but also the circumstances that allow them to work effectively). In other words, economic expansion is the creation of jobs. Urbanization is normally a result of the expansion of the economy. If someone tried to have a policy that would encourage urbanization to occur faster than the growth of the economy, which is the only reason there would be a shortage of jobs (except during short-term fluctuations), that strikes me as entirely pointles. Talk about putting the cart before the horse.

  83. Buxi
    July 1st, 2008 at 04:47 | #83

    @Otto,

    In other words, economic expansion is the creation of jobs. Urbanization is normally a result of the expansion of the economy. If someone tried to have a policy that would encourage urbanization to occur faster than the growth of the economy, which is the only reason there would be a shortage of jobs (except during short-term fluctuations), that strikes me as entirely pointles. Talk about putting the cart before the horse.

    I don’t think its necessarily the horse pulling the cart. It’s more like the cart is rolling down a hill, and the horse plays a role in making sure it doesn’t crash.

    Economic expansion isn’t necessarily the “creation of jobs”, but as is precisely the case in the West, also due to increased productivity of work. In China’s case, the situation is a job rotation: the elimination of less productive rural work, the creation of more productive urban work. This job rotation represents economic expansion, the cart falling down the hill. Thanks to China’s low cost of labor, it’s not necessarily difficult to get the cart rolling down that hill.

    However, as many others have noticed for decades (and predicated their predictions of China’s failure on), there are many other countries with similarly low cost of labor. But many of their carts eventually crash, or at least choose a hill with a poor slope.

    For China’s economic growth to continue smoothly, the horse needs to guide the cart. The policies and infrastructure needs to be in place to attract investment (foreign and domestic), and to support homes + lives for the work-force. This doesn’t just “happen” because the jobs exist, as just about every other developing nation on this planet proves.

  84. 游子
    July 1st, 2008 at 16:32 | #84

    Wahaha Says:

    June 30th, 2008 at 10:51 pm
    @DJ

    Sorry about that. but it is almost impossible to argue reasonably with this guy. let me illustrate by an example.

    Suppose a kid with low math IQ had failed math test for several years, so the parents of the kid went on searching for a tutor.

    There were several tutors recommended by their neigbhor Youzi but the tutors didnt have good record in helping kids with poor math score, as they were not very patient. So the parents hired another tutor who was patient.

    After two semesters, the kids not only passed the test, he got a B-minus, but he still had great trouble in solving trigonometric problems.

    Later the parents met YouZi and happily told him about the tutor.

    YouZi questioned : ” Why cant your kid get at least A-minus ? didnt the tutor know that your son still has trouble in trigonometry ?”

    “Can you name a tutor who couldve done as good as my kid’s tutor ?” replied the parents.

    YouZi countered : ” I dont care, your son is a bad student cuz he doesnt know how to solve trigonometric problem; and the tutor you hired is a lousy tutor cuz your son couldnt even get A-minus. Adios.”

    The parents are speechless.

    ______________________________

    and I am sure that the parents will change tutor in the future if they later find the tutor cant improve their kid’s math any further. Of course, every time they meet YouZi, he will complain why the tutor is not fired yet.

    --------------------------------
    传说中的“爱国小留”或者“留学垃圾”?我有很多同事的小孩,因为在国内考不上大学,就送到外国留学去了。
    再见,WAHAHA,也许我和你的父母是同事呢。等你回来,说不定还要你的父母给你安排工作呢。
    特此声明:不是所有留学生或者海外华人都象娃哈哈一样。

  85. Buxi
    July 1st, 2008 at 16:56 | #85

    I’m not going to translate that last comment by Youzi, because it’s not useful or meaningful to anyone else. If you want to insult Wahaha, I’m sure you can do it in English.

    I will say one thing though: I hope you stay and post on this blog. If you can show a little more respect for the people posting here, then we can have interesting discussions.

  86. Wahaha
    July 1st, 2008 at 17:01 | #86

    @游子

    What are you trying to say ? insult me ?

    You have no answer, you cant name a country with lot of poor people in which democracy worked well. you want right of protesting and free speech, you see the report about the riot in Weng’an ? I am not defending the government, What I am telling you is that with the west democracy, every little thing in China would become a riot.

    Use your brain,

    When you demand the right you think you are entitled to, you also demand the right for rioters, for god sake.

  87. July 1st, 2008 at 17:39 | #87

    @Wahaha – Name one poor country in which anything works well.

  88. July 1st, 2008 at 17:42 | #88

    @Buxi – However, Youzi is quite correct, many students going overseas nowadays are doing so because they couldn’t get into a Chinese university, and many will return little the wiser.

  89. DJ
    July 1st, 2008 at 17:47 | #89

    FOARP,

    Do you have a number to back that assertion? I have heard about a large increase in recent years of Chinese students coming out for collage as a second option, but would nevertheless be surprised if that number exceeded the ones who are qualified students in the first place.

  90. Wahaha
    July 1st, 2008 at 18:10 | #90

    @FORAP,

    Sorry, dont get what you mean.

    Are you saying nothing works in a poor country ?

  91. July 1st, 2008 at 18:28 | #91

    @DJ – I do not mean the majority, but a significant minority. Many universities in China run programs for such students in co-operation with low-ranking western universities like Troy State and the University of East London.

    @Wahaha – I mean that in the abscence of funding for education and infrastructure it is a wonder if anything works at all – asking for things to work well in a country like Sierra Leone is often asking too much.

  92. Buxi
    July 1st, 2008 at 18:34 | #92

    @FOARP,

    @Wahaha – I mean that in the abscence of funding for education and infrastructure it is a wonder if anything works at all – asking for things to work well in a country like Sierra Leone is often asking too much.

    You didn’t address Wahaha’s point, you only introduced a totally tangential point of your own.

    Let me rephrase his point again, because it’s identical to mine. There are no democracies with an economic status similar to China that’s working “better” than China today. The challenge is figuring out how to define what “better” is, but for many of us, any common sense interpretation would back that.

  93. July 1st, 2008 at 18:50 | #93

    @Buxi – Wahaha asked me to clarify what I was saying, my response was to that. As for ‘every little thing becoming a riot’, I think this is quite incorrect, in fact it is the current system which creates a situation in which rioting is the only outlet for a frustrated populace.

  94. July 1st, 2008 at 18:52 | #94

    @Buxi – It must also be said that there are plenty of democracies which have grown from poverty equal to that currently existing in China into more developed forms. China’s lack of freedoms risks a nation-wide version of what was seen in Weng’an – wasn’t this what we saw in part in 1989?

  95. Wahaha
    July 1st, 2008 at 19:17 | #95

    @FORAP,

    My apology, I exaggerated.

    Yes, the system created the problem in Weng’an, but shock therapy wouldve created other problems. So it comes down to : one system will cause problems for thousands of people, the other system will cause problems for millions of people, which system do you prefer ?

    Cuz of 2000 years of authoritarian system, chinese people with poor education are used to authoritarian system and have little sense of law, the problem is not as simple as black vs white, or authoritarian vs democracy. If you could read chinese and check the website like sohu or sinovision, you wouldve known a lot of cases that family members of victims wrongly accused others and even hourse-arrested others. A lot of policemen in China dont have college education and maybe dont even know what lawyers are for. These are the problems in China, a simple switch from authoritarian to democratic wouldnt have solved the problem.

    Democracy is realistic only when people know how to act or react reasonably, which requires wealth and good education.

    For example, the riot in Weng’an would not have happened in Shanghai, or Beijing, why ? cuz people there are more wealth and much much better educated. See, that is the foundation for democracy.

  96. Buxi
    July 1st, 2008 at 19:41 | #96

    @Buxi – It must also be said that there are plenty of democracies which have grown from poverty equal to that currently existing in China into more developed forms. China’s lack of freedoms risks a nation-wide version of what was seen in Weng’an – wasn’t this what we saw in part in 1989?

    “Plenty”? Which democracies, exactly? Are we back to talking about Malaysia?

    As far as what China’s lack of freedoms risk, absolutely, it’s one of the tremendous downsides of the present system. If the people lack confidence in the government, then all bets are off.

    But what’s the other side of the coin? What happens in poor developing democracies? At about the same time as these riots in Weng’an, violent riots are raging in Mongolia (the country). We’ve seen the same in Zimbabwe of course, not to mention Kenya. That sort of election violence is extremely common in poor countries. If Taiwan had a GDP per capita of $3000, I personally believe the Shi Mingde led protests a few years ago would’ve also turned into bloody, violent riots as well.

    There are downsides to both options, which is why I think looking at the historical record and looking for a compromise solution is the way to go. Historically speaking, we know that this approach worked for Taiwan, South Korea, and Spain. There will be a time when China deserves (and will need) full democracy, but I simply don’t believe that day is today.

  97. July 1st, 2008 at 23:22 | #97

    @Buxi – No, we are back to talking about Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Portugal and every other rich democratic country, as they all used to be as poor as China is now. You can talk all you like about ‘relative wealth’, but I cannot see how this makes sense – it is possible for poor democracies to grow into rich ones, the fact that other countries are rich does not effect this.

  98. Nimrod
    July 2nd, 2008 at 16:14 | #98

    FOARP,

    You realize that when those countries were as poor as China is now (per capita GDP adjusted for inflation), it was a hundred years ago and they had even worse records than today’s China on political and civil rights — the kinds that would bring glee to Amnesty International? Not to mention that by today’s standards, half would be considered militant threats to their neighbors and the world and unrepentent imperialists.

    P.S. Forget relative wealth, as I think that was in reference to the temptation of corruption.

  99. Buxi
    July 2nd, 2008 at 16:25 | #99

    @FOARP,

    Nimrod is exactly right that we’d have to look at the European nations in the mid-19th century. That’s the last time they were as poor as China is today (adjusted for inflation).

    I personally believe the world has changed so dramatically between 1850 and 1950, that any sort of political comparison (even if it’s favorable to China… at least we don’t have chattel slavery) is meaningless. The United States and Europe came of age in an era in which: a) the world wasn’t linked, b) they weren’t on the losing end of a large wealth gap when compared to other nations.

    I believe poor democracies from 1950 on have faced unique challenges that the nations you named didn’t have to face. In order to modernize, contemporary poor democracies have to compete with developed nations that are far wealthier and far more technically advanced on the same global market.

    Outside wealth also engenders corruption and exploitation within a poor democracy; it’s not fair, in my opinion, to blame endemic corruption in Africa and Latin America simply on the “natives”… part of the reason is the dramatic wealth gap between what average Africans make, and what average Europeans make. And finally, what about the talent/brain-drain? The best and brightest in any poor democracy can do better, personally, by emigrating to the developed West. This benefits the developed nations while making the task even more difficult for the developing nations.

    Come on FOARP, aren’t you intellectually curious why you can’t give us a more convincing example from the last 6 decades? Why so many nations in the “third world” are still limping along in poverty and disease, solidly a part of the “third world”?

  100. Nimrod
    July 2nd, 2008 at 16:30 | #100

    You don’t even need to go very far from the US. Look at Mexico. Why are Mexicans still smuggling themselves into the US and why, after decades of competitive democracy, it is getting further behind the curve on economic competitiveness? (It had an “electorally authoritarian” democracy for even longer, during its more impressive period of growth, no less.) I remember there was an article in the Economist or something that discussed this but I can’t find it right now.

  101. XH
    July 2nd, 2008 at 18:24 | #101

    Well, look at what happened recently in Mongolia. The opposition was not content with the election results, so a mob just took to the streets and burned down the headquarters of the ruling party. Looking at the picture of the devastation in Ulanbataar, there seems to be some striking resemblances with what the crowds did to the Public Security Bureau in Weng’an. Seems like a democratic system could not be a panacea for everything, especially in a poor country like Mongolia.

  102. Nimrod
    July 2nd, 2008 at 21:34 | #102

    XH, see my response here, where it’s more relevant.

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