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Oh ~ Black Blind Island, Welcome Home

On October 14, half of Heixiazi Island (lit. black blind island) was transferred from Russia to China, completing the last piece of the border settlement pact signed by the two countries in the mid-1990’s. Back in the day, Jiang Zemin took a lot of heat for signing this, because it was felt by some that China had lost a claim on the much larger Sixty-Four Villages area of Qing-era Outer Manchuria.

A similar river island in the area, Zhenbao Island (lit. treasure island), was a site of the Sino-Soviet battles along multiple points of the shared border in the 1960’s. In any case, with the compromise solution on Hexiazi Island, people are looking forward to amicable development. Property prices have risen, a railroad connecting to the Trans-Siberian is planned, a major port for Northeast China is envisioned. All around a good situation and a model for settling other sensitive issues. See, who says China cannot settle disputes peacefully?

So, after a decade of diplomacy with all the dozen or so of its neighbors, China’s only unsettled land border is with India. That one does not appear to be moving in the right direction though, with India recently on a plan to reactivate airbases in response to what she calls “incursions”. Now there is a country with perpetual border issues.

  1. RUMman
    October 15th, 2008 at 04:01 | #1

    Fear not! One day the ROC will recover the Chinese territories signed away by the PRC!!

  2. October 15th, 2008 at 06:43 | #2

    RUMman, for that to happen, ROC would have to spend a lot more than $6-7 billion on weapon purchases. Maybe with better relations with the Mainland, the economy of the ROC would take off – after which the ROC can afford a bigger weapons purchase from the US! 😀 😀 😀

  3. Wukailong
    October 15th, 2008 at 06:51 | #3

    On Wikipedia, I learned that ROC and Epoch Times want the 64 villages back:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sixty-Four_Villages_East_of_the_Heilongjiang_River

    🙂

  4. Stinky Tofu
    October 15th, 2008 at 07:04 | #4

    China’s population is predicted to be 1.5 billion by mid century. How might this influence relations with neighboring states – in particular Russia and Mongolia? I’m not simply ranting. Mongolia is the second largest landlocked country in the world. It also has one of the world’s lowest population densities – eastern China has one of the highest. Moreover, many (revanchist/irredentist) Chinese nationalists continue to believe that Mongolia is lost Chinese territory. (Note: I have a t-shirt with a map of China on the front – the map was produced by a group of nationalists and includes all of China’s so-called “lost territories” – what is now Mongolia is included as part of China.) Can you imagine China making a play for Mongolia? I sure can. You’d be foolish not to. The same goes for parts of eastern Russia. During the next several decades, as China’s population continues to increase, Russia’s population is predicted to decrease by half – to approximately 60 or 70 million. As we all know, Moscow has traditionally struggled to assert its authority over its entire territory (2.5 times the size of China). Likewise, Russian politicians have already expressed concern about the influx of Chinese in the eastern part of the country. Finally, Russia and China, by definition, are natural enemies (very long, shared border and a history of aggression). As China’s population continues to grow, and as Beijing continues to invest in China’s military, how might the balance of power change such that China begins to look differently at Mongolia and eastern Russia?

    One of the points that I’m attempting to make is that borders are highly conditional – and this includes China’s. The idea that China’s ENORMOUS border will ever be “fixed for good” is a foolish conceit. Food for thought: the Tang empire was big, the Song was small; the Yuan was huge, the Ming much smaller; the Qing empire at it most expansive was twice as large as the Ming.

    Like India (and nearly everywhere else), China also has “perpetual” border issues.

  5. Raj
    October 15th, 2008 at 09:34 | #5

    So, after a decade of diplomacy with all the dozen or so of its neighbors, China’s only unsettled land border is with India.

    I thought that there were still disputes concerning Tajikistan and North Korea, but perhaps they have been resolved. Sadly there are a number of maritime disputes that are more potentially explosive. How to deal with areas which are thought to be resource rich is the real challenge.

    Now Stinky Tofu’s scenario is pessimistic, but it is true that Chinese nationalists (ultra-nationalists?) do not accept that this is a “done deal”. They see this as just a way of forming stronger relations with Russia, prior to a land grab at some point – possibly by getting them to accept a larger number of Chinese workers in Siberia, to the point where the Russians wouldn’t be able to control it anymore (and would only realise their mistake when it was too late).

    I would like to think such imperialistic actions won’t happen, but what assurances are there that a future government might not think a bit of nationalist expansion (either towards Mongolia or Russia) would be a good way to deal with population pressures back home, especially if there has been insufficient political reform to act as a release valve? Sadly there is no such guarantee.

    I’d feel happier if the Chinese government didn’t keep playing to nationalist sentiment when convenient. Really it should be cracking down on the more aggressive forms of nationalism. Just because these people call themselves “patriotic” doesn’t mean they know what’s best for China.

    Now there is a country with perpetual border issues.

    If it reconciles with Pakistan, I think that could be settled. But that’s quite a way off.

  6. bt
    October 15th, 2008 at 09:53 | #6

    Well, i think the situation in Asia is somewhat similar to the situation in Europe at the beginning of the 20th century. I do hope that those border disputes might not end up with regional wars and that you won’t need two terrible wars like us to understand the insanity of these disputes.
    As for this specific case, well, any agreement is good (if respected eventually). Russia is also a country composed of many nationalities and is very very sensitive to its territorial integrity. If not handled correctly and sincerely, there is indeed a risk of confrontation.

  7. Nimrod
    October 15th, 2008 at 16:50 | #7

    Raj wrote:

    I thought that there were still disputes concerning Tajikistan and North Korea, but perhaps they have been resolved.
    +++++
    I don’t know about North Korea (or South Korea, for that matter) — that situation is internally unstable. But the border with Tajikistan has been resolved in 2002 and is in the process of implementation. Actually saw something earlier this year on that. It was along the same lines as this and other border solutions lately, namely, China gives up the vast majority of its claims in exchange for a token return of some land plus opening border area to economic development.

    Now Stinky Tofu’s scenario is pessimistic, but it is true that Chinese nationalists (ultra-nationalists?) do not accept that this is a “done deal”. They see this as just a way of forming stronger relations with Russia, prior to a land grab at some point – possibly by getting them to accept a larger number of Chinese workers in Siberia, to the point where the Russians wouldn’t be able to control it anymore (and would only realise their mistake when it was too late).
    +++++
    I’m not sure it’s right to say people do not accept it as a “done deal”, as far as border treaties go. People complain but they still recognize the treaties. I mean, Mexicans still complain about Texas. The last part is what some Russians think, I’m sure, and there are people who look to the US model with regard to grabbing Texas from Mexico, but that’s not the only scenario. It could be like US and Canada, where Canada is very empty by comparison, but the two countries still have a quiet border. Or it could be like US and Alaska, where land is purchased — doubtful as the Tartary is as core to the Russian identity as the European part and Russians are every bit as nationalistic. I don’t think it will matter very much. There is less control on population movement now than during the days of Yuan, Ming, Qing, etc. If people want to do business in Mongolia or Russia, they can. If they are not allowed, it is usually to the detriment of Mongolians and Russians.

  8. Steve
    October 15th, 2008 at 18:07 | #8

    Congratulations to both China and Russia for solving their border dispute peacefully. I’m sure it’s a win/win situation for both since the economic gains will more than offset any land losses.

    Raj, you are correct that there are still border issues with North Korea in the Mount Paektu region, but they haven’t been belligerent since 1969 and the dispute is more symbolic since the land is uninhabitable. India’s situation with Pakistan and China are interrelated since China and Pakistan are allies and China had supplied nuclear technology to Pakistan. That whole issue is crazy since the land they are fighting over is barely inhabitable, freezing cold, high altitude, minimal oxygen habitation. As usual, it’s the soldiers that suffer and die. I have no idea which side has the better claim but it seems more like a dispute between generals and politicians sitting in their warm offices drawing lines on a map.

    Stinky Tofu, yours is an excellent point about the Chinese migration into Russian Siberia and certainly not a rant. I agree that Russia and China are natural enemies based on a long border and both having been historically invaded from each other’s direction. (I guess the Mongols still influence history) Eastern Siberia has enormous natural resources, a small Russian population and an increasing Chinese population. Japan’s original strategy was to obtain eastern Siberia for its resources (mostly hydropower, hydrocarbons and fresh water) and only after being badly defeated by Zhukov at the Battle of Khalkhin Gol (maybe the most influential battle in modern times that no one knows about) did they turn their attention to SE Asia and the US fleet at Pearl Harbor. Currently, virtually every product for sale in Siberia is made in China. Russia is putting together a US $11.5 billion oil pipeline to transfer 1.6 million barrels per day to China and Japan. They’re also planning to spend US $8.2 billion on four giant hydropower plants, with all that power going to China. Right now Russia is on track to supply 20% of China’s energy imports by 2011. However, some estimates have China accounting for 50% of Russia’s energy exports by 2015, which would make Russia more dependent on China than China on Russia.

    Russia stole a huge portion of NE China during the Taiping Rebellion and forced China to sign the Treaty of Aigun. It’s estimated that by 2025, China will be the largest single ethnic group in the Russian Far East. Will they then demand the right to vote and vote to reunite with China? Would they want to be an autonomous territory within Russia or form their own independent country? Or would they accept the current situation? It’ll be interesting to see how this develops over the coming years.

  9. pmw
    October 15th, 2008 at 18:22 | #9

    HeiXiaZi means black bear in slang (northern china), no?

  10. Nimrod
    October 15th, 2008 at 19:27 | #10

    pmw,

    You’re absolutely right. The “black blind” refers to black bears.

  11. kui
    October 16th, 2008 at 04:11 | #11

    I am happy with the deal.

  12. Wukailong
    October 16th, 2008 at 06:19 | #12

    @Steve: What did North Korea do in 1969? I can understand that they want the whole mountain since they claim their leader was born there and it’s reached semi-mythical status…

  13. Raj
    October 16th, 2008 at 09:33 | #13

    Nimrod

    I’m not sure it’s right to say people do not accept it as a “done deal”, as far as border treaties go. People complain but they still recognize the treaties.

    Oh, no – I’ve come across a number of comments that say they think China should only recognise the treaties as long as they have to. I.e. when the time is right they should be ripped up. It’s more than just grumbling.

    ++++

    Steve

    Raj, you are correct that there are still border issues with North Korea in the Mount Paektu region, but they haven’t been belligerent since 1969 and the dispute is more symbolic since the land is uninhabitable.

    The problem there is that South Korea insists it is Korean – symbolism can count for a lot. The fear is that if North Korea collapses economically, politically or whatever, China will use the chaos as an excuse to annex part of NK as a “buffer”, rather than accept Seoul taking control of the whole area. That might be overly paranoid, but you can see why they are so sensitive over claims by Chinese academics that parts of Korean territory were historically controlled by “Chinese civilisations” and the like.

  14. TonyP4
    October 16th, 2008 at 14:07 | #14

    When China was weak, every one got its share of China’s territory even India via Britain drawing the “border”. It is far better than to settle without using weapons. Russia made outer Mongolia independent for its own good.

    China needs to control its population. The majority of the lost territory including Mongolia is not good fertile farm land or full of resources.

  15. Steve
    October 16th, 2008 at 15:06 | #15

    @Wukailong #12: I only knew about it in a general way so I googled it and found this site that explains it in depth and seems pretty objective, though you never know when it’s on the net: http://chinaperspectives.revues.org/document806.html

    It also talks about the semi-mythical status you mentioned.

    TonyP4: I totally agree with you. China lost territory when she was weak and whether she cares to recover that territory today is difficult to know. I think as long as Mongolia doesn’t become a puppet state of Russia, China can live with it being independent since it provides a buffer zone between the two, and there aren’t any natural resources to develop. Strategically, China would like it’s old ports back that are north of Korea and that Russia currently occupies, but I think they are taking the long view on this and don’t see any need to push it now. It’s hard to see where Russia will go over the next 50 years. They expected to keep getting huge sums for their oil but with the price having dropped so much, hard to say if they can sustain their recent economic boom.

  16. Nimrod
    October 16th, 2008 at 15:52 | #16

    Steve,

    China has been trying to lease a port from Russia on the Sea of Japan so that her rights of navigation and exit to the Sea of Japan under existing treaties can be used. Actually China has proposed a number of development scenarios for all three countries on the Sea of Japan. But unfortunately, Russia is paranoid about this and North Korea is paranoid about being cut off from Russia, so this isn’t happening. But I can see if Russia is strapped for cash again it may happen. Or North Korea may be willing sooner, but who knows. China isn’t taking any of those ports back militarily.

    Raj,

    Oh, no – I’ve come across a number of comments that say they think China should only recognise the treaties as long as they have to. I.e. when the time is right they should be ripped up. It’s more than just grumbling.
    +++++
    Oh no, some people are crazy on the internet. I mean really, the PRC (post 1949 government) hasn’t ripped up any border treaties it signed itself, though it had many chances to. There is this thing about “unequal treaties”, but even those with Russia have been kept at status quo until a negotiated settlement was made like now. I don’t see China ripping up her treaties with neighbors. If there is a revolution with a democratic mob rising to the top of government then you may worry a bit more. That’s why poor democracies like India and Palestine are a lot more cause for concern than technocratic China, Inc. ever should be.

  17. Raj
    October 16th, 2008 at 16:23 | #17

    Nimrod

    If there is a revolution with a democratic mob rising to the top of government then you may worry a bit more. That’s why poor democracies like India and Palestine are a lot more cause for concern than technocratic China, Inc. ever should be.

    First, you cannot lump India and Palestine together. The former is considerably more democratic, richer and peaceful than the latter. The latter is also partly occupied by Israel, whereas India is in control of its own territory. Palestine’s quarrel with Israel has nothing to do with its supposed “democracy” – having elections is meaningless if there is no rule of law. In many ways the lack of freedom and law & order in Palestinian-controlled areas has helped foster violence. For a long time Fatah did not want to share/lose power, so it did its bit to “resist” Israel to keep nationalist support behind it. Hamas gained influence mostly because of how it ran the areas it controlled (supposedly better than Fatah), not because of its anti-Israel line.

    India might be poorer than China, but I do not agree that its democratic nature means it is more of a threat in regards to territorial expansion than an autocracy like China. If anything its democracy means that it is less likely to engage in territorial expansion to sate nationalist desire as its government gains legitimacy through elections. Although a ruling party never likes to lose power, there is a degree of resignation to the fact that it can happen.

    China is different because the ruling party has no democratic legitimacy and wants to stay in power to a degree that I would say is excessive (note how it treats people who criticise it too much/oppose things CCP authorities do/generally “make life difficult”, etc). Although technically anyone can join the CCP and thus technically influence who is elected, etc, we know that really ordinary Chinese are not involved in the election/selection of top politicians even indirectly. The CCP used to gain legitimacy through direct support to people who needed it, but since those policies were mostly rolled back with the adoption of capitalism (and the CCP isn’t really “Communist” anymore in ways that help people) the only thing going for it are economic growth and nationalism. If the former becomes a problem (which it will at some point – China won’t stay out of recession/slugging growth forever) then it will have to fall back on the latter or deal with probably increased social unrest.

    I should stress that this does not mean that China will go off causing trouble when an economic crisis hits, but it’s a way of indicating that even if it’s more affluent than some other Asian states its political nature can leave it vulnerable to pressure from certain groups. After all nationalists/ultra-nationalists exist within the CCP itself – the PLA is hardly a doveish organisation and it still has a lot of influence. This is why I have always advocated real legal and political reform, of the sort that would reduce the CCP’s dominance of China and allow for other parties to form, to act as a safety valve for the future. After all if “crazy nationalists” are in the minority, they will never be able to elect unreasonable people to office. Otherwise there could be a lot of grief in future decades. In my view it’s too risky in trying to tweak the current system because it’s “easier”.

  18. Nimrod
    October 16th, 2008 at 21:59 | #18

    In Raj’s post, I see the standard line on the China threat is trotted out again. I will answer in two parts.

    Part I.

    With all due respect, this theory about democracies being peaceful is bunk at best and is full of the worst kind of selection bias. When pressed, defenders of the theory usually retreat to a weaker position of democracies are peaceful merely *with each other*, a distinction that frankly doesn’t make sense if the logic for peacefulness is some *internal* property of democracies. Another favorite device is to shunt away any non-peaceful development arising out of the democratic process as anomalous, as if the system was “subverted” by a few men, when in fact it was the representative outcome. Again, plenty of examples to be found in the economically developing (i.e. poor) popular democracies of the early 20th century Europe, Japan, and mid 20th century Latin America. Contrary to what you say, crazy nationalists have not only elected unreasonable people into office time and time again but have given them dictatorial powers.

    Part II.

    Now the other half of the story. The way I see it, every country is nationalistic and has a bunch of people who may be considered crazy. The poorer the country and more starved the country the larger number and more crazy are such people. After all, if you’ve got nothing to lose, you’ll take more risks. The reason I bring up Palestine and India was somewhat in this context and you, perhaps without realizing it, made my point for me. Yes, India is considerably richer and in a considerably better position than Palestine. Is it any wonder then that the former is more stable? It’s certainly not the democratic system that makes the difference between them. And indeed, compared to developed Western democracies, both are less stable.

    And as long as there are such people, politicians who seek legitimacy and a base of power will be inclined to use them. But all else being equal, which is more likely?

    – A party formed around narrowly nationalistic aspirations (Bloc Quebecois, TSU, BJP, Hamas, etc.) loudly asserts and legitimizes those narrow interests on its way to gain and maintain power for the short term? Or

    – A single party not worrying about losing power as long as broad interests of society are satisfied goes out to pander to “crazy nationalists”?

    It’s clear to me the former is far more likely than the latter.

    Finally, you’re right that the mandate of the CCP (as with any party of any country that you’d want to have anything to do with) is economic growth and national security. If economic prosperity is not forthcoming, the far more likely outcome is to change policy (as in other countries) rather than anything exotic. It’s at least good that the CCP is no longer pinned down by ideology about capitalism or socialism, so it can try anything. Of course, in times of severe crisis, countries tend to become either more united or more agitated. And if the latter, and you are worried about the CCP bucking to “pressure” by uber-nationalists, then I see no reason why you wouldn’t be even more worried about these uber-nationalistic parties directly getting elected in democratic countries under similar situations. No pressure needed!

    China at least has the means of internal crackdown to root out dissent against politically difficult policies. The PLA is the gun firmly in the hands of the Party, not the other way around. That will surely result in more internal friction, possibly separatism, but that makes China an easier target to its neighbors, rather than the other way around. In no case is the incredible scenario of going to war with Russia over, say, Outer Manchuria, anything but a fantasy for peddlers of the China threat theory.

  19. Raj
    October 17th, 2008 at 13:58 | #19

    With all due respect, this theory about democracies being peaceful is bunk at best and is full of the worst kind of selection bias.

    Nimrod, you are doing what I term “flying on auto-pilot”. I never said that democracies are always peaceful. I was responding to your allegation that a democracy like India is something to be worried about in the context of territorial expansionism due to nationalist pressure. Please do not put words into my mouth.

    Examples such as early 20th century Europe and Japan are inappropriate because in those days empire was considered a legitimate enterprise. Today the attitude is the opposite, and as a former colony I do not believe India would wish to ape its former masters.

    The way I see it, every country is nationalistic and has a bunch of people who may be considered crazy. The poorer the country and more starved the country the larger number and more crazy are such people.

    I would say that things can go the opposite way around. If you are poor and hungry your focus is finding food and/or working. You do not have the leisure time to keep getting involved with nationalist outpourings, even if you may do so on occasion. On the other hand if you have money and nothing is wrong with your life, you can spend more time thinking about what “might be” or what “should be” – e.g. nationalist sentiment.

    There’s an interesting article below on how a new generation of better-off young Chinese are actually leading nationalist attacks against liberal thinkers and media in China. It goes to show that wealth and education can lead to more nationalism, not less.

    http://cmp.hku.hk/2008/10/17/1289/

    It’s certainly not the democratic system that makes the difference between them.

    Completely wrong. A lot of it is because India is a much more democratic nation with rule of law that it does better. Otherwise why does Pakistan, a country next door and made independent at the same time as India but more corrupt and with dodgier “democracy” and less rule of law do so much worse?

    I see no reason why you wouldn’t be even more worried about these uber-nationalistic parties directly getting elected in democratic countries under similar situations

    Because in a democracy if a party is ousted from power it happens at an election and they have the opportunity to regain it later. However, with the CCP its leaders may well take the view that if they’re ousted from power a large number of them will go to jail for corruption and/or never see office again. The party might survive but only after a purging of the people at the top who led it to being evicted from power. And given that China does not have free elections the method by which there would be a change in power might be quite violent.

    In no case is the incredible scenario of going to war with Russia over, say, Outer Manchuria, anything but a fantasy for peddlers of the China threat theory.

    Or China-defenders do not want to consider the possibility of China going to war for territorial expansion, so they attack those who mention the possibility of it happening. Just because something is possible does not mean it is probable.

  20. Nimrod
    October 17th, 2008 at 17:35 | #20

    Raj,

    Let’s forget about India for a moment because it is hindering discussion. In the comments section I only used it in a non-specific way, but apparently it touches a raw nerve.

    I would say that things can go the opposite way around. If you are poor and hungry your focus is finding food and/or working.

    First, note I said the poorer the country is, the more crazy nationalists there are. I didn’t say all the crazy nationalists have to be poor people. Having said that, here is your selection bias again. The reason you hear about university students is because those are the people on the internet and those are the people who have been anecdotally “analyzed”. I also highly doubt their family incomes have been studied.

    There’s an interesting article below on how a new generation of better-off young Chinese are actually leading nationalist attacks against liberal thinkers and media in China. It goes to show that wealth and education can lead to more nationalism, not less.

    Second, this is the kind of false inference I’d like to see less of. How does the first sentence you wrote imply the second sentence at all? It doesn’t.

    Going on a little bit of a tanget — youths are always more idealistic. I think today’s youths are every bit as nationalistic as yesterday’s, precisely because China is still poor. They recognize that a lot more still needs to be done to bridge the gap between China and developed countries. That some of them think so-called liberal thinkers stand in the way of that is just a political opinion. There are youths who think otherwise, and in a different time at a different place, they have thought otherwise.

    Because in a democracy if a party is ousted from power it happens at an election and they have the opportunity to regain it later. However, with the CCP its leaders may well take the view that if they’re ousted from power a large number of them will go to jail for corruption and/or never see office again. The party might survive but only after a purging of the people at the top who led it to being evicted from power. And given that China does not have free elections the method by which there would be a change in power might be quite violent.

    And what does that have to do with my point earlier? I don’t think you got it. My point was: if nationalism is a great lever that the CCP is tempted to manipulate for fear of its own survival, then why is it any more reassuring when put in the context of a democracy? Sure, the ruling party may be content with giving up power, but to whom? In a substantially similar crisis situation, it would be to a nationalistic party! That sounds worse to me. Or are you saying that in a democracy, no party needs to appeal to nationalism since they all can compete on the basis of policy and be happy that they will have their chance to rule? Because that flies in the face of reality.

  21. Raj
    October 17th, 2008 at 18:01 | #21

    apparently it touches a raw nerve

    It doesn’t at all, I just think that some of your points in regards to it were not logical or factually correct and that needed highlighting.

    Having said that, here is your selection bias again. The only reason you hear about university students is because those are the people on the internet and those are the only people who have been “analyzed”.

    How is it “selection bias” to say that poorer people have less time to indulge in things like nationalism in aid of potential territorial expansion? That’s an opinion.

    And poorer countries tend to have larger numbers of poor people (oddly enough).

    How does the first sentence you wrote imply the second sentence at all?

    Sorry, was thinking about more than one thing when writing.

    They recognize that a lot more still needs to be done to bridge the gap between China and developed countries. That some of them think so-called liberal thinkers stand in the way of that is just a political opinion.

    That sounds like party propaganda. Why do liberal thinkers stand in the way of bridging the gap between China and the developed world? Did you read the article? It talked about, amongst other things, an example where China’s reporting of the Tibetan unrest was labelled as unfair. By attacking such opinions so vehemently internet goers were reinforcing negative views towards Chinese people because they seemed closed-minded and (ironically) very nationalistic. If there was more scope for expressing such views in China then foreigners would think China was more open then they imagined. But, as much as Chinese have tried to argue that the outside world was wrong rather than them/the Chinese media, that argument has largely fallen on deaf ears. Suppression of dissenting views made things more difficult.

    My point was: if nationalism is a great lever that the CCP is tempted to manipulate for fear of its own survival, then why is it any more reassuring when put in the context of a democracy?

    Partly because the CCP has what might be called an obsession with staying in power that is far greater than most real democracies. Every party wants to win, but generally there are some things they will not do. So in my view the CCP would go further to stay in office.

    Also because China has no proper safety valve for people to express their concerns, such as being able to demonstrate without fear of arrest, get rid of local administrators, have a fair appeal hearing for their case, etc their resulting frustration can be quite destructive. If such problems became too much for the CCP to handle, whipping up nationalism might be a way to save its skin. But that wouldn’t be necessary if those safety valves such as rule of law, an independent judiciary, a free media, political accountability, etc were in place.

  22. Nimrod
    October 17th, 2008 at 18:29 | #22

    That sounds like party propaganda. Why do liberal thinkers stand in the way of bridging the gap between China and the developed world?

    Well, you can ask them, or there have been discussions about this here, too, I recall.

    Partly because the CCP has what might be called an obsession with staying in power that is far greater than most real democracies. Every party wants to win, but generally there are some things they will not do. So in my view the CCP would go further to stay in office.

    Even if you cast it as an obsession — which I think is a bizarre anthropomorphism that behooves the fighting nature of sideshow parties in less stable democracies — why would the CCP go further (in an undesirable direction)? It is constitutionally given that the CCP leads. It’s not expected that the CCP loses power, rather it’s expected that it adapts, so the context and the calculus are somewhat different.

    Also because China has no proper safety valve for people to express their concerns… If such problems became too much for the CCP to handle, whipping up nationalism might be a way to save its skin.

    No “proper” safety valves of which you would approve, I’m sure, but it is an open enough society now that people find ways to blow off steam. But anyway, since this is an argument about the failure case, there will not be an answer save for some speculation. You may as well say if the problems became too much for the CCP to handle, then starting another Cultural Revolution might be a way to save its skin. Doesn’t make it any more plausible.

  23. Raj
    October 18th, 2008 at 17:33 | #23

    Well, you can ask them

    That’s not an answer. You made the allegation – you back it up with an explanation. Otherwise it just appears to be a way of dismissing the views of people you don’t like with baseless slander.

    It is constitutionally given that the CCP leads. It’s not expected that the CCP loses power, rather it’s expected that it adapts, so the context and the calculus are somewhat different.

    How many constitutions has China had? How many has France had? South American states, etc? A constitution is a piece of paper in that it can’t keep a party in power if the people are unhappy.

    but it is an open enough society now that people find ways to blow off steam

    Complete nonsense. If that were the case you wouldn’t get such a large number of “mass incidents” across China every year. And this is at a time of unprecedented growth – what’s going to happen when things get bad economically?

    You may as well say if the problems became too much for the CCP to handle, then starting another Cultural Revolution might be a way to save its skin. Doesn’t make it any more plausible.

    That’s a silly idea given that it would be starting a Cultural Revolution against itself. Today the CCP are the capitalists and the elite.

  24. tocq
    April 17th, 2009 at 12:48 | #24

    Under the China Threat ideology, China is supposed to behave like 19th century Prussia, building a navy to rival England, grabbing land in Africa and carving spheres of influence. To the limited vision of the West this is the way a resurgent China will behave. However lack of understanding of the cultural background and historical development of a major country like China is not an excuse and certainly the warped and self righteous conclusions reached as a result can only cause more grief and misunderstanding among peoples. I suggest adherents of the “China Threat” and “Yellow Peril ” kind read up on Chinese history and their own history for a change and not draw knee jerk conclusions! You will be doing mankind a great benefit.

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