Disgruntled political essayist sentenced to three years of international fame

Chen Daojun (陈道军), a relatively obscure activist (or provocateur depending on one’s point of view) in China, was sentenced to three years in prison for “inciting subversion of state authority” (煽动颠覆国家政权罪) yesterday. Thus the Chinese government, quite rightfully described as clumsy and self-defeating in presenting itself, just launched someone into a career of fame and awards. Who wants to bet on the recipient of next year’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought?

While Chen was arrested in May after attending a environmentalist protest against a petroleum-chemical project near Chengdu, his trouble seems centered on writings he published online. Chen was initially charged with a more serious “inciting secession” clause due to his writing in April supporting the March riots in Tibet. That charge was apparently dropped in the court proceedings. This essay, “官逼民反 — 向英勇抗争的藏民致敬” (Government Drives People to Revolt – Salute to the Heroic Fighting Tibetans) doesn’t really need translation beyond the title. It should be noted that, the defining moment of the March event is the murderous race riot that happened on March 14 in Lhasa, which targeted innocent non-Tibetan civilians and business.

[EDIT] The paragraph above is edited to clarify descriptions of Chen’s writing. Please see comment 17 and 18 below for reasons.

The second essay brought up in court follows up on the strong backlash from Chinese people inside China and around the world against the disgraceful coverage of the March incident across much of the western media. The title is “反西方华人的背景” (Backgrounds of the Anti-West Chinese) and it includes sweeping charges against all Chinese who do not think like him.

[On anti-west Chinese in China]: Years of brain washing by the CCP seriously destroyed the spirit and soul of the Chinese. It produced generations of ignorant and stupid populace that knows nothing about right and wrong, self esteem, human rights, and value of life. These ignorant and stupid people are the most mind-numb, selfish, cowardly, principle-less and calculating kind. … They desperately need something to show their poor value and whatever little that is left of their courage. They do not dare to take on the dictatorship because their cowardliness and selfishness, but found a chance when the west is boycotting Olympics and protesting crackdowns in Tibet. …

[On anti-west Chinese living overseas]: They are a group to be suspected. If they love China and CCP, why do they go through all the trouble to move overseas? Besides those who immigrated before CCP took over the power, all overseas Chinese fall under the following types: 1) a very rare few who were seeking freedom. 2) organized political immigrants by CCP that are tasked to spy and stir up trouble. 3) relatives of the Chinese officials who took all the blood money stolen from the people to safe guard their fortune in a free west. … Another fraction of them consists all those Chinese students attending school overseas. In today’s China, where are they from? They are either children of corrupt officials or cheating businessmen. …

There is supposedly a third essay as well. But reports are inconsistent regarding which one it is. In any case, many of Chen’s essays can be found here. I wonder if someone could figure out how Chen became this angry and bitter person. There are perhaps many clues in those writings. His trashing of his own father, for example, tells plenty.

[UPDATE] Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch (CRLW) posted the 2-page indictment document against Chen on its site. According to that document, the third essay cited is “十七大后怎么办?” (What Happens After the 17th People’s Congress?” which calls for nation wide coordinated effort within the oppressed population to fight the blood sucking, brutal and corrupt government and all of its officials.

[UPDATE 2] I might as well just spell out clearly my perspectives on Chen and his ordeal. 

  • China really should stop this practice of arresting and imprisoning critics, of which many did nothing wrong in speaking out. But even for those with truly “ulterior motives”, is this the best way to handle them? Couldn’t the official China learn a lesson from the Wei Jingsheng (魏京生) saga already? When Wei was sitting in prison, he was revered as “Father of Chinese Democracy” and “Nelson Mandela of China”, and was such a convenient stick to hit China with all the time. After Wei was finally deported to U.S. in 1997, he promptly showed everyone what kind person he was. And after that, well, let’s just say Wei is no longer a problem for China any more.
  • In Chen Daojun’s case, his writings are clearly intended to incite opposition and revolt against the CCP and government. In reality, I suspect, most readers probably would find merely amusement from some of his heated language. I mean, how am I supposed to react after reading his “Backgrounds of the Anti-West Chinese”? I am a Chinese living overseas; I didn’t come to U.S. seeking freedom; and I am not a relative of corrupt Chinese officials living off a stolen fortune. So that means I must be a political immigrant tasked to spy or stir up trouble. Of course Chen is right. The very fact that I am writing this means I am fulfilling my mission.
  • Again, what’s the point of putting Chen in prison? Does he really have a following among the “ignorant and stupid populace that knows nothing about right and wrong, self esteem, human rights, and value of life”? Why not just send him out to his dreamland and let he fight with his peers?

[UPDATE 3] I probably should also explain a bit about my (dismissive) reference of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought at the beginning, as well as part of my motivation for writing this post.

I don’t know anything about Chen until reading about his prison sentence today in the news, which was reported in the all too familiar manner whenever matters of this kind arise concerning China. My first reaction was to search for his writings to find out what was so offending to the authority because, you know, those details were never of importance in the news reports. And my next reaction, after reading some of Chen’s essays, was “I hope he doesn’t morph into another Hu Jia, but he most likely will.” I should avoid discussing much about Hu Jia on my own (because I didn’t make the necessary effort to know enough about him to comment) except recommending readers to check out what Richard at Peking Duck had to say here and here as well as Xujun’s take at inside-outside China. By the way, I am referencing Richard’s posts on Hu Jia partly because of his only-Nixon-could-approach-China credential. You might have figured out that I also have a problem with Chen’s pathological loathing of his own people. But that is not necessarily that big a deal per se.

Of course you all know now that Hu Jia just won Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought this year. Do you know that wei Jingsheng was that only other Chinese winner (in 1996)?

133 thoughts on “Disgruntled political essayist sentenced to three years of international fame

  1. Wow, it seems that anger and bitterness are contagious 🙂
    With all my respect, DJ, I hope that you will never be sentenced to ‘international fame’ in any country …

  2. Thanks for the Updates, DJ. It’s kind of tough to describe the Chinese this way, I admit.
    I have a question to you: what are your grievances against Wei Jingsheng?

    ps: you are already linked by Roland Soong … internet almighty 🙂

  3. @bt: Though he’s rarely mentioned, when Wei Jingsheng is described by people here it’s mostly as a traitor to the national cause and an anti-Chinese Western lackey. I remember one person saying that what he says might sound logical, but since he has ulterior motives, his criticisms are not to be taken seriously.

    On the other hand, I think most people don’t know about him or don’t care.

  4. bt,

    Regarding Wei Jingsheng, it will take more than a post or two to discuss his history fighting Deng inside China and alienating everyone once outside. I can’t cite much facts about his acts and words all at once since it was a matter of accumulated impression without record keeping. Suffice to say, this is someone with an completely anti-China position in a fundamentalist kind of way.

    bert,

    I am an economic immigrant, pure and simple.

  5. DJ,
    As much as I disagree with some of his views I do respect his right to be extremely bitter to the point of blinding himself on some issues. To have such voice around is a great progress China has made.

    When will the CCP stop doing such stupid shooting-at-their-own-foot thing? You cannot imprison one’s thought. Whether a thought is powerful depends on how many people resonating with and supporting it.

    At this moment of history, that “To be rich is glorious” is a powerful idea while Wei Jingsheng has very few followers inside China.

  6. I agree with snow. It is stupid and unlawful to imprison him because of what he says.

    On the other hand ,from what he has written about people who hold different views from him, I am not sure he would do a better job towards opposition if he is in power.

  7. FSM #7

    The CCP deserves a prize for economically improving the lives of billions in past six decades and more so in the past three, a very impressive record of most basic human rights issue yet long ignored and deliberately unacknowledged by the West.

  8. Will Hu jintao approve the sentence if he had a chance? I suspect this stupidity is just a local thing, as Chen was convicted by a court in southwest China’s Sichuan province. If so this would be just like so many things that happened in both the Mao years and the Deng time: the way from up down or from bottom up in terms of implementing certain policy or law is not always identical or consistent.

    Of course the problem is always with the system. But even within a democratic system the person in the highest office can sometimes be blocked from knowing the whole truth on some issues. In the 1930s and 1940s although he was well briefed on China situation by his pro-KMD foreign service men, FDR had to send his former white house guard Evan Calson as a personal envoy to China so that he’d report his first-hand knowledge of the CCP and its army to the president).

  9. The coverage of the Tibet revolt in the Western media was 97% correct. Coverage by China media was 97% incorrect.

  10. Again, what’s the point of putting Chen in prison?

    Because in the CCP’s mind it serves as an “example” to those who might question the State’s actions. I agree that doing this is counter-productive, but I suppose they think that if they don’t arrest people and lock them up it will encourage others to speak up, especially those who have more valid arguments and/or put them across in a more logical, pleasant manner.

    +++

    Will Hu jintao approve the sentence if he had a chance? I suspect this stupidity is just a local thing, as Chen was convicted by a court in southwest China’s Sichuan province.

    Snow, do you mean “pardon”? Hu can pardon anyone he likes, I think, or prod the courts to ensure appeals are successful. More importantly he could actually change the law to ensure people had a real freedom of speech.

    But he doesn’t, because he agrees with this sort of thing.

    The CCP deserves a prize for economically improving the lives of billions in past six decades and more so in the past three, a very impressive record of most basic human rights issue yet long ignored and deliberately unacknowledged by the West.

    How has the CCP improved the lives of billions when China’s population is only 1 billion+ and many still are in poverty, or gained wealth only because the CCP removed constraints on the economy it imposed in the first place?

    Also you neglect the large number of Chinese who have suffered and still suffer under CCP rule. It would be rather disgusting to praise the CCP’s achievements and push its skeletons back into the closet at the same time. As it is China does often get recognition for its poverty work, but that’s only part of the story. I’m not sure if countries get human rights awards, but if they did I’m sure it would have to be because overall they had an excellent record.

    Besides, human rights are the concept that people can live free, happy lives in a way that they choose. Wealth does not come into the equation provided the State allows equal opportunity and does not deliberately keep people poor, deny access to education, etc. With all due respect, as far as I can see what you mention was only relatively recently adopted by the CCP to make Chinese feel better about the fact that China has a poor human rights record.

  11. @ DJ, The title of your post is hilarious.

    FSM & Snow:

    “When is the CCP going to get it’s human rights prize?”

    “The CCP deserves a prize for economically improving the lives of billions in past six decades and more so in the past three, a very impressive record of most basic human rights issue yet long ignored and deliberately unacknowledged by the West.”

    I certainly agree that conditions are better now than they used to be but I’m curious what starting point is cited when people bring up China’s improved living standards. Measuring only the past three decades doesn’t acknowledge the reason conditions were so poor at the end of the 60’s and early 70′. Lifting millions out of poverty is indeed a great achievement but if I light my house on fire then build a new one I won’t expect accolades from my neighbors.

  12. @ snow

    Indeed, if the majority of the people of China support the government, why not just getting along?
    He will be ignored and shamed by you fellow Chinese, and that’s all.

    “The CCP deserves a prize for economically improving the lives of billions in past six decades and more so in the past three, a very impressive record of most basic human rights issue yet long ignored and deliberately unacknowledged by the West.”
    True, this fact became more obvious as I was living in the good old PR of C.
    However, why does the Chinese are so suspicious of the foreigners? why always ‘deliberately’, ‘willfully’, … ? Does it sometimes cross you mind than we foreigners don’t know so much about China and just discover a lot of things? I mean, did u thought something before you travel/settle to another country and then discover that the reality is more complex than u imagine? It must happen to everybody, Chinese included.

  13. DJ writes:

    “The title is “反西方华人的背景” (Backgrounds of the Anti-West Chinese) and it includes sweeping charges against all Chinese who do not think like him.”

    Sweeping charges? Of course they are “sweeping” – any kind of categorization implies generalization.

    But the descriptions of the various types of anti-western Chinese living overseas do not sound far-fetched at all. Chen Daojun may have omitted a few sub-groups of *anti-western* Chinese – the “economic immigrants, pure and simple” type – but otherwise I think the article is quite credible.

    Sorry about the sarcasm DJ, but your use of the phrase “sweeping charges” means only one thing to me. It implies that you, DJ, and others like you – “economic immigrants, pure and simple” – feel personally targeted (insulted, if you like) by Chen Daojun’s article. That you feel they were unjustly levelled at you and others like you – who are *anti-western* even though they are neither spies nor sons of corrupt officials.

    You will probably protest that you are not anti-western etc. I won’t try to prove that you are – I’m just drawing your attention to a flawed argument.

  14. @DJ

    due to his writing in April supporting the murderous March 14 riot in Tibet

    I just read the essay, and nowhere does he sanction violence targeted against Han Chinese. Did I miss anything? The Tibetan revolt, which started on March 10, and spread to Sichuan, Qinghai and Gansu, was largely peaceful. The riots on 14 were triggered by police violence against peace protest four days earlier.

  15. Hemulen,

    Thanks for pointing a problem in my writing. Chen was supporting the overall violent campaign by Tibetans in March. And the description of the March 14 event as “murderous” and “targeting innocent civilians” was mine, which was intended to give readers some context. But putting those into one sentence could lead one to read as if Chen was explicitly supporting killing of innocent non-Tibetan civilians. I will fix this problem.

    Chen, in his writing, casted everything as a matter of peaceful and freedom loving Tibetans rising up against an evil government. It was in his view a case of 100 percent good vs. evil. All acts of violence committed by Tibetans were described as in response to crackdowns by fully armed police and tank driving soldiers and only targeted the government facilities. You are right, he didn’t “sanction violence targeted against Han Chinese” but that’s clearly because he doesn’t acknowledge anything of that nature ever happened.

  16. @DJ

    Chen was supporting the overall violent campaign by Tibetans in March.

    Where is your evidence that it was “overall violent”? The riots in Lhasa is one of a small number of documented incidents where Tibetans attack Han civilians. By contrast, there is a lot of documentation which shows Chinese police attack non-violent Tibetans.

    You are right, he didn’t “sanction violence targeted against Han Chinese” but that’s clearly because he doesn’t acknowledge anything of that nature ever happened.

    Yes, but that was not the point of his article. Why focus what he did not write in order to incriminate him? We can just as well ask why you – just like Xinhua – focus on March 14, but not on other, non-violent Tibetans protests.

  17. steve,

    I made a careful effort to translate Chen’s writing faithfully. Although it is a bit selective, it is a very good sample that demonstrates Chen’s belief, logic and style.

    Regarding the content of this particular essay, although Chen started talking about “anti-west Chinese” both in and out of China, his writing actually broadened to discuss all Chinese. E.g. that three groups of Chinese living overseas he wrote were meant to cover everyone, regardless if one is “anti-west” or not. Let me be frank here: if I were to judge Chen only by these writings, I would say this dude has no logic and is just nuts.

    I don’t feel “targeted” or angered by his writing, by the way, because it really is something to laugh at. The only things that bothered me are: 1) China just shot herself in the foot again. 2) A truly undeserving person is going to be elevated into stardom.

  18. Hemulen,

    Chen was supporting the overall violent campaign by Tibetans in March.

    Where is your evidence that it was “overall violent”? The riots in Lhasa is one of a small number of documented incidents where Tibetans attack Han civilians. By contrast, there is a lot of documentation which shows Chinese police attack non-violent Tibetans.

    That’s not something I want to debate about here. The word “violent” is now crossed out.

    You are right, he didn’t “sanction violence targeted against Han Chinese” but that’s clearly because he doesn’t acknowledge anything of that nature ever happened.

    Yes, but that was not the point of his article. Why focus what he did not write in order to incriminate him? We can just as well ask why you – just like Xinhua – focus on March 14, but not on other, non-violent Tibetans protests.

    You misunderstood. In the post, my description of the March 14 riots only meant to put in a bit more contextual information for the readers. As for this new line in my comment, it’s only meant to answer your earlier question.

  19. @DJ

    So, we are not talking about violence anymore. That’s good. So, am I wrong in assuming that you take issue of him defending the Tibetan protests in March?

    You wrote:

    Chen, in his writing, casted everything as a matter of peaceful and freedom loving Tibetans rising up against an evil government. It was in his view a case of 100 percent good vs. evil. All acts of violence committed by Tibetans were described as in response to crackdowns by fully armed police and tank driving soldiers and only targeted the government facilities.

    Forgive me if I read too much into your comment, but I don’t see that in the essay either. He just saying that while he does not condone violence, there is a point when people rise up against government repression. That is a point that resonates strongly with Chinese bloggers when we talk about “mass incidents” all over China. All Chen did was to extend that logic to Tibetan protesters. Sure, he is a bit effusive in his rhetoric, but what’s wrong with trying to contextualize Tibetan protests just as you would contextualize other social protests in China?

  20. Hemulen,

    Hmm, perhaps I wasn’t clear enough in my [update 2]. Similar to what snow wrote in #6, I don’t think much of Chen but he should not be sent into prison for expressing his views.

    He just saying that while he does not condone violence, there is a point when people rise up against government repression. That is a point that resonates strongly with Chinese bloggers when we talk about “mass incidents” all over China. All Chen did was to extend that logic to Tibetan protesters.

    Well, except this is not a case just like other “mass incidents”, is it? I do not extend the same logic to race riots that target innocent civilians.

  21. @DJ

    Well, except this is not a case just like other “mass incidents”, is it? I do not extend the same logic to race riots that target innocent civilians.

    “Target innocent civilians.” “Race riots.” Again you are reducing the Tibetan rebellion to what happened on March 14. Why?

  22. @DJ

    It should be noted that, the defining moment of the March event is the murderous race riot that happened on March 14 in Lhasa, which targeted innocent non-Tibetan civilians and business.

    Who defined that moment and why?

  23. @ DJ

    Just some random thoughts.
    First, you should be credited to the fact that you brought up this case to us rather than sweeping it under the carpet.

    I wonder if finally you huaqiaos are not more interested by the projected image of China rather than by the substance?.
    I mean, all of you who are from there, you know very well that China is a tough world with a lot of traps.
    What trigger such an angry reaction from you, isn’t that simply that it resonates very strongly in you?
    At one point or another, it seems to me that all dissidents are doomed to be vilified when they get famous abroad. However, whether you like it or not, they are a voice of China … not the only one, but still a voice.
    My question: why is that so excruciating?
    If the guy was sentenced and that it makes no noise at in the ‘West’, would you be sympathetic with the guy (I mean, not especially Chen Daojun, but say a ‘common justice seeker’)?

    However, I still think that there is no malign intention of these ‘Western’ big medias. I trust them on the whole. They can be sometimes silly and careless, but they are not ploting behind the scene. This is how we are us ‘Western’ folks: hide something, we will dig more and more to try to find it.

    I hope one day we will all be able to move forward the ‘mode national face on / I defend my country and I attack anyone who say something against it’ against the ‘sarcasm and laugh at this bunch of willfully hypocrite guys’.
    That’s somewhat a never-ending fight.

    I see one way to move forward: more respect from the foreigners and more confidence from the Chinese.
    Respect from the ‘West’ cannot be obtained by a denial attitude … however, you can push to change the mind of the people by explaining that your country has made a lot of progress, and your perspectives and POVs. Be patient. You see, it works with WKL, Steve, Jerry, me …
    Believe me or not, but most of the foreigners that I have seen in China love the country, even if it’s sometimes super tricky and frustrating.

    Confidence, hmm it’s just like with girls …
    Anyway, you should be confident … who really think that China will suddenly collapse?

    Ps: where is Tang Buxi? it’s a long time I haven’t seen him posting.

  24. @DJ

    I have read that entry, but it doesn’t explain why we should look at the Tibetan uprising as a “race riot” or why the events in Lhasa on March 14 should define the uprising as a whole. Since Sun Bin wrote those remarks half a year ago, we know that most protests actually took place in Tibetan areas outside of TAR. A lot of photographs of peacefully demonstrating Tibetans have emerged, as well as lists of Tibetans that are missing. On top of this, there are numerous pictures of Tibetans that have been killed. I guess that you may think that is just propaganda from Dharamsala. Perhaps. But we know enough about the methods that the TAR police forces have used in the past to make that information at least plausible.

    All I can say is this: by focusing on March 14, you can simply dismiss the whole movement as a “race riot” and ignore the underlying social realities that caused it. That is your choice. But don’t use guilt-by-association tactics to smear people like Chen who at least tries to contextualize the tragic events this year. That is just dishonest.

  25. @ DJ

    Whatever. Sarcasm is a more subtle and polite way to express anger.
    However, this is not the main point of my post.
    I can see since March (even before) a lot of anger on the Chinese side (on the other sides also, I admit).
    For me, that’s a vicious circle now. My point is how to break it.
    What is your opinion?

  26. bt #15

    However, why does the Chinese are so suspicious of the foreigners? why always ‘deliberately’, ‘willfully’, … ?”

    Indeed why. The Chinese had their first suspicions after the two Opium Wars perhaps, when those most enlightened Chinese who subscribed western ideas in their efforts to change the old China wondered why that the “teachers always bullied their students.” The enlightened Indians must also have their suspicion after British colonization of their country.

    The 1980s and 1990s saw one of the most westernized eras in the history of China. Most overseas Chinese who took street protesting against Western media’s distortion after 3.14 this year spent their formative years during that period openly, proudly pro-west. The change of attitude came with in-depth knowledge and more experience i suppose.

    I agree with you that we all speak for our own experience. Suspicious attitude held by the Chinese toward foreigners or the Westerner toward the Chinese is not always bad as long as you have an overall balanced view of the other. I believe that most Western journalists, China scholars and ordinary people who criticized China are good intentioned. But the “deliberately” and “willfully” ones, the die-hard anti-communist (though CCP is no longer much of it) Cold Warriors do exist.

  27. @ snow

    Thanks a lot! Point taken.
    I agree with most of what you say.
    My point is that we ‘West’ are neither angels neither demons … if you put up too high a country like USA, at one moment you are sure to feel betrayed.
    The history of China is long and rich, but at one moment it might become a burden as well as a source of pride … is that assumption shocking you?

  28. Raj #12
    “How has the CCP improved the lives of billions when China’s population is only 1 billion+ and many still are in poverty, or gained wealth only because the CCP removed constraints on the economy it imposed in the first place?”

    Let’s say 1.3 billions.
    Relievable statistics will show you how large a population’s lives had been improved with the founding of the PRC (for instance, check the life span before and after 1949; or go compare the Chinese life span with the Indian’s during the years from 1949 to 1976).

    “Also you neglect the large number of Chinese who have suffered and still suffer under CCP rule. It would be rather disgusting to praise the CCP’s achievements and push its skeletons back into the closet at the same time.”

    I have never neglected the suffering Chinese and am genuinely glad that the official media has become more open in reporting on bad news. But I also know that even those who are still poor admitted that their lives had changed for the better in many aspects. It so happened that I had a talk with an old woman from China’s northwest, a laid-off worker who worked as housekeeper now (for many years she only had a pension of a little more than 200 RMB to feed a family of three but she managed to have a son graduated from college and found a job in Shenyang).

    If you really want to have have a sound view of China why do not you talk to ordinary people, all walks of people, not just the well connected dissidents?

  29. bt, #31

    “The history of China is long and rich, but at one moment it might become a burden as well as a source of pride … is that assumption shocking you?”

    No, honestly. Any thing that lacks that quality would.

  30. @ Snow #32

    “Let’s say 1.3 billions”

    Ask someone from your parents generation why they have 5 or 8 brothers and sisters. I spoke to someone a few days ago who had 16 aunts and uncles, 9 on her mother’s side!! (that is not misunderstanding or misuse of brother/cousin, etc…) I can’t give a government an award for effectively managing its country after creating a huge population problem.

    “But I also know that even those who are still poor admitted that their lives had changed for the better in many aspects.”

    I think everyone would acknowledge that the life of the average person has improved dramatically over the past century, but when calling for a reward for the government citing economic improvement, what are you referencing and what are you glossing over? People constantly bring up China’s rapid economic growth but frankly after the 60’s, China options were either grow or implode. The state the country was in 30-40 years ago left only room for improvement. China will continue to out-pace other economies as long as order is maintained and there is infrastructure and industry to develop. In providing an environment that facilitates growth, the government is simply doing its job. DJ’s post is an example of one of the costs of maintaining that order.

    “It so happened that I had a talk with an old woman from China’s northwest, a laid-off worker who worked as housekeeper now (for many years she only had a pension of a little more than 200 RMB to feed a family of three but she managed to have a son graduated from college and found a job in Shenyang)”

    The old woman deserves praise. I have a friend whose parents run a boat up and down the rivers in northern Zhejiang. During her youth, my friend and her brother lived with their grandparents while their parents lived on the boat, working day in and day out. They saw their parents only twice a year for over 10 years. The husband and wife put both children through school and college but because of their economic situation missed out their children’s youth. It’s commendable that China has held together over the past century through so many pressing times but in my opinion, tribute belongs to the endurance and resilience of people. As long as the leadership refuses to acknowledge its mistakes, praise will be hard to come by. Besides, isn’t having a strong national identity reward enough?

  31. oops, “tribute belongs to the endurance and resilience of people.” should read “tribute belongs to the endurance and resilience of the people.”

  32. Ted, #14 &#34

    Indeed having a strong national identity is a reward enough. I didn’t mean a prize literally. What i really ment should be a fair acknowledgement.

    “I certainly agree that conditions are better now than they used to be but I’m curious what starting point is cited when people bring up China’s improved living standards. Measuring only the past three decades doesn’t acknowledge the reason conditions were so poor at the end of the 60’s and early 70′. Lifting millions out of poverty is indeed a great achievement but if I light my house on fire then build a new one I won’t expect accolades from my neighbors.”

    First, if you do a little research on the period from 1949 to 1976 you’d find out that despite many man-made and natural disasters the industrialization and many other infrastructures were being built up, which undeniably provided the foundation for the economic miracles of the past three decades. Three generations of my family have lived in China since the 1900s and I can speak for them that the time from 1949 to 1976 was not the Dark Age as many westerns would like to think despite the unfortunate political movements with millions casualties (including two of my family members).

    Second, why should the CCP who paid extremely high price to win over the KMD to own a “house” and then “set it on fire?” Isn’t it that it’s only understandable that they experienced, sometimes they succeeded, sometimes failed? Sometimes they admitted mistakes (the anti-rightist movement, the great leap forward, the Cultural Revolution, for instance) and other times they didn’t (the 6.4), just as many other regimes would do under circumstances.

    Besides endurance and resilience, perhaps the Chinese people should also be praised for being extremely reasonable with good understanding and generosity when dealing with the personal and the collective (a cultural thing that many would like to belittle or scoff at it), of which the government (both the former KMD and CCP) takes too much advantage even to the point of abusing it. Revolution and rebellion only come as the last resort to such abuse and it would be deadly destructive. Any one who rules China knows this better.

    “I can’t give a government an award for effectively managing its country after creating a huge population problem.”

    I don’t quite know the cause for the huge population problem yet. It looks like that the poorer a country the uncontrollably larger the population, a vicious circle. I do feel bewildered, however, when many humanitarians in the West spoke loudly against the Chinese government’s one-child policy to deal with the problem of over population and stubbornly refused to see such policy within historical, social and economic context as a “lesser evil” adopted to achieve larger good.

  33. @DJ – Once again, whilst I have my doubts as to whether Hu Jia really deserved the Sakharov prize, I know – as should anyone who has any sense of justice – that he did not deserve the punishment handed out by the government. This man also did not deserve to be treated in this fashion, whatever you think of his opinions (I will say myself that I do not like many of them – but there is also much truth in them also) yet your first reaction is to mock him. This really is the ‘shoot the messenger’ mentality

    Que Charles Liu: “the west does this as well”, “he was an agent of a foreign power”, “western people are hypocrites”, “if only the west did not support such people, we would not punish them”. As if the question really were one of everything being OK in China except for when people make trouble.

  34. bt, #31

    Thank you for being open-minded.

    “The history of China is long and rich, but at one moment it might become a burden as well as a source of pride … is that assumption shocking you?”

    No, honestly. Any thing lack of that quality of paradox and irony would supprise me.

  35. “First, if you do a little research on the period from 1949 to 1976 you’d find out that despite many man-made and natural disasters the industrialization and many other infrastructures were being built up, which undeniably provided the foundation for the economic miracles of the past three decades. Three generations of my family have lived in China since the 1900s and I can speak for them that the time from 1949 to 1976 was not the Dark Age as many westerns would like to think despite the unfortunate political movements with millions casualties (including two of my family members)”

    I’ve read that there were wide ranging experiences during the period you mention but according to many people I have spoken to, it was the dark ages many westerners think of. I admit my sources are limited and my opinion is largely drawn from conversations with friends who’s experiences are similar to your own.

    “Second, why should the CCP who paid extremely high price to win over the KMD to own a “house” and then “set it on fire?”… Revolution and rebellion only come as the last resort to such abuse and it would be deadly destructive. –Any one who rules China knows this better.–””

    These issues are being discussed on the other thread (perhaps where this belongs). The second part I find flawed at the portion I set off with — but this is also being discussed in the other thread.

    “I don’t quite know the cause for the huge population problem yet. It looks like that the poorer a country the uncontrollably larger the population, a vicious circle.”

    It could be related to the series of disasters that led to impoverished social stagnation (which you rightly point out leads to higher birth rates), ideological promotion of population growth, and the simultaneous development of a modern agriculture, sanitation and health care systems. In my opinion the population issue was more man-made than natural phenomenon. I think that the one-child policy is a complicated issue and I think those outside of China who are more knowledgeable on the subject question the implementation more than the policy. The male-female imbalance presents another set of issues.

    “Besides endurance and resilience, perhaps the Chinese people should also be praised for being extremely reasonable with good understanding and generosity when dealing with the personal and the collective.”

    Absolutely agree, and as you state the praise belongs to the people. In short my reaction was to your initial post. I’m simply questioning the starting point from which progress should be measured and if we look at the past 60 years, then all events over should be considered. I could choose set the benchmark for the development of the US just after the Civil War but I would fail to acknowledge an event integral to my country’s development and leave many mistakes to be repeated. I know China’s system doesn’t allow for as rapid an acknowledgment of failures as might be seen in other countries but I think praise and accountability should come at a rate that allows for a fair assessment.

  36. Sorry, having trouble editing, the problem is on my end. Don’t intend for the opening of the 6th paragraph to sound snippy.

  37. Ted and snow, I think you are just talking of the same thing, but from a different angle.

    Ted, I suggest you to watch the Gapminder presentation here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVimVzgtD6w.
    It’s a fact, the life of the people improved a lot under Mao.
    After, a lot of things were completely irresponsible , like the ‘many arms needed for revolution policy’, the GLF and the CR.
    Deng XP has been extremely courageous, methinks. Maybe the History will be remember him even more than Mao.

  38. @snow

    Most overseas Chinese who took street protesting against Western media’s distortion after 3.14 this year spent their formative years during that period openly, proudly pro-west.

    Again, why this focus on 3.14? The events on 3.14 were first reported in Western media, and the shit didn’t hit the fan until Xinhua started to use this to whip up Han chauvinist sentiments.

  39. @snow #36: I’ve enjoyed reading your posts but they’ve also raised a few questions in my mind and I’m curious about some of the things you mentioned. You said the infrastructure was being built up from 1949 to 1976. Outside of railways, what other infrastructure are you referring to? I’m not doubting you; I just don’t know. I know the SOEs were all started back then but didn’t they prove to be very inefficient? There was an initial surge from ’49 to ’58 but wasn’t most of that due to having peace throughout the land? Since ’58, what I’ve read said China just sank further and further behind.

    Before 1976, where do you feel they had the most economic success? Which industries would you point to and how would that success be judged? The reason I’m asking is that I have a few friends who came to China in the early ’80s and said it was pretty bleak, like something out of the distant past. They marvel at the progress since then.

    Again, from what I’ve read, both Liu and Deng had a good idea how to move China forward but they were always being thwarted by Mao. Wouldn’t you say the GLF and CR were well beyond “mistakes”? To me they seem like enormous disasters, not only for what they did at the time but for the long term effects they had, both economically, socially and politically. Estimates of starvation in the GLF were anywhere from 14 to 43 million. As a comparison, the great Bangledesh famine in 1974 was about one million. I feel so badly for those poor people; the whole event is beyond my imagination. Beyond the obvious human toll, the CR brought illiteracy and a huge slowdown economically. Just the deaths from starvation in the GLF equal the number of Russians killed by the Germans in WWII.

    snow, the cause of the huge overpopulation was China’s government policy. In 1953 the population had already grown to 582 million. Starting in 1949, Mao encouraged Chinese families to have as many children as possible. This was because the government was interested in total production output for launching China into world power status. More hands meant more workers for the state machine of national production. The “later, longer, fewer” campaign in the early 1970s promoted later marriage, longer periods between pregnancies and fewer children overall. That took the fertility rate from 5.9 children/mother to 2.7 in 1979 when Deng took over and soon launched the one child policy. I’d agree with Ted that the government created the problem and is now solving its own mess, so no need for too much praise or too much blame. The fact is, China cannot sustain itself over the long haul with a population this enormous. But the country is in better shape than India, whose population growth is still out of control.

    One thing I noticed there was that the only child will call his/her cousins “brother” or “sister”. Typically they have so many first cousins that it at least gives them a few people near their own age that are family. I thought that was a really nice custom.

    Talk of growth in that era can be somewhat misleading and can’t be taken in a vacuum. The entire world recovered after the war so economic recovery has to be compared to the rest of the world and not just within that country. Of course there was some economic growth but China was definitely way behind the world recovery until Deng took over. If Mao had retired in the early 50s, things might have been very, very different but he didn’t so we just have to live with what happened

    I completely agree with you about the positive nature of the one child policy. However, you should not feel bewildered about the opposition of some groups in the west. I’d say the vast majority of articles and opinions in the west support the one child policy. But there are many special interest groups whose agenda is domestic, using China’s policy as a tool to promote their own policies. You have to take it in context. Because we have freedom of speech, it’s always easy to find someone who agrees with you and someone who disagrees with you.

    I hear this a lot on the blog, “X western organization condemns China, therefore the west is against China or the media is against China.” I’ve heard just as many commentaries supporting China as bashing it. Just as many if not more economists supporting the open trade with China rather than bashing the unequal balance. Even back during the CR, Mao’s Little Red Book was a big seller in the United States. Many back then were China supporters so I think we have to look at the entire picture. Believe me, some of these people’s opinions bewilder us just as much as they bewilder you; we just ignore them rather than acknowledge them. 🙂

  40. @Hemulen,

    Why are you so obsessed with Xinhua? Well, I guess without Xinhua whiping up Han chauvinist sentiments, Jin Jing would not have defended her torch in a wheelchair. 😉

  41. @admin – To be honest, I really don’t understand what your point is. Are you comparing a scuffle in Paris to a system of national censorship and oppression? Are you saying that one justifies the other? What are you saying?

    @DJ – In what sense is Chen Daojun a provocateur? My understanding of this phrase is that it means “an agent employed by others to discredit someone by provoking them into making them a rash or intemperate act”. Are you suggesting that Chen is being controlled by others? Who? And why do you say that he has been sentenced to “three years of international fame”? Surely you are not suggesting that he did all this simply so he could become famous?

  42. @FOARP,

    I am surprised that you are trying to deduce such deep meanings from my comments. Do you work for Xinhua? 🙂

    No, I am not comparing anything and I do not think one wrong justifies the other.

    I’m simply saying you can’t blame everything on Xinhua and you have to put things into context.

  43. @ bt. thanks for the link. A very interesting presentation, I’ve seen a few of those before and they’re always informative and fun to watch. I mentioned before and certainly agree that living standards have improved but the costs have also been tremendous.

    Steve’s tone is better than mine. I don’t engage in these kinds of conversations in my day to day and I’ve been kicking around China for a little while now so hearing “natural disaster”, for example when driving past an abandoned makeshift smelter in the countryside, wears me down. A fact is a fact, but as long as the failures are ignored, discussion is shut down (not at FM) or the whole picture is hazy I won’t be able to say good job. For Chinese who wonder why some “westerners” come across as opinionated or biased, maybe that will help. I’m just trying to consider all the elements when evaluating a performance.

    @ Snow: I’m always looking for good books to read and I echo Steve’s questions. I’ve been piecing together a reading list for my return to the states in part from names people mentioned here. It’d be nice if there were running lists somewhere but that would be a pretty heavy undertaking 🙂

  44. @ ted

    You are preaching a convert man 🙂
    I am also very frustrated sometimes reading some posts, but I imagine it is the same on the other side.
    The more I think about it, the more I think that this is just a Clash of Culture.

    If it is a MianZi pissing contest (excuse the rudeness) over and over, we can continue during years and years :). My question is: how to move forward?

  45. FOARP,

    Once again, whilst I have my doubts as to whether Hu Jia really deserved the Sakharov prize, I know – as should anyone who has any sense of justice – that he did not deserve the punishment handed out by the government. This man also did not deserve to be treated in this fashion, whatever you think of his opinions (I will say myself that I do not like many of them – but there is also much truth in them also) yet your first reaction is to mock him. This really is the ’shoot the messenger’ mentality

    Let me first reaffirm, like the way you put it, this man did not deserve to be treated in this fashion (i.e. imprisoned for what he had to say), whatever I think of his opinions.

    That said, was I trying to shoot the messenger through this post? Well, No, at least initially. I started drafting this post mostly along the line of “why the f*** is China doing this wrong and stupid thing again!?” but somehow the post turned out the way it did. I didn’t consciously intend to mock this guy. But I have to admit that my inclusion of his words is mockery enough.

    That raises an interesting question: what is the reason for me to become so dismissive of this guy in the end? Perhaps I should refer to a prior post of mine “The evolution of political activisms according to (misused) Gresham’s law“. I have been frustrated by this pattern of bad (grandstanding, unbecoming, etc.) activists driving the good (i.e. someone who actually is trying to make a change) off the stage. Hu Jia is perhaps a good example of this. Please read through what Richard had to say about him after doing some homework on what kind of person Hu really is. The links are in the [UPDATE 3] section of the post above.

  46. FOARP,

    And why do you say that he has been sentenced to “three years of international fame”? Surely you are not suggesting that he did all this simply so he could become famous?

    That’s just a dig at the (local) Chinese government shooting at the parts that keep their nose from buried in the dirt, again.

  47. @admin

    Obsession with Xinhua? Actually, I was asking why DJ and others are so obsessed with 3-14, when there is much more to the Tibetan uprising than that. DJ has declined to respond, which is no surprise. I guess they will never address that question and continue to delegitimize Tibetan grievances by throwing 3-14 back at anyone that wants to raise the issue. A double standard is applied here: Tibetan protests are “race riots”, Uighur protests are “terrorist”, whereas Han Chinese participate in “mass incidents”. If violence occurs in mass incidents, we are asked to understand the context and you spend a lot of space on this blog to find out the real story. No similar curiosity applies when you discuss protests by ethnic minorities. Apparently we already “know” that they are prone to violence.

    Or look at how the Chinese language press deals with similar incidents. Yang Jia stabs 6 policemen to death in Shanghai: – A man with understandable grievances oversteps a boundary. He mus have been under a lot of pressure. Two Uighur drives into a crowd of policemen: – Terrorism.

  48. @Hemulen,

    You are right that 3-14 should be viewed in a historic context. Let’s see. There was the Tibetan Uprising in 1959 which led to the Dalai Lama’s exile. There were violent protests in 1989 which led to a long period of curfew in Lhasa. None of these was declared “race riots” by Xinhua or anyone else.

    So 3-14 is in its own category. Or for that matter, it differs from other “mass incidents” in a significant way. All the things you referred to, and the previous Tibetan uprisings I mentioned, are examples of people rebelling against the government. The Lasha riot, on the other hand, was an act of attacking and killing innocent civilians, especially Han and Hui people.

    So while I sympathize with Tibetan grievances, I think violence should obviously be condemned. By the way, do you think 9/11 legitimizes the Arabic grievances?

  49. @admin

    3-14 was only part of a Tibetan uprising that started on March 10 and spread over the whole Tibetan plateau. Most of the protests were outside of TAR, for the simple reason that most Tibetans don’t live in the TAR. Where else do we have reports of Han and Hui being targeted for violence? Why does DJ want to make March 14 the “defining moment” of the protest? What about the protests outside Kirti monastery in Sichuan? What about Labrang, Rebkong, Manchu, Amchok Bora, Tsoe and Chentsa? Were these protests targeted against Han civilians as well?

    What I object to is not the fact that people are condemning the killing of innocent civilians. What I take exception to the persistent efforts by people on this blog to talk only about what a small group of people did in Lhasa on March 14, when for what we know, the vast majority of protests were non-violent and did not target civilians. There is a huge double standard applied here.

    And what has 9-11 got to do with this? Just stop right then and there.

  50. Hemulen,

    I didn’t decline to respond to you. It’s just I feel the need to formulate a bit how to do so. Frankly, let me just say that the answer to your challenge of March 14 being described as a murderous race riot is the easy part. Because it is one. As for why some, me included, place such importance to March 14, that’s a serious topic worth its own thread. So this response does not qualify as a proper discourse but a quick (and probably incoherent) reply.

    When people go through their lives, there some moments that just stand out and help define or upset their briefs and views of the world. For me, the first such moment is the 1989 June 4th event. And this March 14th is the second such moment.

    You might be surprised to hear that the March riots didn’t change much of my perspectives on Tibet. I was and still am willing and able to consider why there is discontent and how that might or might be resolved in what ways from competing points of view. I didn’t develop a hatred for Tibetans or Dalai Lama because that those violences. I was more interested afterwards to analyze if the root cause was political, religious or economical in nature. …

    What did change was my view of the entire western media and so called opinion shapers. I always knew that there were people (e.g. Ann Coulter) and institutions (e.g. FOX News) that should be, well, ignored. But I at least had some confidence in the overall professionalism and good will of the overall medias. Well, no more. To summarize everything in one sentence: I was disgusted by a general pattern of what could at best be described as willful ignorance and indifference to the beating and killing of Han and Hui Chinese civilians. I guess human rights are meant only for people they like and they showed that they really really do not like Han Chinese as a people.

    I was an avid news reader for years but never had any urge to write anything online before March 2008. Then I realized that I couldn’t stay silent any more. And here I am.

  51. Except that 3.14 in Lhasa is not that much of an exception. Gannan of Gansu, Aba of Sichuan, for example, both had multiple incidents where govt buildings, street shops, vehicles got burned and destroyed, and police and civilians violently attacked.

  52. @DJ – The thing is, this is not even a case of poor presentation, or of an otherwise good organisation shooting itself in the foot through silly action, no, this is the totalitarian system at work. This is political communism. This is where simply writing down a private thought is illegal. This is the proof that there is at least some truth in what he was writing, because mad men and fantasists aren’t put in prison but in asylums. The simple fact is that the current political system in China cannot survive people speaking their minds, and this is its greatest indictment.

    There is, in truth, nothing ennobling about suffering and oppression. Nobody is made a better person through being imprisoned – whatever people say about ‘rehabilitation’ – but there is something noble about people who are willing to suffer for their ideas. This does not mean that these ideas have any special virtue, but that the people who have them do. In truth, there is nothing new in what he has written, you can hear similar things all over China, but nobody is allowed to say them in a public forum without risking imprisonment, a risk that very few are willing to run.

    One other thing, China is not a federal country, it does not have local parties or meaningful regional autonomy, all such decisions are taken through the same structure. It is meaningless to talk about the acts of local government in this matter as somehow separate from that of the central government. Officials do not suddenly become heroes when they go from county or provincial governance to central government, they remain pretty much the same. The law which Chen Daojun was sentenced under is in accordance with the highest law in the country, in fact the right of the state to outlaw such ‘crimes’ is protected by the first article of the Chinese constitution:

    “Article 1. The People’s Republic of China is a socialist state under the people’s democratic dictatorship led by the working class and based on the alliance of workers and peasants. The socialist system is the basic system of the People’s Republic of China. Sabotage of the socialist system by any organization or individual is prohibited.”

    A constitution is supposed to set out the most basic principles of the law, the national view on the rights of the citizen, but this is not the law of a civilised country, this is the law of a bandit state, North Korea writ large. The People’s Republic of China is in the process of becoming a economic giant, but it is still a moral pigmy, so afraid of harmless men with opinions they can’t keep to themselves that it has to invent crimes to keep them from public view. This is political communism, and it will not stop any time soon.

  53. @DJ

    I was disgusted by a general pattern of what could at best be described as willful ignorance and indifference to the beating and killing of Han and Hui Chinese civilians. I guess human rights are meant only for people they like and they showed that they really really do not like Han Chinese as a people.

    There was media distortion, indeed, but you are taking it too far. Violence against Han and Hui was reported in Western media first, only then did Xinhua pick up the story. And if you care to look, there is a lot of sympathetic reporting in the West about Han Chinese people being victimized for all kinds of reasons. I think you are unfair.

    I am just curious about this idea of a defining moment. Did the Nangpa-la shootings make any impression on you? Why did it or why did it not?

  54. Hemulen,

    I am reproducing here a comment left by Buxi for Richard Spencer on March 29. It was incidentally the very first thing from Buxi that I have read.

    I will concede to being one of the many Chinese who believe the Western media dropped the ball. I don’t say this on the basis of the CNN picture cropping controversy, but rather on the basis of my own expectations for objective reporting.

    Let me start by saying that I for one believe the vast, vast majority of Western journalists act with genuine integrity, and hold their journalistic principles as being sacred. This, to me, makes the subsequent negligence even more difficult to imagine.

    In the early hours of May 14th, Western print media ran more or less the predictable story on the issue of Tibet… all they had were keywords: Tibetan monks, riot, armed Chinese troops, deaths. They combined these in more or less predictable ways, and I couldn’t blame them.

    But by May 15th, a different story had already begun to emerge. The blogger Kadfly had posted his now infamous video of the Chinese man on the scooter being beaten by a Tibetan mob. James Miles had already filed several wire reports (for the Guardian as well as Economist) capturing his eyewitness accounts: Tibetan violence aimed at Han Chinese civilians, and no direct evidence of a violent/forceful military reaction. The Christian Science Monitor also ran an early report, including quotes from an interview with Kadfly + their European friends in Lhasa. (One European eyewitness gives an iconic quote in that CS Monitor article from 03/14: “They were aiming to kill Muslims and Chinese for a free Tibet.”)

    I, personally, thought that the Western press would pick up on these changes rather quickly. Kadfly’s pictures had made it to the cover of the New York Times, and James Miles, certainly, is someone who’s easily identifiable and with obvious credentials; surely the *implications* of what they were reporting would quickly spread. It never did.

    Two days later, by March 17th, Western tourists had begun to leave Lhasa. A press conference was held in Kathmandu, and a few wire reports captured part of what they reported. The Toronto Star first introduced me to the name “James Kenwood”; his observations (as well as other tourists with him) were in exact correlation to what Kadfly and James Miles had observed. This time, I thought… finally! Surely first person eyewitness accounts speaking at a press conference would gather *some* attention. It never did… no major Western news source wrote an article based on their account; the only AP wire report that mentions James Kenwood only talks about the ironic fact that those cleaning up after the riots in Lhasa wore vests emblazoned with the 2008 Olympics logo. It took another 11 days before the Washington Post finally broke the boycott and posted James Kenwood’s account in a comprehensive overview of what the riot actually entailed.

    At almost the same time, James Miles of the Economist left Lhasa as his visa expired. (Various wire reports chose to describe him as being “expelled”, although he personally refused to use such a term.) He gave a comprehensive interview on CNN, in which he basically said in so many words: his direct observations of what happened on March 14th matches the government version. I thought… surely, this would be it. Finally, the editors at the BBC and the New York Times would come around on these issues.

    I waited for the Western press to not just perform the function of relaying facts, but to actually interpret them in a fair way. I waited for the Western press to describe race riots, and to refrain from using the terms “brutal crackdown” to describe what had happened in Lhasa on 3/14. I waited for the Western press to absorb information from these credible, identifiable Western eyewitnesses… rather than relying repeatedly on hear-say accounts delivered by the Tibetan government-in-exile.

    It simply hasn’t happened. I want to give you some credit here Richard: you personally have been “fair”. You haven’t helped forward the cause of truth on this issue, but you at least didn’t detract from it. And perhaps you’ve been so busy with the news gathering effort that you haven’t been involved in the news *digesting* process… try. Try flipping through the wire reports issued during that first key week after March 14th. Tell me if you saw James Miles’ reports given the same credibility and prominence as the stories (now-proven lies) coming out of Dharamasala.

    (The Tibetan government-in-exile issued a release in the first hours after the riot of March 14th alleging that martial law had been declared, that the police had fired into crowds, and that 100 had already dead. Is anyone in the Western media going to call them on these lies?)

    Now, I understand you’re here genuflecting, suggesting in a tone partly hurt and partly defensive, that you’ve done nothing wrong. That the truth *is* coming out (again, see Washington Post article as of this week), and that the Western media remains as fair as ever.

    I don’t think we can judge Western media purely on the basis of what is said, but also on *when* it is said. 1000 accurate reports on missing WMDs in Iraq after the invasion can not, will not balance the supplicant, sycophantic reports that dominated American media *before* the invasion. It has, unfortunately, become accepted “fact” amongst many Western readers that March 14th was indeed just another Tiananmen; that peaceful protesters were killed by heavily armed troops firing indiscrimnantly into crowds; that Beijing has again committed murder upon her own citizens.

    The Western media might be able to find a convenient intellectual fig leaf on this issue… I personally don’t doubt that it will eventually (perhaps buried on the 5th or 6th pages of the Friday paper) discover the truth of 3/14. But until it makes an active effort to wipe away the false impression it’s already delivered to the vast majority of its readers, then the accusations of “bias” in result (if not in intent) rings very true to my ears.

  55. @DJ – I’m sorry, but the stories of shootings have not been ‘disproven’, the military clamp-down in Tibet did happen, the pronunciamentos of the communist regime do not deserve to be treated as having greater credibility than those of the Dharamsala (and what of the stories of bomb plots and ‘suicide squads’?), the riots were triggered by the refusal of the government to release political prisoners – this is confirmed by every source available except the PRC government. Finally – look what happened when journalists were given access – they were confronted by monks who complained of oppression in Tibet.

    I’m sorry that China is not free, and that violence is the result of this, but do not blame the western media for reporting this.

  56. The events on 3.14 were first reported in Western media, and the shit didn’t hit the fan until Xinhua started to use this to whip up Han chauvinist sentiments.

    Which Western media are we talking about here?

    And what better way is there to whip up Han chauvinist sentiments by talking about a Tibetan doctor who risked his life to save children from the rioters, or by interviewing a Tibetan girl about her escape from the fate that saw her Han and Tibetan sisters getting burned alive?

    http://news.xinhuanet.com/newscenter/2008-03/26/content_7864085.htm
    http://www.cctv.com/profile/special/C17724/20080506/105950.shtml

    Someone’s brain is getting fuzzy here, and I somehow wish it is mine.

  57. @PMW – The shootings were reported in newspapers world-wide, Including The Times, The Guardian, The New York Times, the Times of India, The Straits Times, The South African Guardian and Mail, The Australian, the South China Post and many others, as well as many television networks. As for ‘holes’ in the story – would you care to enlighten us? As far as I know, a Romanian television cameraman filmed the event, and his story was corroborated by several members of the climbing team, including an off-duty British policeman, and the Chinese authorities released a story about how the border guards had fired in ‘self-defence’, killing and capturing (but not wounding) all their assailants. Why would the Chinese authorities have bothered to release a cover-story if the story was fake?

  58. @DJ, Hemulen, et al~

    I might get beat up for this but I really believe it. I’m just going to address the media rather than what actually happened since everyone here has addressed that.

    “Spin” in the west tends to be balanced between the two dominant parties in every country, or by competing media. As DJ said, I don’t expect Fox news to be fair and I don’t expect MSNBC to be fair. Each has its obvious agenda. But there are plenty in the middle and if you listen to enough of them, you can get a pretty good picture of what’s going on.

    If there is a major news story, every media outlet has a reporter there to get the facts. For political news, they have to have a certain amount of cross checks to verify.

    In the case of the Lhasa riots, most of the major media outlets had no one there at the time. When their reporters tried to get there, they weren’t allowed in. When a reporter can’t get to the story, that reporter feels something is being covered up. By trying to control the news, the Chinese government pushed the news to the negative side.

    The CCP isn’t known for being very straighforward in its news releases. So if you are a media outlet, you need to get another source. The DL organization is another source, and it’s in Tibet so you go to them for their side. Now here’s a pet peeve of mine. In the old days, papers didn’t usually print news unless they could confirm what is true. These days, they feel it is fine as long as they print both sides. So they print the CCP press release and then print the DL’s comments. The CCP comments are the usual dry ones that are full of insults to the DL, so sound terrible in the west. The DL organization comments are without the insults so they play better in the press. So the CCP loses the initial publicity battle.

    Now here comes an eyewitness account, but not a NY Times eyewitness; in fact, another media outlet’s eyewitness. The NY Times does not want to use an Economist eyewitness. They want their own person in there but that reporter isn’t allowed to go. NY Times gets pissed and ignores the story.

    What do we have here? Competing press releases, one well written and one sounding like propaganda. Then no one is allowed inside. Then a competing media outlet gets the “scoop” on the story.

    Most media outlets buy their international coverage from only a few sources. That is why so many of the stories sound the same. Those usual outlets could not get their own stories, so they didn’t write any. Professional jealousy? Maybe. But that’s how the media works.

    China should know this. China should have allowed a reporter from the NY Times, The WP, Reuters and AP to get in there as fast as possible. Safety had nothing to do with it; reporters go to far more dangerous places.

    After a certain amount of time, the story just isn’t big anymore and won’t get the coverage it should deserve. It gets driven off the front page by Britney Spears, Sarah Palin or fires in southern California.

    So is it a big conspiracy? I doubt it. There is no value in reporting one way or the other, and no value for different media outlets to conspire with each other. That brings no advantage to anyone. But by not allowing reporters to do their job, the assumption is that there is something hidden. And professional jealousy played a part. There is also another huge factor; the media needs photos and video. If they were allowed in there and had gotten their own photos and video, the story would have been front page and all over the newscasts.

    I think most everyone who has contributed to this post has made good arguments for certain aspects of what happened. Hemulan has valid points concerning when the incidents started, DJ has good arguments concerning the effect of what happened on 3/14, FOARP has good points about the system and how its convictions are very arbitrary, admin takes a balanced view of what happened, seeing problems on both sides, I think bt, Ted and I are trying to see both sides and can’t see why each side is so intractable, etc.

    But in the end, what I’m trying to say is that there is no such thing as “western media”; it’s just not that monolithic. There is a process that’s followed, the CCP didn’t play the process well and got bit.

    DJ, you are absolutely correct when you said that people will remember their first impression of a story, no matter how much it’s corrected later. The first impression outside of China is that China had a “brutal crackdown” and that’s how it’s going to be remembered. To be honest, most people in the rest of the world are just not concerned enough about China or Tibet to pay much attention beyond the original story. Unfortunately, they just don’t care.

  59. Steve,

    Thanks for the extensive and considered comment. I just want to point one thing out: the coverage and interest on China did not just fade a couple weeks after the Tibet riots in the western media, in turn causing medias to lose incentive to revisit the issues. There was a continuous and heightened attention because it was quickly followed up by long journey of the Olympics torch through the globe and all the associated protests and counter protests, for which the March events were kept in focus. The narrative, however, was never corrected.

  60. @ DJ

    Somewhere, it looks like an old couple on the verge of divorce 🙂
    ‘it’s you, no it’s you !!!’
    USA is from Mars and China is from Venus, or something like that.
    BTW, USA is not the ‘West’, and the ‘West’ is not the ‘outside world’.

    “I was disgusted by a general pattern of what could at best be described as willful ignorance and indifference to the beating and killing of Han and Hui Chinese civilians. I guess human rights are meant only for people they like and they showed that they really really do not like Han Chinese as a people.”

    I understand your feelings, somehow. After the Irak story, during some months I felt like ‘mentally raped’, and ‘humiliated’ by the American newspapers. As I said before, this country always finish to correct their mistakes.

    Ok, I think as long as the people do not take a break there is no escape.
    Indeed, this case is quite complicated on both sides.
    DJ, if you expect us to change all our views to fit yours, you can wait a long long long time.
    We are what we are, and it won’t change.
    The best way I think is to promote the fact that ‘my truth’ is not necessarily ‘your truth’, and to try to be as tolerant as possible.

  61. @admin

    I request highlights for the Steve #65, please.

    @ DJ

    Try to move on from your feelings …
    you see, like after a big argue with your GF, you take a walk and stay alone one complete day
    In 5/10 years, maybe a super balanced book will be edited on the topic, and we can all have a diner to talk about it.

  62. @ DJ: I agree completely with your comment, but in a way I think it proves my point. When those protests on the torch relay were going on around the world, what did the media have? It had photos and video. So that’s what it showed. The actual riots in Tibet weren’t the story; the protests against the torch relay were. No one could add a background story about Tibet because no one was allowed in Lhasa. Without video and photos, there is no story.

    In the beginning of the torch relays, the negative story from China’s side were the paramilitary forces running on either side of the runners, and the attempts to stop Tibetan protesters in countries where those protests are legal. What changed the perception for China was the wheelchair incident. People perceived that as stepping over the line on the Tibetan side. Next thing you know, there’s an earthquake in Sichuan and the torch relay story goes from international to local news.

  63. bt,

    if you expect us to change all our views to fit yours, you can wait a long long long time.

    Look, that’s simply not what I demanded. I spelled my views and positions in my post, backed by evidences as I could find. When challenged or questioned, I responded in good faith. What I want, and what this site is meant for, is meaningful exchange of ideas and debating of positions. I never expected my readers would have to change their views to fit mine, but rather I am merely trying to get people take some time and listen to my views. That’s all.

  64. @ DJ

    In fact, you know, when I write something, please don’t take all the things as personals.
    Most of time, after you reply, I realize that I am just projecting some things I think on general about the Chinese on you.

    I think this is partly why some duets might be so acrimonious sometimes, even between 2 people of good faith: the non-Chinese guy projects his frustration of the Chinese, and the Chinese do the same.
    And finally, it’s like ‘playing the luth to the cow’ on both sides.

  65. @DJ

    Buxi expected this to be reported, Buxi expected that to be reported. Again you are making this a question about West vs. China. I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about the fact that you and a number of other contributors to this blog want to reduce the Tibetan uprising to a question of (1) the riot in Lhasa on 3-14 and (2)the alleged failure of Western media to report on it. That is not the story. The story is that the uprising is one of the biggest Tibetan uprising since the late 1980s. We should ask ourselves why this happened, just in the same calm fashion that we ask why people riot in Weng’an or have peaceful marches in Xiamen and Shanghai.

    You rhetorically ask if the lives of Han Chinese are less worth than the lives of Tibetans. What if the shoe is on the other foot? What if I tell you that there is good reason to believe that the uprising claimed more Tibetan lives than Chinese? Do I then have the right to ask you if Tibetan lives are less worth than Han Chinese? You hold Chen Daojun to task for praising the Tibetan rebels but failing to condemn the rioters on 3-14. Now, does that logic apply to you? Do you think I should ask you to condemn the Nangpa-la shootings before you engage in any discussion about Tibet?

  66. Hemulen,

    Sigh. What are we doing here? It has been a long sequence of you make a challenge and I make a good faithed response, even though it was also quite clear we were mostly talking past each other. That’s fine. But what are you demanding here? Just because I didn’t and still don’t follow your precise views that you want to shut me up?

  67. “In the beginning of the torch relays, the negative story from China’s side were the paramilitary forces running on either side of the runners, and the attempts to stop Tibetan protesters in countries where those protests are legal. What changed the perception for China was the wheelchair incident. People perceived that as stepping over the line on the Tibetan side. Next thing you know, there’s an earthquake in Sichuan and the torch relay story goes from international to local news.”

    Where is RMBWhat? “conspiracy!”, “conspiracy!” 🙂

  68. Any one see the article Rebecca Mackinnon’s about China’s most famous (or infamous depending on you perspective) blogger/investigative reporter? The next Chen Daojun?

  69. @ DJ and Hemulen,

    I quote Steve on another thread:
    “What I’ve seen a lot in this thread and others are people making emotional choices and then battling back and forth with people who make other emotional choices, all trying to use logic and rational arguments to justify their position.”

    I couldn’t agree more. Emotional, or cultural choices.
    For instance, to put the emphasis on the internal stability (Chinese choice) or to put the Emphasis on Equality/Law (‘Western’ choice).

  70. bt # 76: Back to DJ’s original point (correct?) I think moves like that just create more hassle that it’s worth. Funny that in the space of a few weeks, greater press freedom is promised and a journalist is barred from international travel. I don’t understand the thinking.

    Are separate arms of the government not connecting, or is this the same message they sent with the Olympic protest parks? … You’re free to report bad news as long as it isn’t negative…

    Maybe its too early to comment on it Zola’s situation… just one article so far.

    After watching the movie 世界 I understood the irony of choosing that park as the location to allow protests during the Olympics… not really China is it 🙂

  71. Ted # 39, #48
    Steve # 43

    My statement that the period from 1949 to 1976 was not the Dark Ages is based on what I have known about the period, rudimentary, arbitrary but nonetheless a socialist practice ridden with flaws, failures, disasters but also remembered for extraordinary success. I believe that the people you spoke to might have told you their real life stories. We probably also agree on that different group or class of people would have very different life stories to tell about the same period. Even the European Dark Ages were by no means that “dark” seen in different perspectives according to some more recent interpretations in the Middle Ages Studies.

    It’s no surprise that in the eyes of some foreigners the Mao years (1949-1976) were the Dark Ages through and through. But this does not include someone like William Hilton who had had considerably rich experience in both the old and new China, My grandmother also had experienced the two periods. In 1966 she was forced by the Red Guards to go back to the countryside from the city where she lived with us because she was from a declined landowner’s family, the “enemy” class. She had also suffered from hunger in the three-year natural disaster period in the early 1960s. Strengely she considered her life after 1949 by and large a better time than her younger years in the Republic era when the country was torn by poverty, disease and wars. The pre-1949 years were commonly termed as the “dark old society” by many ordinary Chinese at least in the first three decades of the PRC.

    It’s an understandable phenomenon that the condemnation and bitter critique may go extreme immediately after a traumatic age. When the dust was settled, however, what we need is serious reflection of this age with an open and rational mind, realistic and factual attitude. The all-out, indiscriminate condemnation of the Mao years, a radical approach associated with an overly eager and indiscriminate subscription of things west (except opposition party system perhaps), became a prevailing ideology of the 1980s and 1990s. It would not be too much to say that this radical attitude not only fails to do justice to the struggles and sacrifices of generations of Chinese who had transformed China in many aspects, including some dedicated CCP members, but also risks throwing out baby with water and repeating the pitfalls that trapped and is still trapping the capitalist west. It is in this light that some liberal left intellectuals such as Wang Hui and Cui Zhiyuan called for a balanced investigation of that period in the context of China’s century-old consistent and integral pursuit of modernity.

    Being obsessed with GDP growth and material wealth, people nowadays tend to forget that besides productivity, money and western style democracy, there are many other things to measure up a society. Overwhelmed by an all-out negation of the years from 1949 to 1976, many also forget that it was precisely during the first few decades of the PRC that an enormous and formidable social project encompassing all those other things was accomplished, for instance, the eliminating of social ills such as drugs, gambling, prostitution and illiteracy; the establishing of social welfare system, justice, equality with the rise of social status of women, not only the middle class and petite bourgeois women of the Republic era but all walks of women, especially the working class and peasant women, a huge population.

    I agree with some of what you posted that many things were terribly wrong during that period for which the Chinese have paid huge prices. But if an absolute, all-out attitude (in affirmation or negation) used to trash and bring down the powers held by the so-called “capitalist roaders” or opposition leaders proved disastrous during the CR, for which Mao was mostly responsible, we can do better to have a well balanced, subtler attitude in our reflection of that period.

    Steve, true, the economic growth in that era was “way behind” compared to the rest of the world. But you may better appreciate that growth if you count the economic embargo imposed on China by a joined force of entire western powers (the former USSR later) throughout that period; and the KMD did not forget to take enormous amount of gold with him to Taiwan, while the new China was left with little to build upon (I came cross some reading materials on this as well as on the achievements of the first three decades of PRC but mostly in Chinese). Recently available histories suggest that Mao intended to have normal relation with the US as early as the 1960s but all the attempts fell on the deaf ear. So the “close-door” policy of the period was not a voluntary choice, and the normal relation became a reality only when the US wanted it to happen. Yet for years one of Mao’s much condemned sins was 闭关锁国。

    Ted, here is a list of four books I found well-written and informative about recent history of China: two by Steven Mackinnon, Rebecca Mackinnon’s father–“China Reporting” and “Agnes Smedley: an American Radical;” one by Wertheim Tuchman, “Stilwell and the American experience in China, 1911-1945.” one by Jeffrey Wasserstrom, “China’s Brave New World: And Other Tales for Global Times.”

  72. @ Ted

    “Back to DJ’s original point (correct?) I think moves like that just create more hassle that it’s worth. Funny that in the space of a few weeks, greater press freedom is promised and a journalist is barred from international travel… I don’t understand the logic.”

    Correct for a Chinese national living in the States and who is tired of what he perceives as an endless China bashing. For Zuola, I already know the critics that will come from some people … he is kind of very narcissist, attention-seeking.

    Illogical? “greater press freedom is promised” … promised by the CCP … worth nothing for me. They are very able to say something and to do the opposite behind the scene.
    More probably, you know we foreigners have the picture of a very tough and organized gov., but in fact it is messy and there are a lot of factions. Everybody in the bureaucracy is savvy, and tries to avoid being exposed. Moreover, there is a fact that is often ignored outside China: the Central gov. have in fact little power outside Beijing. I mean, they are supposed to have, but in the reality the provincial leaders are doing their dirty business trying to avoid attention.
    For me, that is the paradox of the nowadays China: this government is far the more efficient that the country has ever known (that’s quite a fact, everybody can look at the progress) and the population on the whole support them for that, but in the same time they (the CCP) are so alone and very afraid of everything because of their hidden dirty secrets.

  73. @DJ

    What are we doing here? I’m not talking past you, I’m talking to you. I have asked you a couple of times why you, together with a number of other contributors to this blog, want to reduce the Tibetan uprising this year to a question of the riots in Lhasa and to the question of Western media coverage. You have not answered that question.

    When the Tibetan uprising first broke out, my first reaction was that I need to know more and since then, I have spent several months reading about Tibet and its history, especially the period since 1951. I wanted to know more about the underlying causes of the revolt and why so many Tibetans in so many different places were ready to take the great personal risks involved in protesting. One of the first things I learned is why March 10 is such an important date for many Tibetans.

    Correct me if I’m reading too much into what you have said here, but it seems to me that there is a huge lack of curiosity about Tibet and its histiory on the part of you and other mainland Chinese in the States. It seems to me that the first reaction of you was outrage against Western media and its perceived bias. You claim that Westerners are ignorant about Tibet, but I wager that you know more about US history than about Tibetan history – despite the fact that you claim that Tibetan history is part of your own. It also seems that you are more concerned with the image and the dignity of your country than what actually is going on in Tibet right now and what Tibetans may think about it.

  74. @Snow – I agree that the books are informative, but I would warn against relying overly heavily on Barbara Tuchman – she was most certainly a product of her times and her surroundings, one of that set who wished to turn China into an Asian version of the United States, and she did suffer from a heavy dose of hero-worship for Stillwell, a man not nearly so deserving of praise as she made out. Books like ‘The Guns of August” have not stood the test of time, and are not treated as serious history now, despite their popularity in the sixties.

    My preference (and here, of course, my own bias comes in) is for the works of John King Fairbank – especially The Great Chinese Revolution, and amongst modern writers J.A.G. Roberts and Jonathan Fenby. There are, I’m afraid, a hell of lot of blow-hards out there writing English-language histories of China – Jonathan Spence is a painful wind-bag (to be honest, I could not bear to listen to his Reith lectures this year), and Seagrave, whilst extremely easy to read, definitely likes to play fast and loose with the facts.

  75. @snow # 79

    I hope you’ll agree that my initial condemnation was as general as your initial praise and, that aside, my comments have been neither “bitter” nor “indiscriminate”. I think much of your argument could just as easily be applied to the Jim Crow years in the Southeast U.S. but despite what good that came from the period, overall it should and will be remembered as a dark chapter in American History. I agree with your belief that a balanced postmortem is necessary but given what happened, it isn’t surprising that the good deeds will have to claw their way past the bad if they are to be remembered.

    “It’s no surprise that in the eyes of some foreigners the Mao years (1949-1976) were the Dark Ages through and through… Even the European Dark Ages were by no means that “dark” seen in different perspectives according to some more recent interpretations in the Middle Ages Studies.”

    My brother is doing his Phd on Architectural History in Rome and we’ve had the “Dark Ages” discussion. The Dark/Middle ages was a period of cultural integration for Europe following the collapse of an empire and my use of the term “Dark Ages” was simply due to your use. Taking a long view of history one could state that during some periods reason prevailed and other periods political or religious ideology prevailed. This can be applied at the macro and micro level, to history as a whole or periods throughout history. It’s interesting (and in my opinion fortunate) that the periods of reason are generally viewed more favorably than the ideological periods. I don’t think only “westerners” look back on history in this manner, I think that Chinese as a whole reflect on their own history in a similar way. Personally I’d say the Dark Ages were given that name because religion, ideology and war seem to have been dominant political, social, and economic drivers. I also feel it is fair to state that during Mao years of post-1949 China, ideology drove, and violent struggle surrounded the much of the development you mention. For me, it is extremely difficult to compare modern China’s development during the Mao and post-Mao years.

    “economic embargo imposed on China by a joined force of entire western powers (the former USSR later) throughout that period… Recently available histories suggest that Mao intended to have normal relation with the US as early as the 1960s but all the attempts fell on the deaf ear. So the “close-door” policy of the period was not a voluntary choice…”

    Again, China made its own bed. There were many different reasons the U.S. couldn’t associate itself with Mao/China in the 60’s and China’s internal issues didn’t have to take the form they did.

    “…a radical approach associated with an overly eager and indiscriminate subscription of things west (except opposition party system perhaps), became a prevailing ideology of the 1980s and 1990s.”

    My undergraduate degree is in Architectural History and I always found it interesting that architectural styles pre-20th Century generally reflected the ideals of earlier periods the rulers and people wished to emulate… Renaissance-Classical, Victorian-Gothic. American architecture is especially interesting to me because American architects after the Revolutionary War chose to start all over again with the basic elements of Greco-Roman Architecture. Architecture today is at a very different place but I look forward to seeing how China’s modern architects integrate their nation’s history into the global aesthetic. 🙂

    Thanks to you and FOARP for the author recommendations.

  76. FOARP,
    Thanks for the information.
    John King Fairbank wrote the introduction for Barbara Tuchman’s Stillwell book and spoke highly of her accomplishment as both academically well researched and accessible to average reader.
    I agree with you on Spence but disagree on Tuchman and Stillwell (enjoyed reading the book and liked the man she wrote about. I’ll keep my bias and you keep yours.

  77. bt #80: “For Zuola, I already know the critics that will come from some people … he is kind of very narcissist, attention-seeking.”

    Haha, gathered that from his shirtless beach photos.

  78. @snow #79

    First of all, well said. But I don’t agree with your points.

    “My statement that the period from 1949 to 1976 was not the Dark Ages is based on what I have known about the period”

    Based on my understanding of our country’s history, that period was a very dark age if we compare with any no-war period of the past 2000 years. Are we able to find any other time when millions starved to death while there was no war, no nature disaster. Are we able to find any other time while millions of educated youth were send to camps because they were asked to make some criticism/suggestions and they did so? Was there any other time millions stopped productivity and abusing their colleagues,teachers,family members in struggle meetings day after day for years?

    “but nonetheless a socialist practice ridden with flaws, failures, disasters but also remembered for extraordinary success.”

    Yes, there were and there still are socialist practice ridden with flaws, failures. I would say things like misplanning of economy,state owning every industry might be called socialist practice with failures .
    Certainly anti rightists and CR did not fall into this category.

    I totally agree “struggles and sacrifices of generations of Chinese who had transformed China in many aspects, including some dedicated CCP members” but not Mao.

    “many also forget that it was precisely during the first few decades of the PRC that an enormous and formidable social project encompassing all those other things was accomplished, for instance, the eliminating of social ills such as drugs, gambling, prostitution and illiteracy; the establishing of social welfare system, justice, equality with the rise of social status of women, not only the middle class and petite bourgeois women of the Republic era but all walks of women, especially the working class and peasant women, a huge population.”

    eliminating of social ills such as drugs, gambling, prostitution were achieved by very harsh policies(which I sort of agree). If we simply praise for that should we blame because those illness have come back. Is it that simple both because of the government? The social welfare system only established for a urban residents who were a small portion of the population and the system was based on stealing from rural population to support urban population. The women liberty movement started from the Republic era. What was Song MeiLing doing before 1949?

    I didn’t read any one of the books you mentioned.(why we have to read second hand while we have first hand around us) . there were plenty of books in the late 70s and early 80s written by Chinese who witnessed and experienced what happened to them and around them in the decades before 1976. I happened to read quiet few of them when I was a school boy.

    I think everyone has own standard of “well balanced views”

  79. @ Ted

    I thought Zola what a reference to Emile Zola, but it seems that finally the reference stands for Gianfranco Zola the footballer. Hahaha, funny 🙂

    @ snow
    what in your opinions are the pitfalls trapping the capitalist West?

    @ Snow, Bin Ma Yong, DJ

    That was the point of my posts on the CR legacy … it depends on the POV (all of them might be partly valid), but it seems to me that the CR and the Mao’s legacy is still something to be investigated in a dispassionate way.

    I have a question for you Chinese posters:
    It seems that most of the posters here (Chinese and ‘Western’) are genuinely in favor of more Human Rights in China (or said differently, less injustice). I mean, it’s even in the interest of the foreign countries to promote a confident China.
    If every dissident is doomed to be labeled ‘anti-China’ as soon as it arrives to some foreign ears (for some reasons that are valid depending or the POV), how in your opinion to make the things advance?

  80. @snow #79: Thanks for your in depth reply. I’d like to give my impressions to what you wrote and we can go from there. 🙂

    I agree with the European Dark Ages not being that “dark”, which might make it a good analogy. During the Dark Ages, the old Roman trade routes were mostly abandoned. There was still some trade but most areas were isolated. You could make that same argument about China in the pre-Deng period.

    Who is William Hilton? Are you talking about the artist from the missionary family? I knew he was there pre-war but not during or afterwards. He lived near Palm Springs, California.

    I was talking with one of my salesmen in Shanghai. She and her family were relocated to a mountain village in Anhui province during the CR. She said it was extremely poor but because everyone was poor, everyone stuck together and found ways to be happy in each other’s company. Friendships were incredibly close and everything was shared. She said she missed that aspect of those terrible days. She also said that in the springtime, the mountains were very beautiful and as a young girl she would take long walks and see the flowers, so I nicknamed her “Heidi”. 🙂 Beauty and friendship keep people going when times are bad; I heard this same statement from Russians living in the USSR many years ago.

    The elimination of drugs, gambling and prostitution during those years was an admirable accomplishment but ended up being temporary. Was illiteracy really eliminated? I thought most peasants were still functionally illiterate until the Deng reforms. Without a doubt, the CCP valiantly tried to educate the peasants but in that period, wasn’t the actual success rate lower than reported?

    In traditional Chinese, you need to know 6,000 characters to be considered literate. To read a newspaper with simplified Chinese you need to know 3,000 characters. The PRC uses 2,000 characters as the literacy threshold and 1,500 characters for peasants. Why peasants are literate knowing 25% less characters is beyond me, but I think it safe to say that some of the literacy rate improvement is due to a lower standard. That makes it difficult to judge the true success rate. “National publicity was given to the experience of Wanrong country in Shanxi as a teaching example; a 1958 survey found that of the 34,000 people who had gone through the literacy programs, one third had already relapsed into illiteracy, and that most of the rest couldn’t read a national newspaper.” (George Jan, “Mass Education in the Communes” in Stewart Fraser, ed., “Education and Communism in China”). More recently, “The census data of the early 1980s show that there are around 230 million illiterates and semi-illiterates, mostly older people, women and rural residents.” (“Decisions of the CPC Central Committee on Reform of the Educational System” May 27, 1985) From what I’ve read and seen, the greatest success fighting illiteracy has been in recent times.

    I agree and acknowledge the “iron rice bowl” prevented massive starvation, but wasn’t most of the famine created by ignorant government policies, specifically from Mao? I have a friend in Shanghai whose father was from Shaoxing. Her grandfather was arrested during the GLF for being a “capitalist” and thrown in jail for 12 years, which was just an excuse for the party officials to take all their goods. Her grandmother took her sons to Shanghai where they were able to survive because of that form of social welfare. But I would not call this justice.

    Another friend of ours’ family was from Guiyang. After the revolution, the party murdered her family (they were wealthy) and her grandmother was the only survivor. Friends smuggled her out of the country and took her to Taiwan where our friend was born. She has offered to take her mom to China but her mom will never go; she can never forget what happened to her parents. I cannot call this justice. I’ve heard countless stories like this from post-revolution days, all from people I know either living in China or who were able to get to Taiwan, HK or Vietnam.

    The equality of women is a major accomplishment of the revolution and one that I admire. I think the status of women in China is higher than anywhere else I traveled to in Asia. I don’t give any credit for this to the KMT because if they were the driving force, the status of women in Taiwan would be higher. Well, there is one place in China where women are not equal; everyone knows that Shanghainese women are the bosses!! 😀

    snow, I must take issue with you on the economic embargo. Maybe it’s my age showing, but I remember those times. There were two worlds out there, capitalist and communist. Each operated within their own sphere, and each insisted it was the best and most efficient. Neither was allowed into the other’s system. China was just as “guilty” as the west in this embargo; it was a two way street. As the communist system started to break down, governments wanted little contact with the western world because they didn’t want their people to know that the propaganda they wrote about how their system was superior was a façade. Mao wanted relations with the USA as a counterbalance to the Soviet Union, not because he was enamored with the United States. Once it was to both countries’ benefit, it was able to take place.

    I remember reading Edgar Snow’s “The Long Revolution” and his writing about how “barefoot doctors” had made huge improvements in the health of the people. But after China opened up, it was found those statistics were propaganda and their training was inadequate for any but the most rudimentary care. I take statistics from that time with a grain of salt.

    Gold does not build an economy, raw materials and industry do. Witness colonial Spain with all their gold being a power for a time, but later becoming a second rate country because they had a meager industrial output. Taiwan’s industrial rise came about not because of gold but because of trade and manufacturing. I think whoever wrote that was grasping at straws.

    Of the four books you mention, I’ve only read the Tuchman’s Stilwell. Barbara Tuchman won a Nobel Prize for that particular work. In it, I seem to remember her mentioning that China will go where it decides to go and the west or any other single country will never control it or really influence it that much. China’s future will be decided by China. Stilwell understood China but unfortunately his diplomatic skills were non-existent. He certainly wasn’t fooled by Jiang Jieshi or Song Meiling. I’ll look for the others and check them out. Thanks for the recommendation.

    @FOARP: Who doesn’t’ treat Tuchman’s books as serious history? Norman Cantor? I haven’t heard that from any source but remember reading Cantor calling her a historian and not an academic. They’re written for mass consumption and very readable. I’ve seen her try to compare the 14th and 20th centuries but other historians have also done that. She did win two Nobel prizes.

    I’ve always liked Fairbank and read a lot of his works in college, even used some as textbooks. But for me he is only good until 1949, and then he like everyone else back then had to operate in a vacuum with limited information. I’ve read Spence and Fenby before but it was awhile ago and I can’t recall what I thought of them. I’ll give Roberts a try, thanks!

    @BMY #87: I didn’t realize the social welfare system was only for the urban areas. Thanks for that information. When I lived there, I asked everyone about their own family histories during that period and though all the stories were different, they all had certain commonalities. Most had the impression that while Mao screwed things up, Zhou tried to fix them behind the scenes. No one I ever met thought highly of Mao’s post-revolution rule, but they all thought highly of Zhou and Deng.

  81. @BMY

    Why are you asking me that? This blog came about because of the Tibetan uprising and DJ brings up the event in the second paragraph in this thread.

  82. bt,

    If every dissident is doomed to be labeled ‘anti-China’ as soon as it arrives to some foreign ears (for some reasons that are valid depending or the POV), how in your opinion to make the things advance?

    It’s a question that can be stated in a reverse manner, isn’t it? Why is there a lack of focused attention from the outside on dissidents who are not defined more by “anti-Chinaness” but truly trying to make a difference? Could it be those who are the “good” activists simply do not pass the litmus test to be promoted?

    Please also see my comment at #50 about my frustration of those so called activists.

  83. Memulen,

    Someone sent me some randoms thoughts on your questions and I have to admit I can’t come up with a better response. So here it is.

    Did the Nangpa-la shootings make any impression on you? Did burning to
    death of 5 girls (including one Tibetan) make any impression on you?
    Which impression is greater? And why?

    On defining moment. Why 6/4 is a defining moment? There are widespread
    protests outside Beijing both before and after 6/4 and the government
    did not use violence to put it down. Why most people only focus on
    6/4.

    Why you started to learn Tibetan history after this march? Why didn’t
    the previous uprisings/ shootings interesting you that much to find
    the underlying causes. Had the Lasha riot not happened, would you
    still be that curious?

  84. @ DJ

    “It’s a question that can be stated in a reverse manner, isn’t it?” Sure. And it should. This is a the basics of reciprocity.
    I feel a great suspicion on your reply, that the promotion of some activists is based on ulterior motives. Am I right? Some activists find a voice in the ‘Western’ medias … if they are ‘good’ or ‘bad’, I don’t know.

    The question is, according to your POV, what is a ‘good’ HR activist and should we ‘West’ decide to not talk about them? (I know it won’t arrive, however. You might think it is because of ulterior motives, my opinion is more than it is simply impossible for the ‘Western’ media to stop talking about them because they would be immediately attacked by the Public Opinion).

  85. @DJ #91: Outside of who you mentioned in the previous thread, who else would you consider a “good” activist? I wasn’t impressed with people climbing poles with banners during the Olympics either; “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”, as Shakespeare once said. I’m sure there are a lot of people doing good work behind the scenes. Do you think that they shun publicity because they know it would actually hinder their effectiveness? It seems to me that once an activist becomes too well known, the Chinese government feels it must demonize them as “interfering in China’s internal affairs”, and from that time forward said activist is no longer effective.

    Based on what I know about Chinese culture, I would think an activist that wanted to truly be effective would avoid the western media and work quietly behind the scenes. I guess the hard part is raising funds to continue their work, which entails a certain amount of publicity. It’s the classic “Catch-22”; a very delicate balancing act.

  86. bt,

    I feel a great suspicion on your reply, that the promotion of some activists is based on ulterior motives. Am I right?

    I was using an exaggerated manner in response. But no, I don’t believe it’s all due to medias with ulterior motives deciding only to promoting so-called “bad” activists. It’s more likely an interesting interplay among all the participants that causes this situation.

    Steve in #94 already touched on this. First, there are much to be desired in China’s current conditions, and the government’s instincts often do no help. Given that, from a “startup” activist’s point of view, it’s not easy to get funding and support without raising one’s profile, which in turn hinders one’s effectiveness in getting things done. But it is not a problem for one more interested in self promotion. The media in general is also more interested in reporting someone being vocal because that’s a more “interesting” story. I also suspect some more qualifying activists would not be happy to be grouped together with the more (in)famous ones. …

    I want to stress one point though. Many of Chinese, me included, do not suspect and reject some so called activists because we automatically view their vocalness always as embarassing China’s image. We actually do check into their words, deeds and motivations. It’s just too bad that we are often disappointed after doing so.

  87. Well, here’s someone who attracted no publicity for themselves, and whose only crime was to reveal the state of health of an (unidentified) important government figure to other unidentified individuals:

    http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2008/11/27/2003429678

    He’s been sentenced to death by the Supreme Court, the sentence could be carried out as early as today.

    Once again, let us remind ourselves of the kind of people who we are talking about when we talk about the Chinese communist party. These are technocrats who are stepped in the ways of dictatorship, these are the people who for decades have parroted meaningless phrases as they inch their way towards greater power, these are the men who kill without hesitation those who threaten their grip on power. George Orwell said it best:

    “no-one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power”

    Words like ‘communist’, ‘fascist’ or other ideological labels are meaningless in this context. These people believe in nothing except their own personal destinies, and the Chinese state is the merely a vehicle through which they may be achieved.

  88. FOARP,

    I didn’t know anything about (伍维汉) Wu Weihan’s case, but your linked report itself mentioned that Wu was also convicted of passing Chinese missle information to Taiwan. So your statement that his “only crime was to reveal the state of health of an (unidentified) important government figure” might be a bit misleading. Of course none of us know what kind of missle secret was involved or if was secret at all. But I am pretty inclined to believe that’s the reason for his death sentence instead of passing the health information of some government figures.

  89. @DJ – But we do have the commentary that the missile ‘technology’ was in fact already available in local magazines, nor was Wu Weihan working in the field of missile technology, nor does he have any expertise in this field. I do not believe that this was the reason, and the revealing of the health information was listed as one of his ‘crimes’, and no move has been made to deny this – so we can only conclude that this was the real ‘crime’ he committed.

    Could you tell us why you are inclined to believe that it was the missile information which led to his conviction? If you have no grounds for saying so, are you acting merely out of sentiment?

  90. FOARP,

    According to this report as well as others, the charge and conviction of passing missile secret is generally highlighted. And he was supposedly playing a role as an conduit to relay things over to the intellience agency in Taiwan. There wasn’t any information on where and how he had gotten the stuff. As I said earlier, I don’t know if he really was a spy or not, or if true, how damaging the information content was. But I am just making a reasonable guess that his death sentence is much likelier a result of the missile secret conviction instead of passing health information.

    伍维汉90年代侨居奥地利。他于2005年一月被逮捕。他被指控向台湾提供包括中国大陆导弹部署机密在内的秘密文件。伍维汉在2007年五月被判处死刑。不过伍维汉本人一直申诉无罪。他的家人指控对伍维汉的判决缺少公正透明。

    Wu Weihan lived in Austria in the 1990s. He was arrested in January 2005. He was charged for providing secrets which includes information on missile deployment in mainland to Taiwan. He was [convicted and] sentenced to death in May 2005. However, Wu insisted he was innocent. His family claims Wu’s trial was not transparent and fair.

    Now your contention is that he must be innocent of the more serious spy charge because his defenders claimed so. How do you know? I can understand your emotion and where your sympathy lies, but I must say it is problematic if one would claim all convicted “criminals” in Chinese courts must all be innocent of the charges if they claim they were so.

  91. @DJ – “more serious spy charge”

    The court made no distinction between the relative seriousness of the disclosure of the health states of high-ranking officials and the alleged disclosure of missile secrets (which I do not believe – how can a man involved in medical technology gain access to such secrets? And we have seen the treatment of publicly available information things as ‘secrets’ before). As far as the court is concerned, the health of the Chinese leadership is a secret of the highest level, one worth executing people to protect – the rest is just window dressing.

  92. @DJ & FOARP: I’ve gotta side with FOARP on this one. I was recently reading about the old trade area in Canton and Whampoa back in the early 1800s and found out that the justice system we see in China today is really no different than those days. There is an “eye for an eye” mentality and a sense of collective guilt. Once arrested, the verdict is almost always guilty, regardless of evidence. In fact, evidence is irrelevant to the process.

    The classic Chinese legal system is one where it doesn’t really matter who committed the crime, what is important is that someone is held responsible and punished. The guilt is considered collective. Because Wu Weihan is from Taiwan, he is being punished in response to something done by the Taiwan government. What that is isn’t important; what is important is that someone pay.

    Back then, the punishment for virtually any crime was death, usually by strangulation with a rope. The incident did not have to be violent. The guilty party would be charged, convicted and killed even if the act was inadvertent; for instance, accidental death. The fact that there was no intent to commit a crime didn’t matter in the Chinese legal system.

    Can I prove this is true? No, but when reading the historical cases, the parallels from then to today are eerie, to say the least. It’s my gut feeling that the methods of punishment and justice haven’t changed in 200 years. If we consider this case in a “western” legal sense, it seems extreme. But if we consider it in a “Chinese” historical sense, today’s verdict is no different from the past.

  93. @ DJ # 95

    “interesting interplay among all the participants that causes this situation.’ … sure.
    The difficulty is how to avoid the collision due to the cultural difference.
    The best way for them would probably to not have to rely on non-Chinese financial and media support.
    And of course they need to be truly selfless and dedicated to their fight.

    @ Steve

    Thanks for the insight (good post as usual, I might add).
    It reminds me of the story of Japanese footballer explaining that when he was young, when someone made a mistake in his team, the captain (sometimes the whole team) was punished, regardless of who made the mistake.

  94. #9

    “The CCP deserves a prize for economically improving the lives of billions in past six decades and more so in the past three, a very impressive record of most basic human rights issue yet long ignored and deliberately unacknowledged by the West.”

    The brutal reality is : you cant have both, look at the situation in Thailand now.

    Wait till China is as rich as South Korea in 1980s.

  95. #12

    “How has the CCP improved the lives of billions when China’s population is only 1 billion+ and many still are in poverty, or gained wealth only because the CCP removed constraints on the economy it imposed in the first place?”

    Explain why in india, the government elected by people couldnt solve the problem of slums, actually, no democratic system in last 30 years solved the problem of slums.

    or can you explain after rapid economic development in last 15 years, why the problem of slums in India is still as bad as 15 years ago ?

  96. # 19

    ” …By contrast, there is a lot of documentation which shows Chinese police attack non-violent Tibetans.”

    There is a lot of documentation which shows Chinese police attack non-violent Han Chinese.

    Why did you single-out attack on Tibetans ? to sell your agenda ?

    Why do you feel you are morally superior when you never give a damn about thousand of Tibetan infants die each year cuz of their poor living condition ?

    Remember : you, and any free-tibet supporters are not moraly superior to chinese government or chinese police, cuz you never care about those infants.

  97. @Snow #79

    I have been thinking about this post, but have stayed on the sidelines mulling the discussion.

    You have brought up some good points, but one point troubles me.

    Being obsessed with GDP growth and material wealth, people nowadays tend to forget that besides productivity, money and western style democracy, there are many other things to measure up a society. Overwhelmed by an all-out negation of the years from 1949 to 1976, many also forget that it was precisely during the first few decades of the PRC that an enormous and formidable social project encompassing all those other things was accomplished, for instance, the eliminating of social ills such as drugs, gambling, prostitution and illiteracy; the establishing of social welfare system, justice, equality with the rise of social status of women, not only the middle class and petite bourgeois women of the Republic era but all walks of women, especially the working class and peasant women, a huge population.

    I agree with your comment on economic/financial obsessions. What troubles me is the listing of the benefits of the CR and GLF. Is the price worth it? Was it worth millions of lives? Does the end justify the means? Was Mao just ruthlessly, capriciously enforcing his will on the Chinese people?. Is “social engineering” (which is generally a shortcut) and its incumbent costs (sometimes horrendous) the most pragmatic, practical road to a better world? Is “social engineering” merely a euphemism for the exercise of absolute, ruthless power?

    To me, the more we attempt justify the impact of such experiments, the more we trivialize life, in general. And the more likely we are to repeat these horrific events. To me, your points are rationalization and specious reasoning.

    Let me cite some examples.

    I am Russian Jewish American. The tsars exercised “social engineering” against my family and people via pogroms. We were tyrannized and persecuted. Thank god my grandparents came to the US 100 years ago.

    Israel is currently occupying the West Bank and Gaza in an attempt to enforce a secure Israel. They are killing, persecuting and bringing misery to Palestinians (who are Semites like us). Is that justified? I think not.

    Josef Stalin advanced Russian agriculture and industrialization. But he killed many millions to achieve his dream. Even his own Georgian people were mere pawns. He was ruthless in exterminating opposition.

    God knows what went through the mind of Pol Pot & the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia? But how do we justify the participation and complicity of the Chinese and Americans. Mao, Deng and Kissinger are still on my list of the most heinous, malevolent butchers ever.

    I am sure that Mao, the tsars, my Israeli brethren and Stalin all had/have “justification” and could rationalize away their actions with specious reasoning and euphemisms. The same could/can be said for Idi Amin (Uganda), Hitler, the Turks (Armenian Genocide), the Boers (South Africa), the Sudanese government (Darfur), Shrub (GWB) & Cheney (Iraq), on and on, ad infinitum. When will it ever stop?

    I will stop here with a quote from one of my favorit people, Albert Einstein, “The problems that exist in the world today cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that created them.”

  98. @Steve

    Back then, the punishment for virtually any crime was death, usually by strangulation with a rope. The incident did not have to be violent.

    OK, the old Chinese legal system was by no means ideal, but to say that almost any crime was punished by death is just plain false. As a rule you would not be sentenced to death if you stole money in nineteenth century China, but in Britain that certainly happened. And to dismiss the entire Chinese legal system in 1800 on the basis on how problems were solved in the politicized atmosphere in Canton is not a very good way of approaching the problem either. Be specific and factual if you want to criticize the Chinese legal system, then or now.

  99. @DJ

    Now your contention is that he must be innocent of the more serious spy charge because his defenders claimed so. How do you know? I can understand your emotion and where your sympathy lies, but I must say it is problematic if one would claim all convicted “criminals” in Chinese courts must all be innocent of the charges if they claim they were so.

    How do they know? I’m not familiar with the ins and outs of this case, but at least in modern legal systems, including the Chinese, you’re innocent until proven guilty. The burden of proof is on the accuser, not the accused.

  100. @Wahaha #103
    @Snow #9

    Interesting post, Wahaha.

    You may have neither. I wrote over at the Tibet thread (#305) about the Chinese economy and environmental disaster (http://blog.hiddenharmonies.org/2008/11/14/tibet-turning-over-a-new-page/#comment-20330).

    Here are some snippets from that post.

    … In June 2006, an official at China’s State Council said environmental damage (everything from crop loss to health care costs) was costing 10 percent of its gross domestic product—in other words, all of the economy’s celebrated growth. Vaclav Smil, a highly respected China scholar at the University of Manitoba, pegs the environmental-damage rate at between 5 and 15 percent, with 7 percent a “solid, defensible figure.” Smil says that shorn of hype, China’s growth rate is also likely 7 percent, “so basically every year, environmental damage wipes out the GDP growth.”…

    … In 1961, Earth’s population was 3.08 billion people. Ecological Footprint (EF) was 4.5 billion global hectares (gha) versus Biocapacity (BC) of 9 billion gha. A 50% surplus of BC. By 2003, the population was 6.3 billion people. Ecological Footprint (EF) was 14.1 billion gha versus Biocapacity (BC) of 11.2 billion gha. EF has overshot BC by 25%. Essentially, what we have is “deficit spending.” On a global basis. …

    … The elephant in the room, regarding biocapacity overshoot, is population. We went from 3.08 billion in 1961 to 6.3 billion in 2003. There was a biocapacity surplus of 50% in 1961. We now have a deficit of 25%. Population seems to be the major causative link. …

    … If global ecosystems collapse, there will be a horrendous bill to pay to replace the services provided by our natural systems. Ecological economist Robert Costanza first published an estimated valuation in 1997. At the time, global GDP PPP was $27 trillion ($27,000,000,000,000). He placed the economic value of natural systems at $33 trillion ($33,000,000,000,000), more than global GDP. …

    … Possible solutions (to impending collapse of global ecosystems). Nature takes the lead, in response to our unsustainable use of the Earth’s resources, wipes out vast amounts of population through various calamities, cataclysms and catastrophes. We can replace the collapsed natural systems which provide us with soil, water, air, and nutrient cycling by paying out a horrendous amount of money. We can fight “resource wars” over the diminishing resources. We can let sinister, maleficent Machiavellians (like Kissinger, Cheney, Al Haig, Poindexter, Eugene Rostow, Condi Rice, etc.), who are/were part of the ruling elite, create solutions using genocide, war or mass destruction to remove significant portions of the population. …

    … Then I look at China and their new (or old) infrastructure investment stimulus program which they recently announced. I also noticed that China is pouring lots of money into their banking system for “liquidity purposes” (whatever that means?) This leads to several questions. If your GDP is advancing at 8+% per year (at least that is what they report) per year, why do you need economic stimulus? Hmmm… And why do your banks and the financial system need more capital? Credit crunch means that you either don’t have enough capital in the system, or those with capital don’t want to lend out their money, no matter the rate of return on the loan. Those with capital know that the first priority is to get your money back, then you worry about the interest/apr you receive. If the borrower doesn’t repay the principal, who cares about the interest or the rate of interest. Methinks there are lots of subterranean problems in China which have not seen the light of day. (I add now that I am very suspicious of the rate cuts. This just does not make sense in an economy which is growing at 8% a year.)…

    … So while China has large foreign reserve accounts, I can easily imagine that most of those reserves are actually tied up by unreported contingent liabilities. In other words, China sold its soul, environment and cheap labor, in a Faustian bargain with Mephistopheles. Faust does China. …

    So, Snow, I am very skeptical about economic improvement in China. People seem better off than they were before. But, IMHO, China is living under a Damoclean sword (Greek/Sicilian legend and mythology). Bargaining with Mephistopheles is a dangerous game. Short-term amelioration for the Chinese and their lives, but probably at a horrendous price.

  101. @Wahaha (#104): “no democratic system in last 30 years solved the problem of slums”

    I’m curious about this. First of all, not all countries have slums (seriously). To me it seems that two factors would be important in getting rid of the problem: a high standard of living in general (economic development) and solving social factors (redistribution of wealth). It could be solved in a democracy or a non-democracy with the right economic and political program.

    It seems slums appear mostly because of fast urbanization. Rural populations move into poor neighborhoods in cities and the original population moves out. This is what is happening in China right now, and though I haven’t seen something looking like third-world slums in major cities in the country, there are definitely “bad areas”.

    So the question is: are slums, like environmental depletion (as some say), something you just get as a byproduct of economic development? Or could the problem be solved with better policies?

  102. Hemulen,

    I was only pointing out that FOARP’s presentation that a man is sentenced to die for merely passing information about the health of a high level Chinese official is highly misleading.

  103. Jerry,

    1) Japan was the most poluted country in 60s …. with about 100 million people

    2) I wish the current government is bombarded by media and people on environmental issues.

    3) I heard China will build 15 to 20 nuclear power plants in next 15 years.

    ______________________

    There is nothing special about my point.

    Human society has never been and will never be a fair society …. unless the system can kill human instinct — greediness (communism ?).

    In a society, there are always a small group of people who have more influences and powers over majority of people, either these advantages and powers are protected by guns or money or powerful government.

    As these small group have more power and influence over other people, so the utopical idea of democracy that ” everyone is equal” or “no1 can be offended” is equivalent to say that those people who have more power and influence are untouchable. Fairness means those people are entitled to have more power than other people, those powerful riches are entitle to cut the pie first (unless they are not greedy), and other people are supposed to pick up the crumbs left by them.

    So in democracy, riches PRIVATELY own BOTH political power and money (imagine why 3 auto companies had trouble getting money but citi had absolutely no trouble getting money.), poor people are hopeless like in India unless government has money to waste, like West in 1960s, when democracy blossomed.

    In modern sociey, how much power you have is propotional to how much economy you control, not your vote. CCP is powerful in China cuz it control china’s economy, the first thing Putin did after he was elected was taking over the control of big enterprises; in West, riches control economy, so they control the country, NOT ORDINARY PEOPLE.

  104. #110,

    No, it cant, unless the government has lot money to waste (social security)

    Shanghai was a city of slum 20 years ago.

  105. @Wahaha (#105): “Why did you single-out attack on Tibetans ? to sell your agenda ?”

    I wasn’t the one asked, but to me it seems that the pro-PRC side is quite happy to single out violence depending on ethnicity.

    “Remember : you, and any free-tibet supporters are not moraly superior to chinese government or chinese police, cuz you never care about those infants.”

    Hmm, I wonder if this is some sort of joke (or trolling)? I kind of understand the assumption behind it – you (pro-Tibet) don’t care about poverty and social ills, just the political status – but if taken further, anyone could be accused of being morally inferior. I should probably be more concerned about starvation in parts of Africa and all conflicts taking place there, and the conflicts in the Middle East, and all the problems in Latin America, and the looming starvation in North Korea, etc etc. However, I’m mortal and my time is limited.

    I don’t consider myself morally superior. However, a lot of people hold the CCP to morally inferior standards because of various reasons (poverty, lack of development etc).

  106. @Wahaha (#113): Just to make sure I understand you: when you say “No, it can’t”, you are referring to this, right? :

    “are slums, like environmental depletion (as some say), something you just get as a byproduct of economic development? Or could the problem be solved with better policies?”

    So you are saying that slums can only be solved with economic development (remember, there aren’t slums in every country).

    I still think it depends on how you define slums. The problem with slums, as I understand it, are that they are not just poor but also hotbeds for crime. In the beginning of reform and opening up, the crime rates of China were very low.

    To redistribute wealth isn’t necessary to “waste” money. The idea of the Harmonious Society put forth by Hu Jintao is partly to have a more socially responsible development by making the gap between rich and poor smaller.

  107. @Wahaha: “So in democracy, riches PRIVATELY own BOTH political power and money (imagine why 3 auto companies had trouble getting money but citi had absolutely no trouble getting money.), poor people are hopeless like in India unless government has money to waste, like West in 1960s, when democracy blossomed.”

    That the rich people control both the money and the political power sounds like China to me (I read a book by Sun Liping once called 博弈(断裂社会的利益冲突与和谐) in which he said that the five largest real estate companies in China actually made the CCP reverse one of their decisions. This is unprecedented in the PRC).

    I think the problem is that people believe there must be one perfect system, and that it doesn’t make any difference what imperfect system you have (democracy, one-party rule – same thing!). I see a lot of difference between countries, and even though they may all be ruled by some evil elite, people can feel the difference. It isn’t just the same.

  108. WKL,

    sorry for the mistake, I was talking to the other guy.

    Demcoratic system cant solve the problem of slum in a poor or developing country. Cuz this is a big issue that affects millions of people, solving big issue like this needs scrafice. Under democracy, no1 can be forced to scrafice or “wait for his term”.

  109. “That the rich people control both the money and the political power sounds like China to me (I read a book by Sun Liping once called 博弈(断裂社会的利益冲突与和谐) ”

    CCP’s control of the economy is in the name of country and people, so CCP cant take all the profits,

    Just ask yourself, where did Chinese government get the money to pull 400 million people out of extreme poverty ?

  110. @DJ

    But I am just making a reasonable guess that his death sentence is much likelier a result of the missile secret conviction instead of passing health information.

    Just to reveal my bias, I’m against capital punishment anywhere – be it China or elsewhere. More importantly, I’d rather not be in the game of “making reasonable guesses” when it comes to why people are sentenced to death. If you sentence someone to death, you need something more than “reasonable guesses” to say the least, and I leave that burden of argument to the sentencing authority. If there is any doubt about anyone being sentenced to death anywhere, it should be brought to the table here and now.

  111. Hemulen,

    You are reading my response to FOARP completely out of context. Let me repeat, all my exchange with FOARP since his comment #96 serves one and only one purpose: to point out that FOARP’s presentation that a man is sentenced to die for merely passing information about the health of a high level Chinese official is highly misleading.

  112. @Wahaha #112
    @James

    Thanks for your reply, Wahaha.

    “1) Japan was the most poluted country in 60s …. with about 100 million people”

    First of all, 1960 was a different time. As I wrote at #305 in the Tibet thread, there were 3 billion people on the planet. We had a 50% surplus in biocapacity. As of 2003, we had 6.18 billion people. We have now overshot biocapacity, by 25%. We have a deficit and it is getting worse by the year. We are now seriously overusing natural systems. If we don’t change our overconsumption, bringing back the biocapacity surplus, and clean up the global mess, we are in trouble. Keep this up for a few decades and we can collapse global ecosystems and natural systems. Very ugly prospect.

    James wrote about Japan and China on the Tibet thread. Here is James’ take at #397.

    … Finally, I don’t expect to see China come anywhere close to Japan in terms of standards of living in my life time. China is far more complicated and faces far more challenges than Japan ever did in its rise. To start Japan wasn’t a 3rd world country before WW2, in many ways they were an advanced society in terms of education, science and technology. Had they not been on the losing side of the war they would have developed far faster than they did (they were growing up to the war and started again soon after). Destruction of infrastructure set them back but they had a highly skilled population and intitially received large amounts of American support. They successfully managed to get democracy in place and weren’t faced with the crippling corruption experienced in other Asian nations. They grew at a time when industrial production was not yet at a level that it would cause major environmental damage and managed to stay cleaner being an island nation. In that respect China may be starting now where Japan was more than 50 years ago in terms with respect to economic infrastructure but the Chinese model is far larger and more complicated to control.

    Unfortunately for China there are also 6 major obstacles standing in its way: the approaching loss of demographic dividend, depletion of world energy supplies, world food scarcity, environmental depletion (pollution), eastward desertification and increaseing competitiveness from India. Japan either did not face these or was able to rise before any of these issues became a critical problem. Add to that China’s current reliance on FDI, dependence on exports to fuel economic growth, and the fact you have 117 boys to every 100 girls and the next 50-100 years are going to be a bumpy ride. The Japan model is out.

    http://blog.hiddenharmonies.org/2008/11/14/tibet-turning-over-a-new-page/#comment-20573

    I tend to concur on most of James’ points.

    2) I wish the current government is bombarded by media and people on environmental issues.

    3) I heard China will build 15 to 20 nuclear power plants in next 15 years.

    Regarding #2, I agree whole-heartedly.

    Regarding #3, nuclear power plants aren’t a panacea. There are many important issues incumbent with nuclear power. Some of them are: location of the plant to safeguard the public, highly sophisticated operational standards, the possibility of nuclear accidents, on-site temporary storage of nuclear waste, long-term storage and disposal of nuclear waste, safely transporting the wastes from the plant to the long-term storage, the half-life of the various radio-isotopes of nuclear waste, the short life of a nuclear power plant. China will have to dramatically increase its quality control and discipline to deal with nuclear power. Corruption can be an extremely deadly game when it meets nuclear power.

    —————-

    All societies can improve their levels of fairness. Everything is a work in progress, in some state of inchoateness. Some societies are fairer than others.

    Government in the US is oligarchic and plutocratic, with democratic tendencies. China’s is authoritarian and oligarchic.

    Right now I am very disenchanted with the US government’s bailout programs. Bloomberg reported earlier this week, that the Fed and Treasury have put the taxpayers on the hook for $7.7 trillion ($7,700,000,000,000) in guarantees and capital injections. That was before the Round II Citi bailout of $300,000,000,000 and the consumer credit bailout of $800,000,000,000. That puts us at $8.8 trillion ($8,800,000,000,000). The projected USA GDP PPP for 2008 is $14.5 trillion. ::shaking my head:: This is the ruling elite stealing from the taxpayers to bailout the malevolent, malicious, ever-greedy ruling elite. I would rather see the Vikram Pandits, Chuck Princes, Dick Fulds, Sandy Weills, Tim Geithners, Hank Paulsons, Alan Greenspans, Jamie Diamonds, Lloyd Blankfeins of the financial world and the rest of the cabal put into prison for a very long time.

  113. @DJ

    Well, I did read the exchange and whether FOARP is using misleading information or not is not the point. If we are not completely sure why someone has been sentenced to death or if the evidence released to support a death sentence has serious gaps, we have to assume that a wrongful execution is in the making.

  114. @DJ – Just in case you missed my point, here it is again:

    Revealing the health status of a senior official in China is punishable by death as a crime against the state – this is the kind of people we are talking about.

  115. FOARP,

    And I should restate my point as well: You have not provided a shred of evidence that he was sentenced to die for revealing the health status of a senior official.

  116. @DJ

    The burden of proof is on you, if you think that the only reason he was sentenced to death is leaking state secrets of a more serious nature. A verdict would be useful.

    Even the Chinese document you quoted above touches on the fact that Wu talking about the health status of a Chinese leader was part of the reason he was sentenced:

    一些非政府组织批评中国司法不能因为伍维汉实际说了中国领导人的健康问题就构成泄露国家机密罪。

    Also BBC, has the following report:

    伍维汉被控将导弹计划等军事情报交给台湾。

    定罪的理由还包括了讨论中国高层领导人的健康情况、发送科学杂志上的资讯。

    国际特赦说,中国高层领导人的健康通常被看成是国家机密。 \
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/chinese/simp/hi/newsid_7750000/newsid_7752800/7752874.stm

  117. #122

    The projected USA GDP PPP for 2008 is $14.5 trillion. ::shaking my head:: This is the ruling elite stealing from the taxpayers to bailout the malevolent, malicious, ever-greedy ruling elite. I would rather see the Vikram Pandits, Chuck Princes, Dick Fulds, Sandy Weills, Tim Geithners, Hank Paulsons, Alan Greenspans, Jamie Diamonds, Lloyd Blankfeins of the financial world and the rest of the cabal put into prison for a very long time.

    @Jerry, Touche’

    Sounds like that would be the best hope and effective ‘Homneland Security’ measure. INternationally, Iraq was a US corporate takeover with guns, and now US takeover by the same US corporate ruling elites. When times were good they preached the message of free-enterprise and when the ideology proves to be unsustainable or false, they now preach elite socialism.

    Jerry, Have you visited Milton Freakman’s grave – to make sure he is really dead?

    A brief recap of Naomi Klein’s Disaster Capitalism:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ki227rUFf_k

  118. FOARP,

    This is going to be my last response to anything related to Wu Weihan’s case: I took issue with describing he was sentence to die because and only because he leaked some official’s health status. Every reports on his case stated that he was convicted for passing missile related secrets to Taiwan. The burden is on you to show how his sentence had nothing to do with the missile charge.

  119. @DJ – No burden of proof rests on me, he has been charged with revealing state secrets, the health status of membership of the leadership was included in that. No distinction was made by the court between health status and missile secrets. And there are good reasons to believe that the missile ‘secrets’ were nothing of the kind.

  120. Jerry #106,

    I had a similar mind-set with yours in the 1980s, heavily under the influence of what BMY said about the “plenty of books in the late 70s and early 80s written by Chinese who witnessed and experienced what happened to them and around them in the decades before 1976.” I have nothing against those books which contributed a great deal to the all-important reflection on the Mao years (1949-1976) and could identify quite a lot with the lives of the victims described in those books. Yet many of the ideas I unreservedly accepted during the 1980s, including that all-out negation and condemnation of post-1949 years, are being challenged after I have met people with a variety of background and worldview and have been exposed to the fascinating and complex world of culture, politics, ideas and the critical thinking. I begain to see the Chinese experience in more perspectives and in the context of a larger world.

    I had my first self-doubt when I found out that people from Mexico, Latin America or some other corners of the world still held a high regard of Mao and socialist practice, despite the blunders and disasters in China that they knew all too well, while the Chinese have for past three decades trashed both Mao and socialist practice without much scruple. When we repeatedly deplored how unfortunate we had this and that terrible event in the years from 1949 to 1976, they’d sincerely say, “But the New China (like the former USSR) for the first time in human history did replace private ownership with public one, lifted millions out of poverty at a noble attempt of a classless society,” a fact though short-lived and far from perfect but nonetheless a realization of a Utopian ideal dreamed by many since the ancient times. Once a respectable Mexican professor in history told a friend of mine that the reason why Mexico after all those revolutions and turmoil is still Mexico is that “we don’t have a Mao. ”

    I didn’t’ know much about Mexican situation and thus cannot understand what he really meant by saying that. But for the first time I knew that “Mao didn’t belong to the Chinese only” was not merely a party propaganda. It would be unthinkable to many of us that today people in other third world countries, mostly the poor and oppressed such as in Nepal and India, still found Mao’s theory useful in very practical sense (by no means arm-chair Marxists or Maoists). The colossal failure of world socialism has long ceased to be the news. Yet it seems besides the declaration of its demise and listing many horrible things done in its name (by Mao for instance) we haven’t or don’t care much to explore the complicated and complex issue why and how it failed before we rushed to embrace capitalism whole-heartedly as if it’s a last straw. This hot-headed rush with a break-neck speed has caused, to large extent, the critical situation that China is caught in today. Many social ills returned and China becomes one of the countries with the largest gap between rich and poor under the consensus that “being rich is glorious” and “being poor is sin.” I have to agree with your analysis of China’s unwise bargaining and that “China is living under a Damoclean sword.”

    I never attempt to justify the impact of any of those terrible events devouring many millions of innocent victims (in former USSR or in China) and not many in their right minds would. Calling for a more balanced study of the period IS NOT equal with finding justification for those events. My point in my previous posts was that a rational and balanced view based on a thorough investigation of social and historical context, the root causes of those events (the social, economical, historical ones which explain a lot about “what went through the mind” of all those terrible individual leaders at the time) is so much crucial than mere moral protests and condemnation no matter how they are necessarily and admirably justified.

    Can you deny the existence of the root causes for the rise of Hitler with his “willing executioners,” for the intensified political campaigns such as the “anti-rightist movement” and the CR in the earlier years of PRC, and for the “participation and complicity of the Chinese and Americans” under Mao, CCP, and Bush? Did those much condemned leaders make decisions in a vacuum? Can any people be free of the historical condition befalling them when making their decision to support or rebel against certain leaders? Will merely moral denunciation alone prevent those events from happening (we denounced unjust wars for centuries but we keep getting more)?

    In my opinion the ignorance of the cautionary solutions addressing at the root causes and problems is more likely leading to “repeat those horrible events.” This may not entirely proper but think about the result from FDR’s Marshall Plan after the World War II in treating the defeated Germany in comparison with how Germany was treated by the victorious countries after the World War I, which in part caused the rise of Nazism. I hope that the Chinese leaders are mindful of tackling the root cause of all kinds of disasters occurred in those politically turbulent years and utilizing the country’s material success and prosperity as a foundation for building up a more civil and justice-for-all society, not a heaven for the privileged few as it was in the old China.

    I like Albert Einstein’s words, “The problems that exist in the world today cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that created them.” He also wrote beautifully and convincingly on socialism, now a nearly pejorative term and those who fought for it being ridiculed or denounced. I don’t know if mankind really deserves it or it simply cannot work for mankind. I don’t know how much of socialist ideal left in the mind and practice of China’s leaders (surely gone in the minds of its leading intellectual elites). A Chinese sociologist/dramatis (one of creators of Che Guevara, a play staged in 2001 and stirring up a storm in reception nation-wide) questioned: “while capitalism has had more than five hundred years of bloody history for development, socialism only lived for a little more than half a century. Why cannot we allow it a chance?”

    BMY and Steve, I’ll get back to you later.

  121. BMY #87 and Steve #89,

    “The social welfare system only established for a urban residents who were a small portion of the population and the system was based on rubbling rural population to support urban population.”

    The industrialization accomplished within stringent conditions in a pressing timing was indeed more favorable to the factory workers and city residents at the price of peasants in countryside, which both Mao and his party saw as an expedient policy to achieve larger good. But even in the rural area there was social welfare system established for all throughout the period. Although if was ineffectively operated with periodical interruptions, the system had never been set up for such large a poor peasant population prior to 1949.

    I agree with Steve that there is probably a different criterion for literacy used by different governments. But even with a level of 2000 words, for many Chinese poor it would be something unthinkable in thier ancestors’ age. with this literacy some of them were able to change their fate forever (it’s not uncommon to find former exemplary factory workers or high ranking CCP leaders with an education background of elementary school).

    “… millions of educated youth were send to camps because they were asked to make some criticism/suggestions and they did so… and abusing their colleagues, teachers, family members in struggle meetings day after day for years….”

    Mao’s calling the city youth to go “up to the mountain and down to the village” to learn from peasants and make better use of their knowledge in a collective effort to bridge the huge gap between the life in the city and in the country was in the early 1950s, a part of his consistent thought on education reform. But the sent-down youth at an extremely large scale during the CR was indeed again an expedient policy adopted to cope with the overly populated youth in the cities resulted from the sudden halt to higher education and normal distribution of graduates to work place during the CR. Surely some of those youth felt forced to go but a no small number of them went on their free will, genuinely taking the idealist message to their hearts.

    The excessive abusive behaviors among people occurred in struggle meetings during the CR certainly had something to do with Mao’s call for “bombarding the headquarters of capitalist roaders within the party” gone rampage when public critique was switched from aiming at party leaders to targeting a wide rang of people (“the black five categories”) in society. Many first-hand memoirs by victims or eyewitnesses revealed how a political hysteria fed on brutality and ignorance of the local mobs who knew little about what they were doing. But on the other hand, a friend’s father, a former rebel,in Xian city, told his son that without the CR style democracy (the “big four”) to let out their voices they the little people in work place would never have a chance under the tyrannical rule of “little emperors and kings.”

    If you rely on the non-fiction books on China in English of past decades to know China, you’d more likely get predominately one-sided denunciation of the period with little attempt at subtlety and nuance. The different version of reality (versus what you posted here) in my information above is based on the first-hand experience of a former re-educated youth (whose view of China’s rural area derived from his eight years living among the peasants in northern China), the memoirs written by re-educated youth published in China in the late 1990s, and stories told by a friend about his father..

    Steve, Here is the information on William H. Hinton (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_H._Hinton)

  122. @Snow,
    “Yet many of the ideas I unreservedly accepted during the 1980s, including that all-out negation and condemnation of post-1949 years, are being challenged after I have met people with a variety of background and worldview and have been exposed to the fascinating and complex world of culture, politics, ideas and the critical thinking. I begain to see the Chinese experience in more perspectives and in the context of a larger world. ”

    Snow, I went through similar phases.

    Interestingly, Barack Obama embrace many Western European socialist or social democratic ideals (such as “spreading the wealth”) …. Europe, Africa, Asia, and South and Central America, there has generally been more explicit support for socialism as a doctrine, and socialist parties have been among the most successful political forces of the last 100 years.

    A major criticism of socialism is that it infringes individual rights in favor of the populace. In a very real sense, politics in the western world throughout the 20th century was shaped by the conflict between socialist and capitalist governmental policies.

    Although socialist parties are common in Europe, the leading examples all currently embrace some free enterprise, individual property rights and certain other aspects of capitalism although leading European Socialists are very critical of America. In many European countries socialism has been changing to Social democracy. Socialism is usually considered by most to be a weaker form of a communistic government, where a small few control and impose their beliefs onto other people. For example, Europe is used as an example of socialism. Most of the region is controlled by the European Union who impose restrictions on religion and freedom of speech while promoting an “equal” and politically correct society.

    US liberal politicians often echo the rhetoric of world socialism:

    (World Socialist Web Site, 31 January 2002) :”like Hitler and the Nazis, American militarism has embarked on a campaign of world conquest and world domination… [President Bush has issued] a declaration of the unbridled appetites of the military and of the most ruthless, corrupt and criminal sections of the American ruling elite …Like Hitler, Bush presents an upside-down view of the world in which small and weak states are mortal threats to the most powerful and heavily armed…”

  123. Stop contributing to this website. Once everyone with independent minds stops writing here, the pro-CCP people can continue their own pro-CCP political spins on current events, without the cover of being a place for open and free discussion. Every courageous chinese person with dignity and moral is called traitor by the people on this blog. Charter 08 have not been mentioned here so far, but I am sure Liu Xiaobo is also a foreign dog and reactionary in their mind.

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