Home > Analysis, Opinion, politics > Ai Weiwei: fighting for justice or freedom of speech?

Ai Weiwei: fighting for justice or freedom of speech?

Negotiating the way through Ai Weiwei-land and the barrage of mainstream media (msm) and Web opinions, Joni Mitchell’s song, “Both Sides Now,” on classic radio comes to mind:

Old friends are acting strange
they shake their heads
say I’ve changed
something’s lost, something’s gained.

Equanimity is a cop-out in this debate that pivots on black and white stereotypes of good and evil, freedom and oppression. You’ve got to pick a side, or be dissed for being wishy-washy.

Team Ai Weiwei, unsurprisingly, is in high gear, firing away with the usual barrage of clichés:

1. The Chinese government is repressive and disinclined to allow voices that challenge the official narrative. OK, what next?
2. Freedom of speech and expression has been shackled – for Ai as an individual and also as a hero of the people.

Ai is no prisoner of conscience. He had his liberties, to a point. In a roundabout fashion, he acknowledged pushing the limits of permissibility and would be read the Riot Act eventually.

Some part of him may have thought it wouldn’t happen; the prestige of his family and himself, and his celebrity artist status in the West, were an insurance of sorts.

That probably expired when he made allegations that would be hard to prove, about cover-up and corruption in the Sichuan earthquake. How many children actually died in tofu schools, which ones? Who to charge – for criminal neglect, corruption, what?

There’d be accusations, counter-accusations, false accusations, scapegoats. The kind of witchhunt that rocked China within living memory. Ai should know well the consequences of such events, given his personal experiences.

Yet, in a country that values “face,” he chose to rub it in -in a public fashion. No specific law was broken, unlike “quaint” offences such as lese majeste in Thailand, or even hate speech such as John Galliano’s unfortunate anti-Jewish rant in France.

But for people who grasp Chinese cultural tradition such as mianzi, an unspoken rule had been infringed; as good a reason as any to put Ai Weiwei in his place.

Ai’s politics had come to eclipse his “art,” which would be devalued without his “dissident” tag.

However, a possibility of ulterior motive behind Ai’s detention does not mean that he is not guilty of the charges he will face.

China claims to operate within its own legal system, like it or not.

Anywhere, law can be subsumed to power politics. Consider the brazenness of the “rape” case so rapidly whipped up against Julian Assange.

Or the political farce that is the 2nd sodomy trial of Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in Malaysia.

Presuming his innocence, Ai Weiwei’s supporters are entitled to call for his release. But the cry for justice should not be confused with the right to freedom of speech and expression.

Ai enjoyed that privilege – until he crossed his own Rubicon.

It is also hard for Team Ai to accept that lionizing him (or LXB) as poster child for “enlightened” Western values is counterintuitive with the Chinese.

The underclass can’t “get”’ a man who paints abstract brush strokes about rights and freedoms; they’d probably prefer someone who can make immediate material gains in their lives.

The prosperous classes that have gained from economic reforms aren’t enthusiastic about his brand of advocacy that will upset their world overnight. Ai Weiwei is simply irrelevant to most sectors.

By that logic, the “wary” authorities should be able to put up with a few oddballs and iconoclasts. But Westerners tend to look at China in real-time or, at earliest, from 1949. Chinese are more likely to look back – over a longer time arc – at the future.

The 19th century Taiping Rebellion was big enough to lay waste to much of China, weakening it in the process.

A single spark – or a combination, lit from outside – can start a prairie fire in a country with a list of combustible factors.

To their discredit, knee-jerk reactions by overzealous authorities can sometimes victimize dedicated people working below the radar – and inside the system – to move a country along expanded and diverse paths.

But Ai could have done better by himself and probably even China, if his self-righteousness – one man seeking redress for all a country’s ills – had been scaled down into more pragmatic tasks: he could have built a school for the underprivileged class he wants to champion.

Instead, indulging in Western media stardom and an economic dependency, he became an outsider to China’s cause.

  1. April 29th, 2011 at 16:29 | #1

    In my recent trip to China, I must have asked about a dozen people whether they knew about Ai Weiwei. Everyone said they have never heard of him. Granted, most of the people I asked were taxi drivers. It is kind of funny the Western media reporting him as the #1 artist in China.

    Well said:

    But Ai could have done better by himself and probably even China, if his self-righteousness – one man seeking redress for all a country’s ills – had been scaled down into more pragmatic tasks: he could have built a school for the underprivileged class he wants to champion.

    Instead, indulging in Western media stardom and an economic dependency, he became an outsider to China’s cause.

  2. raffiaflower
    April 30th, 2011 at 09:57 | #2

    Speaking to a fren who travels more regularly than me to China, she says some schools were built (70s/80s?) to meet the urgent need for education.
    After the shutdown of the Cultural Revolution, education could not wait, and schools were erected pell-mell.
    Plus, some schools were also built by rural people who did not know better about safety. Who would have expected an 8.7 Richter scale earthquake that would bring everything tumbling down?
    Into that mix of course is corruption – but that’s only part, and not the whole,story.
    This Ai Weiwei episode is taking on the semblance of Don Quixote, the delusional hero.
    Famously, the Duke says: I invent false information about a country and sell it others stupid enough to believe it. lol!

  3. Rhan
    May 1st, 2011 at 20:48 | #3

    I think the fundamental issue is not whether any taxi driver know Ai Weiwei or who he is, be it no 1 or no 10000 artist, the question is why he were being arrested? I never hear of AWW before this incident and that is the problem, I believe the Malaysia University student that demonstrate before Premier Wen arrival never hear of AWW either, but our ideal cannot lead us to stay quiet, and I think this is the very essential intellectual role of Chinese, from mainland and overseas. We can’t criticize our government for being authoritative and at the same time concede benevolence to another government that is supposed to be a role model, at least in the Chinese mind, a civilize and cultured China (文明和文化中国).

    While Kongzi and Mengzi promote their middle way (中庸) to the emperor and were deemed as not realistic of their values, I don’t see the emperor arrest them. Is that not part of reason why they able to start a school of thought eventually?

  4. guest
    May 2nd, 2011 at 00:58 | #4

    There is a difference between those who criticize with an eye towards bettering society. Then there are those who do so only for themselves. The emperor or the 老百姓 can make a distinction between the two.

  5. May 2nd, 2011 at 07:02 | #5

    “While Kongzi and Mengzi promote their middle way (中庸) to the emperor and were deemed as not realistic of their values, I don’t see the emperor arrest them.”

    Kongzi and Mengzi did not use profanity to mock the nation or the government. Actually, Kongzi and Mengzi preached the value of respect for authority and social stability.

    Kongzi wandered from nation to nation to preach his philosophy, leaving each time when he was rejected. He knew he was right, but accepted that others do not yet accept his ideas. Kongzi’s philosophy was not fully accepted until several centuries after his death.

    Recall then, Kongzi was a high official of the Kingdom of Lu, but he was cast out when the nobles of Lu would not accept his ideas. He lost his position, but he did not mock his King, nor sought to subvert the government (through his own many students).

    *
    The questions are (1) what are the roles of Chinese intellectuals in modern society (2) how should criticisms be brought out.

    (1) There are many different kinds of intellectuals in modern society. We cannot assume that the average citizens are not intellectuals. The average man, the common man has his own voice.

    Intellectuals should strive to voice their own unique solutions to the problems of the common man, and not merely echo louder the complaints of the common man.

    The common man can complain as well as to be heard by the government officials, but if the common man does not have any solutions, then neither will likely be any solutions be in the government.

    An Intellectual screaming about the problem does not present new solutions for any one.

    (2) Criticisms should be rational, not emotional, especially from an intellectual.

    Even Confucius knew of the value of priorities within a government. Problems must be prioritized to be solves. There is never enough time to solve all of the problems.

    Often time, priority is important, but not so important as to argue endless about it.

    It is more important to begin to solve the problems, even if the solutions are imperfect.

    An intellectual should know that he cannot plan the perfect solution, the perfect essay, or the perfect argument. Often, it is about how much can be done within a limited time and limited resources.

  6. SilentChinese
    May 2nd, 2011 at 13:48 | #6

    raventhorn2000 :“While Kongzi and Mengzi promote their middle way (中庸) to the emperor and were deemed as not realistic of their values, I don’t see the emperor arrest them.”
    Kongzi and Mengzi did not use profanity to mock the nation or the government. Actually, Kongzi and Mengzi preached the value of respect for authority and social stability.
    Kongzi wandered from nation to nation to preach his philosophy, leaving each time when he was rejected. He knew he was right, but accepted that others do not yet accept his ideas. Kongzi’s philosophy was not fully accepted until several centuries after his death.
    Recall then, Kongzi was a high official of the Kingdom of Lu, but he was cast out when the nobles of Lu would not accept his ideas. He lost his position, but he did not mock his King, nor sought to subvert the government (through his own many students .

    These people who quote Confucists have no f*king idea what they are talking about.
    Mengzi actually was very dismissive of his contempraries, espcially Xun Zi and his contrasting ideas about human nature.

    Mengzi was alive today one would call him a very non-tolerant intellectual.
    Xun Zi actually had a very good critical analysis on his contemporary pseudo-confucists. and I think Li Si was very much influenced by that.

    The Confucism exhibit an intolerance for other intellectual ideas and dogmaticism and orthodoxy. and they are not above using state power to restricting intellectual free-dom either.

    They complaint about 1st Emperor of Qin Burning books and bury alive the “confucists”. but history actual showed that it was only targeted at the selected confucist. They themselves when in power has done the plenty the same against other intellectual traditions.

  7. Rhan
    May 2nd, 2011 at 20:31 | #7

    @Guest, how do you know 老百姓 can make a distinction?

    @rv, I am not living in China so I don’t know how the common man in China propose a solution, to me as a common man, my role is to complain and it is the government duty to come up with solution.

    @SC, as Jxie often said, not that black and white especially if we touch on China ancient thought and philosophy, it is actually a melting pot. However for the sake of discussion, I think Confucianism before and after Cheng-Zhu Lixue (late Song / 程朱理学) was at vast difference. Han intellectual like Jiayi (贾宜) and Dong Zhongshu (董仲舒) were Confucian followers and they know well the bad and rigidity of Li Si legalism that would induce strong resistance from the people, hence their approach was more flexible and balance. Does not the strong, vibrant and dynamic Han, Tang and earlier Song a valid proof of that?

  8. kchew
    May 2nd, 2011 at 21:40 | #8

    Ai Weiwei played with fire with his mixture of vulgar arts and firebrand anti-government stance. He denounced, mocked and ridicules his own country in the name of arts, played to the foreign media gallery and received lots of money from his foreign backers for his efforts.

    Such people will never be tolerated in any historical Chinese settings, whether by any enlightened emperor or sages. He was never being constructive, but confrontational and vulgur. He has no qualm about breaking a 2000 year sold Han pottery, all in the name of art. He is a 奸 character.
    Naturally, if he breaks the law, then he should be prosecuted. Rhan picked and chose his examples on tolerance in ancient Chinese courts. He is just being disingenuous here, as he should know Ai Weiwei firebrand activism has no place in any Chinese traditional discourse.

    At least China does not go to war and go about killing others. WAR brings much bigger calamities, compared to the detainment of a few dissidents. It is not only about killing enemy combatants, but also result in loss of lives to innocent people. Does Rhan care for dead children and women in the so-called collateral bombings in today’s’ Afghanistan and Libya, and condemn such wars being propagated by those countries that seek to support such dissidents?

  9. wwww1234
    May 3rd, 2011 at 03:10 | #9

    “rational inattention” is an everyday phenomenon and is a necessary component of any great achievement.

    To demand certainty and constant good result from technocrats is to
    misunderstand the purpose of experts. To imply incompetence after the fact,
    when things go against the best calculated strategy which has to be balanced
    with economic disruption, is to imply that the future is knowable.

    What’s so pernicious about the HK and western media though, is that people have ways of
    achieving an illusory certainty anyway. When dealing with bad results,
    critics invariably close their minds to any other possibility than that of
    political cover up and guilt. In my view, it reveals complete ignorance
    about standard errors or parameter uncertainty.

    It is useful to look up in wikipedia on “confirmation bias”, ‘group think”,
    “ego-involvement” etc..

    These biases/ignorance all help them to avoid the uncomfortable facts that
    the world is uncertain, like in doctoring, mistakes are INEVITABLE, and we
    are often not in control of things as we think.

    In a rapidly changing and evolving society without tested pre-established
    rules, constantly blaming and picking on things being wrong alleging those
    as the result of political corruption is rather howling as to be
    nonsensical, or ivory tower based.

  10. Rhan
    May 3rd, 2011 at 04:15 | #10

    kchew,

    I sincerely hope Ai were arrested and prosecuted because he broke the law, be it cheat, rob, tax evasion, bigamy or whatever but not because his anti government stance or he ridicules his own country. The reason I brought up Kongzi and Mengzi is to acknowledge that only an era like ChunQiu that could stomach dissent voice and thought would result in a hundred flowers bloom.

    My comment on Ai has nothing to do with Afghanistan and Libya, it is irrelevant but if you truly wish to compare, may I know do you agree with the West justification on war base on human rights and their values? If no, what make you think you could justify your stance with historical Chinese settings and traditional discourse?

  11. May 3rd, 2011 at 06:23 | #11

    Rhan,

    “I am not living in China so I don’t know how the common man in China propose a solution, to me as a common man, my role is to complain and it is the government duty to come up with solution. ”

    Common man in China do complain plenty, without resorting to public vulgarity. (One always has the right to be vulgar in private).

    “I sincerely hope Ai were arrested and prosecuted because he broke the law, be it cheat, rob, tax evasion, bigamy or whatever but not because his anti government stance or he ridicules his own country.”

    I sincerely hope Ai didn’t complain about government harassment just to get away with tax evasion and bigamy, or generally breaking of the laws.

    Because frankly, there are plenty of people who have criticized government of China, including myself. Do I get a get-out-of-jail free card now, so I can break whatever laws I choose, just because I happened to have mocked some Chinese officials?

    “The reason I brought up Kongzi and Mengzi is to acknowledge that only an era like ChunQiu that could stomach dissent voice and thought would result in a hundred flowers bloom.”

    I don’t think you know ChunQiu very well. Famously for example, the man who pioneer Chin state’s harsh legalism, Wei Yang, was named Prime Minister of Chin, but fell out of favor with the next Chin King, and was subsequently drawn into 5 pieces by horses, and his remains scattered to the wilderness (the harshest punishment of the time, because it was the most painful way to die, and he would have no intact corpse for the afterlife).

    There are plenty of examples of critics executed during that time period. Scholars of the time would write and debate privately, but public criticisms of rulers almost always resulted in execution, as the punishment for inciting rebellion.

  12. Rhan
    May 3rd, 2011 at 17:47 | #12

    @wwww1243, you sound exactly like the government officer / minister from my country, whenever there is mistake and disaster, they blame it on act of god. What people look forward is accountability and improvement. I don’t think in any corporation, you could justify your mistake with what you had written here.

  13. Rhan
    May 3rd, 2011 at 21:33 | #13

    @rv

    “without resorting to public vulgarity.”

    Public vulgarity is bad, however I am not sure if it is against any law.

    “Do I get a get-out-of-jail free card now, so I can break whatever laws I choose, just because I happened to have mocked some Chinese officials?”

    Of course nobody is supposed to get any free card, but until now, do you know why Ai was being arrested and what law he broke?

    “I don’t think you know ChunQiu very well…”

    Like you said, I am just another common man that state my opinion base on what I know and read, I might be wrong but that shouldn’t stop me from voice up. Wei Yang (or Shang Yang) was captured and died by his own introduced harsh law, is that not a good lesson learned from history perspective that you are either with us or against us? How the people benefit from such harsh law? Did both Shang Yang and Li Si escape from the cruel law that seems to strengthen Qin but eventually fall because of tyranny? We can’t expect perfectness from a relatively open and moderate society but at least it provide the platform to allow the flourish of diverse thought, which help to enrich China diversity and progress later on. The moment you shut up one, the rest will stay mute, I don’t know how this bring good to the people.

    “There are plenty of examples of critics executed during that time period. Scholars of the time would write and debate privately, but public criticisms of rulers almost always resulted in execution, as the punishment for inciting rebellion.”

    Is this right? Shall we not learn from the good one and ignore the bad?

  14. May 4th, 2011 at 06:42 | #14

    “Public vulgarity is bad, however I am not sure if it is against any law.”

    Actually, it is against the laws of many nations. Singapore has many laws banning certain types of public speech, including those that defames any ethnic/religious groups, or ridicules government officials.

    http://presspedia.journalism.sg/doku.php?id=defamation_act

    “It is said that in Singapore, defamation laws are “perhaps the most onerous” (Ang, 1998) among the laws which apply across media.”

    “Of course nobody is supposed to get any free card, but until now, do you know why Ai was being arrested and what law he broke?”

    When he is being charged has nothing to do with the actual motivation of the investigation. You are speculating merely base upon his political views, and that has nothing to do with the Government’s political views. It’s hardly logical to speculate that his arrest is due to his political criticism of the government. As I said, LOTS of people criticize and complain in China.

    “I might be wrong but that shouldn’t stop me from voice up.”

    If you are rational, you should stop yourself from voicing “up” without careful considerations. Lots of people are wrong quite often, such as Bin Laden, terrorists, yelling fire in a crowded theater, etc. YES, you should stop “voicing up” your views, and consider the consequences of your erroneous views about history and the world.

    “Wei Yang (or Shang Yang) was captured and died by his own introduced harsh law, is that not a good lesson learned from history perspective that you are either with us or against us? How the people benefit from such harsh law?”

    (1) you are diverging from your own original premise, (which you admit is erroneous), that ChunQiu period was more tolerant. Again, it was not. Your view of history is at best selective amnesiac.

    (2) It has nothing to do with “with us or against us”. whether those laws were excessively harsh has nothing to do with the merits of the actual prohibition against public criticism of government at the time. Even today the West has laws prohibiting public incitement of rebellion. (MORE than Human rights, this type of laws is Universal and historical in all human societies).

    The extent of definition for what is public incitement of rebellion is flexible and contextual depending on the time period. During stable times, most nations are more tolerant of criticisms. There has never been any constant “right” standard of how much tolerance should be given, NOT even in US.

    “Did both Shang Yang and Li Si escape from the cruel law that seems to strengthen Qin but eventually fall because of tyranny?”

    Nope. Both knew that they had to live under the scrutiny of their own laws. They did not fall because of “tyranny”, but because they both overreached their own powers and began to think that the laws did not apply to them. Shang Yang displayed excessive public prestige and wealth.

    “We can’t expect perfectness from a relatively open and moderate society but at least it provide the platform to allow the flourish of diverse thought, which help to enrich China diversity and progress later on. The moment you shut up one, the rest will stay mute, I don’t know how this bring good to the people.”

    Platform of morality for people who blab freely about their erroneous views of history? No thanks.

    Such irrational talks are for the privacy of the small minded.

    Intellectuals know, even in ChunQiu time, that every debate must be moderated to be intelligible.

    “Is this right? Shall we not learn from the good one and ignore the bad?”

    There is nothing to learn from such broad stroke generalizations of “good” vs. “bad”, or “right” vs. “wrong”.

    Even the most “good” and “right” actions from your personal perspective may lead to “bad” and “wrong” consequences for others.

    Do you still want to blab on about your own mistaken views of history, if you know there is an increasing chance that it will lead to chaos and sufferring for millions?

    If it is that easy for human beings to recognize “good” from “evil”, then there would be no crimes nor atrocities.

    Every one goes on with the assumption that their views are “good”.

    That is the true “tyranny”.

  15. May 4th, 2011 at 06:58 | #15

    Another point is simply that as now admitted, ChunQiu was the same in putting down public criticism. Yet it still had plenty of criticism and debate.

    Thus, the rationale that putting down public criticism would somehow stifle diversity of opinions is also erroneous.

    Having diverse opinions is simply human. Public platforms neither encourage it nor discourage it.

    Indeed, in the atmosphere of Western “free speech”, there is no shortage of group think and following the pack mentality, dissents are far more easily drowned out by the chorus of the popular majority.

    As I have stated before here, public platforms yield nothing but popular views, not necessarily logical views. And often the popular views are moralistic, irrational, knee-jerking, and superstiteous.

    We cannot discover the Truths of the Universe through votes, nor can we discover the Truths of ourselves through votes.

  16. Rhan
    May 4th, 2011 at 19:54 | #16

    @rv

    “Actually, it is against the laws of many nations”
    Actually, I already guess you would mention either Singapore or Malaysia. I live in this region. So what about China?

    “You are speculating merely base upon his political views”
    No I am not. Perhaps you should re-read raffiaflower post and some of the comment here. They are the one that speculate. I respond likewise.

    “If you are rational, you should stop yourself from voicing “up” without careful considerations. ….and consider the consequences of your erroneous views about history and the world.”
    I wrote I might be wrong, and sorry I still don’t see how your empty talk could convince me that I am wrong.

    “(1) you are diverging from your own original premise, (which you admit is erroneous), that ChunQiu period was more tolerant. Again, it was not. Your view of history is at best selective amnesiac.”
    Huh? Show me how I diverge and since when I admit there is error? If we extend the ChunQiu name a little, we call it ChunQiu ZhanGou (Warring state) and many people died, did ShangYang arrested for what he speak or he mock and ridicule the ruler? You brought up only one instance of SY and telling me I am selective? Do me a favour and perform a simple search to find out which period of China history has the most freedom in term of speech and expression of political stance? And why most of the major thoughts were initiated during this period.

    “(2) It has nothing to do with “with us or against us”.
    Generally I agree. So why both ShangYang and Li Si have to die when there is a change of ruler?

    “Platform of morality for people who blab freely about their erroneous views of history? No thanks. Such irrational talks are for the privacy of the small minded.”
    Your next paragraph said it well. “Even the most “good” and “right” actions from your personal perspective may lead to “bad” and “wrong” consequences for others.” So who make a bigger impact? An erroneous view from a common man or a government?

    “Do you still want to blab on about your own mistaken views of history, if you know there is an increasing chance that it will lead to chaos and sufferring for millions?”
    Either you overrate me or you underrate the intelligence of the general mass.

    “That is the true “tyranny””.
    To each his own.

    Your next comment is pretty theoretical, so I stop here.

  17. May 5th, 2011 at 06:40 | #17

    Rhan,

    “Actually, it is against the laws of many nations”
    Actually, I already guess you would mention either Singapore or Malaysia. I live in this region. So what about China?”

    Were you expecting something different from China? Why?

    “You are speculating merely base upon his political views”
    No I am not. Perhaps you should re-read raffiaflower post and some of the comment here. They are the one that speculate. I respond likewise.”

    You are carrying along the same line of questions. It’s called “participating” in the speculation. You are certainly not making questions based upon facts, even if based upon OTHER people’s speculations, you are still speculating. Extending other people’s speculation doesn’t make your comments/questions any better. Indeed, that’s just rumor mongering.

    “If you are rational, you should stop yourself from voicing “up” without careful considerations. ….and consider the consequences of your erroneous views about history and the world.”
    I wrote I might be wrong, and sorry I still don’t see how your empty talk could convince me that I am wrong.”

    You admitted to Wei Yang’s brutal execution during ChunQiu. Isn’t it exactly contraditory to your view of Chinese history? How were you not wrong?

    “(1) you are diverging from your own original premise, (which you admit is erroneous), that ChunQiu period was more tolerant. Again, it was not. Your view of history is at best selective amnesiac.”
    Huh? Show me how I diverge and since when I admit there is error? If we extend the ChunQiu name a little, we call it ChunQiu ZhanGou (Warring state) and many people died, did ShangYang arrested for what he speak or he mock and ridicule the ruler? You brought up only one instance of SY and telling me I am selective? Do me a favour and perform a simple search to find out which period of China history has the most freedom in term of speech and expression of political stance? And why most of the major thoughts were initiated during this period. ”

    If you are going to discount that one example so casually, I don’t know how many other examples you will need to admit your error. Shang Yang was executed for MOCKING the new king of Qin. He paraded his own personal wealth and prestige in public, when he retired. It was a public insult to the King.

    “why most of the major thoughts were initiated during this period”?? Oh please! That period was 550 years, more than 1/8 of 4000 year of recorded Chinese history! It’s hardly a short time period in Chinese history. And it was near the beginning of Chinese history! YES, I would expect the MANY major thoughts of China come from the beginning 1/8 of Chinese history!!! MOST of major thoughts of US came from the beginning 25 years of US history, does that mean that US has less freedom today than when US still had slaves?!!

    “(2) It has nothing to do with “with us or against us”.
    Generally I agree. So why both ShangYang and Li Si have to die when there is a change of ruler?”

    Neither had to die when there was a change of ruler. Many died for inciting rebellion, when there was not change of rulers. That is the general universal laws of many nations, as I said.

    “Platform of morality for people who blab freely about their erroneous views of history? No thanks. Such irrational talks are for the privacy of the small minded.”
    Your next paragraph said it well. “Even the most “good” and “right” actions from your personal perspective may lead to “bad” and “wrong” consequences for others.” So who make a bigger impact? An erroneous view from a common man or a government?”

    If the common man has a PUBLIC platform, then a common man has the same impact as the government when making the error. (That was the point, wasn’t it? The common man want to have the power to “balance” the government.)
    Well, then, if a government official should be prosecuted for errors, then, shouldn’t You, a common man, be prosecuted for your errors in PUBLIC?

    “Do you still want to blab on about your own mistaken views of history, if you know there is an increasing chance that it will lead to chaos and sufferring for millions?”
    Either you overrate me or you underrate the intelligence of the general mass.”

    Neither, it is simply reality that the masses of “common man” easily latch onto irrational rumors, even in US, doesn’t require any brilliant ideas to make humans behave irrationally.

    “That is the true “tyranny””.
    To each his own.”

    Only if you live on the Moon by yourself. Human society require orders under laws. You don’t get to redefine the laws to suit your own.

    I would suggest that instead of doing merely “searches” on the internet, you need to study laws, and do me a favor, visit a few jails in any “free” societies on a weekend, and then you can tell about the “intelligence” of the general mass.

    I’m a lawyer, and I have seen the condition of general masses left to idleness and desperation and fear. They are easy victims of promises of “freedom”.

  18. Rhan
    May 6th, 2011 at 01:23 | #18

    @rv

    “Were you expecting something different from China? Why?”
    –Because I think such law and rule sucks. China can do better without it. And for the fact that you don’t live under one that with such law, I don’t see you have the locus to justify your stance.

    “You are carrying along the same line of questions. It’s called “participating” in the speculation….” You are certainly not making questions based upon facts, even if based upon OTHER people’s speculations, you are still speculating. Extending other people’s speculation doesn’t make your comments/questions any better. Indeed, that’s just rumor mongering.
    –If there is ample fact then what cause the people here to speculate? And what trigger the rumor mongering? And how come until now I don’t see you answer my question why Ai was arrested? I don’t extend the speculation as I wrote earlier I hope Ai was arrested because he broke the law. Does he? I think you spin enough by now so why not trying to answer my simple and direct question?

    “You admitted to Wei Yang’s brutal execution during ChunQiu. Isn’t it exactly contraditory to your view of Chinese history? How were you not wrong?”
    –I know WeiYang were brutal executed but that doesn’t contradict my view of history that “era like ChunQiu that could stomach dissent voice and thought”. Is this so hard to comprehend?

    “If you are going to discount that one example so casually, I don’t know how many other examples you will need to admit your error. Shang Yang was executed for MOCKING the new king of Qin. He paraded his own personal wealth and prestige in public, when he retired. It was a public insult to the King.”
    –I don’t know how one legalist SY that implemented harsh law, captured and punished to die by the same law, whose thought (Legalism) eventually help to build up a tyranny dynasty that were overthrow by the people, which suggest his branch of thought is very shortsighted could become a valid example to declare ChunQiu is not tolerance. My point is, CQ is much more tolerance as compare to other period in China history with various ideal and philosophy, most ruler is relatively tolerance to dissent, for instance, Mengzi were not punished even though he “ridicule” the emperor : 孟子谓齐宣王曰:“王之臣,有托其妻子于其友而之楚游者,比其反也,则冻馁其妻子,则如之何?”王曰:“弃之。”曰:“士师不能治士,则如之何?”王曰:“已之。”曰:“四境之内不治,则如之何?”王顾左右而言他。I don’t know if he did it in public or private but since I can read it today, I presume many others know beside the emperor and 孟子.

    “Oh please! That period was 550 years, more than 1/8 of 4000 year of recorded Chinese history! It’s hardly a short time period in Chinese history….”.
    –Oh please, who told you it was near the beginning? What about Xia, Shang and Zhou? I never claim it is short, my point is ChunQiu period that allow more freedom in expression help to churn out the major thought and philosophy in China. I would agree it may not be the only reason but come on la, this is a well known fact and I don’t know what you want to rebut. I don’t know much about US but I do know Europe age of Enlightenment didn’t happen at the beginning of their history.

    “Neither had to die when there was a change of ruler. Many died for inciting rebellion, when there was not change of rulers. That is the general universal laws of many nations, as I said.”
    –Did SY and LS rebel or the emperor allege that they rebel? I am curious, rv, do you read Chinese? I read 老子,孔子,孟子, 史记,林语堂,鲁迅,李泽厚,钱穆,易中天,等等等等。

    “Well, then, if a government official should be prosecuted for errors, then, shouldn’t You, a common man, be prosecuted for your errors in PUBLIC?”
    –It depends on what error.

    “Neither, it is simply reality that the masses of “common man” easily latch onto irrational rumors, even in US, doesn’t require any brilliant ideas to make humans behave irrationally.”
    –Generally, I agree.

    “Only if you live on the Moon by yourself. Human society require orders under laws…..I’m a lawyer, and I have seen the condition of general masses left to idleness and desperation and fear. They are easy victims of promises of “freedom”.
    –I live in Malaysia and I am one member of the opposition party (I am not sure if this relevant to our debate, I just respond likewise. Malaysia is quite similar to China, one party system since independence, but we have election every five years), I have no problem with law unless you abuse it to preserve the political power of the ruling party that doesn’t benefit the people. Do I need to be a lawyer and to know law to understand such simple concept?

    I sum up my contention as I lack energy and stamina to continue. If you disagree with me, I am fine with it.

    1. The arrest of Ai lack transparency and this cause the uncertainty.
    2. ChunQiu was a relatively free and tolerance society compare to other period in China. Tang, Song and Min Guo were close by.
    3. Does freedom help to build up a strong state or strong state would grand more freedom subject to debate. In this context, I agree with you.
    4. I tend to believe that a freer society is what most people want, I agree that ‘freedom’ will still subject to the norm and custom of a country and society.
    5. I find it hard to define and control hate speech, I know this because i am Malaysian, we have both racial and religion issue. Even in a blog you can see we may call each other troll, human tend to regard what we don’t like as provocative and hate, it will gets complicated if it become a law, for instance, I still don’t understand how laws against Holocaust denial work, is that a sensible law?

    Thank you.

  19. May 6th, 2011 at 05:47 | #19

    “–Because I think such law and rule sucks. China can do better without it. And for the fact that you don’t live under one that with such law, I don’t see you have the locus to justify your stance.”

    I don’t you having the factual basis for your opinion, since, you don’t know much about laws. And you are wrong, US has anti-Sedition laws, had them for a LONG TIME!

    “–If there is ample fact then what cause the people here to speculate? And what trigger the rumor mongering? And how come until now I don’t see you answer my question why Ai was arrested? I don’t extend the speculation as I wrote earlier I hope Ai was arrested because he broke the law. Does he? I think you spin enough by now so why not trying to answer my simple and direct question?”

    You admitted that you were merely responding to other people’s speculations. What facts are you talking about?

    “I don’t extend the speculation as I wrote earlier I hope Ai was arrested because he broke the law.”

    You left out the 2nd part of your statement, “be it cheat, rob, tax evasion, bigamy or whatever but not because his anti government stance or he ridicules his own country.” Your statement here demonstrates exactly a comment on a speculation of a conspiracy theory.

    “–I know WeiYang were brutal executed but that doesn’t contradict my view of history that “era like ChunQiu that could stomach dissent voice and thought”. Is this so hard to comprehend?”

    hardly, your relative comparison of ChunQiu has no factual basis. Do you have statistics for the brutality and arrests of dissent during ChunQiu? NOPE!

    ChunQiu and Warring Nation period, according to historical tabulation, was one of the most brutal time periods in history. You want to talk about “dissent”? Entire cities were sacked and massacred because of insults to reigning hegemons and Kings. “Stomach dissent”?!

    “–I don’t know how one legalist SY that implemented harsh law, captured and punished to die by the same law, whose thought (Legalism) eventually help to build up a tyranny dynasty that were overthrow by the people, which suggest his branch of thought is very shortsighted could become a valid example to declare ChunQiu is not tolerance. My point is, CQ is much more tolerance as compare to other period in China history with various ideal and philosophy, most ruler is relatively tolerance to dissent, for instance, Mengzi were not punished even though he “ridicule” the emperor : 孟子谓齐宣王曰:“王之臣,有托其妻子于其友而之楚游者,比其反也,则冻馁其妻子,则如之何?”王曰:“弃之。”曰:“士师不能治士,则如之何?”王曰:“已之。”曰:“四境之内不治,则如之何?”王顾左右而言他。I don’t know if he did it in public or private but since I can read it today, I presume many others know beside the emperor and 孟子.”

    That was entirely in PRIVATE. You can read it today, but what you read as ChunQiu was written by historians in Han Dynasty, compiled from ORALLY passdowned stories. It was commonly known that Mengzi and others did not publish their material, but rather passed them down orally to their students in private, not generally known in the public for 100’s of years.

    “–It depends on what error.”

    Then you admit that some errors of PUBLIC speech by the common man should be punished? then define the extend of how you would punish such errors.

    “–I live in Malaysia and I am one member of the opposition party (I am not sure if this relevant to our debate, I just respond likewise. Malaysia is quite similar to China, one party system since independence, but we have election every five years), I have no problem with law unless you abuse it to preserve the political power of the ruling party that doesn’t benefit the people. Do I need to be a lawyer and to know law to understand such simple concept?”

    YES, the term “lawyer” simply means a student of LAW. And if a common man does not study the law, then how is he to obey the law to the full extent? Does he wander in life GUESSING if he is obeying the law as he GUESS their meanings?

    It is YOUR civic responsibility to know, study, and understand the laws, even as they change. If you don’t understand them, how can you say your criticism of them are really rational? and if your criticisms of important laws are not rational, how are you responsible for the consequences of your criticisms? (And then, shouldn’t you be punished for your willfull ignorance that led to the “errors” of your criticisms?)

    “1. The arrest of Ai lack transparency and this cause the uncertainty.”

    All societies are uncertain. I don’t know what degree of transparency and certainty you want. You need to define it in the realm of the probable, not fictional world standard.

    2. ChunQiu was a relatively free and tolerance society compare to other period in China. Tang, Song and Min Guo were close by.”

    You have no statistics to back up this assertion.

    3. Does freedom help to build up a strong state or strong state would grand more freedom subject to debate. In this context, I agree with you.

    Does freedom generate more new ideas. That’s debatable.

    4. I tend to believe that a freer society is what most people want, I agree that ‘freedom’ will still subject to the norm and custom of a country and society.

    Most people want free money for no work. Doesn’t mean that they will get it. “Freedom” is subject to practical reality.

    5. I find it hard to define and control hate speech, I know this because i am Malaysian, we have both racial and religion issue. Even in a blog you can see we may call each other troll, human tend to regard what we don’t like as provocative and hate, it will gets complicated if it become a law, for instance, I still don’t understand how laws against Holocaust denial work, is that a sensible law?

    There are anti-Hate Speech laws in US, that prohibits cross burning, or burning of religious symbols (in some states, not all). The point of these laws is not to prohibit speech, but to prevent hateful speech from degenerating into physical violence.

    “Fighting words”, verbal provocation so hateful that it will likely cause physical retaliation, if not stopped.

    Then there are ‘defamations’, LIES that caused physical, emotional, or economic injuries.

    These laws are there and sensible, PRECISELY because the laws accomodate the fact that the “common man” is UNABLE to tolerate certain “hate speech” (which is relative to national, cultural, religious histories).

    If the “Common man” can live in peace with one another, WHILE such hate speeches are thrown about in public, then such laws are not needed. But reality speaks differently. (Hate speech and hate crimes ARE in virtually all societies, even in US).

    I do not underestimate the “masses”, I estimate the REALITY of the “masses”. This is the human condition we live in. There are reasons for the imperfect laws we have.

    In absolute MORAL arguments, yes, we don’t need any type of censorship, EVERYONE should just be allowed to say whatever they want. (But that’s assuming, EVERYONE is also willing to pay for the consequences of their speech.)

    Again, People want all the benefits (free speech) and none of the costs, doesn’t mean that they will get it.

  20. raventhorn2000
    May 7th, 2011 at 14:31 | #20

    I like to further dispel the common myth that “ChunQiu (Spring Autumn period) was the most tolerant period in Chinese history, thus generating many (most) of major thoughts.”

    (1) That period, including the Warring Nations Period, lasted about 550 years. Having about 100 schools of thoughts is not entirely unexpected for that long of a period. Remember, many of these schools of thoughts were also localized to particular Kingdoms during that period, with many of these schools of thoughts losing popularity over time, and becoming mutually influenced.

    (2) That period was perhaps more romanticized by many academics as “tolerant”, but it was not in reality. Confucius himself spent most of his life in Political Exile, and he did not even directly/publicly criticize the rulers of his home Kingdom Lu. His ideas were considered so dangerous that some Kingdoms sent mobs to try to drive him and his students out before they settled in.

    (3) How does one even know if there are “major thoughts”? How does one know if there are not as many today? That’s a problem. Even during ChunQiu, most of these schools of thoughts were not popular or even known in public. Many now famous academics did not bother to publish their thoughts, and only taught to selective students. Many academics of the time lived in mountains like hermits, such as GuiGu, who taught several notable ministers of time, including Sun Bin, who later compiled “Art of War by Sun Tzu”.

    The problem with modern times, is that perhaps “major thoughts” are generated, but also drowned out by the “free speech” media market. We don’t see/hear the new ideas, because we are constantly bombarded by the dialogs of the few “popular ideas” that are appealing to the “common man”.

    What’s appealing to the “common man” appeals to his baser needs. Emotive messages, simple morality, kneejerk scapegoating, Nationalism, racism, superstition, will easily overcome the “common man”‘s rationality.

    New ideas have no chance of becoming popular in “free speech”. And New ideas rarely need to publicly criticize specific governments.

    (4) The argument that “free speech” is necessary condition for creativity is akin to “free market and low taxes” is necessary for the rich to create new business and new jobs.

    It’s simple logically disconnected.

    New ideas can generate with anyone speaking about them. Public debates may refine, popularize, and even disprove new ideas, but debates do not in themselves generate any new ideas.

    I will personally claim that I have LOTS of new ideas. But I will also admit that most of my new ideas are silly, and I don’t bother to bring them out.

    But I do not feel the compulsion that somehow if I just talk about my silly ideas, I will get better new ideas. That’s frankly just even more silly. Most of new ideas in History are generated in quiet contemplation and meditation.

    I recognize, that there are probably LOTS of new ideas around me, that I am too blind to notice them or notice the people who have them. And the reality is, if there are new great ideas around us today, they will not be recognized as great ideas for centuries, not until some brilliant person can put those ideas into practice.

    Great Ideas are nothing, until they are proven in practice.

  21. Rhan
    May 7th, 2011 at 18:44 | #21

    Okay, maybe I shall pull myself out of debate that become very personal and not focus on subject, I think some of us are not much difference with one that we use to criticize: lots of snide remarks and often look for preciseness in language. I am not sure if some of them realize no matter how hard they disparage the West, their approach in putting forward their comment and question is pretty westernize, they request prove, definition, statistic, fact, and talking about law thinking that they are now interrogate an offender in court.

    China history emphasizes on individual and not on event, moral is the guide, not law and logic, we can easily call who is the good guy and bad one, we never understand rule of law, we presume rule of law is same with rule by law. Perhaps it is not scientific and factual enough, like it or not but this is how we “Chinese” study history.

    Here is a few links that talk about ChunQiu (Sorry in Chinese),

    http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E4%B8%AD%E5%9B%BD%E5%8E%86%E5%8F%B2
    “春秋戰國時期学术思想比较自由,史稱百家争鸣”

    http://www.dajunzk.com/xianqinzhuzi.htm
    “此外,春秋战国时期“百家争鸣”形成,与各诸侯国宽容的学术政策有密切的关系。特别是战国时期,各诸侯国对“士”往往都采取宽容的政策:允许学术自由。这就为“士”著书立说、发表个人的意见,创造了良好的条件,从而大大促进了战国时期的思想解放。”

    http://politics.csscipaper.com/politicalscience/theory/14493.html
    如果我们依照蒂利的观点,将公民权理解为国家与社会之间就战争物资进行“谈判”的副产品,那么春秋战国时期野心勃勃的统治者也曾为了鼓动民众参战和为国牺牲而做出三个重大的让步:一是言论自由,这一点被“百家争鸣”的局面所证明;二是获得公正的权利和通过上诉来修正司法不公的权利;三是在土地授予和福利政策方面的经济权利。不过,公民权在春秋战国时期的发展是“一个流产的发展”。④ 秦国在公元前221年统一中国,结束了春秋战国国际体系,此后,秦始皇不再需要争取人心,遂以暴政取代公民权。

    “Mengzi” was written by collaboration of Mengzi and his followers, it might be wrong but this is the most accepted theory as of now.

    I am not familiar with USA, I know both UK and Australia have ISA. The crux is when was the last time they make use of this “barbaric” law to arrest people and shut up their people? Google “Raja Petra and ISA”. “Teresa Kok and ISA”, “Sin Chew Reporter and ISA” and “blogger comment Perak crisis charged under Sedition”. Since USA has Patriot Act and Sedition Act, China should have it as well?

    I honestly could not understand how one that never lives under the fear of such stupid law is now trying to tell us the reality of the mass.

  22. Rhan
    May 7th, 2011 at 20:01 | #22

    To clarify, the reason I am a bit “hot” in this thread is because I guess it was written by a Malaysian, or a Chinese reside in Malaysia. He did mention Anwar Ibrahim.

    1) Whatever you call it, speculation or not, fact remain that Ai is not much difference with our local (Malaysia) human rights fighters, Raja Petra. If the author think CCP has rights to arrest Ai (base on his speculation), then he shall not complain Malaysia authorities of doing the same pertaining to Petra.

    2) I can’t stand the hypocritical of some “Chinese”, we complain like crybaby when we were the “victim” but try to justify another Chinese authoritative government not matter how cruel and merciless they treat their peoples. I am not sure if this is racism or double standard.

    3) I remember well how some “Chinese” criticized and look down of China and CCP in the sixties and seventies but now totally take a reverse role to praise and justify what CCP did and said, the most obvious is PAP LKY and those with English education background. Money does the talking eh?

    4) I agree I did perhaps over romanticize China, not only ChunQiu.

  23. raffiaflower
    May 8th, 2011 at 02:22 | #23

    i am busy these few days and will get back to you. thanks.

  24. raventhorn2000
    May 8th, 2011 at 13:56 | #24

    “The crux is when was the last time they make use of this “barbaric” law to arrest people and shut up their people?”

    The threat of the law alone should be sufficient, but there was always the ever hanging over head threat of the 1950’s “Red Scare” in US, where even the 5th Amendment could not protect people.
    Even in the 1960’s, UK was arrested Chinese in Hong Kong for being suspected “Communists”.

    And We today may not know the full extent of how Patriot Act has been used to lock up dissidents.

    “Since USA has Patriot Act and Sedition Act, China should have it as well?”

    No, Since EVERY nation had them in history, China can hardly be expected to be the exception. If you want to suggest a better way, I suggest you don’t have an example based upon reality.

    “I honestly could not understand how one that never lives under the fear of such stupid law is now trying to tell us the reality of the mass.”

    Have you been on a “No-Fly list”? Tons of Americans are on the list, and they don’t know why, or how to get off, or if they could be arrested for “something”.

    The Reality of the Masses is real enough even in US. You don’t live in US, and don’t try to tell me the reality of it. Your imagination is not reality.

    (1) you may compare Ai to your “human rights fighters”, I don’t know what factual basis you have about their similarities.

    (2) Oh yes, it’s not you, but them. I don’t think you can handle criticisms any better than any authorities.

    (3) Money does the talking in most countries. Those have none complain, as usual.

    (4) I don’t see much factual basis in your version of ChunQiu, so, you are romanticizing ChunQiu as well.

  25. raventhorn2000
    May 8th, 2011 at 15:08 | #25

    “I am not sure if some of them realize no matter how hard they disparage the West, their approach in putting forward their comment and question is pretty westernize, they request prove, definition, statistic, fact, and talking about law thinking that they are now interrogate an offender in court.”

    Actually, laws, and debates of science are similar in methodology. And debate of facts is not disparagement.

    Facts are facts. Western or not, Reality is Reality.

    If you don’t have proof, you are romanticizing things with your assertions.

    “http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E4%B8%AD%E5%9B%BD%E5%8E%86%E5%8F%B2
    “春秋戰國時期学术思想比较自由,史稱百家争鸣”
    http://www.dajunzk.com/xianqinzhuzi.htm
    “此外,春秋战国时期“百家争鸣”形成,与各诸侯国宽容的学术政策有密切的关系。特别是战国时期,各诸侯国对“士”往往都采取宽容的政策:允许学术自由。这就为“士”著书立说、发表个人的意见,创造了良好的条件,从而大大促进了战国时期的思想解放。”
    http://politics.csscipaper.com/politicalscience/theory/14493.html
    如果我们依照蒂利的观点,将公民权理解为国家与社会之间就战争物资进行“谈判”的副产品,那么春秋战国时期野心勃勃的统治者也曾为了鼓动民众参战和为国牺牲而做出三个重大的让步:一是言论自由,这一点被“百家争鸣”的局面所证明;二是获得公正的权利和通过上诉来修正司法不公的权利;三是在土地授予和福利政策方面的经济权利。不过,公民权在春秋战国时期的发展是“一个流产的发展”。④ 秦国在公元前221年统一中国,结束了春秋战国国际体系,此后,秦始皇不再需要争取人心,遂以暴政取代公民权。
    “Mengzi” was written by collaboration of Mengzi and his followers, it might be wrong but this is the most accepted theory as of now.”

    These are merely opinions.

    “百家争鸣”, is about the government encouraging academic debates, UNRELATED to the degree of putting down dissent during that time period.

    Even “百家争鸣” was only occasionally adopted by some of the Kingdoms, not all the Kingdoms during 550 years of that period.

    FACT: Confucius was in political Exile MOST of his life, along with many of his students.

    FACT: the entire school of Muzi lived in the mountains in Exile for generations.

    FACT: Confucius was not published in any way, until his grandson’s student Mengzi managed to compile some interpretations of Confucius.

    FACT: Most of these schools were not considered “critics” at all, but more “advisors” who sought patronage and pay from the governments.

    贤人也, 知公之不可谏而不谏, 是其智.

    “Learned Man, Know he who cannot be advise, and thus do not advise, is thus Wisdom.”

    If you want real “critics”, those who truly stand in opposition of the rulers and criticized them in public, during ChunQiu, you will not find any in the history books. (Probably most are executed, the rest are locked away as mad men.)

    Mengzi as a “critic”? You are joking. You might as well say that Hu Jiantao is a critic of Mao, Deng, and Jiang.

  26. raffiaflower
    May 8th, 2011 at 19:13 | #26

    The intention in conflating the cases of Julian Assange and Anwar Ibrahim with Ai Weiwei is to underscore the point that power politics is all the same, whether it hides behind the façade of “democracy’’ or authoritarianism.
    When the Establishment – corporation or government – moves to eliminate an enemy, law is no match for raw power. Your “rule of law’’ argument is irrelevant, especially when it’s an alternative construct to what China has.
    It already has its own legal system, although detractors say it operates in some parallel universe.
    So how does me telling it like it already is, constitute a defence of the Chinese government?
    Two things stand: on a previous thread, Jxie has pointed out that it is legal to hold AWW up to 40 days. That limit is approaching.
    2. The Chinese government’s claim that AWW is being investigated for tax fraud: in any country, a government (or its agencies) will already have dossiers on high-profile people, eg celebrity or journalist, fatter than Ai FeiFei’s pot belly.
    Ai’s activities would have been under the microscope for a long time. But probably no action taken for a variety of reasons, until a confluence of events brought his 15 minutes to an end.
    There will always be speculation in such cases – the form of government is not the issue. If I defend anything at all, it’s my own point of view.
    Personally, I think it’s hilarious that Feifei frolics in the buff with just a toy horse over his family jewels. I’d ignore his F**k video, though my hunch is that it’d “hurt the feelings of the Chinese people’’.
    Ask yourself what would happen, though, if he were to point his middle digit at Lincoln’s statue or Mt Rushmore (symbols of a nation, not of government) or Auschwitz-Dachau or the Black Stone.
    What next – if insisting on his “freedom of expression’’ – he continues to flout public opinion/outrage or official “warnings’’ sometimes delivered in the form of slanted media coverage.
    AWW did not break any written law. But he was a serial offender of social codes and would probably have been “counselled’’ quite a few times.
    I’d give it to him that a sense of self-empowerment (from his years abroad) could have fanned a determination to challenge the strictures of a nanny state.
    He could however have aligned with the common interests and spoke up on issue such as inflation, housing, the crudeness of the new rich (he was one of them?) and become a people’s hero.
    But given his foreign patronage and his gestures of contempt for China itself, that wasn’t really his career goal.
    All that should have no bearing however, on the allegations of tax evasion. The Western MSM and some people have rushed to judgement that another act in bad faith by the Chinese govt.
    But that is everybody’s right o speculate; just as my opinion should have nothing to do with my ethnicity or nationality.
    Like, nobody should care whether you are an Opposition groupie or a gay weightlifter either. This is a thread about Chinese, not Malaysian, politics.
    Otherwise, you’d need to take your little barbells, lol!, elsewhere along with your rant.

  27. Rhan
    May 8th, 2011 at 20:35 | #27

    @raffiaflow,

    Your reply is just a repeat of your “speculation” from the same article, I don’t know what exactly is your point and with what intention, or we are just having fun here?

    I remember well yinyang and Steve always said we aren’t living in vacuum (of course use in different context). Anyhow, seems like I shall acknowledge by now the world consists of only two countries, one is China, the other one is America.

    Btw, the remarks on opposition groupie and gay weightlifter is uncalled for, i responded to rv in a similar manner when he said he is a lawyer, your cynical rebuke reflect badly on you, but this is merely my personal opinion.

  28. Rhan
    May 8th, 2011 at 20:45 | #28

    @rv,

    You are one of the commentators I always admire because of you good acquaintance with China history and culture (another one is Jxie). However sometimes I think your contentions lack logic but again, this is my personal opinion. And I find it comical everything I wrote here were either speculation or opinion and yours is fact, great!

  29. Wukailong
    May 8th, 2011 at 21:27 | #29

    @Rhan: “Anyhow, seems like I shall acknowledge by now the world consists of only two countries, one is China, the other one is America.”

    LOL, my sentiments exactly.

  30. May 8th, 2011 at 21:53 | #30

    @WKL #29,

    Geography was never my strong point. But I remember there was another … Atlantis, I think.

  31. May 9th, 2011 at 05:27 | #31

    “And I find it comical everything I wrote here were either speculation or opinion and yours is fact, great!”

    That’s because I do not engage in sweeping generalizations about a period of ancient history that lasted 550 years.

    Logic and probability would tell a rational person that when one does make a generalized conclusion about 550 years of history (history which was not even recorded until a few hundred years after that period, even then was from orally passed down history), that conclusion is probably wrong.

    In law and in science, we call that generalizations upon “hearsay”, generalizations from 3rd/4th/5th hand accounts.

  32. raffiaflower
    May 9th, 2011 at 05:48 | #32

    1. I am sorry but your generalization about people behaving like crybabies certainly sounds close to a personal attack, imo.
    2. Please read carefully. The point is, in case you missed it, that the Chinese government is acting within its legal bounds in this matter.
    As pointed out by Jxie, the govt can hold him up to 40 days.
    China acts according to its own law. I believe that your point was “China needs rule of law”.
    3. The government is proceeding on a case of tax evasion. Before taking in AWW, it would have began a preliminary probe.
    4. Everyone has a right to speculate, whether you live in a democracy or authoritarian nation.
    5. The world is much bigger than US and China. But we are not discussing Malaysia in this thread. Thanks.

  33. raffiaflower
    May 9th, 2011 at 06:25 | #33

    You have basically also charged me with being a mouthpiece for the Chinese government and that really burns my butt.

    All governments are flawed -whether it’s First World/developing/whatever – and have to be called out.

    But I believe most people on this blog criticize China with an understanding of where China has come from.
    Nobody knows where it’s going to – not even the government itself, and that is a probable reason for its “determination to hang on to power”. There is no clear alternative yet to the stability of the one-party state.
    Ditto the same reason for the people.
    We are here neither to praise China or to bury it, but attempt to offer some nuanced insight ( tho I wouldn’t claim to be so clever as some others) that could narrow the cultural gap between the rest of the world and China.
    Yup, it’s a great big world out there. At last count, maybe about 212 countries.

  34. May 9th, 2011 at 07:12 | #34

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/09/opinion/09krugman.html

    In this article, Krugman argues that the Elites of the West are to blame for the financial crisis, and that the Elites have shifted blames onto the “Common man”.

    But Krugman is also partly wrong, because the “Common Man” of the West never held their Elites responsible for any of the problems, because the Elites own the “Free media”, to which the Common man is so attached to.

    Krugman’s 1 solution is greater “accountability” of the Elites. Except, asking the Common man to hold the Elites accountable is like asking the Sheep to hold the Shepard accountable. The Sheep does not care.

    The Common Man does not care. The Common Man is confused enough by the annual tax filing he must do, he could hardly understand the intricacies of all the financial escape tunnels the Elites have dug under the Western Continents over the last century.

    Virtue of the “common man” is over glorified in the West, and we see the decline of that myth today in reality.

    The common man had ample opportunities to check and balance their elites in the West, but they chose blindness and ignorance and complicity.

    I am hopeful that some rare individuals do strive to be more every day, but I am realistic that most are content to remain “common man” in their baser instincts.

  35. raffiaflower
    May 9th, 2011 at 14:11 | #35

    The post is categorized under Analysis, and it’s a little attempt to “analyze” the possible reasons behind the events that led to AWW’s arrest/detention/disappearance/whatever.

    Analysts on newspapers/think tanks make it their job to put these things under their microscope, and offer a possible insight into a scenario.

    I don’t claim to be an expert, and those discussions are already on the open market. Google it.
    If you wish to call that “speculation” or “conspiracy theory”, it’s your liberty.

    And if it fits your idea that it defends the Chinese government, well, too bad.

    In writing this post, I had to try for a critical but understanding tone – ergo, seeking some plausible reasons for AWW’s downfall behind the official claim – that bears in mind that this blog is accessible in China and probably wants to remain so.

    Speculation happens in any situation; it has nothing to do with “lack of transparency that causes uncertainty”,as you claim.
    Hillary Clinton once complained? speculated? that the Monica Lewinsky scandal was an attempt by Bill’s political enemies to discredit him.
    And why is there doubt about and objections to the Western allies presence in Libya, despite their strenous claims to “protect” civilians?
    If everything were so transparent, esp govts, the world would be a much better place. And there’d be no work for analysts.
    And right, Allen, I am now an Atlantean splashing between China and America – see my shiny tail! – along with the hacks who fantasize about the possibilities behind the scene. lol!

  36. raventhorn2000
    May 9th, 2011 at 14:44 | #36

    If we must speak of “tolerance for dissent” during ChunQiu period, then we must speak of the wars during that time.

    Namely, according to what we have in written accounts, over 450 battles were fought over approximately 220 years of ChunQiu Period, over 40 city-states were sacked and destroyed, entire cultures wiped off the history of China. Average of more than 2 recorded battles each year of ChunQiu.

    Even the 100 schools of thoughts in that period, were known to occasionally wage bloody wars against one another over heated philosophical disputes.

    If this period was most “tolerant” in Chinese history, how can such “tolerant” Kingdoms and rulers be intolerant of each other?

    And that comes to a point missed by even many modern historians: War is the ultimate expression of intolerance.

    A Ruler who arrests a few subjects for rebellion may be intolerant of dissent, or merely protecting his other citizens. But a Ruler who wages wars upon his neighbors is fearful of ideas outside of his realm of control.

    The 1st only believes his right within his own Kingdom, the 2nd being dangerous enough to believe that no one can stop him.

    *
    It is worth while to note that while the West preaches “tolerance”, it has been now at constant wars of foreign interventions for more than 60 years, for nothing less than greed and ideological intolerance.

    It, no one else, has proclaimed itself the epitome of ideological perfection, that nothing else exists as possible alternatives.

    That is not “tolerance”, it is self-contradiction.

    True political tolerance is non-intervention and geopolitical neutrality.

  37. Rhan
    May 9th, 2011 at 20:00 | #37

    @Raffiaflower,

    If I am not wrong, this is your first post in HH and I am here to give you my best “support”, however my support not necessary synonymous with agree to your view, to participate is another form of support.

    1) If I am generalization, then I think I am not into personal attack, please don’t pigeonhole (请别对号入座). I could be ignorant toward some issue but I seldom go for personal attack unless I am forced to, and if I recall correctly, perhaps during FM time on debate with skc and jerry. The crybaby statement was directed toward some Chinese Organisation in Malaysia like DJZ.

    2) Fine with me, I am merely analyse your analysis and opinion.

    3) I am not sure about China, but in Malaysia, it is not hard for the government to detain anyone and sketch out the offence later, don’t we call it selective prosecution?

    4) Perhaps you shall direct your reply to rv and appoint me as the arbitrator? 🙂

    5) I am with you on this.

    “You have basically also charged me with being a mouthpiece for the Chinese government and that really burns my butt.”
    I am not. I just hope the overseas Chinese can be more consistent and objective.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think your analysis was well written and that is why I engage you and some others. I look forward your second post.

  38. May 10th, 2011 at 05:38 | #38

    “it is not hard for the government to detain anyone and sketch out the offence later, don’t we call it selective prosecution?”

    No, generally, that’s called probable cause for arrest. In fact, most countries do not require a charge to arrest, ONLY probable or reasonable cause for arrest. (Whether the cause, and the evidence of cause, is sufficient and reasonable is a legal question, varies with countries).

    “Selective prosecution”, is where a person is prosecuted for a crime that is almost never prosecuted under the similar circumstances for other people. But “selective prosecution” is difficult to prove, because generally, there are lot of criminals who are not caught by the justice systems. One cannot rationally argue that because other criminals are not brought to prosecution, one should be exempted from prosecution.

    “Selective prosecution” is only blatant, when there are clear evidence of prosecution “selectiveness”, such as CLEAR evidence of extraneous motives, Abuse of judicial and prosecutorial discretions, disproportionally harsh punishment sought for minor or not serious criminal charges.

    Wen Ho Lee was a case of selective prosecution in US, where there were clear evidence on record that the US government wanted to find someone to blame, US government did everything it could to block prosecution’s evidence from being shared in court, AND he was made to serve 18 months in solitary confinement for charges that others only got slap on wrist for. (And of course, Mr. Lee got a sizeable civil lawsuit settlement from US government later).

    Don’t use terminologies that you don’t understand (and again, generalizations don’t help your arguments either).

  39. raffiaflower
    May 10th, 2011 at 06:36 | #39

    Dear Rhan, thanks. I was not really following the debate between you and RV, so was surprised by that particular comment.

    I believe one of your points is about the pursuit of freedom and fairness as a universal objective,without distinction of race/religion/gender.
    However I did not want to debate Malaysian politics here partly because I don’t believe there is a moral equivalence between RPK and AWW.

    AWW, from what can be seen so far, has not aligned himself with the problems of the common people. RPK and even Namewee, in their actions and words, are the lightning rods of popular discontent about inefficiency, racism, malfeasance, etc.

    The alleged sexual preferences of Anwar Ibrahim are also his own and do not reflect on his leadership abilities (or lack of) – surprisingly, that opinion comes from talking with some working class Malays themselves.
    His case comes pretty close to “selective prosecution”,i think.
    RPK and Anwar are the true conscience of a nation. AWW is not.

    A distaste for AWW’s works – esp those that mock Chinese culture and people – also does not equate with unquestioning support for the government’s handling of the case.

    It must produce evidence from a proper investigation – about alleged tax evasion – and not bizarre trumped up stuff, as in you-know-who’s ongoing trial which has made a mockery of law and justice.

    At the best, AWW’s case will probably leave feelings of ambivalence for people who have been following it.

    2. For the reason you mention above, I have also kept the AWW debate away from comparisons. Writing this post already required careful turns of phrases and words that defer to one political culture.

    To expand the debate with comparisons to another – where everything has become politicized to the extreme – would really tread a fine line.

    They need to be separate.

  40. Rhan
    May 10th, 2011 at 07:03 | #40

    @rv,

    I might be wrong but I presume raffiaflower would know what I mean by selective prosecution in Malaysia context. If a government want to thrash a political opponent but can’t find any evidence of his crime, knowing that he might be a homosexual and therefore make a decision to prosecute him under sodomy which never happen before, can I call this selective prosecution?

  41. May 10th, 2011 at 07:24 | #41

    “If a government want to thrash a political opponent but can’t find any evidence of his crime, knowing that he might be a homosexual and therefore make a decision to prosecute him under sodomy which never happen before, can I call this selective prosecution?”

    Not really, they may be blackmailing him with the sodomy charge, but I would not say that’s selective prosecution. Afterall, I’m sure other people have been charged with Sodomy before him.

    Afterall, US prosecuted Al Capone for tax evasion (with a life time sentence), even thought they really wanted to get him for mob related conspiracy and racketeering.

    It’s entirely legitimate to have multiple charges (or back up charges) against a person, JUST IN CASE they can’t prove all of the cases.

  42. May 10th, 2011 at 08:05 | #42

    If you want to see a case of “intolerance of dissent” in US, one that is not talked about much, here is one.

    Some 40 states in US are passing “anti-Sharia laws”, to supposedly ban the possibility of any Sharia laws in the US.

    My question is why?

    Such a sweeping ban of “Sharia Laws” either has little or no effect, since no one bothers to define what is “Sharia laws”, and/or it is just a draconian censorship to discriminate against Muslims. I mean, seriously, if a group of Muslim Americans proposes a set of laws in the states, does that automatically make it “Sharia Laws”? (Well, I think some anti-Sharia Law lobbyists would probably characterize it as so).

    At the heart of this movement, it is fear and intolerance of Islam, nothing less.

    GOP that supports this movement, also harp constantly that the laws of US are based upon Christian moral traditions, which is historically true. There lies the problem. Most laws of US are based upon religious moral traditions, but secularized over time.

    GOP ignores the 2nd part. They cannot tolerate the influence of other religions’ moral traditions in US laws, not even secularized. They want to characterize US laws as “Christian Laws”, and take offense to the notion that US laws are actually secularized (essentially God is no longer involved).

    You want to see a case of “intolerance”, here is one where “dissent” is not even apparent, one so sweeping and so preemptive, that I would even call it “1st Amendment Free Speech Abortion at 1st trimester”.

  43. Rhan
    May 11th, 2011 at 01:31 | #43

    @raffiaflower,

    I doubt CCP care about law on 30 days or 40 days detention.

    @rv,

    Malaysia has both common law and sharia law (for Muslim only with limited scope), some Muslim insists that Muslim shall abide by Islamic law and not common law, their argument is that secular law was imposed on Muslim without their consent. I read that some UK Muslim wish the same. I presume US constitution never mention anything like no other law is allowed besides US law hence the preempt move. What do you think if American Muslim insists that they would be judged under Islamic law and no others? And what if the American Chinese insist that they would follow only Qin law (秦法)? What if Chinese Muslim wants the same? Do you agree with the ban or you don’t? I wish to know your view and stance before we delve deeper.

    Btw, I am not too sure if ban of sharia law and to ban the rights to demand the wish for sharia law is the same.

  44. raventhorn2000
    May 11th, 2011 at 06:41 | #44

    “I presume US constitution never mention anything like no other law is allowed besides US law hence the preempt move.”

    The US Constitution makes no distinction for the origin of the laws. If a law exists, it doesn’t matter if it is Christian, Jewish, or Islamic in origin.

    As for the notion of “other laws”, US Constitution does not give citizens a choice to pick among multiple sets of laws. There is no such allowance.

    Frankly, it is silly notion that a group of US citizens could insist that they be judged under Islamic law and no others. No Muslim American has ever made such insistence, and no such proposal has ever come up in US legislatures.

    Thus, Such a preemption is thus obviously used to malign against Muslim Americans.

    If US made pass to say that “Qin Laws” are not allowed, when Chinese Americans made no requests to be judged under “Qin laws”, then it’s obviously an attempt to publicly malign Chinese Americans by questioning their basic loyalty to US. It would be stereotypical racism, that somehow Chinese Americans would want to corrupt US laws to suit their own ways.

    Hence, the problem, such PREEMPTIVE laws to ban Sharia Law IMPLIES that Muslim Americans are disloyal, that they will inevitably try to corrupt US laws.

    I mean, seriously, what is a Sharia law or a Qin law? Laws are laws. If a law is Constitutional as judged under US Constitution, then it is Constitutional. It didn’t supercede the US Constitution. Who cares which religion it came from?

    When a Muslim woman in Florida wanted to keep her face veil on for a driver license photo, she didn’t argue on basis of Sharia law, she argued basic rights to religion based upon US 1st Amendment. That’s NOT Sharia law, that’s basic US constitution.

    So, I really don’t know why US states are passing these anti-Sharia laws. It’s frankly ridiculous and racist/religionist. No one is demanding that Sharia law supersede US Constitution (or even State Constitution). Preemption is just paranoia.

    Muslim citizens like citizens of other religions, must obey the laws of the land. If they demand change, they have the right to lobby, just like everyone else in US. And if they have enough support, they can change the US Constitution, anti-Sharia laws or not. (So, either way, it’s pointless).

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