Home > Analysis, Opinion, politics > Happy Ten – Ten (Double Ten)

Happy Ten – Ten (Double Ten)

October 10th is the National Day of the Republic of China.  It is celebrated in both Taiwan and the Mainland as an event that liberated China from the grip of feudal rule.

Following up on Ma Ying-Jeou’s 10-10 speech (Chinese version) as well as zack’s recent comment in the open forum yesterday, I thought I’d put in some of my thoughts.

My first thought on 10-10 this year is to smile. This is the 100th anniversary of the founding of the R.O.C. The political status of R.O.C. notwithstanding, accomplishment of territories under its control represent an important accomplishment of Chinese people, and there are definitely things to celebrate.

As Ma noted,

Despite its relatively small land area and limited natural resources, Taiwan has pulled itself up by its own bootstraps to become a major economic presence. Its companies are world leaders in the manufacture of high-tech products such as semiconductors, tablet PCs, smartphones, and photovoltaic equipment. Moreover, they have made outstanding contributions to energy conservation and reduction of carbon emissions.

In the 2011 World Competitiveness Yearbook released by Switzerland’s International Institute for Management Development in May, Taiwan ranked No. 6 overall, its best score ever. In the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2011-2012 issued in September, Taiwan placed No. 13, our country’s best performance in five years, and occupied first place in eight of the survey’s sub-indices.

Our young people are bursting with talent. They have turned in brilliant performances in the fields of design and invention as well as cultural and creative undertakings. In the six biggest international invention shows, they often walk away with the lion’s share of the prizes. Some 80 percent of the world’s Chinese-language pop music is created in Taiwan, and we have taken a place on the world stage in the fields of cinema, theater, dance, and design. Taiwan moviemakers in particular have made their presence felt. An amazingly talented younger generation is opening up limitless vistas for Taiwan’s movie industry.

The people of Taiwan are compassionate. There are over 40,000 nonprofit organizations with more than a million volunteers who work in anonymity for the greater good throughout Taiwan. More than that, they also travel overseas to provide humanitarian assistance wherever it is needed. Last year, 8 percent of our citizens were blood donors, a ratio ranking among the world’s highest. The people of Taiwan provided financial sponsorship for 300,000 poor children, 200,000 of whom lived overseas. And their annual charitable donations exceed NT$35 billion (US$1.1 billion), most of which comes from people of modest economic means.

In this land, we can see numerous examples of admirable people who have lived out their dreams. The generosity of ordinary people like Chen Chou, Chen Shu-chu, and the army veterans Yin Tien-chia and Hung Chung-hai, is simply stunning. The beloved Dr. Lien Jih-ching is known far and wide for his work in combating malaria in West Africa. Ultra-marathoner Kevin Lin is a tremendous credit to Taiwan. We certainly take pride in the world champion baker Wu Pao-chun, not to mention U.S. baseball major league pitcher Wang Chien-ming, who has returned to the mound after overcoming a debilitating injury. An elderly woman named Yang-Huang Mu-tan, despite her poverty, could not be tempted to keep a huge bundle of money she had found, and food safety official Yang Ming-yu went above and beyond the call of duty to expose a case of tainted foods. In the meantime, film director Wei Te-sheng recently released the brilliant epic “Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale.” And last but not least, I cannot go without mentioning world record-breaking LPGA champion Yani Tseng.

In these individuals, we witness the exemplary spirit of kindness, hard work, tenacity, firmness of purpose, and faith-the driving force of Taiwan’s advancement.

But parts of Ma’s speech may be interpreted as a rebuke to the Mainland authorities (e.g. see this Bloomberg piece), with Ma lecturing:

The October 10th uprising is a memory and heritage shared by both sides of the Taiwan Strait. I wish to take this opportunity, therefore, to remind the mainland authorities: In commemorating Double Tenth Day, it must not be forgotten that the aspiration of our founding father Dr. Sun Yat-sen was to establish a free and democratic nation with equitable distribution of wealth. The mainland ought to courageously move in that direction.

Obviously – there are some politics involved. An election is looming, and Ma does not want to appear soft to the people of Taiwan on the issue of cross-strait relations. Besides political posturing, I don’t think Ma meant to tout Taiwan’s present day mode of governance as some epitome of what Sun envisions.  But to the extent he did, I would strongly disagree.

While Sun was heavily influenced by Western democratic ideals, that was mainly driven by a desire to tear down the suffocating burden of feudal rule. The driving force behind 10-10 was a rejuvenation of Chinese civilization that has by 1911 been undermined by foreign invasions and internal corruption. Democracy was seen as a vehicle to topple a corrupt order and to create a new fair and equitable society that unleashes the energy of the Chinese people – not a vehicle to destroy Chinese culture and adopt wholesale a Western way of governance.

Ma in his speech emphasized amongst the accomplishment of the R.O.C. the “safeguard[ing of] the viability of Chinese culture.” But under Chinese political philosophy, the art of governing is to indoctrinate people in position of power to work to build a justice society. Peace and justice flows from the grooming of wise and benign rulers, not from inciting lay people to impose their will through government.

That’s probably a good thing. A “mob” can reflect perfectly the “will of the people” – yet sensible people generally don’t condone vigilante justice. While America is generally recognized to have had over 200 years of democracy, a closer peek reveals that a large part of those 200 years, only a select few landowners can “vote,” a sizable portion of the population was permanently enslaved, and even within the century, over half the population (women) could not vote, and some races and nationalities (Chinese) were prohibited from ever becoming citizens.

Will future historians look to present-day American democracy as a beacon of peace and justice when the press is generally so myopic and agenda-driven, when money so clearly controls information (at least information that matter, the expensive ads needed to win elections), when the general populace is so ignorant (world affairs, math, science, you name it), when partisanship poison every aspect of free political discourse (that goes for Taiwan as well)?

Democracy is often used synonymously with the building of a just, peaceful and prosperous society, but I think the two represent separate and distinct concepts.

No method of governance is perfect. Democracy can be a great model of governance – but not inherently. It is great only when it is. I am glad the U.S. and many of its allies have found democracy so invaluable to their success. But in the long term, the normative appeal of democracies will only be as strong as the success they provide – and I mean, success that is fairly earned, and not gained on the backs of ignoble colonial history and military expansionism.

I don’t think 10-10 should be hijacked to promote a particular brand of governance. I don’t agree Sun vision of “a free and democratic nation with equitable distribution of wealth” should be distilled down to any self congratulatory and narrow conception of “democracy” and “freedom”.

The authorities in Mainland have maintained that even if Taiwan were reunified, it would be allowed to practice its own brand of government in its internal governance. To the extent the people of Taiwan find its version of democracy useful, they should continue to embrace and develop it. For the mainland, to the extent its current system of co-opting the best and brightest from all aspects of life (all classes, all ethnic nationalities, all genders, etc.) to the party to lead the nation – in a form of meritocratic democracy, they should also continue to embrace and develop it. To the extent the two sides can freely experiment and share with each what each learns, that can only make China stronger.

The people across the strait share a common history and a common future. As long as the two sides understand this, the future will be bright. Here is a toast – on this 100th anniversary of the long Chinese road to rejuvenation – to the budding Chinese Renaissance – and perhaps more broadly, a budding Asian Renaissance.

  1. October 12th, 2011 at 05:39 | #1

    A related link.
    http://blog.hiddenharmonies.org/2009/03/a-brief-memoriam-for-the-yellow-flower-hill-uprising/

    By now. mainland China should be more secured and open to discuss our history and Dr. Sun.

  2. colin
    October 12th, 2011 at 17:05 | #2

    “The October 10th uprising is a memory and heritage shared by both sides of the Taiwan Strait. I wish to take this opportunity, therefore, to remind the mainland authorities: In commemorating Double Tenth Day, it must not be forgotten that the aspiration of our founding father Dr. Sun Yat-sen was to establish a free and democratic nation with equitable distribution of wealth. The mainland ought to courageously move in that direction.”

    I don’t think this is a rebuke at all. What clear headed rational CCP official wouldn’t agree with that statement. The speed, timing, and method of that development is I think where differences would lie. After all, who would say Taiwan is a pure epitome of democracy?

  3. October 12th, 2011 at 18:01 | #3

    I like Allen’s post at lot, because the narrative often in the West is that people of Mainland and people on Taiwan have to be at each other’s throats. The truth is they need not be. Witness the benefits of expanded economic and cultural exchanges between the two.

  4. Charles Liu
    October 12th, 2011 at 19:04 | #4

    I’m recently reminded it is the most vulnerable that suffer the most, when there’s chaos. Lets hope next hundred years will be focus on parity and prosperity across the Strait, not conflict and confrontation.

  5. Wukailong
    October 13th, 2011 at 06:18 | #5

    Actually, the idea that government is for the people… is a fairly new concept, I think. Perhaps we’re all better off because of it, perhaps not.

  6. October 13th, 2011 at 08:51 | #6

    @Wukailong
    Meng Zi talked about the people being more important than the king two thousand years ago.

  7. October 13th, 2011 at 09:11 | #7

    China have the government for the people concept about 100 years ago. China overthrew the empire (ruled by a king) after a long history and formed a people’s republic (ruled by a president). It has precise meaning in Chinese (king country and people’s country).

    Russia and France both have similar revolutions to overthrow the empires earlier than China. Confucius’s teachings that was followed for generations are pretty much based on helping the kings to rule the kingdom. It is outdated now.

    Many countries like Britain and Japan still maintain the royal rule but they are governed by ministers (usually elected). The royal families become the parasites of the societies.

  8. raventhorn2000
    October 13th, 2011 at 09:12 | #8

    @Ray

    @Wukailong

    It is true that suggesting that a “system” of government is “for the people” is a fairly new concept. But it is also true that the Chinese philosophers recognized the inherent symbiotic relationship between the People and the government.

    I think the main difference is, in Chinese philosophies, the relationship is recognized as a natural tendency, or something that neither by design nor avoidable.

    But in the Western philosophical construct, the relationship of the “government for the people” is artificial, designed, and maintained, thus it is MORE of a 1 way relationship. Ie. People have “rights”, but government may collapse, but people will still have “rights”.

    We see the difference that if the government collapses, People’s rights also collapses, vice versa.

    The Western view thus is less symbiotic, more systemic rigid and doctrinal, less give and take. (and more adversarial)

    The Chinese view is, in my opinion, more holistic and practical. (more cooperative).

  9. October 13th, 2011 at 09:37 | #9

    @Wukailong

    The popular and traditional notion of the “mandate of heaven” confers legitimacy to ruler – not based on blood or divine rights (as in Europe) – but ultimately on the notion of a just society. It is through the creation of just orders that serve the people that rulers are legitimized. When people are not, a regime change is in order.

    Just as there is faith in the West that promotion of “human rights” will best serve the people, so too there is the notion in the East that creation of a just order best serve the people.

    @TonyP4

    Confucius’s teachings that was followed for generations are pretty much based on helping the kings to rule the kingdom. It is outdated now.

    That is a fairly narrow reading of Confucius. Perhaps you meant to say one flavor of Confucius that came to dominate during the late Qing is outdated …

    Based on your type of reading, you will argue the Bible and Koran both say women are second class citizens and that the world was created in 6000 years … that men that do not subscribe to a particular religion are heretics and must be hung …

    No doubt these are one reading … but to say this is the only reading – that might show your ignorance or uninspired reading than anything else.

  10. raventhorn2000
    October 13th, 2011 at 10:08 | #10

    @Allen

    To TonyP4’s credit, a lot of people do interpret Confucius’ teaching as for “helping the Kings” to be wise rulers.

    But I agree, that is a pretty narrow interpretation.

    I think Confucius is much more about the “harmonious” social order and relationship involved in “government”.

    In that sense, it is not limited to just “helping the Kings”.

  11. colin
    October 13th, 2011 at 10:36 | #11

    “The royal families become the parasites of the societies.”

    Yes, very much so.

  12. October 13th, 2011 at 10:44 | #12

    @raventhorn2000

    Yes, I do understand a lot of people interpret Confucius’ teaching for holding China back – the CCP for much f its history – and should I venture, Liu Xiao Bo more recently.

    All ideologies can be corrupted to serve the self-serving, including Confucius teachings. But just because something can be corrupted does not mean that the thing is intrinsically corrupt.

  13. October 13th, 2011 at 10:46 | #13

    @colin and @TonyP4

    “The royal families become the parasites of the societies.”

    I can rephrase “big government become the parasites of the societies.”

    That’s something a libertarian and a tea party member would say today…

    Again, following up on comment #12 above, anything can be corrupted, but that doesn’t mean the thing itself must be corrupt.

  14. October 13th, 2011 at 11:20 | #14

    I said ‘it is outdated now’ because we do not have the same concept of kingdoms today. However, most of the teachings are still valid in today’s societies. Sorry that I did not explain it clearer.

    The major fault of US’s democracy is the politicians have to buy votes and also have to satisfy the special interest groups who finance the campaigns.

    Obama did not do a good job in creating jobs. Big government is not a good way. We need to encourage businesses to invest here and hence creating jobs by providing reasons to invest such as low corporate taxes, less regulations…

    I have some ideas to include them into an article comparing wars and economy for fun. 1960-1980 are periods of prolonged bear market. 2000 to today are the same. The similarity is a major war in these periods. 1981-2000 are prolonged bull market as folks still remember what we have done by the major war.

    Editor, do you think your readers interest in this article which affects China to a certain extent?

  15. October 13th, 2011 at 11:28 | #15

    @TonyP4 #14

    Definitely sounds like an interesting idea. We would love to have you post something here – or cross post something like that from your blog…

  16. October 13th, 2011 at 13:10 | #16

    I am talking about this concept by Meng Zi.

    民为贵,社稷次之,君为轻。意思是说,人民放在第一位,国家其次,君在最后。

  17. Wahaha
    October 13th, 2011 at 19:27 | #17

    #14,

    Dont blame government, Scientific planning is impossible once information is in the hand of mouth-bigger-than-butt .

    Speaking directly, Democracy and freedom of speech is anti-science.

  18. Nihc
    October 13th, 2011 at 22:29 | #18

    //Many countries like Britain and Japan still maintain the royal rule but they are governed by ministers (usually elected). The royal families become the parasites of the societies.//

    In fact I would argue that much of a society’s high culture comes from the patronage of the monarchy, who could use the accumulated state power for building architecture and art. Religion play a similar role. Without the Emperor of China, there would be no Forbidden Palace.

    But of course, you can argue whether this is a good use of resources. But I don’t think Chinese people will say that the Forbidden Palace is a waste of money. Nor the Tibetans the Potala palace. I think the CCP have taken over that role in many respect.

    And as we can see, governments can also (attempt) to drive the economy through spending.

    But yes, I always found it interesting that constitutional monarchy seems parasitical. They don’t have any responsibilities in governance, but yet get a cut of state income?

  19. Nihc
    October 13th, 2011 at 22:43 | #19

    I think the Bhutanese wedding is a case in point. Despite being an economically inconsequential nation. The presence of the monarchy enable great art and culture.

    http://www.news.com.au/world/bhutans-royal-wedding-how-the-king-proposed-when-she-was-just-seven-years-old/story-e6frfkyi-1226165294876

  20. xian
    October 13th, 2011 at 22:59 | #20

    “Democracy is often used synonymously with the building of a just, peaceful and prosperous society, but I think the two represent separate and distinct concepts.”

    That’s worth repeating. Westerners hold a strange notion that only democracies can be fair, free and just, but I’ve never understood how the way leaders are chosen has anything to do with those traits. Democracy was not in place for most of human history, yet every civilization has had its ups and downs. What truly matters is wealth, unity, and national spirit. Everything falls into place when those criteria are satisfied, and no ideology will help you when they’re not.

    Still, I caution against democracy. Assuming you guys live in the US you must experience first hand the extreme political divide. It’s no less vicious up here in Canada. The way they speak of each other, the way they band together and against solely based on political party, the way they treat each other like mortal enemies, the way they waste all their time and discourse flaming their own countrymen. I think it’s an inevitable consequence of any democracy, and I want nothing of the sort in China.

  21. October 14th, 2011 at 00:13 | #21

    @xian

    What truly matters is wealth, unity, and national spirit. Everything falls into place when those criteria are satisfied, and no ideology will help you when they’re not.

    That’s worthwhile repeating too.

    Do you think it is possible to have democracy + ‘responsible’ media?

    Is it possible to have the best of democracy with a single party?

  22. October 14th, 2011 at 06:41 | #22

    @#18

    I feel sorry for the 3,000 or so concubines who had to share rooms in the Forbidden Palace. 🙂

  23. zack
    October 14th, 2011 at 07:05 | #23

    it’s undeniable that all mass media will invariably orient itself to the lowest common denominator; since media exists not to inform, but rather, to re-affirm pre-existing prejudices and views (look at the loyal viewership of fox to CNN to msnbc to AJE)

  24. jimmy
    October 14th, 2011 at 09:43 | #24

    MYJ and people like him have little connection with the double 10 event, unlike the people of the PRC.
    The event is only relevant to those whose forefathers suffered so terribly from the chaos churned up by the dastardly evil foreign powers. Read http://www.scribd.com/doc/68183567 for details

  25. xian
    October 14th, 2011 at 11:13 | #25

    @YinYang
    Yes, I think it is possible to have all the freedom and rights under a one party government, as long as that government is held accountable by the people. Responsible media… well… all media is quite flawed and biased IMO. Finding a totally fair and truthful media outlet is about as likely as finding a completely impartial and truthful person – I’ve never met one.

  26. Rhan
    October 14th, 2011 at 20:18 | #26

    “The royal families become the parasites of the societies.” I can rephrase “big government become the parasites of the societies.”

    Allen, you writing often impress me when you are not emotional 🙂

    Royal families / monarchy is legacy and part of culture, if majority people choose to preserve it, it is their rights, there are many other thing in religion and cultural aspect are parasitic in nature, shall we remove it? Why not if majority agrees.

    Though I find it amusing but I meet many people including the highly educated are royalist, and they have great respect toward the king / sultans that symbolise their ethnic group and history.

  27. Wahaha
    October 14th, 2011 at 20:47 | #27

    Yes, I think it is possible to have all the freedom and rights under a one party government,

    ***********************************************
    That is impossible unless the government has enough wealth to make 99% people happy.

    When the pie of wealth is not big enough, there will be a lot who want get a bigger piece of pie. The rich, the hard working people, the criminals, the parasites, all want to form groups and parties to become more powerful (to get bigger pieces), which will be suppressed under one party government.

    Based on the population size and poverty level 30 years ago, I would say China has had best possible leadership in last 30 years. But that doesnt mean that in the future CCP will still care for the people. The focus should not be on the meaningless issue if the system is democratic or not, socialism or capitalism.

    The only thing that matters is that you have a government caring for the hard-working people. The focus should be on how to make sure that the leading party will care for China and chinese people for next 100 years.

    It has been, is, will always be that most media, journalists and activitists bashing one-party system, because their influence and social status will never be as high as in western system. They will forever try to overthrow the one-party system, some of them will even do it at the cost of their country.

    OWS is the first time in West that ordinary people start questioning the credibility of their media and journalists, we will see.

  28. Wukailong
    October 14th, 2011 at 20:52 | #28

    I’ll comment on the thing about people and government later (I’ve been short of time lately), but one thought for YinYang and xian: I think, when you evaluate different governments, things that are hard to quantify, like “political divide,” are also hard to hold against a system. What I would look after would be things like Gini index (can potential class conflicts disrupt society?), transparency, how the the economy is going and other things like that. Obviously the economy isn’t good at all in the US and large parts of the EU right now, so that would be an argument against the democratic system.

    But I’d also like to ask if you have any favorite political entities around the world. China is difficult to use as an example (like, having a one party system while keeping democratic tenets) because it has changed with the economic changes. China 30 years ago had a very different system than now, and I’m sure it’s going to be very different 30 years ahead. How about Singapore? It might be what you’re looking for, but it might not scale to countries of the size of China or the US (or Brazil, Russia, India etc).

    Also, when discussing democracy, remember there are many different sub-models there. I grew up under a system that was very different from the descriptions I’ve read here of American democracy. Nobody complained about “big government” and I didn’t even know there was such a thing as libertarianism (and I’m not a libertarian, more like a left liberal). Frankly speaking, the US system often seems alien to me and I don’t want to equate democracy as such with American democracy. But I’m sure there are things in the American model that can be studied (just as there is in the Chinese model); I don’t want to throw a model out wholesale.

    In China’s case, what I’m mostly concerned about now is how they will build the institutions necessary to weed out corruption and solve problems with food safety as well as environmental issues. China is entering the middle stage of development where more social reform is needed to solve the wealth gap. The relatively easy part of development is over, more complex things are on the table (and this is also what most official party documents say – the plan has always been to do “easy reforms first, hard reforms later.” The hard ones are coming).

    I don’t want to sound negative here but what China needs the most is what’s often referred to as 忧患意识. Many people, more often abroad than not, think everything is going great and China will just ride ahead of the rest. But it’s an interconnected world and in the long run it’s in everybody’s interest that the world economy as a whole works well.

  29. Wukailong
    October 14th, 2011 at 21:01 | #29

    Oh, as for zack’s comment on the Sun Yat-sen portrait: that’s been a prominent one on Tiananmen square for the last decade. It’s not jus there for 10/10 but also during National Day. Also, during the military parades in 1999 and 2009, his portrait was the main backdrop of the whole thing.

  30. Wahaha
    October 14th, 2011 at 21:36 | #30

    What I would look after would be things like Gini index (can potential class conflicts disrupt society?),

    *********************************

    You cant use Gini index to judge China, because a huge piece of the pie is not counted.

    How much do you think Bank of China worth ? well, chinese people are benefiting from the profits generated by its capital.

    Who do you think its capital belongs to ?

  31. Wahaha
    October 14th, 2011 at 21:42 | #31

    transparency,

    ******************************

    Please find me how much US has spent on rebuilding ground zero.

    I know the hour payment for construction workers is $37.5 (I got it because contractors tried to cut it to $30 and they protested, one month before 10th anniversary of 911.) which is at least 30% higher than normal salary.

    Tell us why government is willing to pay them the hefty price.

    BTW, who will pay for them ? oh, they just raised tunnel fees and train fees by 30 to 50%.

  32. Wukailong
    October 14th, 2011 at 21:59 | #32

    @Wahaha: I don’t see how any of your comments really address anything I wrote. Also, bringing up what it is like in the US doesn’t really do any good since I don’t support or specifically view it as an example.

  33. Wahaha
    October 14th, 2011 at 22:06 | #33

    #30 not address what you wrote ?

    About #31, give me an example how you found out the budget of a big project in your country, like a big government building? how do you find out it is reasonable or not ?

    In #31, it is clear that construction workers took huge amount of money from New York people, didnt they? How come no journalists talk about that ?

    Have you ever thought that elected politicians gave fat contract to those who donated to their campaigns ? How much money would have been saved ? How come no journalists talk about that ?

    What I mean is that the transparency you talked about is media’s questioning government. If media doesnt talk about a topic, you just ASSUME it is OK without thinking.

  34. October 14th, 2011 at 22:27 | #34

    @Wukailong #28

    In China’s case, what I’m mostly concerned about now is how they will build the institutions necessary to weed out corruption and solve problems with food safety as well as environmental issues. China is entering the middle stage of development where more social reform is needed to solve the wealth gap. The relatively easy part of development is over, more complex things are on the table (and this is also what most official party documents say – the plan has always been to do “easy reforms first, hard reforms later.” The hard ones are coming).

    That’s definitely true. People talk about the middle income trap for developing nations (or regions such as Asia) – and articles like this make a good case of caution for China – even if optimistically – to escape that trap…

    I think the adage that one can’t predict the performance of a stock (or mutual fund) – or anything for that matter – based on the past definitely holds for China. It’s easy for one to look at the last 30 years and extract the same for the next 30. The truth is that the challenges China will face in the next 30 will be very different the the ones faced in the last 30. And for China to succeed as spectacularly in the next 30, it’d need brave a new set of miracles on par with the ones in the last 30. So China needs to be open minded and bold and tap into its tremendously talented, hard-working, and energetic populace to achieve its next stage of development.

    You also wrote:

    Obviously the economy isn’t good at all in the US and large parts of the EU right now, so that would be an argument against the democratic system.

    I think that’s too trigger happy. Ignoring the fact that the economy is the end-all-and-be-all of all measures, the trouble the US and EU are having may have nothing to do with democracy. One might argue that were there no democracy, you’d see hot revolutions now! 😉 (I’m being a devil’s advocate in some ways …)

  35. October 14th, 2011 at 22:36 | #35

    @Rhan #26

    You wrote:

    Allen, you writing often impress me when you are not emotional

    I’ll take that to be a compliment even if it might be viewed as a criticism.

    In any case – I am neutral about royalties. If a society thinks the benefits of a royalty outweighs its cost, then have it – by all means…

    The only time I’ve expressed “distaste” for a “royalty” relates to the Dalai Lama. If a society find itself where a large population is involved in some (unproductive) religious cast that requires the rest (the minority) to work and feed that cast, I find that distasteful. If it were a far away land, I don’t care. But if it’s part of China, then I have a say and would impose my normative view that this cannot be allowed.

  36. Wukailong
    October 14th, 2011 at 22:58 | #36

    @Wahaha: “If media doesnt talk about a topic, you just ASSUME it is OK without thinking.”

    Stop making assumptions about me. I don’t assume things are OK because media don’t talk about them. If you go on like this, I’ll stop discussing with you. And I don’t mean “media questioning government” when I talk about transparency.

  37. Wukailong
    October 14th, 2011 at 23:02 | #37

    @Allen: “I think that’s too trigger happy. Ignoring the fact that the economy is the end-all-and-be-all of all measures, the trouble the US and EU are having may have nothing to do with democracy. One might argue that were there no democracy, you’d see hot revolutions now! (I’m being a devil’s advocate in some ways …)”

    That’s a good point. But what I’m thinking is that every system is rated on how it performs, and if democratic systems in general have big problems, they will be seen in a worse light. In China these days, democracy has quite a bad name because of how the US and EU have handled their economy, and in 1989 it was the opposite because many saw the problems in China first and foremost. Of course, you can argue that most of the changes up to 1989 had benefited most of the population, and most of the population knew very little about democracy, but these things are rarely related to facts, more to perception of facts.

  38. October 14th, 2011 at 23:36 | #38

    @Wukailong #32

    I think Wahaha is challenging your inequality measure for China.

    We often hear criticism in the West on China that politics and business are mixed in China. Big state owned enterprises are often inefficient because they are not free to pursue profits but are constrained by politics.

    Well – if that’s true, the reverse is also true. Gov’t company may make lots of money and that’s counted in the Gini index as private (business) profits when in fact those money do belong to “the people” in the sense they can readily be siphoned to serve political goals – i.e. to serve the people.

    I in general also don’t like transparency measures. What does transparency really tell you? It might be important in democracies because people are expected to vote and need to be informed to elect the right people to office. You can’t message the data – you must have FULL DISCLOSURE – because the legitimacy of the government depends on people’s FULL ACTIVE participation.

    But in non-democracies – where people don’t elect – people wouldn’t need to know every dirty detail. There still needs to be transparencies because gov’t do depend on public opinion to form a lot of its policies and to the extent gov’ts (even nondemocratic ones) are constrained by public opinions – that public ought to be informed. But there wouldn’t be need for full disclosure. Gov’t may regulate disclosure and indeed has a duty to message raw data in a way that inform – not overload (and by corollary allow the data to be misrepresented by interest groups to mislead (for more on this, see this article on “naked transparency”)) the common man. Pure transparency becomes less relevant…

  39. wwww1234
    October 15th, 2011 at 04:40 | #39

    @Allen
    “inequality measure for China”

    I wonder how the gini index takes into account of 1.foreign debt/surplus, 2.public land ownership(all chinese land, urban and rural, is public, leasing out for no more than 70 years in the cities), as well as a large share of public equity capitalization as mentioned by Wahaha. ( I understand it to be more than 50%)

  40. Wahaha
    October 15th, 2011 at 18:29 | #40

    Stop making assumptions about me. I don’t assume things are OK because media don’t talk about them.

    *****************************
    WKL,

    I dont mean to offend you.

    The big difference of censorship between in China and in West is that CCP doesnt talk while west media and journalists talk but only the part they like or only the part they like people to know and think.

    Did you notice that in China, if corruption is exposed in China, both the rich and government officers will be punished ? but under western democracy, “free” media only goes after government officers. LIke in Taiwan, no1 ever cared who bribed Chen.

    Media and journalists controled the information for over 30 years, now we all see the problems in West, completely opposite to what has been described by them. So either they lied to people, or they hid something or they brainwashed people.

    If you limit the topics in the box set by west media, then … you know…

  41. Nihc
    October 16th, 2011 at 06:43 | #41

    Might be a bit off topic. My main concerns for China isn’t about whether a single party state is a good thing for China. My concern is whether what they are doing is actually sustainable.

    As an overseas Chinese, one of the biggest difference you notice between Shanghai and Hong Kong is that Shanghai is practically gleaming. And Hong Kong’s old buildings are more than a little ugly. From my understanding, Shanghai’s extremely fast development has to do with a lot of communist ‘creative destruction’. Get people to move by any means possible, and build something swanky over the old stuff. And in essence having little concerns for property ownership. Now you could say that since China is technically still communist, there is really nothing hypocritical about the actions of the government. But the question is, since it obviously pissed off or hurt people enough to set themselves on fire and other drastic actions, is this really gonna be a ‘good thing’ in the long run?

    I understand that China now try to curtail abuse of power by officials and increase property holding ‘rights’ to 70 years and what not. But are they really enforcing the rules?

  42. raventhorn2000
    October 16th, 2011 at 10:26 | #42

    Theoretically, no process or system is “actually sustainable”.

    And all systems have question of “enforcement” at the hands of petty officials, no matter how democratic.

    This is an evolutionary process. We will only know when we see what comes out of it.

    That is the most practical and logical answer.

  43. October 17th, 2011 at 23:57 | #43

    @Wahaha #40

    You might articulate a little better what censorship, media has to do with your response to WKL…. Even I am not following now…

  44. Wahaha
    October 18th, 2011 at 09:34 | #44

    Allen,

    I think that the biggest problem when Chinese and westerners engage in argument is that they dont share the same understandings of the terms they are arguing.

    For example, the term “Democracy”, Chinese judge by if the government works for people or not while westerners judge by if people can vote or not, which is defined by their media.

    Here, when WKL mentioned “transparency”, (in my opinion) he means if they (actually, media) can question government (while media hides something from people, as shown in my posts).

    If we interpret “Transparency” as “People have ways to know wrongdoings against them.”, then the transparency talked by WKL is not the transparency Chinese talk about. Therefore, there is no point to continue the argument.

    The issue is that besides what media and journalists have told them, most westerners know nothing else. They say what media wants them to say, talk only topics media like them to talk. If media gives them an explanation, they take it without question. In other word, their mind are in the box set by their media.

    So I think the first thing to do is setting up common ground that both Chinese and westerners agree.

  45. October 18th, 2011 at 21:04 | #45

    @Wahaha #44

    Ok, I see now…

    I agree to a large extent. I’d summarize by noting that “transparency” is good – but is good only in the sense it leads to good governance – or at least to an informed public. Does “transparency” as defined by people here really lead to that? Or it is just a leap of faith – grounded in some sort of historical, cultural or even ethnocentric sense of supremacy?

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.