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Archive for August, 2014

China Dream

August 24th, 2014 6 comments

For Americans the American Dream is a house in suburbia with white picket fences and 2 cars garage, which used to be easily reachable for the middle class family in the 50’s and 60’s. Now it’s arguably much more difficult for young people burdened with student loans probably staying with their parents well into their 30s.

When Xi Jinping used the phrase “China Dream”, the western media as usual reacted either indifferently or negatively as they assume anything from Chinese leaders as propaganda. Despite millions spent by CIA to monitor China, analysts dissecting utterances from Chinese leaders, and China experts compiling statistics and data, they seem to be blind in understanding China. I just finished reading Evan Osnos’s book “Age of Ambition”, in which he tried to understand China by interviewing various people in different situations. One of the people he labeled as true believers is Lin Yifu (Lin Zhengyi). He was a captain in the Nationalist Army assigned to Quemoy. He swam for more than 3 hours from Quemoy to mainland and defected to China in 1979, leaving his pregnant wife and 3 years old son and parents. Lin convinced PLA that his defection was genuine, and not publicize the defection. Nationalist were not sure of his status and classified him as dead and paid $70,000 as death benefits to his family. He went to Sichuan to visit the ancient dam built more than 2,000 years ago by his hero Li Bing. He enrolled in Peking University and got an economic degree. He got a scholarship to University of Chicago and PhD there with his reunified family. Eventually he got hired by the World Bank as top economist there and presently back in China as a top economist in Beijing University. There is still an outstanding warrant for his arrest in Taiwan and he wasn’t allowed to go back for his parents’ funerals. The author was in awe of Lin and somewhat baffled.

The reason I cited the example of Lin Yifu is his state of mind maybe incomprehensible to West, yet is totally understandable to Chinese intellectuals. Knowing the history of China and her recent humiliations, the West that thinks China’s reaction to Yasukuni Shrine visit as victim mentality can never understand China. To West Xi is a princeling anointed by some mysterious process to be the leader. His China Dream is just some mumbo jumbo for projecting soft power. His fight against corruption just some factional struggle for power.

To me China Dream generates resonance in many directions. For it includes Chinese Dream but much more than that. It goes beyond economic well being, certainly the inequality question has to be tackled, between urban and rural, thus the household registration system’s disappearance and accelerated urbanization, between rich and poor, thus the taxation policy, health insurance and social security. The relationship among people and between officials and people, thus the fight against corruption and new morality, return of some traditional values. The Taoist view between nature and society, thus the question of pollution and climate change.

The last 35 years China has surprised everyone on her growth. I think West is still underestimating China. I remember almost 50 years ago I watched a time capsule was buried in my school in Cambridge to be open in 50 and 100 years with some items and predictions. I suspect that China will pass U.S. in GDP was not one of the predictions. I also remember at the beginning of the Great Leap Forward when my middle school, Shanghai South City Middle School with walls all painted with Socialism Realism and exhortations of passing France in 25 years, England in 50 years and America in 75 years would come to pass.

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Democracy Mission – A Conspiracy Theory

August 19th, 2014 2 comments

This is a reprint from an old post that I think readers of this blog might find interesting.

Whatever the merits of democracy, I’m more curious about its evangelical preachers.

Democracy is a vague term, like “Christendom”, “Islamic World”, or “the West”. Besides the democratic banner, the political landscapes of the USA, Afghanistan, Iraq, Japan, India. . . don’t share many common features. In the end, I suspect Democracy could be fantastic for some, at some point in time, and disastrous for others, under different circumstances. Any system, like its human inventors, would age, turn insufferable, then die one day. Some reincarnate, others don’t.

The brute force and passion with which democracies export their faith is bewildering, reminiscent of colonial missionaries. Is the missionary complex simply a hangover from the religious past? Could there be an element of altruism in their uncontrollable urge to share a great social discovery with the rest of humanity? But. . . come on, these are ruthless invaders, operators of 21st Century torture camps and lynching drones so. . .
Read more…

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Paul Krugman

August 17th, 2014 4 comments

Despite my politics is far to the left I have always have a soft spot for Nixon. Maybe it’s because of his opening to China, or his hard nosed politics and realism. Someone like Paul Krugman, a liberal democrat, with policies I have more agreements with, yet I dislike those idealistic cold warriors. This morning professor Krugman got me tee off again. I sent the following letter to the NYT after I read his column “Why We Fight Wars”.

“When Professor Krugman asked the question of “Why We Fight Wars”, and stated the total cost of Iraq War exceed 1 trillion dollars, I thought it would be an examination of U.S. policies of military bases all over the world and defense spending exceeding the next 10 countries combined. I wasn’t expecting his conclusion that maybe low economic growth cause leaders to go to war and China may be the threat because her growth of 7.5% is no longer double digit, and U.S.’s growth of 2% is not a worry.”

Maybe I am a little unfair to professor Krugman as most of his column is about Putin and Russia’s meddling in Ukraine. Only in the end he took a swipe at China. He said,

“And if authoritarian regimes without deep legitimacy are tempted to rattle sabers when they can no longer deliver good performance, think about the incentives China’s rulers will face if and when that nation’s economic miracle comes to an end — something many economists believe will happen soon.”

Note the words, authoritarian regime…..without deep legitimacy…..incentive…..economic miracle….. many economist believe.
I guess what’s happening in Ferguson, Missouri is not authoritarian. With overwhelming majority of black population and a mostly white police force and government is legitimate. The incentive for Chinese government is to provide for the well being of Chinese people, and certainly I don’t think not most, maybe not any economist predicted the Chinese achievement for the last 35 years.

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Rule of Law

August 12th, 2014 8 comments

When Chinese dissidents talk about democracy and rule of law, American media immediately start the echo chamber in criticizing China and provide the stage for whomever in the spotlight. It irks me to no end this fetish on rule of law is not based on reality but more on fantasy and rarely examined in depth. Wikipedia defines it as:

“The rule of law (also known as nomocracy) is the legal principle that law should govern a nation, and not individual government officials. It primarily refers to the influence and authority of law within society, particularly as a constraint upon behavior, including behavior of government officials.[2] The phrase can be traced back to the 16th century, and it was popularized in the 19th century by British jurist A. V. Dicey. The concept was familiar to ancient philosophers such as Aristotle, who wrote “Law should govern”.[3] Rule of law implies that every citizen is subject to the law, including law makers themselves. It stands in contrast to the idea that the ruler is above the law, for example by divine right.

Despite wide use by politicians, judges and academics, the rule of law has been described as “an exceedingly elusive notion”[4] giving rise to a “rampant divergence of understandings … everyone is for it but have contrasting convictions about what it is.”[5]’

As the dissidents use U.S. as the model for rule of law, I like to examine here whether the reality is anywhere near the ideal. As anyone familiar with American history knows that the rule of law didn’t apply to Native-Americans or slaves, considering hundreds of treaties signed and torn up as soon as gold, oil, or the land was needed, and slavery was written into the U.S. Constitution I will not rehash the past history, but limiting the discussion to more recent history. Obviously, the interment of Japanese-Americans, the Chinese Exclusion Act, the immigration policy of treating European favorably over Chinese until 1960s violated the rule of law. The differing sentences of cocaine and crack, differing death penalties for black and white for similar crime, and the prison population of different racial groups violate the rule of law. Consider that Supreme Court is the final arbiter of the meaning of law, those 9 men and women essentially set up the rule of man over rule of law with ruling Bush over Gore, a one time ruling, can’t be used as precedent, by not counting all the votes in Florida, twisting the meaning of equality. By appointing George Bush, we now have Roberts and Alito setting up the Citizen United decision with money as speech, corporation as person, all by 5-4 decisions. I consider all those as poisoned fruits of rule of man over rule of law.

Look at the racket in Chinatown, all those false political asylum seekers from 1 child policy. And more recently with all those Honduran children in camps after fleeing criminal gangs in fear of their lives ready to be deported. How can that be the rule of law, although blind Chen Guangcheng may be harassed and under house arrest, but he’s certainly not in as much danger of his life as those children. He got his fellowship at NYU, but I understand he’s not too happy that he’s not treated as royalty, and NYU is now happy  that’s only 1 year and he’s gone. Consider the Federal Reserve’s QE, saving the Wall Street bankers at the expense of senior’s retirement savings. Such is the rule of law in U.S.A..

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China is a Freeloader of World Order…

August 10th, 2014 9 comments

Check out the following excerpt of an interview conducted by Thomas Friedman on Obama.  In this short segment, Obama states that China is a Freeloader and has been for the last 30 years…

The rest of the interview can be found here.

So is China a Freeloader?  Take the poll below.

Is China a "Free Rider" of the World Order?

View Results

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WSJ Re-reports “37 civilians killed, 13 injured in Xinjiang terror attack”

August 3rd, 2014 2 comments

I have been pretty flabbergasted by how the Western media has been so quick to line up to tote the U.S. government line on Russian or pro-Russian rebel involvement in the downing of Malaysian Flight 17 over Ukraine.  The media blitzkrieg has been very impressive, so have the U.S. drumming up for another round of sanctions.  While I don’t think the stakes this time is that high as say the U.S. government / media deception about Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya etc. in the sense that this round of infowar is not really going to lead to major human catastrophe, I am certainly watching with trepidation on how the same machinery of diplomatic, media, and sanctions blitzkrieg can be directed against China.

Well, while still in my doldrums, I suddenly came upon an article that shows that despite the urgent attention on Russia and tragedies unfolding in Gaza, the media arms against China are fully cocked and ready to go!

Just yesterday, Xinhua reported an attack last week in Xinjiang killed 37 and injured 13 civilians. Read more…

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Rectangular Track

August 1st, 2014 No comments

When I first read the headline from South China Morning Post I was somewhat confused, then I read the article I was in turn angry, embarrassed, and reflective. I am sure it will be fodder for late night comics and anti-China politicians.

I am pretty sure if the same reporter visited the track today, it will show the track back to oval, and heads probably already rolled up and down the chain of command for this embarrassing episode. Yet instead of burying it as old news I think Chinese government should use it as a teaching moment and to revive an old tradition. Instead of blaming it on old feudal tradition, of yes man following orders, of total lack of initiative and common sense, of going with the flow and passing the responsibility down the line, Chinese government can treat it as the same symptoms that generate corruption that Xi Jinping is fighting now on multiple fronts.

I am talking about the tradition Mao used, criticism/self criticism sessions. Of course some hearing me saying that will recoil in horror as conjuring images of the late stages of Cultural Revolution when it became ritualized and lost any relevance. When I was in Shanghai in the mid 50s, my uncle was an ordinary worker who joined the party and received a monthly publication for party members. He usually threw it aside and I usually picked it up and read it from front to back. Inside I recall were various misdeeds by various local party secretaries, critiquing their management styles, and how to be a good communist. Today with the party in crisis, I think it would do well to revive this practice, not forcing confession from everyone, but as a learning process for lessons to be drawn from Chou Yongkang or from the square track.

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