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Archive for October, 2014

My Take on HK’s Occupy Movement

October 26th, 2014 9 comments

This is actually a respond to Plutocrats Against Democracy but I got carried away and wrote this article.

What LCY want to say about the pitfall of 1 person 1 vote is that the majority would vote HK into a welfare state as there is a sizable of not too well off people in HK. This is actually the biggest fear of China’s top leadership, in their view this is hurting the so-called western democracies economic recovery. They don’t fear democracy per se but rather what it would do to the social economic structure of China. It is not that they feel welfare is bad but China simply couldn’t afford it. To be honest how many states in the world can really afford the lavish welfare of Switzerland, Norway, Germany etc? The minimum welfare of states like UK, France, Italy, Spain etc is already bankrupting those nations. The US which has even less social welfare protection is also mired in deep debt! Read more…

Plutocrats Against Democracy

October 24th, 2014 4 comments

On today’s New York Times, Paul Krugman has a column on democracy in Hong Kong.

“It’s always good when leaders tell the truth, especially if that wasn’t their intention. So we should be grateful to Leung Chun-ying, the Beijing-backed leader of Hong Kong, for blurting out the real reason pro-democracy demonstrators can’t get what they want: With open voting, “You would be talking to half of the people in Hong Kong who earn less than $1,800 a month. Then you would end up with that kind of politics and policies” — policies, presumably, that would make the rich less rich and provide more aid to those with lower incomes.”

I want to correct that Leung was Beijing backed leader. If my recollection is correct, there were 2 candidates for the chief executive, and Beijing backed the losing candidates Tang, and Leung was the candidate of the plutocrats and won. I also differ on the implied nature of “Occupy Central” is for the poor. Looking at the backers of OC, their platform is not more progressive tax and more service for the poor, but more independence from China, more pro U.S.. I suspect the OC leaders are now more worried about losing control as younger students may veer farther left and question the whole foundation of society.

As for China, with 1 country, 2 systems in place, with 50 years horizon and problems in governing the whole nation, Hong Kong was ignored. Even with some minor education reform to be more patriotic was shouted down 2 years ago. Now with the protests I think Beijing will take more interest and direct role. Resignation of Leung may be beneficial to both sides, and I expect Beijing to beef up popular support for more progressive tax system, invest in more education and low cost schools for the poor and curriculum emphasis on China. Hong Kong may be a good place to start experimenting without affecting stability of the whole nation. One concession maybe to lower the nomination committee to 20-25% rather than 50% for more candidates of chief executive.

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The Mantra of “One Man, One Vote.”

October 12th, 2014 3 comments

It seems to be so reactionary to be against democracy, a noble concept. Yet for someone like me who has been living in U.S. for so long, a cynic, maybe jaded, the slogan of Hong Kong students of real democracy, or the Western media’s championing of human rights provoke mirth and bitter laugh in me.

First let us look at the world at large, U.N. where annually at New York votes are taken in General Assembly, but essentially meaningless if it infringes on U.S. and her freedom to action in any way as a veto in Security Council is assured. When U.S. wanted to invade Iraq, she presented the fictional weapons of mass destruction and got her way, or bombed Yugoslavia to submission, or just bombed Libya without U.N. sanction at all. Genocide in Rwanda? Sorry, no oil or money in it. International Court of Justice in Hague may be useful for tin pot dictators in Africa, but does not apply to U.S..

Looking at U.S., shining example of democracy, torch holds high by Miss Liberty. A few billions spent on the last presidential election, with barely over 50% eligible voters bother to vote, where millions of ex-convicts are not eligible to vote in most states, and millions of poor didn’t bother to vote. Democrats out polled Republicans by millions of votes and they remain a minority in House of Representative due to gerrymandering and other quirks. Where money is free speech. Or Singapore where many Hong Konger aspire to be compare to, where some subversive communists still rotted in jail or being let out in their 80s as no longer a threat, and mainland bus drivers deported for daring to ask for equal pay and treatment.

I am sure the some Hong Konger will reply that all these are irrelevant as they want “One Man, One Vote”. Well, is Hong Kong not part of China? Does 1.3 billion Chinese have no say of the future of Hong Kong? Does Hong Konger want to look down on mainland Chinese as superior, as colonial servants take the side of their masters and look down on their fellow compatriots as locusts? Do they want de facto separation? Do they want Tibet and Xinjiang not be part of China as well? Do they wish they are not Chinese? I am sure they will deny it and say they hope China will be as free as them at the end of 50 years transition period.

My advices to Hong Kong students is to go home, take out your I-pads and download some books on the history of Hong Kong, How did Hong Kong come to being? The history of Opium Wars. Maybe be kind to your Philippine maid and start doing your own laundry. Would a new chief executive after millions spending on campaigning by promising hope and change as Obama did really change Hong Kong? And as Xi Jinping asked for mainland students, study your history and philosophy, be more humble and knowledgeable, and you may yet be able to change the tax structure be more progressive and take a bite from the tycoons in Hong Kong.

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Umbrella Revolution and Authoritarianism with Chinese Characteristics

October 10th, 2014 8 comments

Hong Kong’s Umbrella Freedom Fighters can’t possibly be fighting for “freedom” in one of the most indulging communities on earth; it’d be like fish keep asking for more salt in the ocean. If succeeded, it’d turn them into anchovies.

A popular reason cited by supporters is that China’s an authoritarian state, therefore to be loathed unconditionally. Anyone who reads mainstream newspapers would know that much. If this fear is indeed the real cause, I’d like to take this opportunity to examine China’s authoritarianism by reviewing some known facts:

1) In 1949, when the Communist Party took over, average life expectancy in China was about thirty-five, illiteracy was 80%, and GDP was lower than Qing Dynasty’s. After a century of pillage and plunder by colonial powers, the country was struggling to recover from near-fatal wounds inflicted by opium, corruption, barbaric invasions and civil wars. Sixty-five years on, it’s the world’s second largest economy. In the past thirty years, the miraculous transformation (GDP growth, productivity, urbanisation of population etc.) of this continent-sized country is comparable to (relatively tiny) Britain’s evolution after the industrial revolution, which took about 200 years. Martin Jacques’ book contains a lot of hard data for comparison, in plain English (<a href="http://www.martinjacques.com/books/when-china-rules-the-world/"). However, economic development isn’t everything. It shouldn’t be.
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Western Media’s Pervasive Bias Against China Today

October 4th, 2014 7 comments

Zack recently pointed out in the open thread the following article by Stephen Harner that accurately – though not necessarily exhaustively – hit on so many points on what is wrong with the Western press, which I quote in full:

Dealing With the Scourge of “Schadenfreude” in Foreign Reporting on China
Stephen Harner, Former US State Department Official
October 3, 2014

Stephen-HarnerWhy are we so often disturbed by Western media reporting and analysis of China? Why does reading commentary of China’s economy, foreign relations, politics, and society leave us feeling emotionally abused, injured, or even angry and resentful?
I believe our reactions are a response to the pervasive, ugly, and malevolent, but largely unnoticed element of schadenfreude in this commentary.  It is our natural revulsion to writing and thinking that is anti-humanistic, hostile, and harmful.

Schadenfreude is a German-origin term defined by the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary as  “a feeling of pleasure at the bad things that happen to other people.”  Schadenfreude is rarely expressed plainly, or in relation to a specific event or situation.  Rather, it is an attitude and bias that disparages achievements, discredits sincerity, and hopes for failure.

We see this vile sentiment often in Western media coverage of news events, in reporting on Chinese business, and particularly in analysis and commentary on policies, plans, and initiatives of the government and the Communist Party.

Read more…

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