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Archive for April, 2015

Re-Examine a Historical Moment of Western Bias: Emperor Qianlong vs. Macartney Mission 1793

April 22nd, 2015 7 comments

If one must examine Western bias, one can easily begin in a single historical moment of confrontation:  In 1793, England sent envoy George Macartney to China.  The mission was a failure of many disagreements and no agreements, and ultimately led directly or indirectly to the 2 Opium Wars.

The story goes (from the British perspective):  China required the British personnel to perform the Kowtow to the Emperor, the British refused, the Emperor grew angry and thus refused all British  requests in an angry letter to King George III.

How true was this story?

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Rethinking Cults Today

April 15th, 2015 4 comments

Last night, I woke up thinking incessantly about “Cults”.  What makes a “Cult” a “Cult”?  Is it not a “religion”, or is it?  What’s the difference between a “spiritual movement” and a religion?

If a child pretends to talk to an imaginary friend, is that a “Religion”, a “Cult”, a “spiritual movement”.

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The Strange Non-Intuitive (but real) Contradiction: Free Speech vs. Truth, Rule of Mob vs. Rule of Law

April 15th, 2015 5 comments

If there are things impressed upon modern Western Liberal Democracy, there are 2 arguably essential things claimed:  Free speech and Rule of Law.  Indeed, “free media” in the West touts these 2 things often enough, and the Courts of the West equally pay tribute to these 2 things often enough.

Yet, underneath, the reality is a strange contradiction of these 2 things butting against each other in interests, and often require delicate balancing depending on where.

There are in fact, 2 different kinds of “courts” in the West:  The Court of media/public opinion, and the Court of Law.  The 2 do not mix well.  The 2 keep each other out.  The 2 often bad mouth each other, and yet also tries to influence each other.

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Freedom of Speech or Benefitting from China yet privately attacking China?

April 8th, 2015 3 comments

Recently there is some controversy of Xi’s promotion of Maoist’s old Ye’nan spirit, not only attacking the corruption, but worries of the return of leftist policies of “Cultural Revolution”. Of course corruption cannot be isolated from economic, political, and cultural norms in society, and some should worry it might spread beyond the tigers and fliers to them. The recent success and popularity of Movie like “Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy”, one of the old standard from CR era, and the TV series “Ordinary World” speak volumes of nostalgia of simpler time with heroic yet ordinary people with beliefs, honors, and courage other than money.

The controversy with CCTV host Bi Fujian in a private banquet, secretly videotaped, singing arias from “Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy”, and changing the words in the arias to denigrating Mao and Chinese army remind me of Romney sayings of the 47%. The left in Chinese internet is boiling over demanding CCTV fire Bi. His program is temporarily suspended for 4 days at present. It remains to be seen whether he can survive the storm. Bi is a suave host, annually on the spring festival gala. Some spring to his defense, claiming it’s a freedom of speech issue. Other consider it an indirect attack on Xi and firing offense, that’s he’s feeding from the communist party trough and attacking communist party privately. The official media has been pretty silent on the topic. I do hope he would be make an example of and show Xi’s determination to finish the attack on corruption.

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On Meritocracy, some recent observations

April 3rd, 2015 No comments

Some of us have heard much ado in the news about the sexual discrimination lawsuit of Ellen K. Pao recently, (which she lost).  http://www.theverge.com/2015/4/2/8328115/ellen-pao-kleiner-perkins-venture-capital-verdict

It got me into some discussions with some friends about discrimination, particularly in employment, which led to some interesting questions:  What is discrimination?  and why do people do it?

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China evacuating citizens from Yemen

April 3rd, 2015 1 comment

This news is probably all over the net now so I am just repeating the obvious. It is interesting to do a search and read the negative comment on China’s humanitarian action though.

 

yemen-security-china

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Eric X. Li Interviews Francis Fukuyama on Political Systems, Political Legitimacy, Political Renewal and Decays

April 2nd, 2015 2 comments

Eric X. Li recently interviewed Francis Fukuyama on Political Systems, Political Legitimacy, Political Renewal and Decays for his Guancha views.  The interview (about 53 minutes) is carried out in English with Chinese subtitles.  A link to the video on youtube can be found here.  A link to the video on tudou can be found here.  A transcript of the interview on gunacha in Chinese can be found here.

The interview covers a lot and it is not my intention to discuss everything about it.  However, one thing I do like is the tone it sets.  For example, it doesn’t pose the questions such as whether electoral democracy or meritocratic democracy is superior.  Instead, it poses question that ask what are the benefits and risks of each.

It is also witty.  For example, there is a segment where Fukuyama exemplifies the respect for “rule of law” in terms of rulers not able to take things away from the citizens arbitrarily. Eric wittily retorted something to the effect: “or to get permission to get a divorce!”   Laws are but a tool: it can “protect” while at the same time also invade.   Ah … the double edge sword of law.

Nevertheless, there are several things I don’t like though.   Read more…