I’m getting sick of this “debate” on the rule of law (or laws in general). It’s a recurring theme marred in confusion. So I will try to make this as simple as possible. Just let this “debate” die in this thread because it is distracting, boring and I’m just goddamn sick of it.
You’ve ever noticed how many American news personalities and pundits always talk about personality when they are comparing Xi Jinping with his predecessor Hu Jintao? Hu is described as lacking in this while Xi is often described as having more of it. See this latest Charlie Rose interview with Richard McGregor on the latest meeting between Xi and Obama and notice McGregor’s comments about Xi and Hu. His comments are really common in the media when addressing Xi (also see here and here for some more examples). Xi’s physical appearance also seems to get a lot of attention. Whether Xi has more “personality” than Hu is true or not is not my concern. What is my concern is the focus on such a nebulous thing as personality. Why is it so important to Americans? Many of our presidents had been elected out of personality. The last two, Bush and Obama, being good examples. Many politicians try to drum up or manufacture their personal attributes and try to create images that appeal to Americans. Americans are deeply concerned with character and judge others by it. Unfortunately people do this all over the world including China (such as the cult of Mao) but it seems especially a matter of emphasis in the USA and the west.
I’ve noticed a trend among some commentators and bloggers at HH. As you know, some of my past posts have been at odds some of your views regarding things such as some modern characteristics of Chinese people. While I believe it’s often quite uncivilized and harmful (and I think you’d be surprised at how many Chinese in China will affirm what I have said because it is so obvious to anyone who has been here for a long time), some comments suggested that “outsiders” such as myself can’t judge them because different cultural values are incommensurable and judgments using one set of values can’t be applied to judge another set of values.
There is an interesting phenomenon known to psychologists as projection. I quote at length from wiki’s entry on the topic.
Psychological projection was first conceptualized by Sigmund Freud as a defence mechanism in which a person unconsciously rejects his or her own unacceptable attributes by ascribing them to objects or persons in the outside world instead. Thus, projection involves projecting[clarification needed negative qualities onto others, and is a common psychological process. Theoretically, projection and the related projective identification reduces anxiety by allowing the unconscious expression of the unwanted unconscious impulses or desires through displacement.
After living here for more than 9 months, I have come to a most repugnant conclusion. It pains me to even think about it for I am a Chinese person who has often defended the traditions, institutions, values and dignity of the Children of Heaven. But the truth is often painful at first. I realize now that much of the problems in Chinese society, and a plethora of problems there are, are not from the Chinese government (not a surprise to me since I am a long time China watcher suspicious of the anti government rhetoric of the west). What is surprising is that the myriad problems within Chinese society comes from the behavior, values and the beliefs of its people, a people that with all their traditions of wisdom behave in the most atrocious, despicable manner towards each other today. In a sense, I’d always expected this but were perhaps too proud to admit it and needed first hand experience for verification. Now I cannot escape that basic truth.
This post is basically a followup on the few posts recently addressing the perceptions of the GLF in the west. I will not add to the debate per se or even defend the other posters but rather talk about how people in the west are treating like discourse, namely those that does not fall in line with the dominate narrative in the west, i.e., that Mao was a mass murderer that had killed more people than Hitler and Stalin. I will take as my main target a recent post on another blog because I think its contents and its comments are so exemplary of the type of ignorance, bigotry and bias facing anyone that dares to question the west’s perspective on anything. They are met with derision, marginalization, and every fallacy in the book instead of direct refutation and they are made by morally degenerate and intellectually dishonest individuals.
One such individual is Sam Crane who has a blog about China. In a recent post (which was inspired by “noodling around the internet”) in which he casually dismisses views that critically examines the thesis that the GLF wasn’t as bad as commonly portrayed in the western media and that Mao wasn’t the same kind of monster as Hitler, Stalin or the Japanese imperialists. He makes a long-winded post without actually refuting any specific individual or position (I wonder which positions and individuals he is referring to?). In fact he explicitly says he doesn’t want to address them specifically and the reason he gives for this is that this will give those perspectives more attention than they deserve. That’s convenient. Sounds like a classic cop-out of an intellectual coward to me. It’s easy to dismiss phantoms but much harder to refute actual arguments.
The ethnic Chinese in Indonesia has faced many decades of racism and sometimes pogroms from Indonesians envious and suspicious of the Chinese. What is lesser known is that the US and especially the CIA played a cunning, covert role in spreading the defamatory lies and colluded with the racist Islamic government of Indonesia inciting the racial violence and ethnic cleansing against them.
The ethnic Chinese population is roughly 2-4% of Indonesia’s total population but there are persistent rumors that they own >70% of the wealth. This perceived economic success (which may not even be accurate due to the systematic discrimination the Chinese have endured for centuries in the country stretching all the way to Dutch colonial rule to prevent them from attaining certain degrees of success) has caused distrust and envy among many Indonesians mirroring the antisemitism during the early part of the twentieth century in Europe.
One of the best methods used by colonists, genociders, and other racist oppressors is to use testimony from certain members of the victim group as evidence of the victim group’s subhuman nature. We are told that this member of that group agrees with the oppresser’s narrative of the inferiority of the victim group. White slave masters loved to show-off their House Negroes who went on about the natural inferiority of the black race and how slavery was a good thing for his people. This kind of co-opting of narratives to serve as a tool to justify racism and oppression is common throughout history. If even they say they’re inferior/evil/stupid/worthy of oppression, oppressing them has to be right!
I have now been living in China for almost 4 month and I’d like to write a little about my impressions so far from personal experience and in talking to the people. As you all know by now, my views on things like the rule of law, human rights and democracy may be quite different from some of yours (see the posts and comments here, here, here, here, here and here for example).
Zigong inquired, “What if everyone in a village despises a person?” The Master said, “It’s not enough. It would be better if the best villagers love and the worst despise, this person.”
There’s no one more emblematic of Chinese wisdom than the ancient Chinese sage, Confucius (Kong Zi). His legacy as a philosopher in Chinese history is unsurpassed and his influence still seen even two and half thousand years after his death. The spirit of his ideas can be felt in the words, actions and future hopes of the Chinese people despite the fact that much of the influence has been diluted during contemporary times.
One of the most influential people of the twentieth century, but who is almost unknown by name, is a man named P.C. Chang (1892-1957). He (along with Charles Malik) were the two principle drafters of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, one of the most influential documents of the twentieth century.
One of the greatest American heroes in recent memory has lately fallen from grace. Lance Armstrong was considered one of the greatest sportsmen in the world and his story of coming back from cancer to win the Tour de France inspired millions. He was seen as an All American hero embodying everything Americans value: hard work, determination, charisma, and moral character. So when the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) found that he had cheated by using performance enhancing drugs, the reactions of the US public was predictable. It was predictable because we know how effectively the media works in a society with a cult-like mentality.
(This will be a controversial post so let me explain in detail before throwing any cyber tomatoes) Hu Jintao and many other top ranking Chinese officials have spoken about the need for cultural influence and development of Chinese culture. But Chinese culture does not have as much influence in the rest of the world today and now even among Chinese, much of their traditional culture is being replaced with outside influences. I believe that as China becomes more wealthy and politically influential some level of cultural influence will come with that as well. But I don’t think economic development alone will do the trick for seriously developing one’s own cultural influence among one’s own people and others people.
Recently, Chinese high school students have completed their gaokao exam. Scores have been made available and students now know their prospects for college. There’s been a series of articles in the NYTs, Atlantic and other large mainstream American news sources talking about the gaokao. Let’s examine some of these these articles.
The Dalai Lama has in the last month, been making some serious allegations about China. He said that CCP agents posed as devotees and tried to kill him by putting poison in their hair so that when he blesses (see here and here, e.g.) them, he is smeared with the poison. The Dalai Lama also claimed that China has stolen samples of his urine.
Recently, a series of photographs showing a white American man in China giving an old woman some of his fries have caused a stir in China. Being opportunists, the western press could not contain themselves so as to use this incident in order to show the merciful beneficence of western culture to Chinese. This gloating huffington post article for example could not help but compare this act of McFry magnanimity with the callous behavior of Chinese public in leaving a child to die in the street (also see here for similar self-satisfied, supercilious reporting of this incident).
I really don’t know how anyone can defend James Fallows. Ever since I had this exchange with him, I knew the guy to be a scoundrel (what better evidence does one need?) but some people still insist on defending him.
Fallows is cut from the same rotting wood as most western “journalists.” He had another, shall we say, episode recently when he displayed righteous indignation at CCTV Dialogue‘s host Yang Rui’s outburst on his personal Weibo account. Fallows then wrote a pouty response urging western journalists not to go on that show. Anyone who has seen Dialogue knows that it is a quality show, far better than any comparable show in the US and it has a diversity of opinions represented from real experts and sometimes criticizers of Chinese policies (including Fallows).
A court In Kuala Lumpur has found Bush and many of his administration and his advisers, tried in absentia, guilty of war crimes. Of course, that is not surprising considering that the evidence is overwhelmingly against them. Many of Obama’s administration including the commander in chief are almost certainly just as guilty. This represents a symbolic victory because currently international law lacks a lot of enforcement. But symbolic victories do count in law because they set important precedents. As the prosecutor explained, he was hopeful that other countries may follow suite in precedent setting fashion and make these war criminals impossible to travel to other countries without arrest and imprisonment.
But what struck me is that the lead prosecutor (an American) said that his team had tried to prosecute Bush and Co in many Western countries including Spain, Canada and Germany but were “thwarted” by their governments.
Another common meme to dehumanize and defame the Chinese people is that they are cannibals and specifically eat babies. The Nazi analogy meme, the cruelty to animals meme and this meme have been very successfully employed in getting people to see the Chinese people as less than human. After all, what’s more worthy of white folk’s’ sympathies than Tibetans, cute furry animals and babies? What’s more worthy of condemnation and foam-at-the-mouth vitriol than any perceived harm done to those most venerable groups of innocent beings? The latest epidemic in this last infestation of hate-mongering is from South Korean customs officials that claim that pills made of ground up baby powder was manufactured in China to be distributed in South Korea as medicine and “stamina enhancement” supplements.
So it’s very common to see this moronic rhetorical question used against anyone that is criticizing aspects of the US or supporting aspects of China. It’s really just the “love it or leave it” trope often used by ignorant bigots. So, once and for all, here’s why this fallacy is ridiculous so that any future fool/troll (hence called “haters”) that wish to use that as a response to any argument thinking that it’s clever and effective will be better educated.
China’s development has seen a dramatic rise in quality of life for many of its people as many people are well aware. But despite this improvement in quality of life, modern China also has some very high suicide rates. According to 2010 figures supplied by the WHO, China is ranked 9th in the world in suicide rates behind Latvia and ahead of Slovenia.
What accounts for this high rate and what are some things the government or others do to reduce this trend?
It seems not. Rarely does their opinions (or the opinions of Chinese citizens for that matter) come into the equation when speaking about Sino-Tibetan issues. It’s taken as a given that they all want independence. That all of their lives are far worse under Chinese “occupation” than it was under the Dalai Lama’s Shangrila Kingdom. Westerners likely take the viewpoints of Tibetan emigres as a representative sample of 5.8 million Tibetans inside Tibet.
Perhaps it’s too much democracy, human rights and freedom. More likely, it’s too less of those things and way too much worries and troubles such as a lack of financial security, too much crime, not enough health care, and deficiencies in other indices of well-being. A common way to measure happiness and well-being is the Happy Planet Index by the New Economics Foundation. In 2006, the organization found that the US scored a disappointing 150 out of 178 countries (between Lithuania and Côte d’Ivoire). In 2009, it found that it was ranked 114 out of 143 (between Madagascar and Nigeria). As a reference, China was 31st and 20th respectively.
Zbigniew Brzezinski is a well known political scientist and the media often gives him opportunities to voice opinions on foreign policy. How deserving is this accorded credibility? Well, though I have not read much from him, from the looks of this article he wrote in foreignpolicy it would appear that his competence as a expert on international affairs is grossly inadequate and, moreover, because that incompetence is combined with influence, it makes him very dangerous too.
The recent post by DeWang about the RT short documentary on Chinese Americans going back to China has further reinforced an ugly conception I have been only somewhat familiar with: that many Chinese people in China believe that Chinese people are not as good as their western counterparts. It may not be an explicit belief but something more like a deep-rooted sensibility that only manifests itself subtly in unconscious behavior in many people. But the video definitely supports the view that perhaps the Chinese people in China lack a sense of collective self-esteem vis a vis westerners. I am saddened that many of these Chinese American expats say they experienced discrimination by Chinese Chinese. They mention that they are not seen as an equal to do many jobs which require a certain “international” image (a clear euphemism for white or western). They are seen as more likely to be less competent at the English language despite the fact that these Chinese Americans seem to be Native English speakers. They are seen by other Chinese in China as overall less good both professionally and perhaps overall.
What motivates this low self-esteem, this lack of group pride, deficiency of self-respect in Chinese people? Perhaps it is time that all Chinese people, in China and among the diaspora, to have a serious dialogue on this issue.
I’d like to give people a heads up on the accessible work from two outstanding legal scholars specializing in international maritime law and especially China’s territorial disputes. Many may already know Professor Jerome Cohen who has down excellent work not on developing the rule of law within China’s legal system but in teaching law to Chinese law students. His academic career spans over 60 years. Jon M. Van Dyke is also a renowned legal scholar on maritime law at the University of Hawaii’s William S. Richardson School of Law. Authors have argued that China should take the case to the international courts for they have better evidential grounds to the made for their side.
I have mentioned in previous blogs that I believe people around the world value much of the same basic things such as freedom to express themselves (their opinions, religion, etc) and some control of the political climate of their society. There may be plenty of other freedoms people value to varying degrees over the world. Some groups may value these more than others due to the contingencies of culture and so forth but most people around the world do value them at some level in my opinion and the voices that contribute to the development and application of these concepts ought not be relegated to those strictly from the west. We ignore their development at our own peril.
This blog may be taken as a second part my Collective Defamation article (with possible further blogs in the future involving other kinds of anti-sinitic defamation). It is inspired by recent events blogged by Charles Liu. Another vicious slander that is common in the west is that the Chinese are a cruel people. The image is made visceral, rage inducing, when a cute animal is shown being killed or tortured. These kinds of images are often made focusing on Chinese people as the perpetrators. This is an effective image that serves to single out and dehumanize the Chinese as a group and it is very effective.
Unlike many of the bloggers here, I’m not a big fan of Eric X. Li’s writing and speeches from what I have so far seen and heard. I disagree with what he has said as they are either irrelevant, confused, contradictory or a strawman. I think I have expressed why I felt this way in the comments section of the latest blog on Li but there still seems to be some misunderstanding between Allen’s interpretation of Eric and myself.
Here I’d like to give a more detailed explanation of why I didn’t think Eric’s interview was that interesting or even helpful to bettering understanding between China and the west. I did agree on some things but found myself disagreeing far more often. I do not believe that Eric’s view represent much of what the Chinese government’s views which I think are primarily very sound. It’s a shame that people may misconstrue Eric’s views as a defense of China’s view because they are quite different.
Not too long ago, James Fallows, a writer and editor for the Atlantic wrote a piece about Jeremy Lin. In that article he claimed that his fellow Atlantic writer Bob Wright’s claim that Lin’s success is somehow partly due to him being Asian as “horseshit.” I really don’t want to harp on either of the articles main points but Fallows seems to have made one glaring error in regard to a claim he made in it that said,
[C]onsider last summer’s “basketbrawl,” in which the Chinese
military team Bayi Rockets slugged it out with the visiting Georgetown
Hoyas. The gratuitous aggression all came from the Chinese side, as
many Chinese commentators noted. [emphasis mine]