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Great Fire Wall and Cyber Sovereignty

December 9th, 2017 2 comments

Recent fires outside Beijing and in Tianjin caused stirs in Chinese internet and criticism of safety violations, non performance of local officials, and the resulting hasty eviction of migrant workers in unsafe buildings. There was also the uproar of kindergarten abuse of children and swirling of rumors. Those incidences are the results of growing pains of urbanization. Even in West we have the London tower fire killing 70 people, and the Oakland converted warehouse fire killing more than 30 people, resulting blames and the Fire Department started evicting artists from other converted warehouses whom were forced out to Oakland because of the high rents from San Francisco.
Yet the controversies died out pretty quickly as those who spread false rumors were arrested or forced to confess their mistaken reports, while those correct reports were addressed by officials showing transparency and promises better services. The true name requirement serves its purpose by limiting unfound rumors while still protecting the privacy of those whistle blowers showing true short comings.
Looking at all the Russian bots interference in 2016 U.S. election, with false stories of Clinton wrong doings permeated in social media. With a cost of only a few hundred thousands of dollars, reaching tens of millions of U.S. netizens. The true cost to U.S. society and the world will not be known yet for years to come. Even in Hong Kong today, U.S. is still paying to stir the pot of independence movement there while claiming it’s all for democracy.
Of course the GFW will slow down true exchange of ideas, but for those who need scientific exchanges I don’t think it’s that difficult to circumvent it, and China is willing to pay the price for Cyber Sovereignty to prevent the chaos like in U.S. still not resolved from the Mueller investigation.

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Dr. Bethune’s Children

November 21st, 2017 No comments

Living in the West has the advantage of access to everything from good to bad as long as you have money, but one disadvantage is being somewhat cut off from Chinese literary scene. Thus I was excited when NYT recently talked about a Chinese living in Montreal having his novel translated to English published. His name is Xue Yiwei. He immigrated from China to Canada on a skill visa 15 years ago. He published about 13 works, with 10 in China, and is very popular in China but little known in the West. The recently translated book is called “Dr. Bethune’s Children”, and it excites literary world in the West. While no publisher in China after 7 years of effort dare to publish it because it deals with 2 taboo subjects of CR and TAM, I do hope China will allow it to be published soon. It is time to revisit those events 50 and 38 years later to show confidence and draw lessons from history.
After I read the article, I immediately downloaded the book from Amazon and finished reading it in 1 weekend. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in China or Chinese literature. Unable to get the Chinese edition here in New York, I ordered it from Hong Kong by mail, hopefully I can read it soon.
The author was asked by publisher in China to write a biography of Dr. Bethune as he has access to archives in Montreal. After studying the archives he was unable to write it, but instead wrote a series of letters to Dr. Bethune as one of his millions of children from China. The questions he asked deal with life and death, tragedy and comedy, public persona and private anguish, parents and children, sex and emotion, in other words, philosophical questions eternally asked by philosophers. He constructed 2 characters both ended tragically to symbolize the 2 events, yet he didn’t really blame the government directly but treated them as historically inevitable, just as Dr. Bethune must go to China and died there. He skillfully interwoven events and interactions from China to Canada, from 1938 to 1976 to make you feel real. The juxtaposition of his personal struggle against loneliness and Dr. Bethune’s loneliness makes it unforgettable. For I, Mr. Xue, and even President Xi are all Dr. Bethune’s children, and by inference also Mao’s children.
Nobel Prize for Literature has been very much a political game. I think only about 10% of the winners in last 60 years since WW2 are worthy the prize, certainly not the Chinese winners. After reading only one book by Xue Yiwei, I think he may truly deserve one.

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19th Party Congress- View from U.S.

November 1st, 2017 No comments

It’s more than a week since the close of 19th Chinese Communist Party Congress. It’s obvious big news in China, with commentators explaining and expounding its significance and vision for the future. With the release of many documentaries before the opening showing the achievements during the past 5 years. (Those who are interested can easily access them from YouTube.)
For readers in U.S. who are interested in world affairs and gather their news from the main stream media it might as well nothing has happened. Obviously Trump and Weinstein scandals dominated the news. Even NYT and WP barely covered the events in Beijing. When they did spare some space to discuss it, it’s the usual suspects. Authoritarianism versus the exceptionalism of democratic West, even though daily news emanated from Washington D.C. belies the truth of total moral and political failures here. When those China experts from academic circles are quoted they mentioned the personnel changes in Politburo, the failure of anyone in the standing committee in the 50s, so that implies no successor to Xi was named, or Xi’s intention to serve longer than 10 years. And finally the military threat implied by a strong China, be it South China Sea or Asia in general.
After being here in U.S. for more than 50 years, it still caught me by surprise the ignorance displayed by Americans in science and geography, but the elites are of such low quality astonish me to no end. I have served in jury duties and attended small claim court. I find lawyers are ignorant of basic math, logic, and even common sense. Certainly unlike those lawyer shows on TV like Perry Mason. A country that produce Mark Twain, Jack London, and Edgar Snow now have few writers and philosophers that are valued. We might be in the terminal stages of the decline of Roman Empire. (U.S. Empire.)
For me, Xi’s message is obvious and magical. China Dream will become a reality. 2 fifteen years stages to reach prosperous strong SOCIALISM China by 2050. Emphasis on “Serve the People”, Mao’s calligraphy adorned all those documentaries. Marxism integrating with Chinese characteristic values. A green future with green covered mountains and clean waters are the real gold and silver mountains. Poverty elimination for shared prosperity for all. Any Chinese that knows Chinese history will applaud the ancient vision of clean non-corrupt officials serving the people. It may be beyond the understanding of those China experts based on individualism and not society in general.

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What happened?

October 6th, 2017 No comments

Obviously most will associate this question with Hillary Clinton’s book of the election of 2016 in U.S., but it can also applied to what Ken Burns and Lynn Novick asked about Vietnam War in their mesmerizing documentary, and hopefully we will not be asking the question in the future upon a devastated Korea peninsula with irradiated North.
Hillary Clinton pleaded mia culpa and took some responsibility for her failure, but she also blamed FBI director Comey, misogyny, Sander supporters, Russian Hacking, and of course the archaic electoral system, since she did get close to 3 million more votes than Trump. There were various detailed studies on the voting pattern since the election. She not only lost the white votes, she lost the white women votes. She got less black votes than Obama did in the 3 key states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, which more than covered her deficit of 70,000 votes in all three, not to mention the Green Party votes. She even lost the millennial votes. So now we have a chaos president whom the Secretary of State called a f___ing moron, with Iran nuclear deal all but decertified, Paris Climate Accord withdrawal, Korea in danger of incinerated, or as Trump said, we are in the calm before the storm. I just hope the bureaucracy can stall Trump long enough to prevent a nuclear holocaust before Mueller finishes his investigation.
Yet to an observer like myself, the elephant in the room which she avoids touching is liberal’s bible, the U.S. Constitution. This document which supposed to be shining city on the hill, with constant propaganda unquestioned by all, supposedly emulated by all developing countries is really naked emperor. Trump with his Muslim ban has already unclothed Lady Liberty, now with Washington unable to control Trump, it has revealed the nakedness of the emperor. This sclerotic document was a compromise originally favored slavery states and small states. With small educated elites controlling the government it still splintered by Civil War. The Second Amendment as Bill Maher said was originally for militia to suppress slaves and native Americans. It metastases today to Las Vegas shooter. It needs 2/3 of both houses to pass 2 years in a row and 3/4 of states to pass any change. With a Supreme Court of conservatives favoring original meaning this dead document will never be able to change. The Supreme Court will also soon decide on the Wisconsin gerrymander case, whether they will sanctify it’s legal for 48% of votes getting more than 60% of seats in legislature.
Contrast present state of affairs of U.S. with China, the 68 anniversary of the founding of PRC, and the oncoming 19th Party Congress. Certainly there were errors and cul de sacs, yet as those documentaries shown recently that those errors are corrected and China is on a path to China Dream.
Constitution is changed and modified as society changes. I am happy that “Serve the People” is not just a slogan, but attaches meaning to move everyone out of poverty. Socialism with Chinese characteristics and integrating Marxism with Chinese conditions are goals for the party, as black cats or white cats no longer serve the present situation.

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《辉煌中国》–Amazing China

September 25th, 2017 1 comment

The 6 episodes of “Amazing China” are now available on YouTube. I haven’t visited China for 2 years now, yet the speed of transition described in this video series caught me by total surprise. I do hope CGTN will translated it to different languages and broadcast them. It probably will cost a lot less than those short video montages shown in Times Square and much more effective.
Coming the month before the convening of 19th Party Congress, it described what China has accomplished during the last 5 years and the bright future of China Dream. It fills me with a sense of optimism contrasting with the pessimism I feel of U.S. after the election of Trump. The events of last 8 months only confirmed my pessimism. As a Chinese American I can’t be indifferent to what is happening in U.S., no matter how it will benefit China, I do wish U.S. well.
Of course we expect that the videos will sing paean of party secretary Xi Jinping. Yet, when we contrast his eloquent speeches over the years when he’s not at the top with the vulgarity and illiteracy shown by Trump, one can’t but wonder so called Democracy can produce such trash as leader of the so called Free World. One quote by Xi when he was party secretary of Zhejiang province and repeated at Davos is instructive, ” We aspire for gold and silver mountains, yet we want green mountains and green waters, for they are the real gold and silver mountains.”.

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Waist Deep in the Big Muddy

September 6th, 2017 3 comments

Pete Seeger wrote that song in 1963 about a training accident during WW 2, and obviously referring to the then developing Vietnam War. Incidentally I think he should have received the Nobel Prize for Literature that went to Bob Dylan 1 year later instead after he died. The reason this song triggered in my memory is the recent policy shift/continuation of Trump administration on Afghanistan and “Fire and Fury” toward North Korea.. The lyric perfectly illustrates the dilemma faced by U.S., “Waist deep in the big muddy, but the big fool said to push on”.
The increase of troops in Afghanistan was expected and received approval from the military and main stream media, but opposition from both right and left. It’s true that Trump campaigned against bigger involvement in Afghanistan and certainly not in the best interest of U.S., but that’s the nature of empires. Afghanistan has been the burying ground for empires from British to Soviet, and now probably American Empire. To me Taliban is a push back against modernity which U.S. helped to finance during the Cold War, and sowed and reaping the backlash now. I detest Islam’s treatment of women, and time and modernization is the only solution as China is doing so in Xinjiang.
As for North Korea I think Trump and Kim deserve each other. For me Trump reminds me of the character in Stephen King’s novel and movie, “The Dead Zone”, Greg Stillson. I just hope the generals can somehow restrain Trump from releasing a nuclear holocaust. At least Steve Bannon understand there can be no military solution against North Korea which probably is beyond Trump’s understanding. Logic dictates U.S. has to negotiate with North Korea for denuclearization in exchange for American troop withdrawal from South Korea. U.S. do not need those military exercises, or troops as hostages in South Korea to deter North Korea from invading. Nuclear umbrella from Japan or submarines are more than sufficient. If North Korea feels survival is no longer a question it will evolve by herself. Similarly U.S. do not need troops in Germany to deter Russia from invading, all are excuses to maintain the empire.
Looking at the world today, one can’t help but admire China’s policy of non-interference of internal affairs of other countries. This policy may be dictated by China’s weakness in the beginning, but I think also due to the wisdom of Chinese history and philosophy. The “Star Trek” has the “Prime Directive” which every episode of the TV series violated because entertainment value, but for China it’s great and wise.

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China vs India

August 5th, 2017 5 comments

China has been giving warnings right and left on the oncoming border war with India, while India has been downplaying it and very much ignored by the West fixated on North Korea ICBM testing. The facts are obvious to those interested in them. The Tibet border with Sikkim was set in 19th century and undisputed. India annexed Sikkim and very much like to annex Bhutan next. The border negotiation between Bhutan and China has been inconclusive because India has exerted veto over any normalization of relations. China initiated road building on land she controls, and India moved military personnel over the Sikkim border into China, claiming she is doing so on behalf of Bhutan. India demands that China stop the road building before she will withdraw the troops. China has refused the demand. The situation is obviously untenable.
China has been doing live military exercises in Tibetan plateau, and both sides have been re-enforcing border troops. China conducted military parade for the 90th anniversary of the founding of PLA in Inner Mongolia. Yet all the warnings have been fallen on deaf ears. Chinese Politburo is probably meeting in summer beach resort and a decision will be make soon. Obviously any confrontation will affect the Shanghai meeting in September, but I think China will act probably within a week or two and not delay until after the meeting of BRICS.
Scenario I imaged will start with artillery barrage annihilate those invading troops, that is artillery against foreign troops in Chinese territory. When India try to respond by counter barrage, then it automatically become incident for expanded conflicts. The routing of Indian army is not really in question. The question is how far does Chinese troops will advance? Whether China will retake control of areas when she withdraw after 62 war? Whether China will assert air superiority and bomb airfields and support troops. I suspect China will be more restrained after victories and proclaim cease fire, that would disappoint those more nationalistic, but I think China will demand Bhutan be really independent and settle border with her. Modi may beg for American help but with North Korea indigestion Trump will pass.

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Snowden vs Human Rights Lawyer

July 29th, 2017 2 comments

Recently I saw Oliver Stone’s film on Snowden from Showtime and read NYT magazine article on Chinese human rights lawyers and feel the need to discuss both here. Mr. Snowden and the lawyer Liang Xiaojun and his client Xie Yanyi are in both cases dissidents. Yet their stories are so different and revealing. I suspect Chinese propaganda department could learn something from both Mr. Stone and NYT in the treatment of stories when they bemoan the soft power deficits. I hope maybe they can hire Mr. stone to do a biography on Xi Jinping.
The NYT article is by Alex Palmer. The article reads like a gothic novel, heavy laden dreads, implied threats everywhere, worried spouses and innocent children, tea meetings for interrogations, ending with Mr. Liang free but uncertain, and his client freed after 1 year in detention because prosecutor dropped the charges. Nowhere does Mr. Palmer stated how did the lawyers make their living or their economic status. Did they get subsidies from West? From lawyer’s fees? Rich families? Suddenly my memory stirred about the 709 ( July 9, 2015) incident. There were swirling rumors before then of a police brutality in Chinese internet. A beggar was shot and killed in a railroad station by police. There were demonstrations and lawyers and “big V”s demanding justice on Weibo. Then the government initiated crack down, some lawyers were arrested and law firms closed. Then the truths were revealed. Surveillance video showed a professional beggar, yes, he makes his living by traveling from Northeast to major cities with his 2 children begging for living, got into a scuffle with the security police at the checkpoint in rail station. He was drunk and used his young daughter as a battering ram against policeman, and using that distraction attempting to disarm the policeman. In self defense the policeman fired 1 shot and killed him. And those demonstrators? more than half were professional demonstrators traveling place to place and paid by the lawyers to extort from local governments weary of mass incidents. I also recall there was a film about murders committed by gangs throwing unwary recruits down coal mining shafts and pretending grieving families to extort from mine owners and local government trying to hide unsafe working conditions. I guess they also need human right lawyers to negotiate a price. The only thing I gleam from Mr. Palmer is they both have military officers as parents, corrupt enough to send one to Singapore to study law? Where he learned rule of law, the law from British colonial days where communists were jailed from 30-40 years without trial? I did learn from the comment section one claimed that 14 student activists were awaiting beheading in Saudi Arabia and nowhere from the newspaper.
Mr. Stone is a gifted story teller. I am his fan since “Platoon”. Snowdon portrayed by him is a patriot who volunteered for Special Force because of 9/11, he broke both of his legs due to stress fracture in training. He didn’t finish high school because of family circumstance, yet smart enough self studying computer to pass CIA school in flying color. His politic is more like a conservative unlike his liberal girl friend. He revealed law breaking by NSA and CIA, and willing risk jail for the rest of his life. He’s an American dissident and a worthy contrast to those Chinese lawyers.

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Response to Nicholas Kristof

July 9th, 2017 4 comments

After reading his column from July 8 in New York Times, I found his arrogance unbearable and have to respond. Although there is a comment section there, it is usually censored and full of praise, so I decide to write a rebut here.
As most of us have preconceived biases and opinions on Liu Xiaobo, yet mostly ignorant of his real writings I decide that Wikipedia might be a good place to start. Mr. Kristof compare Liu to Nelson Mandela. Mr. Mandela spent 27 years in jail fighting against colonialism and racism, while Mr. Liu wants China to surrender and subservient to West completely.
“In a 1988 interview with Hong Kong’s Liberation Monthly (now known as Open Magazine), Liu was asked what it would take for China to realize a true historical transformation. He replied:
“[It would take] 300 years of colonialism. In 100 years of colonialism, Hong Kong has changed to what we see today. With China being so big, of course it would require 300 years as a colony for it to be able to transform into how Hong Kong is today. I have my doubts as to whether 300 years would be enough.”[22][23]
Liu admitted in 2006 that the response was extemporaneous, although he did not intend to take it back, as it represented “an extreme expression of his long held belief.”[23] The quote was nonetheless used against him. He has commented, “Even today [in 2006], radical patriotic ‘angry youth’ still frequently use these words to paint me with ‘treason’.”[23]
Known for his pro-West stance, Liu once stated in an interview: “Modernization means whole-sale westernization, choosing a human life is choosing Western way of life. Difference between Western and Chinese governing system is humane vs in-humane, there’s no middle ground… Westernization is not a choice of a nation, but a choice for the human race” [24]”
Now it might seem I am quoting him on his extreme position, he might walk back a little. He did claim, “I must: 1. Use Western civilization as a tool to critique China. 2. Use my own creativity to critique the West.'”[27]”. Yet he did nothing of that sort, as we can see from his opinion on Iraq War.
“Liu also published a 2004 article in support of Bush’s war on Iraq, titled “Victory to the Anglo-American Freedom Alliance”, in which he praised the U.S.-led post-Cold War conflicts as “best examples of how war should be conducted in a modern civilization.” He wrote “regardless of the savagery of the terrorists, and regardless of the instability of Iraq’s situation, and, what’s more, regardless of how patriotic youth might despise proponents of the United States such as myself, my support for the invasion of Iraq will not waver. Just as, from the beginning, I believed that the military intervention of Britain and the United States would be victorious, I am still full of belief in the final victory of the Freedom Alliance and the democratic future of Iraq, and even if the armed forces of Britain and the United States should encounter some obstacles such as those that they are currently facing, this belief of mine will not change.” He predicted “a free, democratic and peaceful Iraq will emerge.”[29] During the 2004 US presidential election, Liu again praised Bush for his war effort against Iraq and condemned Democratic Party candidate John Kerry for not sufficiently supporting the wars in which the U.S. was then involved. He commented on Islamism that, “a culture and (religious) system that produced this kind of threat (Islamic fundamentalism), must be extremely intolerant and blood-thirsty.”
As we look at Iraq today, Libya today, and Syria today, we can see why Mr. Liu is the darling of the neocons and liberals like Mr. Kristof. For them China Dream is a threat to their way of life. A divided, broken China, with pseud-democratic farces like U.S. where presidents are elected with minority votes, where republicans dominates in the House when their vote totals less than Democrats is his beacon. The 1.3 billion Chinese people standing up against poverty is less important than his concept as a savior. It’s sad and certainly a personal tragedy for his family on his liver cancer. The Chinese government has gave him medical parole and allowed German and American specialists to treat him. It was his choice to stay in China, and certainly China is under no obligation to allow him to die in U.S. as an anti-China martyr.

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Tempest on Table Tennis

June 25th, 2017 No comments

During the round of 16 of Chengdu Table Tennis Open of men’s competition, 3 of the top Chinese champions and 2 of their coaches withdraw from competition and were disqualified. They also posted in Weibo their dissatisfaction over the reassignment of head coach ( a promotion, but really more kick up stair.). The resulting furor triggered mostly negative reactions from the fans mostly in favor of the athletes. They apologized a few days later, and expect punishments to be mete out soon. I suspect something like probably 6 months suspension from competition for the players and exile of the coaches. Observing the furor from afar I have no special expertise on the bureaucratic infighting of China’s athletic departments, but some conclusions can be drawn from this incident.
The target of the protest obvious is against the minister of national athletics. He initiated some overdue reforms which touch on the special interests. He limited the commercial interest in soccer and basketball by limiting the number of foreign players the various teams can buy to boast their teams. The recent scandal of female table tennis team coach on his gambling debt in Singapore ( as a communist party member he’s barred from even entering casino.) probably triggered the change in table tennis. Chinese table tennis has resumed domination in this sport recently, and fans are loath for any disturbances which will affect the status quo.
The question is not unrelated to President Xi’s anticorruption campaign. Xi has been trying to reinstate some socialism values by not just attacking obvious malfeasances such as bribery, none performance, and other monetary corruptions, but setting value systems like Mao was trying to do. He’s getting pushbacks by entrenched interests in all levels. What’s the value of Olympic gold medals and the resulting hero worships? Will China return to more socialism values and away from capitalism monetary rewards.

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Ireland

June 23rd, 2017 No comments

As I wrote earlier I went to my niece’s Irish wedding in June. Overnight after a flight from NY to Dublin, I found that Theresa May lost her election gambit, so the young people after indifference to Brexit finally decided to vote. Hopefully Millennials in U.S. will do the same soon to evict Trump. The wedding took place in the town of Wicklow, about an hour drive south from Dublin. Ireland, known as Emerald Isle, totally fit this description, with green everywhere eyes can see. The gulf stream keeps Ireland and Britain Isles both warm and temporal with few episodes of snow or ice. Hopefully the climate warming will not change this soon, as I understand that the melting of ice from Greenland with resulting fresh water might disrupt the current, causing cold weather for Northern Europe.
We have a reception the next day by the groom’s family with Irish music played by 2 local musicians. Irish folk music like “Danny Boy” and “Molly Malone” were played. I requested an American folk song “Freight Train”, although they remember only a few stanza of lyric, they played beautifully. All those songs like Chinese folk songs tell what life is like for ordinary people. The next day we have a catholic church wedding, though I am an atheist, I found the ritual enchanting, with guests finishing some of priest’s incantations. The Irish people are inevitably graceful and open, and I found myself responding likewise.
After the wedding we stayed for 1 week more for sightseeing and soaking in local culture. On the 4 hours drive to see Cliffs of Moher we stopped in a rest stop called Obama Plaza. Unlike U.S. where any taint of black and you are considered black, Ireland embraced Obama, his 7th cousin by his mother side are celebrated. To me someone like Beyoncé is more white than black, and Tiger Wood is very much Chinese as much as black.
Ireland with more than twice the size of Taiwan, yet with a population of only 6.4 million (1.8 million in Northern Ireland). We went to see EPIC museum about Irish emigration through the ages since 500 AD. I always compare Chinese to Jews, as both have long history and cultural identity, but after seeing the museum I have to include Irish in this regard. They were colonized by Britain, most were tenant farmers struggling to feed their family and survive, paying absentee landlords exorbitant rents, and when natural disaster struck as during potato famine, forced to starve or emigrate. In the 1841 census, Ireland has a population of 8 million, yet after the potato famine a few years later, 1 million starve to death, and more than 1 million were forced to emigrate. China over the ages, suffered the same, when natural disasters and wars forced migrations all around the world. The famine sculptures on the northern bank of river Liffy testify the toll on people.

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Yang Shuping’s MU Commencement Speech

May 25th, 2017 4 comments

Recently Ms. Yang’s speech went viral with disapproval in China. Most felt betrayed by her fawning comparison of pollution in major Chinese cities compare with sweet and fragrant air in U.S., or the freedom of speech and political process with China’s closed system. Obvious the pollution comment was really an opening used to introduce the resulting praise of politics in West.
I have no problem if Ms. Yang is an incoming student with naiveté talking about something beyond her competence, but she is a graduating student after 4 years of study in theater and psychology, then I have a bone to pick with her. She used a one woman play by Anna Deavere Smith, “Twilight, LA”, as a point of diversity, questioning of authority, and freedom of speech. As a student of theater does she really understand what Ms. Smith is trying to say? Does she understand why did the Rodney King riot occur? The riot happened because after Rodney King was brutally beaten by police with video footages documenting it, all the policemen were acquitted in court. The people felt there was no justice and redress. The results were loss of 58 lives, over 2,000 injured, and over $1 billion property damages. Ms. Smith interviewed over 200 people of various occupations and circumstances, and distilled down to a few monologues to give viewers a sense of history as it happens. Yet beneath it all she showed the gulf and injustice prevailing over LA and U.S..
Now in 2017, 25 years after the riot, we have similar verdicts coming down. Policeman involved with shooting Tamir Rice found not guilty, shooting of Terence Crutcher in Oklahoma, found not guilty, and all with videos documenting them. The list is endless. I would think Ms. Smith would be outraged if her student gleam from her play only the praises of such an unjust system instead of outrage and protest.
Yesterday we have the Trump budget plan for the coming years, cuts in Medicaid, cuts in food stamps, cuts in cancer research. As Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said, “We must lower the debt for unborn children by taking food from children”, and of course tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. Pollution in Beijing may yet take a decade or more to solve, but solve it will be. China has lifted half a billion people out of poverty, and will soon be the beacon for nations in Africa and other underdeveloped countries. Ms. Yang’s family probably benefitted greatly from China’s development. I suspect it probably cost her family $200,00 for her education. What a waste.

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Response to Ai Weiwei

May 8th, 2017 3 comments

New York Times recently was back to attacking China with articles on overfishing, Namibia uranium mining, and Ai Weiwei talking about free speech and censorship. Although per capital consumption of fish by China is slightly above U.S., the per capital consumption of meat by China is less than 1/2 of U.S.. So it’s rather disingenuous for NYT to focus on fish rather than meat. As for new colonialism as NYT claims about China’s investment in Africa is really laughable as most Africans welcome the investment in infrastructure. China pays for any mineral wealth extracted at world market prices and issue loans at below market advantageous rate. They even implied that the price of uranium dropped by half recently due to Fukushima nuclear disaster, and China is benefitting from this decline.

For opinions inside China, West is somewhat more limited in their arsenal. So they use people like Mr. Ai, since parachuting insurgents to Tibet is no longer an option. They exaggerate people like Mr. Ai of their artistic achievements, give out awards like Nobel Prizes, and use intellectual arguments to appeal to the emerging middle class. I am not a fan of Mr. Ai’s work as an artist, but I want to deal with his argument directly here since NYT doesn’t allow rebuttals in their pages, even negative comments are somewhat hidden and discarded.

Mr. Ai’s arguments consist of 2 prongs, censorship and freedom of speech, to which liberals in the West are self evident good and beyond reproach. I beg to differ here and will hold the politically incorrect position. Since the 1960s, the U.S. Supreme Court has essentially allowed sexually explicit materials without restriction with the possible exception of child pornography. Yet when the opinion was originally written, the community standard was paramount, gradually the community standard eroded until now it’s non existent. Yet the pushback against it probably caused the election of Trump, and of course if you consider the community standard of China and Chinese law, I rest my case. Given the recent cases of murders and suicides in Facebook I think many will favor some censorship even here. Next is the question of political speech which is more problematical. I do think China has the right to push her standard even in the political realm. As China enter the world community, she has her own vision of what society is striving, not individual rights, but societal rights. The alleviation of poverty, basic human dignity, health and education. As China grows richer and stronger, those political speech became less threatening and as anyone can attest, the political space is also growing. Even in the West, the freedom of speech has an exception, that of yelling fire in a crowded theater. In today’s interconnected world resembles a crowded theater, where internet posting of rumors can go viral and cause panic. So such regulation as true name posting is necessary to control sabotage. And of course any postings by terrorists which endanger society are not allowed even in U.S..

As China considers compiling a new Chinese encyclopedia competing against Wikipedia, I do advise her to giving out her narrative to the world, competing against the narrative by the West rather than suppressing it. China should not just give out blank answers to query about Tibet or 6/4, but share the lives of modern Tibet contrasting with dark history of serfs past. The reaction against corruption which triggered the original grievances of 6/4, the martyring of PLA soldiers by mobs on approach to Beijing, the confusion, and tragedies. I watched the recent TV program of the ascent of Qin Empire, in episode 1, the mother of future king told him it would be easy to be a good person, but extremely hard to be a good king. Mr. Ai can easily tot up his earnings of his artworks, for President Xi, it’s the livelihood of 1.3 billion Chinese he has to worry. History will judge the events of 6/4, but looking at history of Arab Spring contrasting with the growth of China’s economy, I think it has already rendered judgment.

 

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Chinese American Male

April 12th, 2017 18 comments

Coming June I will be traveling to Ireland to attend a wedding for my niece. I am happy for her, yet it triggered reflections on my part on the Chinese male/female dynamic, male and female gender ratio imbalance in China, patriarchy and misogyny.
I have 2 nieces, both vivacious and outgoing, having various American boyfriends since high school through college, and good careers in Manhattan and California. They have white boyfriends, the older one was engaged to a Scotsman and now will wed an Irishman, yet neither ever have a Chinese American boyfriend. It’s not because Chinese American males were absent in NYC. I have nephews and knew other friends’ sons, yet they all seem to have difficulty engaging with females. I know most male Chinese Americans are in STEM fields, are introverted, and socially awkward, and I think they make exemplary husbands both in income and respect for women, but maybe not in Hollywood sense of romance. I am sure I am exaggerating to some extend, but I don’t think I am that off the mark. The sense of loneliness probably drove some over the cliff, such as shootings in Virginia Tech and Isla Vista. Though some will take issue with me that Cho was of Korean heritage and Rogers was only half Chinese, but it still holds.
There is no disagreement that human society is a patriarchy except maybe during cave man era. In China, the need for male heir still dominates even in the era of one child policy. Sex selective abortion and abandonment of female babies, which caused gender disparity in China and large adoption of female Chinese babies by Americans. Yet the sex disparity has perversely increased the status of females in China as much as Mao’s dictate of equality of sexes. Hong Kong billionaires may be able to scoop up Olympic female diving champions as their daughter in laws, but villagers short of females must resort to exchange their life saving for Vietnamese brides. In cities like Beijing or Shanghai, one must have an apartment and car ready before wedding bell tolls.
The enrollments in some elite universities has already tipped in favor of females, and that has caused backlashes from males. I suspect Trump’s triumph in the voting booths to some extend was due to misogyny. They disguise the reason for their dislike for Hillary’s Wall Street connection, but now we have a cabinet full of billionaires dismantling any remnants of Obama’s legacy and even some of Roosevelt’s New Deals.
As a male Chinese American, my advice for others is to break away somewhat from the cultural background of Confucian culture of very reserved indifference, be more open to the opposite sex and sexuality. you don’t have to embrace Dionysian carnality, but be open and flowers will help.

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Opioids

March 30th, 2017 1 comment

Reading the news about the opioid epidemic in places like Ohio and middle America elicit mixed feelings in me. I attended primary and junior high school in Shanghai in the 50’s where Chinese history is mandatory. Even today I would think Opium Wars are taught in schools there which left an ineluctable mark in my psychic. When I arrived in Hong Kong in 59 I can’t believe there were addicts there using heroin. Britain forced opium on Chinese in the name of free trade. During the 60s, heroin was mostly a drug for the ghettos and black people., while marijuana was prevalent in colleges for white students I refrain from touching it and the only time I touched cigarette was when I was a child I lighted the cigarettes for my grandma from the coal stove. In a way you can say I was brainwashed or immunized against drug use and Western values.
On the one hand I think white American is reaping the harvest of seeds they sown, yet one can’t help but be sad when one reads about children calling 911 while their parents pass out in the car. The profit motive for drugs, incessant advertising for pain relief, the pressure of life when opportunities disappear all play a role. Even in China today there is some drug use among entertainment stars and in urban areas. Various solutions like Singapore’s zero tolerance and heavy penalties, Philippine’s death squads, U.S.’s heavy incarceration rate, or Europe’s free drug use in controlled clinics are all in use and failing. I think education as taught in China is the only effective solution together with effective enforcement.

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Second Annual Poetry Competition

February 23rd, 2017 1 comment

Although this is more about memorization and understanding of Chinese poetry than actual writing of new poems, the 10 sessions of competition which can be accessed on YouTube is refreshing and revealing. I highly recommend them to all Chinese interested in Chinese values. Although you need to understand Chinese and be somewhat proficient in language as even some non-Chinese competitors are.
For someone like me who’s been in West for a long time; looking through tinted glass at events in China; making value judgments of events there whether pro or con, surprised and shocked at the fast pace of changes occurring there, depressed and outraged about all the corruptions revealed in the last 3 years of anti-corruption campaign, one can’t help but be hopeful as those videos reveal China being in the right and healthy direction.
Capitalism is by nature revolutionary and corrosive, sweeping all traditional cultures before it like a tsunami. One can look at the Native American cultures disintegrating even after the genocide had stopped. I worked for a while in Alaska, where federal government gave back some lands and money to the natives to form various native corporations in early 70s. Yet despite some attempt to stay dry and ban alcohol in the native villages, alcoholism and resulting domestic violence is endemic and destroying their cultures. The same is true for Native Americans in lower 48 states; maybe some casinos and welfare generate some revenue to alleviate some suffering, but I am not optimistic in the final outcome.
For a while Chinese media in their reform and recoil against Maoism, produced imitations of western shows which depressed me. I remember once I looked at my wife’s IPad when she was watching a dating show, during which a man was showing his various good qualities and about 20 women showed their interest by leaving their lights on. When a new contestant, reasonable good looking young man, but his occupation being a bus driver, all the lights immediately turned off. It’s obvious money and wealth will be the final determination.
During the poetry competition, there were various segments introducing contestants to show their backgrounds, from teenagers in grade schools to Russian and Congolese studying in Chinese universities. I was most impressed with 2 segments, one was a teacher from the minority nationality who graduated from college and returned to her native village in Southwest mountains to teach poor left over primary students. The other was a woman farmer, a cancer survivor, reading poetry on her commute to hospital for treatments, she took 3 or more buses and train to save commuting cost instead of direct long distance bus. Those 2 segments revealed the problems of education and health concerns for rural areas and were very inspirational. The eventual winner was a 16 years old high school female student from Shanghai. The fact that Chinese parents are encouraging their sons and daughters to study traditional poetry in addition to STEM is a revelation. The fact that most of the winners were girls and women showed why China is different from those Muslim countries where their resistance to modernity will fail without equality.

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A Fancyful Suggestion

February 2nd, 2017 6 comments

I think everyone know about Trump’s temper tantrum against Australia Prime Minister by now. Giving China’s interest in “One Belt, One Road” and the interest in attracting talents from the rest of the world in considering giving green cards to foreigners to work in China, I think there is a relative inexpensive and powerful argument to offer Australia in accepting the 1,250 refugees that Trump most likely will reject.
China already offer scholarships to third world countries to study in China. Absorbing 1,250 people, mostly women and children and college educated men will be easy. China needs people grateful for the chance to start anew, with language skills (Persian and Arabic) for the Silk Road Project. I do not discount the propaganda value which cannot be measured.
Of course this will enrage Trump or maybe he’ll like it as that takes a problem off his hand. As some of you know Trump’s advisor, Steve Bannon has already said war with China in 5-10 years will be inevitable. Additionally this will really shut up all those human right advocates and make them speechless.

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白卷英雄”与“亿万富翁”:谁才是真正的张铁生? Who’s the Real Zhang Tiesheng?

January 6th, 2017 No comments

I was scanning stories on guancha.cn, suddenly a headline triggered my curiosity. ” Who’s the most beautiful stock sold ( reduction of ownership sale) person?”. Upon reading the article, I decided to investigate further and searched Wikipedia. There are only short articles about him, but on the Chinese Wikipedia, it is more detailed.
When I was a child in grade school, I was a somewhat indifferent student, but I still remember more than 60 years later, the moving interview by Wei Wei, “Who’s the most beautiful person?”, about Chinese volunteer in the Korea War, munching dry grain and eating snow while answering his questions in the trenches. Nowadays articles using ” Who’s the most beautiful —-, teacher, doctor, etc.” to attract attention for stories usually about someone with admirable qualities or selfless deeds.
Zhang Tiesheng became a hero during Cultural Revolution when during the first aborted college entrance examination in 1973, he wrote on the back of the mostly empty answers why he’s failing the exam. He got accepted to a veterinary college and his letter was published nationally and debated. When the Gang of Four was arrested he was also arrested and tried for being a counterrevolutionary. He refused court appointed lawyer and refused to recant and bear witness against Mao’s nephew who championed him. He became a villain for those who suffered during CR and received the longest prison sentences ( 15 years ) for those intellectuals that opposed Deng with a speech. Those who are versed in Chinese can read about him in Wikipedia/Chinese. Upon release from jail, he served the full 15 years with no reduction because he refuse to confess or admit he committed any crime. He with others started an animal feed company, and now he’s worth about $100 million U.S.. The article on guancha.cn talk about the reasons of his stock sale, for family, relatives, and charities.
I did have vague memories reading from NY Times at that time about him turning in blank exam answers, yet the details of the story is so different and moving. He has to write letters to his fiancée who insist on waiting for him to not wait for him. Another girl did wait for the full 15 years to marry him. I instinctive like him when looking at the pictures when his company became public, with everyone in tie and suit except him in sweater.
Recently CCTV released videos titled “To make irons one has to be self strong”, about communist leaders from provinces and even from inspection team leaders that committed bribery and corruptions that each came to hundred of millions of yuans. They confessed their failings and be lessons for others. Also news recently published about 2 cases of executed innocents their verdict being reversed. One of the Wikipedia story has Zhang Tiesheng, when he was a village cadre, demanded that the deputy party secretary’s young son, who destroyed an inner tube to make slings pay back the village for the damage as public property. I wonder when Xi demands that communist cadre be selfless, that maybe he should also reverse some of the verdicts of CR and let justice prevail.

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My Homeland/Motherland

December 20th, 2016 No comments

一条大河波浪宽 风吹稻花香两岸 我家就在岸上住 听惯了艄公的号子
看惯了船上的白帆 这是美丽的祖国 是我生长的地方 在这片辽阔的土地上
到处都有明媚的风光 姑娘好像花儿一样 小伙儿心胸多宽广 为了开辟新天地
唤醒了沉睡的高山 让那河流改变了模样 这是英雄的祖国 是我生长的地方
在这片古老的土地上 到处都有青春的力量 好山好水好地方 条条大路都宽畅
朋友来了有好酒 若是那豺狼来了 迎接它的有猎枪 这是强大的祖国
是我生长的地方 在这片温暖的土地上 到处都有和平的阳光

Recently in August, Lung Ying-tai, former culture minister of Taiwan (2012-2014), an essayist and cultural critic, gave a speech in Hong Kong University titled, “One Song, One Era”, which came to internet in December became viral and elicited many comments from China. During the speech she asked audience for their “Enlightenment Song”, and a vice president of Methodist University replied “My Homeland”, She understood it to be a red song, yet was not even aware of its existence; caught in embarrassed smile, she asked him to sing its lyrics. He started to sing and the audience joint in, and the resulting video became viral. She wrote an article in Dec 18 defending her speech against critics. She praised the vice president for his courage to be politically incorrect, giving the climate of young students in Hong Kong at present, acknowledging she didn’t know the song, but criticizing her critics for politicizing culture, asking whether they are tired of being political, for militarize it, and saying sometimes a river is just a river, and a rice flower is just a rice flower.
Giving the fact she was a minister of culture, and a cultural critic, the fact she was unaware of the most famous red song other than the Chinese national anthem is laughable. The theme of her speech was songs and their ramification, and trying to say a river is just a river is insulting the intelligence of her audience. After all, the song she quoted, John Lennon’s “Imagine”, is very much an attack on capitalism and religion. It’s certainly not just idle imagination.
The singing of red songs recently also triggered debates in China as it also triggered reflections on Cultural Revolution and Mao. With Mao’s birthday less than a week away it’s useful to reflect on our heritage.

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How should China deal with Trump?

December 13th, 2016 2 comments

With his Twitter comments Trump has exploded the illusions of those who believed his election is good for China and U.S.. As for being good for U.S. I just need to list his appointments for his cabinets of fellow billionaires, anti-labor, anti-minimal wage increases, non-believers of climate changes, anti-choice etc. While the slogan ” Make America Great Again” is catchy and his campaign against foreign involvements are superficially appealing, to me it was always based on false premises. For how can you increase military spending, more personnel, more warships, more fighters, while retrench foreign involvements? Empire does not voluntarily retrench. To make American great again, you need to put down any upstart challengers, and the number one on the target is of course China.
Trump is to me like a mafia godfather sitting in his lair, Trump Tower receiving obeisance and tributes from former competitors and underlings. He demands more protection money from Japan and Europe, provoking China and Iran while embracing Russia with childish delight, and dispensing favors like Carrier jobs and throwing thunderbolts like criticizing F35 and Air Force-1 costs. His inauguration is more than 1 month away, but China better be prepared for his ascension.
Many in Chinese media consider Trump to be a businessman, and doing business was no problem for China, but that was obviously a mistake. For a godfather, Don Drumpf will be my way or highway, China has to be firm. Trade obviously will be the first casualty, expect some tariffs and retaliations. Taiwan obvious will be the redline, core interest for China, but China should play a waiting game. There is no point in confronting U.S. militarily at present. Continue the one road, one belt strategy, move more aggressively in space technology. Embrace other powers in Europe, Germany, Iran, Cuba etc. Wait out the Trump bubble to burst in U.S..

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What Did the Accident Reveals?

November 27th, 2016 1 comment

Recently the tragic news of collapse of cooling tower work platform killing 72 workers in Jiangxi province caused the usual flurry of blame casting and scapegoating. It was revealed that wooden supports were prematurely dismantled, that cement curing was slow down by cold weather, that it happened during a shift change so it might be overloaded, that fast forced schedule while ignoring safety concerns and adequacy of management control were all mentioned. So is the need for market return and profits. President Xi and Premier Li both issued instructions on necessity for a transparent investigation. Yet for a non technical observer like me, the biggest elephant in the room is not mentioned.
As someone concerned about climate warming I do read about the CO2 emission on coal fired power plant in China. I understand that’s one of the zombie industries in China with large overcapacity, with utilization rate close to 50%, that a lot of the coal fired power plants are losing money. While central government issue orders to slow or stop more constructions and local governments disregarded such orders and kept constructions going. I wonder if there is such a dead line for further coal fired power plant from center and locals instead accelerate the construction trying to beat the deadline? That’s the one question I wish the central government to resolve rather than pro forma firing of bottom managements.

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Democracy as Fiction Revealed by Events in Hong Kong and U.S.

November 2nd, 2016 23 comments

One of the cardinal rules of democracy is voting, and its corollary, the rule of law. Over history, from Plato, Magna Carta, U.S. Constitution, to today, liberals have the myth that it’s sacrosanct and inviolable. Critics, which I include myself, have always questioned whether voting with insufficient information or education, does really serve society well. It may well be an elitist view, but recent events in U.S. and Hong Kong shows the fallacy of so call democracy.
I will not belabor the problems in U.S. other than the fact voting since its inception was restricted to propertied white male, the genocide of Indians and local tribes, those worthless treaties with them, slavery, and now the basket of deplorable that constitute 40% of U.S. electorate, that essentially believe a flat earth, biblical past utopia. And their leading con-man Trump might well be the next president with the fate of the world held in his nuclear trigger fingers.
Actually I want to talk more about the event in Hong Kong, the local election of 2 Youngspiration legislators, their failed oath taking and insult to China. The legal professionals in Hong Kong, both the insurgents and main business elites, were horrified that Chinese People’s Congress probably will preempt their judicial process by imposing their interpretation of Basic Laws by settling once and all, any wishful thinking of an independent Hong Kong. When Deng allowed the 1 country-2 systems for 50 years, he was postponing and hoping the gradual merge of differences between China and Hong Kong. As the past 20 years showed, the economic disparity is gradually disappearing. Shanghai is gradually overtaking Hong Kong as financial center. Hong Kongers feel their special status is threatened economically and politically. China allowed Hong Kong to be a special status after liberation because of the embargo and need for opening to the world. That raison no longer exist today. China has been mollycoddling Hong Kong when they push back on education reform and election. I think it’s time for Xi to force the issue for Hong Kong to face the reality. If some Hong Kong people think they can carve some special privilege by voting some insurgents to bargain, then they have another thing coming. The judicial system in Hong Kong is leftover from colonial British system, and it’s time for them to change. The 1 country – 2 systems was a transitional process, not set for permanent one. It’s well past time for the fiction of democracy, a fig leaf to be revealed.

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Crisis of U.S. Democracy and Lessons for China

October 9th, 2016 5 comments

Tonight will be the second presidential debate, and it will confirm Trump meltdown obvious to elites in U.S.. 15 Republican senators have asked Trump to withdraw or disavowed him and counting. Yet the problem will not be solved with the coronation of Hillary. The gap between rich and poor, 99% versus 1%, will still yawn wide. The electoral system of U.S. is over 250 years old, yet it is undemocratic in its origin, and almost impossible to reform. Even with the new Supreme Court and possible repudiation of “Citizens United” decision, I see no real change except marginal improvement in the live of ordinary citizens.
The public opinion polls on Brexit vote, Columbian cease fire accord vote, both predicted passage, yet due to low participation or indifference of young voters, both failed. U.S. election might yet go that way except for Trump meltdown. Professor Qiang Ge of Central Party School, a self professed Trump fan, wrote in guancha.cn after the first debate, questioned a CNN poll of Hillary win by using right wing internet polls for Trump win to question the validity of polls in general. For me it’s not surprising most Chinese have little knowledge of U.S. politics or political process, but I find it dangerous that Central Party School, where provincial and higher officials attend classes to further their education, is not well informed. I mentioned Central Party School because another professor, Wang Changjiang was recently under attack by Maoists for disrespecting Mao.
As public opinion polls show, U.S. with her high college attendance compare to others is still very poorly informed and anti-science. With 40% believe earth is 10,000 years old, with 46% against evolution as creationists, thus even with Trump’s meltdown, politics in U.S. will be challenging in the future. Chinese leaders will need to be well informed in dealing with U.S.. I recently watched a TV program, “Choice, 2016, Frontline”, which gives very good background information on Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and I recommend highly to all interested. As China moves to a service and knowledge economy, the problems faced by U.S., rich and poor divide, automation and job loss, loss of confidence in government, will show up in China also. China in addition faces a serious corruption problem which will not be easily solved. Remember, the events of 89 was triggered by backlash against corruption.  The democracy in U.S. is flawed, I do hope China can draw lessons from it, more than just editorialize it in People’s Daily on its failure.

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Clinton vs Trump

September 24th, 2016 7 comments

In 2 more days, there will be the first presidential debate, and 45 more days before election determining the next president of U.S.A.. As a Chinese American I would like to share my view on the coming election as it will affect everyone profoundly one way or another. For many Chinese it looks to be a play of the theatre of absurd, cynical entertainment value to be sure, but irrelevant to their lives. With the large immigration of Chinese to U.S., and the large Chinese student population here, the political view has been gradually changing. It use to be Chinese Americans tended toward Republican Party, self centered toward financial security, conservative family value oriented, and absorbing societal biases against blacks as threat against law and order. with the first waves of immigrants in 60’s being anti-communists from Hong Kong and Taiwan. Yet the second and third generations now are more liberal and tend toward Democratic Party as shown on the electoral success of Obama. It can’t be understated the emergence of China as a world power on the sense of self confidence of Chinese Americans.
The appeal of Trump to the “Basket of Deplorable” is self evident, but he also appeals to the victims of globalization, disaffected, and those that fear any changes of status quo in a fast changing world. Even I, who is a beneficiary of immigration, when laughing at his comment of Wall on Mexico border, sometimes feel the need for immigration reform or need to close the border at some point. I am a New Yorker, I do know a con when I see it, yet even when I know the game of 3 cards Monte is rigged, I still sometimes has the urge to play it, and Donald trump is the quintessential con man, and many people will fall for it. He reminds me of the character in Stephen King’s novel, “The Dead Zone”, as played by Martin Sheen in the movie, he may trigger a nuclear holocaust. I know some will think I am paranoid, overhype, and biased, but anyone with serious thinking knows that Trump is a fraud, and Germany did elect Hitler to power.

As for Hillary Clinton, I know all about Whitewater, email, and all the pseudo scandals swirl around her. I do think many are due to her gender, many women think she should have divorced Bill. Many think she leveraged her husband’s presidency to get rich and are envious. I wonder all those Hillary haters are aware of her biography, her history, not the republican narrative. In the final analysis this election will shed light of we Americans as a people, whether we are decent, self aware, responsible people or a final nail on democracy as a fiction.

 

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Trump Jr. (Rodrigo Duterte)- Our Man in Manila

September 1st, 2016 10 comments

With the musical chair of democracy spinning out of control; Rodrigo Duterte has replaced Aquino in Philippine, and Hillary Clinton likely to hold off Donald Trump in U.S. in November. Obama will be in Hangchow for the G20 meeting and continue to spin his pivot to Pacific, with Philippine the center piece of his strategy with the return of U.S. bases there. Yet Duterte will be a headache for Hillary after her inauguration. She may have hold off fascist challenge by Trump with the support of the ruling elites, but she will have her hands full in implementing a humane immigration policy, challenging 1% with tax policy and minimum wages, revitalizing the economy by infrastructure spending, and dealing with recalcitrant Congress. Despite all the negative press about her emails and Clinton Foundation, which I think are trivial non issues spun by her opponents, I have always like her and wish her well. The only disagreement being her vote on Iraq War which I gave her a pass as she can’t realistically vote no being a senator from New York after 9/11.
Being a champion of human rights (Women rights are human rights), she can’t possibly ignore the action of the death squads with count now probably way over 2,000. For what is more human right than the right to life? With the annual human rights report by State department due out in April, Hillary can’t help but antagonize Duterte and jeopardize the bases.

It’s instructive to see the non response of the Western media whom championed human rights and criticize China whenever some human right lawyers got jailed, and silence on Philippine after the initial flurry of social media going viral on the wife holding her dead husband killed by the death squad, the double standard and limits on freedom of speech speak volumes. For China dealing with Duterte will be delicate but straight forward. China has a non-interference policy on internal affairs of other country. It will be up to Philippine to deal with the question of Duterte. As for the arbitration award China does not recognize its validity, and Duterte has said he’s not stupid enough to provoke militarily, and if he waves the paper China will just ignore him. China will be happy to maintain status quo by continuing to build up her islands or negotiate if other side is realistic. For U.S. Duterte is like ” Our Man in Havana” as described by Graham Greene, a liability best forgotten.

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Arab Winter

August 14th, 2016 3 comments

When Professor Zhang of Fudan University used the term of Arab Winter as counter to criticism of China in being not responsive as Arab Spring to liberal reforms, he was not being flippant, but simply stating a fact which West avoids. Similarly when a Chinese college student responded to a question on China by posting 2 pictures of Shanghai skyline from the early 90s and today she was making a point which can also be make with 2 pictures of Aleppo from then and today.
With the newspaper industry in decline in U.S. and investigative reporting under pressure from profit squeeze it was gratifying that New York Times in the Sunday August 14 issue, devoting the whole magazine issue to Middle East. In reporting by Scott Anderson and photos by Paolo Pellegrin, it chronicled in detail 5 parts from 1972 to today of 6 people from various parts of Middle East and the realities of the countries involved.
Mr. Anderson puts the blame on colonial Britain and France for carving up Middle East without regard for their cultures and geography, blames U.S. policy makers for their short sights and of course the dictators in those countries. Others like Thomas Friedman blamed it partly on drought or climate change for driving the people away from land to the cities. Yet for all the blaming going on there is really no solution in sight and the article ends with pessimism for the region, with maybe some hope those who escaped to Germany or next generation emigrated there.
For someone like me who have lived in U.S. for over 55 years and obsessively read all the news happening around the world, this is not really news and conclusions obvious. Yet there is one item all seem to miss when discussing China or Middle east.
In the song “East is Red”, Mao is a great savior of the people. People in West think it’s propaganda, yet they will be really offended if you question about Jesus Christ being a savior. Similarly present day government in China wants to down play the role of Mao, while others wants to demonize him by blaming CR on him. Mao, like Marx is a man ahead of his time. Without him there is really no new China. Middle East, Islam, lack a man like Mao, who can reform Islam and bring it from the Middle Age to modernity as Mao did to China, or Martin Luther did to bring Christianity. Mao said, women are half the sky, and Islam will never be modern without the women being equal.

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Where have all the Flowers/Heroes gone?

June 29th, 2016 5 comments

Growing up in the 60s with all the music from Beatles to Rock’ n ‘Rolls, I gravitate more to folk songs by Pete Seeger and Joan Baez. The song “Where have all the flowers gone” is always one of my favorites. Today with the younger generation or millennials questioning all the values, knocking all heroes from their pedestals, decry all politicians for their failure to be authentic, worshipping only make believe super heroes from Marvel Comics or movies like “Star Wars”, or even feeling the Bern of Bernie Sanders, I wonder whether they carried their cynicism too far. Two recent movies by HBO, “Confirmation” and “Going All the Way”, About Anita Hill and Lyndon Johnson, both affected politics in U.S. very much for the last 50 years, generated excellent reviews, but little resonance to the market place.
This phenomenon of questioning everything seem to be infecting China also. Yesterday I read an article from NYT (Sinosphere), “Chinese Court Orders Apology Over Challenge to Tale of Wartime Heroes”. Mr. Hong Zhenkuai questioned the validity of narrative of 5 martyrs of Langya Mountain, on whether they really jumped or slipped, or whether many Japanese were killed or just injured during the engagement. There were others in Weibo questioning other heroes during the Korea War. I wrote a comment back;
“Does it really matter whether any Japanese died there? Does it matter that someone else was identified as raising the flag in Okinawa? Mr. Hong is not really interested in debunking the narrative of 5 martyrs, he’s more interested in debunking the whole narrative of Chinese Revolution. For that he should be more than required to apologize for defamation, maybe expelled to U.S. for a faculty position in Ivy League.”
This questioning of war time heroes generated large backlashes in China from the left, not only on the specific questions, but also on the economic reform of the last 35 years, whether China is on the correct path, and of course the historical evaluation of Mao and Cultural Revolution.

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http://www.zgsddh.cn/山丹丹红网

May 26th, 2016 3 comments

Living in U.S. does pose a problem on information. You can access information on everyone and everything by googling. You might get thousands of entries and don’t know where to go. The problem on information about China is more acute. There are the official western media such as NY Times and Washington Post where the emphasis is slanted toward so called human rights and dissidents. Then there are the Chinese official governmental outlets such as People’s Daily and Global Times or even CCTV America where certain topics just don’t get covered. The above quoted website now gives a Maoist perspective you normally will not see anywhere. It will criticize past/present leaderships and policies that normally get censored in Weibo and internet. I am unable to copy this article on comparing policies from Deng, to Jiang, to Hu, and to Xi here, but just the link below.
http://www.zgsddh.cn/List.asp?ID=8972
The only drawback is it’s a Chinese website, so you need to read Chinese unless you can google translate it. The motto of the website I managed to copy below.
史诗——《毛泽东颂》

毛泽东思想,是人民需要的思想,不是贵族需要的思想。因此,人民拥护,贵族反对,是正常的。目前在泛泛红色网站里,最能深化主席思想的,最能触动社会本质的,自然是山丹丹红网。——宇太 你从飞雪迎春的天地里走来,梅花是你的笑容,松柏是你的身影;你在桂菊争奇的季节里离去,星辰是你的坐标,日月是你的象征;你从飞雪迎春的天地里走来,蓝天是你的情怀,大地是你的忠魂;你在桂菊争奇的季节里离去,民心……[详细

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CR+50

May 10th, 2016 14 comments

The Western media has been relatively quiet about China except some sabre rattling on South China Sea. There are the usual noises about the collapse of China, hard landing on Chinese economy, and so called human rights violations. Europe has been preoccupied by the Syrian refugees and Greek economic crisis. U.S. has the theater of absurd of quadrennial election and “The Game of Throne” to deal with. But the question of income inequality affects everyone in the world now, more than climate change which probably will not be felt until 50 years from now. The rise of Sanders and Trump is very much a reaction to income stagnation in U.S.. It is a question China has downplayed and trying to avoid, but recent events may yet force it to the forefront. I am talking here about a little known concert in the Hall of People on May 2, which Chinese media ignored, and the reactions to it.
The concert “The Hope in the Meadow” consists 56 young girls in chorus singing various old standard Red Songs, such as “Sailing Seas depends on Helmsman”, and recent ones showing reverence for Xi Jinping such as “How Do We Name You?”. In a open letter written by Ma Xiaoli around May 7, who is a so called second generation Red Princessling to General Office of Chinese Communist Party Central Committee accuse of it being trying to revive CR, blacken Xi, and in general violated the party rule against personality cult. It generated debates from liberals who feel threatened and furious counterattacks from the left who not only defend it from free speech point of view, but broaden it to linking the ongoing corruption investigations and income inequality, to actual attacks on Deng Xiaoping’s family linking them to corruption. I was amazed to read all those commentaries in May 8, but everything was deleted on May 9, except some links from Hong Kong and other overseas sites.
Ma Xiaoli was one of former Red Guards who apologized for their actions during CR. In exchange of letters with Luo Diandian in Jan 2016, they both expanded their views that CR need to be open up exorcised. They used the De-Nazification of Germany and Truth Commission of South Africa as examples. They are both well educated and obviously sincere in their remorse. They acknowledge their parents were not just the victims, but maybe partly responsible for the policies leading to CR. Although they show disdain for the peasant background of Chinese revolutionaries and implied criticism of Mao, I do not condemn them for their petit-bourgeoisie tendencies, of their dismissing their critics as “Fifty-cents Maoists”, but sincerely hope they can read my critique of their views.
I was a college student in U.S. during the CR, in danger of flunking out and losing my scholarship, yearning to join the Red Guards. Instead because of the draft I elected to join the Army Signal Corps to avoid infantry. I watched the unfolding of CR in U.S. and Viet Nam. During the years I read all the horrors happening. I may not have personally experienced them as actual victim, but having read “Lord of the Flies”, I can imagine young idealists became disillusioned with the revolution. Yet I still consider myself a Marxist and have a high opinion of Mao.

In Kurasawa’s film “Rashomon”, there are different telling of actual events that differ wildly. In analyzing CR, there are personal view, historical view, Western view, and Chinese view. Ms. Ma and Luo and a whole generation may have suffered, but what are they compare to the sweep of history? I certainly disagree vehemently with their characterization with events of WW2 or apartheid. Xi Jinping has said that you can’t separate the 30 years of early People’s Republic with the later 30 years, they are inextricably linked, not to mention the history of last 150 years, or 2,000 years. Those second generation Red Princelings may be victims during CR, but they are also the beneficiaries now and part of the 1% or 0.1%. They fear any return of chaos or new CR. I do favor opening up discussions of CR, but to learn lessons for the future, not to assign blames. The war against tigers and flies has been going on since Xi became General secretary. I remember in the 1950s when I borrowed my uncle’s monthly party booklet there were always juicy news about the downfall of various party secretaries for corruption. I think Mao was aware the need to purify the party and initiated various movements which resulted in CR. Mao may be impatient to change human nature and released forces beyond his control. Like the first emperor of Qin, he may be revile by some, but also history will honor him.

Xi Jinping may face pushback on his fight against corruption, as vested interests feel threatened, but the popularity of red songs and reverence for Mao demonstrated that egalitarianism is an ideal finding fertile ground not only in China, but the phenomenon of Sanders and Trump, and the rebellion against income inequality might become unstoppable even in U.S.. After all, the Chinese National Anthem and Internationale are also red songs.

 

 

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Trump vs Hillary

May 4th, 2016 4 comments

Now that Indiana has spoken, we’ll have 6 months of theater in U.S. until November election. As a Chinese American I do not look at the election on whether it’s good for China or not. Some may feel Trump is a blowhard, while Hillary will press China harder on human rights and South China Sea, but I feel Trump will accelerate the decline for U.S. and will be a danger for U.S. and the rest of the world.
Thomas Frank recently wrote a new book “Listen Liberals”, that excoriates Democratic Party for drifting away from the base of labor and middle class in favor of professional class and elites. He sees the rise of Trump and Sanders as a reaction to the inequality. His critique of meritocracy I think applies equally to what’s happening in China. Xi Jinping recently visited various old rural communist bases and emphasize the need to elevate the poor and purify the party. He very much is aware of the pitfalls of corruption and privilege by directing the military from disengaging in commerce and profits. The recent scandal and investigation of Baidu and military hospital is really overdue.
Chinese tradition of respect for the elders is a Confucian virtue. Last year when I visited Shanghai, and was standing in a subway train, I was offered a seat by a young student which I smiley declined. Recently I read a debate on Weibo about an elderly woman going on a long distance bus with standing tickets as all seats were sold out, she was sick and going to a hospital with her daughter. A young woman demanded her seat as she paid for the seat and refused to share it. She was upbraided by the daughter after someone else offered the seat and the episode was debated online whether she was right to demand the seat. I was somewhat surprised that half go by the legal right argument.
Whether Trump will triumph in November is minor compare what China will be. Despite all the negative prognosticators I think China is going in the right direction, and hopefully the younger generation can learn to takeover.

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