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CA106

July 14th, 2018 No comments

On July 10, CA flight 106 was involved in a incident which cause the flight to suddenly descend due to oxygen level decrease. It was caused by smoking of e-cigarette by copilot and error in turning off recirculation fan. Resulting deployment of oxygen masks for passengers caused widespread publicity and investigation. The flight crew was faulted and resulted in their firing. guancha.cn has a couple of articles by civilian aviation commentator on the incident and reactions by the readers are instructive. Certainly we in the West consider incidents like this as a no-no. There were incidents in Western airlines that pilots drank before flight and barred from flights and fired, and we can quote incidents like the disappearance of Malaysian airline, or the German flight when the pilot committed suicide to show others can be faulted too. Yet I find this incident demonstrates problems endemic in China and needs addressing seriously.
According to the analyst, smoking by flight crew in China is widely known and rarely dealt with until incidents like this happens. If this is widely known, why is this not dealt immediately to prevent it from happening again? Why subordinates do not intervene or report such violations to relevant authorities? If zero tolerance policies are really employed this type of incident should not be known to everyone working in civil aviation. I have traveled in Chinese airports where smoking ban was rarely enforced. With surveillance everywhere it should not be difficult to see if someone is violating the rule. Smoking ban is seriously enforced in high speed trains and should be enforced everywhere.
We read about stories about corruption involving hundreds of millions of dollars again and again. I know it’s difficult and time is needed to change a culture of corruption or obedience to superior, and Xi is trying to install honesty and promote good officials, but we have to start on little things like smoking and pollution, then hopefully governance and corruption will eventually follow.

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Immigration

July 5th, 2018 No comments

The recent ICE enforcement of immigration law by separating children from parents seeking asylum generating headline news, yet people are pretty evenly divided on whether immigration should be curtailed. I myself was an immigrant. My father was a seaman in merchant shipping stranded in U.S. when Chinese revolution occurred. He eventually became a U.S. citizen, and my mother and I applied to leave China and did arrive in New York by way of Hong Kong. I do have sympathy for those fleeing untenable situations in Middle East or Central America. Yet I never liked the political policies granting Chinese green cards for claiming persecution because of the “One Child” policy, or the citizenship by being born in U.S. which generating pregnant women coming to give birth here in U.S., and certainly Cubans granting Carte Blanche because of politics grated on me.
During the 60s there were discussions on the question of brain drain. Colonialism drains the resources, mineral, agricultural produces, and human resources from the colonies. U.S. may not formally has colony, but the siphoning of human talents like doctors, nurses, or scientists which impoverish developing countries to the advantage of U.S. proceeds unabated. China made the decision that modernization effort requires the sending of millions of students to the West for acquiring modern science and willing to pay the price of high percentage of losses to attractions of money and power. China has developed to the point now a good percentages of talents are returning and competing against West. Capitalism requires open border for attracting talents with money and H1B visas to power its engine, in addition it needs some to do dirty works none of its citizens are willing to work for low pay as in farm and service works. The brain drain not only operates from periphery to center, it also applies within the country. So we see those small towns losing young people to big cities. Recent articles in NYT on small town losing its only school and doctors. It generates a pushback against immigration that powers the Trump phenomenon.
The dilemma faced by U.S., needing immigrants yet politically not viable is not easy to solve. I recently traveled South and found labor shortage acute, almost every restaurant with help wanted signs, within restaurants due to ICE sweeps service are spotty with manager doing the work of a busboy clearing tables. I await the time when the Trump Wall will be in full effect.

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Stuyvesant HS

June 14th, 2018 1 comment

NYT last weekend has 2 opinions, pro and con on mayor DiBlasi’s attempt to change the admission standards for elite high schools in NYC. It’s standard arguments by liberal intelligentsia on both sides trying to be reasonable, yet totally missing the point. The fact is student population at Stuyvesant is less than 5% African American, and more than 60 % Asian, or more precisely, more than 50% Chinese American. I myself have mixed feelings on this topic, as I attended a public HS in the early 60s that’s 75% Blacks and Puerto Ricans and still managed to get in an Ivy League school. My son attended Stuyvesant and hated it with the 3 hours round trip commuting and lack of sleep, and I regretted pushing him to attend it.

The conflict pits Chinese American community against African American and Hispanic communities with charges of discrimination, quotas, and diversity arguments flying back and forth. Obvious it has implication on the Ivy League schools’ admission policy with regard to the limits on Chinese students. I am in favor of some form of affirmative action as China do by adding 20 points to minority nationality students in their college entrance exams and actively trying to eliminate poverty in those areas. The question here is why the education system here is failing students except in some of the elite schools? It’s certainly not the financing or teachers per se. If we go into the deeper reasons, whether it be income inequality, residential segregation, family values, or residual effects of slavery, we can’t avoid going into the big elephant in the room, Capitalism and profit motive, which nobody wants to touch. Liberals are losing to Trumpism by emphasizing politically correctness, standing on high ground and looking down on the deplorables while losing the cultural war.

DiBlasi’s proposal whether it passes the state legislatures will not solve the problem, but it will visually soothe some feelings while structurally left the system in tact. Chinese parents can easily skirt it by enrolling their children in low performing middle schools and saving them a bundle by not needing those cram courses, and they will automatically be granted entry to elite schools being in the top 10%.  10 years from now there will be another outcry on why elite schools are still predominantly Chinese and new proposals restricting enrollments to neighborhood middle schools or segregation will be enacted.

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Soft Power

June 4th, 2018 1 comment

China has started the ambitious “China 2025” to challenge U.S. dominance in technology. The U.S. has responded by throttling ZTE and showing the bottle neck in semiconductors. This action only reinforce the need for independence and accelerates the drive. The fact that West is always cognizant of Chinese threat and various events has delayed that response. Certainly 9/11 and 2008 financial meltdown gave China extra 17 years to face the reaction. The neocons were ready to target China over the spy plane incident when 9/11 diverted it to anti-terrorism. 2008 financial meltdown caused emphasis on strengthening economy and Wall Street.
China has used the intervening years well, from building the “Great Fire Wall”, enlarging the South China Sea Islands, to elevating Xi Jinping as leader with vision for future. Some may disagree with GFW for censorship and disrupting free communications. Yet censorship is necessary for filtering out harmful diseases like greed, pornography, and ideology detrimental to harmonic society we aspire. Certainly elites or scientists have no problem accessing internet by jumping through GFW with minor delay. The South China Sea assertion of sovereignty is important in limiting U.S. Seventh Fleet on encroaching on Chinese sea coast and expanding Chinese naval presence. And we only need to compare the biography of Xi and the accomplishments of last 5 years with Trump’s disasters to see the opposite directions of 2 countries. China has sent hundreds of thousands of students to Western countries annually in investing for the future. Yet the return is not that obvious when without inoculating them against hostile ideology and values, many become infected and turned against her.
The liberal values of Ivy League colleges portrayed U.S. as freedom loving, free thinking, without giving any historical contexts. One good thing about Trump’s ascension is open the façade of humanism in Capitalism. Historically we have Rockefellers, Fords, or Carnegies, having philanthropical foundations ameliorating the worst aspects of Capitalism, but now Trump has make racism, white superiority, and immigrant bashing if not totally respectable, at least publicly bearable. The liberals always hide behind the “Constitution”, “Lady Liberty”, or “Founding Fathers”, to divert any criticism against Capitalism. Americans are always proud of their exceptionalism, that we did not participate in colonialism as Europeans did, discounting Puerto Rico and Philippines. Yet the 2 greatest crimes against humanity occurred in U.S.. That’s the extermination of Native Americans and slavery. We sent Native Americans blankets infected with small pox as gifts and celebrate Thanksgiving as historical drama of Native Americans helping Pilgrims to survive. We make “The Rule of Law” a mockery by tearing up hundreds of treaties whenever we need their land for farming, or oil, or gold is discovered in their barren reservations. The Constitution was a compromise that treated slaves as subhuman and the resulting effect on society I do not need to belabor other than China eliminated slavery 2,500 years ago.
China has been establishing Confucian Institutes around the world to push soft power Chinese values, and even that minimal goings face push back by West. I do think China’s education ministry should require a course of Chinese and American history before allowing students to go to West for higher learning. I learned Opium Wars in grade school and “Brain Washed” to not touch drugs even when it makes me socially awkward in refusing a joint. The soft power push should start at home and young. I think the recent offerings at CCTV on “Reading Aloud”, second season, which gave interviews to people having a story to tell before letting them recite from books or poems is great in soft power education.

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Karl Marx

May 5th, 2018 1 comment

Today is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx. China celebrated it by a 2 parts TV documentary ( Marx Forever) of his life and a speech by President Xi Jinping attended by all politburo members. I am of course familiar with Marx and Marxism as I attended schools in the 50s in China, yet I was not that knowledgeable about his life until I saw the documentaries, and I was deeply moved by his life story. During the 60s when I attended college, there was a short revival of Marxism in the West because of the intersection of civil rights and anti-war protests. Due to the backlash against the excesses of Cultural Revolution and the economic liberalization in the 90s, China generally moved away from Marxism and ideology and I felt estranged even though I felt proud of China’s achievements. Now Xi has returned to the root of Marxism as China proclaims to the world of Socialism with Chinese characteristics. I feel rejuvenated by the positive activities happening in China, from the poetry competitions, folk songs, reevaluations of Chinese histories and philosophies, to hopefully, a more even evaluation of the first 30 years of People’s Republic.
The media in the West such as NYT has been evolving from openly hostile to grudgingly acceptance and taking pot shots instead. They recruit people like Helen Gao to write columns that really irritates me. I guess she can be described as part of the second generation of rich or/and official families who benefits from China’s rise. I look up her profile, going from Beijing University attached high school to Deerfield Academy, Yale, East Asian Studies of Harvard, and presently working in a think tank in Beijing. She embraces the liberal ideology that’s very much part of the Ivy League schools. The most recent column she bemoans the loss of investigative reporting such as championed by Southern Weekly and indirectly attacks the corruption which she thinks Xi unable to attack structurally. She didn’t really think through whether investigative reporting is declining in U.S., after all it took 20-30 years before Weinstein and Crosby are dethroned, and now someone like Trump triumphs here. I think people like her should have read Marx’s high school graduating speech on what career choice one should make upon leaving the school. It was a moving speech on devoting one to the rest of humanity. She probably discount recent news of reversal of 2 high profile murder cases where innocent men were executed for rape and murder during the 90s, and government admitted errors and paid compensation to their families, while in U.S., wrongfully murdered men and lynching victims stand witness in the recently opened museum in Birmingham.

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Korea

April 21st, 2018 13 comments

Living in U.S. one can’t help but be aware of the biases and distorted views against China, but for the hermit kingdom it must be 10 times more so. We’ll probably not know why North Korea started the peace offensive for a while, whether China joining in enforcing UN sanctions push them over the edge? The defector crossing with worms in his bowel, the dead fishermen found in boats drifting to Japanese islands, the nuclear testing mountain might has collapsed under the repeated tests, or even the bluster of Trump threatening nuclear preemptive strike. But one thing is certain, the coming meeting between Trump and Kim will determine war and peace, not only in Korea peninsula, but the world in general.
For Donald Trump, under assaults by Stormy and Mueller, it will be a welcome distraction from his travails. It will showcase his showmanship of deal making with a Nobel Peace Prize in grasp if he can pull it off. The question is whether the deep state will allow him the luxury of starting to dismantle the empire. Trump campaigned to make America great again, a more isolationist foreign policy with allies paying a major share of the burden of empire, but if peace reigns in Northeast Asia, what possible justification will there be for maintaining troops in South Korea, or for that matter in Germany or Britain?
For North Korea, the dream is always a strong unified Korea. They have pay a price of tightened bellies to achieve nuclear weapons and missiles. Yet U.S. will not tolerate the threat implicit in it and in danger of spiraling out of control to all out war. A peace treaty guaranteeing their survival and eventual conciliation with South Korea. South Korea with their economy showing North they can also achieve it with peace. For South Korea living under the gun from North this is an opportunity they can’t afford to miss. They might not want to incur the cost West Germany did to absorb East, but gradual improved relation and offers of help they can certainly afford. As relation warms up, eventually they will feel the burden and indignity of U.S. troops and demand their withdrawal.
For China this is win-win. A nuclear free Korea is China’s goal all along. China wants friendly neighbors whether a unified Vietnam or Korea. China do not want to annex other countries as portrayed by West. West don’t understand for China, space is the frontier.

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Trump

March 24th, 2018 4 comments

I wrote before the election why I prefer Hillary over Trump because she will be a competent leader managing the slow decline of American Empire, while Trump will be an incompetent megalomania accelerating the decline and endangering the world. Now after more than a year into his presidency, his incompetence is in full display, and his danger to the world is worrying everyone from liberals to conservatives in Washington. With Bolton, a super hawk as his new security advisor, Pompeo, heading the State Department, with Iran nuclear deal to be undone by May, possible ultimatum meeting with Kim soon, war with both Iran and North Korea not only possible, but probable, and trade war with China pales into insignificance.
I agree with pundits that all those moves may be distractions of the nets closing on Trump, from Mueller investigation, from Stormy and her coming revelations on “60 Minutes”, or even the salacious elements from Steel Dossiers which nobody took it serious before. Yet I can’t shake the feeling of doom those old Hollywood movies used to make me laugh becoming reality, “Manchurian Candidate”, “Wag the Dog”, and “Dr. Strangelove”.
Certainly Trump took the deep state by surprise by agreeing to meet Kim Jong-in. Yet unless U.S. agrees to dismantle the empire by no longer threaten the existence of North Korea by signing a peace agreement, in which case troops in South Korea and Japan cease to have any purpose, I don’t see the meeting other than an ultimatum by Trump and will go no where. Trump may has vilified Hillary’s vote on Iraq and call Iraq War a mistake, but he now has hired the architect of Iraq War, Bolton, and defense spending is going up by double digit percentages to “Make America Great Again”. Kim maybe forced by China enforcing the UN sanctions, his failing economy, lack of oil, his people’s starving to make the offer. His sincerity is actually irrelevant, but I don’t see him surrender to U.S. on that ultimatum. For China, a denuclearized Korea is in her interest, and China is doing her best to make it become a reality, but she should be prepared for the worst.

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On the Question of Term Limit

March 10th, 2018 5 comments

Recent announcement of the revision of Chinese constitution removing term limit for President and Vice President generated a lot of commotion in the Western press and some opposition from small group of intellectuals, mostly liberals, human right lawyers, and some with bad memories from Cultural Revolution. The superficial reflexes are it’s bad for China, Lord Acton’s maxim, “Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.”, and Xi wants to be the next Mao. Instead of suppressing the opposition I would like to examine the issue here on the merits of the criticisms.
The question whether it’s good or bad for China obvious only history can answer. For all we know Xi may decide after this term is over that he has found his successor and retire. FDR got elected for 4 terms because he felt with the war emergency it would be disruptive to change administration. China is at present in middle of war against corruption, consolidation of socialism values, and achieving China Dream. Xi may feel the need to push ahead to lay the foundation for the victory. If we pay attention on Xi’s speech, ” 功成不必在我”, he doesn’t consider he or any leader is essential for the success of socialism. For western reporters claiming it will be bad for China smack of arrogance like colonialists claiming colonialism is good for those colonies because they bring civilization to those unenlightened. For they always proclaim China will collapse and now feel it will be bad for China is the height of hypocrisy.
As for Lord Acton’s maxim, there is certain truth in it, but by no means all. For what is power? Which has no intrinsic value of good or evil, it’s the imperfect human being wielding power that tends to corrupt. Nuclear power can generate electricity for masses or nuclear weapons can kill millions. Who has absolute power? For Christians, it’s the almighty God. Do we infer since God has absolute power, he is by definition corrupt absolutely and is the Devil?
As for Xi wants to be Mao, the implied criticism is Mao was bad, but overwhelming majority of Chinese consider Mao as the founding father of China, a great man, and revered by Chinese. He may have make some errors impatient to change human nature. Some whom suffered during CR may blame him for their wounds. Do Americans blame George Washington for slavery? I am sure some American Indians and African Americans would.

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Spring Gala, Race, and Cultural Brain Washing

February 24th, 2018 11 comments

During the recent spring gala on CCTV1, one episode portraying friendship between China and Africa caused some backlashes mostly from liberals and America educated Chinese students on whether China was insensitive or was racism. To me it’s instructive that actually it shows the U.S. centric view on culture and the brain washing or propaganda that most are unaware.
To be abhorrent of blackface argument one must know its history rather than accept it without understanding and then condemn it. In U.S., especially South, mixing of blacks and whites in social settings were discouraged if not unlawful until late 1950s. There were separate bathrooms for different races, blacks have to move to the rear of buses in public transportations. Vaudeville shows using black faces to portrait black characters to avoid hiring real black actors. So use of black faces in movies, especially better paying roles by whites were normal. Othello were played by white actors in the movies until 1995. Paul Robeson was the only exception playing Othello in theatres before 1960. This is why black face is a symbol of discrimination in U.S.. It was different in Europe where black singers and actors perform with acclaim. In Africa, white men playing black doesn’t exist and certainly is a cause for laughter than insult.
Of course some Chinese in U.S. being under constant cultural brain washing also inherit the same narrative of viewing blacks as lower class. preferring white as a standard of beauty, social class, and intelligence. As for China herself, the preference of whiter skin has everything to do with class. Those working in the field under the sun have darker skins than those indoor or under parasols.
China as Xi stated want to contribute to a better world and help African countries to be developed by building up their infrastructures. West can only seen from their own perspective that everything has to do with profit motive, so China must has ulterior motive. As anyone who knows “Journey to the West”, that monkey king is a positive character and not like in West a derogatory term of subhuman. Furthermore it was revealed it was played by a Chinese actor. As for the black woman she need to be fluent in Mandarin to convey the meaning of the skit. It certainly would be more racism to be portrayed by someone who is black speaking in halting Chinese.
It’s unfortunate those liberals brainwashed in U.S., and taking offense in anything Chinese government trying to do, whether aiding Africa, eliminating poverty at home, or fighting corruption from their lens of so called phony human rights.

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China, U.S., and the World.

February 10th, 2018 1 comment

After living in U.S. for a long time, I am still surprised by the ignorance of Americans toward China. Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised giving they did elect a semiliterate ignoramus Trump as president and most of them are ignorant of American history, not to mention Chinese history. Yet those CIA analysts and those from academia continue to display arrogance and predicting China’s demise or threat, What cause this blindness as China is vaulting ahead of U.S. in economy and science? There were many people predicting China’s rise correctly. I will enumerate those as examples, Joseph Needham ( Science and Civilization in China ), Martin Jacques ( When China Rules the World ), Edgar Snow ( Red Star over China ), and William Hinton (Fanshen ).

What differs these people from the so called China experts and even those reporters stationed in China for a while are the understanding of Chinese history and the value system. For those reporters took away from what President Xi of China spoke on the 19th Party Congress was mostly the length than the content of his speech. For those educated in the West the most important value are “Rights”, “Freedom”, and “Individual”. For Chinese they are “Obligation”, “Harmony”, and “Society”. They view China from their own perspective and thus unable to understand China. For them human rights in abstract such as superficial view of voting and slogan of democracy are paramount, while belittling the real human right to food, shelter, and health. They disregard the meritocracy of China as exemplified by Xi’s biography compared with the rise of Trump which reveals the bankruptcy of liberal democracy. So called freedom and individualism isolate people in their struggle for survival with opioid epidemic to ameliorate their physical and mental pains. The rights are meaningless when structural blocks such as gerrymandering and electoral college belies 1 man, 1 vote mantra. China has abandoned slavery 2,500 years ago and evolved social relations as obligation to society and each other. Xi’s lifting all Chinese out of poverty by 2020 is achievable comparing with Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty which is receding in U.S..

As China’s 1 Belt, 1 Road initiative gathers steam and shows the world a better path to prosperity than the failed Washington Consensus, I think we should recognize China is not a threat but necessary ingredient for world peace. I would like to make certain predictions on China’s relation to her neighbors which is exaggerated as threats by Western Press.

  1. If India is willing to overcome feeling of humiliation and settle border on the basis of line of control, China will oblige and accept McMahon line.
  2. China will negotiate with Vietnam and Philippine on South China Sea on status quo and joint development.
  3. Forget about any change in Tibet or Xinjiang. With climate changes making water more important than oil, China will continue water diversion south to north, from Tibetan plateau to irrigate desserts in Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia. Migration will continue from East to West, and separatism sentiment will disappear as in U.S..
  4. China is not interested in lands or resources of her neighbors. China never has, but setting her sights to moon and outer space.

As Xi said, China is building toward socialism which is certainly a threat to western Capitalism, but on peaceful competition. West sees China as a threat because they can’t imagine China not using her power as West has been doing for the last 200 years. Thus U.S. is both over estimating China’s military threat and under estimating China’s peaceful ambitions.

 

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Being There

January 5th, 2018 No comments

After the deluge of tweets by Donald Trump after the New Year one can’t help but questioning not only his qualification as the leader of U.S. presidency, but his sanity. Those so called serious people in DC no longer call out President Xi as authoritarian, and U.S. president as symbol of democracy, but avoid the comparison totally. Foreign leaders are now embarrassed and frightened to be associated with him and hoping Mueller will save the day. The situation reminded me of a movie I saw from 1979, “Being There”, starring Peter Sellers so much, that I ordered from On Demand and watched it again.

The movie was a satire of American politics and politicians, that people in poverty as the camera panned across downtown Washington DC of the homeless and jobless young African Americans, while Chauncey Gardner, an imbecile former gardener walked among them with the background music of “2001, A Space Odyssey”, signaling the dawning of a new age. He accidentally became avatar of the rich, his utterances became pearls of wisdom, with a blank page which people wrote their own biases and desires. The black humor of him being unable to read or write but relied on TV for wisdom is peerless now that we have Trump being essentially the same except the contrast of innocence with evil today. It is life imitates art with an evil twist that no one could have predicted it became reality, except probably what the black maid Louise said in the movie, “What white people with no brain can do, maybe become president”. The movie ends with Mr. Gardner walking away over the water as if he’s Christ.

I was saying before the election that Trump if elected will be a disaster and accelerate the decline of American empire. Events since then has validated my view. Yet while this has been good for China, we should not underestimate the danger it poses for the world. After all, 1/3 of U.S. wants the nuclear preemption war against North Korea, it’s probably higher in the military, with Trump in desperation and senility we may see it yet. I myself have no sympathy for the Kim Dynasty, and China probably has no more danger beyond the radiation fallout and refugee camps, but still the thought of millions dead nauseates me.

 

 

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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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