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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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..
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Edward Snowden has revealed that U.S. spies on everyone around the world, for Chinese Americans, citizens or just green card holders this comes as doubly given, and especially those in STEM fields or sensitive jobs like military this will be triply true. Expect you would have your phone listen in and any communications with foreigners whether in China or Taiwan documented.
Recently there were a bunch of cases of presumed espionage arrests of Chinese American scientists but prosecutions dropped afterward for insufficient or false evidences. Dr. Xiaoxing Xi of Temple University, Shuyu Li, and a few others. Here I quote from Google,
“Chris Kang, president of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), said the FBI has arrested and later released five Asian-American scientists in the last year alone. “I don’t know if it’s a series of good faith mistakes or not,” Kang said. “But at the very least, we are seeing a pattern of disturbing behavior.”
For details you can just google under “Chinese American scientists arrested for espionage” and you can read them for yourself. As for Lt. Cmdr. Edward C Lin., from what I read from today’s NYT, he was seeing some girlfriend other than his wife, maybe even a prostitute, probably from Taiwan, they can’t tie her with China yet, probably something about his job, maybe he was complaining about his tedious work at sea, doing surveillance work on P-8, and got pick up by FBI microphone. Unlike former CIA director Petronius who revealed classified information to his mistress, Lin is not likely to get away scot free.
I myself was investigated by FBI after I naively wrote a letter addressed to Chinese Embassy in Washington D.C. in Chinese expressing my admiration for what China has achieved and inquired information on how to get a visa to visit China immediately after the establishment of diplomatic relations. I have a secret clearance for my job in Alaska, and 2 weeks later a charter aircraft flew in with an FBI agent to interview me. Nothing came off it, but I am sure if I use the Freedom of Information Act I can probably access a thick file of my activities for the last 40 years.
I grown up in the 60s in U.S., a turbulent time, of Vietnam War and accompanying protests, a rebellious time against stifling conformity of the 50s, sexual liberation and feminism, music of folk songs and rocks, civil right protests and marches, and idealism from far left nihilism to far right Ayn Rand libertarianism. Even Marxism was in vogue for a while. Over the years hippies transformed to Yuppies, and Reagan democrats reigned in politics. In China, Cultural Revolution caused upheavals and accompanying reactions and backlashes. The economic growth in China during the last 35 years were dramatic, lifting more than hundreds of millions if not billion people out of poverty. Yet I worry that whether China will go the path of the West, with the value of Marx and Mao receding back become irrelevant.
I was comforted by Xi’s policy against corruption and purifying the party during the last 3 years. Now I am gladdened that the new generation is picking up the torch and rediscovering Marx as exemplified by this article in guancha.cn, a rap song by name probably a Mongolian minority girl.
Cause we both won’t give up till we die
Cause we both won’t give up till we die
马克思已经不是 plan B（备用方案）
（You’re gonna listen to me ）（听我说）
Cause we both won’t give up till we die（到死也不会放弃）
九零后（yeah） 从此以后（you know）
we both won’t give up till we die（我们不会放弃到死）
and this song will never die （whoo）（这首歌也永远不会死）
For those who can’t read Chinese I will try to translate the last stanza here.
Like a lonesome canoe floating between mountain hollow.
Struggling against all for truth.
Like him whom hates all evil.
Like him whom disdain power.
Marx is a 90s youth.
It is frequently claimed that Winston Churchill once said “democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others”. Now that Donald Trump is on the verge of locking up the nomination as Republican candidate for POTUS, and U.S. surely is on the cusp to become fascist if he wins the nomination and the resulting election, I wonder if that statement should remove the qualifier. One TV commentator said in a daze when analyzing the Nevada cuscus that Republican Party just suffered a hostile takeover. I wonder whether U.S. will have a willing takeover as Germany did in 1932 by Adolf Hitler. Some may consider my sentiment alarmist, but given the angers from both the right and left exemplified by Trump and Sanders and the high turnouts in those primaries I think my worries may become nightmare. Let’s enumerate the promises flowed from Trump, build a wall on the border to Mexico and Mexico better pay for it, deport 12 million illegal aliens. 35% tariffs of goods from China, take oils from Iraq and maybe Iran for U.S. military expenses in Middle East, and I am sure soon will be threats against China. Surely those campaign promises are meaningless, or are they? And I thought I am too old to worry about climate warming which will raise sea levels 20 feet in a few hundred years.
I remember in early 1960s, I read a book of short stories of science fiction from Eastern Europe in which one portrayed the future of mankind as one bloated capitalist lamenting that he owned everything with robots manufacturing products which no one can afford to buy, in fact the planet is dying with him as the last one. I also read the Michael Lewis book “The Big Short”, in which few have any idea of the coming mortgage failures which triggered the 07-08 financial crisis.
This January the stock markets in U.S. are in turmoil. It’s estimated more than $2 trillion in wealth were lost. This also comes as a complete surprise to all experts. Some economists and market analysts blamed it on China, Chinese stock market, oil price drop, while others consider it normal and totally unreasonable, that is clueless. And the confusion extends to politics. On one hand Donald Trump dominating the Republican polls, with him wanting to impose 45% tariffs on Chinese imports, build a wall to keep out Mexicans and Muslims. On the other hand Bernie Sanders threatening to impose socialism policies on Wall Street and the polls have him leading Hillary Clinton on the Democrats. With Iowa Caucus 10 days away, how do we connect the dots to make any sense?
Marx in his analysis of Capital foretold the struggle between capital and labor, the spreading chasm between rich and poor, the income inequality, globalization, extraction of surplus value from labor and nature to the detriment of both, and eventually the lack of investment opportunities and diminishing return with profit as motive. Now that his predictions seem to all come to pass one by one. Wages for U.S. workers have been stagnant for the last 40 years. Supreme Court is about to deal a crippling blow to government labor unions by making union due check off no longer mandatory in those few states that allow them. People are angry and turn both to right and left. Despite some positive responses to $15 minimum wages in some cities, I suspect U.S. may be turned to billionaires ruling directly rather than proxy as Trump triumphs.
New York Times editorial board published an editorial this morning trying to give advice that’s so laughable and I immediately wrote a comment to rebut them.
“I think NYT should have more editorials about the direction of U.S. economy and government policies than China’s. What you complain about China doesn’t really hold water.
1. Despite the trigger of stock market breakers, the Shanghai stock composite at the beginning of 2016 is little changed compare with beginning of 2015, and compare with SP500 at U.S., the performance is similar.
2. Paul Krugman has been complaining of under stimulation in U.S.. The package is insufficient for generating higher growth in U.S.. Now the high speed trains in China might not generate sufficient return in dollars. It has generated social functions unimaginable by your editorial writers. It has knitted the country together in a closer entity with reasonable fares for internal tourism. I wish U.S. has similar trains instead of all the potholes in the highways.
3. China has plenty of weapons to tackle the higher debt compare to U.S.. She can use the QE to reduce the debt cost. Unlike U.S., now with interest rate rising and debt cost rising. Of course the transition of heavy industries to green energies will take time, but I am sure in 10 years, U.S. will marvel how clean the air of Beijing will be.
4. The so called currency devaluation is more a mirage of U.S. dollar strength than a Yuan weakness. For Yuan compare with basket of currencies used by IMF it actually strengthened. It also is a temporary condition with oil in the $30 range. Don’t expect it will last.”
Space prevent me from making all the points. Here I like to expound more on the question of investing for the future. By orthodox economic theory, investing something like railroad to Tibet makes no economic sense by return of asset. Yet for military, strategic, or the need of people it’s invaluable. The same is true for all the infrastructures of highways and high speed trains. Capitalists count the dollars and cents. Is it profitable to invest in education and health? Republicans here say no, and that’s a debate NYT should be engaging.
With China’s stupendous achievements from the last 35 years it would seem petty to complain about problems accompanies the growth. Yet Xi and his leadership group face some structural problems in reforms necessarily to transform Capitalism to her eventual goal of Socialism. Last month Beijing University named a new building after Karl Marx, and hosted first of hopefully many more conferences of Marx scholars from around the world. Xi has revisited his old home in Yan’an when he was a teenager and invoked Mao’s speech in 1942 in Yan’an Forum on art and literature. There are palpable worries from liberals in the West that Xi might be another Mao in waiting.
Since Xi assumed power, his major focus is on fighting corruption at various levels of government, party, and military. Yet as major cases shown it is not easy as corruption has grown to be integral part of society, intertwined with roots stretching beyond easy reach and facing pushbacks that threaten his own hold on power. Various special interests under the slogan “To be rich is glorious” has married power to money with few immune to the lure of lucre. Xi’s fight against corruption is popular in China, yet it raises unrealistic expectation that threaten the mantra of social stability. An example was the collapse of school buildings during the Szechuan earthquake. It is easy to play the blame game after the fact. Grieving parents together with other public personalities were a powerful force, but can you dig deep enough to affect not only the contractors, but government official and everyone involved? Xi’s solution is trying to contain the investigation of corruption to major ones, a somewhat amnesty for minor past misdeeds and crack down on new or egregious cases. Events seem to expose the inadequacy of this strategy. Tianjin chemical explosions, red alert for smog in Beijing, and now the Shenzhen landslide show that laws is powerless against the collusion of power and money.
I applaud what Xi and his leadership group is attempting. Reducing inequality by health care for everyone, social security for rural farmers, continuing urbanization with household registration open to migrant workers, subsidized and reduced price to sell excess apartments to them, new changes in 1 child policy, reducing military by 300,000 and divorce military from profit and business. Reduce pollution and for a greener less CO2 future, the list is endless and daunting. Compare them with the coming GOP contenders in U.S., where evolution and climate warming are denied, it’s obvious future lies with China. Yet all these will not be possible without a socialist ethic, and Mao looms over it. China has to deal with the legacy of Mao and CR, avoiding or ignoring them will not do. Whatever the positives or negatives must be analyzed and examples learned.
The career of Yu Yonjun is instructive. He rose to became governor of Shanxi province from 2005-2007. He purposed zero growth for coal and steel production there, and closed thousands of small inefficient coal mines which exploited labor and were unsafe. He wanted to protect the environment and made powerful enemies in party bureaucracy and coal barons. He was a most popular governor there, yet he lost his job due to the scandal he exposed in coal mines. I think there are 3-4 more governors there since he left and none were successful. He’s now retired and hired as a professor in a southern university. He gave a series of lectures on CR recently and probably triggered sensitive nerves and called to Beijing for conference.
As a science fiction fan Star Trek was one of my favorite, especially the “Prime Directive” which prohibit interference of other cultures and their developments. Of course it was a doctrine more in violation than its strict adherence since this was entertainment. Recently there was an outcry in Weibo when China joined a few others in voting against an U.N. Assembly motion on Syria. China has been following a Prime Directive like policy in against interference in the internal affairs of other countries. Of course this policy is somewhat defensive and ridiculed by West, but let me expound this a little more here.
China historically has been a non expansionary power. With deserts north, oceans east, mountains west, and south jungles and diseases, China prides in calling herself The Middle Kingdom. Geography maybe a limiting factor, yet at the height of power in Ming Dynasty, admiral Chen Ho with his mighty fleet visited various kingdoms south and west not for conquest, but more as curiosity gatherings. Philosophically, Taoism preaches harmony with nature, and Confucianism morality within. China has been defensive power since Han dynasty more than 2,000 years. It maybe psychologically better to gain pyrrhic victories with punishing expeditionary forces north, but much better for treasury and society by marrying off some women dressed as princesses or even some real princesses to tribal Hun chiefs and the use of the Great Wall.
With the Opium Wars China was forced to face the outside world and the resulting century of humiliation. Mao was a military genius in securing the surrender of local warlords from Xinjiang and ruling aristocracy from Tibet, both outside forces tried to pry away even today. Today with the market reforms and freer movements of internal population I suspect it’s only a matter of time modernization will resolve those problems to the disappointment of West. As for South China Sea, the name should have tell West something. When West stirred up nationalism in China, it should expect blowback. If Vietnam and Philippines are willing to negotiate seriously with China rather than wasting treasury to arm race with China, I expect China will be willing to settle Spratly Islands to status quo for join controls. Philippines especially is unwise to confront China, with the climate warming and yearly increasing exposure to typhoons, most of those islets will be under the sea, and rentals from former Clark Airbase or Subic Bay Naval base will gain her little.
For the last 60 years, even during the height of Cultural Revolution, China has a policy of none intervention of internal affairs of other nations. It may be a necessity before, but China still adheres to it now she’s strong, and from the experiences of U.S. in Middle East, bankrupting treasury while generating enemies all over, I suspect Prime Directive is more than a wise policy in real world.
When China recently announced change in 1 child policy, it was a total surprise to western observers and China experts. Some interpreted it as due to slow down in economy, labor shortages, or aging of the population. Others crowed triumphantly as failure of the population planning program, and human rights triumph over the authoritarian government. It would be pointless to rebut them here as different value systems preclude any logical meeting of mind. For example, the question of human rights for China differs from the western liberals. Here I just want to express my view over the years.
When I left China in summer of 1959, Great Leap Forward was all but over. Shortages and rationings were in full effect. I remember each has coupon entitled each adult 2 ounces of cooking oil per 10 days even in Shanghai. While one has 4 ounces of meat coupon the meat was sold out by daylight. I and other children usually wait in lines at 3 AM as adults have to work. We learned that meat lines didn’t guarantee it has meat to be sold in morning, so we usually waited on the beef stall as usually there were some supplies for Muslims as government policy favored minorities. When I was in Hong Kong during the next 2 years I read about possible famines in the newspapers. About some economist proposed population control and angered Mao. Over the years I have read about Malthus and Paul Ehrlich on zero population growth.
When China announced the 1 child policy I was fully supportive. To me it was obvious the benefits to the society, and the experience of the past 35 years validated it. It would be difficult to enforce and some tragedy was inevitable, such as forced abortions as when one is forced to live under rules they were eager that other were also. There can be no human right if people are starving, and society takes precedence over individual. I also do not want China to beg for help from the West, as advertising on TV asked donations for Care packages for famine victims in Africa which solves nothing except maybe relieve the conscience somewhat. Most people in the West consider the 1 child policy to be barbaric and violation of human rights. Yet looking at Chinese philosophical debates, even Western philosophies the society always takes precedence over individual.
When the 1 child policy was announced, it was understood that change will be necessary in 30-40 years as population stabilizes and ages. So now it comes to pass and West again trumpets the experience of India over China, democracy over authoritarianism. China growth under 7%, while India with fudging of numbers seem to better China. Green Revolution may have temporarily retarded the population problem India will face, but in 30 years I think China will stand as a shining example for all to emulate, and no one will bother to compare India to China again except maybe as a cautionary tale.
On the Opinion Pages of New York Times of October 13, 2015, there was a piece by Murong Xuecun, pen name for Hao Qun, who used to be a big V on Weibo, and whose account was closed by the Chinese government, titled “A Land China Loves and Hates”, which I used as a title here, but with a question mark. I did so to show my disagreement with his premise, and since my response to him on the comment section was censored, as comments are moderated and usually only those showing approval are published, I would like to expound on the topic here.
His article concerns the attitude of Chinese, ordinary people and officials’ ambivalent attitude toward America. If he stopped there I would whole heartily agree with him. Yet he used an example trying to distort and blacken China to serve his purpose to demonize China which I find abhorrent. He used the example of some unspecified documentary from unspecified TV station which interviewed some Chinese after 9/11 showing glee at the tragedy and suffering. I questioned with 1.3 billion Chinese you can surely find someone with that attitude. Certainly official Chinese government does not take that attitude and any such Weibo postings probably were deleted. Why Mr. Hao wants to show Americans that Chinese were such horrible creatures except to serve the purpose to alienate Americans from China and serve the purpose of neocons which he although profess to be a liberal democrat was truly really a neocon himself.
America translated to Chinese means Beautiful Country. Despite discrimination most Chinese have a positive feeling toward U.S.. I have lived here for more than half a century and certainly do not hate her. I do not agree with U.S. governmental policies in Vietnam War and present morass in Middle East. When 9/11 happened my heart sank and grieve with fellow New Yorkers. Mr. Hao Qun presently resides outside China and taking pot shots at China from Hong Kong. To him China is probably the land he loves and hates.
During the last year I have read quite a few articles on people being indifferent to others in distress. For example a little girl ran over by a car and recording of CCTV showed pedestrians and cars ignored her for a long time until a poor woman searching for recycled bottles stopped to help and asked for help. Another case of an old man fell off a motorbike in flooded city street and drowned in a few inches of water because nobody offered to help. Of course there were other articles on elderly fell down and Samaritan offering help and was instead blamed for causing it and financially held responsible until some were cleared by surveillance TV showing their innocence.
From some of the comments I read blaming either the elderly for being greedy and demand Samaritan laws be passed or decline of traditional Confucian morality, or legal system should issue harsher punishments for false accusations. It got me thinking where did Lei Feng gone? The problem I described is much more than just the legal dispute between accuser and accused, greed, or superficial lack of humanity.
During the past few years there were periodic attempts at reviving the spirit of Lei Feng, from articles in People’s Daily to exhortations from leaders, yet the reaction is pretty pro forma and even cynical. For someone like me who were teens during the late 1950s, that spirit is what we aspire to be. Slogans like “Serve the People”, “To Where the Motherland Needs Us the Most”, and examples like Norman Bethune, and Edgar Snow whom I saw again on the montages of documentaries during the performance celebrating the 70th anniversary over Japan were inspirations. So what has changed? And how do we bring back Socialism/Maoism morality?
During the last 40 years China has been richer immensely, hundreds of millions were lifted from poverty. Yet the chasm between rich and poor has also widened, for the middle class they aspire to be rich yet afraid of falling back into poverty. Those afraid to intervene gave the excuse of afraid to be involved and falsely accused, in other words they have something to lose. While the garbage collection woman is poor, and have nothing to lose other than her humanity. Instead of playing the blame game and excoriate those who failed to get involved or those falsely accusing Samaritans, we should examine the real problem, the privatization of medicine and associated costs. For the elderly jostled and fell mostly are from the poorer sectors of society, they need someone to blame for the medical cost even if sometimes unfairly. Similarly the patents whose outcome of treatment didn’t meet expectation and resulting clashes against health workers speak volumes about alienation due to the high cost of medicine.
When Szechuan earthquake occurred, the central government spare no efforts and costs to alleviate suffering, and people donated to the relieve efforts to show their sympathy and unity. Recent announced reforms in SOE split them to profit and non-profit parts. I would suggest that China consider hospitals and medicine be part of that reform. Nationalize all privately owned hospitals and socialize the cost of medicine. No one should have to worry about the cost of medicine so people will not hesitate to give aid and comfort to the unfortunate. I think Xi is working in that direction anyway by medical insurance. The cost can easily be covered by cracking down on all the tax evasion going on by the middle class or additional tax.
Global Times recently commented on Mao being evaluated by Deng as 70/30, and they have not been talking about the 30%, yet to me they have also avoided talking about the 70%. For returning Lei Feng back into the hearts of common people we need to study those 70% and learn to continue them.
On 9/11, more than 400 first responders were killed. Now we know that more than 100 first responders were killed or missing in the Tianjin explosions. I have been under a miasma of sadness and anger since then. With each new revelation the more I questioned the edifice which China built in the last 35 years. For the question is no longer whether the black or white cat catches the mice, but whether the edifice is infested with termites which endangers the whole.
Certainly the families of the first responders were justified when they disrupted official press conference when the names of their relatives were not on the lists of those killed or missing. The revelation that the storage was licensed to handle 10 tons while 700 tons of sodium cyanide were present. I was relieved that those chemicals were found mostly intact and not another Bhopal happened. The company records and harbor custom showed discrepancies on chemicals in storage. Obvious there were corruptions and violations of rules and heads will roll, but that’s beside the point. With the explosions the origin of the fire will never be known. Whether it is illegal smoking which is rampant in China or leaking chemicals improperly handled. As for the nature of the explosions I am sure CIA with their spy planes collecting the residues over East China Sea probably has a better idea than local officials. I just hope the local officials publicize the nature of the explosions before U.S. embarrass them by leaking their findings as they did with the 2.5 micron pollution levels in Beijing.
Xi and his leadership has been fighting corruption the last 3 years. We know that corruption permeates in all levels of government and military, for it has been building up with the expansion of economy and the dominance of Market. What is Market? For it is profit motive. It appeals to the worst in human nature. In a reaction to the worst aspects of Cultural Revolution I think China has gone too far in the other direction. West, such as IMF wants China to be more market oriented, and I think that’s a mistake China should rebut. Recently I read an article in guancha.cn which professor Li Ling answered questions why medicine and healthcare cost so much in China. She blames it on the privatization and discuss more centralized socialized medicine as a solution. I think her view should be seriously studied by policy makers, not only in medicine, but by taking advantages of overcapacity in steel by eliminating those small private steel makers and cutting pollution and strengthen state owned enterprises as social needs rather than profit centers.
New York Times pride itself being objective, its motto is “All the News Fit to Print”. Despite its history of Jayson Blair, Judith Miller, White Water, and present war against Hillary Clinton.
When China started to allow the currency RMB to be more free against Dollar last Tuesday, causing depreciation about 3.5% in 3 days, I was expecting NYT to provide some cogent analysis, instead we got some muddled ideological attacks about currency war, desperation on economic slow down, promoting export, and now Paul Krugman finally opened up with China trying to control Market (Capitalism).
He first attacked China for trying to stabilize the stock market as an attack on the sacrosanct Market. Then he opened up on the currency move, while admitting RMB is overvalued, he attacked China for trying to manage the decline as against Market, as against Capitalism God. He admits some temporary measures might be warranted, but long term attempts to dominate the market is doomed to failure.
Dr. Krugman maybe knowledgeable on Keynesian economics. I wish he look at the mirror and do some searching. What does he think Federal Reserve has been doing since the financial crisis of 08. It has been controlling the market for 7 years now, zero interest rate, QE 1, 2,…, SP500 more than doubled, savers being squeezed and forced into stocks, life insurance companies worrying about paying the annuities, the profit rise and revenue decline has reached limits as employees pay the price, the whole structure might tumble down as Janet Yellen contemplates the first interest rate increase that might cause the whole structure to collapse.
Paul Krugman thinks Chinese leaders have no clue of market. I think he has no clue what does Chinese leader such as Xi wants. He’s correct that China wants to control the Market, for their goal is Socialism and China Dream, and if you let market control you rather than the reverse, then the goal is impossible.
In West there is the fallacy of objectivity, as if you can look an event objectively and unbiased. NYT prides on being objective, yet it allowed itself being used to invade Iraq, causing millions of casualties, which I haven’t seen an apology yet. Now I read about the sex slavery of ISIS, such are the unintended consequences. John Oliver of HBO talked about the Obama pardons of some drug offenders, yet he also interviewed 2, like thousands of others, serving life sentences for minor drug offenses which are legal in some states now, and that’s human rights which NYT avoids.
In U.S., despite the popularity of Bill Maher, political correctness is a serious business, especially in academia. Any inadvertent comment or joke about race and rape will be attacked as racism or misogyny. Recently Hong Kong media published a conversation of Zhu Wei Qun, he was an official who was involved in negotiation with representatives of Dalai Lama, and Alai, a Tibetan writer, on the question of Chinese minority policies, whether a more flexible policy is needed to reduce tensions. Alai feel as many African-Americans here feel, that too much emphasis on affirmative action or quotas, does not help him to feel as a Chinese, instead of bridging the differences it causes more of the rift and separateness.
Chinese minority policies has been essentially copied from the Soviet model since the 50s. Where minority nationalities predominates, it’s set up as autonomous area where local minority representatives are nominal heads while Han officials are inevitably the party commissioner and real power. It does really showed a distrust and patronizing attitude towards them as backward and needs help. Now with coming September the 50th anniversary of Tibet being autonomous region, and probably Xi will visit there to show its importance, this debate shows different opinions on this issue.
In June, Chinese Nationality newspaper, which is under the control of premier’s office, printed 7 special commentator articles attacking Zhu Wei Qun and Alai. It defended the nationality policies as correct and helpful to the minority nationalities. Yet as a sign of openness, Zhu Wei Qun didn’t buckle under and issued a rebuttal, calling the attacks as reminiscence of Cultural Revolution, where one built up a straw man which distorted the original comments, and dare the newspaper to quote any direct comments as fitting the straw man.
I am glad of this controversy. One of the weaknesses of the present Chinese government is the fear of open debate, where subordinates will never contradict his/her superiors as wrong and that causes more damages long term. Present anti-corruption drive may target corruption, but it’s more important to open up debates than just venal officials.
In U.S., the uneven application of affirmative action policies causes backlash in white communities while minorities feel pigeonholed and devalued as affirmative action babies and not truly on their merits. In China, even when I was in China in the 50s, I felt Uighurs as exotic and not really Chinese, and Uighur traders to be avoided, as any dispute with them will be judged in their favor as local officials avoid any problem with them. This is really destructive to the sense of law and justice and causes negative feeling on the part of Hans while not really helping the Uighurs. With the reform, the mixing of races has accelerated, and the pushback against modernity by religious zealots occurred in China as well as in U.S.. Here the cultural wars are pretty much over except as rearguard actions in some areas. In China as mixing increases, and anti-terrorism policies take hold I expect similar results.
Recently the Shanghai stock market index went from around 2,000 to 5,100, and now crash back to 3.900. There were talks and actions on how to stabilize the market, from the cutting of transition cost to possible entering of Social Security fund, from blaming of shorts, derivatives, and future trading, to foreign hedge funds. There were suicides and rumors of suicides pressuring government to save the stock market. I think this article by Chen Ping on guancha.cn is very instructive and timely. When I was reading that article it was momentarily deleted. so I am not sure readers can access it now. I am just going to summarize his views here.
Professor Chen is from Beijing University, he criticize the dominant economic theory prevalent in China at present that worshipping the traditional Capitalism theory of Adam Smith, on the invisible hand of market, while marginalize not only Marxist economic theory, but also Keynes and other theories. He says that the market is not free, experiences from the depression to various Wall Street crashes demonstrated the free market is an illusion, and if Chinese government try to save the market by pushing Social Security fund to the stock market will only damage the real economy. He advocate trying to stop the spreading psychological panic by if necessarily close the stock market for a short period to break the emotional panic. He advocated increase rather than reduce the transactional cost of trading, increase margin requirement, especially when the market was jumping and in bubble. Restrict insiders from selling for longer tie up period. Install short term trading taxes and lower long term capital gain taxes to encourage long term capital formation. Party appoint not only not corrupt officials, but the best as they did in the space program for the markets.
Having live in N.Y. for a while, I myself have some though negative experiences with the stock market. I think the economic reform in China for the last 40 years did engender a worshipful attitude, from all those business books on sale in the book stores, to the gambling, and greed of stock market trading. Xi Jinping recently emphasize that all officials will be lifetime responsible for their actions, including environmental degradation. This market crash actually will be positive if China learns lessons from it and continue to improve.
Recently news headlines in U.S. suddenly switched on a dime from the police shootings on black men/boys to Rachel Dolezal on her fake black identity. It’s as if all those police shootings which Guardian keeping count exceeded 500 killings this year never existed, with fake and real outrages at Ms. Dolezal dominating all discussions. Meanwhile Hong Kong legislature vetoed the election plan with the news of arrests of some Hong Kong independent advocates planning violence, with some democracy advocates displaying British flag as their loyalty/protest. In China, because of recent killings on the border from renegades from North Korea, Kim dynasty being in low esteem, there was an attempt by anti-Maoists to blacken PLA by questioning the veracity of PLA martyrs during the Korean War. The revisionism of history even extended to the initial entry of PLA to Xinjiang by posting a supposed conversation between Mao and General Huang, commander of troop there, offering the reformed prostitutes from Shanghai as wives for the battalion and above commanders there.
All those stories revolve on the question of identity. I lived in Shanghai until 1959. To me Korean War hero like Huang Jiguang who used his chest to silence a machine gun so his comrades can triumph in attacking the enemy position was something to emulate. He was my hero. I think of the exhortation of to go to where the motherland needs you the most as natural. I think if I stayed in China I would have volunteered to go to Xinjiang as a pioneer. Having lived in U.S. for so many years bred cynicism, yet I don’t question as some do in China on the heroism of Huang. After all, even in U.S. we hear about the Medal of Honor Winner from Vietnam War who throw his body on top of a grenade to save others. Even those terrorists who committed suicides in hijacking planes during 9/11 can’t be because of the 77 virgins after death, for they did go to a strip joint to drink and ogle the night before.
So it really saddens and angers me when those Hong Kongers unfurled British flag to show disdain for China, and author Sun Junhong insulted those second and third generation off springs of demobilized soldiers in Xinjiang with genes of whores. I understand her Weibo account was closed after complains from others, and surely there will be cries of censorship. I think China should tighten the rules of censorship, initiate more education reforms away from market, subsidize patriotic education in Hong Kong, and maybe force those independents out of Hong Kong. Professor Zhang said he’s not worried about emigration, as more people away from China learned about the real world, the more patriotic they became. I agree with him completely and wish China allows those dissidents to emigrate to learn real world of so call democracy.