All posts by N.M.Cheung

About N.M.Cheung

Chinese American, semi retired, age 65, Born in Shanghai, reside in NYC, left China in 59, Hong Kong until 61, then to U.S.

Trump vs Hillary

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.

My Take on the Arrest of Lt. Cmdr. Edward C. Lin.

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.

90后女孩写神曲蹿红:《马克思是个九零后》/ Marx is an 90s youth.

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.

《马克思是个九零后》
词:卓丝娜
曲:胡尔琴夫
演唱:香水组合
我对他的第一印象,在政治课
学了他的思想,只是为了及格
本打算过了就算,书再也不念
后来翻开却发现并不讨厌
人生总是充满意外
有一天我看到他的厉害
看到我的信仰别再问why
别再看magazine(杂志)我在看马克思
我出生在1990s,

我就是你的Bruno Mars(布洛诺马尔斯)
但你是我的维纳斯(Venus),
我亲爱的马克思(Marx)
统治者说着乌托邦却不知自由该怎么写
你站出来说无产阶级的力量永远正不畏邪
不为了权不为了钱
但是为了信仰我们一往无前
(前进进 前进进)
Cause we both won’t give up till we die
(到死也不会放弃)
我出生在1990s,

我就是你的Bruno Mars(布洛诺马尔斯)
但你是我的维纳斯(Venus),
我亲爱的马克思(Marx)
统治者说着乌托邦却不知自由该怎么写
你站出来说无产阶级的力量永远正不畏邪
不为了权不为了钱
但是为了信仰我们一往无前
(前进进 前进进)
Cause we both won’t give up till we die
(到死也不会放弃)

为了别人牺牲自己不会容易
总有些人会觉得不可思议
不可思议 不会容易
但世界可能已经ready(准备好)
马克思已经不是 plan B(备用方案)
(Be mine)决定可以当他的小弟
虽然已经有了至少14亿
(You’re gonna listen to me )(听我说)
共产主义甜如蜜

我出生在1990s,
我就是你的Bruno Mars
但你是我的维纳斯(Venus),
我亲爱的马克思(Marx)
统治者说着乌托邦却不知自由该怎么写
你站出来说无产阶级的力量永远正不畏邪
不为了权不为了钱
但是为了信仰我们一往无前
(前进进 前进进)
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)

像叶孤舟行在山丘
那样的为真理争斗
像他一样嫉恶如仇
像他一样不屑权谋

像叶孤舟行在山丘
那样的为真理争斗
像他一样嫉恶如仇
像他一样不屑权谋
马克思是个九零后

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.

Donald Trump

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.

U.S. in Crossroad

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.

China’s Obsolete Economic Strategy?

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.

China at Crossroad, a Critique from Left.

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.

Prime Directive

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.

 

 

China’s New 2 Childs Policy

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.

 

 

A Land China Loves and Hates?

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.

Where Did Lei Feng Gone?

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.

 

Tianjin Disaster

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.

Objectivity as Fiction

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.

Political Correctness

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.

陈平:对西方模式的迷恋导致了这次股灾/ On the stock crash in China

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.

Rachel Dolezal, Hong Kong Independenters, and the Question of Identity

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.

 

Police shooting in Heilongjiang

While we were in China we read about the news of Baltimore riot and protests in Cleveland. There were also lively discussions of a police shooting on May 6, at Heilongjiang in Weibo. For long time residents in U.S. like us it’s second nature when stopped by police for speeding, that you pull up, put your hands on the wheel, do not make sudden moves, follow the directions of the police, ask permission to slowly reach your wallet and glove compartment for registration and insurance, so you don’t spook the police. Guacha.cn now has released a 44 minute video of an documentary by CCTV 13 of the entire event, from footages of 5 surveillance cameras to interviews with police and witnesses.

http://www.guancha.cn/FaZhi/2015_05_31_321590.shtml

It shows a drunken 40s peasant using his 82 years old mother and 3 young son and daughters as professional beggars in various cities, clashed with a policeman, in his drunken rage, he used his mother as shield, throw his daughter at the policeman, and wrestled the baton from the policeman and started hitting him on the head. The policeman on self defense shot once and killed him. It raised a lively discussion on whether police should shoot to kill, whether he should make warning shot first. It is really instructive comparing how so called authoritarian China and democratic U.S. react to a police shooting. Viewers can draw their own conclusion on the value of a human life.

Reflections on Visiting Zhoushan

Recently we visited Zhoushan which was the biggest island of Zhoushan archipelago group which is located about 100 miles southeast of Shanghai. we landed at Beijing and transited to domestic terminal to Shanghai, from there we took a high speed train to Ningbo, and where our cousin pick us up and drive about 1 hour to Zhoushan. Zhoushan is about 1/3 the size of Long Island and with a population about 1 million.

The first impression we have is the infrastructure. Smooth ride in the highway, 4 bridges we crossed to get to that island, the first is 20 kilometer long, another suspension bridge probably longer and equally impressive as Verrazano Bridge connecting Brooklyn and Staten Island. The second impression is the ubiquitous horizontal cranes building apartment blocks and highways. the third was when we arrived at our cousin’s house, it was a solidly built, 3 stories, brick house, in the middle of the city which used to be a small farming village as my wife who has visited it in ’74 informed me. My parents were from the area, but I don’t know any relative there now, but my wife has an extensive web of uncles, aunts and cousins. we traveled with her 88 years old mother, and her brother flied in from Beijing, as other relative converge from various towns in Zhejiang for the reunion. We stayed with our cousin for the 2 weeks there and additional 3 days in Shanghai on the way back. Continue reading Reflections on Visiting Zhoushan

又一华裔教授在美被捕 曾任“长江学者”, On the arrest of another Chinese American professor

Recently there were a bunch of announced arrests of Chinese American scientists and the indictments of Chinese nationals for spying or/and economic espionage. For Chinese who are naïve about American laws who aspire to be Americans this is a sobering warning that should be taken seriously. As Snowden revealed NSA spies on everyone, but especially foreign national that considers as enemy. Any innocent meetings with former colleagues and mentors and exchange of scientific ideas may be construed as spying or economic espionage. As China develops her own science and technology while U.S. lacks resources due to financial difficulty, many sees more opportunity in joining or starting their own company in China. They are somewhat naïve in believing the freedom of expression and exchange, but U.S. is very strict in interpreting the laws and embargo cutting edge science and technology to China. If you worked for U.S. government or any companies with contracts with government or even performed research resulting in patents that belonging to the company, then you may be in violation of obscure laws if you try to strike out on your own. Downloading files to your own computer as Wen Ho Lee discovered can result in spy charge. Recent case of Goldman Sack against Sergei Aleynikov, even if the 97 months jail term were reversed can be debilitating.

I was naïve also after 1979, when U.S. and China established normal relations. I was working in Alaska in a Dew Line communication site which was frontline against possible Russian nuclear attack. I wrote a letter to the new Chinese Embassy in Chinese expressing my pleasure on the new relation, and inquire about visa procedures to visit China. After about a month of no response I was surprised to learn from my boss in Anchorage, that an FBI agent will be chartering a plane to interview me. The agent spend a couple of hours asking my background and nothing affecting my secret clearance came to pass, but it was an unnerving experience, and I never did hear back from the Chinese Embassy.

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

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

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

Tis a Puzzlement

I was driving last night and tuned onto WNYC of “On Point” program about “Xi Jinping and his Anticorruption Campaign”. The introduction was about the Wall Street Journal article by David Shambaugh about the coming crackup of China. The usual format with 3 professors or China experts exponding on the topic. The 3 experts and the listener callers generally agree with David Shambaugh with some reservations that the anticorruption campaign is doomed to fail, that it’s a factional jockeying for power, and we better be prepared for the coming collapse.

Since the founding of People’s Republic of China in 1949, there were innumerable books about the coming collapse of China. Every few years the thesis reared its ugly head and proved wrong. I am sure CIA spent millions consulting those China experts regularly and issued dire warnings to no avail. Today, with China on the verge if not already surpassed U.S. in total GDP (Price parity), the threat of China and concomitant theme of coming collapse is gaining currency to the chattering classes. One of the experts, a professor from San Diego State, expressed puzzlement why Xi, being himself suffered from Cultural Revolution, and his father also suffered and purged, still seem to admire Mao and want to continue his policies in culture and art. She said that Deng has to give lip service to Mao because he has to appease Chen Yun, but Xi has no apparent foe to pull to the left. To me the answer is obvious yet it seem to be beyond her understanding.

U.S. bills herself as a Christian nation. Yet as some said if Jesus is born today he’ll either be ignored as a crackpot, jailed as a subversive, or lock up in a mental institution. The real god in Capitalism is money/profit. The tenets of Capitalism a priori  assume competing philosophies as false gods. To the good professor factional struggle is about money, fame, and power. She doesn’t ask what’s the purpose of power? She assumes self interest. She can’t imagine that Xi’s fond memory of flea and mosquito bites in Yan’an in his youth as genuine. It must be theatre and propaganda. Xi’s speech can’t possibly be genuine. I beg to differ. I remember the week I spent in 1958 when my 7th grade school moved in mass to the countryside. We spent 1 week harvesting soybeans, picking cottons, and eating 2 meals of soybeans. Some students never suffered the attack of mosquitoes in the city now showed bites all over their head. and laughed at each other. I am sure that we did more damage and ate up the surplus value at the commune than our labors generated, but it was the happiest week during my childhood. Xi is a Marxist, he believes China will be a moderately prosperous country soon, and working to make it true. He personifies China Dream.

In science, a theory is postulated to explain some facts, the theory is tested by its predictive power. If the predictions don’t fit the facts it must be modified or abandoned. Yet those so called China experts continuously predicted the demise of China and find a receptive market for their chatters. It’s a puzzlement.

 

 

“Under the Dome” by Chai Jing

“Under the Dome” originally was a novel by Stephen King about a community in Maine enclosed by an alien force field and the how the people reacted under the stress. CBS adopted it later for a TV drama series. Chai Jing was a reporter for CCTV. She resigned after she got married and became pregnant. Recently she made a documentary about smog and pollution, using her own money, and it went viral and caused quite a stir in China.
In the documentary Chai Jing, using the format like TED talk, on a stage with a projection screen showing pictures, statistics, and interviews with experts showed how pollution affects hundreds of millions of Chinese people. The blanket of smog makes people like living under a dome of cancer causing pollutants. As a former reporter she knows how to communicate effectively in simple language to common people, using personal anecdotes about her new born baby, some basic science, and experts combined to pull the heart strings of viewers. The response has been tremendous with some comparing her to Rachel Carson and “Silent Spring”. The minister of environmental protection was forced to comment on the documentary and praised it. The overwhelming response on the web is positive with some inevitable sniping about her being a former smoker causing her baby’s benign tumor rather than smog and possible effect on jobs and economy. One funny result was the stock prices of all the companies involve in pollution controls in China jumped the day after the showing of the documentary.
China has agreed with US in capping the CO2 emissions and are investing heavily in green technologies. Local officials now can be fired for failing pollution standards. The documentary is in Chinese, I do hope it will be translated to English or with English subtitles. It can be viewed at Todou or Yukou.

Reply to Verna Yu and NYT

Verna Yu is supposedly a free lance writer and published an opinion page column in New York Times on Feb 18, 2015 titled “Giving Up on Hong Kong”, which I think deserve a rebuttal here. New York Times has been on a propaganda offensive against China since being barred from China a few years ago. A few days ago they even published a puff piece on India overtaking China in economic growth which is laughable and full of holes. As comments already showed the laughable analysis it was I would not bother to rebut it here, but this article really got me angry.
Ms. Yu’s grandfather was a professor fleeing Guangzhou in 1947 to Hong Kong from Chinese civil war. some of her family fled Hong Kong after TAM in 89 and before the handover to China in 1997, some returned later after the panic receded, she has a British passport and British university education, and now she’s hinting she might leave again. her grievances can be summed up as following:

1. Usual bromide about inequality and soaring property prices.

2. Hong Kong can no longer be insulated from Chinese politics, and becoming just another Chinese city.

3. Democracy, freedom of speech, rule of law, etc.

I would like to rebut her point by point here.

1. Ms. Yu like most of the OC crowd belong to not the bottom 50% or the top 1%, but mostly from the 1-20%, so any bromide about inequality is probably insincere. They aspire to be the 1%, certainly not for more taxes on themselves to provide for more social services for the bottom. They do worry about their off springs being remain on top, and ready to fly away to London or Vancouver at any scent of disorder. They are mainly the beneficiaries of the soaring property prices, enabling them to sell at the top and buy houses in places like Vancouver or Long Island where locals there are grumbling about the Chinese driving real estate prices beyond their earning power.

2. Well, too bad, the goal of 1 country-2 systems is suppose to gradually change to 1 country-1 system. Who are you to feel superior to other Chinese. I would be in favor of Hong Kong gradually introduce patriotic education courses to suppress the colonial outlook.

3. The usual complains of liberals against authoritarian China. Where has Ms. Yu been? Horror of horrors, pepper spray, tear gas? Did Hong Kong lost freedom of speech? Has she ever heard of Ferguson, Missouri? Has she heard of Charlie Hebdo? Ms. Yu must be living at Fukuyama’s end of history.

I was born in 1947, the year Varna Yu’s grandfather left for Hong Kong. My father was a merchant seaman who was stranded in U.S. with the end of Chinese civil war. I was reunited with him when China granted my mother and me exit visas for humanitarian family reunification in 1959. We were from the bottom 50%. To me income inequality is real and widening in U.S., while in China they are making real efforts to bridge it and move hundreds of millions out of poverty. That is human right in reality, not a throw away catch phrase for Varna Yu.

 

Eddie Huang, FOB, Time Warner Condos, and Gold Coast Houses.

With the launching Of the sit-com “Fresh off the Boat” on ABC, there were a flurry of articles on Eddie Huang and the TV series. There was a profile of him in New York Times beside the review of the show, and Arthur Chu wrote about the importance of the show for Asian Americans in Salon.com. I watched the first 2 episodes and have mixed feelings as it triggered my own memory when I was in High School in New York. Eddie Huang was born in 82 of immigrant Taiwanese parents. He graduated with law degree and passed bar exam first time, worked for NYC law firm for 2 years, got layoff, worked as a standup comic and marijuana dealer, opened a restaurant called Baohus and got great review from NYT, opened a second one and closed it. He wrote an autobiography called “Fresh off the Boat”, and now turned to a TV series. Eddie talked about growing up around the age of 9 when his family moved from Washington D.C. to Orlando suburbs to open a steak-house restaurant, the resulting clash of cultures, race, and being bullied in school. Because of the format being sit-com, it inevitably stereotypes certain situations to generate laughs, the tiger-mom, model minority emphasis on grades, his own rebellion by embracing hip hop and basketball, and some minor swipes at suburban life style. I remember myself in early 60s, being the only Chinese in a high school of 3,000, got in my only fight in school with a Puerto Rican student when he started to bully me by using the F word of my mother. I was rescued in the principal’s office by my music teacher who vouched for me. Unlike Eddie who was born here I was very conscious of my poor English pronunciations and has only 2 Ukrainian fellow students from the neighborhood as friends during morning train rides. When the word Chink was used by neighborhood kids I knew better than to engage them by just ignoring them and walked fast past them. I sublimed my anger by what Lu Hsun called Ah-Q method, clutching my NYT newspaper and mumbling to myself that they are nothing but jail baits as I knew the proportion of African Americans in jail from reading the papers. I think that Eddie Huang may not like the way the show was portrayed and deviated from his vision, but if he wants the show to succeed, unlike his second restaurant then the compromises are inevitable.

NYT this weekend also have 3 articles on real estate. One on a Malaysian Chinese as a go between for the son of Prime Minister there in purchasing real estate in U.S.. One on the Time Warner center condos and the shell companies used by foreigners, some of them being Chinese nationals. Third being the Gold Coast, northern coast of Long Island suburbs where Chinese have been buying up expensive mansions with cash like hot cakes. The descriptions being nouveau-riche, uncouth, possibly corrupt Chinese driving genteel WASP or Jews out and pricing out natives from the housing market and crowding the schools there. The fact of low profile of Chinese were used against them as they don’t spread wealth around like Great Gatsby did. NYT is good at channeling the outrages and backlashes to the comments as they publish one commenter probably more than 10 times ( Susan from Seattle), from 10 years visa to immigration, berating Chinese for taking over the local housing, schools, and country. Previous week I wrote a comment when Thomas Friedman criticizes Israeli Prime Minister for the coming speech to joint session of Congress, I wrote saying it was an insult to Obama and Presidency, if the Democrats have balls they should boycott the speech, of course it was not published. Three days later on the paper it said Vice President will not attend the speech, and there were talks by Jewish democrats about boycotting the speech. So much for free speech, while those racial attacks and attacks on China being authoritarian were published multiple times. When I read the article I pretty much anticipated the backlashes. For buying those houses costing from a few to over $10 million, one has to be not even from 1%, by more like 0.1%. I doubt most Americans can dream of owning one, but human nature being what it is, Chinese are easy scape goats. For most Chinese Americans here not from the 0.1%, from those illegal ones working to pay off their debts to smugglers to Silicon Valley IT workers, expect the backlashes. I just hope no baseball bat attacks this time.

政治局新年首次集体学习辩证唯物主义 (Politburo together studied Dialectic Materialism)

Have lived in U.S. for over 50 years, yet because of my Chinese root, I am always attuned to what happens in China. I avidly read all books about China and Chinese history. From Edgar Snow, William Hinton, to various China experts. From People’s Daily to New York Times about recent events. I consider my schooling up to 8th grade in Shanghai during the 50s as inoculation against biases against China. Last month in one of the comments Ray recommended guancha.cn for better sourcing about China. I have been reading it everyday since and suddenly I am awakened like the character in the “Body Snatcher” movies that I have been consciously or subconsciously blinded to what’s happening. Unlike Borg in the “Star Trek” TV series, Capitalism doesn’t act immediately by just touching you, yet it acts slowly and inexorably with the same motto, “Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated.”.
Reading guancha.cn I realize left is very much alive in China, there are a diversity of opinions and views fiercely debating on the direction of the country. That Eric Li gave a speech in Tsinghua University on meritocracy and there were critiques from both right and left, that a French Chinese gave a question and answer session at Jinan Art Institute where students asked questions about events in 89 and Occupy Central, that those students are not ignoramus or totally censored as NYT led you to believe. That Xi and politburo met to study dialectic materialism to counter corruption. Hell. they even have Paul Krugman gave a speech in Shanghai recycling his view Chinese economy will crash and rebuttals. And the comments are much better informed and wittier than the comments in NYT. One comment on the politburo article recommended they restudy “Communist Manifesto”.

汉武帝还是唐太宗 习近平陷入保守主义?/On History

Upon reading the article at dwnews.com on 12/31/2014, it triggered memory over 2 years ago when I was in Lhasa, after visiting Potala Palace, recovering from altitude sickness, and watching CCTV 10, about Taoism and analysis of history. For those who can’t read Chinese, the articles analyze the two dynasties when China was at her zenith, Han and Tang and the two great emperors, one used Confucianism as governing principle and downgraded other schools of thought, the other followed the principle of Taoism, which allows multiple paths of enlightenment. it obliquely criticizing Xi for following the Han emperor in censoring Gmail, questioning the conservative trend in whether it betrays a sense of inferiority complex or/and overconfidence. It questioned whether the attempt at isolating China from internet with Great Fire Wall be counterproductive.
I was excited in Lhasa because the TV program in Taoism was a real fresh air at the jointure of leadership changes. In China, history is more than history, it reflects on present as much as it’s about history. After all Cultural Revolution started with criticism of a historical play, the dismissal on an honest official (General Peng) by emperor (Mao). It mentioned Han Wudi, the great Han emperor, the year before he died he issued an edict apologizing to the nation on his own failures, which was unprecedented before or since in world history. Tang Taizong faced an invading army from west in front of the gate of his capital, signed a humiliating compromise treaty, yet within a few years absorbed the tribes that attacked. I was thinking of Mao, on his failure to change human nature. When he compared himself against great historical figures in his poetry, what China would have been, if he has the humility of Han Wudi to confess his own failures, and Tang Taizong’s foresight and not enter the Korea War.
History being what it is, those musings of alternate histories are for science fiction. I do agree with Xi in reigning in the excesses of Capitalism, of corruption, and yes, censorship. For even in the West, where profit reign supreme, there are still boundaries such as child pornography and terrorism. I do hope the revivals of Confucianism is tempered with Taoism, on live with nature in harmony, a greener future.

Xi Jinping’s fight against Corruption

We in the West generally are cynical about corruption. We think it’s a natural product of Capitalism, of profit motive, and part of human nature. Yet the scale revealed of hundreds of millions of dollars involved does shock us. We can’t just excuse them as cavalier as Deng’s saying somebody has get to rich first. When Xi said that fight against corruption is life and death fight for the soul of communist party, he’s not exaggerating. For if the generals of PLA are selling promotions for profit, then the ripple effect can’t be understated. Not only it will affect the morale of honest officers, but those who paid the bribes will generally be corrupt also. When money controls the gun and not the party, then the party will really be in danger.

When I visited China 2 years ago, there were a general dissatisfaction about corruption. People maybe richer, yet they felt nostalgic about the time of Mao, they don’t have to worry about the mortgage for housing when rents were a few yuans per month. Despite what the West said about Cultural Revolution and Mao, most people do have warm feelings for Mao and yearn for honest officials. The recent moves on demoting naked officials, fight against waste, and transparency on budgets are quite popular. Two recent news stories caught my attention and illustrate the drain of money out of China due to corruption. One is the sale notice of the Villa in France belonging to the wife of Bo Xilai, China is trying to recover the money under the tangled web of ownership of the villa. The other is the downfall of Ling Jihua, former director of the General Office of the CPC Central Committee. He is the father of rumored Ferrari crash victim a few years back in Beijing that derailed his career. I understand there was an attempted cover up of the crash, the police changed the name of the victim, the 2 Tibetan girls injured in the crash, 1 died later, their families were paid off, and the father didn’t even attend his son’s funeral. Yet to no avail he’s now under investigation for serious disciplinary violations.

For those who feel that is irrelevant to their lives I would disagree. The fight against corruption now seriously impacted Macau, the jewel of casinos in Asia, their revenues are down. One of the major player there is Las Vegas Sand, majority owner being family of Sheldon Adelson, a major contributors in Republican politics in U.S.. The hit taking by Las Vegas Sand, on the year when stock markets were way up is about 1/3. I think Mr. Adelson has $10 billion fewer to affect U.S. politics where money is speech.

Jeremy Lin

For those who are not into basketball, Jeremy Lin is a Chinese American who set the basketball world on fire 3 years ago. when on the verge of being cut, he helped to direct New York Knicks, with injuries on stars, and in desperation move by coach, starts a winning streak and coined the word “Linsanity”. His history was chronicled in a documentary called “Linsanity”. I am sure the director of the movie probably is accumulating additional footages for a new documentary. I hope this time he’ll examine Lin’s travails since with an eye on the question of race, model minority, and capitalism.
National Basketball Association, the major league of basketball in U.S. is a big business. Recently the Los Angeles Clippers, whose owner got into trouble with racial comments was sold for $2 billion. Star players get paid for over $100 million for 4 years contracts. With a new TV contract the salaries are expected to increase substantially due to revenue sharing. Lin is presently playing the last year of his 3 years, $25 million contract. Basketball is ostensibly a team sport, with coaches trying to manage egos of star players for team success. The most successful coaches like Phil Jackson or Greg Popovich can manage the tension between individual and team success. NBA, due various large and small markets, runs essentially as a socialistic entity, with limits of spending power to equalize the competition. NBA is also interested in expanding the market to China and the rest of the world.
As a lone Chinese American in NBA, Lin has many avid followers in internet discussion groups. They discuss his statistics and travails in subsuming his own game to appease the star of the team and coach. He is a humble and religious man and the perfect model minority. He manages to carved out a place due to his efforts and skills. Yet despite his attempt to fit in he’s been marginalize in his latest team, Los Angeles Lakers, and its aging star Kobe Bryan. He’s been relegated to the backup because he sometimes outshines Kobe despite the effort of the coach to limit his time on the court. He’s bewildered and some of his fans are turning against him, for not speaking out and stand his ground. When he was in Houston his teammate Asik asked to be traded when they sign a new star, broke their promise of he starting. And his new teammate Boozer walk out of the after game press conference when he was demoted to second team. Some of his fans deride him as weak, lack of spine, of not asserting himself, in other words as too perfect model minority. Lin is in a difficult position, and the mental strain is affecting his physical game. NBA is dominated by skill players of African Americans, with China being blamed for job losses here, Lin’s entrance to NBA is bother welcomed by Asia American community and viewed with suspicion by others. When China refused visa request by British Parliamentarians to investigate Hong Kong agreement, China was essentially telling them to f— off, and that was priceless that China can stand her ground. I wonder whether Lin can.

Obama vs Xi Jinping

With the mid-term election over, Democrats in disarray, Obama attempted to rally with carbon agreement with China and continued veiled attempt at containing China with Japan and Australia abroad, domestically, his pending immigration executive order and signature achievement in Obama-care face total Republican opposition and financial blockade as House controls the budget, the next 2 years will be interesting to see the once messiah of the liberals falling apart.

When Xi came to power we have a bunch of articles about Red Princelings, as if it’s a crime being off springs of revolutionaries, while nobody bat an eye of the Bushes, Kennedys, or Rockefellers in U.S., nepotism doesn’t exist in so called democracy. Now with the APEC over, Xi is being portrayed as a statesman, while memoirs of former cabinet officials described Obama as aloof, poor manager, if not totally incompetent. We have narrative of the rise of Xi, his more than 30 years working from village to city, to province, and national office.

Being a minority in U.S. you have 2 ways to rise to the top, one is sellout your race and join the conservative movement, denounce affirmative action while being the token minority in the Republican Party, you can rise high by helicopter as Clarence Thomas did, but that path is crowded nowadays as more opportunists, blacks, Indian Americans, women, and Latinos join in the easy path. The other way is work your way up the ladder in Democratic party, that way is also crowded, but if luck is on you as it did Obama with corruption, indictment, an open House seat, ambition clashed, Obama’s patroness Alice Palmer trying reach higher by not seeking re-election on her state senate seat, and left an opening for Obama. With his autobiography attracting interest in Wall street backing, more corruption opening Illinois senate seat, charismatic speech in 2004 democratic convention, and the race card Obama got the presidency. When during the primary, I read that Obama consider Reagan as his model not FDR, I knew Democratic Party would be in trouble. We got Hope and Change, Nobel peace prize,  and now lame duck.

Channeling Arthur Chu

With the ongoing protest movement in Hong Kong, it’s inevitable the Western press would anoint some 18 year old student as the future of China just as they did during the 89 TAM event. NYT not only featured him prominently they also have him wrote a column on democracy. Reading his naïve platitudes one can’t but be reminded of those old students now working on Wall Street with a different dream.

Living in U.S. for a long time not only concerned with events in China, but also what’s happening in the Chinese community here, I am encouraged with diverse achievements of Chinese Americans today. I would like to talk about Arthur Chu here. As some of you probably aware, he was a Jeopardy champion last year and caused some stir with his unconventional strategy and brassy talks. He leveraged his interviews and 15 minutes of fame to a column with “Daily Beast”. Recently I read his column in Salon.com on Gamergate, and then Google his old columns in Daily Beast and found them fascinating with resonance for me and maybe others. He personifies the stereotype of Chinese American male, being excellent A student, or a nerd, with limited social skills, a loner with few friends, with hobby in video games and science fictions, inarticulate with the oppose sex, yet adore those beautiful heroines in Japanese anime. He managed to overcame his rages and loneliness and achieved some success and balance. I do hope others can learn from his experiences.