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May 10

Wang Xizhe bashes Hong Kong Olympic protests

Written by Buxi on Saturday, May 10th, 2008 at 12:33 am
Filed under:Analysis | Tags:, , ,
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Wang Xizhe is an active US-based Chinese dissident who’s spent many years in opposition to the Communist government. He is co-chairman and founder of the China Democracy Party. Wang is rarely mentioned in the English press in the West, although he’s very well known in the Chinese community. Many believe this is because he’s allegedly refused to accept financing from American and Taiwanese “sources”, in contrast to other more famous dissidents (at least to the West) like Wang Dan, Wei Jingsheng, Yang Jianli accused of doing precisely that.

Wang Xizhe continues to publish regularly, including this essay issued a few days ago, in which he criticizes Hong Kong pro-democracy activists who protested the Olympic torch.

The original Chinese version can be found here. It is a follow-on to an earlier essay in which he called on Hong Kong democracy activists to not protest the Olympic Torch.

This year’s 64 candle light vigil: a test for the Alliance – Wang Xizhe

Politicians, political movements and “opposition figures” are very different things. Some people can never distinguish between the two clearly.

“Opposition figures” only needs to be responsible to their positions and ideas. Who cares if there are ten million people who stand against me, even if I’m the only person who holds this opinion, I’m still willing to stand out and loudly proclaim my voice to the other 9999999 people… and they don’t need to consider any consequences. Live or die, glory or failure, I am myself. Recently, Miss Wang in the United States (Grace Wang) and Miss Chen in Hong Kong (Chen Qiaowen) was filled with this courage, and they deserve our affirmation.

But politicians and political movements are different. A politician must be responsible to the political movements fundamental goal, and he must be responsible for acquiring support and understanding from the vast majority of people in order to achieve this goal. Therefore, he must align himself with the interests, wishes, and emotions of these masses. This is an especially firm requirement for those who label themselves the “democratic movement”.

After Tibetan independence riots led to violent interruptions of the Olympic torch relay around the world, old Wang (the author) wrote a letter to Szeto Wah, saying that I hoped the Alliance wouldn’t go down this road, that even normal protests shouldn’t be held. The protest should instead be held over until tomorrow, at the offices of the Alliance, or Victoria Park. But this time, in contrast, the Alliance leadership should lead a team in welcoming the Olympic Torch right to the center of the Hong Kong celebration, and celebrate alongside the people. They should let the Hong Kong people see that when it comes to the issue of “patriotism”, the “Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China” (full name for the Alliance) is fully aligned with average Hong Kong citizens in terms of their desires and feelings. This way, on the eve of June Fourth, Hong Kong citizens will still rise up and follow the Alliance to Victoria Park, and participate in the candle-lit vigil. Maybe, the numbers participating will even increase from recent years. This way, they will understand that the Alliance knows how to separate these things: loving the country is loving the country, while resisting dictatorship is resisting dictatorship. And even the act of resisting dictatorship is really an issue of loving the country.

But it appears the Alliance leadership didn’t hear Xizhe’s opinion. And what happened? They “separated from the masses”, their support base (脱离基本群众). We saw the Alliance’s team of a few people, fully surrounded by an angry ocean of ordinary Hong Kong citizens. They faced the most heated head-on confrontation they’ve ever faced in 19 years. The people cursing them aren’t necessarily 维园阿伯 (derogatory labels for older nationalists accused of always supporting the Chinese government), but very likely were their support base yesterday. This put confusion on the faces of Ho Chunyan and Lee Cheuk Yan et al, and they couldn’t help but express their surprise: “this has been our most difficult protest”; “the other voices were full of hostility” … “we knew that protests wouldn’t be welcome.”

The long-proud Alliance apparently didn’t understand that political movements can only subtly guide action based on current trends; they also forgot that they can not directly conflict with the desires of a great majority pf the people. Should they reconsider their actions? Absolutely, but I think it’s too late. From this day forward, the Alliance’s momentum is gone, and from here on out, they will quickly slide down-hill into marginalization and eventual elimination.

The June Fourth vigil that will be here in a few days will be the Alliance’s test. How many people will continue to support them? In past years, 20,000-30,000 people would crowd into Victoria Park for the Alliance’s annual vigil, a sea of torches, hearts continuing to hope. After 18 years, that’s not easy! This has always been the Alliance’s basic “turf”, basic support. But after the giant mistake this time, how many will be left? 2/3rds of the usual amount? A half?  There’s only a month left until the test, and I can’t be optimistic.

Even Lingfeng (Taiwan-based dissident) recently decided he needed to restudy Mao’s writings.  And this sentence from Mao really does have meaning at a time like this: “If you’re on the right path, if you don’t have people you can have people, if you don’t have guns you can get guns.  If you’re on the wrong path, even if you have people and guns, you will lose them.”

May 7th, 2008.

 


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25 Responses to “Wang Xizhe bashes Hong Kong Olympic protests”

  1. Buxi Says:

    Despite Wang’s comments, many of those who argue for “democracy” in Hong Kong apparently don’t understand what the term means.

    For example, see this translated blog post from Alice Poon at the Asia Sentinel, titled Hong Kong’s Shame.

    As I commented on the Asia Sentinel site, while physically tearing down banners or other physical assault can’t be defended… why the complaining about booing, cursing, and general hostility expressed by some in the crowd? Isn’t that a perfectly democratic activity?

    When an undemocratic government receives popular support, what should democratic “activists” do?

  2. Wang Chung Says:

    I can see why Wang Xizhe lacks credibility among certain circles in the so-called “West”: his “analysis” is wafer thin.

  3. Bing Ma Yong Says:

    There was no democracy under British rule in HK. Were the democratic activists there?

  4. Bing Ma Yong Says:

    I think supporting a nation , supporting a government, supporting a sports event are different things.

    one supports a nation not necessarily means one supports the government

  5. little Alex Says:

    @Bing Ma Young

    There’s limited democracy in the last one or two decade of British rule in HK…

    And people have been demanding democracy since the 60s. Just that the groups have changed over time.

  6. Jack Says:

    @Buxi

    Ms. Poon didn’t use the word “democracy” in her article. She used “tolerance”. At the same time, she didn’t call to bar people from expressing support for the torch, but lamenting the lack of civility. To me, it seems overblown to say that she’s practicing a double standard.

    Voltaire had the apocryphal saying of, “I may not agree with what you say, but I’ll defend to death your right to say it.”

    I do admit, we are dealing with tricky words here though. “Democracy” is at its most basic level a government by the masses, thus there is always the risk of “tyranny of the majority”. And “tolerance” is a word that has been just about stretched into unrecognition in the 20th century, used as both meaning political correctness and having a permission to exist.

  7. Buxi Says:

    Jack,

    The original blog that Ms. Poon translated has some interesting comments at the tail end of it. Most of the respondents share the author’s point of view, saying they too felt “troubled” by the expressions of pro-China sentiment on the day of the Olympic Torch relay.

    But at least one of these “troubled” respondents asked a question… he (or perhaps a she) remembered the 2003 article 23 protests, organized by these same “pro-democracy” activists forces. He remembered a great deal of anger, curses, and hostility aimed at pro-government counter-protesters who were also on the streets.

    Did the “lack of tolerance” at those article 23 protests also trouble Dr. Fat and Alice Poon?

  8. Jack Says:

    @Buxi

    Well, judging from the blog post alone it is too difficult to infer what their thoughts would be if it was pro-government groups being harangued. That’s why I said it was jumping the gun to call it a double standard.

    And in the end, I guess does it matter what they think? Are either elected officials or public servants of HK? I mean, ideally of course we’d like an educated citizenry that can think rationally. But in reality, that’s obviously not going to be the case.

    Or was that question supposed to tease out my thoughts on the matter?

  9. little Alex Says:

    @Buxi

    Yes, there was a lot of anger, etc., but afaik, no one got physical. No one tore down the opposing side’s banners, etc. The situation did not get so bad that the police had to get involved.

  10. little Alex Says:

    @Jack

    Actually, one suspects that if there are enough people for a particular cause, the HK government will listen.

    Many people in HK attribute Tung’s resignation to the July 1st protest in 2003, and the government did revise its plans for how to develop the Central to Causeway Bay waterfront after protests by environmentalists.

  11. Buxi Says:

    @Little Alex,

    I believe Jack was saying are Dr. Fat or Alice Poon elected officials. They aren’t, but their opinions do matter (as much as ours do).

    As far as physical violence… I don’t know the marches in Hong Kong well enough to comment. If you and Dr. Fat is concerned about acts of physical violence, I can accept that. If Dr. Fat is concerned about “hostility”, then I don’t accept that.

    As you said, there was a great deal of anger aimed at the government in 2003. There was a great deal of anger this time aimed at the Alliance when they protested at the Olympics torch.

    The Hong Kong government was wise enough to figure out they shouldn’t go against public will; I hope the Alliance does as well.

  12. little Alex Says:

    @Buxi

    Hm, I thought Jack was trying to figure out how much influence Alice Poon and Dr. Fat have. Not much, but who knows.

    Part of Dr. Fat’s shock is that marches and protests in HK since the 1970s, afaik, have always been non-violent. They have always been peaceful and, perhaps I’m indeed biased, civilized, despite the anger.

    A rare few might get into shouting matches with counter-protesters, but they never get physical and the majority usually ignore the counter-protests and simply go on. The banners from the counter-protesters are usually still there after the protests are finished.

    We don’t hit, we don’t grab, we don’t get physical. We very rarely shout or boo, but certainly not to the degree that Christina or the Alliance faced.

    Please show us the civility we have shown you, that’s all we were asking.

    And quite frankly, if Ma Lik’s one phrase could get 10,000 more people to the June 4th vigil last year, I’m willing to bet that this year’s June 4th will see a lot more people than before.

  13. Jack Says:

    Well, my question in asking whether it mattered was meant to say that if the laws were followed, then the opinions of Dr. Fat are not cause of too much concern. As long as nobody got hurt and everybody got to speak up, then that’s a good day. Democracy doesn’t seem to be threatened and we can rest easy.

    Little Alex makes a good point when he says this is a civility issue. Or HOW should free speech be expressed, which is a debate that really is never resolved and varies from society to society. The US itself has had firebrand instigators like Sam Adams since its founding, and still has uncivil politics when pundits accuse others of playing Rovian politics or swiftboating.

    In my personal perspective, a protest a lot of the time strikes me as a rally. One that is meant to fire up the base. In that sort of environment, the passion of the moment over rides the self-reflection of “if I was on the receiving end of this, how would I feel?”. I’ve read some about social psychology and sociology about crowd behavior, emergent norms, and escalation of behavior. And it is scary how sometimes a crowd becomes an organism of its own. However, I feel that as long the authorities can keep a lid on things, then being a bit uncivil shouldn’t be too big of a worry. It shows that progress is being made since we’re even having this discussion thanks to Dr. Fat.

  14. admin Says:

    Editors’ note: The following is a letter sent by John Kushmi, founder of China Support Network. He disagrees with Wang Xizhe and advocates boycotting Beijing Olympics. We post it here in its entirety for a well rounded discussion.

    I read the analysis by Wang Xizhe that suggests the democracy movement should not oppose the Olympics.

    I disagree with him. Even in a democracy, unpopular decisions must be taken from time to time. That which is right is not always the same as that which is popular. If CDP seeks only to be well loved by Chinese people, then that is a context in which Wang’s position becomes understandable. However, seeking popularity is a matter of political expediency, and Wang’s stand can be criticized on that grounds. Even though the Olympics may be loved, or taken with pride, by some in the general Chinese populace — even while that is true — on the other hand the Olympics are like food for the communists, dictators, tyrants and thugs of the CCP. The CCP needs the Olympics, and should be denied the same. From a different perspective — that of international affairs and the world community — it is bad for the entire world community to have cheerful celebrations of a regime that has committed mass murder and remains in the act of committing mass murder. There are good reasons why the 2008 Olympics are compared to the 1936 Olympics. There are good reasons why these games earned the nickname, the “Genocide Olympics.” For the world at large, these Olympic Games are unhealthy and untoward.

    I wish that Wang Xizhe were keeping the bigger picture within his sense of perspective. I am happy that the Hong Kong Alliance chose to go in the other direction. They did not pander for popularity points. They are more respectable for having and displaying a backbone.

    Of course, I have stood with Wang Xizhe before, and likely will again. I was a guest and a speaker at last year’s CDP party congress with Xu Wenli. So for your China blog, I want to suggest that you can publish something else.

    Inserted below, there is a speech that I gave on the New Haven Green (near Yale University in Connecticut), on April 26. I want to call special attention to three paragraphs near the end, because I am making an appeal for some Chinese people inside China to do something. Do you publish in Chinese as well as English? If you can make a Chinese translation of my three paragraphs (or the whole speech, if you wish), I encourage you to do so and publish this material.

    Below my signature are the three special paragraphs, and then what follows is the entire speech of April 26.

    Thank you,
    /s./ John P. Kusumi
    China Support Network
    Director Emeritus
    http://www.chinasupport.net
    mailto:john@kusumi.com
    (203) 640-2715

    Let me say this for inside China. Yang Jianli has called for a people’s movement of speaking the truth. That means speak out and speak fearlessly with your genuine and authentic stories and opinions. I endorse that, and I want to remember a group called the Tiananmen Mothers. They are mothers who had children killed in the June 4 massacre. They demand the right to mourn in public; to pay tribute to their dead children. That is a reasonable and righteous demand. The fact that such a right remains denied to them shows us that China lacks justice.

    Can you imagine what this means? If, around June 4, they go to Tiananmen Square with a white flower – they may be arrested! Apparently, people with white flowers are enemies of the state! That makes me wonder – are white flowers illegal in China? Or, are people illegal in China? How profoundly wrong is that government – to outlaw either of those, or both of those together!

    And so, I want to ask the Chinese people for the white flowers movement of June 4, 2008. Simply take a white flower and head for Tiananmen Square. If many, many people all try to smuggle in white flowers, they cannot stop all of them. If many people answer my call and participate in this activity, then there WILL be white flowers of mourning for the dead victims, finally at last this year, 19 years after the June 4 massacre. People everywhere can show solidarity with this idea by wearing a small white flower on Wednesdays – perhaps every Wednesday until the government meets the demand of the Tiananmen Mothers.

    (The full speech is at http://chinademocracy.blogspot.com/2008/04/white-flowers-for-june-4.html)

  15. Bing Ma Yong Says:

    I am in favor of free speech, freedom of expression. But I don’t really understand of the protesting Olympic torch to express other political ideas which have nothing to do with the Olympic torch.

    When did the Olympic torch start representing the host country’s government?

    Did the Olympic torch represent Australian John Howard government in 2000?

    The protest of Chinese government or its policies had happened countless times around the world including in Hong Kong and mainland China before the Olympic torch and none of them has caused nationalistic reaction among Chinese people. Hong Kong democracy activists should have understand all of these and should have expected what would happened in HK relay after the torch relays around the world.

  16. Bing Ma Yong Says:

    regarding Alice Poon’s article, I agree it was disgrace of tearing down banners or other physical assault which also happened in Canberra relay and Soul relay.

    I asked every time is it fair when people labeled all Chinese were “thugs” “rioters”"bad characters” because of the acts of tiny group out of tens of thousands of so called “Pro-China” demonstrators while the majority acted reasonably.

    Did it happened every time whenever there was a mass gathering full of emotional youth? Is it very easy to pick up some wrong behavior after every new year eve celebration among the crowds from Hong Kong,New York,London to Sydney ?

    I remember not many years ago, in the beginning of Taiwan’s democracy, there were so often fights broke out between those well educated(often western educated), respected political rivals in congress. we can see the there is a long way to go for democracy.

  17. Bing Ma Yong Says:

    regarding Mr John Kushmi’s call of “the government meets the demand of the Tiananmen Mothers” ,
    as a father now and as a uni student then who got involved in that 1989 movement since day one in front of the people’s palace till the last day witnessed the armed carriers moved into Tianmen square from North to South, I feel the pain of “Tiananmen Mothers”. I am not here to analyze the whole 6.4 event, but it is a too idealistic and simplistic call without looking into the political background then and now.

  18. Buxi Says:

    Alex,

    As I said before, I don’t condone physical violence. As far as the fact that there may have been “more” open hostility than ever before… I believe I can understand it.

    In previous protests, those involved were more or less politically active people engaged in a “debate” about the best policies going forward. I believe many of those protesters (and counter-protesters) who have repeatedly marched on July 1st and congregated on June 3rd love Hong Kong, and want the best for China. In the Olympics torch rally… those protesting were now directly challenging the apolitical, the “silent majority”. You can justify such an action how you like, but in the eyes of many, those who protested crossed the lines.

    In the case of the San Francisco rally, the vast majority of those who participated had never previously had a political day in their lives. Many of those who participated in the rally (based on messages on sites like mitbbs) were ordinarily firm opponents of government policy, coming together to defend something that they saw as belonging to the Chinese *people*.

    Although I was raised under the red flag, I had never held it. Although I knew the words of our national anthem, I had never sung it like I had that day. That’s probably a feeling that many, many Chinese worldwide shared in coming out to defend *our* event… warped by a minority into a tool for attacking the Chinese government on unrelated policies.

    To borrow Wang Xizhe’s words, on previous protests you could legitimately have claimed you were patriots acting in the best interests of the Chinese nation by opposing authoritarian rule. I remember feeling no hostility (as a distant observer) for those who protested article 23; in fact, I felt that your actions + subsequent government response was actually giving hope to the Chinese nation.

    But by protesting at or around the Olympic torch… forget questioning whether you were patriots, you raised serious questions in my mind of whether you had even basic respect for the Chinese nation and your fellow citizens.

    Don’t respond with a glib American quote that the best patriots are those who protest the government; protesters at the Olympic torch didn’t protest government policies.. all they did was spit in the face of all those Chinese who’ve hoped, worked, shed sweat, and prayed for a successful Olympics.

    I don’t know what will happen on the eve of 6/4 this year. I personally have no problems with those who remember the lives lost in Tiananmen; no matter who writes the history books, we should always remember it as a tragic event in Chinese history. In that sense, I hope these activities continue.

    But I also hope that the vast majority of Chinese, as a people, will continue to treat with great disdain those who can’t distinguish between political activism and basic national interests.

  19. overseaschinese Says:

    Blah…

  20. Buxi Says:

    John Kusumi,

    You might have noticed that Wang Qianyuan was called many names by harsh critics. In addition to being called a race traitor, an opportunist… she was also called “the next Chai Ling“.

    She was called this because Chai Ling in particular, and many of the Tiananmen protest leaders in general, are not held in very high regard by the vast majority of Chinese, even those fully “educated” in the Western versions of what happened on 6/4/89.

    I think all Chinese everywhere agree that 6/4 was a tragic, tragic event. But many people who had very simplistic “government is evil” interpretations of 6/4 have re-evaluated that over the next two decades, and have come to different conclusions.

    There are several people on this blog who participated in 6/4, and I know of many other veterans of 6/4 who joined Olympic torch rallies around the world… and I do not think they agree with your campaign to politicize this event again.

  21. little Alex Says:

    @Jack

    No, no one got hurt, thank the gods.

    As to if everyone got to speak up… that’s the point of Dr. Fat’s and many other HKers’ blogpost — they felt that the Alliance and the girl was shouted down and/or taken away before they had a chance to speak their mind.

    And this is what I got from other sources: the police were…over zealous, because the girl and a few other people weren’t actually in danger, but were taken away too quickly. And that the police was very keen on questioning where the girl was living (she was staying with a friend), etc.

    Add to the fact that a number of protesters (e.g., the Danish Jens Galschiot, who sculpted the Pillar of Shame) were denied entry to Hong Kong just before the Olympic torch relay…

    And then we hear tales of high school students not allowed to wear orange… (i.e., either red or their school uniforms) (found on the RTHK programme, HK Connection).

    All this effort to quash voices of dissent scare us tremendously.

  22. little Alex Says:

    @buxi & bing ma yong

    How in the world did the Olympics became an apolitical and yet nationalistic event?

    I don’t disagree that the Olympics shouldn’t have been politicized, but it has never really been apolitical since its beginnings.

    I mean, the Chinese government boycotted the 1980 Olympics. It also promised to improve human rights and yet sentenced Wu Jia to 3 years in prison just weeks before the torch’s arrival in HK. And then I hear about all the houses the government is tearing down to make room for the Olympics. The walls they’re building around the slums so that no one can see them during the Olympics.

    Why in the world should people lose their homes for a smooth and successful Olympics? Why are people forced to make that choice in the first place?!

    I’m sorry, but imho, the government is simply hiding behind nationalism, because I don’t think the Olympics should take precedence over people having their basic needs taken care of. What kind of government forces us to choose between our national pride and our countrymen’s basic needs?

    So please don’t tell me the Olympics has nothing to do with the government, because it has everything to do with it, especially its attempts to stay in power. As long as there is only one party running the country, everything national is political.

    Second, many of us in HK just haven’t bought into the Olympics hype in the first place. We aren’t emotionally connected to it, especially not the bits about how hosting the Olympics means that our nation is finally achieving its rightful place amongst the other great powers, etc. To most of us, it’s just, you know, the Olympics, something that happens every 4 years.

  23. Buxi Says:

    Alex,

    You are correct that the Olympics have often been politicized. Unlike you, I don’t think that this has made the world a better place, and it’s certainly one thing I’d like to see changed.

    Here’s a related paragraph from my earlier blog post, explaining why many of us “defended” the torch:

    http://blog.foolsmountain.com/?p=17

    Hasn’t the Olympics always been politicized? Didn’t China boycott in 1980?
    Yes, there’s a sad history of linking political action to the Olympic Games. During the early 1980s, China, USA, the former Soviet Union, and a host of other countries boycotted the Olympics at different points.

    We look back on that period with regret. Remember, if you can, that the world was still embroiled in the Cold War at the time. All of us lived with the realistic fear of impending war; we saw an enemy at every corner… and the Olympics were just another casualty of that war. We would like to avoid a return to that era, if possible. We would like to believe that we’re not yet embroiled in the beginning of another global war, that the differences which separate us can be diluted with logic, words, and mutual understanding… rather than standing armies and the threat of nuclear destruction.

    We hope that can avoid repeating the mistakes of our fathers; we hope that we can find a way to end this conflict before it flares even more.

    As far as the other points that you have brought up:

    - I do not know precisely what Hu Jia was convicted of (and neither do you). But I do know that numerous dissidents in China saying far harsher things about the Communist Party, as well as the Olympics, have not been arrested. You might look into what 唯色 and 不锈钢老鼠 have been writing from their homes in Beijing over the past 5-6 years, for example.

    Mainland China is still a politically immature place. Unfortunately, many people in China (and not just those in China) believe that open political conflict will hurt China more than it helps at this point in time. Therefore, some political speech is severely censored.

    But is this a good enough reason to take away the Olympics? Let me ask you a different question. Should China be allowed to celebrate anything while the political reform process is going on? Should we also ban weddings, national day, and the spring festival because Hu Jia is in prison?

    What countries should be allowed to participate in the Olympics? Only those who have perfect human rights records? Can you name some of these countries with perfect human rights records? Is it the United States, home of water-boarding? Is it France, where the wearing of head scarves by young Muslim women is illegal? Is it Austria, where David Irving was imprisoned for the thought crime of “denying the Holocaust”?

    - As far as homes being torn down in mainland cities… this one statement is enough to tell me that you either did not visit the mainland in the 1970s and 1980s, or have not visited the mainland recently. As someone who lived in a home that was also demolished in the mid ’90s, I can only say: thank god.

    The homes in Beijing were not demolished “for” the Olympics. They were demolished for the sake of modernization of Chinese cities as a whole. I grew up in a home (built/purchased/owned by my grandfather) that fit 5 different (related) families, had unsafe electrical wiring, an open sewer, no indoor plumbing, and walls that had long ago started to rot. I remember walking through my home city in the mid ’90s, and it looked like a war zone. 5 square blocks of the city were demolished one at a time, and rebuilt.

    When our home was demolished, and our families were given the option to purchase “modern” concrete apartment units with running water and working electrical outlets… it was probably the best thing that had happened to us in the 20th century.

    These homes in Beijing will continue to be demolished, because we aren’t an amusement park for those living in luxury in Hong Kong to visit on weekend trips. We have to live in these decrepit buildings, and we have to raise our children in these decrepit buildings.

    If you have an alternative for raising the standard of living for the urban Chinese, if you have an alternative that will allow another 500 million of my Chinese brothers and sisters currently stuck on farms to move to a city… all this without necessitating such large-scale destruction, by all means, please let me know. I would whole-heartedly support such a solution.

    I take no pleasure in the destruction; but I take tremendous pleasure and pride in the rebirth of a modern China that I know provides a far better standard of living for all of her citizens.

    - As long as there is only one party running the country, everything national is political.

    And this position is exactly why you, and the other political forces that you “represent”, are destined for the dustbin of history. You are selfish, egotistical, and focused on your own arrogant views of what China “must” look like politically.

    I don’t care what China looks like politically, for now. I will settle for clothes, decent meals, jobs outside of a sweat-shop, classrooms, air conditioning, and decent health care for my fellow Chinese. Anyone capable of bringing that to my people deserves my respect and support. For the last 30 years, that’s precisely what the Communist Party has provided.

    All of the past evils of the Communist Party can not be forgotten, and one day there will be an accounting, one day the political system in China will dramatically change. You might even sit in your posh Hong Kong apartment on that day, celebrating the fact that “you were right all along”. But you weren’t right; we would’ve achieved what we did in spite of you, not because of you.

  24. little Alex Says:

    @Buxi

    I don’t think a politicized Olympics is a good thing either, but a) we don’t live in a perfect world where it isn’t; and b) the Chinese government certainly had a hand in politicizing it, even beyond the 1980 boycott.

    And I’ve never called for the Beijing Olympics to boycotted. In fact, I was pretty mad at the German Chancellor and Hiliary Clinton, etc. for even talking about it, because we all know this is just for show. And I of course understand how horrible it feels to have one’s parade rained on.

    But that’s vastly different from saying that no one should be allowed to protest the torch relay, overseas or here, or that protesting it is somehow unpatriotic. And really, who but the government framed it as such?

    As to buildings being torn down, um, I wasn’t talking about old and decrepit buildings (I mean, how do you explain stuff like this? Even taking into account that the report was pretty biased, those buildings scheduled for demolition don’t look old and decrepit to me, and people don’t randomly kneel down to beg for help unless they’re pretty desperate.). And even old and decrepit doesn’t mean people don’t like living in them, or where do the nail house people come from?

    As to whether people want to move from farms to cities, well, I’ve got plenty of cousins who were more than happy to live in the suburbs and rent out or sell their farms to people looking to build factories, etc. And it’s not like farmers who’re registered as such can just move without consequences. I mean, as long as the hukou system is still there.

    I think you misunderstood me when I said everything national is political. I’m not someone outside looking in, but I’m actually paraphrasing, in a way, the motto of the women’s movement — “the personal is political”.

    As to clothes, decent meals, jobs outside of a sweat-shop, education, air-conditioning and decent healthcare, whether the CCP has indeed given all of that to the Chinese people remains to be seen. I certainly seem to hear a lot about how people at the emergency room have to pay up front before they get medical treatment, and how the poor are denied treatment.

    I don’t doubt the CCP is trying to improve the situation of the Chinese people, but, perhaps I’m indeed quite cynical, I view it more as a means to stay in power than the actual desire to help the people.

    As to your last point about us sitting in our posh HK apartments, I only wish it were true. And quite frankly, either HK isn’t part of China, in which case, you guys should just let us *go*, or it is, which means we HKers should definitely have a say in what happens to this country of ours. Right now, HK is stuck in limbo.

  25. Buxi Says:

    Alex,

    But that’s vastly different from saying that no one should be allowed to protest the torch relay, overseas or here, or that protesting it is somehow unpatriotic.

    I absolutely believe you should be “allowed” to protest the torch relay. For that matter, I also believe people in mainland China should be “allowed” to protest the torch relay.

    But please do not turn around and tell me that other Chinese, other Hong Kong’ers should not be allowed to (peacefully) *protest* your protest. If you are to have the right to make your political protest (and I’m glad Hong Kong does have tolerance for these political views), then the rest of Chinese society have the right to make clear our disgust and dislike for your actions.

    Right?

    And even old and decrepit doesn’t mean people don’t like living in them, or where do the nail house people come from?

    I really don’t mean any offense when I say this: you are not very well informed about mainland China. I will do my best to explain.

    The challenge right now is no longer a question of whether these buildings should be torn down for reconstruction (everyone wants them torn down), but rather what compensation people should receive for being evicted. The infamous Chongqing nail-house represents exactly that scene. The owners of that particular unit demanded a similar-sized, street-level flat in the new (or comparable) development.

    From the developer’s point of view, they should only pay what is basically market value for the houses that are being torn down. (i.e., if there was no construction here, how much would your building sell for.) From some owner’s point of view, they should also receive some of the profits that the developers are going to make off of “their” property.

    The government has to step in the middle and mediate a fair share. Those who these homes should receive a premium over market rates, but I personally don’t believe they must be compensated with an identical-sized unit in the new building. The conflict comes in during the small minority of cases where this mediation doesn’t work. The key has to be figuring out how to improve this mediation effort, not condemning the actual destruction and reconstruction of these communities.

    As to whether people want to move from farms to cities, well, I’ve got plenty of cousins who were more than happy to live in the suburbs and rent out or sell their farms to people looking to build factories, etc.

    And I want the same opportunity for all 800 million Chinese peasants… but what you don’t realize is that “your cousins” are very fortunate because they happen to reside in an area where economic growth has made these opportunities *possible*. This is part of the urbanization effort I’m talking about, and your cousins are beneficiaries of it.

    The other 800 million Chinese peasants, however, are still living in areas where all they can do is farm 1.5 mu (0.25 acres) of land by hand. And these are the peasants that need another 2-3 decades of continued economic expansion before they too can rent out their farms, and allow their children to work in a factory or drive a taxi for additional income.

    And it’s not like farmers who’re registered as such can just move without consequences. I mean, as long as the hukou system is still there.

    The hukou system is under-going drastic reform. I remember the divide between rural/urban hukou 10, 20, 30 years ago… it was the difference between night and day. But that’s no longer the case; productive people with rural hukou can much more easily get urban hukou. But the key is to balance urban and rural development, because the former is the engine for driving the latter. If you blow out your engine, then no one wins.

    Have you thought about what China is actually trying to achieve? The 20 year old goal is to move another 200-350 million people off of the farms into cities; that’s the population of the United States! In other words, we’re talking about duplicating *an entire United States* from the ground up in 20 years. (And from a GDP point of view, China’s GDP should quadruple over the next 20 years… we’re literally building 3 more of the current China over the next 20 years.)

    So this is *all* part of the urbanization process; if you look at Chinese cities, they’ve all expanded by at least a factor of 5 over the last 10 years. Look at Beijing; who thought they’d ever need a 5-ring, 6-ring road? Who do you think lives in the cities? Where do you think the people came from? In my home town of Nanjing, the city has added so many new districts… I haven’t even seen all of the new “downtowns”.

    The other part of the urbanization process is building up smaller towns, and hukou reform is focused on making that possible as well.

    As to clothes, decent meals, jobs outside of a sweat-shop, education, air-conditioning and decent healthcare, whether the CCP has indeed given all of that to the Chinese people remains to be seen.

    The CCP didn’t “give” that to the Chinese people, but the CCP has at least setup the economic opportunities that gave precisely that to hundreds of millions of Chinese. I, and all the other mainland Chinese on this blog are recipients of exactly that.

    When you look at mainland China, don’t compare it to Hong Kong or the United States. Compare it to the other developing nations with a similar economic structure; compare it to India, to Sri Lanka, to Mexico, to Brazil. It is not an exaggeration at all to say that 30 years ago, all of us lived like the poorer classes of these other nations. Look at what we’ve achieved in 30 years, and imagine what we’re trying to achieve over the next 30 years.

    I don’t doubt the CCP is trying to improve the situation of the Chinese people, but, perhaps I’m indeed quite cynical, I view it more as a means to stay in power than the actual desire to help the people.

    What’s the “motive” of politicians in a western democracy? To win an election, to get the job. Why do you care *why* the CCP is doing what it is doing? This is part of the myopia I described earlier, which I find so frustrating and infuriating.

    All I care about are *results*; the CCP doesn’t concern me, the welfare of my country and my people concerns me.

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