May 22

Red Cross in the Crosshairs

Written by: Buxi | Filed under:News | Tags:, ,
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For the many Chinese critical of their government, their number one concern isn’t “human rights” or “freedom of expression”… instead, it’s corruption pervasive throughout Chinese society. In the aftermath of the earthquake, this issue is again on prominent display.

The Chinese Red Cross is playing a critical role in managing relief donations for victims of the earthquake. However, along with great authority comes great responsibility. The Red Cross is now being hit with allegations of corruption from every corner.

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May 22

China’s crackdown on Falun Gong (FLG) is frequently cited in the west as evidence of human rights abuse and suppression of religion. On the other hand, some of the FLG followers make it really difficult to sympathize with their cause.

Case in point, there are reports of FLG followers publicly cheering the Sichuan earthquake as a karmic response from heaven on the Chinese Communist Party. ESWN provided a translation of a report from Ming Pao dated May 21, 2008:

The confrontation between Queens county residents and the FLG practitioners is now on its fourth day …

Yesterday at 10am, several dozen FLG member appeared in front of the Flushing Public Library.  Just like the past three days before, they unfurled banners that pronounced “The Heavens destroy the Chinese Communists,” “Experts sent Sichuan earthquake prediction report confidentially to authorities” and so on to show the passer-bys.  Some of the FLG members said that they have been criticising the Chinese Communist regime and they thought that the Sichuan earthquake revealed the evil nature of the Chinese Communists.  Some FLG members even said that the Sichuan earthquake was the result of the violent rule of the Chinese Communists.

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May 22

Tsinghua University is one of the most prominent universities in China. Current President Hu Jintao and former premier Zhu Rongji are both Tsinghua alumni. So it’s naturally intriguing to know what current Tsinghua students are like, since they are probably China’s future leaders. Daniel Bell, a Professor of Political Philosophy and Ethics at Tsinghua University in Beijing, provided an insider’s view today at The New York Times.

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May 21

“Shift from feudalism no easy leap”

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Insightful editorial from the Sydney Morning Herald, discussing the issue of Tibet, China, and the Olympics.

The recent demonstrations in support of Tibetan independence have been a carefully co-ordinated boutique public relations operation rather than an outbreak of mass demonstrations.

Video records of demonstrations in Tibet show an ugly, racist side to the unrest as ethnic Tibetans (but not monks) kicked, beat and stabbed Han Chinese, along with the ransacking and looting of Han-owned businesses. The Government had no choice but to intervene with force.

China has a long history of civil war. For more than a millennium, it has lived under a sequence of dictatorships, absolute monarchies and uncompromising feudalism. To move so vast a culture so quickly has required the Government to retain a firm grip on the centrifugal forces that could tear the country asunder.

The idea that China can simply jump from ingrained feudalism to a plural democracy in a single generation cannot coexist with the real world.

It also includes details on past Olympic boycotts I wasn’t aware of.

Few Australians even know that the 1956 Games in Melbourne was boycotted by Spain, the Netherlands and Switzerland over the Soviet invasion of Hungary, and by Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq and Cambodia over the occupation of the Suez Canal by Britain and France. In 1976, 21 African nations boycotted the Montreal Olympics because New Zealand had not been banned for playing rugby union against South Africa. In 1980 the United States and some allies boycotted the Moscow Games over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In 1984 the Soviet bloc boycotted the Los Angeles Olympics in retaliation for the 1980 boycott.

None was effective. None achieved more than transient symbolism. To throw the 2008 Olympics into chaos over Tibet would thus be overkill, disproportionate and counterproductive, in support of a dubious moral argument.

May 21

Zhang Ya (张雅) (UPDATE: New name, see more below) has become the latest target of the Internet lynch mob. She is a 21 year old girl from Liaoning, and probably receiving far more hostility than even Grace Wang.

Here is her crime:

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May 20

One of our readers, JL wrote this in an earlier thread:

So Tibet is very similar to the European colonies. Researching this is my day job so I can provide you more references if you want. And I’m disappointed that you would deny it because you think “its dangerous” to do so. I thought you were interested objective reality?

My point here is not that Tibet should be independent, or even that it should be more autonomous: after all the Maori now have very little autonomy in New Zealand. But I would have liked to have seen some honesty regarding Tibetan history from Chinese netizens. Happily, there are Chinese scholars who are more honest about Tibet’s colonial past and present though. I suggest you check out 王力雄, a Beijing based researcher, whose work presents Tibetan history from a fairly neutral perspective.

Your “suggestion” that we read Wang Lixiong’s works is not only patronizing, but also misguided. I’ll respond to this below.

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May 20

Some Chinese have spoken of their disillusionment after watching Western press coverage after recent Tibet riots, and others have spoken of how their opinions changed after they have actually *lived* in the United States… but even so, many Chinese have a deep love affair with all things American. For many, the United States government can do no wrong (while the Chinese government can do little right).

In an effort to add some depth to Western knowledge of Chinese voices… here is the translation of a thread celebrating the American government’s support given to China, after the recent earthquake.

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May 19

“Go China!”

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China is defiantly in mourning today. To those who lost their lives last week: you are in our memories, rest in peace.

Faced with a disaster of biblical proportion, the vast majority of Chinese stood still at 2:28 PM (local time) on Monday to memorialize those who lost their lives in last week’s earthquake. The Chinese government and Chinese businesses are taking extraordinary steps to participate in this memorial, including basically shutting down all entertainment in the country for three days; Shanghaiist gives a detailed overview of some of these measures.

The year 2008 might go down in history as the year that has again united China. I’ve had several Chinese of my parents’ generation tell me that many of them had lost faith in the Chinese as a people after the Cultural Revolution, that a decade of mutual persecution and incrimination had destroyed even basic morality. I’ve had other Chinese tell me that they had lost faith in the Chinese as a nation after 1989/6/4, that a country which used force on its people could not possibly survive. I’ve heard from younger Chinese that they felt abandoned by the new market economy, that the growing wealth gap meant we were growing more separated by the day.

But many feel a sense of renewal this year. We’ve seen the wealthy reach deep into their pockets to donate to the victims; we’ve seen young peasant soldiers give their lives, give every inch of their souls in fighting for every last life in Sichuan; we’ve seen (some) admirable government officials go sleepless nights trying to solve every last problem. All of the pain that we’ve shared (from the snow storm, to Tibet, and now to the Sichuan earthquake), and all of the good that we’ve done to fight back are re-establishing in many Chinese a broad love for China that hadn’t existed for decades.

This is no longer the red hot, testosterone-driven lust for a stronger China many of us (including myself) exhibited after the Olympic torch was attacked on foreign soil. This is a deeper, determined, unblemished love for a China that we will rebuild.

I was very moved by this video of the crowds that spontaneously formed in Tiananmen Square (and many other Chinese cities) following a 3-minute period of silence; the video shows tears, anger, sorrow, and hope in the hearts of a billion plus Chinese of all ages and backgrounds.

May 19

A call for material

Written by: Buxi | Filed under:Announcements | Tags:
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This blog site is intended to be a collaborative effort; it doesn’t belong to any individual.

We welcome all voices representing the Chinese mainstream speaking in English.  I’ve come across examples of wonderful, insightful writing from Chinese on other blogs, letters submitted to English newspapers, etc… and I really hope this site could act as a central clearinghouse for sharing and saving this material.  Many of the comments left on this blog are also wonderful.

For those who write material (or just happen to find some), please let us know.  You can email the email address in the “About” page above.  If you think you have the time to be a regular contributor, please contact us about joining us as an editor as well.

May 18

Who is Tang Buxi?

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A regular poster asked me to talk a little about myself in a previous thread.

I don’t want to get into a long discussion of my history, life, and professional resume (or at least not at this time).  But I do want to explain why I’m active here, and why I’m contributing to this blog.

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May 18

The Dalai Lama speaks with the Times (UK) as he begins his European tour. Very interestingly, he describes what might be a revolutionary change in position as far as a return to China.

In an unexpected shift of policy, he has four conditions which, if met, would permit him to return.

I analyze and discuss these four conditions below.

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May 18

As a follow-up to the previously published column on Tibet, Kristof returns with some stinging criticisms of China’s policy in Tibet. Refreshingly, he also criticizes everyone else involved:

The recent uprising by Tibetans underscores the utter failure of Beijing’s policies in Tibet. But it also reflects the failure of the Dalai Lama and of America.

The Dalai Lama has played a waiting game, but as China gains global power — and as more Han Chinese flood into Tibet — that has been a losing strategy. The Dalai Lama has won acclaim internationally, but that acclaim triggers the deep Chinese sensitivity to foreign bullying and thus has antagonized the audience that may count the most: China.

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May 17

Students from Sichuan high school were evacuated from their classrooms on May 12th due to the earthquake. A few decide to record themselves having some fun. They mock the idea of casualties (one girl says she’s not worried about her parents, only the singers of Twins); they say they hope there’s an earthquake every day.

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May 16

The Terrified Monks

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Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times is traveling in Xiahe, Gansu. (We can safely assume his trip isn’t within the past week, or otherwise he would’ve been within a few hundred miles of the earthquake’s epicenter.)

The editorial adds little that is new to the discussion. It is a reiteration of monks claiming that they were assaulted while arrested, which correlated with a military presence, is finally translated into a “harsh crackdown”. The editorial ends with this line:

China is emerging as a great power in this century, and it is famously concerned with saving face. But it loses far more face from its own repression of Tibetans than from anything the Dalai Lama has ever done.

Kristof suggests on his blog that many Chinese will be outraged by the editorial, and invites comments. Mine are repeated here.

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May 16

This poem comes from an editor at Taiwan’s China Post.

Child - Reaching for his backpack

My dearest Daddy and Mommy:

I’m sorry! Today, I won’t be home on time.

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May 15

Sichuan: A volunteer’s diary

Written by: Buxi | Filed under:Letters | Tags:, ,
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This post also comes from Tianya, and is dated the evening of May 15th.

I haven’t closed my eyes for two days. I’m a student from Wuxi’s Professional Health Institute (Wuxi is located in Jiangsu province, in eastern China). After we learned of the earthquake in Sichuan, 8 of us voluntarily organized ourselves into a group, and had one of our parents drive us to Sichuan. The expressway’s still blocked, but along the way we saw a couple military trucks, and we caught a ride. We arrived at the earthquake zone, and we’ve been helping rescue the wounded since.

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May 15


The thing that 16 year old Li An’ning fears the most is shaking. Lying on her stretcher, the rescuers carrying her to safety are careful with every step, afraid any small tremble will bring screams from her.

“I’m not even afraid of death now, but I’m terrified of even the smallest shake”, she said.

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May 14

For those who care about China, your effort is needed now more than ever. Here are a few more options for those looking to make a donation to the Sichuan earthquake relief effort.

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May 14

Harvard: Tibetan/Han Panelists Probe Issues

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If there’s one positive that has come out of the recent conflict in Tibet (and subsequent echoes around the world), it has raised awareness amongst many Chinese that the problem exists.  I think many (including myself) have learned much more about Tibetan wishes over the past two months, and this type of understanding can only help.

Kudos to those at Harvard who organized a very interesting panel discussion discussing the issues.  From the Harvard Crimson:

Tibet Poverty Alleviation Fund President Arthur N. Holcombe said that a resolution would only result from dialogue between the two groups.

“It is important for all of us that solutions to the problem are not an either-or-situation,” he said. “The solution must come from joint collaboration with the Han and Tibetan peoples.”

“Ultimately we are here today to listen to different perspectives on this situation,” Holcombe added.

Senior fellow in East Asian Legal Studies at the Law School Lobsang Sangay—who showed photographs of violence in Tibet—praised the discussion for achieving what he said the Chinese government has done poorly.

“Finally, after the tragedy, one good thing has happened,” he said, referring to last night’s panel. “The Han Chinese have taken responsibility—shared responsibility.”

Zhongrui Yin ’11, organizer of the event, said that last night’s dialogue was a positive step in achieving harmony between the groups.

“I was very delighted that we were able to have a very respectful, yet very frank, dialogue,” he said. “I wish the speakers could have talked to each other more, but the overall attitude was very positive.

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May 13

Sichuan earthquake – continued

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Within 2 hours of the actual earthquake, premier Wen Jiabao was on a plane to Chengdu. Upon landing, he was on the scene at the devastated city of Dujiangyan within hours. He has barely slept over the last 24-30 hours, personally attending to details on the scene. He has been in almost constant tears, doing what little he can to help.  He has been quoted as saying to government officials: “Only one sentence: the people feed you,  you know what you must do.”

The death toll continues to rise. The worst devastation appears to be in Beichuang, where basically the entire county-town has been leveled. The People’s Liberation Army and Armed Police have double-time marched into the area, but they could not bring heavy equipment. They can only provide basic comfort at this time; trapped school-children are calling out to them… “uncles, please help!” Villagers are being evacuated slowly, leaving behind probably half of the original population of Beichuang in the ruins.

Beijing has been remarkably open with covering this entire tragedy, not pulling a single punch. Images of children crushed and trapped within schools are on the front-pages of all Chinese newspapers and websites. Every resource within China is being brought in.  The Olympic torch relay has been drastically modified.  The route has been shrunk, and there will be a minute of silence in memory of those lost.  Donation boxes will be setup around the route; the relay will now be a chance to raise money for the victims.

An elite airborne paratrooper unit (15th Airborne Corps) was widely reported to have been planning to parachute into the heart of the devastation yesterday, with road access still cut off. With horrible weather, many expected a very high casualty rate amongst the paratroopers; many reportedly wrote their last wills in preparation. With weather growing even worse in this mountainous area, however, this desperate measure was postponed for now.

Nations and people around the world have offered their sympathies and assistance. The Dalai Lama has applauded Beijing’s remarkably quick response to the earthquake, and is praying for the souls of the dead. Earthquake rescue teams from every nation stands ready to deploy; in the face of overwhelming support for the government effort so far, this last item is probably the only point of contention in the Chinese world right now. Some in China accuse the Chinese government of wanting to save face, and thus refusing international teams on the ground. However, Taiwanese experts commented that during their earthquake effort a few years back, dealing with international experts (speaking different languages and unfamiliar with the setting) can actually serve as a major distraction in the early hours of such a crisis. Beijing has said it welcomes all aid, and international teams will be welcomed in as soon as the roads into the mountains are cleared.

And yet again during this 2008, the Olympic year, the world’s attention is squarely on China.

May 12

Separatists kill 8 railway workers

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This story just off the wire talks about more violence on the foothills of the Himalayas, resulting from a recent government crack-down on a long simmering separatist movement. Continue reading »