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Jun 28

The Prospects of Democracy in China

Written by Nimrod on Saturday, June 28th, 2008 at 5:37 pm
Filed under:Analysis | Tags:, , ,
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Our guest Youzi has given us a kernel for further discussion in one of his comments:

And even within China, between different provinces and peoples are tremendous psychological differences, perhaps even greater than those between two countries. As time has passed, as the people’s living standards have grown and as awareness of personal rights has woken… if the traditional methods of political pressure and thought control are used, it’s already become very difficult to maintain the China unity and a sense of belong to the Chinese people. The government has observed this point, but unless it implements effective political reform that respects and tolerates the interests of different groups of people, it will not resolve this fundamental problem simply by waving the worn-down flags of patriotism and nationalism.

I don’t think we disagree on this point, but I think Youzi goes a bit far to berate some of us for suggesting that an “awareness of personal rights” alone and a shallow understanding of “fighting for personal rights” without civic values and respect for law is a recipe for disaster. It’s a two way street. What makes “Western-style democracy” tick isn’t the prescription of “freedom, democracy, and rule of law”, but the deeply ingrained sense in every single citizen that their interests lie in their responsibility to and stewardship of the country, its institutions, and values, of which such rights are a part — in short, true patriotism. That prevents people from ripping the constitution apart when they don’t get their way. Sad to say, China isn’t there yet.

So what are “effective political reform that respects and tolerates the interests of different groups of people” at this stage? Well, there is a model and there is dynamics. Nobody is sitting idly on their hands. I want to direct our readers to this article in Foreign Affairs earlier this year titled

Long Time Coming – The Prospects of Democracy in China.

I posted it weeks ago in a comment but it really deserves its own highlight here.

It’s a very very interesting article.

Abstract: Is China democratizing? The country’s leaders do not think of democracy as people in the West generally do, but they are increasingly backing local elections, judicial independence, and oversight of Chinese Communist Party officials. How far China’s liberalization will ultimately go and what Chinese politics will look like when it stops are open questions.

As many of you know, China has elections. Not only in various levels of People’s Congresses up to the NPC but also more genuinely in village-level direct elections. Beyond that, there is a lot more to it than elections. This article tells a little about the state of affairs, as well as the direction and vision going forward as planned by the government itself. The author is John Thornton, a well educated scholar certainly, but what is more valuable is his analysis based on his interactions on the ground in China.

Read it, and you may be surprised by what democracy (or “Chinese-style democracy” or let’s just call it “the Chinese model”) means to the Chinese leadership, and for China and its people.


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166 Responses to “The Prospects of Democracy in China”

  1. Red Says:

    You wrote:
    “What makes ‘Western-style democracy’ tick … (is) the deeply ingrained sense in every single citizen that their interests lie in their responsibility to and stewardship of the country, its institutions, and values…”

    Imagine for a moment, 800 million peasants individually thinking of “responsibility” and “stewardship” of the country and institutions …. China will go down in a flash. Be careful for what you wish for, which is that you are pining for democracy in China by redefining the political ideology. This is westernization the back door.

    Instead, forget for a moment ideas or concepts related to democracy – and forget even the word itself. Consider instead this: that China, or rather the State Council, is offering greater personal and individual freedoms, beginning with private property ownership, retaining the fruits of one’s labour, mobility (including, in common parlance, career advancement), and so on. This is what the evidences on the ground, in word and in deeds, have shown so far. One is encouraged by that.

    In democracy, they change the chef each time the electorate don’t like the menu. In China, they keep the chef, and the patrons are given choices of menu. Different menus and changing the menus are requisites in the system, and each menu – there are many menus – is tailor-made according to preferences and to suit the varieties of China according to season and place. This system is probably in place and, as with all things human, it has its defects. But it is getting better by the year.

    China alone invented the civil service examination system, a civil service it now needs to put into the umbrage of a political system. This is not easy but there is a long Chinese history of experience to help and learn from with the modernisation. Few countries, if any, is a populated by a citizenry that demands, in modern political terms, less government as the Chinese do. In America, they call it conservatism; in Europe liberalism. Recall, however the saying in China: the mountain is high, the emperor is far away.

    The West, where you live, only want to interprete politics, governance and public policy on their terms. This is completely fallacious and this is what bothers the Chinese leadership, I think. The West demands, or even grants (this is arguable), individual choices on how to live one’s life. Yet, contradictorily, it refuses to apply that principle to countries, at state level, China in this case. John Thornton, in his article, was doing the same, seeing and interpreting things according to his cultural and educational background.

    All said, good blog you have.

  2. Nimrod Says:

    Red, thanks for your comment. I think you misunderstood me a little bit. If you read the article, you’ll see that in it, democracy isn’t a word or an ideology, but a concept that China is defining and using for itself. I’m pleased that Thornton is perceptive enough and open minded enough to see that. Don’t be scared away by the word, but be vigilant about people using it as a stick to badger others. We don’t do that here.

  3. Oli Says:

    Thanks for raising the issue Nimrod, this is a an issue I have been itching to raise and below is my comments to one SK Cheung’s posting which I feel would be more appropriately addressed in this thread.

    @SK Cheung

    On China’s modernisation
    Often what people only see of China’s modernisation dichotomy, ie. the new buildings, massive construction and pollution, break neck urbanisation, widening gap between the rich, new liberalism and sophistication yet continuing state oppression, interference and patronising paternalism. However, there exist a deeper level behind the scene transformation that many simply do not see or are seldom reported on, either because its not “interesting” or because the government wouldn’t allow it to be reported on.

    For example not many people know that China has been sending out delegations to different parts of the world to observe and research local judicial system and jurisprudence as China reform its own judicial branch. These visits included ones to the British Law Society on UK’s common law system, France and Italy’s use of investigative magistrates and Germany’s constitutional and federal law system, just to name a few.

    Nor do many people realised that since the mid-90’s China have been continuously experimenting on local democracy and elections in selected rural areas just as it experimented with capitalism and regulated free-market economy in the Pearl Delta region of Shenzhen prior to rolling it out across China from the 80’s onwards.

    But these experiments in democracy unfortunately have also revealed the usual problems, ie votes buying, corruption, bussing and jerrymandering among others which made it impossible to role it out on a much wider scale, when other structural components are not yet in place particularly in the urban centres, ie judicial and law enforcement reforms, the necessary critical mass of sophisticated urban population to make the reforms self-sustaining, a responsible media etc. and above all the necessary money to pay for it all, ie higher salaries for police officers, judges or government workers to remove the temptation for corruption, when there are other competing demands and priorities and at the same time without loosing control of the the whole process. From my observations, sometimes I feel that its like trying to control a nuclear chain reaction.

    On top of this, is also the Chinese government’s implicit rejection of allowing interest groups to hijack the political process (this has a long imperial tradition and also relates to China’s attitude towards organised religion, which I hope to tackle later), as it is so often the case with the prevalence of lobbyists’, big business’ and the old money class’ involvement in American and European politics and elections (this is the socialist ideology aspect). Consequently the picture is alot more complicated than many could or are willing to appreciate, especially to those whose instinctive and repetitive default mantra is “China baaaad, West goooooood” or who has their own agenda and interest in forcing China’s pace and direction of change.

  4. MutantJedi Says:

    I haven’t read the link you provided yet Nimrod but I did want to comment on something Red touched upon.

    In North America, conservatives say they want less government but they are the ones that often push for more spending on the war against X. Swap in whatever you want for X that increases government and reduces liberty. War against drugs, War against terror, War against… whatever. Each time more government, less liberty.

    I did notice a difference in governance in China, even on my short visit. I don’t mean the stereotypical CCP control caricature. Of course I had to go to the Bank of China to change money but yet I could go to almost any ATM. Only places that were way too expensive took credit cards, most people would just take cash. You can buy so many different things with cash and without tax. What a marvelous free and anonymous market!

    It was just an impression from a short trip.

    @Oli – interesting.

  5. FOARP Says:

    @Mutantjedi – The tax is simply taken via a different route. The Chinese government takes a lower cut of GDP than most countries – around 31% or so. Did you ever try sorting out income tax? A money transfer? A work visa? A new bank card? You try getting healthcare/education when you’re working outside of your Hukou? Ever have dealings with the police? As for ‘almost any ATM’, that’s pretty much just this last couple of years, and only in the big cities.

  6. MutantJedi Says:

    FOARP,
    yep – as I mentioned – just a short visit. Sort of putting my money where my mouth is, I’ll be changing that this fall. I’ve got opinions but, unlike you, I lack real exposure. I do keep that in mind each time I read you or respond to you.

    You mention visas. My 1 year multiple entry visa I got last October was very easy to get and the only time I had even a slightest bump with it was leaving the train in Beijing. The official simply didn’t know where 卡尔加里 (Calgary) was. I’ve been watching closely the visa issues leading up to the games. It’s been extremely disruptive to the lives of foreigners who have invested themselves in China. These are folks who push through the things you mentioned above yet still lived and worked in China. Each one has contributed to the prosperity of the nation. Yet, because of a sports event (inclusive of the stupidity that surrounds these events), they are denied visas and are forced to leave. Expect that the government’s shortsightedness on this issue will be one of the many post Olympic ripples.

    One of the other ripples will be the empty hotels.

  7. Leo Says:

    @Mutant Jedi,

    I don’t think the visa issue is really the reason for the empty hotels. If people are seriouis about going to Beijing to watch sport, they can easily fulfil the requirements: an Olympic ticket and a hotel booking confirmation. The frist possible reason I think is the bad press, including the visa issue itself. The most visitors were previously not aware human rights or Tibet issues, or that China is communist at all. Now they are aware, thanks to the intense coverage of the internaitonal press, especially in the sport columns. The average people in the West may not care on another occasion, but now this awareness is just constantly on their mind and hold them back. The second reason is that China usually just does not receive a lot of Western visitors. If you observe the human flow at the Forbidden City, you will realize that an overwhelming majority of foreign tourists are Japanese and South Koreans, and most of the tourists, including the Westerners, are organized tour of seniors. Individual, young, and white, tourists are very few. I think the most agencies will avoid sending organized tours on such an occasion like the Olympics. This is my tentative take of the issue.

  8. JL Says:

    A couple of lines grabbed my attention in the above discussion:
    Buxi says: “Sad to say, China isn’t there yet. [re: true patriotism]”
    and Red says: “Imagine for a moment, 800 million peasants individually thinking of “responsibility” and “stewardship” of the country and institutions …. China will go down in a flash.”

    In an odd way, I think there is a kind of paradox in the thinking of patriotic, non-democratic (or go-slow-democratic) politics. The reason why democracy is deemed to be unsuitable for China is that the Chinese people aren’t good enough yet. Chinese people aren’t quite as competent as Westerners. The only way to mount a defense of authoritarianism is to belittle the Chinese people. Of course this kind of thinking isn’t limited to China, back when the Brits ruled India, they said the same thing; self-rule for India would be a great thing, but not now: how could a country of peasants govern itself?
    But is there any evidence that shows peasants make worse political choices than educated urbanites? I don’t think I’ve ever seen any.
    I do think education is important, but think about the people you know from working class and farming backgrounds back in China: Do you really think they are much less intelligent than you or I? Much less capable of making a political choice?

    Another thing, Buxi, is that I think one of the sadnesses of the current system in China is that very often it is the people who truly care about their fellow citizens who end up falling afoul of the system. I don’t think people like Hu Jia set out to be dissidents. At least, if he had never cared about trying to make China better, and had just taken a job and spent the weekend shopping and playing cards, he wouldn’t be in any trouble now.

  9. Red Says:

    You quoted a passage from Youzi. In particular, I draw your attention to the last three lines, which is standard fare in international discussions. Related to those lines, I must dispute on the point that China is reapplying the word democracy by redefinition. Rather, it is socialism. MutantJedi feels it on the ground, a sensation of life and experiences different to all that he/she has read. I feel the differences too – showing how life is different from the international reports and the assertions that the likes of Youzi are repeating and throwing at us only in a different language about an evil state. I agree with you on the observation, THE word that’s used to beat us up. Did you read the Danwei transcript in WNYC radio, talking about China? There were outrageous assertions – the kind made by Youzi. One has a sense that they are not debating or discussing – what’s to talk over among persons with the same attitude? – but there was just alot of spitting and spitting, and having a whale of a time at it. As I hear the old Brits say, Oh Blimey!

  10. Red Says:

    JL asserts: “The only way to mount a defense of authoritarianism is to belittle the Chinese people.” Who is defending authoritarianism? Where does it say? And prove your statement true that somebody, anybody, here is belittling the Chinese? Where, in which line on these postings, does it say, suggest, infer “belittle”? JL, you are reading into things that aren’t there and you are mouthing common diatribes. You miss entirely the crux of the prior statement: 800 million peasants to decide on a political system of governance is a hell of a system because it pulls in 800 million directions (for exaggeration). But China already has a system in place, excepting you insists on labelling it “authoritarianism”. Where is your originality?

  11. Nimrod Says:

    JL, I wrote this post, not Buxi.

    I don’t consider what I wrote belittling Chinese people. Is it also belittling Chinese people to say China is still very poor? Or is it belittling Chinese people to say that poor people can’t afford to hold the Olympics? (Because we’ve heard that line before.) Well this is kind of similar. I think it’s sufficient to disagree on the points without pointing fingers.

    Do peasants make worse political choices than educated urbanites? I think everybody is capable of making choices on things that affect them closely and on concrete local issues that they understand. But I don’t think it’s that controversial to say being informed and educated makes a differences in choices on things that are more abstract and more difficult. That is why many Chinese actual believe that while the local level elections should be promoted, anything above provincial level should not be done through direct popular elections but through some other form of responsible government.

  12. 游子 Says:

    Due to time constraints, a brief sight translation by Nimrod, for now.

    作为一个生活在中国的中国人,我只是坦率地讲出我对周围事物的看法。我是政府公务员,在目前的中国也算处于中上阶层;我也受过较好的教育,思想也不封闭。如果我的观点在某些人看来都算是 outrageous assertions 的话,就请这些生活在美国的人来到中国,亲自听听处于底层的工人和农民的想法,也许那就不是 outrageous 而是crazy了。

    As somebody living in China, I will candidly tell what I see around me. I’m a government worker, and currently should be counted among China’s upper middle class. I also had a rather good education, and have not a closed mind. If my views are outrageous asssertions according to someone, then these people who live in the US should come to China and listen for themselves the thoughts of the bottom-rung workers and peasants. Maybe then they’d not say “outrageous” but “crazy”.

    所以,看了John L. Thornton的文章The Prospects for Democracy in China后,我也有同样的想法:为什么他总是在文章里引述官员们的观点而且只是部分官员的观点。关于村委会选举的问题,他为什么不问村民们的看法?比如村长有什么权力?村里的党支部书记处于什么地位?这样的选举是否很有意义?关于司法独立的问题,他也应该去问律师有什么亲身感受。然而,他竟然不去问这些具体参与事件的当事人,只问幕后组织策划的官员。当然回答都是审慎乐观的:我们在一步步前进,不能急,我们在自己的道路上取了一个又一个胜利。

    So after reading Thornton’s article, I also have a similar thought: why does he only quote the viewpoints of the officials and only a portion of them at that. On village elections, why doesn’t he ask the villagers’ opinions? For instance, what is the power of the village chief? What is the position of the Party secretary in the village? Is there any meaning to these electoins? On independent judiciary, he should go ask lawyers what their personal feelings are. However, he incredibly did not go ask those actual participants, but only the officials that directed behind the scenes. Of course the answers are all watchful and optimistic: we’re going forward a step at a time, we can’t hurry, we achieved victory after victory on our path.

    John L. Thornton还有一个错误的观点。他以为中国近现代的领导人都是真心实意实行民主的,只是在方法步骤上有所不同。对此我非常不以为然。从人性角度出发,任何掌握绝对权力的人都不会轻易放弃已经获得的权力,除非是遇到难以对抗的外部压力。很多人未掌握权力时会要求实行民主,一旦掌权就会马上变脸。毛泽东就是如此。而邓小平提出改革开放政策,也不是因为他早已规划好了民主时间表,而是不这么做,这个国家马上就要完蛋。同样,目前政府做了许多形式上的民主试验,也是因为遇到巨大的民间压力--你们应该知道“群体性事件”这个词,这在中国已经是常见现象了,有些激烈程度完全可以用rebellion来表述。再次声明,我这可是客观陈述,不是outrageous assertions。当然,信不信由你。

    Thornton has another wrongheaded viewpoint. He believes China’s recent and currrent leaders are all genuinely interested in realizing democracy, but only have some differences on method and steps. I think otherwise. From the perspective of human nature, anyone with power will not easily relinquish what is already in hand, unless they meet external pressure that is hard to resist. Many people would demand democracy when they don’t have power, but once they get power they change instantly. Mao Zedong was exactly like this, while Deng Xiaoping proposed reform and opening not because he long ago planned a timeline for democracy, but because if he didn’t do what he did, then this country would have been finished. Similarly, the current government has done many nominal democracy experiments, also because they met a huge popular pressure — you all should know the phrase “mass incidents”. This is a common occurrence in China now, the intensity of some can be described by “rebellion”. Again I want to state, this is really objective narration, not outrageous assertions. Of course, whether to believe is up to you.

    John L. Thornton注意到了一个事实,即在中国,书面上的法律与现实运作是两回事。但他竟然没以深究这个现象,非常可惜。没错,中国是制定了很多法律,有些法律看起来很不错,但就是不能真正实施。就是宪法上写出的权利,比如游行示威什么的,你们这些在西方能够上街抗议的人有种回国来试试。为什么不能真正实行法治呢?难道是因为中国公民的素质太低,都不需要法治?还是某些人其实就不想真正的法治?而谁又有不执行法律的权力?我不想再说这个问题,免得又被人认为是outrageous了。

    Thorton noticed a fact, that in China, laws on the books and actual operations are two things. But he didn’t look deeply at this phenomenon, which is too bad. It’s true, China enacted many laws, some that look pretty good, but just cannot be carried out. Even rights written in the Constitution, e.g. protests and demonstrations … if you people who can protest in the West have the balls, then come back and try in China. Why can’t the rule of law be truly implemented? Is it because Chinese citizens are too low class, that they need no rule of law? Or is it that certain people actually don’t want real rule of law? And who then has the power to not execute laws? I don’t want to say more about this problem, lest I am considered outrageous again.

    有些人留在西方心平气和地享受自由民主,看到国内有人大声疾呼要求自由民主,便觉得别人outrageous了。outrageous就outrageous,我只是希望那些主张有步骤有计划实行中国特色民主的人们注意,时间是紧迫的,千万不要等到大家都crazy了,那时就晚了。既得利益者当然想慢慢玩,但总不能要求受损害者象木头人一样没有感情。清政府就是这样完蛋的。

    Some poeple stay in the West and calmly enjoy the freedom and democracy, then when they see there are people in China crying out for freedom and democracy they find them outrageous. Well, outrageous it is. I only hope those who advocate steps and plans for Chinese-style democracy should take note, the time is short. Don’t wait till everyone is crazy, then it’s too late. Those with vested interests certainly want to fiddle slowly, but you can’t ask those sustaining injury to be like wood and have no feeling. The Qing government was finished off like that.

  13. MutantJedi Says:

    Leo,

    I think the empty hotels is due to reasons beyond visas as well. But, I do think the visa situation has a huge huge role. Last summer, some friends and I were talking about touring through China ending up in Beijing around the time of the games. I don’t have any interest in watching the games but enjoying the excitement around the games might have been fun. Oops. I don’t fulfill the requirements. And that’s the point. A lot of tourists would come not for the games but because the games draw attention to China as a travel destination.

    The “bad press” doesn’t help. But I think that just gets magnified when a potential tourists asks his travel agent about visiting China and gets the impression that he’s not welcomed due to visa restrictions.

    As for finding Laowai in Beijing, I found them in the Forbidden City. But if you really want to find them troll 王府井 or 秀水街, especially 秀水街. Also the hostel that I stayed at had Westerners from all over.

    People ramped up for the promised flood of tourists. People were expecting to make money. Instead, places where people would hang out after the games are going to be closed early or not even open. Cultural events are being cancelled. When people ask how come nobody showed up, they might think to point the finger at Tibet or old white folk but really they need to point the finger at the government.

    :)
    I think it is pretty common knowledge that the ruling party in China is the Chinese Communist Party. But I think you’re right about knowledge about Tibet in the West.

  14. Nimrod Says:

    Youzi,

    You are too quick to judge and not nearly careful enough. On the first page of Thornton’s article, it says:

    This article is based on conversations held over the past 14 months with a broad range of Chinese, including members of the CCP’s Central Committee — the group of China’s top 370 leaders — senior government officials, scholars, judges, lawyers, journalists, and leaders of nongovernmental organizations

    Also your tired mantra of “vested interest groups” is getting ridiculous. If anything, we are not vested in the current system. You are. You work for the government, for god’s sake! So speak for yourself. I believe less and less your rhetorical sympathy with other classes of people. In fact, according to your own “human nature” theories, you wouldn’t care. Ironic. Now if you actually know anything we don’t know due to your job, let us know right here. We’ve been wide open and waiting to hear.

  15. MutantJedi Says:

    JL,
    I absolutely disagree with the notion that the Chinese people are not good enough for a democracy. In fact, I’m quite optimistic about what will evolve in China.

  16. 游子 Says:

    Translation in bold by Nimrod

    Nimrod :

    虽然文章中说 (Although the article says):This article is based on conversations held over the past 14 months with a broad range of Chinese, including members of the CCP’s Central Committee — the group of China’s top 370 leaders — senior government officials, scholars, judges, lawyers, journalists, and leaders of nongovernmental organizations,很遗憾,我没有看到 (but unfortunately I did not see the views of) lawyers, journalists, and leaders of nongovernmental organizations的观点。至于scholars,我注意到了,那是党校的scholars。(As for scholars, I noticed that, those were Party scholars.)

    我是个公务员,但是脑子还算清醒。我看到了危险,并希望能够避免危险,仅此而已。
    I’m a government worker, but my head is still clear. I see danger, and hope danger can be averted, that’s all.

  17. Nimrod Says:

    Youzi,

    Oh I get it now, you didn’t see what you think should be the views of lawyers, journalists, and leaders of NGOs, so there must be no such views represented. Right… As for scholars, yes he talked to Party school scholars among them, but he was clear to identify them as “government scholars”, yet there were many others, including even foreign scholars. So what you said is basically hogwash.

    I’m glad somebody in the system like you see the dangers. I just hope you don’t always assume nobody else does or that you are morally superior to all of them. Everything you say is all too ironic due to this incredible attitude of yours.

  18. CLC Says:

    @ Nimrod,

    Both Youzi’s opinions and his attitude are not unique. I can trace those things back to at least 1989. You know, some students think they were the beholders of the ultimate truth and everybody else should just “shut up.”

    One more thing, Youzi is apparently capable of understanding English, but he continues posting in Chinese while offers no explanation for doing so. This occurs to me as unusually rude.

  19. JL Says:

    guys,

    Firstly, sorry to Nimrod for not crediting you with the article.

    Red, What I think is belittling is the notion that if Chinese peasants were given a chance to have a say on the future of their country, i.e. by “thinking of “responsibility” and “stewardship” of the country and institutions” then, “China will go down in a flash.” Those are your words, and, yes, I think they are belittling to Chinese peasants. I see no reason to believe that China would “go down in a flash”, if peasants were given a greater influence over the political process, i.e. by being able to vote for provincial and national leaders.

    Mutant Jedi:
    I wasn’t the one saying Chinese people aren’t good enough for democracy. I think that is an implication of the argument that some make against democracy for China. I think Chinese people are absolutely intelligent enough to make good political decisions, and that democracy will thrive in China when it is given a chance.

    “But China already has a system in place, excepting you insists on labelling it “authoritarianism”.”

    For better or worse, China is a one party state, and the CCP closely monitors what can be published (i.e. not this website) and it puts people in jail for disagreeing. You can say it’s a good thing if you want, but that’s what it is, and I call that authoritarianism.

  20. 游子 Says:

    Translation by Nimrod

    @ Nimrod,

    我想你误解我的意思了。任何调查要确保他的公正客观性,就必须有足够多的调查对象,这是其一。其次,对于政府推出的政策的效果,一定不能由政府官员或者与政府有亲密关系的人来评价,这应该是基本前提。John L. Thornton的文章显然存在严重缺点。尤其是作为中国公民主体的农民和普通城市居民,竟然不在他的调查范围之列,显然他是个精英主义者,而且他也的确赞同中国的民主应该由精英特别是政府精英主导实施。这其实是一厢情愿的想法。我要指出的是,在中国,不仅精英与平民之间的鸿沟在不断加深,即使是在精英内部,各种观点的分化也越来越严重。

    I think you misunderstood my meaning. Any investigation that wants to preserve fairness and objectivity should have sufficiently many targets of investigation, that’s the first thing. Second, the effects of government policy must not be evaluated by government officials or somebody with close relationship with the government, that should be a basic prerequisite. Thornton’s article obviously has serious defects. Incredibly, peasants and ordinary city dwellers who form the core of Chinese citizens are not in the scope of his investigation. Clearly he is an elitist, and he indeed agrees that China’s democracy implementation should be led by the elites, espeically government elites. This is wishful thinking. What I want to point out is, in China, not only is the gap between elites and common people growing continually, but even within the elites, the division between various viewpoints is also getting more and more serious.

    简而言之,既然要搞民主,就不是一小部分人的事,必须由全体民众参与。不然,别人不会买你的帐的。

    Simply put, if you want to do democracy, then it isn’t something for a small minority, it must have participation of the full populace. Otherwise, nobody will buy it.

    经过这两天讨论,我判断你们大多是海外华人。你们说英文,我说中文,相得益彰,我想不出有人为什么看不惯。

    Through discussion over these two days, I judge that you are mostly overseas Chinese. You speak English, I speak Chinese, we complement each other. I can’t fathom why some have a problem with it.

    Edit: Not all of us are overseas Chinese nor can we all read Chinese. We have a problem with it because you are giving us extra work that we can’t always keep up with! If you can avoid it, you really should.

  21. Leo Says:

    @Youzi,

    Mutant Jedi, Forp et al. are not Chinese. Most today’s mature democracies have evolved from very elite model. What do you mean with the increasing gap between the elites and common people? Wealth? Consciousness? Connectedness? Everything? The opions of the elites are getting more diverse? That sounds not bad. Do you prefer more voices conforming your views?

    Regarding the language, we do it in English because we hope to involve more non-Chinese speaking people, which is why Buxi did so much translation for you. If you just want to lecture fellow Chinese, you can go to any Chinese language forums.

  22. MutantJedi Says:

    游子,我在这儿。但是我的中文的水平不太高。我看不懂你写的文章。So, I rely on others to spend the effort to translate your words. I would like to be able to read what you write.

  23. Nimrod Says:

    JL,

    Haha, I wasn’t looking for credit. I just thought any flame should be directed at the right person…

    Youzi,

    Thornton was descriptive, not prescriptive. He was also analyzing government policy, not investigating public opinion, so I think the misunderstanding is on your part.

    The second thing you said is exactly the danger of implementing Western-style democracy in one go, because its basis is the simplistic formula of one person one vote. You are right. Under that system, you won’t convince everyone unless you let everyone vote. Then the result is what? If you asked what Chinese want, the majority opinion you’ll get is that of the peasants, simply because that’s the majority of Chinese. Is that fair? But that’s what you’ll get under one person one vote. How are the urban dwellers going to like that? They are also “ordinary people” in your book, not elites or vested interest groups. But they are just “elite” enough compared to peasants. Furthermore, how are you going to take that? Somehow I have a hard time believing you are so “anti-elitist” to the degree that you will take on the interests of the lowest common denominator as your own, if only because you’ve also given the contradictory signal that you only look after your own interests, (and who doesn’t).

    Which is precisely why Western-style democracy is unworkable in today’s China. The various interests differ too much for such a simplistic formula to bind everyone under a big tent. Somebody has to lose and lose for along time, and that somebody, who has no civic values, will not take it sitting down within the constitutional framework. The winner, who has no civic values, will make sure the losers stay down. Yet you insist on such an unworkable system and dismiss anything that doesn’t conform to this rigid notion of “democracy”. Why? Perhaps because you are yourself ideologically rigid.

    I agree there’s an urgent problem, but I believe it is also a problem that intrinsically takes some time to solve well, regardless of anybody’s wish. So let’s make sure things keep moving in the right direction, because that’s really the best we can do.

  24. CLC Says:

    @Youzi,

    I just like to add that besides people who do not understand Chinese, there are a lot of overseas Chinese who can read traditional Chinese but not simplified version. If you need help in translation, which Buxi and Nimrod already did for you, please state it. If you can write in English, please offer an explanation why you don’t want to.

  25. S.K. Cheung Says:

    Hi Oli:
    not sure if you’re still checking the “religion” thread, so sorry for the paste job of my reply onto this thread:
    To Oli:
    thanks for your thoughts. I think we now better understand each other.
    “knee-jerk reactions to any postings come from deeply held opinions”- I agree with this, but would note that such characteristics seem to occur on both sides of the opinion divide, even on this blog.
    I’m certainly among those who’ve seen China develop as a dichotomy, and your last post is very enlightening. WRT legal reforms, Mexico only adopted the concept of presumed innocence last week, and won’t fully implement it for another 8 years, so I guess China’s slow pursuit of same is understandable (though still somewhat frustrating). Fundamentally, I’m all for a willingness to learn from others, with a view to bringing the good bits back and applying it internally where applicable.
    However, it does appear to me that the pace of financial development far outstrips that of political development. China in many ways has a free market economy; the chasm between rich and poor IMO is one of the problems with such an economy. But though she exhibits the good and bad parts of a free economic system, her political system to me is still more bad than good…it’s too bad that the lag time for political development might amount to decades, as others have suggested.

  26. JD Says:

    There’s no real evidence that China’s current reforms are moving in the direction of democracy, they’re simply constructed to ensure that the people who control politics also control of the money. The authorities need to make a plan to achieve some form of modern, democratic political system to deal with the increasing instability which results from China’s current outdated and inadequate governance structure.

    Democracy (besides a “people’s democracy”) is not on the agenda despite John Thornton’s optimistic assumptions. The true intention is to look at democracy in 100 years – which is the CCP’s way of saying never. That’s the stated policy at the most senior level and there is nothing which suggests the party is secretly looking at ways to cede control. It’s not in the cards but it’s what so many wish to believe and are therefore eager to accept a suggestion that it is happening.

    Real reform would be a challenge, certainly, but far less of a challenge than averting the slow slide towards instability which characterizes China at present. For a domestic solution, China needs to let the media examine and criticize. Let a 100 flowers bloom without squashing them into the dirt.

  27. FOARP Says:

    @CLC – Youzi should be allowed to write any way he likes, there’s plenty of programs out there for converting traditional into simplified.

  28. FOARP Says:

    @Youzi – You should remember that foreign journalists and researchers are very much restricted in doing research in the countryside, even though this is where the majority of the population live. All that most foreign visitors to China ever see is the cities – few stop to think that this is where only about 1/3rd of the population lives. Thornton is probably just falling into the trap of extrapolating from the situation in the cities rather than from the country as a whole.

  29. FOARP Says:

    @Buxi – You talk about successful democracies being those where the populace doesn’t ‘rip the constitution apart when they don’t get their way’, but many democracies do not even have constitutions, or have been through many different forms of democracy. France is now on its fifth republic, and both Italy and Greece have gone from being constitutional monarchies to being republics. Australia, Canada, and New Zealand have all traveled the road from colonies, to dominions within the empire, to fully independent societies, and may yet become republics separate from the Commonwealth. An evolving and changing democratic space and political form is part of what makes a successful democracy – America tries to accomodate this through increasingly strained re-interpretation of a document that was drawn up by a bunch of upper class white men more than two hundred years ago, and this is part of the US’s problems.

  30. BMY Says:

    尊敬的游子老师,

    看了您的这些发言后,感觉好像中国一实现民主平等自由便保医中国之百病,有的发言让我以为民主的目的便是民主。如果学生误解了老师的意思请您原谅。

    这让我想起了自己年青的时候在1989年,我有着和您一样的想法,而且还投入到行动中。我罢课游行绝食。

    我生长在西北的一个小山沟,我家后面的山坡就是层层的麦田和村里人的窑洞。我长到十八岁才出了大山去北京读书。我家住三线厂,但隔壁村里人的穷苦我天天目睹。小学中学时读了很多文革和反右回忆录在加上80年代民主思潮,中国西方的巨大差距,我便自然而然的加入89运动。

    我三十岁以后才出的国,现在也有好几年了。我一直工作在只有我一个中国人,白人为主的公司里。我并不认为自己在那个您说的不了解中国劳动人民疾苦和不融入当地西方社会的范围内。

    通过这些年在国外的生活,参加过无数次大小选举,体验过许多西方的社会问题,觉得自己原来那种自由民主保治之百病的想法很天真。

    我自己只是一个工程师,理论不多,BuXi 和其他几位老师已谈了很多近两个月来,我也不想重复。若重复了,有些全学西方的人会建议Buxi老师们管我要版税。

    Buxi老师在前一个thread谈了很多您不了解的海外华人的状况,我在这里只补充一点。您说我们这些海外华人过着奢侈的生活不了解劳苦大众的疾苦。学生自己和很多朋友并没有您想象的奢侈生活。

    学生今天买了结婚12年来第一张新的茶几和餐桌。从回国急让那里买来的二手终于退休了。我数年前买了第一辆二手车时,我国内的很多同学同事了都已买了崭新的一年用不了几次的轿车。我的一对朋友国内大医院主治大夫和主任,在这里开一间小杂货铺为生。另外一个朋友国内是一个上千人研究所的副所长,四十岁时移民来这里,几年来一直开出租维持全家老小生计。我们绝对比中国贫困山区的村民要奢侈。但比起您这样的中国中产阶级,就很难说了。但是如果生活的全部就是民主自由,那我感觉自己就是比尔盖茨,您就是电影里的游光腚了。

    老师要问:你丫为什么要出去?
    学生答:出来前以为民主自由便会有一切。宁做自由的人,不做富裕的Z(CLC老师不让说那个字)。可现在,老婆喜欢新的餐桌和茶几,小女儿总喜欢尿片,大女儿又总喜欢玩具,老妈又很不习惯和我们挤在两室一厅的房子里,才发现自由的人也不是那麽好当。

    老师要问,中国好你丫干吗不回国?
    学生答:很多中国人和老师想法一样,我们这些海外华人过者民主自由平等奢侈的生活,虽然一定程度融入西方社会,但还是有着中国人死要面子的劣根性。要是就这样回国,和老师有一样想法的很多人不把我们笑话死。

    不多说了,明天还要早起做工去维持我奢侈的生活。

    Buxi 老师 and Nimrod 老师,我只是给游老师聊两句,不用为我翻译。你若硬要翻译,我是不会说谢谢你的

  31. FOARP Says:

    @BMY – I wouldn’t envy folk in China that much, many of those in high places can afford flash cars and big houses because they have been able to get hold of ridiculously cheap credit which they do not really have the means to pay back. As for going back to China, my last company employed a good number of overseas Chinese on western salaries in their Shenzhen office, and I have met many people who studied in western universities and went back after their studies. However, these were all young people who had not had time to build much of a life in the west, and who weren’t that bothered about losing face in coming back.

  32. CLC Says:

    @FOARP

    Nobody said Youzi was not allowed to post in Chinese. However, not everyone is willing to jump through loops to understand a comment. By the way, are you willing to join Buxi and Nimrod’s effort to translate Youzi’s comments and other Chinese content into English? That would be great.

  33. FOARP Says:

    @CLC – Point taken, but I don’t think you have to translate each and every one of his comments into English. Sure I’d do translation, but I’d run it past a native speaker before I sent it in. It’s easy enough to scan through and pick up the general meaning, but I always find myself getting hung up on the meaning of a phrase or 成语.

  34. rocking offkey Says:

    Youzi, and I believe most other Chinese I came across, tend to think of democracy as a blanket statement, while in fact it’s a complicated system. Besides what has discussed here, there are many practical question to address for China going forward:

    # what voting system to have? Is that popular voting or representative voting? If popular voting, how to ensure the fairness given China’s vast population and relatively low technology? If representative, how to ensure not to marginalize voter and a vast improvement of the current system?
    # What power central government holds, and it’s relationship with the lower level governments? What is the alternative vision/idea and more importantly implements for China? How do you deal with the Mandarin (Guan) system? Is that going to be a wholesale system between parties or a local based system that form the national assembly? How do you ensure it’s not one set of corrupting officials replacing another set of officials? (the rule of law and definition of political power is more important here than democracy.)
    # What do you do with the vast government assets management and SOEs? To what extent is that to subject to political power or rule of law and other form of oversight?
    # How do you ensure the orders/visions of the central government get carried out on the local level, given the vast difference in ethnics and economic conditions in China, if transforming to a more voting based system? What incentive and mechanism to use? This is a real worry here that China may disintegrate if democratized under current status. What is to give priority here, the national strategy or the local demand?

    There are numerous other questions. I won’t list more. Only after you have answers to those questions that you can confident enough the democracy system would be better for China, not slipping to “third world democracy”, or a democracy only in names. On the other hand, you can still implement checks and balances even under the current system, and shouldn’t be delayed implementing, IMO should be the imminent demand of a responsible Chinese citizen. Democracy is the way to go, but I am yet to hear some concrete ideas of democracy from inside China.

  35. CLC Says:

    @FOARP,

    Yeah, translation is a very hard job. Recently I was translating an English lecture into Chinese. And it caused me serious headache to just find a good Chinese phrase for a simple opening remark “make me earn it.”

  36. FOARP Says:

    @CLC – Errrrmmmm . . . . . “就给我一点用费吧!”?!?

    All you need to do is see any of the comments I’ve left on Chinese chat sites to see how whack my Chinese is, the work I’ve done was entirely to do with patents and contracts – and always from Chinese into English.

  37. CLC Says:

    @FOARP

    Sorry, I should have given you the context of that remark. It was a response to a standing ovation at the beginning of the talk. So it meant “make me earn (your applause by delivering a good lecture.” It is hard to find a corresponding short Chinese phrase.

    By the way, my personal experience is that it is relatively easy to translate a foreign language to your mother tongue, but not other way around.

  38. FOARP Says:

    @CLC – I was joking, i knew the context, but had no idea how to translate it. And you’re quite right about how it’s easier to translate into your own language than into someone elses – because one way you only need to know the meaning whilst the other way you have to make it sound good.

  39. Buxi Says:

    CLC,

    On Youzi/Traveler… I don’t mind translating some of his longer comments, especially the earlier one that made meaningful arguments. For Chinese posters who want to make a complicated argument but are concerned about their English skills, feel free to post in Chinese or email us for help. I am happy to help.

    But for a shorter reply that isn’t complicated, I would appreciate it if Youzi and everyone else tried to write in English. You don’t have to be uncomfortable about your English level. But, that’s the audience and environment for this blog. (And we can’t ignore the fact that as long as this blog is in English, there is less change we will be blocked!) When I want to debate in Chinese, I do it on various Chinese forums.

    PS. On CLC’s translation challenge, I’d go with 过奖过奖, and be done with it.

  40. Red Says:

    Dictionary definition of belittle: to speak contemptibly small or unimportant; to treat something of having little value or importance. JL’s definition: when “800 million individually think of ‘responsibility’ and ‘stewardship’, China will go down in a flash.” The effect of 800 million working each with their individual preferences that have a cumulative effect on the future of China is therefore small or unimportant? And then those quoted phrases cited are not even the equivalent of, in JL’s words, “by being able to vote for provincial and national leaders.” Nobody in those cited words is talking about “voting” but that’s all JL understands.

    And then they are errors of fact and contradiction in JL’s remarks. Error of fact: “China is a one party state”. Correction – Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan have multiple parties. Contradiction: “the CCP closely monitors what can be published” yet he adds “not this website.” JL’s third error of thought: moralisation. He says, “better or worse,” the CCP “puts people in jail for disagreeing …. You can say it’s a good thing”. Is JL writing from jail?

    JL, for want of a better description, is tying himself up in knots on meanings, on language, and on concepts of politics.All that he says is a regurgitation of banalities, we had read enough of. The one who belittle is he, his words, by reflecting history and by offering a mirror of a westerner’s thought: “Chinese people aren’t quite as competent as Westerners.”

    It behooves on JL to get out of the western paradigm of thinking so that China will progress. But he is trapped in the paradigm: China is fixated in this and that, the West has democracy, democracy is good, authoritarianism is bad – all the things he has read and which he regurgitates here without question.

    It takes a while to have to explain but a few points are added so that the likes of JL does not turn this into another China-bashing site:
    1) is it possible to grant individual freedoms without displacing an existing political hierarchy?
    2) China’s present leaders, in word and deeds (JL have you even read the China Constitution?), appear willing, interested even, in the outcomes associated with the concept of a free individual without the need to vote for it;
    3) India, given a comparable population size and income levels, have plenty of elections without delivering on the supposed benefits of those elections – and this raises a question in the minds of many Chinese thinkers: what is the purpose of – the sinful word – democracy?
    4) What is the first order of the day for people, that is, what are the hierarchy of needs of the Chinese? If we had that, does it matter who or how (by voting or not voting, for example) those needs are delivered?

    JL get a REAL education – that’s to belittle you. Start with the Analects, and forget Locke.

  41. BMY Says:

    @FOARP
    your #31
    I know what you are saying. What I was trying to say is many Chinese people in China includes Youzi who simply think people(white or Chinese or any other ethnic) in the west are rich and have luxury life is un true.

    I don’t really feel a lot different when I am a double income middle class house hold and live in a middle class white dominated suburb here compare with when I was a middle class who rode a bike in China .

    I am not that kind of person who cares about a second hand or new furnitures/cars those kind of stuff.

  42. BMY Says:

    @CLC and few other guys who asked why Youzi dose not write English,

    I guess to be able to read English and to be able to write in English are two very different things according my personal experience .

  43. FOARP Says:

    @BMY – No criticism was implied, I should also add that many here in the UK see Oz as a land of opportunities of a kind, a place where the sun always shines and there’s always a can of Fosters on ice and a shrimp on the barbie waiting for you, I guess the one about ‘the other side of the fence’ definitely holds true. It is also true that some Chinese are willing to do anything to reach the west – but nowadays these are the more marginalised elements of Chinese society. Most people from the upper classes who come here nowadays do so for education and aim to get professional employment on the basis of their qualifications – roughly half of those stay (as of 2003 that is), but the ones who go back to China do not do badly either.

  44. CLC Says:

    @ Buxi,

    I have nothing personal against Youzi posting in Chinese, but I think in general we should not encourage this. First of all, it’s a slippery slope; a comment in Chinese may generate responses in Chinese too. Secondly, we all admire and appreciate your ability to quickly translate Chinese into English. But you cannot be here 24/7. And if there are more “travelers” coming here to post, you will be overwhelmed. Finally, Youzi initially stated he posted in Chinese because that’s more patriotic. If he had stated he was concerned about his English skills (I have difficulties in making complicated arguments in English too), then my reactions would be quite different.

    PS, 过奖过奖 is a good choice, but it takes away the meaning “Don’t tip a waiter before the meal.”

  45. XH Says:

    Democracy certainly has its drawbacks, but does that mean that China should not undertake any institutional reforms at all? Take a look at this article about a major riot in Guizhou Province yesterday due to the corruption of local officials: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/protests-in-china-at-official-coverup-of-teenagers-death-856905.html.

    The presence of over 10,000 protestors and the intensity of their hatred, as exhibited in the burning of government buildings and police cars, seems to show that there exists very few outlets, few safety valves for the airing of legitimate grievances. Moreover, discussions about this topic in online forums have been either deleted or the servers severely restricted.

    I’m not saying that we should introduce a system of elections and multiple parties overnight, and I also feel that it takes time to implement institutions that would guarantee the rule of law, so that, as someone mentioned before, 800 million people don’t go off in 800 million directions. However, couldn’t the Communist Party at least introduce some political reforms, including relaxing its tight grip on the press and the Internet? The presence of a more independent media could serve as a check to the unlimited power exercised by local officials and give the common people some kind of voice to air their grievances.

    Just my two cents.

  46. MutantJedi Says:

    Thanks XH for the link to more information about this story. FOARP shared the report found in the Chinese version of the BBC website. That report had more information than Xinhua but not as much as your link.

    The reason we have inquiries in Canada is to maintain confidence of the citizens in the supervision of the government (to use Wen’s language, as learned from Thornton’s article). Instead of trying to buy off the family, the government should experiment with how it envisions oversight will deal with corruption.

    I really wish Western reporters would not link this story to Tibet. I know they want to supply some background for the readers but, as far as I’m concerned, the story in Guizhou is far more important to what’s happening in China.

    10,000 people take to the streets because…. well… we have a pretty clear story told outside of China. Xinhua has different story. And that is one of the problems demonstrated by this story. Trust. 10,000 people don’t riot against the police or other authorities because of nothing. What if the details were mistaken as suggested by Xinhua? Doesn’t mean anything as the details were believable by the mob and they had no trust in the system.

    If the same thing happened in Edmonton (capital of Alberta, Canada – don’t worry, nobody else knows where it is either) and someone called for a march on city hall…. you’re not going to get 10,000 people. The demand would be for an inquiry. There would be the expectation that the truth would be revealed followed by consequences.

    Guizhou demonstrates that the people’s expectation for reform is leading the action of the government. It also demonstrates the lack of trust people have in the government. Corruption is already a well known problem. What should concern the government more is the trust issue. A compensation package will not restore trust. Some form of public inquiry is needed.

    I know that the issues involved with corruption is complicated. Many important relationships are threatened by a crackdown on corruption. This story must show the government that dealing with corruption must be visible to be trusted. The government has an opportunity in the tragic death of a 15 year old girl to move forward with dealing with corruption. Who could possibly stand against not finding out the truth?

  47. JXie Says:

    My random 2 cents:

    First, the modern day so-called “democracies” are actually republics in classic definition. The oaths taken in the US, is defending its constitution not its “democracy”, and that in essence is largely the difference between a republic and a democracy, in the mind of Plato and American Founding Fathers.

    If you want to see what James Madison described as “spectacles of turbulence and contention” type of democracy, the closest you can find are in Latin America. Often the candidates run on the platform of “presidente de los pobres”. Once they gain power, they will cheat out of the national treasure, debase the currency, and create runaway inflation. But what the heck, money, especially paper money, appears to be free.

    Brazil for a long period of time, had been such a country (granted the platform would have to be in Portuguese). It makes a great study of national traits, economic development and various forms of government. Its land mass is comparable to the US. It has equally if not more hospitable land as the US. Its population density and racial composition are about the same as the US — other than Obama would’ve been a moreno (people of mixed race) instead of a black there. If you drill down to it, what makes a nation stronger and its people wealthier, has more to do entrepreneurship, engaging in trading, saving and investment, emphasis on education. All of which seem to be gradually diminishing in the US and rapidly rising in China, if you ask me.

    Speaking of Brazil, let’s say your family was oppressed in the Cultural Revolution (like you were alone in China…), and intended to emigrate? Could you have migrated to the US? Highly unlikely since the Asian immigration to the US was practically shut down until well into the 60s. The US was a far more racist country back then, just like China was a far nastier country to normal people — you ought to be able to see people, nations and parties change, but I digress. However, you could’ve migrated to Brazil, which was a far more racially tolerated country. Actually a lot of Japanese had done just that between early 1900s to as late as 1960s. Some Japanese descendants of early Brazil immigrants have been going back to Japan, and found themselves in a bit of identity crisis. Don’t be surprised if the children of the recent Chinese immigrants in the US will go through that…

    As to China will get old before get rich mentioned by another commenter. I believe it was first brought up by The Economist. However, if you strictly go by the worker/retiree ratio, the most bullish countries are some Muslim countries because of the high birth rate. Obviously the missing piece is education. If education quality has an upward improvement slope in demographic chart, rapid growth can easily be sustained even the percentage of the workers is decreasing.

    Maybe I live in a parallel universe from some of the other commenters. Yes, there is poverty everywhere there to be seen in China. But in the meantime, some of my college peers, and family members are doing fantastically well. A noticeable percentage among people of my first degree of separation in China, are making better money than average Chinese Americans even with today’s exchange rate. Given that I tend to think RMB may appreciate a lot (like 300% or more) in the coming years, I can easily envision a scenario that college grads in Chinese coastal cities may make more than average American college grads, in a decade or two. Sounds far-fetching now, but why not if the former are equally or even more productive than the latter?

  48. JXie Says:

    BTW, it’s 700 million peasants now and decreasing as we speak. Urbanization rate may reach 50% in 2010.

  49. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To MJ:
    I know where Edmonton is…but Calgary is much nicer :-)

    Just a random thought, with the disclaimer that I’m no economist. Much talk has occurred around China’s economic growth, and how any political reform has to at least in part be predicated on much more of such growth. Fine. And no one denies the emerging class chasm between rich and poor in China. But I suspect there are some rich, and bazillions of poor. And I also suspect that this class chasm also follows demarcations between urban and rural. Someone somewhere on this blog had stated that China can’t function with one person/one vote now because the dominant voice would belong to the rural poor. In order for China’s per capita GDP to exceed some arbitrary threshold, either many many rural poor become more well-to-do, or the far fewer urban elite get ridiculously more rich than they are now, or some middle ground between two. My guess is the 2nd option is most likely of the 3, even in a time-frame spanning decades. So what happens when the big cities are ready for political “progress”, but the vast countrysides are not?

  50. Leo Says:

    @Mutant Jedi,

    Judging from the photos, most of the 10,000 people look like gawkers. If all of them attacked the authorities, the result would have been much more spectacular. But the actual fire and damage were actually quite limited. And two wide-spread accusations have been proven to be false: http://www.zonaeuropa.com/200806c.brief.htm#033.

  51. Buxi Says:

    Just one quick note, BMY @30 respectfully requested that his message not be translated. :)

    @CLC,
    I personally assumed Traveler just wasn’t fluent enough to write in English, and his statement that writing in Chinese would be more “patriotic” was just an attempt to save face. But you’re right; I don’t think I can handle another Traveler!

    @XH,

    I’m not saying that we should introduce a system of elections and multiple parties overnight, and I also feel that it takes time to implement institutions that would guarantee the rule of law, so that, as someone mentioned before, 800 million people don’t go off in 800 million directions. However, couldn’t the Communist Party at least introduce some political reforms, including relaxing its tight grip on the press and the Internet?

    On this I think everyone completely agrees. What’s happening in Guizhou is just one example; there are 1000 different stories of poor governance throughout China, and I don’t think any of us can be satisfied that they exist, even while we like the larger direction China is taking.

    But I personally think the Chinese government *is* taking steps towards doing exactly what you said. If you haven’t, make sure you refer to earlier threads about reform in China.

    However, some problems are difficult to solve on the short term, and the “quality” of the people involved is the reason why. In the case in Guizhou, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to hear that the police were implicated (or at least irresponsible) in the original case involving the 15 year old girl. But why are these riots happening in Guizhou (one of the poorest provinces in China)… rather than, say, an urban prefecture in Zhejiang or Jiangsu? Isn’t it the same Communist Party with the same laws in power in both places?

    If you dig into the background of the people involved in Guizhou, it wouldn’t surprise me for a second to find out that the vast majority of the police in the area have 9th grade (or even) lower educations. It wouldn’t surprise me to find out that the local government chiefs do not have an university education, and have never studied overseas. It wouldn’t surprise me to find out the local judges were retired military men who’ve never studied law formally. Etc, etc, etc. There’s just no easy fix to problems in these areas.

  52. Buxi Says:

    @Red,

    I just wanted to put in a quick sentence in *defense* of JL. Although his perspectives are different from many here, I have to say he has been polite and intelligent in his debate. I think you make good arguments, but I hope that you go easy on attacks aimed at him. I personally think we benefit from having JL stay around and providing counter-point.

  53. DJ Says:

    JXie,

    Nice comment. You seem to be able to produce relevant and informative statistics. I found that quite helpful.

    I just want to discuss the very last point you made a bit: while I expect a generally rising trend in collage grad’s earning in China over time, I am not that optimistic regarding its continued strength in growth and also feel skeptical of the claim of overtaking U.S. in that short a period.

    This is related to a question I have wondered about: what makes a burger flipper’s work more valuable (in terms of pay) in the U.S. than in China? It’s the same job requiring exactly the same skill, right? So far I don’t have a satisfactory answer for myself, but I do have a few fuzzy ideas.

    My conjecture drifts around the implication of a few key high-valued industries. Take Boeing and Airbus for example. They are essentially the only two players in the commercial airplane business. Yet their products are much needed by the entire world. So the relatively small number of people in these two companies and the extended suppliers structures would naturally command a relatively much higher income within a global scope. The wealth generated by these people, to borrow a Republican phrase, eventually trickles down and gets spread around the community around them. A burger flipper living among them would surely get some benefit of the overall wealth.

    My crude example is meant to say: a few key high value industries could have incredible effects in lifting up the income of a much larger population around them (and the scopes are usually shown in the form of national borders). Such industries could be in the form of real products (e.g. airplane, IT in silicon valley), or financial centers (e.g. NYC, London), and even natural resources.

    My concern for China is: when will the equivalent industries emerge (or had emerged)? and what are those? Without such engines, I am not sure collage grads (or burger flippers) in China would soon archive parity with their counter parts in the U.S.

  54. Leo Says:

    @S.K. Cheung,

    I would suggest that the demarcation between the rich and the poor goes along the line between the industrialized and the non-industrialized. Even in poor provinces like Anhui and Guizhou, there are pockets of the rich districts if there is a well-developed industry in the area.

  55. Buxi Says:

    @SK Cheung,

    Look at you! Much better insight and understanding on China, and I’m very glad to see it. Now, let’s get to the part where I still disagree with you.

    In order for China’s per capita GDP to exceed some arbitrary threshold, either many many rural poor become more well-to-do, or the far fewer urban elite get ridiculously more rich than they are now, or some middle ground between two. My guess is the 2nd option is most likely of the 3, even in a time-frame spanning decades.

    Well, the first sentence is still completely wrong in my opinion. I don’t have a crystal ball so we’re only talking opinions… but when we talk about policies as they’re actually implemented, I don’t believe the “few” urban elite (roughly 300-400 million people) getting rich is what will drive economic growth…

    … it certainly hasn’t just been an elite “few” that’s driving economic growth, so far. If nothing else, look at the explosive growth in terms of cars being sold in China. Look at the tourism numbers, in terms of those visiting Hong Kong, Southeast Asia, and now the United States… we’re talking very large numbers.

    I think economic growth comes primarily from growing urbanization and modernization. The most critical construction project of all in China’s near future is building more cities (and expanding the size of current cities) to accommodate another 300-400 million rural Chinese. You might have heard of the factories in Guangdong and Fujian province having a hard time finding workers, right? And do you know what that really signifies? Tens of millions of those former workers are now living in townships or local cities in their home provinces, working in factories, starting restaurants, driving cars… all part of the urbanization process.

    So what happens when the big cities are ready for political “progress”, but the vast countrysides are not?

    We’re seeing that in Hong Kong, to a certain degree. Hong Kong is already benefiting from significant political “progress”, I’d point out. And if you look at other articles I’ve posted recently on reforms in Guangdong province, it looks like Guangdong and wealthy Shenzhen will be the location of significant political reforms in China.

    But all in all, I hope Beijing keeps a tight leash on democratic reforms in urban cities. Urban cities have one set of interests, and we have to balance them against the good of country (including the many who are still in the rural poor). If you give urban cities too much democracy, then are you letting them dictate, for example, tax rates for the rich? Are they going to control migration into urban cities? Is putting political power into the hands of that small elite really the best thing for China?

  56. FOARP Says:

    @Leo – Two photos are not proof of anything, not unless you can ID the man in the photo (who does not appear to have been beaten) and can give a positive ID of the girl inside the refrigerated coffin.

  57. MutantJedi Says:

    Leo #50,

    This is why the fundamental issue with the incident is one of trust. How is the government going to build trust?

    The facts of the matter shouldn’t be the fodder of rumors as that will only further undermine the people’s trust in the government. The only way to rebuild trust is through some form of public inquiry.

  58. yo Says:

    Here are some of my general thoughts on democracy in relation to China.

    First off, democracy is only a means to an end, if people want to change China to a democracy because it should(“following cookie cutter goals”), then I would disagree with their motivations.

    Second, saying that democracy is good because whatever, or it’s bad because whatever, is missing the point. The effectiveness of an government is greatly influenced by it’s implementation, and not if it’s a democracy or not. Of course, you have poorly run democracies and autocracies, and well run autocracies and democracies, each one with their own social-political environments.

    Third, I believe any political reforms in China must start with discussions on what China now has in the forms of direct elections, so I appreciate this article.

  59. Charles Liu Says:

    Speaking of fodder, the problem is too many Chinese have this 拼命 attitude that’s completely contrary to democratic principles. Not many anti-war protesters in US would keep on fighting when the tear gas and rubbler bullet comes out – they simply go to the courts or media next day or a week later.

    Or perhaps it is because we have so much to live for, like going to work the next day so we can afford our luxurous life in the US (and they don’t.)

    Either way, China is not ready for full-blown whatever democracy there is, the citizenship simply isn’t there. It took America 200 years to go from revoltuion, tarring and feathering the loyalists, hanging the slaves, apartheid, to what we see today – which is still not perfect.

    The Chinese will have to walk it and gradually make the change, like how America did it.

  60. DJ Says:

    I just saw the following quote, and want to share it with everyone.

    The people I distrust most are those who want to improve our lives but have only one course of action.

    - Frank Herbert

  61. Wahaha Says:

    The idea of democracy is a myth, a paradox. On one side, it claimes that the right of every individual must be respected; on the other side, majority rules as everyone can vote, hence the voice of minority is unheard.

  62. FOARP Says:

    @Wahaha – Life is a paradox . .

  63. Wahaha Says:

    @ FORAP,

    ………………………..Life is a paradox.

    Isnt it true ?

    Greediness is the driving force for economic improvement, and it can also weaken a strong economy.

  64. JXie Says:

    DJ, at the smaller commercial aircraft business side, you have companies such as Embraer and Bombadier. Building large commercial aircraft isn’t too great a business, despite the duopoly. Boeing’s market cap to sales ratio is less than 0.75 now — worse than GE but better than GM. Boeing’s valued at about $50 billion, compared to China’s central bank and other banks accruing about $200 billion foreign reserve each quarter. What’s even more mind-boggling is at this pace, China can theoretically buy out the whole S&P 500 in 15 years or so. Something will have to give…

    From a business standpoint, if the productivity/pay is higher in China than in the US, the jobs will be moved to China. Sometimes legislatures can appear to stop that, but in the long run, free market will always win.

    BTW, an interesting piece:

    http://www.thestreet.com/story/10423687/2/youll-pay-if-you-give-up-us-citizenship.html

  65. JXie Says:

    Thestreet.com piece has 2 pages, the 1st one is this:

    http://www.thestreet.com/story/10423687/1/youll-pay-if-you-give-up-us-citizenship.html

  66. Buxi Says:

    @JXie,

    I can’t decide how I feel about that law (requires capital gains taxes on all assets when a US citizenship renounces citizenship). My first impression was: HOLY SHIT.

    But after giving it some consideration… not a big deal. Foreign citizens have limited rights in owning US assets in the first place, so paying taxes on making such a move doesn’t seem like such a big deal. Anyone planning to renounce US citizenship probably shouldn’t find it too difficult liquidating all of their American assets, anyways.

  67. DJ Says:

    Yeah, I’d love to have enough assets for that to become a problem for me. ;-)

  68. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Wahaha #61:
    dude, that’s why we have laws, to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority. Man, you complain others are one-track in espousing democracy, but you seem similarly one-track in ranting against it. If you’ve been getting such a raw deal in the US for 10 years, why the heck are you still there? There must be places in the world with less democracy where you could find some more happiness…a place on the other side of the Pacific comes to mind.

  69. Buxi Says:

    @S.K.Cheung,

    dude, that’s why we have laws, to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority.

    In a democracy, laws are written by the majority, S.K.Cheung. It does nothing to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority.

    If you take a look at the United States, the institution most often used to protect the minority is the *least* democratic body in government: the US Supreme Court. Who really began to break down the walls to segregation in the American South? It wasn’t the democratically elected president or congress; it was the Supreme Court, filled with judges appointed for life not responsible in any way to any voter.

  70. MutantJedi Says:

    Liquidating assets for me would be really simple. But the law isn’t for people like me. It’s for people with significant US assets. It’s not easy to liquidate many types of assets quickly.

    That law should give rational Americans pause. You think what you own is yours? No. Think again. It is a privilege of citizenship to have wealth.

    It makes me wonder if the US government is noticing an issue with individuals with wealth renounce citizenship. What would provoke this move?

    Googling shows that this is not new.
    http://www.ascotadvisory.com/News_Bulletin/9943.html
    But I wonder how accurate this recent report is as googling hasn’t been productive to find an corroborating report.

  71. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Buxi #55:
    China inherited HK, and can hardly take any credit for the HK economy. Personally, I preferred HK politics pre 97 to post.
    “Is putting political power into the hands of that small elite really the best thing for China?” – probably not. But for urban areas that have the overall requisite level of education and economic well-being to be able to support political reform, what do you expect those people to do when faced with the prospects of waiting decades for the rest of China to get up to speed? My suspicion is that won’t be a great recipe for engendering unity.

  72. Buxi Says:

    @S.K.Cheung,

    China inherited HK, and can hardly take any credit for the HK economy. Personally, I preferred HK politics pre 97 to post.

    It’s been 11 years since the hand-over, and although you no longer reside in Hong Kong, many people still do. We have numerous statistics in hand to confirm that you’re the minority. Have you been looking at those POP studies?

    I was also talking about *political* progress in Hong Kong, not economic.

    My suspicion is that won’t be a great recipe for engendering unity.

    It will certainly be a challenge, but not necessarily more difficult than many of the other challenges China has faced over the last 30 years.

  73. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Buxi #69:
    but the only laws that matter in the end are the ones that pass constitutional muster, and someone has to make that determination. I have no problems with the checks and balances of a democracy. The supremes don’t directly protect the minority; their job is to uphold the laws that do within the confines of the constitution, and strike down the ones that don’t.

  74. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Buxi #72:
    what I’d like to see is that when such a challenge arises, that the CCP doesn’t default to oppressing the urbanites, especially with the accusation that they’re endangering societal stability.
    I have no problem being in the minority. Been one almost all my life, after all. It wouldn’t surprise me if many among the 6 million HKers are at least content; however, pro-democracy events still seem well-attended. And the society that HKers live in is nothing like the rest of China politically, thanks to their “special” status.

  75. Buxi Says:

    The supremes don’t directly protect the minority; their job is to uphold the laws that do within the confines of the constitution, and strike down the ones that don’t.

    The relevant amendments of the US Constitution remained largely unchanged for 190 years. How did the Supreme Court suddenly “determine” that certain actions were illegal that had been previously legal?

    The truth is, their task is far more complicated than just determining the confines of the constitution. They have ample room for interpretation of the law, and as such, have much power in setting policy when the democratically elected legislature is unable to do so. The abortion issue is precisely the same situation.

    The United States is not and has never been a pure democracy, S.K. Cheung. There’s a very good reason for that.

  76. CLC Says:

    @ SKC

    China has been Hong Kong’s largest trading partner since 1985, so perhaps it can take some credit for the HK economy, even before 97.

  77. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Buxi:
    I didn’t think our argument revolved around the definition of a “pure” democracy. What the US (and Canada) have are democracies that work effectively, and I am happy with that. As long as one has a judicial arm tasked with providing and maintaining checks and balances, one will never have a “pure” democracy. But I don’t think that’s the type that most people would have an appetite for.
    The Supreme Court doesn’t suddenly determine anything. The supremes don’t make any laws; but they do interpret them, as you say, and their interpretation becomes the new standard. So an interpretation from 190 years ago may not be the same interpretation as today, nor of 190 years from now. But if you’re going to have checks and balances with an independent judiciary, someone has to make those interpretations.

  78. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To CLC:
    yes, some, I suppose. But I don’t think HK would have been economically downtrodden without PRC.

  79. DJ Says:

    CLC (and SKC as well),

    Only since 1985? My understanding is that HK had been the single most important window/channel for China to interface and trade with the outside world since far earlier. Even when China was in a particular backward and isolated state under Mao in the early days, there was a need for a channel of practical exchange with the capitalistic west. I always thought that was the primary reason why the CCP left HK under UK’s rule. It certainly would have no difficulty whatsoever to recover it, and back in those days, should worry little about consequences if it chose to do so.

    Actually this point is what I would use sometimes to debate the very high esteems afforded to HKers either by others or themselves. Of course, HK is not what it is today without hard work by its people. Nevertheless, its unique position as the interface between mainland and the rest of the world for so long probably accounts far more equally as much [edited after some reflection] towards its early success and prosperity, which in turn was cemented into its default advantages in trade and finance. Seriously, just imagine what 1% service fee would mean for HK to be the sole interface for a very poor but big China back then.

  80. CLC Says:

    My father went to school in both HK and Shanghai before 1949. He told me that HK was way behind Shanghai back then. I think the initial boost for HK economy was coming from a big infusion of human and financial capital from the Mainland right after 1949. HK also benefited as the major channel for China to the outside world during China’s isolation years.

  81. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To DJ:
    you’ve got a point. I for one am happy that CCP left HK alone until 1997…gave me and my family a chance to get out of Dodge.
    But your argument is a bit like Da Vinci’s art instructor taking partial credit for the Mona Lisa. HKers took whatever circumstances they were given, and made the absolute utmost of it for the prosperity of their city.

  82. DJ Says:

    CLC,

    You are right. The “big infusion of human and financial capital from the Mainland right after 1949″ most certainly played a very large role in HK’s later growth.

    SKC,

    After some reflection, I should be a bit more moderate in assessing the benefit of being an unique channel into mainland for HK. I have gone back and adjusted the language.

  83. FOARP Says:

    @CLC – Since HK was also one of the biggest sources of investment for the PRC, and for years served as the main outlet for goods from mainland China, can’t HKers can claim a large slice of the credit for the PRC’s success?

  84. CLC Says:

    @FOARP

    Yes, the initial investment from HKer and overseas Chinese was crucial to the success of Shenzheng SEZ, and to China’s economic reform after 1979. In recent years, however, HK’s role has been overshadowed by international FDIs and the influx of talent/capital from Taiwan. It is still important, but not as before.

  85. Buxi Says:

    CLC is exactly right. I don’t think anyone in China would deny that HKers were crucial to the success of Shenzhen and other SEZ’s in southern China… Zhuhai, for example. Guangdong’s launch as the global workshop would not have been possible without overseas Chinese investment. And wealth for the overseas Chinese wouldn’t have been possible without mainland Chinese policy and mainland Chinese workers.

    And again, as far as S.K.Cheung’s version of Hong Kong is the 1997 perspective, not the 2008 perspective. Amongst actual Hong Kong’ers, his opinion is clearly in the minority today.

  86. 游子 Says:

    Translation by Buxi

    今天上网看了某些人的发言,令我十分失望。作为一个匆匆过客,偶然地参与了讨论,这也是一种缘份。由于基本认知上的分歧,以及某些网友越来越明显的敌意,我今后不会在此发言。同时对某些问题补充如下:

    Seeing the comments from some people online today, I’m very disappointed. As a guest passing by, the fact that I could join this discussion is an act of fate/destiny. But because of a difference in basic understanding, and because of the overt hostility from some netizens, I will not post here in the future. I will add some details to certain questions below:

    1、关于用中文发言的问题。某些人对此十分介意,甚至通过暗示本人英文水平进行挖苦。毫无疑问,本人的母语水平当然高于外语水平。任何人都是如此。本人坚持用中文发言,是因为确定此处多为华人,很多人明显都是从大陆出去的。和他们交谈,不用母语用外语,那才是奇怪的。对于少数非华人,本人持如下立场:既然本人能够阅读英文,作为平等要求,你们也应该具备阅读中文的能力。尤其是在讨论中国国内的现实问题时,如果你连中文都不懂,我完全可以质疑你对中国的了解程度和参与讨论的实际意义。本人用中文发言,也是因为没有发现本博客中有必须用英文发言的要求(也许有但未注意到,若是如此本人在此致歉)。BUXI先生和其他网友义务进行翻译,虽然某些用词值得进一步斟酌,但大体意思是不错的,对此本人表示谢意。

    1. The issue of posting in Chinese. Some people objected to this strongly, and even suggested that I had strong English capability and was mocking by choosing to go without. Without a doubt, I’m of course better in my native language than a foreign language. That’s true for anyone. I was determined to use Chinese, because many here are Chinese, and many clearly are originally from the mainland. Discussing issues with them in a foreign language rather than our native tongue, that’s strange.

    To the minority of non-Chinese, I have this position: since I can read English, then it’s a fair request that you should all have the ability to read Chinese. This is especially true when we discuss actual problems within China. If you don’t understand Chinese, then I absolutely can question the depth of your understanding of China, and the meaning of participating in such conversation. I posted in Chinese also because I didn’t see a requirement on this blog that we must post in English (perhaps I didn’t notice it; if so, I apologize). Mr. Buxi and other netizen friends volunteered to translate, and although the use of some words deserve more consideration, the overall meaning is not bad. To this, I express thanks.

    2、如果本人的某些坦率言辞令某些海外华人感到冒犯,本人愿在此致歉。关于中国的民主问题,作为一个生活在中国的人,本人只是将其理解为中国公民在本国的尊严问题,而不是海外华人在海外的尊严问题。而且本人也认为(通过这几天讨论进一步确认),许多海外华人是无法感受国内公民的切身愿望的,因为民主只能是个国内政治问题,由生活在国内的中国公民来决定。我本人也是一个中国公民,我能够亲自目睹各种各样的政治弊端和暴力性不断升级的“群体性事件”,我能够在生活中接触各阶层民众,听到他们的诉求,感受他们的不满。你们则是隔岸观火而已。

    2. If some of my candid speech offended some overseas Chinese, I am willing to apologize here. To the question of democracy in China, as someone living in China, I am only considering the question of dignity for Chinese citizens in China, and not the dignity of the Chinese living overseas. And I also believe (confirmed through these discussions), that many overseas Chinese can not feel the immediate desires of the citizens in China. Democracy is a domestic political problem, to be decided by Chinese citizens living in China. I am also a Chinese citizen, and I can see with my eyes the political malpractice and ever-growing violent “mass incidents”. During my every day life, I can come in contact with the people in different social classes and hear their requests, feel their dissatisfaction. You are only watching events from a distance.

    3、关于民主的内涵,民主、法治、自由之间的关系,不仅外国学者有大量渊博精深的著作,国内学者也有越来越深刻的见解。在本博客中看到许多人对民主的“浅薄”甚至“污蔑性”定义(请允许我用这两个词),我只能作出如下判断:有些人根本不懂什么是民主。当然也有人质问我什么是民主,由于民主的内涵是如此丰富,我自然不能用一言两语就说清楚。也轮不到我来说,因为许多有智慧的思想者已经进行了阐述。只要你们肯花一点点时间读读思想家们的书,比如哈耶克、罗尔斯等,就不会对民主有如此奇怪的理解和偏见了。

    3. In terms of the meaning of democracy, and the links between democracy, rule of law, and freedom… not only foreign scholars have large amount of detailed analytical study, domestic scholars also have a deeper and deeper understanding. In this blog, I can see many describing democracy as “superficial” and even “slanderous” (please allow me to use these two words)… I can only come to this conclusion: some people don’t understand what is democracy. Of course, some will ask me what is democracy; because the meaning of democracy is so deep, I can’t explain it in one or two sentences. And it’s not really up to me to say, because many wise thinkers have already studied the issue. If you can spend a little bit of time reading the books of philosophers, like Hayek, Rousseau, then you wouldn’t have such a strange and biased understanding of democracy.

    4、海外华人也有不同群体。在本论坛中发言的,肯定不是偷渡的福建农民。而且本论坛的观点,尤其是博主的观点,也是有自己的明显倾向性的。因此,我在本论坛是所说的海外华人,除特别说明之外,主要是指本论坛中主张“中国特色民主”的海外华人。其中有个叫BMY的网友比较有意思。他(她)自称参加过89运动,到了外国后才发现民主自由原来不是自己想象的那么好。我不知道此人所说的经历是否真实,但从其对民主的理解来看,此人果然天真幼稚得可笑。其文如下:

    There are different groups of overseas Chinese. Those posting in this forum are definitely not the illegal immigrants from Fujian. And the perspectives of this forum, especially the perspective of the writers here, also has its own clear leanings. So, when I say “all overseas Chinese” here, unless otherwise specifically noted, I’m really talking about those here calling for “democracy with Chinese characteristics”. Here, there’s a netizen called BMY who’s very interesting. He/she claims to have participated in the 89 student movement, and then only after going overseas did he/she realize it’s not as good as what they expected. I don’t know whether the experience of what this person claims is actually correct, but in terms of their understanding of democracy, then he/she is laughably naive and immature.

    “通过这些年在国外的生活,参加过无数次大小选举,体验过许多西方的社会问题,觉得自己原来那种自由民主保治之百病的想法很天真。

    老师要问:你丫为什么要出去?
    学生答:出来前以为民主自由便会有一切。宁做自由的人,不做富裕的Z(CLC老师不让说那个字)。可现在,老婆喜欢新的餐桌和茶几,小女儿总喜欢尿片,大女儿又总喜欢玩具,老妈又很不习惯和我们挤在两室一厅的房子里,才发现自由的人也不是那麽好当。”

    以上是BMY的经历。原来在此人心目中,自由民主应该能够包治百病,有了民主自由就应该会有一切。在这里,我要告诉BMY先生一个基本的道理:民主自由只保证每个人有相对公平的参与社会管理和自我发展的环境和条件。至于你个人最终的成就,还得要看你自己的能力以及无法预测的运气因素。特别要指出的是,民主自由只能增进不特定的大多数人的发展机会,而不可能确保某个或者某部分特定的人一定能获得何种成就或者利益。没有任何一本严肃的非宗教著作会告诉你这样一个结论:“只要有了××,你就会拥有你想要的一切”。既然你对民主自由是抱有这样的可笑认识,那你最终的信仰破灭不可避免--确切的说,你实际上没有真正信仰,你只信某些口号可能会给你个人带来的切身利益。一旦自身愿望没有得满足,哪怕这个制度并没有损害你什么,你也要否定它。这样你还不如信仰共产主义好了--因为这个主义就宣称,你需要什么,就给你什么--你可以去那些共产主义国家试试看。

    Apparently in the heart of this person, freedom and democracy is a panacea capable of curing all diseases. If we have democracy and freedom, then we will have everything. Here, I want to tell Mr. BMY basic logic: democracy and freedom can only guarantee that every person will have an equal right to participate in managing society and environment and condition for self-development. What you ultimately achieve depends on your ability, and a luck factor that can’t be predicted. I should especially point out: freedom and democracy can only advance an opportunity for development for a majority of the people, and can’t guarantee any specific group of people will absolutely gain or benefit. No serious non-religious work will ever give you this conclusion: “as long as you have XX, then you will have everything you want.” Since they have such a laughable understanding of freedom and democracy, then it’s unavoidable that your faith will eventually be shattered. Most accurately speaking, you really didn’t have actual faith. You only believe that some slogans will bring you personal advantage. And when this wasn’t satisfied, even though the policy didn’t hurt you, you will still reject it. You might as well believe in Communism — because this ideology announces that if you want anything, it will be yours — you can try living in a Communist country.

    5、不同的人可以有不同的观点,我也不指望能说服你们相信什么。但中国的现实就是:每天各地都有大大小小的“群体性事件”发生。昨天贵州有上万人围攻县政府和公安局,今天上海又有人闯入公安局刺死多名警察--这些都只是报道出来的几例而已。总之,除了极少数官僚和相关联的既得利益集团,谁都对现实不满,政府已经失去公信力,政治口号早已是皇帝的新装。利益的冲突和分化,除了通过各方实质参与的民主政治,已经不可能有其他单方面安排的解决办法了。

    5. Different people can have different perspectives. I don’t expect to convince all of you of anything. But the reality in China today is: every day there are large and small “mass incidents” erupting. Yesterday, Guizhou had tens of thousands of people surrounding the county government. Today, in Shanghai, someone rushed into a public security building and stabbed many police to death — these are the few examples being reported. Basically, other than a small number of officials and related vested interests, no one is satisfied with the current status quo. The government has lost credibility, and political slogans are the emperor’s new clothes. Existing conflict and division in interests can no longer be resolved by any single party, it must be resolved by fully participatory democratic politics.

    最后,希望那些非华人的网友,如果想真正了解中国的话,应学好中文并到中国来。通过海外华人的博客,你只能得到某个侧面的印象,而且还是二手的。

    Finally, hope that those non-Chinese netizens, if you want to understand the true China, then please learn Chinese and come to China. Learning about China from an overseas Chinese blog, you can only receive a second-hand side-view.

  87. JD Says:

    当然,语言可能好像一个障碍,但我不会高估其意义。语言不是那么神秘的说,能力来分析,批评,意见不同的想法和情况是丢失。语言障碍是远远重要性不亚于自由获取信息。

  88. Buxi Says:

    @JD,

    Is that through a mechanical translator? If you wrote it in English, it’d save me the trouble of butchering what you really mean in trying a translation.

  89. Wahaha Says:

    @S.K, #68

    You still dont get it.

    I never said the political system in China is perfect, there are lot of flaws in that system. The same can be said about West democracy. The system in China is way better than democratic system when government needs to do what is necessary (for economy); west democracy is better than authoritarian in protecting the interest and right of individuals and minority.

    In the country you have lived for 30 years, cuz there are only 33 million people and few poor, your government is rarely under economic pressure, so democratic system is the best for Cananda.

    In a poor or developing country like China and India, with millions of new job force entering market each year, government is constantly under pressure to do something like creating job opportunities, pulling poor people out of poverty. Government simply cant afford endless democratic process.

    Now America is on economy recession, people’s pockets get tight. Do Americans care about those prison mistreated ? Do Americans care about how those illegal immigrants mistreated. There was Chinese in New York from TianJin, he died suddenly cuz of stroke or something else, the visa application by his wife and daughter was rejected in Beijing. Where is the humanity ?

    I want something between West democracy and authoritarian, I want to see a system that is flexible and internally adjustable based on the economic situation. China will be more democratic for sure. Currently, there is new name about China, “internet democracy”, Internet will have huge impact on China’s democracy, cuz more and more people get their information from internet. When people in West talk about the censorship in China, they should go to internet, see what Chinese know, not get their conclusion from Chinadaily.

  90. Buxi Says:

    @Traveler/Youzi,

    If you have a point of view, you are more welcome to stay and convince us. There’s a reason I have been translating your messages, its to give your voice a fair hearing here. If you are unable to do that, well, then regardless of Chinese or non-Chinese, overseas or in China, English or putonghua, we can only conclude you don’t have much confidence in what you have to say.

    The fact that you tell us to read philosophers more than 100 years dead and buried shows how naive and immature your own understanding of politics is. Why did Communism fail? Because it’s also based on the words of German philosophers also more than 100 years dead. I think it’s very sad that you haven’t learned that it’s time to put down poetry and the philosophy books, and focus on what actually works.

    You admit that democracy isn’t a cure-all, but then you go on to claim that democracy will resolve the conflict of interests in China today, you claim that it will allow the people to have a fair share of managing society, you claim that it will allow the people to develop… and I think, again, that you are naive, naive, naive. You are only capable of repeating Rousseau, because you are unwilling to pick up a near-term history book, because you have no idea how democracy is actually practiced in the real world.

    We all recognize the problems in China today, including the riot in Guizhou. None of us are satisfied with the status quo as it currently exists. The question is what to do with it. And if there is one thing that we should have learned from China over the past 60 years, it’s not just that Communism and Karl Marx were wrong. It should be that political idealism itself is wrong.

    That’s a lesson you apparently haven’t learned. And I only hope that you, and the other naive idealists like yourself, are never in a position to do too much damage to my country. Since you are financially secure in China, I hope you spend some money and climb out of the deep well in which you sit, staring at the sky. I hope you take a trip around the world and learn about countries other than the United States and western Europe.

    Finally, I already told you this earlier. BMY isn’t the only veteran of the 89 student movement here. If the overseas Chinese have only a partial view of China, then what is your view of democracy in practice? Moldy European textbooks and Hollywood movies?

  91. Buxi Says:

    One more word for Traveler/Youzi/游子,

    I can’t say enough that I hope you stay here, and even bring your friends and colleagues with a similar point of view. No matter what your opinion is, the fact is, overseas Chinese have a say in our country both legally and morally. Not just that, but we have the advantage of personally experiencing both countries and systems. You don’t have to obey us, and we don’t represent you. But you should stop assuming you know everything.

    Remember what you said in your first post here? Free debate brings us the truth, isn’t that what you argued? And what happens when you remove yourself from debate that you don’t like? Are you interested in getting closer to the truth, or are you so convinced that you know everything there is to know? Aren’t you at all interested in learning the opinions and experiences of people like BMY? You don’t necessarily have to agree with him, but can you respect his and our life experience? Why do you continue to insist that only you possess the truth, and that he knows nothing?

    Do you realize who looks more immature and foolish in this discussion? The 89 student protester who has lived overseas for a decade interested in debate, or the Chinese official who reads Hobbes and Locqueville and trying to avoid debate?

    I’d like to have this debate on KDnet and Tianya, but we can’t. Government censorship is a problem on those forums, and a thousand foolish posters are also a problem. When you debate in English on Chinese topics, there are very few dangerous keywords, and (fewer) fools.

  92. AC Says:

    @ Buxi

    I am not very familiar with the Chinese translations of the names of famous Wester thinkers, but I think Youzi was talking about Friedrich Hayek and John Rawls?

  93. Nimrod Says:

    Youzi,

    You should not only stay, but do two more things: put down your lecturing attitude and argue with a lot more intellectual depth. You don’t have any special authority here except your words and logic. I’ve been to too many political forums, Chinese ones especially, where terse sloganeering and vague handwaving pass for satisfactory arguments. That’s not going to fly here. But I’m not going to dismiss you because who knows… you might have thought about this carefully and haven’t wanted to spend the time to say it. I hope you come back and do so.

    Now I’m also going to drill deeply into your perception of democracy. Your comments on it in your last post were highly confused. Is democracy a religion? You say it isn’t, because it isn’t supposed to guarantee you anything like religions do. So we should evaluate it based on real-world facts, right? But you turn right around to admonish BMY for not being satisfied that he didn’t get personal gains from it. So what should we measure it by? Unfortunately you never offered up any proposals. You could have argued for happiness … or maybe contentment, something along those lines, but you didn’t. If you don’t have anything in mind and you have no arguments about how it will resolve China’s current problems, then I’d say democracy is a religion to you. In fact, your own words seem to betray that you would have given BMY more respect had he had “true faith” in democracy. This is a sad statement, really.

    Look, we all know China’s current state of affairs is unsatisfactory. We all know philosophers have theoretical ideals about justice, fairness, etc., etc. None of this is news. But what are we really talking about here? We’re talking about social engineering of a grand scale. Sounds familiar? Because we’ve tried it and didn’t do so well. So you better be really convincing this time. Theories and ideals are best relegated to musings and at most a starting point for discussion, never the final word.

    By the way, who do you think is more elitist? Those concerned with bread and butter issues from personal experience, or those reading European philosophers from government offices? Ironic indeed.

  94. MutantJedi Says:

    Youzi,
    I agree – understanding Chinese is important to understanding China. But to be complete, one should study Classical Chinese as well as Putonghua. I’d throw in Cantonese and Shanghaihua too. But if I do that… then I should add Manchu for history and the language of the Uyghurs as what happens in Xinjiang could be interesting. Oh, and how could I forget the language of the Tibetans – very fashionable these days. Hmm… I still have this nagging feeling I’m leaving out a lot of languages. Whoa, daunting, eh, Youzi? :)

    But, I have to start somewhere. So, let’s meet here in English with the help of our friends. Language skills ought not be an insurmountable barrier to understanding.

  95. Hemulen Says:

    I think Youzi has every right in the world to write in whatever language that makes him comfortable. It is, after all, China that is being discussed here. And he has a far subtler grasp of the issues at stake than Buxi and many of his supporters do. Just one example. Buxi writes:

    In a democracy, laws are written by the majority, S.K.Cheung. It does nothing to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority.

    This is incorrect at several levels. First of all, in most common law countries and many other countries, laws are both created by legislative acts by parliament and by the judiciary (“stare decisis”). In civil law countries, the power of the legislature is often restrained by constitutional safeguards and by other mechanisms. The whole point of having an independent judiciary and a constitution is to ensure that no permanent majority is created that can oppress the minority and that new majorities are allowed to take shape. That is why most constitutions have mechanisms that makes it difficult for a temporary majority to change the rules of engagement permanently.

    Furthermore, majority rule is only one part of democracy, but not identical with democracy and majority decisions can be undemocratic. For instance, it would be undemocratic for a parliamentary majority to enact laws that deprive certain categories of people of the right to vote. It would be unconstitutional to create laws that punish people for acts that were not criminal when they were committed.

    I also think it is disingenuous of Buxi to dismiss political theory the way he does. Karl Marx didn’t write the blue prints of the reforms that the communists tried to carry out after 1949. If you read the Manifesto, the only program that Marx put forward looks very much like the foundations of social democratic policy. And many of the political philosophers that Buxi so lightly dismisses discussed many of the issues that are discussed on this very blog.

  96. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Wahaha #89:
    Through the internet, I’ve got a better appreciation of what overseas Chinese know. But it’s still a little unclear what mainland Chinese know, especially with other threads discussing the censorship that still occurs in China, and how the occasional “open” discussion is somehow a big deal. There might be some progress, but there’s lots more to be had.
    I’ve never said our western system is perfect. But it sure works well enough for me. Maybe someday, China will get a taste of some version of it too.
    But let’s be clear about one thing. That China may not be ready for democracy today is not an indication of some inherent flaw in the democratic process; it’s a reflection of the flaws of China, economic and otherwise, that await (hopefully) eventual remedy.

  97. Nimrod Says:

    Hemulen wrote,

    Buxi writes:
    In a democracy, laws are written by the majority, S.K.Cheung. It does nothing to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority.

    This is incorrect at several levels. First of all, in most common law countries and many other countries, laws are both created by legislative acts by parliament and by the judiciary (”stare decisis”). In civil law countries, the power of the legislature is often restrained by constitutional safeguards and by other mechanisms.

    +++++
    Great. Now tell me how it works in “Chinese law” countries? I think you’ve unwittingly made it plenty clear that democracy in fact doesn’t protect the minorities, but that other political mechanisms do.

  98. Wahaha Says:

    S.K.

    I participated in 1986 and 1989 democratic movement. Ordinary chinese had no sense of human right at all at that time, they didnt know what we were demonstrating for.

    In morning of 6/4, we students tried to persuade workers to strike, but nobody listened to us. They said they needed to feed their family, that was when I realized that China simply didnt have the foundation for democracy.

    People in West dont know what has happened politically in China in last 2 decades, they always compare the situation in China to their own countries. Please, stop comparing China to your own country, for god sake, compare China to 1989 China.

  99. Hemulen Says:

    Now tell me how it works in “Chinese law” countries?

    China and Japan are generally counted among the civil law countries, with some elements borrowed from common law countries

    I think you’ve unwittingly made it plenty clear that democracy in fact doesn’t protect the minorities, but that other political mechanisms do.

    You clearly did not read what I wrote. I said quite explicitly that democracy is not the same thing as majority rule.

  100. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Nimrod:
    isn’t rule of law, applied fairly and impartially, an integral part of the democratic process. Isn’t that one of the things that today’s China still lacks?

  101. Nimrod Says:

    Hemulen,

    China and Japan are generally counted among the civil law countries, with some elements borrowed from common law countries.

    China even has a Constitution and a Congress, and people even vote for the Congress. I wasn’t talking about what’s on paper.

    You clearly did not read what I wrote. I said quite explicitly that democracy is not the same thing as majority rule.

    You can define democracy to be whatever you want. After all there are many definitions. I read what you wrote. To abuse computer language, you defined democracy to be a core dump of a few entire working systems (common law countries or civil law countries). Great. I think I’ve said before that if China were like those societies then a full transplant might work. But China isn’t and those core dumps are meaningless. We’ll have to reverse engineer the key parts for ourselves.

  102. Nimrod Says:

    S.K. Cheung,

    It certainly is, but let’s not put the cart before the horse. If rule of law is what China needs, then let’s get rule of law. I don’t have a complaint about that.

  103. Wahaha Says:

    I heard that the founding fathers of America never use the word “democracy” in their constitution and Declaration of Independence.

    Is it true ?

  104. Hemulen Says:

    @Nimrod

    Core dumps? Odd choice of metaphor for human societies. I’m speechless.

  105. Oli Says:

    @Hemulen

    Firstly, welcome to the blog, but I believe you are missing the drift of this discussion. Alot of the concepts you’ve stated are the textbook ideal of how things ought to be in Western liberal democracies. However, many overseas Chinese who have lived both in China and overseas have seen both sides of the fence as opposed to many mainland Chinese whose experience of the West are from secondary, often superficial, sources of information and experience, hence their idealised perception of of Western systems that many overseas Chinese know first hand to be flawed.

    While it is understandable that many who live in China are impatient for change, but because of their experiences, many mainland and overseas Chinese participating on this blog also feel that a wholesale, relatively instantaneous adoption of Western systems of governance to China’s socio-political environment would effective result in the nation’s implosion, particularly if there are no viable institutions ready to support or sustain such changes.

    Furthermore, the Constitutional Law 101 textbook examples you provided only go so far, when in reality we both know that even lofty concepts such as the fundamental doctrine of “habeas corpus” dating to the Magna Carter (since we are throwing Latin words around) are often sacrificed for perceived necessity and political expediencies. An extreme historical example is of course the suspension of the rights of German UK residents or the internment of American Japanese civilians at the outbreak of WWII.

    While it is true that in common law systems the judiciary itself enact laws by way of “stare decisis”, however should you read enough “ratio decidendi” you would also undoubtedly realise that judges themselves will all too often decide cases on “policy grounds” that effectively sacrifice “fairness” towards the individual claimant on the altar of the “greater common good”, whether political or not. On this basis, judges themselves acting as unelected legislators arguably have less of a claim to legitimacy than elected parliamentarians to make laws. And should you think otherwise, we can quote cases all day long, but it would hardly be conducive to this discussion thread.

    As for your assertions that it would be undemocratic for a parliamentary majority to enact laws that deprive certain categories of people of the right to vote, I suggest that you look at the different electoral law restriction on universal suffrage, such as the arguably arbitrary age restriction on the right to vote among others.

    Furthermore, your other assertion that it would be unconstitutional to create laws that punish people for acts that were not criminal when they were committed, under the doctrine of legislative/parliamentary supremacy such laws could theoretically be enacted where a majority exist, particularly in a common law system without a written constitution.

    Under such circumstances, as it is in the UK, the unconstitutionality of and resistance to such laws rest more on the political culture, customs and traditions of the nation than on any formal constitution or case law. Consequently in countries where such political culture, customs and traditions are weak or non-existent and/or where there exists little or no institutional support of the relevant values, odious and partisan laws will be passed with little or no popular or institutional resistance. (I am sure you are aware of UK PM Gordon Brown’s current troubles with his attempts at extending the period of detention for terror suspects and the oft-cited reasons for failed states in Africa)

    The fundamental question to this discussion is therefore whether in China either now or in the relatively near future there is or will be a socio-political culture or social and government institutions capable of supporting a democratic system, whether one that is uniquely “Chinese” or has substantial Western overtones and the path that China should take to accomplish that goal. Consequently, you application of legal analysis through the prism of Western jurisprudence will only take you that far, but little further in a discussion of the mercurial nature of China’s current socio-political dynamics.

    PS
    Didn’t anybody tell you that it’s now considered “unfashionable” to use Latin legal terms, especially in informal discussions. A bit of a social faux pas, non? Also if you are a UK solicitor or law student, I believe the UK Law Society’s booklet on Solicitor’s Code of Conduct has a rule against using legalese to bully others, so shame on you and mind your manners.

  106. Oli Says:

    Oh and final note:

    With reference to what I said above and with consideration to the topic of this thread which is about or has evolved to be about the pragmatic implementation of any form of “democracy” in modern day China, references to Rousseau or Karl Marx et al are just, with all due respect, so much intellectual name dropping(s) of a penis waving pissing contest. :)

  107. Hemulen Says:

    @Oli

    a wholesale, relatively instantaneous adoption of Western systems of governance to China’s socio-political environment

    That’s a straw man argument. Who has ever seriously suggested that Western systems be transplanted to China instantaneously?

    Western systems that many overseas Chinese know first hand to be flawed.

    Flawed. Who said there is a perfect system in the first place? Many of us do not think that democracy is the least bad system. Be as it may, these overseas Chinese have chosen to live in the least flawed system, it appears to me.

    when in reality we both know that even lofty concepts such as the fundamental doctrine of “habeas corpus” dating to the Magna Carter (since we are throwing Latin words around) are often sacrificed for perceived necessity and political expediencies.

    Yes, mistakes are made, especially in times of war. But if the idea that individuals have rights against the state exists, you have the means to correct such mistakes. Japanese Americans did receive compensation for their suffering during WW2. Has it ever happened that a Chinese citizen has been compensated for a crime committed against him by the state, except as an act of grace?

    As for your assertions that it would be undemocratic for a parliamentary majority to enact laws that deprive certain categories of people of the right to vote, I suggest that you look at the different electoral law restriction on universal suffrage, such as the arguably arbitrary age restriction on the right to vote among others.

    That is the least sympathetic reading of what I wrote. I was thinking of Jim Crow laws and the like, not age restrictions.

    Consequently in countries where such political culture, customs and traditions are weak or non-existent and/or where there exists little or no institutional support of the relevant values, odious and partisan laws will be passed with little or no popular or institutional resistance.

    Granted. But how is a more democratic culture ever to develop in China under current restrictions? That is, in my reading, the point Youzi is trying to make. If the Chinese government does not grant any meaningful political rights to protest the government, in the long run, what you will get is chaos and “mass incidents”.

  108. Wahaha Says:

    @Hemulen

    “Be as it may, these overseas Chinese have chosen to live in the least flawed system, it appears to me.”

    Where did you get this conclusion ? so most oversea chinese students studied outside cuz of the better political system ?

    We lived here cuz (1) this country gives some of us better chance supporting our families (2) lot of us have got used to the society and living style, going back to China means we will have to restart everything again. This is impossible with a family, especially with kids.

    As YouZi, you didnt mention a single country (poor or developing) in which Democracy delivered economically, which makes your argument a “textbook” argument, not convincing at all.

  109. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Nimrod #102:
    I don’t think that’s really an “if”, do you? But it’s not a horse and a cart. Democracy in a western sense applied to real societies is more than majority rule, and more than rule of law. It’s an amalgamation of at least those 2 things, if not more. It’s not a core dump; they’re parts of the source code. To try to separate the myriad of features of a democracy into silos is purely argumentative.

  110. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Wahaha #98:
    I’m not comparing China with Canada. Thankfully, there’s no comparison. And yes, I think China 2008 is better than China 1989. But China 2008′s got a ways to go in many respects.

  111. Buxi Says:

    @S.K.Cheung,

    To try to separate the myriad of features of a democracy into silos is purely argumentative.

    Considering the myriad failures of democracy in developing nations around the world, I think that separation and analysis is exactly what China needs.

    @Hemulen,

    I think others have addressed your questions amply. We’re arguing angels on the head of a pin with the specific definition of “democracy”, but if we all take a step back, I believe we can all concur that no Western nation implements a simple majority-rules democracy because of the obvious advantages of such a system. In one way or another, what we simply refer to as “democratic nations” today have differing forms of democratic representation. The electoral and legal system in the United Kingdom is vastly different from that of the United States, for example.

    So, bottom line, as Chinese, we are entitled to the opportunity to examine the solution that most applies to us. And the biggest conflict with Youzi on this point, is his rather blind assertion that we can ignore the economic impact seen in real-world implementations while designing our future political system. Yes, China absolutely needs political reform, but after looking at the West’s failures in prodding and pushing the developing world into failed democracies, we have every reason to be skeptical of that approach.

    I will repeat myself on this point: there is not a single developing democracy that any activist can point to, with a level of economic/social development comparable to that of China, which has been “successful” in the modern era.

  112. EugeneZ Says:

    Regarding democracy vs. protecting miniroty from the tyranny of majority, I recently watched a video on http://www.charlierose.com in which Judge Scalia talked about this subject in some depth. You need both liberty and democarcy. That was his message.

  113. Hemulen Says:

    @Buxi

    Again you are setting up a strawman and mixing things up. No one is arguing that China have general elections tomorrow and no Western country is forcing China to change its system. But if the Chinese government means business when it says that it is committed to some form of democratic reforms, why does it arrest dissidents and continues to restrict the freedom of the press? Because the Chinese government doesn’t want democracy, I think Youzi would say, and here I agree with him.

  114. Wahaha Says:

    Hemulen,

    So as the democratic process is not as fast as you can, therefore Chinese government is not committed to democratic reforms.

    Then you should explain why People in Russia selected a KGB as their leader.

  115. JD Says:

    Wahaha, official policy says that China won’t be ready for democracy for at least 100 years. Kind of funny that “not in 100 years” is an expression which means “never”. I wonder if Premier Wen is making a joke.

    So no, the Chinese government is not committed to democratic reforms. I don’t think any serious observer, let alone the party itself, thinks it is.

  116. Buxi Says:

    @Hemulen,

    But if the Chinese government means business when it says that it is committed to some form of democratic reforms, why does it arrest dissidents and continues to restrict the freedom of the press? Because the Chinese government doesn’t want democracy, I think Youzi would say, and here I agree with him.

    First of all, I don’t think you have a correct understanding of Chinese restrictions on dissidents right now. See: Political dissent in China: Glass half-full, or glass half-empty

    Second, you’ve setup a simple relationship here that I don’t understand. Restricting the freedom of the press and arresting dissidents is equal to having no intention of ever seeking greater democracy? When change comes, if it looks anything like other examples in East Asia, it will come quickly.

    In Taiwan, Jiang Jingguo was arresting dissidents and banning newspapers until only a few years before he declared the end to martial law and announced dramatic political reforms, including a competitive election for the presidency.

    I believe China isn’t ready for democracy today, and Beijing will likely continue to clamp down on those that directly threaten the existing authoritarian system until the CCP believes it is ready. At the same time, China shows it is experimenting with growing levels of democratic exercise. In addition to village elections (which EugeneZ mentioned his brother competed in?), Shenzhen and Guangzhou are both expected to implement competitive elections for local congress seats in the next few years. See: Shenzhen aims for major political reforms

    My disagreement with Youzi really isn’t as anything as pedantic as whether Southern Metropolis should be allowed to write freely without political interference (I think it should). It’s a deeper debate about what philosophical path China “must” take in the near future.

  117. Hemulen Says:

    @Buxi

    Are we supposed to think that it is remarkable that people like Woeser are allowed to blog? Shouldn’t that be considered quite normal? And in your post, you conveniently ignore the fact that Woeser has been in house arrest this year.

    More importantly, keeping people guessing as exactly what can lead to a “real” arrest is part and parcel of Repression 101, it makes dissidents more cautious and encourages self-censorship.

    Restricting the freedom of the press and arresting dissidents is equal to having no intention of ever seeking greater democracy?

    It indicates that the government is not sincere. And I’m sure that you don’t mean that we should be indifferent to political persecution.

    When change comes, if it looks anything like other examples in East Asia, it will come quickly.

    Change will not come by itself. If you want competitive elections, someone has to stand in those elections. Democratic systems are not designed by governments alone, they are the product of bargaining between the government and the people.

    In Taiwan, Jiang Jingguo was arresting dissidents and banning newspapers until only a few years before he declared the end to martial law and announced dramatic political reforms, including a competitive election for the presidency.

    I think we can both agree that as horrible as repression was in Taiwan, it never reached the proportions that we have seen on the mainland.

    Chen Shui-bian made his first splash back in 1979 as an attorney defending activists implicated in the Kaohsiung incident. Just last month, a bunch of Beijing lawyers were disbarred for volunteering to defend Tibetans involved in the March riots. The Tangwai movement in the 70s and 80s prepared the way for the political parties we have seen emerging in Taiwan. Today, mainland dissidents can post ruminations on their blogs about the merits of democracy, but if five of them call for a public meeting discussing the same issue, the PSB will soon give them opportunity to reconsider their actions in solitude.

    The glass is not even half full, Buxi. Sure, things are much better in mainland China than they were in the 60s and 70s, but these were extreme times. Mainland China remains one of the most repressive major countries in the world and there are absolutely no indications that the CCP will allow any form of meaningful power sharing in the near future. That’s a fact and Youzi is calling you on that.

  118. Nimrod Says:

    Hemulen wrote:

    I think we can both agree that as horrible as repression was in Taiwan, it never reached the proportions that we have seen on the mainland.
    +++++
    Do you have any basis for comparison? While Taiwan had more structural pieces in place before the late 80′s, dissent was suppressed just the same. In 1979, the activists (maybe not Chen Shuibian himself) were sentenced to prison by a military court. Yes, Annette Lu also “made her splash” then — in prison. Up to the 80s, public expression of dissent was not allowed at all, not even the kind allowed in the mainland today, the whole place was under “martial law” for decades, for god’s sake.

    and there are absolutely no indications that the CCP will allow any form of meaningful power sharing in the near future. That’s a fact and Youzi is calling you on that.
    +++++
    Are you just going keep repeating this or face up to the fact that the entire time since the 70′s have been a continuous process of nothing but the CCP giving up more and more of its powers, as it well should? We lived through it, we know. You obviously don’t. Shall one of us make a list again?

  119. Sino Federation Says:

    An exceptional event happened in Nepal not too long ago.

    The Maoist Party has won the 2008 Nepalese elections with more than half of the votes, as compared to other political parties.

    If CCP were to take part in a people’s election now, it would probably still win the mandate to govern China.

    If China becomes a “democratic” single-party country like Russia, it is actually not much different from being a communist country.

  120. Hemulen Says:

    @Nimrod

    Do you have any basis for comparison?

    Well, what is the Taiwanese counterpart of the mass executions in 1950-51, the anti-Rightists movement 1957, the Great leap forward 1959-62, the Cultural revolution 1966-76, the June 4 massacre in 1989 or Ghulja incident in 1997? Sorry that I gave you a list again, but you asked for it.

    While Taiwan had more structural pieces in place before the late 80’s, dissent was suppressed just the same.

    I think any Taiwanese would agree that the absence of any real counterpart to the events of mass violence and persecution mentioned above makes a lot of difference to their experience.

    Are you just going keep repeating this or face up to the fact that the entire time since the 70’s have been a continuous process of nothing but the CCP giving up more and more of its powers, as it well should?

    I was talking about sharing power, not devolving power. The CCP has been giving up power over the economy because there was no alternative in 1979, not because they wanted to. It remains in charge of politics and media, and has given no indication that it will relinquish that.

  121. Buxi Says:

    @Hemulen,

    Well, what is the Taiwanese counterpart of the mass executions in 1950-51, the anti-Rightists movement 1957, the Great leap forward 1959-62, the Cultural revolution 1966-76, the June 4 massacre in 1989 or Ghulja incident in 1997? Sorry that I gave you a list again, but you asked for it.

    228… the Formosa/Gaoxiong Incident… I do believe you’re trying to white-wash the martial law period in Taiwan.

    I think any Taiwanese would agree that the absence of any real counterpart to the events of mass violence and persecution mentioned above makes a lot of difference to their experience.

    A rather poetic but still meaningless response.

    The point isn’t how the “Taiwanese experience” was affected, but whether there was heavy suppression of any dissent in the late ’70s and early ’80s. And of course there was. But when reforms came, it came quickly, and from within.

    Did anyone in 1981 believe that there would be full legislative elections in 1992?

  122. Buxi Says:

    @Hemulen,

    Are we supposed to think that it is remarkable that people like Woeser are allowed to blog? Shouldn’t that be considered quite normal?

    Quite normal compared to what, exactly? China 2004? China 2000? China 1990? China 1980? It’s a tremendous change from what previously existed in China.

    I believe the point we’re talking about here is trends, and whether China is “allowing a democratic culture to develop”. It takes tremendous myopia and hysterical faith to assert that not only has China failed to make progress, it has actually rolled back on these issues. Compared to any other point in the last 60 years (except for perhaps a brief period in the mid ’80s), the atmosphere for open discussion within China has dramatically changed.

    Bottom line: I don’t have the perfect crystal ball that you apparently possess, but it’s obvious to me that China has been on a gradual political reform path for the last 10 years, and that in other similar societies, when the economic conditions permit it, dramatic political reform can follow very quickly.

  123. FOARP Says:

    @Hermuelen – I think the ‘core dump’ analogy to be quite useful, if a little techie. Right now, China’s software is badly-written assembly code running on an 70′s mainframe – both the software and the hardware are in need of an upgrade, and, as with all such things, buying in a package is likely to be expensive and not exactly suitable.

  124. Nimrod Says:

    Hemulen wrote:

    I was talking about sharing power, not devolving power. The CCP has been giving up power over the economy because there was no alternative in 1979, not because they wanted to. It remains in charge of politics and media, and has given no indication that it will relinquish that.
    +++++
    Really? Every year, I can do things I could not before in realms having nothing to do with the economy. One incident I remember clearly from the early 90s was that I had legitmate concerns about speaking my mind on the education system, of all things. Back then also the only TV stations were two or three CCTV stations and there was no internet. Forget about investigative journalism of any kind. Forget about lawyers writing letters for any cause. The fact is, the rule of law is developing. A civil society is developing.

    On the economy, what does “because there was no alternative” supposed to mean? Of course there were alternatives, just bad ones. So did you prove the CCP took the good alternative? China was among the first to engage in economic reforms among the Communist bloc, and there were plenty of “alternatives” for not doing anything even among its neighbors in Asia, not to mention the West’s favorite oddities that still hang on. If you mean the CCP strove for its own survival by doing what beneficial things would shore up its support among the people, then what the heck is wrong with that? Along with economic reforms, the first village elections also began at that same time. That’s not sharing political power?

  125. Hemulen Says:

    @Buxi

    The point isn’t how the “Taiwanese experience” was affected, but whether there was heavy suppression of any dissent in the late ’70s and early ’80s.

    Taiwanese are far less bitter about their personal histories than mainlanders are. When looking back at three decades following 1949, Taiwanese can look back not only at repression but at increasing prosperity. The upheavals of the period from 1949 to 1979 has left a poisonous legacy in mainland Chinese political culture and mainland Chinese can never really be sure if a new period of chaos is not behind the corner. The CCP is exploiting that fear in order to silence criticism of the established order.

    I do believe you’re trying to white-wash the martial law period in Taiwan.

    No, I’m not. But if given a choice, I would rather live in Taiwan in the 1960s than in Mainland China. That’s a no-brainer.

    Compared to any other point in the last 60 years (except for perhaps a brief period in the mid ’80s), the atmosphere for open discussion within China has dramatically changed.

    I have already addressed this point. To make a loose parallel, if we were discussing racism in Germany after 1990, it would feel out of place to say that regardless of the situation today, things are still better than during the Nazi regime.

    And in sharp contrast to Germany, the party that is in power in today’s China, is guilty of some the worst man-made catastrophes in recorded history.

    @Foarp

    buying in a package is likely to be expensive and not exactly suitable.

    No one is suggesting that China buys any package, what people are suggesting is that the PRC government releases some restrictions on the freedom of speech and assembly.

    @Nimrod

    Words fail me. Are you even interested in a discussion?

  126. Wahaha Says:

    Helmulen,

    From 1949 to 1976, the CCP is Mao’s party, not a party of its members. Like KPSS, the communist party in soviet union, it was Stalin’s party, not a party of the party members.

    We all know Russia now is essentially an authoritarian country, media is suppressed, the leader of opposite party was arrested before election, journalists were murdered. and Russia people still want Putin, a former KGB, as their leader, there is even a club named ‘VV’ by Putin’s fans. All the Russian people know what KPSS did during Stalin time, and they dont mind. I guess they BLAME EVERYTHING ON ONE PERSON, NOT ON THE WHOLE COMMUNIST PARTY.

    You can pin the disaster on Mao, I cant think of many other leaders then who should share the blame, expecailly the culture revolution, it is all on Mao, no1 else. But I think it is unfair to pin that on all the CCP party. I am not saying that the current party is “nice” party like Santa Claus, but it is not objective to criticize the current CCP cuz of what happened in 50s and 60s.

  127. FOARP Says:

    @Wahaha – People would much rather blame things on a single scape-goat than accept the blame themselves. Look at Germany – there are many people there who still blame everything on Hitler, or talk about people like Von Stauffenburg as being more representative of Germany. Folk from the rest of Europe smile and nod when our German friends do this, but we are all thinking that had the Germans won the war they would be singing a different tune . . .

  128. Nimrod Says:

    Hemulen,

    Sure I’m interested in discussion. What makes you think otherwise? Not sure what “shocking” things I said could throw you into a “speechless” state over and over…

    Taiwanese are far less bitter about their personal histories than mainlanders are.

    Have you not heard what benshenren have to say about 228? That’s what, 61 years ago?

    When looking back at three decades following 1949, Taiwanese can look back not only at repression but at increasing prosperity. The upheavals of the period from 1949 to 1979 has left a poisonous legacy in mainland Chinese political culture and mainland Chinese can never really be sure if a new period of chaos is not behind the corner. The CCP is exploiting that fear in order to silence criticism of the established order.

    Nobody believes a new period of chaos is “around the corner”. If that were the case people would be a lot more pessimistic. (Come to think of it, have you talked to any Chinese people from mainland China recently?)

    Mainland Chinese had several periods of increasng propserity to look back to as well, the early 1950′s were a good time, and certainly since the reform and openng people’s lives have been materially improved. Who are the most bitter people? Probably those whose last memories of China were the 60′s and 70′s.

    And in sharp contrast to Germany, the party that is in power in today’s China, is guilty of some the worst man-made catastrophes in recorded history.

    The CCP isn’t an anthropomorphic creature. The leaders running China today aren’t the people running China during the 60′s and 70′s. Grow up.

  129. Wahaha Says:

    @FORAP,

    All the man-made disasters happened during one-person-rules periods.

  130. Hemulen Says:

    @Nimrod

    Nobody believes a new period of chaos is “around the corner”. If that were the case people would be a lot more pessimistic. (Come to think of it, have you talked to any Chinese people from mainland China recently?)

    Yes, I have. But let me quote our friend Buxi:

    That prevents people from ripping the constitution apart when they don’t get their way. Sad to say, China isn’t there yet.

  131. Nimrod Says:

    XH wrote,

    Well, look at what happened recently in Mongolia. The opposition was not content with the election results, so a mob just took to the streets and burned down the headquarters of the ruling party. Looking at the picture of the devastation in Ulanbataar, there seems to be some striking resemblances with what the crowds did to the Public Security Bureau in Weng’an. Seems like a democratic system could not be a panacea for everything, especially in a poor country like Mongolia.

    +++++
    For one thing, I’m not at all convinced that “mass incidents” springing up is a sign that the state is becoming more repressive. Quite the opposite, it is a sign that people have become more aware of the fair shake they deserve and more capable of speaking out. It’s not because there were no injustices before, but because people have been more afraid to step up to “mass incidents”. Think about this, where do more “mass incidents” (protests+violence) occur: in more open societies like the West or in closed societies like North Korea?

    But sure we should have fewer of these by reducing injustice and raising the standard of living of the society. As long as people still hunger for the basics (not luxuries like how their president is elected), there will be mass incidents regardless of the system, democratic or not.

  132. Nimrod Says:

    Hemulen,

    First of all, I wrote that, not Buxi. Second of all, what’s your point? I said rule of law and civic values are important for the success of a democratic society where the losing side will also play by the rules. Where did I predict a “new period of chaos”? More to the point, where did I suggest the current situation is not subject to criticism?

    Rhetorical questions aside, are you at all interested in the changes that are occuring in China, or are you just going to be fixated on the 60′s and 70′s? Because the former has much more to do with where China is headed than the latter.

  133. Turbo Says:

    @ Red:

    “Imagine for a moment, 800 million peasants individually thinking of “responsibility” and “stewardship” of the country and institutions …. ”

    Seriously, dude, what were going through your mind when you wrote these?
    This is one of the dumbest statements made by another human in the 21st century. Maybe you prefer the time where having a slave is legal, please, GTFO my country (USA).

  134. Buxi Says:

    @Turbo,

    If you have a point to make, make it politely. Last warning.

    @Hemulen,

    No, I’m not. But if given a choice, I would rather live in Taiwan in the 1960s than in Mainland China. That’s a no-brainer.

    You’re saying you’d rather live in Taiwan circa 1960s than mainland China in 2008? Well, that’s your right. I sincerely disagree.

    I have already addressed this point. To make a loose parallel, if we were discussing racism in Germany after 1990, it would feel out of place to say that regardless of the situation today, things are still better than during the Nazi regime.

    I don’t see how you’ve addressed the point, and your parallel is loose to the point of being completely nonsensical. I’m not comparing the status quo in 2008 to the state of affairs in 1945.

    I’m comparing China’s status quo in 2008 to 2005, 2000, 1995, 1990, and 1980. I’m looking at the space available for public dissent and discussion in these two decades. I would rather live in “China 2008″ than “China any other year in the previous six decades”.

  135. Michael Says:

    @Buxi,

    “The point isn’t how the “Taiwanese experience” was affected, but whether there was heavy suppression of any dissent in the late ’70s and early ’80s. And of course there was. But when reforms came, it came quickly, and from within. Did anyone in 1981 believe that there would be full legislative elections in 1992?”

    I thought someone else (Wahaha?) has stated clearly that shock therapy is a bad thing, and from many of your writings here I’ve also gotten the impression that you would say so too. Wouldn’t you agree that this dramtic turn of events you described in Taiwan was very much like a shock therapy? With four decades of martial law on the back until 1987, but yet suddently full legislative elections were already held in 1992–it is indeed quite shocking, right? If you say yes, shock therapy by itself, I suppose then, is not the main reason for not introducing democracy in China.

    But what economic condictions have to do with the timing of transition to democracy? You said: “when the economic conditions permit it, dramatic political reform can follow very quickly.” I disagree. Singapore is by any measure today a rich country, but has remained non-democratic and doesn’t seem to change anytime soon. Taiwan was developing quickly that by late 1970s it was already quite modern, but it was not until the 90s did it really become a democracy. Even so, Jiang Jingguo’s change of heart to end the martial law and announce dramatic political reforms in 1987 had more to do with geopolitical concerns than the state of economic development in the island. For as that the US and China had developed relation again and that China and Britan was negotiating the return of Hong Kong to China, Taiwan’s leaders obviously felt that they needed to score international support by democratizing the political system and the society. you cannot just simply assume that if China just postpones democracy development to a later time, China would quickly transition to a democracy because the economic conditions would be better by then and the CCP would be more ready without significant domestic or international pressures.

  136. Buxi Says:

    @Michael,

    There’s still a major difference in Taiwan’s reforms and what we might commonly call “shock therapy”. Jiang Jingguo lifted martial law in 1987, but the first legislative elections didn’t follow until 1992, and the first presidential elections didn’t happen until 1996. That’s more or less a 10 year process.

    But yes, to answer your question, I absolutely believe economic conditions are necessary for even that pace of reform to be successful. Looking at the windy and often chaotic path that Taiwanese politics has taken over the last 10 years (CSB’s assassination, Shi Mingde’s red-shirted protests), I personally think violent riots and completely social break-down would’ve been likely if Taiwan was significantly less developed economically and legally. I think what we’re seeing today in Mongolia (not to mention Kenya) gives us a taste of what Taiwan might have looked like, if it was significantly poorer.

    Your counter-example to this claim appears to be Singapore. I think Singapore is the one exception to the rule that “wealthy societies must be democratic”, so as such, you’re right… if our goal is democracy, then even a wealthier China might not meet that goal. But for most Chinese, our goal isn’t democracy or any other -acy/-ism. The goal for most Chinese is a strong, wealthy, peaceful society with good government. If China looked like Singapore today, would we complain? Just like most Singaporeans are content with their system, I think many Chinese would be content with precisely such a system.

    In China, the primary argument for democracy comes from those convinced that China can not grow strong and wealthy under authoritarian rule. Frankly, world history shows that’s inaccurate.

  137. Nimrod Says:

    Michael,

    Buxi probably has clearer ideas about Taiwan’s situation since he has more connections there, but I’ll say a few words myself. I alluded earlier to the fact that Taiwan did have more structural elements in place, includng legal institutions, decades of local (rural) elections, and extra-governmental organizations all before the final flip of the switch in the late 1980s. I think the point is, once the groundwork is laid, the last changes (ones visible to casual outside observers) can fall in place fairly quickly and non-disruptively, because they won’t be huge structural modifications to begin with — that’s the whole point.

    Still, it took a combination of events for Jiang Jingguo to make the final change, but it was a question of when, not if.

  138. Nimrod Says:

    Buxi wrote:

    Looking at the windy and often chaotic path that Taiwanese politics has taken over the last 10 years (CSB’s assassination, Shi Mingde’s red-shirted protests), I personally think violent riots and completely social break-down would’ve been likely if Taiwan was significantly less developed economically and legally.

    +++++
    Yes, and on that note, Taiwan had enough structural elements and was rich enough to afford a decade and a half of “transition pangs” (compared to a decade of Cultural Revolution which destroyed mainland China), but even so, look at the forces unleashed, Taiwan independence being one.

    I think the coastal provinces and urban centers of China probably are more or less ready for such transitions, but if they changed system now, it would be the end of the socialist system, meaning the first thing that would happen is regionalism and regional protectionism, and ultimately useless things like Guangdong independence, Shanghai independence will almost certainly be debated.

  139. Wahaha Says:

    To Michael,

    Your comment.

    “I thought someone else (Wahaha?) has stated clearly that shock therapy is a bad thing, and from many of your writings here I’ve also gotten the impression that you would say so too. Wouldn’t you agree that this dramtic turn of events you described in Taiwan was very much like a shock therapy?”

    Answer:

    No, it is not. I stated numerous times that democracy is built on wealth and good education, it also needs homogeneous society. Democracy never worked well in a country with lot of poor people. Wealth and good education make people act and react reasonably, that is a prerequisite for democracy.

    In 1992, Taiwan per capita GDP was $10,274; in 2006, mainland China per capita GDP was $1,988.

    So Taiwan had the financial foundatmental for democracy. some west scholars claimed that $6,000 to $8,000 is the line at which an authoritarian country will turn to a democratic country (without outside force), like south korea and taiwan.

  140. Hemulen Says:

    @Buxi

    You’re saying you’d rather live in Taiwan circa 1960s than mainland China in 2008?

    No, I would rather live in Taiwan in the 1960s than in mainland China in the 1960s, and I guess that you would do the same.

    I don’t see how you’ve addressed the point, and your parallel is loose to the point of being completely nonsensical. I’m not comparing the status quo in 2008 to the state of affairs in 1945.

    I beg your pardon. All I am saying is that using the worst Mao and Deng years as a bench mark of progress in China is just as misinformed as using Nazi Germany as a low point from which we can judge Germany today. And we forget that the CCP, which is guilty of some of the worst man-made catastrophes in recorded history, still has power in China.

    And, no Nimrod, you can pin all that on Mao, I’m afraid.

  141. MutantJedi Says:

    I think life within the CCP is worth examining. From the tidbits I’ve gathered, I’m guessing that the harsh treatment of the lower ranks is part of an indoctrination process. But, I really have no idea as I have never knowingly talked with a party member (Youzi is an official, does that mean also a party member?). On the other hand, I’ve met lots of people who are adamant that they are not party members.

    Sort of the heart of Hemulen’s argument is that the CCP is an entity of its own, hence one can look at the situation during the Cultural Revolution as instructive to how the CCP is today. Even the head of a tiger is ruled by its stomach. Swap the head, but still have the same basic body. Maybe… But I don’t think the CCP is well a oiled machine with a focused agenda. The silver lining, so to speak, of widespread corruption is that it erodes central control. And I think, in its own self interest, the CCP has changed considerably since 1976.

    But how much has the culture and traditions of the CCP changed over the 32 years since Mao’s death?

  142. Hemulen Says:

    @Nimrod

    I meant to say:

    “And, no Nimrod, you can’t pin all that on Mao, I’m afraid.”

    @MutantJedi

    I would rather say that my argument is that you cannot compare Taiwan under KMT martial rule with the mainland under the CCP, be it pre- or post-1976. Even though the CCP has changed a lot since the death of Mao, the dictatorships are of a very different nature. The KMT was committed to democracy even during its darkest days and the institutions that the KMT could be transformed to democratic institutions. The CCP has partially redeemed itself by transforming the Chinese economy, but its political legacy continues to cast a dark shadow over mainland Chinese politics and whitewashing that is doing China no good. There is something wrong when the words of a Jack Cafferty are seen as more injurious to the “feelings of the Chinese people” than the crimes of the CCP; I can completely understand why Youzi is outraged by the claims of some fenqing to represent China. I think that is what Ma Bole, Youzi and Fu Jieshi have been trying to say here the last couple of days, in so many words.

  143. Wahaha Says:

    Hemulen,

    Your assumption that “The KMT was committed to democracy even during its darkest days and the institutions that the KMT could be transformed to democratic institutions. ” makes no sense.

    It was until Lee Tung-hui became president of Taiwan that democratic movement became popular, the motivation of his move was very suspicious, as showed in Wiki.

    _______________________________________

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Teng-hui

    At the KMT party congress of July 1988, Lee named 31 members of the Central Committee, 16 of whom were native Taiwanese: for the first time, the native Taiwanese held a majority in what was then a powerful policy-making body.

    …….

    Since resigning the chairmanship of the KMT, Lee has campaigned actively on behalf of pan-green coalition candidates and opposed candidates of his former party who took pro-unification positions during the 2004 presidential elections. He has stated a number of political positions and ideas which he did not mention while he was President, but which he appeared to have privately maintained.

    Lee has publicly supported the Name Rectification Campaigns in Taiwan and proposed changing the name of the country from the Republic of China to the Republic of Taiwan. He generally opposes unlimited economic ties with mainland China, though he supports trade.
    ____________________________________________

    After his presidency, Lee openly supported DPP in Taiwan, it was suspected that he tried to open the political door for DPP, actually open the door for the independence of Taiwan.

    Are you from Taiwan ? It would sound wired if you are from mainland and dont know this.

  144. Wahaha Says:

    To mutantJedi,

    “how much has the culture and traditions of the CCP changed over the 32 years since Mao’s death?”

    Answer,

    During Mao’s time, class struggle was #1; Since 1979, economic development has been the #1 priority.

    CCP abandoned most idealisms if not all, practice is the criterion for testing truth, or “crossing river by groping the stone.” Marx’s and Mao’s quotations were no longer viewed as guidance for the party. but they never try to share their power with others.

    The other big difference is thinkertankers are setup. Thinkertankers played huge rule in planing and designing the policy, or so called “‘Scientific Concept’ Key to Strategic Plan”, policy is set not by delusions of several leaders.

    http://www.china.org.cn/english/GS-e/144516.htm

  145. Wahaha Says:

    To Hemulen,

    “The KMT was committed to democracy even during its darkest days and the institutions that the KMT could be transformed to democratic institutions.”

    _________________

    You are cheating yourself.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Teng-hui

  146. Buxi Says:

    @MutantJedi,

    From the tidbits I’ve gathered, I’m guessing that the harsh treatment of the lower ranks is part of an indoctrination process.

    No, not correct in my opinion. And as far as Youzi…. no, definitely not all officials in China are Party members. There are growing numbers of even senior officials in China that are not members of the Party.

    @Hemulen,

    You’re completely missing the point. There’s no meaning in comparing mainland China of the 1960s with Taiwan of the 1960s. The meaningful comparison is between mainland China of 2008 with Taiwan of (roughly) 1968.

    In 1968, there was not even the hint of a democratic movement in Taiwan. Full martial law was in place, and even the mildest hint you were a leftist Communist sympathizer would be enough to guarantee you a long life in prison. But 20 years later, the same KMT (not to mention the son of the previous president/dictator) voluntarily started a political reform period that terminated one-party rule.

    In 2008, mainland China is already far more free than it’s been at any point over the last 30 years. (Not just the last 60 years, the last 30, 10, 5 years.) It’s ridiculous, in my opinion, to deny the positive trend in political liberalization over whatever time frame you want to choose. And furthermore, in my opinion, in another 20 years it will be inevitable that China’s political structure will fundamentally change from what it is today. I’m not going to predict multi-party elections, but I do predict fundamental change.

    I will repeat myself here: no one that I can see (and certainly not me) is comparing modern day China with the Mao era to come up with a favorable impression of political progress. I am comparing 2008 China with 2007 China, with 2005 China, with 2000 China, and just any other number you can give me from the last 3 decades (with the singular exception of the mid ’80s).

  147. BMY Says:

    @游子

    Thanks for coming back with #86 and replied my comment #30

    Your number #86 comment is more readable and less emotional than your first few ones on this blog.

    What I commented on #30 was because I thought your insult tone towards other people who simply didn’t agree with your view right or wrong. You assumed people here didn’t know the problems in China and were bunch of fenqing and kept insulting which was against the democracy you are advocating

    I said “自由民主应该能够包治百病” was a 反话 because I got a impression of your thoughts about that like you mentioned the man and pig thing. To myself , I never beleive democracy could fix everything. I also have to say over all in general the west are better than China in terms of living standard,respect of rights, open media,governing system etc. These are our nation should be heading to.

    But I don’t beleive we can just copy over then easily fix our problems. I came overseas just because I wanted to try different life experience not because I stupidly though one was much better than the other for me personally.

    To myself, I know all the problems you are talking about “但中国的现实就是:每天各地都有大大小小的“群体性事件”发生。昨天贵州有上万人围攻县政府和公安局,今天上海又有人闯入公安局刺死多名警察--这些都只是报道出来的几例而已。总之,除了极少数官僚和相关联的既得利益集团,谁都对现实不满,政府已经失去公信力,政治口号早已是皇帝的新装。利益的冲突和分化,除了通过各方实质参与的民主政治,已经不可能有其他单方面安排的解决办法了” and also I concern them very much no much less than you do. I lived in China for 30 years and might have witnessed more rural problems than you do as I am a small town boy.

    I am not quite sure how old are you and we are might be on similar age I guessed from your insulting comment to wahaha “留学垃圾“。

    For your record, I was a uni student in ChangAnJie in the early morning of 6/4 1989 and saw bodies and blood.

    I think you should stay and share your thoughts. there are people who have opposite views all the time on this blog but not that angry because of the difference.

    People like you well educated and intelligent but can not less emotionally handle different ideas, this is one of the things worries me how China could just simply implement democracy now if many people even couldn’t handle open debates.
    We would get there but I strongly beleive there would China charactered democracy not the type you strongly beleive.

    I do wish you could still share your thoughts here but with less insulting language 。no one should feel superior than the other .you know this you’ve read lot about democracy .

  148. demin Says:

    游子 您好,

    看得出来你身在中国政治的权力中心(政府),对这里所讨论的问题应该有一些独到的见解,特别是你知道许多这里的人所不知道的,我想来这个博客的人也都会欢迎你来。至于用英语或中文发言我觉其实并不是非常重要,我个人认为,重要的是态度,如果有积极的建设性的发言,用什么样的语言是无所谓的。我想如果你能在发言中少用一些如“海外华人如何如何”、“不懂中文如何如何”这样的字眼,你的观点会更容易被识别或接受。….祝好!
    It could be seen that you are at the power center of Chinese politics (I mean the government), which means you might have some special opinions on the themes we discuss here, especially so when you know something people here do not know. So I think everyone here would welcome a person like you to particiapte into the discussion. In this regard I don’t think language (Chinese or English) matters that much, as someone understands Chinese and some good guys would labor to translate. The important thing I think is attitude. I guess if you use less such suggestions as “overseas Chinese are XXX”, “non-Chinese speakers are XXX”, your genuine opinions would be better recognized or even accepted. And it would surely contribute more to the discussion here. … Best Regards!

  149. Hemulen Says:

    @Buxi

    My point is not to deny progress in today’s China, but to emphasize the fact that the CCP and KMT dictatorships are of a very different nature and it is ludicrous to draw parallels with Taiwan when trying to predict China’s future. KMT rule in Taiwan was much milder than CCP rule on the mainland, and it was easier to patch things up and go forward. You have incidents of mass repression, but not a cycle of violence that lasted for more than 30 years and claimed millions of lives, where the party itself was both the cause and the solution of the problems. It is naive to think that China can just put that legacy behind itself and just go forward as if nothing happened.

    Furthermore, when discussing the democratization of Taiwan, don’t make it sound as if Chiang Ching-kuo woke up one morning and just decided to go democratic. There was a movement out there that had been clamoring for reforms for decades. By contrast, what China has today is atomized individuals, that either get arrested for thought-crimes when they cross the invisible line, or coalesce into mass incidents when the situation get unbearable. The party is successfully playing on this fear of the masses when it suppresses dissent.

    If you meant business when you say that you hope for democracy in China, you would devote some space on this blog for advocacy on behalf of some of those dissidents, even if you do not share all their ideas.

  150. Wahaha Says:

    Hemulen,

    Read the following link, which is a very famous article about China by a west scholar.

    http://www.prospect-magazine.co.uk/article_details.php?id=10078

  151. Wahaha Says:

    About those dissident in China,

    From what I have read, I think most of those dissidents (not including the followers of Falun Gong) had trouble with government cuz they dont like the “inhuman” ways government executed policys, like one child policy and land acquisition, ( there were 57,000 protest in 2005, most of them were against land acquisition.),

    We dont about this issue on this board. Yes, the method by government was not good, but is there other way ? for example, if the policy was not forcifully carried out, China now wouldve had 1.7 billion people, and in another 30 years, China would have 2.2 billion people. If Chinese government hadnt forcifully relocated those people, how would Chinese government build those infrastructure ? without those infrastructure, Outside money would not flow into China, and hundreds of millions wouldve stayed as poor as 20 years ago.

    The issue is not as simple as you think, the issue is which one is more important, welfare of hundreds of millions of chinese in poverty, or the freedom of speech by hundreds of dissidents.

  152. JD Says:

    Wahaha, you suggest that “welfare of hundres of millions in poverty” and “freedom of speech” are mutually exclusive. That’s quite amusing.

    Perhaps you’d like to further explain the positive link between repression and economic growth? It does seem to be a cornerstone of party policy after all.

  153. Wahaha Says:

    JD,

    Google ” India Infrastructure”.

  154. Nimrod Says:

    Wahaha #151,

    You mentioned the one-child policy. This makes a good topic for a post some other day. Would you like to write it? I think the idea behind the policy is right. Not only is it truly a sacrifice for the good of this increasingly resource-starved world, but it may even be easing the burden of job creation in this critical generation. Imagine if the 80′s generation entering the workforce is twice or three times as big as it is now (two or three children per family). But that does not change the fact that some methods used to carry it out have been outmoded and inhumane, as with all people-bureaucracy interactions in the recent past, but that has improved a lot.

  155. MutantJedi Says:

    The one-child policy is a good topic.
    I don’t know about it being right or wrong. Certainly 30 years ago, on the heels of a series of disastrous failures in agricultural experiments, more mouths would mean more suffering. What about the next 30 years? But what are we going to do about the aging demographic? … I look forward to the post. :)

  156. MutantJedi Says:

    Oh, Wahaha, I’m reading the prospect-magazine.co.uk article – interesting. Thanks.

  157. JD Says:

    Wahaha, so your basic premise is that poverty can not be addressed except through the through repression of rights (including free speech), citing India as the example.

    Well, India’s growth is presently slower than China, true, but not by very much. Is that a rights premium for GDP growth? Many would say it’s worth it. Still, I disagree with the comparison.

    Why not compare rankings of human rights with, say, GDP per capita? I’ll let you do the research but I would argue that strong human rights are positively associated with high GDP per capita, not the inverse.

    Human rights violations may facilitate a specific project, in an odd way, but there’s no positive connection between repression and economic growth. Better human rights is associated with higher economic development. Most clear.

  158. Buxi Says:

    JD,

    Why not compare rankings of human rights with, say, GDP per capita? I’ll let you do the research but I would argue that strong human rights are positively associated with high GDP per capita, not the inverse.

    I’m glad you’re thinking along these lines… this is the start to the discussion I’ve been trying to have.

    You are absolutely right. Human rights are heavily, positively correlated with a high GDP per capita, that is entirely obvious. But as you might know, correlation isn’t the same thing as causation.

    The fact that there’s a positive correlation can imply one of two things:

    - strong human rights causes high GDP per capita (that’s your implication),
    - or, high GDP per capita causes strong human rights.

    So, let’s talk about that. How would you test these two theories? And when you start to follow the logic along those lines, you’ll see why Wahaha (and me) keep repeatedly bringing up India and every other poor democracy on this planet.

  159. JD Says:

    Buxi, India has democracy and 9% growth, still it’s GDP per cap is very low. So, if I were to follow your simplistic comparison of developing countries, I would say India should focus on establishing a better economic/commercial framework (but gee, 9% growth maybe it’s doing that already – with a democracy no less!).

    China has no democracy and about 9% growth, still it’s political system lacks any sort of real accountability to the populace. So, China should start adding some accountability to its governance system. Wengan/Sichuan/Tibet provide unfortunate but telling examples of how that’s not happening.

    Why are India and Mongolia China’s benchmark? I have to say, both offer some positives to draw from. Still, the whole idea behind benchmarking is to find the best and measure yourself by it. If you really want to make the status quo in China look stellar, try North Korea as a point of comparison. Unfortunately for North Korea, that country’s point of comparison seems to be Mao.

  160. Buxi Says:

    @JD,

    I don’t how to say this more clearly. We don’t have to use India and Mongolia as China’s benchmark; tell me who we should use instead. Nominate for me any country with a similar level of economic/social development from any point in the last 50 years, and we’ll use it as a benchmark instead.

    In the mean time, India’s economic prospects should be its own thread… but I’ll give you one quick example of why I believe if the present condition continues, India will continue to significantly lag China:
    Golden Quadrilateral,
    Status report on actual construction

    The Golden Quadrilateral was supposed to be infrastructure investment that would connect all corners of India via broad, six-lane highways. Anyone familiar with world business would tell you that one of the greatest bottlenecks on India’s growth has always been its lack of infrastructure, and this would’ve been a major step towards matching China. But the project has basically fallen apart. It’s been declared “finished” after many years of work, but is anything but. Many areas of the expressway are incomplete, and India pays the price.

    Why? Because with every new government, spending priorities change. No politician in India has the ability to push through a decade or multi-decade construction project that won’t be paying off financially for decades beyond that. There’s always a subsidy or another that will win electoral votes… let’s spend the money there.

    Contrast that to what China has been able to do, so far. China is covered with construction projects with timelines in the decades. Many of these have been critical to China’s continued growth. Just this year, two new bridges in eastern China that took years to build but will bring Shanghai/Zhejiang closer together. And newly launched this month, a $6 billion “city-scale” express rail between Nanjing and Shanghai, which will make the 300 km trip in a little over an hour. The project will connect the Yangtze River Delta the same way Beijing/Tianjin are already covered… making the continued urbanization and growth of the area a reality.

    So, speaking as objectively as I can as an engineer and investor, there’s no doubt in my mind which country is on the right path. There’s a reason that China’s economic growth has led the world for 3 decades, and there’s a reason why I strongly believe China’s growth will lead India and just about every other developing country for decades to come.

    UPDATE: Another article on India’s economy, from BusinessWeek:

    Even the most bullish on India are hard-pressed to recall any significant economic reforms made in the recent past. A plan to build 30 Special Economic Zones is virtually suspended because New Delhi has not sorted out how to acquire the necessary land, a major issue in both urban and rural India, without a major social and political upheaval. Agriculture, distorted by fertilizer subsidies and technologically laggard, is woefully unproductive. Simple and nonpolitical reforms, like strengthening the legal system and adding more judges to the courtrooms, have been ignored.

  161. Nimrod Says:

    It’s a good point. There is a reason why China has been able to achieve what it has. It isn’t a coincidence, which is why the repeated (and continuing) predictions of the “coming collapse” of China have been (will almost surely be) unrealized. The social and environmental costs that China has borne for this are severe, and they are indeed symptoms of the difficulties of development, but at least in a generation or two our work will have paid off and we can look back and say they haven’t been for nothing. The Chinese people you see working hard and becoming successful overseas are the same kind of Chinese people working hard in China and will make China successful. That’s the Chinese people I know. Can any of the laggard developing countries in the world (democratic or not) make the same claim? I think not.

  162. JD Says:

    There’s no single country that China should emulate, Buxi. Any suggestion that I make will be one that you criticize and suggest it will never work for China. So why bother? Still, societies which further the rule of law, democracy, and human rights are the globe’s most successful and have the most vibrant economies. There’s something important to be drawn from that.

    As I understand from your previous posts, you agree that these are all important and valued objectives. Democracy, human rights, freedom of information, rule of law. You don’t disagree, is that correct? However, you do disagree as to when China should move towards them, and whether or to what extent it is doing so now.

    Those are difficult questions. However, finding the best solution to them is not impossible. The people should be consulted – not dictated to – and participate in the process. Certainly the population would endorse overwhelmingly endorse a suggestion that China move in that direction. Do you disagree? It would be an amazing, unifying national project.

    With respect to Nimrod’s comment on “collapse”, that’s of course not something to be predicted. However, it is well recognize that the cycle of governance in China has historically been toppled by popular unrest. Let’s hope that has been relegated to the past. However, unrest in China has been growing for some time, and has been particularly evident this year. That’s a good indicator – apparently the only one available under China’s system – that change (ambitious reform I would say) is indeed needed. Add growing concern with inflation and what appears to be an impending economic turndown and the need for urgent action is evident.

  163. Buxi Says:

    @JD,

    There’s no single country that China should emulate, Buxi. Any suggestion that I make will be one that you criticize and suggest it will never work for China. So why bother?

    You’re making that sound as if its my fault. But is it?

    I’m not the one who has made democracy so difficult in poor developing countries. If you stepped back and really looked into what’s happening in these poor democracies, you’d understand exactly why it *is* so difficult.

    Still, societies which further the rule of law, democracy, and human rights are the globe’s most successful and have the most vibrant economies.

    No, I can’t agree with that statement. India has the rule of law, democracy, and respects human rights… but it is hardly the globe’s most successful, nor does it have a truly vibrant economy.

    Here’s the statement I agree with: the globe’s most successful and vibrant economies have the rule of law, democracy, and human rights. There’s a HUGE difference between the two, and I hope you’ll think about what I mean.

    As I understand from your previous posts, you agree that these are all important and valued objectives. Democracy, human rights, freedom of information, rule of law. You don’t disagree, is that correct? However, you do disagree as to when China should move towards them, and whether or to what extent it is doing so now.

    Those are difficult questions. However, finding the best solution to them is not impossible

    I agree with you that democracy (defined as rule by the people, not necessarily one-man-one-vote), freedom of information, rule of law are hugely important as eventual objectives for China. I don’t know how you define human rights, which has become such a loaded term, so I can’t comment on that.

    And yes, we disagree as to the timing of when this should occur, and whether it’s already making progress. For 30 years China’s attitude has been “feeling its way across the river”, and in my opinion, the results speak for itself.

    I do agree there’s need for action, and I’m very glad to see the moves that have been made over the last 12-24 months.

  164. ZT Says:

    Government monikers are non-specific as every country modifies the definition of each in it’s own way. It is interesting to read all your blogs but although you have chosen “democracy” as the subject and the prescription for China, I see some confusion regarding which “democracy’ China should emulate. There is certainly little obstinacy expressed for Chinese citizens to become “free” but, the definition of what an accommodating government might be named seems elusive.

    Glad no one has recommended America as the system to emulate. The arithmetic just makes that impractical. In 1776 the Americans numbered 2,527,450. Just a little over 1,000,000 of those (~40%) were adults and active in the move for independence from England at the absolute most. In 2050 that population will only grow to 400,000,000 of which 50% will be migrants from Latin America, Asia (the largest two constituents) and other countries. My point is that the arithmetic points out that in 1776 after 132 years of tyrannical repression a small number of people easily reached a consensus to do something about it.

    Although India was handed it’s freedom by the British, it has faltered economically and socially because it is difficult to reach a consensus. Just too many people and too many opinions. I’ll add here in digression that my customers who visit China from India always remark “what a wonderful country this is compared to India”. One Gen Mgr of and Indian company visited last year and after he had praised our clean streets I said, “yes…but the people are not as free as you are in India”. He replied, ” I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. We can’t reach a consensus on anything”.

    You see, freedom, whether you call it Democracy, Social Democracy or Libertarianism demands consensus. There are only two ways to develop consensus in my opinion. The first is to entrust a small number of representatives of the people to reach a consensus, (a little impractical in China as the selection of representatives would probably never reach consensus). The second is revolt by the people which also seems unlikely although it has been effective in some other countries.

    So what’s this post all about? Taking the numbers for the children in China means that about 870,000,000 people have to support the same solution by consensus. This is going to take one hell of a lot of time and many transitional governmental definitions and monikers will be implemented. True “democracy” according to the imperical definition will not be reached in the lifetime of anyone reading this blog, in my opinion. Emulation of another form of government syatem in the world also seems impractical unless someone want another civil war in China.

    I hope this doesn’t offend anyone but I have trouble convincing a couple of people of anything let alone 870,000,000 people.

  165. deltaeco Says:

    @ZT
    A country with 1,7 Billions hard to manage? Easy solution. Divide it in smaller ones. ;-)

    Then you could make something like the EU….. Lots of fun guaranteed in the process.

    Ok. I am being somewhat extreme, and may get a lot of flak from CH nationals. Splitting holy CH!? That is a big NO, NO.

    But still. For a country of such size, population and diversity some sort of federation system should be found.

    The problem as I see it. Too big and diverse to be effectively centralized, too unstable and insecure to allow looser political divisions among different regions.

  166. Wukailong Says:

    Federalism is actually discussed in Chinese thinktanks. Again, I will have to check the source out for this claim, but should be able to have it tomorrow.

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