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Jul 14

Try to view Amnesty International calmly (translated)

Written by Buxi on Monday, July 14th, 2008 at 6:41 pm
Filed under:culture, News | Tags:, , , , ,
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An advertising campaign commissioned by the human rights group Amnesty International has raised flames of anger throughout China. For previous discussions, see ESWN and Danwei.

Wall Street Journal has more details on the backlash, reporting:

Weeks before the Olympics put Beijing and the Games’ corporate backers on the world stage, an advertising heavyweight has stumbled over the divide between how some view China and how the nation views itself…. Word of the human-rights campaign is now spreading through China, and TBWA and Amnesty International are disavowing the ads.

Chinese bloggers, spurred by a report in state-run media of the Amnesty campaign last week, are now calling for a boycott of all TBWA ads, among other measures.

And many in China are indeed very angry. But there are other voices as well; below is a translated internet post from Xinmin Net: (原文):

— translation begins —

I’m pretty uninformed, I really have never heard of this organization “Amnesty International”, just as I’ve never heard of the organization “Reporters Without Borders”. If the advertisements commissioned by the former hadn’t won an award, and if the latter hadn’t caused trouble during the Olympic Torch relay, and if both of these weren’t reported in the domestic media… perhaps we might have heard of these “famous” and “creative” international organizations. Unfortunately, they aren’t very friendly towards China.

Should we be filled with outrage? I don’t think so.

First of all, relations between different countries and peoples isn’t so different from relations between individual people. Let me make an example: two people with similar backgrounds and personalities can often get along very well; if they have different backgrounds, it might be like mixing fire with water. Two people might be enemies at first sight. Countries are often just like this, except perhaps even more complicated. With ideologies, they might be shared or they might be divisive; with economic interests, they could be shared or they could be conflicting. There might be forgiveness borne of mutual understanding, and there might be bias borne of a lack of communication. There might be intentional dislike, or unintentional misunderstanding. In a big enough forest, all kinds of birds can exist; how can everyone be our friends?

A single united world is a tremendous dream, but expecting the world to be just like us, that can only be an excessive fantasy. That’s how it’s always been — the world is huge, all sorts of strangeness can exist. We have to live in reality, and not fantasy.

Second of all, we should be thankful for the gradual opening of speech in China. It can’t be denied that for a long time, the environment for speech in China has been a sealed space. Information has been disinfected, sanitized, filtered, and then selectively presented. As a result, the people have had poor immunity; we’re too sensitive. It’s as if anyone in any corner of this planet said anything bad about China, our faces would turn red, and we’d try to drown them with our spit, so ferocious that we want to feast on their flesh and wear their skin.

Speaking impulsively before we are completely clear on the reason for something is both not wise, and will also deepen bias. For example, questions like whether “Amnesty International” and “Reporters without Frontiers” are really only targeting China, whether they’re being used, whether we have the opportunity to engage in a dialogue with them directly to improve relations…. questions like why German’s famous “Mirror” magazine has recently been issuing articles not based on direct research that hurt China’s image, and whether this has anything to do with the German government’s policies towards China, and how China should respond and adjust its foreign policy in turn…. questions like why some Korean netizens were filled with such poisonous curses after the Sichuan earthquake when we were such fans of Korean culture, and what attitude do Koreans really have towards Chinese… why do so many foreigners really believe Chinese still wear robes and have queues, how do we let more foreigners gain a better understanding of modern China… when some of our compatriots leave the country and behavior inappropriately, are these details responsible for creating or strengthening the negative impressions held by some foreigners towards China… these are things that should be deeply considered before we act.

Both vacuums and pure oxygen environments don’t support life. Now that we’ve opened the window, flies, mosquitoes, and bacteria can all enter. For the undesirable insects, we can exterminate them; if they keep coming, we’ll keep exterminating them. Once we’ve gotten some fresh air, our immune system will improve, and our view of the world will have been broadened. We will be able to prescribe the right medication for the right bacteria; the methods we use to react will become a better match.


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200 Responses to “Try to view Amnesty International calmly (translated)”

  1. Buxi Says:

    Let me just say one more thing… the WSJ article predictably again blames the state media for the boycott effort. I saw these images and an overheated debate on them on anti-CNN, and other major Chinese discussion sites days before the state media started discussing it.

  2. oldson Says:

    Has Amnesty ever commisioned such pictures to be published of one of the greatest violators of human rights in the world? I mean of course America. How can you target a country and blame them for something which many countries do? Every country in the world, in varying degrees, has been guilty of such things whether past or present.

    The only difference between America and China is that China simply doesn’t talk about what they do while America condemns everybody else for what they do in secret. It is very hypocritical and racist. Western countries have no right to put China in the spotlight. How many times has China tried to humiliate America for it’s human rights abuses in Cuba, Iraq, etc? Never!

  3. yo Says:

    @Buxi,
    I didn’t see the wsj attacking the government.

    —–
    There is some shady stuff happening here, no one is taking ownership for the ads, and rightly so imo. These ads are tasteless and down right ridiculous. But I don’t know which one is worse, these ads or the one where a mother is holding her baby and telling John McCain that he can’t have her baby to fight in Iraq. And they say liberals can’t make attack ads…

  4. deltaeco Says:

    “Amnesty’s London headquarters decided weeks ago to spike the ads from its Olympics campaign, which is focusing more on positive change that might come from the Games. “The result was not suitable for the messages we are trying to convey with our Olympics campaign,” said Amnesty spokeswoman Josefina Salomon.” WSJ.

  5. pug_ster Says:

    At times I don’t know what is the purpose of these ads. It used to be that most Chinese have a favorable impression of the US and other European countries. After the Tibetan protest and stunts like these, less people would would be favorable.

  6. Netizen Says:

    @Buxi,
    If you read Niall Ferguson’s book on the British Empire, you will know that he considers NGOs part of the foot soldiers of British imperialism. First level, real soldiers, then british administrators, next social workers and NGOs.

    Amesty International is a foot soldier of Western imperialism, that’s how I see it.

  7. Daniel Says:

    The main issue with Amnesty International is the usage of the death penalty.

    There is so much to discuss and this is one of those issues that has to be settled internally. In places where they abolished this form of punishment, you will find people who support or want it back and vice versa for those societies that still have it. In fact, every where you go there is controversy.

    Let’s say two families who have lost a member or two from murder gives their opinion on what could bring them closure. One wants capital punishment another staunchly opposses it, and within those families even more different opinions. The state might have laws that may or may not agree with those families opinions but it still has to carried it out for various reasons. Also does the death penalty bring in healing to those families? Or has it helped deter many people from committing crimes? Won’t it be insensitive to impose certain viewpoints those who have lost someone from murder? Or what about the people who lost someone to an execution…if the state can takes someone’s life what’s there to stop them from taking someone’s else? Why must people commit crimes, sometimes it may not involve murder, that deserve capital punishment? Why does evil exists?

    This organization can put out many lists of statistics, stories, examples or protests but unless it really dives into a level of discussion and study of human behavior, and even if they do…I think the goals of Amnesty international is going to be an eternal struggle.

    I get the feeling that the person who made the post to view things calmly is reflecting some of the attitudes I notice in many Hua Ren communities of “strong tolerance” and “trying to cool heads put on a poker face while thinking critically”. Some people might understand what I mean by “strong tolerance” but others may not. Basically, while showing anger may be justified in some cases, you might end up getting more hurt or losing more face if you show others that whatever is angering you is constantly consuming your mind. One way to deal with it is to tolerate it as much as possible while creatively thinking of ways to deal with it. It won’t solve anything if we were to act like the people in “wu-Xia” genre like taking offense at almost anything while only thinking about revenge.

    I’m actually trying to read that post with a Chinese mindset, translating in my head how it would sound like (mainly because I can only read a little bit of Chinese) and it makes more sense than it would in English. Not that it wouldn’t but when you translate articles, one has take into account how many words it will required to actually explain the entire meaning of those sentences. Cause some langauges are more precise with their words while others have words which can have multiple meanings depending on context and usage, etc.

    Sorry for the long rant.

  8. zuiweng Says:

    @oldson,
    you have either led a very sheltered life up till now or you spent it in a place, where the government does its level best to keep information about human rights out of your reach (I guess that makes it superfluous to give any links to AI et.al.). Over the last decades Amnesty International has targeted governments of all stripes, including the USA and most European nations. To accuse them of any anti-China bias is patently absurd – they are strongly opposed to *any* kind of human-rights abuse, focusing on the abolition of the death penalty and the eradication of torture. Their work and their achievements are a matter of public record, except in countries where even access to their website is blocked.
    And your rant about the USA? AI is in no way affiliated to the US government.

    @Netizen,
    frankly I don’t believe you see anything at all. AI, a “foot soldier of Western imperialism”? This is so lame, I hope your employers get their 五毛 back.

    Sorry about the harsh words, but these boorish attacks of one of the most laudable NGOs active today hurt my feelings as someone who would like to go on enjoying his human rights.

  9. JL Says:

    Shouldn’t Amnesty get some credit from Chinese patriots for deciding not to use the ads?

    @ Oldson:

    Yes, Amnesty has run campaigns against America before, you can read about their anti-Guantanamo Bay prison publicity campaign here: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,372467,00.html

    @ Daniel:

    The death penalty is one issue among several on Amnesty’s agenda. I don’t think it’s correct to say that it’s correct to say that supporters of Amnesty consider it more important than stopping torture.

  10. Buxi Says:

    On one dimension, I think Amnesty International has also been honest in confronting issues in the case of the United States and Iraq. For example, see:
    http://www.amnesty.org/en/counter-terror-with-justice

    However, you’ll note that the Amnesty International has never commissioned a similar ad campaign linking the baseball World Series with, for example, torture at Abu-Ghraib. It’s never commissioned a similar campaign that insults the core identity of American values, because it understands how to make an argument *to* the American people.

    When it comes to China, however, these activist groups suffer from myopia. They don’t have many Chinese on staff (if any); few of them have spent any amount of time in China. They don’t understand what the Chinese (as a people) find compelling, and what the Chinese find insulting.

    Is it possible to confront the Chinese government on serious issues? Absolutely, millions of Chinese are trying to do that every day. Is linking the Olympics to torture a proper way of doing that? Not if their audience is the Chinese.

  11. oldson Says:

    @ zuiweng

    I realize that Amnesty International is an excellent NGO but the point I was trying to make is that regardless of which humanitarian organization, China and other developing countries usually bear the brunt of human rights criticism.I am sure that Amnesty criticisizes the US along with other European nations but it is my ignorant opinion that AI will tend to be more favorable towards Western countries.

    When I was working in China I of course couldn’t access AI’s website. I had my friend email me a list of the gulag’s/laogai’s located in the city I was living in. Most of the lcoations were just prisons. Chinese say prisons, AI says gulags/laogai’s. Who is to decide which one is correct? Still, I am sure that the Chinese government allows a lot of abuse and torture and it is wrong. AI is right to point this out.

    However, Chinese people feel differently about things like the death penalty. Ask any mainland Chinese person and they will most likely tell you that it is necessary because the over population problem. From a Chinese perspective AI judges China according to AI’s private ethical standards. I do not challenge the validity of their ethical standards but I think that one should listen to what Chinese people feel about human rights, torture, etc. As always, certain human rights violations are the same regardless of country but different countries don’t always share the same standards.

    Therefore, organizations which tend to criticize China tend to fail to understand the reality behind the issues (Tibet, Taiwan, human rights, etc) and this is shows through Western media.

  12. deltaeco Says:

    Buxi, did you read the article in WSJ? They have retired that ad campaign.

    “The result was not suitable for the messages we are trying to convey with our Olympics campaign,” said Amnesty spokeswoman Josefina Salomon

    AI ordered an ad campaign to an agency, got a result they didn’t like and ditched it.

  13. AC Says:

    When are these “human rights” folks going to learn that the way they push their agenda can have negative effects especially in China? Unless their real agenda is not human rights for the Chinese people. Otherwise, why the hell did they choose to do it by rubbing it in Chinese people’s face? Don’t tell me they didn’t know the vast majority of the Chinese people support the Olympics.

    Did anybody notice that it’s the French again? I’d say forget boycott, I have a better idea. President Hu, screw “noninterference”, the West doesn’t like it anyway. It’s time to pull some strings, say no to “Union for the Mediterranean”! Turn Sarkozy’s dream into a daydream. 🙂

  14. Netizen Says:

    @Zuiweng,
    Obviously, you have a tendency of making things up. On the other hand, I expressed my view of AI. I think it, along Reporters Without Borders which is funded by a CIA-connected foundation NED, is indeed a foot soldier of imperialism.

  15. Buxi Says:

    @JL and deltaecho,

    Yes, Amnesty International show some sense for having not run the ads. Now, we do know they were thinking along these lines (these ads didn’t spontaneously explode from a rock), but at least someone was smart enough to put a brake on the campaign before it gained too much steam.

    I’m not sure how much “credit” that’s really worth.

    @zuiweng,

    I don’t think accusing someone of being fifty-cent or any other kind of paid operative is a convincing argument. I think you can do better than that.

    As far as links between the American government and Amnesty International… I don’t believe Amnesty International answers to the American government. Instead, I think AI can serve as a tool-box. Elements in the American government can selectively chooses to amplify Amnesty International when its foreign policy goals are similar, and ignore it when its foreign policy goals conflict.

  16. AC Says:

    @deltaeco

    AI ordered an ad campaign to an agency, got a result they didn’t like and ditched it.

    They got the publicity already.

    — “But Amnesty still allowed TBWA to run the ads once so they could be entered into the Cannes competition. It won a bronze award.”

  17. deltaeco Says:

    @AC & Buxi

    Tsk tsk tsk. Unable to let go the issue. Eh Buxi?

    Good or bad publicity, AC?

    You see more centered in bringing AI into some conspiracy theory, than rationally analyze the facts.

    Do as you wish, but if AI made a “Faux Pas” you are making another one at the same time. Is that intentional?

  18. Netizen Says:

    That’s the point. AI is an useful tool of the US government. If it challenges the US government too much, the government can easily condemn it as a radical, or liberal, or even communist organization! Then conservatives will be all over it. So it naturally chooses to serves American interests whenever situations suit it.

  19. Buxi Says:

    @deltaeco,

    Not sure what “let go the issue” means, here. I’m not hanging on to the issue.

    I have long thought Amnesty International had a very awkward world-view, and these ads didn’t shape my opinion at all. The only reason I didn’t do a blog entry on these ads (when I saw them) last week is because, well, I didn’t think it was really that significant. The increased media attention today is the only reason it’s making an appearance here.

  20. MutantJedi Says:

    Oldson… Executions as population control…. I’m sure that’s not how you intended it to come out.

    While I may not always agree with the tenor of AI, they are important in a world society that values its humanity.

    http://www.amnesty.org/en/campaigns
    The three campaigns listed here are Control Arms, Counter Terror with Justice, and Stop Violence Against Women. That middle campaign has its sights squarely on the US.

    The issues, according to their website, for the Beijing Olympics are freedom of speech, detention without trail, Internet censorship, and the death penalty. I fail to see how these issues are out of step with the sort of issues that we’ve discussed here.

    I would criticize the image in the ad where the smug police officer is walking away from a prisoner who is to be executed or just executed. The executions are not a game nor done out of sport. Executions are part of the justice process just as they are in the US. To get an idea of how offensive the ad is, imagine the context is a Texas good old boy chuckling over a dead guy strapped to an execution table that is a target. The ad paints the Chinese with a broad brush that isn’t appropriate.

    JL, as for getting credit for deciding to not use the ads… please. How disingenuous can an organization get? “Oh, have you seen the ads that we’re not releasing (wink wink) but got us a bronze at the Cannes?” Talk about having your cake and eating it too.

  21. deltaeco Says:

    @netizen
    “That’s the point. AI is an useful tool of the CHINESE government. If it challenges the CHINESE government too much, the government can easily condemn it as a radical, or liberal, or even communist organization! Then conservatives will be all over it. So it naturally chooses to serves CHINESE interests whenever situations suit it.”
    http://thereport.amnesty.org/eng/regions/americas/usa

  22. Netizen Says:

    @deltaeco,
    Obviously you’re good at copying and pasting.

    Is there a section about Gitmo Torture Center, or Dick Cheney War Crime Factbook, or Donald Rumsfeld Waterboading Chamber on AI’s website? Would you find them for me please.

  23. zuiweng Says:

    @oldson

    re. “regardless of which humanitarian organization, China and other developing countries usually bear the brunt of human rights criticism”

    – AI has led campaigns against the crimes of the British forces in Northern Ireland, against the death penalty in many, many cases in the US, against inhuman trial and imprisonment conditions in Germany, against racism in the French police forces, and so on and so on. If some of the most outrageous violations of basic human rights are perpetrated by governments in the developing world, it is only right that they should come under attack.

    re. “From a Chinese perspective AI judges China according to AI’s private ethical standards. I do not challenge the validity of their ethical standards but I think that one should listen to what Chinese people feel about human rights, torture, etc. ”

    AI’s basis is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), which is not quite the same as a “private ethical standard”. And they do listen to what Chinese people say, usually people with grievances, as is natural for a organisation dedicated to fighting human rights abuse. Contrary to Buxi’s comment (#10) AI’s China departements are not exclusively staffed with non-Chinese / anti-Chinese and people ignorant of China. As a matter of fact they have some very competent and dedicated people and I think you will find that most of their material on China is meticulously researched and fact-checked.
    I hope you don’t find it un-Chinese / anti-Chinese to participate in the struggle for basic human rights, even if the organisation who does the fighting has a different take on human rights than the CCP or some undefined section of the Chinese people (in China or overseas). You are certainly entitled to your opinion of what constitute human rights, but so am I.

    Finally: The ads (not used or distributed by AI, please note) are crass, stupid and counter-productive. The hypocrisy of TWBA – doing advertising in China for any rubbishy product they can get a contract for and simultaneously concocting a flashy campaign to show the good folks back home how pro-human rights they are – disgusting!

  24. deltaeco Says:

    @netizen
    “Is there a section about Gitmo Torture Center, or Dick Cheney War Crime Factbook, or Donald Rumsfeld Waterboading Chamber on AI’s website? Would you find them for me please.”
    I let that as homework for you. Do not be so lazy, best things are what you find for yourself.

  25. Daniel Says:

    I should re-tract my words about the previous comment.
    Yes, I’m aware of the other human rights topics like torture and violence against women but it’s just the death penalty subject caught my personal attention the most. It’s also the one subject I’ve heard the most regarding this organization from my peers in college.

  26. Opersai Says:

    @deltaeco

    “That’s the point. AI is an useful tool of the CHINESE government. If it challenges the CHINESE government too much, the government can easily condemn it as a radical, or liberal, or even communist organization!”

    you might want to change that to “evil” (?) organization?

  27. deltaeco Says:

    @Opersai
    “you might want to change that to “evil” (?) organization?”

    Yes, you are right, I missed that.

    Hhhhmmm… Let me see…. capitalist, bourgeois, zionist, reactionary, anarchist, revisionist…. so many choices!

    Yeah, I think “evil” will do. More general and ideologically neutral term. Will surely satisfy everybody.

  28. Wahaha Says:

    zuiweng,

    There is difference between how AI treats countries it loves and how it countries it hates.

    When it is about its favorite country, most of the human right offense are against terrorists, criminal, which get little response and sympathy from West society, Sort of like, I will do something that I know will lead to a dead end, but hey, it increases my credibility.

    When it is about the authoritarian countries, most of the offense are agaisnt poor people who need help, who are brutalized by government, which can easily get sympathy from middle classes in West.

    For example, when it reports the human right problem in Iseral, most of them were agaisnt terrorists. But when about China, it is all how government mistreated dissidents, you dont see much report like how chinese police mistreat the REAL criminals, like how a corrupt businessman was tortured to death. and You know how report like this has misled the people in West.

    http://www.nysun.com/opinion/scrutinize-amnesty-international/55021/

  29. Buxi Says:

    @Wahaha,

    deltaeco’s right, AI actually puts a lot of time and emphasis on the US war on terror. If I can take a sentence from the post that started this thread though… I think most Americans are “inoculated” against its criticism towards the US government, and its claims don’t receive much attention.

    Most Americans know the American government and legal system intimately, and can balance its positive side with the criticism (about racist executions) coming from AI. Few Americans would read the AI report on the United States and conclude that the American government as an entity is racist, and whole-heartedly supports the use of torture.

    But unfortunately, few Westerners know the Chinese government and legal system in the same way. As a result, many Americans believe that the Chinese government is racist (towards Tibetans and Uygurs), and likes torturing political dissidents.

    I don’t think we need to bash Amnesty International; they’re negative and critical towards most governments, that’s what they do. A more pressing need is to help those in the West get a better, more nuanced understanding of modern China, its government, and its security forces to balance out the criticism. This is what the Olympics was supposed to do, by the way, which is also why so many of us were frustrated with those who tried to shut it down.

    I think we can all agree with this comment from zuiweng:

    Finally: The ads (not used or distributed by AI, please note) are crass, stupid and counter-productive. The hypocrisy of TWBA – doing advertising in China for any rubbishy product they can get a contract for and simultaneously concocting a flashy campaign to show the good folks back home how pro-human rights they are – disgusting!

  30. JL Says:

    Mutant Jedi:

    I think there are probably legal issues relating to the entry of the ads in Cannes which none of us here are too clear about. They were entered by the ad agency in Cannes, not AI.

    That the ads have been given so much publicity is due to angry Chinese patriots reposting them on websites, not covert AI dissemination. I would never have seen them if Chinese netizens hadn’t kept reposting them.

  31. JL Says:

    @Buxi

    How much credit is it worth?

    How hard is it for someone to spend a tonne of money on something, and then step back, look at it critically, take into consideration its effect on others and decide to can it after all? Such behaviour is quite rare in life, in my experience.

  32. Charles Liu Says:

    I would urge folks to attend a local AI chapter meeting to see for themselves if AI should be taken seriousely. I attended one meeting and some on-line discussions, then quit in disgust.

  33. CLC Says:

    @JL,

    The ad was done pro bono. So it cost nothing for AI.

  34. Charles Liu Says:

    Who paid to have the ad aired/published once? Per Cannes Lions rule the submission must have been used. Does anyone know where these ad images were aired/published?

  35. Wahaha Says:

    Buxi,

    Do you think Americans would feel sorry for those mistreated terrorists ?

    AI reports about human right problem in America and West would not cause any trouble for the governments.

  36. Charles Liu Says:

    Today on FoolsMountain is the first time I heard about AI’s Guantanamo Bay advertising.

  37. Buxi Says:

    @Wahaha,

    Do you think Americans would feel sorry for those mistreated terrorists ?

    AI reports about human right problem in America and West would not cause any trouble for the governments.

    I agree with you completely. I think most Americans don’t really carry about the Gitmo issue, or at least they understand why Gitmo existed. Like I said, I think Americans know a lot about their own government, so even while they read what Amnesty International says, they also hear the “other side of the story”.

    But they never hear the “other side of the story” when it comes to China, and what’s why the Amnesty International campaigns are so annoying. Many Westerners believe them at face value.

    Instead of trying to drown Amnesty International out though, our best hope is to get more Westerners to understand modern China. If 10% of Western college kids were spending a summer backpacking through China instead of Europe, this world would be a better place. (Or, if Fool’s Mountain was required reading… that might also help.)

    (Just one other comment… some Americans truly do feel sorry for this mistreated terrorists… I live around the SF Bay Area, so I see a lot of the extreme left out here. If given the choice, they would put President Bush in Gitmo and start waterboarding tomorrow.)

  38. Hemulen Says:

    Both vacuums and pure oxygen environments don’t support life. Now that we’ve opened the window, flies, mosquitoes, and bacteria can all enter. For the undesirable insects, we can exterminate them; if they keep coming, we’ll keep exterminating them. Once we’ve gotten some fresh air, our immune system will improve, and our view of the world will have been broadened. We will be able to prescribe the right medication for the right bacteria; the methods we use to react will become a better match.

    So, now human rights activists are insects that should be exterminated. Interesting use of analogy that is not unprecedented. So, along those lines, I wonder what final solution there might be to this problem.

  39. opersai Says:

    @Hemulen,

    Read the paragraph carefully. Did he say anywhere in that paragraph human right activists are insects, or made such direct comparison? You don’t need to so voluntarily match the seats with numbers (对号入座).

  40. JL Says:

    Buxi:

    “If 10% of Western college kids were spending a summer backpacking through China instead of Europe, this world would be a better place.”

    Interesting idea, although if we were to discuss this further, we should mention that guide books like Lonely Planet truly do have an anti-Chinese government tone. Actually, I think they’re much worse than most news-media coverage of China, and I’m not sure why they never seem to get singled out for it.

    In connection with nothing specific, something else that would make the world a better place would be if more people followed the words of Master Kong; 不患人不己知,患己不知人也。 Don’t worry too much about whether others misunderstand you. Worry about whether you understand others.

  41. Anton Says:

    The comparisons being made here between China and America are absolutely preposterous.

    First of all, two different things are being compared. Almost all the human rights violations by the US cited on this page are the work of one administration which in the view of many Americans is one of the worst in our 232 year history. As for China, most of their current practices have been carried over from previous incarnations of their government in its 59 year history. That’s an incredibly important distinction.

    Even at this point, with China at a historical high point regarding respect for human rights (disregarding the run-up to the Olympics and the Hu Yaobang/Zhao Ziyang years as low/high anomalies) and America at a historical low point, I still find the comparison unthinkable. Whom exactly has China helped become more free, democratic, and lawful? Regardless of your views on America’s shortcomings, anyone who denies that we have helped millions (if not billions of people) become more free is simply ignoring the facts.

    There needs to be a semblance of historical perspective and overall cost/benefit analysis here. Yes, America has made mistakes (and is currently doing so), but at least these mistakes are being made in the name of an ideology that has advocated freedom and democracy and has helped (and continues to help) a countless number of people. For exactly which ideology are Chinese mistakes being made? Who has it helped? I would be quite shocked if anyone can name just one foreign country or group of people that China has helped become more free.

  42. Charles Liu Says:

    Okay Anton, end justify the means, eh?

    BTW I would not name Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, or Sudan(John Garang/Darfur), Panama(Noriega), Chili(Pinochet), Iran(installation of the Shah) as foreign countries that we Americans have helped to become more free.

  43. Charles Liu Says:

    Oh, and Nicaragua (Iran/Contra), how can I forget Oliver North and his secretary’s underware?

  44. Hemulen Says:

    @opersai

    It is the metaphor that bothers me, not the possibility that he might be referring to human rights activists or someone else. When someone uses the “insect-extermination” metaphor, we’d better watch out, that’s all I’m saying.

    @Buxi

    But they never hear the “other side of the story” when it comes to China, and what’s why the Amnesty International campaigns are so annoying. Many Westerners believe them at face value.

    Put the blame where it belongs. The fact that many people are ignorant of China should be blamed on the Chinese government. If it really wanted the rest of the world to know more about China, it would allow free reporting.

  45. Wahaha Says:

    Buxi

    Your comment “But they never hear the “other side of the story” when it comes to China, and what’s why the Amnesty International campaigns are so annoying. Many Westerners believe them at face value.”

    That is impossible, cuz West politicians media wont honestly show the real picture of China to people in West. They dont want to see a strong country, they want to let westerners think China is “evil”.

    For example, the incident in Weng’an, which is far significant than couple of dissidents of China in the minds of Chinese, you see how they reported, and did they report what Chinese government did afterwards ?

    Hopeless.

  46. Jane Says:

    @ Hemulen,

    “The fact that many people are ignorant of China should be blamed on the Chinese government. If it really wanted the rest of the world to know more about China, it would allow free reporting.”

    I disagree. There is plenty of information and resources on China outside of the confines of that country (this blog, Chinese immigrants, Chinese books, etc.) It’s not fair to blame the Chinese government when the primary fault lies in our own laziness. Canada is an open and free country. However, most Americans know virtually nothing about our neighbor to the north.

  47. Charles Liu Says:

    BTW, anti-CNN posted a reply from TBWA:

    http://www.anti-cnn.com/forum/cn/redirect.php?tid=80399&goto=lastpost

    Ms. Hong mentioned AI France ran the ad in June 2008. Now either AI is lying about it having nothing to do with it, or TBWA is lying.

  48. opersai Says:

    @Anton,
    Whom exactly has China helped become more free, democratic, and lawful? Regardless of your views on America’s shortcomings, anyone who denies that we have helped millions (if not billions of people) become more free is simply ignoring the facts.

    I’m sorry, but really… please! You almost made me puke! You are either a really idealistic person who really believe America did all these international interference out of good will, and that you are not aware how America is “loved” at those places for their “beloved” and “novel” actions (Charles had already listed few of many examples). Or you are a hypocrite with a face thicker than the great wall!

  49. snow Says:

    Jane,

    I agree with your comment on Hemulen’s comment when he wrote:

    “The fact that many people are ignorant of China should be blamed on the Chinese government. If it really wanted the rest of the world to know more about China, it would allow free reporting.”

    Nowadays quite a lot of them tend to use the “dictatorship” and “censorship” of Chinese government to excuse their being bigots and lazy and to shut up any meaningful criticism of the western media. Your Canadian example is a good one. I some time think even if China is wide open to western reporters, some of them would still see and report things from preconceived perspective and mindset and to distort reality. Just think how many Cold War warrior scholars who have enjoyed a great deal of freedom and convenience in conducting research inside China in past three decades, but their works still reflect the die hard line, deeply biased anti-China or China bashing stance.

    On the other hand, I know some ordinary Americans and Europeans who came to China during some of the country’s most politically repressive years yet could appreciate both positive changes and the complexity and contradiction the county was caught up with honest criticism as well as sympathetic and objective views.

    There is a lot more to do with the foreign onlooker/observor/reportor’s mindset, common sense, level of sincerity, quality of mind and motivation.

  50. yo Says:

    @JL,
    “Interesting idea, although if we were to discuss this further, we should mention that guide books like Lonely Planet truly do have an anti-Chinese government tone. Actually, I think they’re much worse than most news-media coverage of China, and I’m not sure why they never seem to get singled out for it.”

    LOL, I thought I was the only one that thought that 🙂 But yes, imo, they do have a chip on their shoulder in some of their articles in that book. My guess is that they might not get singled out because it’s might not be a popular traveling book series in China or they might not have Chinese versions.

  51. Hemulen Says:

    @Jane

    The point is not that there is no self-inflicted ignorance about China in the West, the point is that the Chinese government and its defenders on this blog should quit whining about “Western ignorance” and realize the simple fact the extent to which China is still misunderstood, restrictions on reporting and intimidation of dissenter is not the way to go.

    Another thing worth contemplating is that increased knowledge and understanding will not necessarily translate into “good” coverage or positive reporting. Historically, the PRC got some of its best press coverage when the country was virtually closed to the outside world and the government preferred to deal with foreigners who did not speak Chinese and could not ask tricky questions. What we have seen in the past two decades is a reversal of that trend, which should not come as a big surprise. There is a parallel to this when it comes to overseas Chinese. Even though Chinese have never been treated better in the US than now and never had more opportunities to succeed in the West, that still doesn’t seem to satisfy many Chinese in the US who are now more vocal than ever in their criticism of the US. Quite ironic.

    @Buxi

    However, you’ll note that the Amnesty International has never commissioned a similar ad campaign linking the baseball World Series with, for example, torture at Abu-Ghraib.

    The Olympics is a high profile event that has fee comparisons and this year is certainly not the first time in recorded history that people have used the Olympics as a venue for politics. And correct me if I’m wrong, but the baseball world series are not organized by the government.

    But I would be interested to know when it is an appropriate time for any NGO to criticize the Chinese government.

  52. Wahaha Says:

    ……the point is that the Chinese government and its defenders on this blog should quit whining about “Western ignorance” …..

    You sound like Youzi.

    I think there are hundreds of millions of whiners in China, in your opinion, right ? Then why were those oversea Chinese protesting against West media ? are all of them whiners ?

  53. Hemulen Says:

    @Wahaha

    I’m just saying that people in general like to whine about stuff, not just overseas Chinese. But to take the amount of whining as an accurate reflection of reality is risky. China has not been this wealthy, respected and powerful for centuries, and it has never been easier for big foreign companies to make big bucks in China.

    And Buxi is right, the HR situation in China is much better today than it was 30 years ago. So why is there so much negative coverage about HR abuses in China today compared with 30 years ago? Because we have access to more information today and because it is possible to publish it.

    I think there are hundreds of millions of whiners in China, in your opinion, right ?

    Most Chinese people are working hard to survive and do not have time to whine.

    Then why were those oversea Chinese protesting against West media ?

    In one sentence: because they can do it and get away with it. 100 years ago, when Western media was far more racist than now, you’d risk being put on a boat home if you step out of line.

  54. Buxi Says:

    @Hemulen,

    But I would be interested to know when it is an appropriate time for any NGO to criticize the Chinese government.

    Well, I’ve always said that there are plenty of opportunities for protest. You can flash back to my original flier on the Olympic torch relay:
    http://blog.foolsmountain.com/2008/05/03/our-voice-%E2%80%93-our-truth/

    The Chinese government has an embassy in just about every capital around the world; I personally believe they’re perfectly proper venues for protest and criticism (as long as you don’t keep me from getting my passport renewed). Or, when Chinese political leaders travel around the world, I think it’s very understandable for NGOs to greet them with protest. Why aren’t those occasions enough?

    The fact that the government puts on the Olympics is, IMO, a very weak explanation. The US government also puts on an Independence Day parade…has Reporters Without Borders ever covered the Statue of Liberty with a banner about journalists killed by American forces in Iraq, on the Fourth of July? Why not?

    For that matter, if the Olympics are fair game, then the Olympic trials should also be fair game. Have these NGOs protested American or British foreign policy at their Olympic trials? Why not? Having some protesters running on the track during the 100m sprint would be a great way to bring attention to torture at Gitmo, don’t you think?

    …realize the simple fact the extent to which China is still misunderstood, restrictions on reporting and intimidation of dissenter is not the way to go.

    I completely agree that restrictions on reporting is not the way to go.

    As far as intimidation of dissenter… not sure exactly what you mean by that, but I think Chinese around the world should get started by learning from the protesters at the Olympic torch relay. Noise is good, a show of force on the streets is good, intimidating women in wheelchairs is good. It might not immediately bring support to our cause, but at least we’ll be heard.

    That’s how we confront the lazy ignorance Jane talked about.

    And then we can move on with explaining our points of view, exactly as we’re trying to do on this blog. As far as “whining” goes, well, we’re new to this game… we’re learning as we go. We saw thousands of people whining in London and Paris, and I can’t open a German foreign policy magazine without reading more whining about Chinese policies in Tibet. They call it “pressure”, but Hermulen probably calls Merkel’s policy speeches “a temper tantrum”. For now at least, we’ll try emulating what they’re doing.

  55. Buxi Says:

    @JL,

    I’ve only skimmed through the Lonely Planet stuff… but I think you definitely have a point. Sad truth is half the backpackers marching through Asia will never open up an issue of the Economist or Foreign Affairs; their world view is based almost entirely on these tour guide books…

  56. Netizen Says:

    @Buxi,

    I agree with your analysis of the evoluation of Chinese thinking and action. The Chinese are learning quickly pressure tactics and having effects.

    There are two barriers the Chinese need to overcome in their traditional ways. One is value neutrality. The other is the supramacy of state sovereignty. The individual is supreme. China has the numbers and thus it must come out from its shell and lead the world.

    The future of the world will be forged on the basis of shared values, interests, talents and natural resources of the East and West.

  57. MutantJedi Says:

    @JL
    The problem with “legal issues relating to the entry of the ads in Cannes” is that it is an organization that seems to be very self aware of its own branding. How could it lose control of its public image like this? Quite apart from the reaction to these images, only an idiot who deserves to be sacked would commission a creative without keeping control of who gets to see it. So… either it was done on purpose or someone in marketing is inept.

    And you are right… sometimes it is best to just let sleeping dogs lie. But, once the dog is awake, you can’t just pretend it is still asleep. Then again… too much attention is beating a dead horse.

    @Jane
    Canada… Isn’t that the 51st state? 😉

    @Wahaha
    The nysun.com report you linked to is by a professor from Bar Ilan University. Not a big deal… but it does provide context for Mr. Steinberg’s criticisms. The author does make a good point. Just because an organization’s mandate is a lofty one shouldn’t make it exempt from criticism. If anything, it should be held to a higher standard.

    @Anton,
    Actually, an important issue in US human rights is its use of capital punishment.

  58. Hemulen Says:

    @Buxi

    Buxi, you’d like to see a symmetry when it comes to the choice venues to protests, but we’re not talking about a symmetric situation – a fact that you have yet to comment on at some length on this blog. In Britain, just about anyone can protest anything anywhere, as some Chinese students have discovered. There is no counterpart to this in China. If it were possible to have protests in Beijing – anywhere in Beijing – against China’s brutal occupation of Tibet or any other aspect of the Chinese government, you’d have the protests there. Given the fact that the Chinese government has made the Olympics such an unprecedented propaganda event, that kind of event becomes a virtual magnet of protests, whether we like it or not.

  59. Wahaha Says:

    @Hemulen

    Your comment,

    Then why were those oversea Chinese protesting against West media ?

    In one sentence: because they can do it and get away with it.

    My answer,

    You didnt answer my question, I didnot askif they could or couldnt protest, I was asking WHY they protested

  60. CW Says:

    @ Anton in Comment #41:

    If we’re talking about comparative politics here, America, in its 59th year (dating from the “official” founding in ’76 and not the actual “recognized” date in ’83, that is), was in the midst of the Andrew Jackson administration. Hooray for Jacksonian democracy, power to the masses, right? But his status as a war hero aside, what I remember best from reading about the Jackson years was Andy’s advocating of the “Indian removal” policy. It seems that this was done, in his mind – or his speeches, at least – out of the best of intentions (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_jackson#Indian_removal). But it eventually became – and became aptly known as – the Trail of Tears.

    (Well, you DID say that “Almost all the human rights violations by the US cited on this page are the work of one administration which in the view of many Americans is one of the worst in our 232 year history.” I wonder what other governments – say the PRC, if or when it gets there – would be like in their 232nd year. Meanwhile, we’re living through the PRC’s 59th year. A compare/contrast exercise would be interesting here.)

    Of course, this is not necessarily to say that the Chinese government’s policies and/or actions are justified by Jackson’s – or Bush’s – administration’s errors. However, the use of “we in the US do it better” (*it = democracy, development, human rights, civil rights, what have you) is not a particularly valid argument – especially these days. Charles Liu seems to have already brought up quite a few counter-examples.

  61. CW Says:

    Also, I thought this rather relevant to some of the discussions on this site:

    “All the territorial possessions of all the political establishments in the earth–including America, of course–consist of pilferings from other people’s wash. No tribe, however insignificant, and no nation, howsoever mighty, occupies a foot of land that was not stolen. When the English, the French, and the Spaniards reached America, the Indian tribes had been raiding each other’s territorial clothes-lines for ages, and every acre of ground in the continent had been stolen and restolen 500 times.”

    I particularly treasure that first sentence – it can apply to so many situations. And to those who care to know, this gem came from Mark Twain in Following the Equator and was recently quoted in Roy Blount Jr.’s recent TIME cover story on that “original superstar”. (See article at http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1820166,00.html – worth reading in its entirety.)

    Just something to keep in mind.

  62. FOARP Says:

    “As far as intimidation of dissenter… not sure exactly what you mean by that, but I think Chinese around the world should get started by learning from the protesters at the Olympic torch relay. Noise is good, a show of force on the streets is good, intimidating women in wheelchairs is good. It might not immediately bring support to our cause, but at least we’ll be heard.”

    The Chinese government has already done this many times, and continues to do it.

  63. snow Says:

    Hemulen

    “And Buxi is right, the HR situation in China is much better today than it was 30 years ago. So why is there so much negative coverage about HR abuses in China today compared with 30 years ago? Because we have access to more information today and because it is possible to publish it.”

    Wrong. Because you don’t bother to see China in historical perspective and you don’t care with your ingrained habit (under whatever disguise) of looking down on a race once you termed as the Peril of Asia. Because China has become a rising world power perceived as a threat to be contained by all western powers. Because, ironically, the western powers have found human rights issue/ humanitarianism the most effective diplomatic “stick” to push around the world and maintain western hegemony in the 21st century.

    Do you really mean “Because we have access to more information today and because it is possible to publish it” ?

    But earlier in this thread it was you who complained that

    “The fact that many people are ignorant of China should be blamed on the Chinese government. If it really wanted the rest of the world to know more about China, it would allow free reporting.”

    How self-contradicting, or simply hypocritical.

  64. Hemulen Says:

    @Wahaha

    There are always reasons to take to the streets and protest. In a sense it’s a good thing that Chinese take advantage of their rights abroad and try it out. My only question is, would they be OK if foreigners did the same in China?

    @snow

    I’m puzzled by your contribution; where did I ever talk about the “peril of Asia”? You must be confusing me with someone else.

  65. Anton Says:

    @Charles Liu,

    No, the ends justify the ends. The fact that there are counter-examples does not somehow delete from history all the good that has been done by the US. If you believe that the negatives outweigh the positives, that’s your prerogative. My point was, where’s the corresponding list of China’s positive accomplishments?

    @opersai,

    The logic of your arguments is only surpassed by the polite manner in which you present them. I was simply reminding people that since World War II, America has been more powerful in comparison to other countries than any other country in history, and is widely regarded as having used this power more benevolently than any other country who has been in a similar position. If you think a Mao Zedong (or even Hu Jintao) led China would have acted in the same way, then your powers of deduction may not be as sharp as your supposed wit.

    @mutant jedi

    Fair point on the death penalty.

    @CW

    Comparing America in 1835 and China in 2008 is a bit of a reach in my view especially if we look at other countries whose current governments were founded about the same time as China’s (Germany and Japan come to mind). Of course there are severe differences there, but probably not as severe as the difference between 1835 and 2008.

    Anyone who thinks that America and China are comparable on human rights need only look at the recent UN resolution on Zimbabwe which China and Russia vetoed. I would refer you to Thomas Friedman’s recent editorial in the NYT.

    Anton

  66. snow Says:

    Hemulen,
    “Even though Chinese have never been treated better in the US than now and never had more opportunities to succeed in the West, that still doesn’t seem to satisfy many Chinese in the US who are now more vocal than ever in their criticism of the US. Quite ironic.”

    I suppose what you hinted here is that “they bite the hands which feed them.” Well two kinds of people likely doing that biting hands thing: the most ignoble and the noble.

    Does it ever occur to you that Chinese immigrants’ being personally better off in the U.S. does not mean that the U.S. government’s wrong doings both inside and outside of the states cease to exist, nor does the Chinese immigrants should relinquish their rights and responsibility to let their voices heard as concerned members of societies of both their adopted and native lands, in the best traditions of both Chinese and western cultures.

    I did not find it “ironic,” unless I assume that the Chinese immigrants or the Chinese at large should be easily satisfied or contented with whatever the U.S. or other wealthy western countries generally “bestows upon” them and shut up their mouth criticizing, as the rights to criticize is reserved for the people of superior race in the developed “democratic” countries only, not for those who came from a “totalitarian” country even if they are now the immigrants or citizens of the “land of free.”

    “I’m puzzled by your contribution; where did I ever talk about the “peril of Asia”? You must be confusing me with someone else.”

    No I didn’t, although you didn’t talk about that in actual words, a term quite popularly used a century earlier.

  67. yo Says:

    Anton, Charles, CW,
    Every country has their skeletons. IMO, it’s quite silly to compare these skeletons, it’s almost like comparing disasters, which one was worse, 911 or Pearl Harbor. And afterwards, what can you do but make some extremely subjective moral judgment on which one is worse. In addition, Anton, I don’t think anyone here is saying America is a bad country.

    As for myself, I feel BOTH China and the U.S. has been positives forces in the world. We can all agree that both countries screwed up some how in the past. But IMO, we should move on from these rhetorical arguments of this country sucks and what not.

  68. Fencer Says:

    In the TBWA Archery ad, “China” is not mentioned anywhere and the smiling guard is a “Kim Jong-il” look-alike. Furthermore South Korea excels in Archery.

    So we should send this poster to North Korea, which needs human rights more than China 🙂

  69. yo Says:

    Fencer,
    lol first off, the guy isn’t sporting the asian fro, and second, maybe a couple of inches sorter would of been nice. 🙂

  70. snow Says:

    sorry, correct some typos:

    #66 “… those who came from a “totalitarian” country even if they are now the immigrants or citizens of the ‘land of the free’.”

    #63 “Because you don’t bother to see China in historical perspective and you don’t care with your ingrained habit (under whatever disguise) of looking down on a race once you termed as the Yellow Peril.”

  71. opersai Says:

    @JL, MutantJedi,


    http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/07/15/europe/EU-France-China-Human-Rights-Ad.php
    The ad campaign denouncing human rights violations in China, commissioned by Amnesty International’s French branch, was turned down after the group judged it too violent — yet it is attracting attention online after winning a prestigious advertising industry award.

    Apparently, they stopped the ad from airing not because somebody there had a brain. … they are hopeless on this issue after all. =_=…

  72. opersai Says:

    @Anton,

    First of all, I’m sorry for calling you disgusting in previous post. That was a little hot headed. But, I won’t concede that your “I’m holier than thou” condescending attitude is unbearable. Get off your moral high-horses! Chinese government isn’t great in their record, but you don’t get to claim the higher ground either.

  73. CW Says:

    @ Anton:

    Speaking of vetoes of human rights-related UN resolutions, how about this one: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/us-vetoes-biased-un-resolution-attacking-israels-gaza-bloodbath-423993.html

    This is not to paint the situations in Zimbabwe, Israel, or the Gaza Strip black – or white. The issues involved are much more complicated than a good versus evil dichotomy, despite the muddled-to-horrendous situations in all of these places. I read Mr. Friedman’s article in the NYT (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/16/opinion/16friedman.html) – and with all due respect to Mr. Friedman and yourself, it rather reminds me of Mr. Friedman’s by-now-rather-infamous strong/good/democratic America vs. evil Iraq column(s) in the lead-up to the war (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Friedman#War_in_Iraq). Now, I have read quite a bit of Mr. Friedman’s writings and even had the pleasure of hearing him speak– he certainly could be considered a well-informed journalist.

    However, Mr. Friedman’s infallibility is not a given. And neither is the infallibility of any of us – any government, any government official, much less you or me. While Mr. Friedman’s editorial does well to attempt to inform the general public about the situation in Zimbabwe, it is an editorial – an editorial that does NOT stop to parse out the various sides (and no, it’s not exactly a black/white situation here either) of the arguments, just as the original Amnesty International-comissioned ads that prompted this discussion did not. Instead, the ads – and the editorial – went for maximum impact.

    Well, impact made – for better or for worse. The not-so-good: some people are launching diatribes, etc. The not-so-bad: at least there is a discussion over these difficult and complicated subjects – which I believe is what this website seeks to encourage.

    As for the infallibility issue, I would venture to guess that people – yes, you and me – and governments act in their own self-interest under most circumstances. If they can help someone else and feel good about it along the way, then why not? But really – and let’s get REAL here – it’s about self-interest. And nobility and morality aside, what I see in the Russian (don’t forget, that WAS the leading veto) and Chinese vetoes is self-interest. Putting it another way, aside from the sanctions-would-be-bad-for-negotiations-and-settlements issue, neither Russia nor China can afford right now the precedent of UN sanctions for what they consider “interference” in “the sovereign affairs of a UN member state” (quoting Zimbabwe’s Minister of Info here, but I can certainly see either the Russian or Chinese ambassadors to the UN spouting those words). The potential for “internal issues” (read: potentially incendiary conflicts, among them what apparently are called “active autonomists and secessionist movements” – see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_active_autonomist_and_secessionist_movements) in both countries are just a bit too much of a concern for them now. The potential pitfalls in allowing for the sanctions to go through outweigh the benefits for Russia and China – and Libya, South Africa, and Vietnam. (Charming mix, eh? Bet both the foreign policy hawks and Amnesty International just loved that list. Up for another pre-emptive attack – or forced “intervention” – somewhere, anyone?)

    Or at least that’s the way I see it, at the most basic level. Any Zimbabwe (and US-Zimbabwe, Russia-Zimbabwe, China-Zimbabwe, etc.) experts out there care to offer a more nuanced analysis?

    Now, back to your original comment: You asked for “historical perspective and overall cost/benefit analysis” and “For exactly which ideology are Chinese mistakes being made?” In my previous comment, I attempted to give some historical perspective – well, at least some historical context. No, the US of A at age 59 and the PRC at age 59 are not equatable. But really, are the German or Japanese examples all that similar to the PRC? For one thing, after the WWII debacle (speaking from the viewpoint of the German and Japanese governments – and probably people), after the dust of war settled, each, within a few short decades, achieved economic “miracles” (well, not sure about East Germany in that respect). Certainly, the ingenuity and determination and sheer hard work of citizens were crucial, but economic assistance from the SCAP and Marshall Plan weren’t small players, either. And of course, both Japan and Germany were industrialized nations before the war. China? Let’s see…also WWII-devastated. But industrialization and outside economic assistance on the scale of SCAP and the Marshall Plan’s? Don’t think so. As you said, “there are severe differences”.

    So you took issue with my 1835 vs. 2008 comparison. Let’s try another one: 1924 vs. 2008: 59 years after the American Civil War vs. 59 years after the Chinese civil war. Both devastating wars that ravaged the countryside and turned brother against brother. Both followed by an agonizing rebuilding process littered with controversy and what may now be considered “errors”. Both, 59 years later, characterized by a rush for riches, tycoons as stars (Gatsby), skyscrapers (almost Empire State Building time), racial/ethnic issues, social/morality issues awareness (Prohibition), questionable journalistic practices (well, 1924 was a decade or two past the heyday of yellow journalism, but let’s just fudge a bit on that issue), and those issues that people would rather go away (Tuskeegee syphilis study)… (Only filled in the examples on the American side – I’m sure that there are plenty of examples on the Chinese.) As for the Coolidge vs. Hu administrations – that would make for an interesting exercise in comparing/contrasting, especially considering the spectacular coda to the Roaring Twenties – but I won’t go into that here. Suffice it to say that neither is lily-white in foreign policy, civil rights, or human rights concerns. In any case, my point is, it ain’t a pretty picture anywhere. Or anytime.

    …which rather goes back to my disagreement with your original assertions in Comment #41: “The comparisons being made here between China and America are absolutely preposterous. … Almost all the human rights violations by the US cited on this page are the work of one administration which in the view of many Americans is one of the worst in our 232 year history. As for China, most of their current practices have been carried over from previous incarnations of their government in its 59 year history. That’s an incredibly important distinction.”

    “Preposterous”? “One administration”? I’m sorry, but no one person – much less a government, operates out of context, without precedent. There’s not that big of an “incredibly important distinction” in the moral grayness of any government – or in the importance of self-interest in the decision-making of any government.

    That said, historical perspective: long story. WAY too long and complicated to tell fully here. I believe there’s a book or two – or several hundred, if not thousands – on the topic. I’ll leave that to those far older and wiser than me.

    Overall cost/benefit analysis: Ditto on the volumes-have-been-written thing. I’m too tired to recap now – sorry.

    Ideology: I may venture a guess of “economic development first and foremost” here. Btw – didn’t forget stability: the “ideology” is probably that the economy develops best on the basis of social/political stability. Does economics necessarily justify everything? I would hope not. But it WOULD be rather hard to perform a wide variety of other tasks that we who frequent these online discussions would feel deprived to forgo if we were gnawing on tree branches (as I’ve heard a good portion of Chinese were doing a generation or so back).

    Now…should the economic development “ideology” be tempered by other concerns as well? The environment? Human rights, perhaps? Judging from the comments and analyses provided here, I’d certainly say yes – and that yes, neither the PRC government or the Chinese people (or course, can’t speak for all of them) are entirely unaware of those concerns. So at least we’re getting somewhere. Where that “somewhere” is – your guess is as good as mine.

    Let’s just settle on “it’s a fluid situation,” shall we?

    As for the comment “I would be quite shocked if anyone can name just one foreign country or group of people that China has helped become more free”… Well, the PRC government (you DID say “anyone”) would argue the Tibetans…Vietnamese…and perhaps the Chinese? Of course that would depend on your definition of that word “free” – and your assessments of the pre-PRC-interference Tibetan, Vietnamese, and Chinese governments and how legitimate/distasteful/oppressive/free they were. But to me at least, they all seem to be arguable (and much-argued) examples.

    Thanks to yo for trying to mediate. The thing is, though…in case it failed to escape notice, I’m not particularly enamored of any of the governments mentioned above. But I’m not particularly enamored of all those black-and-white distinctions out there, either. I LIKE my colors. And all those infinite shades of gray.

    And yes, this was a rather long “comment”. But I like to read. I can only hope that everybody else does too. 🙂

  74. Hemulen Says:

    @snow

    Does it ever occur to you that Chinese immigrants’ being personally better off in the U.S. does not mean that the U.S. government’s wrong doings both inside and outside of the states cease to exist, nor does the Chinese immigrants should relinquish their rights and responsibility to let their voices heard as concerned members of societies of both their adopted and native lands, in the best traditions of both Chinese and western cultures.

    No, I don’t think that Chinese should be be grateful and shut up, all I’m asking for is a sense of proportion, just as many Chinese like to remind foreign critics that China in many ways is better off today that it was a couple of decades ago.

    And now I am going to ask you the question that I know you will probably never answer: When will it be OK for foreigners (and I’m not just talking about expats) to demonstrate and fight for their rights in China? Or is it a one-way street?

  75. Wahaha Says:

    Hemulen,

    “There are always reasons to take to the streets and protest. In a sense it’s a good thing that Chinese take advantage of their rights abroad and try it out. My only question is, would they be OK if foreigners did the same in China?”

    Answer

    Yes, that is right, there are always reason to take to the street, but not necessary good reason, and not necessary peacefully.

    In a poor community, protests usually turned into violence.

  76. Hemulen Says:

    @Wahaha

    Is Beijing or Shanghai so poor that it can’t tolerate a peaceful protest?

  77. Wahaha Says:

    Hemulen,

    Let use an example to show you why democracy is a paradox, and difference between democracy and authoritarian.

    A teacher of kindergarden wanted to take 30 kids out for lunch, 27 of them wanted McDonald or KFC, two wanted Pizza, the last one wanted Donkin Donuts.

    30 years ago, the teacher (the CCP) would simply take those 30 kids to a restaurant she liked or she believed it was good, without asking those 30 kids.

    After 1978, the teacher asked those 30 kids what they liked, and went to a restaurants most kids liked.

    Now here is the point :

    In an authoritarian system, the teacher would forcefully take all 30 kids to McDonald or KFC, the other 3 kids are not allowed to protest.

    In a democratic syetem, the other 3 kids are allowed to protest, there are 3 possible outcomes.

    1) the teacher still forcefully take 30 kids to McDonald or KFC, in other words, the right of those 3 kids is still suppressed LIKE IN AN AUTHORITARIAN SYSTEM.

    2) the teacher drives the schoolbus on the street, circling again and again, try to find a restaurant that every kid likes, we dont know if she can find one.

    3) the teacher is rich, she can order the foods from McDonald, Pizza hut and Donkin’s Donuts.

    Is there any other possible outcome ?

    This explains the following paradox of democracy system :

    On one hand, the right of every individual is respected under democracy; on the other hand, as everyone can vote,( it is assumed that ) the elected government will work for the majority of people, or the voice of minority is unheard.

    What you and other “democracy” advocates paid too much attention on “the 3 kids are allowed to protest.”, annnnnnnnnnnnnd NEVER ASK THE OUTCOME.

  78. Wahaha Says:

    “Is Beijing or Shanghai so poor that it can’t tolerate a peaceful protest?”

    Beijing and Shanghai are rich enough, the problem is why people in Beijing and Shanghai should be treated differently from other poor community ?

    That is the problem of democracy : “when you give the right to people who deserve it, you also give the right to people who dont deserve it.”

    There is no solution for that. There are 57000 protests in China in 2005, almost all of them are cuz of land asquisition. Now each year there are 9 million new labor force in China, what is Chinese government supposed to do ?

    Last two months, there was nationwide protest in south Korea against American beef, but when I ask two south koreans what else are on the contract by their government and US, neither of them knows. I am sure south korean government balanced the good and bad, and then allowed US beef entering the korean market. If in a developed country like south korea, people can be so ignorant before protesting, imagine the situation in China. there is only one possible outcome, chaos.

  79. FOARP Says:

    @Wahaha – I want KFC.

    Actually the government still does exactly as it likes, there is no real consultative process.

  80. Wahaha Says:

    yes, there is, there was very open debate about whether 3 gorge dam should be built or not.

    In 1992, Deng Xiaoping won in the famous “southern tour” by the support of chinese,

  81. MutantJedi Says:

    @ opersai #71

    I laughed reading that article.

    “We didn’t feel comfortable with the proposed visuals, which were perhaps too violent,” said Sylvie Haurat, spokeswoman for Amnesty International-France. “But the message — that the fight goes on — we support that 200 percent.”

    Absolutely disingenuous. How do you have an ad campaign without having an ad campaign? Enter the ad in a contest, hoping the the controversy propels your message forward.

    Why am I reminded of Fiat? Is this a new European marketing strategy? Make an ad at China’s expense, issue a hollow apology, then let the message carry forward virally on the energy of Chinese outrage?

  82. FOARP Says:

    @Wahaha – Are you trying to use the 3 gorges dam as an example?

  83. snow Says:

    Hemulen

    “And now I am going to ask you the question that I know you will probably never answer: When will it be OK for foreigners (and I’m not just talking about expats) to demonstrate and fight for their rights in China? Or is it a one-way street?”

    The Chinese (both the people and government) have such a long tradition of treating foreigners with sincerity and warmth. Foreign affairs offices at different level all over the country are designed to take good care of your guys once you are in the country. But if you still want to take to the street to protest, I suppose you will have to obey the related laws and regulations currently in effect in PRC. There is a time for everything, including lawful street demostration joined by both PRC citizens and foreigners. This I believe. So be patient..

  84. Buxi Says:

    And now I am going to ask you the question that I know you will probably never answer: When will it be OK for foreigners (and I’m not just talking about expats) to demonstrate and fight for their rights in China? Or is it a one-way street?

    Wait, if you’re not talking about expats, what are you talking about? Westerners who take on PRC citizenship? I believe snow was talking about Chinese immigrants, those who are now citizens of Western countries.

    When you’re talking about “rights”, I assume we’re talking about the rights of citizens. I don’t think it makes sense to speak of “rights” for non-citizens… only courtesies or privileges.

  85. Buxi Says:

    @MutantJedi,

    Why am I reminded of Fiat? Is this a new European marketing strategy? Make an ad at China’s expense, issue a hollow apology, then let the message carry forward virally on the energy of Chinese outrage?

    Very intriguing point. Worth considering.

  86. Wahaha Says:

    @FORAP

    I think I know what you are trying to say : the leaders of China from local to Beijing were not elected by people, therefore, they only work for CCP, they dont care about ordinary people.

    If you have a close look of the power transition from Jiang Zhemin to Hu Jingtao, you will see that the CURRENT government is no less a people’s government than any elected government in West.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hu_Jintao

    Jiang Zhemin came from Shanghai, what he represented were the interests of coast area, and he built the famous “Shanghai Clique”, the focus of economic construction under him mainly focused on coast line.

    HU Jintao worked most of time in extremely poor area of China, like GanSu, GuiZhou and Tibet, most CCP member under him are from poor area. The sign that Hu gained power in Beijing is clear a sign that CCP members from underdeveloped area wanted more, and those CCP member who supported Hu and Wen are fighting for those poor people from poor area where they come from. (though it is very possible they themselves want to benefit from the economic development.)

    There is democratic process within the party, and clearly the CCP members from poor areas of China won over “Shanghai Clique”, although there is no transparecy of this process. Since Hu took over, the policy of central government immediately focused on helping the rural area, like in 2005, central government stopped taxation on rural area.

    Although most government leaders and officers in China in local areas cities are not elected, THEY HAVE TO WORK FOR THE PEOPLE, even for their own benefits.

    If you talk about corruptions in China, I agree that freedom of media would make situation better, but I seriously doubt its effect, look at India, look at Russia. It was said that under Yeltsin, Russia produced several Oil tycoons who had billions of dollars; under Putin, those billions of dollars were used to pay off the 200 billion dollars of debt.

  87. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Buxi #84:
    but are you suggesting that everyone in SF who protested in support of CHina was an American citizen? It seems in the US or some other democratic nation, you can engage in a peaceful protest whether you’re a citizen, permanent resident, or on a student visa (or heck, just visiting). So if you restrict the right to protest in China to PRC citizens alone, and factoring in info from a previous thread that it is hard for foreigners to gain PRC citizenship, you’ve created a convenient mechanism where “foreigners” won’t ever be allowed the same voice in China as Chinese are allowed in other nations.
    Although non-citizens in the US for example do not have “full” rights (can’t vote for example), their basic human rights and a right to speech are still protected. Do you think PRC would extend similar “courtesies”?

  88. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Wahaha #77:
    you and your examples again.
    In an authoritarian system, those 3 kids who don’t like their Happy Meals either can’t protest, or do so at the risk of having the snot smacked out of them.
    In a democratic system, those 3 kids can ask for Whoppers and Tacos all they like, without fear of punishment. But it doesn’t mean they’ll get it.
    The reason why your inexperience with democracy renders the concept paradoxical to you is because you always assume that dissent brings lunchtime to a grinding halt.
    The “outcome” of the 3 kids getting the chance to complain is not necessarily that it changes their lunchtime grub today; the point is that the process might allow someone to change something someday.

  89. S.K. Cheung Says:

    TO Wahaha #78:
    so your solution is to play to the lowest common denominator? In that scenario, the rate of political progress (eg. the tolerance for peaceful protest) will be limited by the progress of the most backward armpit of some desolate corner of China. That doesn’t bode well for the maintenance of “stability” for which you show such affection.

  90. Buxi Says:

    @S.K.Cheung,

    To Buxi #84:
    but are you suggesting that everyone in SF who protested in support of CHina was an American citizen? It seems in the US or some other democratic nation, you can engage in a peaceful protest whether you’re a citizen, permanent resident, or on a student visa (or heck, just visiting).

    No, quit the opposite. I protested in support of China in SF, and I’m not an American citizen.

    But I see what I did as a privilege, a courtesy offered by the United States, and not a right. If INS told me to pack up tomorrow and go back to China tomorrow as a result of the protest, I’d shrug and just say thanks for letting me stay so long, take care. It’s their country, they’ll run it how they like. I don’t see that as being complicated logic.

  91. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Buxi:
    but that’s just it. You don’t get deported for being in a peaceful protest, and I simply can’t fathom why any country would feel such a compulsion. Hopefully, someday, China will be run in such a way so as to exhibit more tolerance for such things.

  92. Buxi Says:

    @S.K.Cheung,

    but that’s just it. You don’t get deported for being in a peaceful protest, and I simply can’t fathom why any country would feel such a compulsion.

    Have you clicked over to the “brutally honest about cultural differences” thread, yet? Might give you a hint as to the answer.

    Why can’t you fathom that people might want to run their societies differently? Have you noticed that, for example, amongst your friends/neighbors/colleagues, that people set different house rules? Different curfews? Homework first, or TV first? Save money first, or spend wildly and go on vacation first?

    Why would you assume that China must play by your rules, in China?

  93. Wahaha Says:

    SKC,

    “….because you always assume that dissent brings lunchtime to a grinding halt.”

    Not always, but happen very often in China. Almost all the protests in China are due to one-child policy and land acquisition. The problem is that on some government’s policy, government cant afford bargain with anyone, not a single one; cuz if it does, then it has to bargain with everyone. This is a problem of ” if he has the right, why cant I have the right ?”

    You are talking about mini scale problems, like a SMALL , LOCAL and NOT URGENT problem within a village, within a company, and on this kind of issues, government allows democratic process (as long as it is not against government.)

    In a wealth country with near zero population growth rate, very few poor people, there is no urgent problem, as people enjoy good life already, they can AFFORD to wait, to negotiate; and as they are usually well educated, they can keep talking ” politely and friendly” even if they disagree, even after 12 months of negotiation. That is why I say democary never work well in a country with lot of poor people.

  94. FOARP Says:

    @Buxi – But we all live in the same world, and if China wishes to be a member of international organisations she must stick to the minimum standards they require. The Chinese government is free to withdraw China from the UN if it so wishes, China is also free not to organise large sporting events, China is free not to enter into region defence forums, China is free to withdraw from the WTO and to ignore the requirements of the TRIPS treaty. However, once China becomes a member of these organisations we are free to point out instances in which the Chinese government disagrees with the principles set down in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, in which it does not fulfil its duties under TRIPS or the WTO regulations, where its activities threaten neighbours etc. etc. etc.

  95. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Buxi #92:
    it’s fine if it’s the people who make the rules, and the people who run the society. But I don’t think you can suggest that the current rule-makers in China necessarily heed the will of the people. Maybe someday…

  96. S.K. Cheung Says:

    TO Wahaha #93:
    but no one is talking, for example, about the “right” to flaunt the one-child policy, or some land acquisition policy. Of course governments of all stripes have to set policy, and there is no system (not even ours) where everyone is going to be happy…simply not possible. I think we’re simply talking about the right of people to speak up against policies with which they disagree, and a society that would allow one to do so (in a civilized peaceful manner) without repercussions. I would think that even a developing country could afford to grant such privileges.

  97. Wahaha Says:

    “and there is no system (not even ours) where everyone is going to be happy…simply not possible.”

    That is exactly point. then why is it always a problem of human right when someone in China is not happy ?

    There was a report by CIA that there were about 15,000 to 25,000 dissidents in China, let us multiply it by 50, that is 1,250,000 people in China are not happy among 1.3 billion people, that is 1 out of 1000. How can every problem in China become a problem of human right or “no freedom” ?

  98. S.K. Cheung Says:

    Well, I certainly don’t think it’s a human rights issue just because someone’s unhappy. But it might become one, depending on how authorities react when said individual tries to express said unhappiness.

  99. Wahaha Says:

    We have been arguing back and forth again and again.

    Some people are not happy with government’s policy, if government forcefully carries out the policy, it becomes an issue of human right. As we all agree that there is no plan that make everybody happy, then what should government do by the rule of democracy ? sounds more like that govenment should abandon the plan. Then what is the result of that ? this is the problem that human right advocates never talk about

  100. Wahaha Says:

    “Well, I certainly don’t think it’s a human rights issue just because someone’s unhappy.”

    Well, almost all the dissidents (except Tibetan monks and Falun gongers) are so called “human right fighters” against one-child policy and land acquisition.

  101. Wahaha Says:

    I classify the human right problems in China into five categories,

    Freedom of information and speech.

    Freedom of pursuing political power.

    Tibet issue.

    Falun Gong.

    Other dissidents (excluding tibetans and Falun gongers).

    Tibet will never be an issue in the eyes of Chinese, no matter how west stirs the pot.

    Falun Gong is gone, after their “show” after earthquake.

    I explained the last one.

    Now the first two are the problems in China,

  102. heiheianan Says:

    I feel sad about Amnesty International. They seem to enjoy preaching to the choir (and alienating the non-believers) rather than educating anyone. If their point is to change things within China, can such imagery be helpful? I have my doubts.

    For the Chinese, there is nothing that AI can tell them about their own country.

    For westerners, such imagery is powerful, but raw emotion does not convey anything other than clever gimmickry and reducing complex issues to dorm room poster meaninglessness.

    I often wonder what AI does besides issue reports and write letters. They aren’t in the ghettos, barrios, etc. They never came to my third world, thats for sure! At my high school we had an AI chapter, and after they got down talking about the horrors of Africa, Asia, Latin America for 20 minutes, they’d move on to 20 minutes of saving dolphins or planting trees, then anti-fur initiatives, etc. Chinese people, dolphins, minks, it’s all the same, just one more mild outrage for the American men class.

  103. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Wahaha:
    hey, we agree about something. If you solve #1 and #2, I’d probably have no problem with CCP. #3’s been discussed to death elsewhere. Couldn’t care less about #4. As for #5, what you call “dissident” I would call “activist”, and the differences in connotation illustrate the divergent ways in which such individuals are viewed in China vs elsewhere.

    Back to #99: even when democratic governments can’t make everyone happy, they don’t abandon the plan. Not making everyone happy is not a human rights issue. Oppressing those who would voice their resultant displeasure is.

  104. Buxi Says:

    @FOARP,

    @Buxi – But we all live in the same world, and if China wishes to be a member of international organisations she must stick to the minimum standards they require.

    Well, that’s a fact that irritates many Chinese, as it happens. The “international organizations” have traditionally been dominated by a small group of Western nations (representing less than 20% of the worlds population).

    But that said, I don’t really see a problem as it currently exists. For all of the complaining about China not sticking to “international standards” coming from Western nations, China has been strong and determined enough to make its own way.

    The 2008 Olympics aren’t coming to Beijing because the Chinese government made promises on human rights to the Western nations… (that’s a ridiculous piece of revisionist propaganda which keeps traveling through the Western media). Remember that Beijing was competing with Paris and Toronto in the last round of the selection process, so you can guess where most of the Western nations were voting (and it wasn’t for China). Beijing won these Olympics on the backs of the developing and Asian nations, who largely didn’t care about these Western-defined “international standards” in 2001, and largely don’t care about them in 2008.

    The same can be said of the United Nations, the WTO, the World Bank, G8+2… China is playing by the letter of the rules in these organizations, but if these “international standards” haven’t tripped up China yet, well, I don’t know why anyone think they ever will. China’s growing stronger by the year.

  105. Buxi Says:

    @S.K.Cheung,

    it’s fine if it’s the people who make the rules, and the people who run the society. But I don’t think you can suggest that the current rule-makers in China necessarily heed the will of the people.

    Well, you’re changing the subject here. The question of whether the decision reflects the “will of the people” is one thing; the question of whether all societies should tolerate political protests by foreigners is another.

    I don’t know the situation in Singapore for sure, but after recent discussions, I suspect that’s one democratic society that wouldn’t tolerate political protests by foreigners.

  106. snow Says:

    SKC,

    “it’s fine if it’s the people who make the rules, and the people who run the society. But I don’t think you can suggest that the current rule-makers in China necessarily heed the will of the people. Maybe someday…”

    How can you be so sure that PRC’s current rule makers do not heed the will of the people? Any government’s existing policies relfect to some degree of the will of their people. See Bush’ Administraion’s case in America.

  107. Wahaha Says:

    SKC,

    “it’s fine if it’s the people who make the rules, and the people who run the society. But I don’t think you can suggest that the current rule-makers in China necessarily heed the will of the people. Maybe someday…”

    please read #86 in which I made the following point :

    Under the current ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL SYSTEM, although most government leaders and officers in China in local areas cities are not elected, THEY HAVE TO WORK FOR THE PEOPLE, more or less, even for the sake of their own benefits.

    ____________________________

    Now talk about two human right problems we “agree”.

    Freedom of information and speech.

    Freedom of pursuing political power.

    The 2nd one is bascially an enhanced form of # 5, it is the one that in reality caused the troubles for solving “big, large scale and urgent problems”, I think I have explained this before, just google “India infrastructure” or have a look of how so many cities and states in US are in deficit or even bankrupt.

    If Chinese government allowed this freedom, there would be thousands of parties and unions. China is not ready to handle such chaos, at least now, as even local gangs can form partys. Just have a look of China’s history, every time central government lost its control, China was in chaos or even civil war. THIS ONE HAS TO WAIT FOR LONG TIME. Remember the rule of of democracy, if government allows one political group seeking political power, it will allow hundreds or thousands of groups seeking political powers.

    About freedom of information and speech, I agree that Chinese government should allow a lot more freedom, especially media. If we grade the freedom of media (and internet) from 1 to 10, 1 for media in China 30 years ago, 10 for media in west, then I think Chinese government should allow freedom of grade 7 to 8, currently I give them a grade 3.5. About internet, there should be more freedom within the country, but I support the censorship of foreign media, no government would be able to function under such evil attacks. BTW, chinese dont need Westerners to educate them about politics.

  108. Wahaha Says:

    Read the following,

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tong_(organization)

    There will be tens or even hundreds of Tongs in EVERY city in China if freedom of organization is allowed, In reality, lot of these Tongs are actually gangs or mafia. Think of that, 30 Tongs in Shanghai, what would Shanghai be like ? a mini battle field ?

  109. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Snow:
    I agree I can’t be sure, which is why my statement has a couple of qualifiers. I’d submit though, that the CCP certainly can’t be sure either, since they’ve never asked (eg elections 🙂 )

  110. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Buxi #105:
    no one’s changing the subject. The will of the people in a society should determine what that society will and will not tolerate. So if Chinese people express in some democratic fashion that foreigners protesting on Chinese soil isn’t going to fly, so be it. My point was that right now, the party makes that (and all other) decision. As I said, maybe someday…

  111. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Wahaha:
    “Under the current ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL SYSTEM, although most government leaders and officers in China in local areas cities are not elected, THEY HAVE TO WORK FOR THE PEOPLE, more or less, even for the sake of their own benefits.” – and that’s all fine and good; but what recourse do the people have when such individuals decide not to do it, or simply aren’t very good at it.

  112. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Wahaha:
    “remember the rule of of democracy, if government allows one political group seeking political power, it will allow hundreds or thousands of groups seeking political powers” – perhaps in theory, but not in practice. US has 2, Canada has 4 (and 1 doesn’t count because it doesn’t even run candidates outside of Quebec). I’m not seeing thousands of political parties vying for the prize. And I’m not sure why you’d automatically assume that thousands of such groups would spring up in CHina. In fact, if a group truly wanted to have a realistic chance of winning power, the tendency would be to consolidate like-minded groups into far fewer entities, so as not to split the vote. That’s how our current Canadian government came to be…2 right-of-center parties merged into one.

  113. Wukailong Says:

    There seems to be a “democracy threat theory” going on here. I agree sudden change wouldn’t be good for China, but I just can’t agree with some things (the quotes aren’t real quotes, just shorthand for common arguments):

    1. “Democracy is just endless discussion and no real decision-making.” I’ve encountered this view more in China than other places, although you hear it occasionally in democratic countries as well. Some people believe that in order to build a house or carry out a relief effort, you need years of discussion. That’s not the case. The government makes laws and takes care of economic matters, but doesn’t control every part of society.

    2. “If we allow freedom of organization, thousands of organizations will sprout up everywhere.” Charles Liu answered that one already. Also, most countries have legislation against gangs and organizations carrying out illegal activities.

    3. “If we allow freedom of speech, people will become wild and nationalistic.” Again, this is by no means certain, but seems more like a threat to hinder reform.

  114. vadaga Says:

    @Wahaha Re: comment 108, There are already gangs and organized crime in Shanghai at this very moment…

  115. FOARP Says:

    @Vadaga – Let me second that, I’ve met more than a few of them . .

  116. Wahaha Says:

    @SKC,

    This is why the government should allow LOT more freedom of media and information. ( I m not big fan of absolute freedom, which most time leads to “give me the f@#$ing money”.

    @vadaga,

    Those gangs have to work “underground”, or in other word, they have no right whatsoever once government decides to handcuff them. For example, there is no systmatic net of drug dealers in China.

  117. Wahaha Says:

    @Wukailong,

    Please give some examples in poor or developing countries, not well developed countries.

  118. Wahaha Says:

    “I’m not sure why you’d automatically assume that thousands of such groups would spring up in CHina.”

    I have a friend whose wife works for government, I was stunned by how much beneifts she had for herself and for her family.

    Maybe after you talk to some people who work in government, who work in MTA, etc, ask them what benefits they enjoy, how much time they work each week, then you will understand why so many cities in US are in big finanical trouble or even bankrupted,

    BTW, I mean political groups, not only parties, so worker unions, small religion groups, Tongs are also political groups.

    In America, as media is completely under control by Republic or democratic partys, you dont hear the voice of any other groups. To be heard by public, the representitives of small groups must be either republic or democratic, which is the same as in China.

  119. FOARP Says:

    @Wahaha – There is drug dealing in China (though this is on a small, but growing scale) but there are large-scale crime networks, many of them working hand-in-glove with corrupt officials. According to at least one person who works for an anti-piracy organisation I have spoken to, many of the counterfeiting operations currently in operation in China have PLA links. Currently 80% of seizures of counterfeit goods entering the US and 79% of those entering the EU come from the PRC.

    Narcotics networks do operate in China, in the main China acts a source (with the main centres of production being in southern Yunan for opiates and Fujian for amphetamines) or as a conduit. Here is a map showing the main routes via which opiates are smuggled across Asia:

    http://www.pa-chouvy.org/asieroutestrafic.pdf

    Drug dealing inside China is low not particularly because of good police work done in eliminating the production/smuggling networks (one rarely sees the police making seizures of great size) but because of effective work done in the indoctrination of the public as to the problems associated with the use of drugs and harsh punishment for those who are caught dealing.

  120. Wahaha Says:

    “effective work done in the indoctrination of the public”

    1840, I think you know what happend in China in 1840.

    ” harsh punishment for those who are caught dealing.”

    Why cant West put harsh punishment on those drug dealer ?

    “There is drug dealing in China …..”

    There is, but considering the size of 1.3 billion people, and so many cities with million of population, I cant expect better.

  121. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Wahaha:
    “In America, as media is completely under control by Republic or democratic partys” – C’mon now, Fox News has a definite conservative slant, and CNN has commentators on the left and right, but it seems a bit overly conspiratorial to suggest these outlets are beholden to one party or another. If you wanted to start a party, and you were able and willing to pay for it, I suspect CNN and Fox would be happy to take your money and air your ad.
    I don’t disagree with you, however, if you’re suggesting that politics is a big-money exercise; that is unfortunate, and I’m not how to reverse that trend.
    WRT unions, we’ve had this discussion before. The union’s fiduciary duty, first and foremost, is to advance the interests of its members. So i’m not surprised that a transit authority worker is paid well…just as nurses are paid well, and police are paid well. If you were the union boss, it would behoove you to garner the maximum benefit for your members, and one way to do that is to ensure that the politicos are sympathetic to your cause. But again, a union can ask for all they want, the sky even, but it doesn’t mean they get it. Are you living in a state filled with bankrupt cities and counties? And if you are, you shouldn’t blame the unions, but blame the administrators and negotiators for getting fleeced. If the people handing out contracts are not doing their jobs, that isn’t an indictment against the democratic system.
    And likewise, if China acquired a democratic system, and put competent people in charge, your gloomy outlook need not materialize either.

  122. Wahaha Says:

    @SKC,

    I dont understand how you understand, I am not politician nor economist. Please read following and you know what union did.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/24/nyregion/nyregionspecial3/24pensions.html?ex=1293080400&en=6ea96465eae9c999&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss

    “….but blame the administrators and negotiators for getting fleeced. ….”

    This is why those unions voted them for, they wouldnt get reelected if they had signed those contracts put on their table by those unions. On local level in United states, unions had kidnapped the governments until recently, cuz government had no money at all.

  123. Wahaha Says:

    where are my posts ?

  124. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Wahaha:
    now I’m confused. Unions are bad because they fight for pension benefits for their members? Workers shouldn’t get good pensions? Besides, how was the dispute settled? How much did workers get, compared with their starting negotiating position? Is Manhattan suddenly bankrupt? Is Mayor Bloomberg a union kind of guy? Did people like Bloomberg and Arnie win on the backs of union support?
    BTW, you don’t elect administrators and negotiators. They civil servants. They may take directives from elected officials, they then negotiate the best deal they can, and they present it to the politicians to vote on it.
    Once again, I don’t know which corner of which state you live in where you’ve been colossally screwed over for 10 years, but our world doesn’t operate in the skewed fashion you envision.

  125. Wahaha Says:

    @SKC,

    Lol,

    On textbook, unions fight for the right of workers, there is no reason why unions should be banned, right ?

    Like I said, everything is OK when government has fat pocket. but what if government doesnt have a fat pocket ? I showed you the picture of what Unions accomplished.

    and what do you mean “our world” ? I live in New York of United states, I have seen what those unions did to the US economy.

  126. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Wahaha:
    why should unions be banned? If groups of workers fulfill criteria for certification, they should absolutely be allowed to unionize. Unions fight for the rights of their members; who else would they be fighting for?

    Again, if you’re trying to say unions are systematically bad for America, you’re not going to get very far.

    Don’t tell me you’re now trying to blame unions for subprime mortgages!

  127. FOARP Says:

    @Wahaha – I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, this obsession with wars fought and lost more than a hundred years ago is unhealthy. A hundred years from now Americans won’t even remember Vietnam, and their defeat in 1812 is remembered – if it is remembered at all – as a victory. You certainly don’t see Americans crying over the ruins of the White House and being instructed to ‘remember national shame’, America would not be the confident nation it is today if it were otherwise. As for the idea that we might institute the kind of draconian punishments used in China, even if the death penalty was allowed in the UK, no jury would convict someone for possession of drugs if they thought they were going to be sentenced to death.

    Plus its news to me that trades unions are A) powerful and B) influential in the United States, in Europe people think of them as being quite neutered.

  128. Wahaha Says:

    @SKC,

    No, I didnt say in this thread if Unions should be banned or should not be banned.

    All I showed you is what problems unions will cause during economic difficult time. So if you were in country with thousands of unions, with lot of poor people and economy is plunging, how could you expect the government solving the problems or turning economy 180 degrees ?

    This is real scenario in US.

  129. Wahaha Says:

    @FORAP,

    I didnt obsess with the war in 1840, I was showing you that chinese knew what opium could do to them, and they still addicted to it, so your conclusion “effective work done in the indoctrination of the public” doesnt hold water.

    Chinese form of Unions, so called Tong, were very powerful, they dominated Shanghai before CCP took over.

    In Europe, as there are very few POOR people, nearly zero population growth rate, high taxation, therefore, no problems.

    There were strong anti immigrants sentiment in Europe right ? Think of your country having 10,000,000 poor people who need government help, you will have picture of what is going on now in US.

  130. FOARP Says:

    @Wahaha – I’m sorry I misunderstood your point about 1840, put like that I can understand what you mean. However, I have to say that Chinese people take the problems associated with drugs far more seriously than folk in the UK.

    I wouldn’t say there were ‘no problems’ with the unions in Europe – France has great problems with the farmers. In the UK unions have become marginalised since their defeat in the miner’s strike of 1984, the new legislation which meant that they could be held liable in court for financial loss caused to companies if they called out their members without good cause, thus also eliminating so-called ‘sympathy strikes’. Germany takes a different approach, with union representatives given a place on the board of directors in most major corporations.

  131. yo Says:

    @S.K Cheung,

    Unions eh, I’ll take a swing at this. What wahahaha is alluding too is not an uncommon sentiment that unions run cities to the ground. What you believe unions do is the theory, but of course, it doesn’t work like that for all unions. here is the dirt:

    Unions can force a city’s businesses to take their labor, often more expensive labor, and if the businesses don’t and rather take an alternative source, the union will strike, or pressure the non-union alternative workforce to leave.

    Or, unions can force the city to only accept businesses that hire their union workers. This has a very prohibited effect on the number of businesses that will do business in a city, knowing they can’t afford to work in the city and will go elsewhere.

    Unions can strike at very inappropriate times that can inconvenience many, especially the case when the company they work for provides a valuable service and holds a monopoly in the city.

    As for teacher unions, it’s very difficult to fire incompetent teachers, unless they sleep with a student or something else that bad.

    So what wahahaha is saying about the negatives of unions is not without merit. However, I would disagree that unions are a negative force to society, but perhaps a force that needs to be reigned in sometimes. Unions should give equal footing to the workers to negotiate with the company bosses, however, when one side becomes more powerful, that’s when you run into trouble.

  132. Hemulen Says:

    @Buxi

    Well, that’s a fact that irritates many Chinese, as it happens. The “international organizations” have traditionally been dominated by a small group of Western nations (representing less than 20% of the worlds population).

    To begin with, China has made a significant contributions to human rights and international law, was a founding member of the United Nations and an eager participant in the Tokyo war crimes trials. Well, the People’s Republic of China stayed out of most world organizations for a couple of decades, so there’s some catching up work to be done.

    Now, you could of course object and say that the China before 1949 is not the same China as after 1949, so it is not bound by the same rules. Nope. According to international law, successor governments inherit both the rights and obligations of preceding governments, regardless how the change of government took place. You can’t maximize your benefits by cherry-picking commitments or arbitrarily changes rules retroactively. The fact of the matter is that because of China’s size and importance, the rest of the world has been incredibly tolerant and patient with many of the idiosyncrasies of the PRC and often glossed over things that would never have been accepted if we were dealing with smaller countries, such as North Korea or Burma. I don’t think, for instance, that China’s intransigent position on dual recognition of Taiwan and the PRC would have carried much weight if China was smaller.

    And I wouldn’t lump all Western nations into one bag. Smaller European countries are usually more comfortable with international law and international organizations than larger ones, for the very simple reason that international law and organizations do provide some protection for weaker nations. Neocons in both China and the US are often chillingly similar in the disdain for the UN and often provide each other with alibis for not living up to commitments.

  133. FOARP Says:

    @Buxi – Yes, I had wondered about that. However, most large organisations number China among its early members. The ICRC included the Chinese Red Cross organisation in its founding membership, as did the League of Nations. China has been represented in international sporting events since 1932, and was a signatory of the Geneva convention. China was also a founding member of the United Nations and its Security Council (and is thus tasked with the duty of maintaining international peace).

    In short, I do not think that China has been discriminated against particularly in the membership of international organisations. If you think that China was denied membership of economic and trade-oriented organisations purely out of western anti-China bias, then I suggest you think back to the economic policies of 1977. China is only denied membership of the G8 organisation out of concerns about being seen to be rewarding a dictatorial government, and if the rules of the organisations of which she is a member seem unjust and overly restricting, then she is free to leave these organisations.

  134. Wahaha Says:

    If the law has been working, China should followed what was on the paper.

    If the law has been a failure in certain situation, then those who wrote the law should change the certain item of law.

    what is so hard in it to understand ?

    For example, never in a free country was the problem of slums was significantly improved.

  135. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Yo,
    I don’t live in the US anymore. But when I did, where I did, the union-public relationship was not nearly as coercive as you describe. My opinion about unions reflects upon law-abiding entities that represent workers; what you describe seems to almost approach Teamsters a la Jimmy Hoffa, or even something akin to the mob (and I mean the Italian kind).
    Where I live now, there is no union that can coerce independent businesses into taking one kind of labour force over another; or essentially shut out businesses who don’t “play ball”…that just doesn’t happen in 2008. And unions don’t run my city; of course, I can’t speak for yours, or Wahaha’s.
    Of course unions can strike; that is, after all, one mechanism in a collective bargaining process, just as the employer can lock out workers in return. But they can only legally strike in well-defined circumstances ie contract expired, negotiations at an impasse, adequate strike notice offered, essential services maintained etc etc. They can’t just strike willy-nilly. Well, they can go on a wildcat strikes, but run the risk of court imposed sanctions, up to jail time for union leaders, and the union responsible for the costs of the strike. In fact, something like that was tried where I live, and the courts smacked the union hard.
    I agree the teacher’s thing is somewhat troubling, in that if someone is tasked with educating our future, they should show some competency for same. I agree that when unions value seniority over ability, that is a problem. It does seem to me that unions promote lowest common denominator of competency, rather than pushing for excellence. So I’m not trying to say unions are perfect, or can’t be improved in how they function.
    But Wahaha is fixated on unions supposedly bankrupting governments. My point over and over is that you need two parties to negotiate an agreement, and of course the union would ask for as much as they can; but it’s the city’s job to draw the line. And if unions are being allowed to bankrupt cities in NY state where Wahaha lives, then New Yorkers should be electing more astute politicians, or their governments should be hiring better managers and negotiators. To direct ire at unions for such ills seems misguided at best.
    Your last paragraph is an excellent counterpoint. If you don’t have unions, then in all probability workers will be paid less than they are now. Those workers contribute to the economy as consumers as well. What good is it to society to attack an institution that primarily champions for the middle-class?

  136. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Wahaha:
    1.all you’ve shown me is your very one-sided opinion; it certainly hasn’t changed mine.
    2.are you trying to say that unions are responsible for the US economic downturn? And if the existence of unions so directly influences US economic fortunes, then was their existence responsible for the economic boom from the late nineties till mid 2000’s?
    If you say that unions are a drag on economic recovery, how does eliminating unions (and the thousands of decent paying jobs of their members) help into accelerating such recovery?

  137. yo Says:

    @SKC,

    Your own experiences may differ. I am giving you the negative aspects to show they exists. If you already knew they existed, then I misinterpreted your position. but yes, there is a corrosive environment depending where you are. Where I’m from, there is a bad environment, enough to make this union supporter to think twice 🙂

    The teacher union is perhaps one of the most controversial because the perception is they protect incompetent teachers, get paid too much underpinned by the hard working tax payers, while producing poor results. While I don’t think all these characterizations are true, I would like union reforms to take place(e.g. incompetent teachers should be fired more easily, and they should at least try a merit base system for compensation).

    @wahahhaha
    I don’t agree with your rhetoric but I agree with your position that in times of economic downturn, businesses face an added hardship by trying to deal with a union who wants a bigger/same piece of the pie when the business can’t afford it(Am I right on this?). In GM’s case, IMO, this is true. However, one should also consider that Unions are credited for creating the middle class in America. This should not be forgotten, and despite the negative aspects of unions, they are overall IMO a benefit to society.

  138. Buxi Says:

    @FOARP,

    In short, I do not think that China has been discriminated against particularly in the membership of international organisations.

    I’m not claiming “discrimination”, I’m just talking facts. China hasn’t been able to dictate much in the current system. Even though the Republic of China was nominally in all of these international groups since their founding, how much influence did it really have? Did the Republic of China ever have an independent policy at the UN Security Council, or was it just basically a puppet vote for the United States? (I’m asking that seriously, not rhetorically.)

    I mean, no developing nation has had a seat at the table. That’s why intellectual property rights were such a major issue for the WTO, but farm subsidies weren’t. That’s of course changing now, only because the developing nations are gaining in strength.

  139. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Yo:
    like I said, I am more than happy with a moderate stand, wrt to unions as well as with most things in life. I certainly share your concerns re: teachers. I do get a little torn, though, when thinking about how one would test a teacher’s competency. Presumably, since they graduated from school with a teacher’s certificate, they showed the requisite minimal competency to be a teacher (at least at that time). But no matter how well a teacher may teach, invariably he or she will be judged on the results ie how well the kids in the class do. And that’s where it gets a little dicey for me. The same teacher would likely achieve very different results if asked to teach a class of Einsteins as opposed to a class of dolts (though ironically Einstein was not very good in grade-school). But unfortunately, in reality, it is a socio-economic gradient (rather than an IQ gradient, IMO) that will strongly factor into the results achieved for any given teacher. So can you really compare a teacher in Beverley Hills with one from Inglewood, or one from Central Park West with one from the Bronx? If not, then should you compare just within a defined zip code, to reduce the socio-economic gradient? But then you may be dealing with a small sample size and larger margins of error. So I don’t know how to get around that.

  140. yo Says:

    SKC,
    I think you bring an excellent point up about finding a metric to measure teacher performance. In underfunded poor neighborhoods, i think this is the case. However, we should stop this conversation right here, seeing we have seriously went WAY off topic. 🙂 Perhaps another thread.

  141. FOARP Says:

    @Buxi – A little check on Wikipedia shows that the ROC exercised its veto power only once, when it blocked Mongolian membership of the UN on the grounds that it was part of China.

    As for IP, China could have joined TRIPS as a developing nation rather than automatically gaining developed nation status, this would have given it a period of several years over which it could have reached compliance with the terms of the treaty. The US v. China case at the WTO might have been avoided otherwise.

    One of the main things that has limited Chinese influence on these organisations is its simple lack of activism. In the international environment we have a range of treaties on everything from landmines (the Ottawa treaty) to protecting Olympic symbols (the Nairobi treaty) – but I cannot think of any that has been brought forward through Chinese diplomacy. Perhaps this will change as Chinese diplomats gain more experience (and more allies) through acting in regional blocks like ASEAN and the SCO.

  142. Wahaha Says:

    To SKC,

    1) I didnt say Unions was the sole reason for the economic downturn, but they played a big part in it, as almost every city or state in US is in deficit cuz of those fat contracts signed during prosperous time. You know goverment cant take those benefits back during economic hardtime.

    2) The key point is Unions usually play a negative role when government tries to turn the economic from going south to goint north, or during economic transition period. Cuz in such situations, some people’s interest has to be sacrficed or some people have to “wait for their turn” TO MAKE THINGS HAPPEN, unions wont accept this. The positive side of Unions is well proved when there is enough cake. ( I believe that is what yo talked about in # 137)

  143. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Wahaha:
    once again, wait a second.
    Unions played a big part in the current economic downturn? I’m no economist, but how did unions weaken the US dollar, cause lenders to give out subprime loans, drag economic growth, weaken consumer confidence, make asset-backed corporate paper devalue, make the housing market crumble, increase mortgage defaults, while driving up the price of commodities, resulting in stagflation in the US economy? Which union accomplished that, exactly?
    BTW, a contract is a contract. And those things are finite, usually 3-5 years duration. And yes, governments can’t take it back during economic hard times. But unions can’t renegotiate either when times are good. So were governments fleecing unions for a decade from 1995-2005 when times were good. A deal’s a deal, otherwise why have contracts at all? Are you blaming unions for asking that contracts be honoured? On the flip side, when the economy was good, would you have forgiven the MTA for shutting down the subway on a 110 degree Friday afternoon, because their contract had not factored in a “good times” bonus?
    As for #2, again, if you think abiding by a contract is a “negative”, then contracts really are not the proper legal tool for you. And again, you seem to neglect that a union might protect peoples’ livelihoods during downturns such that these members/consumers could remain capable of contributing to the economy’s recovery. Bottom line is, you have your opinion on unions (and democracy), but it seems other-worldly to me.

  144. Wahaha Says:

    @SKC

    I think we have different understanding of “big part”. New York City shut down some school bus on some routes about 2 years ago, as a result, some kids had to leave home 1 hr earlier. How much money saved each year ? 12 million dollars in a city of 8 million people.

    You see the impact of those fat contracts for unions. Maybe you look at the economy countrywise, you dont see huge impact of unions, but locally, it is devastating during economic hard time. During good time, unions will push as far as possible for fat contract, and politicans are usually willing to give them (without considering the future impact) for political reasons.

    Now New York City gonna raise MTA fee again, (they raised the fee last year.), Holland tunnel charged $ 8 per pass, it was $6 last year . Either City and states get money from people or from government in Washington, but they dare not touch unions. Now just ask yourself, how will government improve the economy with more and more poor people ?

    Answer : hopeless, unless Unions allowed City and states to cut their benefits of those union workers. and you know it is impossible unless New York City is eligible for filing for bankruptcy, in other word, there is nothing government can do until the city and states are pushed to the edge of cliff.

  145. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Wahaha:
    “Answer : hopeless, unless Unions allowed City and states to cut their benefits of those union workers.” – wrong! Just renegotiate a contract more reflective of the current economic conditions when the current contract expires. Again, that’s how contracts work. You can’t arbitrarily suddenly say we’ll renege on a negotiated agreement. There are laws that prohibit such a thing. So if that’s your complaint, you’ll need to lobby to change contract law. Good luck with that.

    The price of transportation is increasing. Why do you blame unions for that. Have you noticed the price of gas lately, or of crude oil futures? Did the MTA union negotiate a new richer contract between the last fare increase and the current one? DId they negotiate a new richer contract before the tunnel toll increased? If not, then something completely other than unions was responsible for those increases. Your examples only serve to prove that you’ll blame unions for everything and anything, and such an undiscriminating POV is extremely unpersuasive.

  146. Wahaha Says:

    “Just renegotiate a contract more reflective of the current economic conditions when the current contract expires. ”

    Oh, yeah, the previous contract was too generous, how about cut your salary by 1% in next three years ?

    Go try, you know it didnt work.

  147. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Wahaha:
    I agree a wage cut would be difficult to negotiate, though not impossible. However, wage freezes are not nearly as difficult (ie 0% increase). THis has happened on many occasions in my jurisdiction. Don’t forget that, when inflation/cost of living are typically about 2%, that anything less is essentially a wage cut already, when compared to monetary present value. So again, your point seems to be that you don’t have one.

  148. Wahaha Says:

    SKC,

    I live in New York, Do you know what Mayor has been doing in last 8 years ? Nothing, except balancing the budget.

  149. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Wahaha:
    I’m assuming you mean NYC, since you refer to the mayor and not the governor. And in the last 8 years, you’ve had 2 mayors, from Guiliani to Bloomberg. Can’t say I’m familiar with what’s gone on at your City Hall. But balancing the budget doesn’t seem like the worst idea in the world. And if the budget’s balanced, then where’s all this talk about unions bankrupting cities coming from?

  150. Wahaha Says:

    SKC,

    Sorry, I made mistakes, I mean the time under Michael Bloomberg, he is in his 2nd term.

    Economy in US in last 5 years was not bad until this year, and what our mayor did is balancing the budget, nothing else. In 10 years, New York will have couple hundreds of thousands more poor people, how will New York government handle the problem ?

    We are just entering the tunnel, and all our government has done is balancing the budget.

  151. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Wahaha:
    now I understand your bit about balancing budget. I don’t know NYC’s details, but in general, to balance any budget, your variables are income and expenses. To any level of government, primarily income = taxes. So for any government budget to stay balanced, you can increase spending and increase taxes, or do the opposite. To achieve Bloomberg’s current budget balance, i don’t know where he started from. Was there a surplus under Guiliani, such that he’s had to decrease taxes/increase spending to get to the neutral point; or did he inherit a deficit, such that he had to increase taxes/decrease spending to get to today’s situation? Either way, if it’s balanced today, in moving forward, as long as income=expenses, it will stay balanced. Obviously, there will be choices and sacrifices to make. That’s not news.
    Having said that, even a city as big as NYC can only do so much in an economic downturn. And social assistance, housing assistance, and economic stimulus is not really the domain of a city government; Bloomberg’s job is to make sure the lights stay on, the streets get cleaned, garbage gets picked up, transit operates on time, streets are safe etc etc. If you want the economy turned around and people to get off the dole, you need to look to the state and federal level. BTW, what’s your governor’s name these days now that the other one got caught up with expensive call girls?
    And I still don’t see how any of this has got anything to do with unions, or how they’re somehow responsible for the current economic predicament.

  152. Wahaha Says:

    I dont know what to say.

    When citys and states need money but dont have money, they ask government for money.

    Why citys and states dont have money now, cuz of those generous contracts for unions signed during good time. It is like stock market, a contract was signed for buying SP 500 at 1580 now three years ago, but now SP500 is only 1300, and you lose money. Why the price was set at 1580 ? cuz unions pushed for it, and politicians who owned big favor to unions must accept it.

  153. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Wahaha:
    again, wait a second. Cities and states have their own levels of government. That’s why you have a mayor, and a governor, among other things. So which government are they asking for money from? The federal government? Each level of government has its own responsibilities, so I don’t know what you’re referring to.

    So you’re back to contracts again. And how would you like to solve that. You can’t renege on a contract. So deal with it, move on, and address it when it’s time to renegotiate. Why do you go to the same points over and over again. Once again, reflects your extremely skewed and unjustified view of our world. The politicians weren’t beaten into accepting a contract. It was negotiated. And as I said before, which union is Bloomberg cushy with, exactly? It’s time for you to find another pastime, rather than going on and on about unions with the same old rhetoric.

  154. Wahaha Says:

    What are you talking about ?

    Unions forced the politicians to sign those fat contracts for them, that is why citys and states are in financial trouble.

  155. S.K. Cheung Says:

    “forced”? How, exactly? Are we talking Mafia style? Threats of knee-capping? Your imagination is running wild.
    So, union workers provide a service for the jurisdiction, and that service costs money ie an expense. And the (insert level of) government has to pay for that expense, out of its income (ie taxes). If cities and states are in financial trouble, it’s quite a psychedelic leap to place the responsibility all at the feet of unions. Or would you rather your garbage not get collected?

  156. S.K. Cheung Says:

    Bloomberg is a conservative. Conservatives aren’t usually in cahoots with unions. Which union is he supposedly beholden to, in your world?

  157. Wahaha Says:

    “forced”? How ?

    What ?

    How did those guy get elected ? Unions are always a huge force in election !!!

  158. Wahaha Says:

    Bloomberg spent over 50 million dollars in the campaign, he was allied with any unions. He was very luck to get elected cuz the two candidates of democratic party fighted against each other.

    As Bloomberg didnt own anything to any union, he was able to say no to every union, or he could act as a dictator.

  159. Wahaha Says:

    soory, I mean Bloomberg was NOT allied with any unions.

  160. S.K. Cheung Says:

    Those guys got elected by the people. Unions have a voice during elections, but to suggest that every elected official of any political stripe is inherently beholden to any and all unions is a bizarre POV, and simply unsubstantiated.
    OK, so Bloomberg didn’t owe unions anything. So how is Bloomberg handing out fat contracts to unions and crippling NYC, exactly?

    To be able to say no to unions does not make his a dictatorship. Again, interesting concept of our political system you’ve accrued in your 10 years in these parts. I suggest you stick around, and experience some more.

  161. Wahaha Says:

    Bloomberg didnt hand out fat contract, Giuliani did.

    The contracts were so generous that NY government even had trouble to meet during good time in 2003-2004.

    Which city do you live ? How many people live in the city ? what is the average tax rate in Canada ? How many poor people in Canada living on government ?

    When you take all of these into consideration, then you know what unions can do to local economy.

  162. S.K. Cheung Says:

    Giuliani was also a conservative, though maybe less so than Bloomberg. Maybe he was chummy with the police union, but I wouldn’t characterize him as a union lackey either. So he handed out generous contracts when he was mayor, and the economy was good. But were they fair contracts, providing fair value? Just because they may have been costly doesn’t mean they were unjustified.
    So it’s 4-5 years later, and those contracts must be up for renewal soon. Guess what, the economy’s worse than it was. I suspect the unions won’t be getting such generous contracts during this round of negotiations. That would be fair. What else do you expect unions and their workers to do? How have they burned NYC into the ground, other than in your rhetoric?
    I live in a big city in Canada, admittedly not as big as NYC. I don’t know what the “average” tax rate is in Canada, but in the highest bracket, about 45% goes to various levels of government. In fact, Canada is famous (or infamous) for having higher taxes than in the US. As a result, we have universal health care, and a better social “safety net” than the States.
    And taking these into consideration, yes, the services that unions provide cost money. But no, they are not the money-suckers of your imagination.

  163. S.K. Cheung Says:

    Almost forgot, but union workers also spend their union wages on the local economy.

  164. Wahaha Says:

    Giuliani gave out generous contract based on assumption SP500 should be 2000 now. How would Bloomberg be able to put new realistic contract on table except 0% change.

    I have said, you live in a city with high taxation, very very few poor people, of course, every thing is negotiable. That is what democracy is about, negotiation, isnt it ?

    When the cake provided by government is not enough for everyone, the ugly side of human being comes out, you will find lot of blood-suckers.

  165. S.K. Cheung Says:

    Then blame Giuliani as a poor stock broker, and the fact that he’s no Warren Buffett. Don’t see how Giuliani apparently negotiating poorly makes it the unions’ problem. BTW, as I said before, 0% wage increase is not unheard of, and given inflation, that’s in fact a pay cut already. So you should be happy.

    Democracy is about negotiation, among many other things.

    Those blood-suckers you speak of probably pervade society. Again, it ain’t just the unions.

  166. Virginia Says:

    I think you are being too soft on Amnesty International. They are being paid by dubious sources, to use this propaganda to stir up Hate. And it has worked, very well. It would be impossible to talk to them. You would be attacking their own “self-image” as “the good-guys”. They would fight, to use the American expression, “Tooth and Nail” to keep their self-image from being clouded.

    Believe me, I have tried.

    Hate is wrong! This is a fundamental truth, one we must follow. I especially detest Hate coming clothed as something else, like this awful Amnesty ad campaign.

  167. Virginia Says:

    http://www.blackagendareport.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=453&Itemid=1

    “Save Darfur will not say exactly how much it has spent on its ads, which this week have attempted to shame China, host of the 2008 Olympics, into easing its support for Sudan. But a coalition spokeswoman said the amount is in the millions of dollars.”

  168. Virginia Says:

    http://www.blackagendareport.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=453&Itemid=1

    “the Save Darfur movement is clearly an establishment affair, a propaganda campaign that spends millions of dollars each month to manfacture consent for US military intervention in Africa under the cloak of stopping or preventing genocide.”

    “None of the funds raised by the “Save Darfur Coalition”, the flagship of the “Save Darfur Movement” go to help needy Africans on the ground in Darfur, according to stories in both the Washington Post and the New York Times.”

    “None of the money collected by Save Darfur goes to help the victims and their families. Instead, the coalition pours its proceeds into advocacy efforts that are primarily designed to persuade governments to act.”

  169. Virginia Says:

    links to more information on Amnesty International:

    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Amnesty#External_links

  170. raventhorn4000 Says:

    I think I would not go as far as Virginia, but I do think the entire NGO sector has become a massive corporate industry that profits from the miseries of others.

    The “Protest Chic”, the “Boycott Lobbies”, have become a giant bureaucracy of “Mob for Causes”.

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