Jul 16

(Letter) The people´s republic of capitalism

Written by guest on Wednesday, July 16th, 2008 at 8:29 pm
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This is an excerpt from Inside-Out China blog. Which again is an excerpt from Ted Kopple’s 4-hour documentary, “The People’s Republic of Capitalism.”

One of the curious characters Kopple repeatedly interviewed is an artistic fashion photographer, who speaks quite good English and goes by the name Alan. The young man, looking to be in his mid-twenties, apparently is very gifted in his art, but is either politically naïve or is 装糊涂 – playing dumb. Here is an amusing dialogue between the two:

Ted Kopple: My question is, if people want to get together, let’s say in the countryside, and protest corruption, and the police will come, and break up the demonstration, and they will not allow it…

Alan: (innocently) Oh really?

Ted Kopple: You say ‘oh really,’ you don’t know that?

Alan: I don’t know that. I have never seen that…

Ted Kopple: I know. I know you haven’t seen it. You know why you haven’t seen it?

Alan: Why?

Ted Kopple: Because television can not report it, because the newspaper can not report it, because anyone who’s there, if they take photograph, they will be arrested. That’s why you don’t know about it.

Alan: Okay.

Ted Kopple: I don’t want to get you in trouble, but you don’t seem to care about it.

Alan: Yeah.

Ted Kopple: You don’t?

Alan: Not very care about that part, I don’t.

Ted Kopple: Because?

Alan: There must be a reason for the government to do that. And, I really believe in the Chinese government. Because we can see that people here living a better life than before. And I don’t think people who wrote something on the street or sitting on the street are smart. I don’t think that’s the best way to do that.

What are your opinions?

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6 Responses to “(Letter) The people´s republic of capitalism”

  1. Netizen Says:

    First, the dialogue is indeed funny. Second, I think Alan gave a reasonable answer at the end.

  2. Buxi Says:

    Let me chime in on this too.

    I think Alan is also right. Although there are many cases of local corruption, there are also many cases of greedy/uneducated rural peasants trying to get a better deal. You can’t look at the fact there was a government crack-down and conclude the government was wrong.

    There is a case from I believe Shandong province that has been circling various Chinese internet websites. It shows a brutal, forced demolition of a home from May of this year. The video was clearly produced by the civilian’s families, to draw attention to what they call an illegal seizure of private property. It was pretty damn convincing.

    But then you read into the legal documents into the case, and you find out the family was given a replacement home several years ago. But after moving in, they insisted the new home has quality issues, and moved back into the old home. Well, I don’t see how in any legal society that’s an option.

    If the new home has quality issues, it must be dealt with, including a lawsuit against the village if necessary. But if “title” on your old home has already been transferred to the county government (with your approval)… then do you have the legal or moral right to be a “nail-house” resident?

    I don’t really know the truth of that case, of course. Only a judge looking into all of the legal details can possibly render judgment. But the point is, if you don’t investigate these details, you simply don’t have the right to make a broad judgment of who’s at fault.

  3. deltaeco Says:

    Does not sound reasonable to me.

    “Well, I don’t see how in any legal society that’s an option.”
    Yes there are. If the house provided does not comply with what was promised.

    Where they forced to make the deal? Where they duped? Had they any other option?

    And why have to be the eviction brutal?

  4. Buxi Says:


    Yes there are. If the house provided does not comply with what was promised. Where they forced to make the deal? Where they duped? Had they any other option?

    You don’t know the answers to those questions, and neither do I. But it takes extreme cynicism bordering on willful ignorance to insist that they must have been forced, duped, or had no other options.

    And why have to be the eviction brutal?

    I don’t know how evictions in Portugal are conducted, but in the United States, if you resist the police officer’s instructions, you will be arrested and detained.

  5. Daniel Says:

    Those comments are quite striking, and I think they demonstrate a very fundamental difference in the way that Americans (and other Westerners) and Chinese people see their relationships to governments.

    This was told to me by a Professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and it has stuck with me for a long time.

    In America, the government is bad and the people are good. Trust the people.
    In China, the government is good and the people are bad. Trust the government.

    My leanings? I personally tend to believe more in the first one. But that needs to be prefaced by a great many things.

  6. Daniel Says:

    Yeah, I sort of think Alan’s responses were quite honest. However, I haven’t seen the the full documetary yet. Sometimes the body language and atmosphere of the conversation might make a difference. Just by reading, I am guessing that either Alan isn’t interested personally in such conversation or he is but really doesn’t have that much to say or care enough to articulate the comments. It’s still straight to the point though.

    btw, I am different from the Daniel above.

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