Sep 13

(Letter) Imagining the current US election happens in China…

Written by sophie on Saturday, September 13th, 2008 at 10:34 am
Filed under:-mini-posts, media, politics | Tags:, , ,
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I have been following this year’s US election. As an onlooker, there is some kind of entertaining element in my interest. But, at the same time, I am asking myself how it would be like if this election process was run in China, a country of 1.3 billion population. Since i don’t know the US election process very well, I am asking simple questions here: how feasible is democracy or how to put it in practice in a large country without it being downgraded to image competition?

On one hand, candidates have to use media to send out their messages. Selecting a leader of a small community is easy. People can make a choice based on their first-hand information or even personal experience. but, when selecting someone among millions/billions, candidates have to make himself/herself known by all voters through media.

On the other hand, most people has to rely on media to get relevant information. For most of people who are not interested in politics and simply want to get along with their daily life, few of them will do their own research to form their independent opinion. So media becomes their sole source to get the information of candidates.

The crucial role of media in this process surely gives room to manipulating and even brain washing in some sort. Marketing, PR campaign and image projection…it’s difficult to escape. People may think it’s their own decision, but it’s actually media that’s telling them what to think, what ‘others’ think although this questionable ‘others’ can be 1, 1 million, 1 billion…

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57 Responses to “(Letter) Imagining the current US election happens in China…”

  1. wuming Says:

    I can think of two examples of democracy as practiced in large countries. Neither provides optimistic outlook.

    In US, as you pointed out, it is a process that has become increasingly detached from the reality. The election decides almost nothing that really matters. The government, to the extend it works is on auto-pilot because the elected politicians are not able to face, let alone solve new problems. Such government would have been tolerable if the country is not in distress. But 9/11 and the presidency of GWB has put it in severe distress, the result has been a dramatic loss of power and prestige for the country. If nothing happens soon, it will become a second rate nation by mid-century

    In India, there is an unbridgeable gap between the ruling elites and the vast underclass. The ruling elites have lived in a world entirely different from that lived in by the underclass ever since the independence. In every election cycle, the underclass will predictably vote out the incumbents to vent their frustration, only to have another party from the ruling elite governing the country until next election. For a long time, the system was remarkably stable because it is a government only answerable to a small and homogeneous class despite of the extreme diversity of the country. It was also very conservative because the life of the elites were very comfortable by comparison to their surrounding, therefore the entrenched interest is to preserve the status quo. However, in the recent decade this has changed, one of the agents of this change is that the rise of China has shaken the Indian ruling class from their dreams.

  2. TonyP4 Says:

    You need very educated citizens to select the government and US is one of them. Look at all the “democratic” governments in Asia starting with the last S. Vietnam and Taiwan, and you can see corruptions everywhere. Japan is an exception as the citizens are more educated.

    I wrote the following for fun. 10% correct and 100% fun.


    Chinaman for president

    I promise every citizen will have a couch and unlimited supply of potato chip. Here are my solutions to all our problems.

    Federal deficit. No more foreign invasion like Iraq. Enough billions will be saved to fulfill my above promise for many generations!

    Trade deficit. Sell every missile, atomic bomb and carrier to China as we do not need them any more. Make the Chinese promise not to use them against us, or we can change the GPS to reroute all the missiles back to Beijing.

    Human rights. No gun for our citizens. If that Chinese had an AK 45 in the Beijing Olympic incidence, imagine how many would be killed. Learn from the human right lovers.

    Illegal immigrants. When caught, send them to Alaska for the hardest labor on earth. I bet even the dumbest Mexican will not come here illegally. Problem solved. The nice guy I pay pennies to clean up my yard is the only exception.

    Education. Just import some smart, young, educated Chinese that they have plenty to spare. Why spend billions to produce mediocre college graduates who cannot count from 1 to 12 (unless they have 12 fingers)?

    Social welfare. All cheaters including all politicians will be sent to China for re-education, so they will be more productive.

    This message is paid for by your friendly Chinese government, who want you buy more couches and potato chips from them.

  3. TommyBahamas Says:

    Bravo, TonyP4,

    * Nobel Prize for world peace, econmics or ingenius kill-two-birds-with-one stone idea:

    Trade deficit. Sell every missile, atomic bomb and carrier to China as we do not need them any more. Make the Chinese promise not to use them against us, or we can change the GPS to reroute all the missiles back to Beijing.

  4. ChinkTalk Says:

    I would have Jane Zhang (Chinese Idol) run as my VP.

  5. Hongkonger Says:

    ChinkTalk for President

    VP: HOT Zhang


  6. Wukailong Says:

    “For most of people who are not interested in politics and simply want to get along with their daily life, few of them will do their own research to form their independent opinion.”

    I don’t think “interestedness in politics” is a fixed number. People tend to be more interested when they have a greater say. This is an interesting question, though: how come participation is so low in the US elections and much higher in some other countries?

    As for brainwashing by media… Well, that’s a general problem you have in human society today. Internet is slowly changing it, though.

    There’s also a difference between truly having a choice but not using it, and not having a choice at all. I can’t vote either yes or no for CCP, unless I’m voting to leave the country (and I’m currently in China, so…). If all media told me to vote for them in an election, I could still choose not to.

  7. EugeneZ Says:

    The kind of democracy being practiced in the US is not working very well for America, no matter how disasterous the Republican policy has been for average American, the election is now tied based on polls, or with GOP leadning in some polls. The democractic ticket promises tax reduction for all seniors earning $50,000 a year, but the survey still shows 47% of people in that group believe that Obama will raise their tax. There is no way to get across the message once someone decides on a position based on ideaology or prejudice (not wanting to see a black man in Oval office).

    In terms of the question on whether this type of election / democratic process is applicable to China, I say NO. I would rather see Hu Jintao / Wen Jiabao running the country than the Chinese equivalent of McKay and Palin – a very old man not just by age but also by ideaology (who does not use computer, and can not send an email) plus a very good looking former beauty queen who is quite clueless about major issues of the country, not to metion foreign affairs. It is a dangerous thought to have Palin in the oval office for America and for the world at large in case McKay passes away due to his skin cancer or something else while in office.

    There are many problems in China’s political system, but the last thing we need is an election process that can elect the Chinese equivalent of McKay and Palin.

  8. Wukailong Says:

    Slightly off-topic, but… if you want to see some real problems with governance, democratic or not:


    🙂 There’s also a discussion if the kind of economic reform that has been going on in China is even possible there.

  9. TommyBahamas Says:

    “China influencing North Korea more, with the U.S. tacit consent.”


    More Korean TV soaps with natural looking Korean actresses without plastic surgery! (I don’t watch soaps, but I love watching natural beauties 🙂 )

  10. Daniel Says:

    I could sort of see how a potential Obama’s administration could raise taxes. Also, it is true that there are people who allow their prejudices to make certain decisions. It doesn’t have to be open for all to see but this attitude exists.
    My friends and I did some comparison between the actions and purposals for both of the major candidates (there’s more parties, but it’s very unlikely those candidates will get big wins)…
    this is just a very broad generalization but so far the Republican’s views seem very business friendly, not necessary for the big corporations but any business owner, big and small, would sort of feel good. Allows more competition, and could probably help innovation. The Democatic’s views appear a bit more friendly towards providing more social help from government, some voters see this as a potential tax hike.

    In general, the other big issues like the wars and environment, those will take time and a lot of work from the people in science to work with the community to solve. Either way, whoever gets elected will have hard time tackling it. Topics like religion, homosexual unions, education and such, I think it’s none of government’s business and more or less similar…calculating out in the end, don’t know how much difference it could make since these are private issues and up to the each individual state’s decisions.

    In essence, it’s more or less an image contest. The rule of law and systems within American society are such where a citizen can still live fairly well and the problems we have are comparably ok given how much personal wealth we have. It can work with either person who gets elected.

  11. ChinkTalk Says:

    And Selina (S.H.E.) for Secretary of State

  12. TommyBahamas Says:

    Imagining the current US election happens in China…WHAT? Hell, that’s just, just, yikes, cast that thought OUT! It took four centuries for democracy to evolve in the United Kingdom, and everyone knows that true democracy does not exist there nor anywhere else. Democracy is claimed to be the best form of government by many. Good, keep it. It is certainly not suited for everyone. A country benefits from the quality of its leadership, not necessarily from its form of government. How about gerontocracy – Singapore under Lee Kwan Yew has been fine. China, since Deng is doing great and is looking better by the day.

    “the problems we have are comparably ok given how much personal wealth we have. ”

    Same in today’s China. IT is not what form of government, it is how peace-loving the world must become. Fat chance of that if old Mc and Palin get to run the country with the most nukes and the longest warmongering list.

  13. Daniel Says:

    Hmm….I think Russia has the most nukes, but I would be skeptical with whoever said how much of these weapons they have out “pubically”. Also, if I remember correctly, the country with the longest warmongering list (in terms of foreign conflict) is one of the European countries but I could be wrong.

    One of the biggest benefits or advantages the US has in terms of political strategy and the works, is its geography and it’s considerable stability of internal affairs. Like any nation, it has had it’s fair share of armed civil conflict, but put it in perspective with world history. There’s a lot of reasons, but mainly because of those two I mentioned, it’s really hard to imagine a US-Election process and the glamor-quirks behind it with any country around the world.

  14. ChinkTalkTheNextGeneration Says:

    LOL. WWIII coming b*****s!


    As for US election in China?

    Only if this became reality in China:


  15. NMBWhat Says:


    That movie is retarded.

  16. Charles Liu Says:

    Echo Tommy’s sentiment. America may be democratic but we are not a democracy (technically we are a republic.) The reality is we DON’T elect our president, but the electoral college, a two-party oligooply apratus, actually elects the president.

    And our presidential election rules are designed to artifically induce certain election result, such as “winner take all” system that gaurantees no tie is possible and most result will have convincing marging to avoid doubt.

    Should China do what we do? I seem to recall in another thread some posters stauchly opposed that the Chinese treat the Tibetans, their “Native Americans”, like we do.

  17. carl Says:

    You can learn from Taiwan’s democratic practice: a 50 times larger chaos. Wait, but why shall we replace a WORKING system with something we have never tried in our 5000 year history.

  18. S.K. Cheung Says:

    The US system has its shortcomings, of course. But the complaints in this post also seem unrealistic. For starters, it is unrealistic to expect to personally know the candidates. Forget the guy running for president; I don’t even personally know the parent council president at my kids’ school. So naturally the media is the medium for propagating the candidates’ message. In 2008, with all your 24 hour news channels representing both extremes of opinion and points in between, and the web, I don’t think one could claim to lack the opportunity to inform oneself, unless you chose to remain ignorant.

    In fact, this would probably be a requirement before China made any progress towards democracy, and it’s been oft alluded to here before. If you can’t trust the media to espouse anything other than the state-sanctioned POV, then you might have to worry that it’s the “media that’s telling them what to think”. Press freedom in China, as well as improvement in general level of education, and GDP as Buxi likes to point out, will all need to improve if China is to one day change her model of governance.

    As for whether the US system is feasible in China, I think that’s putting cart before horse. When Chinese people are well-fed, melamine free, can read, and have 2 nickels to rub together in their pocket, maybe then they’ll agitate for a voice in how they’re governed. If and when such a time comes, then you can discuss the best model for replacing the status quo. I must say though, that the US system is nothing if not entertaining. Comparatively, our Canadian parliamentary system is a total snore.

  19. TommyBahamas Says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more, SKC.

    Although here in Guangdong, we can get HongKong English and Cantonese TV News and HK News papers, so, I guess, and together with the internet, we are not totally isolated of what’s going on in the world. But then, so what? As EugeneZ above commented: “There is no way to get across the message once someone decides on a position based on ideaology or prejudice (not wanting to see a black man in Oval office). ”
    Good reminder, Charlie Liu, who writes: “America may be democratic but we are not a democracy (technically we are a republic.)” which brings me to another peeve. As I am not religious, so it is not something that bugs me too much, but maybe it’d be a relief for some of you God-loving Americans who’s been burden with the obligatory ( US Fundamentalist’s ) perceived mandate to “bring back America for God,” BS slogan that gets thrown around here and there. There’s this best seller recently entitled, “The MYTH of a Christian Nation,” by Gregory A. Boyd, an American evangelical pastor of a 5,000 member church. A Canadian friend of mine was talking about it and so I went on youtube to check it out. Sure enough, just as America is not a democracy, neither is it a “Christian Nation.”

    Yes, and no, The “US system is nothing if not entertaining,” because it’s always a great laughing matter for those of us who likes to drink and BS. But then things get heated and blood starts boiling very quickly every now and then (not often) when some gungho proud-to-be-an-American, new kid in town or been-in-China-too-long dude joins us and starts shooting off their mouths. Well, actually, I used to care, but I don’t give a damn anymore. (Didn’t Bob Dylan sing that?)

  20. JD Says:

    Democracy is a terrible system. It’s far better to have some unelected and unaccountable leaders tell the media what to broadcast and the people what to think. If the people have other ideas, there’s always the police and the army to keep them in line. When that doesn’t work, there’s revolution. That’s a pretty well-established pattern in China’s history. So why change it now?

    Sophie’s idea that China is not capable of managing democracy deserves some thought. But personally I wonder what makes China less capable than so many other advanced societies around the world? That goes both for economics and politics, of course. After all, the world’s most advanced, wealthiest nations share democracy as a common trait. Perhaps pessimists like Sophie are right, China doesn’t have what it takes to ever join the world’s best managed, most advanced nations. No point in considering the question.

  21. Wukailong Says:

    @Carl: “Wait, but why shall we replace a WORKING system with something we have never tried in our 5000 year history.”

    I agree completely. Marxism has been great ever since Yao and Shun, so why import something Western that’s only been developed for 4 centuries in the US?

  22. Hongkonger Says:

    Um, Marxism is a wonderful futuristic idea when robotic Artificial Intelligence cyborgs start rolling off the assembly lines like Apple i -pods. Until then, for the time being, democracy works, gerontocratic authoritarianism works, hell, even theocracy works if only the automobile industry and power generating industries change their diets from fossil fuel to environmental & politically friendly, um, say, vegetable oil, hydrogen, or hey, how about zero point energy that our illusive galactic neighbors use?
    So, let’s not jump the gun, rock the boat. Roll with the punches, go along and get along. The future will be here and I bet ya, benevolant gerontocracy is in vogue in NMB What’s century. Ok, beam mer up Scottie.

  23. NMBWhat Says:

    Okay, beaming Hongkonger up… 5 … 4… Wait, no one bothered to tell him about the anal probe? Oh crap, oh well, he will get over it… 3 … 2… 1… GO!!

  24. NMBWhat Says:

    Erhmm, by “anal probe” I meant the flux-non-integer-haussdorff-manifold-calabi-yau-infinity device… yeah…

  25. TommyBahamas Says:

    ChinkTalkTheNextGeneration Says: LOL. WWIII coming b*****s!…….http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jimNrvvCJ-A

    Oh, my Buddha, she’s either a lying brainwashed whatever or a poorly vetted VP candidate. Oh, did the press already
    b*tched about the latter. Oh, OK, then. Even an ignorant like me living in Guang-freaking-Dong who only gets his news from the internet know that Russia did not lock and load unprovoke.

    NMBWhat Says: ChinkTalkTNG: That movie is retarded.

    No wonder I did not laugh.

    SKC, “the US system is nothing if not entertaining, ”

    I guess so, but I find Taiwan’s KungFu-mobs-cracy more entertaining though.

  26. Hongkonger Says:

    NMBWhat, LOL…actually I LMAO…having been zapped by this flux-non-integer-haussdorff-manifold-calabi-yau-infinity probe device… yeah…I hope this means I am thus bio-shielded from nasty space radiation and Worm-hole sickness, aye?

  27. pug_ster Says:

    The problem with Western Democracy is that they have a Me rather than a We mentality. Western countries fail to mention that because of the ‘repressive’ ccp government, most people in China has had a better quality of life compared to 20 years ago.

  28. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To JD:
    diggin’ the sarcasm. As you say, tried and true system for China, refined over centuries. Although I don’t think Carl was trying to be funny…

  29. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Tommy B #25:
    LOL, you’re right, Taiwan and S. Korea are the only places where elected officials actually fight in the chambers of government. Now that’s something we North Americans can learn from. Maybe they can build their chambers in the shape of an octagon….

  30. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Pug_ster:
    I don’t think the Me-First western mentality is a byproduct of democracy. The latter ensures I have a voice, but doesn’t mean it will be louder or more prominent than anyone else’s. The former is a social phenomenon, admittedly not a great one.

  31. TommyBahamas Says:

    S.K. Cheung # 29

    I don’t know what they called it. In the old days when gentlemen disagreed, they went outside and had a duel. Now, why did this gentlemanly tradition cease to continue? Bullets are so much cheaper than smear or bombing campaigns. And for most folks, I bet they’d much rather these business crooks and corrupt ruling elite “gentlemen”shed blue-blood than have their beloved, children, husbands and wives of ordinary citizens shed gut-wrenching tears for their foreclosed homes, broken dreams, or even worse maimed or dead relatives serving their country in some foreign lands just to line their country’s leaders’ pockets.
    I know, I am doing Karaoke on pop-rhetorics. Hey, it’s a lazy breezy Sunday afernoon here in southern China, and I am depressed because I am home alone 🙁

  32. TonyP4 Says:

    Random thoughts.

    * India is not a good system to copy judging from what Indians have accomplished in last 20 years.
    * A democratic system needs two parties. In case one is really corrupted, it can be demolished.
    * When China’s current system (“socialism with Chinese characters”) works in general, why we want to change it?
    It should be modified to adjust to more freedom, more justice, less corruption, world standards, higher education… Do it gradually, not the pace of 1989 demo wanted and not to threaten current government.

  33. Chops Says:

    “Britain urged Hong Kong to put forward proposals to ensure that the next round of elections for the chief executive and legislature in 2012 will be more democratic.

    The proposals are seen as crucial for the transition of the former British colony towards universal suffrage, which Beijing had said could be introduced from 2017.”


  34. Billy Bob Says:

    It is often regurgitated that the Chinese people are not yet well educated enough for democracy (whose fault is that?). If the American people actually vote in McCain and Palin this year, surely there is a stronger argument to be made for those masses of ordinary Americans “not being ready”.

  35. TommyBahamas Says:

    A BBC article late last year (2007) argues for a new benchmark for superpowerdom – number of degrees awarded in a country. And China’s winning. It is becoming more and more clear that in a global society, education is one of the most important factors driving individual and national success. Education increases political participation. It empowers women, who, as it turns out, are the backbones of most developing economies.
    The BBC article in particular is measuring university education (much easier to quantify than elementary and secondary education, especially in developing countries). China now awards more college degrees than the U.S. and India combined. This, of course, is partly a factor of their sheer size.
    The percentage of China’s population with college degrees has jumped from 10% to 20% in less than a decade according to this BBC News: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/education/7098561.stm

  36. TommyBahamas Says:

    From the same article I posted above: “Being a genuinely global university does not mean packing in more and more overseas students just to benefit from the relatively high fees they pay; there are already signs that a growing number of international students feel they are not getting value for money at UK universities. ”

    I wonder what some of you overseas current or ex-students feel about fees to value in American education? I understand there are a few good Universities in Malaysia and Singapore. I understand one could get an Australian degree for a lot less spending half of the undergraduate course time in Malaysia and the other in Australia.

  37. Billy Bob Says:

    Fine on the stats Tommy, but you are right to highlight the value of the education being offered. Just a quick query…how many students at Chinese universities (Chinese students I mean) do you suppose are satisfied with the standard of their education compared to costs entailed / level of job upon graduation? From the comments of my recent students, it is possibly not many.

  38. TommyBahamas Says:

    Billy Bob,
    For those smart, or fortunate enough to get into well known Universities in China, the future is bright.
    I guess compared to fees overseas it is often the case of one gets what one pays for, but not neccessarily true, right? Like I am always complaining about the quality of beers in China. 青岛beers for example in China do not taste as good as Tsing Tao beer in America, or even across the border in HK ! But then, one pays only one third the price for the “same” beer in China compared to say in Hong Kong. So there.
    I suspect you are right since they are “From the comments of my recent students,” I do NOT know if this is true in most cases, but I have been told by quite a few fine Chinese folks that as soon as they are accepted into college, all those years of rote learning, the misery of cramping for exams were things of the past. In most college, it is a matter of paying the fees and “doing the time.” Virtually everyone graduates.
    This can’t be entirely true!

  39. Billy Bob Says:

    Yeah, some students have told me that the University Entrance Exam was the big one, after that its feet up – relatively speaking. On another note, I used to teach freshman in China…and it was always extremely depressing to see them go from alive with fresh possibilities to morose and disinterested by about the 3rd week. It could be due to my teaching style mind you…but I did used to receive a fair amount of ‘university is nothing like I imagined it to be…its the same as high school’ type comments among homework assignments. Certainly there was a great deal of dissatisfaction with the level of education being offered (and the general system) and indeed many complaints about the abilities of the teachers (this was a second level ranked Chinese university soon to become a first).

    I do not recall encountering such attitudes among my peers, nor hold them myself, during my student days in the UK.

    On your other point, I guess the main attraction of a ‘western’ university education to a Chinese doesn’t really have anything to do with the quality of it but rather with the kudos that the degree supplies, both in the Chinese and international job markets, upon completion. Isn’t it a status thing?

    I think it is bordering on pointless to use degrees granted as a benchmark for anything, as they have no consistent value…they are different depending on where they were obtained and mean different things to different people.

  40. TommyBahamas Says:

    Billy Bob, “pointless to use degrees granted as a benchmark for anything, as they have no consistent value…”

    I have to agree with you on that. With BBC’s argument, it goes to show how misleading numbers and statistics could be. As for “the kudos that the degree supplies, both in the Chinese and international job markets,” that is also absolutely true. The old Chinese axiom, “It is better to travel ten thousand miles than to study ten thousand books,” is what virtually every Chinese holds as truth too.

  41. Ronnie Says:

    For China I would prefer a combination of democracy and meritocracy.

    Chinese people should be able to vote for the local officials in charge of education, judicial system (including judges), economists (who would report economic situation to central government and publish findings publicly), people in charge of state-owned media (giving newspaper and TV to the Chinese people), health care, cultural preservationist, government oversight (someone to look at the spending by the government) and provincial police.

    For local and central government officials, a combination of mandate of the people and meritocracy. An intensive exam that covers basic knowledge in economic, legal and social issues or anything that’s vital for good governance to be allowed to vote in which all Chinese people vote for someone in charge to make sure the examination system is not corrupt.

  42. TommyBahamas Says:

    all Chinese people vote for someone in charge to make sure the examination system is not corrupt.”

    Not only that but a gradual revamping of the old examination and educational culture and system, perhaps?

  43. Ronnie Says:


    Something like that. The key for China (as well as America) is the idea that participation in electing top government officials who manage the system (mainly economic, foreign and domestic policies) is that its citizens have to earn the right to vote. This is separate from individual and human rights issues which people should have a direct vote. I think the problem with the US and other democracies is that the only qualification is that one is 18 years of age. If more Americans were required to learn and understand key texts and ideals of its founders as well as its REAL history (not the simple version that ignores corruption and bad policies) then I think it would stregthen their ability to vote for better leaders by having voters who focus on preserving these ideals in their elected leaders. You know that democracy in the US issn’t functioning properly when its people see the government as separate from its citizens.

    I’m shocked at how many people in America have no idea about their history and key figures who built the US to what it is.

    The biggest problem for China is that if it does become a democracy like the US now or within the next 5 -20 years, other governments will use the system to engineer the election of Chinese officials that have US interests similar to corporations and special interest groups do in the US. Latin America is a good example of the US financing candidates to win elections.

  44. TommyBahamas Says:

    “there are already signs that a growing number of international students feel they are not getting value for money at UK universities. ”I wonder what some of you overseas current or ex-students feel about fees to value in American education?

    As Billy Bob pointed out, “it is extremely depressing to see them go from alive with fresh possibilities to morose and disinterested by about the 3rd week.” THIS IS SO TYPICAL…WHY, my fellow Chinese ????

    According to my observation, and possible reason. Take English Language for example. I have met so many who have supposedly passed their Grade 6, or 8 or whatever grade it is required in English exams to get into college, but who can hardly speak the most basic form of the language. Therefore, after a couple of weeks in college, of having to guess while most of time being clueless of what the native English speaking teacher with his non-Chinglish accent, using non chinglish phrases was talking about, decided they were wasting there time. I think local Chinese English teachers all need to learn to SPEAK English before they be allowed to teach the English alphabets, because almost every Chinese person I know mispronounce the letters C, D, E, F & N. So, Native English Speaking teachers should be hired to train Chinese English teachers. Then those Chinese English teachers who are good enough to teach in English should be given specialized training in language teaching without doing all the speaking all the time. Anyway, I am no expert, but hey, make sense doesn’t it? Actually, I shouldn’t be BSing here about teaching. Sorry. All you nteachers and students, what are your ideas?

  45. Michelle Says:

    ah… TommyBahamas brings up a good point. Tests like IELTS and TOEFL are pretty good in and of themselves but when the education sector (esp the private education sector) gets “greedy” for foreign student fees, or more kindly i can say more ‘dependent’ (I can speak from personal experience in both standardised testing and higher ed admin) the bar gets lowered. Not saying this is done in any kind of planned way, but it is a trend.

    As for English education in China, TommyBahamas hits on another good point. There are an increasing number of very good speakers of English in my neck of the woods who go into teaching and are indoctrinated in a teacher-centred methodology, which frankly, doesn’t work very well. I will say this problem is widely recognised by the ‘relevant authorities’ and they are making moves to woo good teachers into the public sector and update methodology at the primary and secondary level.

    I do still think that for all those geniuses coming from abroad, the US is probably still the best place to study, if you can scrape together astronomical fees. For all the average brains, Europe, UK, or AUZ/NZ might be a good choice.

  46. Michelle Says:

    “I understand one could get an Australian degree for a lot less spending half of the undergraduate course time in Malaysia and the other in Australia.”

    This 1+2 (or variation on) system is becoming more attractive as fees become higher and as more and more people trickle back to China with stories of how difficult it is to be thrown into a completely foreign culture. There are a few university programmes (Rutgers MBA for instance) that can be done completely in China now, they ship in the professors. The degree is the same as if you went to NJ to study.

  47. Michelle Says:

    And of course Nottingham (in Ning Bo?), as mentioned in the BBC article. Not sure how it’s doing now (i’m sure fine) but it was very big news in the education sector here when it opened – heralding a new phase in global education…

  48. Billy Bob Says:

    “the US is probably still the best place to study, if you can scrape together astronomical fees. For all the average brains, Europe, UK, or AUZ/NZ might be a good choice.”

    Just a shot in the dark, but are you by any chance American? Lets all hope that when the Chinese achieve superpower status they don’t also achieve superpower arrogance.

  49. Billy Bob Says:

    If you’re not then discount my last comment, or do so anyway.

  50. Wukailong Says:

    “I do still think that for all those geniuses coming from abroad, the US is probably still the best place to study, if you can scrape together astronomical fees. For all the average brains, Europe, UK, or AUZ/NZ might be a good choice.”

    I don’t object to this. It just seems to me that the educational system, good or bad, can only do so much. Really bright people will come through any system that doesn’t put too many stumbling blocks in their path.

  51. Allen Says:

    Sophie, you hit upon a very good point by questioning how electoral decisions are made. As you pointed out, the decision making process does look superficial, often bordering on the absurd. But it is not just “mass media” that is the problem. We should stand back and ask: when most common folks are struggling paycheck to paycheck, does it make sense to ask these people who are not trained in issues of governance to decide on how the countries ought to be governed?

    It’s as like requiring the CEO and CFO to take a vote of its assembly line workers before making important strategic and financial planning decisions. It’s like Mao putting untrained farmers at the helm of factory management.

    If we should demand the people running our gov’t to be as well trained as doctors, engineers, and lawyers, why are we putting candidates through clownish tasks of trying to win political beauty contests – with the media all to eagerly playing along sensationalizing the political fanfares?

    Those who put undue faith in the democratic process is probably as bad as those who put undue faith in an authoritarian leadership – because in both cases, they may be blindsided by what they really should be looking at – is there good governance and is the government fulfilling its duty to serve the people.

  52. TommyBahamas Says:

    “indoctrinated in a teacher-centred methodology, which frankly, doesn’t work very well.”

    What is a teacher-centred methodology? My first thought was Lee Yan, or those sickening ads one sees in Hong Kong of so called “super star tuitors” all posing like they are celebrities…Sickening.

  53. TommyBahamas Says:

    Correction: 李扬 Li Yang, famous for his shouting method.

  54. Daniel Says:

    Regarding the superpower arrogance, well anyone can be arrogant to that level, and it can happen in any country.

    Many may not agree, but aside from the obvious reasons why a country of that status has citizens who express such sentiments, it has partly something to do with the strong capitalistic-shallow enviornment many of us have to deal with. This extends to many areas, not just in the business world and politics, but also with many community organizations as well…religion and academia included, everyone who wants to get a little higher has to “play games” with people, and in a sense, many will end up being cocky and such, or know how to “Act” and put on a game face. At times, it’s not like they want to but as they get use to is, it becomes like part of their general attitude and behavior during certain settings. It’s either that or one is related to a person with a lot of authority or prestigue. Neopotism or something like that exists to a certain degree.

    Since the comments here are talking about education, I remember talking to a Finance professor back in my hometown who is from Taiwan. I told him about my interests in one of the science disciplines, and he mentioned that in general, the US is a good place for that as the science environment here is more mature than other places. That was about 6 or 7 years ago, and to this day, I’m still not sure of what he entirely meant. I’ve heard something similar though the comment was milder regarding this from some of my international classmates and foreign professors. One difference I heard was that apparently the time frame for getting their degrees was shorter in Europe than in the States, although it sounds a bit more specialized than our system.

  55. TommyBahamas Says:

    Didn’t Dubya go to Yale? I am a little confused here. Do you have to be smart or rich and connected, like alumni parents for example, to enter these some of Ivy League universities in USA? I am sure, none of the latter would be any use if one is not smart to get in MIT or Harvard Medical school, etc.
    How about OX-Bridge? IQ or pounds and cronies?

  56. TonyP4 Says:

    There are many state universities that are quite good and low-cost comparatively in the US. US is still the top spot for foreign students to get a decent education for different academic levels of students. Personally I thank for the US higher education system.

  57. DS Says:

    Back to the original topic.

    The title question is answered as soon as the first response is sent. People on this blog probably know this much. What has been happening in the U.S. general elections over the years is no gold standard by any stretch of imagination, but probably something can be worked upon. The current one is a travesty and a blasphemic insult to human intelligence and decency. For those as smart as McCain (a hero) and Obama (an intellectual), knowing as much as they do about the problems in the country, having to come down from their cool-headed evalution to play the tricks to get elected, it is truly painful to watch. God help us save this nation! Palin is not qualified to run a barber shop. The fact that she becomes a serious contender points out the current form of election system is designed for the dimwits. A country as strong as the U.S. will not come crashing down from the outside. The Americans have to do it by themselves, as it is working better than promised.

    Do the same thing in China? The Chinese have not done enough bad things to deserve this.

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