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Nov 06

Is China An Inclusive Society?

Written by Steve on Thursday, November 6th, 2008 at 8:25 pm
Filed under:-mini-posts, culture, education, politics, religion |
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With its recent election of an African American president, the United States has continued to evolve into a more inclusive society. One of the reasons is that being “American” means buying into a set of ideas rather than belonging to a particular race, creed or color. What was once a society of European immigrants is now a culture with roots from around the world; a culture that celebrates and is proud of its multicultural heritage.

In today’s China, the government talks about promoting a nationalistic spirit; the idea of being “Chinese” not only for the 90% who are Han but covering all minorities. However, it has been widely reported that in minority areas and provinces, the two cultures have virtually no interaction. Even people who work together on a daily basis rarely socialize outside of work. The cultures are different; the Han work hard and put in very long hours, feeling that less effort indicates a lazy attitude. They value the “prosperous” life and enjoy the trappings of success. Many minorities see that same work ethic creating a poor quality of life and want little part of that culture. They prefer to live their lives as their culture has lived for centuries. The Muslim minorities center their life around religion while the Han are nominally atheist. On quite a few occasions I’ve had Han tell me that minorities such as the Uyghurs are “not like us; not Chinese”.

During the Olympic ceremony, children dressed in the different minority costumes paraded around the stadium. Later it was revealed that the children were all Han Chinese. Since cost was no object and it would have been easy to use minority children, this was a conscious choice made by the organizers. My guess is that the actual minorities watching at home did not feel a sense of “inclusiveness”.

How can the Chinese government create a greater sense of unity; of making “Chinese” more than being Han? How can the government develop a more inclusive society? These days, leadership selection is behind closed doors and considered a “state secret” that if reported before the selection is made, is considered a crime. Is that style of governing conducive to minority participation? Or will there need to be changes that take the current opaque selection method and allow a more transparent way of choosing its leaders? Is it simply a matter of government structure or will more need to be done to integrate the society in business, education and social programs? Does China need to develop its own standards of “affirmative action”? Or will the “autonomous regions” need to become more autonomous than they currently are?


There are currently 3 comments highlighted: 19699, 19736, 20230.

233 Responses to “Is China An Inclusive Society?”

  1. Steve Says:

    Sorry guys, I’m still getting the hang of WordPress. Admin, can you just put the first part on the home page and not make it so long? Thanks!

  2. Raj Says:

    These days, leadership selection is behind closed doors and considered a “state secret” that if reported before the selection is made, is considered a crime. Is that style of governing conducive to minority participation?

    I don’t think it is. Affirmative-action wouldn’t really work for something like important political posts. Personal links are very important, so if there are few minorities in a certain level of government it’s difficult for someone who isn’t Han to cultivate those same links. Certainly in places like Tibet the locals are seen with suspicion by the authorities.

    In China politicians are generally quite distant from the public and running for political office is not regarded as being such a good career as it might be in say the US. In any country they need to be able to inspire minorities to get involved in politics. It’s even more difficult to do that in China given how politicians are seen.

    I wouldn’t know how to begin drawing the minorities together with the majority Han, but I think a start would be limiting migration to areas where minorities live (e.g. Tibet). Although mixing is important if areas get inundated with Han workers the minorities will probably feel less willing to associate themselves with the outsiders. Making them more secure by feeling that they won’t become a minority in their own lands will make them feel more confident. That would probably require more autonomy to the point where they can select their own leaders. At the very least the CCP would need to actively encourage locals to get into politics and actively promote them towards the top of their respective local governments.

  3. Steve Says:

    Raj, I was thinking of affirmative action more along the lines of university admissions policy. I’ve also read that most companies in the autonomous areas would employ Han over the locals. Is this because of work ethic or is it more of a cultural issue? I’m not in a position to answer that question but would love to hear other’s opinions.

  4. JL Says:

    This’ll get some comments….

    China already has quite a lot of ‘affirmative action’, which, in my experience is resented by many, but not all, of the Han in minority areas. Employment discrimination is a serious problem in the private sector, although dealing with that is a tough question the world over.
    Regarding more nebulous cultural concerns, in the Tibetan context I think Yan Qiyan and Badeng Nima get it right when they suggest that:
    Tibet “is a cool high-altitude region, but in the teaching materials there was only rice and wheat, and not highland barley or tsamba. […] As the Tibetan education expert Badeng Nima has pointed out, the teaching materials require Tibetan children to memorise the poems of Du Fu and Li Bai, but never mention King Gesa’er (格萨尔王).” Quoted in Yan Qiyan 严奇岩. “Wenhua zhongduan yu jindai Xikang de “gudu” xianxiang 文化中断与近代西康的“雇读”现象.” Zhongyang minzu daxue xuebao 中央民族大学学报 34, no. 6 (2007): 88-93.

    Also, whatever the merits of the Chinese political system, I don’t think it could be called “inclusive”. For better or worse, it seems designed to be the opposite, in that process of policy making and leadership selection happens in an exclusive environment, largely closed to the wider public.

    my guess is this’ll be another 100+ comment post, so have fun guys 🙂

  5. bt Says:

    Yeah, looks like a sensitive topic.
    Let our Chinese friends give their opinion first 🙂

  6. Raj Says:

    I was thinking of affirmative action more along the lines of university admissions policy.

    That’s good too, though depending who you ask some Han will say that’s already the case. But I’ve never heard the details of such existing policies.

  7. cephaloless Says:

    I’ve read snippets about minority benefits in china. Things like extra points on tests scores for college admissions. Parents would get their kids identified as a minority (if eligible) to take advantage of these policies. Besides academic benefits, at least some minorities get to have more kids. There are probably other benefits I’ve heard of that I’m not remembering right now.

    First off, I’m against affirmative action. However well intentioned, it just makes things unfair for everybody else. There are better ways (usually takes longer) to balance the demographics than giving unfair advantage to some. Then I’ve got to ask, why do those demographics need to be balanced?

    I’m sure we’ve all heard of the love and care tibetans have been receiving but are ungracious about. That might also be true for some members of all the minorities benefiting from government policies. An observation I’ve made is that the minorities have been given all sorts of benefits by the government, but what if they don’t want it.

    I’m too lazy to dig around for policy details in chinese so I don’t have anything concrete either. I happily settle for credible testimony.

    About the PRC government being inclusive, isn’t it more like it’s exclusive to everyone except maybe senior CCP members 🙂

  8. FOARP Says:

    I’m not a fan of affirmative action (AKA favouring people because they belong to disadvantaged ethnic groups), I also think that the ethnic separation you describe (e.g., different ethnic groups not associating much outside of work/study) is also alive and well here in the west, in America as much as Europe. Obama becoming the president of the US is an important event as much for who he is replacing as who he is himself. I would actually be surprised if that many people with pro-CCP views comment on this thread, as many of them will be offended even that someone should ask the question “Is China an inclusive society”. Finally, I wonder if, had 3% more of the population voted for John McCain, we would even be having this conversation.

  9. TonyP4 Says:

    When I am operated by a black doctor, do I have the right to ask whether s/he was admitted to medical school and hired by the hospital via affirmative action?

    Same for hiring my financial adviser. So, it could back fire.

  10. Steve Says:

    I’m also not a big fan of affirmative action, but I threw it out there just as a possible suggestion. If infrastructure improvements and increased educational opportunities are not making minorities feel included in the society, what positive suggestions are out there to allow that to happen? I don’t want to rehash the past, I’m looking for new ideas. I’d think they would have to fit under one of three categories:

    1) It is just a matter of time and changes will eventually take place under the present government structure.
    2) The present government structure or policies need to be modified to achieve the desired results.
    3) No amount of structural changes or time will cause this to take place.

    The first is very optimistic, the second optimistic and the third pessimistic.

    Last week the government announced it was changing the agricultural laws to allow peasants to sell their property rights and move to different parts of the countries. It’s still being sorted out but for me, this comes under the heading of #2. If something isn’t working or needs to be improved, let’s tweak the system. My question is how to tweak the system to get a positive result, so I guess my question was biased towards #2 but if someone thinks otherwise, I’d like to know why. Since I asked it in the form of a questions, people can say it is or it isn’t or it’s partly inclusive. I’m not trying to make a value judgement.

    FOARP, I can’t speak for others, but in San Diego most ethnic groups hang around with each other. It’s just not a big deal. It’s been like that in most places I’ve lived, and happens more and more as time goes by.

    I guess since that extra 3% voted for Obama, we can have this conversation. What happened, happened. 🙂

  11. cephaloless Says:

    At the moment, I’m leaning towards #3. The reasoning is going to sound pretty negative but here it is: why does the government try to fix things that people may not think is broken? This discussion seems to assume inclusion is a good thing. I’m not saying its a bad thing either but working toward inclusion for everyone also assumes everyone wants inclusion. Thats just too bad for people who want to be left alone. Policy says drag them in.

    Ok, maybe a little bit of #1 too. either way, I think its more of people changing rather than government changing that makes an inclusive society. For a government to effect change in what people want seems too much like tricking people.

  12. Richard Gere / Sharon Stone / Paris Hilton / Chungdrag Dorje (aka Steven Segal) Says:

    I’m not sure about the other areas, but in Tibet, affirmative action has already been in place for who knows how many decades. Has it been successful? I don’t know. But I do know that ethnic Tibetans are pretty well-represented at the local and provincial levels of government. They have little say on certain matters, but this will improve when/if the Dalai Lama is able to return to China.

    The biggest hurdle for Tibet is education. Affirmative action in university admissions can and has helped, but the problem is that Tibetan students are simply unprepared and unable to handle university-level schoolwork. The Chinese government places great emphasis on bilingual education, and as a result, Tibetan children do not begin studying Chinese until middle school.

    Chemistry and physics are tough, but imagine learning them in a foreign language (Chinese) that you are struggling to learn simultaneously! In recent years, the Chinese government has tried to ease the burden by using teaching more subjects in Tibetan, but Tibetan textbooks are often of very low quality, being crude translations of Chinese textbooks (which themselves are translations of American textbooks). Maybe the Chinese government can borrow some Tibetan algebra/chemistry textbooks from schools run by the Dalai Lama’s government-in-exile…Oh, wait, I forgot..textbooks are written in English over there!

    So yes, very few Tibetans make it to university. But keep in mind that although the literacy rate has increased ten-fold since the 1950s, it is still abysmally low at ~50%. Few ethnic Tibetans make it to middle school, let alone higher education. The Chinese government is still struggling to convince Tibetans of the value of education and literacy. And quite a struggle it has been, for children remain a vital part of the traditional Tibetan rural subsistence economy. Old attitudes take time to change. If the kids are at school, who else will milk the yaks while Mom and Dad(s) are out in the barley fields?

  13. Steve Says:

    cephaloless, I’m thinking of inclusion in terms of a nationalistic spirit. I would think the goal of the government would be for everyone to think of themselves as “Chinese” and not just the Han. For me, the country would be more harmonious with less conflict in the autonomous provinces, which seems to be the official government policy.

    I haven’t had the opportunity to spend any time in the NE provinces. Are the Manchu under the “Han” classification or are they considered a minority? I could never figure that one out. The Qing was considered a foreign dynasty but these days, the people from that region didn’t seem foreign to me. I also noticed that the people from Inner Mongolia I met seemed to be very integrated into the culture, but I would assume they still have minority status. Is that correct?

  14. Richard Gere / Sharon Stone / Paris Hilton / Chungdrag Dorje (aka Steven Segal) Says:

    “The Qing was considered a foreign dynasty but these days, the people from that region didn’t seem foreign to me.”

    That’s sorta like telling a Jewish-American that he/she is not “Jewish” because he does not look, dress or speak like a stereotypical Jew.

    It also bothers me when people say that the Qing was a “foreign” dynasty. Wouldn’t calling it a “Chinese dynasty ruled by an ethnic minority” be more factually accurate?

  15. TahwYOJ Says:

    That’s how most people view it today. What is your point mr/mrs/ms celebrity.

    BTW, did you know that the Manchu language is in danger of becoming extinct? Only a few old-timers still know it.

    I know a bunch of manchus in Beijing. I don’t whether it is trendy these days or not to claim to be a manchu, but I know a few “royalties,” one of them claims to be a ge-ge (JUST SHOOT ME NOW!!!!!!)

    Sidenote: Chuck Norris kills/pwns Steven Segal. Hell, even JCVD can pwn S.S.

  16. cephaloless Says:

    Steve #13

    I think every government in the world has that goal (nationalistic spirit) at varying priorities in their list of goals. While pursuing that goal is not a bad thing, it’s not necessarily a good thing either. And I think governments have a tendency to over do things, sometimes making good things come out bad. For me, it boils down to government making people part of the nation vs people wanting to be part of this great thing.

    A few things I’m against when trying to make people part of the family: benefits (bribery for favors), patriotic lessons (brainwashing). Something that was very effective that I’m not against (disregarding whatever hinkiness was involved) was the recent olympics. That got lots of people proud of being chinese without forcing them to like it.

    Most of what I’ve been trying to say is that some people just want to be left alone. Sometimes, the only thing the government can do about that is to keep from excluding them and leave the door open until they want to be part of the family. Anything else is too much.

    About those autonomous regions, dumping outside resources into them just doesn’t scream autonomous to me.

  17. cephaloless Says:

    Speaking of manchu, what makes manchu and mongolians chinese besides living on chinese territory (mostly)?

  18. FOARP Says:

    @Steve – All I can say is that I have two friends who live in San Diego (one Taiwan born, one Chinese-American) and they say otherwise. Granted, they’re both men in their twenties, and perhaps the influence of friendships made in the office, at the school-gate and through other activities might eventually do something to soften that, but I really don’t think it would be accurate to say that people socialise across ethnic/cultural divisions as much as they do within them, either in the US or anywhere else. When people say they are ‘colour-blind’, and that race does not matter to them, this means that they are open to associating with other people, this does not necessarily mean that they do. They may live in a neighbourhood in which there are few from ethnic/cultural minorities, or they may work in a profession in which there are few from different groups, or they may associate mainly with people they met through being a member of a particular group (such as the fraternaties and sororities found in US universities, or through their church). Those with a ‘they’re not one of us’ mentality are quite different to this, but may easily hide amongst the more open-minded population. In China, there are also many open-minded people, but I find that tthere is less of a drive to include ethnic/cultural minorities in the whole, rather the emphasis seems to pretending that differences don’t exist on the one hand, whilst holding up token examples of cultural preservation on the other. Doubtless some will blame this on sensitivity toward accusations of “cultural genocide”, but I don’t know what to think.

  19. Ted Says:

    “I also noticed that the people from Inner Mongolia I met seemed to be very integrated into the culture, but I would assume they still have minority status. Is that correct?”

    That’s been my experience as well, I’m curious why they are viewed/treated as more Chinese than Uighur or Tibetan people. In fact, when I have a Mongolian student in class there is generally lively conversation about the culture and beauty of the Mongolian landscape.

    A shallow guess is that religion plays/played a less important role in their lives and therefore they don’t grate against the system so much (I haven’t met many Mongolians so I may be way off on that one). Maybe the relationship is more complex than that, centuries of back and forth familiarity and so on. I’d like to have a better understanding if anyone can elaborate.

  20. FOARP Says:

    @Steve – I’d like to tag a personal footnote to that. I consider myself an open-minded person – just like most people do, but what real proof do I have of that? I went to one of the most right-on universities in the most liberal and gay-friendly city in the UK – Sussex University in Brighton, but I don’t have any close friends who I know to be gay. I lived on the Mile End Road in the East-End of London, but I can’t say that I have any Moslem friends. I lived first in Taiwan and then on the Chinese mainland for more than six years, but the number of local friends I made is probably fewer or about the same as the number of friends I made amongst the expats. I can claim that I have very good friends who have political views quite different to mine, but I find that as time goes on my views become more like theirs and their views become more like mine, and anyway, whilst they do not share my views, they do share much of my approach to things, and, far more importantly, my sense of humour. In reality, as open-minded as I think myself to be, my associates are mainly people like myself, and the fact that I have friends from other cultural/ethnic backgrounds does not change this fact. It is for this reason that I cannot really countenance blanket statements that America is ‘inclusive’ whilst China may not be ‘inclusive’, it is much more difficult than simply saying that you are receptive to people from other backgrounds – this is only the start, not the beginning.

  21. Steve Says:

    @FOARP: Thanks for the feedback. I always respect your opinion and can relate to us having lived in the same city with similar cultural experiences.

    I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but what I think you’re saying is that people tend to associate with others who share similar experiences, lifestyles or interests. I agree with you. I think the majority of one’s friends will always share common traits. Being that my wife is from Taiwan, many of our friends are Taiwanese or Chinese and many are mixed marriage (American/Taiwanese or Chinese) couples. People are typically drawn to others whom they can relate to.

    But beyond that, we have friends from just about every ethnic group you can think of, just not in those numbers. Forty years ago we would have had none. Twenty years ago we might have had a couple. Today we have quite a few. I see a definite progression over my lifetime. Being open to associating with other people usually means you have a few friends from different groups but as you said, there are closed minded people who pretend to be open but they really are not. I think it also depends on your hobbies; the more you get out of your neighborhood, the more diverse your friendships tend to be. My passion is martial arts; I’ve been involved with that for 15 years. When people share a passion for a particular hobby, differences disappear. If you run into a person who has spent a lot of time in Taiwan, wouldn’t you feel an immediate bond?

    Something I’ve noticed both here in SD and in Taiwan and China is that if a person feels that everyone is basically the same, there tends to be no cultural barriers to friendship. But if a person feels that the other culture is “very different” from their own, they tend to say that the other culture is “racist”. I think their attitude of being different is subconsciously sensed by the other person who then remains distant because there is nothing to relate to. Sure there are truly racist people, but from what I’ve seen a lot of “racism” is caused by the attitude of the person feeling it.

    Shanghai is probably 98% Han, so there the chance of encountering someone from a minority is very small. However, in Urumqi the chance of encountering someone from a different ethnic group is enormous. That is the “less inclusive” I was talking about. Until those two groups have more interaction and one group doesn’t feel it is dominated by the other, there will always be friction.

    On the matter of being “inclusive” I would have to respectfully disagree. In the 1800s the only “true” Americans were Anglo-Saxon. The Germans and Irish were not even considered “white”. In the early 20th century, eastern and southern Europeans (I’m eastern and southern European) were also not considered “white” and there were still signs outside some businesses that said “Irish Need Not Apply”. Now no one even separates these groups. There used to be Asian exclusion laws. Now there is massive immigration from Asia, especially out here on the west coast. I believe education and success are the two main factors that allow assimilation. I’d say the “start” took place in the 60s.

    I think the States have become far more inclusive than when I was young. I can remember the race riots of the 60s. Outside of the music business, there were virtually no friendships between races. For me, comparing that era with today is like comparing night and day.

  22. Steve Says:

    @cephaloless #16: Are you recommending something akin to an American Indian reservation where the tribe controls its own affairs with oversight from the federal government but only allows a very limited amount of non-indigeneous groups to live in those areas? Obviously these autonomous zones are huge and would have exceptions for military and government agencies along with some infrastructure projects using construction company workers. But if their children are getting educated and feel they must leave the region to get a good job, won’t that hollow out the economy? That is what has happened to many Indian reservations here, except for the ones with casinos.

    I have read that most people in the autonomous regions are happy with many of the infrastructure projects but have complaints about educational, cultural and religious restrictions. Do you believe this is true? I wonder if it is like in the States where most say they want less government interference in their lives, just as long as it doesn’t include social security, medicaid, medicare or other programs they like. Then big government is fine.

  23. perspectivehere Says:

    While I would be loathe to denigrate anyone attempting to learn more about another society, or who are seeking to compare societies as a means of becoming more enlightened, I feel I must caution Steve not to let his observations about American society and its pace of “inclusiveness” shape his view of the “inclusiveness” of Chinese society.

    First, regarding American society and the significance of Obama’s election, it is without doubt an important milestone in the troubled history between white dominance and black subservience in America. The harsh legal categories where the state provided that white humans were persons while black humans were property, beginning on the Virginia shores in the early 1600’s and persisting for over 240 years until the Emancipation Proclamation; and continuing in effect in the form of Jim Crow (unequal) laws until the Civil Rights Act of 1965; the dismantling of legal barriers that separated and protected white supremacy (known euphemistically as “separate but equal”) has led to the decline of white supremist ideas as a motivating ideology in the majority of Americans (as partially evidenced by 62+million voters for Obama).

    But yet 56+million voters picked McCain-Palin, and although some of those people did so because they favored McCain’s tax policies, I would presume that a significant number did so because they could not see past Obama’s skin color at the quality of his words and intellect. Joe the Plumber compared Obama to Sammy Davis Jr. It takes a certain (bigoted) sensibility and way of thinking to draw a meaningful association between them.

    There are still large swaths of America which may instinctively think the same way. I suppose you can ask, what can the American government do to change the minds of people like Joe the Plumber, to make people like them more accepting, more “inclusive” in their thinking, to make people like him feel more “united” with their colorful brethren voting for Barack Hussein Obama?

    If your answer is “nothing” – the government can and should do nothing to change Joe the Plumber’s mind – because he’s entitled to his opinion and it is not the government’s role to make him believe something he doesn’t want to believe – then I would agree with you. The state can only practice fairness and equality in its application of laws. It really is more the role of cultural, educational and social organizations (which may be government funded, I don’t have any ideological fetish against public television or NPR).

    Where the state has symbolic, ceremonial or monumental sorts of displays, it should show all members of society. I find your citing of the minority children at the Olympic opening ceremony a poor choice of example. It seems to me that the planners of the ceremony aimed to be “inclusive” in its symbolism of displaying the 50+ recognized ethnic minorities in native dress.

    The issue which you have pointed out is a question of “authenticity”, not “inclusiveness.” It is whether the performers should have actually been members of the minority groups they were enacting.

    Note that “authenticity” is a kind of fashion in western culture which has come to the fore starting in the 1970’s as a kind of reaction against commercialised artificial culture, but there comes to be a kind of fetishistic tyranny to authenticity. See http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9A07EFDA1239F932A25753C1A967948260

    The desire for “authenticity” – where does it end? What about impersonating foreign accents in shows? Is it inauthentic? Perhaps. Is it not inclusive? No. http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/07/20/london-theater-journal-american-actors-arent-alone-in-struggling-with-accents/

    And even if you were aiming at authenticity, would you require that the performer be 100% pure-blood of that ethnic minority group? Is having one parent sufficient? How about a grandparent? Actually, how do you know that all 50+ children that marched out were all Han chinese – did anyone actually examine the identity cards of all the children? More likely, they simply picked 50+ adorable kids. I recall reading somewhere that they were professional actors.

    When you attend the Broadway show, The King & I, is it “inauthentic” if the actors are not all Thai? Is it sufficient that they are Asian, or just brown? It might be “inauthentic” but would you say it is not “inclusive”?

    Could it be that for ethnic minorities in China, they are just as happy to see themselves represented symbolically by costume whether or not the actors were actual representatives of their minority group? I don’t think the authenticity fetish has come to China yet.

    In America, the fact of a national Constitution that stated “all men are created equal” but which was belied by reality held within it a tension that resulting in 220 years of violent and heroic struggle. We are watching the closing of the gap between the dream and the reality. This is why the question of inclusion is so important in America, because the history of exclusion and segregation needs to be addressed.

    In China, on the other hand, “inclusion” as a political value means less, because China does not have a comparable historical and institutional legacy of exclusion, segregation, and domination/slavery between one ethnic group and another.

    You must keep in mind that China was a primarily rural society (over 90 percent peasants) for most of its 2000+ year history, with its many peoples isolated by geography, poor transportation infrastructure and linguistic and cultural differences among its numerous regions; which until 1911 had for 300 years a ruling dynasty which consisted of a northern ethnic minority group that spoke a non-Chinese language; where it is only in the most recent 50 years (post 1949) where urbanisation and widespread travel became prevalent, and a common language (国语/普通话) became widely spoken….

    (The fact of Manchu rule in China would be as though a tough band of Acadians (French Canadians) (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acadian) rode down south in the seventeenth century and took over and ruled the English-speaking parts of the North American continent! As unlikely as this might seem, in the far south they settled in Louisiana and became known as the Cajuns, forming a tight-knit and distinct french-speaking minority, powerful in political influence, although relatively free in their racial mixing, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cajun#Ethnic_mixing_and_alternate_origins. But the English descendents despised the French who would be so promiscuous as to consort with members of all races. But I digress.)

    The differences are so vast that easy comparisons between China and America on the scale of “inclusiveness” are more misleading than illuminating.

    I think it can be assumed that whenever you have interactions between people of a different history and culture, particularly in an urban setting, you will always find examples of mixing and inclusion, and separation and exclusion. Mixing and inclusion are not always good, and separation and exclusion are not always bad.

    Mixing and inclusion may destroy distinctiveness, while separation and exclusion may protect minority cultures from disappearing.

  24. Richard Gere / Sharon Stone / Paris Hilton / Chungdrag Dorje (aka Steven Segal) Says:

    TahwYOJ #15
    “That’s how most people view it today. What is your point mr/mrs/ms celebrity. BTW, did you know that the Manchu language is in danger of becoming extinct? Only a few old-timers still know it.”

    My point is that by referring to the Qing as “foreign,” we are perpetuating the myth that Chinese=Han. How would people like it if the Chinese began referring to Obama’s presidency as America’s “foreign” presidency? Why can’t people embrace China as a mosaic or “melting pot” of cultures the same way multiculturalism is embraced in the West? History has shown that the Han Chinese (and other East Asians) have, on average, tended to be MUCH more tolerant of “foreign” cultures/religions when compared to Europe/America.

    Yes, the Manchu language is pretty much a “dead language” among the Manchu, but I’ve heard that the Xibe language in Xinjiang is virtually identical to Manchu. Preserving these languages will be an uphill battle for the Chinese government. Fortunately, the Manchu still hold an important place in Chinese popular culture, and it seems to me that most Chinese are intensely proud of China’s cultural achievements under the Manchu emperors (esp. Kangxi and Qianlong). Just look at how immensely “Princess Returning Pearl” (from Taiwan, btw) was with Chinese families around the world.

    My hope is that as Chinese youths become wealthier, more and more will choose to study subjects like language and culture rather than business or engineering. Studying less lucrative subjects in school is a luxury we Americans take for granted. Only rich kids can afford to be poor, starving scholars.

  25. Richard Gere / Sharon Stone / Paris Hilton / Chungdrag Dorje (aka Steven Segal) Says:

    cephaloless Says: “Speaking of manchu, what makes manchu and mongolians chinese besides living on chinese territory (mostly)?”

    What makes a Texans/Californians Americans besides living on American territory (mostly)?

  26. cephaloless Says:

    @Steve #22

    Those indian reservations at lease seem more autonomous. About the hollowing out problem, I don’t think theres anything specific stopping them from building a hyundai car plant on their territory. Anyway, why call it an autonomous region if the government actively works on it to make it “better”.

    I assume your talking about regions in china in the being happy with infrastructure work but unhappy about the restrictions that came with it. I’m in the same boat as you. I’ve read about it and gotten the same impression. BTW, I’m a small government kind of guy, probably why I write against government interference.

    Adding to the multi-ethnic friends discussion, I’d put like-mindedness above skin color and place/culture of origin. Maybe the obvious initial difference in culture/language is a barrier at first but if they find out they like playing the same sport, they’re going to find time to spend together. I expect this to be the same in most places unless you bump into a xenophobe. Another pitch for US and Chinese culture not being that different.

    Back to the bizarreness of some policies, if one is curious about another person’s background (cuisine, language, they’re “hot”) they make contact and might become friends, but if one has an association quota that says “not enough asian friends, go make some”, I think that’ll just create a highly integrated society where everybody hates everyone else.

  27. cephaloless Says:

    @celebrity #24

    I like your style 🙂

    Here’s a more refined question. When did mongolians become “chinese”, before they conquered china or after? Or perhaps after their reign ended and the next dynasty conquered them and incorporated them into china? Just to be clear, we’re talking about chinese ethnicity, not modern chinese citizenship.

    That living mostly on chinese territory comment refers to Mongolia (and maybe little chunks out of russia). Are they chinese?

    To answer your counter question, texas and california didn’t conquer the united states before being absorbed (military power was involved but still technically not conquered). As a matter of fact, they were mexicans who also have their own country. Oh, also, canadians are americans, as are costa ricans, columbians, brazilians, etc, just a joke but still true 🙂

  28. Steve Says:

    @celebrity #23: When I called the Qing dynasty “foreign”, I was using the Chinese description at the time. I wasn’t trying to make a value judgement on today’s society. When I read Chinese history from Chinese sources, two dynasties were considered “foreign”, the Yuan and Qing. These days, that no longer seems to apply so my question is, are Manchus still considered a minority or has that minority status disappeared over time? When I said they seemed like everyone else, I was saying that I thought it had and that being “Chinese” didn’t equal “Han”. I think you are saying the same thing. But if ALL the cultures have melted together, then why have “autonomous zones” at all?

    If I meet Jerry, he would seem like most Americans to me, except more intelligent. He might be Jewish but that’s just his background. His culture is American, as mine is American with an Italian background. I’ve never met a “stereotypical” Jew so I’m not sure what you mean by that. There’s a big difference between Jewish Americans and Israelis, if that is what you are referring to.

    But when I meet a Uyghur or Tibetan, they seem very different, not just the look but the culture. Since you are saying that the Manchu have incorporated themselves into the Chinese culture, are you also saying it is just a matter of time before these other minorities also achieve the same result? Does that mean you think the current government programs don’t need to be changed?

    How does any of this equate to Obama’s presidency? You lost me there. It seems like a non sequitur to me.

  29. Bob Says:

    “American with an Italian background”?

    Yup, I can see that: http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/06/berlusconi-under-fire-for-obama-joke/

  30. Allen Says:

    @Steve #27,

    First of all – good topic!

    Now in #27, you wrote:

    If I meet Jerry, he would seem like most Americans to me, except more intelligent. He might be Jewish but that’s just his background. His culture is American, as mine is American with an Italian background. I’ve never met a “stereotypical” Jew so I’m not sure what you mean by that. There’s a big difference between Jewish Americans and Israelis, if that is what you are referring to.

    But when I meet a Uyghur or Tibetan, they seem very different, not just the look but the culture. Since you are saying that the Manchu have incorporated themselves into the Chinese culture, are you also saying it is just a matter of time before these other minorities also achieve the same result? Does that mean you think the current government programs don’t need to be changed?

    Steve – I am perplexed at what point you are trying to make … because obviously individual “Americans” – where America is considered a mutli-ethnic entity – look very different from each other (e.g. Chinese Americans, African Americans, Hispanic Americans, etc. all look different). In addition, each sub-group also possesses very different sub-cultures…

    So I don’t think “Americans” look the same … as you seem to suggest … unless you consider Americans to mean Americans of European ancestry?

    Now … that I agree. To my Chinese eye – all Europeans do look the same! 😉

    As for “Chineseness” – yes, some people consider “Chineseness” very locally – such as the DPP in Taiwan – where Mainland “Chinese” are regraded as very different from Taiwanese “Chinese.”

    Many Chinese (such as myself) have a vision of China as a multi-cultural entity. Yes being “han” is important – but so is being Mongolian, Tibetan, etc. China is so much more colorful and dynamic than simply being “han” (although even there, there are many diversities even within that numeric ).

    I’ll write a more expensive response to your overall topic later (not time today at work).

  31. Bob Says:

    What’s behind the dorky name Chungdrag Dorje?

  32. Steve Says:

    @cephaloless #25: I agree with everything you said. The only point I’d add is that Hyundai won’t build a car plant or any other type of major industry unless there is a major water source nearby, the transportation infrastructure is there, they are close to major population centers and there is a large, educated work force available. That pretty much rules out the autonomous zones, just as it rules out certain areas in the United States. China and the States are similar in that we both have fertile, densely populated eastern zones and a sparsely populated west. The difference is that the USA has a densely populated far west that has access to Asian markets. Currently, China exports mostly through it’s eastern ports. The countries situated to its west are not big enough markets to affect the overall trend.

    They’re trying to develop industry in Sichuan but so far its been with mixed results. I know that there is a major Chinese TV manufacturer there but they had problems exporting to the US. The transportation costs killed them.

    I liked the way you phrased that final part; “but if one has an association quota that says “not enough asian friends, go make some”. The more contact we have with different cultures, the easier it is to find commonalities. The less contact, the more improbable. But contact and friendship certainly can’t be forced.

  33. Steve Says:

    @ Bob #28: First rule in business, “When in a foreign country, don’t make any jokes.” 🙂

  34. Steve Says:

    @Allen #29: I wasn’t talking about European Americans at all. I’ll give you an example:

    I was in Mexico for two weeks on a business trip back in the 90s and was at the airport waiting to go home. I ran into a black woman from West Hollywood and a Ford engineer from Detroit. We were all so happy to talk again to another American after being on our own for awhile in a foreign culture. The cultural bond was the same for all, though we all looked different. Subcultures within cultures are normal. However, are all minorites subcultures or are some still cultures within a governing culture? If so, how can that be changed? For instance, cephaloless believes a hands off policy is the best way.

    I agree with the point celebrity made, that the cultural bond between Han and Manchu is stronger than their subcultural differences. Isn’t that the key of a multicultural society, to have both? I don’t recall anyone in Manchuria wanting to be autonomous or independent. It seems the subculture meshes well with the overall culture.

    I believe I didn’t express my thoughts properly and they might have been misunderstood. For me, this is a complicated topic but a very interesting one, and sometimes hard for me to put into words. I really appreciate everyone’s thoughts and ideas.

  35. Steve Says:

    @perspectivehere #23: Sorry, I didn’t see your reply until now. I guess I missed it this morning. Thanks for such a thorough response.

    “Authenticity” is a better word for the Olympic situation than “inclusiveness”. I wish I had thought of it.

    I didn’t say Chinese society wasn’t inclusive, I asked how it can become more inclusive. There’s a big difference between the two.

    Historically, I agree with your assessment of American history until recent days. They polled this last election and there was no “Bradley effect” at all. In fact, for voters of whom race made a difference, the majority voted for Obama. Did certain political talk show hosts insist on saying “Barack Hussein Obama” all the time? Yes, they did. They were entertainers trying to polarize society to increase their ratings and it just didn’t work. I believe an insignificant number voted for McCain because of Obama’s race. I believe many more were turned off by the McCain campaign because of people like Joe the Plumber and Palin’s attacks, so it was a net loss in terms of votes. Remember, John McCain is the least “Republican” Republican out there. He is also the most respected Republican in the Democratic Party. Any other Republican would’ve gotten annihilated.

    “If your answer is “nothing” – the government can and should do nothing to change Joe the Plumber’s mind – because he’s entitled to his opinion and it is not the government’s role to make him believe something he doesn’t want to believe – then I would agree with you. The state can only practice fairness and equality in its application of laws. It really is more the role of cultural, educational and social organizations (which may be government funded, I don’t have any ideological fetish against public television or NPR). “

    I couldn’t agree more.

    The role of authenticity has changed over the years. Ever see John Wayne play Genghis Khan? It’s hysterical. Or Warner Oland play Charlie Chan? It’s almost unwatchable these days. If there is an Asian role today, they use Asian actors. Indians are played by Indians. If The King & I was playing in Bangkok, I’d suspect they’d use Thai actors for all the roles, including the westerners. As different subcultures incorporate themselves into a culture, that culture becomes more aware of their characteristics and won’t buy the old ways of portraying them. Personally, I had a hard time watching Memoirs of a Geisha because Zhang Ziyi and Gong Li don’t look Japanese to me at all. Most Americans can’t distinguish to that extent, but would not accept a Caucasian actress playing those roles like they accepted Luise Rainer playing O-Lan in 1937’s The Good Earth.

    I don’t agree that minorities would be just as happy to see themselves being played by “adorable kids” rather than by their own people in their own country. If in another country, then I’d agree with you. If during an Olympic ceremony here, nevermind a white person playing an Indian, if a Cherokee played an Iroquois, the Iroquois would not be too happy about it either. I wouldn’t call it a fetish since I don’t consider it excessive or irrational; I’d call it a normal human emotion. The report of their being Han children came from the Chinese government when they were asked about it.

    “In China, on the other hand, “inclusion” as a political value means less, because China does not have a comparable historical and institutional legacy of exclusion, segregation, and domination/slavery between one ethnic group and another.”

    China did not enslave others to my knowledge, at any time in her history. But didn’t they dominate the Viet people of Annam for six centuries? I don’t know who built the Great Wall during the Ming dynasty or the Grand Canal, but I’m guessing it was some kind of forced internal labor. However, I don’t see what this has to do with today. The vast majority of Americans had no ancestors in this country at the time of slavery, and had nothing to do with Jim Crow laws. Most American families have immigrated since 1900 and worked their way up through society. That includes all ethnic groups.

    You say inclusion as a political value means less but if that were true, why have autonomous zones? Are they there to exclude people? If so, why isn’t that happening? Why are there incidents in these regions? How does China go about reducing those events and creating greater harmony?

    Most societies were rural throughout the world until the 20th century. That is not exclusive to China. Today, China is one of the most urban societies in the world. I’m not sure what relevance that has to this topic.

    You’re comparing Cajuns to Manchus? Cajuns moved to Louisiana and settled there. They didn’t rule it, they didn’t conquer it and they intermarried into the local culture. In fact, in Louisiana they differentiate between Cajuns and Frenchies. I don’t see any relevance at all to the Manchus. That part of current China did not belong to China at the time so it was an outside force conquering the country through war. Over time they were absorbed into the culture. I still don’t see any connection.

    “I think it can be assumed that whenever you have interactions between people of a different history and culture, particularly in an urban setting, you will always find examples of mixing and inclusion, and separation and exclusion. Mixing and inclusion are not always good, and separation and exclusion are not always bad.

    Mixing and inclusion may destroy distinctiveness, while separation and exclusion may protect minority cultures from disappearing.”

    I agree with what you say. However, my point was not to destroy subcultures but to incorporate those subcultures into the national culture. How can that be accomplished? If the government thought achieving this goal was not necessary, why is there an article everyday in the Shanghai Daily and China Daily about how the life in Tibet is much better since China regained sovereignty? Every… Single… Day?

    I believe the government is trying to create a better situation, but the methods they’ve used have not been successful thus far. Aren’t we all agreed that it would be better for everyone if they were?

  36. Hongkonger Says:

    “On the matter of being “inclusive” I would have to respectfully disagree. In the 1800s the only “true” Americans were Anglo-Saxon. The Germans and Irish were not even considered “white”….“Irish Need Not Apply”….There used to be Asian exclusion laws. Now there is massive immigration from Asia, especially out here on the west coast. I believe education and success are the two main factors that allow assimilation. I’d say the “start” took place in the 60s.”

    @Steve,

    Good points.

    “The Germans and Irish were not even considered “white”….”
    Wow, I had no idea that “White,” is not a race, but in de facto a class distinction. Now that you mentioned it, the color white represents God, purity, wealth, power, in politics as well as in the arts. I wonder when & where did this color coding business come about?

    Remember this song?
    “Are we not men? We are Devo.”
    (based on H. G. Wells’ novel The Island of Dr Moreau. In the 1933 film, a mad scientist performs operations on wild beasts in order to make them more human and able to undertake menial tasks. When the beasts acted in an inappropriate manner the scientist Dr. Moreau would crack his whip and challenge the beasts.)
    Dr. Moreau: What is the law?
    Sayer of the Law: Not to eat meat, that is the law. Are we not men?
    Beasts (in unison): Are we not men?
    Dr. Moreau: What is the law?
    Sayer of the Law: Not to go on all fours, that is the law. Are we not men?
    Beasts (in unison): Are we not men?
    Dr. Moreau: What is the law?
    Sayer of the Law: Not to spill blood, that is the law. Are we not men?
    Beasts (in unison): Are we not men?

    Lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh felt as though these half-man, devolved beasts were not unlike his fellow Akron, Ohio residents, and decided to write about it.

    Like most here, we hear a lot of discussions about Europe / America being a White world and China a Han world. Two very different hegemonies, both claiming multiculturalism.

    I’ve always accepted that was how and what it is. I thought it was like asking, “Why are elephants, donkeys and mice the way they are?” Related though they be, but functionally
    world apart they are, all serving at the pleasure of Mother earth.

  37. cephaloless Says:

    Just remembered a story I read a while back that’s too amusing not to share. It touches on the inclusion/exclusion issue, sort of.

    In a high school somewhere in the US of A, there was an african american club of some sort (promote excellence in the african american students type of club). One day, a white student shows up and wants to join. Naturally, this is a bit of a controversy with all black membership of the club. While there shouldn’t be anything that should stop a white american student from joining such an organization, here’s the twist: the white student is a genuine african-american … immigrated from south africa.

    I don’t remember how it ended (accept membership, booed away, etc), I just remember the amusement.

  38. Hongkonger Says:

    I’ve always accepted that was how and what it is. I thought it was like asking, “Why are elephants, donkeys and mice the way they are?” Related though they be, but functionally
    world apart they are, all serving at the pleasure of Mother earth.

    Ops, I hit “post” by mistake.

    Anyway, what I was getting to was, it is great that there are always people who see beyond the status Quo. I am actually quite surprised that I am blase about Obama being elected. Other than glad for the symbolic triumph (perhaps) for many Americans. In the end, he is a man, like any man. He happens to be an American, has the brain, the talent and the ability to enter Harvard, enter politics serving as a Senator and now a President-elect at 47. What a talented man. How good is he a leader of all these other co-“deciders,” to use President Bush’s official English (Should already be updated in all modern American Lexicons), remains to be seen. I would like to join everyone in wishing him a safe presidency and to wish America the best of luck with his administration.

  39. Otto Kerner Says:

    Bob: according to one high-ranking Tibetan lama, Steven Seagal, the American movie star, is the reincarnation (灵童) of a 17th century Tibetan yogi named Chungdrag Dorje.

  40. Hongkonger Says:

    @cephaloless,

    Thanks for the satire. I get the “American” humor.

    “here’s the twist: the white student is a genuine african-american … immigrated from south africa.”

    I think it is not just where one comes from but how one finds himself where he is that is also as relevant & poignant. The first group of genuine Americans are descendants of slaves, the latter, bears the color of Apartheid.

    In HK, we have exclusive clubs too, some were, once upon a time, for Whites only.

    This is a sorry part of Chinese history — honorable visitors, powerful guests, wealthy business partners suddenly turned arrogant, invaded and made themselves exclusive in an inclusive land. Today, the race and color distinctions may be gone, but the spirit and attitude has not changed.
    I have heard it said often of some HK Chinese as “Whiter than white.” Hell, I’ve been branded a BANANA, “half a whiteman,” when in fact, I’ve never lived outside of South East Asia. Shit, how I resent such brandings. For Christ’s sake, I am not even a Native-English-speaker/writer.

  41. Otto Kerner Says:

    The idea that Germans and Irish were not considered white people in 19th century America is probably a myth. I note that the Naturalization Acts of 1790 and 1795 limit citizenship to “free white persons”. As far as I know, there was never a serious effort to deny citizenship to Irish or German people on this basis. Regarding Germans in particular, there were always a lot of Germans in what became the U.S. The first Speaker of the House of Representatives was German.

  42. TommyBahamas Says:

    Steven Seagal, the American movie star, is the reincarnation (灵童) of a 17th century Tibetan yogi named Chungdrag Dorje. (????!!!!)

    They must not have good theaters or proper acting schools in Tibetan limbo. So, Seagal reincarnated as an American Jew (Jewish father and Irish mother) in Michigan, USA. He claims to be clairvoyant….Okay….Whatever….Anyway, like the reason I loved Bruce Lee, I love Seagal’s mastery of the no nonsense, simplicity with his bone breaking techiques, breakneckspeed fluid moves, headbashing, eye-poking hand-to-hand/weapon combat style. Onscreen and dojo make-believe only, I hope.

  43. Jerry Says:

    @FOARP #8, #20
    @Steve #10, #21, #28
    @ perspectivehere #23

    I would actually be surprised if that many people with pro-CCP views comment on this thread, as many of them will be offended even that someone should ask the question “Is China an inclusive society”.

    And FOARP, thus possibly explaining the gap, the gulf, the abyss I feel. As Richard Bach expressed it, “The Bridge Across Forever”. I sense similar “forever abysses” here in Taiwan, too. And unilatlerally working on building the bridge seems to be “too much like work” and unworthwhile. If people won’t communicate, tough luck. No chutzpah!!

    —————-

    #10

    FOARP, I can’t speak for others, but in San Diego most ethnic groups hang around with each other.

    Steve, this worked for my grandparents’ generation and for my dad while he and my mom lived in Cincinnati. They always tended to socialize with Russian Jews and Ashkenazim. Less work. Worked for my ethnic friends at Microsoft. The Chinese hung out together, as well as the Indians hung out with Indians, Israelis, Arabs, Iranians and Thais. The Indians and Arabs were more inclusive than other groups. Obviously, I got along with Israelis, but they did not socialize outside of the ethnicity.

    —————-

    #20

    I lived first in Taiwan and then on the Chinese mainland for more than six years, but the number of local friends I made is probably fewer or about the same as the number of friends I made amongst the expats.

    FOARP, I find it true here in Taipei. (I have never been to da lu and will probably will never go as long as the food safety, water safety and air pollution are outside my comfort zone.) The Chinese I talk to here have all spent time in the US and there is some degree of commonality. I have dated 10 Chinese women, only one of whom spent significant time in the US. I walked away from all 10. Too much like work. Not worth it.

    The gal who cuts my hair and several of the women who work with her are always trying to set me up with single women. Chinese yentas!! They always ask why it does not work. I just roll my eyes and shake my head! 😀 Again, the gulf, the abyss makes reasonable explanation virtually impossible.

    —————-

    #21

    I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but what I think you’re saying is that people tend to associate with others who share similar experiences, lifestyles or interests. I agree with you. I think the majority of one’s friends will always share common traits. Being that my wife is from Taiwan, many of our friends are Taiwanese or Chinese and many are mixed marriage (American/Taiwanese or Chinese) couples. People are typically drawn to others whom they can relate to.

    True words, Steve. “People are typically drawn to others whom they can relate to.” We are certainly self-referential beasts.

    “… we have friends from just about every ethnic group you can think of”. Same for me, too. I have Vietnamese, Cambodian, Chinese, Jewish, Israeli, Indian, Greek, French, Arabic, African, Afghani, etc., all living in the US. I have 2 close Vietnamese friends living in Hanoi. One close Taiwanese friend living here. And I get along with the Taiwanese I encounter. It is just that friendship is a different matter. Most people use the word “friend” way too indiscriminately, IMHO.

    —————-

    #23, #28

    Perspectivehere, America is a melting pot, as is England and Canada. Many Western European nations have become melting pots. Israel is a melting pot. Inclusivity takes time. There is usually resistance to inclusion. Even in Israel, the new Jews who arrive meet resistance.

    I personally believe that America is becoming inclusive, bit by bit.

    Your comparison of acting and Steve’s Olympic ethnicity example is an equivocation. Apples and oranges. In fact, the acting world is indicative of the Western progression to inclusivity. The portrayal of Asians and African Americans used to be caricaturish, at best. I cite Warner Oland as Charlie Chan, and Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll as Amos and Andy. African Americans and Asians were given subordinate roles. Things are changing. Morgan Freeman, James Earl Jones, Ruby Dee, Ossie Davis, Laurence Fishburne, Don Cheadle, Forrest Whitake, Maya Angelou, Wil Smith, Paul Winfield, Whoopie Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey and Samuel Jackson, to name just a few. The music world is filled with many similar examples.

    Does such a progression to inclusivity or acceptance exist in China? I do not know.

    Furthermore, in the acting world, authenticity is not much of an issue. It is called acting, isn’t it? They generally aren’t interested in documentary-like truth.

    What happened at the Olympics sounds like the “Disneyland touch” at best. It is “Let’s create a fairy-tale view of China.” So now that I think about it, maybe it was all acting. 😀

    Steve, “stereotypical Jew” is a contradiction in terms, an oxymoron, for sure. 😀

    How does any of this equate to Obama’s presidency? You lost me there. It seems like a non sequitur to me.

    It does not. It is equivocation.

  44. Allen Says:

    @Steve,

    As I mentioned earlier. Good post. Here are some comments.

    You wrote:

    One of the reasons is that being “American” means buying into a set of ideas rather than belonging to a particular race, creed or color. What was once a society of European immigrants is now a culture with roots from around the world; a culture that celebrates and is proud of its multicultural heritage.

    I think the American ideals – at its very best (freedom, equality, justice) – are definitely worth emulating around the world and is compatible with any culture.

    However lest we forget, America is far from its ideals. Yes – Obama is elected – but the very fact that it’s such a big deal should be a reminder of not only how far we have come, but also how unjust and unequal the society still is in reality – divided into haves and have nots, often along racial lines.

    Lest we forget, despite Obama’s “audacity of hope,” Obama himself has to “duck” and “deny” and “free” himself from any association of being a “Muslim” when the question/rumor arose several times regarding whether he was a “Muslim.” Being a “Muslim” is apparently too hot a “potatoe” even in Obama’s world.

    Lest we also forget, over the past few years (especially since 911), America has been turning more and more inward – marked by hardened attitudes and protests against immigrants on issues related to immigration, language, social services, citizenship, etc.

    These are but the “tip of the iceberg” of many of America’s uglier sides. America as a culture that celebrates and is proud of its multicultural heritage – a melting pot – is a great Ideal. But we should not get too carried away. Look a little deeper, you will see lots of wrinkles and warts under many of these high ideals.

    By the way, I don’t think McCain stands for “hate.” I really don’t. But had McCain won, would you have written, “What was once a society of European immigrants is now a culture with roots from around the world; a culture that celebrates and is proud of its multicultural heritage” today?

    I don’t think so (at least it would not resonate the way you intend it to resonate now). No doubt, this is more due to the symbolism and euphoria of a Obama victory … than anything substantive about America…?

    You also wrote:

    However, it has been widely reported that in minority areas and provinces, the two cultures have virtually no interaction. Even people who work together on a daily basis rarely socialize outside of work. The cultures are different; the Han work hard and put in very long hours, feeling that less effort indicates a lazy attitude. They value the “prosperous” life and enjoy the trappings of success. Many minorities see that same work ethic creating a poor quality of life and want little part of that culture. They prefer to live their lives as their culture has lived for centuries. The Muslim minorities center their life around religion while the Han are nominally atheist. On quite a few occasions I’ve had Han tell me that minorities such as the Uyghurs are “not like us; not Chinese”.

    No doubt this is the attitude held by some. But I think it represents more stereotypes than anything substantive. For example, it surely cannot be true the myriad cultures within China have “no interaction” as you put it. Heck … Hans and minorities regularly intermarry all the time … if that’s not interaction, I don’t know what is!)

    Have you seen the movie “Crash”? Yes – there are some truth. At the same time, there are also many, many oversimplifications. It’s complicated, as you put it. And oversimplifications, to me, is sometimes a disservice.

    I am sure a lot of “Hans” think China is too over-charged on economic development. I am sure a lot of “minorities” are very motivated to work for a better economic future for their family…

    In any case – China is a fast changing society.

    Europe – despite being the cradle of the Enlightenment – is still far from electing its Obama (see e.g. this story).

    America took over two hundred years to get to this point; and few would say the Civil Rights movement have now officially ended with the election of Obama.

    I have a vision of China of being a dynamic, diverse multi-cultural society. Even though China today is only a shadow of her former self and is still an economically very poor country, I would give China time to re-achieve prosperity. When prosperity has been re-achieved, you will see how dynamic and resilient all aspects of its cultures can be! 🙂

    You also wrote:

    During the Olympic ceremony, children dressed in the different minority costumes paraded around the stadium. Later it was revealed that the children were all Han Chinese. Since cost was no object and it would have been easy to use minority children, this was a conscious choice made by the organizers. My guess is that the actual minorities watching at home did not feel a sense of “inclusiveness”.

    I think it has been written on this board and many other boards: the dancers were hired from a local dancing troops company – which happened to only have “han” students (not such a big deal in Beijing). Yes, it’d have been nice to have minority dancers, but I also think it’s an equally good gesture for the Chinese gov’t to pay homage to China’s myriad and diverse cultures.

    Let me ask this question: if I have a play that required an actor to play the part of King George – do I need to get one of his descendants to play the role? Would it be disrespectful to the family not to?

    I don’t think so. Barring additional politics, that’d be silly!

    As you noted, in China, the dynamics between ethnic groups is not the same as the dynamics in America. There have never been any systemic, official enslavement of one race in the name of race. I don’t think ethnic politics is as tense as you made it out to be. I don’t think the Olympics ceremony show should be politicized in the way you suggested…

    Whatever tensions there are between ethnic groups, I don’t think having Hans dressed as minorities is akin to Caucasians playing native Americans at all….

    So instead of dwelling on what could have been better – shouldn’t we also applaud the Chinese government for at least presenting a vision of unity and inclusiveness?

    You also wrote:

    How can the Chinese government create a greater sense of unity; of making “Chinese” more than being Han? How can the government develop a more inclusive society? These days, leadership selection is behind closed doors and considered a “state secret” that if reported before the selection is made, is considered a crime. Is that style of governing conducive to minority participation? Or will there need to be changes that take the current opaque selection method and allow a more transparent way of choosing its leaders? Is it simply a matter of government structure or will more need to be done to integrate the society in business, education and social programs? Does China need to develop its own standards of “affirmative action”? Or will the “autonomous regions” need to become more autonomous than they currently are?

    Now I think you are hitting the gist of some important issues in China. I also tried to bring out some of these issues in my “How China can Learn from India Post” – by posing the question: how can China embrace – rather than just tolerate – her multicultural diversity?

    Certainly having a “closed” gov’t is not fundamentally inconsistent with building a more unified, embracing society. As India has demonstrated on the flip side, being open and democratic does not necessarily guarantee avoidance of ethnic and religious tension, turmoil and violence.

    With that said … I definitely think there is a lot of benefit that can be derived from having a more transparent, democratic government. It may lead to more accountable governance and perhaps even put a check on corruption – a perennial problem in modern Chinese governments (both CCP and KMT (and DDP)).

    Of course, even this is not necessarily guaranteed. Being more democratic merely for the sense of being democratic may actually lead to less competent governance. Democracy without active and substantive people participation is what I have called a “mass opiate” of “democratic” societies – i.e. a big euphemism for non-accountable governments! 😀

    As journalist Pallavi Aiyar (brought to our attention by wuming) noted:

    So ultimately despite political representation for the poor in India and the absence of political participation in China, the latter trumped India when it came to the delivery of basic public goods like roads, electricity, drains, water supplies and schools where teachers actually show up.

    This counterintuitive state of affairs was linked to the fact that while in China the CCP derived its legitimacy from delivering growth, in India a government derived its legitimacy simply from its having been voted in. Delivering on its promises was thus less important than the fact of having been elected.

  45. Jerry Says:

    @Allen #44

    However lest we forget, America is far from its ideals. Yes – Obama is elected – but the very fact that it’s such a big deal should be a reminder of not only how far we have come, but also how unjust and unequal the society still is in reality – divided into haves and have nots, often along racial lines.

    Lest we forget, despite Obama’s “audacity of hope,” Obama himself has to “duck” and “deny” and “free” himself from any association of being a “Muslim” when the question/rumor arose several times regarding whether he was a “Muslim.” Being a “Muslim” is apparently too hot a “potatoe” even in Obama’s world.

    Lest we also forget, over the past few years (especially since 911), America has been turning more and more inward – marked by hardened attitudes and protests against immigrants on issues related to language, social services, citizenship, etc.

    All excellent points, Allen.

    As I wrote, inclusivity takes time. We do it bit-by-bit.

    The plutocrats have mugged the government for their own purposes. Obama’s election is just a first step. We need to hold his feet to the fire.

    As I wrote over on the Obama thread:

    • Political rhetoric: If we could convert political rhetoric, be it Chinese or American, to a fuel to run cars, heat houses and generate power, we would have an inexhaustible, renewable answer to our energy problems. Unless of course, the converted rhetoric turned out to be a bigger source of pollution than our present carbon-based fuels.

    • Who I supported: Obama, of course. He was less worse than McCain (I know that less worse is a faux pas. It just looks so much better than “less bad” and really expresses how I feel.). The lesser of two evils. Remember, he still comes from Chicago, having grown up in the Daley eras (both junior and senior). He got massive support from Wall Street financiers. Several were his campaign bundlers. He got massive amounts of corporate money. He is now beholden.

    It will be interesting watch his response to Iraq and the economy play out. We will just have to see.

    •Jubilation and elation surrounding OB’s election: IMHO, très naïf and very unrealistic. Why? Because OB received massive financial support from Wall Street financiers and large corporations. Because very few seem to get to the White House or the Senate or the House, without surrendering their soul to those in power, those who have bought and paid for presidents, senators and representatives.

    We’ll just have to see how this plays out. …

    We are now a plutocracy, an oligarchy. Maybe this is the time to push it towards more of a democracy. It will take time.

    Regarding comparing China and the US, we both could do a better job of paddling our own canoes. But paddling somebody else’s canoe sounds so inviting. 😀 And so much easier. Isn’t that generally why people become psychologists? It’s so much easier to solve someone else’s problems. 😀 ::LOL::

  46. Ted Says:

    Otto Kerner #41 “The idea that Germans and Irish were not considered white people in 19th century America is probably a myth.”

    Europeans brought to America all the prejudices they had back home. Maybe “white“ is the wrong word but, inferior, backwards, uncultured, dirty were terms that were certainly tossed from any given group at another. When Irish started flooding into the states in the 19th Century they were treated horribly. The wrong name and the wrong accent were all that one needed to be turned away from a job. Those who came during the Civil War were packed off to fight before the put down their bags.

    That there was discrimination in the U.S. among “whites” has been thoroughly documented. The effect can more readily be seen in family names. Irish dropped the “O” (I have good friend who’s family name changed from O’Cain to Cain when his family came over in the early 19th Century). Scots dropped the “Mc”, many individuals and families adopted entirely different Anglo-Saxon names. On my father’s side, my family was 100% Anglo-Saxon for 200 years, until my grandfather married into a Scottish family.

    There may not be any laws on the books, but I’ll bet plenty of lawmakers tried to push discriminatory measures through.

  47. Jerry Says:

    @Allen #44

    Certainly having a “closed” gov’t is not fundamentally inconsistent with building a more unified, embracing society. As India has demonstrated, being open and democratic does not guarantee avoidance of ethnic and religious tension, turmoil and violence.

    With that said … I definitely think there is a lot of benefit that can be derived from having a more transparent, democratic government. It may lead to more accountable governance and perhaps put a check on corruption – a perennial problem in modern Chinese governments (both CCP and KMT (and DDP)).

    Certainly having a “closed” gov’t is not fundamentally inconsistent with building a more unified, embracing society.” I personally would modify that to “with building a seemingly more unified, embracing society.” I think your original term illusory. Allen, I don’t believe in shortcuts. We all need to work through these issues. Democracy and transparency can be ugly, that is for sure, Allen. But I believe that it helps in expediting the necessary healing. Nobody promised it would be easy.

    I also believe that corruption and lack of accountability are hardly exclusive Chinese sins. Just to give you an example, I quote from Bloomberg.com:

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601109&sid=aKKRHZsxRvWs&refer=exclusive

    Credit Swap Disclosure Obscures True Financial Risk (Update3)

    By Shannon D. Harrington and Abigail Moses

    Nov. 6 (Bloomberg) — The most comprehensive report on unregulated credit-default swaps didn’t disclose bets in the section of the more than $47 trillion market that helped destroy American International Group Inc., once the world’s biggest insurer.

    A report by the Depository Trust and Clearing Corp. doesn’t include privately negotiated credit-default swaps that insurers such as AIG, MBIA Inc. and Ambac Financial Group Inc. sold to guarantee securities known as collateralized debt obligations. It includes only a “small fraction” of contracts linked to mortgage securities, according to Andrea Cicione at BNP Paribas SA in London.

    New York-based DTCC’s data, released on its Web site Nov. 4, showed a total $33.6 trillion of transactions on governments, companies and asset-backed securities worldwide, based on gross numbers. While designed to ease concerns about the amount of risk banks and investors amassed on borrowers from companies to homeowners, the report may have missed as much as 40 percent of the trades outstanding in the market, Cicione said.

    The data are “likely to underestimate the amount of net CDS exposure,” Cicione, who correctly forecast in January that the cost of protecting European companies from default would rise, said in an interview. “A broadening of the coverage to the entire market is what investors really need.”

    `Increased Transparency’

    DTCC released the data as dealers and investors in the market seek to counter criticism that the market has amplified the financial crisis. The Nov. 4 report showed, for example, that $15.4 trillion of contracts linked to individual companies, governments and other borrowers were created. After canceling out contracts that offset one another, though, sellers of that protection would have to pay $1.76 trillion if all underlying borrowers defaulted and debt holders recovered nothing.

    The data is “definitely a welcome development,” Cicione said.

    Trading of credit derivatives soared 100-fold the past decade as banks, hedge funds, insurance companies and other investors used the contracts to protect against losses or speculate on debt they didn’t own. The growth was driven partly by CDOs, securities that parcel bonds, loans and credit-default swaps, slicing them into varying layers of risk.

    Banks worldwide have taken $693 billion in writedowns and losses on loans, CDOs and other investments since the start of 2007, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. …

  48. TommyBahamas Says:

    And so much easier. Isn’t that generally why people become psychologists? It’s so much easier to solve someone else’s problems. ::LOL::

    @Jerry,

    Psycho analysis/Psychology/Psychologist, I remember reading decades ago WAS the CAUSE of MOST pyschosis.

    Create the disease and you’ve just created a brand new profession –

    IN any case, shrinks are over rated, and over charging for what used to be the job of mentor, teachers, wife, husband, parents, grandparents, siblings, relatives and friends.

  49. Allen Says:

    @Jerry #47,

    You wrote:

    Allen, I don’t believe in shortcuts. We all need to work through these issues. Democracy and transparency can be ugly, that is for sure, Allen. But I believe that it helps in expediting the necessary healing. Nobody promised it would be easy.

    I will agree with you to the extent that democracy can be an important aspect of creating a “peaceful and harmonious” society in China. I will reserve (for now) disagreement regarding to what extent China needs the same type of “healing” between the different ethnicity as that between ethnicity in America / Europe.

    Regarding corruption, I agree with you. Corruption is not just about $ exchanged illicitly. It should include all the benefits that those in power have conferred disproportionately upon themselves or money toting special interests through beneficial laws, regulations, tax, etc.

  50. Steve Says:

    @ Allen: First of all, I want to thank you for addressing the actual intent of the post, which was to offer suggestions on improving things in China. This post wasn’t meant to compare China and the United States’ systems. They are two different countries with different needs, and comparisons can only go so far before them become silly. I only brought up the Obama election because it’s the big news worldwide and has drawn a focus towards the issue of inclusiveness.

    Is democracy messy? It sure is. As I said before, Obama’s election is a big deal to older liberals because he is black and to younger voters because he’s inspiring. I believe there are different forces at play here, depending on the demographic.

    Those “Muslim” attacks against Obama were typical electioneering BS. Obama denied he was Muslim because he isn’t Muslim. I think the people who took that seriously never had any intention of voting for him, and the rest of the people recognized it for the nonsense it was. After all, how can you get on his case for associating with Reverend Wright if Obama is Muslim? 😉

    Immigration control reminds me of a story I heard from Alan Cranston, the retired long time senator from Wyoming. He said that the Republicans were never able to pass immigration reform because the Democrats held power and wanted massive immigration since immigrants typically voted for Democrats. So when the Congress went Republican in 1994, he figured they’d pass some good legislation. What he found out is that Republicans didn’t want to reform either, since the hotel, restaurant and construction industries are dependent on low wage illegal aliens for their workforce. All this talk about immigration reform is an elaborate dance to me.

    If McCain had won, he would have barely won and we still would have had a minority candidate win a nomination and almost win the presidency. Instead, Obama not only won but routed McCain. As they say in New Jersey, “woulda, coulda, shoulda”. 🙂

    As far as no interaction (I actually wrote “virtually no interaction”) in China between Han and minorities in western China, I was told this by several Han Chinese who had lived there. I didn’t read it in a book or see it on TV. Do they intermarry? Sure, but that happens no matter where you go and in every era unless forbidden by law. There was a time in the States where by law I could not have married my wife, so I can really relate to this particular concept. But when Louis Bellson, perhaps the greatest jazz drummer of his era, married Pearl Bailey in 1952, he was practically blackballed out of the profession by the establishment, though other musicians supported him. Just because it happens doesn’t make it accepted in the general culture.

    I actually think the idea of race as a divider is not true. I think the divider is class. Race and class used to be synonymous but not anymore. The media keeps pushing race but I don’t agree.

    “I have a vision of China of being a dynamic, diverse multi-cultural society. Even though China today is only a shadow of her former self and is still an economically very poor country, I would give China time to re-achieve prosperity. When prosperity has been re-achieved, you will see how dynamic and resilient all aspects of its cultures can be!”

    Allen, we share exactly the same vision. China might be economically poor overall, but economies don’t rise up evenly throughout the country but tend to have pockets of development and prosperity. China has many very prosperous areas these days. The challenge is to spread it throughout the country, where the prosperity in Henan can be relatively near the prosperity in Shanghai.

    We’ll have to disagree on the Olympic costumes issue. To convince me, I’d have to hear from the actual minorities represented. Based on my experience, human nature is consistent throughout the world and I have a pretty strong feeling they’d disagree with you, but I can’t confirm that so the discussion is at a dead end. 🙂

    Allen, I’m not pushing democracy here. When a westerner asks, “What changes to the system can China make to bring about a more united society?” Chinese tend to assume that westerner is subtly pushing a democratic solution. That is not always a valid assumption. Can a government be more accountable without being democratic? If so, how? That article from Pallavi Aiyar was excellent! I think she very much illustrates the differences between the two cultures. It was interesting when she said she’s rather be affluent in India but poor in China. Freedom and democracy don’t mean much when you’re starving.

    But in the end, our discussions about the States, India or anywhere else don’t really fit China’s situation. China is unique. China has a specific history and culture and any solution or improvement must fit that history and culture. This is not a “one size fits all” world we live in. So… what fits China? What can China do to modify its law, structure or policies to achieve its aims? How can the minorities feel a sense of nationhood without sacrificing their unique subcultures? These are the questions I pose~

  51. Steve Says:

    @cephaloless #37: That reminded me of Kerry’s wife, Maria Teresa Thierstein Simões Ferreira Heinz Kerry, claiming she was African-American because she was born in Mozambique. (her parents were wealthy Portuguese) LMAO 🙂

    @Hongkonger #40: I’ve been branded an egg, so we’re in the same club~

    @Otto Kerner #41: Ted #46 put it better than I did. Germans were definitely second class citizens and Irish were third class. The only real avenues they had for success were in the military and police force, and most cavalry troopers in the Indian wars were Irish and German. Even as late as the 1930s, there were still signs outside major US corporations that said, “Irish Need Not Apply”.

  52. cephaloless Says:

    @Allen #44 “So instead of dwelling on what could have been better – shouldn’t we also applaud the Chinese government for at least presenting a vision of unity and inclusiveness?”

    I’d say applauding the presentation of “unity and inclusiveness” in the olympics like that is like making a documentary about tibet by filming a street full of han owned and operated businesses (with han patrons), all of whom praise the developments the government has supported and how everything is good and everyone is happy. Meanwhile on the next street over, the locals grumble about whatever they grumble about. If the government is willing to put up a happy show to cover up the ugliness, how bad is it back there? If they say, ok, it’s a little bit bad, is that another show to cover up how incredibly bad it really is?

    This applies to everybody including each of us as individuals so no need to tell me I’m just blasting china.

    About that closed government, I agree it can do good things under a good leader. On the other hand, I can’t trust it to be consistently good. And being closed, only the inner circle can do something about it. If the inner circle is in on the bad ideas, good luck for everyone else till after the revolution.

  53. Allen Says:

    @Steve #50,

    Yes – I understand that you didn’t mean your post to spur discussions of China v. U.S. / West, etc. But given your questioning of whether China is inclusive with an introduction of the U.S. as an example of an “inclusive” society – I think many readers (including me) thought you were judging China through the lens of the U.S.

    Whether you did or not, I still think it’s a good discussion.

    And regarding your probing questions about China’s “inclusiveness,” I definitely commend your inquisitiveness. People who care about China’s long-term stability and prosperity should care not just about her unity – but also her inclusiveness…

    Now regarding your statement:

    But in the end, our discussions about the States, India or anywhere else don’t really fit China’s situation. China is unique. China has a specific history and culture and any solution or improvement must fit that history and culture. This is not a “one size fits all” world we live in.

    Do you really mean it? Do you think most Westerners who try to understand China really do so through these (what I’d term non-ideological) lenses?

    From my perspective, a lot of “heated arguments” I have had with my “Westerner” friends are over specifically this point. I feel that most of the West’s criticism of China (especially earlier this year in the aftermath of the Lhasa riots as well as in the lead up to the Olympics) were carried out through Western ideological lens – and at the expense of China’s long-term interests.

    BXBQ had mentioned about establishing “boundaries” in our discussion between East and West. My interpretation of such “boundaries” is that the two sides need to leave their ideological, doctrinal lenses at home when coming to a better understanding of each other.

    This boundary, in my opinion, applies to even deeply held concepts such as “human rights,” “social justice,” “democracy,” “freedom,” “rule of law,” concepts about “racism,” etc., etc.

    I know we’ll have plenty of opportunities to discuss all these in more detail in the future… 😉

  54. Allen Says:

    @cephaloless #52,

    Yes, you’ve articulated good arguments why many around in the world do harbor suspicions against the CCP as well as good arguments for bringing at least some elements of democracy into the Chinese political process.

    My fundamental point about democracy however is still that if China is to become more democratic, the Chinese people must bring about it themselves. For without a home-grown, grass-roots, culture of active vigilance of the gov’t by the people, a democracy is a democracy-in-name only. And a democracy-in-name only does no one any good.

  55. Steve Says:

    @Allen #53: Is the US an inclusive society? It’s more inclusive than it used to be. I don’t think any society in the world is totally “inclusive” since all cultures are composed of people and as Jerry said, people tend to associate with the groups similar to themselves where they feel comfortable. But over time, traits that used to be considered “different” are no longer felt to be and as you said, intermarriage blurs the line between those differences. Familiarity breeds acceptance and finally, irrelevance.

    Did I mean what I said? Sure. Remember, I lived there and unlike guys like FOARP who worked with other westerners so had a balance between west and east in their social interaction, all my colleagues were Chinese. I guess you can say it was “total immersion”. I think sometimes I see China through cultural lenses, but I think my background in politics gives me a different viewpoint than most Americans in terms of ideology. I do my best not to compare but try to accept the culture as an intrinsic whole that can’t be divided into parts.

    There is a philosophical component at play. Western philosophy tends to break things into parts that can be figured out individually while Eastern philosophy tends to look at things as organic wholes, not able to be divided. That might account for some of the misunderstanding between the two.

    How about other westerners? I think they see China through ideological lenses, cultural lenses and every other lens that the media bombards them with. How about other Chinese? I think they see the west through ideological lenses, cultural lenses and every other lens that the media bombards them with. Is it easier for a Chinese person to get a clearer view of western politics? As long as they can access western media websites, they can get differing views, including critical ones. I don’t think the NY Times has been very complimentary concerning the Bush administration.

    But if a western person wants to know more about China, they can access the China Daily or another government newspaper and they get the official line; blatant propaganda that isn’t even written well. Instead of opening the mind, it just closes westerners to a true understanding of the real China. The only way to really know what’s going on is to live there and get out among regular people, gain their trust and ask a lot of questions. Since those papers are primarily for western consumption, I think they actually accomplish the opposite of what they were intended to do.

    I haven’t joined the Tibetan independence discussions precisely because I think there is nothing to discuss. China is not going to give either Tibet or Xinjiang their independence; their geopolitical importance is too great for China to do so. The only discussion would be the degree of autonomy and how to handle the religious aspects, and China has made clear in unofficial channels that they aren’t going to do anything in Tibet until after the DL dies. When it comes to politics, I’m a realist. Where are we today and where can we go tomorrow. Yesterday gives us background but in the end is irrelevant. Politicians only use “yesterday” to create emotional outbursts that serve today’s interests.

    That was the reason for my post. How can the Chinese government, in China, with Chinese people, bring about the changes we discussed? Some might say that there are no problems with minorities, or that the problems are no different than any other country with minority cultures. If so, there is nothing to discuss. But I think that would be seeing China with a reverse ideological lens. So within the Chinese culture and government system, what to do? What modifications can be made to alleviate the rancorous feelings those people have towards the government?

    Allen, I agree with you to a certain extent about boundaries, but I don’t think you can put boundaries around everything you mentioned. That would be saying that there is no such thing as basic human nature and that there are no commonalities among all people in this world. That goes against everything I’ve ever experienced in my life. I shall believe to my dying day that deep inside, we are all intrinsically the same. It also creates an opening wide enough for a truck to drive through for every despotic dictator in the world to hide behind and justify their aggression.

    Lastly, the Olympics weren’t a play or a movie or just a Beijing production. In fact, they weren’t even a normal Olympic games. China chose to make it their coming out party, a way to present the new China to the rest of the world. The spared no expense. Their opening and closing ceremonies (I loved the drummers!) were by far the most elaborate ever. Having the wrong faces inside those minority costumes wasn’t an accident, since this thing was planned to the nth degree. The show wasn’t just for the Chinese; it was for the entire world. Deng Xiaoping once said, “Seek truth from facts” and the fact is, all they did was reinforce the perception the world had of their treatment of minorities, regardless of whether that perception was or was not correct. So whatever the intention was, the result was not in the best interest of the Chinese nation.

  56. Allen Says:

    @Steve #55,

    Many, many good points. I have nothing to add at this point. I’ll be very interested in hearing what others also have to say – both here on this thread … or in the future in other threads … about how reforms should be carried out in China … for the long term benefit of China – and the world – as a whole.

  57. WW Says:

    I used to think, as a kid in China, that Muslims were so lucky because they were rationed beef instead of pork, which I thought was much tastier than pork; and I used to think that the minority kids were so lucky because government gave them all kinds of preferential treatments, such as going to college or joining the military, etc. … Now thinking back, I can tell that the Chinese government has been carrying out some kind preferential treatment policy towards minorities in trying to integrate them into the mainstream society. So, one really can’t say that the Chinese society has not been inclusive (or at least one can’t say that Chinese society has not been trying to be inclusive).

  58. Allen Says:

    @WW #57,

    I understand your sentiment. But I also think Steve has a point.

    Does Chinese culture = Han culture or something more?

    I know one time I was talking with my friends about China – and I made an assertion that Chinese never flew religion as a flag for political conquest. In fact, Buddhism as practiced in China is of the non-political, non-violent sort – unlike Christianity or Islam in the West and other parts of the world, I commented smugly.

    One of my close friends then made 2 comments. In Tibet, Buddhism has been leveraged as a cry for warfare as well as for political suppression of the common people for centuries. If you really believe Tibet is part of China, your statement about “China” is not quite correct .

    Some other smart ass in the group then followed up. If you think XinJiang is part of China, you also shouldn’t make such grand statement since many people there are Muslims. And surely it wouldn’t be surprising that Muslims there have taken arms in the past for their religion …

    Those comments made me think…

    I had two options. First, we Chinese have to change the concept of Chineseness to incorporate the histories and experiences of minorities… Two, we Chinese should bifurcate a traditional sense of Chineseness defined as Han and a modern sense of Chineseness as one that more comprehensively incorporate the histories and experiences of minorities.

    I told my friends I personally preferred the second … for a variety of reasons…

    Anyways. This is just one story. How do you think I should have responded to my friends?

  59. cephaloless Says:

    I know there are previous posts that advise against apples and oranges comparisons between china and other nations but maybe a little bit can bring out other thoughts (and enlighten me).

    I see some parallels between “chinese” and “american”(as common term for the people of USA) in the context of the present discussion. Please correct me if the following statements are wrong or too far of a stretch in anyway. The chinese culture is made up of a number of cultures, the primary of which is now han (I’m going to ignore other cultures’ influences on the development of the present han culture). It also claims each of these component cultures as exclusively “chinese”. The american culture is made up of a number of cultures carried there by immigrants from around the world. The primary component was english which I think has been washed out to just european now with a rising hispanic component. “America” doesn’t claim the component cultures as it’s own especially since those component cultures have their own existence outside of US territory. (If you’re german and you make your home in the US, you’re german-american, if you’re in germany, you’re german with nothing to do with america.) Granted the chinese component cultures are all conquered/absorbed now with basically no independent existence outside of chinese territory but is this the big difference between “chinese” and “american” that led to different although I think similar concepts?

    I don’t have the experience or research to know the following:
    Manchu are considered “chinese”, how about iroquois, choctaw, etc. I hope the immediate reaction is “american” if the question is asked, not some foreign entity.

    @Allen #57

    I would also go with the second option with certain specifics. The first option looks like rewriting history while the second lets history be what it is (maybe it’s han +/- a few cultures it mingled with over the years depending on the time frame) and redefine “chinese” for today’s world. Instead of a modern definition of chinese culture, I’d actually go with chinese citizenship and drop the cultural unity spiel. It’ll make the white 4th generation missionary decendent just as chinese as everyone else in china (minority culture number 57, white european :-P).

  60. chinayouren Says:

    @Steve – You opened a very interesting discussion, that is in the minds of many chinese since Obama’s election. I just wanted to comment on: “it has been widely reported that in minority areas and provinces, the two cultures have virtually no interaction.”

    This is true in some areas, especially in XinJiang and Tibet. But let’s not forget that there are also many succesfull cases of minorities integration. In the very Tibetan areas of West Sichuan, for example, I have met quite a few young tibetans marriyng Han, going to university in Chengdu, and otherwise being completely integrated in modern China. And all the while sticking to their identity and proud of being Zangzu. Same story I saw in some areas of GuangXi.

    Of course, I am speaking mostly of town dwellers, I can well imagine that the herders living up on the plateau would have more trouble to integrate. But that’s a different problem that affects also many Han in impoverished areas.

  61. Jerry Says:

    @Steve #55
    @Allen #56

    #55

    “Is the US an inclusive society? It’s more inclusive than it used to be.” I agree, Steve. It takes time, but it changes.

    I do my best not to compare but try to accept the culture as an intrinsic whole that can’t be divided into parts.

    There is a philosophical component at play. Western philosophy tends to break things into parts that can be figured out individually while Eastern philosophy tends to look at things as organic wholes, not able to be divided. That might account for some of the misunderstanding between the two.

    To be honest, Steve, I do compare and reflect. But my nature is towards cosmology. Maybe, it is not comparing so much, as in which culture is better. Maybe it is more studying different facets. It is the ultimate in hubris to assume that you can tinker with another person’s personality or a country’s culture.

    I just don’t understand componentization. I understand cosmology (And it is not that I am Eastern or smitten by Eastern philosophy. Maybe it is the Jewish culture? Maybe my study of theoretical physics? Maybe that is my nature and that is why physics and my culture fascinate me? Who knows?) Americans seem to like one from column A, one from column B and so on (and Chinese restaurants which insist on no substitution. OK, I threw this in for fun.). Or if they just use olive oil, eliminate trans-fats or eat oat bran, they all will live happily ever after. Or if you take this pill or that pill. Or if you just read this book on the 7 traits of highly successful people. IMHO, most Americans are just disconnected from themselves. They are so busy running around they just don’t take time to slow down and reflect and listen. So much for my generalizations.

    People wonder why I retired to Taipei. I discover an answer, here or there, from time to time. New revelations occur occasionaly. But the cosmologist in me has an encompassing rejoinder inside me. Taipei just “fits” me. It just works. And why it fits and works for me deepens and changes. I know how it feels. In general, I feel better here.

    Now this answer tends to drive Americans nuts. They want to know why, exactly why, boring component by component. I just smile at them (maybe it is a schadenfreudic smirk). Then these same Americans will turn around and start talking about synergy, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. These guys wouldn’t know synergy if it bit them in the tuchus. It is a great catchword. Just like leveraging and OOP (Object Oriented Programming). I think Americans like collecting catchwords. 😀 They bore me with their specious, meaningless superficiality. (Yeah, I know it is redundant) 😀

    All that said about cosmology, I am not a dogmatist. Sometimes allopathic remedies are needed. If we are going to change, let’s do it in small increments. Again, I don’t particularly like componentization. And unchanging, indivisible, regimented cosmology doesn’t sound so great, either. There are no panaceas. Life is messy. Sometimes I look at the trees, sometimes the forest. But I never forget the trees when looking at the forest, and I never forget the forest when looking at the trees.

    —————-

    #56

    I’ll be very interested in hearing what others also have to say – both here on this thread … or in the future in other threads … about how reforms should be carried out in China … for the long term benefit of China – and the world – as a whole.

    Allen, I have trouble running my own life, let alone China’s. As I said earlier, I’ll paddle my own canoe and they can paddle theirs. If they attack or threaten to attack my canoe … Well that is different. I can tell you what I like and don’t like. I will criticize what I feel like criticizing. I will compliment and/or note that which I want to compliment and/or note. And maybe a few suggestions. But that is as good as it gets for me.

  62. chinayouren Says:

    @VW #57 – Interesting information about the beef rationing. It shows a good deal of sensitivity on the side of the Chinese government to minorities, even in times of economic difficulty.

    I agree that the Chinese government has been practicing some kind of affirmative action already for a long time, although not necessarily in the way that it is applied by the West.

    Most importantly, the majority of the Han laobaixing I have met are not particularly excited about being Han, as opposed to being some other minority. They are rather focused on their chinese identity. Even the radical nationalistic only refer to China, as in WoAi Zhonguo, and it is rare to see references to the superiority of the Han relative to other minorities.

  63. Otto Kerner Says:

    cephaloless, you’re not necessarily doing Iroquois or Choctaw people any favors by referring to them as Americans. It depends on how they prefer to be regarded. The same goes for referring to minority people in China as Chinese.

  64. Ted Says:

    cephaloless # 59: I maybe restating your post. I think the defining question is how, when, and where does one distinguish between Chinese as a nationality and Chinese as a (Han) culture. In English the term is too vague. While watching CCTV 9 during the Olympics there was an interview between a male anchor, a foreign professor from Nanjing University and another personality. They were discussing the interaction of Chinese and western cultures during the Olympics when the foreign professor mentioned something about the diversity of Chinese culture. Well, the host couldn’t handle it and stumbled through a disagreement as he tried to change the subject:

    **Host: “Surely you don’t mean the Chinese population contains culturally distinct subsets.”
    Guest: “That’s precisely what I mean, and don’t call me Shirley.”

    My hope is that the two were simply using the term Chinese differently, the guest as a nationality and the host as “Han Chinese”. Either way, the host came across as an arrogant jerk… who knows maybe the foreigner looked equally ridiculous from the Chinese POV.

    Personally, I am trying to adopt the practice of using the term Chinese as a nationality. Perhaps China hasn’t reached a stage where it’s population can simultaneously recognize itself as unified and diverse but, in my opinion, the govt. would do well to adopt a similar approach. If you have to hyphenate xxxx-Chinese for a while, then so be it. In the end people in group xxxx still recognize themselves as part of a larger entity.

    Years ago, the practice of hyphenating (xxxx-American) grated against me but now I see it as a test, pressure on my government and society as a whole to be more inclusive. When the hyphenation is dropped and someone simply states I’m American, then that individual feels their voice is heard. At the same time I recognize that many other older cultures often don’t make such distinctions. French immigrants that I have met, Chinese and African, refer to themselves only as French so perhaps hyphenation is unique to U.S.

    That my country is so diverse will, I hope, make it a more responsible player in the world. I hope that Obama’s election, has changed an ideal into a reality and set set us squarely on that path.

    uggh… I know I’m contradicting myself in some areas here, just thinking through the issue.

    Otto is right on the Iriquois and Choctaw (Monacan & Cherokee in my neck of the woods).

    **Not a direct quote

  65. WW Says:

    @Allen #58
    @Chinayouren #62

    After Chin Kingdom (Qin Guo) united the six nations, it was referred to as China by the world and the peoples under its rule were referred to as Chinese regardless their nationalities/ethnicities. After Han Dynasty was established, the peoples under its rule were referred to as Han ren (Han peoples) regardless their nationalities/ethnicities. From historic point of view, the modern Han nationality is really the mixture of many nationalities. Now we have a contemporary Middle Kingdom — ZhongQuo, of course all the peoples within its boundary should be referred to as Zhong Guo Ren (aka Chinese), regardless of nationalities and ethnicities.

    One observation: When a country or an empire becomes large enough, it always becomes multi-national/ethnic/racial and multicultural; examples are Roman Empire, British Empire, Russian and Soviet Empire, and American Empire, etc.

  66. Eliav Says:

    @cephaloless

    I’m pretty sure China doesn’t claim its Mongolian, Russian, and Korean cultures as exclusively Chinese!

    America is made up of more than just immigrants and their descendants. We also have descendants of nations such as the Sioux, Apache, and Cherokee, whose territories once spanned both sides of the US/Canadian/Mexican borders. Latinos have lived here since the 1500s, long before the Pilgrims arrived on Plymouth Rock.

    “Granted the chinese component cultures are all conquered/absorbed now with basically no independent existence outside of chinese territory but is this the big difference between “chinese” and “american” that led to different although I think similar concepts?”

    I don’t think this is true. Groups such as the Miao, Yi, Uyghurs, Mongols, Koreans, Kazakhs, and many others have significant populations inside and outside of China. Those that live within Chinese borders usually consider themselves Chinese, while those that live outside do not. I believe it’s the same for most ethnic Han in places like Indonesia, Malaysia, or Burma.

    You seem to believe that all minority groups in China are Chinese only because they have been “conquered” by the Han majority. Why? Wasn’t China once also a land of immigrants?

  67. Allen Says:

    @Eliav,
    You wrote:

    You seem to believe that all minority groups in China are Chinese only because they have been “conquered” by the Han majority. Why? Wasn’t China once also a land of immigrants?

    Can the sense of Chineseness be the same sense of Americanness in that they both involve concepts beyond mere ethnicity?

    What is the American language? Officially, English. But today, Spanish, Hebrew, Chinese, French, Italian, etc. are also spoken.

    What is the Chinese language? Officially pu-tong hua (Han). But many other minority languages are also spoken (and none is really in danger of extinction (see one list)). Unlike the US, however, many languages (including Mongolian, Tibetan) are actually printed on the Yuan.

    What is the American historical experience? Started with colonies of European powers in the name of liberty. But also include histories from Africa, China, Latin American, etc.

    What is the Chinese experience? Starts with the history of the north … but then there is also history from the south, from Mongolia, Manchuria, Tibet, etc….

  68. Steve Says:

    I’m confused about the whole “Han” thing. Maybe you can help me out…

    I always thought “Han” was more of an idea than any particular race. They’ve done DNA studies and found that northern and southern Chinese have very different DNA characteristics. I always thought it was a way to unite the people over a wide area with the idea of a common culture. At one time the Yellow River culture conquered the southern areas, and now everyone thinks of themselves as one people.

    But WW #65 said that all under the Han dynasty umbrella should be referred to as Han Chinese. Wouldn’t that include most of the minorities in the southwest? Would it also include North Korea and North Vietnam, also part of the Han dynasty? Since Manchuria was never part of the Han, are those people still thought of as a minority or have the passage of years changed that thinking? That’s where my confusion lies.

    After reading Allen’s post, I wonder if the whole idea of “Han” shouldn’t be retired and everyone can just refer to themselves as “Chinese” and be done with it. These days, does the idea of Han create alienation and distance between different groups?

  69. Steve Says:

    @chinayouren #60: I think you brought up a really good point. The areas where the different subcultures meet the majority culture will always bring about a mixed, more accepting society. So maybe it’s like a slow wave that emanates from the center outward? But since many areas of the west are so scarcely populated, that kind of interaction will probably never take place over the entire country.

    I think as long as the majority of the subculture feels accepted in the main culture, has access to good educational and career oppoturnities and is not threatened with having their cultural uniqueness taken from them, the overall society can become peaceful and harmonious.

  70. Allen Says:

    @Steve #68,

    About the concept of “Han” – I am a firm believer that the concept of the “Han” (whatever that means) really is a concept that resonates much more with the West than Chinese (DL notwithstanding, since you know that from my perspective, his audience is the West, not Chinese).

    What Wukong wrote in this comment really resonated with me.

    During my college days we only identified each other as Northerner or Southerner, Hubei Ren(native) or Hunan Ren etc.

    Only after I came to US, I was reading news reports saying how Han Chinese were oppressing Tibetans and destroying Tibetan culture, it suddenly came to me: holy shit! I am a Han, I am the oppressor!

    I love China because I love all aspects of her cultures. I am still flabbergasted when people from the West equate Chinese nationalism with Han nationalism. It’s crazy…

    Yes – the overzelousness of the central government for economic development (not a bad thing, in my opinion) can sometimes translate into chauvinism by people from the city over people from the rural area … or in other cases into feeling of cultural superiority by people who identify more with “Han” culture from the more prosperous Eastern provinces over minorities from less developed provinces.

    But that I think really represent more the narrow mindedness of the people holding those attitudes than any official government policies.

    Discussions like this are helpful because they will help people (from both within China as well as from outside China) examine some of their attitudes.

    But fundamentally, I see China – in her history as well as for her future – as always intrinsically a dynamic multicultural society.

  71. Hongkonger Says:

    From Han Dynasty to Tang Dynasty is nearly a thousand years’ worth of political and cultural evolution. Yet Chinese people identify ourselves as people of both dynasties. Southern Chinese more Tang than Han, though.

    I’ve never seen myself as part of a tribe, just a Zhong Guo ren, regardless of my Nationality. I also identify myself as a Xiang Gang or GuangDong ren(香港 人 / 广东人).Sometimes as Tang ren 唐人especially when in Hakka mode, because that’s what we Hakka people often call ouselves.
    San Francisco is called 金山- gold mountain. During the gold rush years, many Southern Chinese peasants were sold as cheap labors (卖猪仔) to San Francisco. Often euphemistically phrased as 去金山发财(going to the gold mountain to make our fortunes ) , bearing in mind that once a certain amount of fortune is made they ‘d 返/ 回唐山, return to Tang mountain to honor and glorify the ancestors光宗耀祖. praying never to die in a foreign land 客死异乡…
    Incidently, so-called China towns worldwide are in Chinese called Tang Ren Jie 唐人街 – The street of the people of Tang Dynasty.

  72. WW Says:

    I am not a historian, Steve, but as far as I know, Han Dynasty was not able to extend its rule to North Vietnam, or North Korea, or the minority areas the southwest region (which only came into the fold of China under the iron hooves of Mongol Cavalry in Yuan Dynasty). The central governments over the various dynasties were never able to exert direct rule over Vietnam or Korea for any extended periods of time. However, Chinese culture did have strong influence to both Vietnam and Korea. Both Vietnam and Korea used Chinese ideograms as their own writing systems, including a lot of 成语s, which are originated from Chinese history. Vietnam converted their writing system to Roman alphabet only after it was colonized by the French, a move some people in Vietnam think was a mistake since it cut the Vietnamese from its history and culture, as if Vietnam did not exist before the French came to Vietnam. Romanized writing system has the advantage of simplifying the writing system and thus easier to learn. However, it also has its fatal defect in that it is basically a set of phonetic symbols and the symbols have no meaning per se. As a result, the system often runs into problems because many East Asian languages have too many words that sound the same but with different meaning along with the complication of tonal and pronunciation variation of difference regions…. The same problems exist for the modern Korean writing system because the current Korean writing system is also consisted of a set of phonetic symbols. That is why you often see Koreans are still using Chinese characters from time to time in their writings.

  73. WW Says:

    It is interesting that the Cantonese identify themselve more with Tang than Han, as was pointed out by Hongkonger #71. I think that the reason might be that in Han Dynasty, GuangDong (岭南) was a fiefdom of its own, which was ruled by its own lord (越王). But by Tang Dynasty, the people in GuangDong (Canton), Hakka as well as local, were assimilated enough with the rest of the Middle Kingdom to identified themselves as Tang Ren ( people of Tang). Han and Tang were the 2 most glorious dynasties in the history of China.

  74. Steve Says:

    @Allen, Hongkonger & WW: Thanks for filling me in on the meaning of Han. I really appreciate it.

    Allen, I’m trying to think back to where I first heard the term “Han Chinese” and I really can’t remember. When I was traveling around the country, I always felt the differences between provinces were very noticeable. Even in Shanghai, I could usually tell whether someone was originally from Zhejiang, Jiangsu south of the Changjiang or Jiangsu north of the Changjiang. They just looked and acted differently. I guess I just assumed Han was a term used by the Chinese people themselves. Since I don’t read Chinese but just news written in English, I never considered it was a western term. Do they use it to classify all Chinese that do not belong to a minority group? Is there no such term that Chinese use for the same purpose?

    Hongkonger, once I think I heard something about Chinese living in China as being Han ren and Chinese living overseas as being Tang ren. Have you heard that before?

    WW, I had seen Korea and what is present day North Vietnam on maps of that era: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c3/Han_map.jpg and that’s where I got that impression. The Chinese empire seems to have waxed and waned from dynasty to dynasty over the centuries. Here is a very brief summary of that history:

    “In 207 BCE, a Chinese general named Zhao Tuo defeated An Dương Vương and consolidated Âu Lạc into Nanyue. In 111 BCE, the Chinese Han Dynasty consolidated Nanyue into their empire.

    For the next thousand years, Vietnam was mostly under Chinese rule. Early independence movements such as those of the Trưng Sisters and of Lady Triệu were only briefly successful. It was independent as Vạn Xuân under the Anterior Ly Dynasty between 544 and 602. By the early 10th century, Vietnam had gained autonomy, but not independence, under the Khúc family.

    In 938 CE, a Vietnamese lord named Ngô Quyền defeated Chinese forces at the Bạch Đằng River and gained independence after 10 centuries under Chinese control. Renamed as Đại Việt, the nation went through a golden era during the Lý and Trần Dynasties.”

    For the Korean era: “In 108 BCE, the Chinese Han Dynasty defeated Wiman Joseon and installed four commanderies in the area of Liaoning and the northern Korean peninsula. Subsequent Chinese immigrations from Yan and Qi brought elements of Chinese culture to the peninsula. By 75 BCE, three of those commanderies had fallen, but the Lelang Commandery remained under successive Chinese control until 313.”

    Those are both from Wikipedia but I also confirmed it in my Encyclopedia Brittanica.

    It’s too bad about the Romanization of the ideograms. I would agree that they lost a lot of the richness in the language by converting to a Romanization system.

  75. Allen Says:

    @Steve #74, I want to clarify what you wrote:

    I guess I just assumed Han was a term used by the Chinese people themselves. Since I don’t read Chinese but just news written in English, I never considered it was a western term.

    No – “han” is not a “western term.” We call the written Chinese characters “Han zi” – for example. I am just saying that we don’t go around identifying ourselves narrowly as “han” – definitely no in any way close to the extent that Western observers do.

  76. Allen Says:

    @WW #72,

    So do you think simplified Chinese is as “rich” as traditional Chinese? I personally do not mind so much the simplifying of the strokes – what really gets to me is the merging of different characters into one simplified form…

  77. Hongkonger Says:

    “Chinese living in China as being Han ren and Chinese living overseas as being Tang ren. Have you heard that before? ”

    Steve,

    My understanding may be limited to Guangdong culture/history. Please folks, correct me if I am wrong.

    The Hakka people I know call ourselves Tong-inn (Hakka dialect for Tang Ren) or Zhun Gog-inn (Zhong Guo Ren).

    The overseas Mandarin speakers normally say they are Hua Ren (Hua =Prosperous, civilized, glorious….i.e. People of Glorious/Civilized Middle Kingdom)

    “It’s too bad about the Romanization of the ideograms. I would agree that they lost a lot of the richness in the language by converting to a Romanization system…..So do you think simplified Chinese is as “rich” as traditional Chinese?”

    @Allen & Steve,

    THANK Heaven, pingyin was a far as it went for China….And NO way is simplified Han Zi as rich as traditional Chinese characters. Much easier to write, yes. Many simplified characters are “forced” …In fact, the so-called traditional or complex characters are already a simplified form. My penmanship sux, so, I don’t mind so much the simplified, be that as it may, let’s be fair.

    The word Hua seems to apply more to society – Huan ren society 华人社会
    The word Tang relates more to our culture – 唐餐 (I’ve never heard of 华餐 Hua cuisine)

    Ok, this one I am not certain, but even though 唐山 is an actual place in China, it also refers to as the chinese homeland. (华山)Hua shan is also an actual mountain range/ a location, but is never to mean homeland. Like I said, maybe this is limited to the canonese cultural expresions.

  78. Otto Kerner Says:

    Steve,

    As with a lot of things involving human social groups, the concept of Han has a lot of gray area between culture and visible race. I think that Han is fundamentally a cultural group, but, on the other hand, Han people in any given region probably have a lot of common ancestry going back quite a ways in history.

    FYI, Manchu people are definitely still considered to be an ethnic minority in China, although their culture has become almost completely indistinguishable.

    Allen, re: #70

    Eh? The vast majority of Western people have no concept of “Han” at all, just a concept of “Chinese”. That being the case, I don’t see how it can possibly be the case that the idea of “Han” resonates more with Westerners than with the Chinese. When Western media talk about “Han Chinese” oppressing Tibet, they’re trying to be politically correct, since that’s what Han people officially call themselves.

    Also, I’ll bet you that ethnic minority people in China often have a very clear concept of “Han”, so your statement that it doesn’t resonate much with Chinese people appears to be quite Han-centric. On the other hand, minorities’ concept might not be exactly the same as “Han”; for instance, the Tibetan concept of “gyanag” probably includes minkaohan.

  79. WW Says:

    Wow, Steve, you really did your research. I didn’t know Han managed to extend its rule into the areas of what are today’s North Vietnam and North Korea. One learns something new everyday! I am sure that the people in those 2 areas were HanMin/Chinese (汉民) are now Vietnamese or Korean, 🙂 just like the inhabitants of Southwestern states of the US used to be Mexican are now American because Mexico could not hold on to the land – as you put it “The Chinese empire seems to have waxed and waned from dynasty to dynasty over the centuries.”

    Allen, I don’t write Chinese much these days because of where I live and work, but if I have to use it I would probably prefer to use the simplified version. Although I am able to read both versions, personally I found the traditional version unnecessarily cumbersome and tedious. On the other hand, it is just my personal opinion because I started out with simplified version since I was a kid, and I don’t hold prejudice against those who prefer the traditional version. 🙂

  80. Steve Says:

    @Allen, Hongkonger, Otto Kerner: Thanks so much for all the explanations. It seems the term “Han Chinese” has several different levels of understanding, depending on who is saying it and who is hearing it. 🙂

    Hongkonger, I haven’t yet been to Hua Shan (though it’s VERY high on my list) but I remember when I was at Motorola in Tianjin, one of the contractors from Newcastle, UK told me he had visited it recently. He said, “You Americans overuse the word ‘awesome’ but it was truly awesome!!”

    I’ll ask my wife if Hakka in Taiwan also use those expressions. It’ll be interesting to compare.

    Otto, thanks for clearing that up for me, especially the Manchu being a minority. Is it correct to say that there aren’t any affirmative action programs for them as compared to other minority groups?

    One other question for the group; when we read about minorities in China not being happy with the government, or wanting independence, or revolting, etc., it always seems to involve either Tibetans or Uyghurs. Are those the only minorities that are in conflict at this time? Or are there others? I’m not trying to start another post or give an opinion; I really don’t know. As Will Rogers once said, “All I know is just what I read in the papers, and that’s an alibi for my ignorance.”

    Incidentally, he also said, ” Communism to me is one-third practice and two-thirds explanation.” 😉

  81. chinayouren Says:

    @78 – I think what Allen was trying to say is that there is often a good deal of confusion, as westerners tend to apply parallels from their own world to understand the chinese reality. So westerners hear “Han Chinese opress tibetans”, and they immediately recall images of KKK, racial struggle, etc.

    In fact, these “Han Chinese” headlines are very misleading, because:

    1- There are many other minorities such as Manchu, etc. also in the PLA and police. These are not strictly Han forces, or in any way act in the name of the Han.

    2- The tibet crackdown had nothing at all to do with being Han or not. Chinese are not particularly proud of being “Han”, they are proud of being chinese, full-stop. They want to avoid the secession of a part of what they consider the territory of china (Not the Han territory, note!).

    And yes, of course you are right that every chinese is well aware of which minzu they belong. It is even written on their passports and shenfenzhengs, if I remember well. But the point is that they attach no importance to it. Even the most nationalistic of Chinese will very rarely refer to his “Han-ness” as an element of identification. See my comment #62 above.

    I have the feeling that the classification in minzus is, in the mind of many chinese, little more than a bureaucratic classification. And I think it was only when the communist party arrived, with their strong focus in the unity of peoples (following the USSR model), that the different minzus -including the Han- were given any kind of official status. (somebody to confirm this point, I think I read it somewhere but dont have the time to check now)

  82. WW Says:

    “Do they use it to classify all Chinese that do not belong to a minority group? Is there no such term that Chinese use for the same purpose?”

    Steve, I like your way of looking at the meaning of Han. I never thought of it that way. Most people in China, however, would probably not be so conscientiously analytical about what it means of being a Han as the way you have been trying to figure out the meaning of Han. They would most likely take the meaning of being a Han for granted and would not give it too much thought (i.e. If no one tells him/her that he/she belongs to one of the 55 officially declared minority groups, then he/she must be a Han by default).

  83. chinayouren Says:

    Check out this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Han_Chinese.

    Especially interesting is the paragraph I copy below. The Han already had an official status during the ROC, but the Communists further divided them into 50 odd ethnic groups. It appears that the division is largely unscientific and, as Steve hinted above, Han was often used to incude anyone who didn’t fit into one of the defined minority groups. Such as the Hakka, a very important group in the history of China, that was not given a separate ethnicity.

    >>>>The definition of the Han identity has varied throughout history. Prior to the 20th century, some Chinese-speaking ethnic groups like the Hakka and the Tanka were not universally accepted as Han Chinese, while some non-Chinese speaking peoples, like the Zhuang, were sometimes considered Han.[8] Today, Hui Chinese are considered a separate ethnic group, but aside from their practice of Islam, little distinguishes them from the Han; two Han from different regions might differ more in language, customs, and culture than a neighboring Han and Hui. During the Qing Dynasty, Han Chinese who had entered the Eight Banners military system were considered Manchu, while Chinese nationalists seeking to overthrow the monarchy stressed Han Chinese identity in contrast to the Manchu rulers. Upon its founding, the Republic of China recognized five major ethnic groups: the Han, Hui, Mongols, Manchus, and Tibetans, while the People’s Republic of China now recognizes fifty-six ethnic groups.

    Whether the idea of Han Chinese is recent or not is a debated topic in China studies. Scholars such as Ho Ping-Ti argue that the concept of a Han ethnicity is an ancient one, dating from the Han Dynasty itself. By contrast, scholars such as Evelyn Rawski have argued that the concept of Han Chinese is a relatively recent one, and was only invented in the late 19th and early 20th century by scholars such as Liang Qichao who were influenced by European concepts of race and ethnicity.>>>>

  84. chinayouren Says:

    Why does quoting wikipedia and including a link to it qualify me as spam?
    I can’t send my comment..

  85. Allen Says:

    @Otto Kerner #78,
    You wrote:

    Eh? The vast majority of Western people have no concept of “Han” at all, just a concept of “Chinese”. That being the case, I don’t see how it can possibly be the case that the idea of “Han” resonates more with Westerners than with the Chinese. When Western media talk about “Han Chinese” oppressing Tibet, they’re trying to be politically correct, since that’s what Han people officially call themselves.

    Good point … people in the West used to think Chinese as a monolithic whole. Then when they find out about minorities in China – they jump to the other extreme. They reflexively put on their ethno-religious lens informed by West’s own experience with ethno-religious conflicts and begin to see China as a mini-colonial state of Han over all of its minorities.

    Yes – officially there is a categorization of people as “han” (though it’s not an ethnicity / race thing) – and also several of various categorizations for minority ethnicities (also not all of them necessarily is a race / genetic thing).

    However, the depiction of ethnicity as a driving force for ethnic – religious division aka genocide, inquisition, slavery, colonialism … is something that is imported from the West.

    That dynamic of “han” vs. other ethnicities is what I was trying to explain. Hope I made myself a little clearer…

  86. chinayouren Says:

    @Allen 83 – Oops, yeah, sorry, I shouldn’t go around trying to speak for other people.

    er… I wonder if you can see why FM is marking my comments as spam? I cannot post anymore!

  87. admin Says:

    @chinayouren,

    Sorry, Akismet mis-identified your comments as spam. I de-spammed them and deleted duplicates.

  88. Allen Says:

    @chinayouren #86 – #81,

    Actually I meant to thank you for #81…. I definitely learned a few things from that comment! 🙂

  89. Steve Says:

    @chinayouren #86: Having trouble with spam? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anwy2MPT5RE 🙂

    When I read your post in #81, I thought of the western Indian wars. If I change a few words:

    1- There are many other minorities such as Delaware, Crow, etc. also in the cavalry and military. These are not strictly Anglo-Saxon forces, or in any way act in the name of the Anglo-Saxons.
    v;
    2- The Indian wars have nothing at all to do with being Anglo-Saxon or not. Americans are not particularly proud of being “Anglo-Saxon”, they are proud of being American, full-stop. They want to avoid the secession of a part of what they consider the territory of the United States (Not the Anglo-Saxon territory, note!).

    When I thought of it in this way, the whole concept of Han seemed silly. Both Han and Anglo-Saxon are ancient terms that really don’t have much bearing on today’s world.

    In #83, you talked about the status of Hakka. Even today in China, most people I talked to believe Hakka are a minority and have no idea Sun Yat-sen, Zhu De and Deng Xiaoping were Hakka, especially in the northern and central areas. The southerners are typically more knowledgeable. In fact, when I was in the north and mentioned my wife, no one knew the word “Hakka” and I had to use “kejia” to be understood.

    @Allen #85: After being enlightened by all these comments, it seems the term “Han Chinese” was coined for political purposes in the not too distant past. When I was young and China was isolated, no one thought of the country as anything but a monolithic whole, “Communist China”, just as you stated. As Otto pointed out, the concept of “Han Chinese” came from China itself.

    However, I disagree with your next statement: “They reflexively put on their ethno-religious lens informed by West’s own experience with ethno-religious conflicts and begin to see China as a mini-colonial state of Han over all of its minorities.”

    Are westerners putting their ethno-religious lens on these conflicts, or are the players involved in the conflict phrasing it this way? The Chinese government labels a Uyghur independence group as a “terrorist” organization, similar to Al-Qaeda, and clamps down hard on religious freedom so the western world thinks of it as an ethno-religious conflict. In Tibet, isn’t it also an ethno-religious conflict? When the western media reports, they hear two sides, the Chinese government and the government-in-exile over in India. Neither is western, so to say that it is a western created perspective doesn’t ring true to me. You can say the DL has phrased the conflict in such a way as to appeal to western sensibilities, but again that is still eastern inspired and just being reported in the west. Both sides fight the international PR war, but maybe one side does it better than the other?

    “However, the depiction of ethnicity as a driving force for ethnic – religious division aka genocide, inquisition, slavery, colonialism … is something that is imported from the West.” Allen, aren’t many of these terms used by the Tibetans and Uyghurs themselves? Isn’t it unfair to pin them solely on the west?

    All this brings me back to a question I asked earlier; besides the Tibetans and Uyghurs, are the rest of China’s minorities simply ethnic subcultures that are not in conflict with the overall culture? If so, then is lumping “inclusiveness” with all minorities misleading? Should we only be concentrating on two particular minorities and their relationship with the central government and dominant culture?

    Incidentally, I’ve learned more from all of you in this thread than in any other so far on FM. Thanks!!

  90. Allen Says:

    @Steve #89,

    You are right that the term “Han” was created in part for political purposes… (Even the Han isn’t as monolithic as foreigners might think…)

    Regarding your disagreement regarding my statement attributing modern ethno-religious conflicts in China to the West, I will give you a short answer (the long answer is very long … trust me! 😉 )

    The short answer is the world – including China – is currently living in the shadow of Western history. The West colonized pretty much the whole planet for a few hundred years – except for some lucky pockets here and there.

    The Uyghur independence group today is supported by foreign sources as part of the global Islamist movement. As you know, the modern pan Islamist movement is created as a response to Western Imperialism, both today and in the past. As for the DL, the DL has adopted his independence rhetoric and conducted revisionist history in light of Western history to appeal to the West. This may explain why most Chinese people (including those in Taiwan) really don’t have much nice things to say about the DL the political figure.

    I know: in some ways history doesn’t matter … but in so many ways it still does.

    In truth, the effect of colonialism on how the world sees itself today is a very fascinating topic. I find it very insightful to understanding how and why world operates the way it does today!

  91. Otto Kerner Says:

    Steve,

    Regarding Manchus and the affirmative action benefits, that’s a good question. I don’t know, but my guess would be that they do get them. There might not be a good reason for it, but there are not so many Manchus (less than 1% of China’s population) so it doesn’t seem too expensive and it’s probably simpler just to give them the benefits.

    As for the “minorities in China not being happy with the government, or wanting independence, or revolting”, I think it’s clear that the many different ethnic groups in China are in very different social and political situations. Most of them are fairly small tribal groups. Even the Zhuang, which is the second most numerous ethnic group in China … I don’t know a lot about them, but I think I’ve read that it’s little more than a linguistic classification (Zhuang is a series of dialects related to Thai). They had almost no cohesion before they were classified as a “Zhuang” ethnicity in the 1940s, so there is almost no basis for a separate nationalist sentiment. Add to this the fact that many Zhuangs have been intensely influenced by Han culture for a very long time; as the Wikipedia quotation above mentions, they have sometimes been considered to be Hans themselves (note that the early 20th century concept of “Wǔzú gōnghé” or “Five-races harmony/republic” lists the five races as Han, Manchu, Mongol, Tibetan, and Muslim, even though the Zhuangs outnumber all of those but the first).

    None of these factors that mute Zhuang nationalism apply to Tibetans or Uighurs. The latter two groups are also the majority in a huge land area, which means that they probably don’t think of themselves as “minorities” — where they live, they are not the minority (obviously, Uighurs are having to get used to being the minority in northern Xinjiang). On the other hand, the Manchus are in a unique position because they were the masters, rather than subjects, of the most recent imperial dynasty, and because they have become so thoroughly assimilated to Han/mainstream Chinese culture.

    So, each of the various ethnic groups in China needs to be looked at on its own terms. I think it’s safe to say that most of them are small, scattered tribal groups, and, in that circumstance, to pursue independence would be quixotic on a good day.

  92. dan Says:

    Fascinating subject and discussions. I hope what I am about to say is not out of topic.
    While traveling/working in Shanghai several years ago, I visited the Shanghai museum where I was impressed by the intricate design and craftsmanship of copper wares, especially the swords, daggers, spears from the Shang dynasty; I was mesmerized by the gorgeous, ethereal of Han’s jade sculptural pieces. Then I was totally stunned by the sophistication of stone and ceramics sculptures, the copper-tin alloy ceremonial pieces from Tang dynasty. When I proceeded to the Song, (North and South), however, I was bewildered and troubled by the crude and primitive quality of the sculptures and ceramic artifacts of this period. Yet, Song dynasty was at least one thousand year after Shang and Han, and probably more than 400 years ahead of Tang, why there was such big difference between them? It was as if there was no advancement made all these centuries and appeared to be produced by different people. The ceramics figurines from Tang dynasty seem to present a more diverse society since the appearance of these figurines show a very different people if compared to the Chinese facial appearance that we most often associated with today. Could that explain the inclusiveness of the society? Also, the historical pieces of the different era don’t seem to present a linear development. Could they be proof of different cultures and people and therefore China has been an inclusive society? Could it be that different ethnicities had been ‘taking turn’ to rule China? I am not at all well read in Chinese culture, the only thing I saw that can link the three periods was the writing (and even that changed, too but was still discernible). Other than the writing, there was little resemblance in design (at least from those shown in the museum) between the Shang copper wares to Han’s jade to Tang’s then on to the Song’s. The period of wars and chaos between Tang and Song could be the reason attributed to the vacuum state of development due to the lost of artisans and technologies. May be the preference in materials used of the different periods could effect the design? but then could the usage of difference materials change so much in the cultural expression? I don’t see that is necessary true.
    Your thoughts will be greatly appreciated.

  93. Hemulen Says:

    @Allen

    However, the depiction of ethnicity as a driving force for ethnic – religious division aka genocide, inquisition, slavery, colonialism … is something that is imported from the West.

    I don’t have time for this, but to pin all these thins on the so-called West is disingenuous. The conquest of Xinjiang in 1759 or the suppression of Moslem rebellions in the late 19th centuries have strong elements of genocide. Han Chinese – however defined – would not be the dominant ethnic group in what is called China today if it were not for the resettlement, extermination or assimilation of other ethnic groups. You can quarrel about the terminology, but that’s not going to lead anywhere.

  94. Allen Says:

    @Hemulen,

    Haven’t heard from you in a while. Glad to see you back!

    You wrote:

    I don’t have time for this, but to pin all these thins on the so-called West is disingenuous. The conquest of Xinjiang in 1759 or the suppression of Moslem rebellions in the late 19th centuries have strong elements of genocide.

    About the disingenuous part – I defer to you. You are definitely entitled to your opinion … but I can tell you I never wrote anything on this board that I do not mean…

    In any case, from my perspective, to characterize “conquest of Xinjiang” by the Qing as a genocide can also be characterized as disingenuous.

    Genocide is the indiscriminate killing of a whole swath of humanity based on their ethnicity. Genocide – like slavery, or the holocaust, or colonialism – refer to loaded histories that brought a lot of pain and suffering for many people across the world. They should not be trivialized for convenience of political discussions.

    When people casually compared China to Nazi Germany in the lead up to the Olympics – or when people accused China of first “genocide” – and then “just” “cultural genocide” – in Tibet … all without much evidence or much sense of real history – I think that goes beyond just the disingenuous.

    I don’t think genocide as currently understood ever happened systematically in “Chinese history.” Yes there were political struggles. Yes people died in political struggles. But there were never wholesale enslavement or killing of people based on their ethnicity for the sake of their ethnicity. That goes against the essence of Confucius political visions of building peaceful and harmonious societies.

    And to the extent there were any such genocide (could have happened in Tibet in the Lamas’ religious wars, for example), they certainly didn’t arise to any scale similar to that caused by Western Colonialism.

    Look Hemulen, the point here is not for us to guilt each other about each other’s history. I was merely answering Steve’s questions regarding my world view (which didn’t resonate with his).

    I’m confident we can substantively discuss the future of China (or the West) without bringing into the discussion issues of right and wrong. 😉

  95. S.K. Cheung Says:

    I don’t think Obama won because he is black. I also don’t think he won in spite of his being black. I think he won because of his message, his demeanor, and his political principles. Which is really to say that I hope his colour was irrelevant (and I hope that is actually true). For a white candidate espousing Obama’s views would’ve beaten McCain; and a black version of McCain would also have lost. And in the end, for me, that is as it should be. For a society to be truly inclusive, a person should be judged on his/her merits, and not on skin colour. As I’ve also said before, to me, racism is judging by skin colour and not be merits. So for me, an inclusive society is one that doesn’t make decisions based on race.

    So likewise, if Chinese society can make decisions based on an individual’s merits, and not on an individual’s race, that to me would be inclusive. And if, in a political realm, the best leader of the country is Han, then so be it. What should matter is not that he/she is Han, but that he/she is the best leader of China.

    THe trickiness of inclusiveness from a political perspective, of course, is to have representation. I think it’s tough to feel “included” if you’re not heard. So for me, the barrier to China becoming truly inclusive is not only looking beyond race to judge merits, but to also allow the people to make such judgements.

  96. Steve Says:

    @Otto Kerner #91: I looked up the minority populations for the largest groups and this is what I found: The PRC officially recognizes 56 distinct ethnic groups, the largest of which are Han Chinese, which constitutes about 91.9% of the total population. The 55 other ethnic groups are officially recognized as ethnic minority groups. The large ethnic minority groups in terms of population include the Zhuang at 16 million, the Manchu at 10 million, the Hui at 9 million, the Miao at 8 million, the Uyghur at 7 million, the Yi at 7 million, the Tujia at 5.75 million, the Mongols at 5 million, the Tibetans at 5 million, the Buyei at 3 million, and the Koreans at 2 million.

    So your guess about the number was pretty close. I also read that after the fall of the Qing, many Manchu changed their names to Chinese and faded into the general population. But with the affirmative action programs now available for minorities, they are going back to the Forbidden City where the old family records are kept to prove their genealogy so they and their children can qualify. In a strange sort of way, the benefits given to minorities are bringing back their sense of being one.

    “So, each of the various ethnic groups in China needs to be looked at on its own terms. I think it’s safe to say that most of them are small, scattered tribal groups, and, in that circumstance, to pursue independence would be quixotic on a good day.”

    I completely agree. I didn’t mean to imply that the smaller groups were seeking independence, or even that they were unhappy with their present circumstances. I was just wondering if that concerns for “minorities” in China just apply to Uyghurs and Tibetans, and no other groups. If so, to use the term “minority” for political reasons seems like a misnomer to me.

  97. A Concerned Jew... Says:

    @Hemulen

    As a Jew, I find your flippant abuse of the term “genocide” not only distasteful, but extremely insulting.

  98. Hongkonger Says:

    I think China is an inclusive society. During the Tang Dynasty, thousands of foreigners came and lived in numerous Chinese cities for trade and commercial ties with China via the silk road and many Chinese sea ports, including Persians, Arabs, Hindu Indians, Malays, Sinhalese, Khmers, Chams, Jews and Nestorian Christians of the Near East, and many others.

    For example, in the eighth century, i.e.over 1,300 years ago, Guangzhou was being described as a bustling mercantile center where many large and impressive foreign ships came to dock.by the Buddhist monk Jian Zhen. He wrote that “many big ships came from Borneo, Persia, Qunglun (Indonesia/Java)…with…spices, pearls, and jade piled up mountain high,” as written in the Yue Jue Shu (Lost Records of the State of Yue).

    In 851 the Arab merchant Suleiman al-Tajir observed the manufacturing of Chinese porcelain in Guangzhou and admired its transparent quality. He also provided a description of Guangzhou’s mosque, its granaries, its local government administration, some of its written records, the treatment of travellers, along with the use of ceramics, rice-wine, and tea.

    Vessels from Korean Silla, Manchurian Balhae and Hizen Province of Japan were all involved in the Yellow Sea trade, which Silla dominated. It is also known that Chinese trade ships traveling to Japan set sail from the various ports along the coasts of Zhejiang and Fujian provinces.

    The Chinese engaged in large-scale production for overseas export by at least the time of the Tang. This was proven by the discovery of a silt-preserved shipwrecked Arab dhow in the Gaspar Strait near Belitung, which had 63,000 pieces of Tang gold, silver, and ceramics (including a Changsha bowl inscribed with a date: “16th day of the seventh month of the second year of the Baoli reign”, or 826 AD, roughly confirmed by radiocarbon dating of star anise at the wreck

    Beginning in 785, the Chinese began to call regularly at Sufala on the East African coast with various contemporary Chinese sources giving detailed descriptions of trade in Africa. The official and geographer Jia Dan (730–805) wrote of two common sea trade routes in his day: one from the coast of the Bohai Sea towards Korea and another from Guangzhou through Malacca towards the Nicobar Islands, Sri Lanka and India, the eastern and northern shores of the Arabian Sea to the Euphrates River.[In 863 the Chinese author Duan Chengshi provided a detailed description of the ivory trade, and ambergris trade in Berbera in Somalia. In Fustat (old Cairo), Egypt, the fame of Chinese ceramics there led to an enormous demand for Chinese goods; hence Chinese often traveled there (this continued into later periods such as Fatimid Egypt).[ From this time period, the Arab merchant Shulama once wrote of his admiration for Chinese seafaring junks, but noted that their draft was too deep for them to enter the Euphrates River, which forced them to ferry passengers and cargo in small boats. Shulama also noted that Chinese ships were often very large, with capacities up to 600-700 passengers.

    About ten Centuries later, the Manchus conquerors and rulers adopted much of Tang’s culture. And it was during the Qing (Manchu) dynasty that the “Red Mansion Dream, ” ( 紅樓夢 ) a masterpiece of Tang Chinese literature, was composed. Women back then were smart, sexy and charished. Empress Wu of the Tang dynasty founded the Wu-Zhou dynasty. Many females did become de facto leaders, usually as Empress Dowager. Prominent examples include Empress Dowager Cixi, mother of the Tongzhi Emperor (1861-1874), and aunt and adoptive mother of the Guangxu Emperor (1874-1908), who ruled China for 47 years (1861-1908), and the Empress Dowager Lü of the Han Dynasty.

    Ok, enough boring history, let’s feast our eyes on some classic beauties & opulence: Here’s a compilation of HK Shaw Brother’s classic movie montage. Amongst them, the Shanghai born, Hong Kong Star, LeDi 樂蒂 was dubbed “The world’s Most beautiful Chinese Actress ” at the 1963 Cannes Festival:

    LeDi 樂蒂
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=guTpbelQQB8&feature=related

    and other beauties:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OA1tR3BZj9g&feature=related

  99. Jerry Says:

    @A Concerned Jew… #97
    @Allen #85, #94
    @Hemulen #93

    ACJ, Allen wrote in #85:

    However, the depiction of ethnicity as a driving force for ethnic – religious division aka genocide, inquisition, slavery, colonialism … is something that is imported from the West.

    And Hemulen wrote in #93:

    @Allen

    However, the depiction of ethnicity as a driving force for ethnic – religious division aka genocide, inquisition, slavery, colonialism … is something that is imported from the West.

    I don’t have time for this, but to pin all these thins on the so-called West is disingenuous. The conquest of Xinjiang in 1759 or the suppression of Moslem rebellions in the late 19th centuries have strong elements of genocide. Han Chinese – however defined – would not be the dominant ethnic group in what is called China today if it were not for the resettlement, extermination or assimilation of other ethnic groups. You can quarrel about the terminology, but that’s not going to lead anywhere.

    To which Allen adequately and respectfully responded in #94:

    About the disingenuous part – I defer to you. You are definitely entitled to your opinion … but I can tell you I never wrote anything on this board that I do not mean…

    In any case, from my perspective, to characterize “conquest of Xinjiang” by the Qing as a genocide can also be characterized as disingenuous.

    Genocide is the indiscriminate killing of a whole swath of humanity based on their ethnicity. Genocide – like slavery, or the holocaust, or colonialism – refer to loaded histories that brought a lot of pain and suffering for many people across the world. They should not be trivialized for convenience of political discussions.

    When people casually compared China to Nazi Germany in the lead up to the Olympics – or when people accused China of first “genocide” – and then “just” “cultural genocide” – in Tibet … all without much evidence or much sense of real history – I think that goes beyond just the disingenuous.

    I don’t think genocide as currently understood ever happened systematically in “Chinese history.” Yes there were political struggles. Yes people died in political struggles. But there were never wholesale enslavement or killing of people based on their ethnicity for the sake of their ethnicity. That goes against the essence of Confucius political visions of building peaceful and harmonious societies.

    And to the extent there were any such genocide (could have happened in Tibet in the Lamas’ religious wars, for example), they certainly didn’t arise to any scale similar to that caused by Western Colonialism.

    Look Hemulen, the point here is not for us to guilt each other about each other’s history. I was merely answering Steve’s questions regarding my world view (which didn’t resonate with his).

    I’m confident we can substantively discuss the future of China (or the West) without bringing into the discussion issues of right and wrong.

    And you, ACJ, responded in #97:

    @Hemulen

    As a Jew, I find your flippant abuse of the term “genocide” not only distasteful, but extremely insulting.

    I don’t understand the ferocity of your response, ACJ. He never said, “Holocaust”. He said genocide. As Allen pointed out, he felt that H’s remark was disingenuous. What is the basis of your reaction? Is it ideology? Is it semantics? Is it the mischaracterization of genocide? Or is it possibly the term genocide applied to Moslems as victims you find troubling. Do you feel it necessary for moral imperative here?

    Hemulen wrote “Han Chinese – however defined – would not be the dominant ethnic group in what is called China today if it were not for the resettlement, extermination or assimilation of other ethnic groups.” That is his opinion; why I don’t know. I believe that his use of “genocide” is not flippant abuse. It may have been mischaracterized.

    Hemulen, maybe you can flesh out #93 for us.

  100. Allen Says:

    To everyone: my comment to Hemulen about “genocide” was not meant to mean that people cannot accuse China of genocide – or compare China to Nazi Germany. But please if you must use such “loaded” accusations, please understand what colonial genocide or Hitler’s Germany really means in their historical context. If you must use such terms, please mean it.

    I personally cannot see how anyone who is informed can apply any of such terms to modern day China.

  101. Allen Says:

    @Jerry #99,

    Hemulen wrote “Han Chinese – however defined – would not be the dominant ethnic group in what is called China today if it were not for the resettlement, extermination or assimilation of other ethnic groups.” That is his opinion; why I don’t know. I believe that his use of “genocide” is not flippant abuse. It may have been mischaracterized.

    Perhaps what Hemulen meant to say was that China’s expansion and empire building process was not always through peaceful expansion … but involved sometimes actually military force and conquest.

    Well – if so, my point remains the same.

    In Chinese history, even when expansions are precipitated by military conquests, almost all such conquests were inevitably followed by offerings to the conquered of full rights to be “Chinese citizens.”

    Remember – even the DL has said that the “Hans” and “Tibetans” have historically always been like “brothers” – explaining why allegedly “Tibetans” never bothered to demarcate their territory with the “Hans” …

    Anyways, regardless of “Chinese history,” Hemulen is right to observe that people since prehistory have conducted warfare against each other, and cultures have expanded, others have intermixed and still others have died as a result.

    However I still think the European brand of aggression and violence in the last five or so hundred years is in a league and class of its own.

    The nature and scope of slavery, genocide (including the decimation of entire continent of peoples), and holocaust we have encountered over the last few centuries are – to me – so qualitatively and quantitatively different than all others that I would prefer to use them with care and deference rather than casually in normal discussion retort.

    That’s my opinion. Of course people can dispute it. But I feel very comfortable with that view….

  102. Jerry Says:

    @Allen #100, #101

    Perhaps what Hemulen meant to say was that China’s expansion and empire building process was not always through peaceful expansion … but involved sometimes actually military force and conquest.

    Well – if so, my point remains the same.

    I don’t have a problem with that, Allen. I liked your respectful, but firm response to H in #94. “Genocide” is a highly loaded term, to say the least. The word, “disingenuous” is loaded. As is the term, “flippant abuse”.

    To me, genocide is on the order/magnitude of the Jewish Holocaust, the Cambodian “Killing Fields” (It may have been genocide or some type of tribal/classist annihilation which was exploited by the ruthless, malevolent Pol Pot), Rwanda, Darfur, Ethiopia in the 70’s, Armenia, Ukraine in the 30’s, etc.

    That is why, to me, “genocide” is such a highly loaded term.

    Allen, speaking of China, how would you characterize the death of millions of Chinese during the CR and the Great Leap Forward? In Taiwan, how would you characterize the deaths during 228? How would you characterize the deaths of 2,000,000 Vietnamese during the Japanese occupation of Vietnam during WW II? Just curious.

  103. Wukailong Says:

    Hmm, having not been here for quite some while, I might have missed some parts of this conversation. So please forgive me if I mention points others have taken up already.

    First of all, the Han nationality is by all accounts the largest ethnic group of China. Wikipedia claims that it represents 92% of the population. The official language in China is Hanyu, the language of the Han. One can of course debate whether this term (or the common saying hanzei, traitor to the Han/Chinese people) really represent something substantial, but I think it shows that at least in some cases, Han do indeed represent China as a whole. This is probably true of most ethnic countries with dominant ethnic groups – China, Japan, most countries in Europe etc.

    In order to make any sense of this question it would be helpful to know what people who actually belong to minorities think of the view that there is an inclusive Chinese nationalism that is not specific for Han, instead of discussing what the “West” thinks. Certainly many visionaries in China have espoused such a nationalism (like Sun Yatsen and his vision of the five nationalities – Han, Zang, Hui, Man and Meng, if I remember correctly), but at the same time the rallying cry against the Qing dynasty was to remove the “foreign” dynasty (again, Sun Yatsen). If there was a foreign dynasty, it was clear that the rulership should ultimately belong to the Han.

    So my line of speculation goes like this: Han Chinese are no minority and naturally identify themselves with the country they live in, China. They don’t need to think about it. Minorities well integrated into the Chinese society also view themselves as Chinese and do not see any need for a counter-nationalistic movement. However, groups like Zang and Uighurs, who do not feel the same sense of belonging, have developed nationalisms of their own.

    As for China being inclusive because of the Tang dynasty – well, that was quite a long time ago. Societies and cultures change (though I’m not saying it necessarily did in China’s case, just that there is a certain time limit for our examples).

    And genocide… Well, I don’t think there’s been any genocide in China at least the last 100 years, but at the same time it’s not particularly Western. Japan during WWII and Rwanda comes to mind. What was lacking in the past was just resources to carry out atrocities on a grand scale.

  104. Wukailong Says:

    @Allen (#100): “To everyone: my comment to Hemulen about “genocide” was not meant to mean that people cannot accuse China of genocide – or compare China to Nazi Germany. But please if you must use such “loaded” accusations, please understand what colonial genocide or Hitler’s Germany really means in their historical context. If you must use such terms, please mean it.”

    I can resonate with that. People compare just about anything with Nazi Germany, or Orwell’s 1984. The latter is even more disturbing at times, especially if someone says that the US or Europe is “worse than 1984” (yes, I have seen such claims). So: please mean it, if you must.

  105. bt Says:

    @Wukailong

    Yes, that sounds quite reasonable. WWII has left a lot of wounds in Europe.
    However, with all the respect due to Allen, that sounds a little bit extreme to me to say that the problems of China are a byproduct of the ‘Western’ Imperialim.
    The problems between some minorities and the Chinese government seems to run very very deep, and blame other countries will never solve the problem.

  106. Hemulen Says:

    As regards the conquest of Xinjiang, I quote Prof. Perdue in China Marches West (Harvard University Press, 2005), p. 285:

    “…the Qing succeeded in imposing a ‘final solution’ to China’s northwest frontier problems, which lasted for about a century. The Zunghars disappeared as a state and as a people, and the Zungharian steppe was almost completely depopulated. In his history of the Qing military campaigns, the Shengwuji, Wei Yuan, who estimated the total population of the Zunghar as 600,000 stated, ‘Of several hundred thousands households, 40 percent died of smallpox, 20 percent fled to the Russians and Kazakhs, and 30 percent were killed by the Great Army. [The remaining] women and children were given as [servants] to others…For several thousand li there was not one single Zungharian tent.’ Zungharia was left as a blank social space, to be refilled by a state-sponsored settlement of millions of Han Chinese peasants, Manchu bannermen, Turkestani oasis settlers, Hui and others.”

  107. Hongkonger Says:

    WKL: “As for China being inclusive because of the Tang dynasty ”

    HUH? What? Come on , dude. The way you read it and put it WOULD BE and IS a ridiculous claim. Other than that, your comments in general are valid. 🙂

    I was merely giving historical accounts of Chinese inclusiveness over a long period of human civilisation. Daoist holistic approaches, cultural pragmatism, collective mentalism, humanitarian Confucianism, passive buddhism, international trades, ethusiastic technological and artistic exchanges etc., is characteristic of Chinese societies throughout its history as a whole — except for some abnormal periods, such as the recent period of the so-called “Bamboo Curtains,” era which was forced upon modern China with International western trade embargos to starve out Communism.
    Today, enterprising Chinese Communist party founding fathers, Liu Shao Qi, who was persecuted during the CR, is being exonerated. decades after his comrade, Premiere Deng’s efforts of bringing reviving true Chinese characteristics are widely affirmed. Just as the Chinese had been for millenia, so it ever keen in reaching out to make friends and facilitate trades, minding our own business and advocating harmony. Where ever Chinese people went, – Indonesia, Malaysia, Africa, the Americas, anywhere, local businesses would thrive and the academic standards raised.

    Perhaps this is what Allen meant which results in bt’s protest with “sounds a little bit extreme to me to say that the problems of China are a byproduct of the ‘Western’ Imperial[istic] ideological paranoia].” A byproduct is right, i.e. not a direct resulting product necessarily.

  108. Hemulen Says:

    And here are two quotes from David G. Atwill on the Kunming massacre 1856 and its background (ever heard about that?):

    “The scale and scope of the anti-Hui violence perpetrated by Han Chinese in the fifteen-odd years leading up to the rebellion is staggering. In 1839 a local military official organized a Han militia that, with the implicit consent of ranking civil officials, killed seventeen hundred Hui in the border town of Mianning. Six years later, in the early morning hours of 2 October 1845, local Qing officials, aided covertly by bands from the Han secret societies, barred the city gates of the southwestern Yunnan city of Baoshan and carried out a three-day “cleansing” (xicheng) of the Hui populace (Lin 1935, 7:13b-14b). Qing officials and their bands slaughtered more than eight thousand Muslim Yunnanese, regardless of age or gender (Li 1953, 5-9; Jing 1991, 35; QPHF 1968, 14:16b). Given the sheer scale of the attack and the number of Hui casualties, it is incredible that the governor-general who investigated the slaughter-although not condoning the behavior of those provincial officials and Han Chinese implicated in the massacre-lay blame for it on the Hui. “The Hui,” he memorialized to the emperor, “display a strong sense of solidarity, and their character is fierce …. The Han are simply not strong enough to stop them” (Li [18651 1974, 14:26b). Perhaps not surprisingly, these and other massacres excited rather than assuaged Han antagonisms. In early 1856, the Han gentry and the top Yunnan civil and military officials set into motion a plan to “attack the Hui in order to exterminate the Hui” (Rocher 1879, 36; see also QPHF 1968, 6:18b-19a, 8:3b-4a).” (p. 1085)

    “In addition to challenging prevalent Han stereotypes of the Hui as the aggressors, the Kunming Massacre of 1856 offers equally powerful testimony against those who suggest that the Hui are simply Han Chinese who practice Islam. As the ethnic selectivity of the massacres vividly demonstrates, the Hui, in the eyes of the Han, were not an ambiguously defined or imperceptible group, even in the diverse ethnic context of Yunnan. Nowhere in any account of the Kunming Massacre are there examples of Hui attempting to escape the violence by passing themselves off as Han Chinese. This absence suggests that the Hui identity was not simply a set of internalized religious beliefs that could easily be shed or hidden to avoid detection but, rather, that it was a broader set of identifiable markers visible to both Hui and Han. Yunnan Hui often lived in separate villages (some even labeled as such, e.g., Huihui village), or they clustered in a Hui district of the city. In some urban centers, the streets that ran through the Hui neighborhoods not only identified the area as Hui dominated but also often carried derogatory connotations such as a street in Kunming called Zhuji Jie (Pig-gathering road)-an obvious slight to the Hui’s prohibition of pork (Zhang 1986, 125, 304).5 Yunnan Hui also dominated certain occupations, such as caravan trading, mining, and tanning-a domination that further spread their settlements and resulted in a broad web of commercial, social, and religious networks throughout the province.” (p. 1087f)

    “Blinkered Visions: Islamic Identity, Hui Ethnicity, and the Panthay Rebellion in Southwest China, 1856-1873,” The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 62, No. 4 (Nov., 2003).

  109. Hongkonger Says:

    @Hongkonger, moved your comment to #107. admin

  110. Steve Says:

    @dan #92: Dan, I came up with two conjectures concerning your visit to the Shanghai History Museum. I can’t say that either is correct but they might have some validity.

    I researched the Silk Road after reading your comments and found that under the Han, it became very commercially viable and an immense amount of trade with the West was undertaken. There were even several trade missions from China to Rome. Whenever trade is dominant under a peaceful regime, the quality of the product tends to increase exponentially. From that time to the end of the Tang, trade continued but was busiest when China was at peace. After the collapse of the Roman empire, the trade was mostly with the Middle Eastern countries.

    But at the beginning of the Song, the Islamic conquest took place and after it had finished, trade was severely restricted from that end. Without the lucrative western markets, could that have caused the quality of workmanship to decline?

    My other idea was that maybe the Chinese museums don’t have a very good selection of Song dynasty artifacts. I have toured the National Palace Museum near Taipei a few times and remember that my favourite landscape paintings were from the Song era. I can’t remember the ceramics as well but I don’t recall a major quality or artistic difference between those and the Tang. I’ll definitely look for that the next time I visit. Jerry, have you been there lately? Did you notice a difference? Anyone else in Taiwan take a look recently?

  111. Hemulen Says:

    @Allen

    I don’t think genocide as currently understood ever happened systematically in “Chinese history.” Yes there were political struggles. Yes people died in political struggles. But there were never wholesale enslavement or killing of people based on their ethnicity for the sake of their ethnicity. That goes against the essence of Confucius political visions of building peaceful and harmonious societies.

    So, I have posted two quotes at #106 and #108 for you, and everybody else, to ponder. Your claim above is an article of faith, not a factual statement.

    For those who took offense at my first statement, I can only say that I was not the one who brought up “genocide”, I was merely responding to the point that anything comparable to genocide has never taken place in Chinese history. That is factually wrong, and I did use the expression “elements of genocide” to soften the statement a bit.

    And just in case anyone think that I am comparing China to Nazi Germany here, let me state that I do think that the crimes of the Nazis constitute a separate category that we can discuss elsewhere. And I am not the one who brought up the Nazis. As for the term “genocide”, that word was coined by Raphael Lemkin to describe the massacre of Armenians, which took place before the Holocaust was even contemplated.

    That said, I don’t think we should use the crimes of Nazi Germany as an example of horrors that only happen “there” but never “here” in order to comfort ourselves that no matter how bad “we” may be, we are never as bad as “they” are.

  112. Wukailong Says:

    @Hemulen: A big thumbs up for your posts. I will need to read them in more detail tomorrow – it’s almost past midnight here. As for the word “genocide”, I think some people are so obsessed with DL calling what’s happening in Tibet “cultural genocide” that they take every opportunity to quip at the word.

    @Hongkonger: Sorry, my comment didn’t make your post justice. I think these old periods are interesting, and they might point to a certain continuity over the long course of Chinese civilization.

  113. Allen Says:

    @Jerry #102,

    Allen, speaking of China, how would you characterize the death of millions of Chinese during the CR and the Great Leap Forward? In Taiwan, how would you characterize the deaths during 228? How would you characterize the deaths of 2,000,000 Vietnamese during the Japanese occupation of Vietnam during WW II? Just curious.

    Here is a short response.

    * death of millions in CR and Great Leap Forward: the biggest human tragedy of the twentieth century. What can China / the world do to avoid such humanitarian tragedies in the future? I don’t think it’s democracy or “human rights.” It should be a focus on better governance and on alleviating conditions that radicalize the human psyche of so many people, starting with the elimination of poverty.

    * 288: a political tragedy like the Tienanmen tragedy. One of my great uncles on my Mom’s side died in the event. Sad in many ways … but in the overall scale of things, I don’t think much about it.

    * Deaths from Japanese aggression: to be honest, I don’t think what the Japanese did was genocide. The Japanese were cruel – true – but they also wanted to lead Asia. They didn’t want to exterminate Asians. They just want to pacify them and then lead them.

    I think all the calamities the Japanese caused was simply a terrible consequence of modern asymmetric warfare – where one side was so overwhelmingly strong and equipped with modern weapons while the other side was not. Tragedies such as the Nanking Massacre occurred because one side was too weak and the other too strong – with the weak resisting to the bitter end….

    I’ll conclude with a quick comment about genocide again. Was the bombing of Hiromshima and Nagasaki a genocide? Were the carpet bombing of German cities a genocide? I don’t think so. Yes a lot of Japanese and Germans died … but I think it’s more accurate to characterize that as “collateral damage” of full-scale modern warfare than anything else.

    What about the following, which you cited as genocide?

    Jewish Holocaust, the Cambodian “Killing Fields” (It may have been genocide or some type of tribal/classist annihilation which was exploited by the ruthless, malevolent Pol Pot), Rwanda, Darfur, Ethiopia in the 70’s, Armenia, Ukraine in the 30’s, etc.

    Again, not all of them were rooted in killing for the sake of ethnicity, so I don’t consider them necessarily all genocide. These are all complicated events, and rather than me making broad pronouncements, suffice it for me to say that the Holocaust to me is in a league of its own because it wasn’t a result of mere political struggle between the Germany State and the Jewish people.

    The German State and the Jews did not fight over resources. The German State and the Jews did not fight over territory.

    Instead, Hitler set in motion the Holocaust because he wanted to “exterminate” a people to make the world allegedly a better place… It wasn’t enough that the Jews submit to Hitler’s political order, they must be eliminated.

    That makes the holocaust fundamentally different than other tragedies such as the bombing of Hiromshima and Nagasaki or carpet bombing of German cities…

    … or the current killings of Iraqis and Afghanistans and Talibans in the U.S. war against terror…

  114. Hemulen Says:

    @Allen

    I’m waiting for a response. In the meantime, here is another summary of the fate that befell Manchus in the cities of Xi’an, Taiyuan, Zhenjiang, Nanjing and Wuchang during the 1911revolution:

    “Whatever the provocation, if any, the Manchus in those five places were slaughtered, driven to commit suicide, or expelled and their residential quarters looted and destroyed. The slaughter was indiscriminate and was directed at not only the soldiers but also their dependents, including women and chlidren. They were essentially victims of genocide. It is thus clear that for many revolutionaries, the anti-Manchu elemtn of their ideology was no mere rhetorical flourish.”

    Edward Rhoads, Manchu & Han, p. 204.

  115. Allen Says:

    @Hemulen, #106 and #108. I’ve read Prof. Perdue’s book but not Prof. Atwell’s. I’ve even talked to Prof. Perdue in one of the Professor’s lectures in Harvard. I’ll tell you straight: Prof. Perdue would never use the word “genocide” to characterize the political struggles between the Manchus and the Zunghars. Yes, there was a real war in what is now XinJiang. The “final solution” is not so much about ethnic cleansing but about defeating the Zunghar political entity. When politics were no longer an issue, the Qing never treated the Zunghars any differently from all the other “Chinese citizens.”

    I don’t know much about Atwell’s work, but know he is not a top-tier scholar, so I’ll just leave it at that.

    More importantly, for the purpose of this discussion, I am not sure what these examples are supposed to illustrate. I have never said Chinese have never committed warfare. I have only said that once new territories are incorporated, it is the normal rule for the Chinese rulers to incorporate the new people as full “Chinese citizens.” It is in this sense that I am answering Steve’s question for this thread – Is China an inclusive society.”

    P.S. If people want a discussion on whether XinJiang, Inner Mongolia, or Tibet is a colony, let us know. Maybe one of the editors here can start a new thread on that. (I’ll be off soon on a trip to Taiwan and China, so I won’t be able to do so till next month…)

  116. Allen Says:

    @Hemulen #114,

    Regarding the quote from Rhoads,

    Whatever the provocation, if any, the Manchus in those five places were slaughtered, driven to commit suicide, or expelled and their residential quarters looted and destroyed. The slaughter was indiscriminate and was directed at not only the soldiers but also their dependents, including women and chlidren. They were essentially victims of genocide. It is thus clear that for many revolutionaries, the anti-Manchu elemtn of their ideology was no mere rhetorical flourish.

    Please take things in context. We are talking about a revolution here – in the early twentieth century. There was definitely an anti-Manchu element in the Chinese Revolution. I’d view this as an isolated incident that occurred in the heat of turmoil than anything else.

    If the goal is to commit genocide against the Manchus or the Zunghars (or the Tibetans or any other minority), trust me, it could have been done. Instead Sun Yat-Sen, after the overthrow of the Qing, preached unity and peace under the rubric of zhong hua ming zu.

    To me that is quite amazing. After 3 centuries of “foreign rule” (that was the rhetoric used at that time), Sun did not want to create just a “Han” Republic, but a multicultural one – with power vested in all its people.

    Ok – people can fuss about how the Republic would subsequently become authoritarian and all that … but the thing is that the vision was there. And let’s not forget the fact that China would continue to suffer through more foreign invasions and internal turmoil for at least another 3/4 of a century…

  117. Hemulen Says:

    @Allen

    I have to run, but your response is flabbergasting. And I will give you some more time to re-read the quotes and perhaps go to a library and read.

    Take things in context? Most pogroms and acts of genocide do take place during war, revolution or other forms of social unrest. Nothing new here. If you’re curious (which I doubt), you can read up on how Turkish nationalists explain away the Armenian massacres: “This was unfortunate, but you have to understand that this happened during times of war.” That is the first line of defense.

    This was an isolated incident that occurred in a period of great turmoil.

    No these were not isolated incidents. They happened in five different cities under very different circumstances. And they happened with the connivance of local revolutionary leaders.

    If the goal is to commit genocide against the Manchus or the Zunghars or the Tibetans, trust me, it could have been done.

    OK, so where are the Zunghars today? No where, save for some remnants in Russia. They were exterminated. As for the rest of your argument, I take it that Tibetans and Manchus should be grateful that they have not been exterminated. If I follow your argument further, the fact that some people have survived genocide or comparable acts can be quoted as proof that no genocide was intended. I wonder how that argument would have worked at the Nuremberg trials.

    I have to leave it here. Your claim that genocidal acts have never happened in China has no basis in reality, and anyone reading the quotes above and the books and articles will come to the same conclusion.

  118. Allen Says:

    @Humulen #117,
    You wrote:

    I have to run, but your response is flabbergasting. And I will give you some more time to re-read the quotes and perhaps go to a library and read.

    Ok – we shall leave it here. It’s been a good discussion. If others are interested in continuing, I’ll be more than happy to continue with them.

    As for the go the library part – I’ll ignore your condescending remark.

  119. bt Says:

    Allen, you have a lot of patience 🙂
    Hemulen has made some good points, however.
    Every country has skeletons in the closet.
    After, who’s wrong, who’s right, whatever …
    The most important for me is: not again.

  120. Allen Says:

    @bt #119, I think Hemulen has good points. I assumes that he mean well. His comments made me think … and I am sure will make others think. His perspectives didn’t change my views, but it made appreciate his … at least somewhat 😉

    Anyways, the bottom line is that whatever disagreements I have, Hemulen’s contributions – as well as that of everyone else on this board who take the time to articulate – are what make this forum so invaluable!

  121. Allen Says:

    @bt #119,
    Yes about your quote:

    Every country has skeletons in the closet.
    After, who’s wrong, who’s right, whatever …
    The most important for me is: not again.

    You bet you… In China’s case, to the extent that discrimination, enslavement, or mass killings have been carried out in her history in the name of ethnicity … let that day never dawn in China ever again (or for those who think these still take place today, let’s work to put those days to the dust bins of history as soon as possible)…

  122. bt Says:

    @Allen #120

    Completely agree with you.
    Excuse me, I don’t have your and his historical abilities, so I won’t comment on something I ignore.
    Very interesting discussion, anyway.

  123. admin Says:

    @Hemulen #114,

    I am curious. Do you also define “Three Rounds of Slaughter in Jiading” and “Ten Days of Massacre in Yangzhou” as genocide?

  124. Richard Gere / Sharon Stone / Paris Hilton / Chungdrag Dorje (aka Steven Segal) Says:

    @admin/Hemulen

    I would also like to add the Vietnam War, the “War on Terror,” and the Taiping Rebellion (20-40 million deaths). Would the systematic and intentional extermination of Communists, “Terrorists,” and Taiping rebels constitute genocide?

  125. Jerry Says:

    @Steve #110

    My other idea was that maybe the Chinese museums don’t have a very good selection of Song dynasty artifacts. I have toured the National Palace Museum near Taipei a few times and remember that my favourite landscape paintings were from the Song era. I can’t remember the ceramics as well but I don’t recall a major quality or artistic difference between those and the Tang. I’ll definitely look for that the next time I visit. Jerry, have you been there lately? Did you notice a difference? Anyone else in Taiwan take a look recently?

    Sorry, Steve, I have had numerous opportunities to visit the museum, but have declined each time. In fact, I live near the Zhishan MRT and the museum is only 2 1/2 k from my place. I have ridden past on my bike. I could walk there, if so inclined. But I have never gone.

    All that said, I am not an art museum guy. My daughter will tell you I am not at all artsy-fartsy. Now, if it were the Field Museum, a planetarium, science museum or Shedd Aquarium, I have spent many hours in places like those. Again, sorry.

    I will probably take my daughter when she comes in January. She loves that stuff. She loves the Louvre. She loves MOMA. She loves the Getty (to which she nicely dragged me). She loves the Chicago Art Museum.

    But I love classical music and jazz. I love the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. And I was jealous that my daughter was living in Chicago when Yo Yo Ma was creative director for the CSO. He spent a year doing his Silk Road Project. He gave free summer concerts out at Millenium Park.

    BTW, I told Allen that the only reason I would visit the CKS Memorial or his tomb is to make sure he still is dead. 😀 (Alas, this is not my joke. I stole it from Rick Steves and his comment on the Franco burial site in Spain.)

  126. Hongkonger Says:

    Hi Jerry,

    Please go over to “The Indie Music Scene In China”

    Steve has sth for you…

    🙂

    Be’eineiha (Mishaela)

    by Achinoam Nini (Noa)

  127. Jerry Says:

    @Hemulen #117
    @Allen #113, #116

    Hemulen, I appreciated your comments, insights, and the info from Perdue and Atwell. What I did not appreciate were the remarks like “disingenuous”, “flabbergasting”, “If you’re curious (which I doubt),” and “And I will give you some more time to re-read the quotes and perhaps go to a library and read.” To be honest, H, I prefer to draw my own conclusions. When people use emotionally-charged, condescending words to drive home their opinions and viewpoints, I tend to feel like telling the person, “Go to hell!” Sometimes I even tell them that. Your tactics diminish the credibility and validity of your arguments. I tend towards regarding you as an ideologue.

    Again, I appreciated the information.

    You made the following comment.

    Most pogroms and acts of genocide do take place during war, revolution or other forms of social unrest. Nothing new here.

    When it comes to Jewish people, I beg to differ. The Holocaust was coincident with WW II, not because of it. Pogroms against the Jews were instituted by Russian Tsars over many generations. They had little or nothing to do with war, social unrest or revolution.

    BTW, I don’t believe everything I hear, see or read.

    —————-

    #113

    Allen, thanks for your response in #113.

    Genocides, wars, occupations, Holocausts, political purges, conquests, etc., result in many deaths. IMHO, they are all inexcusable, barring the rare exception. But we as humans can contrive all sorts of rationalization, as were the wont of Hitler and his doctrine of Übermensch, and the Russian tsars and their pogroms. I always wonder what went through Stalin’s, Tojo’s, Truman’s, Hitler’s, Tsar Nicholas’ I, and Mao’s minds, among others.

    I am still troubled about Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Dresden & other German cities. I also am troubled by our use of cluster bombs, carpet bombing, mines, and napalm in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. That also goes for our involvement in Lebanon, Timor l’Este, Chile, Iraq, Gaza, the West Bank, etc.

  128. Wukailong Says:

    @Allen (#113): “What can China / the world do to avoid such humanitarian tragedies in the future? I don’t think it’s democracy or “human rights.” It should be a focus on better governance and on alleviating conditions that radicalize the human psyche of so many people, starting with the elimination of poverty.”

    Well, these things were only possible under one-man rule, just as they might be possible today in North Korea (and in fact, there has apparently been mass starvation in NK in the nineties). CR killed much less people than the Great Leap Forward, and the latter was possible because:

    * Nobody dared to question Mao
    * He barely had a clue about what his policies led to, and he wasn’t accountable to anybody

    I’m not saying it would have been possible to create a working democratic system in China at the point. The communists won the war for a reason, and Mao might have been a historical necessity – we don’t know, but in this case it’s such an obvious failure for an autocratic system. If someone can produce examples where mass starvations like this has happened in democracies, then please go ahead.

    If it’s not strong-man politics that created this catastrophe, then it’s just a complete mystery, and it might just happen once again for no good reason. Of course the measures you’ve stated above (eliminating poverty) will go a long way in creating a more stable society that is needed for good governance. I just don’t see why “democracy and human rights” necessarily stand in the way or have to be obstacles to good governance.

    As for the genocide discussion, perhaps we need a word for a large-scale atrocity that involves killing millions of people. I don’t really see why it matters what word we use, though.

  129. admin Says:

    NYT: Does Democracy Avert Famine?

  130. Wukailong Says:

    I think the last line of the article says it pretty well: “The key, he said, is not to jettison democracy but to find ways of making it work better for society’s underdogs. “

  131. Allen Says:

    @Wukailong,
    I on the other hand disagree with this last statement,

    The key, he said, is not to jettison democracy but to find ways of making it work better for society’s underdogs.

    Democracy per se merely lead to “tyranny of the majority.” What underdogs need in democracies are:

    • a public that is endowed with a healthy dose of social justice,
    • a media susceptible to bring minorities’ cause to the public, and
    • legal institutions that are willing to help the plight of “underdogs” by giving them “rights” that politicians sent by the majority are not yet prepared to.

    Unless we are talking about “majority underdogs,” democracy per se does not help societal “underdogs” in general.

  132. Wukailong Says:

    It depends on what we mean by “underdogs”. In India’s case it seems to be the poor and the casteless, and that’s a group that could be helped by better social policies (and good governance, and all these other things you’ve mentioned before). Don’t say this hasn’t happened, just because it hasn’t in the US – look further.

    Economic development and democracy must go hand in hand, otherwise democracy can fall prey to the tyranny of the majority, like you say. But why should it, per se, only lead to that? And can you propose a better system that lacks all of the problems you see with democracy?

  133. Wukailong Says:

    To clear out misunderstandings, I don’t think there should be democracy “per se” in the sense that it will solve problems. It needs working legal institutions and all the other things, otherwise you get Iraq/Afghanistan.

  134. Jerry Says:

    @Allen
    @Wukailong
    #128-133

    Some comments.

    No system, -acy, -ity, -ism, per se is going to achieve social justice for all. It takes just people establishing and maintaining just institutions along with fair economic development to cultivate social justice. For there to be justice, all must be vested, not just a lucky or fortunate few. It takes political will and fortitude.

    I will stick with democracy: the concept, the framework and its spirit. America has a limited notion of democracy, one that can be significantly improved. I don’t do well under autocracy, authoritarian government, oligarchy or tyranny. (Wow, that kind of sounds like most big corporations. How about that?)

    Democracy can be mugged by the majority, tyranny, by an oligarchy, by a plutocracy, or in the case of Bush, an authoritarian oligarchy. We as citizens must stay engaged and vigilant.

    I don’t trust elitist rulers, whether in China, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, or the US. No matter what the system of governance.

    How do people get motivated to create such justice, institutions, widely vested economomic development and a “better” world? Aye, there is the rub. From my life’s experience, significant gains in consciousness, thinking and awareness come with significant pain and painful experiences. And significant reflection and time. Damn, why does life have to be so difficult? 😀 A bi gezunt.

    WKL, you wrote:

    As for the genocide discussion, perhaps we need a word for a large-scale atrocity that involves killing millions of people. I don’t really see why it matters what word we use, though.

    I agree, WKL. No matter what you call it, killing/murdering/persecuting people, in the name of some cause which has become more important than the people involved, is heinous.

  135. Hemulen Says:

    @Jerry

    OK. I got a truck load of crap heaped on me when I had the temerity suggest that the word “genocide” can be applied Chinese history. I didn’t throw a fit, but I sat down and dug out evidence and spent the time posting it. What do we get? Unbelievable prevarications from the proponent of the inapplicability of genocide that leads you to doubt that he has actually read what I posted. There is a lot of talk about feelings and attitude here; do you believe me when I tell you I was pissed reading those “yes-but-understand-the-context” stuff?

    Read the quotes I posted, like the one about the pogrom against Muslims in the 1830s, and then read this:

    If the goal is to commit genocide against the Manchus or the Zunghars (or the Tibetans or any other minority), trust me, it could have been done. Instead Sun Yat-Sen, after the overthrow of the Qing, preached unity and peace under the rubric of zhong hua ming zu.

    There is a lot of talk of “attitudes”, “being condescending” and “trivializing” genocide. Read between the lines. What do you call the above statement? If it is considered a character flaw to feel provoked at reading a statement like that, I gladly plead guilty. Anyway, I’m not interested in debating the debate. This is not about me.

    When it comes to Jewish people, I beg to differ. The Holocaust was coincident with WW II, not because of it. Pogroms against the Jews were instituted by Russian Tsars over many generations. They had little or nothing to do with war, social unrest or revolution.

    That is debatable. I’m not an expert, but as far as I know, most Russian progroms were tied to social unrest in Russian society at large, where Jews were singled out as convenient scapegoats. Triggering events include the assassination of czar Alexander and the Russo-Japanese war. And as far as the books I have read on the subject, the Holocaust is inseparable from WWII and the way the Nazis envisaged the war. But we can talk about that elsewhere, this is a blog about China.

  136. Allen Says:

    @Hemulen #135:
    You wrote:

    There is a lot of talk of “attitudes”, “being condescending” and “trivializing” genocide. Read between the lines. What do you call the above statement? If it is considered a character flaw to feel provoked at reading a statement like that, I gladly plead guilty. Anyway, I’m not interested in debating the debate. This is not about me.

    in response to my post:

    If the goal is to commit genocide against the Manchus or the Zunghars (or the Tibetans or any other minority), trust me, it could have been done. Instead Sun Yat-Sen, after the overthrow of the Qing, preached unity and peace under the rubric of zhong hua ming zu.

    Hemulen, if you like to read “between the lines” for things that are not there … I can’t really stop you. Personally I don’t know how you can read what I wrote as some sort of condescending chest thumping or implicit threat?

    Perhaps you should have read the very next paragraph I wrote also:

    To me that is quite amazing. After 3 centuries of “foreign rule” (that was the rhetoric used at that time), Sun did not want to create just a “Han” Republic, but a multicultural one – with power vested in all its people.

    Now reading the paragraphs in context, does that still jive with your accusing me of allegedly making an implicit threat???

    Going to the bit about my “trivializing” genocide part, I beg to differ.

    If you read my post #113 (smack right between your original posts and my initial response), you will see that I am trying to separate out lessons we can learn from genocide and from legitimate political conflicts.

    If you want to go the route of Jerry and WKL at #127 and #128 to say that all conflicts that involve killing (including those fought in the name of “liberty” and “freedom”) are bad – in fact equally bad as genocide … fine – all the power to everyone.

    But I don’t think this is the attitude that most people really hold. We attack Iraq and Afghanistan in the name of terrorism and refer the resulting deaths as casualties of war. We carpet bomb Germany and drop the atomic bombs in Japan in the name of “freedom” and “justice” and call the resulting deaths casualties of war. But when there are casualties of political conflicts with which we don’t sympathize, we quickly fly flags of genocide….

    Why??? Because genocide makes a bigger emotional impact than just war. Plain and simple. In this context, I think genocide is used more as propagandist term than anything else. And as such, I believe the opportunistic use of the term “genocide” trivializes the lessons we can learn from actual history.

  137. Hemulen Says:

    @Allen

    What makes me annoyed by your responses is that, first you state that genocide has never occurred in Chinese history, and when you are provided with evidence of the contrary, you want to talk about something else or dilute the discussion by bringing in all kinds of different instances of mass killing. As Mencius would have it: 顾左右而言他.

    when there are casualties of political conflicts with which we don’t sympathize, we quickly fly flags of genocide….

    I think genocide is used more as propagandist term than anything else. And as such, I believe the opportunistic use of the term “genocide” trivializes the lessons we can learn from actual history.

    Who are “we”? I don’t think you understand why the word genocide was invented in the first place. One should be careful to compare one act of mass violence with another. But since the 20th century, genocide is widely regarded as a crime of a separate order and the reason why the word genocide was coined, to quote Samantha Power, “States and individuals who did not cross an international frontier were still free under international law to commit genocide.” If you are interested to learn more, I recommend the first chapter in Power’s book A Problem from Hell.

    If the goal is to commit genocide against the Manchus or the Zunghars (or the Tibetans or any other minority), trust me, it could have been done. Instead Sun Yat-Sen, after the overthrow of the Qing, preached unity and peace under the rubric of zhong hua ming zu.

    What is the connection between the first part of this sentence and the second part? Sun took no part in the 1911 revolution as such. He was in Denver, Colorado, when he heard about it and did not return to China until things have calmed down. In the meantime, he ran over the world fund raising for his movement. And as far as I am aware, Sun never repudiated the killing of tens of thousands of Manchu men, women and children in 1911. The violence perpetrated against Manchus in 1911 in five provinces was carried out by nationalists who took calls for extermination of the Manchus literally. The could do so because they had the tacit consent of local military commanders.

    And how are we to understand your statement that “it could have been done”? Should non-Han ethnic group be grateful that they have not been assimilated or exterminated? Sorry, call me a chest-thumper, but given the evidence that acts of genocide have occurred in China, I do see you statement as trivializing genocide.

    One of the reasons I have stayed away from this blog and other similar blogs is the fact that a number of contributors are allowed to get away with statements that trivialize the plight of minorities in China. It usually starts with someone objecting to the fact that the term “cultural genocide” is used to describe PRC policy in Tibet, only to advocate the assimilation of Tibetans into Han Chinese, the next moment. When you call the person on that statement, you often hear that “if we wanted to assimilate Tibetans, we sure could” or even that “most Chinese are in favor of forcible assimilation”. As if the alleged opinion of the majority ethnic group would obviate concerns that forcible assimilation is actually taking place.

    After 3 centuries of “foreign rule” (that was the rhetoric used at that time), Sun did not want to create just a “Han” Republic, but a multicultural one – with power vested in all its people.

    Which Sun Yat-sen are you talking about? The pre-1911 Sun Yat-sen who hung out with Han Chauvinists that openly stated their desire to exterminate Manchus? Or the Sun Yat-sen who promised Manchus that they would be one of the five races of China after 1911? Or the Sun Yat-sen who in 1921 wanted to take Han as “the core” and assimilate the other four groups?

    @admin

    As far as I am aware, the massacres on Jiading and Yangzhou in 1645 were not directed against Chinese as a people or were intended to exterminate Han Chinese as an ethnic group. They were atrocities perpetrated by an occupying army, which incidentally included not only Manchus, but Mongols and Chinese. As brutal as these events were, I have not seen any evidence that they can be called genocide in the sense we attribute to the word today.

  138. Allen Says:

    @Hemulen #137, obviously we are not connecting. That’s ok…

    But before we completely disengage, I just want to note that I am actually quite “flabbergasted” about your last statement in #137.

    If I read you correctly, under your world view – the indiscriminate killing of Chinese (if they include Hans + Mongolians + Manchus) would not rise to the level of genocide but the indiscriminate killing of Chinese (if they only include Hans) would?

    Very interesting…

    I wonder if you would apply the same type logic to the carpet bombing of Germany and dropping the atomic bombs in Japan at the end of WWII? Or the killing in Afghanistan and Iraq of present day?

  139. Hemulen Says:

    @Allen

    If I read you correctly, under your world view – the indiscriminate killing of Chinese (if they include Hans + Mongolians + Manchus) would rise to the level of genocide but the indiscriminate killing of Chinese (if they only include Hans) would not?

    I was talking about the Jiading and Yangzhou massacres in 1645, and all I’m saying is that as far as I know, (1) Chinese were both perpetrators (as banner soldiers) and victims (civilian population of the two cities), and (2) the massacres were not part of a plan to exterminate Han Chinese as a people. So this particular case looks more like a “war crime” than “genocide” if we are to invoke 20th century legal vocabulary. If you can provide evidence to the contrary, I am ready to reconsider.

  140. Hemulen Says:

    @Allen

    I wonder if you would apply the same type logic to the carpet bombing of Germany and dropping the atomic bombs in Japan at the end of WWII? Or the killing in Afghanistan and Iraq of present day?

    Sigh. I am not appyling any logic. And I have never implied that carpet bombing of a city is better or worse than genocide. When this discussion started, I was challenged to provide evidence that acts of genocide have occured in Chinese history. I did. Now instead of either challenging my sources, or just admitting that your original blanket statement was wrong, you are trying to shift the focus of the discussion.

    Now, with the risk of sounding condescending, please read up about the definition of genocide and the distinction between war crimes and genocide. That is an entirely different discussion, that has nothing to do with the inclusiveness of a society or the occurrence of genocide in Chinese history.

  141. Allen Says:

    @Hemulen #139,

    I actually happen to think you are right that the Jiading and Yangzhou massacres did not represent genocide. But I don’t see how if you believe so how you can consider the revolts against the Qing to be one.

    Note: this is a rhetorical question. You need not respond.

  142. Allen Says:

    @Hemulen #140,

    Big sigh… at the risk of sounding condescending myself, the lessons of “genocide” are not to be found by stoic applications of terminologies found in a book…

  143. Hemulen Says:

    @Allen

    I’m responding.

    I don’t see how if you believe so how you can consider the revolts against the Qing to be.

    If you read the relevant chapters in Edward Rhoads’ book, you will realize why. But to summarize, the Qing was more than just Manchus. Many of the imperial armies that were dispatched to suppress the Xinhai revolution were Han Chinese armies, commanded by people like Yuan Shikai (who later changed sides). Yet, it was not Han Chinese loyal to the Qing that were targeted for pogroms in provinces such as Shaanxi, Shanxi and Jiangsu, once the revolution was victorious. It was Manchus, whether they be men, women or children. How did you know someone was Manchu? They had different names, often dressed differently and they spoke different dialects.

    We often hear that Manchus voluntarily became indistinguishable from Chinese. There is an element of truth in that, depending of what part of China we are talking about. But for many Manchus, blending in was a matter of physical survival. This is something almost any person being in a minority can relate to. And that is why I find your talk about the supposed peaceful coexistence between different ethnic groups in China frivolous.

  144. Hemulen Says:

    @Allen

    the lessons of “genocide” are not to be found by stoic applications of terminologies found in a book…

    I agree. But it is useful to read a book before you dismiss its contents.

  145. Allen Says:

    @Hemulen – #144,

    I agree. But it is useful to read a book before you dismiss its contents.

    I agree. But it’s even more important to understand their contents before applying them indiscriminately.

  146. Hemulen Says:

    @Allen

    “Indiscriminately.” I quoted three works that cite acts of genocide in China, and I have quoted Samantha Power’s book in order to discriminate between war crimes in general and genocide in particular.

  147. Allen Says:

    @Hemulen #143,

    As I have said many, many times again … will say so again here … I have never said China has always been at peace – or that there has never been internal conflicts within China. I have only said that in times of peace and stability and prosperity – in looking to the ideals of China even in times of conflict – China is an inclusive society.

    After so many posts back and forth, I still don’t understand your point. You are obsessing over details from war torn China undergoing convulsive revolution as proof that China is not an inclusive society?

  148. Allen Says:

    @Hemulen, I need to run now. I hope others will have feedback for both of us. For now, I am sure many here appreciate you (and me, too, I hope) for taking the time to articulate our perspectives as well as informing readers a little about the history of China.

    Talk to you soon…

  149. cephaloless Says:

    Looks to me like Allen emphasized that inclusiveness was prevalent during periods of peace while Hemulen emphasized that non-inclusiveness to the point of genicidal events also occurred.

    Always wondered if the Manchu received revenge killings after they were pushed out of power. Thanks for the history lessons guys.

  150. Allen Says:

    @cephaloless – just curious. Would you consider some “revenge killings” of Manchus in the aftermath of the fall of the Qing to be more analogous with our conception of genocide or our conception of “hate crimes” (or “war crimes” if that concept also hold)?

  151. cephaloless Says:

    Well, I would actually respond to this with something else I didn’t bother posting: “genocide” is not objectively defined. Maybe it’s the number of the same group of people who died that makes it a genocide. Or maybe the number of people that does the killing. Or maybe the status of people responsible for killing (government mandate vs wild mob). Thats why I wrote “genocidal event” as a descriptive term (event where ethnic group is killed) and “revenge killing” since that’s my assumed cause for the event. Too politically correct? 🙂

    And I think a couple of the mass killings mentioned might be a different sort of “-cide”. I’m short of greek and latin prefixes so I’m going to leave it as “genocide” not equal to mass killing, “genocide” not the only kind of killing, and different people may rightly consider an event to be or not to be “genocide”.

  152. cephaloless Says:

    Forgot to add that I would consider it genocide if its large scale (don’t make me define large because I can’t), occurs after military action is done (not collateral damage), and singles out the ethnicity.

  153. Jerry Says:

    @Hemulen #135

    H, I know very little about internal Chinese history. I appreciate your discussion/debate/argument with Allen. They are all good. This discussion has had the tenor of scientific discussions to which I have been privy, which often get heated, but for the most part civil. And trust me, Allen and I have disagreed on things. And we have agreed to disagree.

    This gets to why I write and read in general. I learn things and learn about myself. I find things about myself which I would not have found otherwise. I often start writing with a plan in mind and then discover that my writings have gone in directions I never expected. And that is good. Billy Collins, former American Poet Laureate says, “Man plans, God laughs.” Life is an adventure.

    H, you wrote:

    OK. I got a truck load of crap heaped on me when I had the temerity suggest that the word “genocide” can be applied Chinese history. I didn’t throw a fit, but I sat down and dug out evidence and spent the time posting it. What do we get? Unbelievable prevarications from the proponent of the inapplicability of genocide that leads you to doubt that he has actually read what I posted. There is a lot of talk about feelings and attitude here; do you believe me when I tell you I was pissed reading those “yes-but-understand-the-context” stuff?

    I don’t know if “genocide” applies or not to Chinese history. You are free to characterize it as genocide. Allen is not the arbiter here. You both are entitled to your opinions. You dug out good evidence. I found it very illuminating and elucidating. For some reason, Allen’s “yes-but-understand-the-context” remarks did not affect me. But, I can understand if those remarks angered you. I often get hurt, angry, pissed, or feel like I must be in a different universe. At least initially. It is all part of life and learning.

    My remarks about emotionally charged words were honest. The effect on me is often to dismiss the author or get angry. Hey, H, I am human. I know this about me. I am just talking about the effect of your words on me. I am not mandating anything here.

    There is a lot of talk of “attitudes”, “being condescending” and “trivializing” genocide. Read between the lines. What do you call the above statement? If it is considered a character flaw to feel provoked at reading a statement like that, I gladly plead guilty. Anyway, I’m not interested in debating the debate. This is not about me

    As I said, I am not talking about your attitude per se, merely the effect on me. I understand that you are provoked. We may be provoked differently, but, like you, when I am provoked I get upset and angry. And, yes, I feel like retaliating when I am provoked. Fortunately (as compared to my younger years), I am not as impulsive as before. Hence, I will write, reflect, edit and write more, repeating the process through numerous iterations until I am satisfied. I still use my sarcasm and cynicism as a club, occasionally, but I have learned to pull my punches. And that learning did not come easy.

    I appreciate your remarks on pogroms and the Holocaust.

    That is debatable. I’m not an expert, but as far as I know, most Russian progroms were tied to social unrest in Russian society at large, where Jews were singled out as convenient scapegoats. Triggering events include the assassination of czar Alexander and the Russo-Japanese war. And as far as the books I have read on the subject, the Holocaust is inseparable from WWII and the way the Nazis envisaged the war. But we can talk about that elsewhere, this is a blog about China.

    I am not an expert or scholar on the Holocaust or pogroms.

    I buy the “convenient scapegoats” idea, at least as pretext. I guess my point is that most tsars, with the notable exception of Alexander II, were predisposed to issue pogroms. His father, Nicholas I, was absolutely ruthless towards the Jews and was ideologically bent on the assimilation of Jews into Christianity and ridding the world of Talmudic poisoning. Alexander II, according to Benjamin Disraeli (Britain’s only Jewish PM), was, “The kindliest prince who ever ruled Russia.” High praise from a Jewish man. Upon his death, Alexander III continued his grandfather’s vicious, anti-Semitic legacy.

    All societies have varying degrees of social unrest. And leaders seem to have always used scapegoats to deflect criticism and close examination. And Russian tsars have for the most part, been hell-bent on persecuting Jews. That is why I think of social unrest as concomitant with pogroms, not causal thereof.

    Hitler and his cabal seemed to me very intent on literally annihilating the Jews. He was mesmerized by “Übermensch”. Just look at “Mein Kampf”. Sure, the Holocaust and WW II are concomitant and seemingly integrally tied. Why do I say seemingly? It is Hitler’s upbringing which tells me differently.

    Some of the most fascinating work on Hitler was done by Alice Miller, a famous Swiss psychoanalyst. In “For Your Own Good”, she has an amazing treatise on Adolf Hitler, and his cruel, paranoid father, Alois (who may have been Jewish). Hitler was much abused as a boy, and something in him snapped. He came to detest weakness. And he adopted his father’s unspoken but clear hatred of his suspected Jewishness, which Alois viewed as weakness. Adolf came to view Jews as weak and symbolic of the weakness inside himself.

    From all this pathology sprang his adoption of Nietzsche’s “Übermensch” and scientific racism, his love for Wagnerian music (which is still somewhat a taboo in Israel), “Mein Kampf”, Nazi youth groups, persecution of the Jews, legislation to remove Jews from civil society, ghettoization, pogroms, Kristallnacht, eugenics, concentration camps, extermination camps and WW II. Michael Berenbaum, of the US Holocaust Museum, has called Germany, in the 30’s and 40’s, “a genocidal state”. To me, purging his Jewish connections, unspoken as they may be, was a central drive/animus and impetus in Adolf Hitler’s life. Hence, his amazing, insane ferocity towards and hatred of Jews. At least IMHO.

    These are a few reasons why I am so circumspect about and suspicious of ideology. I look at the Tsars’ ideology, Hitler’s ideology, Jewish ideology, Mao’s ideology, Jiang Jieshi’s ideology and Neocon ideology, just to name a few. Ideology can be so insidious and easily subject to Machiavellian manipulation. To an ideologue, the cause is more important than the people involved. And that can be the source of the suffering and annihilation of many. And the ideologue develops or adopts rationalizations which sound so logical to him or herself. Ideology can easily blind an adherent to the pathology of the ideology.

    And when an ideologue engages in mass murder and mass destruction, the name we call that mass murder and mass destruction is, IMHO, irrelevant. You can call it genocide, “collateral damage” (I detest the trivialization of murder and death implied by that term), war, “acceptable casualties”, holocaust, political purge, occupation, war crimes, revenge killings, ad nauseum. It is still mass murder and mass destruction. Violence is violence.

    Finally, one additional reason I distrust ideology. I found this on PDXPeace.org’s site. I remember this so well, so I went searching for this.

    Albright is infamous for telling CBS journalist Leslie Stahl on Sixty Minutes in 1996, when asked about the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children under U.S. sanctions against Iraq, “We think the price is worth it.”

    Shaking my head!! The hubris, the inhumanity. And such inspiration to Shrub, Cheney, and Neocons. I bet you that Rummy framed that quote. ::sigh!::

    BTW, when I started writing this, I never foresaw what I just wrote here. Life is pretty amazing. And Billy Collins is right.

  154. Nobody Says:

    about the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children under U.S. sanctions against Iraq, “We think the price is worth it.”

    That’s because she gets it ALL for free, The price is paid by the dead and the life-long pain of those loved ones of the dead or maimed victims of warmongering-power-grabing-polity, be it ecclesiastical, governmental or commercial.

    I hate the terms, power – lunch, power-suits, power-this and that, whatever. I mean, What the hell is the matter with people? Who the funk came up with such BS? And how does a so-called individualistic, thinking, college educated segment of the corporate slave society adopt such idiosy? Finally, what can anyone do to unplugg the power-supply, paid for with the liberty & blood of soldiers and civilians, to the Albrights, the Cheneys, the Rummys, and all the Chief Embezzlement Officers (CEOs) etc., of the world?

    cephaloless (#149) Says: “Looks to me like Allen emphasized that inclusiveness was prevalent during periods of peace” …..Yes, of course China is an inclusive society, because it is good for business. What are we debating about here anyway? Genocide or whatever-cide all you smart guys want to use, it is , like Jerry says, violence and murders are still UNacceptable.

    China is building a harmonious Society. It is an inclusive Society for me.

  155. S.K. Cheung Says:

    A debate about whether CHina is inclusive seems to run the course of all such discussions, which is to say that it is in the eye of the beholder. If you’re a functioning member of society, you’ll probably be more likely to find said society to be inclusive; and if you’re not, then you probably won’t.

    Perhaps it’s a definition of “inclusive”. Does it mean that China will welcome with open arms all those peoples that she may try to assimilate? To some, maybe. But my reading of Steve’s initial post is that the question at least in part is to examine whether the people have input into the functioning of their society, or even the structure of their society. For the latter, as far as I’m concerned, the answer would be “not so much”, as it pertains to China. In fact, the way Steve phrased it reminds me of the Matrix, and PRC citizens are in it. They can go about their merry way. But they’re not really in control. Too bad I don’t have a good analogy for the blue pill/red pill, or for Trinity.

  156. Jerry Says:

    @Allen
    @Hemulen
    #136-148

    LMAO. This was like an epic tennis match. Or the excessive beating of a dead horse. Had I been awake, I would have been taking wagers on when that poor, dead horse was going to finally fall over. Please pardon my frivolity here. LMAO 😀

    —————-

    #136

    But I don’t think this is the attitude that most people really hold. We attack Iraq and Afghanistan in the name of terrorism and refer the resulting deaths as casualties of war. We carpet bomb Germany and drop the atomic bombs in Japan in the name of “freedom” and “justice” and call the resulting deaths casualties of war. But when there are casualties of political conflicts with which we don’t sympathize, we quickly fly flags of genocide….

    Why??? Because genocide makes a bigger emotional impact than just war. Plain and simple. In this context, I think genocide is used more as propagandist term than anything else. And as such, I believe the opportunistic use of the term “genocide” trivializes the lessons we can learn from actual history.

    Unfortunately, Allen, I must agree. ::Sigh:: Oh the joys of rationalizations!

    —————-

    #137

    What makes me annoyed by your responses is that, first you state that genocide has never occurred in Chinese history,

    I appreciate that style of writing. Thanks, H.

    Sun took no part in the 1911 revolution as such. He was in Denver, Colorado, when he heard about it and did not return to China until things have calmed down.

    Smart man.

    One of the reasons I have stayed away from this blog and other similar blogs is the fact that a number of contributors are allowed to get away with statements that trivialize the plight of minorities in China. It usually starts with someone objecting to the fact that the term “cultural genocide” is used to describe PRC policy in Tibet, only to advocate the assimilation of Tibetans into Han Chinese, the next moment. When you call the person on that statement, you often hear that “if we wanted to assimilate Tibetans, we sure could” or even that “most Chinese are in favor of forcible assimilation”. As if the alleged opinion of the majority ethnic group would obviate concerns that forcible assimilation is actually taking place.

    That is unfortunate that you would stay away. You are free to state your opinions and others may state theirs.

    H, you wrote, “… is the fact that a number of contributors are allowed to get away with statements that trivialize the plight of minorities in China.” Please feel free to call them on that. I, for one, do not know Chinese history and the current situation. But if somebody tries to stomp on you, like ACJ, I will, in my best Voltaire impression, stand up for your right to say what you will, even if it intensely displeases ACJ.

    —————-

    #140, 142

    I, myself, am not interested in dispassionate, academic definitions/discussions of genocide, holocaust, war crimes, carpet bombings, nuclear warfare (Nagasaki), the destruction of Dresden, the napalming of Vietnam. As I said before, murder is murder, violence is violence, no matter what the name or stoic distinction others give to it. Let us hope that these discussions provide us with cautionary tales for the future.

    —————-

    Just one last clarification, just for my curiosity. When did the dead horse finally fall over? Again, sorry if my frivolity and sarcasm offend. I just can’t help myself in this matter. 😀

    Again, thanks for the discussion. You have provided much information to discern, ponder, consider and upon which to reflect.

    And to me, good discussion and argument is far more beneficial than who is right or wrong. IMHO, this is not a horse race. (pun intended) 😉 I just detest how the American media tends to covers the run-up to presidential elections and the elections themselves as a “horse race”. To me, it is about the issues, which unfortunately for the media, need time, reflection, discussion and intelligence. I know, my last statement is so un-American! 😀

  157. Jerry Says:

    @S.K. Cheung, #155

    Good comments, SK. Inclusiveness is in the eye of the beholder. And that is too bad that the Chinese don’t have more say in the functioning and structure of their society.

    Regarding the Matrix, I don’t know very much. I have heard about Neo, red pill, blue pill and Trinity. I watched a 1/2 hour of it long ago. It bored me.

  158. Allen Says:

    @SKC #155,

    You are almost right … but not quite. The matrix is the mind of me and Hemulen. We have this idea of China and vigorously argue about it. When we take the red bill (that’s the one that goes to the real world, right?), then we end up into the reality that is China – and will probably both be perplexed by its many contradictions.

    But for now … I am taking the blue pill – so I can stay in the imaginary world of China … where I am always right! 😉

  159. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Jerry:
    Oh, say it ain’t so!!! Reloaded was a bit much, and Revolutions was down-right nutty, but I thought the original was great. I was amazed by the story, the cinematography, all the CG stuff, which at the time was ground-breaking. I’m also a fan of how Lawrence Fishburne acts, and of how Carrie-Anne Moss looks 🙂

    To Allen:
    yep, blue pill, and you wake up as if nothing happened; red pill lets you see how deep the rabbit hole goes….or so the story went.

  160. Hongkonger Says:

    “what can anyone do to unplugg the power-supply…to the Albrights, the Cheneys, the Rummys, and all the Chief Embezzlement Officers (CEOs) etc., of the world?”

    You want change? You may revolt and declare war, but then what always happens is this problem to follow up on:“离离原上草,一岁一枯荣。野火烧不尽,春风吹又生”白居易
    This peom reminds me of the lyrics of From a time in a land, when the chief took a stand
    The dog’s eyes are peering, from a mist like a band
    Though young and alone, hearts beating like a drum
    His family sacrificed, now war has just begun…
    I desire, more than foolish pride
    I desire, the world by my side
    No more tears for tomorrow, the beast is on your trail

    One down hearts burning sorrow, two to go,

    we shall prevail, There’s a beast and a demon, locked up in one
    Now his soul is gone, but the deed is never done
    Tell a tale of nonsense, as the beast, he looks on
    Riddle him with passion, then you wish you were gone

  161. Hongkonger Says:

    “泽国江山入战图,生民何计乐樵苏。凭君莫话封侯事,一将功成万骨枯” — 唐代诗人曹松
    A poem from Tang Dynasty.

    Similar in gist to, “What millions must die for Caesar to be great.”

    The ruling elites of the world will continue to suck the blood of the people of the world. Always has been that way, regardless whether the people has a say or not.

    “离离原上草,一岁一枯荣。野火烧不尽,春风吹又生”….what wild forest fire can’t exterminate, the breeze of spring will revive the weeds of the land…

    Hi SKC, Good to see you back. You’ve been kinda quiet these days.

    “Perhaps it’s a definition of “inclusive”. Does it mean that China will welcome with open arms all those peoples that she may try to assimilate?”

    Under the British colonial rule, Hong Kong born British subjects were required to apply for an entry visa just like any non British subjects wishing to visit the UK…. And when the Brits were getting ready to pull out (in 1997)after milking the non-democratic colony for a century and a half, offered ONLY to the “cream of the crops,” the right-of-abode in the UK, and a pathetic token British National (Overseas) / BN(O)passport for the rest.
    When East Timor was a colony of the Portuguese, all the Portuguese did in East timor was build Catholic churches and screwed the native girls. Brits and Portugese people that went to work in their colonies had better rights and wages than the locals. On the contrary, in China, a sovereign Chinese nation, the expats are very well & much better paid than the locals – even in domestic private companies. I am not complaining here. I am paid as/like an expat here in inclusive China, whereas in the UK with my BN(O) passport, I’d probably be a waiter in a Chinese restaurant.
    Some expats are always saying to each other, this part of China is in fact more free and safer compared to their own so-called land of the free, or where seats of global powers are — right where the financial capital of world is etc. To such comments I usually have no response becasue I have never lived in the West. Besides, there are just as many complaining expats who hate China and would bash it every chance they can have a go at it. Y’all know the type…
    I choose to remain neutral, and appreciate what China is becoming in these precious times of Peace.

  162. Jerry Says:

    @S.K. Cheung, #159

    Oh, say it ain’t so!!! Reloaded was a bit much, and Revolutions was down-right nutty, but I thought the original was great. I was amazed by the story, the cinematography, all the CG stuff, which at the time was ground-breaking. I’m also a fan of how Lawrence Fishburne acts, and of how Carrie-Anne Moss looks

    It’s so, SK. Sorry. Actually, Fishburne is the reason I made it to a 1/2 hour. He is a very fine actor. I wished they had given him more time in MI 3. I actually liked him a lot in Akeelah and the Bee, which I saw on a plane flight. I saw him in Mystic River. I really liked him in Othello. I also liked his acting in Just Cause, with Sean Connery, Ed Harris, and Blair Underwood. Four excellent actors.

    Moss is ok. If you had put in my favorite 42 year old actress, Gong Li, I would have hung in for a lot longer. At 42, she is still a babe. I just went out to Google to check how she is doing. Looks like she has become a Singaporean citizen. Interesting. Hmmm …

    I saw these comments out at a recent AFP article.

    However, many people also expressed understanding for Gong’s decision, noting the pressure such stars face in China, and making veiled criticisms of life in the communist country.

    “Why doesn’t anyone ask why people want to emigrate? We see one Chinese person after another take US citizenship,” one person said on Sohu. “Why don’t we see Americans taking Chinese citizenship?”

    Another suggested that many of the critics would leap at the chance to emigrate like a moth to the flame.

    “My compatriots, as you blab here, can you really say you love your country? Ask yourself, how many of you are not moths as well?”

    The backlash comes after a spike in nationalist sentiments in China this year.

    Those passions were partly triggered by Western criticism of a military crackdown on Tibetans following an uprising against Chinese rule in March.

    Chinese Internet forums were then filled with anti-Western diatribes that the ruling Communist Party allowed to flourish.

  163. Wukailong Says:

    @SKC: “A debate about whether CHina is inclusive seems to run the course of all such discussions, which is to say that it is in the eye of the beholder. If you’re a functioning member of society, you’ll probably be more likely to find said society to be inclusive; and if you’re not, then you probably won’t.”

    I was going to say something similar, but you already did it better than I would. Thanks!

    Discussing whether a state (even worse, civilization) is inclusive or not is very difficult when we don’t know how to measure it or where to look. Sometimes there are articles here about the great 包容性 of China, mostly written by people who feel proud of their country and want to prove how great it is, but there is usually no proofs in these articles other than merry patriotic rhetoric.

    I think it depends pretty much on the economic system and the society at the time, and how much experience they have on “including”. China can be inclusive and in fact has been so (back during the days of Tang, as Hongkonger described) and seems to be getting more and more inclusive, but back in the Mao era it was anything but.

    A Chinese friend of mine once remarked that the US seems very inclusive because “any kind of person can survive and have his style there”. On the other hand I’ve also heard about a disgruntled Chinese businessman who moved home when he didn’t fit into the local community. I guess the same holds for some places in Europe too.

    By midcentury, if China hasn’t encountered any upheavals, the population might be much more mixed and so the society will be more inclusive. I don’t think China will be like Japan, which seems to want to keep it’s Japaneseness intact (and that in ethnical terms).

  164. Allen Says:

    @Jerry #156,

    You wrote and quoted:

    I appreciate that style of writing. Thanks, H.

    Sun took no part in the 1911 revolution as such. He was in Denver, Colorado, when he heard about it and did not return to China until things have calmed down.

    Smart man.

    I originally was going to let Hemulen’s comment pass … but after re-reading your comment which seem to indicate that you actually seem applaud Hemulen’s rather inaccruate characterization of Sun Yat Sen, I want to set some things straight.

    Sun Yat Sen was a leader of the revolution and very much involved in the revolution at the time the Qing was overthrown. Anyone who proclaims otherwise does not know history.

    While Sun Yat Sen was indeed, as Hemulen pointed out, in Colorado when the Wuchang uprising took place, Sun was not hiding out in Colorado, waiting for things to “calm down,” as Hemulen seem to suggest. Sun was actually on a mission to the U.S. to seek funds for the revolution.

    When Sun found out by telegram of the earlier than expected uprising, he had the urge to go back – but instead comported himself to go to New York and London (and later Paris). As he wrote in his Autobiography:

    In twenty days I could land in Shanghai and take part in the revolutionary struggle, but at that point the diplomatic front was more important to us than the firing line. I therefore resolved to address myself to matters of a diplomatic order.

    Sun would return to China and be elected the new Republic’s first president in the following year on Jan. 12. He is still considered the founding father of the modern Chinese state today – by both the ROC and the PRC.

    P.S. I also want to observe that quoting sources per se does not give one’s view more legitimacy. There are a lot of crap out there. I know how the academic world works. For the sake of publishing, many “scholars” would twist and distort facts just to get noticed. I am close to various prominent scholars on Asian Studies in America. I have a sense who some of the second-tier scholars are…

  165. Jerry Says:

    @Allen #164

    LOL. 😀 Are you getting touchy, Allen?

    Allen, my comment “I appreciate that style of writing. Thanks, H.” refers to the the blockquote above in #156. I prefer H stating how he feels rather than using hyper-charged words.

    I was being flippant and sarcastic when I said, “Smart man.” Anybody who would avoid conflict sounds pretty smart in my book; especially when guns or bombs are involved. As I said earlier, I don’t know much about internal Chinese history. How would I know if what is being stated is true or not? I dare say, “And why should I care?” Go figure! Allen, now is one of those times I think we exist in 2 different universes. Holy cow!

    I appreciate the information and clarification.

    Allen, I wrote above in #127, “BTW, I don’t believe everything I hear, see or read.” That goes without saying!

    I think you are giving this whole thing much more weight and import than I am. And I believe that you care more about Chinese history than I ever will. Which sounds pretty normal to me. It is your culture, not mine.

    P.S. I also want to observe that quoting sources per se does not give one’s view more legitimacy. There are a lot of crap out there. I know how the academic world works. For the sake of publishing, many “scholars” would twist and distort facts just to get noticed. I am close to various prominent scholars on Asian Studies in America. I have a sense who some of the second-tier scholars are…

    Allen, why would I or anybody necessarily believe anything that is quoted?

    Shaking my head!!

    So you never answered the question I asked, “When did the dead horse finally fall over?” You guys beat that poor horse to death! 😀

    I feel like Loretta’s grandfather in “Moonstruck”, “I’m so confused.” LMAO

  166. Hemulen Says:

    @Allen

    Well, the point about Sun here is really that he is not a very good spokesperson against ethnic prejudice, which you seemed to suggest.

    Sun was actually on a mission to the U.S. to seek funds for the revolution.

    Given the fact that the revolutionaries were very weak in 1911 – and soon overshadowed by warlords – it is quite remarkable that Sun didn’t take the first boat to China. When he arrived, Yuan Shikai had already betrayed the revolution and all Sun could to was to hand over the presidency to him in 1912. By contrast, the first thing Lenin did when he heard about the February revolution in 1917 was to find a way to get back to Russia. We may disapprove of Lenin’s ideology, but at least he was prepared to take personal risk of going home.

    As for Sun, it is very hard to pin down what he actually stood for. He had a lot of strange bedfellows over the years. He palled with Han chauvinists for quite a while. A lot of his revolutionary ventures before 1911 were financed by Japanese interests, and when Japan put forward the 21 demands in 1915, Sun was not particularly outspoken about Japanese imperialism at all. Quite to the contrary. Then he remodeled himself into a warlord in Guangzhou and accepted Soviet aid. Quite a career, but the father of the revolution?

  167. Hemulen Says:

    @Allen

    P.S. I also want to observe that quoting sources per se does not give one’s view more legitimacy. There are a lot of crap out there. I know how the academic world works. For the sake of publishing, many “scholars” would twist and distort facts just to get noticed. I am close to various prominent scholars on Asian Studies in America. I have a sense who some of the second-tier scholars are…

    I was challenged to provide sources, and I did. I never claimed that just quoting a book gives you more legitimacy. It’s up to you to actually read these works and try to undermine their claims. But pardon my sarcasm, but you don’t seem to be willing to read books that undermine your world view.

    “Just to get noticed.” None of the books I quoted are actually about genocide per se, but about important periods in Chinese history. I had to spend some to find the quotes actually. “Second-tier.” I would be interested to hear more about that. One thing that strikes me about the three authors I quoted is the fact that they base their claims primarily on Chinese sources, like Wei Yuan, who proudly listed the extermination of the Zunghars as one of the feats of his government.

  168. Steve Says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s responses and the direction the discussion has taken. I kept starting replies but before I’d finish, ten new posts would make my reply obsolete, and I certainly couldn’t interrupt the spitting contest between Hemulen and Allen. 😉

    One definition I’d like to clear up is the meaning of colonization, which I believe has been used incorrectly from time to time. I agree with Allen’s statement that certain western countries colonized quite a bit of the planet, but they certainly didn’t colonize China or any of the other far Eastern countries. They had outposts and forced trade and political concessions, etc. but the closest colonies were Australia and New Zealand. You might be confusing colony with empire. China was forced into onerous treaties but was never directly under one foreign government’s control like the Philippines, Vietnam or Indonesia. It was never a part of anyone’s empire, mostly because the western countries would never allow one country to control all of China, and also didn’t have the manpower resources to pacify the entire country. China has always been unique and never neatly fits into any category.

    As far as this whole genocide discussion, I have read that word was coined by Raphael Lemkin in 1944 specifically to describe the Jewish experience in the Holocaust; the deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political, ethnic or cultural group. So to use the term “cultural genocide” is redundant, since cultural extermination is a part of its meaning. It’s definitely a loaded word.

    China has had times in her history where she was very inclusive and time when she was xenophobic. Most nations have had these same ups and downs. But as Hemulen correctly pointed out, the viciousness and violence imparted during those xenophobic times was beyond compare to anything taking place today. I’ve actually read a lot of military history over the years, and much of it from Asia. The atrocities committed in the past were beyond belief. They were horrendous, atrocious, excruciating, indescribable, etc. The life of an enemy throughout Asian history was worth less than nothing. The lives of old men, woman and children were fair game and to exterminate them after a conquest was not a big deal. In fact, when a city resisted invasion, once it was conquered it was normal to put all to death inside. It served as a lesson to other cities not to resist. This didn’t apply just to China but to all of Asia and included the Middle East, the Roman Empire, and the ancient Greeks in their wars against the Persians (where they learned this type of warfare). Today these would be called war crimes but there was no Geneva Convention back then. This type of warfare had been around since recorded history.

    I would agree with Hemulen #111. There have been numerous cases in Chinese history where they enslaved ethnic groups. Did you know that the earliest recorded records of slavery are from the Shang dynasty? This certainly wasn’t unique to China; it was common throughout Asia. More African slaves were sent to Asia than to the Americas, which isn’t very well known. However, the slavery in Asia has usually been for pleasure; either for sexual purposes or as servants. They were not used as a means of production like they were in the Americas.

    Allen wrote, “I think all the calamities the Japanese caused was simply a terrible consequence of modern asymmetric warfare – where one side was so overwhelmingly strong and equipped with modern weapons while the other side was not. Tragedies such as the Nanking Massacre occurred because one side was too weak and the other too strong – with the weak resisting to the bitter end….”
    Egads! Allen, what were you thinking??? I’ll give you a pass on this one since I really don’t think you believe what you wrote. Japanese officers chopping off the heads of Nanjing men, women and children to practice their swordplay because the Chinese were too weak? Soldiers gang raping 5 year old girls? Japanese were taught from a young age that Chinese were an inferior species, not really human, so to do this was no different than slaughtering a pig. It was xenophobic butchery; an army gone completely mad. As Hemulen pointed out, this behavior was common at one time, but considered a war crime in the modern era. It might be one of the very few things western imperialism brought to the world that actually achieved a good result. I wish I could say it has disappeared from the face of the earth but as we’ve seen in some recent wars, it unfortunately still occurs.

    Allen and Hemulen, in the course of your back and forth exchanges (I’m with Jerry, some of ‘em were pretty funny, “beat the dead horse”… good one) you both brought up some great points, though it seems neither of you would admit the other did so. Hemulen, you DO get emotional! As Jerry said, you can make your argument to open minds but it sure works better when you leave the condescending words out of it.

    @Allen #115: No need for the personal attack against Atwell. Whether he is a “top-tier” scholar or not is irrelevant.

    @Jerry #125: I can also get “museum’d out” pretty quickly, but you might be surprised with this one. I’m not so big on pottery, but some of the ceramic porcelain was incredible. However, what caught my attention were the landscape paintings. I’d just zip past most of the other stuff and spent the majority of my time in those rooms. For me, Tang, Ming and Song were the best of the best, with a narrow victory by the Song.

    Off subject, but if you ever get a chance to visit the city of Haarlem in Holland, check out the Teyler Museum. Remember reading Jules Verne and other writers as a kid where there were scientific apparatus made from copper with electrical charges zapping across? This museum has a huge collection of 19th century scientific instruments just like that. I’ve never seen anything like it before or since. It might be up your alley.

    @Wukailong #128: Great points!

    @Allen #131: I think you’re being a bit disingenuous here. Pure democracy leads to a tyranny of the majority; that’s why countries fold democracy under constitutional republics with checks and balances, and protection for minorities that are constantly being fine tuned by the legislative and judicial processes in accordance with the applicable constitution. I don’t believe you answered Wukailong’s argument about one-man rule and an autocratic system.

    @Jerry #134: “Democracy can be mugged by the majority, tyranny, by an oligarchy, by a plutocracy, or in the case of Bush, an authoritarian oligarchy. We as citizens must stay engaged and vigilant.

    I don’t trust elitist rulers, whether in China, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, or the US. No matter what the system of governance.”

    Well said!

    @Allen #136: “But when there are casualties of political conflicts with which we don’t sympathize, we quickly fly flags of genocide….

    Why??? Because genocide makes a bigger emotional impact than just war. Plain and simple. In this context, I think genocide is used more as propagandist term than anything else. And as such, I believe the opportunistic use of the term “genocide” trivializes the lessons we can learn from actual history.”

    Genocide is genocide. Either the situation fits it or it doesn’t. I don’t think anyone can make an argument that China is trying to exterminate any minority inside its borders. The argument from certain quarters is genocide as it relates to the extermination of culture. Is it the same as what happened to the Jews under Hitler? Not even close. But is it a legitimate term? Yes, it is by definition. So the argument back and forth needs to be taken from that understanding and not with the implication of mass murder. And no, carpet bombing and nuclear detonation does not fit the definition of genocide.

    @S.K. Cheung #155: Thanks for trying to bring us back on subject, though I know that is impossible, ha ha. The crux of my initial post was to see what steps China can take so that in the coming years, there aren’t insurrections in places like Xinjiang and Tibet, that the people who form China feel their opinions, feelings and ideas are a part of that society and that they don’t feel that a small core of “elites” totally run their lives. Before Deng died, he set up the leadership structure down to the present day. After Hu, we’re in unknown territory. Since the inner workings of the Communist party are opaque by law, no one really knows what will happen at the end of the current administration. It isn’t clear cut like it used to be. When in China, I had many there mention a fear that an oligarchy of “little princes”, the sons of the current leadership who are mostly despised by the public, would create a permanent ruling class that would not be responsive to the people. But we can leave that topic for another discussion… 😉

  169. Steve Says:

    @Hemulen #166: “As for Sun, it is very hard to pin down what he actually stood for. He had a lot of strange bedfellows over the years.”

    At first I thought you were talking about all those mistresses he had overseas. 🙂

  170. Hemulen Says:

    @Allen

    I have only said that once new territories are incorporated, it is the normal rule for the Chinese rulers to incorporate the new people as full “Chinese citizens.”

    Interesting statement that I haven’t commented upon yet. What is incorporated? Are you implying that East Turkestan/Xinijang or Tibet were run just like regular provinces during the Qing?

    And could you give us any examples of persons of discernible “minority” background that rose to national leadership. Let’s focus on recent history like the Ming and the Qing. Give us an example of an Uighur taking the imperial exams and becoming a grand secretary, or a Miao being appointed governor-general of a province.

  171. Steve Says:

    @Hemulen: Ming and Qing dynasties are ancient history so I wonder… are there any members with a minority background currently serving in the CCP Politburo or more importantly, the Politburo Standing Committee? That would address today’s situation and the subject of this thread far more than something that happened during the Ming or Qing dynasties, though that is still an interesting topic. Here’s a link to the current members of the Standing Committee: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politburo_of_the_Communist_Party_of_China#Current_Members

  172. wuming Says:

    @Hemulen

    I could be wrong, but I read somewhere that Tang Dynasty’s imperial family had Turkic blood, and several grand generals were outright Turkic. As for imperial exams in later dynasties, do you believe that they should have adopted affirmative action policies and conducted the exams in multi-languages? Qing dynasty is hard to make argument either way, since there were certain quite a few Mongolian officials in that one, not not mention Manchus themselves

  173. Allen Says:

    @ Steve #168, @Hemulen #167
    Steve wrote:

    @Allen #115: No need for the personal attack against Atwell. Whether he is a “top-tier” scholar or not is irrelevant.

    Hemulen wrote:

    “Second-tier.” I would be interested to hear more about that. One thing that strikes me about the three authors I quoted is the fact that they base their claims primarily on Chinese sources, like Wei Yuan, who proudly listed the extermination of the Zunghars as one of the feats of his government.

    I apologize about calling Prof. Atwill a second-tier scholar. It’s not relevant to the discussion, is an ad hominem attack and degrades the lively conversation we have here. So I apologize again.

    My more substantive (I hope) response is that Prof. Atwill seems to make a career out of writing about ethnic conflicts.

    His latest publications, according to his bio, are:

    “Holy Culture Wars: Patterns of Ethno-Religious Violence in 19th and 20th Century China,” in Belief and Bloodshed: Religion and Violence Across Time and Traditions. Ed. James Wellman, Rowman & Littlefield, 2007

    The Chinese Sultanate: Islam, Ethnicity and the Panthay Rebellion in Southwestern China, 1856-1873, Stanford University Press, 2006.

    “Blinkered Visions: Islamic Identity, Hui Ethnicity, and the Panthay Rebellion in Southwest China, 1856-1874,” Journal of Asian Studies 62(4), 2003

    I believe his accounts are distorted because he is looking at the world through a very narrow set of lens that he has adopted for his research…

    That aside, I also want correct myself to the extent that I ever said that ethnic conflicts never took place in China.

    In the course of Chinese history, the Chinese civilization has grown through many means. Some times being invaded actually helped to expand the empire (the Mongolian and Manchurian invasion being examples). Other times, the empire expanded peacefully through normal movement of people and trade. Still other times, the empire have been split and have to be forcefully brought back together.

    Emperors often ruled with iron hands. If you get on the wrong side of the emperor, you will be treated harshly and cruelly. But in general, emperors also believe that their mandate to rule derive from the prosperity of the people (mandate of heaven).

    During times of internal turmoil, people often died – from starvation as well as from armed conflicts. Depending on the political conflicts, people of certain ethnicities were sometimes targetted disproportionally.

    I don’t think of this as genocide. Nor do I think this history justify looking at China of today through ethnic lens. The intent is not to exterminate peoples, but to bring the area we know as china under one political entity. In almost all cases, once the empire has been pieced or re-pieced together, all ethnicities were treated pretty much equally within the empire – that seems to be a continuing theme of Chinese civilization.

    So Steve and Hemulen – I admitted some wrongs but still remain stubborn to what I thought were my original assertions. When I get time later today or over the weekend, I will respond to some of your other points.

  174. Allen Says:

    @Jerry #165,
    You wrote:

    Are you getting touchy, Allen?

    Yeh … and am a little embarrassed as a result…

    That’s ok, I’ll redeem myself on this board somehow… 🙂

  175. Allen Says:

    @wuming #172,

    Tang was definitely one of the most Cosmolitan dynasties in Chinese history. Here is a quote I found from a book called “Ethnic Identity in Tang China.” After reviewing literature records from the era, the author noted:

    In sum, the poem exemplifies the ambiguous relationship between ethnic and cultural identity and behavior that characterized the Tang use of stereotypes, reflecting the real blurring of cultural and ethnic boundaries that occurred throughout the empire at all social levels but was most salient in the frontier zones. This blurring of ethnic and cultural boundaries existed in a mutually reinforcing relationship with the overall ambiguity displayed toward the non-Han in Tang discourse, an ambiguity regarding the degree to which non-Han threatened or reinforced the Tang order. These layers of ambiguity were translated, among other ways, into the forms taken by stereotypes about the ethnic Other.

    One rarely sees articulated ethnic stereotypes, such as “non-Han drink a lot,” in discourse that self-consciously and directly expresses an individual viewpoint on ethnic difference. Even in the most extensive Tang collection of cliches, stereotypes, and social prescritpions, Li Shangyin’s Miscellany from Yi Mountain from the mid-ninth century, only one of the four hundred sayins has an explicit ethnic content: in the category of “incongruities,” Li inluded “a poor Persian,” referring to the stereotype – frequencly displayed in Tang belles-lettres – that all Persians were wealthy merchants. Rather, certain stereotypes were rarely or never articulated but constantly appeared in casual form and were often related to certain professions with which non-Han peoples living in the Tang Empire were most closely associated.

  176. Hongkonger Says:

    Has the HIGHLIGHTing practice been abandoned? I thought Jerry’s “beating a Dead Horse,” comment and the entire Comment #168 of Steve’s ought to be highlighted.

    ” genocide makes a bigger emotional impact than just war. Plain and simple. In this context, I think genocide is used more as propagandist term than anything else. And as such, I believe the opportunistic use of the term “genocide” trivializes the lessons we can learn from actual history.”

    “Genocide is genocide.”

    SKC: “whether CHina is inclusive seems to run the course of all such discussions, which is to say that it is in the eye of the beholder. “

  177. admin Says:

    @Hongkonger

    The practice is not abandoned but I haven’t figured out the most fair and effective way to do it. I used to to think a post author should decide which comments to highlight. But as Steve put it, a post author, as well as commentators, may get too emotionally involved. In any case, I highlighted the two comments you mentioned. Going forward, I hope more readers will mention the comments they like to be highlighted.

  178. Hemulen Says:

    @Allen

    I’m happy that you have modified your standpoint somewhat. I’m looking forward to your contributions.

    When it comes to alleged melting-pot qualities of the Tang dynasty, which reigned more than a 1000 years ago, I’m not sure that it really can serve as a constructive comparison to other societies. We keep saying that the idea of race and ethnicity is new to Chinese society and imported from the “West” – which is true to a certain extent – but we forget that in the long span of history race and ethnicity are “new” to the “West” as well. If you go back as far as the contemporary regimes of the Tang dynasty, you’ll find that people hardly thought about ethnicity and race anywhere in the world the way we think about it today. Other markers of identity, such as religion and culture were more important. The ruling house of the Tang was of Turkic origin, so what? Check out some European history, and you’ll find that quite a few kings were foreigners and didn’t even speak the language of their subjects. The main reason why the Tang dynasty is brought up as a model of an “inclusive society” is because it compares favorably to subsequent dynasties in Chinese history, not anything else.

  179. Jerry Says:

    @Hongkonger #126, 160, 161,

    HKer, thanks for the music tip in #126. She is good, has a nice voice and she is a shayner maidel. Unfortunately, I don’t speak Hebrew. I do like “Hava Nagila” very much and know the lyrics somewhat. And I love Klezmer music. It is the music of my peeps.

    —————-

    #160

    “what can anyone do to unplugg the power-supply…to the Albrights, the Cheneys, the Rummys, and all the Chief Embezzlement Officers (CEOs) etc., of the world?”

    You want change? You may revolt and declare war, but then what always happens is this problem to follow …

    I love that term, “Chief Embezzlement Officer”.

    Fat good most revolutions do. My fellow Russian Jews who did not leave, just ended up trading the tyranny of the Tsars for the tyranny of the Bolsheviks and Communists. Lenin, who may have been Jewish himself, recruited Jews to join the Bolsheviks with the promise of a better world if they overthrew Tsar Nicky II. Damned Romanov’s. Damned VI Lenin. But those Fabergé eggs were pretty amazing.

    Some people lust for power. They rail against and admonish those in power for using it recklessly and cruelly. Then, when they, the previously lusting and unempowered, attain power, they behave like the people they replaced.

    Which probably explains why I love this old saying, “Choose your enemies wisely. You will become them.”

    —————-

    #161

    “Perhaps it’s a definition of “inclusive”. Does it mean that China will welcome with open arms all those peoples that she may try to assimilate?”

    Under the British colonial rule, Hong Kong born British subjects were required to apply for an entry visa just like any non British subjects wishing to visit the UK…. And when the Brits were getting ready to pull out (in 1997)after milking the non-democratic colony for a century and a half, offered ONLY to the “cream of the crops,” the right-of-abode in the UK, and a pathetic token British National (Overseas) / BN(O)passport for the rest.
    When East Timor was a colony of the Portuguese, all the Portuguese did in East timor was build Catholic churches and screwed the native girls. Brits and Portugese people that went to work in their colonies had better rights and wages than the locals. On the contrary, in China, a sovereign Chinese nation, the expats are very well & much better paid than the locals – even in domestic private companies. I am not complaining here. I am paid as/like an expat here in inclusive China, whereas in the UK with my BN(O) passport, I’d probably be a waiter in a Chinese restaurant.
    Some expats are always saying to each other, this part of China is in fact more free and safer compared to their own so-called land of the free, or where seats of global powers are — right where the financial capital of world is etc. To such comments I usually have no response becasue I have never lived in the West. Besides, there are just as many complaining expats who hate China and would bash it every chance they can have a go at it. Y’all know the type…
    I choose to remain neutral, and appreciate what China is becoming in these precious times of Peace.

    “…will welcome with open arms…” Does that include Gong Li if she ever wants to come back to China?

    Thanks for the info on HK, the Brits and their passport/visa policies. Verrrry interesting. Speaking of HK and Brits, I saw an interview the other day. Bernie Lo of Bloomberg HK was interviewing Chris Patten, the last British Governor in HK. Patten was wondering when democracy would finally arrive in HK. Any comments about him? You made some comments about the lack of democracy in HK under the Brits. I know nothing about him or British rule.

    I think the Portuguese were more interested in screwing than building churches. 😀

    Thanks for the info on expats in China and HK.

    —————-

    #176

    So you liked the dead horse analogy. Well, I had a lot of fun writing that. 😀

  180. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Steve #168:
    “the sons of the current leadership who are mostly despised by the public, would create a permanent ruling class that would not be responsive to the people” – ahhh, nepotism at its finest. And to me, in the way I interpret your phrase “inclusive society”, if the rulers don’t respond to the people, then the people aren’t being included, all other definitions of the term notwithstanding.

    The finer points of genocide are beyond my depth, and thankfully not in my realm of experience, but “genocide is genocide”, that works for my little brain. I agree that China has not physically exterminated anyone for kicks. However, I think it is debatable whether China, in her eagerness/willingness to assimilate other peoples and their cultures, has engaged in some cultural extermination. That she may have done so not for pleasure, does that alter the terminology vis-a-vis “cultural genocide”? Is there a term for genocide without malicious intent, not motivated by amusement?

  181. Hongkonger Says:

    Is there a term for genocide without malicious intent, not motivated by amusement?

    How about “FOOKS,” short for Folks out on killing sprees? As in, them (insert tribeal name) are picked for FOOKS “福西”

  182. Hemulen Says:

    @SKC

    Is there a term for genocide without malicious intent, not motivated by amusement?

    I don’t know of any instance of genocide that has been motivated by “amusement”. In the late 19th and early 20th century, various colonial powers felt that they were just doing the dirty, but “necessary”, work of history, in which certain peoples were doomed to perish.

  183. Otto Kerner Says:

    Allen,

    If the goal is to commit genocide against the Manchus or the Zunghars (or the Tibetans or any other minority), trust me, it could have been done. Instead Sun Yat-Sen, after the overthrow of the Qing, preached unity and peace under the rubric of zhong hua ming zu.
    To me that is quite amazing. After 3 centuries of “foreign rule” (that was the rhetoric used at that time), Sun did not want to create just a “Han” Republic, but a multicultural one – with power vested in all its people.

    Didn’t Sun Yat-sen also have a very pragmatic reason for being so inclusive? To wit, the fact that approx. 49% of the empire’s territory was in Tibet, Xinjiang, and Outer Mongolia, places where there were almost no Han people, and he didn’t want to give up control of that much land?

  184. Allen Says:

    @Steve #168,

    According to UN conventions, genocide is the deliberate destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group.

    So – we are going to call things genocide, why are not carpet bombing and nuclear detonation genocide?

    In your post earlier in #168, you focused on the barbarity and cruelty in the nankin Massacre to justify calling Nankin massacre genocide. You won’t get any argument from me. But to be honest, that is an emotionally based definition of genocide – and if go with that – it can be politicized. Should genocide be defined in terms of the cruelty of the acts committed?

    My simple way of seeing things is: the carpet bombings and nuclear detonations were targeted against one particular ethnicity. The weapons killed disproportionately one ethnicity. The weapons caused lots of death. If we are ever going to start calling anything besides holocaust (killing in the name of ethnicity in spite of political submission of the target ethnicity) genocide, we have to call the bombings and nuclear detonations genocide also.

    Show me where I have gone astray…

  185. Allen Says:

    @Otto Kerner #183,

    You wrote:

    Didn’t Sun Yat-sen also have a very pragmatic reason for being so inclusive? To wit, the fact that approx. 49% of the empire’s territory was in Tibet, Xinjiang, and Outer Mongolia, places where there were almost no Han people, and he didn’t want to give up control of that much land?

    That would definitely be a very good reason. But the important thing is that whatever the reason, the rhetoric and ideology that Sun Yat-Sen eventually developed were amazingly inclusive.

  186. Steve Says:

    @Allen #184: gen⋅o⋅cide – noun; the deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political, or cultural group. (Random House Dictionary)

    gen·o·cide (jěn’ə-sīd’) n. The systematic and planned extermination of an entire national, racial, political, or ethnic group. (American Heritage Dictionary)

    genocide – 1944, apparently coined by Polish-born U.S. jurist Raphael Lemkin in his work “Axis Rule in Occupied Europe” [p.19], in reference to Nazi extermination of Jews, lit. “killing a tribe,” from Gk. genos “race, kind” (see genus) + -cide, from L. -cidere “kill,” comb. form of caedere “to cut, kill” (see concise). The proper formation would be *genticide.

    Allen, these sources are where I derived my definition. However, you misunderstood me. I did not call the Nanjing Massacre genocide, I called it a war crime. I don’t consider it genocide, however horrible it was. It just didn’t fit the definition.

    I would also not call carpet bombing or nuclear detonation genocide, and for the same reason. It doesn’t fit the given definition. Carpet bombing was a way to increase the odds of target destruction when bombs were notoriously inaccurate. Today, carpet bombing is obsolete for countries that have GPS weapon guidance systems. Nuclear detonation was used twice for specific wartime purposes. Those purposes can be debated but neither side uses the argument that they were genocide, at least not that I’ve ever heard. Speaking of nuclear detonation, when I visited the museum at Hiroshima it might interest you to know that the explanation given for Japan entering the war was exactly the same one that the head of the Japanese Air Force gave last week in his winning essay that caused him to be sacked. I’m sure everyone in China thanks the Japanese for liberating them. (said in my most sarcastic voice)

    Both carpet and nuclear bombings were targeting against one particular enemy, no different than bombings in any war. Under your definition, in order to avoid committing genocide, would a country have to bomb one of its own cities for each enemy city it bombed, or bomb a city belonging to another ethnic group if it wanted to bomb an enemy? I’m sure that makes no sense to either of us. I was trying to limit the use of “genocide” in this thread to actual genocide rather than using it as a blanket expression for war crimes or civilian casualties. There are other terms we can use for acts or atrocities that have wider or different meanings, that are better able to describe those particular acts.

    You wrote the Nanjing Massacre “occurred because one side was too weak and the other too strong – with the weak resisting to the bitter end”. The Nanjing Massacre occurred after the resistance ended. It was a brutal massacre and a war crime committed by the Japanese army with the approval, encouragement and participation of its leaders. I thought your definition placed no blame on the Japanese army but sounded like a natural occurence in wartime. That’s why your answer shocked me and didn’t seem like your normal response. It seemed to let the Japanese army off the hook.

    Incidentally, if anyone here hasn’t seen it, rent the “Why We Fight” DVD from 1944 called “The Battle of China”. It is very well done; directed by Frank Capra (Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, It’s a Wonderful Life, Lost Horizon, Meet John Doe) It covers the Nanjing Massacre very accurately, along with the entire war in China.

    @S.K. Cheung #180: If a culture disappears over time as it is absorbed by or combined with another culture in a natural way, then it isn’t considered genocide. Typically when that happens, pieces of the culture will make their way into the larger culture. As an example, many aspects of old Druidic customs were brought to America by the Irish and are still used at Halloween, but changed to a new and unique form.

    Genocide in its cultural definition is forced cultural assimilation. When something is forced, it means there are punishments for not assimilating so by its nature it would be malicious.

  187. Allen Says:

    @Steve #186,

    I am fine with all the definitions of genocide you gave. So would you agree that if we have two legitimate political struggles where there is no specific intent to exterminate a whole group of people based on ethnicity, but in the course of that struggle a certain ethnicity was disproportionately killed, that we don’t have genocide?

    That is, if the political aim of a conflict is something other than to exterminate a group of people based on ethnicity, there is no genocide even if it results in cruel mass deaths of a certain people of a certain ethnicity (e.g. carpet bombing and atomic detonations)?

    Because if you do believe there is none (and I do), there are a whole lot of so-called genocides which are not really genocides. They are called so only for political (e.g. propaganda) purposes…

    About Nankin massacre, of course I would argue atrocious war crimes occurred. But I didn’t think there was genocide (I know you didn’t call it so) because I don’t think the intent was to “exterminate” Chinese people. The intent was to INTIMIDATE the Chinese people so much that they would never resist again. I would never let the Japanese army off the hook on that.

    But sometimes I do wonder where the line between war crimes and “normal” horrors of war lie. That line, I think, can also often be politicized (e.g. propagandized) for politically expedient purposes…

  188. Jerry Says:

    @Steve #186
    @Allen #184, 185
    @Otto Kerner #183

    Random comments and opinions.

    Most laws, IMHO, are opinions, maybe held by a majority, but opinions nonetheless. Court rulings are opinions, well-reasoned for the most part, usually based on precedent, sometimes setting precedent, but opinions nonetheless.

    As I stated in #165, “Allen, why would I or anybody necessarily believe anything that is quoted?” I really don’t care where you are getting your definitions. The radix of any definition is an opinion. It may be a widely accepted opinion, hide-bound if you will, but still an opinion. As such, it’s root is arbitrary, no matter how well-researched. It is just that definitions seem to carry some moral force or imperative, as credibility comes from acceptance of the opinion by others. To which I have always asked, “If 10 million people are wrong, does the fact that there are 10 million people make it right?” Again, that begs the question, “Does might make right? And what is right and what is wrong?”

    To me genocide is one way to kill many people and inflict major-league misery. We have many ways to kill many people and inflict major-league misery, WMDs and WMM (weapons of mass misery) if you will. We can use nuclear weapons, carpet bombing, land mines, slavery, cluster bombs, political purges, embargos, no-fly zones, “Just War”, nerve gas, mustard gas, fuel-air explosives, chemical warfare, biological weapons, depleted uranium, pogroms, pre-emptive war, war, Manifest Destiny, occupation of another country or people, conquests, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. We can contrive all sorts of reasons, excuses, definitions, explanations, rationalization, etc. I am not saying that there aren’t reasonable exceptions for the exceptional use of some of these. It is just that we bend the rules too many times. IMHO.

    I really don’t care how you characterize the Great Leap Forward, Nanjing, Masada, the Jewish Holocaust, Wounded Knee, Darfur, Rwanda, Iraq, Vietnam (American) War, the Killing Fields, the Armenian genocide, the Timorese genocide, the Ethiopian famine, Indian people starving, etc. IMHO, they are wrong.

    Even if you came up with a seemingly air-tight, hide-bound, precedential definition for genocide, holocaust, and/or “Just War”, I bet that somebody could find some loopholes or some Machiavellian way to circumvent the bounds of the definition. Just like Cheney, Colin Powell, Condi Rice, and Shrub et al. Oh, I should throw in Rummy, Wolfowitz, Perle and Frum.

    The term, “holocaust”, was used, pre-WW II, in reference to the Armenian genocide. Elie Wiesel tried to block all discussion, especially in Israel, of the Armenian genocide. He wanted/wants the terms “Holocaust” and “genocide” to be the exclusive purview of the Jewish experience. (The Holocaust is Wiesel’s raison d’etre.) That is why Chomsky respectfully, but forcefully went after Wiesel. Suffering is suffering. Violence is violence. Misery is misery. Period.

    So keep on writing. I hope that you are having fun and like doing it. If you are doing it to change my mind, hmmm… But, I encourage you to keep trying.

    I really don’t care if I change your minds. I just felt the need to write this. As I tend to say, “I will paddle my own canoe. You can paddle yours.”

    Just my 2 shekels worth. BTW, my very nature is to reflect, so I do listen, no matter how defensive I appear.

  189. Jerry Says:

    BTW, we have beaten so many horses to death here (and continue to beat them after they die) that I fear that the Humane Society is going to charge us with equicide and animal abuse.

    LOL 😀

  190. cephaloless Says:

    Everything is just so subjective. That and history is written by the victors.

    Since the genocide horse is still flopping around, assuming we all agree Nanking massacre is considered a war crime, any thoughts on what additional information would tilt you toward considering it genocide? Maybe paper evidence that the atrocities are not meant to subdue the population but to depopulate. Or records of wide spread occurrences of that sort of atrocity which imply an imperative not be recorded on paper.

  191. Steve Says:

    @Allen #187: “So would you agree that if we have two legitimate political struggles where there is no specific intent to exterminate a whole group of people based on ethnicity, but in the course of that struggle a certain ethnicity was disproportionately killed, that we don’t have genocide?”

    Yes, I would agree we don’t have genocide. It doesn’t meet the definition of the word. What you just described is pretty much every war. It is very rare for loss of life in war to be proportionate. I agree with the rest of your statement, except maybe the part about the Japanese trying to intimidate the Chinese in Nanjing. I think they went completely berserk; way beyond intimidation and acted in a totally barbaric manner.

    What are “war crimes”? Whatever the victor says they are. That might not be the politically correct answer, but for me it’s the truthful one.

    Words whose meanings are distorted for political purposes? The one that irks me the most is that whenever an interest group wants the government to pass a law, what they want is suddenly a “right” when it is nothing of the kind. It is a decision by that society to live in a certain manner. That manner can change over time. Rights should never change. So it cheapens the idea of rights, at least to me.

    Every time we have an election, I marvel at the amount of words whose meanings are distorted for the purpose of “spin”. Say it enough times and most people will believe it. Sometimes I feel I live in an Orwellian universe…

    @Jerry: You don’t appear to be defensive to me at all. You are always very consistent in your opinions, which I respect. Allen is the same.

    Yes, there are many ways to kill people and many words to describe them. But what is language? When two people use a word, don’t they both have to agree on its definition for true communication to occur? If not, then is there actual communication? If each hears the word with a different meaning, won’t there be misunderstandings? That’s why I showed the definition of the word, so that at least on this thread, no one would assume the meaning but have a reference to go by.

    Wiesel was a tough read for me in school. I must admit I only read what I had to, and never read him for pleasure. But I agree with Chomsky about Wiesel’s viewpoint. And I also believe your thoughts are worth at least 3 shekels. 🙂

  192. Steve Says:

    @cepahloless #190: I asked my horse Genni whether she would consider a deliberate decision to depopulate a particular culture or race in a limited area as genocide. She whinnied once, neighed twice, snorted and brushed the ground four times with her right hoof.

    Since I am not fluent in horse jargon and can’t understand her body language, I’ll have to defer to you to interpret what she just said. 🙂

  193. Jerry Says:

    @Steve #191

    But what is language? When two people use a word, don’t they both have to agree on its definition for true communication to occur? If not, then is there actual communication? If each hears the word with a different meaning, won’t there be misunderstandings? That’s why I showed the definition of the word, so that at least on this thread, no one would assume the meaning but have a reference to go by.

    A definition is the stating of an opinion; it is a reference or starting point. Communication occurs iteratively and over a period of time (whatever that is?). Misunderstandings are a fact of life. I was married and you are married, Steve. Need I say more? I rest my case, your honor. 😀 ::LMAO:: While we may think we understand the other’s words and meanings and definitions the same, or approximately the same, I don’t think so. That point has been relentlessly driven home to me in my year here in Taipei. IMHO, each of us has our own filters, experiences, biases, beliefs, prejudices, and whatever through which we see, hear, comprehend and experience life. Just my 3 shekels worth. 😀

    I believe if you spend more time with a person, it is easier to understand and comprehend that person; except for women, because I will never understand women, to save my life! 😀 Quantum mechanics/Einsteinian physics explains that to me in the concepts of free-wheeling energy exchanges with everything. You might call it non-verbal communication.

    Have you ever been to a movie with someone and started to talk about the movie afterwards? I am sure you have. I have had the experience (not universal) where I felt that the other person and I had seen 2 different movies. I thought they were watching the same movie, they were sitting next to me, but I will be damned if we weren’t in 2 different universes. Again, quantum mechanics speaks to this, but I don’t think anybody can quite explain the exact mechanisms which can lead to this. I have my suspicions.

    You are always very consistent in your opinions, which I respect.

    Steve, so are George Bush and Dick Cheney. 😀 ::LMAO:: Me, well, I am just too ornery and irascible for my own good. 😀

  194. Steve Says:

    Yup Jerry, when I think of George Bush and Dick Cheney, you’re definitely the next thing that pops into my mind. LMAO 🙂

    Hey, how much IS a shekel? I have to make sure you don’t bankrupt me. Shekel inflation, you know…

  195. Jerry Says:

    @Steve #194

    1 shekel is worth about a quarter. So I have gone from 2¢ worth to 75¢ worth.

    But George, Dick, Rummy, Condi, et al are consistent in their opinions. IMHO, consistently wrong. 😀 ::LMAO::

    “Santa Claus” Hank Paulson has not been consistent lately. You know, “Fundamentals are sound. They are not sound. We need to buy toxic assets. Forget that, we need to help out banks so that they can extend more credit to consumers, who have already borrowed too much.” He may not be consistent, but he is dead wrong and panicking. 😀

  196. Allen Says:

    Thanks for everyone’s help in getting my mind around “genocide.” I’d like to say I’m a little enlightened … although I won’t be honest to not admit that I also feel a little numb intellectually …

    Anyways – now that we have so much horse fodder left – I wonder which culture treasures good horse meat?

    Chinese are supposed to eat everything (although I don’t eat “chicken feet”) … but I’ve never seen horse meat being served in a Chinese restaurant.

    Has anyone ever had or heard of good horse meat dishes in their travels (I apologize beforehand if I offend anyone with the concept of eating horse flesh)?

  197. Hongkonger Says:

    Steve,

    Mr. Ed just told me your horse Genni was trying to tell you, go watch “Aftermath,” a document about wht would happen if Homosapiens suddenly disappeared from the face of the earth….

    Um, I think Genni’s answer was, “The good LIFE on earth would begin again.”

    Smart horse, Steve.

  198. Allen Says:

    @Hongkonger #197 – smart ass horse. Should have made it horse fodder when we had the chance…

  199. Ted Says:

    I’ve been to several Xinjiang restaurants that serve horse sausage and other equine dishes. Very good but I always feel a tinge of guilt when eating 🙂

  200. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Allen:
    “although I don’t eat “chicken feet”” – hey, you’re less Chinese than I thought. That’s my favourite dish at dim-sum, man. Does that mean you also don’t eat deep fried pig intestines for late night snack? How about duck tongue? Or cow tongue? That’s some good stuff, baby.

  201. Allen Says:

    @SKC, No … I don’t eat deep fried pig intestines, duck tongue, cow tongue, or all that good stuffs.

    Man – I hope you didn’t expose me as a less than authentic – or even a (gasp!) “fake” – Chinese!

  202. cephaloless Says:

    They ain’t chicken feet. Them is “phenix claws” 🙂

  203. Allen Says:

    @cephaloless – I thought phoenix have been extinct for some time … to be replaced by modern day chicken…? 😉

  204. Jerry Says:

    @Allen #201
    @S.K. Cheung #200

    “Man – I hope you didn’t expose me as a less than authentic – or even a (gasp!) “fake” – Chinese!” I think I could live with that, Allen. 🙂 Just as long as you are not a plant from the CCP here at FM. ::LMAO:: 😀

    And, please don’t offer me Triggerburgers at a Roy Rogers’ restaurant. (I just can’t leave this equine allegory alone. Would you call that beating a dead horse about dead horses?) SK, you can have my share of chicken feet, fried pig intestines, duck tongue, cow tongue, and tripe. Ugh! BTW, SK, are all those in your 100-mile diet? 😀

  205. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To cephaloless:
    you’re right…that’s the proper term at dim-sum. It would sound odd to ask for chicken feet literally.

    To Allen:
    you might not pass for HK folk…but we knew that already. You should really give that stuff a try.

  206. Jerry Says:

    Is there a metaphor “for beating dead chickens”? 😀

  207. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Jerry,
    yes, I will gladly snarf down your share of said items….and looks like I get Allen’s share too! On the other hand, you can have my share of prairie oysters. Also not a big fan of sea urchin. And though it might pain my mother to hear this, if I never have bitter melon again it will be too soon, so feel free to take all you want of that stuff. Thanks for reminding me about tripe, almost forgot about that…yummy! Sadly, this stuff would require about a 1000 mile diet. So the 100 mile diet will remain a bit of a project for me.

  208. Wukailong Says:

    Jerry: What would beating dead chicken mean? I don’t get the metaphor really… It means something you do because you have nothing better to do? 🙂 Or something strange and clamorous to take the attention away from the subject?

    It reminds me of the funny mistake of mixed metaphors. The funniest example I’ve heard is “the top of a rotten iceberg.”

  209. Wukailong Says:

    I’m somewhat heartened to hear that Allen doesn’t like chicken’s feet… 🙂 That’s one of the few things I don’t eat here, either.. I’ve never tried pigs intestines, actually, but I do like bitter melon quite a lot. Stinky tofu could be OK if it’s not the stinkiest variety and someone deepfried it first.

    Apparently most Scandinavians can’t take root beer. I find that truly disgusting, like liquid chewing gum. On the other hand, I wonder how many people here like pickled herring on crispbread. 🙂

  210. Jerry Says:

    @Wukailong #208, #209

    Jerry: What would beating dead chicken mean? I don’t get the metaphor really…

    Sorry for my weird humor. WKL, it is like the equine metaphor/analogy, “beating a dead horse”. Since we were talking about “chicken feet”, I thought maybe we could beat a dead chicken, too, since we are running out of horses to beat here. 😀

    BTW, let’s hope the chickens died before they took the feet. Or we would end up in a situation like Muppet Movie I where Doc Hopper (played by the marvelous Charles Durning) owned a restaurant chain selling frog legs. Much to the disgust of Kermit the Frog, I should say, who has nightmares of many frogs on crutches, missing one or more legs which have been amputated. Ah, the wonderful minds of Jim Henson, Frank Oz et al.

    And, yeah, I always love the “clamorous”, absurd and “strange”. And I love interjecting those remarks in an unexpected context. Isn’t that what life is about?

    It reminds me of the funny mistake of mixed metaphors. The funniest example I’ve heard is “the top of a rotten iceberg.”

    Perhaps you meant “the tip of a rotten iceberg”? Yes that is mixed, for sure. I bet you that the captain of the Titanic wishes that the iceberg he hit was rotten and just fell apart on impact.

    —————-

    #209

    I love bitter melon, winter melon, chou dou fu (the stinkier the better), mala chou dou fu, dou hua, bao bing, hong dou shu bing, liu lian, lian wu, wu lung cha, pu er cha, you tiao, dou jiang, xiao bing, dou fu lu, tsong you bing, and many other wonderful Chinese foods. Bring it on. I like good root beer, like Henry Weinhard root beer or Sam Adam’s. Smooth, well-brewed and great. Most root beer is swill, unfortunately; very bad aftertaste. I like pickled herring and I like crispbread.

  211. Hongkonger Says:

    Horse meat..hmm, never had it…but mule’s meat is quite tender and is a COMMON Northeastern dish. I heard Yak meat is being exported to Europe for it’s low cholestrol goodnes…..

    Allen, I think You are fine and not a fake anything…….

    Hell, I am a HKer and I don’t eat deep fried pig intestines, duck tongue, goose necks, chicken ass aka or euphemisticaslly called Bishop’s nose, strong animal penises, live or dead monkey brain, brains or lungs in general, cats and dogs and other rare animals, birds or fish etc….As for pickled herring on crispbread….I don’t like fishy fish, so pickled herring is not my favorite but cheese and crispbread is alright….

  212. Steve Says:

    Is China an inclusive society when it comes to food? You betcha! (said in my best Sarah Palin accent)

    @Allen #196: That’d be France. They were buying up wild horse herds in the States back in the 80s to fricassee in their restaurants until some Americans figured it out and had a cow. (since we’re using animal slang, ha ha) I’ve had it there; it’s good. If you don’t prepare it correctly it’ll have a somewhat gamey taste but the French know food. And no, it doesn’t taste like chicken. 🙂

    I’ve had chicken feet but they’re a little too fatty for my taste. Jerry, have you noticed they serve chicken feet at the cinema concession stands in Taiwan? The problem is that everyone wipes their fingers on the upholstered armrests and they’re hard as hell to clean for the cinema owners.

    No metaphor for dead chickens but I hope you guys don’t run around like chickens with their heads cut off.

    I had duck tongue, cow tongue, some kind of bird’s neck, etc. in China. Something I noticed was that stuff the locals don’t normally eat is always ordered to impress the laowai because he is a “special guest” when all we want is chcken, fish, pork and lamb. And of course we have to eat it. Fortunately, I can eat everything at least once but for some it was excruciating. To me it all tasted fine, but if I have a choice I’ll always take steamed fish, duck or lamb.

    What’s that old expression? “Cantonese eat everything with legs except the table.” 🙂

    I liked sea urchins but sea cucumber was just ok. Prarie oysters, if done properly, taste great to me. Bitter melon is dependent on how it’s prepared. Chou dou fu is fine but I can’t say I crave it. I’ve never had pickled herring but I had raw herring in Holland, rolled in chopped onions, and loved it. My wife wouldn’t touch it; she won’t eat anything raw. Though she’s from Taiwan, she has never eaten any kind of animal outside the common ones and has no desire to try.

    Jerry, frogs on crutches, I loved that one! My favourite Muppet show was when Animal had the drum off with Buddy Rich, lost, and went berserk!

    Of all the foods Jerry mentioned, my favourite is dou jiang, specifically shen dou jiang. I’m addicted to that stuff for breakfast. A question: What is the name of the fried turnip dish the shops sell at breakfast; something like “lo go ba”? It’s cut into small cubes and usually has a dipping sauce which I never used.

    When I grew up in New Jersey, we had a certain type of birch tree and if you cut open a small branch, it had the same smell as root beer. At that time you could even find birch beer in some stores.

    I think I might have had mule meat in Mexico one time. It definitely wasn’t beef. I also had dog in Mexico but never in China. As my Mexican hosts told me, “It isn’t any dog but a certain kind of dog they raise to eat.” It tasted fine; nothing great but certainly edible.

  213. Wukailong Says:

    Steve: I’ve had dog too a couple of times. It tasted like beef, quite lean but nothing out of the ordinary. In China you apparently raise “caigou”, food dogs literally, to eat. They are a small and quite common variety that you often see as pets in Europe and the US, though I don’t remember the name now.

  214. bt Says:

    @Allen #196

    Eating horses? France.
    But it’s getting really rare these days.
    My grandma cooked it for me once, taste is ok, but I don’t feel any desire to try again.

  215. Steve Says:

    Sad news, guys… Genni has died.

    Unfortunately, the ASPCA is going after Allen and I, something about “cruel and unusual punishment of a flogging nature”. We were going to hire Jerry to represent us, but he is just too ornery and irascible and would surely piss off the jury. I suggested hiring one of Allen’s attorney friends but he said they were all too busy suing Chen Shui-bian.

    So we absconded with the evidence by packing Genni’s remains in small packages and stowing them in the overhead compartments on the plane. We can’t afford checking luggage these days, there were 26 bags and they wanted $50 per bag to check. When we got to France, we looked up bt and the three of us disposed of the evidence. It was delicious!!

  216. Allen Says:

    @Steve #215, LMAO…

    Now the flesh has been taken care of … don’t forget to dispose the bones (and teeth) also. If you don’t hear from me in 2-3 weeks, they would have gotten to me … please call a legal aid office for me!

  217. Steve Says:

    @Allen: Don’t worry, bt incinerated the bones and teeth in one of the 3,493 nuclear plants dotting France, which I believe powered 17 houses for 21 days without releasing any greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. We are always very “green” here at FM.

    My only regret is not taking a photo of you eating the horse’s eyeballs with chopsticks. That would have made for a great post.

  218. Michael Says:

    Why would you need minority groups to feel included? Their homelands are already outnumbered by Hans and in a few generations these people will be assimilated in any case. The needs of the majority far outway minority groups.

    Even in Taiwan they don’t help their minority groups.

  219. perspectivehere Says:

    How did Steve’s celebration of racial inclusiveness in the U.S. devolve into a discussion on the definition of genocide? That’s about as enlightening as arguing which countries belong to the Axis of Evil.

    Unfortunately the “facts” that people assume are often as slippery as a bar of wet soap. Grasp truth from facts but who knows what the facts really are?

    Noam Chomsky has spoken about the Political Economy of Mass Media and the way terms like “genocide” are manipulated for political ends. See http://www.chomsky.info/talks/19890315.htm, where he challenges the standard claims on numbers killed in Cambodia as a fabrication. Chomsky points out where the “two million killed” number came from:

    “In- there was a book published by a French priest, Franois Ponchaud is his name — he’s from Cambodia, he wasn’t there then, but he knew about Cambodia — he published a book in French. The book was, of course, not available in English, it was in French. It was reviewed by a French journalist, a journalist named Jean Lacouture. It was reviewed in France. That review was immediately picked up and translated in the United States; it appeared in The New York Review of Books. That’s the fastest translation of a review of a French book that’s ever appeared. In the review, Lacouture said this. He said, according to Ponchaud the Khmer Rouge boast of having murdered two million people, auto-genocide, horrifying, and so on. He gave a whole bunch of quotes from the book about the horrifying things the Khmer Rouge said, and so on and so forth. That was immediately picked up by the rest of the media, it was all over the place, newspaper articles, oh my god look what they’re doing, and so on and so forth.”

    “Well, I was curious at the time, because that didn’t, you know, I didn’t- I hadn’t seen the evidence about that. I just wanted to know what was going on. So I- the book was unavailable, so I wrote to friends in France and asked them to send it to me. And I got the book, and I was probably the only person in the United States who had read it, although it was being quoted all over the place on the basis of this review, and I quickly discovered that the whole review was a total fraud. Whatever was going on in Cambodia that’s not what the book said. The book didn’t say anything about a boast of two million people. The quotes that were given in the review either didn’t appear in the book, or they were- or you- maybe you could sort of figure out what they were from, you know, some wording a little bit like them, though they were grossly distorted, some of them didn’t even- weren’t even quotes from the Khmer Rouge they were quotes from Thai- and so on. But- and in fact, every factual statement in the review was just totally false.”

    **********

    Honestly I’m in no position to determine what is the truth. I’ve only seen the movie “The Killing Fields” and I’m told it is based on facts. But who really knows? How can anyone be so sure? Does anyone commenting on this posting really know what happened?

    **********
    Mahmood Mamdani, professor of Anthropology and Political Science at Columbia University, has an interesting essay on “The Politics of Naming: Genocide, Civil War, Insurgency” http://www.lrb.co.uk/v29/n05/mamd01_.html

    **********
    Given the difficulty of saying much that is sensible about genocide without relying on facts which are hard to agree on or verify, can we steer the course of this discussion back towards “inclusion”?

    **********
    Steve started this posting talking Obama and how his election indicates the United States increasing racial inclusiveness.

    Actually, I believe the successful election is more an indication of the success of Obama’s politics of inclusion. In Obama’s interview with Rachel Maddow (see on Youtube), he talked about how he never criticized Republicans because he thinks Democrats have common ground with many Republicans. Rather, he thinks that George W. Bush and his policies have hijacked the Republican party, and that even many Republicans will agree with that view. He hoped to win the vote of such Republicans, and it is this kind of inclusive campaigning that allowed Obama to capture a large percentage of the conversative vote.

    Meanwhile, McCain-Palin ran their campaign using highly divisive, resentful, angry, us-vs-them kind of rhetoric. After 8 years of Bush, Americans have grown tired of that kind of divisiveness, and chose a more unifying leader.

    So far, my position is fairly conventional. Here’s my unconventional view for Steve and others’ comments:

    I believe that, in rhetoric at least, the Chinese Government has moved from politics of division and exclusion in the 1950’s – 1970’s (the Anti-Rightists movement, the Cultural Revolution) to the politics of inclusion in the 1980’s onward. Each part of society, even if they have not accepted scientific socialism, such as Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, capitalist-roaders, and so forth, were increasingly permitted to participate in society, albeit within regulated bounds, but they were no longer required to be suppressed. The China today is worlds away and far more inclusive than it was 30 years ago. Note that the “categories of exclusion” even during the 1950’s – 1970’s were rarely ethnic or racial (or even gender) categories; they were much more class- and thought-based categories.

    China has had deep ethnic, regional and cultural divisions, but this has not been significant in post-1949 history as a political driver.

  220. Steve Says:

    @ perspectivehere: Thanks for getting us back on topic. How did we all get to genocide? It seems posts quickly get away from the original topic and into sidetracks. When I first commented on the blog I tried to bring things back to the topic but quickly realized it was hopeless and to let things go where they may. The best way to get back on track is for someone to post a comment like you did.

    I agree with you that China has become more inclusive over the past 30 years so the intent of the thread was to see where she can go from here. There are still places where society is not inclusive. So what adjustments can be made in those places to further improve the situation? If we look at Chinese history, most would say that the most inclusive time was during the Tang dynasty. It was also the time in her history when China has the greatest trade with non-Chinese countries and was most open to the rest of the world. Since today’s times are similar, I would think inclusiveness should naturally expand.

    The only way to find out whether a dominant society is inclusive towards its minorities is to ask the minorities, not the majority population. I agree that the exclusion practiced in the GLF and CR were based on non-ethnic categories. But what about today? Do you think the society is inclusive to everyone? Or do you feel there are areas that can be improved? If so, what areas and what suggestions do you have to improve them?

    My intention in all my posts is always to be positive, take a “we’re ‘here’ so how can we get to ‘there’ which is a much better place to be” attitude. To me, what happened in the GLF and CR is irrelevant. Both of those happened a long time ago. Their only relevance is how they affected the lives and especially the attitudes of people in today’s China who are 45 or older.

  221. bt Says:

    @ perspectivehere

    Hi~ I am curious, which book of François Ponchaud are you referring to?
    Is that ‘Cambodia year zero’?

  222. Allen Says:

    @perspectivehere and Steve,

    Don’t have time to debate – but just want to drop a quick note.

    Quickly – I was probably the one who first brought up the topic of genocide (see #85).

    I wasn’t happy people kept bringing up Han vs. this and that – seeing everything in China through an ethnic lens which I don’t belive is justified both in the context of traditional as well as modern chinese history.

    So I wrote about how viewing things from the narrow lens of western history distorts people’s understanding of history by imposing western history of colonialism, slavery, genocide, etc. upon China.

    Anyways – that’s when people challenged me on Chinese history regarding genocide…

    It’s relevant in the sense I guess that if genocide did take place in a way that defines Chinese society, then it’s fair to view Chinese society systematically, continually, and emphatically through ethnic lens, I suppose…

  223. Steve Says:

    Allen, you’re on holiday!! Forget about this blog and go take some really good pix! I’m sure you’ll be able to use them when you get back on some topic or another.

    I didn’t write clearly enough. I wasn’t referring to this topic when I said things can get off subject, I was referring to posts in general. Allen, you’re probably the least guilty of doing that compared to the rest of us. 😛

  224. bt Says:

    @ Allen # 222

    I take your points. I won’t comment on what is the ‘real’ Chinese history, as I don’t have the knowledge for that.
    However, for the ‘ethnic lenses’, I would say it works on both sides.
    Just a small example … several times in Beijing taxis the drivers (these guys are really the most loquacious political commentators of China 🙂 ) tried to convince me really hard that Napoléon (often) and Hitler (1-2 times) were great men because they ‘united’ Europe. Come on, this POV is completely irrelevant and shocking for most of us euro guys!
    Here is my point: of course we may have differences of interpretation on various things due to various parameters, but to be able to listen quietly the POV of other people is definitely a good idea for the world harmony.

  225. Wukailong Says:

    @bt: A friend of me once met a Singaporean guy on a train in China who said he was a fan of Hitler and Rommel… 🙂

    Anyway, Allen’s point is that racism has to be understood in a different way because there is no similar history of slavery and colonialism in China. My take is that all racism begins with bigotry, ignorance and lack of education, and can proceed to worse things if there is a political will. That’s basically the way it went in Europe and the US over the last centuries. Certainly China could have troubling tendencies if it were to expand on nationalism, but right now I don’t feel that’s where the wind is blowing. In the future, 2008 will probably be remembered as a year of conflicts that quickly erupted and then as quickly fizzled out.

    “but to be able to listen quietly the POV of other people is definitely a good idea for the world harmony”

    Indeed. Actually, it seems to be these days that the loud nationalists in China and the loud naysayers in the West are very vocal minorities. Most people find their POV:s extreme and annoying, but do not have any interest in fighting against them, which is why they appear more prominent than they are.

  226. bt Says:

    @ Wukailong

    Yes, I understand the point of Allen, and I mostly agree with what he said. Different people, different thoughts … although I am a fierce critic of the ‘blame the west’ attitude to explain all the problems of China in the past 200 years, his views are always very insightful.
    About nationalism, I think we should be cautious. ‘Mechanically’, a rise of nationalism in China will push a rise of nationalism in other Asian countries and in Europe. We will see how things evolve, but that’s a quite a scary path.
    My opinion (I think I might receive a full load of criticism for that 🙂 ) is that nationalism is used by the PCC as a political tool … I mean, that’s as old a History: Bismarck wanted to cement the newly created German nation, he pushed the opposition with France (it was used on both sides, I might add). We all know the results. That’s my main concern.

  227. perspectivehere Says:

    @bt

    “Hi~ I am curious, which book of François Ponchaud are you referring to? Is that ‘Cambodia year zero’?”

    bt – I think you’re right, but I’m not entirely sure because Chomsky refers to Ponchaud’s book in the quote but doesn’t provide a title. Wikipedia contains only French and Spanish articles on Francois Ponchaud, but they mention his book, “Cambodge année zéro”, so I suppose this is the book Chomsky is referring to.

  228. bt Says:

    @ perspectivehere

    Hi~
    I made a little research cos’ I was really interested in your post.
    It is this book, indeed. It’s also available in English.
    I browsed some interviews of François Ponchaud and what he says is really interesting.
    This ‘affair’ is more complicated that what it seems at a first glance.
    The first responsible is Jean Lacouture … his review hadn’t been honest and clearly biased in favor of the Communists (He was a supporter of Ho Chi Minh). He recognized later his mistakes, but his credibility seriously suffered. What is really interesting is the reaction of the American gov., who for geopolitical reasons was quite happy to find this review.
    What is not really clear for me is how the book has been twisted, because it was not in the interest of Lacouture to exaggerate the mass murders of the Khmers Rouges.

  229. Nobody Says:

    the most inclusive time was during the Tang dynasty. ….the exclusion practiced in the GLF and CR were based on non-ethnic categories. But what about today?

    Is it quite right to compare the best of ancient internationally revered China to the worst of the New Internationally-embargoed, forced-to-exclusion China and today’s opening up- WTO-Olympic-hosting China?

    I think today’s CCP China is better compared with imperial Tang Dynasty China in that they both show Chinese’s tendency / inclination towards inclusiveness. I think the CCP is doing wonderfully in promoting the multi-culturism of modern China through its media. And, as long as the harmonious society guidelines are being embraced by the people and pursued by the Chinese government, I believe the future of China will far surpass Tang Dynasty China, perhaps even in our lifetime. Like everything else, since 1979, the improvements that China have made so far has taken a hell of a lot less twists and turns and especially time to achieve, and with a lot more dazzling improvements to come, we all pray and hope, especially in coorperations with the world community and, again hopefully, with a more benign, war-tired, superpower America.

    Finally, like Allen, I was not born in China nor ever received any formal Chinese education. – Thanks to luck, like stumbling upon good books and having access to good libraries and debates with people from all over the world- a huge credit to WESTernized open-societies, that I have formed my own opinions.

  230. TommyBahamas Says:

    “it is this kind of inclusive campaigning that allowed Obama to capture a large percentage of the conversative vote……After 8 years of Bush, Americans have grown tired of that kind of divisiveness, and chose a more unifying leader.”

    Very well said Perspectivehere.

    Here’s an e-mail from my long time dear friend in America:

    Mrs P. Hogeweide wrote:

    Another example of Obama’s commitment to a clean campaign was when he was asked what he thought about Sarah Palin’s teenaged daughter being pregnant. His gracious reply was, “My mother had me when I was 18.” And that diffused that potential to slam the family values of the vp repub candidate.

    There is a lot of comparison going on here of Obama modeling the formation of his administration after Abraham Lincoln, the abolitionist president who included his rivals in his cabinet as a means of creating a balanced approach to advisement and governoring. I am inspired by Obama’s inclusive posturing.

    But not everyone is.

    Gun sales have risen in the US since the election with many gun rights activists citing their fear that an Obama administration is goign to take away Americans right to bear arms.

    There have been under reported incidents of racist reaction to Obama’s clear victory.

    In Arkansas, black students were celebrating loudly the night of Nov 4th at a mostly white college in town with a long history of racism. Campus security told them to quiet down, and when they didn’t a SWAT team from the police came in. Black students were arrested that evening. One law enforcement official allegedly said, “They think they can do anything now that one of their own is president.”

    A good friend of mine flew out of Portland the day after the election. She said the mood at the airport was electric, buzzing with the glow of the Obama/Biden victory. Her flight took her first to Dallas for a short lay-over. The mood there, she said, somber and quiet. That flight segment took her to her childhood home state of Arkansas where she said the mood was even more dismal. “Could you hear what people were talking about?” I asked. Everyone she could hear were talking in hushed tones. “What’s going to happen in America now that a liberal socialist has taken office?”

    Two young men were arrested last week in Arkansas for plotting the assassination of Obama.

    It is one thing to be totally in disagreement with the political philosophy of a leader. It is entirely another when people are genuinely afraid of what that person’s leadership means. There is a perception in a significant portion of the American public that Obama is a dangereous leader. It is this kind of fear that causes me to pause and pray for the safety of Obama and his family.

    Fear is a monster that lies and distorts. Fear misleads us into a place of fight or flight…rather than courage and confrontation. I think it would be most American for those citizens who truly disagree with Obama’s political positions to engage in the political process and use their voice to oppose him. But unfortunately, those who are under the spell of a spirit of fear act irrationally out of that fear, and this is what causes me concern.

    …the time bomb of fear that is brooding in huge pockets of the American population. If violence occured against Obama or his family not only would it have a devastating impact on the U.S., but also around the world.

    A few days ago I was tuned into a conservative radio talk show. I like to listen to all kinds of points of view to keep my thinking sharp and open. The host was slamming Obama, calling him Messiah Obama and how he is going to lead our nation into socialism. This rhetoric is swallowed like kool-aid by many who oppose Obama. There is a campaign of fear that an Obama presidency is going to lead us deeper into godlessness and deabauchery.

  231. Hongkonger Says:

    “Fear is a monster that lies and distorts. Fear misleads us into a place of fight or flight…”

    Very true Mrs P. Hogeweide.

    Any Southerners on this blog?

    Do you share the sentiment expressed in this letter sent by a citizen of North Carolin and was published by the local newspaper right after this prez’s election?

    Excerpt: ” “separation of church and state” is not in the constitution. Surely you know that “right to privacy” is not in the constitution, nor in the Bill of Rights.[…]I’ve taken my McCain stickers off the car .[..]. But, I’ve left my Sarah sticker on one bumper. Maybe a voice from the West will draw us southerners back to where we belong.”

    Title: What Has Happened to the Southern Voter?

    ‘Father forgive them, for they know not what they do’ comes to mind as I think about the results of our voting in North Carolina. I thought I moved back to the Bible belt when I moved here 4 years ago, but I not only wonder where I am, who am I among, but also just how far from traditional family values has the “evangelical Christian” strayed. Abortion on Demand was slipped in on the American people over 30 years ago, as Christians by the thousands, in other parts of the country, fell for the intimidation tactics designed to make us feel as though our opinions were for home & church, but not for the public arena. I thought the southern voter realized that “separation of church and state” is not in the constitution. Surely you know that “right to privacy” is not in the constitution, nor in the Bill of Rights. It has been the southern voter of the last 30 years that has prevented our country from fully embracing abortion as a common/acceptable medical practice, from removing “In God we trust” as our motto and from sexualizing our children with information they do not need in kindergarten. Good for you Burke County on your voting, many however, have no idea how good, safe and wholesome this area is compared to most of the rest of the country. I fear that you are about to find out, as we have been swept in to a presidency, congress and judicial system that for all intents and purposes will energize a far-left agenda of national proportions. Research the mandated sex education curriculum in Palm Beach County, Florida for a sneak preview of what happens with Bill Ayers style education “reform.” You think national health care is such a great idea? You’re concerned about the health care rights of gays? Research the number one reparative procedure becoming increasingly more “medically necessary” as gays choose to live out their chosen sexual preferences, and ask yourself if you think you should have to pay for the consequences of someone else’s unhealthy choices. Did you forget that the inhumane procedure of partial-birth abortion was actually legal under a “centrist” president? What heinous acts will the most liberal president in our history think to perpetrate on our most vulnerable citizens? Surely he wouldn’t withhold care to a child living outside of the womb? As the Christian voter’s pocketbook screamed for change, I guess we didn’t want to think about the babies in Obama’s home state of Illinois that were being discarded in trash bins. As I consider the results of yesterday’s election, I guess I’m wondering where was the southern voice for religious freedom, parental rights, the right to live, the right to comfort care, the rights of a local school board to choose their curriculum, traditional marriage and religious tax exemption. I’ve taken my McCain stickers off the car and pulled the signs from around my neighborhood. But, I’ve left my Sarah sticker on one bumper. Maybe a voice from the West will draw us southerners back to where we belong.

  232. Hongkonger Says:

    Hm…I kinda doubt that the above letter represents all Southerners, well, at least not the Southerners I know, working here in China and rooted for Obama.

  233. Deadhorse Says:

    Looks like this badly abused dead horse is finally allowed to RIP

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