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Dec 09

Translation: I am sorry, but I am not boycotting French goods

Written by DJ on Tuesday, December 9th, 2008 at 8:29 am
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Note: This is a translation of an essay published in the Chinese Youth On-Line (中青在线). This translation is meant to bring to readers’ attention some of the diverse opinions publicly expressed in today’s China. I came across it because it was highlighted as the number one piece in Sina’s (新浪) opinion section.

[UPDATE]: ESWN also has a translation of this article and some more. Interestingly, the version translated at ESWN is from the author (廖保平) Liao Baoping’s blog directly. It is somewhat different than the one I found and contains some more colorful words. In particular, the Chinese Youth On-Line version misses one paragraph at the very end which sets the tone rather differently.

Xinhua reported the news of Sarkozy’s meeting with Dalai Lama in this way: “The French President Sarkozy, despite patient and repeated efforts [by the Chinese side], went ahead to meet with Dalai Lama on 6th. This was an unwise move that seriously hurt the feelings of the Chinese people and damaged the Sino-Franco relationship. The Chinese people’s reaction is evident in the form of angry calls on the Internet for boycotting French goods to defend our national dignity.”

I understand some of the emotions expressed online in China. And I wonder if this is going to result in pretests in the streets. But for me personally, I won’t boycott French goods.

First, it is because I simply cannot afford French products. French products generally belong to the category of luxury goods. An authentic French clothing item in the shop could easily equal to many months’ salary for me. For someone constantly struggling for a living, like me, how could I ever imagine to buy that type of stuff? If inability to afford is a form of boycotting, then I am on a fairly constant basis doing so. And if boycotting equals patriotism, I wonder if all those young guys facing unemployment immediately upon graduation are automatically counted as patriots. You know, if your pockets are empty, it’s easy and satisfying to talk about boycotting since there is no difference between doing so and not.

Do rich people boycott French goods? I seriously doubt about it. They are the true consumers of luxury goods. It seems rather difficult to ask them to boycott French fragrance, fashion and wine. They not only won’t boycott French products in China; they would even go to France to buy directly. The ones who could afford won’t stop, and the ones who could not talk about boycotting. Is this another form of Chinese characteristic?

Please do not forget, no matter how high your emotions may run, the French could just as easily boycott our stuff as we can do to them. Who says it’s only something we can do but not others in return? It’s something to be considered as who would benefit or win in the end. For many years, the Chinese economy is dependent on export and foreign investment. If there is a widespread effort to boycott Chinese products, the result is likely serious. I don’t know the relative numbers of imports and exports between China and EU. If the result of a boycotting campaign is killing one thousand while suffering a casualty of ten thousand, it is perhaps not a worthwhile effort to boycott for to save face.

Frankly, I do not boycott French goods. Why should we do so if they have good valued or high-tech products? Sometimes I feel the need to boycott domestic products, e.g. the poisonous milk and those costly but inferior things.

I do not boycott French goods also because it is not something to be taken seriously. Remember how some people proclaimed never to buy anything Japanese when things went rough with Japan? How serious was that? People are still lining up to buy Japanese cars, electronics and food. I just don’t see anything new or meaningful in boycotting. Eventually it is known as an empty threat. Big deal!

I would like to emphasis on one point: boycotting French goods is not equal to boycotting Carrefour. It is a French branded group of shops in which 90% of products sold are Chinese and 90% of workers are Chinese too. To boycott Carrefour in China is to boycott Chinese goods and workers. It is simply unwise.


There are currently 3 comments highlighted: 21621, 21654, 21717.

70 Responses to “Translation: I am sorry, but I am not boycotting French goods”

  1. FOARP Says:

    Absolutely, it is one of the shames of the internet that it emphasises the most extreme and wrong-headed views. For every informed article on the war on terror, torture, and Guantanamo, there are a hundred conspiracy theorist websites about 9/11. For every informed view of the space project, there are a hundred websites alleging that the government is covering up UFOs. For every informed view on EU-China relations there are a hundred ranting articles about how China ‘will not be bullied anymore’, despite the fact that the only world leader who the Dalai Lama has not yet met other than the Chinese leadership is Vladimir Putin – and the Chinese government is not planning to boycott meetings with any of these leaders, nor are people talking about boycotting goods from those countries.

    To quote an early-nineties hip-hop artist: This controversy is preposterous . . .

  2. Bing Says:

    This essay is not opposed to boycotting French, it’s opposed to ordinary Chinese boycotting French, which I completely agree with.

    It’s not up to the ordinary Chinese to retaliate in this war started by the French alike.

    If China were a democracy and thus heeded the voice of the general public, the French politicians would have paid heavily for their meddling in China’s internal affairs, not due to Chinese consumers stopping buying their luxuries, but the Chinese government stopping giving out big contracts in favour of them on the basis of reciprocity beyond trade.

  3. Netizen K Says:

    There are always some intellectuals jumping out to say something against others are doing. That is why sometimes they are called traitors. That is why they are marginalized in Chinese society.

    You may say can’t call people traitors. Why not. Obama are called worse names. So they are called traitors because their logic is twisted in favour of the other side.

  4. chinayouren Says:

    Anyway, popular boycotts very rarely succeed in their objectives. In spite of what you might read on the internet from excited adolescents, most people just don’t take them seriously. Looking back to past efforts in China and in many other countries, how many examples do you see of companies going bankrupt because of boycotts?

    This reminds me what I saw during my French period. It is funny that French themselves are keen boycotters, and more often than not against their own companies. I remember the massive boycott against Danone in 2002, when it was leaked that the company was going to lay off some hundred workers in a factory. Danone finished the year with a 5% increase in sales!

    Ah, the French. If they only had a word to say “entrepreneur”…

  5. Netizen K Says:

    “the only world leader who the Dalai Lama has not yet met other than the Chinese leadership is Vladimir Putin”

    FOARP, it is a lie. The Indian PM didn’t meet DL. Japanese PM, South Korea PM and many others did not meet him.

    You said in the past when did I catch you lying. Now this is one. I know you will repeat the same question in order to pretend that you did not get caught lying.

    You know it and I know it.

  6. John John Says:

    Netizen,
    You know that in China, people (or should I say intellectuals) who don’t agree withe the government go in jail.

  7. Netizen K Says:

    John John,

    Are you saying this guy who wrote the original article is going to jail?

  8. shel Says:

    John John,
    Intellectuals in china who don’t agree with the government go to jail?

    That is a very serious accusation against a government, where you gather these statistic? FOX News or BBC?

  9. John John Says:

    Du Daobin anyone ?

  10. Wukailong Says:

    @John John, shel, Netizen K: You’re all right, somehow. Now it will just take some time to figure out in what way. 😉

  11. FOARP Says:

    @Netizen K – Wow, you caught me out on a ‘lie’ by pointing out that the leader of Japan (the only G7 country to be named that the DL has not met the current leader of) has never met the DL – a fact I was not aware. No doubt the Japanese refuse to meet the DL because they have such great respect for the Chinese state and for Chinese unity – though I note that Shinzo Abe’s wife did meet with him.

    There is a huge difference between ‘lying’ and making a misstatement – one which most people learn at about age 6. For this reason, despite the fact that Manmohan Singh, Indian Prime Minister, is reported to have met the Dalai Lama, I will not accuse you of lying, but merely of being poorly informed.

    You know it and I know it.

  12. Boon Says:

    John John, you must be living in a deep Well for a long time to develop such a general opinions of China….as with many europeans/westerners I guess. being to china myself….things changed a lot – not perfect though but al least progressing.

  13. FOARP Says:

    At any rate, you have missed my point, that being that whilst Gordon Brown, John Howard, George Bush, Angela Merkel, Bertie Ahern, Manmohan Singh and the leaders of every major state (i.e., G7 or security council member – excepting Japan, China, and Russia) have met the Dalai Lama, the Chinese government chose to show its displeasure with the French president – by boycotting an EU meeting. This does not make sense.

  14. FOARP Says:

    As for the writer of this article going to jail or not – as far as I know the Chinese government does not want a boycott of French goods, this article does not go against government policy and is not criticle of the government, there is no reason why the author should suffer.

    However, when authors do attempt to publish articles critical of important government policy, or of CCP rule in general, then they may be imprisoned, and this is understood by all.

  15. HKer Says:

    I came…I saw / read….and I am outta here…..

  16. Brad Says:

    I advocate economic sanction. How about cancel the $30 billion Airbus deal for a starter?

  17. FOARP Says:

    @Brad – Yes, that’s a great idea, at which point people will notice that whilst Europe can (with difficulty) do without Chinese goods and source them from other places (Vietnam, India, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos etc.), Chinese factories cannot so easily find another market to sell their goods into. Really, try growing up – it’s much easier.

    Plus (and I’m so tired of repeating this) FRANCE IS NOT EUROPE, not only that, but Airbus is not a French company. It is a European consortium with its headquarters in the Netherlands, and which sources its material from many different countries, including China. In fact (and correct me if I’m wrong here) wasn’t the Airbus order supposed to be partially manufactured under licence in China?

  18. JL Says:

    Oddly enough, some of my earliest memories of political discussion here in New Zealand are also of talk about boycotting French goods. People were protesting against French nuclear testing in the Pacific. I could try to track down a few T-shirts if any enraged Chinese patriots would like them. I don’t think they made any difference here, but you never know…

    And Bing, I presume that the Chinese government doesn’t make big contracts with France because it likes France, but rather because such contracts also suit China’s own interests. Therefore, not making big contracts with France would hurt both France and China.

    Enjoy your freedom fries, guys

  19. Leo Says:

    The State Council has told the domestic airlines to stop buying aircraft in next two years. So the 120+ airbus jet contract is virtually scrapped or postponed, though maybe not due to the diplomatic fallout.

  20. cat Says:

    I don’t think this article really counts as diversity of opinion. It simply states the government’s opinion in more human terms. Real diversity of opinion, and real expression of that diversity, would be someone questioning the assumption that Sarkozy and other national leaders are not allowed to meet the Dalai Lama.

  21. FOARP Says:

    @Cat – I don’t think this article really counts as diversity of opinion because the author is speaking plain common sense, the kind of thing you might hear anywhere in China. It is only on the internet that this kind of opinion can count as slightly extra-ordinary.

  22. Jerry Says:

    @Hongkonger #15
    @Brad #16
    @FOARP # 17

    HKer, I love it. “Veni. Vidi. Vici.”, has now become, “Veni. Vidi. Fugi.”

    #16

    “I advocate economic sanction. How about cancel the $30 billion Airbus deal for a starter?”

    Brad, as FOARP (#17) points out, that would be a bad idea, a juvenile idea to say the least. China imports more to the EU than it exports. I will quote myself from another thread.

    Here is where China is economically exposed. China, especially now, wishes to expand trade with the EU. Here are the 2007 balance of trade figures between China and the EU.

    EU imports from China: €231.5 Billion
    EU exports to China: €71.8 Billion
    ————————————————————-
    EU Trade Balance (€159.7 Billion)

  23. HongKonger Says:

    # 22

    Ha ha ha…”Veni Vidi. Fugi — like hell –again.” Hahaha

    No, Brad & FOARP & you are making me not mind staying…a little.

    WKL, Have you ever hear d of the Swedish garage rock band ‘The Hives’ ?

    LOL, This reminds me of their (2nd.? )album ‘Veni Vidi Vicious.’

    or

    Black Lips….

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rq5-gLkIzFc&feature=PlayList&p=C3B66EEEE252B5E0&playnext=1&index=47

  24. Wukailong Says:

    @Leo: “The State Council has told the domestic airlines to stop buying aircraft in next two years. So the 120+ airbus jet contract is virtually scrapped or postponed, though maybe not due to the diplomatic fallout.”

    Do you know if that has something to do with China’s own line of passenger jets? If they have their own brand, they won’t need to worry that much about Airbus or Boeing.

    @Everybody: If somebody happened to read the 9/11 Commission Report, you might have noticed that Al-Qaida picked flights with Boeing on purpose. The reason is that Airbus planes can’t be flown into the ground because of a security system, and the terrorists needed that as an escape plan in case they missed a building.

  25. Allen Says:

    @Netizen K,

    You wrote:

    There are always some intellectuals jumping out to say something against others are doing. That is why sometimes they are called traitors. That is why they are marginalized in Chinese society.

    For some intellectuals, the only way to advance their careers is to get noticed, and the only way to get noticed is to say something that hasn’t been said. I’m not saying no Chinese intellectuals are traitors, but some Chinese intellectuals are I think merely opportunistic attention seekers.

  26. Allen Says:

    The way to deal with the DL is not economic sanctions against our European partners. Chinese have taken enough embarrassments in our history – we can take more.

    Let’s just work on getting our country stronger, our economy more developed, and our society more harmonious. The rest is well … just noise.

  27. FOARP Says:

    The problem with ‘noise’ is there seems to be rather a lot of it, and some of it seems to make sense. I am surprised that there has been no mention on this site of the recent reports of petitioners being imprisoned in mental asylums in the Xintai region, this report differs from other reports of ‘black jails’ in that:

    1) It was exposed by an investigation by a Beijing newspaper.

    2) The government has said it will launch an investigation.

    3) Former inmates are willing to identify themselves.

    4) Discussion on the subject has (so far) been allowed on the internet.

  28. Allen Says:

    @FOARP – Regarding the politically motivated mental asylum case – it’s on my to-do list. Thanks for the reminder! 😉

  29. Raj Says:

    @1

    Absolutely, it is one of the shames of the internet that it emphasises the most extreme and wrong-headed views. For every informed article on the war on terror, torture, and Guantanamo, there are a hundred conspiracy theorist websites about 9/11.

    When nutters find they’re unable to get their views across in the mainstream media (e.g. by having letters to newspapers published) they’ll look for an alternative route – the internet provides just that.

    I agree with the point about Carrefour – why boycott your own goods?!

    @26

    The rest is well … just noise.

    What about when the “noise” is about what is happening to Chinese? E.g.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/7774693.stm

    You can’t make Chinese society better if the reaction every time someone wants to complain is that they need to be be shut up. The discussion of the illegal detentions that FOARP talks about is, sadly, more the exception to the rule.

    Furthermore it’s not like Chinese have a monopoly on “noise” that needs to be acted upon – foreigners also have valid points.

  30. Wukailong Says:

    @Raj: “What about when the “noise” is about what is happening to Chinese? E.g.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/7774693.stm

    I read news here frequently but had forgotten about this one, because it seemed like parts of the usual boilerplate. It is kind of odd that the Foreign Ministry would draw up the human rights plan. It does sound a bit like it’s mostly to show other countries what China have been doing, or what could be done.

    Actually, the idea that the central power could have some sort of reports about local human rights violations seem like a very good idea to me, and I believe there are people in the government truly interested in that.

    Still, the problem with many of these things, especially when discussing human rights or democracy, is that there is first some sort of denial that the government doesn’t mean the “Western” declaration of human rights, or “Western” multi-party system with a “so-called freedom of speech.” Then it goes on to talk about abstract principles that are somehow related to these things, and no definitions are given.

    Before someone accuses me of saying China _has_ to adhere to Western principles, I think it would just be nice to have some clear-cut definitions or action plans, rather than saying “democracy is a good thing” or something like that. If you don’t want the universal declaration or a so-called multi-party system, fine, but then also call it something else than human rights or democracy, or even better – create your own clear descriptions.

    The government in China has been most successful when it’s followed clear descriptions. Look at Deng Xiaoping’s theory, for example – it’s not a theory at all, but an action program, and a good one.

  31. wuming Says:

    @WKL

    … I think it would just be nice to have some clear-cut definitions or action plans, rather than saying “democracy is a good thing” or something like that.

    Agreed, and I would like to push the idea further. The democratic system of government (or other Western principles) are more often than not clear-cut action plans when it was implemented in the beginning. It worked well in many cases, but with no guarantee of success (that should have been obvious.) We had a problem when such action plans were elevated to ideologies, be it Marxism or democracy.

  32. FOARP Says:

    @Netizen K, Allen

    “There are always some intellectuals jumping out to say something against others are doing. That is why sometimes they are called traitors. That is why they are marginalized in Chinese society.”

    “For some intellectuals, the only way to advance their careers is to get noticed, and the only way to get noticed is to say something that hasn’t been said. I’m not saying no Chinese intellectuals are traitors, but some Chinese intellectuals are I think merely opportunistic attention seekers.”

    To be frank, I find this opinion despicable. The idea that men of principle might disagree with the Chinese government’s right to rule, and write essays expressing that opinion which receive attention, and leads to them being imprisoned by a despotic government does not seem to have crossed either of your minds.

    For some reason people seem to find the example of men like Zhou Enlai and Albert Speer, who served terrible leaders, and acted only occasionally to ameliorate some of the worst of their abuses, whilst dfoing nothing to directly threaten their own positions, more praiseworthy than the examples of men like Sakharov, Solzhenitsyn, Vaclav Havel, Lech Walesa, Sun Yat-sen. I myself think that your priorities are wrong. Even a man like Shi Mingde, with his vainglorious tilting at windmills, is worth a hundred thousand quiet men in suits sitting in government offices sipping tea, taking their cut of money from the public purse, mouthing endless plattitudes which they have never believed and doing nothing about the abuses which they see and take part in daily. He is worth this because he actually took a stand on a matter of principle.

  33. Raj Says:

    Wukailong, thanks for your comment. Although my view is that certain human rights are universal and not “Western”, if the Chinese government wants to say it can have its own variation it should spell out what those rights are.

    At the moment it wants to have its cake and eat it, by saying that Chinese do have “rights” but refusing to say that they are, or how far they go. When the put down red lines, they ensure they can be moved at a moment’s notice to fit the circumstances. E.g. calling any information that might be embarrassing to the CCP “State secrets”.

    FOARP, indeed. Theoretically some academics MIGHT be seeking attention, but given the amount of grief they can receive I would say the majority who make criticisms do so because they think they’re right. And as you suggest, those who speak out because they see problems that need to be addressed are the real patriots. Those who keep quiet because it is easier are the traitors, as they put their own well-being above that of the nation.

  34. Oli Says:

    Actually Raj, bearing in mind what I wrote before about human rights being an evolving concept, the Chinese government has many times before reiterated the rights that the Chinese people do have and the rights they are trying to create and to foster, sometimes failling, sometimes succeeding. However, strident China critics and naysayers never really bother to listen, read or give it any more serious thoughts because what the Chinese government said did not fit with their simplistic and unnuanced perception of China or its government

    As usual you need to read more, but merely reading without personal critical thought is just so much wasted effort. Often its easier, more comfortable and self-identity affirming to just simply follow the common trend created by/for the herd, but then a sheep is all you will remain.

  35. Netizen K Says:

    FOARP,

    I found your opinions despicable. You use half-truths and lies for the purpose of attacking China. When you got caught, you minmized and got slippery with what you said earlier.

    You said Dashan had some website blocked. When you were put on the spot, you said that you did not say that, which was a lie.

    You said Hon Hai had labour abuse problem in the APPLE case. In fact, the Apple Computer did an investigation and found no big problem with the company. You knew that but you intentionally misled.

  36. FOARP Says:

    @Netizen K – Again, go and actually read what I wrote. I said Dashan threatened a website that made fun of him, go and look at Sinosplice and you’ll see a post by John saying exactly that. Unlike you, who (I presume) has not worked at Foxconn, I actually worked there for two years in the intellectual property department, and was there during at the time of the scandal, as such I was in a position to get a better idea of what was going on there. Here is what I wrote:

    “Read the report that was written by the auditing company that Apple commissioned to do the investigation (remember, an investigation by Apple themselves would have been meaningless), I have not repeated any accusations from the China Business News report, but only those things I saw with my own eyes. Once again it is worth remembering:

    1) Foxconn could have sued the Daily Mail in the UK for their report had it been false, but they didn’t, instead they chose to sue CBN in China only.

    2) Foxconn sued CBN for ‘tarnishing their reputation’, not for libel.

    3) The audit was, of course, instituted after the news report came out.

    4) The audit did show that the code of practice had been broken.

    5) The audit only covered that part of the facility which made Apple products.

    6) Even the accusation of ‘tarnishing’ was eventually dropped.”

    This is not half-truth or lies, nor is it what you say it is, it is mere fact, which anyone who knows the Longhua plant can confirm.

    You shame your country by presuming to defend it in such an infantile fashion. China is a great nation, and has produced greater men than you – even if you are so breath-takingly arrogant as to think that you are in a position to label them traitors.

  37. Netizen K Says:

    FOARP,

    I will quote the Sinosplice:

    “Well, I just got an e-mail from Dashan. I never intended for Dashan to see the page (or my blog entry about him, which isn’t completely complimentary). I didn’t realize, though, that because of Derisive Dashan Sinosplice had taken over the #2 spot in the Google search for “dashan,” second only to Dashan’s official site.

    Anyway, apparently Dashan has been aware of the page for some time. He presented his case, asking if I could take it down now. I’m a reasonable man, and deep down I know that Dashan really is a good guy. It’s not his fault that Chinese people are always comparing other foreigners to him. So I took it down.”

    There was no hint of threat whatsoever on the part of Dashan. Dashan was “asking if I could take it down now”.

    This is proof positive that you are slippery with facts. I repeat, Dashan “threathened” noone.

  38. Raj Says:

    As usual you need to read more

    Oli, you could do with practising what you preach! I said the gov refuses to say what rights Chinese have OR how far they go – i.e. they may talk about general rights but not their depth. Are you trying to tell me the Chinese government tells Chinese precisely what they can protest about, where, what they can write that is critical of the government/CCP, what they can’t, etc? If you are, then you’re talking out of your backside. The common phrase “State secret” extends to whatever the CCP wants to keep hidden – it will never define it lest something get left out. If you aren’t suggesting the gov does all that, then you agree with my point.

    Things are kept vague because it suits the CCP. If it gave a cast-iron guarantee as to what Chinese could do then they would press their rights a lot more, or demand more rights because the fact basic political freedoms are denied them would be exposed – rather than have the nonsense about technically havings rights but them not offering any real protection.

  39. Allen Says:

    @Raj #38,

    I know you sometimes think I am a “mouthpiece” of the CCP – when I really am not.

    In the case of human rights for China, I personally see the vision the CCP currently offer as a roadmap for true human rights in China – not a delay tactic as many others believe.

    Below is a recent article I came across on Xin Hua.

    BEIJING, Dec. 9 (Xinhua) — The international community should deal with human rights issues through dialogues and cooperation, a senior Chinese official said here on Tuesday.

    “In promoting human rights, only by carrying out constructive dialogues, exchange and cooperation on the basis of equality and mutual respect, … can all countries in the world achieve common progress and development,” said Wang Chen, minister in charge of the State Council Information Office.

    In an interview with the Human Rights journal, affiliated to the China society for Human Rights Studies, Wang said countries in the world should enhance mutual understanding, and learn from each other’s experiences, instead of confronting each other.

    Wang said some countries and regional groups had “politicized and ideologized human rights by practicing double standards, flying the ‘human rights’ flag to negate the sovereignty of other countries and carry out power politics.”

    This would seriously spoil the atmosphere of international cooperation in and obstruct the healthy development of human rights in the world, Wang said.

    The minister said people in different countries have different understandings and demands with regard to human rights and their human rights problems that need priority solution also vary.

    “Under the precondition of recognizing the universality of human rights, all governments and people have the right to adopt different policy measures according to their respective national conditions to seek human rights development best suited to their country,” he said.

    He called on the nations to focus on the “prominent problems in the present-day” world, such as armed conflicts, terrorism, environmental pollution, hunger, poverty, uneven economic development and the growing South-North gap, all seriously threatening human rights in the world, the minister said.

    “Dialogue and cooperation are conducive not only to human rights progress in all countries, but also to the harmonious and healthy development of human rights in the world,” Wang said.

    Power politics, on the other hand, contributes nothing to human rights development, and would poison the international relations and harm the healthy growth of the cause of human rights in the world,” he said.

    I know this changes nothing in terms of our discussion here.

    But I thought I would post the above since I don’t think I can express my thoughts about human rights in China better than the article above.

  40. ChinkTalk Says:

    I really enjoyed reading the piece on “I won’t boycott French goods”. I think the writer is very logical and intelligent in his argument. And I am surprised at the clear and fair thinking coming from someone brought up by the Communiist system.

    Here is an article from a Canadian media accusing China of espionage and terrorism.

    http://www.vancouversun.com/Spies+could+exploit+2010+Games+CSIS/1058992/story.html

    I wish some of the professional reporters can take a hint from this average poster.

  41. Oli Says:

    @Raj 38

    Actually, your posted comments reveal a very poor understanding of the nature and evolution of the rights Chinese people do actually enjoy today. It is very obvious that they are comments rooted in the self-aggrandising perception that the Western narrative and evolved definition of “human rights” is the only possible route to creating “human rights”. It demonstrates a narrow if not closed mindset that has neither the room nor the imagination for alternatives, much less an appreciable understanding of history, nevermind Chinese history.

    It is also very obvious that you’ve not taken in a single iota of my previous posting on the evolving nature of the definition of human rights, the last chapter of which we as a species are very far from writing, nevermind China or the West. All too often on my travels I have discovered that it is this inability and unwillingness to go beyond one’s social conditioning that is the true barrier between people, irrespective of the superficiality of politeness or political correctness.

    Human rights and everyday rights are a work in progress in China, as it is in the rest of the world, and for the last 30 years or so the Chinese government has prioritised and adhered to the traditional adage that 民以吃为天 or as Bill Clinton [EDIT: I am sure you didn’t mean “Gates”, DJ :-)] would say, “its the economy, stupid”, which given China’s history is perfectly legitimate. But as I previously wrote, as any nation or culture developes, it is also common that legislative or constitutional development and framing of human rights would inevitably trail societal development in the sentiment and the definition of human rights. I suggest you re-read my earlier posting on human rights, which I believed you whined as being too long to read, consequent of your obvious short attention span and demonstrable inability for critical thought, nevermind the ability for intellectual focus or rigour.

    As for your lament on the vague definition of the term “State Secret”, it shows an endearing though very naive understanding of the machinations that takes place in the interest of the State or the principles involved in drafting legislations. No nation would ever in their laws categorically define what is or is not “State Secret”. That would totally defeat the purpose of Secrecy laws as well as making laws unwieldly. Now go and think about it.

    To expect otherwise is the expectation of a simpleton and I encourage you to go read and for God’s sake think about the nature and purpose of State secrey laws. Besides, I vaguely but distinctly remember not too long ago an old Chinese American physicist was originally charged in the US with espionage, a charge which was latter downgraded to inapproriate handling of information, which was supposedly already in the public domain.

    As for talking out of my backside, I usually reserve that for children, simpletons and very cute animals in no particular order. So take it as a cordial sign of manners and respect that I am not doing so here, but I am nevertheless surprised you should feel that I am doing so here to you.

  42. Tom Says:

    @ Admin.

    Kindly highlight # 39 (Allen)

    and # 41 (Oli)

  43. Oli Says:

    @ DJ

    @Bill Clinton edit, much obliged. I stand corrected. Blame it on typo. 🙂

  44. Tom Says:

    EU exports to China: €71.8 Billion

    Wow, that’s a lot of Chardonney, Cabernet, Merlot, BMWs, Mercedes, Audis, Ferraris, Cartier, Gucci, Audema Piquets, etc etc etc…of luxury goods for the wealthy and upper class of China. Things that more than one billion Chinese don’t need.

  45. Wukailong Says:

    @Oli, Raj:

    I think there are two issues here:

    1) How rights are discussed in China and programs laid out
    2) How people’s rights have actually improved the last 30 years (and perhaps most notably the last decade)

    As for the first one, I remember that Deng Xiaoping mentioned the concept of 国权 (national rights) as opposed to 人权 (human rights), and that the former were more important. Later on, during the Jiang era, there was a very common argument saying that every country has a right to develop (发展权) which should not be jettisoned by any human right that the West might use against China as a power game (this was the official line).

    Apart from that, I’ve also seen much more discussions of civil society and the ability to use legal means to challenge incorrect official orders. The “rights” concept as such doesn’t seem to have changed much, rather the official description of it. Back in the good old days, human rights were a “bourgeois slogan”. Then it later changed to be something used by the West to “weaken and split” China (it’s interesting to note that during the Mao era, it wasn’t taken personally as an insult towards China because nationalism wasn’t yet a guiding ideology). After some time, human rights were said to be good but not universal – China has its own brand. Now, with the article Allen put up, human rights are even “universal” but people have different needs in terms of developing them.

    As for the second one, I don’t think anyone in their right mind can deny that China has seen a lot of development in this area. This might be due to different factors. I don’t think there was any original desire on the leaders’ part to give more rights because it makes people harder to control, but as development has removed barriers, people have gotten more rights against others and against the state.

    In my own experience, must has change since 1997 when I first came to China. At that time, foreigners and Chinese were kept strictly separated and there were all sorts of policies to make people’s lives difficult. People were much more careful with what they said, and I even remember an incident where a guard on a train went over and asked what I and a group of Chinese people were discussing. It’s hard to imagine such a thing today.

    It’s hard to point to concrete measures that have changed, but I hope people will put up with experiences and signs. One of these signs is the way the police handles cases, which seems much more professional than it used to be.

    Another thing is the variety of books or movies you can enjoy today, compared to 10 years ago.

    So something is definitely happening, even though I don’t believe the plans can be referred to as a “roadmap”, that Allen does. To me it rather seems that this document opens the vista for a more inclusive ideological atmosphere in the future.

  46. Wukailong Says:

    @Oli: “As for your lament on the vague definition of the term “State Secret”, it shows an endearing though very naive understanding of the machinations that takes place in the interest of the State or the principles involved in drafting legislations. No nation would ever in their laws categorically define what is or is not “State Secret”.”

    I checked out the Official Secrets act of the UK, and it seems pretty clear to me:

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

    But maybe it has nothing to do with state secrets? I’m not sure.

  47. Oli Says:

    @Wukailong

    Noticed that security and intelligence information is not defined per se, but rather only by virtue of its relationship to its context and only vaguely at that? As I said before, no national security laws would give a definitve list of what is or is not “State Secret” which would be patently absurd in the extreme.

    Instead such laws are often drafted very braodly, widely and to many lay persons vaguely. This is firstly in account of operational necessity and requirements and secondly to give discretion to enforcement and judicial personnel when confronted with varied situations on the ground and later in interpreting and applying those laws to the case should it be brought to trial, particularly when judges hear arguments as to whether certain information should or should not be considered “State Secret”.

    At other times, the issue is not even whether certain information ought to be classified as “State Secret” or not, but rather has other implications that are beyond the guilt or innocence of that particular individual in question.

    The wording of laws can only take you that far, but inevitably there comes a point where the functions of the State depend on the judgement of its personnel, whether its law, politics or war. It is the ability to grasp this distinction that seperates laudable, but naive idealism from necessary pragmatism.

  48. Wukailong Says:

    Well, it doesn’t define the concept “security or intelligence information” per se, but neither does it apply to everyone. The law goes on to say that “[i]t applies only to members of the security and intelligence services, and to others who work with security and intelligence information (and who have been informed that they are affected by section 1).”

    I’m not sure why it would be operationally necessary to define something so broadly as to be possible to be used in any context. At least one can have a distinction into “military”, “intelligence” (as collected by the security police etc), or is that too idealistic? 😉

    “The wording of laws can only take you that far, but inevitably there comes a point where the functions of the State depend on the judgement of its personnel, whether its law, politics or war. It is the ability to grasp this distinction that seperates laudable, but naive idealism from necessary pragmatism.”

    Or, in other words, that the law is used for some other, ulterior motives. I guess that’s what the critics of the law are hinting at.

    Btw, slightly off-topic: I remember a funny propaganda series I saw once on several university campuses in Beijing, called “外国人怎么偷窃国家秘密” (How foreigners are stealing state secrets) and what this required ordinary citizens to observe. As an example, they used the blond English teacher “卡特里特” (Catrit?) as an example of a girl who comes into a work unit, charms her students and is later found out to have stolen more than twenty pages of state secrets! My first reaction to this was amazement over the apparent amount of state secrets prevalent in China, that they were so easy to come by, and that Tom, Dick and Harry apparently knows these secrets. Perhaps it would be a good idea by the Chinese state not to tell everybody their secrets? 😉

  49. Oli Says:

    @ Wukailong 45

    “As for the second one, I don’t think anyone in their right mind can deny that China has seen a lot of development in this area. This might be due to different factors. I don’t think there was any original desire on the leaders’ part to give more rights because it makes people harder to control, but as development has removed barriers, people have gotten more rights against others and against the state.”

    Actually WKL, you got it wrong. That’s an oversimplified interpretation of the unfeasible born out of the propaganda of the Cold War era. Just as the US and the West mistook the nationalistic causes of the Iron Curtain or the Vietnam and the Korean wars for Communist expansion and is once more repeating the same mistake with Islamic fundamentalism.

    Contrary to popular Western opinion, the evolution and development of rights in China or indeed one of the fundamental reasons for the Chinese Civil War and especially later the Cultural Revolution has never been about the “control” or the “oppression” of people. Rather it has always been about the “control and the determination of the direction of change”, for without control how does one affect change? If you are not master how would you have mastery over your own destiny? This applies to China as much as it does to any other nation state or indeed the individual, though of course there are some both within and outside of China who would often mistake this need for control as oppression or the right to suppress.

    Consequently, it was not that the leaders have no desire to give more rights to the people, but rather the Chinese government understood that without control over the nation politically and socially, they would not be able to provide the stability to grant and to secure each individual’s personal freedom. Personal freedom is meaningless if there does not exist a stable and conducive environment to exercise it constructively. And without personal freedom there would be no economic development. Without economic development there would be no further social or political development, the absence of which is the very definition of a failed state. It’s as simple and as complicated as that.

    @ WKL 48

    Well if the Official Secrets Act “works” for UK, then good for them. China’s secrecy laws with all its absurdities and nuances are intended to “function” in China, which is technically still at war with the ROC. Nobody ever said that the law is NOT an ass, nevermind the people who draft those laws. 🙂

  50. Wukailong Says:

    “Actually WKL, you got it wrong. That’s an oversimplified interpretation of the unfeasible born out of the propaganda of the Cold War era.”

    Wow, I didn’t know I did interpretations out of cold war propaganda… I think you might be wrong about the way my thought processes work, Oli, it just seems that way to me as I’ve been in China since 1997. When I say “[t]his might be due to different factors” I seriously mean it, it’s not some figure of speech. The reasons you draw up are interesting.

    I agree with this: “And without economic development there would be no further social or political development, the absence of which is the very definition of a failed state.” That was part of what I was trying to say too, cold war thinking notwithstanding. 😉

  51. Oli Says:

    @ WKL

    Ahhh, the subtleties of the human mind. If I misunderstood you, then my apologies. Its just that judging by your comments I surmised that you grew up during the Cold War and all its accompanying Reaganite rhetoric and propaganda campaigns and behind the scene machinations, the effecs of which still periodically resurface in the American and Western psyche.

    Besides, the last time I stopped over in London and had a chance to read some of the British broadsheets’ pieces on Putin’s energy politics vis a vis Western Europe, I had the distinct impression that to many British commentaries, its as if the Cold War never ended, notwithstanding Putin’s immense popularity in Russia and the reasons behind that popularity, which coincidentally appears utterly irrelevant to the British media.

  52. Raj Says:

    Allen @ 39

    Perhaps my view of human rights isn’t “Chinese” enough but I can’t see a roadmap in that article merely some CCP puppet bleating about the need to talk endlessly rather than take any concrete action. China has been offered advice about human rights for decades – to imply that it somehow missed all of that and needs to hear it again is laughable. Is China so backward that it cannot advance human rights by itself and needs its hand held constantly?

    Sure things take time, but there are changes that could be made very quickly such as giving the judiciary an annual, centrally-funded budget thus taking control of the judiciary out of the regional governments’ hands. What better step could be taken to bringing in rule-of-law and making the judiciary independent? Yet up until recently I didn’t read that the Chinese government had made that happen. Have I missed it, or am I right that they’re refusing to do this very simple thing that has been suggested to them time and time again? But even if it has, there are other things it already knows about and doesn’t need to be discussed in dozens of international meetings first.

    +++

    Oli @ 41

    I know plenty about Chinese history – as Wuk has said, things have improved. But I don’t see it as an excuse to justify the poor state of things as they are. Just because the CCP was a horribly repressive party for decades doesn’t mean I should slap it on the back for being less of a control-freak now, especially when it is still paranoid and repressive. In my view Chinese history should serve as an impetus to speed up change rather than for the CCP to drag its feet. With all the suffering across the centuries, you might have thought the CCP would say “never again” to State abuse of power. But, no, it seems to think that it’s actually a jolly good idea, providing that its the central government that has final say over how to control the masses and the local administrations don’t get any ideas about setting up their own little fiefs.

    Human rights in China are a work in progress, but that doesn’t mean that the current pace of change is as fast they could move safely. Indeed it’s well known that after initially relaxing media rules, Hu Jintao did an about face and tightened them – for many years journalists said things had been better under Jiang Zemin. As I said to Allen, there are things that the Chinese government could at least initiate tomorrow that would help things significantly. It doesn’t need to discuss these any longer. And you have not supplied any proof that the Chinese government does directly tell citizens what all of their rights are.

    On state secrets, you neglect to mention that in North America, Europe and elsewhere the State does not get to define what is a state secret. It may want to try to assert that information is one, but the courts often tell them to get lost. When the UK Home Secretary briefly implied that leaked information from her department might be a state secret (by referring to the Official Secrets Act amongst other things) she was mocked on all fronts and she had to backpeddle. But in China if the government says it is a state secret no court will dare overrule it (even if it could). That’s the point – it uses “state secrets” as a way of protecting itself against people using embarrassing information against it. Hardly rocket science, so I think everyone here should be able to understand that.

    On your earlier posts, I don’t keep a record of everything anyone ever says on this blog, so perhaps you could just cut-and-paste the most salient points in response to my assertions that the Chinese government deliberately keeps citizens rights vague so that they can’t be enforced. That human rights are a work in progress is irrelevant because the State can say what rights currently are – it’s like Chinese citizens gain new rights of protest on a daily basis.

  53. FOARP Says:

    @Netizen . . . . but he did force him to remove it. And websites which have mocked Dashan have been blocked right after doing so, and then only unblocked when the material containing the mocking information was made unaccesible. None of which is evidence of actual pressure from the man, so:

    I have not lied, as you yourself now seem to concede. Please stop these pointless, childish attacks.

  54. Wukailong Says:

    @Oli: There is a fear of Russia in Europe that’s been there for a long time. It isn’t just the cold war, but it of course helped. Things do not have to be either caused by nationalism or “cold war thinking”, they can be caused by both, or even some other factors.

    As for the way people view authoritative governments, I guess it’s even older than the Cold War. Perhaps the concept “二战思维” would resonate with some of the Chinese here? 😉

    As for Reaganite rhetorics, my whole family hated Reagan and I even believed the Soviet Union was great as a kid (that was up to when the wall fell, in fact). It was US the imperialist that was the great destroyer of world peace.

    Anyway, I guess any place is hard to understand for an outsider, including Europe. That’s why I, too, react when I hear Chinese descriptions of how people in “the West” think… It often just sounds a bit off, a kind of caricature of the Midwest opinions, a sunny desert far separated from the swamp that is European ideologies and debates.

  55. Wukailong Says:

    By the way, Oli, it might just be me, but I’ve been thinking along the lines that Putin actually doesn’t just consolidate his own power but try to do something about the bad state of governance that modern Russia is in. Though, as I said, it’s not that you can’t have both – I can imagine many leaders who would love to make the government stronger for both noble and not so noble reasons, at the same time.

  56. Wukailong Says:

    @Raj: “I know plenty about Chinese history – as Wuk has said, things have improved. But I don’t see it as an excuse to justify the poor state of things as they are.”

    Another thing to consider is of course the role ideology plays. I don’t think everything that happens in China is some law of nature, that some people seem to imply. As long as there is one-party rule, I don’t believe there will be much to the concept of rule of law, for example. Perhaps it will get better as economic reasons require it, but I’m not sure. Other countries could perhaps serve as examples to be studied. Does someone know, for example, about the rule of law in Taiwan during the 80s?

    Some people seem very sure that there is no ideology in China anymore, only economic development and “making the country strong”. That is obviously not true.

  57. Netizen K Says:

    FOARP,

    As I said before, when you get caught lying, you got slippery.

    First you said Dashan had Sinosplice blocked. When it was proven untrue, then you said he “threathened” Sinosplice. When it was proven untrue again, you said he “did force” the site to remove content. This last is also untrue. What Dashn did was “asking” the site to take it down.

    Now you are back to your old accusaction, somehow and some websites are mysteriously blocked because of unflattery content on Dashan. Don’t give me that kind of crap again unless you say which sites were blocked.

    Instead of admitting lying yourself, you point finger at others as childish. It is typical.

  58. FOARP Says:

    “Now you are back to your old accusaction”

    You mean “what I actually said” rather than something that you made up. Good. You are getting closer to reality.

    Meantime, by your own standards, half of what you say has been lies, but if you really want to talk, rather than just rant in front of people who, for good or ill, don’t really care about what you are saying, then email me at fearofaredplanet@yahoo.co.uk. You are free to publish anything I send you.

  59. Wukailong Says:

    Thanks, FOARP.This discussion is probably done best in private.

  60. John John Says:

    FOARP won
    Netizen is stupid and lost

  61. Netizen K Says:

    John John, Wukailong

    Who are you stupid people? When is a liar is exposed, you want to cover him up and go private. Why are you here anyway? You want to hide him just because he is one of your own?

  62. Netizen K Says:

    FOARP,

    When you lied in public, it is better to resolve it in public. Your accusations of Dashan are all in public, so they should be exposed as lies in public. In this thread alone, there were two lies from you: Dashan “threathened” Sinosplice; Dashan “did force” it. People don’t have to dig deep into the other old posts to see your lying and you slippery grip with truth.

  63. Wukailong Says:

    @Netizen K: I don’t want to cover anything up and if you think this debate contributes a lot to this forum, please go on. Unfortunately it’s not that easy to take sides as you may want to think – I have neither the time or energy (or interest) to go through yours and FOARP’s discussions in this case to make a decision on who’s right or wrong. If you had done what FOARP did now, I would have thanked you instead.

    What do you mean by saying that FOARP is “one of your [our] own”?

  64. John John Says:

    Wukailong,

    One of our own : we are terrorist jews china basher liar of course.

  65. Allen Says:

    Ok – I’ve had enough of the spitball fires between Netizen K and FOARP (and others).

    I am the king of spitfires and want to remain king of spitfires on this forum. So you two stop it! 😉

  66. Netizen K Says:

    Wukailong,

    “One of your own”, it could mean China bashers. It could mean truth does not matter types. In any case, not knowing the truth while taking a side made me think you might be his type.

  67. Oli Says:

    @ Raj & WKL

    I shall get back to you shortly.

  68. Wukailong Says:

    @Netizen K: As you hope you understand, I didn’t take a side. I was happy (I thought) that the two of you were taking this discussion in private.

    @Allen: Thanks! As for being the king of spitfires, you’ve been well-behaved here as far as I remember… 😉

  69. John austin personal trainers Says:

    “Frankly, I do not boycott French goods. Why should we do so if they have good valued or high-tech products?”

    Good point

  70. John John Says:

    New Zealand PM to meet the dalai lama.
    Time to start a new boycott.

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