Dec 20

China’s 30-Year Journey of Reform and Opening Up

Written by Allen on Saturday, December 20th, 2008 at 7:47 pm
Filed under:Analysis, Environment, General, News, politics, video | Tags:, , ,
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China’s journey of reform and opening up over the last the last 30 years have definitely been, if nothing else, colorful and eventful.  Last week, Chinese officials marked the 30 year anniversary of China’s reforms and opening up with a series of meetings and speeches.

Xin Hua News had a short summary of one of President Hu Jintao’s speeches, excerpts of which I include below:

— The 3rd plenary session of the 11th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China established again the ideological, political and organizational lines of Marxism, symbolizing the great wakening of the Chinese Communists.

— We calmly dealt with a series of international emergencies which concerned our country’s sovereignty and security, overcoming political and economic difficulties as well as natural risks.

— This particular moment is inspiring our deep memory of Comrade Mao Zedong, Comrade Deng Xiaoping and the rest of the older generation of revolutionists.

— Without democracy, neither socialism nor socialist modernization could be realized.

— We need to learn all creams of political civilization of the human society, but will never copy the mode of the Western political institutions.

— We have to wisely handle the case of participating in the economic globalization while keeping independence, comprehensively arrange both domestic and international tasks, and make contributions to the lofty cause of peace and development in the world.

— China has no chance to develop itself without the world while the world needs China to go ahead with development.

— We firmly uphold the idea that Chinese affairs must be handled by Chinese people in a Chinese way, and oppose any foreign forces to interfere in Chinese domestic affairs.

— The country that develops asserts itself, and to keep stability is an overriding task. We will achieve nothing without stability.

— The progressiveness of a political party and its ruling status are not things that are obtained once and for all. That it was progressive doesn’t necessarily mean it is progressive and will still be progressive. The power it had doesn’t ensure that it’s only right and proper to have the power now, let alone have it forever.

— Don’t sway back and forth, relax our efforts or get sidetracked, but firmly push forward the reform and opening-up as well as adhere to socialism with Chinese characteristics. In that way, we will definitely achieve our grand blueprint and ambitious objectives (on realizing modernization in the middle of the 21st century).

— The reform and opening-up policies are in accord with both the Party consensus and the public will, and in compliance with the trend of the times. The direction and the path are completely correct, the results and achievements cannot be denied, and any halt or retreat is unacceptable.

I personally think this is a good top-level summary of China’s current state of reforms and affairs.

Many people in the West may believe that China has focused too much on economics and not enough on political reforms.  These people might ask: what does the Chinese government mean by “democracy”? – something referred to numerous times in Hu’s speeches.

I don’t think by “democracy” Hu means direct election of top government officials – or other norms of Western style democracy per se.  I think the Hu’s use of the term “democracy” has always meant a governance that is more equitable, more inclusive of all segments of society – a government that is more accountable to and that better serves the people.

In another article on President Hu’s eulogizing of the last three decades of reforms, Xin hua explained:

Hu said China has vigorously pushed forward the socialist democratic politics, featuring the parliamentary system of the National People’s Congress, the political consultation arrangement under the CPC leadership, the autonomous governance mechanism in areas populated by ethnic groups, as well as the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics.

Hu said the pursuit of advanced socialist spirits and culture helped increase cohesion in hearts and minds among the whole Chinese nation.

The government spared no efforts to bettering social welfare, including free nine-year compulsory education, the medical care network and reliable social security, Hu said.

Hu said the independent foreign policy of peace helped China forge comprehensive ties with developed countries and amiable relations with neighboring countries.

Hu said the CPC has to strictly discipline itself and improve its capability in good governance, corruption resistance and risk control.

He reiterated the principled guidance for a secure and prosperous future.

Hu said China is still faced with difficulties such as low-efficient modes of development, wealth imbalance between the rich and the poor, and lagging economic state and underdeveloped livelihood in some rural areas.

This year will probably mark the close of one chapter of China’s modernization effort – a chapter driven by export-led economics.  The next chapter would probably have to focus more on developing China’s enormous internal markets and demand as well as embarking on a development model that is more socially equitable and environmentally friendly.

What’s your view of the last thirty years?

In light of the last thirty years and current world economic crisis, where do you think China is (should be) headed?

There are currently 5 comments highlighted: 23615, 23634, 23774, 23788, 23790.

124 Responses to “China’s 30-Year Journey of Reform and Opening Up”

  1. Old Tales Retold Says:

    I think your interpretation of Hu’s use of the word “democracy” is accurate, i.e. that he basically meant fairness and accountability. But I imagine that the word was also thrown into the speech as a concession to liberals. In other words, the ambiguity is intentional. Just like Hu’s praise for Hu Yaobang a while back, talk of “democracy” is meant to balance out an otherwise obvious tilt toward political hardening.

    Looking back over the past 30 years? Whew… that’s too big of a question for me.

    Obviously, the country lifted a lot of people out of poverty, especially in the first decade (poverty alleviation slowed down later after the big bang of de-collectivization ran its course). As with elsewhere in the world, the rich became richer (or, rather, China’s rich existed for the first time in decades on any meaningful scale) and working people, especially those northeastern SOE workers who had once been “master’s of the house” took a hit. There was a welcome but slight leftward tilt after 2002 / 2003, with more talk of sustainable economics and “people first,” but China has more or less stuck with a development model perfected by Taiwan and Korea that prioritizes GDP growth over everything else.

    Politics did open up a bit, especially in terms of public discussion—-I’ve been encouraged by recent Chinese media coverage of the taxi drivers’ strike and of the mental institutionalization of petitioners in particular. But this new leadership’s cautious, technocratic approach to politics (and their heavy reliance on elite consensus) might make them miss a real opportunity to update their state. Strangely, a strong, creative guy like Deng Xiaoping could do more for political reform than Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao.

    Anyway, I’ll stop and hear what everyone else has to say…

  2. Old Tales Retold Says:

    Hmm… that sounded rather cynical. I would reemphasize the first sentence of my last paragraph. The opening of public discussion in China has been immensely encouraging. So too has the deepening of the rule of law, though this has obviously happened in fits and starts.

  3. FOARP Says:

    In 1989 Communist East Germany celebrated 40 years of its existence with parades and speeches, but by September the government was faced with either having to fire on peaceful protesters or lose power. Whatever else you want to say about men like Erich Honecker and Egon Krenz, they could not bring themselves to give the order to fire – perhaps they were unsure as to whether they would be obeyed and how they might be judged in the future, they had not previously been so hesitant. The current leadership of China are of the generation that collectively endorsed the decision to kill innocent people in defence of their power – China’s growth is to be celebrated, but do not forget the character of the Chinese Communist Party, do not forget the character of its leadership. They have built a new China, but it is in truth not much more lovely than Honecker’s GDR, and in the history’s verdict will be the same.

  4. Old Tales Retold Says:

    @ FOARP,

    I’m not sure that that’s the best analogy. A better comparison might be with other technocratic East Asian states, like Korea or Taiwan in the 1970s and 1980s, though today’s CCP still has a little more of an ideology to rest on than they did, a bit more of a solid founding myth. The best fit is probably Vietnam right now. The East German communists never had a chance to evolve in the ways that China’s have.

    I understand what you mean about the Party having a killer survival instinct that trumps everything else. And certainly if you read some of those books (like Andrew Nathan’s recent one) that purport to reveal internal decision-making, it is surprising what stuffy, brutal language is still used at a high level. But if there was a massive show of dissent today, I really don’t know what would happen.

    There are some clues out there. In 2002, when there were big, cross-sectoral worker protests in Liaoyang, Daqing and elsewhere, the government made a show of force and handed out some heavy prison sentences but there was no real violence. Farmer riots have so far been met with some coercion, but not massacres. Obviously, uprisings in Tibet and Xinjiang are a different matter, as the government can rest assured (now, at least) that domestic public opinion supports a heavy hand in “national minority areas.” But in Beijing? I really don’t know…

    This government is pretty savvy. It has learned to step back when it has to. Especially since the Wenchuan earthquake, it has handled the media and public opinion brilliantly. It’s working on a different level than Honecker ever achieved. And, to its credit, it has attracted some thoughtful, decent people to work in it.

  5. S.K. Cheung Says:

    “socialist democracy” would seem to be an oxymoron. But the last 3 points with the basis in reform seem encouraging.
    Even with what little I know, it seems that many Chinese are much better off today than they were 30 years ago. Having said that, there may be just as many Chinese whose basic circumstances have not improved anywhere near the nation’s overall trajectory. So hopefully, the coming years will see an improvement not only in average standards, but also in minimum standards. And hopefully when minimum standards reach a certain threshold, then the people will become drivers of political and societal change.

    On a separate note, has there been any talk about Charter 08, and the fate of the signatories?

  6. Falen Says:

    Fortunately, though the next stage is development is going to be challenging, China has many very successful experience to draw from in places like Taiwan and South Korea. China can supplement these familiar development experience when crossing the next river by feeling the stone.

  7. Raj Says:

    Why is it that Chinese politicians are unable to look like anything other than robots mass-produced in a factory somewhere in Guangdong? They are aware that suits come in colours other than black these days, right?

    My view of the last thirty years is one of achievement in terms of reducing poverty and raising living standards and lost opportunities in growing in a fairly “dirty” way that has caused misery for many people with pollution, not making significant political reforms, etc. The Chinese media looks more “modern” but that’s a veneer – arguably it was freer in the 1980s and even before Hu Jintao came to power. With all the problems China faces it’s no good trying to bottle up difficult matters and have them discussed purely at home or inside the CCP behind closed doors. China needs a national diaologue where anything can be said without fear or retribution or damage to one’s life/career. Otherwise people will keep their views hidden, the only time being put on display through a violent explosion.

    Yet I fear that Hu has little or no interest in reform. He appears to be a relative hardliner who thinks people should comply with the State, even if he acknowledges it is not easy to make people do that if they band together in large numbers. He can be pragmatic but only when he thinks he has no other choice – I have not seen him being willing to take things forward on his own initiative. He’s had many years to formulate actual, concrete policy on political and judicial change yet we get words, words, words. So I think he merely wants to ensure that the house of cards doesn’t come tumbling down under his watch and pass the job of long-term reform on to his successor.

    And people say Chinese politicians are more “responsible” than those in democracies….

  8. ecodelta Says:

    I do not think a Tia square event would be possible now.

    Using stifling methods like silencing complains, jailing those that speak out too much together with a good doses of nationalism is the way to go.

    Could those methods resist in case of a severe crisis? Hard to say. And what level of brutality would be used by the CCP in that case?

    I always wondered what prompted the “leaders” of that time to throw tanks against the students. The fear
    to loose power, or the fear of a new cultural revolution.

    Anyway. Whatever the reason, I rather prefer not to shake hands with anyone who had something to do with the decisions of that day. Call me a bad politician 😉

  9. wuming Says:


    … though today’s CCP still has a little more of an ideology to rest on than they did …

    Coming from you, I am curious to know if you think that’s a good thing or bad?


    There is a generally sentiment (among the Western media — that old bugger, and many posters here) that anything originated from CCP can be based anything BUT good intention. Western media take such for granted I can sort of understand, but I am not quite sure of why people hold such view participate in blog like this one? To warn other people off different point of views?

  10. ecodelta Says:

    “that anything originated from CCP can be based anything BUT good intention”

    Lets put it this way:

    The CCP does not allow anything that it is not originated from itself. No matter the intention.

    And that is the source of all the evil.

  11. wuming Says:


    The CCP does not allow anything that it is not originated from itself. No matter the intention.
    And that is the source of all the evil.

    For the last eight years, US has been governed by basically one party and it has seen some of the worst times in the history of the country. Would you say the same about US? If not, is it simply because its government can potentially be voted out every four years and it has a “free” press?

  12. FOARP Says:

    @Wuming – When you analyse another’s actions, you have to ask yourself what they are doing before you ask why they are doing it. It really does not matter why the Chinese government are allowing economic growth, only that, in general terms, they continue to refrain from hampering it. Likewise, it does not really matter why the Chinese government disregards human rights, only that, in general terms, any move to end oppression is a positive one. I am sure that the high-level officials of the Chinese Communist Party are agreed that in general their policies are ‘good’ – but does it really matter that this so? It is their refusal to give up power, or allow any power to be meaningfully removed from their grasp that is the problem, it does not matter that they do so for reasons that they consider ‘good’.

  13. wuming Says:


    In my particular post, I am not complaining about the discussions on what but the assignations of whys. For example, Chinese government offered the stimulus package … because China can not have growth rate of less than 8% … otherwise it can not absorb the new labor coming into the market… then there will be unrest … therefore it’s simply another CPP’s trick for self-preservation. All government policies of all countries of the world contain elements of self-preservation. Yet when it comes to China, no self-respecting commentator or journalist dares not to mention prominantly CCP’s self-preservation motivation behind all of its policies.

  14. Old Tales Retold Says:

    @ FOARP,

    Actually, maybe intentions DO matter as much as the substance of decisions. If I know that someone is motivated by X, then that puts their decisions into a useful context and I know how to deal with them. As Wuming says, it is not useful to assume that the CCP is evil. After all, “evil” says nothing specifically about anyone’s intentions. Would the intention be to do “evil”? What is that?

    The problem is that we have very little sense of what ANY leaders are really thinking behind closed doors—be they the CCP or the Bush White House. So, we’re stuck trying to read between the lines of public pronouncements (and, in Bush’s case, with books like Woodward’s). In their statements, Hu and company have emphasized economic growth, social stability, a mildly paranoid view of international relations (as in frequent references to “internal affairs”), a vague commitment to further reforms in both the economic and political realms, an increasing concern with China’s rural-urban divide, and, again and again, the importance of maintaining the Party’s xian jin xing and supremacy. My guess is that that is basically what really motivates them.

    That was rather roundabout! Maybe you and I are basically agreeing on this point…

    @ Wuming,

    When I said that today’s CCP has “a little more of an ideology to rest on” than its East Asian counterparts did when they were technocratic, authoritarian states, I meant this as both a good and bad thing.

    Obviously, over the past sixty years, the Party has made sharp adjustments in its ideology a few times, from “united front” politics and an emphasis on mixed-economy growth to class struggle, an egalitarian economy and continuous revolution to one-party politics coupled with uneven, capitalist growth. The fact that the Party has been so adaptive means that they have been able to explain themselves pretty well to their people and the outside world and thereby maintain their power.

    If one thinks, as I do, that it is past time for the CCP to start letting others into the decision-making process, then this flexibility and consequent maintenance of power is essentially a bad thing. On the other hand, as the CCP’s various iterations of its mission never quite fade when they are replaced—in part because the Party, like the Vatican, wants to maintain an illusion of consistency—the CCP’s continued reliance on ideology allows room for lots of different sectors to make claims on it.

    For example, workers can use old, Mao-era notions of the proletariat being the “master of the house” to demand fairness in the northeastern rustbelt. Liberals, meanwhile, can point to Deng Xiaoping’s talk of political reform to bolster their arguments. All this strengthens the CCP in a way (people are still using the CCP’s language, unlike in Korea or Taiwan, where dissidents had to look elsewhere for values) but it also has had concrete, good results for disadvantaged groups. Workers, for example, have been able to get some worthwhile concessions out of the Party.

  15. Old Tales Retold Says:

    @ Wuming,

    On the issue of Western media constantly referring to the CCP’s desire to stay in power… this has obviously become something of a cliche, but it’s also true. The Party itself talks about this incessantly.

    Nor is it that unusual for the press to comment on this. Whenever a leader or party in a democratic country does something, there’s usually a line somewhere in the article to the effect that the leader or party did what they did in order to “win the mid-term election” or “build their base in such and such area,” etc. When the party in question is authoritarian, though, you don’t have those choices, of course, so you’re left with big, existential questions—unless a journalist really wants to dig in deep, which sadly few do.

  16. wuming Says:


    You have a habit of posting replies that is more than my original question deserved. But thanks.

    There are two distinct ways to look at ideology. One is the ideological facade of a political entity; the other is the ideological force that motivates a political entity. What you seemed to say is that the CCP’s ideology has becoming more of a facade and it is really quite separate from its true motivation (which is self-preservation?)

    In you latest post, you said: When the party in question is authoritarian, though, you don’t have those choices, of course, so you’re left with big, existential questions. Do you think that’s such a bad thing? The basic bargain of CCP with Chinese people is that we will work to improve your lives in exchange for the political monopoly. This seem to mean it has more direct connection to people’s lives than a ruling party in a democratic nation, since it is only motivated by the next election which we learn could be grossly manipulated. I further believe that the history of last 2 decades has proven that is what actually happened.

  17. FOARP Says:

    @Wuming – I know when you refer to a ‘bargain’ you are using it as a figure of speech, but is there even the grounds on which to say that even a figurative ‘bargain’ exists between the government and the people? Isn’t it merely a one-sided intent to remain in power by keeping all opposition (which naturally exists in all states and under all governments) divided and muzzled? I find no evidence of consent anywhere in the Chinese body-politic (if a one-party state can have such a thing) – there is approval, of course there is, but approval is not the same as consent. I can approve or disapprove of how my boss manages the office I work in, but this does not imply that he manages with my consent, nor are his goals the same as mine or necessarily in tune with the majority of my co-workers.

  18. wuming Says:


    You are of course right if you are talking about the working of a political process, but I am much more interested in the governing itself and the results it produces.

    If I am a person with political ambition, but significantly different agenda from that of CCP, then I will not have the voice proportional to my ambition in China. In a democratic nation, I will have at least a theoretical possibility of achieving my ambition. On the other hand, I would argue that an ordinary Chinese probably has his/her interest better represented in the Chinese government than I am as a voter in New York in my government; also better than an untouchable who just voted in an Indian election. Major Chinese government policies do change (mostly because it is long desired by its citizenry, and for the better) which at the end is the purpose of the elections, is it not?

  19. facts Says:

    All Western propaganda boils down to one thing only, the denial of the legitimacy of CCP with that the legitimacy of the Chinese nation. So whatever the evil CCP does, as long as CCP doesn’t kill itself, is no good. Period. (How the free press hates CCP preserve itself, haha) Of cause the issue of the day could vary Tibet/Taiwan/tinted food/poor farmers/education/healthy care/crime/political “reform”, fill in the blank, really which country is without problems. Has the doomsday Sayers ever stopped the prediction of the doom of China since the day PRC was founded? Do you think they would stop? But regardless China marches on…

    Of cause CCP is far from perfect. Yet, looking back the past 150yrs, CCP is the best thing happened in China. No leadership has done more for China than CCP. The real problem is who wants a confident and powerful Chinese nation. There lies the answer.

  20. Raj Says:

    Intentions are important, but they do not override actions. If a parent beats their child to the point where they break bones, does the fact that they think corporal punishment is necessary for the child’s own good do much to mitigate the beating? I would rather hope not. Similarly the fact that the CCP will say that it has the policies it does in regards to political and other freedoms are for “the national good” does not mean they can get away with repression without criticism. If anything such an attitude can rightly increase the criticism, because a good, kind government would not believe that it was for the country’s good anyway.

    @ Wuming, 16

    FOARP makes the point that I was also going to advocate. Who made this deal with the CCP and how did they have authority to do so without review at any point in the future? If the CCP really believed that, it would hold a referendum every five years as to whether things should continue as they are or the CCP should step aside and bring in multi-party democracy. Despite the fact that it probably would win because of the strict controls on civil rights, suppression of dissent, etc it won’t. Why? Because this “bargain” is really a justification rather than a fact.

    Of course it is fair to say that a fair number of Chinese, i.e. many/most of the middle and upper classes, are satisfied with the current balance of power. But they do not have the moral authority to sign away the rights of other Chinese. Indeed it is normally those who suffer at the hands of corruption and State brutality who have most to complain about. Those who support the CCP in comparison usually do well, or at least are rarely troubled by the authorities. That is hardly a fair way to decide how China is governed and what rights Chinese people should enjoy.

    @ “facts”

    You’ve earnt your 50 cents a dozen times over.

  21. wuming Says:


    Who made this deal with the CCP and how did they have authority to do so without review at any point in the future? Chinese people are perfectly capable of rise up and overthrow a ruling regime, as they did in its history. Do you think the palace coup that overthrown of Gang of Four in 1976 would have went so smoothly without the ground swell of support of the people? The current government has much less powerful tools at its disposal if it ever decide to use force to keep itself in power against the wishes of the majority Chinese. So is there a consent for the “bargain”? Yes, the fact the last two (intra-party) transitions of power went smoothly is the proof of that consent.


    Yet, looking back the past 150yrs, CCP is the best thing happened in China.
    This is certainly not true, CCP spent much of last 30 years repair the damages it did in the first 30 years. Trust me, almost any alternative would have been better than CCP for the first 30 years.

  22. Old Tales Retold Says:

    @ Facts,

    If I understand you right, your argument is basically that China and the CCP may have a lot of problems—you make pretty good list of them yourself—-but that talking about those problems, especially abroad, is evidence of jealousy at the success of the Party in being the best ruling party / government that China has had in 150 years (and the only party for the past near-60 years, I would add).

    I suppose any country and government could say that sort of thing when criticized. I remember my American granddad remarking that people who criticize the Iraq War are just jealous of America’s success! It all seems a tad beside the point, though.

    @ Raj, FOARP and Wuming,

    The issue of consent is interesting. Certainly, there’s a rough bargain at work. And in many ways, it is easier to push the CCP around than it is to influence other governments, in part because the Party is so anxious about that bargain, in part because the lingering ghost of “serve the people” can keep things in check. So, a protest usually gets a faster response and more positive than in the States or Europe (though while the bulk of protesters might draw a benefit, the ringleaders are generally arrested—and the rule does not hold, again, for “national minority areas”).

    But the bargain does not work as smoothly, I don’t think, as it does in a full democracy. The government vacillates between pleasing one group or another—farmers, say, or the emerging bourgeoisie—and, as these groups are prevented from organizing, they must wait in the gaps. Some, like petitioners, are perpetually in the gaps.

  23. Old Tales Retold Says:

    Dammit… Wuming and I seem to be typing at the same time! Haha.

  24. wuming Says:

    But the bargain does not work as smoothly, I don’t think, as it does in a full democracy. Don’t you wish that there had been a more volatile (quicker) way of overthrowing the current US regime? The turmoil of global economy and political conflicts has been greatly out pacing the rate at which the current democratic governments are designed to react. It may even be beyond the capabilities of most of the governments (just ask Hungarians.) There is really a new paradigm (or at least, the old one is out.) Any system (include the Chinese system) works only until it doesn’t.

  25. Raj Says:

    wuming 21

    Chinese people are perfectly capable of rise up and overthrow a ruling regime, as they did in its history.

    Are you for real? Are you saying that Chinese either have to accept autocratic rule or risk their very lives? The CCP would hold on for dear life and authorise a massacre that would make the 1989 crackdown look like a picnic. Just because some Chinese were more vocal in the past doesn’t mean that people today must choose between treason & possible death and accepting repression. That is no bargain at all.

    The current government has much less powerful tools at its disposal if it ever decide to use force to keep itself in power against the wishes of the majority Chinese.

    I disagree. It may find it difficult to stop the spread of information, but that also allows it to snoop much more easily on what people say. It also has all the military/security forces power it ever did.

    Yes, the fact the last two (intra-party) transitions of power went smoothly is the proof of that consent.

    It is proof of nothing, other than perhaps Chinese people have no interest in who is in charge of the CCP because they think they’ll all the same.

  26. ecodelta Says:

    “For the last eight years, US has been governed by basically one party.. ”
    Tu quoque again? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tu_quoque
    Other people’s actions do not good/bad of one’s actions. This should already be a very much used up argumentation tactic…, and a logical fallacy since ancient times.

    On the other hand….There is an old saying “The robber thinks everybody is also a robber…, to justify himself”
    I have seen a lot of usage of logical fallacies in these blogs. When they are used, I have serious doubts about the conceptual integrity of the posts writer.

    “..and it has seen some of the worst times in the history of the country.”
    In this comparison CCP still wins by a clear lead, including length of time, economic/cultural damages and physical casualties.

    By the way I am not US. Maybe you should use WEST instead of US. But WEST is an ambiguous term. Does it includes Australia or New Zeeland? Their Geographic location is rather to the east with respect to CH.
    And what happens with African and Muslim countries? If they criticize the CCP are they also put in the WEST bag. Most of those countries are hardly WEST, even from a mindset point of view.

    “.. but I am not quite sure of why people hold such view participate in blog like this one? ”
    We may agree that discussions about bad bad CCP appear too often in this blogs, but that is inevitable, c’est le term du jour, That doesn´t mean I or other people are not interested in other issues, or in the exchange points of view even with those that (more or less) disagree.
    Even in total disagreement, something can be learned from you opponents argumentation and reactions.

  27. ecodelta Says:

    “Chinese people are perfectly capable of rise up and overthrow a ruling regime, as they did in its history.”

    I prefer elections as method of power alternation. With open list if possible.

    The final results of an uprising are usually unpredictable. Elections can also be a messy business, but hardly too much harmful for one`s health.. in most cases.

  28. ecodelta Says:

    Besides… an uprising every 4 years is too much for any country 😉

  29. wuming Says:


    I don’t see the logical fallacy in asking whether the same can be said about US as you did of China, in fact you proceed to try justify why you shouldn’t. I could have the wrong opinion, but not really an illogical one in this case.

    As for extending my horizons to the sins of the west in general (I used “western media” at least partially tone-in-cheek) I will certain try a different set of examples once I settle in, say, Auckland.

    Back to the more substantive stuff. You said In this comparison CCP still wins by a clear lead, including length of time, economic/cultural damages and physical casualties That is not yet clear, the current economic crisis still have the potential of destroying the global economy, plunging vast number of people, including many Chinese, into misery.

  30. Allen Says:

    Some people above seem to be making the argument that a single party system is inconsistent with diversity of thoughts.

    I disagree.

    Whether you have a one-party or two-party system is not dispositive of how “free” a society is or “diverse” views within the government is. The CCP may seem like a monolithic system to outsiders, but inside, there has always been lots of diversity of thoughts as well as vigorous internal debates.

    The basis of power of the CCP (after 1989) has been China’s middle class just as in the U.S. the middle class has held the basis of power for some time.

    Rising above US partisan politics, I will put my money where my mouth is and make a prediction: Obama will not be much more different than Bush – just as Bush was not that much different from Clinton.

    The debate between Obama and McCain did not differ in fundamental ways because both were beholden to similar interests (or special interests, as the case may be). A two party system per se has not resulted in a a great diversity of thought in American Politics per se.

    Anyways, back to China – I found a very interesting article from ESWN dated in 2006 titled “Why The Chinese Communists Are Not Doomed To Finish Yet,” which summarized with the following:

    1. From the lessons of the former Soviet Russia and eastern Europe, the Communist Party is more firm and clear about suppressing the opposition;

    2. After forming alliances, the Communist Party has established a relatively stable international environment;

    3. The continuous economic development has provided adequate resources for improving their ability to govern;

    4. Under the pretext of “we won’t argue,” the Communist Party has actually totally abandoned their former ideology;

    5. The Communist Party has become a political party that represents wealthy people and the social elite. This newly created middle class is the foundation of stability in Chinese society today;

    6. The confirmation of their model for power succession has eliminated the concerns about their ability to maintain government.

  31. Raj Says:

    Some people above seem to be making the argument that a single party system is inconsistent with diversity of thoughts.

    Putting that argument aside, what people are actually saying Allen is that the CCP does not ALLOW diversity of opinion at least in public. It’s all very well saying that there is debate inside the CCP, but it does not allow it amongst the public as much as it could or should.

    A two party system per se has not resulted in a a great diversity of thought in American Politics per se.

    The two party system does not create it – it allows it. People want to talk, they want to express opinions. If you relax controls or remove them people will do what they want eventually. They’re not robots that need to be programmed.

  32. Allen Says:

    @Raj #1:

    You wrote:

    The two party system does not create it – it allows it. People want to talk, they want to express opinions. If you relax controls or remove them people will do what they want eventually. They’re not robots that need to be programmed.

    Well – not to be cute or anything – but I can also argue: economic development may not create diversity of thoughts, but it allows for them. Free from the burdens of poverty and armed with better education, people of an economically more developed society can better form and express opinions. Economical development will also empower the people to better chart their own destiny – both geopolitically as well as through a more active role in national governance.

    So given that there are many things that are needed to true self determination of the people (freedom from poverty, education, good health care, free speech, social stability, good governance, etc.) – why do people keep on harping on one-party system?

    Anyways: with that said, though – I personally also believe that a freer press today within China will only help China (and the CCP – as her legitimate rulers) to develop faster – rather than hinder development.

    Of course, my conception of free press is not anything goes as many here may conceive. China is still not yet a strong country (and many of her people are not that educated). There are still many thoughts that are subversive to the state that ought to be controlled.

  33. Old Tales Retold Says:

    I’ve never thought that the U.S. two-party system was the best set-up. In regards to Wuming’s point about wanting to kick Bush out sooner, this would have happened sooner under a European parliamentary system. To be specific, it would have happened when Jim Jeffords defected from the Republican Party and tipped the Democrats into a brief senate majority already in 2001 or when the Democrats swept both houses of Congress in 2006. Of course, Bush would never even have been president if the U.S. was more democratic: the clean majority vote went to Gore in 2000, while the electoral college vote went to Bush. It is the un-democratic filters that the U.S. has in place that make our system inefficient.

    Anyway, I guess my point isn’t so much that the U.S. is flawed or that China is flawed but that a particular defect of a given system does not doom a certain governing philosophy. Just as the flaws of Kim Jong Il’s single-party state shouldn’t inform our judgments of the CCP too much, the flaws of the U.S. shouldn’t necessarily lead to a sweeping judgment of the efficacy of democracy as a whole.

    One thing that I think is overlooked in terms of elections is that critics focus entirely on the moment someone casts a vote (or thousands cast their thousands of votes). Obviously, a bunch of things might pass through a given voter’s mind, so there is a certain randomness and incompleteness to that moment. In contrast, an authoritarian but meritocratic state is thought to cultivate talent, work smart young women with specific expertise up a chain, limiting their choices to what they know, arriving at “scientific” decisions, yada yada yada. The problem is, of course, that there’s nothing guaranteeing that these bureaucrats will arrive at good choices, that seclusion is good, that being a clever elite adds up to anything.

    In contrast, an election is, first and foremost, a campaign. Each individual involved is forced to deal with a totality of questions. In my experience as an Obama volunteer—not even an official campaign worker, just someone who went out and knocked on doors every weekend—I had to educate myself about veterans affairs, about “green jobs”, about different credit card laws, etc. And I had to make arguments to dozens of people a day on these topics. There were thousands upon thousands of volunteers like me and we all emerged with a better understanding of our country, as did the voters we interacted with. Some of those volunteers will go into government.

    The CCP, on the other hand, sends its most promising top officials out to the poorest areas to test them. And it sends down investigative teams to the countryside. But these mechanical efforts are bound to only dig up so much. Local officials guide the whole effort. Banquets are aplenty. Model farmers are dragged out to talk about crops. Some real information is gleaned, yes, but an enormous amount of energy is expended on just getting past the CCP’s self-created obstacles to truth.

    And, at the end, if successful, you have a few officials with a good sense of the country or, more likely, one aspect of the country. But no one else has learned anything from the process.

  34. FOARP Says:

    @Allen – I have no great love for the American system, and the US government of the last few years, with its torture program, ‘extra-ordinary renditions’, bugging, muzzling of the press through a corrupt form of you-scratch-my-back-and-I’ll-scratch-yours, has been utterly disgraceful and dismaying to watch, especially to those who were open to agreeing with them before their true character became known. However, and this may come as a surprise to some, but democracy would still exist on this planet were the United States to disappear from the face of it tomorrow. It also would not matter if China were to become the strongest power or remain where it is – you cannot eat an aircraft carrier, nor is a nuclear missile a safe way of warming your house in winter, and neither protect the moral character of the nation.

    My personal measure of freedom is this – does the government fear the public more than the public fears the government? If yes, then this is a good start.

    As to the points from the article, all I will say is what I have said already: we know these people, we know what they are capable of. Two changeovers of power have occurred, but in each case there were things that could have gone wrong, in each case there was a point at which those holding power could have refused to give it up.

    Everyone remembers the rumours around the SARS period that the supporters of Jiang were prepared to move against Hu if he did not quickly solve the problem. For that matter, everyone remembers the odd rumours about Jiang which became widely talked about before and after the hand over, especially the rumour – widely believed – that he was having an affair with Song Zuying, as well as the rumour about his son being the biggest property owner in New York. I should say that I first heard these rumours from a Nanjing taxi driver in November 2002 , before they were reported in anti-CCP publications like the Epoch Times, and before people started getting arrested for spreading them.

    I said above that all government’s have their opposition, but all governments also have their in-fighting, and the very fact that these rumours became so widely known shows that the Chinese communist party has its fair share – but for our purposes the important thing to note is the coincidence of these dirty tricks with the change-over in power. Had things taken a different turn – if Hu had fumbled (or appeared to fumble) with SARS he might not have lasted long. A friend of mine ascribed what some (including myself) thought was the over-reaction following the failure of the government to deal with the initial spread of the disease to exactly this.

    @Raj – I loath the phrase “50 Cent”. For one thing, 5 mao is 5 mao, it is not fifty cents, nobody uses fen in China any more, nor is it worth 50 cents in any currency I can name. For another, it is an obvious American translation – why say fifty cents and not fifty pence? Or fifty pffenigs? Or 10 shillings? Or Kopecks? Or Agorot? Or Dinar? Or Dinero? Or any other way of splitting up a currency? Finally any new comer will just think that you are talking about hip-hop – use Wumaodang – WMD: it’s much cooler.

    But asides from that, you and I know that there are plenty of people in China who agree with everything that Facts has been saying and wouldn’t need monetary stimulus to write what he has been writing. Finally – do you really think that the CCP would be bothered to post on this website? The majority of people posting on this website are exposed to media uncontrolled by the Chinese government – there would be no purpose in trying to ‘harmonise’ our opinions.

  35. Raj Says:

    Allen, if someone’s land is being stolen, or their relatives being locked up for essentially “disagreeing” with the authorities over something, an education isn’t going to aid them in calling for help. Money might help sometimes in bribes but that’s hardly a long-term solution. If people have no legal recourse then the best education in the world won’t do anything.

    People primarily go on about the one party system’s effects, not the principle of it. Poverty doesn’t lock you up, give you a beating, make your life a misery, etc.

    FOARP, I think “50 center” is a term that’s better understood in various different countries. Perhaps I’m wrong on that. But I never thought that facts was being paid to come here. It’s more that he would be paid if someone noticed his handy-work.

  36. To Quoque Says:


    Kindly highlight post # 33

    @ Ecodelta,

    post #26

    Tu quoque again? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tu_quoque

    “Your sense of fashion is no better than mine, so what gives you the right to judge?”

    Everybody is guilty of Tu quoque, not just the folks being accused herein .

    Moral relativism is another jargon that gets thrown around a lot.

    “Oh, I am flawed and I admit it, why don’t you admit your flaws just the same?” Seriously, is the antithesis -i.e. moral absolutism – any better and thus preferable?

    The reason is clear, China is at present NOT interested in influencing nor invading other culture but is focusing on re-building the economy, infrastructure, security, foregn affairs, and image of its own home / country. And that is the people’s focused journey and determining reason for their miraculous recovery of national strength. The next step is to work on recovering its much destroyed cultural heritage.

    But seeing the devil in everyone else: — Christendoms, since Constantinian reform, have been selling the same fearmongering propaganda crap: Yellow peril, Communism, hence the prequalified evilness of atheistic CCP, the menacing robotic Reds, Zionism, for God and Country etc of yesteryears, and presently, the war on terror, Islamic fanaticism, nuclear proliferation, countdown to doomsday, etc., when all along, those who sit in sanctimonious judgement of others as heritics and whatnot are in all “the years of our Lord,” proved to be the worst criminals of crimes against humanity – of the centuries long Inquisition proportion to the instigation of two World Wars, Korean war, to the protracted Vietnam and Cambodia “police action,” to the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, while the whole time selling Nobel prized flawed economic theoretical and philosophical packages that has lead to the current World economic crash.

    Judge not lest you too be so judged. Tu quoque is natural, diversionary, divisive —– but totally useless in establish credibility, such as in debates.

  37. facts Says:

    You are entitled to your opinion, but the CCP rule of China cannot be divided. Without the difficulty of the first 30 yrs, there won’t be the more successful 2nd 30yrs. Indeed compared to any 60 yr segments in past 150 yrs, the 60 yrs of CCP is the best. You can point to any 60 yr segment of past 150yr of Chinese history that tops the 60yrs of CCP.

    The success of any government/party can be measured by non-party affiliates. Both US and China government can claim whatever they want. But the statistics and polls show different pictures, which say the US failed, China is more successful. True, any government can use my argument, the difference is that China’s argument is backed by the numbers. The success in China is real, failure in the US is also real. The problem of those Westerners is that they concentrate on snap shots of current state of affairs to deny the tangible progress (I mean life expectancy, income, education, not pie in the sky kind such as voting, etc) has been made so far as well as the speed of such progress.

    All in all, today, denial of the legitimacy of CCP is the denial of the fundamental interest of Chinese nation.

    Don’t work too hard, Mr. net detective.

  38. facts Says:

    As to the argument about “allowing different ideas.” That is just a subjective perception issue. I know people can put forth any ideas they want in China except the talk of overthrow government, which is of cause what the West wants to encourage. Just like Nazi speech is so harmful to Germany, it is disallowed in that country. Civil wars had ravaged China for decades before founding of PRC, so the talk of separatism is not allowed, just like yelling fire in a packed theater is not allowed. The West wants to pressure China to accept its standard of “free” speech, I don’t see why China should comply at the cost of the best interest of China. And who knows the best interest of China than the Chinese, even though the West wants the world to believe otherwise.

  39. Old Tales Retold Says:

    @ Facts,

    It is simply untrue that any and all ideas short of overthrowing the government and separatism can be expressed in China—at least if you mean published, put on TV, etc., not just private conversation or soon-to-be-deleted-blogs. Try publishing a book on the Tiananmen massacre or the Anti-Rightest Campaign or the Great Leap Forward famine or death penalty statistics in China or divisions within the top leadership, etc. You won’t go very far.

    As to the numbers you are talking about… are you saying that China has a higher life expectancy than the United States or is wealthier per capital? Or that more people there have healthcare? No, of course not. You are saying China has grown by x or y amount in these areas while America has not, I suppose. But it’s a strange comparison. Surely, growth in a developing country can’t be compared to growth in a wealthy if unequal country—the Chinese government itself has rejected such comparisons, as well it should.

    As to the “West” pressuring China to accept a certain standard of freedom of speech, I doubt China will change in this area because of any outside pressure. Talk of “hurt feelings” aside, the Chinese leadership is simply less moved by international opinion than are some hyper-sensitive netizens. In fact, I think the government responds to negative media attention or statements by foreign leaders mostly to appeal to a domestic audience, but maybe I’m wrong about this. At any rate the pressure for greater space for expression will come—and is coming—from within the country and has already delivered some pretty big improvements. Public discussion, while not at the level I outlined in my first paragraph, has made great strides.

    Finally, though it’s not directly relevant to this discussion, I’d like to comment on Germany’s bans on Nazi speech: that ban is wrong and Germany should drop it. Decades of experience have shown that rather than shut down the far right, such bans have only swept it under the carpet and strengthened it. Holocaust denial, etc. cannot stand up against public discussion.

  40. Allen Says:

    @FOARP #34:

    You wrote:

    However, and this may come as a surprise to some, but democracy would still exist on this planet were the United States to disappear from the face of it tomorrow. It also would not matter if China were to become the strongest power or remain where it is – you cannot eat an aircraft carrier, nor is a nuclear missile a safe way of warming your house in winter, and neither protect the moral character of the nation.

    I like your idealism, but I will disagree.

    If you look to the breakdown of world military spending, you will see the U.S. + NATO far outspends everyone else. (Graphics from World Military Spending article on Global Issues)

    There is really no reason for such lopsided spending by the West if its standing over the rest of the world is based on ideology (of democracy, culture, ideas about rule of law, whatever) alone.

    Yes: it’s true you cannot eat military hardware, but military hardware does buy you control, power, influence, and certain amount of “prestige.”

    In any case, I’m not so sure that if the U.S. (together with its vaunted military) were to magically disappear, the standing of democracy would be as you predict.

  41. Allen Says:

    @ecodelta, To Quoque:

    I don’t think your several accusations of “Tu quoque” are quite valid.

    Typically ad homenim attacks are not considered valid logical arguments because they attack the person making the argument rather than the substance of the argument. Ad homenim attacks work by evoking emotional distractions or discrediting the person making the argument.

    I don’t think this is what is going on it.

    The attacks facts or wumin have made relate to consistency. If an ideology is applied in a certain way to discredit a government X, it is perfectly valid to say, if you apply that certain ideology that way, many actions of of government Y, which most of you previously considered legitimate, would not pass muster.

    The attack is not on government Y or on you – but an attack on the application of the ideology / argument.

    If so, this is neither Tu quoque nor ad homenim.

  42. facts Says:

    To compare current China’s life expectancy and health care to that of the US is meaningless. PRC had only 60 yrs of peace to build its economy, the US had 200+ yrs of peace to build its economy. Where China stands today which is far behind the US, says nothing about the relative government effectiveness of PRC and the US. Only the rate of change that tells the story as compared to the similar development stage of the US or contemporary developing countries. In either case, China should be considered a resounding success. While the US compared to its own performance in the past, the past 8 yrs was a failure. Case in point. wall stree,

    Regarding the “freedom” of expression, you are entitled to your opinion. I believe China should not allow Western propaganda machine and its lackeys manipulate Chinese populaces. Russia/Ukraine/etc are primary examples. Western media has an agenda, it absolutely has no best interest of China in mind. The extent of “freedom” of expression or definition thereof, will change, but never should be on Western terms or on the demands of Western lackeys. No color revolution, thanks, but no thanks.

    The assumption in all previous discussions, was that the West gave China advices that had the best interest of China in mind. This is completely false. Western media is a propaganda machine, it’s a tool being used to delay/disrupt the development of China, and to preserve the superiority of the West. Again it is in whose interest to make China a confident and powerful nation. There lies the naked truth.

  43. ecodelta Says:

    @Tu Quoque
    “The reason is clear, China is at present NOT interested in influencing nor invading other culture but is focusing on re-building the economy, infrastructure, security, foregn affairs, and image of its own home / country.”
    I disagree with that opinion. Tibet ans Xinjian to name a few. Those are two clear instances of invading and influencing another culture. Of course I know quite well the CH argumentation, and considerer it completely invalid.
    The situation reminds me in the times when the central power still existed in Europe. The German and Austrohungarian Empires. They also had a bunch of “beloved” minorities.
    CH has also a story of colonization and occupation of other’s peoples lands, but its geographically distribution and barriers made it seems different, a fact used by CH to deflect that accusation.

    “The next step is to work on recovering its much destroyed cultural heritage.”
    I totally agree with that.

    “If an ideology is applied in a certain way to discredit a government X, it is perfectly valid to say, if you apply that certain ideology that way, many actions of of government Y, whi”h most of you previously considered legitimate, would not pass muster.”
    It is still Tu Quoque/ad hominen allen. Wumin is not rightly addressing the argument but deflecting it.
    A more logical argumentation would be to separate the critics to the CCP to the critics to US.
    A burglar and a killer can say the truth, that he is a burglar or a killer has no effect on what he says if their arguments are sound.
    You can argue that he is burglar/killer, but that is a quite different argument.
    Even the greatest criminals in history said great truths, you may find it disturbing but it has not effect on the consistency of their arguments.

  44. ecodelta Says:

    One last comment.

    Newton dedicated also to study occult sciences. He also had terrible experiences with investments (that may have helped him to discover the law of gravity)

    You may define his behavior as inconsistence, but if you want to argue against his “Principia Mathematica” you should use a better argumentation.

  45. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Facts:
    #37: “All in all, today, denial of the legitimacy of CCP is the denial of the fundamental interest of Chinese nation” – The CCP is the legitimate government of PRC…but only because it’s the only game in town. If it wants to lend credence to its position as said legitimate government, the solution is so simple (yet in the case of the CCP, so incredibly other-worldly difficult). But to equate a question of the CCP with advocacy against Chinese people is part of the same tired old paranoia. Sadly, such paranoia is in abundant supply.

    #42: China has done well in the last 60 years; or, more to the point, the progress in the last 30 has more than erased the atrociousness of the first 30. And she has done well compared to nations of a similar category in that time-frame. For that, she deserves kudos. But if you were sitting there in 1978 listening to Deng, would you have any certainty about how things would look in 2008? And if you weren’t all that happy with what Deng was selling, what choice did you have? You’re right of course that the US hasn’t done too well from 2000-2008, but guess what, they were afforded the option of a different course. So if you could be a PRC citizen in 1978, or an American in 2008, who would you rather be?
    And c’mon, more of that “western media propaganda” business again. Hasn’t that horse been beaten into a bubbling pulp several times already?

  46. Raj Says:

    Highlight number 45 please.

  47. FOARP Says:

    @Allen – I really don’t understand your point. What I was saying was that the US is not the be-all or end-all of democracy, and that military might does not necessarily bring any real benefit to the people of a country – I would have thought these were fairly uncontroversial points not requiring anything in the way of idealism to accept, and a review of the history of, say, Germany, or the Soviet Union, would be enough to see the truth of them. US military spending has ballooned over the past eight years – its current level is much greater than at any time during the cold war except the Korean war period – do you think it is valid to raise the current level of US spending as saying something of universal application about democracy? If we were to take a historical viewpoint, you would pretty soon see that it has been the dictatorships, far more than the democracies, that have concentrated on spending on military might, in fact even today the highest spenders as a percentage of GDP are mostly dictatorships, and there is good reason to believe that this pattern is already re-asserting itself generally.

  48. ecodelta Says:

    @S.K. Cheung
    “the progress in the last 30 has more than erased the atrociousness of the first 30”
    Not for those who lost (and still loosing) their dear ones. Not for those who were left dead on the long road to present day.

    But it has been quite an improvement! Who can deny it? More kudos to the CH people than to the CCP people for that.

    Lets hope next 30 years get even better.

    OK. OK. I say it. CCP has improved also….. a little bit…., and I consider they acted more out of necessity than out of conviction…. But well, an improvement is an improvement after all, no matter what 😉

    But they could still do much better, lets hope for it ;-).

  49. FOARP Says:

    @facts #42 – Can you say “circular argument”? Actually, scratch that, I just tried to right a play-by-play following your argument, but there doesn’t seem to be any valid connection between your points – not even a circular one. I don’t believe that the majority of people asking for free speech in China are westerners – not so? Surely what is being asked for is freedom of speech for Chinese people, so why do you keep going on about the “western media propaganda machine”? Here’s my advice:

    1) Actually ask some Chinese citizens what they think about a certain matter, say, whether Jay Chou should be forbidden from performing on the mainland.

    2) Ask yourself “are their opinions all the same” – if not, go to part 3), if yes, go back to step 1)

    3) Ask yourself “would people like to write about this issue in the newspapers”, if yes, go on to step 4), if not, find another group of people and ask them.

    4) Then ask yourself whether it is reasonable that they cannot write an article fully exploring all the issues associated with banning Jay Chou from ever performing in mainland China, because some of them would be of a sensitive nature – some of them would want to talk about his supposed pro-independence stand (a rumour), or his previous comments regarding mainlanders “lacking culture” (another rumour).

    It would seem that most people are in favour of free speech, and for good reasons.

  50. wuming Says:

    Yes, Chinese people deserve most of the credit for the achievement of the last 30 years. The best government is the one which stay out of the way enough. Therefore by this token, we shouldn’t give much credit to the development of US, Europe, Japan … for the last century or two to their forms of government either.

  51. Wukailong Says:

    @wuming: Any system that allows people’s creativity and hard work to bear fruit is probably a good system, even though the people should have most of the credit. I think Deng Xiaoping is great for what he did, even though growth came from all the people around him.

  52. FOARP Says:

    @Wuming – I totally concur, it would be very hard to identify what government policies, if any, helped spark the original industrial revolution in the UK. In Japan, the Meiji government’s main success seems to have been in allowing industrial growth to proceed, not in any positive act of direction. In the USA the government can claim responsibility for the creation of the motor ways (and in Germany, and in Italy, both of which were under fascist governments at the time of their construction), but the original railway networks in both the UK and the US were built by private companies. People can talk about bailouts, but it is hard to identify any industry that has been rescued long-term by government subsidies, quite the reverse.

    Of course, as you can tell, I am a whole-hearted free-marketeer, so others might have different views.

  53. Old Tales Retold Says:

    Here I have to disagree with FOARP. My bias is that of a less-than-wholehearted-free-marketeer, of course, but there has also been considerable research on the positive role played government intervention and protectionism in the economic growth of Europe and the U.S., not to mention the East Asian tigers. Private companies may have built the railway networks, but states provided the incentives.

    As to arguments about the strength of a nation and its form of government (liberal versus illiberal), I agree with Wuming and FOARP that this line of reasoning can only go so far (if, indeed that is what Wuming is arguing). The power of the United States stems first and foremost from its favorable geography: roughly half the North American continent, including two coasts and a massive bread basket (with more arable land than China), bordered by two neighbors with which the U.S. has not had a quarrel in some time (by contrast, how many neighbors does China have?). In other words, America has been lucky.

    Obviously, the America’s democratic system has instilled a certain sense of unity, but I think arguments for democracy deserve a better starting point than the world’s remaining superpower.

    As to the points from Facts… I don’t really know where to start. I think he / she overestimates the power of the foreign media. By contrast to hyper-sensitive netizens, the Chinese government (like the American government) tends to disregard the international press unless it sees some fallout in terms of domestic public opinion… which gets us back to the Chinese people as engines of change…

    Basically, I’m not sure that there is a contradiction between discussing people as change agents and in the same breath describing governments as drivers of history. If you buy into some social movements theory, ordinary people exploit “opportunity structures” in the state—sometimes multiple such structures at once—to effect change. Meanwhile, those structures impact the form of change.

    But maybe I’ve gone off on a tangent…

  54. TonyP4 Says:

    * Do you know there is a big sales for politicians on suite (only in black apparently) in a Beijing department store? If they invite me, I will wear all in white (red is my second choice). 🙂

    * Chou should be credited for the 4 reforms that Deng basically enhanced and implemented. Very smart to start the infrastructure in a limited zone. You cannot change China in one year, but Shenzhen is no problem. India can take note.

    * The next five years is critical. Major problems: jobs, QA (particularly on food), local corruption, pollution… To illustrate, lead in toy (saving pennies for a few) leads to closing of thousands of factories, that in turn leads to unemployment, unrest… Same for food. It will take a long time before I swallow any food from China. The reputation takes double the effort to rebuild.

    They need to be proactive and set up laws and enforce them.

    * Do not compare China with US, but compare China today and China 30 years ago. US is rich in resource (farm land, oil, mineral…) per capita. Ignore all the yardsticks established by the west. China is #1 in seafood export and Norway is #2. The big difference is Norway has less than 5 million folks. The only way China can catch up with Norway is to colonize it. 🙂

    * There is no need to copy American political system. It is the best with two parties. If one party is corrupt, the other party just takes over. However, it does not fit China today. It requires high education for most citizens (the vote from a farmer cannot weigh the same from an urbaner?) and a more developed country than China today.

    However, China should move to the next phase of democracy. Democracy has been progressed for the last 30 years. CCP should relax the lashes on its citizens. You cannot be a judge with a high school education and a CCP membership.

  55. TonyP4 Says:

    Forgot to add: Mao did good in his beginning of his career. His policies resulted millions of folks died of starvation – not to mention the destruction of our culture. Why the Congress still make him god is beyond my belief.

  56. facts Says:

    Your post reflects a lack of understanding of China. Without the organizational foundation of PRC laid down in the first 30 yrs, without the military forces built up in 30 yrs to ensure peace, how could China have the late 30yrs? And only learning from the success and failure of the first 30 yrs, had PRC/CCP found the Chinese way. Just like learning to ride a bicycle, most people have fallen on their faces several times before they can ride smoothly. It is certainly strange to say, I just want that smooth riding without fall, or you just want to eat that fifth roll that made you full, but skip the first 4. Could the first 30 yrs be made a little easier, maybe yes maybe not. That is if you can hit the replay button on history. It’s always easy to be a Monday morning quarter back, is it not?
    Compared to the beating the horses of “freedom/human rights/democracy,” the beating of Western propaganda is no way near what it deserves.

    Chinese people have been around for the past 200 yrs, why only during the PRC era, has China risen to prominent power? You go ahead to praise the West/Japan gov. all you want, I have no objection, but I thought we are talking about the growth of China here.

    I don’t think I overestimated Western media, it shapes the opinion of Western public with lies, it was the instigator of all the color revolutions in former soviet states, how many lives lost in the decade after soviet collapsed is virtually ignored, whereas how many books have been written on GLF death toll claims running anywhere from 20~100million with dubious counting schemes…

    Your attitude is, you don’t have what I have. So you are bad, I am good. The issue could be “freedom” of expression/ life expectancy/health care. Why you want to force your institutions/standards on China, as wonderful as it could be, it’s not what China needs at this moment. Why don’t you convince the Irqis to appreciate America’s gift of freedom/democracy first?

  57. Old Tales Retold Says:

    @ Facts,

    You’re simplifying this discussion to the point of silliness. What does the occupation of Iraq have to do with China? Do you really think that the New York Times or the Guardian caused “color revolutions”? While there are many different calculations of the death toll of the GLF, the lowest calculation (the official government population survey) has the count at about 15 million people—is that just an innocent mistake, like learning to ride a bike? Can anyone on a blog actually “force” China or any other state to change its political system?

    I certainly think it is worth reviewing the complexities of the Mao era. The empowerment that workers drew from that period, in particular, deserves more attention. Scrutiny of the media, Chinese or Western or otherwise, is always in order. The “color revolutions” have already come in for a lot of back and forth (see the recent piece on Georgia’s leader in the New Yorker), but I’m sure there’s more there to dig up there. Perhaps there is a lesson from Iraq out there about China… I don’t know… maybe something… but you need to define what it is. Iraq seems like an example of the chaos that inevitably springs from a foreign invasion and extended occupation, like Israel’s occupation of Palestine or, for that matter, Japan’s occupation of China—not anything particularly relevant to China’s present situation.

    Anyway, my point is that you are just throwing around attacks and examples. It would be useful if you would focus in on specific arguments, especially ones with a broad application.

  58. facts Says:

    I am not simplify the issue. The professed goal Iraq episode is to spread democracy and save the Iraqi people. Well, how many rounds of elections have been held there? Freedom this freedom that, how much the iraqis enjoy those freedoms. The point is never force your political views/institutions on other country.

    On mistakes in first 30yrs of PRC, they were all made with the fervent desire to speed up the development of China. It was a tragedy that lives were lost, but that’s the price China paid to get to where China is now. Could it be better? Maybe, but what’s important is that the lessons have been learned to make future better. The first 30yrs and latter 30yrs are just the two ends of a stick, so to speak. That’s my point.
    On the silliness of my argument, I think you can always call something silly when you have no good comeback.

  59. FOARP Says:

    @Facts –

    “Your attitude is, you don’t have what I have. So you are bad, I am good. The issue could be “freedom” of expression/ life expectancy/health care. Why you want to force your institutions/standards on China, as wonderful as it could be, it’s not what China needs at this moment. Why don’t you convince the Irqis to appreciate America’s gift of freedom/democracy first?”

    I am very curious as to which part of what I have said you are referring to – maybe you could point the specific sections in which I said these things out for me?

  60. Allen Says:

    @ecodelta #43,

    You wrote:

    It is still Tu Quoque/ad hominen allen. Wumin is not rightly addressing the argument but deflecting it.

    Ok – we’ll agree to disagree.

    I still think the substance of the argument is about consistency (or inconsistency, as the case may be) in applying ideas – not discrediting the source of the ideas.

  61. Old Tales Retold Says:

    @ Facts,

    The Iraq War was about oil and geopolitics. Democracy was an afterthought. The American invasion has certainly done damage to the idea of “humanitarian intervention,” as it has to the idea of “regime change,” because these theories were used to buttress the main public (and thoroughly disproved) rationale for the war, weapons of mass destruction.

    But no one has ever seriously considered invading China or “forcing” any system on it. China is simply too powerful. Besides, the U.S. and China are locked to each other in a financial death grip. Europe has even less appetite for pressuring China, let alone Russia.

    But you seem to be making a blunter argument, namely that discussion of China’s future should be off-limits from even blogs about China, unless, of course, we acknowledge in each comment that it would be impossible for anything to be done better than it is already being done.

    The Central Party School regularly spouts out blueprints for political reform, while CASS and everyone else dig through rural poverty and misrule, workers issues, press freedoms, etc. Are these all stooges of Western aggression, trying to undermine China? Or are they, maybe, just discussing different possibilities for building the country?

  62. ecodelta Says:

    “Ok – we’ll agree to disagree.”

    Hhhhmmm… I agree to that 😉

    Going back to some of my impressions when reading some of Wumin arguments, arguments I have found in other posts, I have the feeling that in CH culture morality is not separated from logic. I mean, the truthfulness of an statement does not depend only on the logic behind but also on the moral perception of the person making it. May that come out of a Confucian world view?

    In my mindset, you may call it west mindset if you wish, both things, moral stand and logic stand are separated and totally independent from each other.
    Even the highest moral authority may fall in fallacious arguments, and the most pervert entity may make completely logical statements.

    Maybe here is the gap in understanding.

  63. Allen Says:

    @FOARP #47,

    You wrote:

    I really don’t understand your point. What I was saying was that the US is not the be-all or end-all of democracy, and that military might does not necessarily bring any real benefit to the people of a country – I would have thought these were fairly uncontroversial points not requiring anything in the way of idealism to accept, and a review of the history of, say, Germany, or the Soviet Union, would be enough to see the truth of them.

    I think perhaps we have an opportunity to learn from each other here. Such opportunities arise when both sides feel like they’ve been blindsided by each other’s arguments.

    Regarding the above quote: can you explain what a review of the history of Germany or the Soviet Union teach us about democracy and military might?

    I’ll tell you my perspective. The defeat of Germany was not about the victory of democracy over totalitarianism per se. It was merely about the military defeat of the Axis by the Allies (mostly due to the valiant efforts of the Russians).

    The loss of the Axis was not due to their “totalitarianism” just as the victory of the Allies was not due to their “democratic spirit.”

    Sure, Western Allies chose to fight under the flag of “freedom” and “democracy” – and subsequently heightened and supercharged that notion with cold war rhetoric.

    But rhetoric aside, how did the Axis lose on account of their being “totalitarian”? Similarly, how did the Allies win on account of their being “democratic”?

    As for the Soviet Union – I’d argue the defeat of the Soviet Union was due squarely to its inefficient command economy and unfortunate and unsustainable (cold war) conflict with the West – which had a population of some 5 times as large.

    Other factors were also important, including the fall of the price of oil in the late 1980’s (following a period of high prices throughout most of the 1970’s and 1980’s) – and subsequent wholesale subscription to Western notions of capitalism and democracy.

    In my personal view, democracy (freedom, liberty, etc.) is more a product of prosperity than cause of prosperity.

    You also wrote:

    US military spending has ballooned over the past eight years … [but] even today the highest spenders as a percentage of GDP are mostly dictatorships, and there is good reason to believe that this pattern is already re-asserting itself generally.

    Perhaps normalizing military spending by population (i.e. per capita) might make sense, but I don’t see the rationale of normalizing military spending by one’s GDP.

    In any case, my point of referring to the military spending chart in comment #40 was to raise the proposition that the West’s outsized sense of security and righteousness may be more a function of their outsized military spending than any inherent superiority of their culture or ideologies. 😀

  64. Allen Says:

    @ecodelta #62,

    You may have a point about Eastern mix of logic and “morality.” But I don’t have enough insight to make further comment.

    I do want to ask you this though: do you really believe in logic to solve political issues?

    For me, I think logic makes sense in mathematics but not in politics (just defining all the terms, facts, etc. would be too overwhelming!).

    Sure, I think we should recognize clear fallacies in logic when we carry out discussions, arguments, and debates, but I think in many ways, politics really is simply about articulating a position – in a way that is as consistent and as clearly as possible.

    I prefer to say that I try to “articulate” my views. But I don’t think I’d ever say my views are “logical”! 😉

    Anyways – you may have more confidence in “logic” than I. But I’m curious.

  65. ecodelta Says:

    @Foart & Old TAles Retold
    What policy promotes science/technical progress is an interesting question.

    IMHO a non centralized social/government/ideological structure is necessary to allow any sciencific/technical progress to really have an impact in a society.

    Democracy or liberal government do not necessarily promote progress, but the do not tend hinder it, and adapt to change faster.

    I consider that greater advances in science an technology have been made in historical periods of time where there was a lack or centralization in government or/and ideology.

    After the scientific advances during Hellesnic time in the Mediterranean sea, when the area was divided in different countries, much was notdone during the Roman Empire.
    Even in the byzantine Empire that, survived the fall of the West Roman Empire for almost 1000 years more, there was no significant scientific, technological or industrial revolution, just preservation of ancient knowledge

    During the Middle Ages (in EU) the church ideology prevented any further development, when not actively repressing it. Only after the renaissance, was this restriction broken, and as result started the church loose much its mind control ability.

    Authoritarian regimes may do well in industrialization of a country with existing technology, they are very good at directing resources, at least at the beginning before the system stagnates; but usually they do not promote disruptive technologies, which sometimes they perceive as a menace to their grab to power.

    Strongly hierarchical societies do also have problems with disruptive advances, because that may imply a shift of power and status from one entrenched group to a new one, which could be also perceived as unworthy of a higher status in the society or perceived as a danger to the established ones.

    This last point may be what happened and still happens in CH. There were many advances in CH, but nothing with the impact of industrial revolution or computer revolution; at least until they were incorporated from abroad and even then with some severe restrictions.. and extreme caution from the powers that be.

  66. Charles Liu Says:

    First, there were some complaints about bourgeois moral crisis in China. Now it’s back to the “Red Commie” static view… I hope one can see the truth is somewhere in between.

  67. Old Tales Retold Says:

    @ Allen,

    I think you are basically right about the military examples you gave, as well as the U.S.S.R., though I would say that if Gorbachev (or one of his predecessors) had started his political reforms earlier, rather than at a time when the Soviet Union was already reeling from a failed war in Afghanistan and was trying to manage an economy that had resorted to the black market to provide basic consumer goods, the country might have been able to weather the transition better and come out both stronger and fairer. But that’s all speculation, of course. Again, the military ideology link is, like you said, weak.

    However, while I’m not sure that democracy is a precondition for prosperity, it is inaccurate, I think, to write it off as merely a product of prosperity, at the other extreme. Many countries, such as those in Scandinavia were democratic long before they were prosperous. In fact, their democratic natures allowed their workers to make claims on the state and confront the bourgeoisie in a way that delivered fairly equitable economies in Sweden and Norway as wealth was created—ensuring an astonishing degree of political stability.

  68. Old Tales Retold Says:

    @ Charles Liu,

    Yes, you are right that China does not fit any of these stereotypes.

  69. ecodelta Says:

    “I do want to ask you this though: do you really believe in logic to solve political issues?”

    That is an ancient question. Not a few s philosophers believed that… in the beginning. Later they discovered it is otherwise.

    What do I think? Hhmmm….. Politics is a very human activity, there is more than logic in humans: belief, prejudices, emotions, preferences, perceptions, etc.

    Logic is just a tool in the search for a solution, it is quite useful for determining when we act based on our beliefs/emotions or not.

    I prefer to use logic when I look for political solutions, but I am aware of the other components in the human equation, and very much aware that many times they are more powerful in influencing a society.

    In an argumentation…., I dislike when fallacies are used, not necessarily because the argumentation is not structurally sound (that is the least of all the problems), but because not a few times something is being hidden behind these fallacies, or they are used to deny right to give an opinion to your opponent in a very blatant way.

  70. ecodelta Says:


    Ever read “Brave new world” from Aldous Huxley? You may considerer it as an extreme case of applying logic for providing a political/social structure to a society. Logic has its dangers too.

    And its limits… ever heard about Church’s Thesis

  71. wuming Says:


    I don’t know if the essay 65 above is morality or logic, but I am sorry to say I see it as a bunch of chewed up “accepted wisdoms” that provided no insight other than the polemic it might inspire.

    Since we are here, I may just as well add another piece of accepted wisdom. Namely people innovate when they can afford to. America (sorry, that’s the only place I know something about) became scientifically creative because its wealth and its relatively open immigration policy attracted the best of the world. Most of the greatest innovations (in semi-conductor and Internet for example) trace their roots to cold war when tremendous amount of money was poured into basic science research.

    Of course before China can join the rank of front line scientific research nations, it has to overcome many hurdles and could be tripped up at any moment. One of the hurdles is as you suggested is the (lack of) culture of open scientific inquiry, but that is only one factor among many. India produced many brilliant scientists and mathematicians, but most of them arrived at their pinnacles after they have moved to a western country, just like many brilliant Chinese scientists and mathematicians. Another example is Soviet Union, which also had many brilliant scientists and mathematicians, once again benefited from the large amount of money devoted to weapon related scientific research during the cold war.

    Do we have clearly logical explanation of when and how a country become creative? Hardly. All we have are historical contingencies and some vague general trends. Certainly not enough to draw moralistic lessons, let alone predicting the future.

  72. FOARP Says:

    @Old tales retold – In my opinion it would be wrong to say that China does not at least partly fit both of those stereotypes – it is both a country ruled by a communist party and a country with a capitalistic economic system. There is no contradiction in this, other than the contradiction inherent in modern China’s position.

  73. Allen Says:

    @ecodelta #70,

    No – I haven’t read “Brave new world” from Aldous Huxley, but I’ll definitely look into it!

  74. Old Tales Retold Says:

    @ FOARP,

    Fair summation, thanks.

  75. FOARP Says:

    @Allen – The important point is that Germany’s military strength relative to its neighbours (and the world at large) did not make it more free. If anything, the stronger Germany became, the more its neighbours felt on all sides felt threatened, and the more they organised themselves to oppose them, until Germany faced two disastrous wars ending with it facing invasion from all directions. The story of the Soviet Union is not dissimilar. You seem to think that I was saying that lack of freedom made Germany less strong – this was not my point at all, my point is that the military strength of a country can only secure it against foreign aggression, not against the excesses of its rulers. In fact military power is equally if not more often used against the populace of dictatorial countries as it is against foreign armies, and a militarily strong dictatorship only makes its neighbours feel threatened.

    As for military might being the basis of western ‘arrogance’ and the attractiveness of the democratic system under which all western countries are now governed, this seems to assume that all a country need do is become militarily strong and its ideology will become admired by all. As noted above, in times past when Germany was Europe’s strongest military power, people did not wish to install a Kaiser of their own so they could ‘enjoy’ the same lopsided, vainglorious, militaristic, undemocratic and unrestrained system of governance as Germany – instead they sought with all their power to secure themselves against potential German aggression. Likewise, the arrival of the Soviet army at the heart of Europe as Europe’s strongest army did not lead all the peoples of that continent to embrace Stalinism – only those who had the ‘pleasure’ of living under the Soviet boot-heel sought to embrace the system of their ‘fraternal allies’ -because otherwise they were killed.

    Democracy as a concept exists separately to the system of governance found in the United States, in the United Kingdom, in Switzerland, in South Africa, in Mongolia or in any other reasonably democratic country, its attractiveness lies in what it enables people to do. It does not necessarily confer economic or military greatness on a country, but it does ensure that, properly applied, the people who govern the country remain the servants of the people, rather than the other way round. It does not matter how many times Communist party members repeat the phrase ‘serve the people’, or talk about their ‘sacred blood ties’ with the people – none of this is as much assurance against abusive rulers as democracy and freedom of speech are.

  76. Charles Liu Says:

    Old Tales @ 57, Facts is correct on the “Color Revolutions”:


    Take the latest “Saffron Revolution” in Burma, while few in the western media had the guts to say anything outside the party line, Indonesia’s Mahathir pointed out the fact George Soros (the guy who raped the Thai Bhat) and his Open Society Institute (proxy of American foreign policy implement) played a major role:


    It is an open secret that pro-democracy activist in Burma took money from OSI. Here’re couple more Googles to satisfy your curiosity:


  77. Allen Says:

    @FOARP #75,

    Very hopeful look at democracy and freedom. I really have nothing to quibble about except perhaps some details of anti-German and anti-Russian encroachment.

    I by default become skeptical every time I see categorical characterization of German and Russian expansionism as inherently destabilizing (evil) while that of the Allied West as stabilizing (or good) – not because of anything specific I know – but because I know I have been raised on Americanized versions of European history that tend to spout those stories.

    Anyways – I think I would agree (at least on surface) with most of what you wrote in #75. 🙂

  78. Allen Says:

    @ecodelta #65,

    Perhaps this article from McKinsey (you’d need to register (free though) to read it there) would resonate with your view. I included some excerpts below:

    Private ownership: The real source of China’s economic miracle

    Even many Western economists think China has discovered its own road to prosperity, dependent largely on state financing and control. They are quite wrong.

    The credibility of American-style capitalism was among the earliest victims of the global financial crisis. With Lehman Brothers barely in its grave, pundits the world over rushed to perform the last rites for US economic ideals, including limited government, minimal regulation, and the free-market allocation of credit. In contemplating alternatives to the fallen American model, some looked to China, where markets are tightly regulated and financial institutions controlled by the state. In the aftermath of Wall Street’s meltdown, fretted Francis Fukuyama in Newsweek, China’s brand of state-led capitalism is “looking more and more attractive.” Washington Post columnist David Ignatius hailed the global advent of a Confucian-inspired “new interventionism”; invoking Richard Nixon’s backhanded tribute to John Maynard Keynes, Ignatius declared, “We are all Chinese now.”

    But before proclaiming the dawn of a new Chinese Century, leaders and executives around the world would do well to reconsider the origins of China’s dynamism. The received wisdom on the country’s economic miracle—it was a triumph of technocracy, in which the Communist Party engineered a gradual transition to the market by relying on state-controlled businesses—gets all the important details wrong. This standard account holds that entrepreneurship, private-property rights, financial liberalization, and political reform played only a small role. Yet my research, based on a detailed analysis of the Chinese government’s survey data and government documents at the central and local levels, indicates that property rights and private entrepreneurship provided the dominant stimulus for high growth and lower levels of poverty.

    Big cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen are routinely extolled in the Western press as vibrant growth centers (exhibit). China’s rural areas, if mentioned at all, typically figure as impoverished backwaters. But a close analysis of the economic data reveals that these breathless descriptions of China’s modern city skylines have it exactly backward: in fact, the economy was most dynamic in rural China, while heavy-handed government intervention has stifled entrepreneurialism and ownership in the urban centers.

    The significance of this last point is impossible to overstate. Indeed, much of the history of Chinese capitalism can be characterized as a struggle between two Chinas: the entrepreneurial, market-driven countryside versus the state-led cities. Whenever and wherever rural China has the upper hand, Chinese capitalism is entrepreneurial, politically independent, and vibrantly competitive. Whenever and wherever urban China dominates, Chinese capitalism tends toward political dependency and state centricity.

    Shanghai is the most visible symbol of China’s urban development. Its modern skyscrapers, foreign luxury boutiques, and top-ranking GDP per capita make it China’s model city—a glittering testament to the success of state-led capitalism. Or is it? By more meaningful measures of economic achievement, Shanghai’s rise is far less impressive than that of Wenzhou, an enclave of entrepreneurial capitalism a few hundred miles to the south, in Zhejiang province. In the early 1980s, Wenzhou was known for little more than its struggling farmers. Of five million inhabitants, fewer than 10 percent were classified as urban. Today, Wenzhou is China’s most dynamic municipality, teeming with businesses that dominate European garment markets. By contrast, Shanghai, once home to China’s earliest industrialists, is now oddly bereft of native entrepreneurs.

    Wenzhou’s transformation resulted almost entirely from free-market policies. As early as 1982, officials there were experimenting with private lending, liberalized interest rates, cross-regional competition by savings and loans organizations, and lending to private-sector companies. The Wenzhou government also worked to protect the property rights of private entrepreneurs and to make the municipality friendly to business in many other ways.

    Does indigenous entrepreneurship make a difference for human welfare? Abundantly. In GDP per capita, Shanghai is almost twice as rich as Zhejiang, where Wenzhou is located (detailed data on Wenzhou are harder to get). But if the measure is household income—the actual spending power of average residents—the two regions are equally prosperous. In 2006, a typical Shanghai resident earned a household income 13 percent higher than that of a typical Zhejiang resident, but in Shanghai the level of unearned income (for example, government benefits) was almost twice as high as in Zhejiang. Earned income was about the same for average residents of the two places. On average, Shanghai residents earned 44 percent less than their counterparts in Zhejiang from operating businesses and 34 percent less from owning assets. The implication: state-led capitalism may lift urban skylines and GDP statistics but not actual living standards.

    The real mystery of China’s miracle isn’t how the economy grew, but how Western experts got the growth story so wrong.

    Confusion about the real origins of Chinese growth has clouded foreign perceptions of the emergence of Chinese companies in the international marketplace as well. It is often said China heralds a new business model for global competition, in which state ownership and the judicious use of government financial controls combine to create a unique source of competitiveness. The computer maker Lenovo is often touted as a product of China’s unconventional business environment.

    But Lenovo owes much of its success to its ability, early on, to establish legal domicile and raise capital in Hong Kong, arguably the world’s most freewheeling market economy. Lenovo got its initial financing from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in 1984, but thereafter secured all of its significant investment from Hong Kong. In 1988, the company received HK $900,000 (US $116,000) from the Hong Kong–based company China Technology to invest in a joint venture that would enable Lenovo to claim the city as its legal domicile. In 1993, Hong Kong Lenovo went public on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in a US $12 million IPO. Lenovo is a success story of Hong Kong’s market-based financial and legal system, not of China’s state-controlled financial system.

    As China absorbs the lessons of the Wall Street debacle and prepares itself for a global economic slowdown, the worst thing the country could do would be to embrace the notion that it has discovered a new development formula more effective than free markets. The real lesson of China’s economic miracle is that it was actually remarkably conventional—based on private ownership and free-market finance. China’s experience offers the world a timely reminder that reforms designed to encourage these forces really work.

  79. FOARP Says:

    @Charles Liu – Are you also suggesting that George Soros, the CIA et al were behind the fall of the Berlin wall, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the end of the KMT dictatorship in Taiwan, the end of the Marcos dictatorship under Cory Aquino’s ‘People Power’ revolution, the end of the Khmer Rouge, the end of the military dictatorships in Turkey, Greece, Spain and Portugal, the ending of the military dictatorships in Central America (including the rise of former Sandinista Daniel Ortega to the presidency of Nicaragua), the ending of the military dictatorship under the US-backed General Pinochet, the ending of the US-allied Argentine dictatorship after the Falklands war, etc, etc. etc. ?

    It would seem that democratic movements remove US-allies almost as often as they install them – and that your characterisation of pro-democracy movements as exclusively the puppets of the US is total bunk.

  80. ecodelta Says:

    I located that article already on Dec 19 through China challenges blog. 😉

    An incredible tool this Google reader 🙂

  81. Charles Liu Says:

    Foarp, I know for a fact you didn’t read any of the cites I provided – none of them mention anything you brought up in #79.

    And they are not my characterisation, as I did not write any of these articles. Instead of lashing out at the messenger, why not critique the cites?

    Also, you might want to take a gander at what the Japanese ambassador to Burma had to say:


  82. ecodelta Says:

    If the CIA is so powerful then….. “resistance is futile”

    I remember also a Jewish joke: Two Jewish friends where drinking coffee in a Cafeteria. One was reading one of those anti-semitic newspaper which accused the Jews to be behind all the conspirations and disasters in the world.
    One friend say: “Why are you reading that crap?”
    The other say: “Crap? This newspaper is wonderful! According to it we are the most powerful people on earth!”

    Maybe similar thing happens in CIA headquarter’s cantine 😉

  83. wuming Says:


    I know a couple of Wenzhou businessmen. Their wealth and more importantly their entrepreneurship simply cannot be over-estimate. However, the tale within the tale (I have not read the whole article, so I may not be revealing anything new) is that the business process is highly organized as to provide maximum opportunity to all villagers that are willing and able to be part of it. As long as you have the drive and the ambition, you can climb the chain all the way to the top. The Wenzhou gang is known for getting into a large city or area and proceed to buy up all available real estate properties. I was told that the 22 mile long Hongzhou Bay Bridge was financed by private capital, mainly from Zhejiang.

  84. FOARP Says:

    @Chuck – I did read your cites, but since we are not discussing Burma, George Soros, the ‘colour revolutions’ or anything similar, the only way I can understand these posts is if you are trying to say that all such movement are motivated by ‘American imperialism’. Is this what you are trying to say? ‘Facts’ and OTR were discussing whether or not foreign media actually has any impact on the opinions of the Chinese people – I do not see how these citations are germane to that discussion. I would say that it would be a good idea to stay on topic, rather than seeking to argue about something which has little or nothing to do with the matter at hand. Of course, you could always start a separate thread if that is what you wish to discuss.

  85. Charles Liu Says:

    Foarse, what happened to the tangents you brought up in #79? I am responding to Facts’ “instigator of all the color revolutions” and pointing out the fact our media toed the party line on Burma – where did you get Berlin wall and Pinochet?

    I hope those of us in the West, if anything, should set a good example for the Chinese on introspection. If all the Chinese learn from us is point figner at others and say “you are bad, we are good”, then we’ve failed them.

  86. Old Tales Retold Says:

    @ Charles Liu,

    I read those links and they were interesting. Indeed, many foreign organizations supported the Burmese monks the other summer. I myself gave some money to Avaaz to help them! I was also, incidentally, the recipient of foreign support as a part of anti-war and pro-Palestine demonstrations in the U.S. (one organization that has been a major supporter of such marches, A.N.S.W.E.R., undoubtedly receives funding from international radicals). Whether any of this constitutes wrongful foreign interference in another country’s domestic affairs is a legitimate question. However, along with FOARP, I’m not certain how any of this relates to the points made by “Facts.”

    “Facts” said first that the Western media was behind “color revolutions.” This is absurd. Your articles deal with foreign foundations and governments, not the media. Sure, CNN et al may have reported the “color revolutions” from a certain angle—and I agree that the broadcast media in particular can be rather simplistic about such events—but that was after the fact. I doubt people went into the streets in the Ukraine, Georgia or Burma in a desperate bid to make it above the fold of the front page of the New York Times. They had other things on their minds.

    Your bigger point, though, seems to be the same as that made by Facts: don’t criticize China under any circumstances unless you also criticize someone else in the same breath.

    Blogs critical of American politics are rarely interrupted by calls for more attention to China or Russia. Yes, some right wing looneys do pop up every once in a while saying that everyone should go to Cuba if we don’t like the U.S., but they are generally ignored. Why should it be different when discussing China on a blog about China?

    We started this thread discussing the past 30 years of reform and different directions China could take from here. And we had a good back and forth, with some people arguing the merits of political liberalism and others talking about the need for economic growth first and foremost. Healthy differences of opinion.

    Comparisons can be very useful. In fact, U.S. political discussions could benefit from a more comparative approach. But not when the comparisons are made mostly out of anxiety about, as you say, “pointing fingers.”

    Anyway, I haven’t had supper, so perhaps I’m a tad touchy. I’ll be in a better mood in an hour!

  87. FOARP Says:

    @Charles Liu – Only someone who believes that all pro-democracy movements are instigated by the US could actively seek to dismiss the possibility of democratic change on the grounds that he does not wish his country to become a US puppet. Are you saying this? Do you believe that all pro-democracy movements are puppets of the US? If not – then why bring up all the instances in which you feel there has been US support for a pro-democracy movement in other countries in a discussion of whether or not democratic change is desirable? Not all democracy movements are, or have been, instigated by shadowy foreign organisations, not all of them result in a pro-US government – this is clear from even the briefest review of history, and this was the point of my response to your, frankly, outrageous assertion to the contrary.

  88. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To “Facts” #56:
    notice your name in quotes, because the quality of your input is on a downward trajectory. Congratulations on being one of the first on this blog to defend the CCP circa 1948-1978. If those 30 years were the CCP’s effort at learning to ride a bike, then the CCP had the hand-eye coordination of humpty-dumpty, and was a rather slow learner. And if one must learn by first making mistakes, the CCP engaged in a most extraordinary flame-out before starting to see the light.
    Speaking of flogging horses, we should engage in more flogging of the Chinese propaganda horse too. That topic seems ripe for being ripped a fresh one.
    BTW, no one is trying to replay history. But it does help to at least acknowledge it. THe CCP’s first 30 blew chunks, and the last 30 is better but still leaves much to be desired. You might consider waking up and taking a whiff of that dark roast.

  89. Father Christmas! Says:

    The CCP’s first 30 years were basically worse than KMT rule. While KMT rule was bad in some ways, in other ways it was pretty good. China under the KMT was modernizing and becoming a credible nation. Culturally and intellectually it was a golden age, far exceeding anything China has enjoyed since.

    The CCP on the other hand destroyed Chinese culture, silenced Chinese intellectuals, and far outdid the Japanese (and Chiang Kai-shek) in terms killing off Chinese people.

    Naturally I think that the CCP has been one of the worst things to ever happen to China. If they had never come along China would very possibly not only have got where it now is economically some 30 years ago, but would also enjoy livelier and less politicized intellectual discourse, a more globally appreciated culture (I mean appreciation that goes beyond ‘but we love the food!’), and a more pleasant and less xenophobic population.

    The last Chinese politician with any integrity was Sun Yat-sen, and even he was a racist anti-Manchu bigot.

  90. Old Tales Retold Says:

    Now, I find myself in the funny position of defending aspects of the Mao era, after going on about the need for political reforms in the here and now, reforms aimed at the Party that Mao brought to power…

    For all the brutality of Maoism—and there’s no reason to downplay the millions of lives lost during the GLF or the more hidden agony of the Anti-Rightest campaign or the random violence of the Cultural Revolution—it did empower people in the lower rungs of Chinese society in ways that they hadn’t been empowered before. Workers really felt like masters of society then. Students turned down colleges in some instances for a good job in a state-owned enterprise. Farmers, who benefited less than workers from Mao’s policies (and, indeed, suffered tremendously at times), still use Mao-era concepts of what is due them to pressure local officials.

    It isn’t a coincidence that many early democracy campaigners like Wei Jingsheng were Red Guards once. The Cultural Revolution was, at moments, extremely democratic. Workers took over factories in Shanghai and pushed for higher wages. There were attempts at recreating the Paris Commune in Shanghai, Bejing and elsewhere. There were big character posters and elected boards composed of a cross-section of society.

    In comparison with people in many other countries, Chinese today just don’t put up with crap, at least at a local level. If a cop pulls someone over, a crowd gathers and it doesn’t necessarily side with the cop. I remember waiting for a bus in a small provincial capital that just wouldn’t leave (the bus, not the capital). All of a sudden, everyone got out of their seats in protests and demanded their money back. How often does that happen in the United States?

    The tragedy of Maoism, beyond the obvious toll in unnecessary lives lost and stupid, stupid mistakes, is that it at once empowered people and made them afraid of their empowerment, afraid of the damage that could be done if no one was there to rein them in. I do think that Deng Xiaoping and company looked out at Tiananmen Square and thought of the Cultural Revolution. In casual discussions in China, you come across the idea again and again that democracy equals chaos. You don’t hear that much elsewhere.

    I may certainly have contradicted myself in regards to previous posts. I definitely still think “Facts” notion of the CCP as the best thing to happen since creation is dangerously simplistic. Others would probably have done things better than Mao, as Father Christmas says. But I think that if we’re talking about democracy, we need to deal with the Mao era in all its complexity.

  91. Steve Says:

    I just read through all the comments. Allen, you really started something on this one, congratulations! 🙂

    I’d like to go back to Allen’s original post and comments. As usual, my method to judge the last 30 years of CCP rule is to ask my Chinese friends who aren’t particularly political or ideological. They just live normal lives and so their opinions mean more to me than some who might preach from a bandbox.

    Every one of my friends, and I mean EVERYONE, feels that during the last thirty years, life in China has improved immensely. However, they feel there is a downward spiral. What I mean by that is that they have tremendous respect for Deng, less respect for Jiang and even less for Hu. They feel Deng was proactive in helping the Chinese people become successful, but since that time the Chinese people have built their success “despite” Jiang and Hu. In other words, the Chinese people themselves have achieved their success by the government getting out of their way and letting them be successful. And that’s not a bad thing…

    One of my friends in Shanghai told me that when she was younger, her ambition (she’s a genius, by the way) was to leave China because her chances of reaching her goals were not possible. These days, she feels otherwise. She is a successful accounting manager, still living in her hometown, and feels her city has developed a style of life that suits her. The government is seen as corrupt but relatively non-interfering, and acceptable since goals can be achieved. Every Chinese person I have met loves their country and is patriotic, but doesn’t necessarily associate their government with their country. They have a sense of the Chinese people as a unified entity and that is what spurs their patriotic feelings.

    The only way to truly answer that question is to ask normal Chinese citizens. Now I have to admit, I spent my time in the east, mostly in Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin and Shenzhen; cities that were the most developed in the country. We have commenters from China proper; I want to hear what they think. My opinion is irrelevant since I don’t live there.

    Hu’s statements at the plenary session were the usual political mumbo jumbo, same as all politicians everywhere. China stopped being Marxist a long time ago. Under the true definition of “democracy”, China doesn’t qualify. The party controls the government, not the people. So using the word “democracy” is a misnomer. Everyone I knew in China acknowledged this, but as long as things improved, it wasn’t very important.

    When Hu says China will never copy the mode of the Western political institutions, he is saying that China will not create a western style democracy. The CCP is unwilling to take a chance that it could lose power. “Stability” in terms of CCP rule is continued CCP rule. It has no other meaning. “Socialism with Chinese characteristics” is really a nice way of saying “Capitalism with Chinese characteristics”.

    I disagree that this year marks the close of China’s export led economics. Once you commit to an export driven economy, it’s awfully difficult to change that thinking. Japan still can’t change their mindset; neither can Taiwan, South Korea or Singapore. China’s currency is already being manipulated to go lower vs. the US dollar, so the Chinese government is worried that the domestic market cannot drive economic growth. With the lack of a safety net, the Chinese people are inveterate savers and I’d expect them to increase their savings rate in a recession rather than spend more. That’d be my reaction if I were living there, so very understandable to me.

    My first trip to China was in early 2001, but I had friends who were there from the mid 80s onward. They would tell me stories about those bleak early days, so I give the Chinese people great credit for what they’ve done. I truly feel the future looks bright.

    Governments are not judged successful based on their stability, but on their ability to deliver economic and political benefits for their citizenry. Democracies have succeeded because of their ability to adjust to changing circumstances and with increased optimism as new administrations take control. Authoritarian governments have a history of short term success but long term failure. Will the CCP be the exception? I wouldn’t bet on it, but I also wouldn’t bet against the long term success of the Chinese nation.

  92. ecodelta Says:

    “They would tell me stories about those bleak early days, so I give the Chinese people great credit for what they’ve done. I truly feel the future looks bright.”

    Zhōngguó jiā yóu! 😉

  93. vmoore55 Says:

    So much to say, so little time to say it all.

    It seems that some think if China was only a democratic country from the start all would be fine there now and the Chinese would have a better life as liken to that of Taiwan. But would China like to be the US’s running dog or how about China being the US’s slave work camp producing cheap junk for the rich American markets? And can China stand to have US military bases on Chinese soil as there is in S. Korea, Japan and may be Taiwan? Don’t think so.

    Some think democracy makes for a good gov’t and in turn makes for a great country, if that is true, there should be many great countries in the world. But not so, there is the G8 and no other great democracies or countries. China don’t count it’s a 3rd world country and not a member.

    So you tell me? If a country like China can be a successful economic and world power without being a western style democracy, does changing the gov’t’s name make a difference?

    Does the democraticly elected party run the country or does the gov’t run the country no matter what party is in power?

    In Japan there is mostly only one ruling party since WWII. In the USA there is only two parties taking turns at ruling the country. So what? So this, China has one party and has no western style democracy but it has a left, a middle and a right side within it’s party, like three parties in one. This is why the CCP calls itself a socialist democratic gov’t.

  94. Charles Liu Says:

    vmoore, can’t agree more. Was America a democratic country from the start? Heck no. George Washington was a bootlegging, tax evading, slave owning rebel. And for the most part of our nation’s history we genocidally eliminated the Native Americans, enslaved the Africans, and invaded countries near (Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo) and far (Iraq).

    The two party system we have was the original one party system that split in two (but somehow I doubt it would be acceptable if CCP split into two parties.)

    Was KMT’s first 30 years better than CCP’s first 30 years? What was happening between 1911 and 1941? China was still under foreign occupation for most of it. CKS, one of the opium war lords that’s hell bent on conquest (glorious South and North Campaign as some of us learned in school) did not resist the Japanese invasion (“stragety” to draw the Japanese deeper inland) until he was kidnapped by his commanders.

    By 1945 KMT had lost the civil war for good, only to be saved by Uncle Sam planting the 7th fleet on a little island to force a stalemate.

    Sorry, but truth often hurts.

  95. Allen Says:

    @Charles Liu #94,

    I’m curious why you wrote:

    Was America a democratic country from the start? Heck no. George Washington was a bootlegging, tax evading, slave owning rebel. And for the most part of our nation’s history we genocidally eliminated the Native Americans, enslaved the Africans, and invaded countries near (Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo) and far (Iraq).

    What are you trying to prove? Was it to show:

    1. America and Americans (or Westerners in general) are in no position to make a judgment on China given their own history?

    2. Any alleged acts by China pale by comparison to the acts committed by the Americans (or the West) and hence should not be considered that bad?

    3. The acts committed by China are not that bad – they are mere collateral damages of constructing great nations / civilizations. To the extent the West is accusing China of wrong doings, the West is guilty of double standards: just see the collateral damages America (or the West) were willing to tolerate in their own history?

    4 There are no “right” or “wrong” – only paths to glory: China should be allowed to do whatever America (or the West) has done?

    When I do dig up history of the West in political discussions relating to China with my Western friends, I typically mean 3 (i.e. there is a double standard here) – although someone who is more hardliner than I might choose 4 (which is like 3, but with less qualifications).

    So what do you mean? One of these – or something else?

    I know from ecodelta’s perspective, what I quoted of you above probably sound like more “Tu quoque arguments”…

  96. Father Christmas! Says:

    Getting serious for a second though. What writers has China had since Zhang Ailing?

  97. FOARP Says:

    @Vmoore, Charles Liu – Why do you assume that a democratic China would host American troops and be an American ‘slave’? The world has many democratic countries which do not fit into either category, and some of them are even considered enemies by American officials – Nicaragua is currently lead by an elected president whose slogan was “Yankees: enemies of mankind”. To be honest, this constant harping on about America is illogical in the extreme: what is this ‘truth’ that hurts? That America has not always been perfect? Wow, thank you very much, now please explain how this applies to, say, Finnish democracy, or Swiss, or Chilean, or South African? And if it doesn’t apply to these countries, why should it apply to China?

  98. Raj Says:


    Was KMT’s first 30 years better than CCP’s first 30 years? What was happening between 1911 and 1941?

    So if the CCP had been in charge from 1911 everything would have been fine? I think you’ll find that the KMT had nothing to work with when it took power and had an unenviable job. It left the CCP what was much more of a nation than China had been for decades.

    Also, had the KMT won the civil war arguably China would be more urbanised and developed as it is now. Admit it, China’s controls on capitalism were short-sighted and damaged the nation.



    To the extent the West is accusing China of wrong doings, the West is guilty of double standards: just see the collateral damages America (or the West) were willing to tolerate in their own history?

    Except that attitudes have changed. When some of this “collateral damage” was sustained in our histories it was regarded as acceptable, the norm, etc. These days it’s not, which is why people urge China to act differently.

    If the developed world said to developed nations “ok, you developed in a dirty way so we will develop in an equally dirty way”, our fresh water would be poisoned, the polar ice caps would melt and quite possibly over a billion people would die as a result. We need to learn from past mistakes and avoid them, rather than use them as a justification to do treat other people like animals.

  99. TonyP4 Says:

    Last 30 years CCP is doing a great job with Deng’s open up policy – with a brief period. It is the right time and right place while US and the west opened up the market to China to play the ‘China card’ against the Russia.

    All those ‘revolutions’ and ‘big leaps’ before last 30 years caused more harm and starvation for China. Mao is the evil ‘god’ to me.

    KMT is just another corrupt Asian countries that practiced ‘democracy’ with pocking the money. Ask Sung’s brother to see how much he pocketed. Same as the last Taiwan ruler. All these countries included the late S. Vietnam, last Philippine government, last Indonesia…

    Taiwan is doing great even with corruption and huge spending in military. The living standard should be as good as Korea. KMT’s moved all the treasures to Taiwan and it turned out it saved them from ‘cultural revolution’.

    As in my previous post, US democracy is great but not fit today’s China.

  100. Allen Says:


    You wrote:

    Except that attitudes have changed. When some of this “collateral damage” was sustained in our histories it was regarded as acceptable, the norm, etc. These days it’s not, which is why people urge China to act differently.

    If the developed world said to developed nations “ok, you developed in a dirty way so we will develop in an equally dirty way”, our fresh water would be poisoned, the polar ice caps would melt and quite possibly over a billion people would die as a result. We need to learn from past mistakes and avoid them, rather than use them as a justification to do treat other people like animals.

    There are several possible responses to this.

    My personal response is that I don’t think the “West” has reformed at all. It acts “reformed” when convenient and acts imperialistic and racist when convenient – depending on what is more beneficial for the situation.

    I don’t think it’s too hard to find examples in today’s world where the West continues to act imperialistically…. 😉

    Even on something as basic as universal suffrage and the end of slavery: I don’t see their development as evidence of the West truly reforming (the same rhetoric we use for freedom and democracy today already existed in the time of the founding of the U.S., yet it took over 150 years to provide universal suffrage (and there are still racial problems – here in the U.S. and worse in Europe)).

    I simply see alleged reforms as a side effect of Western society getting more affluent and prosperous to such an extent that the “liability” of having slaves (and not offering universal suffrage) outweighed their “benefits.”

    If hypothetically we time transport the West of today back 200-500 years back, to the economies and with the technologies of years past, I don’t think we will see new restraint. Instead, we will see pillaging, colonization, enslaving all over again.

    Anyways, if the “West” is truly reformed about its past acts, it would act proactively to redo past wrongs such as those from colonialism – including reparations to most of the world for past transgressions, help to redevelop states that the “West” had destroyed, return all stolen art and culture artifacts back to their origins, etc., etc.

    Another response along a slight different line is that it’s easy for the “West” to act reformed after it has eating its cake (i.e. still taking the “spoils” of past conquests).

    Take climate change as a very specific example: the “West” had industrialized by polluting the earth, but when societies like China, India, and Africa want to develop, the West cries foul about those countries polluting.

    Hey – we realize our past follies. We are going to go clean now. Now that we are trying to mend for our past, we have developed a NEW “NORM.” We must go clean! Therefore, you had better not pollute, too.

    Ok – that might affect your pace of modernization, but as we told you, we’ve developed a new norm. We’re in the 21st century: polluting is wrong. So you third world nations, stop polluting!

    All this is, of course, all too easy to say for someone “who has made it” – i.e. successfully industrialized and modernized.

    OK – I have not quite addressed the point you were making: the West has realized it has made mistakes, and their making the mistakes should not be justifications for other countries to do the same. In fact, countries such as China – with the lessons of Western history – should strive to avoid making the same mistakes.

    That’s a fair argument. However, I just don’t see the veracity of it based on my worldview.

    I often feel instead Western ideologies are opportunistically applied to slow down other people’s progress.

    I can go on … but I’m blabbering – besides I think I am WAY OFF topic! 🙂

  101. Old Tales Retold Says:

    This stuff about who has or hasn’t reformed and who is better than who and who should do something before the other person has to do something seems like a distraction.

    When the U.S. was massacring Native American tribes, there were whites who opposed this. The same goes for slavery. Those people were right. Those today who oppose similar policies are also right. It is possible to cast judgment on the past AND to cast judgment on what is happening now. In fact, when people compare something today—like the situation in Tibet or the situation in Guantanamo—to things in the past, even if they mean to do so as an excuse for their countries’ actions, they are implicitly declaring / admitting both are bad.

    There are norms that “the West” and African, Asian and Latin American nations all pay lip service to. We contributors to this site cannot control our various states—which are motivated by realist notions of international military balance and by economic concerns—but we can criticize any and every state that fails to live up to these norms and, equally importantly, think of better ways of doing things. And we can continue to clarify, develop those norms.

  102. wuming Says:

    This stuff about who has or hasn’t reformed and who is better than who and who should do something before the other person has to do something seems like a distraction.

    The issue is also relevant in terms of the natural resource usage and environmental destruction. If the west (and the world) still consumes at the current (pre-crisis?) level, somebody will have to bear the burden of CO2 production and pollution in general. A thorough reform means drastic reduction in the living standard on the part of the west, and much slower growth on the part of the east. Who is willing to do that?

    There is also an issue of fairness. It is often stated and implied by commentators on this blog that Chinese government is one of the worst (may excluding North Korea) and what China is doing to the environment is unprecedented, that of course calls for comparisons, especially to the west, whatever “west” means.

    There are ways to seriously address most of these issues. Deal with the facts; stay away from ideologies; and recognize the frailties in human beings and human societies. But this is extremely hard for any of us to accomplish (one of the frailties), however I will say you have accomplished that more often than any of us.

  103. Steve Says:

    @vmoore55 #93: I’d like to address your thoughts about democracy. Democracy can only be built from the bottom up, never from the top down. If from the top down, whoever wins the first election just becomes the new dictator. China was in no position back in 1989 to install a democracy; in fact, the students demonstrating didn’t even know what democracy was. You need a relatively educated populace, free elections without intimidation and a viable slate of candidates.

    There are two kinds of democracy, direct and indirect. Governments are run by indirect democracy; in other words, we elect people to represent us but do not vote for individual issues on a direct basis. However, many states in the USA (including mine) have a proposition system whereby voters can vote directly on the individual issues. This form of government is VERY popular with most people. Because of modern technology, more and more issues are being dealt with this way, but only on a state and local basis. But in the end, for a country to call itself a democracy there must be a voting system as described above. That is the meaning of the word.

    No country has been a democratic country from the start. It’s been an evolutionary thing. Democracy doesn’t mean a country will be more or less successful, but it does mean the voice of the people will be heard. If the people elect poor officials (i.e., the Peron’s in Argentina or GWB in the USA) they’ll get the government they elect.

    Currently, democracies take the form of either a parliamentary system or a presidential system, with the examples of the UK and USA. What democracy has to do with being a “US’s running dog” or “US’s slave work camp producing cheap junk for the rich American markets” is beyond me. In fact, those would not be democracies at all. Why would China have U.S. bases on their soil if they were a democracy? Does Brasil (a democracy) have U.S. bases on their soil? Incidentally, there are no U.S. bases in Taiwan. I think you need to explain what country is a “running dog” or “slave work camp” for the USA, since I’d sure like to know. Those are strong statements…

    The bases in Japan and South Korea are there by invitation of those governments. Most Americans would prefer we didn’t have those bases; it’d save us a lot of money and manpower. Would you prefer the U.S. leave Japan and have them re-arm? That’d mean you’d have another nuclear power (Japan can go nuclear in an instant) just off your coast. I think you’ll find the CCP prefers things the way they currently are.

    Democracy makes for representative government, not good government. In my opinion, the best thing to happen to China in the last 30 years was Deng’s reform allowing only two terms to a president/party chairman. Just that one change moved China from an autocratic government to an oligarchy, which I feel has benefited the country greatly. Also, each leader holds less and less power, and so has to rule by consensus rather than personal dictate.

    What history has shown is that non-democratic governments are outperformed over time by democratic ones. Why? Mostly by the existence of checks and balances. Each party monitors the other and exposes corruption, lies and bad policy. When studying political science, one learns that the best government of all is a benevolent dictatorship. It can respond quickly to changing circumstances and the policies are not messy. But the problem is that over time, the benevolent dictatorship is eventually replaced by the malevolent dictator, and then the country is in trouble.

    Concerning one party government, those tend to be successful depending on the leader in charge, but eventually suffer from corruption and lack of flexibility. Japan is a good example. They have had one party government for so long that the bureaucracy runs the country, not the elected party government. And what do they suffer from? A lack of flexibility. In a competitive two party system, the party in power runs the country, not the government. It does this by cabinet appointments. This can be good and it can be bad. Some of Bush’s appointments were so bad that those departments made very poor policy decisions. If the government bureaucrats had been in charge, I’m sure we could have avoided a lot of problems over the last eight years.

    I would say the CCP has two splits, depending on the issue. There are economic progressives and economic conservatives. The progressives are free market and the conservatives are controlled market. On the political side, there are also two forces, a conservative Maoist side and a progressive “eventual democracy” side. They can combine in four ways so I guess you can say that there are four sides to the CCP. However, that doesn’t make them a socialist “democratic” government; it makes them a socialist/capitalist oligarchy.

  104. Steve Says:

    @Charles Liu #94: George Washington was a bootlegger? He owned a whiskey distillery but it was legal, not bootleg. In fact, some company just started a distillery using Washington’s whiskey formula! In what way did he evade taxes?

    The USA started with a two party system of Federalists and Democratic Republicans. The Federalists disappeared during Jefferson’s administration (excepting George Marshall as Head Justice of the Supreme Court) and stayed a one party system (The Era of Good Feeling) until the Adams/Jackson election in 1824, with Jackson’s people being called the Democrats and JQ Adams’ the Whigs. The Whigs gave way to the Republicans and here we are.

    I agree with everything else you said; I just had a couple of questions concerning this particular history. I also strongly share your disdain with CKS.

  105. Jerry Says:

    @S.K. Cheung

    Several comments and questions.

    Yes, China has come a long way in the last 30 years. Politically and economically. At least, that is what I see and hear. Never been there, but it is 100 miles away (well, I have been to Hong Kong, but that is a SAR).

    To get where it is now economically, which is a far cry from 30 years ago, China had to make a huge trade off. Now, poverty sucks and I would not wish poverty and hunger on anybody. My people, the Jews, were relegated to poverty in Russia for a long time, for many generations.

    That said, pollution and a severely diminished environment, (if not, in some cases, totally ruined) suck, too. IMHO, China, with its back to the wall, agreed to the biggest Faustian bargain ever negotiated with Mephistopheles. They traded their environment and ecosystems for economic enrichment. If Vaclav Smil and Jacques Leslie are correct, every single RMB (or yuan) of GDP growth came from an equivalent amount of destruction of the environment and ecosystems in China. And now, like Westerners have done for many years, the Chinese are destroying ecosystems in Russia, SE Asia, Africa, and elsewhere in order to feed their economic growth. They, like the West, have merely moved the environmental and ecosystemic destruction offshore. Not a smart game for anybody to play for anybody. Short-term gains with long-term pain.

    I would not like to have faced the situations confronting the Chinese 30 years ago or my Jewish ancestors 100 years ago and more. They reacted as they did. Such is life. We can not go back and erase history.

    As I have written here before, it appears that we face collapse of our planet’s ecosystems if we do not bring biocapacity and our use of biocapacity into balance. Currently, as of 2003, we are overshooting biocapacity by 25% a year. The overshoot is growing annually. Our ecosystems provided us with fresh water, air, nutrients for the oceans and plants and soil. Global ecosystemic collapse would be the biggest disaster we humans have ever seen.

    That said, I believe we are capable of creating advanced technology and other solutions to deal with this situation. The advanced technologies necessary to take us to a Type I civilization (Kardashev scale) and beyond would be much more powerful than anything we currently have. While this type of technology can be extremely beneficial to life on this planet, it can also be extremely destructive. We thus need to advance our maturity on many levels: intellectual, emotional, technological, political, spiritual, and moral, among others. We need to get past, as Fritjof Capra has described, our “crisis of perception”. We need to see the world as it really is.

    I look at our carbon-based, extractive economies and just shake my head. We need more “vision”. We need to look at manufacturing as a loop, a life-cycle. We can do better than burning the crap out of hydrocarbons for energy and manufacturing. We need to get better at using energy, most of which is latent and ambient. We just have not invented the technology to deal with it. Yes, we are into wind-energy and photovoltaic now. But there is so much energy we have readily available; we just don’t have a way to utilize it.

    Even nuclear power in this world is a joke to me. We use the byproduct of nuclear fission, heat, to generate power. We then have a major problem with nuclear waste. And nuclear power plants soon become too radioactive for practical use. We all know the immense power of nuclear explosions, which harness fission and fusion. And to think we use that fissionable material for its heat. Let us hope that we can soon develop practical nuclear fusion for power and the creation of elements. Let us also hope that we also increase our maturity at the same time. If we don’t advance our maturity, we can easily destroy ourselves with advanced technologies.

    My questions to you. How do you see the future? Can we escape our inertial, linear thought patterns and static analysis? Can we change the paradigms necessary? Or am I all wet? Are we a doomed species? Or will some of us go extinct and some of us find ourselves in more advanced universes in the Einsteinian multiverse? Why are we here in this universe now? Why don’t we just go to a more advanced universe where people have the attributes necessary for sustainable life and advanced civilizations?

    I realize that:

    I am a crazy, Western devil.

    I am a mad scientist and epistemologist.

    I may be totally wrong. But this is the way I see it now.

    I am an irreverent, irascible curmudgeon.

    I hope you have the answers. I surely don’t.

    😀 ::LOL::

  106. TonyP4 Says:

    @Jerry #105

    Well said. First, I have to say Jews are the chosen ones. They are smart and hard-working. Being said, I’ll present my points not as a racist but based on facts.

    * Jews have been fighting for over 2,000 years. They influence the US congress and drag us to war in the middle east. If we say no to the Jews and not to sell them weapons, do you think we have a better and more peaceful US – not to mention the possibility of WW3?

    * As in my previous posts, idealism and practicability seldom co-exist. When a barrel of oil is in $35 range, all the alternate energy does not make sense economically. However, the government should encourage them. Do you know China is #1 in solar energy, and wind and hydro are not too far behind? Storing nuclear waste is not critical as long as it is not in my backyard. 🙂

    We need manufacturing products. My suggestions: (1) do not buy stuffs we do not need (blame the consumers rather than China), (2) use the best way to manufacture and transport stuffs – usually cheapest and in turn usually more environmentally friendly.

    Even with today’s recession, I am optimistic for the future esp. with the young folks like you who care about the world.

  107. S.K. Cheung Says:

    Maybe I missed it, but has there been any discussion about Charter 08? Anyone know the fate of the signatories (all of whom must have been proud owners of large cahones)?

  108. Steve Says:

    @S.K. Cheung: I haven’t seen anything on Charter 08. I found some information on the fate of some of the signatories and will write it up after Christmas. Thanks for the head’s up.

  109. Tom Says:


    The Chinese think they are the most civilised, have the most profound knowledge of philosophy ettique, IQ, EQ, QQ….The Chinese believe they have the most beautiful landscape, rivers, mountains, calligrphy, artwork, blah blah blah…and the Jews believe they are the chosen one…the white folks go around with the whiteman burden trying to “help,” at the first instance and hence often screw things up with the best of intentions.

    Here’s what I have observed – There are poor Jews, smart and dumb Jews, good and not so nice Jews. There are good Whitemen who are secularists who wouldn’t kill a fly, and there are those Whitemen who’d worship Jesus and pray to Saint Mary daily and molest children by the same hands and tongue that praise the God of love and justice. There are “Westerners” like this band “The Exploited band” who write and perform songs of the like with passion and deep conviction:


    There really is nothing nice about USA
    You go to the hospital you have to pay
    The dollar is the language that they all speak
    they don’t really bother about the radiation leak


    They keep their secrets undercover
    the rich don’t bother about those that suffer
    this ain’t the land of milk and honey
    cause all they want is money money money


    Nuclear bombs are fuck all new
    you’d better start running when they drop on you
    run into a shelter, play hide and seek
    cause when you die your body reeks


    There really is nothing nice about USA
    You go to the hospital you have to pay
    The dollar is the language that they all speak
    they don’t really bother about the radiation leak



    Born down in a dead mans town
    The first kick I took was when I hit the ground
    You end up like a dog thats been beat too much
    Till you spend half your life just covering up

    Born in the u.s.a., I was born in the u.s.a.
    I was born in the u.s.a., born in the u.s.a.

    Got in a little hometown jam
    So they put a rifle in my hand
    Sent me off to a foreign land
    To go and kill the yellow man

    Born in the u.s..a….

    Come back home to the refinery
    Hiring man said son if it was up to me
    Went down to see my v.a. man
    He said son, dont you understand

    I had a brother at khe sahn
    Fighting off the viet cong
    Theyre still there, hes all gone

    He had a woman he loved in saigon
    I got a picture of him in her arms now

    Down in the shadow of the penitentiary
    Out by the gas fires of the refinery
    Im ten years burning down the road
    Nowhere to run aint got nowhere to go

    Born in the u.s.a., I was born in the u.s.a.
    Born in the u.s.a., Im a long gone daddy in the u.s.a.
    Born in the u.s.a., born in the u.s.a.
    Born in the u.s.a., Im a cool rocking daddy in the u.s.a.

    Here are what it is: The Government of any country do what they do to stay in power.
    The people are exploited and rewarded in accordance to their financial and social status: The Bibke says,”He who has much, much will be given him. He with little, what little he has shall be taken from him.” This are biblical words spoken by Jesus Christ in a parable! He was talking about how the God rewards and punishes. Sure sounds like human governmental edict rather than divine mandate to me, don’t you think? Go figure.

  110. HongKonger Says:

    As a result of the karmic cause & effect of greedy Capitalism, I hear Chinese folks are returning home to their farm lands by the millions in the next few months. For that I say, Hallelujah, thank goodness, there is hope, therein lies the surviving chance 生机…Let’s get back to basics, spend wisely, worship not false gods, especially mammon and vainglory.

  111. TonyP4 Says:

    Tom, Every one should be proud of his/her country and/or heritage. The US government is voted in office by its citizens. So, we cannot blame all our problems on the government and we should accept some blame ourselves. Obama seems to be a decent guy, but can he change the mess around?

    HKer, it is due to the closing of thousands of factories in South China. Dong Kung (typo) is a ghost city and full of crimes now. If the government had more QA control, there would be less problem. Without jobs, the migrant workers are moving back – at least they have a roof under the head and food to eat back home. A sad time for China.

  112. Jerry Says:

    @TonyP4 #106
    @Tom #109

    Thanks for your comments, Tony and Tom.

    “First, I have to say Jews are the chosen ones. They are smart and hard-working.”

    Well, I for one, like Einstein, don’t believe that we are the “God’s Chosen People”; no matter what CUFI (Rev Hagee) says. I don’t believe in the god of the Old Testament, Yahweh; by saying his name, I just broke rule #1. I am not a theist; I don’t believe that god is on anybody’s side (Sorry, Notre Dame! 😀 ). I see myself as a cosmologist, epistemologist and somewhat in line with the Gnostic view of god. I resonate with Einstein’s comment, “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.”

    Jews have been fighting for over 2,000 years. They influence the US congress and drag us to war in the middle east. If we say no to the Jews and not to sell them weapons, do you think we have a better and more peaceful US – not to mention the possibility of WW3?

    I am no fan or friend of AIPAC and the “Israel First” movement. I think the Israeli government and the ruling elite of the US government work hand-in-hand to achieve whatever goals they have. The Wolfowitz’s, Perle’s, Kristol’s, Netanyahu’s, Olmert’s, Mofaz’s, and Frum’s of this world have discovered how to use ideology to make lots of money. There is gold in the hills of the “military-industrial complex”. Lots of it. Israeli, American and European defense contractors (as well as other countries) make lots of money fanning the flames of war.

    If we ever get rid of the warmongers, we will have a more peaceful world. As far as the Jews fighting, not all Jews are fighting. They wanted their own homeland, ever since the days of Avram (Abraham), some 4,000 years ago. Sometimes they make peace, sometimes they have fought and sometimes they have been subjugated, annihilated and persecuted. Like my people in Russia.

    It is hard to put Jews into one box. Like it is hard to put Chinese people into one box.

    We need manufacturing products. My suggestions: (1) do not buy stuffs we do not need (blame the consumers rather than China), (2) use the best way to manufacture and transport stuffs – usually cheapest and in turn usually more environmentally friendly.

    Tony, I agree that consumption is necessary. As you say, consumerism is not necessary. Both the consumers and China have benefitted and suffered from consumerism. Blame is pointless, in any direction. Thinking environmentally is good. After all, we have to live here somehow. Manufacturing cheaply and transporting cheaply can be very expensive in the “big picture”. Pollution, destruction of ecosystems, and destruction of the environment are very high prices. Amory Lovins has a lot of good points in his book, “Natural Capitalism”.

    Even with today’s recession, I am optimistic for the future esp. with the young folks like you who care about the world.

    God bless you, Tony. I am 57 years old and love being called “young folks”. 😀 ::LOL::

    Tom, thanks for quoting Springsteen.

    Here’s what I have observed – There are poor Jews, smart and dumb Jews, good and not so nice Jews. There are good Whitemen who are secularists who wouldn’t kill a fly, and there are those Whitemen who’d worship Jesus and pray to Saint Mary daily and molest children by the same hands and tongue that praise the God of love and justice. There are “Westerners” like this band “The Exploited band” who write and perform songs of the like with passion and deep conviction:

    I agree. There are all types of Jews, Caucasians, Chinese, etc. It is not smart to put them into the same box.

    … the Jews believe they are the chosen one…the white folks go around with the whiteman burden trying to “help,” at the first instance and hence often screw things up with the best of intentions.

    As I said, there are all types of Jews. Not all (even Israeli Jews) believe in being “God’s Chosen People” or that Israel is the “promised land”. Westerners, white folks, can screw things up, even with the best of intentions. Same goes for the Chinese. And Africans and Asians. On the other hand, they can do some pretty wonderful things. Life is a “mixed bag” at best. Some good, some saintly, some indifferent, some bad, some evil. C’est la vie, monsieur.

    “Here are what it is: The Government of any country do what they do to stay in power.”

    Hmmm …, yes and no. There are good people, wonderful people, mediocre people, indifferent people, bad people and evil people in government. Again, a “mixed bag”. We are all self-referential. Some people just have a “bigger picture” in their minds.

    The Bibke (Bible) says, “He who has much, much will be given him. He with little, what little he has shall be taken from him.” This are biblical words spoken by Jesus Christ in a parable!

    I am hardly a biblical, Torahic or Talmudic scholar. And, IMHO) the Gospels (NT) are the allegedly reported words of Christ (IMHO, same goes for the OT being the word of god). That said, here is the context for your quote above from Matthew 13:

    10 And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” 11 Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. 12 For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him. 13 Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 “In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says, ‘You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive;’”

    Now Christ supposedly said:

    Luke 12:48

    To whomsoever much has been given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been entrusted, of him a larger amount will be demanded.

    Matthew 5

    Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.

    And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

    “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

    “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

    “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

    “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

    “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

    “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

    “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

    I don’t know how to translate the Bible. There are so many versions. First of all, they were translated from Aramaic to Greek to Latin to whatever. Furthermore, there is the awesome meddling of the Councils of Trent and Nicea. And then, you have different interpretations in English. And then you have the argument for literal, verbatim translations versus contextual, cultural, idiomatic translations. Go figure. But I have a hard time believing that Christ, a seeming rebel, seditionist and populist, would stand up and start preaching “Prosperity” gospel and theology. It just seems incongruous to me.

  113. Old Tales Retold Says:

    @ TonyP4,

    Yes, the devastation down south is incredible. Empty roads, clear skies because of idle manufacturing, bossing picking up in the middle of the night, employees flipping police cars….

    These workers all planned to return home eventually, but they are doing so before they’ve reached the financial threshold they’d envisioned—there will be a lot of frustrated young people in the countryside now.

    It may be that, as HongKonger says, this exodus is a good thing spiritually / culturally, but I’m not ready to take that gamble. And as much as I sympathize with Jerry’s environmental concerns, I must admit that my gut reaction is that I want those factories up and running again.

    It is just simply unfair that these workers are taking the brunt of the fall for an unbalanced experiment. I appreciate that the Dongguan government is paying wage arrears itself when plants fold, but why didn’t it do something a bit more creative a few years back and try to diversify its base a tad? Why not build a real city, with different classes mixing, rather than a cluster of high rises and parks surrounded by lawless industrial zones?

  114. Jerry Says:

    @Old Tales Retold #113

    And as much as I sympathize with Jerry’s environmental concerns, I must admit that my gut reaction is that I want those factories up and running again.

    It is just simply unfair that these workers are taking the brunt of the fall for an unbalanced experiment.

    I believe that we need to add the rights of the workers to the equation of sustainable ecosystems. A healthy environment is incongruous with mistreated workers. We must conflate the issues of the environment and the treatment of workers. Just as you point out at your blog, OTR, we need to properly value, properly respect, remunerate fairly and treat fairly the workers who make our products, on which we depend. No matter if we are talking about UAW workers in the US and Canada, or factory workers in Dongguan.

    It all boils down to respect.

    BTW, I earlier wrote this on another thread at FM:

    Seriously, the Bloomberg article written by John Liu and Stephanie Wong (both live in Shanghai), China Boomtown Withers as Buyers Push Worker Rights (Update1), reports how American buyers, importers, corporations and consumers are actually helping Chinese workers. They are pushing for adherence to the new labor laws. In essence, the Americans are helping Chinese workers secure better wages, better benefits and better working conditions.

    Here are some snippets. The whole article is below.

    “China’s labor law, introduced Jan. 1, guarantees minimum pay, pensions and health benefits, and caps the number of hours employees can work each week. In Dongguan, the law imposed a 40- hour week, with 32 hours of permitted overtime, and a minimum wage of 1,000 yuan a month, according to China Labor Bulletin, a worker’s rights group based in Hong Kong.”

    “Chinese exporters are the latest victims of the global recession as sales slow and buyers in the U.S., Europe and Japan drive prices lower. At the same time, employee wages and benefit costs are rising following demands from customers, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., that they enforce new labor laws.”

    ‘ “That is a good thing, says Ding Lihua, a 25-year-old from Sichuan province who’s made shoes in Dongguan for five years.

    In the past, factory owners would refuse to pay our wages and there was nothing we could do,” Ding says. “Now if they don’t pay, we sue and then they have to pay or they get fined.” ‘

    “Migrant workers from rural China poured into the region to staff the new factories, swelling Dongguan’s population to 8.7 million last year from 1.1 million in 1978. Average annual wages nationwide tripled to 24,700 yuan ($3,600) from 1999 to 2007 as demand for skilled labor grew, government statistics show.”

    ‘ “To be blunt about it, we manufacturers profit off the workers,” he says. “The only profit we make is on how low we can push the price of labor.” ‘

  115. Jerry Says:

    @S.K. Cheung #107
    @Steve #108

    You never know where life will take you. As Billy Collins says, “Man plans, God laughs!” You can say that again.

    SK, you mentioned Charter 08. I went, “Huh?” So, I googled it. I ended up, after several detours, at a familiar site, the China Media Project, which led to the NY Review of Books, which published the whole manifesto. As a prologue, the author mentions.

    The mere mention of Charter 77 took me back to my teenage days and “Prague Spring”. I was 17 years old and was astonished at the turn of events in Czechoslovakia. A leader named Dubcek was attempting to reform a Soviet state. Wow, unheard of at that time. I was fascinated. Brezhnev, the Soviet leader, was less than thrilled. By August, the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia and crushed the movement.

    I remember the great book and the movie which recounted those days, “The Unbearable Lightness of Being”. I remember the 1969 World Hockey Championship when the Czechoslovakians beat the Russians twice; the tension in the first game was unimaginable. The ensuing victory celebrations in Prague were great. I remember Havel and Charter 77. That was the first time I became aware of Havel. Then the “Velvet Revolution” in 1989.

    So back to Charter 08. Atimes.com ran an article about this. I don’t know the players from Adam. But, here it is anyway. What will happen, we will just have to see.

    And you are right, SK, pretty big cojones. Steve, I am looking forward to your take on this.

    SK, I wonder if I would have the guts to sign the Charter if I were living in China? Interesting question. Hmmm…

    China kills chickens to frighten monkeys

    Greater China
    Dec 20, 2008

    China kills chickens to frighten monkeys
    By Verna Yu

    BEIJING – The recent arrest of Chinese dissident writer Liu Xiaobo after he took part in a high-profile signature campaign that calls for more freedoms and political reform is a sign that human-rights issues still touch a raw nerve with the Chinese government.

    Liu, a prominent critic of the Chinese government who was imprisoned for 20 months for participating in the 1989 Tiananmen pro-democracy movement, was taken away by police on December 8 – shortly after “Charter 08” was circulated online to mark International Human Rights Day and the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

    A week later, his whereabouts remain unknown and his wife is still denied access to him, even though Chinese law requires police to notify the families of detainees within 24 hours.

    On the same night, another prominent signatory of the declaration, Zhang Zuhua, a constitutional law expert, was detained for 12 hours on suspicion of “inciting the subversion of state sovereignty”.

    As of this week, dozens of others across China who have also signed the declaration have been interrogated by authorities, according to rights activists.

    Charter 08, initially signed by over 300 intellectuals including lawyers, academics, writers and artists, appeals to the Chinese government to launch widespread political reform, such as granting its citizens speech and religious freedoms, respecting human and civil rights and establishing an independent judiciary, as well as ending its one-party rule.

    And thousands of others have added their names to the petition since then, with signatures soaring beyond 5,000 as of this week, according to China Human Rights Defenders, a network of domestic and foreign human rights activists.

    According to his lawyer, Mo Shaoping, Liu was probably detained because authorities considered him a chief organizer of the signature campaign.

    His arrest and the harassment of other signatories have drawn concern from Western governments and international human-rights groups. Last week, the US State Department said it was “deeply concerned” about Liu’s well-being as well as that of other Chinese citizens who have been interrogated for peacefully expressing their desire for greater freedoms.

    A statement from the French European Union presidency this week also expressed “deep concern” at Liu’s arrest and urged China to reveal the reason for Liu’s detention and to respect his rights.

    Gao Yu, a dissident writer, said she believed the authorities were nervous that the appeal might trigger a massive call for democracy that will spill over to next year, the 20th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown, and spark a fresh round of democratic movements.

    “They are using Liu to warn other people against taking action over June 4,” said Gao, who was herself questioned by police over her signing of Charter 08 last week.

    Xu Youyu, a retired professor of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said authorities over-reacted to what was a peaceful expression of opinions.

    “I think this shows that the political atmosphere is very tense,” he said. “I think the authorities’ move is irrational and is hard to understand … it is not a wise move.”

    Xu, a signatory himself, said none of the demands in Charter 08 posed a challenge to the government and warned that the over-reaction would likely prompt more people to get involved.

    Bao Tong, a former aide of ousted reformist leader Zhao Ziyang, who lives under continuous surveillance, said the authorities’ nervous reaction to Charter 08 shows just how badly China needs to make those changes for which the appeal is calling.

    “This itself proves that Charter 08 is very necessary, because there is no rule of law, no citizens’ rights, no democracy in China,” said Bao, who was arrested just before the Tiananmen crackdown and jailed for seven years. “This was just a minor thing and now it’s totally overblown – this is a very foolish move.”

    Nicholas Bequelin, senior researcher at the New York-based Human Rights Watch, said the unprecedented unity shown by such a large number of prominent citizens across the country had alarmed the authorities, who feared their movement might trigger broader demand for political change.

    “My concern is that the authorities want to make an example of Liu Xiubo … I think the statement is that they want to scare the intellectuals,” Bequelin said. “This is the old trick of killing a chicken to frighten the monkeys.”

    Just the reverse, “It might damage the party’s ability to bring these people to their party. It just shows how arbitrary and brutal the party can be,” Bequelin said.

    But if the arrest of Liu is designed to put off others, it has not succeeded so far. Rights activists say more than 1,200 have signed an open letter circulating on the Internet calling for his release and over 5,000 have signed Charter 08, with the number increasing every day.

    Liu, a former literature professor, has long been seen as a thorn in the side of the Chinese authorities for his articles that are openly critical of the government. After Liu’s release from prison in 1991 for his Tiananmen pro-democracy movement involvement, he was closely watched by the authorities and was often put under house arrest around sensitive dates such as the anniversaries of the June 4 Tiananmen crackdown.

    He was detained for three years in a “Re-education through Labor” camp between 1996 and 1999 for criticizing the Chinese government. Prior to the 19th anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown this year, he was warned by the authorities against writing commemorative articles and was detained for a couple of hours on that day.

    Cyber dissident Liu Di said the Chinese government had done itself a disservice by arresting Liu Xiaobo. “I think the arrest of Liu Xiaobao is like dropping a stone onto your own feet,” said Liu, who was also questioned by state security agents for calling for Liu Xiaobo’s release. “If they hadn’t done that, the issue wouldn’t have drawn so much attention.”

    Verna Yu is a freelance journalist from Hong Kong.

    There was a piece out at China Media Project, Hu bows to the left in 30th anniversary speech. There was an interesting analysis of word usage by Hu. Here is a snippet. There is a graphic at CMP which compares the use of certain terms (Socialism, Socialism with Chinese characteristics, 4 Basic Principles, and Marx) at the 17 Congress with his usage at the 30th anniversary shindig.

    Hu bows to the left in 30th anniversary speech

    By David Bandurski — When Chinese President Hu Jintao delivered a speech Thursday morning in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People to honor the thirtieth anniversary of economic reforms in the country, his words pointed to a leftward shift in Chinese politics — a possible reaction in part against the recent Charter 08, a manifesto signed by prominent Chinese intellectuals calling for broad political reform.

    According to our preliminary analysis of Hu’s speech, more left-trending keywords like “socialism”, “Marx” and the “Four Basic Principles” were prominent in Thursday’s speech — noticeably more so than in Hu’s 17th Congress address last year. … [Posted by David Bandurski, December 20, 2008, 1:09am HK]

    It is interesting to me, but unfortunately rather meaningless since I don’t understand the context. Steve, SK, HKer, WKL and FOARP, maybe you can help out on this?

  116. Tom Says:

    Empty roads, clear skies because of idle manufacturing, ..this exodus is a good thing spiritually / culturally, … Jerry’s environmental concerns, ..

    What you are describing are things that happened in the Industrial West only not so long ago. Back when they too were mistreating their workers, polluting the environment and then suddenly mining and manufacturing boomtowns became ghost towns. There is perhaps a Universal self preservation Consciousness, or some Cosmic principal constantly at work that influence nature’s behavior, such as mass psyche, which affects paradigm shifts that would cause the abortion of artificial processes of so-called human progress from going to the point of bringing inreconciliable destruction to mother earth.

    Or perhaps it is merely the perpetuation of the ANCIENT cyclical master plan perfected by the ruling elites, the aristocratic clan, the one-percenters, who have for millenia manipulated history with their variant forms of economics through myriad versions of invented religion, ideology, philosophy. What ingenius way to mask their tyranical shadow governance, what the Bible refers to as the Powers & Principalities of the air, or Satan, which I suspect is a united society of secret societies of the global ruling class from the times of the Pharoahs, the descendants of Babylonians, the Atlantis and the bloodlines of other great civilisations. etc.

    ” why didn’t it do something a bit more creative a few years back and try to diversify its base a tad? ”

    Too late to cry over spilt milk now. China has always been an agricultural civilisation. The strong industrialists will become stronger and no matter how rich or poor we are, we all need food, drinkable water and breathable air than wealth – just a matter of re-prioritizing things enmass – for the next few years anyway. It’s a good thing, I think. What do you think OTR, Jerry, Steve, SKC, and TonyP4 ?

  117. Tom Says:

    “Go figure. But I have a hard time believing that Christ, a seeming rebel, seditionist and populist, would stand up and start preaching “Prosperity” gospel and theology. It just seems incongruous to me.”

    I am sorry, Jerry…What is“Prosperity” gospel and theology? Do You mean like the crap that those despicable money-face televangelists ( like Jimmy & Tammy B.)etc?

    Are you trying to say that, no unlike the escapist theology such as the Rapture which was invented in the 1800s, the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ you quoted above is, you suspect also an added on tale ? How is the Sermon on the Mount a prosperity gospel? I am not too familiar with these matters as I am an agnostic. It amazes me how big the Christian population is worldwide.

  118. Tom Says:

    I read that Jesus was in fact an Essenian. He was a member of the then popular Jewish sect in Palestine over 2,000 years ago. The Essene sect practiced ascetism, calibacy, community living etc. I could be wrong, but I kinda suspect that some of these modern day preachers are preaching out of there arses and making a damn good living at it, I might say. But then what do I know, and why should I care, cause I ain’t religious myself. It is how intertwine and twisted politics and religions have always been that sometimes bothers me. Otherwise, all religion teaches good moral living, charity, kindness, forgiveness and especially self-denial as in over indulgences etc. Which seems cool, I guess.

  119. Jerry Says:

    @Tom #117

    I am still thinking over #116. I want to think some more.

    Sorry for any confusion in #112 regarding “Prosperity Gospel and Theology”. What that refers to are ministers who preach a certain interpretation of the gospel, stating that if you follow the Gospel and accept Jesus as they see it, God and Jesus will make you prosperous in a financial way. In other words, he will make you rich. Helps put more money into the collection baskets, thus making the minister rich. It is a phony game. It is one I despise. And it bastardizes whatever wisdom is in the gospels. Yeah, like Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggert, Oral Roberts, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Benny Hinn, etc. And many local ministers who are on a money, power, and ego trip.

    What I was pointing out were the words you quoted:

    The Bibke (Bible) says, “He who has much, much will be given him. He with little, what little he has shall be taken from him.” This are biblical words spoken by Jesus Christ in a parable!

    Now that sounds to me like the “rich get richer and the poor get poorer”. Which I don’t think Christ meant. But I could be wrong. That quote sounds like prosperity gospel to me. I then put in the full context to show that it was probably not applying to money and riches; possibly it is pointing at spiritual knowledge. I am not sure. Parables are tough to interpret.

    I put in the Beatitudes (sermon on the mount) to demonstrate what I consider a more representative sample of Christ’s teachings. At least that is my take. I did not quote the Beatitudes in order to put them down. I do consider “The Rapture” to be sheer garbage. I like the Beatitudes. I like the Prayer of St. Francis.

    Bible interpretations are difficult for all the reasons I listed in my earlier post. The Catholic Church played many manipulative games with the gospels at the Councils of Trent and Nicea (think Nicene Creed). Furthermore, they bounced the Gnostics and their teachings out of the Church. And possibly Thomas’ gospel. And they butchered the role of women in the Bible. At least IMHO.

    The reason I say “supposedly” or “allegedly” in regards to “words of Jesus” is because I suspect major manipulation of the Bible and gospels in order to promote and protect the power of those running the major religions. I am just the eternal skeptic and cynic.

    And I am not religious, either.

  120. Tom Says:

    Prayer of St. Francis

    Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.
    Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
    where there is injury, pardon;
    where there is doubt, faith;
    where there is despair, hope;
    where there is darkness, light;
    and where there is sadness, joy.
    O, Divine Master,
    grant that I may not so much seek
    to be consoled as to console;
    to be understood as to understand;
    to be loved as to love;
    for it is in giving that we receive;
    it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
    and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.


    Thank you for the the clarification,.Oh, Yes, the above prayer is wonderful, and your sermon’s pretty convincing too 🙂 Why you are an atheist is beyond me. The best i could manage is to say, “I don’t know.” I have many Christian and Buddhist friends. Some of them are wonderful believers, others are no better or worse than those like me or you who are agnostics and atheists, I think.
    I am trying to respect all religion – well, except for those “obvious” con jobs.

  121. Wahaha Says:

    “Democracy doesn’t mean a country will be more or less successful, but it does mean the voice of the people will be heard.”

    On paper, that is what democracy means; but in reality, it is more like that everyone has the right to yell “give me the F@#$ing money”. THAT IS WHY IT IS POPULAR.

    (There was an article on CNN reporting that almost all of poor cities in USA are controled by democratic party for decades, a party that is suppose to care more about people than republic.)


    “Democracies have succeeded because of their ability to adjust to changing circumstances and with increased optimism as new administrations take control.”


    Demoracitic countries have succeeded because it either had money or it was able to exploit the wealth or cheap labor from other people.

    See what has happened in Thailand ? see what is going on in Greece? see what happened in Russia in 90s ?

    Here is another example, the 700 billion dollar rescue plan by US government, I have two questions :

    1) $700,000,000,000, WITHOUT ANY CONDITION, passed within one week, by those congressmen and senator, who were ELECTED BY PEOPLE and on papers, were supposed to work for people, do you think they work for people or riches ?

    2) About so called free media, on any street in a big cities of USA, ask anyone what he/she thinks of the plan, he will tell you he doesnt like it. Where was the media report about the opinion of those people ?

    In democratic system, you can vote, AND THAT IS ALL YOU HAVE, whether your vote count or not is another story.

    Do you know where the most expensive home on earth is ? Mumbai in India, 2billion dollar home next to 19 million people living in slums. If he had not had control of politicians and media, would he have dared to build a home like that ? and how did he control those politicians and media, he bought them!!!
    Give us a good reason why we should replace the current government in China with a government like the one in India .

    Democracy is great on paper, but in reality, it protects riches : everyone’s right must be respected == no1 can offend the interest of riches.

    There are tons of flaws in the current system in China, BUT THERE ARE ALSO TONS OF FLAWS IN DEMOCRATIC SYSTEM, and because of its flaws, democracy never produce in a country with lot of poor people.

  122. TonyP4 Says:

    To me, Republicans are pro-business and Democrats are pro-poor in general but with many exceptions. Hence, debating on exceptions is pointless to me. The article confirms my argument to some extend.

    We want business to be successful. Hence every one has a job if business is good. When every one is well off, the poor will be taken care of with handouts. We can help the poor so they will not be poor forever.

    Most countries lift the citizens from poverty by migrating them to urban. Manufacturing jobs usually are paid better than farms jobs – of course many exceptions. Check the top 10 poorest countries and the top richest countries on the ratio between the two jobs, and it is easy to make the same conclusion.

    Every argument has exceptions – so again it is pointless to argue with exceptions.


    The 700 B (will be more) bailout leads to 2 problems.
    (1) Our children will pay for it.

    (2) in theory inflation – however deflation in the short term. Now, you can buy a house for 80% of the value one year ago. Plenty of good deals. Deflation is more scary than inflation as it will lead to massive layoff and business failures.

    Printing a lot of money will make the money not valuable in the longer term. For the old days, one ounce of gold is backed up with $500 as an example, but now it will be backed up by $700. If you have $700 in this example, your buying power is only $500 losing $200 that you do not realize.

  123. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Jerry #115:
    thanks for the Verna Yu piece. I had seen an abridged version in a Canadian paper, which was why I was curious how it could appear there while eliciting nary a mention on a blog like this. I too am looking forward to Steve’s take.
    As I said, must have taken large stones. Also didn’t look like these people were asking for the moon (though when it comes to China, I suppose they may as well have been). In fact, some of those reforms have been championed by Allen, DJ, Nimrod, CLC, and Buxi, if memory serves.

  124. Steve Says:

    @ S.K. Cheung & Jerry: SK, as you suggested, this topic deserves its own thread so I created one with the entire Charter translated into English with a link back to the original translation and another blog that has quite a few comments. I’ll just babble over there. 🙂

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