Jan 30

Should Obama Learn to Engage the Chinese People through the Internet?

Written by Allen on Friday, January 30th, 2009 at 2:32 am
Filed under:-mini-posts, Analysis, General, politics | Tags:, , ,
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President Obama has not exactly started out making a great impression that he will bring U.S.-China relations to a new high – what with unwelcomed vague belligerent references against communist and authoritarian governments in his inaugural speech, followed up by now Treasury Secretary’s Geithner’s sharp tone and use of the legally-loaded term “currency manipulation” in Geithner’s confirmation hearings (I don’t want to get into the “currency manipulation” debate here since we will have specific posts on those topics soon).

Both these incidents somewhat surprised me since both appear to be associated more with an old, ideological approach to international relations than an innovative new approach on which many (including me) have pinned high hopes for the young president.

Is Obama – a mere two or so weeks into his young presidency – due for a face lift and a change in directions?


According to an interesting article in the Huffington Post, Rebecca MacKinnon argued that Obama needs to learn to see China beyond China as a monolithic state and to embrace China’s new dynamic, progressive netizens using the Internet – a medium which Obama had so masterfully used to his benefit in winning his election.

Below is a copy of MacKinnon’s post:

Dear President Obama,

Welcome to U.S.-China relations! You didn’t even mention China in your inaugural address, but the Chinese censors still took it personally. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s remarks in his confirmation hearing about currency manipulation have got everyone in a tizzy. We’re off to a rollicking start!

People in China are watching closely — and starting to debate — whether your administration’s pursuit of America’s economic interests will help or hurt their own.

China is obviously not a democracy. Even so, if you really want to take U.S.-China relations to a new strategic level that rises above the day-to-day issues, you need to find new ways to engage the Chinese people themselves — not just their government.

Normalization of U.S.-China relations in 1979, combined with economic reforms and opening, transformed the Chinese people’s lives. Chinese of our generation understand this. But their children take their opportunities and comforts for granted. They don’t necessarily see the U.S. as a symbol of hope or a target of aspirations the way their parents did.

It is this young generation born after 1980 who were most vocal on the Chinese Internet last year, lashing out against Western critics and Western media coverage of their government’s crackdown in Tibet. In response to international pressure, the Chinese government negotiated with the Dalai Lama, but it didn’t feel the need to concede anything meaningful. In maintaining a hard line, the Chinese leadership could feel doubly secure in the fact that, not only did they have the strength of the People’s Liberation Army and the People’s Armed Police on their side; China’s majority Han-Chinese public had no sympathy for the idea of Tibetan autonomy.

Chinese leaders listen selectively to public opinion, and sometimes those opinions actually give them an extra excuse to tell the U.S. where to shove it. While Americans tend to think of the Internet as the medium that will inevitably free the Chinese people of authoritarian rule, Chinese leaders have — for many years now — been going there for proof that the public wants them to be tougher with the U.S. Back in 2001 a U.S. spyplane made an emergency landing on Hainan island after a collision with a Chinese fighter jet which crashed into the sea. If people in the Chinese Internet chatrooms had gotten their way, the U.S. crew would be in a Chinese jail today. In a recent interview with The Atlantic’s James Fallows, the President of the China Investment Corporation Gao Xiqing pointed out that his P.R. department is inundated with public comments calling for him to sell U.S. dollar assets.

The point is that while these people are not citizens of a democracy, they are by no means an undifferentiated mass of brainwashed drones. Despite often crude censorship of the Internet and state-run media, despite manipulation, intimidation of dissidents and political astro-turfing of the blogosphere by paid commentators, there is no unity of thought in China today. Civic minded citizens manage to hold wide-ranging debates on the Chinese Internet, in living rooms, dormitories, office break rooms, and classrooms about many public issues. Reading the Chinese blogs I’ve found all kinds of views about you and your new administration. Many are inspired by your personal story and the idea of truly equal opportunity that you represent. Others hope that you will be more forthright and principled on human rights issues than the Bush administration was. Others are very concerned that you will be protectionist in order to help the American people in the short run, and that this will hurt the Chinese people economically. Others lament cynically that no matter what happens, the rich and powerful in both countries will be the relationship’s main beneficiaries.

The Chinese government will have greater incentive to work with you on creative solutions to complex problems if your diplomats can do a better job of reassuring ordinary Chinese that you do actually care whether U.S.-China policy outcomes will benefit them — not just China’s commercial and political elites. Right now, frankly, they’re not convinced. One-way monologues through the Voice of America and Radio Free Asia don’t have much street cred with China’s Internet generation, to be honest. It’s time to upgrade your public diplomacy strategy for the 21st Century.

Just as you have used new technology to engage with the American electorate, your China policy can be greatly strengthened if you conduct a real conversation with the Chinese people. Listen as much as you talk; provide a much-needed platform for open discussion. The U.S. embassy in Beijing should build a Chinese-language website modeled after change.gov, focused not just on U.S.-China relations, but on the range of concerns and interests – from environment, to food safety, to factory safety standards, to education and real estate law — shared by ordinary Chinese and Americans. Some linguistically talented State Department employees should start blogging in Chinese. Open up the comments sections, see how the Chinese blogosphere responds, then respond to them in turn. Translate some of the Chinese conversation into English for Americans to read and react, then translate it back. Sure there will be censorship problems on the Chinese side, but if enough Chinese find the conversation important and relevant to their lives, the censors ultimately won’t be able to stop it. Nor should they want to if they’re wise – because the resulting conversation would help both governments build a more stable and rational relationship that would truly benefit the people of both countries.

So – should Obama reach out to the Chinese people through the Internet?

Would it succeed?

Can the U.S. government reach out to the Chinese people in a collaborative, non-ideological way?

Since we are on the topic of reaching out and the Internet, in what ways can netizens like us contribute to bring further the people of the West and China closer together?

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106 Responses to “Should Obama Learn to Engage the Chinese People through the Internet?”

  1. pug_ster Says:

    Engaging Chinese people over the internet? Personally, I am sick of the Audacity of Hype by Obama’s endless speeches that he will fix the world’s problem by a snap of his finger. Actions are louder than words. So far from his speech about communist and Geithner’s speech against China’s currency, he seems anything but China’s friend. Look at the Dalai lama trying to use the internet to engage the Chinese over the internet, the Chinese don’t seem to be listening either.

  2. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Allen:
    I thought you would’ve had a fit with MacKinnon’s fourth paragraph, and am happy that you let it slide.

    Considering Obama is only on the 9th day of his term (Inaug day doesn’t count since he was busy going to umpteen balls), I think he’s actually accomplished a lot. He’s closing Gitmo, banning enhanced interrogation, inserted a Middle East point-man, and half-way to passing his stimulus bill (ok, maybe not quite half-way; I’m sure there’ll be a conference first). That’s pretty good work for a week and change.

    Besides, and perhaps as reflected by his speech, I think his main concerns are domestic, and I don’t think China is at the top of his agenda right now.

    Nonetheless, I think MacKinnon has some interesting ideas. And I especially like the idea of the embassy hosting a site. I wonder if it’s possible to have a secure portal that can get through the firewall…to think, the unvarnished goods from PRC citizens…that might move some mountains!

  3. Charles Liu Says:

    First of all, why should the Chinese see America as “symbol of hope or a target of aspirations”? Have our actions garnered such respect? Why shouldn’t they place their confidence on themselves, their own ideals, their own country?

    And Becca’s “obviously not a democracy” pronouncement is something I would like to dispute. They have direct and indirect elections implemented at various levels for one. And the National People’s Congress is now indirectly elected by lower level People’s Congress deputies that are openly nominated and directly elected.

    I’d also like to disput Becca’s “China’s majority Han-Chinese public had no sympathy for the idea of Tibetan autonomy”. Beg your pardon, from Sun to Chiang to Mao, the “Zi Zhi” (self rule) concept for the minorities has been well established in China. And they don’t round up their subjugated minorities and put them in reservations either.

    And trust me Becca, if our media reported Tibet riot the way we covered Mumbai, and not crop photos to force our POV, or shut our mouth on the shop girls torched alive, the younger, ungrateful generation of Chinese who don’t worship America’s feet would not have anything to “lash out” against.

    So who’s ultimately responsible for resurgence nationalist support?

    Sure, Obama could reach out to the Chinese people via the Internet, I just don’t think he should do it based on these bu11sh!t reasons – because it will again back fire.

  4. S.K. Cheung Says:

    Well, I guess what Allen doesn’t object to (ie the fourth paragraph), Charles will.

    Take it easy, Charles. She said Chinese don’t necessarily see America that way; she didn’t say they ought to.
    C’mon, are you still going to try to insist that China is a democracy? That’s not a winning proposition.

    Although “self-rule” might be well-established as a concept, its practice is hardly a well-established reality. Just recently, on another thread, there was the discussion that no one really knows what Tibetan autonomy buys them.

    So if Obama doesn’t reach out, you complain. If he reaches out but for the “wrong reasons”, you still complain. Gosh, you’re one hard dude to please. Maybe you can offer up some appropriate reasons for him to reach out, and a plan to implement it besides.

  5. Charles Liu Says:

    SK, please see my comment in the other thread. I actually agree with Foarp that Obama was not talking about China, and the Chinese censors over-reacted.

    And do you know America is not a democracy? That’s right, we are a republic.

  6. Allen Says:

    @SKC #2,

    Ha ha …

    I didn’t object because I read MacKinnon’s use of the term “democracy” as “American style democracy” (whatever that means) … and hence let it slide! 😉

    What is more problematic, as Charles has already pointed out, is characterizing he Tibetan issue as a Han vs. Tibetan. But I let it slide there because what she said technically was correct – i.e. “China’s majority Han-Chinese public had no sympathy for the idea of Tibetan autonomy” – it’s just that what is more accurate is “majority of China’s public had no sympathy for the idea of Tibetan autonomy proposed by the DL.”

    Still I thought MacKinnon came across as less ideological than Obama, and many other American leaders and writers….

  7. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Charles:
    “That’s right, we are a republic.”- you’re right, but neither does that make China a democracy in my book.

  8. Charles Liu Says:

    SK, China is also a republic not a democracy.

    What Becca alluding to is, China is not democratic, that I dispute. And don’t you know, I get 50 cent RMB (“astro-turfing” as Becca stated) for my posts?

    That’s how I can afford my German-made sport sedan that gets mileage in the teens…

  9. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Charles:
    I agree that’s what she’s alluding to. Heck, that’s certainly what I’m alluding to. And we can disagree about that all day…and probably already have.

  10. WillF Says:

    I think Obama should handle the Sino-US relationship pretty much the same way Bush did. Encourage trade, discourage public embarrassments and snafus, minimize the Tibet issue, and maintain the status quo on the Taiwan issue.


    Encourage trade: The more the Chinese and the US have to gain economically from each other, the less the other stuff matters. China and the US have thus far had a mutually beneficial trade relationship, and as a result neither side has much incentive to rock the boat.

    Discourage public embarrassments and snafus: One or two of these incidents may be insignificant, but a series of them could one day be detrimental to trade policy, as China may feel pressure to “act tough” on the US.

    Minimize the Tibet issue: Regardless of how we Americans feel about Tibet, the fact of the matter is no amount of US pressure is going to change China’s position on the issue. Pressure would simply stir up public dissatisfaction with the US, which could adversely impact our trade relationship.

    Maintain the status quo on the Taiwan issue: As with Tibet, the Americans can never change China’s position on Taiwan. Under the “hands-off” approach the US has taken, relations between the mainland and Taiwan have improved in recent years, and are now at their highest level since 1949. Don’t fix what ain’t broken.

    As for the Internet engagement stuff, I think winning the Chinese hearts and minds is less important than winning the approval of the Chinese leadership. First off, it’s not clear what we Americans would gain from making the average Chinese netizen like us more. Furthermore, any attempt by the US to circumvent the CCP and talk directly to the Chinese people would invoke the wrath of the CCP, and let’s face it, they know China better than we do. They’ve been running in the Chinese mainstream media for years, and are very Internet-savvy by now. Even if the US had anything to gain from getting the Chinese people to like us more, we’d be inviting a media war with the Chinese government that we simply cannot win. The benefits are speculative, but the drawbacks are clear. Don’t do it, Mr. President.

  11. FOARP Says:

    @Charles Liu – Let me put this simply. Your arguments are ridiculous.

    1) Does China have an elected government? Even indirectly? No.

    2) Is Tibetan autonomy meaningful? Who chooses the Tibetan leadership? Central government. Who sets policy in Tibet? The CCP.

    3) Tibetan riots last year involved thousands, all of whom lived in the cities in question, not ten people wielding automatic weapons and bombs who entered the city via boat in commando-fashion . Your comparison with Mumbai is absurd. However, if you really believe they were similar, then perhaps allowing on the spot reporting might have supported your view, no?

    However, I’m past believing that the internet can change anything in this regard. CCP control over the internet in China is good enough that they can put a cramp on the discussion of any topic they like. A few will carry on discussing it using coded language, but the majority will simply never become aware of the issue at hand. If people start to pay attention an ‘incident’ with another country can be arranged to distract everyone’s attention (I’m thinking the next one will be Togo). Finally, I’m guessing WiFi reception isn’t all that great in the average jail cell, and that’s where anyone who gets too uppity will be going, if not worse.

    The revolution will be blogged, it just isn’t going to start on the internet.

  12. Netizen K Says:

    I’d welcome President Obama’s reaching out to Chinese netizens. But I don’t think the problem is the American executive branch. The problem is the Western media and the US Congress’s anti-China and know-nothing altitude.

    I think Rebbecca should have recommended the American media and US Congressmen and women engaging Chinese netizens. The US media are not doing its job to let Americans and their politicians to understand the real picture of China. That includes Rebbecca herself not doing her job. Now she asks the President to do her job. I think the President is too busy for that.

  13. FOARP Says:

    An addendum – Why does Rebecca Mackinnon not think that any such effort is just going to end up getting blocked? And why does she think that the Obama phenomenon, involving as it did content largely created by supporters, can be transposed to China? Chinese people aren’t suddenly going to start producing such content, and exiles are insufficiently in touch with the situation there (and also far too old and seen as outcasts ) to produce such content.

  14. Netizen K Says:

    The reality is that the Chinese know the US more than the Americans know about China.

    Now Rebbecca Mackinnon is recommending American embassy to put up Chinese content. But for what? For Americans to read and understand better China? Good luck.

  15. pug_ster Says:

    @SKC #4

    Bush’s administration is more a friend to China than Obama’s. Look at how many times Hank Paulson went to China and talk to them. Last March, Bush insist on going to the Olympics opening despite criticism toward China during the Lhasa riots. If Obama wants to engage the Chinese people, send someone like Hillary or Geithner to talk to the Chinese government. I’m sure that the Chinese would appreciate it.

  16. Leo Says:

    @ Netizen K 12

    Well said! It is not the job of O to engage the Chinese. But I suppose it is also not the job of foreign correspondents. If you read their private blogs, they write much more reasonable than what would appear in print.

  17. miaka9383 Says:

    A random thought:
    How many of you think Sino-American Relations are on top of Obama Administration’s agenda right now?
    Personally, I don’t think it is on the top of his list, only because there are way too much stuff to deal with here in U.S.

    However, I was just surfing the net and went to this city at UDN and found an interesting post with interesting comments. This poster was talking about how the U.S is the cause of this economic crisis and Clinton agrees with that.
    The commentators of the post went on to say many interesting things….
    Here’s one


    “At this state, most effective attack from China is to hold off U.S’s attacks and let Americans attack air as in (attack Iraq, Afghanistan and at best attack Iran) waste U.S’s energy while not letting them hit us (Hold on to Tibet and Xingjiang, Taiwan Problem needs to be solved). When american power at its lowest is (The economic Crisis is a good chance) when China can give the last blow.”

    I want to know… Do people actually think like this in China? Do people actually think about how to attack other countries at all times? I mean China has so many internal problems like the U.S who actually has time to think about wageing war right now?

    There are a little bit more comments on here “http://city.udn.com/3011/3242218”

  18. TonyP4 Says:

    Similar to Clinton giving a radio talk show in China? The timing of that radio show was wrong. He should have better questions after Lewinski incident. 🙂

  19. ChinkTalk Says:

    I think war against China is not a bad option from the West’s point of view. And the writing is on the wall from all the anti-sino propaganda from the Western media. I mean the best way to justify war against China is to first demonize your enemy; to prep your populace and garner support for destructive carnage. The Nazis used this technique to promulgate hate against the Jews in WWII.

    War with China would wipe the slate clean for the victor. And China will be defeated in a war with the West.

    The above is my opinion and I could be completely wrong in my assessment. But why else would there be such a concerted effort by the Western media to demonize China. Big bad China with its poisonous toys and food; killer of babies and pets; human rights abuser; suppressor of democracy; etc.

    So far Obama has shocked me with his declaration of “currency manipulation” and “made in America” war cries. I thought that he would be the reconciliator. The world was waiting and ready for it. Perhaps he has something up his sleeve, but so far it is quite scary.

  20. miaka9383 Says:

    Honestly, I don’t think western media has demonized China recently after CNN and BBC incident. I do think Obama’s administration did made him believe that China was manipulating currency.
    As for Made in America stuff, as long as China’s Quality control does not improve, there will be more and more Made in America Cries and that is just the reality and not “demonizing” Anybody.
    It happened in the 80’s with the Japanese Car Companies but you didn’t see the Japanese getting up at arms about it. Please tell me you don’t condone Government’s reaction to the milk crisis? They should have let everyone know so those babies didn’t suffer. They should have jumped on it right away instead of dealing with the olympics. Even if they didn’t have a public reaction, they should have used their authoritarian control and shut down those plants. How about the poisonous dumplings that leaked out to Japan? These things should have been taken care of before it got shipped to another country. So forgive me if I am only buying Made in America/ Made in Japan/ Made in Taiwan products until China fix their Quality control.

  21. ChinkTalk Says:

    miaka9383 #20

    Your point is well taken. While I agree with what you said, but why don’t I hear anything bad ever about Koreans, Indians, Tibetans, Taiwanese, etc. It seems like the West props up whoever that are the potential axis against China, and anybody or country that is pro-China will be targeted and diminished.

    It appears that I am blindly pro-China but I am really not, all I am looking for is some fairness and balance.

  22. WillF Says:

    @ChinkTalk 19:

    “I think war against China is not a bad option from the West’s point of view.”

    Wrong. I assume by “the West” you mean the US, and by “war” you mean a total war in which the loser is completely vanquished? China is the US’s largest holder of their debt, and their largest trading partner. War with China would cause the US economy to collapse; China could sell off its US reserves to build a war chest and devastate the dollar, and a sudden trade embargo with China would cause a shortage of consumer goods and prices to skyrocket. Businesses would be furious, as would voters. And the public has no stomach for a war after Iraq and Afghanistan.

    “China will be defeated in a war with the West.”

    Wrong. The US could probably defeat the Chinese military in tactics and weapons. But Chinese modern history has proven that the Chinese will fight to the last man before surrendering to an invading enemy. Look at WWII and Korea. When backed against the wall, the Chinese military would probably revert to a Maoist-style “people’s war” in which massive amounts of troops would overwhelm the enemy. With 1.3 billion Chinese to draw from, the casualties on both sides would have to be astronomical before the US could truly claim control over a significant portion of Chinese territory. Even the US doesn’t have unlimited resources.

    “Why else would there be such a concerted effort by the Western media to demonize China?”

    Because it’s good for the ratings. People in the US hear stories of rapid Chinese growth every day, and want to know what’s going on behind that. It’s not exactly comprehensive coverage, but it satisfies the mild curiosity of most Americans. As for the poisonous toys and food part, wouldn’t you want to know if you were buying lead toys for your kids or poisonous dog food for your dog? The fact that it came from China is secondary in significance to the fact that there are lead toys and bad dog food in US markets. People want to know about this stuff because it affects their lives. If it comes from China, China’s naturally going to get the blame for it in the minds of most Americans.

    “So far Obama has shocked me with his declaration of “currency manipulation” and “made in America” war cries.”

    “War cries”? Obama hasn’t said a word about China to the US public since taking office; all he’s talked about it the economy, because that’s all Americans care about right now. The “currency manipulation” remark was not even made by Obama, but by Geithner. It’s no secret that most American politicians think China is manipulating its currency. Geithner is just telling them what they’ve wanted to hear from Bush but never did. To extrapolate any policy shift at all from this remark would be premature; to hear the drums of war in it would just be paranoid.

    Finally, it’s worth remembering that this is not 1939. The West has changed a lot in 70 years, and with it we have changed our views on war. No longer is a major world war seen as desirable by anyone in the West. Nobody wants to conquer other lands like they did in the imperialist era. And everybody recognizes that a war with China would be unwinnable. So I really don’t see what you’re afraid of.

  23. pug_ster Says:

    @Miaka9383 #20

    Every country has product issues. In the US, more people died because of the peanut butter products than in China because of the baby formula.

    @Miaka9383 #17

    I believe that Obama should pay more attention to China and should respect them. Where does Obama gets the 900 billion+ for his bailout? Why should China buy into US treasury bills when they have virtually 0 interest? Hank Paulson visited China many times to assure China that China is buying US treasury as a sign of good faith. Geithner with his complaint about China’s currency manipulation will make it harder to convince China to buy US treasury.

  24. miaka9383 Says:


    But we do… Do you remember the mad cow madness? No one at the time would buy American beef. The news travels the question is how the government handle it. USDA at the time issue an overall recall and damage control right away. How about the whole Matel business? There are many product issues in America, but the businesses and government take care of it right away before it gets blown out of proportion.

    I agree that Obama should pay attention to China. No doubt. But while unemployment goes up, small business and restaurants goes out of business, Obama needs to pay attention to that first. Reassurance to our debtor is important but how can we assure our debtor without doing some reforms ourselve.

    On off topic:
    There are many people who die because they are allergic to Peanut Butter, so they advocate allergy testing, they dont’ serve peanuts on airplanes, have business put up signs that their food contains peanut….Things like that that government act on it right way. It took China at least 3 months to release the news to the public about being aware of what milk not to drink because they didn’t want to affect the Olympics…*sigh* frankly that is just wrong…

  25. Charles Liu Says:

    Foarp @ 11, does China have a government that’s even indirectly elected?

    Yes. Read Article 57 and Article 66 of the PRC constitution about the National Peopele’s Congress and its Standing Committee. It’s the same “sausage making” process we use.

    I’ve already cited in another thread evidence China has implmented open nomination and direct election of district level PC deputies. They in turn elect NPC deputies, and the NPC elects its Standing Committee.

    That’s indirect election in case you haven’t paid any attention.

  26. Brad Says:

    @ Allen

    ” should Obama reach out to the Chinese people through the Internet?”

    There are 2 sides to this question.

    From the US side: why should he? Obama is the president of the U.S.A, not China. Unless there is a clear compelling reason, Obama has no obligation to do so. Communicating to Chinese people is not his job. Considering the fact that Obama as well as his fellow Americans have been subject to hostile and biased western media brainwashing for over 40 years regarding communist China. Americans are not informed enough to realize that their knowledge about China is anything but reality. Therefore, the need for understanding China is not there.

    From China side: yes, Obama should. A better understanding of China will certainly help in building a more constructive beneficial Sino-US relationship. Most Chinese are well informed enough to see that. Have to give credit to Den Xiaoping. It is Den’s open policy that enabled millions of Chinese to go abroad to study and understand the west.

    While it is in Chinese blood that “know yourself and the enemy, you will not be imperilled in a hundred battles”, the Americans on the other hand has a nature tendency to think they are the leader, the model, and the center of the universe. From his inaugural speech, Obama shows that he is only one of such uneducated arrogant Americans regarding international issues. Long term brainwashing is indeed very damaging to the brain. Don’t expect a quick fix.

    Therefore, “Obama reaching out to Chinese” is likely a wishful thinking on the Chinese part.

  27. Wahaha Says:






    For all,


  28. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Charles #25:
    “That’s indirect election in case you haven’t paid any attention.” – that’s fantastic. Wake me up when they get the more direct form.

  29. Charles Liu Says:

    SK, Foarp can tell you the prime minister of Britian has never been directly elected. Obama was not elected by our dog-and-pony popular vote either (party-appointed electoral college decides the presidency indirectly.)

    Heck, doesn’t the Queen of England still appoint some govenor to Canada?

  30. S.K. Cheung Says:

    I don’t know about the societal or sociological level, but it seems the more pressing thing will be that the US continues to reach out to China on a trade level. With the “buy American” stipulation in the House bill, and similar provisions in the Senate bill, it looks like circle-the-wagons protectionism is in the air. I think it applies more to raw materials used for the infrastructure stimulus, and I think most of what China sells to the US is manufactured goods. But the protectionist mentality is still concerning. Having said that, it seems to be of Congressional making, and maybe shouldn’t be hung on Obama.

  31. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Charles:
    the British parliamentary system I believe is similar to the Canadian one. Or maybe I should say that the other way around, since ours is derived from theirs. In any event, we don’t vote for our PM…this is true. We vote for our local Member of Parliament (sorta like your district congressman). After the election, the leader of the party with the majority (or, as in our current situation, the plurality) of seats in our House of Commons is designated the PM. However, that individual is also an MP, and represents one of the 308 ridings in our country. So the PM directly represents the constituents in one riding, while being designated as the PM owing to the governing party’s structure. It’s like in the US, where no one elects Pelosi or Reid as the Majority Leader, but they do directly represent their district or state respectively. So for me to vote for a PM, I would vote for the candidate representing the PM’s party in my riding. Just like if you wanted Pelosi or Reid as your majority leaders, you’d vote for the Dem in your district.

    The Queen “rubber stamps” our Governor General. ie. our PM “submits” the recommendation for Governor General, and the Queen “agrees” to it. It is a largely ceremonial post, as the GG is supposed to represent the British Crown, but the British Crown has no say in how we run our ship.

    It is true that your Electoral College votes for the president. But the electoral college delegates are duty-bound to vote for whoever carried the state that they represent. So while a voter’s choice of Obama may have gone through a middle-person, that person doesn’t get to exercise their discretion in who they then choose for president, and the voters’ intent is still represented.

    So, after this long aside, please wake me when John Q Public in China gets to check a box or punch a chad in deciding who gets to succeed Hu Jintao. Otherwise, I’m busy sleeping.

    And seriously, if you are trying to argue that CHina is in fact “democratic”, then you are either using a metric with which I’m entirely unfamiliar, or you’re simply being argumentative. I guess the third option is that you’re doing both.

  32. Raj Says:

    Why was post #11 hidden? It doesn’t seem rude or offensive to me.




    And Becca’s “obviously not a democracy” pronouncement is something I would like to dispute. They have direct and indirect elections implemented at various levels for one. And the National People’s Congress is now indirectly elected by lower level People’s Congress deputies that are openly nominated and directly elected.

    Oh come along, you know that’s irrelevant. Elections do not by themselves make a democracy.

    The central government itself is selected through back-room deals and the people have no real input on that process. Same applies to regional/local governments. People can’t form their own parties to organise against the CCP and even independents can have a hard time. At the very basic village level we’ve all heard about situations where the locals go against political interests and try to get corrupt people out. That’s not democratic, nor is that happens across China if someone wants to challenge the CCP. Charter 08 is an example in hand. If China was democratic it wouldn’t have tried to suppress the document.

    And the National People’s Congress is still overall a rubber-stamping factory. I’m sure you can drag up some circumstances where they objected to policy, but if you do I’d also like to know what the general approval/rejection rate is.

    I’d also like to disput Becca’s “China’s majority Han-Chinese public had no sympathy for the idea of Tibetan autonomy”. Beg your pardon, from Sun to Chiang to Mao, the “Zi Zhi” (self rule) concept for the minorities has been well established in China. And they don’t round up their subjugated minorities and put them in reservations either.

    In that case, why do Tibetans only have sham autonomy? The whole point of self-rule is that you control your own affairs, which clearly isn’t the case in Tibet. So is “Zi Zhi” something that has always been heavily caveated, or has the PRC deviated from it?


    I think better interaction is at least partly contingent on freedom of information/media in China. I’m not sure how close Chinese and foreigners can get when the Chinese government still tries to limit what the former can access and read. You can’t hope to meet anywhere significant numbers of people in person so online is the only way. But how can you do that if websites/forums/blogs that discuss “controversial” matters are blocked? It doesn’t matter that only some get hit because the disruption means it’s difficult to establish a long-term community that people can flock to.

    It’s also difficult to make someone understand your POV if moderators keep deleting the posts where you try to detail your arguments, such that what people read usually amounts to little more than “no, I don’t agree that China is free”.

  33. FOARP Says:

    You know, the more I look at this, the more I don’t like it. I’ll tell you why:

    Surely freedom of speech is not advertised by employing people to say things they otherwise wouldn’t say. It’s one thing to create a forum for a particular kind of opinion, or to support someone by providing the means to make themselves heard, but a specific attempt to ‘talk to’ the Chinese by paid professionals and marketing people? The Chinese aren’t stupid, they’ll be able to spot an advertising campaign when they see it. Hell, the magic of the Obama campaign was that it wasn’t created by media execs and campaign officials, the internet campaign content that mattered was created by supporters for free in their spare time, they merely provided fora through which support for Obama could be expressed and organised.

    There are plenty of Chinese people with positive opinions about the US, but they aren’t going to jump on board some kind of bandwagon of creating videos and posters, not least because there is no event like the election to act as a catalyst for such opinion. What would their goal be? To make their countrymen ‘love America more’? With no end-point, such a campaign is likely to be overtaken by events. At any rate, many of these people have emigration to the US as their goal, and are unlikely to be that appealing to their countrymen for exactly that reason.

    One of the greatest problems that the US suffered in its wars in South-East Asia during the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s was an over willingness to allow the evacuation of ‘friendlies’ from territory which was likely to be overrun by communist forces. Once evacuated, however, these friendly forces were no longer able to influence the situation, and were lost to the cause. These evacuations were carried out on wholly humanitarian grounds, and the fate of those who were left behind showed just how justified they were, but they helped speed defeat in Vietnam, and eliminated the possibility of an uprising in North Korea after the stabilisation of the front line in 1951. Similarly, the slightest suggestion of any substantial support when none is likely to be forthcoming should also be avoided, otherwise the result is likely to be same as that in Hungary in 1956 – idealistic young people being shot dead whilst fighting in the mistaken belief that outside help is on its way.

    This is not to say that I endorse in any way whatsoever the idea that China and ‘the west’ (by which I assume that the US is meant, I doubt that the average PLA soldier thinks that war with Luxembourg is in the offing) are involved in some kind of cold-war style strategic competition. China and the US are large countries whose interests clash in some areas, that is all, they are not at war nor is war likely. But lessons from the period 1945-1975 on the limits of influence should be learned.

    This suggestion also misses the essential message of 1989. People like Vaclav Havel and Lech Walesa were popular because they remained in their country and because they stood against domination from the outside. Havel’s plays put him in the long tradition of Czech writers and intellectuals – he was a sympathetic character who’s importance was easily grasped by the average Czech. Lech Walesa was also a sympathetic character for the average Pole – a hard-talking union leader. In East Germany Kohl was an important figure, but he spoke the same language and was a countryman of the Eastern Germans, and the corrupt nature of the Eastern German system was hard to hide when prosperity was only a matter miles away. More than any of this though, the Eastern European Communists were simply no longer willing to fight for their system in the way that they had in 1956 and 1968, in China however, there was still the willingness to support a corrupted system with gunfire. There is no indication that this willingness has gone away.

    Really, this article reminds me of those Chinese who expected that world-wide revolution would follow in the steps of Mao’s victory, or those Cubans who expected revolution in the US, or those Tehran students who told the embassy hostages that they expected a revolution in the US to follow their revolution. Obama’s victory in the US elections does represent a revolution of a kind in the US, it is one from which others may draw hope, but it cannot be duplicated in other countries, nor is Obama that sympathetic a figure in China. Change in China will have to come from the inside, this is not to say that some help may not be provided, but this can only really be of a moral nature.

  34. ChinkTalk Says:

    The question I have is Iraq a democracy? They are voting now but US and Iraqi military guarding the poll stations.


  35. FOARP Says:

    @Chinktalk – I guess you must have mistaken this for a thread on Iraq.

  36. yo Says:

    @ Charles, in regards to your comments about the electoral college, that’s a technicality.

    @ Forap, “Hell, the magic of the Obama campaign was that it wasn’t created by media execs and campaign officials”
    I would disagree, it’s well understood he had one of the best(if not the best) run campaigns, and huge amounts of money being donated to him which he used to get his message out. I voted for the guy, but I would say, some of his supporters were a little bit overboard, chanting slogans as if they were expressing their individual opinion. Marketing is a very powerful tool and you need good campaign managers and money for that.

    In regards to Obama’s attention to China, I agree with others when they say he is focusing domestic, and there is nothing wrong with that given the circumstances of the economy.

  37. ChinkTalk Says:


    I guess my point is that if in China, there is an election and there are soldiers guarding the poll stations; would that be considered as a democracy.

  38. Raj Says:

    I guess my point is that if in China, there is an election and there are soldiers guarding the poll stations; would that be considered as a democracy.

    Depends. Are the soldiers there as an impartial force to guarantee security because there was violent unrest all across China, or to intimidate people to vote for the government? The reason you have soldiers in Iraq is the former, though happily it appears the elections went off peacefully.

    Whether soldiers are outside polling stations doesn’t matter that much – why they’re there is more important.

  39. WillF Says:

    Can any other political parties exist in China besides the Communist Party and a few minor ones that are effectively controlled by the Communist Party? No.

    Can non-CCP members get elected to provincial or national government posts? No.

    Is the leader of the CCP always the de facto (and currently de jure) leader of the PRC? Yes.

    Honestly, I don’t even know why this is being debated. China’s obviously not a democracy in the way that much of the rest of the world’s countries are democracies. The CCP doesn’t seriously debate this point. It debates the merits of democracy vs. the merits of the Chinese system. We already debated that to death in a previous thread.

  40. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Raj #38:
    Extremely well-said. My response to CTalk #37 would have been verbatim to yours.

  41. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To WillF #39:
    Agreed. Charles has his enthusiasms. Hence my last point in #31.

  42. FOARP Says:

    @WillF – The “China is a democracy” (or, alternately “The US/UK/Canada/Australia/etc. aren’t democracies”) argument is essentially a side-track, but it just needs to be said that the vast majority of Chinese people (and even a majority of CCP members I have spoken to) do not believe that China is a democracy. The system there is NOT one of representative or ‘sausage making’ democracy, because the CCP exists outside of the PRC constitution whilst permanently holding all the branches of state and thus fusing them into one body – a dictatorship with no checks or balances. Since people are not allowed to campaign or form opposition parties, whilst it is possible for independents to get elected to local seats, they cannot oppose the government, even at a local level – thus making their election essentially meaningless. Where they have tried, they end up getting arrested or worse. Without the ability to organise, these independents cannot elect independents to provincial or national bodies, and the system guarantees that they never gain control at county level as they never form a majority.

    Like I said, this is a classic attempt at subject-changing. It’s weird, the same people who castigate the DL and others for ‘internationalising’ their disputes with the CCP always end up ‘internationalising’ these discussion threads by making random assertions about Iraq, the US, Europe, and Israel/Palestine.

    As for the people who spend so much time complaining about how China’s products are portrayed, and wonder why Taiwanese/Japanese/Korean products aren’t treated the same, could this be because Taiwanese/Korean/Japanese products are better? However, if you want to get all historical about it, growing up back in the 70’s and 80’s, saying that something was “made in Taiwan” was code for “poor quality and breaks easily” even in the playground. Before that Japanese products were talked about in similar terms. I believe Americans are similarly given to talking about Mexican products in this fashion. This is only worsened by the tighter standards expected of products nowadays, especially those regarding lead and carcinogen content.

  43. FOARP Says:

    @Brad –

    “While it is in Chinese blood that “know yourself and the enemy, you will not be imperilled in a hundred battles”, the Americans on the other hand has a nature tendency to think they are the leader, the model, and the center of the universe. From his inaugural speech, Obama shows that he is only one of such uneducated arrogant Americans regarding international issues. Long term brainwashing is indeed very damaging to the brain. Don’t expect a quick fix.”

    Yes, because it is the Americans who have traditionally thought of themselves as the centre of the universe, rather than, I dunno, another country whose name means “Central Country”, where even nowadays all the maps show that country at the centre of the world, and whose rulers previously regarded all other countries as subject nations and itself as the only source of civilisation in the world.

    Scepticism towards high-flying rhetoric is healthy, mindlessly nationalism such as the above is not. You seem to have totally missed an essential part of Sunzi’s message, which is “Know yourself“.

  44. FOARP Says:

    @Chuck – Yes, I can tell you that every PM has been elected, since he/she has always been a member of the elected house since the post of Prime Minister was officially created. People in the UK vote for parties, the party which wins the greatest number of seats gets to appoint a Prime Minister, who has always been the leader of that party. Remember, his/her post is as leader of the majority in the House of Commons – it is from this majority that his/her power is derived, and if he/she should lose that support, then he/she must resign. Everyone who casts a vote in a UK general election knows exactly for whom they are voting.

    Contrast this to the ‘elections’ you currently find in China, in which there is no campaigning, no party manifestos except for the communist party, no opposition parties, where the party leaders are chosen in conclave, and where most people who vote have no idea of whom they are voting for. A communist majority is thus guaranteed at all levels of government, with the proportion of Communist control increasing from about 80-90% at local level (with almost all the others belonging to the 8 puppet parties) to 100% at national level.

  45. TonyP4 Says:

    My POV.

    1. Central government should not be democratic, at least for a while.

    2. Local government should be democratic. The citizens should vote out the local corrupt governments.I do not know how to define local yet – a province, a city/village…

  46. Wukailong Says:

    @FOARP: I agree with your viewpoint about the state of Chinese democracy overall, but the proportion of Communist control locally is smaller than 80-90% if you count village elections:


    This one if from 1997 but I’ve read more recent reports mentioning the same number of elected non-party members (around 40%). Does someone has any recent information that shows this has changed?

  47. Wukailong Says:

    @Willf (#39): “Can non-CCP members get elected to provincial or national government posts? No.”

    Well, at least non-CCP members can be handpicked to be ministers:


    This is a very recent development, but it at least shows it’s possible. I’m not sure it would be possible to be “elected” to said post, but how many high-ranking officials are elected in any meaningful sense of the word? 😉

  48. ChinkTalk Says:


    “Yes, because it is the Americans who have traditionally thought of themselves as the centre of the universe, rather than, I dunno, another country whose name means “Central Country”, where even nowadays all the maps show that country at the centre of the world, and whose rulers previously regarded all other countries as subject nations and itself as the only source of civilisation in the world”

    I was talking to a Japanese gentleman who is on a working holiday here in Canada. He is working in a restaurant as a server to pay for his stay in Canada. His own opinion on the relationship between Japan and the world is that Japan is the centre of the world. He believes that Japan is the true economic powerhouse of the world and that much of the world economy hinges on the development of Japan. Awhile ago, a member of the Japanese royalty (a lady in her 80s if I remeber correctly) expresses the same sentiment. I read this a year ago and do not have the source. Also look at the Japanese flag.

    And I have met many British immigrants here in Canada who believe that Britain is still exerting the power of the Empire in its global influence. Many complain that Canadians are such uncivilized brutes with no notion of manners. They also complain about the Vancouver weather; I hate to ask them to live in Winnipeg. The British Empire is as much a joke as Prince Charles. Why do the British immigrants insist on its prowess. When people put up signs like “Dogs and Chinese not allowed”; they are certainly convinced of their position in the universe.

    My point is that every country thinks it is the centre of the universe and its prominence really depends on its international clout at the time. The Obama inaugural speech definitely shows that he considers the US to be the centre of the world. As evidenced by the recent edicts of “currency manipulation” and “buy America”. And there is nothing wrong with that because Obama is the President of the United States and he is expected to fight for the interests of America. What would happen if he advocates equitable world trade even at the loss of American jobs when it is the US Labour that supported his election.

  49. Steve Says:

    @ FOARP & CTalk: I think you are both correct. The USA acts as if it’s the most important country in the world because of its political, economic, geographic and military might. China acts as if it’s the most important country in the world because of its economic, historical, geographic and population might. The UK acts as if it’s the most important country because of its political and historical might. Japan acts as if it’s the most important country in the world because of its historical and economic might. France acts as if it’s the most important country in the world because of its historical might. Germany acts as if it’s the most important country in the world because of its historical and economic might.

    When Hu or other Chinese leaders make a speech or pronouncement, they are only worried about how it’ll play in China since their major focus is to maintain political power. When Obama or others in his administration make a speech or pronouncement, they are only worried about how it’ll play in the States sine their major focus is to maintain political power. Getting all worked up about how it’s taken in another country is silly. They’ll be some back and forth, a phone call is made, and everything is fine. Both leaders understand who each other’s primary constituency is.

    Obama doesn’t care about addressing the Chinese people through the internet; he cares about addressing the American people through the internet. The Chinese people don’t make political decisions; the CCP does so why would he address the Chinese people? They’d only hear what agreed with their government’s position; anything else would get censored and that would cause a negative backlash which would be counterproductive to Obama’s goals. So no, I don’t think Obama should engage the Chinese people through the net.

    @ CTalk: You gotta get a new name. Why are you using a racist slur? The “C’ word is equivalent to the “N” word where I grew up.

  50. FOARP Says:

    @CTalk – Indeed, and if Germans, Japanese, British, Italians, or Russians were to come on this website and say that Chinese or Americans naturally think of their home country as the centre of the universe, I would say something similar. But for a Chinese person to say that Chinese people do not think of their country as the centre of the world whereas Americans do is sheer nonsense – everyone sees the world through their own set of eyes, and is most concerned with those things that happen closest to home, there is nothing wrong with this.

  51. TonyP4 Says:

    Hi folks, let me provide some comic relief in the middle of the heated debate. It is an e-mail from my high school classmate. The entire incident is real except the names have been changed to protect the innocent parties.


    Dear classmates,


    1. Wear your glasses. Make sure your partner is actually in the bed.

    2. Set timer for 3 minutes, in case you doze off in the middle.

    3. Set the mood with lighting. (Turn them ALL OFF!)

    4. Make sure you put 911 on your speed dial before you begin.

    5. Write partner’s name on your hand in case you can’t remember.

    6. Keep the polygrip close by so your teeth don’t end up under the bed.

    7. Have Tylenol ready in case you actually complete the act.

    8. Make all the noise you want. The neighbors are deaf too.

    9. If it works, call everyone you know with the good news.

    10. Don’t even think about trying it twice.

    (This was sent in large type so you can read it.)

    Sincerely, Irene.


    My reply.

    Hi Irene and all classmates,

    Ha, ha, Irene. ROTFL. It MUST be from your experience, thanks for sharing.

    I like to add (not from my experience though).

    11. Take Viagra at least 5 hours earlier – allow time for your weak body to digest and distribute to the right organ.

    12. Take pills for your high blood pressure before and after.

    13. After it is done, mark it on the calendar, so you know when to do it again – do not depend on your poor memory. If your calendar does not have dates for next year, buy one even it is your last dollar.

    14. If your partner died fortunately or unfortunately during the exercise, it would be great on your resume. Check whether s/he has a smile on the face and let us know.

    15. If you cannot make love due to the big bellies in between, it is quite normal and medically we call it ‘mission impossible’. Consult some Chinese and Indian old books on special techniques/positions. If it still fails, call Dr. Ruth immediately.

    Again thanks for sharing this important information. Your sincerity and honesty are greatly appreciated. I hope it will be useful to me 20 years later. At the mean time, practice, practice, and more practice.


  52. Charles Liu Says:

    Foarp @44, “there is no campaigning”

    Beg to differ, I already cited you an example where Dr. Xu, a well known human rights activist, had in fact campaigned, and won a non-CCP district level PC seat. If he has enough votes in the district PC, he could move on to National People’s Congress, even be part of the Standing Committee. That’s “sausage making”.

    I only need one example to prove your blanket statement to be wrong. If you take a look at the Chinese blogs, you’ll see many examples of campaigning at village level elections as well.

  53. FOARP Says:

    @Charles –

    ‘If he has enough votes in the district PC, he could move on to National People’s Congress, even be part of the Standing Committee.’

    Dude, when you’re in a pit, stop digging. The whole reason why everyone says China is not a democracy is because entrenched communist majorities preventing the election of independents to higher bodies. Please, give it up, or better yet, ask the average Chinese person whether they think China is a democracy, odds are they’ll say no.

  54. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To CTalk #48:
    “When people put up signs like “Dogs and Chinese not allowed”; they are certainly convinced of their position in the universe.” – again, is this a historical perspective? I don’t know how old you are, but I’ve certainly never seen anything like this in my lifetime in Canada. And if it is purely historical, how informative is that to the discussion apart from being a cautionary tale of where we shouldn’t go back to in the future?

    “My point is that every country thinks it is the centre of the universe and its prominence really depends on its international clout at the time. The Obama inaugural speech definitely shows that he considers the US to be the centre of the world.” – if you stipulate to the first statement, then the second one should really not surprise you, or cause undue alarm. If “every country thinks” that way, then the US sharing such a thought hardly merits mention.

  55. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Charles #52:
    I wish Dr. Xu the best of luck. Please let me know when John Q Public in China can cast a vote on his behalf to further his political aspirations.

    Also, exceptions to the rule are terrific. But please let me know when the rules have changed. Otherwise, the only thing you’ve shown is that one can never say “never”, nor “always”, even when it comes to China. I suppose that’s a good start.

  56. Wukailong Says:

    @ChinkTalk (#48): I remember hearing about the sign “Dogs and Chinese not allowed” when I was a kid in a story about how great the liberation was for the Chinese people, but later I read that the sign might very well be a myth. It’s been hard to come by any evidence either for or against, though…

    Here’s a funny article about the sign, and the appearance of “no Japanese” versions on the mainland:


  57. Wukailong Says:

    Btw, here’s another article about something that has always surprised me when I’ve been here:


    Chinese are not allowed into some places in their own country. It happened to me while I was a foreign student in a university, and it still happens in some areas.

  58. Charles Liu Says:

    SK @ 55, did you ever find out if John Q Public in UK can vote for their prime minister?

    And thanks for making me look, I didn’t know that 1/3 of China’s NPC representatives are non-CCP members. One of them was even nominated for ministerial position recently. Ever heard of Chen Zhu? I didn’t.

    Again these facts just show how out of touch some of our images of China really is.

  59. Wukailong Says:

    @Charles Liu: I mentioned Chen Zhu above. The China Daily article is less informative than the Who’s Who description, though.

    I don’t really understand the point of the discussion about whether a person can vote for a prime minister or not. It depends very much on what kind of system you have, a republic or a parliamentary system, and every system doesn’t work like the US where you vote for persons. Why not ask how well a system represents its citizens?

    Anyway, these examples shows that there has been political change in China during these 30 years.

  60. Wukailong Says:

    Yay! My first negative vote!

    It seems several people here vote depending on whether they like an opinion or not (not mentioning my own). Was that the purpose of this system?

  61. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Charles #58:
    Based on FOARP #44, the answer to your first question is a resounding yes. And quite similar to the Canadian situation, which I detailed in # 31. Not surprising, really, since our system is derived from the UK parliamentary system.

    Your second point would suggest that China’s in fact made a REALLY good start. Let’s hope they don’t squander it. Let’s also not confuse a phenomenal start with mission accomplished (ie one of GWB’s blunders).

    Let’s stipulate that there have been some changes in the last 30 years. But let’s also not lose focus of the big picture, which WKL #59 nicely summarizes at the end of paragraph #2. And let’s not misuse “democratic society” on one that clearly isn’t…yet.

  62. WillF Says:


    Chinese Premier Says Democracy up to 100 Years Away

    February 27, 2007

    “Democracy will emerge once a ‘mature socialist system’ develops but that might not happen for up to 100 years, Wen wrote in an article in the People’s Daily, the main Communist Party newspaper.”

    Democracy, at least as Premier Wen defines it, is a long time away. I realize that Wen’s opinion does not equal government policy but I’d say it’s probative evidence of the CCP’s current (or at least very recent) stance on the issue.

    As to whether China needs democracy:

    “‘A highly developed democracy and a complete legal system are inherent requirements of the socialist system and important symbols of a mature socialist system,’ Wen said.”

    So whatever democracy means to Wen, as of 2007 he viewed it as eventually necessary for China, just not right now. Sounds like what most people I’ve met in China tell me.

  63. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To WillF:
    that’s a good one. Well, how should his statement be interpreted? Should the focus be on the “up to”, such that it could happen anywhere from tomorrow to 2107? Should we focus on his apparent opinion that CHina needs to mature a further 2.6X from her current state in order for her to be ready? Should we take heart in the fact that he’s at least set a target date? Or should we just accept that what he’s really saying is “not in your lifetime, buddy” and stop worrying about it? I also wonder what he means by “highly developed democracy and complete legal system”. Oh well, at least he seems to be aiming for the Ferrari, and not just looking to get himself a Pinto.

  64. Wukailong Says:

    @Willf (#62): Wen’s statement seems to me a bit like the slogan coined by Deng Xiaoping: the party line will not change for a hundred years (黨的路線一百年不動搖). Setting plans for a whole century seems a bit overambitious, though – imagine the guy who would have made a plan the year 1900 on the developments for his country leading up to the year 2000. Even 30 years is unrealistic.

    Here’s another take which might seem extreme in the other direction:


  65. FOARP Says:

    @Charles Liu – A lot of the examples you give are not independents, but members of the 8 puppet parties. Chen Zhu, for example, is a member of the China Self-Interest party (the best I can translate their name, anyone with a better translation please tell):


    The vast majority of non-CCP members of the PPCC are members of the Revolutionary Committee of the KMT:


    Cheng Siwei (Vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress) is leader of the China Democratic National Construction Association:


    Yan Junqi (vice chairwoman of the National People’s Congress) is leader of the China Association for Promoting Democracy:


    Han Qide (Vice-president of the National People’s Congress) is leader of the September the 3rd party (named for the date of the end of the Sino-Japanese war in 1945):


    These parties have working with the CCP to achieve the CCP’s goals as their avowed purpose, in the future they might become a functioning opposition, but they do not represent an opposition at the current time, at the moment they are a sham. Furthermore, their existence is nothing new, most have been around since before 1949, and have been involved in national politics since at least the end of the cultural revolution, and allowed under the 1982 constitution (essentially you are asking us to believe that China has been a democracy since 1982 – is this what you are saying?). The most famous political leader who was a member of one these parties was Song Qingling, who was honarary president of the Revolutionary Committee of the KMT. The elevation of one of their members to mid-level national government essentially signifies very little.

    Just look at what the PRC’s leaders themselves say in the quotation above about democracy being 100 years away if you don’t believe me. Neither the majority of the Chinese people nor even the leaders of the CCP themselves actually think China is a democracy. Nor have there been anything but the most tentative steps towards it.

    Finally, you seem to have mis-understood something very important about the British system – in the UK constitution parliament is sovereign. The Prime Minister sits in parliament and derives his or her powers from it, at any time parliament can give a vote of no-confidence against his or her leadership and he or she must resign. The Prime Minister is not a separate branch of government as in the American system, but, as with the rest of the cabinet, forms an executive that sits in parliament and are elected members of parliament. The emphasis in the British system is on choosing a ruling party by granting them a majority in parliament, everyone knows who the party leader is when they cast a vote, and everyone knows that by granting that party a majority in parliament they are raising that leader to the post of Prime Minister. Therefore everyone who casts a vote for the party which wins a majority in parliament chooses that party’s leader as Prime Minister.

    So yes, put simply, the UK is a democracy because people can choose the ruling party, the PRC is not because people have no influence on the choice of leaders, their manifestos, or even the ruling party. Wen Jiabao recognises this even if you do not.

  66. admin Says:


    Zhi Gong means “for public interest.” I am wondering why you translated CZGP as “China Self-Interest party?”

  67. FOARP Says:

    @Admin – I think all the links in that last post must have got it spammed – could you check the filter?

    You know, something this website needs is a registration process. People should still be able to post without registering, but should be subject to a spam filter, whilst registered users should be able to post without being spam-checked.

  68. admin Says:


    Sorry about the inconvenience. We actually allow open registration. The registration button (link: http://blog.foolsmountain.com/wp-login.php?action=register ) is at the bottom of the sidebar. It takes only seconds to do so. I wncourage all regular readers to register for an account.

  69. Ted Says:

    WillF #10: I appreciate some of your points but have to disagree with this one;

    “Discourage public embarrassments and snafus: One or two of these incidents may be insignificant, but a series of them could one day be detrimental to trade policy, as China may feel pressure to “act tough” on the US.”

    That’s a slippery slope. For me Obama means more transparency and less scripting. If you are referring to incidents like Sanlu or the school collapses in Sichuan, I think the level of criticism should stay right where it is. Perhaps there could be greater acknowledgment of positive changes taking place in China but that should be in addition to balanced discussion of any problems. Maybe I’m misreading what you mean by “public embarrassments and snafus”.

  70. admin Says:


    I don’t see a negative on your comments so apparently someone voted you up. 🙂 Currently I only see two comments that carry negative votes, one by SKC and one by Charles. No comments have been collapsed. I think some kind of the abuse of the system is to be expected, but if your comments get hidden due to negative voting then it will be time to abandon the system.

    As to the “no change for a hundred years”, you have to view this in a historical context. Deng said it to ensure “open up and reform” would be carried out no matter who is at the helm. The objectives were, 1) to build confidence in people that whimsical policy changes and mass movements were indeed a thing of a past. 2) to recognize China was so far behind that it would take a century to fill the gap between China and the West.

  71. FOARP Says:

    @Admin #67 – Must have been a Freudian slip . . .

  72. FOARP Says:

    @Admin – Also, i have to say that I interpret “100 years” in this context as meaning the same this as is meant when Chinese leaders say that they do not expect true communism to come about for 100 years, it means “Not whilst I’m in charge, and not for the forseeable future”

  73. WillF Says:

    @Ted 69:

    I think I just chose my words poorly. What I think Obama should avoid is statements that overstate America’s “role” in the issue. The Sanlu milk scandal and the Sichuan school collapses are both tragic, but the US has nothing to gain from saying “shame on you” to China over and over again. The US should take steps to limit the import of dangerous Chinese products, but if Americans aren’t consuming them the US has no business harping about them. If pressed on the issue, Obama should just say that the US is dismayed at the scandal and offers its advice and aid to the Chinese government if they want it, or something like that.

    That being said, at least in the last 8 years the US presidency hasn’t had much to say on China; it’s Congress and the press that cause some Chinese to think America is out to get them. I hope Obama can rein in Congress and keep them from sniping at China, but I doubt he will.

    @All regarding the “100 years” issue

    I’m a little rusty on my Marxism, but I’ll give it a go. Since Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought is still the official CCP ideology, it makes sense Wen would be speaking in these terms. According to the article, China is in the “primary stage” of socialism, whereas the “mature” stage of socialism is where real democracy happens. Your average Marxist-Leninist party sees its role as maintaining the dictatorship while the country develops into higher stages of socialism. At the early stages of socialism, the bourgeoisie is still influential, and in a Western-style democratic system they will take over the state’s political apparatus, undo all the socialist progress, and revert to a capitalist economic system. Once a higher stage of socialism is reached, the bourgeoisie will cease to exist, and society will consist entirely of workers. Democracy can then exist because there will be only one class, and thus no class conflict. The Communist Party will then become obsolete, since it will no longer be needed to protect the country from the bourgeoisie.

    Perhaps Wen is simply giving his opinion on how long the above process will take. If read this way, Wen’s not promising change will come in 100 years. He’s simply saying the CCP is going to continue to do its job as the vanguard of the revolution. In other words, democracy as most of the world defines it will never come to China.

  74. ChinkTalk Says:

    SKCheung#54; Wukailong#56

    Have you ever heard of the Chinese Exclusion Acts:

    I have never seen the sign “No dogs or Chinese Allowed” but I know for a fact that Chinese people were not allowed to buy properties in certain parts of Vancouver like in English Properties. And I know for a fact that in the English Properties they have always allowed dogs. Before the WWII, Chinese were not allowed in certain professions such as lawyers and accountants and they were not allowed to vote.

    Wukailong – it is very rare that I hear that foreigners get mistreated by the Chinese. Tell me. what did the Chinese people in Canada do to deserve such wide scale institutionalized discrimination and mistreatment.

  75. Charles Liu Says:

    Foarp @ 65, “A lot of the examples you give are not independents”

    Again I beg to differ, Dr. Xu is an independent, and Chen Zhu was an independent member(无党派) of the NPC when he became the Health Minister:


    And here’re some statistics I hope you can validate:

    (During PRC 9th NPC session, Democratic parties, non-party members in the NPC, NPC Standing Committee, and Standing Committee conferences were, 18.2%, 30%, 21.9%.)

    What percentage are non-party members? I don’t know, and I suspect neither do you. But these figures do show there are significant numbers of non-CCP members in the NPC, as result of open nomination, allowance of campaign, and free and fair elections.

    Like SK said, this is by no means “mission accomplished”, but people like you and him, as well as Beckie there, need to start waking up and recognize the progess China has made.

  76. FOARP Says:

    @CTalk – As you know well, the answer is “absolutely nothing”, but what is the purpose of bringing this up? Rather than help to deny that Chinese nationals see everything from a Sinocentric point of view, it only reinforces it, since the only wrongs you worry about are the ones that were suffered previously from other nations, rather than the ones currently inflicted on the Chinese people by their own government. As I said before, it is natural in any country to think of the things that affect that country as being the most important, but to say that any nation is ‘naturally’ more given to doing this, or that any people is ‘naturally’ more given to inflicting wrongs on others, is pure racism.

    Harping on about the wrongs of the past does nothing – nothing whatsoever – to put right to anything today. Does Canada have any such laws today? As far as I know, the answer is no. Did China also used to have laws forbidding the settlement of foreigners, or even the teaching of Chinese to foreigners on pain of death? The answer is yes. Do you want to keep dragging up past problems, or do you want to discuss presnt ones?

  77. FOARP Says:

    @Charles – According to Wiki about 1/3rd of the seats are reserved for non-CCP members by convention, and no doubt the majority of these will be puppet-party members. Once again, no real change.

  78. Charles Liu Says:

    So I guess you don’t know what % of non-party members are…

  79. TonyP4 Says:


    Same as in US. The first wave of Chinese were hired to lay railway to connect the two ends of the continent and some to dig gold. However, the pictures of the celebration of the completion never show a Chinese face. These Chinese were from the low society class and some were bought in ‘sold as pigs to the golden mountain’. These folks did the job faster and the better than local folks – who wanted to work long hours without coffee breaks under the punishing heat? They had many discrimination acts against the Chinese. Until recently there are some praise for their efforts.

    The sign of ‘Chinese and dogs are not allowed’ could be a myth. There are some buildings the Chinese are checked against more then foreigners in China. The guards are not well educated and they’re just doing their jobs. It is no big deal, but just racial profiling. They want to make sure no Chinese extremists killing foreigners. It is similar to profiling Muslim males boarding an airplane in a group.

  80. TonyP4 Says:

    Chinese go thru several phases on their sentiments on foreigners.

    1. Long before Ming, they’re the center of the universe while many Europeans lived in cases when the Chinese had very civilized society. If Zheng Ho travelled to Europe to see their better civilization, Chinese history could be changed.

    2. Second part of Qing. Pushed drug upon and defeated by the foreign devils.

    3. WW2. Chinese should thank US to end the war. Respect foreign devils.

    4. Mao told you you’re #1 in the world while you’re starving to death.

    5. Today China is stronger but still need the stamp of approval from the foreign devils.

    Well over-simplified.

  81. ChinkTalk Says:

    FOARP #76

    “Harping on about the wrongs of the past does nothing – nothing whatsoever – to put right to anything today. Does Canada have any such laws today? As far as I know, the answer is no. Did China also used to have laws forbidding the settlement of foreigners, or even the teaching of Chinese to foreigners on pain of death? The answer is yes. Do you want to keep dragging up past problems, or do you want to discuss presnt ones?”

    I hope you are not saying that the Jews should forget about the Holocaust because it happened so long ago.

    Then why I hear about the TianmenSquare and Cultural Revolution from the Western media all the time. Do we want to keep dragging up the past problems or do we want to discuss present ones?

  82. ChinkTalk Says:

    FOARP – could you tell me in your opinion what are some of the problems with Great Britain today?

  83. Steve Says:

    @ CTalk: You’re asking a Tory to expound on the problems of a Labor government? Oh boy, that’ll be a long post! 😛

  84. FOARP Says:

    @CTalk – Issues are a lot easier to talk about than ‘problems’, but obviously:

    1) Europe, particularly reform of the EU in the wake of enlargement, as well as UK membership of the Euro.

    2) Iraq.

    3) Afghanistan.

    4) Reform of the House of Lords.

    5) Prison reform.

    6) Education reform, particularly university fees.

    7) Social mobility.

    8) Social services and the welfare state.

    9) Immigration.

    10) Devolution.

    11) Northern Ireland.

    12) The economic situation, particularly the banks.

    13) Government corruption.

    14) Urban violent crime.

    15) Fishing and agriculture, both in connection with the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), and in connection with dwindling fish stocks and ever decreasing profit margins for farmers.

    16) The environment.

    17) Power production, particularly an unreasoning reluctance to build nuclear power stations or large-scale power projects like the Severn Estuary Barrier.

    18) Unemployment.

    19) An ageing society.

    20) Public infrastructure, particularly the railways.

    21) Excessive taxation and public debt.

    22) The housing crisis.

    23) Republicanism.

    (in no particular order)

  85. FOARP Says:

    @Ctalk – There is a difference between Jews remembering the Holocaust and people simply using past suffering as a bludgeon with which to beat down criticism (and, unfortunately, you often see Jews doing this as well – particularly in connection with Israel).

  86. ChinkTalk Says:

    FOARP #76

    “Harping on about the wrongs of the past does nothing – nothing whatsoever – to put right to anything today. Does Canada have any such laws today? As far as I know, the answer is no. Did China also used to have laws forbidding the settlement of foreigners, or even the teaching of Chinese to foreigners on pain of death? The answer is yes. Do you want to keep dragging up past problems, or do you want to discuss presnt ones?”

    FOARP #85
    “@Ctalk – There is a difference between Jews remembering the Holocaust and people simply using past suffering as a bludgeon with which to beat down criticism.”

    So it is ok for the Jews to “keep dragging up past problems”, but not for the Chinese.

    This is what drove me to seemingly a defender of China when I am really not. That is when I see unfair treatment to China compared to other countries. It seems like Western people always selectively choose whatever is suitable for their argument and use it against China and excuse the same when other countries do it. I guarantee you that if you can show me equitable treatment to China I will be the first to condamn the wrongs of China.

  87. Steve Says:

    @ Charles Liu #75:

    Today the AP had an article talking about how the Central Military Commission issued a notice that China’s military should “resolutely obey the central party committee and the Central Military Commission’s command at any time and under any circumstances, and ensure the military forces’ security, stability and high level of unity at all times”.

    This has happened before and the notice wasn’t the part I wanted to ask you about. What I found more interesting was that the military reports to the party and not the government. I had also read in the past that when problems took place in the provinces, such as mine disasters, etc., it was the governor that was fired rather the local party leader, though all major decisions go through the party.

    Lately we’ve all been discussing whether representation is democratic or not. But if the party controls all major aspects of government with veto power over any local issue, isn’t elected office superfluous? Wouldn’t that make a discussion of China’s possible “democracy” a moot argument? Is there any other “democracy” in the world whose military is controlled by a party rather than the elected government?

  88. Charles Liu Says:

    Steve, I honestly don’t know enough about China’s political system to answer this question (and I suspect neither do you.) Is Central Military Commission part of the CCP? Cursory examination shows it is not, which makes the “obey party and government” statement quite reasonable.

    Do you know what is the context of the quote, do you mind citing the AP report?

    As to your rational to pronounce elections in China “moot”, I disagree. Local governments make their own decision, and are held responsible. The party leadership in state organs is not that different than all the “cadres/political appointees” we have in our own government (from the Pentagon to NASA). They just have more of it I suppose, and they too rise/fall/shuffle within each’s political climate.

  89. Steve Says:

    @ CTalk: “Western people” don’t usually talk about China but when they do, they typically mention giant pandas, great food and the most recent Olympics. Most westerners don’t know much about China’s government and don’t particularly care. They’ve heard of Mao but never heard of Jiang or Hu, and most never heard of Deng. They know China is communist in name but seems to be capitalist in terms of the economy. They know most of what they buy at Walmart is made in China. They know China has had quality control issues in the last couple of years. Most have heard of the Great Firewall and know that there is no free press.

    The #1 misconception I’ve read on this blog is the perception that “western people” have strong negative opinions about China. Most don’t have much of an opinion of China either way. With quite a few, if I mention my wife is from Taiwan, they ask if she’s from Bangkok, and are obviously unaware of any China/Taiwan issues since they don’t even know Taiwan exists. They’ve heard of the DL and Tibet but most don’t pay much attention to what Hollywood actors think. If you asked 100 Americans what country is the biggest threat, I’d guess over 80 of them would say Russia, with North Korea being #2.

    Just because someone writes a blog criticizing China, or some reporter writes an article doing the same, don’t think the majority of westerners necessarily agree. In a free press, you can always find positive or negative opinions on any issue. Focusing on the negative ones gives you a very unbalanced opinion as to the actual state of events. The odds are better that the typical westerner has seen a travelogue raving about China as a wonderful destination than have read any negative press. When I mention China to others, they almost always respond positively.

    So I question your ideas about “unfair treatment to China”, though I can understand why you might think that way. Most westerners don’t care, and the ones that do tend to have far more nuanced ideas than you might expect.

  90. Steve Says:

    Hi Charles, thanks for your quick reply. I saw it on the China Post but the same article is in online papers all over the world.

    This is a slightly different version of the same AP article:

    Wiki has this take on the Central Military Commission.

    Per Wiki, “The command and control of the People’s Liberation Army (Chinese armed forces) is exercised in name by the ‘state CMC’, supervised by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. The state CMC is nominally considered the supreme military policy-making body and its chairman, elected by the National People’s Congress, is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. In reality, command and control of the PLA, however, still resides with the Central Military Commission of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee—the ‘party CMC’.

    Both commissions are identical in membership, thus actually forming one identical institution under two different names (simplified Chinese: 一套机构两块牌子; pinyin: yítào jīgòu liǎngkuài páizi), in order to fit in both state government and party systems. Both commissions are currently chaired by President Hu Jintao. The 11-man commission issues directives relating to the PLA, including senior appointments, troop deployments and arms spending. Almost all the members are senior generals, but the most important posts have always been held by the party’s most senior leaders.”

  91. ChinkTalk Says:

    “The #1 misconception I’ve read on this blog is the perception that “western people” have strong negative opinions about China. Most don’t have much of an opinion of China either way. ”

    Steve – my friend – I have to disagree with your statement.

    Let’s do an experiment. Please try to find up to September, 2008 in any mainstream Canadian press that has an article that is remotely positive on China. If by any chance you can bring up the “comments” sections, it would be even better because then you can see how much people know about China and their conception of China.

  92. miaka9383 Says:

    That is where your misconceptions come in. Western media do no equal Western people. Average Americans/Canadians are too busy with their lives to talk about what’s going on in the world. I have shown the article entries in this blog to my fellow co worker and he told me point blank “Average American citizens don’t care about this stuff”
    With the growth in Technology, if a westerner actually care, they will be actively online talking on forums such as this. Majority of the time, these people will just read something and disregard it. And after they read it, they will seek out their favorite Chinese restaurants to go eat at and talk about how someday they would like to visit China if they could afford to go….

  93. Steve Says:

    Hi CTalk~

    To be honest, I don’t live in Canada and have no idea what the major media outlets are up there. I’m sure SKC can handle that for us. But I’m not talking about the press, I’m talking about average people that I’ve met just traveling around, and I travel a lot. China usually comes up in conversation sooner or later (by me, ha ha) since I like to get people’s reactions and opinions to what is going on there. That’s where my comments originate.

    Like I said, I understand where your opinion comes from. If I get online I’ll see a bevy of articles about China. Some are negative and most are inaccurate; oversimplifications of the current situation. Both you and Charles have tried to point out with examples that changes are taking place and things aren’t as black and white as they might seem. I think those examples contribute greatly to our discussion and understanding.

    But everyone who participates in this blog has a far greater knowledge and interest in China than the typical western person, so it really isn’t representative of the general attitude.

    Something that might confuse a Chinese person when they read the western press is the way they must “represent” both sides of an issue. You might read an article where they’ll give the Chinese position, then state with equal respect the position of the DL or Taiwan or whatever the issue happens to be, and that same Chinese person’s reaction might be “But that’s not true; they’re promoting something that is inaccurate.” So that person feels the press is negative towards China because the media gave “equal” validity to each position though they feel the China position is far more valid.

    That’s just the way the report the news in the west. I’ve read where they’d report something very accurate and scientific and then give another position that is total crap, yet treat it like it’s equal. Drives me crazy too! But they’ve been doing it that way for decades and will probably continue to do it. It’s one reason I don’t trust too much of what I read and prefer to find varied sources before making up my mind. For China’s position, it can be hard to find a good source since the China Daily is virtually unreadable, at least to me. Very poorly written, full of obvious propaganda, no nuance, no subtleties, no gray, everything black and white. Reading the back of a cereal box is more interesting, to be honest. 😀

  94. FOARP Says:

    @Ctalk – “So it is ok for the Jews to “keep dragging up past problems”, but not for the Chinese.”

    Where did I say that? What I said was that it is okay to remember, but if your response to everything is “but in 1856 you westerners etc. etc. etc.”, dragging up past events which have absolutely nothing to do with the affairs being discussed, then who will listen? Why should anyone listen? Do you think that Israelis should try to use the Holocaust to justify their recent attacks on Gaza? I don’t , and that is exactly what I just said.

    The thing is, I am not even trying to ‘condemn’ anything – the only thing I have ‘condemned’ is Brad’s mindless rant about how Americans, unlike Chinese, naturally think they are the centre of the world – yet another example of the ‘arrogant foreigner’ meme we see far too often.

  95. Steve Says:

    One nice thing about past problems is that they are “past”. I could not have married my wife legally in all 50 States until 1957, but these days it’s a non-issue. When guys like Jerry and I were kids, blacks in the USA had to eat in separate restaurants, sleep in separate hotels, use different bathrooms, even drink at different water fountains in the South. But today we have a black president. The key is that things change and change for the better.

    China won’t change by waiting 100 years. That’s just a clever way of saying that change won’t happen soon. But true change comes in small increments; a point that Charles likes to make. Bringing up past events just illustrates that the old ways of thinking are no longer valid. It’s actually a testament to progress and should be welcomed rather than condemned.

    There are always people in every government that hate change; many want to go backwards. Within those same governments are people who want to progress. The key is when the ones that don’t want to change accept that certain changes are natural and correct, and won’t upset the grand scheme of things. Once people realize that change will benefit their lives rather than hinder them, change takes place.

    Jews bring up the Holocaust because there are many that still deny it happened and there are still places where being a Jew is a dangerous proposition. But if we want to talk about slavery, let’s talk about slavery in the present tense rather than the past. Quite frankly, it gets old hearing about how the “west” controlled China one hundred plus years ago. China controls itself so it’s interesting as history but bears little relevance to the present day except when used to drum up nationalistic sentiment.

    The western powers don’t want China to fail, they want China to succeed. For instance, if the USA wanted China to fail, why would they have open trade with them? They want a strong China as a buffer to Russia and as a reliable trading partner. True power these days is economic, not military. Large militaries are mostly a drain on finances. Economic trade if done correctly is a win/win proposition where everyone specializes in what they can do best. Each country enriches the other. Every country makes economic mistakes at one time or another. The key is to allow them to correct those mistakes without tearing the entire system to pieces.

    The USA isn’t dangerous; China isn’t dangerous. Both have thriving, mutually dependent economies that might be in recession right now but will eventually come back and be stronger than ever. The country we all need to worry about is North Korea. Their economy is a basket case and so they have nothing to lose by threatening their neighbors. Right now they’re not getting the free aid they need to keep the ruling party in power, so they are threatening to go to war. If their economy was strong, they would never act like this.

  96. TonyP4 Says:

    I wish Chinese remember the rape of Naking more and chased after those war criminals. We need to learn from history, so we do not repeat the same blunder. Sadly, history is being repeated in Africa.

    Like to defend Bush a little here before the world give him a finger or a shoe.
    * Bush was voted second term by us, so we need to bear some blame.
    * Bush is a friend of China and should be treated in return: 1. engaged China instead of treating China as an enemy. 2. attended Olympics while a lot of US citizens opposed his showing up. 3. tried to take out the ban on dual purpose technology to China in his final days as the president…

    I remembered from my personal experience how KMT remembered/treated the flying tigers in Taiwan (my hotel room was canceled and gave it to the tigers in Grand Hotel).

  97. William Huang Says:

    @ FOARP #94
    You said: ”“The thing is, I am not even trying to ‘condemn’ anything – the only thing I have ‘condemned’ is Brad’s mindless rant about how Americans, unlike Chinese, naturally think they are the centre of the world – yet another example of the ‘arrogant foreigner’ meme we see far too often.”

    It’s hardly an eccentric view that Americans consider themselves the leader (or the center) of the world. One may argue that some pople in other countries have the same view about themselves but Americans certainly went beyond that point. Just take a look at what George W. Bush has said and done. It will be naive to believe that this is just an isolated case and limited to one individual.

    Americans’ view on their position in the world is well documented and widely acknowledged. It is my understanding that many Europeans actually resented such attitude by Americans. So I don’t think Brad’s view (Post #26) in this regard is out of line.

  98. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To CTalk #74, 81, 86:
    “I hope you are not saying that the Jews should forget about the Holocaust because it happened so long ago” –

    “So it is ok for the Jews to “keep dragging up past problems”, but not for the Chinese.”

    CT, why just stop with buying houses in Vancouver? Why not take it all the way back old-school, and start talking about Chinese building the railway, and the head tax? The issue isn’t dragging up past problems, it’s that those problems, and the attitudes that spawned them (ie racism), are no longer relevant in the discussion of Chinese living in Canada today. Contrast this with the Jews and Israel. Their existence is still threatened by many of the nations that border them. Now, is the threat of the same magnitude as another Holocaust? I think not. But I think that threat is orders of magnitude larger than a Chinese person today wondering whether they can buy into a swanky Vancouver neighbourhood, or worrying whether they’ll get service in a restaurant. If you can find a comparable threat, I’d love to hear about it. Otherwise you’re just trying to change the subject, and it’s time to give that a rest.

  99. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Steve #87 and Charles #88:
    “that the military reports to the party and not the government” – as long as the party is the government, and vice versa, the distinction is moot. Which is also why Charter 08 asked that the military answer to the people, and not just remain a political organ.

    Obviously, democratic governments like ours have appointees and bureaucrats who are not elected. I suppose that’s no different than China. Yeah for China. THe difference is that those who appoint the appointees in these parts aren’t themselves appointed, or anointed. So yeah, Charles, I’m happy to stipulate that China has taken a couple of baby steps, based on what you’ve said. But let’s not minimize how much farther they’ve still got to go.

  100. Charles Liu Says:

    SK, I agree with you it’s by no means “mission accomplished, but at the same time let’s not minimize the achievment China has made under its current system as “baby steps”; they’ve come a long way both economically and politically by many impartial observers, including the Carter Foundation who’s worked tirelessly on village democracy.

  101. Wukailong Says:

    ChinkTalk (#74): “Wukailong – it is very rare that I hear that foreigners get mistreated by the Chinese. Tell me. what did the Chinese people in Canada do to deserve such wide scale institutionalized discrimination and mistreatment.”

    When I questioned the history of that particular sign, I didn’t say that there has never been racist treatment of Chinese – history is full of it, and I don’t see why I should deny it. So here’s a quick response to your last question in the quote above: nothing.

    As for the first question about foreigners (mostly white people, I guess) getting mistreated by Chinese, it depends on what you mean. I have been discriminated against, but these things have gotten much better the last couple of years. As for racial slurs or attack on me personally, I have been yelled at a couple of times but apart from that things have mostly been nice. People have their prejudice, but that’s mostly it. (Though I have to say I wouldn’t want to be black here…)

    Last but not least, I don’t think in terms of some grand narrative that justifies all my other thoughts. If some opinion or alleged fact doesn’t hold water, then I question it, even if it doesn’t score my general point. Check out #46 and #47 above if you don’t believe me.

  102. Ted Says:

    @Ctalk 101: “it is very rare that I hear that foreigners get mistreated by the Chinese.” You mean you rarely hear about foreigners being mistreated in China? I wonder why that is… Short of anything outrageous, like a stabbing in the Bell Tower in Beijing, if there were incidents of violence, discrimination, or racism toward foreigners do you think they would be reported in the Chinese media?

    “what did the Chinese people in Canada do to deserve such wide scale institutionalized discrimination and mistreatment.” Probably the same thing the Irish or Italians did when they came to the US… nothing.

    On a positive note, there were signs up in the Tulou in Fujian asking the residents and other Chinese visitors not to insult the foreign guests. I wish they had signs like that up on my trip last week to Huang Shan. BTW, short of the Tibet, I haven’t been to a more beautiful place in China. It was a wonderfully managed park as well.

  103. TonyP4 Says:

    @Ted #102.

    The guy in the bell tower incident had a mental problem. Due to Chinese law of no bearing arms by citizens, they did not have a massacre like the ones in US. 🙂

    On this count, the Chinese have better human rights record! 🙂

  104. Ted Says:

    @TonyP4: Touche 🙂 I know the guy had mental problems, just making a point about how serious an incident has to be before it makes the papers.

    I certainly agree with you on the gun control bit, problem is I grew up hunting. Every time I try to refute the stereotype that all Americans own guns, I’m forced to admit that I have 3 shotguns… arrgh. Fortunately there are no Bell Towers in my neighborhood 🙂

  105. TonyP4 Says:

    Hi Ted, fortunately you do not have mental problems and fortunately you are no Dick Cheney. 🙂

  106. pug_ster Says:


    It looks like Obama is doing something right by sending Clinton to Asian countries including China next week. Let’s hope that Obama and Clinton do the right thing.

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