Mar 24

China in the Year 2020: Three Political Scenarios

Written by Steve on Tuesday, March 24th, 2009 at 11:01 pm
Filed under:-mini-posts, Letters, politics | Tags:, , , , , , ,
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In our Dalai Lama Warns of Looming Violence thread, Wukailong linked to this essay covering three political scenarios that China might face in the year 2020. The author, Cheng Li is Senior Fellow at the John L. Thornton China Center of the Brookings Institution and William R. Kenan Professor of Government at Hamilton College. His summary is as follows:

Progressing toward the year 2020, China’s political structure is unlikely to develop along a direct, linear trajectory. Just as China’s rapid economic development and global integration shocked the world over the past two decades, so too might the country’s future political course defy projected expectations. Three possible scenarios for 2020 are presented in this essay. Which road China ultimately takes will depend on the interplay of current political trends, key players in decisionmaking roles, and demographic factors that will be important in the future.


The emergence of a democratic China ~ A wealthier and better-educated middle class, a stronger currency, and a more robust civil society, among other phenomena, lead to greater cultural and political pluralism.

Prolonged chaos ~ Economic disparities among urban and rural populations, rampant corruption among the elite, health crises, and environmental degradation trigger intense socio-political and economic crises that undermine the stability of the Communist regime.

A resilient, authoritarian China ~ Problems among the world’s democratic countries make democracy less appealing to the Chinese people, while stable development strategies by the party-state are necessary for growth
and economic stability, further entrenching the ruling power of the CCP.

The author goes into great detail on each scenario. I felt the most interesting section was his analysis of the two current factions, what he calls the “populist coalition” headed by President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, and the “elitist coalition” led by ex-President Jiang Zemin and current Vice President Zeng Qinghong. He feels this is a rudimentary form of checks and balances within the framework of the one party system. The author believes that the most likely scenario in 2020 will be the emergence of a constitutional democracy with Chinese characteristics.

At the end of his article, he concludes:

What China’s domestic political landscape will look like in the year 2020 will largely depend on the interplay of current political trends, the new players who have recently emerged, and the demographic factors that will be important in the future. There exists reliable information and basic knowledge about all of these variables. Clear is that China confronts many serious problems, none of which has an easy solution. It is reasonable to expect a high level of contentiousness and conflict to persist in China over the decade to come. At the same time, however, China is on the rise, not in decline. Plagued by isolationism, civil war, and foreign invasions, China had a few bad centuries in its recent history, but the economic catch-up by China in the past quarter-century has been phenomenal. Having achieved an economic miracle, the Chinese people are unlikely to be satisfied with stopping short of the door of political democracy.

Yet like any other country China’s future can have multiple possibilities. China analysts may not agree on what China’s most likely 2020 scenario will be, but any thoughtful and intelligent forecast about China will perhaps come to the same conclusion: the trajectory of this fast-growing economic powerhouse will have profound implications not only for the millions of Chinese people but also for the world community.

Do you agree with the author? Where do you feel China will be 11 years from now? Can she change her political system peacefully while transitioning to a developed country? Is she more likely to maintain her present form of government during this transition? Or will other factors create instability in the nation with subsequent chaos?

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72 Responses to “China in the Year 2020: Three Political Scenarios”

  1. flags of the republic Says:

    Even if China emerges as a constitutional democracy in 2020, will it stop the rampant Chinky bashing we see now?

    One has to wonder.

  2. Allen Says:

    I think for most who care about China – most probably do not want Scenario 2.

    I hope and wish Scenario 2 does not happen – and do not think it will happen – if only because it is too scary – and too sad – too think about.

    So where do I see China 11 years from now?

    I think it will be a mix between 1 and 3. I think the CCP will be resilient and will be – for the most part – competent. CCP will also continue to play a leadership role in China’s governance, providing a stabilizing and stable hand as she develops.

    However, I also think there will also be plenty of democratic elements. These can come in several forms. There will be more freedom of the press. Many of the local administrative positions will be opened up for elections – governance as a whole at all levels however will continue to be under the leadership of the Party. Government will become much more transparent. The judiciary will be more independent as judges becomes better trained and more professionalized. Government at all levels – including the local levels – will become less corrupt.

    Some may ask – but how can all these things happen without separation of power, democratic elections, allowance of multi-party politics, etc.

    I tend to view governance through an operations management and leadership perspective. I tend to believe government is just another organization of people. Good governance can be approached as good management of any other large, complex organizations.

    The difference between governance and management of say a corporation is in governance, instead of just executing and making a profit, the government exist to serve the people. It is thus important that proper channel of communication be built that allows the government officials at many levels to accurately and easily discern what people need, so it can decide how to implement policy and programs that satisfy those needs.

  3. Wukailong Says:

    I’ve been thinking along similar lines as Allen. There probably will be a mix between (1) and (3) because honestly I don’t see how China would make a transition into a different political system in such a short time frame. On the other hand, I’m quite sure we will see changes that are considered ideologically impossible today (involving the press, the judiciary and even formation of other political parties).

    Perhaps then, even the Taiwan question might get closer to some sort of solution.

    Another thing to discuss is how much China has changed since 1998? Should we expect more change in the year 2020?

  4. Steve Says:

    Just a note to everyone: Please read the entire essay through the provided link. This is just a summary and in no way complete. I wanted to give everyone the general idea but the essay has a lot of good content we can discuss among us.

    I agree with Allen and WKL; no one wants Scenario 2. I’m not just talking about China; every country in the world wants China either to maintain the status quo or undergo peaceful reforms. China is at the stage where when she sneezes, the world catches cold. Scenario 2 is pneumonia.

  5. zepplin Says:

    Scenario 3 is seems the most likely, but isn’t that always true for the status quo?

    I don’t believe the team of rivals will evolve into anything. A factional clash might result in the cultural revolution / 64 incident, neither faction can risk being blamed for initiating open fighting.

    The rivals theory have problems as well. Zeng and Hu have been cooperative to the extent that you wouldn’t think they were rivals unless you looked into history. They are all elites after all, and it’s not a zero sum game. I don’t see the CCP splitting or any real democracy forming.

    Scenario 2 is also unlikely. The CCP has always had a tight hold on the military, even in the worst of turmoils. Chaos is unlikely without either elite factional fighting or military support, I don’t see either of these factors in the cards.

  6. Wukailong Says:

    @zepplin: Indeed, no matter what people think about the party governing the military, the fact is that the Chinese military is firmly in civilian hands. I don’t think chaos would come about by the army splitting into different factions.

    As for rivals theory, I’m not so sure. Right now it’s quite stable because of the relation with different people and interest groups haven’t developed into a sufficiently complex web of relations. That’s something I expect will change a lot up to 2020, and the way the elites handle the possible infighting will be key to how China develops. If it’s still the Xi-Li team by then, they might need to come up with good ways of handling conflicts of interests.

  7. ecodelta Says:

    The heart longs for 1, the head thinks it will be three 3 and the stomach fears 2.

  8. Otto Kerner Says:

    I note that scenarios (1) and (2) would be very favorable for “Tibetan separatist” elements. The current set of policies in Tibet would be much harder to maintain inside a more democratic and liberal society. Not that it can’t be done — the United States had a long history of practicing democracy for citizens along with authoritarianism for captive populations, e.g. for indigenous peoples or slaves, in the Phillipines, etc. However, rightly or wrongly, a country in the 21st century is likely to be held to a different standard than that. If people throughout China start having meaningful elections for, say governor or provincial party chief, it would be hard to deny the same option in the TAR.

    If scenario (2) caused enough chaos to disrupt the PLA’s ability to project force, we might see a quick uprising and declaration of independence in Tibet. I think a lot of countries would be inclined to recognise it quickly, as well, under those circumstances, which would make it hard to undo later. I suppose the main thing holding them back would be a fear of destabilising the situation further. A civil war in China would be an enormous tragedy and disaster for the world, in terms of the human cost of suffering among the Chinese people, the economic cost, the danger of fighting spilling over into neighboring; and, since China is armed with nuclear weapons, the chaos would pose a physical threat to the entire world.

    As most of us apparently do, I believe (3) is the most likely to occur. The CCP might be able to eventually transition to a more liberal-democratic model, but I think it would happen so slowly that we won’t see a lot of change in 12 years.

  9. ecodelta Says:

    What about a short of bi-party rule implemented by the two main currents in CCP?

    Or more imaginative. A bi-party rule CCP on one side and….. Kuomintang on the other.
    Yes it sounds crazy, but give a little thought over it.

    It could well solve Taiwan issue ;-).

  10. Shane9219 Says:

    It is hard to predict future, but take my words on this one: China in 2020 will be in none of those three scenarios mentioned by this report 🙂

    Among many, below is a few things you will see in 2020:

    1) Politically, China is still run by a single political party CCP supported by a few co-operative small parties.
    2) Socially, the principle on rule of law will be strongly established. China will appear very much like Singapore. This is the role model Deng picked since he started current reform and open-up
    3) Economically, the mainland, Taiwan, HongKong and Macao will be tightly integrated and form the largest consumer market in the world and a common-wealth entity governed by a few special free-trade accords.

  11. Shane9219 Says:

    You should learn from the current state of world affairs that

    1) China’s economy is run by the world’s top-rated economists,
    2) China is governed by a leadership that is world’s most sophisticated, experienced, strong, flexible and wise.
    3) Chinese people love their country.

  12. admin Says:


    Bill Gates said something similar about Chinese leadership 3 years ago.
    Gates ogles China in Davos

  13. ecodelta Says:

    Then… no need to worry. Everything will be marvelous.

    Welcome to paradise on earth. 🙂

  14. ecodelta Says:

    Forgot to say. I agree with you on 3.

  15. Shane9219 Says:





      专家鼓信心 危中寻新机




  16. Shane9219 Says:


    “Everything will be marvelous”

    Not everything marvelous, but everything is stable and in control.

    China has been a work-in-progress for many years, will remain so for years to come. As many as changes occurred and occurring in China, a few things will NOT change. So don’t get disappointed on that, you (and people in the West in general) should learn to accept and respect China’s choices.

  17. Wukailong Says:


    “1) China’s economy is run by the world’s top-rated economists,”

    I have no doubt that the Chinese leaders have a good grasp of the economy and usually do what’s in the longterm interests of the country. Since I’m not an economist I can’t evaluate the claims about the economists (and the article you linked above) but I don’t see any reason to doubt this claim.

    “2) China is governed by a leadership that is world’s most sophisticated, experienced, strong, flexible and wise.”

    I’m going to be more nit-picky with this one. Unfortunately all of these labels are much more difficult to back by any stats, but please feel free to describe this in greater detail. What does it mean to say, for example, that the Chinese government has the world’s most sophisticated or flexible leadership?

    I would say that the Chinese leadership and administration has developed a lot since the reforms and opening up began, and they have been very successful in their endeavor to develop the country. I would be careful about talking big, though. It seems to be a characteristic shared by Americans and Chinese, especially when they express love for their countries. 😉

  18. Nimrod Says:


    With regard to 2, I think what Shane9219 meant to say is (I’m just guessing) that if you airdrop into China any of the elected heads of state in the last 20 or so years, they would really screw things up. I agree to a point: Could you imagine Bush running China? But there are also many sophisticated, experienced, and wise people in their administrations. China doesn’t have a monopoly on good leadership.

    Anyway, the point is, history will say China’s fortune has really turned since mid-20th century, and so either it got really lucky or it has been run really well on the balance. While it lived in a world order defined by others, this may have been easier to do. As it emerges to define the rules of the game, things will get exponentially harder as there can be a lot more mistakes made.

  19. TonyP4 Says:

    I do not think China will have substantial changes in 11 years. The last 30 years have a lot of changes for sure. Once the initial objectives have been achieved, it is harder to go to the next level.

    * Corruption both central and local. Not much changes unless something drastic is initiated from the top. It could happen but not likely. The powerful leaders have too many personal interest to start these changes.

    * Jobs. Top priority. Hard to control product demand from outside China, but inside they can. Product dumping for the purpose of creating jobs cannot last for ever. After this recession, China should maintain 7% GNP growth to create enough jobs to avoid social unrest.

    * More regulations/enforcement on pollution, building codes… China will still not be a developed country by then by the yardstick of per capita income. When the country is poor, the citizens’ lives are not worth same as a developed country ( will have same problem with mining accidents for example).

    * Many infra structures should be completed. We’ll see one or more new nuclear power plants every year. Tibet and the west China will be quite different from today.

    * Hope China will move to the next phase of industrialization: selling quality products of mid tech. A lot of shortsightedness have to be fixed. Folks will try to make a fast buck without caring about the reputation of China Corp. The government needs to step in.

    * Hope we do not see Taiwan invasion in our life time.

  20. ecodelta Says:

    “* Hope we do not see Taiwan invasion in our life time.””

    That is what I call the “Maldivas(Falklands) Islands escape”.

    Using nationalism to divert attention from in house problems. In the end solves nothing and creates further trouble.

  21. cephaloless Says:

    “China is governed by a leadership that is world’s most sophisticated, experienced, strong, flexible and wise.”

    I see statements like this a lot but I always wonder if people who make statements like this doesn’t think they’re up to leading the PRC. So these people are humble and don’t think they’re up to the challenge. But why isn’t some seriously smart multi-PhD professor sitting in Hu’s office instead of Hu? What if members of that leadership also don’t think they’re up to the challenge when they’re selected by their predecessors to fill the role? Could it be that above average joes could lead just as well as these superleaders (because at best that’s who they are)?

    Anyway, I think an authoritarian government over a capitalistic economy is probably what we can expect to continue to see in PRC in the not so distant future unless something drastic happens in the next couple years. I don’t think there will be any obvious multi-party/multi-factional effects (the big guy just called on everyone to stop that right?) Unfortunately, the move to rule-of-law/independent judiciary isn’t looking lively, especially with that recent call to the courts to rule on behave of the economy and stability. And does anyone remember how the PLA is called to follow party leadership? Again, signs of not so positive developments.

    No one expects the chaotic scenario to come true but if bad drastic things happen and mao zedong 2 shows up, it could be 1927 all over again. Lets all hope neither of these things happen.

  22. Shane9219 Says:

    Gcephaloless #21

    “But why isn’t some seriously smart multi-PhD professor sitting in Hu’s office instead of Hu?”

    Ph.Ds are best to run economy and crunch engineering projects. That is exactly what is happening inside China 🙂

    A good and strong political leadership requires experience, vision, guarded will and roots in people, with ability to subscribe right and flexible policies according to situation on the ground, not from any political/enconomic book or model.

    For these reasons, Chinese leadership has been successful. We see many failed leaderships in many other places with imported western ideologies and political/enconmical models.

  23. TonyP4 Says:

    Do PhDs belong to ivory tower? Theories are good, but are they practical? Do schools teach us how to deal with different interest groups and make compromises (CCP does not need to make compromises)?

    The continuation of a political system (more than the US usual 4 or 8 years) has its advantages and disadvantages. Same as true democratic system with 2 (or more) parties. Hard to draw conclusion on which one is better.

  24. Shane9219 Says:


    “CCP does not need to make compromises”

    CCP leadership do adjust policies when they feel the demand is reasonable, good for the country and people and their long term interests.

  25. Allen Says:

    @Otto Kerner #8,

    Thanks for bringing up what exile Tibetans may want.

    I’ve always understood that the exiles (esp. the DL) had secretly been wishing for the collapse of China since the late 1980’s – in the wake of the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

    This is another reason why there has been so little trust between the DL and the CCP.

    How can the CCP (or the Chinese people) show any goodwill to a group that has been so active in trying to discredit and destabilize their nation and hoping for their nation’s downfall?

  26. Nimrod Says:

    The CCP has tied its own long-term survival to the long-term survival of the country. You know, that’s a really good thing if you think about it. Of course it has to make compromises. Perhaps not as swiftly as it should, but also not as blunderingly as it might.

  27. Shane9219 Says:

    @Allen #25

    “the exiles (esp. the DL) had secretly … ”

    14th DL called off serious talks with China in 90s, publicly saying he did not want to talk to a “failed” regime.

  28. Allen Says:


    Yes … I do remember the DL calling China a “failed” state.

    But I don’t think he ever publicly and explicitly called for the collapse of China – although, of course, based on his actions and rhetoric – I know he might as well…

  29. Raj Says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if China is still an autocracy in 2020, but I would hope by then it was walking down the path to becoming a liberal, open society economically, politically, socially and religiously. I think that China will become a real democracy in our lifetimes – the issue is more when and how.

  30. Shane9219 Says:


    1) ” to becoming liberal, open society economically, politically, socially and religiously”

    China is already a very open society economically, politically, socially and religiously, but she is anything but liberal.

    The majority in China believe there is still lots of work ahead of them and stablity is a foundation to achieve their goal. There is no need for a few people to rock the boat when the country already got a working blue-print.

    2) “real democracy ”

    What do you mean “real democracy”? Is that two-party or multi-party rotation in power?

    The traditonal concept of “democracy” need a new definition.

    It is well-known that people in America dislike big government. But if you understood Chinese culture, people think that a strong and powerful central government is a good thing.

    Multi-party or even two-party governing in rotation is not equal to ‘democracy”. In many cases, it resulted a weak government and unstable political culture extremely venerable to short-term poliitcal impulse.

  31. bianxiangbianqiao Says:

    “The emergence of a democratic China…..”

    Silly and ignorant.

    Democracy is a red herring anywhere in the world. In the US you do not have “free people” enjoying democracy, but a bunch of “slaves freely electing their masters”, as Jürgen Habermas pointed out in the 1960s in One Dimension Man.

    The concept of democracy is a fantasy tool used by a few for manipulating the masses, just like religion.

    Thank Buddha China is not buying that crap.

  32. yo Says:

    “In the US you do not have “free people” enjoying democracy, but a bunch of “slaves freely electing their masters”

    lol, meaning did I really want to vote for Kerry in 2004????? 🙂 I understand in democracy(or America at least), there are many cases where the tail is waging the dog.

    As for the article, a mixture of 1 and 3 sounds fair, but leaning more towards 3. Social economically, i feel the leaders won’t be comfortable with major political changes until they reduce poverty to a level that they feel acceptable. While China made tremendous strides in the area of poverty, 11 years might be too soon.

    But of course, like the article said, we are talking about China, things can happen in a drop of a dime.

  33. JXie Says:

    Predicting future is a risky business. See the following:


    Try to slide from 1999 to 2009, and think about this, could you have seen this coming? If I have to make a black swan prediction for the next 12 years, it’s the utter and total failure of the UK as a nation, not necessary an outright dissolution, but more like a larger and worse Iceland.

    It’s not about pissing at FOARP (or Raj with whom I would care less to debate) — I’ve been thinking about this since my very low-mileage rental Landover kept dying on me during my recent London trip. My point is, why look at the politics, when it’s obviously the economics & demographics that drive nations?

    North Sea is drying up fast, and the UK has been a net oil importer. Other than weapons and the semi-defuncted auto industry, what else is the UK manufacturing in reasonably large quantity, let alone with decent quality? If the recent credit bubble is the result of a two-decade run-up, the unwinding and deleveraging will take a whole lot more time than 18 months. Forget about all those new-age financial services that at a macro level seem to be no more than a Ponzi scheme, even the try-and-true old style deposit-to-loan type of financial services will shrink quite a bit. Without financial services, what the heck else can the UK do?

    Oh, I think HSBC will finally move its headquarters to somewhere in China — Shanghai or Hong Kong, just like its name says.

  34. Raj Says:


    China is already a very open society economically, politically, socially and religiously, but she is anything but liberal.

    Can you explain in what way China is open yet at the same time illilberal? Certainly I don’t see it as being open politically – there is little or no transparency.

    There is no need for a few people to rock the boat when the country already got a working blue-print.

    There is no blue-print. There is no time-frame. There is no plan, unless it’s yet another “state secret”. Just a vague idea proposed by people that benefit from the status-quo that China will change when it’s “ready” or when people are “sufficiently wealthy”.

    If you disagree, please put down some specifics. Let’s talk about judicial reform – how does the blue-print approach this matter? What is the target year for bringing in a centrally-provided, annual budget for the judiciary?

    What do you mean “real democracy”? Is that two-party or multi-party rotation in power?

    “Rotation”? Who has talked about democracy being a rotation of power? It isn’t some form of queuing, it’s about ensuring political parties are free to organise, free to campaign and able to secure the backing of the populace to form a government. It doesn’t matter if some parties don’t win power – it’s that their able to.

    “Real” democracy means just that. It means having civil rights, political freedom, regular elections, some form of separation of powers, etc. Having sham elections isn’t enough.

  35. huaren Says:

    Those evangelizing “democracy”, “human rights”, “freedom” sound almost identical to those who evangelizes any form of religion.

    I completely agree with BXBQ this is red herring.

    I completely agree with JXIE that its all economics & demographics.

    I predict in 2020, it will become extremely difficult for the developed countries to maintain the disparities on this planet:

    Per capita meat and milk consumption.
    Per capita energy consumption.

    I predict a massive shake-up of the education system (elementary through high school) in the USA which then enables the U.S. to better compete.

    I predict a massive shake-up in how USA and EU view “quality” – especially for industries such as auto and appliances.

    I predict wages in developed countries will not climb as fast as they did in the last 20 years. They will stagnate for few decades to allow the developing countries to catch up.

    I predict the exotic financial schemes of Wall Street to cheat the general population will start to resurface around 2020. (Btw, I am surprised no heads rolled yet. In places like China, I’d expect people thrown into jail. That’s a government that is looking after the people!)

    I predict the “democracy” evangelicals are still going to be around in 2020. 🙂

  36. Shane9219 Says:

    @Raj #34

    Travel to China and find out the answer by yourself, that is my 2-cent advice, becasue you will not be convinced by what I say to you 🙂

  37. huaren Says:

    @Shane, #36

    LOL. I was thinking more like, how do you get an ideological nut to not be one? 🙂

  38. Allen Says:


    I don’t pretend that there is in China a lot of “political freedom” as understood in the West.

    But freedom is a multi-dimensional thing. In my opinion – at an individual, social freedom/empowerment and economic freedom/empowerment matter far more than Constitutional “political freedoms.”

    When I visit the Mainland, I am really amazed by the social – economic – even intellectual – freedom exhibited at the individual personal level by people across all spectrum of society.

  39. Otto Kerner Says:

    @Allen #25,

    I would have thought it went without saying that many Tibetans in exile — to say nothing of those in Tibet — would be happier if Tibet could become independent from China. It cannot. I don’t know why you seem scandalised to learn of what is basically pretty obvious.

    The fall of the Soviet Union strikes me as a very poor analogue to what we have been discussing, since it was accomplished largely without bloodshed and basically no harm resulted to the outside world.

  40. Wukailong Says:

    @bianxiangbianqiao: “silly and ignorant”

    Are you referring to the article? If so, please provide some criticism of what it says. It would be an interesting complement to the other comments here.

  41. Steve Says:

    @ bianxiangbianqiao #31: You wrote “Democracy is a red herring anywhere in the world”. How is democracy a red herring? A red herring to what? How does it eliminate discussion of another topic? I’m not sure what you’re getting at here.

  42. scl Says:

    Let’s be realistic here: the corruption and cronyism in any congress, parliament, local governments and corporations in any Western “democratic” country is probably on par to, if not worse than, those in the central and local governments in China. That is the reason why the Western financial system is in shambles right now. Corrupt Chinese officials put embezzled money in foreign accounts illegally, while the super rich in the Western “democratic” countries put the money, which they probably do not deserve in the first place, in foreign tax heavens legally. What is the difference? None whatsoever, except there are many deliberately placed loop holes in the laws and tax codes in Western countries.

    What China needs is a hybrid system that combines the best of Socialism and Capitalism. While private ownership of properties is constitutionally protected, private ownership of land should be strictly prohibited. Everybody pays land utilization tax, but nobody has to pay rent for land, ever. A land based taxation system guarantees government income for welfare services, and eliminates the most savage part of capitalism. The income tax must be truly progressive, with top marginal rates up to 95%.

    All human service personal and facilities should be nationalized. This means that all healthcare workers, from nursing aids to doctors, are civil servants, subject to national competence and ethic regulations. All facilities, from nursing home to hospitals should be government owned and operated. These ensures a universal single payer healthcare system.

    There should be free education from kindergarten to 4 years of college. All education personals should be civil servants and all schools should be public except some college and universities.

    Abolish death penalty except for spies and traitors (separatists included). Establish independent judicial system and protect free speech, to prevent any possibility of Fascism. If all these are written into the constitution, and all the institutions are established, then I do not care if China is democratic, authoritarian, socialistic or capitalistic.

  43. Wukailong Says:

    @scl: That’s quite an interesting program you have there. I agree with some of your points… I actually grew up in a country with a lot of stuff nationalized like that, and it might have advantages, though I’m quite sure a lot of people here have their misgivings, and I’m not sure myself. Just for the record, I’ve never paid for healthcare or education (though there have been nominal fees).

    Actually, I think we should be careful to discuss corruption as some sort of feeling we have about a system. Transparency International is a group dedicated to researching corruption worldwide. Their definition of corruption can be found here:


    Their index is published annually, and the one for 2008 can be found here:


    (As a side note, I’ve been reading this for several years, and China has been making progress on this index. In 2007 India caught up, but it has since moved back)

    I’m not saying this instrument is perfect, but it’s better than nothing/hearsay.

  44. huaren Says:

    @Wukailong, #43

    People in this kind of business are bunch of ideological nuts who think they are “moral” or wise enough to be able to make the right judgement. Their views are usually clouded – my gut feeling is a lot of them are actually racist to begin with.

    While at it, why don’t they also do a morality index?

    I pointed out in another thread that in the USA, if your name sounds like a minority’s, over 50% of time your resume is not even considered for a job interview. How do you account for this kind of phenomena?

    Or how about an index on how much weapon you proliferate around the world?

    Or how about an index on how many people your country has killed in the last 10 years?

    I heard on NPR that Morgan Stanley in the 1990’s had a team of 70 people generating about $1 Billion per year in selling financial derivatives (much of it high risk mortgages repackaged as “financial instruments.”). These 70 people did not make cars so you or I can drive. I don’t think they really contribute any value towards the real economy. Morgan Stanley was just one of the companies doing this.

    For me, the red herring is this. The average citizen goes about their 9-to-5. There are grose exploitations such as this goes on for decades. It has taken the world into a recession. Funny thing is, how come we don’t hear about people going into jail for it?

  45. Wukailong Says:

    Huaren, you are bringing up three different kinds of problems:

    * The viewpoints of Transparency International are clouded and led by “ideological nuts”, and they are probably racist.

    * There ought to be other kinds of indices, like a morality index, a weapon proliferation index or an index on how many people “your country” has killed in the last 10 years.

    * There is a lot of exploitation on the US job market that is not accounted for.

    As for the first point, my problem is exactly that people are going with their gut feelings. It’s almost impossible to discuss these problems if we don’t agree on any set of standards. I’m happy to hear valid criticism against the organization or its methods, but just talking about “gut feelings” and speculating about racism gets us nowhere.

    As to the second question – sure, why not? I would love to see what a morality index would look like. As for weapon proliferation, I’m sure you’ll be able to find something here:


    The third question: I have only been in the US for a total of four months in my life, so I can’t account for its problems, though I’m not surprised that there is discrimination. Hopefully there is ongoing action against it, but again, I wouldn’t be surprised if there isn’t.

    But reading between the lines, it seems like you think we either shouldn’t discuss corruption or that Chinese corruption shouldn’t be discussed because the problem of exploitation is much worse in the US. Why don’t you bring up a new thread about the latter problem?

  46. Charles Liu Says:

    What’s certain is freedoms in China will continue to grow. Sure sometimes to move forward you need to take a step back; China’s development on a linear trajectory or not, is up to them.

  47. Otto Kerner Says:

    @ scl #42,

    You know, I agree with you that establishing an independent judiciary and freedom of speech is the important thing. However, you’re saying that you want free speech and also the death penalty for separatists! You managed to contradict yourself in the span of two sentences.

  48. Chops Says:

    Another place where there could be greater democratic reforms in 2020 is in Hongkong


  49. miaka9383 Says:


    I have been in the U.S a long time. Please don’t take anything that Huaren said is to be true. Your resume has to be considered and viewed. The problem is that a manager only has proabably an 1hr to view a stack of 100 resume so they spend 30 second scanning your resume. If you don’t have the key words or qualifications, your resume goes to the dump.

    Chinese corruption will be one of the most important issue in China when it goes on track, or it could throw it off track. I know that with U.S’s transparency, we uncover a lot of corruption and at the same time a lot of corruption gets covered up. Just like the Democrats added a capital injection clause into the bail out plan that eventually caused us more grieve than good. Should the democratic senators go to jail for it?
    People go on with their 9-5 is not their problem. They do the job, they get paid. They don’t care that the job is shoddy or good as long as it is on schedule. If it is shoddy then they get fired. The problem is with the companies that guaranteeds bonuses where they can’t afford.. hence teh financial crisis.
    I should go and write a piece on American Financial troubles and that is why they have to borrow money from the world…

    Discrimination is every where, even in China. I have found that Asians are the most racist groups out there……
    On my way to class I will elaborate more

  50. miaka9383 Says:

    Like I said, Discrimination is everywhere. I want to take back what I said about Asians being the most racist group…. I want to change that to the most judgemental group of them all. Because we discriminate against our own people (fellow asians).
    A good example is in Taiwan…..
    Spouses from Mainland by law cannot work, and it takes them longer to get citizenship in Taiwan than most groups. <— discrimination legislation from the progreen parties…
    Another example…
    Many Vietnamese/SE asian wives gets treated like slaves by their husbands families… another discrimination…

    I can list you number of discriminations that I see in U.S but I know that things are getting better, but discrimination will always be around. Humans will always be humans and it is human nature to judge.

  51. scl Says:

    Otto Kerner, I think most, if not all, democratic countries that have abolished death penalty in general still reserve it for citizens convinced of treason. Whether a citizen committed treason will be decided by a military, instead of civilian, court.

  52. TonyP4 Says:

    Hi Miaka,

    Chinese do not discriminate racially as you do not have too many other races to discriminate. In Hong Kong, Chinese have reverse discrimination against the westerners as they’re holding good official jobs (now they may be sweeping the streets in London, haha). They do not discriminate the Chinese from the north as they’re bigger. They may discriminate some Indians and a lot of servants from Philippine.

    The discrimination is against class. The average manager in a factory may make more than 50 times the janitor. When I dressed like a FOB, fresh off boat, the pretty HK sales ladies gave me a bad look until I spoke English to them and then they treated me like a king.

    When a rich man marries a beautiful but poor lady, they normally have two separate banquet rooms so the same class mix harmoniously. I belong to the middle class, so I do not know where to sit. 🙂

    Do you know black discriminate against black who have a darker color? There must be a term for that.

  53. huaren Says:

    @Wukailong, #45

    Re-read my comments, #44, the first two sentences. That’s the main point of my comment.

    The rest of it, I meant to say, if you look at any country, they are ALL equally corrupt, and I am simply using the USA as an example.

    The types of ranking you cite are usually motivated by racism or some sense of superiority complex. That’s my believe.

  54. miaka9383 Says:

    I know there are Chinese parents out there in any country if their daughter is going to marry Black or even White.. or just outside their Ethnicity/culture, they would forbid their daughter from doing that…(discrimination?)
    There are blacks discriminate against blacks… you know.. like you said.. the rich discriminate against the poor….
    But wouldn’t you say that the Japanese looks down on the koreans that looks down on the Chinese that looks down on the Indians that looks down on the SE Asians? Isn’t that discrimination as well?
    I see it everywhere..heck I even do it subconsciously..

    I have a good discrimination story: My head strong, stubborn quick to anger father decides to go to a Ford Dealership in our town one day. He wasn’t dressed nice, but he wasn’t dressed poor either. My dad saves a lot of money.. and we have a big house and EVERYTHING. He walks in and the sales clerk looks at him and asked “Do you have enough money to buy?” my dad just got mad and walked out. My dad, living in NM for so long.. .the land of the endless sun.. does look Mexican or Indian… so discrimination maybe?

  55. TonyP4 Says:

    @Miaka, Is your name Mia Ka, born in Sept. 3, 1983 in NM next to a Ford dealership? Your father works as a crazy scientist for the US government. I guess you’re a PhD candidate and major in computer science. Do not have to answer any, but your name you use here gives out a lot of info. Mia also stands for Missing in Action, right?

    Discrimination could be a human nature. My children had the share of discrimination when they’re in school. I teach them not to discriminate racially by setting up as example. However, you need to protect yourself. I do not drive to a black neighborhood after 5 pm unless my car is bullet proof. More careful in using black professionals judging from their success in college. I do enjoy music and sports by the talented blacks.

  56. miaka9383 Says:

    Dead Wrong. Miaka is from the Anime Fushigiyuggi and I wasn’t born in NM (thank god) or next to a Ford Dealership. My father works for intel as a tech… and no I am just a 7th year college student in computer science because I work to pay for my own college……
    MIA that was a creative one 😉

    I discriminate a lot but I live in the ghetto so I am in no position to discriminate. I used to work at sears and customers wouldn’t talk to me sometimes because I couldn’t speak english…
    My car was stolen and retrieved by some shady tow company who is ran by Immigrants, but come to think of it.. the lot manager I think is illegal since he lives in the trailer in the lot… :/

    But I do see at UNM… Korean students do not interact with the Japanese students… but the Korean boys sure like the Taiwanese girls…..
    the ABC’s or the long time FOB’s tend to hang out with the Asian crowd where the mainland phd students hang out in their perspective department and there isn’t just a lot of Taiwanese students… so they tend to stick together.. tho I have traveled through circles….

  57. TonyP4 Says:

    Totally wrong, but it is fun to guess. I used to know some very pretty Taiwanese ladies – almost married 3 of them, haha. I do not know what happens to Taiwanese students. When I was in grad. school, there were more Taiwanese students than HK students. At that time, virtually no undergrad. students from Taiwan.

    I used to know some one named Mia and my name means prisoner in war.

  58. miaka9383 Says:

    Now there are more Mainland phd student than taiwanese students. The only thing that bothers me is that none of them care to learn to speak english before considering becoming a TA (they can write but to speak…god awful)….thank god I speak mandarin….

  59. Otto Kerner Says:

    @scl #51,

    Great plan. Maybe you can hire George W. Bush to help get this system implemented. He has experience with this sort of thing and is out of a job recently. I don’t recall him ever having a citizen sentenced death by a military court, but he’d probably be keen to kick it up a notch!

  60. Wukailong Says:

    @huaren (#53): I got your main points the first time, but I don’t agree that all countries are equally corrupt. I can go so far as to agree that all countries have problems and the US have more problems in some areas than China, but unless you use some very special definition I think it’s hard to deny corruption problems in developing countries. It’s a bit like saying “all countries are equally rich, but some have more money.”

    As for Transparency International consisting of a bunch of racists, I can only say you’re entitled to your belief, but I need more serious criticism to really begin to question them. If we all go by “gut feelings” and beliefs we can just believe in whatever we see fit.

    @scl: All Scandinavian countries have prohibited the use of capital punishment in wartime, though I’ve noticed that some other Western countries like Australia keeps it, for example. I’m not sure how treason is decided, but I’ve never even heard about military courts in Sweden (which is where I was born).

    @Miaka9383: Yeah, the problems in the US are probably less in terms of corruption and more in terms of the way the financial market has been set up. It’s quite interesting, btw, that the standard nationalist response to any issue is to either:

    * blame the problems on some other country, or
    * say that the problem exists, but is equally bad everywhere, or
    * say that there is a problem, but the one who mentioned it has ulterior motives.

  61. Wukailong Says:

    TonyP4: I love your blog. 🙂

  62. TonyP4 Says:

    @Wukailong #61.

    Thanks! The blog is a collection of jokes/satires/health issues that are circulated to me. We’ve a lot from FMers, especially from Steve. Every one is REQUIRED to have fun there. Just click on TonyP4 here to go to my blog. While you’re there, be sure to click on the ads – that’s my secret retirement plan.:)

  63. miaka9383 Says:

    I totally agree with you. And the most interesting thing about extreme nationalists EVERYWHERE is that they all have those common traits. It gets tiring at times. For some odd reason, I like to torture myself listening to Conservative Talk radio on my way to school during the day. It is the same old argument. My favorite is “Obama and the Freaking democrats are turning us into Socialist.. into the Freakin ChiComms” That is an old senile Rush Limbaugh way of saying “OMG We are all turning into Chinese Communists!!!!”
    The most ridiculous thing is some people(such as rednecks) believe him.
    Now in China, there are plenty of extreme nationalists. All they need is one person that is willing to speak up and that should change the political atmosphere a lot.

    P.S What is tony’s blog address

  64. TonyP4 Says:

    My blog is http://tonyp4joke.blogspot.com/

    Or, you just click on TonyP4 (used to work but not today)

  65. TonyP4 Says:

    Funny different POV between China and Hong Kong via movie titles translation:

    英文名: ANTZ

    > 香港譯名: 蟻哥正傳

    > 大陸譯名: 無產階級貧下中農螞蟻革命史 (完全睇唔出同’無產階級’、’貧下中農’

    > 有乜關係,同F點解大陸成日鍾意咩都跟革命扯上關係?)


    > 英文名: The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers

    > 香港譯名: 魔戒二部曲: 雙城奇謀

    > 大陸譯名: 指環王2: 兩座塔 (金塔定屎塔? )

    > P..S.我覺得’色戒’可以考慮譯做’情色指環王’。


    > 英文名: 007: Die Another Day

    > 香港譯名: 新鐵金剛之不日殺機

    > 大陸譯名: 新鐵金剛之擇日再死 (死都要擇日?駛唔駛搵蘇民峰算一算?)


    > 英文名: Catch Me If You Can

    > 香港譯名: 捉智雙雄

    > 大陸譯名: 來找我啊,如果你可以 (擺明直譯無經過思考)


    > 英文名: Pretty Woman

    > 香港譯名: 風月俏佳人

    > 大陸譯名: 漂亮女人 (咁你又吹佢唔漲,因為照字A2真係咁解)


    > 英文名: Indecent Proposal

    > 香港譯名: 不道德的交易

    > 大陸譯名: 不道德的建設 (起雞竇呀而家……?睇過套戲o既人都知唔關建設 事….九唔搭八!!!)


    > 英文名: The Passion Of Christ

    > 香港譯名: 受難曲

    > 大陸譯名: 耶穌的激情 (老實講我覺得似鹹片名,唔知教廷知道呢個名之後有咩反應?)


    > 英文名: Finding Nemo

    > 香港譯名: 海底奇兵

    > 大陸譯名: 海底都是魚 (咁又未必,仲有珊瑚、水母、海參、鯨魚…)


    > 英文名: Top Gun

    > 香港譯名: 壯志凌雲

    > 大陸譯名: 好大的一支槍 (聽到o個刻係想死…我覺得似係葡京鹹片o的低能對白。)


    > B文名:The Day After Tomorrow

    > 香港譯名: 明日之後

    > 大陸譯名: 後天 (真係’啤’一聲…..明日之後o個日即係後日,合乎邏輯,Well Done!!!). Score one for China finally!


    > 英文名: Aliens

    > 香港譯名: 異形續集

    > 大陸譯名: 珍奇異獸之風華再現 (你睇到呢名仲以為動物園PROMOTION…..)

    I can write a book if I listed out all the differences of the movies for the last 10 years. Nixon is translated as Big Robber…

    Just make you smile and wonder how far is China catching up with Hong Kong. Circulated to me with minor changes.

  66. JXie Says:


  67. TonyP4 Says:

    #66. Just relax. Even if it is not true, I think the author has good sense of humor. I’ve a great laugh and like to share it here.

    There is a good chance it is true as I saw so many funny incidents. Many of movie subtitles are laughable too. Hong Kong has gone a long way though. Beijing road signs were classic until they were removed before the Olympics.

    My brother-in-law tried to save some money by printing English words on his promotion stuffs. It turned out most of the English words were misspelled and he had to throw them away. It is not too long ago.

  68. JXie Says:

    Tony, so my sense of Cantonese humor wasn’t detected? Damn, man. “無產階級貧下中農螞蟻革命史” and you can’t tell it’s made up? FWIW, only the “The Day After Tomorrow” was given the right translation.

  69. TonyP4 Says:

    Sorry. I was laughing too hard.


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