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May 17

Zhao Ziyang’s memoirs – time to update Chinese history?

Written by Raj on Sunday, May 17th, 2009 at 12:18 pm
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Zhao Ziyang

When Zhao Ziyang died on 17th January 2005, the Chinese authorities’ official response was muted, with a distinctly vague and brief obituary produced. Yet the fact this was all Chinese newspapers were allowed to publish, bar those in Hong Kong, and that online tributes were immediately deleted showed that the government knew Zhao’s importance was much greater than a handful of words.

It’s no secret that influential members of the Chinese Communist Party tried to write Zhao out of modern Chinese history. Given Zhao’s treatment after losing power in 1989, being placed under indefinite house arrest without trial (with only a relatively small number of opportunities to leave his residence), the elite could hardly trumpet his achievements. But it was undeniable that he played a great role in China’s modern economic growth. Whilst Deng Xiaoping is often accredited with being the visionary behind it, Zhao has been acknowledged as the man who actually made change happen. As the old saying went, “yao chi liang, zhao Ziyang” (“if you want to eat, seek Ziyang”). He had his failings, to be sure, but so have all great leaders. If the CCP can still officially hail Mao Zedong as 70% good and 30% bad, despite the disasters of the Great Leap Forward, Cultural Revolution and many other projects he had a hand in, I think Zhao’s mistakes can be put to one side.

Zhao’s new memoirs are thus a god-send to anyone who really wants to understand the man and his contribution towards modern China. Any set of memoirs may exaggerate someone’s successes, but given Zhao’s inability to speak for himself during his life, being able to read his side of the story now is very important. A series of extracts can be found in this article.

One interesting point is that there was apparently no vote to bring in marital law – Deng appeared to have made the decision by himself.

“I had no other choice but to express my views to Deng personally, in a face-to-face meeting. Since I had asked for a personal meeting with Deng, only to have Deng call for a full Standing Committee meeting at his home, I realised that things had already taken a bad turn…..

While I was expressing my view, Deng appeared very impatient and displeased.

“In the end, Deng Xiaoping made the final decision. He said: ‘Since there is no way to back down without the situation spiralling completely out of control, the decision is to move troops into Beijing and impose martial law’.”

The memoirs also state that the meeting was in violation of the Party Charter because Zhao, as the general secretary, should have chaired it but was not.

This could be one further reason why the Chinese political elite does not want open discussion of the 1989 Tiananmen protests. It is one thing for a government to make a difficult decision in a legal manner and quite another to have it made by a figure who doesn’t have the authority to do so and in a way that violates formal procedure (and could thus be regarded as illegal). Furthermore, the allegation that hardliners pushed for the crackdown as a means of attacking Zhao would damage the assertion that the security operation that was carried out was in China’s best interests.

Another revelation is Zhao’s attitude on political reform. On some occasions it was said or implied he was a democrat. Whilst being much more liberal than many of his counterparts, it was also true that he believed in the CCP during office and does not appear to have supported ending the one-party state. However, after 1989, his views changed.

“It is the Western parliamentary democratic system that has demonstrated the most vitality. This system is currently the best one available. It is able to manifest the spirit of democracy and meet the demands of a modern society.

“If a country wishes to modernise, not only should it implement a market economy, it must also adopt a parliamentary democracy as its political system. Otherwise, this nation will not be able to have a market economy that is healthy and modern, nor can it become a modern society with a rule of law.”

—–

“If we don’t move toward this goal, it will be impossible to resolve the abnormal conditions in China’s market economy: issues such as an unhealthy market, profiting from power, rampant social corruption and a widening gap between rich and poor. Nor will the rule of law ever materialise.

“If the final destination is a parliamentary democracy, the ruling Party must achieve two breakthroughs. One is to allow other political parties and a free press to exist. This can happen gradually, but it must be pursued. The second breakthrough is having democracy within the Party: that is, the Party needs to adopt democratic procedures and use democratic means to reform itself … Different opinions must be allowed to exist, and different factions should be made legitimate.”

Doubtlessly his time under house arrest allowed him to experience some of the downsides of an autocratic political system. Ironically had he not been purged and allowed to retire quietly I do not think he would have formed these views, nor would he have gone to such trouble to have them published.

It is hard to know how concerned the authorities will be at the release of this work. They won’t panic, though they will at least initially work hard to stop copies circulating and people reading it online – officially its distribution will be banned. But they seem to have tried hard to stop this information getting out – this has to be condemned. For whilst Zhao might have had “uncomfortable truths” to tell, I have a feeling that had they been intercepted they would not have been preserved for publication later. Zhao had every right to speak, and now he has the government might as well have let him pass his story on outside of China for prosperity. Are senior CCP members so vain as to believe the rhetoric about 100 years of continuous rule such that the memoirs could hurt them, or do they simply wish to have history seen and taught as they see fit? Either way, they should be ashamed of themselves.

The last point I want to leave with you is Zhao’s comment on how China’s economic growth came about. In his view, “society’s rulers claim they have lifted millions from poverty, but in truth the millions have lifted themselves, through hard work and long hours, and in the process they have catapulted the elite to unprecedented levels of opulence and economic power.” This is an argument that China’s elite does not like (whatever they may say in public), because their position is based on the premise that without them there can be no prosperity. To acknowledge it is to admit that Chinese economic growth, at least until recently, had more to do with the hard work of the Chinese people than the “wise” leadership of the people currently in charge and thus they are not as indispensable as they would like people to think they are.

Zhao could have blown his own trumpet in this respect, keeping the mantra that the people at the top have “gifted” wealth on those below them and promoting himself as the chief architect of China’s growth who should be praised accordingly. Instead, he credits ordinary people for driving the country forwards. That says something about the man. However, I do think that the memoirs should help give Zhao the place in history he deserves. As I mentioned earlier he has been given some credit for the economic boom, but is it sufficient? Was Deng the visionary and Zhao the person who put it into practice, or was Deng merely the enabler, the backer who gave the support to Zhao’s plans when people like Li Peng kept trying to derail them? In reading his story it may be easier to appreciate his true role in China’s development.

This is clearly an important work to read for those with an interest in modern Chinese history. We can only hope that it will be openly available in China in the not-too-distant future.


There are currently 5 comments highlighted: 36686, 36703, 36718, 36847, 36907.

171 Responses to “Zhao Ziyang’s memoirs – time to update Chinese history?”

  1. pug_ster Says:

    Why should Zhao Ziyang should be praised? He opened the can of worms by telling the students to protest that paralyzed the cities but he doesn’t want to contain it. The other Chinese leaders have to be the bad guys by containing it. Who knows, maybe Zhao Ziyang is the problem because his reforms caused the high inflation and corruption within the government… In any case, here’s a 14 minute video from BBC in 1989 before the 6/4 incident. Interesting watch because the Chinese government was villified.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/newsnight/8038933.stm

  2. Otto Kerner Says:

    “society’s rulers claim they have lifted millions from poverty, but in truth the millions have lifted themselves, through hard work and long hours, and in the process they have catapulted the elite to unprecedented levels of opulence and economic power.” Truer words ne’er were spoken. This should be written on Tiananmen in place of “世界人民大团结万岁”.

  3. TonyP4 Says:

    It happened so many times in our Chinese history that the regime tried to rewrite history for their own views (or foreigners on China). However, historians always seek out the truth after a while.

  4. Brent Says:

    @ pug_ster:
    …maybe Zhao Ziyang is the problem because his reforms caused the high inflation and corruption within the government…

    Are you saying there wasn’t corruption before?

  5. pug_ster Says:

    Otto Kerner,

    It is easy to criticize the Chinese government for widening the gap between the rich and the poor. Unfortunately, that’s what capitalism is all about. In the 1970’s before Deng Xiaopeng implemented economic reforms, China was criticized for being a socialist state.

  6. pug_ster Says:

    @Brent,

    Are you saying there wasn’t corruption before?

    You tell me.

  7. TonyP4 Says:

    When everyone is poor, there is no corruption. 🙂

  8. Otto Kerner Says:

    pug_ster,

    I had no idea that was what I meant. In fact, I don’t care about the “opulence” part. Let’s shorten it and just put “society’s rulers claim they have lifted millions from poverty, but in truth the millions have lifted themselves, through hard work and long hours” up on the wall.

  9. little Alex Says:

    @pug_ster #1
    From the news clips, Zhao seemed to have asked the students to go back home, not stay and continue to protest. As to economic reforms, etc., weren’t they usually attributed to Deng? And quite frankly, corruption is hardly a new problem in China; it has existed for millennia, afaik.

  10. S.K. Cheung Says:

    I think Otto #2 captured the best quote (and not sure what Pugster is flying off the handle about). China has made huge economic progress while the government has allowed it, but not because the government caused it.

    “Doubtlessly his time under house arrest allowed him to experience some of the downsides of an autocratic political system.” – that’s also a good one. People who support the CCP should consider giving that a go as a taste of their own medicine.

    “This is an argument that China’s elite does not like” – what? China has “elites”? Better not say that to Wahaha.

  11. Raj Says:

    pug_ster

    He opened the can of worms by telling the students to protest that paralyzed the cities but he doesn’t want to contain it.

    Did he tell the students to protest? I haven’t heard about this. When and where did he do such a thing?

    The other Chinese leaders have to be the bad guys by containing it.

    Then why did the Standing Committee fail to reach a majority decision to bring in martial law? If it was clear that Zhao’s position was wrong he would have been the only person voting against it. Yet from what I recall on the meetings that were properly held, those that wanted martial law were in the minority. Clearly some senior politicians shared Zhao’s position.

    Who knows, maybe Zhao Ziyang is the problem because his reforms caused the high inflation and corruption within the government…

    As Brent asks, do you really think there was no corruption before? Of course there was. And there is corruption now.

    As for the inflation, it can be debated whether Zhao’s reforms caused the inflation or whether the interference from his rivals did. Perhaps it was a combination of both. But remember that since 1989 it is Zhao’s reforms that have been followed, not those of his opponents like Li Peng. If you honestly don’t know what Zhao’s role in China’s economic growth was then you need to read up on the subject – start with buying a copy of his memoirs.

  12. JXie Says:
    society’s rulers claim they have lifted millions from poverty, but in truth the millions have lifted themselves, through hard work and long hours, and in the process they have catapulted the elite to unprecedented levels of opulence and economic power.

    I tend to disagree with this. If you change “rulers” to “leaders”, it becomes a more neutral statement and we can examine the statement itself more dispassionately. Zhao was in a different mental state when he wrote it. If he was still the leader of China and the Chinese economy was humming, would he praise himself less because it was all the people’s efforts, not his?

    But anyway, many of those who rose from poverty were in the remote areas. Some of my distant family members live in rural Sichuan (now officially a part of municipal Chongqing). I vividly remember in the 80s, it took a full day from dusk to dawn to get to the village, which was the poorest place I’d ever been to. Now they are a bit over an hour driving away from outskirt Chongqing. The place is booming. It’s still the same people, but they work much harder now for their own betterment. In the 80s, a large number of rural labors worked on small pieces of farm land. Often they just sat around doing nothing after the work was done. Now many young people work outside of their hometown, and free up the remaining ones for better overall productivity. Due to the better transportation, fertilizers, seeds, etc. are cheaply available, and the farmers have better choices since the market of their products are closer time-wise. All of these drive up their per capita income.

    In the parallel universe, in this case other developing nations such as poor Latin American countries and India, the roads are built much slower, due to a confluence of many factors, such as the lack of capital, skills being put to those who are in charge of road building, and far more often than not, the voice against road building often is magnified in the systems — sometimes a happy environmentalist comes with thousands of unhappy poor farmers, invisible to most.

    Another major reason is the cost of money. China’s inflation since Zhu’s first term has been lower than many developed countries, far lower than other developing countries. It reflects the fiscal discipline of the bureaucrats. In many developing countries, even collateral personal loan can run you 100% annual interest rate. Imagine those who need to borrow money for fertilizer or open a small restaurant. The reason as I see it, is printing excessive paper money is the easiest way out for poor “democracies”. (Increasingly for the rich “democracy” too — Gosh, Is the USA being Latin-Americanized?)

    Anyway, try this mental exercise. In the 90s, Apple was a dying company, and now it’s one of the most vibrant and thriving American tech firms. Who should get the most credit? Not Steve Jobs, since he doesn’t actually design or manufacture the ipod, iphone or mac?

  13. Cissy Says:

    It is one thing how 1989 should be viewed from a historical perspective. It is another thing that all truth is to be told. I am looking forward to getting hold of a copy of this book. I am even more looking forward to the day that what happened in 1989 is told to the world as well as chinese people without holding anything back. And I optimistically believe this day will come very soon:-)

  14. Otto Kerner Says:

    JXie,

    “Another major reason is the cost of money. China’s inflation since Zhu’s first term has been lower than many developed countries, far lower than other developing countries.”

    Inflation is caused by bad government policies, so what we see here is another example of the government simply failing to mess things up. I would say this agrees with Zhao’s point. It’s like the old Chris Rock bit, “People want credit for some stuff you’re just supposed to do.”

    “Not Steve Jobs, since he doesn’t actually design or manufacture the ipod, iphone or mac?”

    The role of a political leader in a large nation is not at all comparable to the role of management in a corporation.

  15. Shane9219 Says:

    @JXie #12

    “a happy environmentalist ”

    Maybe you mean “a HIPPY environmentalist with full stomach” 🙂 I don’t intend to bad-mouth environmentalists, but sometime they are just too hippy with little regard of the need for balanced development. One example is Al Core, who said the world should get rid of all coal based energy source NOW. Where was he when he was part of the US government? Uh yes, he also took credit on the creation of Internet.

  16. pug_ster Says:

    @Raj 11

    The problem is that Zhao Ziyang is wants to open to more political reform and have people to be critical of the government, so I have to say that he opened the can of worms. Yet in his memoirs he is opposed to the crackdown, he spoke to the students to go home and was unable convince the students to do so. So that leaves Deng Xiaopeng and Li Peng to be the bad guys and do the dirty work to quell the protest.

    Then why did the Standing Committee fail to reach a majority decision to bring in martial law? If it was clear that Zhao’s position was wrong he would have been the only person voting against it. Yet from what I recall on the meetings that were properly held, those that wanted martial law were in the minority. Clearly some senior politicians shared Zhao’s position.

    Voting for martial law was the last thing they want to do, but there were backdoor discussions between the students and the leaders. Even for those who don’t want to enact martial law don’t have a solution to work with a compromise with the students, that’s why probably why they had to enact it.

    As for the inflation, it can be debated whether Zhao’s reforms caused the inflation or whether the interference from his rivals did. Perhaps it was a combination of both. But remember that since 1989 it is Zhao’s reforms that have been followed, not those of his opponents like Li Peng. If you honestly don’t know what Zhao’s role in China’s economic growth was then you need to read up on the subject – start with buying a copy of his memoirs.

    Actually much of Zhao’s reforms was taken back after 1989, Li Peng was able to stem the spiraling inflation, started to go after corruption and taken back some of the political reforms. And maybe I’ll read his memoirs when it is translated to English, but by reading his excerpts I don’t see what he said was anything new.

  17. pug_ster Says:

    @Cissy 13

    Even if the Chinese government would disclose the incident of 6/4 to its citizens, I doubt that it would change anything in China. There’s a poll in Hong Kong regarding this incident.

    http://zonaeuropa.com/200905b.brief.htm#008

    Many people there disapproved what the government did at the time, but they still support the Chinese government today. However, I think there is a good number people who are seeking grievances from the Chinese government as a result of that incident.

  18. Zepplin Says:

    The angle I find most interesting is how the common charge of instigation/inflammation against Zhao present in many Chinese language memoirs and political pieces receives no mention in the English language.

    The charge of inflaming the protests for political leverage is a common theme of various authors, and frequently used to justify their personal preference of Hu Yaobang over Zhao Ziyang when comparing the two “reformist” leaders. These texts are by no means uniformly apologetic of the regime. They come from the entire political spectrum and are almost always banned in the mainland.

    This narrative difference cannot be attributed to the stating of new information over an existing view since the charge has no existing presence among the “Western” audience. Neither can it be explained by the exclusion of nonessential information since the serious nature of the accusation has a large impact on the credibility of Zhao’s memoirs. As the narratives do not describe a contemporary conflict or observable facts unlike the Tibetan issue, and are readily and widely available in the Chinese language, no observational bias can be attributed but for a lack of effort.

    The conclusion I reach is one of ignorance.

    Time to update history? While the memoirs are doubtlessly useful towards a more comprehensive view of Chinese history, it’s effect is at best marginal (as a voice among many for the well-informed) and at worst misleading (as an “authoritative” voice exacerbating an existing prejudice among the unaware).

  19. Charles Liu Says:

    +1 pug_ster, Zepplin. Those ugly charges are strictly reserved for the regime we don’t like (Mao, Deng, Iran, North Korea, etc.) Praises like “authorative” is reserved for those who we can exploit to reinforce our narrative on China.

    Zhao’s memoirs changing Chinese history? I don’t think so. Why is those thing China haters cheer (08 charter, grass mud horse) are invariably short lived in China? Either the GFW is sooo effective, or the Chinese simply don’t see it that way.

  20. Nimrod Says:

    At least these excerpts are not going to change the reading of history, since they retread well-worn ground… the viewpoints presented are no longer novel — if these ever were. Maybe there is something else in the book… I’m not sure.

  21. Raj Says:

    pug_ster

    The problem is that Zhao Ziyang is wants to open to more political reform and have people to be critical of the government, so I have to say that he opened the can of worms.

    He was part of the government. Indeed, he was leading it. Why would he want people to be critical of the government? Unless you have some evidence that he did want people to criticise his own administration, what I think you mean is that he wanted people to be able to voice their opinions. That’s something quite different.

    As for reform, he wasn’t pushing political reform heavily. He only suggested it. His focus was on the economy.

    Voting for martial law was the last thing they want to do, but there were backdoor discussions between the students and the leaders.

    You’re ignoring my point. Certainly prior to the meeting with Deng there was no vote. Indeed, reportedly here was no vote at all. If there was a vote, which members were for martial law and who was against it?

    Actually much of Zhao’s reforms was taken back after 1989, Li Peng was able to stem the spiraling inflation, started to go after corruption and taken back some of the political reforms.

    So what political reforms that Peng revoked were so divisive in China? And how did he reduce inflation and corruption? I don’t believe that he did personally reduce corruption or inflation came down because of his actions. He is rightly one of China’s least popular modern leaders.

    maybe I’ll read his memoirs when it is translated to English

    It has already been translated into English. You can buy it in HK shops or from amazon.

  22. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To JXie:
    “Who should get the most credit? Not Steve Jobs, since he doesn’t actually design or manufacture the ipod, iphone or mac?” – that depends. Would Apple Inc be what it is today riding only on Jobs’ corporate vision, without the help of his expert and motivated engineers? Or would those same engineers, guided by a different vision, have propelled Apple to what it is today? Without the benefit of a parallel universe, those are both “if’s” that are impossible to explore. But either way, you’d be entitled to your opinion.

    Similarly, would China’s economy have grown to the extent it has in the last 3 decades in the realm of a more open-minded political regime? Who knows? But since the regime that screwed up so royally over the first 3 decades is politically similar to the regime of the last 3, it seems to me that the political regime has had less to do with it, and moreso that people have been allowed to flourish in a capitalist market environment.

  23. Raj Says:

    Charles

    Why is those thing China haters cheer (08 charter, grass mud horse) are invariably short lived in China?

    So you’re saying that all those people who put tributes up on Chinese forums for Zhao, only to have them deleted, are “China haters”? I guess they’re self-loathing Chinese of the sort that take Western names to use, eh?

    These memoirs will be around forever now. If they were available for sale in China we could see whether interest in them was a fad or not. But because this new work is banned we won’t know whether Chinese people are interested in them or not. And before you say “oh well they can get them if they really want to”, I’d like to know the last banned political text that was popular in China.

    Nimrod

    At least these excerpts are not going to change the reading of history

    Actually they would do (if accepted as truth). First, that there was no vote to impliment martial law. Maybe you didn’t believe there was, but I believed that accepted faith was that there was eventually. Second, that Zhao was actually a democrat by the end, when previously various people assert he believed in the CCP.

    But I didn’t claim these extracts were ground-breaking. There’s obviously a lot more to read in the memoirs.

  24. Zepplin Says:

    I daresay the world’s largest democracy disagrees with you.

    Have you heard the one about two countries of comparable growth with one “due” to the government and the other “in spite” of the government?

  25. scl Says:

    One of the biggest tragedies of June 4th was that when the health care and pension systems were dismantled in the early 90s, nobody dared to make a peep, because of what happened around Tienanmen in 1989. The only organized response to the dismantlement was Falun Gong, which was just a cult utilizing people’s fear of unaffordable health care to push its own agenda.

    I wish Zhao had said something about this in his memoir, instead of some grandiose ideas about parliamentary democracy. Imagine China had established an adequate social welfare system since early 90s …

  26. JXie Says:

    @Otto Kerner #14

    Inflation is caused by bad government policies, so what we see here is another example of the government simply failing to mess things up. I would say this agrees with Zhao’s point. It’s like the old Chris Rock bit, “People want credit for some stuff you’re just supposed to do.”

    In the day and age of paper money and instant gratification, it takes tremendous discipline and skills not to have inflationary government policies. Indian government isn’t “supposed to” run its 2009 fiscal deficit to at least 12%, neither is the Obama administration. After the US Congress created $700 billion out of thin air to fund that TARP thing, Pelosi spoke of it as the ace in the hole. Gosh, while you are at it, while don’t you just create $7 trillion so all credit junkies will be happy ever after, until the next fix I guess, but I digress. The point is, you ought to give credit when the credit is due. After Zhao, the last 20 years in China have been simply amazing.

  27. JXie Says:

    @SKC, #22

    Would Apple Inc be what it is today riding only on Jobs’ corporate vision, without the help of his expert and motivated engineers? Or would those same engineers, guided by a different vision, have propelled Apple to what it is today? Without the benefit of a parallel universe, those are both “if’s” that are impossible to explore. But either way, you’d be entitled to your opinion.

    After Jobs was ousted in 1985, there were Sculley, Splindler and DR. Amelio. (why all-capped DR? Read about what Larry Ellison has to say about Amelio.) In a nutshell, 3 monkeys in a row. Oh, Gil Amelio even wrote a book, “On the Firing Line: My 500 Days at Apple”. If you fast-read, you may be able to finish it within an hour. It’s an interesting read…

    In any real-world business or political settings, the buck stops at the ultimate decision makers. It’s Jobs who pick, choose, and motivate those “experts and engineers”. Ultimately it was Bush’s responsibility to pick his FEMA head.

  28. JXie Says:

    @Shane9219

    One example is Al Core, who said the world should get rid of all coal based energy source NOW. Where was he when he was part of the US government? Uh yes, he also took credit on the creation of Internet.

    Gore’s wealth is estimated at some $100 million. Selling fear is a profitable business. Whenever he is challenged a debate by a scientist or somebody with scientific inclination, his reply has always been that the consensus in the scientific community has been reached (hence no debate is needed). The same organizations that predicted the carbon-induced doomsday, had the last several years’ global climate predictions spectacularly wrong. If you want to read more, there are a couple of very good sites:

    http://www.wattsupwiththat.com
    http://www.climateaudit.org

  29. Mark Anthony Jones Says:

    I enjoyed reading this piece Raj.

    A few comments:

    Raj wrote: “Whilst Deng Xiaoping is often accredited with being the visionary behind [the economic reforms] Zhao has been acknowledged as the man who actually made change happen.”

    I agree with you on this one! Zhao was responsible for initiating and seeing through many of the capitalist reforms that China today has benefited greatly from, but which at the time, proved to be very painful – especially for workers. In fact, it was Zhao who was largely responsible for dismantling the iron rice bowl, which is why many Maoists and Western revolutionary Marxists of the Trotskyist and Leninist varieties (historians like Maurcie Meisner and economists like Li Minqi) dislike Zhao with a passion. See Maurice Meisner’s “Mao’s China and After: A History of the People’s Republic”, The Free Press, New York, 1999, p.491, and Li Minqi’s “The Rise of China and the Demise of the Capitalist World Economy”, Monthly Review Press, New York, 2008, pp.60-65.

    Raj wrote: “Zhao’s new memoirs are thus a god-send to anyone who really wants to understand the man and his contribution towards modern China. Any set of memoirs may exaggerate someone’s successes, but given Zhao’s inability to speak for himself during his life, being able to read his side of the story now is very important.”

    I can only half agree with this statement. Zhao had plenty of opportunities throughout his life to express himself. One only has to read through the Tiananmen Papers to see how much of an input he had during high-level meetings, his tendency to deliver press conferences, etc. He was largely prevented from making public his thoughts after June 1989 however.

    The Tiananmen papers also provide a very valuable source for those wanting to understand the man and his contributions to Chinese economic and political practice.

    Raj wrote: “Another revelation is Zhao’s attitude on political reform. On some occasions it was said or implied he was a democrat. Whilst being much more liberal than many of his counterparts, it was also true that he believed in the CCP during office and does not appear to have supported ending the one-party state.”

    I agree with you here too (we’re having a good day, aren’t we?) Zhao’s attitude towards the CCP and political reform are made very clear, in his own words, in numerous documents compiled as part of the Tiananmen Papers. Meisner and Li also devote considerable space in their books detailing Zhao’s neo-authoritarianism – an aspect of his political positioning that comes across in some of his contributions to high-level Party meetings contained, once again, in the Tiananmen Papers. For example, take Zhao’s response to the violence that had occurred on April 22, which had all in the central government worried. In Changsha, twenty-seven shops were looted and ninety-six people detained, and in Xi’an a student demonstration led to a violent incident in which cars and apartments were torched. By April 24, two hundred and seventy people had been arrested in Xia’n for ‘beating, smashing, robbing and burning.’ Of those arrested, only seventy-two were students, the rest being either workers or farmers. During the Fourth Plenum of the Thirteenth Central Committee, held April 23-24, Zhao Ziyang argued that the government ‘should use legal procedures to punish severely all who engage in beating, smashing, and robbing,’ later adding that the government ‘should firmly prevent the students from going into the streets and demonstrating.’ In order to coax them back into classrooms, Zhao suggested that the government should ‘actively adopt a policy of persuasion toward the students and hold multilevel, multichannel, multiformat dialogues with them.’ [see Accounts drawn from Materials for the Fourth Plenum of the Thirteenth Central Committee, ‘Remarks of Comrade Zhao Ziyang’, Secretariat of the Fourth Plenum of the CCP Thirteenth Central Committee, April 23-24, 1989, in Andrew J. Nathan and Perry Link (editors), The Tiananmen Papers, Little, Brown and Company, London, 2001, p.59.]

    For a more detailed discussion of Zhao’s neo-authoritarianism (pre-June 1989) see Meisner, p.494. Li Minqi argues that Zhao was partly inspired by the Singaporean system of soft authoritarianism.

    Raj wrote: “Doubtlessly his time under house arrest allowed him to experience some of the downsides of an autocratic political system. Ironically had he not been purged and allowed to retire quietly I do not think he would have formed these views, nor would he have gone to such trouble to have them published.”

    Yes, I agree entirely!

    Zhao, as you point out, makes the claim that “society’s rulers claim they have lifted millions from poverty, but in truth the millions have lifted themselves, through hard work and long hours, and in the process they have catapulted the elite to unprecedented levels of opulence and economic power.”

    This in my opinion is only half true. Economic reforms (like Deng’s political and economic decentralisation, as well as the reforms Zhao himself initiated and saw implemented – related largely to labour regulation) played a large role in facilitating both economic growth and rising living standards. To try to deny the role of the state in promoting and managing such growth is ridiculous, and perhaps this says something about Zhao in his later days – that he had an axe to grind.

  30. Raj Says:

    scl

    I wish Zhao had said something about this in his memoir, instead of some grandiose ideas about parliamentary democracy.

    Have you read it already? The extracts in the article are just that – extracts.

    Zepplin

    I daresay the world’s largest democracy disagrees with you.

    I don’t quite get your point. What insight have we got from India on Zhao Ziyang? Or were you talking to someone else?

    MAJ, thanks for your kind words.

  31. Mark Anthony Jones Says:

    I just came across an interesting piece in the Financial Times by Geoff Dyer and Jamil Anderlini on Zhao’s memoirs. It reads:

    “Mr Deng is credited with supporting reform against opposing conservatives, but Mr Zhao writes that many of the ideas were his own. It was Mr Zhao who pushed for the break-up of farm communes in the early 1980s, he says, and it was he who persuaded Mr Deng to support the creation of special free-trade zones which sparked the export manufacturing boom.”

    Some of course may doubt Zhao’s claims, but at least one scholar finds them believable:

    “‘Reading Zhao’s unadorned and unboastful account of his stewardship, it becomes apparent that it was he rather than Deng who was the architect of reform,’ says Roderick MacFarquhar, a Chinese politics expert at Harvard University, in the introduction. ‘Deng did not make the conceptual breakthrough. Zhao did.'”

    Strange that Zhao should want to take credit for many of the economic reforms whilst simultaneously suggesting that it was the hard work of ordinary people who lifted themselves out of poverty rather than the results of government policy. The reality of course, is that BOTH government policy and peoples’ hard work resulted in growth and rising living standards.

  32. pug_ster Says:

    @Raj 21

    He was part of the government. Indeed, he was leading it. Why would he want people to be critical of the government? Unless you have some evidence that he did want people to criticise his own administration, what I think you mean is that he wanted people to be able to voice their opinions. That’s something quite different.

    As for reform, he wasn’t pushing political reform heavily. He only suggested it. His focus was on the economy.

    I would disagree with you, political reform is about being critical to the government and freer press. I do believe in constructive criticism but not deconstructive criticism. As for the 6/4 incident constructive criticism is that Chinese government did fix the cause of this incident in the first place which is the uncontrolled inflation but not the deconstructive criticism because seeking justice due to the people killed at 6/4 will be more counterproductive. Given the pool from Hong Kong, I think most Chinese want to move beyond this and as they want to just bring closure to this incident. Bringing this incident to light to the Chinese citizens of why this incident happened in the first place and not bringing justice due to the incident at 6/4 would probably bring closure.

  33. Amban Says:

    Holy baloney. Mark Anthony Jones is back. This is a guy who claims to understand China and what Chinese students really were up to in 1989. And yet, he did not visit China until the 2000s and he speaks not a word of Chinese. He’s read a few books this time, and is able to assemble something that looks like an argument. 但他一点都不了解八九年的风波。

  34. Mark Anthony Jones Says:

    Amban – be fair. I do speak a little Chinese (I can order a beer, and various dishes – survival Mandarin) and I have always qualified my assessments of China by pointing out that I do not claim any of them to represent some absolute “truth”.

    We had some productive, civil debates over on the China Law Blog some time ago, so I thought we were on friendly terms! 🙂 Am I not allowed to compose my own discourse, and to share them for comment on public forums like this? Have I committed some great crime here? Do I deserve to be attacked personally for having done so?

  35. Mark Anthony Jones Says:

    Amban – one more thing: I reject completely the assertion that one needs to be fluent in Chinese in order to be able to have an informed opinion about China-related issues, be they historical or contemporary.

  36. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To JXie:
    “the buck stops at the ultimate decision makers. It’s Jobs who pick, choose, and motivate those “experts and engineers” – agreed. I happen to think that Jobs played a significant role in Apple’s turnaround and current fortunes.

    And if you want to say that Deng or Zhao, whomever is more of your fancy, deserves similar praise for their guiding role in initiating the reforms within China’s economic system that resulted in the growth of the last 3 decades, I’d say that’s a parallel. But Deng nor Zhao nor Jobs’ vision gets anywhere without the efforts of the people. Moreover, my point was that Deng or Zhao didn’t need an authoritarian governing system to devise or implement those reforms. You don’t need the CCP to make a successful go of a capitalist free-market economy.

  37. Wukailong Says:

    I work at the company some people have mentioned above in their examples, and I would like to point out what I’ve learned from that:

    1. A good leader has vision which inspires others. He/she removes obstacles and convinces people to do what is right. Deng Xiaoping did many similar things, like going on a propaganda drive in the early 90’s to get the economy back on track, curtailing conservatives that had gotten too much power because of what happened in 1989, etc.

    2. Good engineers do a lot of work on their own. In short, they innovate. Still, their work is helped by an environment where they can get the resources they need.

    3. People in a company that’s well-run are not afraid of using technology that’s been shown to work in other companies or places. They don’t suffer from the “not invented here” syndrome.

    So, how does these points translate into my view on China? Well:

    1. Of course China’s reforms and opening up have benefited from the CCP leadership at the time. They were the enablers, though not the creators.

    2. People did a lot of work on their own, and the people should get a lot of credits for lifting themselves out of poverty, with the help of a vastly improved framework the leaders provided.

    3. Many in the CCP are actively learning from other countries, which they are studying. People should stop worrying about whether something is “Chinese” or “Western”, and evaluate it on its own merits.

    As for China, I’m mostly worried about conservatism following from (3). I really don’t think worrying about “Western thinking”, propagating Confucianism or dreaming about the joys of the ancient ways of life is the way to go forward in China. The CCP should continue what they’ve been doing, and hopefully strengthen the faction that’s for political reform. 😉

  38. Shane9219 Says:

    @Wukailong #37

    Good to read you see similarity between running a corporation and running a nation. For the moment, China is both “well managed” and “well run”, people are also well motivated. However, please do get some seriousness. Running a nation is a totally different fair– far more complicated with needs to deal with many life-death situations. The fate of Zhao and 6-4 student movement are two examples.

  39. Wukailong Says:

    @Shane9219: I agree, I don’t really view a nation like a company myself. I mostly responded to the comparison. Certainly nations can do with some management expertise from company leadership, but there are differences in many areas:

    – Nations can’t really fire citizens, unless you count the death penalty or extradition.
    – Nations can’t just go bankrupt and expect to be bailed out.
    – Nations compete with products, make profits, and don’t really have to care for their employees.
    – Nations aren’t just founded to produce something new. They exist because of historical, economical and political reasons.

    There are more differences like these, of course, but these are the most important ones in my opinion.

  40. Shane9219 Says:

    @Wukailong

    “Nations can’t really fire citizens, ”

    Nations do “fire” citizens by deporting them or banning them from returning. Tons of people got that. US just “fired” a former Nazi.

    ” Nations can’t just go bankrupt”

    Nations do get bankrupt and default. But no international court to let them declare “official” bankruptcy or emerge out of a bankruptcy. They may choose to honor their old debts as they please.

    Fundamentally, corporations are business venture. A modern nations is a body of people with certain territorial claim commonly recognized by international community. They evolve from various cultural, racial and geopolitical concerns.

  41. Wukailong Says:

    I usually deplore comments like “please read my post again”, but this time it seems called for… 😉

  42. kui Says:

    Amban.

    I was a college student back in 1989 and participated the student movement myself. I think I agree with Mark Anthony Jones’s assessment.

    I have decided not to post my little 6.4 recollection after reading Mark’s essay. He said it all.

  43. Raj Says:

    @ 31

    Strange that Zhao should want to take credit for many of the economic reforms whilst simultaneously suggesting that it was the hard work of ordinary people who lifted themselves out of poverty rather than the results of government policy.

    With all due respect, I can understand now why you’ve been accused of using sources in a misleading fashion.

    The extract does not say he asked for credit. It simply stated that he said various things that have been attributed to Deng were his own ideas. Just because you want to set the record straight does not mean you desire praise. I’m surprised you came to the conclusion you did.

  44. Jed Says:

    Why is the student’s of May 4 movement the students are considered martyrs but with June 4th everyone is just trying to sweep everything under the rug….

    May 4th “Remember the Martyrs!”
    June 4th “Shut up, shut up, shut up, im not listening, im not listening, im not listening, lalalalalalalalalal”

  45. Amban Says:

    @MAJ

    No one is arguing that you have to speak or read Chinese to have an informed opinion about China. But in your post you make statements to the effect that Beijing students were advocating democracy only in order to please Western audiences or that the students were elitist and did not really understand democracy. That is not true. If you were able to read Chinese, you could flip through the pages of a documentary collection like 中國民運原資料精選 : 大字報, 小字報, 傳單, 民刊 and realize the great diversity of opinion among students and workers who took part. But you can’t. You don’t read Chinese. And you did not visit China in the 80s, neither have you ever cared to met any of the leaders of the student movement to talk to them.

    The problem is that you are posing as a researcher with an original and informed opinion about China, but your entire account of the movement is derivative of what others have said. You cherry pick quotes from people who were there and know better than you, in order to paint a bleak picture of the student movement that suits your agenda. You post book reviews at different websites and correspondence from authorities in the China field in order to bolster your authority. But you are not credible.

  46. richard Says:

    Amban you’ve hit the nail on the head. I can go through many biographies of Hitler from the world’s most distinguished historians – Hans Momsen, Ian Kershaw, Michael Burleigh and the like – and quote from each of them lines that seem to praise Hitler: his love of children the way he loved to play with dogs and roll around with them, his charm with women, his quiet poise and politeness (in certain situations), etc. I can then say, rather pompously, “Based on all these quotes, we can conclude that Hitler, contrary to the common myths, was a charming, kind and lovable man.” Except, this would be total horseshit because it is cherry-picking and ignoring 99 percent of what the historians actually wrote. Any reader who actually reads Jan Wong’s entire book or watches all the interview in Gate of Heavenly Peace will know in a heartbeat that “Jones” has intentionally misled readers by conveniently ignoring all of their praise for the movement, its peaceful nature and sincere enthusiasm, while showcasing whatever he feels will help prove his point, This is a conscious attempt to falsify information, but it is totally consistent. Next he says he will debunk the myths about SARS. Only he wasn’t here during SARS (I was), and he didn’t experience what it was like when someone in the office next to yours died of the disease (I did) , and he will pluck quotes from obscure sources and claim with scholarly assuredness that this clearly proves SARS was a myth – which, of course, is simply a path toward his greater agenda, which is letting the CCP off the hook for its fuck-ups. (Though of course, as a doctor, Madge certainly is qualified to lecture all of us mere mortals about SARS.)

    As I alluded to on my own site in a remark to a commenter:

    One of the authors of the worst post I’ve seen in this regard slams the students for bringing Beijing to a standstill. He is a card-carrying Marxist, and this is the pinnacle of hypocrisy, since this same person adores a good Marxist revolution and would be wildly in favor of passive resistance and demonstrations against regime’s such as America’s or other capitalist countries’. But when you stand up and demonstrate against a communist government, that’s something else altogether. The Marxists promptly get their knickers all in a knot and talk about how no country can tolerate its capital city being closed down. No one can tolerate the disruptions. But that is exactly the point of passive resistance and mass demonstrations, a pillar of Marxist strategy. And worse than demonstrations, as you point out, full-blown war in 1949, is just fine. As long as you aren’t fighting or demonstrating against their side.

    But of course, none of the dialogue with Jones is real anyway. Remember, this is the fellow who posed as a female doctor and requested photos of readers’ genitalia. I may take heat for bringing up the past, but you absolutely must know the motivations behind your source – just as Jones smugly asserts that you have to take into account Zhao’s situation and history to understand he was simply trying to clear his name and his legacy. Only Jones’ smug assertion is based on nothing but his reflexive desire to elevate and praise the CCP at any cost. My assertion that Jones is a liar, a windbag, a conscious and persistent falsifier of fact and a con artist is proved by one thing and one thing only, his own words and deeds. Period. Just as a reminder of his cross-dressing days, documented in copious detail:

    And one other thing that I find admirable about Mr Jones, is that, despite his controversial views on some subjects, he never writes under a fake identity. He is open and honest in sharing his opinions with the world, and is never afraid to write under his own true name. Anybody can email him, and anybody can track him down. He hides nothing. Not even his penis! (And I mean that not only metaphorically, but also literally, as he has shared with me, upon request, a number of revealing photographs – photos which themsleves reveal a full public exposure on open nudist beaches.) Not everybody who contributes to this site is quite so confident..

    Again, do not take my word for it. Go see the author’s own words.

    Sorry to interrupt your thread for a moment, Raj, but it is quite relevant to the discussion that has ensued about Madge’s ridiculous post. The truth is best, and as Madge himself says about Zhao, it’s important to know the motives of our source. We must not read Madge in a vacuum and presume he is doing this for us. Everything Madge does is for himself, always and without exception.

    I appreciate this site and am delighted that it offers writers of very diverse viewpoints such as Raj and Nimrod an opportunity to share their posts and have an intelligent dialogue. Excellent post, Raj.

  47. opa Says:

    I believe Zhao is a respectable person but a failed politician. Any attach on him should be restricted to only Chinese politics. Zhao is the best Chinese version of Gorbachev. Had he been given the chance, he would have turned China into a miserable place out of good intentions. I like some of his ideas and hope these can be implemented in China sometimes in the future. It’s just too bad that he was born too early. May he rest in peace.
    Also It is the combination of two factors that has caused June 4th and Zhao to lose grounds in China, the improved living standards and the miserable state of former Communism countries after their rapid democratization process. Just any one of the two factors alone is not enough for CCP to convince Chinese that the actions back then, like martial law (killing shouldn’t be allowed though) and taking down Zhao, were justified. Facts speak, not propaganda. Chinese people are not stupid.

  48. pug_ster Says:

    @Richard

    You are pointing to that Fatabulist thread again for the nth time? MAJ didn’t write anything about SARS so don’t even mention it. Your concept of right and wrong blurs you of how to take history into context. Obviously some people here believes his so called ‘horseshit’ have some truth to it.

    Female’s Genitalia, SARS, cross dressing? Seriously Richard, talk about MAJ’s post and not the poster. Your lack of maturity is very apparent there in your post.

  49. shane9219 Says:

    @Wukailong #39

    “Certainly nations can do with some management expertise from company leadership”

    Actually a lot, not just some. This has became the general trend since 90s’ for state-owned-enterrprises (SOEs) and political entities (like municipalities and ministries alike), so long there is enough political will to adopt fiscal-responsible and perform-based management. China has adopted many of these measure in its SOEs and government entities. China has a program established together with Harvard to train its officials in rotation.

    This trend has taken some fundamental argument away for free market fundamentalists that came into dominande since Reagon-Thatcher era. Free market fundamentalists have argued that it is only private enterprises under free market environment can efficiently manage resources and capital, achieve efficiency and prosperity. Governments should play less on regulation and supervision. That argument certainly motivated many modern corporations. However, they failed to recorgnize the common tendence of greed and anti-competition nature in large private enterprises (corporations and investment entities alike) can easily lead to asset bubbles and market crisis. That is exactly what we are experiencing now.

  50. pug_ster Says:

    @Opa

    Good post, I think that many politicans in CCP or in other governments in general have good intentions implenting policies which have gone bad. But I think there other politicans like li peng who have done ultimately done policies which perceived which is bad but turns out to be good in the end.

  51. shane9219 Says:

    @Jed #44

    “”
    May 4th “Remember the Martyrs!”’
    June 4th …”

    That is because they occured under very different historical background. May-4th movement occured at a time when the entire Chinese nation and races were at risk and under assult from foreign powers.

  52. shane9219 Says:

    @Opa #47

    “Chinese people are not stupid”

    Of course not. 6-4 event was truly a horrible one, and badly managed by both sides. PRC government had no knowledge and means for modern crowd control. They used whatever they had at the time. It is certainly not a good execue for such brutality, but still facts are facts. I hope you see the big picture and my point here.

    Given the past 150-year of painful history in China, 6-4 event was just a tiny ripple. There are many far more significant issues that are still haunting Chinese. For example, the peaceful reunification with Taiwan and the proper resolution on Tibet issue. The outcome of those important issues will challenge the ability and possibilty of all Chinese to form a new unified identity and speak in one voice, which have been postponed and denied by the West for far too long time.

    6-4 event left a scar in the psyche of Chinese people. I personally believe that times will come to address many similar issues. Still we can not let it distract us from focusing on more important issues.

  53. pug_ster Says:

    @Jed 44

    Unfortunately, what people do what they think they are right but history judged them differently. Good intentions gone wrong. IE people who take justice into their own hands.

  54. Wahaha Says:

    I had no idea that was what I meant. In fact, I don’t care about the “opulence” part. Let’s shorten it and just put “society’s rulers claim they have lifted millions from poverty, but in truth the millions have lifted themselves, through hard work and long hours” up on the wall.

    Otto,

    If millions of “Ordinary” people becomes millionaires, wouldnt you have claimed that the government only worked for the riches ?

    Or in your opinion, China should go back as she was in 1950s.

    Typical ignorant craps from so called human right scumbags.

  55. Wahaha Says:

    Had he been given the chance, he would have turned China into a miserable place out of good intentions.

    Opa,

    That is why Raj started this thread.

  56. Wahaha Says:

    June 4th “Shut up, shut up, shut up, im not listening, im not listening, im not listening, lalalalalalalalalal”

    Jed,

    No “shut up”, though state media did shut up about that, people were not “shuted up”. Most chinese dont want to talk about it now.

    What people in West are often wrong is that they think Chinese people know nothing cuz state media doesnt report. That is not the case.

    The point is ” What is the point of talking about it NOW ?”

  57. S.K. Cheung Says:

    “Still we can not let it distract us from focusing on more important issues.” – in the past, you guys have made Chinese sound easily-offended. Now it seems they’re easily distracted as well.

    “I personally believe that times will come to address many issues similar to it.” – the oft-repeated multi-millenia history of CHina notwithstanding, it’s been 20 years. How much longer are you going to need? How much longer will PRC citizens need, compared with how much longer the CCP “thinks” PRC citizens will need, versus how much longer CCP “wants” PRC citizens to need?

    MAJ has often mentioned shared responsibility. I am curious how he would divvy up that pie.

  58. Wahaha Says:

    But in your post you make statements to the effect that Beijing students were advocating democracy only in order to please Western audiences or that the students were elitist and did not really understand democracy.

    Amben,

    “did not really understand democracy”.

    I dont agree MAJ’s overall view on 1989 movement, but he was right on this one, we didnt understand democracy, or we didnt know what democracy would bring to China.

  59. Wahaha Says:

    How much longer are you going to need?

    SKC,

    The trend is reversed now, for god sake.

    Now it is west’s turn to convince Chinese that their system is good.

  60. shane9219 Says:

    @S.K. Cheung #57

    You are entitled to your points which are taken. I bet you knew you belong to the minority though.

    You need to kow that Chinese are true believers of doing, not talking. Talks are cheap, and action showed true intent.

  61. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Wahaha #54:
    did someone figuratively urinate in your cereal this morning at work? Otto quoted a line that pays homage to the hard work of PRC citizens, and you have a problem with it? Or are you bent out of shape because he wasn’t properly kissing the feet of your beloved CCP?

  62. Wahaha Says:

    SKC,

    Did you have good look of yourself in your own urine ?

    It is disgusting that you generalize your hatred to CCP to everything in China, even not give a damn about what is good or bad for millions of chinese people.

    _______________________________________________

    but in truth the millions have lifted themselves, through hard work and long hours” up on the wall

    The above is by Otto, let us have another look of that :

    What the heck doesnt mean ?

    Western democracy has made people lazy, like hundreds of million india, like millions of Russians in 1990s, like millions in South America ?

    WTF is that, huh?

  63. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Shane:
    “Talks are cheap, and action showed true intent.” – agreed. If China allowed people to walk the walk, and people chose not to, then any subsequent talk would be pointless. But even these days, unless you toe the line, walking can be hazardous to your health. Maybe someday…

    To Wahaha:
    “Did you have good look of yourself in your own urine ?” -ahhh, classy as always.

  64. Wahaha Says:

    and people chose not to, then any subsequent talk would be pointless

    SKC,

    Yeah, the people, that is what few hundreds or few thousands want.

    and do you know there are 1.3 billion Chinese ?

    What the heck do you mean by the word ‘ People ” ? I guess those rioters in 1992 Los anageles are also ‘ people ‘ in your mind .

    ________________________

    clssy as always,

    SKC,

    I see, you believe democracy makes people lazy.

    Then sorry to tell you, Chinese people dont like laziness.

    In other word, YOUR democracy ( = overthrowing CCP in your mind) wont come so easy, Sorry.

  65. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Wahaha:
    “The above is by Otto, let us have another look of that” – for once, could you do us a favour, and READ the thread before flying off the handle?

    Otto quoted from Raj’s post, where Raj had quoted Zhao from Zhao’s memoirs. In case you’re still not clear, those were Zhao’s (translated) words. So i think I’ll take your “WTF”, and raise you a “sweet mother of Christ”.

  66. Wahaha Says:

    LOL,

    SKC, did you read Otto comment after that ?

    ___________________________

    BTW, I dont have to read Raj’s post : every bad in China is cuz of CCP, or somehting like that.

    Anyway, he is always excited by anything that means bad for China

  67. S.K. Cheung Says:

    “Yeah, the people, that is what few hundreds or few thousands want…and do you know there are 1.3 billion Chinese ?” – recognizing this to be the unresolvable conundrum that besets all authoritarian societies, how do you know how many people would want something unless and until you remove political/personal safety repercussions from people who might harbour such desires?

    “I see, you believe democracy makes people lazy.” – in which alternate reality did you perceive me saying that?

  68. Wahaha Says:

    how do you know how many people would want something unless and until you remove political/personal safety repercussions from people who might harbour such desires?

    SKC,

    Do you have anyone (other than dissidents) in mainland China you can talk to ?

    Let me give you a kind advise, sincerely, it is very stupid to bash a government WHEN the government is guiding a good economy. It really makes people question ” What the heck does he want ?”

    Later.

  69. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Wahaha:
    “BTW, I dont have to read Raj’s post” – nice to know you can form an opinion about what someone wrote without even reading it. Well, makes for good entertainment.

    “What the heck does he want ?” – how about a good economy without the authoritarian characteristics?

  70. shane9219 Says:

    @S.K. Cheung #63

    You certainly need to learn to be a better team player and some discipline as well.

    When people are in battle, there are times to talk things over and take care the wounded. Before that, just shut up and continue to do what you have to do.

    Even Americans believe in this spirit. I guess you are more like free-wheeling Europeans 🙂 Sorry not intend to offend you or Europeans.

  71. Charles Liu Says:

    Raj @ 23, “If they were available for sale in China we could see whether interest in them was a fad or not.”

    Zhao’s memoir seems to be widely discussed in China. Here’s a Baidu search:

    http://www.baidu.com/s?wd=%D5%D4%D7%CF%D1%F4+%C2%BC

    There seems to be a spectrum of opinions about it. From above Baidu search I also noticed Zhao’s position on 64 had been previousely published in China – via the TAM paper as well as his memo defending his position to the polibureau:

    http://www.baidu.com/s?wd=%DAw%D7%CF%EA%96+%D7%D4%DEq%95%F8

  72. S.K. Cheung Says:

    “You certainly need to learn to be a better team player and some discipline as well.” – gosh, that sounds like it came straight from the playbook. Whether it’s from the 1989 edition, or the 2009 edition, can’t really tell. I guess team players can’t question the playbook…well, at least the team players the CCP would like to cultivate.

    “When people are in battle” – before we get into the overzealous metaphors, what “battle” are people in, exactly?

    I’m Canadian. Free-wheeling Europeans is how they play hockey. We have our own style. Mind you, the Zetterbergs and Lidstroms can muck it up with the best of them, to go along with their otherworldly skill set. (Detroit Red Wings, in case you’re wondering).

  73. shane9219 Says:

    @S.K. Cheung #72

    “I’m Canadian. Free-wheeling Europeans is how they play hockey. We have our own style. Mind you,”

    That is true, mind you. Why do you keep hanging on a thread that you have no business with 🙂

  74. S.K. Cheung Says:

    Well, it used to be educational. Now, mostly, it’s for the entertainment value.

    I’m also hoping you’re not suggesting that only Chinese from China who support the CCP can be here. But if you are, well, that’s one more thing you’ll have to learn to deal with. BTW, by that metric, I’m 1 for 3.

  75. Charles Liu Says:

    Raj @ 23, additionally Zhao Ziyang’s position and his polibureau memo were also referenced in a very popular book in China, Robert Kuhn’s Jiang Zemin biography (here’s chapter 4):

    http://bbs.sjtu.edu.cn/bbsanc?path=%2Fgroups%2FGROUP_5%2Fhistory%2Fzhuanji%2FD9ABF4A2B%2FDB82AF900%2FM.991636074.A

  76. shane9219 Says:

    @S.K. Cheung #74

    “I’m also hoping you’re not suggesting that only Chinese from China who support the CCP can be here.”

    Not at all, but being a better listener to what Chinese have to say on things and making some meaningful comment will make this community helpful to everyone. I would love to give some credit to Raj.

    BTW: Canadians are awfully like Europeans, maybe that is the reason they don’t get along with Americans very well 🙂

  77. Raj Says:

    Charles

    Zhao’s memoir seems to be widely discussed in China.

    Sorry, are these people who have actually read the memoirs cover-to-cover or just have heard about it and read some extracts?

    In any case, you’ve ignored the crux of my point that until the work is freely available in China for sale and distribution we will not be able to know whether Chinese people are interested in it or not. It’s very easy for politically-minded people to access illegal copies or pontificate about something they’ve never read, but the true test is when the majority of people, who normally would not be concerned by this subject, have access to it.

    additionally Zhao Ziyang’s position and his polibureau memo were also referenced in a very popular book in China

    Kuhn may have reiterated some points that were made previously about Zhao, but the memoirs contain new information. If it was all out in the open the Chinese authorities wouldn’t have tried to stop the tapes being smuggled out and would have allowed publication!

    Richard

    I’m not going to get dragged into the MAJ saga, but thanks for your kind words anyway.

  78. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Shane:
    “being a better listener to what Chinese have to say on things” – listening is one thing; agreeing with what I hear, quite another.

  79. Mark Anthony Jones Says:

    Richard wrote: “We must not read Madge in a vacuum and presume he is doing this for us. Everything Madge does is for himself, always and without exception.”

    Ridiculous! That’s all I can say.

    Give it a rest Richard. Most people come here to discuss the threads posted, not to waste their time reading silly attempts at character assassination. You’re supposed to be a professional journalist these days, working for the Global Times. Professional journalists do not engage in what amounts to silly cyber bullying and harrassment – which is what your continual spamming of that Fantabulist thread essentially amounts to. If you can’t let go of the past, then may I suggest you consider taking a really good laxative.

    You also accuse me of being “a card-carrying Marxist” which you say “is the pinnacle of hypocrisy, since [I] adore a good Marxist revolution and [so should] be wildly in favor of passive resistance and demonstrations against regime’s such as America’s or other capitalist countries’.

    Again, ridiculous! You really don’t know what you’re talking about. If anybody here wants to understand me better, I suggest that they read instead the Introduction to my China Discourse website (www.chinadiscourse.net), which outlines my philosophical approach. I am NOT a “card-carrying Marxist”, whatever that’s supposed to mean. I am influenced by Marx, that is true, but I am also influenced by many non-Marxists too. I consider myself to be a value-pluralist more than anything.

    pug_ster wrote: “Female’s Genitalia, SARS, cross dressing? Seriously Richard, talk about MAJ’s post and not the poster. Your lack of maturity is very apparent there in your post.”

    Exactly!

    Raj wrote: “I’m not going to get dragged into the MAJ saga…”

    Thanks Raj. I appreciate that. Why it remains such an ongoing saga after all these years is truly mystifying!

    Amban wrote: “in your post you make statements to the effect that Beijing students were advocating democracy only in order to please Western audiences or that the students were elitist and did not really understand democracy. That is not true. If you were able to read Chinese, you could flip through the pages of a documentary collection like 中國民運原資料精選 : 大字報, 小字報, 傳單, 民刊 and realize the great diversity of opinion among students and workers who took part. But you can’t. You don’t read Chinese. And you did not visit China in the 80s, neither have you ever cared to met any of the leaders of the student movement to talk to them.”

    Amban – it is true that there was a great deal of diversity of opinion among the students regarding ideas on democacy – I was well aware of that – and in hindsight, I should have produced a more nuanced discussion. Fair criticism. That said, it is clear to me, however, from the good variety of sources that I have read, both primary and secondary, that the fair majority of students, including many of the key leaders, were not seeking to overthrow the one-party state, and that their understanding of democracy was not the same as the Western liberal understanding.

    Richard claims that I ignore “99 percent” of what historians have to say about the Beijing spring of 1989. Rubbish! I have merely expressed the view of most of the historians I have read. Only last night I read the work of yet another historian whose assessment of the student movement mirrors what I presented in my essay – by Professor Merle Goldman, who is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading experts on the Chinese democracy movement. See her book, “Sowing the seeds of Democracy in China”.

    I didn’t “cherry pick” Jan Wong’s book either – I own a copy of her book, and as far as I am concerned I have drawn on it in a way that reflects her views and impressions on particular aspects of the movement – those aspects that I was questioning in my essay. Her impressions on these particular aspects – the elite authoritarianism for example – were shared by many other journalists at the time, some of whom I also quote. Many historians who have searched through and read such primary sources have also drawn the same conclusions that I have presented – which is why I quote some of them too. as far as I am concerned, my approach to researching, synthesising and then constructing discourse of my own is perfectly valid.

    I don’t need to be able to read Chinese language sources or to meet in the flesh student protesters from the movement in order to develop an accurate understanding of the events and common attitudes of the time. I need only read a wide variety of sources, both secondary and primary, in order to construct a valid argument. I don’t claim any of my essays to represent some absolute “truth” – I do however, claim them to be empirically based, which is another way of saying that my assessments are capable of being disproved. At the end of the day, people like you will always be able to offer up alternative evidence to challenge my assessments. That’s good. That’s what I want, and expect. That way I can alter my essays to produce more complex, more nuanced discourse. But at the end of the day, whether or not my overall assessments stand or remain valid, depends on where the weight of evidence lies. At this stage, I believe the weight of evidence supports the view that I have presented in the essay I posted here on this site, though as I said, I do need to add a few sentences acknowledging the empirical fact that a diversity of opinion nevertheless existed among the mass of students. But this, in my opinion, doesn’t present any real challenge to my position.

    As for your other criticisms…well, I think you are just being unnecessarily nasty and unfair. You say that I “cherry pick quotes from people who were there and know better than [me], in order to paint a bleak picture of the student movement that suits [my] agenda.” You also criticise me for posting book reviews on other websites and correspondence from authorities in the China field in order to bolster [my] authority”, dismissing me as not being credible.

    I’m disappointed that you find it necessary to attack my credibility in this way. As far as I’m concerned, you are just being unnecessarily nasty. I have no “agenda” other than to stimulate debate and to test the stength of my own assessments, which as far as I am concerned are quite reasonable, empirically-based and intelligently argued. These are ONLY blog texts too – so why take them (or me) so seriously as to enagage in personal attacks?

    You read way too much into me, as does Richard, which says more about you two than it does about me. I appreciate the criticisms you offer of my texts, but it upsets me when you and others continually attack me personally, and when even valid criticisms are expressed with discourtesy. Is it really all that unreasonable of me to expect to be addressed with some courtesy and respect?

  80. Wukailong Says:

    @shane9219 (#49): I agree with this, however free-market or laissez-faire capitalism is mostly a myth. Any developed country has followed a road similar to China’s, with free trade in some areas and heavy protectionism in others. For this reason, I don’t see the Chinese example as unique. It’s rather the vast scale of development that’s making people think something truly different is happening.

    Knowing your style, I’m pretty sure you’re going to disagree with me and write a response I agree with. 😀

  81. Wukailong Says:

    “You’re supposed to be a professional journalist these days, working for the Global Times.”

    Actually, Global Times is the crappiest newspaper I’ve ever read. It’s like a mix of British gutter press and the book “China is unhappy.”

  82. Charles Liu Says:

    “Give it a rest Richard.” Well said MAJ. Richard this ain’t your blog, and you can’t ban POV you don’t like.

    Raj, you obviousely didn’t even look at the on-line opinion. Here’re few quick sampling:

    – discussion on tianya.cn:
    http://www.tianya.cn/publicforum/Content/free/1/894369.shtml

    – May 09 blog comment “What kind of new wine is Zhao clique bottling?”
    http://bbs.stnn.cc/dispbbs.asp?BoardID=72&ID=83158

    – May 09 Ming Pao exerpts from the book:
    http://www.hkflash.com/diary/read.asp?id=wetwetgirl&aid=18262120

    – Nov 08 Zhao interview tape:
    http://q.sohu.com/forum/6/topic/4389461

    – May 05 Ming Bao monthly had two specials on Zhao interviews:
    http://www.mingpaomonthly.com/cfm/Archive1.cfm?Category=200505/sp

  83. Charles Liu Says:

    Additionally, Raj, Zhao’s original memo to the polibureau can be found by search Baidu:

    http://www.baidu.com/s?wd=%D5%D4%D7%CF%D1%F4+%D7%D4%B1%E7%CA%E9

  84. Otto Kerner Says:

    I want to clarify my comments about “society’s rulers claim they have lifted millions from poverty, but in truth the millions have lifted themselves, through hard work and long hours”. I didn’t particularly mean to single out China in this regard. My opinion about the way development works is that the public is constantly trying to develop themselves to the extent that they are able, and the government’s job is to stand nearby and keep criminals from shooting at law-abiding citizens, maybe provide a few schools and roads, and, other than that, just stay out of the way and let the people work. Except for keeping foreign armies away from the law-abiding citizens, none of that is even the responsibility of the central government — it can all get done at the local level. So, it’s sure not only in China that productive people work while others try to take credit for it. The only thing that’s arguably different about China is the degree to which the government uses the economic development to justify itself. Even that, I don’t think is a slam-dunk case, because it’s easy to imagine a Chinese government that obstructs development a lot more than the current one, so, even if they can’t fairly take credit for development, they can still argue that the alternatives are all worse.

    JXie #26,

    “In the day and age of paper money and instant gratification, it takes tremendous discipline and skills not to have inflationary government policies.”

    I don’t agree. Inflation is a policy which is carried out by central bankers and the politicians who appoint them. The way to not have inflationary government policies is to choose a hard money policy, which is simple to implement. Politicians often choose other policies because they have different policy goals.

  85. S.K. Cheung Says:

    It strikes me that, although this blog has the laudable goal of trying to move mountains, ultimately China is the immovable object, and in this case, there is no unstoppable force.

    Before people can understand each other’s points of view, there has to be a way to examine and understand the bases for those perspectives. With China under the CCP, access to much of the information on which those perspectives are founded is needlessly restricted. And access to the people whose opinions matter most is also hampered. So we have overseas Chinese all too willing to throw around “we Chinese” and “all Chinese” to attempt to harness the weight of 1.3B opinions, while folks like me are similarly all too willing to retort to the effect of “yeah, like you’d know”. Unless and until China in the CCP’s hands is a little more willing to let information flow in both directions, the likelihood of such trends abating seems remote.

    So in the current reality, you’ll always have 2 camps, and not much of a middle ground. And when someone like MAJ writes about his opinion on the basis of his research, one side will form a human shield to repel the barbs from the other. And when someone like Amy Yee writes about her personal experience that might favour one side over the other, you guys get bent out of shape while folks like me are all too keen to advise you to take a pill and chill.

    Until they know what we know, and we know what they know; and until they know what we think, and we know what they think…well, at least it’s entertaining, and at times educational. But hey, China holds the dice, and that’s a statement, irrespective of the reference, that should play well here.

  86. Mark Anthony Jones Says:

    S.K.Cheung wrote: “…you’ll always have 2 camps, and not much of a middle ground. And when someone like MAJ writes about his opinion on the basis of his research, one side will form a human shield to repel the barbs from the other.”

    I agree with your observation – this does seem to be a common trend. But what really puzzles me, mystifies me completely, is why so many people (actually, they’re a minority on this particular website) attack me so viciously, so personally, for expressing views that in my opinion are not extreme at all. I really do believe that my assessments here are moderate, balanced, in the middle ground, if you like.

    I do represent the middle ground in my opinion: I don’t hold the view that the Central Government was entirely to blame for the bloodshed. The evidence simply doesn’t support such a conclusion in my opinion, as I will seek to demonstrate in Part II of my essay. But nor do I blame the students entirely, or any other group or section of society. In fact, it has been suggested here that I am trying to present the student movement as violent. I have never made such a suggestion. I don’t know where people are getting this impression from – it’s puzzling. Most of the violence occured between the PLA and militant worker activists – most of whom belonged to the Beijing Autonomous Worker’s Federation. This is why, after the battle for Beijing, the government didn’t execute a single student. Most of those students arrested were soon after released, those that were imprisoned served sentences of between one and two years. Workers, on the other hand, received sentences of up to 16 years, and at least 17 of them were executed.

    Nowhere have I ever defended the use of the death penalty – not under any circumstances, though there have been prominent Western intellectuals in the past who have offered up justifications for the use of the death penalty. The French existential philosophers Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Bouviour for example, both defended the right of governments to use the death penalty.

    Richard and FOARP simply haven’t read me carefully enough. I do NOT blame the violence completely on the students, as they assert. They are misrepresenting my views. I suggest that the students in general (especially many of their more radical leaders), the 20,000 militant members of the Beijing Autonomous Worker’s Federation, the Chinese Central Government, and the PLA, all must share responsibility for the violence that took place. I stand by this line of reasoning. I have yet to finish writing Part II of my essay, which will present this specific argument in detail, so I’m rather puzzled as to why Richard et.al. would jump to such conclusions about what I think.

    May I suggest that people actually take the time to read what I say, rather than simply listening to what others imagine or wish that I had said. I’m really not the cyber eqivalent of an axe murderer, as Richard claimed here on an earlier thread, nor am I another Hitler, as he now seems intent on associating me with.

  87. Raj Says:

    Raj, you obviousely didn’t even look at the on-line opinion.

    Charles, FYI the second link doesn’t seem to work (or it wants me to log on?). The first link is rather slow and I don’t have the time to wait for it now.

    As for the rest, what is your point? I didn’t say that no one is talking about this. I said that:

    1. Until the work is freely available in China for sale and distribution we will not be able to know whether Chinese people are interested in it or not. It’s very easy for politically-minded people to access illegal copies or pontificate about something they’ve never read [or only read bits of], but the true test is when the majority of people, who normally would not be concerned by this subject, have access to it.

    2. The memoirs contain new information. If it was all out in the open the Chinese authorities wouldn’t have tried to stop the tapes being smuggled out and would have allowed publication.

  88. huaren Says:

    @Richard

    Your attacks seem cheap and vindictive. Stop hounding MAJ. If you have better arguments, make them.

    @others

    All I’ll say is that your type and other crusaders of “democracy”, “self-determination”, “freedom”, and what-not B.S. have peaked some time ago in terms of your free reign in attacking how the Chinese govern themselves.

    China is going to get there with a better version.

    1. People on the internet are countering your views because you have been too malicious for too long. Western media never really gave opportunity to the pro-China views. Yay for the Internet!

    2. At some point, people won’t even be bothering to counter you any more. That’d be a sad day for you. 🙁

  89. richard Says:

    Huaren, I never mean to hound anyone. He makes the point that you must consider Zhao’s background and history to determine the sincerity of his words. I make the same exact point about MAJ. Is he a trustworthy writer with good intentions? Absolutely not. It may sound cheap but I’m completely sincere – this guy is dangerous and he’s making a fool of you. Just follow the dots.

    Imagine if someone came onto this forum and blasted the CCP and accused its members of being sick criminals and laid out all these arguments about how they are child molesters or what have you. And then you found out this same person was posting stuff on other blogs posing as a 65-year-old female doctor, making up multiple false identities, plagiarising nearly every word he wrote and lying his ass off about virtually everything he said. Look into your heart and answer me sincerely: Would you then find this person credible, and take his accusations against the CCP at face value? Would his psychopathic behavior raise not an iota of doubt or suspicion about the kind of person he is and what motivates him? Just wondering.

  90. tommydickfingers Says:

    for anyone who still trusts MAJ, I suggest you follow the link to his blog. lots of talk of “empirical’ evidence and ‘world-leading academics” but zero substance. Richard #46 has said all that needs saying. A very shameful episode that should most definitely not be left in the past.

  91. pug_ster Says:

    @Richard 89

    Richard, first of all, your forum is heavily censored err moderated so that you allow everyone with a personal grievence with maj to post. So that thread is nothing but bullshit anyways. If someone would like to write about ccp being a bunch of sick criminals that’s fine provided he/she has some proof to back it up. I would love to see richard, raj, skcheung, otto and others who have done the same kind of research that maj has to prove it. Otherwise, I think some of you don’t like MAJ because what he says seems like an ‘inconvient truth’ to others in this thread.

  92. Raj Says:

    I would love to see richard, raj, skcheung, otto and others who have done the same kind of research that maj has to prove it.

    Why would I, sk cheung and otto have to perform research? I don’t believe that we have taken issue with Jones’ comments to the extent that richard, tommy and some others have.

    In any case, I don’t think anymore needs to be said on this. If someone has issues with what he writes, they should raise it when he posts. From now on if anyone keeps going on about it I’ll ask the admin to label their comments as spam/delete them. Everyone’s had their say, so there’s no need to have another “right of reply”.

    Try to think about something to say about 1980s Chinese history that involves good old Zhao. 🙂

  93. Jed Says:

    @Wahaha

    “What people in West are often wrong is that they think Chinese people know nothing cuz state media doesnt report. That is not the case.”

    I believe most Chinese know what happen, my post is intended to be “irony” something that doesnt either translate well, or is absent in Chinese….

    “The point is ” What is the point of talking about it NOW ?””

    That is EXACTLY my point – if people dont want to talk about it they conveniently ignore everything about the topic, or try to change it , avoiding the topic will not change the past.

    @pug_ster 53

    your english is way better than my Chinese ever will be, I commend you for coming on these boards and debating in a language not your mother tongue…..unfortunately I have no idea what you are trying to get at in post #53…I dont mean logic, I mean grammar…

  94. JXie Says:

    @Otto Kerner #84

    [T]he government’s job is to stand nearby and keep criminals from shooting at law-abiding citizens, maybe provide a few schools and roads, and, other than that, just stay out of the way and let the people work. Except for keeping foreign armies away from the law-abiding citizens, none of that is even the responsibility of the central government — it can all get done at the local level.

    Being an Ayn Rand fan, of course I get where you are coming from. Unfortunately in the real world, you get a different story. The central governments as we know them, also run social “safety net”/”entitlement” programs, space agencies, disaster relief agencies, social engineering programs, etc. Heck in many countries, they also run trains, airlines, or even oil companies. If the discussion is only at the armchair and philosophical level, sure I think you might be right, and that would be the end of it, just like the young Greenspan was right that the gold standard was the best.

    One major problem with armchair critics, is most of them have never been in a position of leading a business, a division of a business, or a government entity moving from point A to point B, and seeing the inherent difficulties involved in day-to-day operational management and leadership building. They can’t tell a HOFer from a utility infielder if their lives depend on it.

    You take China’s accomplishments for granted. Did you read the analyses written by supposedly super smart people, that the enormous difficulties China faced in the past 2 decades — inflation, currency reform, SOE reform, banking reform, WTO, etc. before they were solved? Sure in retrospect they all look easy now — the experts have a tendency to make tough tasks look easy to the spectators (think Roger Federer, Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan at their best). Only when you step out of China, and look at other developing countries and some developed countries, to understand how immensely difficult the tasks were. Sure China was/is lucky to have competent bureaucrats such as Zhu Rongji and Wen Jiabao at helms. But have you asked why they were/are in their positions to being with? Zhu has that notoriously bad temper that couldn’t be good in a “guanxi society”, and gosh Wen was the assistant to Zhao Ziyang! How did they get promote to the highest level? Maybe, just maybe, it’s the system.

    Inflation is a policy which is carried out by central bankers and the politicians who appoint them. The way to not have inflationary government policies is to choose a hard money policy, which is simple to implement. Politicians often choose other policies because they have different policy goals.

    Because they must please their constituencies and “buy” votes! In poor democratic countries, it’s all too often that the government heads indulge in overspending, because people are happy to get “free” stuffs. Look at India, or most Latin American countries for that matter. They just can’t keep their fiscal deficits down.

  95. pug_ster Says:

    @Jed 93,

    That’s okay. You don’t like what I say anyways. So now you want to joke about my grammar and maybe you can talk about my favorite color in your next post.

    That is EXACTLY my point – if people dont want to talk about it they conveniently ignore everything about the topic, or try to change it , avoiding the topic will not change the past.

    You sound like what Zhao Ziyang’s memoirs will mean or change anything in terms of what most Chinese about this incident at 6/4. Guess what, it doesn’t. Many people already know about Zhao Ziyang’s personal disagreement with other members of the CCP before his memoirs was published and this just affirms it.

    Just because most westerners believe that the incident at 6/4 and the Tank man was censored, somehow they think that the Chinese citizens don’t know 6/4 incident happened and the circumstances of why the 6/4 happened in the first place. They are dead wrong and what Raj says about ‘updating Chinese history’ is just plain stupid.

  96. Raj Says:

    pug_ster

    Many people already know about Zhao Ziyang’s personal disagreement with other members of the CCP before his memoirs was published and this just affirms it.

    Many Chinese people will have little knowledge of Zhao’s views on the Tiananmen protests. Indeed many young Chinese will have little idea of who he is, let alone his views on any subject. So they could learn a lot from reading these memoirs.

    As I said earlier, if most people knew both sides of the story about Zhao and Tiananmen the Chinese government wouldn’t bother censoring those topics.

    They are dead wrong and what Raj says about ‘updating Chinese history’ is just plain stupid.

    Zhao has been officially written out of Chinese history by the CCP ruling elite, so clearly Chinese history needs to be updated on that front. The authorities can’t just pretend controversial people didn’t exist. These memoirs should allow him to gain a fair presence in Chinese history, whether it’s in the next few years or a decade or more in the future.

    Furthermore, it’s true to say that Deng has received most of the praise for China’s economic growth even outside of China. When I talk about updating Chinese history, it’s not just in regards to the “domestic market” – non-Chinese academics who work on China should also be able to revise their positions thanks to these memoirs. Non-academics could learn a lot too.

  97. TonyP4 Says:

    Hi JXie, several good posts. I like to echo with my points.

    We seem to have at least 2 camps.Great for discussion.

    I do agree building infrastructures such as roads, electricity… by local/central government have a big impact.

    One of the government jobs is to encourage folks to work hard and have a better life. It is obvious Chinese government (Deng, Zhou…are great but Mao is bad in this area) is doing great when you compare to the bad governance in India.

    Inflation and deflation could be controlled by the government. Too much leaning into each is no good. It is interesting that US is in a deflation now (see how many bargains to buy houses, cars, gasoline…) but we can see inflation/high taxes is coming in a year or two. Deflation hurts companies is producing products that are losing value.

    I agree running a company and running a country is very similar. It is not the same for sure. Running different companies in different industries is not the same too. Running a company has to deal with taxes. Running a country involves how to collect taxes (in a balanced game) and how to distribute the money back (like building infrastructure in this discussion).

    Steve Jobs is important for Apple at least to the investors. When he announced his health problem, the stock went down. You need one like him to have vision on next product. Engineers, designers and assemblers are just soldiers under his and his management’s vision.

    Apple has at least two important points to me as an investor.
    1. You make good money on Apple by selling high and buying low. Not all companies can be said the same. The company made mistake, screwed up many times, but it always came back with better products. IPod gets its success in marketing more than its technology as many companies can do the same at that time. It is the vision of the management.

    2. Ipod is a global product: Americans design it, Chinese assemble it and all the consumer in the world enjoy it. Globalization in this case is good.

  98. richard Says:

    pug, many Chinese simply don’t know the full history in context. That I can tell you from personal experience after 8 years in Asia. Most Chinese people today are of the belief that they should thank God for Deng wisdom, which kept China from being engulfed in corruption like Russia (thank God there’s no corruption in China). This is well documented in books like River Town, but most importantly, it’s what we hear every day from the people here. Even former demonstrators who are now enraptured by the sweet flow of money – which i don’t at all blame them for. I probably would be, too, had I grown up in or around the Cultural Revolution..

    About the charge of censorship on my site – please have a look; all of your comments have appeared. Sometimes they are delayed because of the filter. Only about 4 people are banned, and usually if they write me an email and discuss it with me like grown-ups, they’re allowed back in. MAJ, of course, can never comment there, and why would he want to if I’m such a horrible guy? I have all MAJ’s emails begging to be let back, and he even created a youtube video once of himself asking me to let him back in (remember, Dr. Meyers?). You really have to cross a line of human decency to earn that distinction of being permanent banned. You never did so, and all your comments appear. MAJ did, and bxbq did, both admitting in so many words they were using the commenters like guinea pigs to see how they’d respond; that’s what MAJ’s request for penis photos was all about, to see how much he could shock people. Well, you know, I have only a certain amount of patience for nonsense like that, and then I say No. But as I said, only the tiniest number of people have entered this special club, and then they are so vocal about it. Why? It’s just a blog.

    Back to Tiananmen. No, most people I know here know little of Tank Man and agree that, sad as it may have been, the government did “what needed to be done,” and thank god for that. As we all agree, the students were not angels, there were all sorts of unattractive things about the demonstrations, especially toward the end (bad sewage, in-fighting, goofy Chai Ling, etc.), and clear lines of good vs. bad, good vs. evil are impossible to draw. Each side sincerely believed in its arguments. But the fact remains, there was no need for a violent crackdown and people who were there and share many of the same convictions as you about the Party, like Philip Cunningham, agree with this. It is this that many, like Cunningham, object to – the big lie about the need for a violent end to what were all in all peaceful demonstrations. And the fact that most Chinese people, through a carefully manipulated media and educational system, remain almost completely ignorant of what actually took place on June 3 and 4th, many believing the violence was strictly in response to violent demonstrators who killed and disemboweled PLA soldiers. (Zhao addressed this point nicely in his memoirs, the way this was blown wildly out of proportion.) Those are some of the things that people who are familiar with the events – again, like Cunningham – find so unacceptable. Anyway, we may never see eye to eye on this, but it’s good that we can have this conversation.

  99. JXie Says:

    @Wukailong #37

    I work at the company some people have mentioned above

    Just curious, were you there before 1997? If you happen to be at the computer side of the business, before Mac OS X?

    @TonyP4 #97
    Ipod was the brain child of a Lebanese American fellow named Fadell. He used to own his company but couldn’t get enough funding to pull it through. So he dangled that vision of an easy to use portable music player and a whole ecosystem around it to several other companies, including his former employer Phillips, and was turned down. Jobs saw the potentials, and gave him the resources. Like they said, all the rest was history.

  100. TonyP4 Says:

    Hi JXie, I read about it briefly and he is American too. I blame myself for loading up on Apple stock. I thought many companies can do it. A Singapore company had a such a device far earlier than Apple. The whole key technology is the minimization of a hard disk (no moving head version trying not to be too technical here). Apple’s first device is very low price that many bought it and took out the hard disk and use it in the digital camera. Marketing, OEMing (with no cost components) and manufacturing play a key role.

  101. Nimrod Says:

    JXie wrote:

    “You take China’s accomplishments for granted. Did you read the analyses written by supposedly super smart people, that the enormous difficulties China faced in the past 2 decades — inflation, currency reform, SOE reform, banking reform, WTO, etc. before they were solved? Sure in retrospect they all look easy now”

    +++++
    Yes, in fact, many of them predicted the collapse of China in 1980, 1981, 1982, …, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, and every year after. You get the point…. These things actually sounded convincing for a time, too.

  102. pug_ster Says:

    Thanks Richard for your response and unfiltering my comments. I recall it took more than a day to undo that…

    Personally I don’t know what is the historical importance of the Tank Man. He runs up to a few tanks, the tank stops, and some people pulled him out, big deal. The tanks rolled through Tianamen square anyways after he was pulled and the whole incident probably took about 5 minutes. Nobody knows who he is and yet many non-Chinese historians seems to know what he thinks. Essays and documentaries praised and romanticized him like Che Guevara.

    Incidents leading up to and including to the 6/4 incident are tragic. Peaceful student protesters overstayed their welcome even when Zhao Ziyang pleaded to them to leave. Some students and workers didn’t choose to be peaceful and riots broke out in parts of Beijing; as a result, some soldiers are killed. This is the part that I disagree with Philip Cunningham. I think some soldiers chose to ‘kill or be killed’ mentality and as a result, some innocent people got killed. Was it justified? Today’s answer would probably be no. Many of the Chinese leaders acted ‘in the heat of the moment’ and chose to act instinctively instead of thinking rationally as Jan Wong mentioned about the Chinese leadership feeling threatened by demonstrators at Tiananmen. Most people who was involved got their hands dirty.

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/tankman/interviews/wong.html

  103. Shane9219 Says:

    @S.K. Cheung #85

    Isn’t that the normal process of building a bridge of understanding?

    In 2008, we heard a lot about people in the West and exile Tibetans not happy about China. Now it is their turn or your turn (if you are a true Canadian) to hear from unhappy Chinese.

    This might sound silly. Moving a mountain takes a lot of efforts, and only real fools would do it. I am certainly one of them 🙂

  104. Charles Liu Says:

    Richard @ 98, ” many Chinese simply don’t know the full history in context”

    I disagree. People I talked to knew it fully. And of course I don’t harbor this “we know your history better than you” kind of superiority like many of my fellow Americans, nor do I invalidate their opinion contrary to mine as inferior or paid.

    The Baidu searches above, and here, prove the TAM Paper, Zhao’s politbureau memo, are available to people, and they do form their own opinions about it:

    http://www.baidu.com/s?wd=%CC%EC%B0%B2%C3%C5+%C1%F9+%CB%C4&ct=0

    http://www.baidu.com/s?wd=%CC%EC%B0%B2%C3%C5+%CE%C4%BC%FE

    Not only is there a lot of opinions, there’s a range of opinions as well.

  105. Raj Says:

    I disagree. People I talked to knew it fully.

    Well I’ve met plenty of people whose knowledge of the events are limited. You’re either spending too much time talking to people who don’t live in China or you’re talking to people who are very politically minded.

    The Baidu searches above, and here, prove the TAM Paper, Zhao’s politbureau memo, are available to people

    They prove that some people have managed to access them. They might have bought copies overseas, in Hong Kong, had a copy brought to them, got an online copy before whatever hosting source was shut down, got a partial copy as an e-mail – there are many possibilities. The main point is that most Chinese people cannot get a copy as anywhere as easily as they can other political works. Plus there’s little or no publicity about them in the mainstream Chinese media. Just because someone’s gone searching for a banned work doesn’t mean others know it exists, let alone can find it.

    It’s like trying to defend/dismiss Chinese internet censorship by saying “well if people really want to they can get around it”. Well a lot of people don’t see why they should spend their own time getting around blocks and so forth. When most people hit a block they’ll probably give up quite quickly and go do something else.

    As I keep saying, if it was that easy to get around the restrictions the Chinese government wouldn’t bother banning this and blocking that. The fact they do shows they get sufficient results.

  106. huaren Says:

    @Richard, #89

    Well, I think you will have to have faith in the ability of FM readers to decide for themselves about arguments MAJ make, as well as arguments made by others.

    For the pro-China camp, there has been tremendous patience against the so-called “human rights” activists. In general, its counter arguments – not character assasination. From what little I have read – it seems MAJ acknowledged his past wrongdoings and have apologized for them. I agree, pretending to be someone else and “playing” with readers is stupid.

    I am not sure if all of your claims against him is true or not. He’s also asked for a second chance. If you are a believer in “human rights” and these other ideals, then you should give him a second chance.

    My other way of thinking is – if MAJ is correct – and your only way to combat his conclusions is to attack him personally (where-ever he visits on the Internet) to bolster your perspective, then you are devoid of principles of “freedom of speech”, “democracy”, etc..

    Btw, this is my view about a lot of activists – hence some of us here call them activist scums. They will preach these principals, but clearly lack moral backbone, not law-abiding, duplicitous, and so forth.

    Anyways, truth and facts are probably the easiest to defend. Take comfort in that if you believe MAJ’s arguments are wrong.

  107. JXie Says:

    @Richard #98, Raj #105 and some other quotes such as,

    many Chinese simply don’t know the full history in context.
    most people I know here know little of Tank Man.
    Well I’ve met plenty of people whose knowledge of the events are limited.

    It’s quite probable many ethnic Chinese and Chinese nationals HERE know quite a bit more about that particular part of the Chinese history than you 2. I take that the point you try to make is that there should be more information about it freely available in China, or even better, the topic ideally the version of the history you tend to agree with is taught in Chinese schools. Don’t get me wrong, I tend to think the information flow in China should get freer — at least it should be a goal. But at least I can understand the reason why it is not so in China today.

    Let’s flip the topic around. Why did the Obama administration change its electoral position in releasing the photos depicting detainee abuse by U.S. personnel overseas? Why does the Freedom Of Information Act have a long list of exceptions? Why even in the best time as far as information freedom went, some information only became publicly available 25 years later in the US, by some executive directives nonetheless?

    Bear in mind, I am not justifying any of those, but merely pointing out the fear that totally unrestricted information freedom may have unintended negative consequences, is humanly understandable. It’s not evil or sinister per se, it is just IT, the messy real world.

  108. JXie Says:

    @TonyP4, #100, the first MP3 player was made by a small South Korean company. Rio was the first one who made it hot. The Singaporean company you mentioned is probably Creative who was the biggest gorilla in a smallish space before Apple came on scene. You are right that Apple’s secret sauce isn’t its engineering prowess alone, more a combination of marketing, design, manufacturing process and engineering. They made a geeky product cool, wanted and even as a fashion/lifestyle statement. Jobs certainly has had an interesting life. In the last several years, his presentations were probably the most watched ones by marketing professionals.

    Compared to his missteps in the early to mid-80s, in his second sting with Apple he lost that youthful edginess and had more that Confucian/zen-like “know-your-place-in-the-world” type of outward appearance, which was pretty cool. When he was ousted from Apple in 1985, he was on suicide watch by his close friends for a few days. Yet during that time, he kind of had to sell his Apple shares, and ended up parking a small portion of the profit in a small outfit named Pixar. Eventually the bulk of his wealth was from Pixar, far more than what it might’ve been had he held his Apple shares. Life can be such an amazing journey. Go figure…

  109. Nimrod Says:

    Raj wrote:

    “It’s like trying to defend/dismiss Chinese internet censorship by saying “well if people really want to they can get around it”.

    As I keep saying, if it was that easy to get around the restrictions the Chinese government wouldn’t bother banning this and blocking that. The fact they do shows they get sufficient results.”

    +++++
    I don’t think there is as big a contradiction as may seem at first glance. I think the idea is as JXie says, it puts a threshold on some information so you’ll have to have some intelligence, some drive, and therefore some real interest to get to it. It isn’t just mass dissemination for the impulsive consumption of the average Joe. As you may know there are even internally circulated documents among Party members that are censored a lot less (and there are a lot of Party members). I’m satisfied with calling this arrangement elitist or possibly patronizing. But there you have it.

    Do I think people can handle more information these days? Absolutely, and I am certain they will inevitably get it more and more.

  110. TonyP4 Says:

    @JXie #108.

    Can a former Pepsi executive have the vision in technical products? Common sense.

    Pixar’s success formula is quite simple: use 3D animation for cartons. Disney’s failure formula here is quite simple: as long as we’re making money, do not change – no investment, no innovation, and not thinking out of the box…

    This tells us how importance is the vision of the leadership of a company. Same as Deng’s vision for China. He does not have to do a lot himself, but his vision really counts.

  111. pug_ster Says:

    @jxie 107

    I also think the western media glorify the tank man as symbol as someone who defied against china in the so called ‘tianamen massacre.’ I recall that this guy was on live tv of this incident and he was dissmissed as some idiot whom the tank driver was nice enough not to run him down. So I think the difference of the westerners and the chinese glorified or belittled this tank man is the issue.

  112. Raj Says:

    JXie

    It’s quite probable many ethnic Chinese and Chinese nationals HERE know quite a bit more about that particular part of the Chinese history than you 2.

    It’s possible, but then either or both of us may know more than such people here. I’m not sure we were suggesting we knew more than most people here (more that maybe our experiences better reflected what most Chinese understand), so I’m not sure what your point is.

    Why does the Freedom Of Information Act have a long list of exceptions?

    Because if it didn’t, government couldn’t function. Civil servants would spend all their time copying information to retired/unemployed people with nothing better to do, companies would never do business with the public sector for fear of private information being released, government couldn’t do anything remotely controversial, etc.

    But at least I can understand the reason why it is not so in China today.

    I think you’ll find that richard and I do understand the reason why. It’s just that we might not see the reason as being justifiable.

    I am…. merely pointing out the fear that totally unrestricted information freedom may have unintended negative consequences, is humanly understandable

    I understand where you’re coming from, but you’re comparing apples and oranges. There’s a difference between restrictions on information about government work and restrictions on information that is in the public domain or otherwise not the property of the government or its employees. Not releasing details of an on-going military operation is not the same as attempting to stop people from distributing information on or even discussing a public event and someone’s memoirs.

  113. Charles Liu Says:

    Raj, I too disagree with you. All the Baidu searches I provided (they all work) disagree with you. Heck “Tiananme 6 4” search doesn’t even seem to be censored. Zhao’s positions have repeatedly aired in China as demonstrated.

    You and Richard give the Chinese way too little credit; they know more about their own country than you and me. Your indictment that somehow they live with the wool pulled over their eyes has no factual basis, and is likely the product of our own anti-China media narrative/indoctrination.

    It is no more so for us than it is for them. Their opinion of their own country is in no way inferior to ours. It’s actually the other way around.

  114. shane9219 Says:

    @Tony

    “Same as Deng’s vision for China”

    Agreed. Deng’s vision did inspired many Chinese.

    ” He does not have to do a lot himself, but his vision really counts”

    Not true though. Deng has personally done a lot. He established a new ideology framework based on pragmatism for China’s modernization, the so-called “seeking truth from facts” principle. His push to establsih experiment-led social-economical reform is also vital to today’s success.

    You must hear those famous “white-cat-black-cat” and “cross-the-river-by-touch-stone” statements. In essense, there are similarity between US’ pragmatism and Chinese pragmatism, which somehow have made these two nation easy to communicate, not with European though 🙂

  115. Shane9219 Says:

    From “The new Asian hemisphere”

    By Kishore Mahbubani

    “The greatest pragmatist in Asia’s history is probably Deng Xiaoping. Indeed, his definition of pragmatism is probably the best definition of the term … ”

    http://books.google.com/books?id=aYNXPuHdlgEC&pg=PA75&lpg=PA75&dq=pragmatism+and+Deng&source=bl&ots=aBKgZh2SvU&sig=m-tmwDvh3G68xbcFh98S4_bcAFw&hl=en&ei=p1ATSv7ADZqAtgP12d3nDQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1#PPA75,M1

    From book review of “The New Asian Hemisphere: The Irresistible Shift of Global Power to the East”
    by Radhakrishnan Nayar on ‘de-Westernisation’

    “Mahbubani is a great admirer of China’s post-Mao arch-pragmatist leadership that has been overseeing that nation’s astoundingly fast economic growth in recent decades. He cites the injunctions to his fellow leaders of Deng Xiaoping, the originator of China’s reform policy: observe and analyse developments calmly; secure one’s own position; conceal capabilities; keep a low profile; strive to make achievements. Such astuteness deserves salute; if it followed Deng’s advice how much better off the US would be, not to mention a country such as India, loud in talk and laggard in action.

    In connection with China, Mahbubani sets out one of his key ideas – that democracy, the pet Western prescription for the world, is badly misleading. China is not democratic by Western standards, he admits, but then the Western concept of freedom is simplistic. It is not just about freedom of expression and a free vote for the government. Freedom is also freedom from famine, from pillage and murder by bandits, freedom to choose what work you wish to do and for whom.

    In all these vital respects China has made stupendous progress. Free speech and free choice of governments are only the “final layer” of freedom for Mahbubani. If they come too soon they might plunge China into deadly instability. The West, he says, would be wise not to distinguish sharply between freedom and despotism.

    The problems in this argument are easy to see. The West will lose its own freedom if it allows its idea of what freedom is to become blurred. The West doesn’t demand that China institute a democracy overnight; it has merely spoken up for human rights in the country. There is never a “right” time for democracy that will guarantee stability. Democracy is always risky. Dictatorship can provoke chaos, too. Mahbubani’s stance reveals him to be not the voice of the new Asia at large but rather a voice from the elite groups in certain dictatorial and semi-authoritarian Asian nations that take for granted their right to tell the masses what to do. Egotism is evidently not only a Western sin.

    His larger thesis is also flawed. There are many successful civilisations, he proclaims; they are going to blossom anew. The Western civilisation is not the universal one. Yet when Mahbubani scoffs at the “myth of Western superiority” one remembers his own pages on how the West gave the East the concepts of equality before the law, meritocracy and modern democracy. He praises modernisation but does not see that it is a new civilisation in itself. It came to fruition in the West, but modernity was never wholly Western – it took crucial scientific and technological ideas from other civilisations such as the Hindus, the Arabs and the Chinese. All cultures will be mere subsidiaries of this civilisation of modernity.”

    http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storycode=401969

    Another interesting review

    “One of the key goals of this book is to restore Western optimism about the future of our world,” writes Mahbubani. It only requires one simple change, he believes:

    “they need to drop all the ideological baggage they accumulated in the several areas of Western triumphalism, and they must stop believing that they can remake the world in their own image.”

    With the failure of Americas’s democracy project (e.g. election victories of Hamas), there is a lot to recommend this position. There is a sense of “West knows best”, but there’s plenty of evidence to suggest otherwise (the economic crisis we’re currently experiencing, for example). What the author has done is attempt to provide a look into how Asia and the West can rise together, as it were; to work together and succeed together.

    “Pragmatism is the best guiding spirit we can have as we venture into the new century. It is therefore only appropriate to quote… the greatest pragmatist of the twentieth century, Deng Xiaoping: It does not matter if a cat is black or white; if it catches mice, it is a good cat.”

    http://civilian-reader2.blogspot.com/2009/05/new-asian-hemisphere-by-kishore.html

  116. Otto Kerner Says:

    JXie,

    I’m not really inclined to thoroughly hash out an argument pro and con on laissez faire vs. more interventionist systems in this forum. I was interested to see that you mentioned Alan Greenspan, since he was also the person I thought of when you said you were an Ayn Rand fan. You and Greenspan have in common the idea that some ideas are right “in theory” or “philosophically”, but not in practice. I would point out that theories and philosophies are of no value at all unless they correspond to what happens in reality. It’s true that there’s an excellent chance that some of my ideas are actually wrong and could be corrected by a better understanding of reality, but I’m doing the best I can with the resources I have available currently. You could seek out some people who have been successful government leaders and ask their opinions, but there are a lot of caveats to bear in mind when interpreting their advice, in particular their direct personal interests which influence their public and private opinions.

    That said, I do find some merit in your arguments. I don’t think of Zhu and Wen as “good” bureaucrats, but I do think of them as bureaucrats who could be a lot worse, and it’s quite plausible that the CCP is an effective system for promoting that sort of less-bad bureaucrat. I also find your comments about inflation interesting. If a principled individual or discrete oligarchy has complete political power, or if no one has the means to pursue an inflationary policy, then having low inflation is easy. However, if a principled person has to share power with other people who have different policy goals or are unprincipled, then controlling inflation can be quite difficult. From that perspective, the CCP has done a good job of keeping it under control.

  117. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To huaren:
    “China is going to get there with a better version.” – that would be a fantastic development. My question is, have you any idea what this “better” version will look like? Is there some goal in mind, even if in the long term, to which the Chinese system will evolve? Or do you think China will come upon it by happenstance, literally overnight? You dislike “democracy” in the form on offer, and yet are confident that China will develop the far superior v2.0. That seems quite a “leap”, if you pardon the pun. If nothing else, I thought that was what Charter 08 represented: a vision not for today (since obviously that’s not gonna fly), but one that might serve as guidance for some undetermined future time. Yet most of your group weren’t too keen on that.

    To Shane:
    “Isn’t that the normal process of building a bridge of understanding? ” – the process, sure. But my point was that China’s policies stand in the way of that bridge being built, and it’s an obstacle that will be removed at China’s discretion. Otherwise, we have overseas Chinese telling us what PRC citizens think, and to me, they MAY not be the most representative surrogate.

  118. Shane9219 Says:

    @SKC

    “MAY not be the most representative surrogate”

    It is pointless to argue which country or region offer the best representation, but influence does. That is the reason that makes politicians in US and European all shaking in their feet, yet people in emerging nations have become more confident. Taking a line from our beloved Deng, “development is the hard truth”. For much of human history, Asian civilizations (Chinese, Indian and Muslim) have much longer and stronger influence than those from West.

    One may argue that the concept of human rights and democracy are pet invention by the West, yet both US and European countries (including Japan) have been the worst violators of all. It is out of the same reason: “for who got power, who got influence”

  119. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Shane:
    that is completely and utterly not my point. My point is that, when someone says “I know how mainland Chinese think” or “what I want is also what 1.3B PRC citizens want”, it is not the most persuasive, at least to me. So the people who would utter phrases akin to the examples listed “MAY not be the most representative surrogate” for the group to whom i would ultimately like to build that bridge ie. Chinese people in China. In furtherance of that, my point is also that China/CCP herself is the biggest obstacle impeding construction of said bridge.

  120. mark Anthony Jones Says:

    I read another extract from Zhao’s memoirs yesterday, published in The Australian (in the Features section, page 7). While Zhao, in his post-June 1989 days, came to the conclusion that Western liberal democracy is the best system of political economy currently in existence, he was no fundamentalist in this respect, for he qualified his view by noting that “parliamentary democracies exist in primarily developed nations and emerging ones. Some of the developing countries practised parliamentary democracy early on but could not fully realise its potential, and [so] problems developed: the government has trouble exercising authority, society was not stable enough, military coups were staged using these problems as an excuse…Parliamentary democracy…must have certain necessary conditions and not just any nation can adopt and use it well.”

    This is exactly what value pluralists argue: people like the English philosopher John Gray, the American philosopher Daniel A. Bell (who has left a comment on my China Discourse site), as well as the American sociologist Doug Guthrie and the American international legal philosopher, Randall Peerenboom. Many others have also argued along these lines too of course, like Henry Reynolds, Professor of the Graduate School of Business, and Andrew Nathan (who worked for the US Endownment for Democracy at one time, and who co-edited the Tiananmen Papers with Perry Link). “Chinese people need to be transformed by Western style Enlightenment processes to be qualified for democracy,” says Andrew Nathan, in his 1993 essay titled, Is China Ready for Democracy?

    Samuel Huntington holds similar ideas:

    “Modern democracy is a product of Western civilization. It is rooted in social pluralism, the class system, civil society, the credo of rule-of-law, the experience of a system of personal political representation, the separation between spiritual and secular authority, and the insistence on individualism. All these cultural traits can be found in the traditions of Western Europe, and began to appear there more than a thousand years ago.”

    There are clearly prerequistes for democracy to be able to take hold, and China, according to many, is not yet ready.

    Zhao Ziyang certainly came to this very conclusion too. It would be “wrong” if the CCP never makes the transition to democracy, he felt, though he qualified this by saying that he hopes that the ruling position of the CCP can be “maintained for a considerable period of time, so that the transition can be made in an orderly manner.” In the meantime, he said, China should focus on developing its legal system – one of the many prerequsites needed for democracy to successfully take hold.

    Value pluralists, of course, also recognise that there are legitimate alternatives to Western-style parliamentary democracies, and that China may therefore develop an alternative model of political economy that is morally legitimate.

  121. shane9219 Says:

    @ SKC

    My apology. It is hard to tell who, does it ? but you sure can be the final judge for yourself. Guess it is also the reason makes this forum lively.

  122. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Shane:
    no need to apologize. Always tricky to try to understand the writing styles of a whole bunch of strangers.

  123. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To MAJ:
    “Zhao Ziyang certainly came to this very conclusion too.” – I wonder at what point Zhao came to that conclusion ie closer to 1989, or 2005. If it’s the former, and observing the pace of change of the legal system in nearly 20 years, then when he speaks of “transition (to) be made in an orderly manner”, he’s referring to something occurring at glaicial speed. I wonder if that would be what he intended.

    “there are legitimate alternatives to Western-style parliamentary democracies, and that China may therefore develop an alternative model of political economy that is morally legitimate” – there may be; and they may be. If it’s to be arrived at by trial and error, then what are they trialing that differentiates from the status quo? If it’s a more purposeful process in moving towards a goal, then what is that goal?

    As I said to Huaren above, China may ultimately arrive at a superior system (and here’s hoping they do). But how do you know where to go if you don’t know where you’re going?

  124. mark Anthony Jones Says:

    S.K. Cheung – good questions. A number of scholars that I have recently read have sought to empirically demonstrate that China is in fact gradually and quite deliberately developing the institutions of liberal Enlightenment, and that this will inevitably result in the establishment of a liberal democracy: Randall Peerenboom argues along these lines, though he leaves room for the possibility of legitimate alternatives. Doug Guthrie certainly believes that China is heading towards liberal democracy, as does Henry Rowen, Merle Goldman and Andrew Nathan. So some Chinese policy makers may very well have a grand plan, so to speak – though plans of this nature will always be contested by those with other agendas.

    Others aren’t so confident, like Minxin Pei and Will Hutton.

  125. Wukailong Says:

    @MAJ: I agree with what most people you mentioned above think about the subject matter, and my personal reasons for believing China will develop along similar lines as the Western world is that:

    1. Many other countries, not only Western, have done the same.
    2. China has a market economy (Western originally), Marxist-Leninist theory (Western originally), right-wing politics under a leninist system (originally common in many parts of what’s now called the West).
    3. Most ideas and management practices studied from other countries are Western in nature.
    4. It has gradually opened up its economy, practicing free trade in some areas and protectionism for core industries. This is the way European countries developed their economy.

    Of course there are also local influences that put their own flavor on this process, but I have seen very little that makes me believe China will develop some truly unique system.

  126. huaren Says:

    @SKC, #117

    ““China is going to get there with a better version.” – that would be a fantastic development.”

    Well, then there is something we actually agree on. But when someone like FOARP (I don’t recall what your actual position was bunch of threads ago) spare no energy to take a moral stance on easy issues – for example – the French selling of looted treasures from the Opium War – then I doubt there is goodwill. Illwill (and lack of goodwill) is extremely easy to spot. Second thought – to be fair, FOARP later acknowledged that the looting was immoral.

    “You dislike “democracy” in the form on offer, and yet are confident that China will develop the far superior v2.0. That seems quite a “leap”, if you pardon the pun. If nothing else, I thought that was what Charter 08 represented: a vision not for today (since obviously that’s not gonna fly), but one that might serve as guidance for some undetermined future time. Yet most of your group weren’t too keen on that.”

    1. Don’t get so cocky. The Chinese have their constitution. They don’t need a lesson from you on vision. Charter 08 is a vision?! The loonies who wrote Charter 08 can take it with them to their graves. 🙂 It won’t be missed.

    2. “quite a ‘leap'”. Well, this is the key difference in our views. China actually seek advice from experts in all fields from developed countries. They openly say that. They openly welcome those who sincerely want to help. (An example I can personally attest to: my college professor on a patent law class, Robert H. Rines, contributed a great deal towards China’s Patent Law in the 90’s. Look him up.)

    China gets input from Singapore, Japan, Korea, U.S., Germany, E.U. etc on everything you can imagine. It is codifying new laws for the first time with wisdom from all the developed countries around the world. It is training new legal professionals like there is no tomorrow. (Of course, your camp would know nothing about things of this sort, because you have no experience to offer.)

    China has gotten used to what capitalism is all about now. 10% GDP growth last few decades is enough proof for me.

    The Chinese government can easily make decisions which is the envy of a lot of the world. Did you see how long it took China to implement the economic stimulus vs. how long it took the U.S. version?

    The list is almost endless.

    No leap needed for me. Signs are everywhere.

    And don’t get me wrong, China is a work in progress as others have said.

    (For now, buy the China ETF’s like CAF, FXI, etc.. You will thank me for it later.)

  127. Mark Anthony Jones Says:

    I have a correction to make to my comment No.120. I wrote “Henry Reynolds, Professor of the Graduate School of Business,” but I was in a hurry typing between classes at school. I should have instead typed “Henry Rowan” – not Henry Reynolds. My apologies.

    Secondly – I’ve had such a busy few weeks at work, with senior reports to write, parent-teacher interviews, HSC assessment tasks to mark, ad. infinitum, that I simply have not been able to make huge progress with Part II of my essay. It won’t be ready to post on May 22, as originally scheduled. More realistically, I’m looking at Friday May 28.

    For those of you who are actually looking forward to reading it (and I know from emails that many of you are) I do humbly request your understanding and patience. I’ve written roughly one-third of the essay so far

    Cheers!

  128. raffiaflower Says:

    Well, according to Bao Pu, there will be 9000 copies of Prisoner Of The
    State in its first Chinese-language run. So the issue may not be access to the book, but whether there would be wider interest beyond the academic/political circles.
    History will probably judge Zhao ZiYang as 1) a man of good intentions, but good intentions alone cannot run a country, especially one as complicated as China; 2)a man before his time, because the parliamentary democracy he advocated was not suitable for the country.
    As for Mahbubani, he also noted in his book that in the late 19th century, some high-ranking Chinese minister went to America and studied the political system, and concluded it was corrupt, nepotistic,etc -all the things that supposedly ails China now – and was not right for his country.
    BTW: jed yoong, ah, you think mtoday blocked ahh?? got trouble try access sometimes.
    China’s eventual road to a country with citizen participation in government will still be “democracy with
    Chinese characteristics”.

  129. Raj Says:

    Charles

    All the Baidu searches I provided (they all work) disagree with you..

    How many times do I have to say that it’s one thing for some guys to have found material and it’s another for general members of the public to not just be able to easily access them but also see and hear advertising about them so that they can become interested? Are you just ignoring this because it is an inconvenient fact that doesn’t fit with your position, or do you have actual trouble understanding?

    If the latter, please say so and I’ll try to explain it in another way. If the former, act like an adult rather than a sulky teenager.

    Zhao’s positions have repeatedly aired in China as demonstrated..

    Really? Oh, ok, so perhaps you could tell me what Chinese TV stations have held debates between academics on his positions, what newspapers have ran editorials supporting him, what radio shows have had planned call ins from members of the public about him, etc. I’m clearly missing out on a lot.

    Your indictment that somehow they live with the wool pulled over their eyes has no factual basis, and is likely the product of our own anti-China media narrative/indoctrination.

    Charles, were you educated and raised in several countries at the same time and yet also in different time periods a la Dr Who? Because I know for one that richard is of a different age from me and that both you and him were raised in a different country from me. I can promise you that there was not a jot of “anti-China media narrative/indoctrination” when I grew up. If anything the prevailing view was that China was a really interesting and beautiful country on the other side of the world, with little or no discussion of poverty, pollution, politics and the rest – all the bad stuff concerned Africa and South East Asia. Anything that has happened in the last 5 years or so is completely irrelevant to your claims because the opportunity to “indoctrinate” me disappeared a long time ago.

    Seriously, drop the victim-mentality “because I think x was wrong when I grew up, everyone even in other countries had the same problem” position. We’re all individuals and have different perceptions/experiences, especially in North America and Europe.

    Sure, Chinese people can be a lot more knowedgable than us, and I always like to learn new things. But I know that many Chinese people do not know the full facts because they express ignorance on a number of issues when we talk about things together. When Zhao Ziyang died, all bar one of the Chinese people (PRC) I knew had very little understanding of who he was. It was basically “yeah, I know there was some leader from the 1980s but I don’t know much”. They actually looked to me to send them information on their own country. Similarly blank responses when I’ve asked them about Liu Shaoqi. They didn’t know that in 1989, combat veterans had been sent up to Beijing because the local troops weren’t trusted. On one occasion I had to explain to a Chinese university graduate studying for a masters that the UK had never directly controlled and administered large swathes of China in the 19th century, despite the fact she said she had learnt that in school.

    Those are just a few examples. As I said, I love to learn new things and wouldn’t bother asking if I couldn’t learn anything new. But at the same time there are circumstances where I’ve known more and/or they’ve had completely the wrong end of the stick. Mostly it concerns subjects that the Chinese government officially censors or otherwise tries to control what people learn/access.

    ++++

    hauren

    Don’t get so cocky. The Chinese have their constitution.

    Except that any such “rights” as it contains are completely unenforceable – it’s just a nice collection of prose. There’s not much point of having a constitution if you can’t rely on it.

  130. TonyP4 Says:

    Talking about vision, I have to tell you a true story. Promise me not to tell other, or I have to kill you.

    One Chinese short guy knocked on my door and asked me whether I wanted to make $500 for playing bridge. It was a lot of money for a poor student. The guy was chain smoking and told me to pretend not to understand English and he had a vision that we will win. It was against two tall American guys Billy and Wally.

    The business-looking Americans cheated talking about their cards in English and of course I knew what they’re having. We won $10,000. He told me his complete vision:

    1. We Chinese have been losing for centuries, and these two, ‘informed’ Americans think we’re going to lose again.
    2. They think all Chinese do not speak English (in 1970s).
    3. They are physically developed but not mentally.
    4. To these rich folks, $10,000 is just peanuts.

    My partner gave me $500 as promised. I told him I felt exploited and I should get more. He explained to me ‘this is the capitalism with Chinese characteristic’.

    I heard he was cheated by another American guy for the $10,000 he won. It was a big cowboy hat and was supposed to belong to John Wayne. It is not too pricy to learn American capitalism this way. I do not know which country’s capitalism is better.

    ——–
    Original joke (c) 5-20-2009 and inspired by the word ‘vision’.

  131. richard Says:

    Charles Liu: You and Richard give the Chinese way too little credit; they know more about their own country than you and me. Your indictment that somehow they live with the wool pulled over their eyes has no factual basis, and is likely the product of our own anti-China media narrative/indoctrination.

    Disagree. I give the Chinese huge credit for many things. But there are certain areas where they answer in lockstep, using the same words and even expressions, like the Taiwan metaphor of “a baby returning to its mother’s arms.” It is not disrespectful to point this out, and it’s the same with Tiananmen and a few other topics where the government has gone to great lengths to unify public thought, such as the Three Gorges Dam. Most of my friends here recite the script about TAM, that it was all for the best that it ended the way it did and thank God they didn’t end up like Russia. There is ignorance in America about lots of things as well. I don’t deny that. This is an area in China of particularly effective propaganda. The US has its own such areas, but we’re talking about China now – let’s not deny that there’s a narrative that’s been drummed into people’s heads. And I know how these narratives work now that I work for a Chinese newspaper. 🙂

    Pug, about Tank Man – I watched the clip that very day on the news and everyone was instantly spellbound. It wasn’t China; it was an image that maybe resonates with the Western psyche – or the American psyche – in a unique way. The one man standing up against the machine. The solitary figure, stepping forward and for an instant being a metaphor for the entire conflict. Now, you may not agree with that description or find flaws in it, but that’s how it appeared, and we were deeply moved. One of my friends carried the photograph in his wallet. He was an inspiration. And it wasn’t just him, it was the driver of the tank, who refused to run him down. Their pirouette, captured in the midst of such incomprehensible violence and chaos, captivated the Western conscience, and everyone who saw it knew it was something they could never forget. Were they conned? I don’t know (though I don’t think so). But he’s not exiting the world’s conscience anytime soon.

    This is my favorite description, by Pico Iyer, and it explains why “Tank Man” is a phrase we all know:

    Almost nobody knew his name. Nobody outside his immediate neighborhood had read his words or heard him speak. Nobody knows what happened to him even one hour after his moment in the world’s living rooms. But the man who stood before a column of tanks near Tiananmen Square–June 5, 1989–may have impressed his image on the global memory more vividly, more intimately than even Sun Yat-sen did. Almost certainly he was seen in his moment of self-transcendence by more people than ever laid eyes on Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein and James Joyce combined.

    The meaning of his moment–it was no more than that–was instantly decipherable in any tongue, to any age: even the billions who cannot read and those who have never heard of Mao Zedong could follow what the “tank man” did. A small, unexceptional figure in slacks and white shirt, carrying what looks to be his shopping, posts himself before an approaching tank, with a line of 17 more tanks behind it. The tank swerves right; he, to block it, moves left. The tank swerves left; he moves right. Then this anonymous bystander clambers up onto the vehicle of war and says something to its driver, which comes down to us as: “Why are you here? My city is in chaos because of you.” One lone Everyman standing up to machinery, to force, to all the massed weight of the People’s Republic–the largest nation in the world, comprising more than 1 billion people–while its all powerful leaders remain, as ever, in hiding somewhere within the bowels of the Great Hall of the People.

    Whether you like him or not, the Tank Man is here to stay, inspiring documentaries, magazine covers and t-shirts, becoming a globally recognized phrase, being the symbol of the individual standing up to authority. It’s easy to go back now and be critical, to deny the courage that it took to put himself at risk, to take pot shots. It won’t matter; he is and will remaian one of the century’s most indelible icons.

    On a more tiring matter, some commenter above said I shouldn’t criticize MAJ if I only have personal attacks to make. Just a brief correction: my comments are not personal and they are not attacks – all I did was tell people what MAJ has said and done. His words and deeds speak for themselves. You cannot wave a magic wand and say, Hi everyone, I’m someone else now, Well, he does that all the time, but you shouldn’t fall for it. That’s all. He is still doing it, sockpuppeting and BS’ing, and that is not an attack, it is simply matter of fact.

    raffiaflower: History will probably judge Zhao ZiYang as 1) a man of good intentions, but good intentions alone cannot run a country, especially one as complicated as China; 2)a man before his time, because the parliamentary democracy he advocated was not suitable for the country.

    Let’s clarify: Chinese history will judge him as such. Absolutely true. The rest of the world will see him quite differently, and Westerners as deeply familiar with China as Philip Cunningham and Orville Schell and Philip Pan see him quite differently as well. China may have its own history in its own vacuum. But on this topic it is at extreme variance with that of the rest of the world. That part about “good intentions alone can’t run a country” – I guess that can be used to justify anything, no matter how violent, s long as it preserves the status quo, the one-party state. Can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. But all you have to back that up – the contention that Zhao had good intentions but was ineffective – are the party talking points about how lucky we are he failed and that Deng showed the brilliance and courage to crush a generally peaceful demonstration that was breaking up anyway. Ineffective? How do we know? His plea for a peaceful end was usurped by Li Peng, and all we can do is speculate on how effective or not Zhao’s way would have been. Personally, I think it would have been far, far better than the albatross China has has had to bear, deserved or not, for the crackdown. And again, even relatively pro-government China hands like Cunningham say the same. This is not some radical notion from someone who “doesn’t understand China.”

  132. MoneyBall Says:

    Otto Kerner Says: “society’s rulers claim they have lifted millions from poverty, but in truth the millions have lifted themselves, through hard work and long hours, and in the process they have catapulted the elite to unprecedented levels of opulence and economic power.” Truer words ne’er were spoken. This should be written on Tiananmen in place of “世界人民大团结万岁”.

    This argument is amusing, if millions can just “lift themselves” out of poverty, why has it not happened in Africa? or South America? or even in lndia? They have had 60 yrs of good time to do the work, but they just can’t do it…..are you implicating those people are inferior to Chinese race?

  133. Otto Kerner Says:

    I was musing yesterday how bizarre it seems that my comment in #2 has been interpreted by some people as some sort of anti-China diatribe. Basically, what I was saying was, “Great job, people of China! 加油!” and yet I get some of the same responses as if I had said, “omg, china sux!”

  134. Raj Says:

    Otto (133), there’s no point even trying to understand some of those reactions.

    It’s like those fenqing who, when a person wonders about China’s place in the world, will angrily assert that China can do anything it sets its mind to, China is already number 1 in the world because it holds so many US Treasury bonds, that it will be first to the Moon in recent times, that it can defeat anyone in a war, etc. Yet on the same forums if someone asks “why can’t China develop more environmentally-friendly?” or “why can’t China have universal healthcare”, they will spin around and say that China is so poor, China has so many poor people to look after, China is still only a developing nation, China is still under-developed, etc, etc.

    Basically, China and Chinese people are strong or weak, confident or insecure, happy or sad, depending on what sort of question the silly people are dealing with.

  135. JXie Says:

    @TonyP4 #100, but the “cookie man” (former Nabisco CEO) Lou Gerstner did wonder at IBM, didn’t he? An interesting tidbit about Gerstner is that after he quit his IBM CEO job, he went on to study Chinese history and Chinese archaeology.

    @Raj #112, gosh you just threw a fat one down the middle that a little leaguer can hit it out of the park, on the FOIA and its exceptions. You don’t know much about them, do you?

    @Otto Kerner #116, in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, John Galt managed to persuade the “Atlases” in America to build that idealistic hidden enclave of their own. Now in the real world, there isn’t such a clearly defined line between creative men and moochers, and there isn’t really a hidden place for you to go — now what’s up with that desire of escaping all the real world to a 世外桃源 seemingly existing in all cultures? Imagine in her perfect world, at that place built by Galt, some outside forces cause the food become extremely scarce. Will her perfect men hold up their value system before the inevitable final deaths of the most? My point being that any value system is based on some sort of unspoken foundations. The foundations aren’t as solid as they appear. If the foundations crumble, are you willing to die with the value system, or like Sir John Maynard Keynes, change as the fact changes?

    Anyway, the takeaway for me reading Rand’s works is #1 the perfect man philosophy: never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for the sake of mine. #2 the core ideas behind “The Virtue of Selfishness”. Will I limit myself to her value system exclusively. Hell no.

  136. huaren Says:

    @Raj, #129

    “hauren

    Don’t get so cocky. The Chinese have their constitution.

    Except that any such “rights” as it contains are completely unenforceable – it’s just a nice collection of prose. There’s not much point of having a constitution if you can’t rely on it.”

    Ha, at least you and I agree on what “vision” IS. Your friend SKC doesn’t seem to understand the term.

    Now, I also have to call your line of thinking retarded, because everything I wrote in my previous comments about codifying new laws, educating legal professionals, etc are the transformative elements that will ensure more rights for Chinese citizens.

    The Chinese constitution cannot be relied on by the Chinese? Try to read outloud what you wrote. Are you nuts?

  137. JXie Says:

    @Richard #131

    Most of my friends here recite the script about TAM, that it was all for the best that it ended the way it did and thank God they didn’t end up like Russia.

    An imperfect but reasonably close example would be the Vietnam War to Americans. #1 You have a generational gap between those who had been through it, especially those who were at the draft age, and those who grew up afterward. #2 I am a history buff. Chances are that I may know tidbits here and there more than many Vietnam Vets. But am I more knowledgeable to the war and its imprint on American psyche? No. I shall try to be more understanding, but will never claim I am more knowledgeable.

    Chinese history will judge him as such. Absolutely true. The rest of the world will see him quite differently, and Westerners as deeply familiar with China as Philip Cunningham and Orville Schell and Philip Pan see him quite differently as well. China may have its own history in its own vacuum.

    First, please stop speaking for the “rest of the world”. That’s silly. Heck, have you personally been to most of the rest of the world?

    Second, I tend to think it’s not the Chinese history created in a vacuum, which is patently untrue, but rather the inability of seeing the world out of one’s own cultural prism.

  138. Raj Says:

    JXie (135), actually I do know about the FOIA, even if I couldn’t be bothered to write a mini essay on its drawbacks. Since you disagree so strongly with my comments, I take it that you think the UK government could work perfectly fine if there were no exemptions? There would be no extra cost in terms of money and man hours? There would be no loss of confidentiality? No problems with national security?

    By the way, I don’t understand baseball references. I’d rather say that you bowled one that even Monty Panesar could smash for six. 😉

    +++

    hauren (136), I take it the rights granted to people are found in Chapter II. Pray tell me, if I’m a Chinese citizen which of those rights I have can I enforce? Let’s have a quick look at them.

    Article 33 – All citizens of the People’s Republic of China are equal before the law.

    Everyone has the same rights, unless you’re rich, well-connected, a senior CCP member, a government official, etc.

    Article 34 – All citizens of the People’s Republic of China who have reached the age of 18 have the right to vote and stand for election.

    You can stand for election, unless you do something the CCP doesn’t like and it won’t permit you to stand. As for voting, shame there aren’t any terribly important direct elections in China.

    Article 35 – Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration.

    A joke worthy of a comedy routine on prime time TV.

    Article 36 – Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of religious belief.

    Provided that you practice in a way that the State approves of. If you want to do it your own way, that’s not allowed.

    Article 37 – The freedom of person of citizens of the People’s Republic of China is inviolable.

    Unless the State doesn’t like you, in which case this doesn’t apply and you can be held under house arrest without trial for the rest of your life, amongst other things.

    Article 39 – The home of citizens of the People’s Republic of China is inviolable.

    Pretty much the same as 37. State decides whether this applies or not.

    Article 40 – The freedom and privacy of correspondence of citizens of the People’s Republic of China are protected by law.

    Again, unless the State says otherwise.

    Article 42 – Citizens of the People’s Republic of China have the right as well as the duty to work.

    Wow, working is a right! I guess there must be zero unemployment in China. What’s next, a right to breathe?

    Article 44 – The state prescribes by law the system of retirement for workers and staff in enterprises and undertakings and for functionaries of organs of state.

    You can work AND retire in China!

    Article 46 – Citizens of the People’s Republic of China have the duty as well as the right to receive education.

    Excellent. You’re not forced to be ignorant by the government!

    Article 48 – Women in the People’s Republic of China enjoy equal rights.

    I’m amazed – I found something that might just be enforceable.

    Article 49 – Marriage, the family, and mother and child are protected by the state.

    I don’t see how this is a right. More a vacuous comment.

    Article 50 – The People’s Republic of China protects the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese nationals residing abroad.

    Drivel. The PRC relies on other countries having good rule of law to protect their citizens.

    Article 51 – The exercise by citizens of the People’s Republic of China of their freedoms and rights may not infringe upon the interests of the state.

    That’s not really a right, is it? More a very big restriction.

    Article 52 – It is the duty of citizens of the People’s Republic of China to safeguard the unity of the country.

    Again, another restriction.

    Article 53 – Citizens of the People’s Republic of China must abide by the constitution and the law.

    Ditto above, even if it’s common-sense.

    [Followed by more restrictions/duties.]

    So there we go, I found one right out of a whole list that’s enforceable. Assuming of course there is a high degree of success for equal pay claims. But that could be tightened up on with more law.

    As for the most important ones, even the Constitution admits that you only have these rights as long as the State wants you to have them. Whenever it likes, it can say they don’t apply.

    Which makes those “rights” pretty pointless and thus unenforceable. No number of properly-trained lawyers or supplementary law can change that. Only a change in attitude from the State will lead to enforceable rights.

  139. Shane9219 Says:

    @Raj

    What is the point of making jokes out of China’s Constitution. That is really cheap. So stop it, before you offend more people in this community.

    You may not like it, and you are of course not a citizen of China.

    It is one thing to have a open-minded discussion on things of your observation, it is another to dump your shit out of your sour mouth.

    @Admin: please block Raj# 138 post

  140. Raj Says:

    Shane

    What is the point of making jokes out of China’s Constitution. That is really cheap.

    Well I apologise of course, but I felt that I had to give hauren a good slap discussion-wise for being so blazen as to pretend the Constitution’s “rights” are enforceable. My intent was not to insult but to show that, unfortunately, it isn’t a document that affords significant legal protections as it should do.

    So stop it, before you offend more people in this community.

    I could be wrong, but I was under the impression that most of the “Chinese” people who comment here regularly (if not all of them) are not PRC citizens and don’t even live in China. Why would they be offended because someone else’s constitution was criticised?

    Apologies in advance if anyone here is a PRC citizen living in China. If you put your hand up for the record I’ll try to remember that next time.

  141. Charles Liu Says:

    Raj, why do you feel you have the right to slap anyone discussion-wise? This is precisely the kind of superiority complex that separates you from many of us who disagree with you. BTW, our own constitution, for hundreds of years, provided no relief for African-Americans.

    Same thing with you, Richard. What the Chinese choose to believe, even if it’s lock step, or official narrative (the nice term we us for our own lock step) does not mean they are any less valid than yours or mine. That’s their perogative, and your lack of respect for them in those area precisely show how little you think of them. Why don’t you try to understand why they believe in their own versions of “Manifest Destiny”, “Kent Stat Riot”, “incorporation of Native Americans”?

    Just a FYI, remember what happend after 9/11 and before our invasion of Iraq – prewar newreports by our independent and impartial media was lock step with GW Bush, and to-date no WMD has been found, and no war-criminals have been broght to justice on “command responsibility” doctrin we imposed on other’s leaders.

    As you can see, I’m not the only one here disagree with you. Shane if you don’t like 138 you can vote it down; we have a democracy here.

  142. Shane9219 Says:

    @Raj

    This is a shared forum by many people of various backgrounds. Most of them make their POVs know to others while preserving a good degree of decency and respect. These two aspects are not in conflict.

    So do not put more execue out if your apology is sincere. The suggestion of “you put your hand up for the record I’ll try to remember that next time.” is simply absurd.

  143. Raj Says:

    Raj, why do you feel you have the right to slap anyone discussion-wise?

    Because, Charles, the lack of enforceability of the Constitution leads to a great number of injustices for Chinese people and it builds up their hopes, only to have them brutally dashed when they find there is no recourse for what has happened to them.

    By adopting the standard nationalist line as hauren did, that the Constitution’s “rights” are useful, he insulted all those Chinese people who really could do with constitutional rights but don’t have them. That deserves a text-bashed thrashing in my book. In the real world I’m sure plenty of people (Chinese or otherwise) would be willing to give him a good, physical kicking for disregarding the suffering of others just to engage in nationalist self-gratification.

    This is precisely the kind of superiority complex that separates you from many of us who disagree with you.

    Charles, I’m sorry but I don’t find that comment credible. If you were someone who regularly tried to keep the peace and criticised people for their behaviour regardless of whether they were someone he usually agreed or disagreed with, I might believe you. But from my memory you’re not.

    +++

    The suggestion of “you put your hand up for the record I’ll try to remember that next time.” is simply absurd.

    Shane, I was referring to the fact I’ve said most of the regulars here are not Chinese citizens and/or do not live in China. My apology for anyone offended is quite sincere.

  144. Charles Liu Says:

    Raj @ 143, “enforceability of the Constitution leads to a great number of injustices” – how is this any different than our own constitutional injustices and transgressions, past and present?

    Why is that ours deserve hundreds of years to exist and improve on our own accord, while theirs don’t?

    “China may have its own history in its own vacuum. But on this topic it is at extreme variance with that of the rest of the world.” – Is it any different when it comes to us? We just existed 8 years of vacuum under GW Bush, where we fit the “extereme bariance” bill better than the Chinese. Should we be forced to change our “official narrative” at other’s dictation? Or the Chinese too have the right to their own perogatives?

  145. Raj Says:

    Charles

    how is this any different than our own constitutional injustices and transgressions, past and present?

    WTF, are you serious? We are in the 21st century, not the 19th. You can’t justify current wrongs by talking about the past.

    As for present injustices, both the American Constitution and British Human Rights Act (plus previous legislation) offer far more rights than Chinese have. No system is perfect, but good grief it is a lot better over here.

    If you were accused of a crime by the Police and had the choice of being tried in the UK or China, I bet you would go for the former. So would any sane, informed individual.

    Why is that ours deserve hundreds of years to exist and improve on our own accord, while theirs don’t?

    Sorry, I keep hearing that China was one of the oldest civilisations in the world. It has existed a lot longer than the USA. Arguably it should be further ahead than it in terms of legal rights, not behind.

    Seriously, Charles, you are insulting Chinese people by suggesting it’s ok they have poor civil rights because other countries weren’t and/or aren’t perfect today.

  146. huaren Says:

    @Raj,

    In my view, you can make fun of the Chinese constitution – which is your prerogative. It helps to show what kind of sick nut logic you have. Here, I’ll just pick one:

    “”Article 36 – Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of religious belief.
    Provided that you practice in a way that the State approves of. If you want to do it your own way, that’s not allowed.

    Right, so in England, if a priest wishes to have child molestation party, that’s allowed? Oh, how about a Budhist church where members need to pay the CCP? Or how about a church forbidding its members from seeking medical care from hospitals in all circumstances.

    “Provided that you practice in a way that the State approves of.”

    Are you nuts? Hell yeah!

  147. Raj Says:

    huaren

    Right, so in England, if a priest wishes to have child molestation party, that’s allowed?

    Are you feeling quite alright? I’m not aware of any faith that believes child molestation is a part of their religious practice. We don’t tell all religions how they must practice their faith. What we may do is ban acts that are criminal in any civilised country. If you consider a Catholic diocese having their bishop chosen by the Vatican (something the Chinese government opposes) to be a crime in any civilised country, you don’t have your head screwed on properly.

    Given you got your single attempt at refuting my criticism so wrong, feel free to have another go. How about… oooh…. Article 35. Rip me to shreds on that one.

  148. huaren Says:

    @Raj, #147

    Reagan and the Pope were using the Catholic church to fight against the Soviets. Ignorance – another trait of the “human rights” activist. Get your facts straight.

    Are YOU feeling quite right? “What we may do is ban acts that are criminal in any civilised country.” Why, the Chinese are not allowed to ban acts that are criminal? Duplicity. Yet another trait of the “human rights” activist.

    Fine, let FM readers decide who is feeling quite right.

    Article 35 – Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration.

    A joke worthy of a comedy routine on prime time TV.

    speech – I acknolwedge this is a work in progress. For the practical man not planning to take down the government, this is fine.

    press – Oh, if it is like the U.S. style, then I hope the Chinese are wise enough to not follow its model completely. Americans are stressed beyond belief. Judging by how ignorant the press is, the Chinese model is vastly better.

    An immoral “free press” which supported the killing of Iraqi’s? Why would the Chinese want that for themselves?

    assembly, association – did you notice how many NGO’s got formed in China in the last 10 years?

    procession, demonstration – same rule as most places. What? You think there weren’t demonstrations in China?

    “A joke worthy of a comedy routine on prime time TV.”

    Your prime time TV is royally f’ed up in England I am afraid.

    Hey, ask Spain, Brazil, Africa, China, Russia, and basically majority of the world how screwed up your “free press” is.

    Cannot see fault within one’s self. Another trait of the “human rights” activist.

    I think you are in shreds already many comments ago.

  149. Raj Says:

    hauren

    Reagan and the Pope were using the Catholic church to fight against the Soviets.

    1. The Soviets (or at least their puppet regime) were occupying the Pope’s homeland. I think he had a right to support Solidarity and other similar movements.

    2. What does that have to do with child molestation? Was that part of Reagan’s masterplan?

    Get your facts straight.

    Or maybe you could make a point rather than expecting me to predict what you might have to say?

    Why, the Chinese are not allowed to ban acts that are criminal?

    It’s criminal for the Pope to appoint bishops? That’s what the heads of Christian churches usually do.

    For the practical man not planning to take down the government, this is fine.

    How about the “practical man” who wants to make a complaint about the government that doesn’t go as far as taking it down? He isn’t allowed to do that in public either.

    press – Oh, if it is like the U.S. style, then I hope the Chinese are wise enough to not follow its model completely

    So it’s the US style or the Chinese style? How about the French style? Or the Swedish style? Or the Canadian style? Or any other style where the press is directly and openly able to criticise the government, even call for leaders to step down?

    assembly, association – did you notice how many NGO’s got formed in China in the last 10 years?

    Do you mean were formed or were approved? That NGOs can exist in China is hardly special. What about those groups that can’t form? You can’t set up a new political party in China, for example. If you want to challenge the political status-quo, even legally, you’re not going to have much success setting up an organisation.

    procession, demonstration – same rule as most places.

    Lol, you really are living in fairy-land. How many anti-CCP/government demonstrations have there been in Beijing in the last ten years that weren’t shut down as soon as the authorities realised what was going on? During the Olympics not a single application to stage a protest was accepted. What a joke!

    Hey, ask Spain, Brazil, Africa, China, Russia, and basically majority of the world how screwed up your “free press” is.

    If you asked a majority of the world whether they would like our open system or China’s closed system, I think they’d go for the former. That’s why you see people push for media reform. The only people who push for the reverse are authoritarian governments/parties.

    Cannot see fault within one’s self.

    Are you sure you’re not talking about yourself?

    I think you are in shreds already many comments ago.

    Yes, I’m sure you do. You also think I should be able to predict what you’re going to write before you do, but never mind.

  150. Raj Says:

    An update on the reaction to the publication of Zhao’s memoirs.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSTRE54I1MY20090519

    China brushes aside Zhao’s Tiananmen memoirs

    A Chinese government spokesman on Tuesday brushed aside questions about a top official purged for opposing the armed crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in 1989, saying the official verdict on the demonstrations still stood.

    Zhao Ziyang, who died in 2005 after years under house arrest, secretly recorded memories of his time at the apex of Communist Party power and his ousting by Party hardliners in 1989.

    He denounced the killings of protesters and onlookers around Tiananmen Square 20 years ago as a tragedy and rejected the government claim that the protests were an anti-Communist conspiracy.

    “Our Party and government long ago reached a clear conclusion about the events in China of the late 1980s, the political disturbances then and all related issues,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu, speaking hesitantly, told a regular news briefing.

    China has previously branded the protests counter-revolutionary.

    “During the last 30 years of reform and opening up, the development of China’s economy and society has been enormously successful,” Ma added.

    “Facts prove that the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics we have traveled accords with China’s national condition, and the basic interests of the majority of the people, and reflects the wishes of the people.”

    Ma’s remarks were China’s first official reaction to the memoirs, which will not be published domestically as the reformist Zhao remains a taboo subject.

    Even as it has plunged into capitalism, China’s Party leadership maintains strict, though increasingly erratic, control of what its citizens can read in print and online.

    That censorship will be especially stringent before the sensitive 20th anniversary of June 4.

    Does the CCP think that if they pretend something doesn’t exist it will go away? It’s so childish to ignore the memoirs, as if they didn’t even exist. Have the courage to at least say they’re not important or something!

  151. huaren Says:

    @Raj,

    Okay, so I get it. Your infatuation is with “new political party” and taking on the Chinese government. “call the leader to step down” – is this kind of thing that important to you?

    Hey, crusaders existed before and I accept they exist today. Making fun of their arguments? Heck yeah!

    (But why this supposed urge to want something “better” for the Chinese people? Is this a profession for you? God tell you to do it?)

    Man, I am tired of reading your nonsense in this thread. I am getting a head-ache. Like I tell SKC some times – last words are yours in this thread.

    And, WTF, “Raj”, if you are a British citizen. Why pick a username that many people end up thinking you are an Indian national?

  152. Wukailong Says:

    Wow, this discussion has really spiraled off in another direction as I was happily asleep…

    @huaren: I think I can answer your question:

    “And, WTF, “Raj”, if you are a British citizen. Why pick a username that many people end up thinking you are an Indian national?”

    The few times I’ve been to the UK, I’ve noticed there are a lot of people whose roots are Indian or Pakistani. It’s very common. Perhaps you shouldn’t pay so much attention to people’s names or where you think they’re from.

  153. S.K. Cheung Says:

    Agree with WKL. Go away for a day, and missed all this fun.

    Good of Raj to go and dig up the Constitution. I remember reading it during the discussion on Charter 08. And I do recall at the time thinking that the Constitution was a wish-list, so I suppose it suffices as a vision for today. Of course, that vision is as yet unrealized, and won’t be until the rights mentioned in the document are codified. And since, as huaren even says, “(China) is codifying new laws for the first time”, I wonder when this vision will become reality.

    But then my question remains. Once they get this vision fleshed out, where will the vision come from to take them to the next level, where they have an even better political system than plain Jane democracy. As Raj points out, the Constitution may embody a vision, but it hardly depicts anything as innovative as huaren seems to hope. In fact, I really hope huaren comes back and lets us know how the Constitution would make China into a better version of democracy. I won’t get into the specific articles, since Raj has nobly done it, and since it seems to make some folks a little prickly.

  154. Raj Says:

    As Raj points out, the Constitution may embody a vision, but it hardly depicts anything as innovative as huaren seems to hope.

    SKC, you’ve got it. And having a vision doesn’t help those who really need help now (nor has it in the quarter of a century or so it’s been around). Having more lawyers doesn’t help you enforce “rights” that the State won’t permit people to benefit from. And not having “enough” lawyers doesn’t stop the State from allowing people to express themselves freely, or allowing Catholics to have their bishops chosen by the Vatican.

  155. Mark Anthony Jones Says:

    I purchased a copy of Zhao’s memoirs yesterday afternoon on my way home from school, and read it all last night from thwe comfort of my local pub. It doesn’t really offer any new insights into Zhao’s pre-June 1989 days, nor does it offer any new insights into the events of June, 1989. The Tiananmen Papers provide a far more useful source of information about Zhao Ziyang’s political life and thoughts during this period.

    The book is worth reading though, for what it has to reveal about Zhao’s post-June 1989 thoughts, especially where his changing perspective on political economy is concerned.

    That said, the most important and revealing passages I had already read here online, from the various excerpts published in The Australian, and from what Raj has already brought to our attention here on this thread. I can’t help feeling then, that my $50 could have been a little better spent (on more beer perhaps?) When I say this, of course, I’m not meaning to imply that people shouldn’t buy a copy to read for themselves. All I’m saying is that I was able to learn little that was for me new from the book. For those who have yet to read the Tiananmen Papers, the book will no doubt be of much greater value.

    Some people here, incidentally, have tried to suggest that the views expressed in Part I of my essay are somehow opposed to the views of Zhao Ziyang. Please don’t read too much into what I say by trying to manufacture a MAJ verses Zhao Ziyang story, or a MAJ verses Philip J. Cunningham story, for I agree with roughly 70 percent of what Cunningham has to say about the student movement of 1989, and roughly about 80 percent of what he has to say about today’s China mnore generally. Zhao Ziyang’s understanding of the Beijing student movement of 1989 actually adds weight to the assessments I provided in Part I of my essay, as I have already explained in an earlier thread. If you look at the speech he delivered on May 4 for example, (included in the Tiananmen Papers) you will see that he identified the student movement as being one that generally supported the one-party system, but which wanted to see the acceleration of political reforms. Their biggest issue, he said in this speech, was with corruption.

    In his newly published memoirs, he touches on the elitism that characterised much of the student movement. “During the demonstrations,’ he said, ‘students raised many slogans and demands, but the problem of inflation was conspicuously missing, though inflation was a hot topic that could easily have resonated with and ignited all of society. If the students had intended on opposing the Communist Party back then, why hadn’t they utilized this sensitive topic? If intent on mobilizing the masses, wouldn’t it have been easier to raise questions like this one? In hindsight, it’s obvious that the reason the students did not raise the issue of inflation was that they knew that this issue was related to the reform program, and if pointedly raised to mobilize the masses, it could have turned out to obstruct the reform process.”

    The students shunned workers, as I argued in Part I of my essay, because their agenda was very different. The workers marched around holding up portraits of Chairman Mao (as Cunningham for example recalls in his new book) and were unhappy with the dismantling of their iron rice bowl. Inflation was also having a serious impact on their living standards – they blamed capitalist economic reforms for their plight. The students, by contrast, were excited by the reforms, but expected a greater share in the new wealth.

    Zhao Ziyang’s take on the nature of the student movement does not in any way contradict any of the arguments that I have so far presented. Instead, his views provide additional weight to all that I have argued: that the students were not seeking to overthrow the Party; that they were not seeking a Western-style democratic political system; that they were intent on keeping the movement “pure” and free from wider social forces, as they did not want to harm the economic reform process which they hoped to benefit from.

  156. Wukailong Says:

    @MAJ: I read some excerpts of Zhao’s memoirs last week and thought they seemed to reinforce your viewpoint about the basic nature of the movement (i.e. not interested in overthrowing the government or dismantle the current system) rather than contradict it.

    It would be interesting to investigate the ideological currents of the time and see how they influenced the movement. This was a period when an ideology and an alternative economic system came to an end, and while this process had already begun in China, it was still new and under threat. I was only a teenager at the time, but I do remember how my own thinking about communism changed as a result of what I saw in Europe – while originally a believer of sorts, all the stories and descriptions of what it was like in Eastern Europe convinced me that it was basically a sort of historical mistake. Communist countries that “survived” have either transformed themselves (like China and Vietnam) or created shadow economies to prop up their system (like Cuba and North Korea).

    The current infatuation with “Western democracy” and “Chinese authoritarianism” is very young and quite immature, it seems to me. Still, the way the Chinese government has reinvented itself is an interesting subject in its own right.

  157. Wukailong Says:

    @JXie (#99): “Just curious, were you there before 1997? If you happen to be at the computer side of the business, before Mac OS X?”

    No, unfortunately not. Mac OS X happened during my Linux period. 🙂

    There are lots of interesting things to say about Apple as a company or China as a country, and how they turned themselves around. Good leadership is something I’ve come to appreciate more working here, and the setting of vision and really convincing people that you’re right is a part of leadership that’s underestimated. Deng Xiaoping had to fight against strong ideological forces within the party, and use various means to either weaken them or get them over on his side.

    The only other politician I can think about with the same kind of shrewdness is Lee Teng-hui, and I’m aware of how offensive some might find that claim. But this was the man who uprooted the Guomindang monopoly by a series of intelligent chess moves. Given another candidate, it might just not have been possible.

  158. Mark Anthony Jones Says:

    Wukailong – I agree with all that you say in your above comment addressed to me (No.156). And yes, the way the Chinese government has reinvented itself is indeed an interesting subject in its own right, as you suggest.

  159. TonyP4 Says:

    @JXie #135. Sorry on late reply.

    IBM and Apple are quite different even they’re in the same sector. IBM is an established company with many divisions. IBM needs the individual department head to be visionary. Lou Gerstner is the one to decide where the company’s resources and directions based on the simple expected return for the next year or two. In his case, he chose service over hardware and eventually omitted the PC OS and PC hardware.

    Basically, Apple always has only one product at one time and that product has to be replaced over time. IPod is the current product and Apple computer is very lacking now. At one time, most art departments in corporations used Apple computer to develop arts, but not any more.

    Apple’s stock prices are pretty much corresponding to the success of the new product. IBM stock prices are not. I made 30% (from my memory) on IBM during Lou’s era. It is nothing compared to the huge fluctuations of Apple and other high tech companies.

    American history does not go too far back. I’m semi retired. I read several books on Chinese history and it is very fascinating esp. on unofficial history. Quite different from our history class in high school in Hong Kong. The concise form is boring and too hard to memorize all the tedious events.

    I do not know our 5,000 years history/civilization is a baggage or not from our last 350 years of deplorable history except the last 30 years.

  160. Raj Says:

    Another interesting article.

    http://uk.reuters.com/article/lifestyleMolt/idUKTRE54K0VK20090521?sp=true

    China ex-censor claims key Tiananmen memoirs role

    A former senior Chinese censor has claimed a major role in recording purged leader Zhao Ziyang’s memoirs that decry the quelling of pro-democracy protests in 1989, adding to calls for the government to repent the crackdown.

    Du Daozheng, reformist chief of the General Administration of Press and Publications in the late 1980s, said he was one of four retired officials who helped Zhao secretively record his memoirs before his death under house arrest in 2005.

    Zhao’s recollections, published abroad and sure to be banned in mainland China, challenge the ruling Communist Party’s verdict that the student-led protests centered on Tiananmen Square in Beijing were a counter-revolutionary plot, and he calls the armed crackdown that ended them on June 4 two decades ago a tragedy.

    In a statement explaining his role in making the memoirs, Du said it was time to rehabilitate Zhao, ousted in 1989 by Party conservatives who accused him of siding with the protesters.

    “At the major historic juncture of June 4, Zhao Ziyang acted responsibly to the Chinese nation, to history and to ordinary people,” Du said in the statement, which will appear in the Chinese-language version of Zhao’s memoirs to be published in separately administered Hong Kong this month.

    Zhao’s name remains taboo in mainland Chinese media and the government says his rift with Party conservatives over the protests was a “grave error,” Du notes.

    “In history, of course none of this can stand,” Du said in the statement provided by Bao Pu, the son of a former senior aide to Zhao and also publisher of the Chinese version of the memoirs.

    Du has joined a small but bold undercurrent within China openly urging the government to renounce the 1989 crackdown, when hundreds of demonstrators and bystanders died as troops and tanks surged down Beijing streets on the night of June 3-4.

    A group of Chinese intellectuals has disclosed it recently met on the capital’s outskirts to urge an end to official silence about the bloodshed 20 years ago.

    Their speeches are now circulating on some Chinese-language internet sites and through email.

    “As time has passed, this massive secret has become a massive vacuum. Everyone avoids it, skirts around it,” Cui Weiping, a Beijing-based academic, told the 20 or so participants, who included some of the nation’s most prominent liberal scholars, among them Qian Liqun, a former professor at Peking University.

    “This secret is in fact a toxin poisoning the air around us and affecting our whole lives and spirit,” said Cui.

    Cui confirmed to Reuters on Wednesday she had made the speech at the meeting on May 10, and said as far as she knew none of the participants has been detained.

    The Chinese government has been tight-lipped about the 20th anniversary of June 4, and on Tuesday a Foreign Ministry spokesman brushed aside questions on Zhao’s memoirs, saying the official verdict on the demonstrations still stood.

    Du, in his late 80s, eased censorship as head of press rules, and has long been associated with China Through the Ages (Yanhuang chunqiu), a magazine published in Beijing which has urged political liberalization.

    He could not be contacted for comment on his statement. But a friend, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Du had also circulated the statement and described his role in persuading Zhao to record his memories on audio tapes copied and taken out of the mainland.

    “You have a duty to write this,” Du said he told Zhao. “It is your historic duty to leave a record for later generations.”

  161. Brian C Says:

    I grew up in Singapore from an ancestor who left china over a hundred years ago, and though I look speak and write fluent chinese, China is an alien country to me.

    I was in TianAnMen a year ago shortly before the olympics, walking around with a friend who grew up, left Beijing after ’89 and went back a few years ago to run a branch of a high tech company.

    We had a fun trip through the Forbidden City, including remarks about the scaffolds in the main hall meant we overpaid for the visit since much of the place was off limits.

    What was interesting was that he explained Tian An Men to me in pragmatic terms including his own role in it. First of all, if westerners are under any illusion about widespread unrest about the “yoke of rule” against the leaders, that is clearly not what is happening. People in China accept that the goals of the students during TianAnMen were noble, but they were misguided, and in hindsight they were also clearly used by others faction(s) in the party who may have less noble goals.

    Next, if outsiders buy into the myth that somehow chinese intellectuals are hoodwinked by their leaders that June 4th did not happen, that is also blatantly false. They know in exact details, and though many feel badly about it, they are not so quick to blame current leaders.

    My friend’s role during the whole Tian An Men issue was largely as a passive observer. It started when Hu YaoBang died. Hu is well regarded by Chinese, but was disliked by the red army elites. Yet, it was his treatment upon his death that irked the sense of fairplay among chinese who had some opinion on how leaders of Hu’s stature deserved a state funeral — something the red army elites clearly stopped.

    It started with muted marches by university students who asked that Hu’s memory be treated with all the respect they felt he deserved,and would have ended there if not for what happened next.

    Because my friend was one of those university students, he observed first hand that overnight in universities in china, large billboards were posted with detailed information about the party leaders — pretty much all of them RedArmy elites and their family holdings and companies owned by their immediate family members.

    This begs two questions to be answered. How can such detailed information be available for dissemination if not for some high party members who wanted to air dirty laundry. Then he asks rhetorically, the red army elites have known salaries and known public holdings, how can they accumulate such wealth through normal means? In case anyone wondered, yes Li Peng’s family wealth was also there.

    University students of China at that time believed they could change the world, and hence they marched, initially not for western liberal democracy, but against corruption among their leaders. Had they not known of the details of the widespread corruption among their leaders, they would not have a cause to continue the unrest.

    It was only after repeated failures to get accomodations for reforms (it appears that arrest of red army elites were the only thing that would appease some — something unthinkable to CCP leaders), that the thing evolved and was hijacked into some democracy thing. Not everyone truly believed that democracy was the answer, yet everyone agreed that level of corruption in their leaders were unacceptable, and if this was the only way to get transparency, then so be it.

    My friend, to his credit, back then thought the idea of marching for change was foolish, first, the people had to wak up when it was very cold, and he severely doubts the methods would work. And while his best friends dragged him there once, he preferred to mind his own business. His father as it turned out was a lecturer in a university in BJ, and actually much more supportive of the students’ causes as were the vast majority of lecturers in the educated elite.

    My friend did not join in the march or the occupation of the square, he attended an early morning demonstration once and said many times he disagreed with the method if not the goals of what people wanted to achieve.

    During the night/morning of the crackdown, he was in his university, he could not go home since his parents’ residence was under lock down and they were effectively under temporary house arrest.

    He later found out some of his best friends died that day. He also bemoaned the treatment of university students immediately after that as they were labelled traitors and mistreated in trains by normal people who did not bother to ask first.

    My friend believes that a day will come when people in china can talk openly about this event in their history, but they are many years from that — and when it starts, it will be done by the chinese people, not by outside experts. He has a lot of respect for Zhao as an engineer, and even as an economist, but he also questions his leadership skills, since this is a country where people understand that good intentions without ability to implement your goals IS a grave failure. Mao can be a hundred times as evil as Zhao, but Mao succeeded, in that he earns respect of chinese, even if he truly as self-serving and ruthess as we all understand.

    In my own opinion, this is where I disagree with my friend, the methods used by the ccp leaders today to suppress debate about TianAnMen are not really aimed at the intellectuals, as the intellectuals and educated/business elites are under no illussions about what happened, it’s aimed at those same people in the trains who mistreated the students after June 4th, because those are the people who can be manipulated by well placed articles.

    However, what is inevitable is that as China grows in affluence, the ranks of the people who can be so easily manipulated will also shrink. The truth of what happened will eventually come out. It is unavoidable.

  162. Wahaha Says:

    People in China accept that the goals of the students during TianAnMen were noble, but they were misguided, and in hindsight they were also clearly used by others faction(s) in the party who may have less noble goals.

    Next, if outsiders buy into the myth that somehow chinese intellectuals are hoodwinked by their leaders that June 4th did not happen, that is also blatantly false. They know in exact details, and though many feel badly about it, they are not so quick to blame current leaders.

    __________________________

    Brian,

    Your friend was absolutely right in above statement, I just want to add that corruption was not the only reason, there were onlly reasons, for example, the system of Iron bowl was broken starting from 1987, and caused huge instability in the whole society; SEZ was another reason, people in SEZ were geting rich quickly while people in Shanghai and Beijiing didnt like it, as they enjoyed no similar policy.

    When people talked about TAM, they should remember that there was heavy struggle between two groups within CCP, one side was Deng Xiaoping who wanted opening; the other side was Chen Yun who thought that China had already opened too much. At this time, the protest gave Chen Yun’s side good excuse to close the door to outside world again. If Deng Xiaoping had tried to keep Zhao Zhiyang and Hu Yangbang, Deng wouldve been sidelined by hardliners in the parties like gang of four, it would be a disaster for China. Zhao should know that, but what he did was forcing Deng standing with Chen Yun, the hardliners. This is why I dont have much respect to Zhao.

  163. Raj Says:

    Wahaha, how would Deng have been sidelined if he’d supported Zhao? Chen Yun lost all his official positions by 1987, whilst Deng was still head of the CMC. Chen may have had influence, but without people in a position to make good on it there wasn’t anything he could do without Deng’s support.

    Moreover Deng didn’t even have authority to remove Zhao anyway. He could have just said “well there’s nothing I can do about it – it’s up to the National Congress to vote him out”.

  164. Oli Says:

    Hi Rajiiiii, me boy, how have you been doing?

    Anyway, sorry but I just can’t leave your last comment go uncountered because of its sheer, yaaaawn, sleep inducing political naivete and utterly mind boggling ignorance and lack of nuanced reasoning. Nevermind your persistent lack of persepctives and dare we say monolithic assumptions about most things China related, and, as we’ve previously established, perhaps only a smidgen less so on issues related to your own country, the UK.

    Firstly, the National Congress has no, repeat not authority to vote Zhao out. I suggest you look up how CCP General Secretaries are selected and appointed. I’ll give you a big hint, it has to do with something call the Central Committee. Now think of what whas happening within the CC and the Politburo itself while 6-4 was being played out.

    Secondly, while Deng may have remained the head of the CMC, you are assuming that the PLA is itself a monolithic entity with a monolithic point of view, when in fact there is within it as divergent of views as within the Party and Chinese society itself at the time on the issue of reform and liberalisation. In short within the ideologically motivated PLA itself there are also hardliners and reformers who either overtly or tacity backed different leaders within the CC and the politburo. And the only person who had enough seniority, experience and political cachet to control both factions was Deng himself.

    Thirdly, and consequently ask yourself what do you think will happen if like Pontius Pilate, Deng did wash his hands of the responsibility to make decisions including the one to remove Zhao. Without Deng as the “paramount leader” do you think either the hardliners or the reformers would have just rolled over and let the other side grab the reins of power? The Cultural Revolution Part deux anybody?

    Zhao’s fate was in fact sealed the moment he went to TAM to side with the students for the hardliners interpreted that as him very publically breaking with party unity and making a grab for public support against either the hardliners or the party itself, irrespective of Zhao’s actual intentions. Should you remain unconvinced by this, I suggest you look at what happen in your own nation’s government when there is no party-political unity behind your Prime Minister of the day a-la Maggie, Major and now Brown.

    In many ways, Deng sacrificed Zhao in order to keep the hardliners like Li Peng etc. at bay in order for the reforms to continue, hence his later comment that one of the reason for 6-4 was that economic liberalisation did not happened fast enough and not comprehensive enough. The result is that economic liberalisation was accelerated, while political reforms were tightly controlled in order to ensure that the hardliners can no longer hijack or impede or have reasons to do so against said economic liberalisation.

    Finally, as I said before your reading of TAM is naive in the extreme as well as lacking in greater perspectives, nevermind demonstrating the ability to understand cause and effect. The irony and the joke is even greater considering all the loud noises you like to make on the subject. Truly hilarious in a pitiful and sad way.

    PS. btw before you respond, know that, unlike yourself, I was actually there at the time on 6-4, though I refused to participate in the demonstration because from very early on I saw it clearly for what it was, despite my then girlfriend’s urging for me to join.

  165. pug_ster Says:

    @Brian C, Oli, Wahaha

    That’s an interesting perspective. It does give an interesting perspective of the internal friction between the CCP during early 1989. It does give a better perspective of why Deng was respected because he seem to do what he thinks is right, even if it is against his beliefs. Whereas Zhao Ziyang acted selfishly and idealistically, where his decisions is more like good intentions gone bad. The future leaders of China have more or less like Deng where they are more pragmatic in their approach of leadership.

  166. Oli Says:

    @pug_ster

    Actually I and many of my generation have great respect and sympathy for Zhao Ziyang and did not doubt his sincerity. However, his reformist stance was made that much harder when the students repeatedly refused to leave the square after many warnings which was ultimately counter-productive to their goals and further reinforced the position of the hardliners in pushing Deng to seemingly side with them.

    The greatest irony is that in the end, becuase of Deng’s decision everbody, including Zhao, the hardliners and the students themselves got what they wanted, just not quite in the manner they imagined it. That is why Deng Xiaoping is one of the great survivor in China’s modern history.

    And I often wondered what Zhao would make of today’s China had he been able to visit Shanghai or Shenzhen or talk to today’s youth in an internet cafe in China in 2005 before he passed away. I think he would’ve found it all very bitter-sweet.

  167. Oli Says:

    Btw. not doubting Zhao’s sincerity is however very different from questioning his actual intentions and make no mistake that the two are very different and not necessarily mutually exclusive sentiment. At the time many students viewed many if not all of the party leaders with suspicion, Zhao included, even after he visited the students. In the end I would say that the jury is still out on Zhao’s memoir and his version of the events.

  168. raventhorn4000 Says:

    To me, politics is inherently dangerous. Any political person not willing to sacrifice their lives for their beliefs are cowards. Those who are willing to sacrifice their lives, should learn to move on after violence.

    Violence is inevitable in politics as fist-fights are inevitable in bars.

    in Tiananmen, students died, soldiers died.

    I see no point to private grudges. If you want to live in exile, go ahead. But many protesters have already settled the matter and moved on with their lives.

    If you want to press your private grudges with the CCP, the CCP will press back.

    If you are not happy that you lost the fist fight in the bar, and you want to go back in for more, that’s up to you. But most would say that’s stupid.

    *Some protesters were not even willing to put up their lives. They ran away. That pretty much means that they are cowards who ran away from a fist fight, and then later continue to talk big about going back for more.

    *
    Sometimes I find it fascinating that people in Western Democracy are so enthralled by “private grudges” displayed in public, like Jerry Springer’s show.

    Obviously, no laws or systems can ever satisfy “private grudges”. And those who want it, don’t care who else get hurt in the “grudge”.

    *
    Well, what do you expect from these “grudges”? Except for more “grudges”??

  169. wei Says:

    Raventhorn4000, you are such a tough guy, and the tank man was a coward too. If you were in his place, you would have used your fists punching those tanks.

  170. FOARP Says:

    Me, I’m just waiting for Zhang Ziyi’s memoirs . . .

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