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Jul 08

Two restraints + one leniency = a backfiring minority policy on all

Written by DJ on Wednesday, July 8th, 2009 at 4:54 am
Filed under:Analysis, General, politics | Tags:, , ,
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Note: This post is a selective and partial translation of an article written by a second generation Han “settler” born and raised in Xinjiang. That article is titled “一个兵团二代的网文:告诉你真实的乌鲁木齐” (A net article by a 2nd generation Bingtuan kid: let me tell you the real Urumqi). It is a long and detailed account of the author’s memory of growth of and growing up in Urumqi as well as his perspectives on when and how race relationship between Uighur and Han deteriorated. It is a highly recommended read.


Update: Tian, via a comment at Telegraph, provided a short summary of the article referred above. That summary is appended at the end of this post.

Background: As already noted by berlinf earlier, there is a ridiculous but official policy announced by the CCP in 1984. Commonly referred as 二少一宽 (two restraints and one leniency), it basically orders officials to go easy on minority criminals by being restrained in pursuing and prosecuting crimes committed by minorities and treating them leniently.

One more note: As obvious as it may be, I perhaps should nevertheless state a disclaimer explicitly: This post only looks at one writer’s aspect of a particular issue among many contributing factors causing the ongoing tragedy in China. I am focusing on this matter at this moment only because I was asking myself a question: what exactly caused the Han workers in the deadly Shaoguan brawl to believe the rumors of rapes committed by the Uighur workers and subsequent inaction by factory and local officials.

[The changes in race relationship] mainly started in the 80s. The government initiated comprehensive preferential policies towards minorities, from job quotas, bonus points for college entrance exam, to two restraints and one leniency (TROL). While these policies might be beneficial to some individuals, they are damaging to minority races as a whole. It is particularly true regarding the TROL policy. It should be noted that there are bad apples in any race. A people can develop as a whole only if there is some mechanism to help purge the bad apples. But if such a purging mechanism is artificially reduced or exempted based on race considerations, it would only benefit the bad apples and damage that race as a whole. While in debates it is commonly expressed that such a policy is unfair to Han people, there is another angle to look at it. If you go to Xinjiang and look around, you will see how, after many years of enforcement, this policy has completely taken away Uighurs’ ability to function socially.

In Xinjiang, there is something about holidays. The Uighurs would take days off for both Han and Uighur oriented holidays but Han people would not enjoy Uighur holidays. One could say it is unfair to Han. But this reveals something particularly shocking: Han people can continue work and function without Uighurs. That is, the presence of Uighurs are not needed in their jobs.

In fact, [the preferential job placement and quota system or Uighurs] while supposedly benefiting the individuals, marginalized them collectively. I think such affirmative actions are counter productive in many countries that practice them. Such preferential policies in essence emphasizes a people’s (perceived) weakness and causes the social majority to associate the (perceived) weakness with that people instead of treating them as individuals. This is true in Xinjiang. As an enterprise takes in new employees, the race issue is considered first and foremost. However, all enterprises would only hire [minorities] up to the quota point but no more. Say, if the policy calls for 15%, then 15% of all positions will be allocated accordingly and treated as overhead. Back in the days of planned economy, this policy at least works as intended. The problem is that now the economy and jobs are dominated by private enterprises. These private companies wouldn’t heed such official policies unless there are something in exchange from the government. [The hiring of 800 Uighur workers by that toy factory in Shaoguan] is a case in point. However, after that deadly brawl two weeks ago between Han and Uighur workers in Shaoguan, I doubt any enterprise would ever considering recruiting from Xinjiang again. After all, companies are in the business of making money instead of looking for trouble.

The TROL policy created strong impressions among Han people of forced sales by Uighur vendors [because those offending vendors have no consequence to worry about]. In turn, such impressions cause Han people to avoid doing any business with Uighurs.

A law is evil if it gives people incentive to act evil. … And TROL is exactly one such evil law.

—————————————————————————

The following is a short summary of the original article by Tian.

1. As official policy, Han soldiers and engineering corps were dispatched to XinJiang for defense and development. Many decided to stay after end of tour of duty. As a result, some districts in Urumqi are still named something like “Engineering Corp 2″.

2. After the 60’s (1966 to be exact), official encouragement of Han migration to XinJiang ended. However some trickles still come, but most of the Chinese there now are descendants the original soldiers and engineers.

3. Han economies of scale, (and business networks) decimated many of the traditional Uighur handicraft and trading business.

4. Government’s preferential employment (15% quota – including management positions in state owned enterprises), educational, family planning policies caused resentments amongst the Hans. Uighers need not show up for work for paycheck.

5. Government also has issued guideline as part of the 1980 reform for “two-less-one-least” towards Uighurs: less arrests, less executions, least penalty. This encouraged the Uighurs to treat Hans more roughly.

Conclusion: it is the bad policies the government which worsen the relationship between the two ethnicities. Uighurs suffered deminished livelihood opportunities increasingly took their frustrations out on the Hans, culminating in the recent tragedies.
1. Government needs to thoroughly reform its policies to equalize treatment for everyone.
2. Providing more programs to help Uighurs with cope with a changing environment as a result of changing socio-economic dynamics.


There are currently 2 comments highlighted: 42360, 42382.

56 Responses to “Two restraints + one leniency = a backfiring minority policy on all”

  1. Charles Liu Says:

    What would you have the Chinese do?

    – Do something like we do in US, where African American are disproportionally incarcerated, die under police custidy? Oh boy wouldn’t Amnesty International have a field year on this.

    – Do something like we do in US, round up the Native Americans and put the in reservations, and change their lifestyle so they have the lowest life expectancy? Boy even I can’t agree with it.

    And what you wrote about the toy factory is completely opposit of what Kadeer and the WUC said – the Uyhgurs weren’t forced to work in the factory as cheap labor for Hans, rather the company was forced or incentivized by the government to give minority work?

    I’d like to see some sources on this.

  2. Steve Says:

    @ Charles: Native Americans are not forced to live on reservations. In fact, most don’t. The ones that do, do so because they want to. Incidentally, someone wrote about speaking English on reservations previously. I drove through the Navajo reservation more times than I can count and believe me, they speak Navajo. The radio stations are Navajo. Conversations are in Navajo. They can all speak English but their primary language on the reservation is Navajo.

    When they leave the reservation, then their primary language becomes English. I keep seeing American Indians referred to on this blog, but no one seems to know much about them except what they read on the net. The stuff you write about them is as goofy if not goofier than what you say “western media” writes about China.

  3. Berlin Says:

    The US Supreme Court is taking the case against reverse discrimination:
    http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0109/p25s30-usju.html

    This “two restraints and one leniency” policy is equally unconstitutional as it does not support equal rights and equal opportunities for Chinese citizens.

  4. Charles Liu Says:

    Steve, yes if they don’t want to live in the reservation, they’ll have to leave their language and culture behind and join Whiteman’s society. I was just on a reservation buying fireworks this weekend. Not one person didn’t speak English. If you read the blogpost in Chinese you’ll see an examples of Uyghur not knowing Chinese, and insisting on speaking Uyghur to Han co-workers.

    Let’s not kid ourselves about what we do to the Native Americans, okay? They have the shortest life expectancy in US, highest unemployment. Just thank your lucky stars the Chinese ain’t pumping money to sowing discontent and foment unrest amoung our oppressed minorities. The Chinese are far more accomidating in their ethic minority policy according to this post.

    BTW, glad to see you not disputing the facts about African Americans.

  5. Steve Says:

    @ Charles: I just re-read what I wrote and mis-wrote something that I certainly did not mean, so I wanted to apologize.

    I wrote, “The stuff you write about them is as goofy if not goofier than what you say “western media” writes about China.”

    I should have written, “The stuff written about them is as goofy if not goofier than what some say “western media” writes about China.”

    I didn’t mean to refer to what YOU have written about American Indians at all, but it certainly came out that way. I apologize for not being more careful and proofreading what I had written. Sorry…

  6. Steve Says:

    @ Charles: Ok, having said that, I have to go after your post for some other reasons. No one has to leave their language and culture behind, they just don’t use it as much. My wife didn’t leave her language and culture behind when she came to the States, but moves between two worlds seamlessly, as I’m sure you do. When two Navajo, Apache, Comanche, etc. meet outside the reservation, they speak their own language. That’s normal anywhere in the world you go. It’s not a cut and dried difference. They don’t join “Whiteman’s society”, whatever that is. They go from their own tribal society to American society. If you think US society is “Whiteman’s society”, you have real issues.

    If Uyghurs can’t speak Chinese, then that’s an educational system problem. If Uyghurs can speak Chinese but choose not to, that’s a societal problem or an individual problem.

    You’re simplifying the situation with Native Americans. Why do they have the shortest lifespan? Do you know? Why do they have the highest unemployment rate? Do you know? How exactly are Native Americans an “oppressed minority”? Do you know? So far your statements about them have been ridiculously simplistic. BTW, my first wife, rest her soul, was Cherokee/French and I’m very familiar with this subject. I didn’t just learn it out of a book. You’ll have to do better than Google.

  7. S.K. Cheung Says:

    Great post. I think having a law that allows a minority a better chance to get ahead is good. And I’m not entirely sure about the characterization of affirmative action (in the US at least) as “bigotry of low expectations”, since the law might get you into school or into a job, but it’s not going to allow you to graduate, or advance, unless you’re pulling your weight.

    However, I think a penal code that “goes easy” on minorities is certainly a bad thing. Being a minority is not an excuse to break the law, nor should they expect lighter punishment. A system like that is a recipe for progressive lawlessness.

  8. jd Says:

    sk cheung: “having a law that allows a minority a better chance to get ahead” is one thing; quota laws ignoring competence and qualification are another. special classes, tutoring, and grade inflation constitute “bigotry of low expectations,” and have caused aspersions to be cast upon minorities who got in and graduated on their own merit. these laws and policies fuel racism by discriminating against majority applicants who have “paid their dues” and, without quotas, would most certainly have received the desired spot.
    steve: spot on about cultures and alleged “whiteman (sic)” society; my off-the-boat grandparents spoke their own language and fraternised within their own circles, but spoke flawless english and melded into the general culture. it can be done, and virtually all immigrants have done so…save those who deliberately choose to do otherwise

  9. Allen Says:

    Great translation DJ!

    On the very narrow issue of holidays – I wonder if it makes sense for people in Xinjiang to all conform to one set of holidays – instead of each ethnicity taking its own set…

  10. Steve Says:

    @ Allen: I agree with you; one set of holidays for all. Maybe some can come from the traditional Uyghur calendar and some from the Han? They can be different from the other provinces to reflect the unique Xinjiang culture.

  11. DJ Says:

    @ Allen,

    I agree. Defining one common set of holidays for all would be a small and perhaps relatively easy step to take in Xinjiang after things. It seems to be another example of unintended consequences of good intentions.

  12. Lao Hu Says:

    Do you believe affirmative action caused the riots in los angeles after the rodney king trial of the LA police officers?

    that is essentially what this author is saying.

  13. DJ Says:

    @Lao Hu,

    I don’t think the author of original article intended to provide a grand unified theory explaining what led to the 7.5 riot. He is clearly trying to provide some perspectives based on his personal experience and knowledge, which I should add is very much needed. There are definitely other angles to be examined.

  14. Allen Says:

    @Lao Hu #12,

    Having grown up in L.A., having lived in L.A. while the riots happened, and having studied the L.A. riots rigorously – I don’t think anyone thought the Rodney King riots occurred because of affirmative actions. The riots occurred because of perceived continual injustices perpetrated by the LAPD.

    However, if you step back a little from caring just about police brutality and try to answer why African Americans as whole still live much less advantaged lives – a much more important question in my opinion – there are many theories – depending on what part of the political spectrum you are from.

    AS DJ mentions – this article deals but a small piece of the puzzle to why there is so much discontent among some populace within China.

    If you think you have insights – we welcome you to post a comment – or send us an article for us to post.

  15. raventhorn4000 Says:

    Steve,

    I don’t think Uighurs would want their holidays “nationalized”. We’ll just end up with complaints about Han Chinese “commercializing” their sacred holidays and cheapening their cultures.

  16. Hemulen Says:

    What does it tell us when a government tells its law enforcement agencies to be extra lenient to ethnic minorities? Probably that the reverse has been true up to that point. This policy should be seen against the background of the fact that in the previous 39 years ethnic minorities were more or less excluded from the police and the army or any political power whatsoever. In such a situation law enforcement will be seen as an alien force in minority regions. The PAP and PLA are still regarded as alien forces in Xinjiang and Tibet.

    But lets pause for a moment about the power relations here. Was this document drafted by ethnic minority cadres? I guess not. Was there any intention to devolve police authority to the autonomous regions in the same way that the police has been localized in provinces? I don’t think so. Was there any intention of recruiting minorities to higher offices in law enforcement agencies? I

    In other words, there was no intention on the part of the central party authorities to fundamentally rethink their policy of “regional autonomy”, which in actual fact subjects autonomous regions to more central control than many provinces and reserve all top jobs to Han Chinese cadres.

    I think it would be a good idea to reverse “two restraints and one leniency”. But unless that takes place within a framework where for instance Uighurs are allowed more say in the way their region is run, you will probably see more violence between Han and Uighur. And it would be a good idea if Han Chinese adapted themselves to Uighurs in Xinjiang rather than the other way around. Otherwise any policy that emanates from the party will be seen by the Uighurs as yet another “evil plot” to assimilate them.

  17. Shane9219 Says:

    @Hemulen #16

    The standard official policy has been 1) to strike hard on any action involving separatism, and 2) to be lenient on other offenses.

  18. Hemulen Says:

    …and who decides what is separatism? The government. Is there any appeal? No. Who is more likely to be accused of separatism? Minorities. So if the government – or your local cop – doesn’t like you, it’s enough to accuse you of separatism and you’re done.

  19. raventhorn4000 Says:

    correction, there is appeal in the Chinese court system.

    But you are going to say in any case that such “appeals” have no meaning, since they are run by the majority.

    But that’s just another “chicken and egg” argument.

    It’s evident that NOT all minorities in China have groups that incite “separatism”. thus, it is not about prosecuting minorities in general, just those who DO incite “separatism”.

  20. Hemulen Says:

    @Raventhorn

    It’s evident that NOT all minorities in China have groups that incite “separatism”. thus, it is not about prosecuting minorities in general, just those who DO incite “separatism”.

    …and here you basically give a rationale for persecuting certain minorities.

  21. Shane9219 Says:

    @Hemulen #20

    Let me repost a comment I put on another thread, so you can look the ongoing racial tension with a historical context and see why separatism is not an act that can be forgiving in China .

    “Among large minority groups, Huis, Mongols and Manchuas did not have the kind of tension with Han similar to that between Han and Tibetan and Uighur, while Huis, Mongols and Manchuas also maintain a distinctive identity and large presence of around many cities in China.

    The deep-rooted mistrust is related to royalty of a population group towards China especially during times of hardship. I have to emphasis that Chinese culture are very forgiving and mostly peaceful and inclusive. But once a population group made attempts to break away during time of hardship, their actions are usually not forgiving for a long time. This historical background has to be addressed head-on between Tibetans and Uighurs with Han openly someday, the sooner the better.

    On the other hand, people knew how Huis, Mongols, Manchuas and Han struck together at times of foreign invasion, civil wars and hardships, even though there were kinks among them too.”

  22. raventhorn4000 Says:

    Hemulen,

    “…and here you basically give a rationale for persecuting certain minorities.”

    Nope, just the evidence that the crime of “separatism” is not aimed at ethnicity, but at conducts.

  23. Peter N-H Says:

    Let us remember that much in the way of preferential treatment for minorities (like all other supposed Chinese government policies) is announced in order to be seen to be doing something, rather than actually to do it. The only thing that can actually be deduced from such announcements (like all ‘news’ in China) is what it is the government wants you to think it is doing, or what it believes. Many (if not most) readers in China, of all different ethnicities, are perfectly well aware of this, but like people the world over will tend nevertheless to believe what fits in with their own prejudices, and only read between the lines of what goes against those, or what affects them negatively or fails to benefit them.

    The attempt (or appearance of an attempt, which may often amount to no more than the announcement itself) to put a policy into effect is well publicised. The various ways in which business, corruption, or true official will simply flows round the new policy without being diverted at all often gains little publicity, although tens of thousands of demonstrations per annum are often as the result of a failure to act upon policies already announced (compensation, resettlement, rebuilding, relocation, etc.)

    In the case of preferential policies towards Uighur people in Xinjiang, I spent many months in the area in the mid-90s, and remember asking one Han factory owner I met in Urumchi about the policy that required him to employ a certain number of Uighur people. He sniggered: “We just employ Han but temporarily give them Uighur names.”

    It is more important to be seen to be doing something, to forestall foreign criticism for instance, than it is actually to be doing something. And if your priority is actually your own people (Han) you turn a blind eye to or participate in the avoidance of the regulations inconvenient to them: particularly if there’s also cash on offer.

    In the same period I spend some time in Hohhot, part of it as a guest of a Han family there. The father knew better, and rolled his eyes, but the mother railed on about how Inner Mongolia was run by the minorities entirely for their own benefit (in reality there was a purely figurehead Mongol as provincial leader, with Han actually running things). A good cadre (and thoroughly hard-line) she believed the press that confirmed her own prejudices. Her view on Xinjiang and Tibet, however, was that it was a complete waste throwing so much money at people who didn’t appreciate it, and they should be allowed to go their own way, and so save the Han some cash.

    Much of the current coverage shows Han are willing to believe the most bestial things about Uighur people, and vice versa, with both sides wilfully magnifying figures to suit their own resentments.

    In fact no one in China is actually well-informed, and few who recognise sour truths about matters such as ethnic divisions are willing to admit it if they do.

  24. raventhorn4000 Says:

    Racial hatred is always based upon ignorance, and (assumptions based upon ignorance).

    Unfortunately, most people have such tendencies, and bloodshed is inevitable. Policies, can’t make people more tolerant.

  25. Shane9219 Says:

    @Peter N-H #23

    You are only in China for a short few months and you claim you know better than Chinese.

    It is true private Han and Hui employers in Xinjiang don’t like to hire Uighurs. But it is not government policy nor a practice of State Owned Enterprises (SOEs). SOEs also have a requirement of hiring people with urban residence permit, even though there are a small head count annually do goes out to local rural residents.

    There are still no employment law like US’s version of equal employment. But you need to take into the account of a very short history of private enterprise in China (for about 30 years or so)

    It is very likely new law will be enacted very soon as a requirement to private enterprises. In China, you have to look at things in different way. Government has to control both the size of expanding population (on Hans of course) as well as urban population.

  26. Peter N-H Says:

    > You are only in China for a short few months and you claim you know better than Chinese.

    Shame that this hoary old ad hominem statement was later added to an otherwise even-tempered response. Rather than going for the man, go for the arguments, if you wish your arguments to have any credibility. You know nothing of the length and nature of my experience of China, but it is not anyway germane to the arguments set out.

    > It is true private Han and Hui employers in Xinjiang don’t like to hire Uighurs. But it is not government policy nor a practice of State Owned Enterprises (SOEs).

    As set out above, and as widely demonstrated to be true in areas from environmental controls to conservation of ancient structures to compensation for those displaced by development and so on, whatever ‘government policy’ is stated to be, what it actually is, and what is carried out on the ground are usually at least two quite different things. Again, statements of ‘policy’ are only an indication of what it is wanted that domestic and foreign audiences should believe, and nothing more.

    Although I said ‘factory owner’ in fact I cannot now be sure of the exact position held by the person I spoke to, merely that he ran an enterprise of some kind. It was clear from our conversation that he considered attempts to force Uighur workers on him as risible and easily circumvented, and that that view was commonplace. Since he admitted that he was required to hire Uighurs this logically reveals that he was in charge of precisely the kind of enterprise required to do so: an SOE if you say regulation is limited to those, and where contrary to your suggestion the regulation was indeed routinely being circumvented. This scarcely comes as a surprise.

    > But you need to take into the account of a very short history of private enterprise in China (for about 30 years or so)

    No, in setting out observations concerning how the PR version of minority treatment and the reality may differ widely, and how ill-informed even those in the midst of the problem may be, I don’t think I do.

    But the idea that racism may be justified in some institutions simply because they are new when the nature of such discrimination is understood and regretted to the point that there is legislation against it (supposing we were sufficiently unwise as to take such claims at face value) is simply to show no moral integrity at all. It is in the nature of moral statements that when something is wrong, it is wrong in all similar situations, as it takes no leap of imagination to see in this case: racism when unjustified at East is Red Ponderous Widgets Collective is equally unjustified at Go-Ahead Global Export Widgets (1979) Ltd. The mere suggestion that it might in some way be excusable in the one seems only to highlight the pitiful situation in which the minorities find themselves, reinforced still further by the (non sequitur) appeal to population numbers that follows: the one-size-fits-all cop-out argument supplied supposedly to justify every example of abuse in China.

  27. Shane9219 Says:

    @Peter N-H #26

    It is not the right time to engage mindless comment coming from someone who knew very little about China.

    China is making improvement on labor/employment laws. As matter of fact, Labor Contract Law was just enacted and enforced in last couple of years. So more labor related laws are pending in the pipeline.

  28. Steve Says:

    @ Shane: “It is not the right time to engage mindless comment coming from someone who knew very little about China.”

    C’mon, that’s a classic ad hominem argument and you know it. There’s a counter argument to be made against Peter N-H but you didn’t make it.

    @ Peter N-H: “As set out above, and as widely demonstrated to be true in areas from environmental controls to conservation of ancient structures to compensation for those displaced by development and so on, whatever ‘government policy’ is stated to be, what it actually is, and what is carried out on the ground are usually at least two quite different things. Again, statements of ‘policy’ are only an indication of what it is wanted that domestic and foreign audiences should believe, and nothing more.”

    You’re making an accusation but not backing it up with any data. Widely demonstrated by whom? Where is the evidence? What factory was illegally breaking the rules? When you found out this factory was breaking the law, did you report them? If so, what was the official responce?

    If policy and practice are two different things, that means you must have concrete examples to illustrate this. Since you haven’t given any, Shane reacted emotionally to your post. I’m sure if you can show him some examples, he’d be more willing to consider your argument.

  29. Lao Hu Says:

    blaming 二少一宽 (two restraints and one leniency) for causing the recent riots is equivalent to rush limbaugh or someone similar stating that affirmative caused the rodney king riots in LA.or that the emancipation proclamation led to the race riots in the late 60’s.

    maybe 二少一宽 (two restraints and one leniency) was published in the 1980’s as a policy position, but who really believes that the PSB arrests someone for a crime and then lets them go or charges them with lesser crime because they are an ethnic minority.

    it is possible the CCP really believed and intended to practice 二少一宽 (two restraints and one leniency) when it was first formulated, but it is easy to see that following the open door policy and economic reforms that $ and political connections trumps 二少一宽 (two restraints and one leniency).

    it is also fairly easy to see which ethnic group holds the $ and the political connections.

    the government is using ethnic discrimination and foreign influence propoganda to keep the han peasants who riot against the government from realizing they share a common issue with the uighirs, tibetans, mongols in inner mongolia, etc.

  30. jc Says:

    This post brought up some very good points.

    Generally ignoring competence and qualification is a bad idea. However the same thing if you look from one side is ignoring competence, and if you look from another side it can appear as encouraging competition with some extra help.

    Minorities have some inherited disadvantages. And they will need to realize that this is a reality and it is nobody’s else fault. I’ve seen a lot of new Chinese immigrants in U.S. who have enjoyed relatively decent material life when they were back in China, keep complaining about that there is no good Chinese grocery store or restaurant in the states. Well, what you can expect? You are the minority here and you don’t make up enough business here (Older Chinese immigrants don’t complain about these because they didn’t have any better back then in China:P).

    The majority Han on the other hand, should be more sensitive and take a more matured attitude towards minorities. A lot of Han has never had any personal relationship with any minority people anyway, so they don’t care. There are also a lot of Han feeling that Han are superior than the minorities and that is very damaging. On top of that, the government policy as well as propaganda made most Han to believe that they are the “savior” but are not being appreciated. This is where the government needs to improve. Unstopping airing of the bloody images on the first day of riot by the state TV channels is an obvious sign that they didn’t quite realize this part.

    Preferential policies if well intended and well executed can have positive results. About 10 years ago a lot of Chinese farmers are extremely unhappy because they felt they are left out of the economy boom — but most of them don’t even read and they are really uncapable of producing much. They government realized this problem and engineered a set of preferential policies towards them. Today the situation is much better. First their anger dies down, second they started to get more economical benefit which allows them to better connect to the outside world. Some of them moved to the city to have some small business, for example, a barber shop or a restaurant. I’ve seen one farmer went on and opened a several hundred student strong private middle school. And that does make the situation better. The policy in a way stopped the downwards spiral and opened the door to a new direction.

    A big problem, or you can say challenge, when the same kind of preferential policies are targeting the minorities, is the amount of guidance, or control the government can exercise over its intended audience. As a clear example, Tibetans have Dalai Lama who keeps traveling around the world and keep saying things contradicting with whatever CCP says. Unlike the farmers, who are mostly supportive to the CCP and corporative with the government, most minorities have their own culture/religious leaders and are highly skeptical about Han and the government as a whole. When it is said that there are about 270 people are being treated in the hospital and about 240 are Han, Rebiya Kadeer, the exiled Uighur leader is issuing news release in D.C. saying 400 Uighurs “probably” have died, and “mostly feared” are shot by the police. Obviously such acts severely undermine CCP’s effort and no wonder CCP really hates her. The problem is that convincing the world to swing to your direction is itself an art and CCP hasn’t really got the hang of it.

    In another word, I don’t think it’s the policies that are fundamentally flawed. I just think that there are many other issues that need to be addressed with sophisticated skills during the process in order to make the policy really work. Many tactics that CCP are used to such as news blackout and media control worked in the past has proven to be useless and sometimes severely backfire in the new age or on this different audience. Or you can say they got around the problems too easily during the past. This is where they need to learn and improve. This time they seem to get it by inviting foreign press to go in.

    One must realize that this is a complicated issue and it will take time to resolve. About 20 years ago after China successfully set up a few special economy zones, there were policy on all level to setup “economy development zone”. Big cities do that, small remote counties in the mountain do that too. Most of them went nowhere because the people who engineered and executed these plans were mostly clueless about how economy works. But the idea of “developing economy” has gotten deep in people’s mind and 20 years later some of them really get it. A lot of regions are getting better and better. A new economy landscaping is forming. It wasn’t the policy that was fundamentally flawed, it was just the people who executed them didn’t have the skills to carry it.

    Both the Chinese government and the Chinese people (especially Han since they are the absolute majority) needs to get more sophisticated and matured on the issue. Unfortunately that’s going to take a while. In the mean time we just have to live with incidents like this, and on the Chinese’ government’s part, it should realize this and try to foster a more civil environment and more matured opinions rather than traditional black outs and propagandas. Of course, it should not easily give up the policy that was already in place. Instead of throwing out everything and start all over again, they should always going with great effort in refining, learning and improving mode.

  31. Jed Says:

    @Peter N-H #23

    “Let us remember that much in the way of preferential treatment for minorities (like all other supposed Chinese government policies) is announced in order to be seen to be doing something, rather than actually to do it. The only thing that can actually be deduced from such announcements (like all ‘news’ in China) is what it is the government wants you to think it is doing, or what it believes”

    we call it Public Relations or “spin” in the west: ALL GOVERNMENTS USE THE MEDIA AND POLICY ANNOUNCEMENTS FOR THEIR OWN AGENDA

  32. Peter N-H Says:

    > we call it Public Relations or “spin” in the west: ALL GOVERNMENTS USE THE MEDIA AND POLICY ANNOUNCEMENTS FOR THEIR OWN AGENDA

    I’m sure everyone finds this observation astonishingly informative, with the capital letters helping to make it clearer. Setting aside the difference between countries where the government’s is the only voice permitted in the media, and those in which the media can be used to voice a range of opinions, to examine government claims in detail, and to hold the government to account, can it be explained how this observation of the obvious is remotely relevant to the arguments set out?

    Such arguments are often made against criticism of China, that things are the same/worse/could be better elsewhere. This is known as the ‘tu quoque’ fallacy. Whether every other government in the world uses the media to make policy announcements purely for PR reasons, or whether none do, has no effect on observations that this happens in China. And again, given the universalizability that characterises moral statements, if it is wrong in China it is of course wrong elsewhere. But it is China we are discussing, and the suggestion that the government’s publicly avowed position on the treatment of minorities may be largely irrelevant to the treatment they actually receive. What other governments may or may not do is entirely irrelevant to the discussion.

  33. Steve Says:

    Peter N-H refers to the “tu quoque” argument. “Tu Quoque is a very common fallacy in which one attempts to defend oneself or another from criticism by turning the critique back against the accuser. This is a classic Red Herring since whether the accuser is guilty of the same, or a similar, wrong is irrelevant to the truth of the original charge. However, as a diversionary tactic, Tu Quoque can be very effective, since the accuser is put on the defensive, and frequently feels compelled to defend against the accusation.”

    He brings up a good point because the tu quoque fallacy (along with the ad hominum fallacy) is probably used more on this blog than any other fallacy. Instead of discussing the blog topic, the defender basically says, “Well, you’re no better because at one time you did X” and refuses to discuss the original topic. Then the discussion gets bogged down in irrelevancies as each side tries to prove/disprove that the second subject is similar to the first.

  34. Alessandro Says:

    Actually I think that analyzing how the same issues and problems are confronted in other countries, or if the same problems and issues exist also in other countries (especially those that self-righteously try to “teach” to others) can be of great help in understanding and in helping a fruitful discussion. It’s not rare that the same issue or the same behavior are explained or judged differently according to the place in which it happens, and more frequently according to how much the place and the culture in which it happens are generally considered as “good/friend” or “bad/enemy” by the same people who analyzes the issue.
    This way of discussing and the use of such confrontations can be useful or useless depending on how and when they are used…cannot be considered altogether diversionary. In much the same way the altogether rebuffal of it could be seen as a way of “escaping” from an uncomfortable element or point of view that could cast a new light on the issue at hand.

  35. JXie Says:

    @jc #30

    A well thought out and well written comment.

    About 10 years ago a lot of Chinese farmers are extremely unhappy because they felt they are left out of the economy boom — but most of them don’t even read and they are really uncapable of producing much. They government realized this problem and engineered a set of preferential policies towards them. Today the situation is much better.

    Here I am unsure it was most of those policies that really improved the farmers’ lives. Roughly in the mid-80s to late 90s, there was a major bear market in agricultural products (coincident with global warming trend); and from the late 90s to now, there has been a major bull market in agricultural products (coincident with a short-term global cooling trend (but not necessarily in China)). Methinks the global agricultural market prices have far more to do with the farmers’ standard of living than anything else.

  36. Shane9219 Says:

    @Steve

    “tu quoque” type argument needs not to apply when there is double-standard and hidden agenda in the background.

    Social and political issues are complicated. They are not a game of logic.

  37. Wukailong Says:

    @Shane9219 (#36): ““tu quoque” type argument needs not to apply when there is double-standard and hidden agenda in the background.”

    But you’re not saying Steve has a hidden agenda, I hope? I know I don’t… You could argue my agenda is hidden at times because I don’t make my opinions sufficiently clear, but I don’t support any sort of Western plot to split China. On the contrary, I hope to see China become one of the great powers of the 21st century.

  38. jc Says:

    @JXie #35:

    The market condition certainly has helped quite a bit. But I think the policies have been helpful as well. What I am talking about is not a single policy, but an overall “benefiting the country side” policy agenda that involved a lot of changes implemented. During the 90s, many farmers often get a sort of IOUs (called by white slips by most Chinese) from the government when they sell their product to the government. I believe this practice was later explicitly banned from top down. Soon the government abolished land tax. Soon they implemented policies to cover the school expenses. For people who runs big farm with machines, the government subsidize the fuel (I am not sure if it is a good thing). Big state owned telecom giants were instructed to give rural area preference. Cell phone coverage became rather good in the villages even when the state owned telecom giant is losing money on them (they probably have made money by now). Now with the environmental issues getting the priority, the government is subsidizing farmers to abandon crops and grow trees in the mountain area since growing crops is hard in those regions.

    My view is there is no single factor or single action that can dramatically improve the situation, and there is no question that there have been some missteps (and a lot of corruptions!). But I do see a clear direction and rather persistent efforts towards it and every little bit helps.

  39. Steve Says:

    @ Allesandro #34 & Shane #36: What Allesandro wrote is exactly how comparisons should be approached and is not a tu quoque fallacy. A tu quoque fallacy is when the original discussion is sidetracked not by comparison but by justification. Allen’s comparison of Urumqi and 9/11 was not a tu quoque argument, since he wasn’t trying to change the topic from one to the other. He wasn’t trying to argue that “two wrongs make a right”.

    @ Shane #36: I disagree. If illogical statements are made that take away from the overall discussion (and they always do), then they do matter. A fallacious argument does exactly what you don’t want, it tries to avoid or oversimplify complicated issues that should be discussed.

    I posted the definition so everyone would know what Peter N-H was referring to. I wasn’t making a judgment on anyone’s post being tu quoque, only that tu quoque arguments are far too common on this blog.

  40. raventhorn4000 Says:

    Steve,

    I believe you mischaracterized Allen’s comparison (which I have also brought up).

    Comparison of Urumqi to 9/11 (and other acts of terrorism, such as Oklahoma bombing), are meant to contrast the differences in the standards of “rationalizing the crime” (or making sense of the crime).

    In 9/11 and Oklahoma, there is little rationalization of the crime by US (and most of the world). People didn’t have LONG conversations of what policies might have set off the terrorists, and whether those policies should be criticized and reversed.

    Urumqi, apparently, the focus is far more intensely on the “rationalization of the crime”.

    It is not a change of topic in this comparison, but a question of what “standard” of “rationalization” should we be using.

    Because if we are to rationalize Urumqi riot by a typical well known past standard/method of rationalization, the rationalization should have been fairly straight forward.

  41. Steve Says:

    @ R4K: I believe you misread my remark. I said Allen’s comparison was NOT a tu quoque argument. That means I agree with you.

  42. raventhorn4000 Says:

    Sorry, missed the “wasn’t” part.

  43. Hemulen Says:

    @raventhorn4000 #22

    We have a concrete example of how arbitrary accusations of seprartism are in the recent case of the Beijing-based Uighur economist Ilham Tohti, who is being incarcerated as we speak. Alienating secularized and moderate people like him is the best way of pushing Uighurs into the separatist camp.

    @jc

    Minorities have some inherited disadvantages. And they will need to realize that this is a reality and it is nobody’s else fault. I’ve seen a lot of new Chinese immigrants in U.S. who have enjoyed relatively decent material life when they were back in China, keep complaining about that there is no good Chinese grocery store or restaurant in the states.

    Sorry, but there is absolutely no parallel between the Uighurs (still a majority in Xinjiang) and Chinese immigrants in the US. The Uighurs have no other “inherited disadvantage” than being deprived of any influence in the affairs of Xinjiang because the former ethnic minrioty has taken over and is setting the rules. Under the rule of Wang Lequan, Uighurs have openly been singled out as backward and in 2002 Wang claimed that Uighur is not fit as a language of the 21st century. As if he had ever made an effort to string two words together in the language of the people he is ruling over.

    Even in a city like Kashgar, where Uighur are still 90%, the local university teaches in Chinese only. You cannot justify that by saying that Chinese is the “official language” – the non-Han ethnic groups were promised that their languages would be shoved aside like this.

    The fact that local universities in Belgium only taught in French a generation ago caused Flemish people to riot in democratic Belgium. Imagine what Uighurs are going through in one of the regions where the local government is the least sensitive to local opinion!

  44. jc Says:

    @ Hemulen #43:

    You can always point things out that do not go your way and blame on others. But just as the original post said the holiday issues highlights that Han can function without Uighurs but Uighurs themselves cannot function as a society. I am not endorsing his opinion but I am merely citing it here to try to give you an example how other people think about Uighurs.

    Just like the Chinese government can continue to claim that it’s the west that totally gets the fact wrong, and they would go to nowhere. They have now learned their lesson and started to adapt. You can continue to claim that there is nothing can be done on the Uighurs side and it is all Chinese governments fault. The result for you would not be much different. It’s a dead end and you won’t get to anywhere either.

    Both sides need to take a constructive approach and try to understand each other’s concern. Neither side will get 100% of what they wanted. Size matters. Economy matters. Moral value matters. But if you take this kind of it’s all your fault attitude you won’t even get seated on the table, how would you expect the problem to be solved then? If you believe you can solve the problem by taking the street then it is truly unfortunate.

  45. Zepplin Says:

    These things sort themselves out in time.. goes the Chinese belief no? Give it a few hundred years.

  46. raventhorn4000 Says:

    Hemulen,

    “We have a concrete example of how arbitrary accusations of seprartism are in the recent case of the Beijing-based Uighur economist Ilham Tohti, who is being incarcerated as we speak. Alienating secularized and moderate people like him is the best way of pushing Uighurs into the separatist camp.”

    It’s hardly “arbitrary”. He went on Radio Free Asia to defame a Uighur official. Any Chinese of any ethnicity would be prosecuted for the same offense.

  47. Hemulen Says:

    @jc

    But just as the original post said the holiday issues highlights that Han can function without Uighurs but Uighurs themselves cannot function as a society.

    Because you don’t allow them to function as a society. Under the PRC, all separate Uighur organization and institutions have been dismantled, mosques razed, schools closed, land confiscated. And you changed their written language three times for political expediency. This is not a blame game. All the things that have prevented the Uighurs from advancing are still there and they are not allowed to talk about it.

    @raventhorn4000

    He was not accused of defamation. And usually Han Chinese don’t disappear without a trace for having said the wrong thing, it’s not 1978. But if you are an Uighur, different rules apply. Don’t deny it.

  48. raventhorn4000 Says:

    Hemulen,

    “He was not accused of defamation. And usually Han Chinese don’t disappear without a trace for having said the wrong thing, it’s not 1978. But if you are an Uighur, different rules apply. Don’t deny it.”

    Oh please, saying the “wrong thing” is a crime in many countries. (Insult Islam in Iran and Saudi Arabia will probably get you jail time or worse, your head cut off.)

    “Disappear”? He told his friends that the security people have detained him. He’s in jail!

    “Different rules apply”? We have plenty of Han Chinese dissidents in the West who said otherwise.

  49. Hemulen Says:

    I didn’t realize that criticizing a Chinese government official is tantamount to insulting a religion.

  50. raventhorn4000 Says:

    “I didn’t realize that criticizing a Chinese government official is tantamount to insulting a religion.”

    Depends on the country.

    In US, Insulting a religion is definitely not a crime, but in Saudi Arabia it is.

    In US, defaming some public official can be a civil liability, in China, it can be.

    He knew the Chinese law, in fact, his friends warned him not to do it.

  51. Hemulen Says:

    @raventhorn4000

    He knew the Chinese law, in fact, his friends warned him not to do it.

    There are no legal constraints on the Chinese government when it comes to persecuting minorities, only political constraints.

  52. raventhorn4000 Says:

    “There are no legal constraints on the Chinese government when it comes to persecuting minorities, only political constraints.”

    Ignorance of law is not an excuse. The law is the same for all ethnic groups.

  53. Heart of The Dragoon Says:

    “Ignorance of law is not an excuse. The law is the same for all ethnic groups.”

    That would be a rather lame law which prohibits criticism while trying to project a “Harmonious society”. A harmonious society is one that accepts imperfections.

  54. jc Says:

    @Heart of The Dragoon #53:

    “A harmonious society is one that accepts imperfections.”

    It will take a while until both the government and the people are matured enough to get there. Before that “harmonious” mostly means “shut up”. :)

    There are actually a lot more criticism and tolerance for it in China than before. But there is a fine line about how far you can go. A general rule is as an individual you are free to say anything against the government, but if you try to blow it big by gathering followers then you will be in trouble.

    The Chinese government do have the intention to hold official accountable for whatever they do. But they don’t seem to believe the best way to achieve this is through criticism because every time they try to allow it, the situation would spiral out of control and end up in chaos. So it may not be the best interest for the country to do so, not to mention that nobody currently has the political capital to get into such a sensitive area.

  55. raventhorn4000 Says:

    “That would be a rather lame law which prohibits criticism while trying to project a “Harmonious society”. A harmonious society is one that accepts imperfections.”

    Actually, most “harmonious societies” are a little rigid in enforcing laws.

    An effective penal code is the center of every large society with social order.

    Even in US, Free speech has limits. Some “criticisms” are deemed dangerous and unacceptable even in US.

    It’s all a trade off.

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