Jul 06

Freedom in the World 2010

Written by Steve on Tuesday, July 6th, 2010 at 7:45 pm
Filed under:human rights, News, politics | Tags:, , , , , , ,
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Once per year, Freedom House releases its annual report covering the levels of freedom throughout the world. I’ve included their reports for China, Tibet, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore. They issue two scores, one for Political Rights and one for Civil Liberties, along with a Freedom Status. The lower the number, the higher the rating.

China (2010)

Capital: Beijing

Population: 1,331,398,000

Political Rights Score: 7
Civil Liberties Score: 6
Status: Not Free

Explanatory Note

The numerical ratings and status listed above do not reflect conditions in Hong Kong or Tibet, which are examined in separate reports.


The Chinese government continued in 2009 to demonstrate high levels of insecurity and intolerance regarding citizens’ political activism and demands for human rights protection. Aiming to suppress protests during politically sensitive anniversaries during the year, including the 60-year mark of the Communist Party’s rise to power, the authorities resorted to lockdowns on major cities and new restrictions on the internet. The government also engaged in a renewed campaign against democracy activists, human rights lawyers, and religious or ethnic minorities, which included sentencing dozens to long prison terms following unfair trials. Repressive measures were intensified in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, especially after ethnic violence erupted there in July. Nevertheless, many citizens defied government hostility and asserted their rights to free expression and association.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) took power in mainland China in 1949. Party leader Mao Zedong subsequently oversaw devastating mass-mobilization campaigns, such as the Great Leap Forward (1958–61) and the Cultural Revolution (1966–76), which resulted in tens of millions of deaths. Following Mao’s death in 1976, Deng Xiaoping emerged as paramount leader. Over the next two decades, he maintained the CCP’s absolute rule in the political sphere while initiating limited market-based reforms to stimulate the economy.

The CCP signaled its resolve to avoid democratization with the deadly 1989 assault on prodemocracy protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square and surrounding areas. Following the crackdown, Jiang Zemin replaced Zhao Ziyang as general secretary of the party. Jiang was named state president in 1993 and became China’s top leader following Deng’s death in 1997. He continued Deng’s policy of rapid economic growth, recognizing that regime legitimacy now rested largely on the CCP’s ability to boost living standards. In the political sphere, Jiang maintained a hard line.

Hu Jintao succeeded Jiang as CCP general secretary in 2002, state president in 2003, and head of the military in 2004. Many observers expected Hu and Premier Wen Jiabao to implement modest political reforms to address pressing socioeconomic problems including a rising income gap, unemployment, the lack of a social safety net, environmental degradation, and corruption. However, while it proved moderately more responsive to certain constituencies—especially the urban middle class—the government continued to exercise tight control over key institutions and intensified repression of perceived threats to the CCP’s authority.

In March 2008, the National People’s Congress bestowed additional five-year terms on Hu and Wen, while Shanghai party boss Xi Jinping was appointed vice president, setting the stage for him to potentially succeed Hu in 2012. In August, China hosted the Olympic Games in Beijing. Despite its pledges to ensure an open media environment and improved human rights protections surrounding the games, the government engaged in large-scale evictions, greater restrictions on freedom of movement, internet censorship for foreign journalists, and crackdowns on dissidents and minorities.

The atmosphere of heightened repression continued in 2009, as the global economic crisis, rising public protests, and the arrival of several politically sensitive anniversaries strengthened hard-liners within the CCP. The major dates included the 50th anniversary of the Dalai Lama’s flight from Tibet in March, the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown in June, the 10th anniversary of the CCP’s ongoing suppression of the Falun Gong spiritual movement in July, and the 60th anniversary of the CCP’s rise to power in October. Following the model used for the Olympics, the authorities imposed anniversary-related security measures including lockdowns on major cities, increased restrictions on internet access, and systematic arrests of rights activists, petitioners, and religious and ethnic minorities. Conditions in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region deteriorated during the year, both before and after ethnic violence erupted in July.

Popular unrest was not limited to Xinjiang. Growing anger over corruption, abuse of power, and impunity fueled tens of thousands of protests, particularly in rural areas. In response, CCP leaders committed more resources to tackling corruption, spurring the investigation of hundreds of mid- and high-ranking officials and a well-publicized crackdown on organized crime, although the effort stopped short of much-needed legal and institutional reforms. The CCP also tightened political control over the judiciary, expanded the use of surveillance equipment, and established a network of extralegal taskforces to coordinate the suppression of grassroots discontent.

Despite government repression, a growing nonprofit sector continued to provide crucial social services and increase citizens’ rights awareness. In addition, bloggers, journalists, legal professionals, workers, and religious believers pushed the limits of permissible activity, sometimes effectively asserting the rights to free expression and association. Citizens managed to expose official corruption, obtain compensation for unpaid wages, and force the partial retraction of a plan to install monitoring and censorship software on personal computers. According to reports by activists and references on official websites, banned political publications continued to circulate—especially online—including the newly released memoir of ousted CCP leader Zhao Ziyang, the prodemocracy manifesto Charter 08, and the Nine Commentaries, a collection of editorials highly critical of CCP rule.

Also during the year, reconstruction continued in the wake of a May 2008 earthquake in Sichuan province that led to an estimated 70,000 deaths. The effort was marred, however, by the alleged misuse of relief funds and ongoing government attempts to cover up the disproportionate toll among children due to shoddily constructed school buildings. Under public pressure, the government published the death toll among children in May, setting the figure at 5,335, though many observers argued that the true count was probably much higher.

China weathered the global economic downturn better than many other countries, thanks in part to a $580 billion stimulus package. However, critics raised concerns that the government spending could boost large, underperforming state-owned enterprises at the expense of small and medium-sized companies that typically account for much of the country’s tax revenue and economic dynamism. Some observers also warned that the increased investment in infrastructure could stir unrest related to land disputes.

At the international level, the CCP made concerted efforts to extend its propaganda and censorship beyond China’s borders. The government invested billions of dollars in new international versions of party mouthpieces such as Xinhua News Agency, while pressuring foreign officials to silence regime critics at cultural events in Germany, Australia, South Korea, Bangladesh, and Taiwan. Chinese officials also successfully pressured Pakistan and Cambodia to repatriate Uighur asylum-seekers, who faced possible torture and execution in China. Relations between China and Taiwan continued to thaw, as new bilateral agreements facilitated transportation links, judicial assistance, and economic investment.

Political Rights and Civil Liberties

China is not an electoral democracy. The CCP has a monopoly on political power and its nine-member Politburo Standing Committee makes most important political decisions and sets government policy. Party members hold almost all top posts in government, the military, and the internal security services, as well as in many economic entities and social organizations.

The 3,000-member National People’s Congress (NPC), which is elected for five-year terms by subnational congresses, formally elects the state president for up to two five-year terms, and confirms the premier after he is nominated by the president. However, the NPC is a largely symbolic body, meeting for just two weeks a year and serving primarily to approve proposed legislation, though members sometimes question bills before passing them. The country’s only competitive elections are for village committees and urban residency councils, which hold limited authority and are generally subordinate to the local CCP committees. The nomination of candidates remains tightly controlled, and many of these elections have been marred by fraud, violence, corruption, and attacks on independent candidates. Plans to expand polls to higher levels of governance, such as townships, have stalled.

Opposition groups like the China Democracy Party are suppressed, and members are imprisoned. Prominent democracy advocate Liu Xiaobo was sentenced in December 2009 to 11 years in prison for his involvement in drafting and circulating Charter 08. At least 100 other signers of the prodemocracy manifesto were reportedly summoned for questioning following its publication. Several other democracy activists received long prison sentences during the year, including Xie Changfa, sentenced to 13 years for organizing a Hunan province branch of the China Democracy Party,andGuo Quan, an online writer and professor who launched the China New People’s Party, sentenced to 10 years. In October, the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China published a partial list of over 1,200 political prisoners, while the San Francisco-based Dui Hua Foundation estimated that 1,150 new arrests for “endangering state security” were made in 2009. Tens of thousands of others are thought to be held in extrajudicial forms of detention for their political or religious views.

In February 2009, the government of the Macau Special Administrative Region, a Portuguese-ruled colony until 1999, passed legislation that stipulates long prison terms for crimes such as “secession,” “subversion,” and “association with foreign political organizations that harm state security.” Human rights groups raised concerns that, as in the rest of China, such provisions could be used to restrict freedom of expression and imprison critics of the Macau or Beijing authorities. Macau immigration officers reportedly cited the law in barring entry to several prodemocracy lawmakers and activists from Hong Kong shortly after its passage.

Corruption remains endemic despite increased government antigraft efforts, generating growing public resentment. The problem is most acute in sectors with extensive state involvement, such as construction, land procurement, and banking. While multiple bodies track and prosecute corruption, there is no independent anticorruption agency. Tens of thousands of cases were investigated at all levels in 2009, with suspects including several assistant ministers and heads of state-run conglomerates. A crackdown on organized crime in Chongqing that began in June swept up thousands of suspects, exposing criminal infiltration of key industries as well as crime bosses’ collusion with senior officers in local party committees, the police, and the judiciary. Prosecution in such cases is often selective, as informal personal networks and internal CCP power struggles influence the choice of targets. Also in 2009, censors heavily restricted reporting on a Namibian bribery probe involving a state-owned company formerly headed by President Hu Jintao’s son.

CCP officials increasingly seek input from academics and civic groups on pending legislation and occasionally hold public hearings, though without relinquishing control over the decision-making process. New open-government regulations took effect in 2008, but implementation has been incomplete. While some agencies have been more forthcoming in publishing accounting details or official regulations, courts have hesitated to enforce citizens’ information requests, and a precise accounting of economic stimulus funds had not been released by the end of 2009 despite promises of transparency. Local officials continued to hide vital information on topics including mining disasters, tainted food products, and polluting companies. China was ranked 79 out of 180 countries surveyed in Transparency International’s 2009 Corruption Perceptions Index.

Despite relative freedom in private discussion and journalists’ efforts to push the limits of permissible speech, China’s media environment remains extremely restrictive. The authorities employ sophisticated means to control news reporting, particularly on sensitive topics. This includes setting the agenda by allowing key state-run media outlets to cover events—including negative news—in a timely but selective manner, and requiring that other outlets restrict their coverage to such approved accounts. Party directives in 2009 curbed reporting related to sensitive anniversaries, public health, environmental accidents, deaths in police custody, foreign policy, and other topics. Journalists who fail to comply with official guidance are harassed, fired, or jailed. According to international watchdog groups, at least 30 journalists, mostly freelancers, and 68 cyberdissidents remained imprisoned at year’s end for disseminating proscribed information, though the actual number is likely much higher. In one prominent case, online activist Huang Qi was sentenced in November to three years in prison for publishing criticism of the authorities’ response to the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Tan Zuoren, an activist who had coordinated citizen efforts to document the death toll from school collapses during the quake, was put on trial in August, and several witnesses were beaten on their way to testify. At year’s end, Tan remained in detention but had not been sentenced.

In addition to restrictions on media coverage imposed by the central government, lower-level officials also take measures to repress reports that expose shortcomings in their performance. Several journalists were assaulted during 2009 while trying to cover pollution or corruption. Others faced criminal defamation charges or were jailed on bribery charges in an apparent effort to stifle investigative reporting. Activist Wu Baoquan was sentenced in September to 18 months in prison after posting online allegations that officials in Inner Mongolia had profited from forced evictions. In December, Fu Hua of China Business News was sentenced to three years in prison for allegedly accepting bribes in relation to a story exposing safety problems in the construction of an airport in northeastern China. In November, the editor in chief Hu Shuli and other key staff resigned from the business magazine Caijing amid clashes with owners over financial matters and pressure to tone down its aggressive reporting on corruption.

Regulations have allowed greater freedom of movement for foreign journalists since 2007, but local officials continue to block, harass, and sometimes assault foreign reporters while intimidating their Chinese sources and assistants. In February 2009, the government issued a code of conduct for Chinese assistants of foreign correspondents that threatens punishment for those who engage in “independent reporting.” Some international radio and television broadcasts, including the U.S. government–funded Radio Free Asia, remain jammed. The signal of the Falun Gong–affiliated satellite station New Tang Dynasty TV remained cut off in 2009, after the French company Eutelsat, apparently under pressure from Beijing, stopped its broadcasts in June 2008.

In 2009, China was home to the largest number of internet users globally, reaching 360 million by September 2009, according to official figures. However, the government maintains an elaborate apparatus for censoring and monitoring internet use and personal communications, including via mobile telephones. The authorities block websites they deem politically threatening and detain those who post the content.In 2009, they repeatedly blocked social-networking and microblogging sites, removed political content and shut down blogs in the name of antipornography campaigns, required users to register their real identities when posting comments on news websites, and stepped up obstruction of technologies used to circumvent censorship. In May, the government announced regulations requiring the installation of censorship and surveillance software called Green Dam Youth Escort on all computers sold in China; following protests from the international business community, human rights groups, and Chinese internet users, the authorities withdrew the directive in June, but said installation would proceed for computers in schools and internet cafes. For all the government’s controls, the technology’s flexibility, circumvention tools, and the large volume of online communications have allowed many users to nonetheless access censored content, expose official corruption, mobilize protests, and circulate banned political texts.

The number of religious believers, including Christians, has expanded in recent years. Nevertheless, religious freedom remains sharply curtailed, and religious minorities remained a key target of repression during 2009. All religious groups are required to register with the government, which regulates their activities and guides their theology. Some faiths, such as Falun Gong as well as certain Buddhist and Christian groups, are formally outlawed, and their members face harassment, imprisonment, and torture. Other unregistered groups, such as unofficial Protestant and Roman Catholic congregations, operate in a legal gray zone, and state tolerance of them varies from place to place. In September, police and thugs destroyed the Linfen-Fushan megachurch in Shanxi; church leaders were subsequently sentenced to as much as seven years in prison. Unregistered Buddhist temples were similarly targeted for demolition during the year, particularly in Jiangxi province. Security forces led by the 6-10 Office, an extralegal agency created in 1999, continued to target Falun Gong adherents nationwide for surveillance, imprisonment, torture, and forced conversion, sometimes leading to deaths in custody. In January 2009, Chongqing resident Jiang Xiqing died while held at a “reeducation through labor” camp for practicing Falun Gong; lawyers seeking to investigate his death were detained and beaten.

Academic freedom remains restricted with respect to politically sensitive issues. The CCP controls the appointment of university officials, and many scholars practice self-censorship to preserve their positions and personal safety. Pressure to self-censor increased during 2009, particularly surrounding the June and October anniversaries. Political indoctrination is a required component of the curriculum at all levels of education.

Freedoms of assembly and association are severely restricted. Both central and local authorities issued regulations in 2009 aimed at preventing petitioners from traveling to Beijing to report injustices to senior officials. Local officials continued to face penalties if they failed to limit the flow of petitioners to the capital; as a result, petitioners were routinely intercepted, harassed, detained in illegal detention centers termed “black jails,” or sent to labor camps. Thousands of detained petitioners were reportedly subjected to beatings, psychological abuse, and sexual violence. Despite such repression, workers, farmers, and others held tens of thousands of protests during the year, reflecting growing public anger over wrongdoing by officials, especially land confiscation, corruption, and fatal police beatings. Security agencies and hired thugs often use excessive force to put down demonstrations; in several instances during 2009, this drove protesters to violently attack symbols of authority, such as police cars and government buildings. In June, riot police used batons to disperse an estimated 10,000 residents of Shishou in Hubei province, who had mustered after police refused to investigate the mysterious death of a 24-year-old hotel chef. At least eight people were subsequently sentenced to jail terms, including relatives of the deceased. In some cases, officials tolerate demonstrations as an outlet for pent-up frustration, or agree to protesters’ demands.

Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are required to register and follow strict regulations, including vague prohibitions on advocating non-CCP rule, “damaging national unity,” or “upsetting ethnic harmony.” Many groups seeking more independence organize informally or register as businesses, though they are vulnerable to closure at any time. A government crackdown on several public interest groups in 2009 generated a chilling effect among civil society activists, with many putting projects on hold. In July, Beijing authorities shut down the Open Constitution Initiative, a legal aid NGO known for defending victims of the 2008 tainted-milk scandal and commissioning a report on government policies in Tibet, and raided the offices of the Yi Ren Ping Center, an organization assisting Hepatitis B patients.

The only legal labor union is the government-controlled All-China Federation of Trade Unions. Collective bargaining is legal but does not occur in practice, and independent labor leaders are harassed and jailed. Nevertheless, workers have increasingly asserted themselves informally via strikes, collective petitioning, and selection of negotiating representatives. Such tactics repeatedly yielded concessions from employers or drew government intervention on behalf of workers in 2009. Three labor laws that took effect in 2008 were designed to protect workers, counter discrimination, and facilitate complaints against employers, while also empowering CCP-controlled unions. Initial promising signs on implementation—including a sharp rise in the number of labor-dispute cases filed by workers—were overshadowed by the economic downturn, the lack of independent arbitration bodies, and a growing backlog of complaints. Dangerous workplace conditions continued to claim lives. The official number of workplace accidents during the first three months of 2009 declined compared with the same period in 2008, but the death toll for the first quarter remained high at 18,501. Forced labor, including child labor through government-sanctioned “work-study” programs and in “reeducation through labor” camps, remains a serious problem.

The CCP controls the judiciary and directs verdicts and sentences, particularly in politically sensitive cases. Judicial autonomy is greater in commercial litigation and civil suits involving private individuals. A party veteran with no formal legal training was appointed as chief justice in 2008, and he subsequently issued a doctrine emphasizing the “Supremacy of the Cause of the Party” over the law. In 2009, the government accelerated a crackdown on civil rights lawyers, law firms, and NGOs offering legal services. In March, authorities shut down the Beijing-based law firm Yitong, known for representing victims of corruption or rights abuses. In May, over 20 lawyers were effectively disbarred when their license registrations were rejected, and several were physically assaulted during the year. In November, Wang Yonghang, a lawyer from Dalian in northeastern China, was sentenced to seven years in prison for defending Falun Gong practitioners, the harshest term given to an attorney in recent memory. Prominent lawyer Gao Zhisheng remained “disappeared” and at severe risk of torture following his abduction by security forces in February.

Despite recent criminal procedure reforms, trials—which often amount to mere sentencing announcements—are frequently closed to the public. Torture remains widespread, with coerced confessions routinely admitted as evidence. Endemic corruption exacerbates the lack of due process. Since late 2008, about a dozen senior judges have been detained on bribery charges, including the vice president of the Supreme People’s Court.Many suspects are deprived of court hearings altogether, detained instead by bureaucratic fiat in “reeducation through labor” camps. Based on interviews with recently released detainees, a February 2009 study by the Chinese Human Rights Defenders group reported that in addition to petty thieves and drug addicts, Falun Gong practitioners, Christians, and petitioners constituted a significant percentage of those incarcerated in the camps. The use of various forms of extralegal detention has increased in recent years, including secret jails and psychiatric arrest of petitioners and dissidents. Together, detention facilities are estimated to hold a total of three to five million detainees. Conditions in such facilities are generally harsh, with detainees reporting inadequate food, regular beatings, and deprivation of medical care; the government generally does not permit visits by independent monitoring groups, including the International Committee of the Red Cross. Some 65 crimes—including nonviolent offenses—carry the death penalty. The number of executions remains a state secret but was thought to be close to 5,000 in 2009. Recent reforms enabling the Supreme People’s Court to review capital cases have apparently led to a modest reduction in executions. In 2009, state-run media reported that executed prisoners “provide the major source of [organ] transplants in China”; some experts have also raised concerns over the possible use of those imprisoned for their religious beliefs or ethnic identity as sources for organs.

Security forces work closely with the CCP leadership at all levels, and special departments under the Ministry of Public Security are dedicated to maintaining the party’s monopoly on political power. Hired thugs and urban management officers also engage in intimidation and abuse of petitioners, protesters, and whistleblowers. During 2009, the CCP significantly expanded its network of extralegal “stability maintenance” offices, including at the neighborhood level and in some enterprises. As part of their mandate, these agencies are tasked with suppressing the peaceful exercise of basic civil liberties.

In April 2009, the government published its first National Human Rights Action Plan, outlining measures that, if implemented, would lead to improvements in human rights protection. However, observers questioned its likely impact given that it imposed no specific obligations or envisioned any change in trajectory from the regime’s current priorities or ongoing systemic abuses.

In the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, political indoctrination programs, curbs on Muslim religious practice, and policies marginalizing the use of Uighur language in education intensified throughout 2009. The government continued decade-old policies to alter the region’s demography, offering incentives to ethnic Han to move to the area and instituting a program to transfer Uighur laborers, sometimes by force, to work in other parts of China. In February, the government began a project to demolish most buildings in the historic core of the city of Kashgar and resettle some 200,000 Uighur residents. On July 5, police forcibly suppressed a peaceful demonstration in Urumqi by Uighurs voicing frustration over the limited investigation into the deaths of Uighur factory workers in a brawl with Han employees in southern China. The police action—which according to Amnesty International included using tear gas and shooting with live ammunition into crowds of peaceful protesters—sparked an outbreak of violence between Uighurs and Han residents. State-run media reported that 197 people were killed, but the details of events that day could not be fully verified due to tight government control of information and the intimidation of witnesses. The July 5 clashes were followed by a harsh crackdown that included large-scale “disappearances” of Uighurs, imprisonment and execution of Uighurs and some Han residents following questionable legal proceedings, and an almost complete shutdown of internet access in the region that remained in effect for several months. Among those detained were the managers of websites reporting on Uighur issues. A state propaganda campaign vilifying Uighurs and the U.S.-based Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer fueled further ethnic tensions and increased discrimination against Uighurs throughout the country.

Minorities, the disabled, and people with HIV/AIDS or Hepatitis B face severe societal discrimination. In a positive development, a court ruled in October 2009 that mandatory Hepatitis B testing violated the 2008 Employment Promotion Law. A household registration, or hukou, system remains in place, mostly affecting China’s 150 million internal migrants. Some local governments have experimented with reforms to allow greater mobility, but citizens continue to face restrictions on changing employers or residence, and many migrants are unable to fully access social services as a result. Other restrictions on freedom of movement remained substantial during 2009, as the authorities imposed lockdowns on Beijing and neighboring provinces surrounding the Octoberanniversary. Dissidents were restricted from traveling abroad or placed under house arrest, particularly around the June anniversary and during U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit in November. Law enforcement agencies continued to seek out and repatriate North Korean refugees, who face imprisonment or execution upon return. In August, a court in Inner Mongolia sentenced two Chinese citizens to 7 and 10 years in prison for helping 61 North Korean refugees cross into neighboring Mongolia.

Despite a growing body of property rights legislation, protection remains weak in practice, and all land is formally owned by the state. Tens of thousands of forced evictions and illegal land confiscations occurred in 2009, generally to provide land for private development, state-led infrastructure projects, or upcoming international events such as the World Expo in Shanghai. Residents who resist eviction, seek legal redress, or organize protests face violence at the hands of local police or hired thugs. In May 2009, over 1,000 villagers in Hunan reportedly clashed with police after a local man was beaten to death by security guards for a company that had begun building on confiscated land. Reforms to rural land use announced at the end of 2008 were put on hold in 2009, ostensibly due to the economic downturn.

China’s policy of allowing only one child per couple remains in place, though many rural families are allowed a second child if the first is female. Although compulsory abortion and sterilization by local officials are less common than in the past, they still occur fairly frequently. According to official websites, authorities in some areas of Yunnan and Fujian mandated the use of abortion in 2009, while in other provinces officials imposed fines on families that resisted the one-child policy. These controls and a cultural preference for boys have led to sex-selective abortion and a general shortage of females, exacerbating the problem of human trafficking.

Domestic violence and sexual harassment affect one-third of Chinese families, according to statistics published in November 2008 by the CCP-controlled All-China Women’s Federation. The government has taken steps in recent years to improve the legal framework related to violence against women, but implementation remains weak. The case of female hotel worker Deng Yujiao, who killed a local official as he tried to rape her in May 2009, drew public sympathy and stimulated discussion of the need to protect women’s rights.

Tibet (2010)

Capital: N/A

Population: 5,300,000

Political Rights Score: 7
Civil Liberties Score: 7
Status: Not Free

Explanatory Note

This population figure from China’s 2000 census includes 2.4 million Tibetans living in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and 2.9 million Tibetans living in areas of eastern Tibet that were incorporated into various Chinese provinces.


Although Tibet was more accessible to tourists and journalists for parts of the year, the high level of repression established in 2008 was generally maintained in 2009, particularly ahead of politically sensitive anniversaries. There were few large-scale demonstrations, though many Tibetans resorted to passive protest tactics, such as a farming boycott and abstention from Tibetan New Year celebrations. At least 715 political and religious prisoners reportedly remained in custody as of September. In October, three Tibetans were executed, marking the first use of the death penalty in the territory since 2003. Talks between the government and representatives of the Dalai Lama did not resume in 2009. Instead the authorities continued ideological indoctrination campaigns and the vilification of the Dalai Lama through official rhetoric.

The eastern portions of Tibetan-populated areas were gradually incorporated into various Chinese provinces over several centuries. The Tibetan plateau was ruled by a Dalai Lama in the early 20th century until the People’s Liberation Army invaded Tibet in 1950, defeating the local army. In 1951, the Chinese Communist Party formally extended control over the Tibetan plateau. This territory was designated as the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) in 1965.

In 1959, Chinese troops suppressed a major uprising in Lhasa in which tens of thousands of people were reportedly killed. Tibet’s spiritual and political leader—the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso—was forced to flee to India with some 80,000 supporters. During the next six years, China closed 97 percent of the region’s Buddhist monasteries and defrocked more than 100,000 monks and nuns. During the Chinese Cultural Revolution (1966–76), nearly all of Tibet’s estimated 6,200 monasteries were destroyed.

Under reforms introduced in 1980, religious practice was allowed again—with restrictions—and tourism was permitted in certain areas. Beginning in 1987, some 200 mostly peaceful demonstrations were mounted in Lhasa and surrounding areas. After antigovernment protests escalated in March 1989, martial law was imposed; it was not lifted until May 1990.

In the 1990s, Beijing reinvigorated efforts to control religious affairs and undermine the exiled Dalai Lama’s authority. Six-year-old Gendun Choekyi Nyima was detained by the authorities in 1995, and his selection by the Dalai Lama as the 11th Panchen Lama was rejected; he has not been seen since. Beijing then orchestrated the selection of another six-year-old boy as the Panchen Lama. Since one of the roles of the Panchen Lama is to identify the reincarnated Dalai Lama, the move was seen as a bid by Beijing to control the eventual selection of the 15th Dalai Lama. China hosted envoys of the Dalai Lama in 2002, the first formal contacts since 1993. The Tibetan government-in-exile sought to negotiate genuine autonomy for Tibet, particularly to ensure the survival of its Buddhist culture, but no progress was made during subsequent rounds of dialogue. Meanwhile, other Tibetan exile groups have increasingly demanded independence.

Under Zhang Qingli, who was appointed as secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the TAR in 2005, the authorities amplified their repressive policies. To protest religious restrictions and the previous arrest of several monks, 300 monks conducted a peaceful march in Lhasa on March 10, 2008, the 49th anniversary of the 1959 uprising; security agents suppressed the march. A riot erupted four days later, with Tibetans attacking Chinese—civilians as well as those suspected of being plainclothes police—and burning Han- or Hui-owned businesses and government offices. The authorities reported that 19 people, mostly Chinese civilians, were killed, primarily in fires. Most observers believed the protests and riots to have been spontaneous outbursts of ethnic tension. Some, including prominent Chinese human rights activists, raised concerns of official malfeasance in terms of police not taking necessary steps to prevent violence or deliberately allowing it to escalate. Over 150 other protests, most of them reportedly peaceful, soon broke out in all Tibetan-populated areas of the plateau, as well as in other provinces. The government responded with a massive deployment of armed forces and barred entry to foreign media and tourists. According to overseas Tibetan groups, between 100 and 218 Tibetans were killed as security forces suppressed the demonstrations.

Although the region was accessible to tourists and journalists under special conditions for part of 2009, the high level of repression established in 2008 was generally maintained. Security measures were especially tight surrounding a series of politically sensitive dates. These included the Tibetan New Year (Losar) in February and both the 50th anniversary of the 1959 uprising and the one-year mark of the 2008 protests in March. During this period, security forces increased their presence in Lhasa, raided homes and businesses, detained hundreds of Tibetans accused of not having permits to be in Lhasa, established roadblocks throughout the region, and restricted access for foreign tourists and journalists. Tight restrictions were imposed again ahead of the 60th anniversary of CCP rule in October.

These security efforts largely prevented major demonstrations during the year, though several Tibetans carried out one-person protests; most were immediately detained. Many Tibetans instead resorted to passive methods of protest, such as participating in a farming boycott or refusing to partake in Losar celebrations.

Talks between the government and representatives of the Dalai Lama, which had last taken place in November 2008, did not resume in 2009. Meanwhile, official statements, state-run media, and “patriotic education” campaigns continued to vilify the exiled leader. Beijing also pursued an increasingly aggressive, and often effective, policy of pressuring foreign governments to refrain from meeting with the Dalai Lama and to publicly express support for the official Chinese position on Tibet.

The government’s economic development programs have disproportionately benefited ethnic Han and a select category of Tibetans, such as businessmen or government employees. Most other Tibetans cannot take advantage of economic development and related opportunities for higher education and employment. The development activity has also increased Han migration and stoked Tibetan fears of cultural assimilation.

Political Rights and Civil Liberties

The Chinese government rules Tibet through administration of the TAR and 10 Tibetan autonomous prefectures in nearby Sichuan, Qinghai, Gansu, and Yunnan provinces. Under the Chinese constitution, autonomous areas have the right to formulate their own regulations and implement national legislation in accordance with local conditions. In practice, decision-making power is concentrated in the hands of senior CCP officials; in the case of the TAR, Zhang Qingli, an ethnic Han, has served as the region’s CCP secretary since 2005. The few ethnic Tibetans who occupy senior positions serve mostly as figureheads, often echoing official statements that condemn the Dalai Lama and emphasize Beijing’s role in developing Tibet’s economy. Jampa Phuntsog, an ethnic Tibetan, served as chairman of the TAR government from 2003 through the end of 2009.

Since 1960, the Dalai Lama has overseen the introduction of a partly democratic system to the government-in-exile in Dharamsala, India. Current institutions include a popularly elected 46-member Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies, a Supreme Judicial Commission overseeing civil disputes, and more recently, the direct election of a prime minister. In 2001, Buddhist scholar and lama Samdhong Rinpoche was chosen as prime minister and re-elected in 2006. Participating in the polls were Tibetans in exile in India, Nepal, the United States, and Europe; an estimated 120,000 are eligible to vote, though in practice, voter turnout was reportedly 30 percent. Observers have noted that such arrangements fall short of a fully democratic system due to an absence of political parties and the ongoing role of the unelected Dalai Lama in decision-making; a significant number in the exile community have resisted proposals by the Dalai Lama to completely step down from his political responsibilities, however.

Corruption is believed to be extensive in Tibet, as in the rest of China. Nevertheless, little information was available during the year on the scale of the problem or official measures to combat it. Tibet is not ranked separately on Transparency International’s 2009 Corruption Perceptions Index.

Chinese authorities control the flow of information in Tibet, tightly restricting all media. International broadcasts are jammed. Increased internet penetration in urban areas has provided more access to information, but online restrictions and internet cafe surveillance in place across China are enforced even more stringently in the TAR. Officials repeatedly shut down mobile-telephone networks surrounding politically sensitive dates in March 2009. Security forces have also been known to periodically confiscate mobile phones, computers, and other communication devices from monasteries and private homes, and to routinely monitor calls in and out of the region. Tibetans who transmitted information abroad often suffered repercussions, while some internet users were arrested solely for accessing banned information. In August, 19-year-old Pasang Norbu was reportedly detained after viewing online images of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan flag at a Lhasa internet cafe. In November, Kunchok Tsephel was sentenced to 15 years in prison, on charges of “leaking state secrets,” for writings posted on a literary website he had founded. In December, a Qinghai court sentenced Tibetan filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen to six years in prison; he had been detained in March after filming interviews with Tibetans for a documentary he was making titled Leaving Fear Behind.

Authorities continued to restrict access to Tibet for foreign journalists in 2009, though not as consistently as in 2008. Journalists were denied entry throughout the year, especially around politically sensitive dates. During other periods, journalists were required to travel in groups, and access was contingent on prior official permission, with Tibet being the only area of China to require such special authorization. Residents who assisted foreign journalists were reportedly harassed.

The authorities regularly suppress religious activities, particularly those seen as forms of political dissent or advocacy of Tibetan independence. Possession of Dalai Lama–related materials can lead to official harassment and punishment. CCP members and government employees must adhere to atheism and cannot practice a religion. The Religious Affairs Bureaus (RABs) control who can and cannot study religion in the monasteries and nunneries in the TAR; officials allow only men or women over the age of 18 to become monks or nuns, and they are required to sign a declaration rejecting Tibetan independence, expressing loyalty to the Chinese government, and denouncing the Dalai Lama. Regulations announced in 2007 require government approval for the recognition and education of reincarnated teachers. The government manages the daily operations of monasteries through Democratic Management Committees (DMCs) and the RABs. Only monks and nuns deemed loyal to the CCP may lead DMCs and laypeople have also been appointed to these committees. Since 2008, monasteries in Kardze (Ganzi in Chinese) have been required to have a police station within their confines.

Since March 2008, the authorities have intensified ideological education campaigns that had been conducted sporadically since 1996 and began to escalate after Zhang Qingli’s appointment in 2005. According to official statements, over 2,300 officials had been sent out to 505 monasteries across the TAR by March 2009 to carry out “patriotic education” programs among monks and nuns. The campaign had been extended beyond monasteries to reach Tibet’s general population in 2008, forcing students, civil servants, farmers, and merchants to recognize the CCP claim that China “liberated” Tibet and to denounce the Dalai Lama. Monks and nuns who refuse face expulsion from monasteries or nunneries, while others risk loss of employment, or arrest.In a move that further reinforced the CCP’s version of Tibetan history, the government designated March 28 as a new holiday called Serf Emancipation Day.

University professors cannot lecture on certain topics, and many must attend political indoctrination sessions. The government restricts course materials to prevent the circulation of unofficial versions of Tibetan history.

Freedoms of assembly and association are severely restricted in practice. Independent trade unions, civic groups, and human rights groups are illegal, and even nonviolent protests are harshly punished. Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) focusing on development and health care operate under highly restrictive agreements. Domestic groups that challenge government policy on Tibet risk punishment. In July 2009, the authorities shut down the Beijing-based Open Constitution Initiative, a prominent legal-aid NGO, shortly after it published a report attributing the March 2008 protests to legitimate Tibetan grievances, thereby challenging the official line that the unrest was masterminded by external actors.

Despite the risks, Tibetans continued to seek avenues for peacefully expressing dissent in 2009. In the first large gathering since the 2008 protests, at least 100 people marched peacefully in Lhasa to assert religious freedom; six Tibetans were reportedly detained for several days for participating. Smaller or even one-person demonstrations were more common, though in most cases participants were immediately arrested. Tibetans also staged passive protests, such as a widespread boycott of Losar celebrations in February. In Kardze (Ganzi in Chinese) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, farmers expressed disapproval of the post–March 2008 crackdown by refusing to till their land. Authorities responded with eviction threats, and at least one individual reportedly died after being beaten by police for putting up posters supporting the farming boycott.

The judicial system in Tibet remains abysmal. Defendants lack access to meaningful legal representation, and trials are closed if state security is invoked. Chinese lawyers who offer to defend Tibetan suspects have been harassed or disbarred. Security forces routinely engage in detention without due process and torture. Tibetan human rights groups and Amnesty International documented at least five Tibetans who reportedly died in custody, or immediately after release, as a result of torture in 2009. In the first executions in Tibet since 2003, three people were put to death in October for their role in the 2008 protests. Widespread and arbitrary arrests continued in 2009, though not on the same scale as in 2008. Due to government restrictions on prison access for independent monitors, precise figures of Tibetan detainees were unavailable. However, a partial list of political prisoners published by the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China included 715 Tibetans as of September 2009, the vast majority of whom were arrested on or after March 10, 2008.

The deployment of an estimated 70,000 soldiers and the erection of roadblocks following the March 2008 protests exacerbated already severe restrictions on freedom of movement. Similar measures were employed sporadically during 2009, particularly surrounding the politically sensitive anniversaries. Increased security efforts kept the number of Tibetans who successfully crossed the border into Nepal at around 500 in 2009, compared with over 2,000 in 2007.

As members of an officially recognized “minority” group, Tibetans receive preferential treatment in university admissions. However, the dominant role of the Chinese language in education and employment limits opportunities for many Tibetans. The illiteracy rate among Tibetans, at over 47 percent, remains five times greater than that among ethnic Han. Private-sector employers favor ethnic Han for many jobs, especially in urban areas. Tibetans find it more difficult than Han residents to obtain permits and loans to open businesses. General discrimination increased after the 2008 riots, as television broadcasts showed footage of Tibetans attacking Han residents and burning down Han and Hui businesses.

The authorities have intensified efforts to forcibly resettle traditionally nomadic Tibetan herders in permanent-housing areas with no provisions for income generation. According to official reports, in 2008 the government relocated some 312,000 Tibetan farmers and herders to housing projects. A program to resettle a further 57,000 herders would reportedly be completed in 2010.

China’s restrictive family-planning policies are more leniently enforced for Tibetans and other ethnic minorities than for ethnic Han. Officials limit urban Tibetans to having two children and encourage—but do not usually require—rural Tibetans to stop at three children.

Hong Kong (2010)

Capital: N/A

Population: 7,037,000

Political Rights Score: 5
Civil Liberties Score: 2
Status: Partly Free


A record 150,000 people attended a candlelight vigil in June 2009 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the massacre in which Chinese security forces crushed prodemocracy protests in Beijing and other cities. In November, the Hong Kong government proposed reforms to the electoral system. The plan included expansions of the legislature and the election committee that chooses the chief executive, but would largely preserve the existing semidemocratic system. Separately, Beijing’s growing influence over Hong Kong’s media landscape and immigration policies was evident during the year.

Hong Kong Island was ceded in perpetuity to Britain in 1842; adjacent territories were subsequently added, and the last section was leased to Britain in 1898 for a period of 99 years. In the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, London agreed to restore the entire colony to China in 1997. In return, Beijing—under its “one country, two systems” formula—pledged to maintain the enclave’s legal, political, and economic autonomy for 50 years.

Under the 1984 agreement, a constitution for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), known as the Basic Law, took effect in 1997. Stating that universal suffrage was the “ultimate aim” for Hong Kong, the Basic Law allowed direct elections for only 18 seats in the 60-member legislature, known as the Legislative Council (Legco), with the gradual expansion of elected seats to 30 by 2003. After China took control, it temporarily suspended the Legco and installed a provisional legislature that repealed or tightened several civil liberties laws during its 10-month tenure.

Tung Chee-hwa was chosen as Hong Kong’s chief executive by a Beijing-organized election committee in 1997, and his popularity waned as Beijing became increasingly involved in Hong Kong’s affairs, raising fears that civic freedoms would be compromised. Officials were forced to withdraw a restrictive antisubversion bill—Basic Law Article 23—after it sparked massive protests in July 2003.

Pro-Beijing parties retained control of the Legco in 2004 elections, which were marred by intimidation that was thought to have been organized by Beijing. In 2005, with two years left to serve, the deeply unpopular Tung resigned. He was replaced by career civil servant Donald Tsang, who China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) decided would serve out the remainder of Tung’s term before facing election. In 2007, Hong Kong held competitive elections for chief executive after democracy supporters on the 800-member election committee nominated a second candidate, Alan Leong. However, Tsang won a new term by a wide margin, garnering 82 percent of the votes in the mostly pro-Beijing committee.

Pro-Beijing parties again won Legco elections in September 2008, taking 30 seats, although few of those members were elected by popular vote. The prodemocracy camp won 23 seats, including 19 by popular vote, enabling them to retain a veto over proposed constitutional reforms.

In November 2009, the government published a consultation document on proposed electoral reforms for the 2012 polls that would ostensibly serve as a transitional arrangement until the anticipated adoption of universal suffrage in 2017 for the chief executive and 2020 for the Legco. The system outlined in the plan did not represent substantive progress toward full democracy. Observers noted that the Hong Kong government’s reluctance to make more drastic changes was partly due to restrictions imposed by several decisions of China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, the most recent in 2007, and the requirement that any reforms obtain its approval. At year’s end, the proposal remained open for public consultation, and Tsang was expected to submit a draft to the Legco in February 2010.

Beijing’s growing influence over Hong Kong’s media landscape and immigration policies remained evident during 2009. However, partly in response to comments by Tsang in which he downplayed the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, a record turnout of 150,000 people joined an annual candlelight vigil in June to commemorate the incident, in which Chinese security forces had crushed prodemocracy protests in Beijing and other cities. Public events marking the anniversary were not permitted in the rest of China.

Political Rights and Civil Liberties

Hong Kong’s Basic Law calls for the election of a chief executive and a unicameral Legislative Council (Legco). The chief executive is elected by an 800-member committee: some 200,000 “functional constituency” voters—representatives of various elite business and social sectors, many with close ties to Beijing—elect 600 members, and the remaining 200 consist of Legco members, Hong Kong delegates to the NPC, religious representatives, and 41 members of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), a mainland advisory body. The chief executive serves a five-year term.

The Legco consists of 30 directly elected members and 30 members chosen by the functional constituency voters. Legco members serve four-year terms. The Basic Law restricts the Legco’s lawmaking powers, prohibiting legislators from introducing bills that would affect Hong Kong’s public spending, governmental operations, or political structure. In the territory’s multiparty system, the five main parties are the prodemocracy Democratic Party, Civic Party, and League of Social Democrats; the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong; and the business-oriented Liberal Party.

The 2008 Legco elections were procedurally free and fair, but the semidemocratic structure of the legislature meant that the prodemocracy camp remained a minority despite winning nearly 60 percent of the popular vote. Unlike in 2004, the elections were not accompanied by overt intimidation or threats, though indirect pressure and influence from Beijing was nonetheless evident.

The consultation document on electoral reform introduced in November 2009 proposed several modest changes to the current system. The election committee for the chief executive would expand from 800 to 1,200 members, but would otherwise retain its existing composition. The Legco would expand from 60 to 70 seats, with direct elections for five of the new seats and the remaining five chosen indirectly by elected members of Hong Kong’s 18 district councils. The consultation document did not include a blueprint for adopting universal suffrage in 2017 and 2020, contravening the government’s earlier promises and heightening fears that the transition would be pushed further into the future.

Politically motivated violence is rare in Hong Kong. However, a total of 11 suspects—one in Hong Kong and ten in China—involved in a 2008 plot to shoot prominent prodemocracy politician Martin Lee and media tycoon Jimmy Lai, known for his vocal criticism of the Chinese Communist Party, received sentences of up to 18 years in prison in 2009. The plot’s alleged mastermind was said to reside in Taiwan and remained at large at year’s end.

Hong Kong is generally regarded as having low rates of corruption, although business interests have considerable influence on the Legco. In May 2009, the territory’s internationally respected Independent Commission Against Corruption reported a 23 percent increase in graft complaints during the first three months of the year compared with the same period in 2008. This was widely viewed as a result of the economic downturn, as officials were more inclined to engage in graft to compensate for personal financial losses. The right to access government information is protected by law and observed in practice. Hong Kong was ranked 12 out of 180 countries surveyed in Transparency International’s 2009 Corruption Perceptions Index.

Under Article 27 of the Basic Law, Hong Kong residents enjoy freedoms of speech, press, and publication. These rights are generally respected in practice, and political debate is vigorous. There are dozens of daily newspapers, and residents have access to international radio broadcasts and satellite television. International media organizations operate without interference. Nonetheless, Beijing’s growing influence over the media, book publishing, and film industries in recent years has led to self-censorship, particularly on issues deemed sensitive by the central government. This influence stems in part from the close relationship between Hong Kong media owners and the central authorities; at least 10 such owners sit on the CPPCC. In one incident during 2009, managers of the Hong Kong edition of Esquire magazine barred the publication of a 16-page feature about the Tiananmen Square massacre, and the feature’s author was subsequently fired. More broadly, the Hong Kong Journalists’ Association reported that “only two or three newspapers devoted significant coverage to the anniversary, while leading TV stations aired just a few special programs, with some appearing to follow [the Communist Party’s] line.”

Hong Kong journalists face a number of restrictions when covering events on the mainland. In February 2009, Chinese authorities issued regulations requiring Hong Kong journalists to obtain temporary press cards from Beijing’s liaison office prior to each reporting trip to the mainland, and to secure the prior consent of interviewees. While violence against journalists is rare in Hong Kong, reporters from the territory have repeatedly faced surveillance, intimidation, beatings, and occasional imprisonment when reporting on the mainland. In September, three journalists—a television reporter and two cameramen—were reportedly detained and beaten by police while covering unrest in Xinjiang. An official Chinese investigation concluded that the journalists had been at fault for “instigating protests,” prompting a demonstration and a petition by hundreds of Hong Kong journalists.

The Hong Kong government, rather than an independent regulator, controls media licensing in the territory. Authorities continued to obstruct broadcasts by the prodemocracy station Citizens’ Radio in 2009, after its license application was rejected in 2006. In November and December, more than a dozen prodemocracy activists and lawmakers were fined between US$125 and US$1,500 each for participating in unlicensed radio broadcasts, though one of the judges ruling on the case acknowledged the act of civil disobedience as “noble.” Separately, in September, the government rejected proposals to convert the state-owned but editorially independent Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) into a fully independent public broadcaster, or to create such an outlet. Officials instead announced the creation of a government-appointed board to advise RTHK’s director of broadcasting, potentially curbing the station’s editorial autonomy. A period for public consultation on the issue began in October and had not concluded by year’s end.

The Basic Law provides for freedom of religion, which is generally respected in practice. Religious groups are excluded from the Societies Ordinance, which requires nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to register with the government. Adherents of the Falun Gong spiritual movement remain free to practice in the territory and hold occasional demonstrations despite facing repression on the mainland. University professors can write and lecture freely, and political debate on campuses is lively.

The Basic Law guarantees freedoms of assembly and association. Police permits for demonstrations are required but rarely denied, and protests on politically sensitive issues are held regularly.  In June 2009, a record 150,000 people participated in a candlelight vigil to mark the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Nevertheless, outside activists who planned to participate in events highlighting rights abuses in China continued to be denied entry or prevented from leaving the mainland in 2009.

Hong Kong hosts a vibrant and largely unfettered NGO sector, and trade unions are independent. However, there is limited legal protection for basic labor rights. Collective-bargaining rights are not recognized, protections against antiunion discrimination are weak, and there are few regulations on working hours and wages. While strikes are legal and several occurred in 2009, many workers sign contracts stating that walkouts could be grounds for summary dismissal.

The judiciary is independent, and the trial process is fair. The NPC reserves the right to make final interpretations of the Basic Law, effectively limiting the power of Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeals. While the NPC has not directly intervened in court cases for a number of years, several recent incidents raised concerns about growing influence from Beijing over law enforcement matters. In 2008, U.S.-based Tiananmen Square activist Zhou Yongjun was detained while visiting Hong Kong on a fake Malaysian passport, and in an unusual move, he was handed over to authorities on the mainland. He was tried there on bank fraud charges in 2009, although it remained unclear whether he or the person named on the fake passport was wanted by the authorities; a verdict was pending at year’s end. Also in 2009, Hong Kong officials decided not to prosecute family members and acquaintances of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, a close Beijing ally, after they physically assaulted several foreign journalists. Chief justice Andrew Li Kwok-nang, who has headed the judiciary since the handover, announced his retirement in September 2009; at year’s end, observers were watching to see who would be his successor and whether that individual would uphold the same standards of independence.

Police are forbidden by law to employ torture and other forms of abuse. However, official figures indicated that police conducted over 1,600 strip searches in 2008, leading to the adoption in February 2009 of additional measures to monitor and limit the use of such searches. Arbitrary arrest and detention are illegal; suspects must be charged within 48 hours of their arrest. Prison conditions generally meet international standards.

Citizens are treated equally under the law, though Hong Kong’s population of 200,000 foreign domestic workers remains vulnerable to abuse, and South Asians routinely complain of discrimination in employment. Since foreign workers face deportation if dismissed, many are reluctant to bring complaints against employers. A Race Discrimination Ordinance that took effect in July 2009 created an independent Equal Opportunities Commission to enforce its protections. However, in September the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination criticized the ordinance for failing to cover certain government actions, neglecting the issue of indirect discrimination, and effectively excluding immigrants.

The government does not control travel, choice of residence, or employment within Hong Kong, although documents are required to travel to the mainland, and employers must apply to bring in workers from China; direct applications from workers are not accepted. Hong Kong maintains its own immigration system. In September 2009, an appeals court criticized the government for lack of candor and destruction of relevant documents in a lawsuit challenging the denial of entry to four Taiwanese Falun Gong practitioners in 2003; however, the court was reluctant to conclude that the immigration department had acted in an unlawful fashion in denying the plaintiffs’ entry. FiveLegco members and several human rights activists from Hong Kong were barred entry to Macau in March 2009, shortly after that territory passed new national security legislation; many of those affected are regularly barred from the mainland as well.

Women are protected by law from discrimination and abuse and are entitled to equal access to schooling, as well as to property in divorce settlements. However, women continue to face discrimination in employment opportunities, salary, inheritance, and welfare. Despite robust efforts by the government, Hong Kong remains a point of transit and destination for persons trafficked for sexual exploitation or forced labor.

Taiwan (2010)

Capital: Taipei

Population: 23,079,000

Political Rights Score: 1
Civil Liberties Score: 2
Status: Free

Ratings Change

Taiwan’s political rights rating improved from 2 to 1 due to enforcement of anticorruption laws, including the prosecution of former high-ranking officials. However, the country’s civil liberties rating declined from 1 to 2 due to flaws in the protection of criminal defendants’ rights and limitations on academic freedom, including passage of a law restraining scholars at public educational facilities from participating in certain political activities.


Former president Chen Shui-bian of the Democratic Progressive Party was sentenced to life in prison on corruption charges in September 2009, though some observers raised concerns over flaws in the handling of his and other corruption cases. Following criticism of the government’s response to Typhoon Morakot, Prime Minister Liu Chao-shiuan resigned in September. The Kuomintang government continued to improve relations with China during the year, leading to Taiwanese participation in UN-affiliated institutions for the first time since 1971. However, there were also growing concerns over restrictions on free expression, including limitations on academic freedom and pressure to limit criticism of Taiwanese and Chinese government policy.

Taiwan, also referred to sometimes as the Republic of China (ROC), became home to the Chinese nationalist Kuomintang (KMT) government-in-exile in 1949. Although the island is independent in all but name, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) considers it a renegade province and has threatened to take military action if de jure independence is declared.

Taiwan’s transition to democracy began in 1987, when the KMT ended 38 years of martial law. In 1988, Lee Teng-hui became the first native Taiwanese president, breaking the mainland emigres’ stranglehold on politics. The media were liberalized and opposition political parties legalized in 1989. Lee oversaw Taiwan’s first full multiparty legislative elections in 1991–92 and the first direct presidential election in 1996.

Chen Shui-bian’s victory in the 2000 presidential race, as a candidate of the proindependence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), ended 55 years of KMT rule. Chen narrowly won reelection in March 2004, but the KMT-led opposition retained its majority in the Legislative Yuan (LY) in parliamentary elections later that year, and political gridlock between the executive and legislative branches continued.

The KMT secured an overwhelming majority in the January 2008 legislative elections, taking 81 of 113 seats. The DPP took 27, and the remainder went to independents and smaller parties. The polls were the first to be held under a new electoral system. The fact that the KMT and DPP respectively secured 72 percent and 24 percent of the seats after winning 51 percent and 37 percent of the votes prompted some calls for a reexamination of the reforms. Taipei mayor Ma Ying-jeou of the KMT won the March presidential election, defeating the DPP’s Frank Hsieh by a 16-point margin. Both elections were deemed generally free and fair, and an improvement over the 2004 polls, by international observers. They also marked the island’s second peaceful, democratic transfer of power. The DPP’s poor showing was attributed to voters’ economic concerns, frustration at political gridlock, wariness of the DPP’s proindependence policies, and recent corruption scandals involving Chen and other top officials.

Chen was indicted in December 2008, after his immunity had expired, and in September 2009 he was sentenced to life in prison for embezzlement, money laundering, and bribery. Some observers viewed the case as a milestone for the rule of law. However, there were also concerns raised over irregularities and possible political bias, including Chen’s detention before and during trial, prosecutorial leaks to the media, and disciplinary charges against his defense counsel.

The KMT government’s popularity was hurt during 2009 by the effects of the global economic downturn, although the economy had begun to recover by year’s end. Separately, Prime Minister Liu Chao-shiuan was replaced by former KMT secretary general Wu Den-yih in September amidst a broader cabinet reshuffle after the government drew criticism for its slow response to Typhoon Morakot. The natural disaster caused over 500 deaths and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage in August.

The DPP won an important parliamentary by-election in September, giving it a quarter of the LY and increased oversight powers, including the ability to petition the Constitutional Court for interpretations of the validity of official policies and actions. The KMT retained a majority of the contested posts in December local elections, but the DPP made notable gains.

The Ma administration continued its policy of establishing closer relations with the PRC government in 2009. Bilateral talks led to agreements on mutual judicial and law enforcement assistance, loosened Taiwanese restrictions on mainland investment, and the removal of PRC objections to Taiwan’s participation—with observer status under the name “Chinese Taipei”—in the World Health Assembly. This enabled Taiwanese representatives to partake in a UN specialized agency event for the first time since 1971.

Though many Taiwanese supported improved economic ties with China, critics argued that the administration was conceding elements of Taiwan’s sovereignty, moving too quickly, and acting with minimal transparency. Several incidents during 2009 stoked fears that growing economic and diplomatic reliance on the PRC would increase pressure to self-censor on issues Beijing deemed sensitive or important. For example, the government in September refused to issue a visa to Rebiya Kadeer, a prominent advocate for the rights of China’s Uighur minority. Meanwhile, Beijing maintained an aggressive legal and military stance on the prospect of eventual Taiwanese independence; an estimated 1,300 missiles remained aimed at the island at year’s end.

Political Rights and Civil Liberties

Taiwan is an electoral democracy. The 1946 constitution, adopted while the KMT was in power on the mainland, created a unique structure with five branches of government (yuan). The president, who is directly elected for up to two four-year terms, wields executive power, appoints the prime minister, and can dissolve the legislature. The Executive Yuan, or cabinet, consists of ministers appointed by the president on the recommendation of the prime minister. The prime minister is responsible to the national legislature (Legislative Yuan), which, under constitutional amendments that took effect in 2008, consists of 113 members serving four-year terms; 73 are elected in single-member districts, and 34 are chosen through nationwide proportional representation. The six remaining members are chosen by indigenous people. The three other branches of government are the judiciary (Judicial Yuan), a watchdog body (Control Yuan), and a branch responsible for civil service examinations (Examination Yuan).

The two main political parties are the proindependence DPP and the Chinese nationalist KMT, which hold a combined 108 of 113 legislative seats and dominate the political landscape. Opposition parties are generally able to function freely, as indicated by the DPP’s relatively strong performance in the December 2009 local elections. Nevertheless, there were credible reports during the year of increased political pressure on government critics and individuals whose activities could displease the Chinese authorities.

Though significantly less pervasive than in the past, corruption remains a feature of political life and an ongoing problem in the security forces. In 2009, the authorities took additional measures to enforce anticorruption laws, resulting in the prosecution of former top officials and the removal of four legislators from office due to vote-buying. Former president Chen Shui-bian and his wife were sentenced in September to life in prison on charges of embezzlement and money laundering; an appeal was pending at year’s end.The authorities also launched investigations of over 200 candidates for alleged vote-buying in the December local elections. Though several KMT members were investigated or punished during the year, some observers raised concerns about selective prosecution of DPP politicians. Among other high-profile cases, a retired high-ranking military officer was indicted in April on bribery and blackmail charges, and five police officers were convicted in December of accepting bribes from casino operators, receiving terms ranging from 12 to 20 years in prison.Taiwan was ranked 37 out of 180 countries surveyed in Transparency International’s 2009 Corruption Perceptions Index.

In March 2009, Taiwan ratified two UN human rights treaties—the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights—and passed an implementing law allowing two years to bring relevant regulations and practice into line with the treaties. The United Nations in June refused to formally accept the ratifications, citing the PRC as the only recognized representative of China.

The Taiwanese media reflect a diversity of views and report aggressively on government policies and corruption allegations. Given that most Taiwanese can access about 100 cable television stations, the state’s influence on the media is, on balance, minimal. However, reforms and personnel changes at publicly owned media since 2008 have raised concerns about politicization. A former spokesperson for President Ma Ying-jeou’s electoral campaign was appointed as deputy president of the Central News Agency (CNA) in late 2008, and CNA staff reported receiving directives to alter certain content. Local and international observers noted that criticism of the government in subsequent CNA coverage was markedly toned down. In 2009, legislation requiring government approval of Public Television Service programming was dropped after public protests. However, local press freedom advocates and the Control Yuan criticized subsequent government measures to expand the service’s board and replace its management.

Actions by private media owners, economic pressures resulting from the global financial crisis, and potential PRC influence on free expression were also of concern in 2009. Most private news outlets are seen as sympathetic to one of the two main political parties. Observers reported an increase in paid news placements in print and electronic media during the year. After a businessman with mainland commercial interests purchased the China Times Group in late 2008, several incidents raised concerns of increased editorial pressure to soften criticism of the Ma administration and Beijing; in June 2009, the company threatened to sue several journalists and press freedom advocates for defamation over criticism of its actions in a dispute with the National Communications Commission. In September, the Kaohsiung Film Festival came under pressure—albeit unsuccessful—to not screen a documentary about exiled Uighur rights activist Rebiya Kadeer for fear that it could indirectly harm growing tourism from the mainland. There are generally no restrictions on the internet, which was accessed by over 65 percent of the population in 2009.

Taiwanese of all faiths can worship freely. Religious organizations that choose to register with the government receive tax-exempt status. Despite pressure from Beijing, the government in September 2009 allowed the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, to visit the island and participate in memorial services for victims of Typhoon Morakot.

Although Taiwanese educators can generally write and lecture freely, the ability of scholars to engage in political activism outside the classroom came under pressure in 2009. The LY in July 2009 passed the Act Governing the Administrative Impartiality of Public Officials, which contained provisions restraining scholars at public academic facilities from participating in certain political activities. In addition, two professors known for their involvement in human rights groups faced prosecution for organizing peaceful protests surrounding the 2008 visit of a Chinese envoy; the cases were still pending at year’s end.

Freedom of assembly is generally respected, and several large-scale demonstrations took place during 2009. Nevertheless, adherents of the Falun Gong spiritual movement, which is persecuted in China, occasionally faced pressure from local authorities to limit their protests at sites frequented by Chinese tourists. Unlike during his 2008 visit, demonstrations during Chinese envoy Chen Yunlin’s December 2009 trip to Taiwan passed without significant violence between police and protesters. In May, the Control Yuan urged disciplinary measures against Taipei’s police chief and precinct captain for police misconduct during the 2008 clashes, but some observers criticized the body’s decision not to impeach any officials.The Parade and Assembly Law includes restrictions on demonstration locations and permit requirements for outdoor meetings. Although permits are generally granted, at least 26 people were under investigation in 2009 for allegedly failing to obtain a permit or obey police orders to disperse. All civic organizations must register with the government, though registration is freely granted. Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) focusing on human rights, social welfare, and the environment are active and operate without harassment.

Trade unions are independent, and most workers enjoy freedom of association. However, government employees and defense-industry workers are barred from joining unions or bargaining collectively. According to the U.S. State Department’s 2009 human rights report, unions may be dissolved if their activities “disturb public order,” while other restrictions undermine collective bargaining and make it difficult to strike legally. The number of labor disputes increased in 2009 amid the economic downturn. Taiwan’s 350,000 foreign workers are not covered by the Labor Standards Law or represented by unions, and many decline to report abuses for fear of deportation.

The judiciary is independent and trials are generally fair. However, prominent cases in 2009 exposed flaws in the protection of criminal defendants’ rights. Several suspects were detained for extended periods prior to conviction, including former president Chen, who was held in custody throughout the year as his trial proceeded. Legal experts also noted other irregularities in Chen’s case, including government efforts to pursue disciplinary measures against his counsel for comments to the media. Prosecutorial leaks to the media continued during the year, sullying defendants’ reputations before trial and conviction. The legal system partially responded to shortcomings in Chen’s case, as the Grand Council of Justices ruled in January that prosecutors’ recording of meetings between the defendant and his counsel was unconstitutional.

Police largely respect the ban on arbitrary detention, and suspects are allowed attorneys during interrogations to prevent abuse. However, three defendants in the high-profile Lu Cheng murder case, who were allegedly tortured in the 1980s to extract a confession, continued to be detained after 22 years as appeals proceeded. They remained in custody at year’s end following a May 2009 High Court ruling. An estimated 187 criminal cases in Taiwan have lasted over 10 years. Although no executions have been carried out since 2005, 44 people remained on death row at year’s end. Searches without warrants are allowed only in particular circumstances, and a 1999 law imposes strict punishments for illicit wiretapping.

The constitution provides for the equality of all citizens. Apart from the unresolved issue of ownership of ancestral lands, the rights of indigenous people are protected by law. Six LY seats are reserved for indigenous people, giving them representation that exceeds their share of the population. Thousands of indigenous people were left homeless by Typhoon Morakot, leading to their resettlement in nearby areas.

Taiwanese law does not allow for the granting of asylum or refugee status. However, amendments to the Immigration Act in 2009 facilitated the granting of residency certificates to over 100 Tibetans and 400 descendants of soldiers left behind in Thailand and Burma in 1949. In December, the Executive Yuan passed a refugee draft bill; it had yet to be debated by the legislature at year’s end.

With the exception of civil servants and military personnel traveling to China, freedom of movement is generally unrestricted. Direct cross-strait air travel has expanded significantly since 2008, though PRC tourists are required to travel in chaperoned groups within Taiwan.

Taiwanese women face private-sector job discrimination and lower pay than men on average. After the 2008 elections, women held 30 percent of the LY seats. Rape and domestic violence remain problems despite government programs to protect women and the work of numerous NGOs to improve women’s rights. Although authorities can pursue such cases without the victims formally pressing charges, cultural norms inhibit many women from reporting the crimes. Taiwan is both a source and destination for trafficked women.In January 2009, the legislature passed a law that specifically criminalized sex and labor trafficking while increasing penalties for such offenses.

Singapore (2010)

Capital: Singapore

Population: 5,113,000

Political Rights Score: 5
Civil Liberties Score: 4
Status: Partly Free


The authorities continued to restrict freedoms of speech and assembly in 2009. In April, Singapore’s legislature passed a measure that would require police permission for public assemblies of all sizes, removing a previous threshold of five or more people. In October, the Far Eastern Economic Review lost an appeal in a defamation case brought by the prime minister and his father; the magazine agreed to settle the case in November and was shuttered by its owners in December.

The British colony of Singapore obtained home rule in 1959, entered the Malaysian Federation in 1963, and gained full independence in 1965. During his three decades as prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew and his People’s Action Party (PAP) transformed the port city into a regional financial center and exporter of high-technology goods but restricted individual freedoms and stunted political development in the process.

Lee transferred the premiership to Goh Chok Tong in 1990 but stayed on as “senior minister,” and the PAP retained its dominance. Lee’s son, Lee Hsien Loong, became prime minister in 2004, and the elder Lee assumed the title of “minister mentor.” In 2005, President Sellapan Ramanathan began a second term as the largely ceremonial head of state.

Despite his expressed desire for a “more open society,” Lee Hsien Loong did little to change the authoritarian political climate. He called elections in May 2006, a year early, to secure a mandate for his economic reform agenda. With a nine-day campaign period and defamation lawsuits hampering opposition candidates, the polls resembled past elections in serving more as a referendum on the prime minister’s popularity than as an actual contest for power. The PAP retained 82 of the 84 elected seats with 66 percent of the vote, although the opposition offered candidates for a greater number of seats and secured a larger percentage of the vote than in previous years. The opposition Workers’ Party and Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) each won a single seat despite receiving 16.3 percent and 13 percent of the vote, respectively.

Over the next three years, Lee continued to pursue his economic agenda while using the legal system and other tools to keep the opposition in check. The government also maintained that racial sensitivities and the threat of Islamist terrorism justified draconian restrictions on freedoms of speech and assembly. Such rules were repeatedly used to silence criticism of the authorities. Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) leader Chee Soon Juan faced multiple convictions and heavy fines for defamation and other crimes in 2007 and 2008, while the Far Eastern Economic Review, a 63-year-old magazine owned by the U.S.-based News Corporation, was forced to pay some US$300,000 in November 2009 to settle a defamation case brought by the Lees.

Political Rights and Civil Liberties

Singapore is not an electoral democracy. The country is governed through a parliamentary system, and elections are free from irregularities and vote rigging, but the ruling PAP dominates the political process. The prime minister retains control over the Elections Department, and the country lacks a structurally independent election authority. Opposition campaigns are hamstrung by a ban on political films and television programs, the threat of libel suits, strict regulations on political associations, and the PAP’s influence on the media and the courts.

The largely ceremonial president is elected by popular vote for six-year terms, and a special committee is empowered to vet candidates. The prime minister and cabinet are appointed by the president. Singapore has had only three prime ministers since independence. Of the unicameral legislature’s 84 elected members, who serve five-year terms, 9 are elected from single-member constituencies, while 75 are elected in Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs), a mechanism intended to foster minority representation. The winner-take-all nature of the system, however, limits the extent to which GRCs actually facilitate minority representation and, in effect, helps perpetuate the return of incumbents. Up to nine additional, nonpartisan members can be appointed by the president, and up to three members can be appointed to ensure a minimum of opposition representation.

Singapore has traditionally been lauded for its relative lack of corruption. There is no special legislation facilitating access to information, however, and management of state funds came under question for the first time in 2007. Critics lamented the state’s secret investment of national reserves, and investigations into the state investment arm, Temasek Holdings, were launched by Indonesian and Thai watchdog agencies. Singapore was ranked 3 out of 180 countries surveyed in Transparency International’s 2009 Corruption Perceptions Index.

Singapore’s media market remains tightly constrained. All domestic newspapers, radio stations, and television channels are owned by government-linked companies. Although editorials and news coverage generally support state policies, newspapers occasionally publish critical pieces. Self-censorship is common among journalists. The Sedition Act, in effect since the colonial period, outlaws seditious speech, the distribution of seditious materials, and acts with “seditious tendency.” Media including videos, music, and books are sometimes censored, typically for sex, violence, or drug references.

Foreign broadcasters and periodicals can be restricted for engaging in domestic politics, and regulations in place since 2006 require all foreign publications to appoint legal representatives and provide significant financial deposits. The leadership’s practice of using defamation suits and license revocations to silence critical media is often applied to foreign-owned outlets. In October 2009, the Far Eastern Economic Review lost its appeal of an earlier judgment finding that it had defamed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his father, Lee Kuan Yew, by publishing a 2006 interview with an opposition figure. The magazine agreed to settle the case for about US$300,000 in November, and it was discontinued as of December 2009 by its owner, the U.S.-based News Corporation, which cited falling revenues and readership. The Lees have never lost a defamation case in Singapore.

The internet is widely accessible, but the authorities monitor online material and block some content through directives to licensed service providers. In 2008, lawyer and blogger Gopalan Nair was sentenced to three months in jail for insulting judges on his blog and in an e-mail message.

The constitution guarantees freedom of religion as long as its practice does not violate any other regulations, and most groups worship freely. However, religious actions perceived as threats to racial or religious harmony are not tolerated, and unconventional groups like the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Unification Church are banned. All religious groups are required to register with the government under the 1966 Societies Act. In October 2009, five adherents of the Falun Gong spiritual movement, including Singapore nationals and mainland Chinese, were arrested and briefly detained after putting up posters in a public park that described the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China; the case was pending at year’s end.

All public universities and political research institutions have direct government links that bear at least some influence. Academics engage in political debate, but their publications rarely deviate from the government line on matters related to Singapore.

The Societies Act restricts freedom of association by requiring most organizations of more than 10 people to register with the government, and only registered parties and associations may engage in organized political activity. Political speeches are tightly regulated, and public assemblies must be approved by police. Legislation passed in April 2009 eliminated a previous threshold requiring permits for public assemblies of five or more people, meaning political events involving just one person could require official approval. Permits are not needed for private, indoor gatherings as long as the topic of discussion is not race or religion.

Unions are granted fairly broad rights under the Trade Unions Act, though restrictions include a ban on government employees joining unions. A 2004 amendment to the law prohibits union members from voting on collective agreements negotiated by union representatives and employers. Strikes are legal for all except utility workers, but they must be approved by a majority of a union’s members as opposed to the internationally accepted standard of at least 50 percent of the members who vote. In practice, many restrictions are not applied. All but five of the country’s 64 unions are affiliated with the National Trade Union Congress, which is openly allied with the PAP. Singapore’s 180,000 domestic workers are excluded from the Employment Act and regularly exploited. A 2006 standard contract for migrant domestic workers addresses food deprivation and entitles replaced workers to seek other employment in Singapore, but it fails to provide other basic protections, such as rest days.

The government’s overwhelming success in court cases raises questions about judicial independence, particularly because lawsuits against opposition politicians and parties often drive them into bankruptcy. Many judges have ties to PAP leaders, but it is unclear whether the government pressures judges or simply appoints those who share its conservative philosophy. The judiciary is efficient, and defendants in criminal cases enjoy most due process rights.

The government generally respects citizens’ right to privacy, but the Internal Security Act (ISA) and the Criminal Law Act (CLA) permit the authorities to conduct warrantless searches and arrests to preserve national security, order, and the public interest. The ISA, previously aimed at communist threats, is now used against suspected Islamist terrorists.Suspects can be detained without charge or trial for an unlimited number of two-year periods. A 1989 constitutional amendment prohibits judicial review of the substantive grounds for detention under the ISA and of the constitutionality of the law itself. The CLA is mainly used to detain organized crime suspects; it allows preventive detention for an extendable one-year period. The Misuse of Drugs Act empowers authorities to commit suspected drug users, without trial, to rehabilitation centers for up to three years.

Security forces are not known to commit serious abuses. The government has in recent years jailed police officers convicted of mistreating detainees. The penal code mandates caning, in addition to imprisonment, for about 30 offenses; it is discretionary for certain other crimes involving the use of force. Caning is reportedly common in practice.

There is no legal discrimination, and the government actively promotes racial harmony and equity. Despite government efforts, ethnic Malays have not on average reached the schooling and income levels of ethnic Chinese or ethnic Indians,and they reportedly face discrimination in private-sector employment.

Citizens enjoy freedom of movement, although the government occasionally enforces its policy of ethnic balance in public housing, in which most Singaporeans live, and opposition politicians have been denied the right to travel.

Women enjoy the same legal rights as men in most areas, and many are well-educated professionals, though relatively few women hold top positions in government and the private sector. Of the current Parliament’s 84 elected seats, 17 are held by women, all of whom belong to the PAP. In 2007, Parliament voted to maintain provisions of the penal code that make acts of “gross indecency” between men punishable by up to two years in prison.

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243 Responses to “Freedom in the World 2010”

  1. pug_ster Says:

    Gees, Freedom House received 66% of its funding thru the US government. Of course its Political Rights Score is 1
    Civil Liberties Score: is 1 while big bad China is not free. And what do you know? Tibet is not part of China, according to this ‘non-profit’ organization.

  2. Raj Says:

    Seems about right to me. I wonder how those numbers will progress, especially for Taiwan ahead of the elections in 2012.

  3. Steve Says:

    @ pug_ster #1: If you can question their methodology by all means do so, but where they get their funding is irrelevant if the proper methodology is used. Your argument is illogical and irrelevant. As for the separate entries on Tibet and Hong Kong, they state that right up front based on a different set of circumstances. They do the same for India controlled Kashmir, Serbia controlled Kosovo, etc. They never stated Tibet was not part of China. In fact, they state just the opposite. You just made that part up.

    BTW, I’m not endorsing this report, just getting it out there for everyone to read, reflect and comment. I want to go over it more carefully before I comment.

  4. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Steve:
    Obviously, for any commenter worth their salt, the first area of examination for a report such as this one is the methodology, rather than resorting to innuendo about the source of funding and any bias that may or may not have entailed.

    In that light, the methodology overview states that the full methodology for the current report will be published separately. Do you know if that has yet occurred? Furthermore, were the checklist questions used to survey citizens in the sampled countries, or were they used to survey “experts” on those countries?

  5. Steve Says:

    @ SK: If you follow the link at the top to the main page, you can click on their methodology as one of several topics but no worries, just go to it from here. This report was just published so it doesn’t give a detailed account of how the numbers were arrived at for 2010 but still no worries. They used the same methodology (which they pointed out) as in 2009 and you can find that here.

    The reason I included the entire report for each country or area of a country was so that everyone could see the reasons given for the ratings.

  6. Steve Says:

    @ SKC #4: If you follow the link provided at the top of the page, it’ll take you to Freedom House’s main page and a short summary of the methodology used. However, they also comment that it’s the same methodology as was used in their 2009 report which you can find here.

    The reason I included the entire report per country or area was that everyone could see the explanations for the ratings.

  7. Jason Says:

    “The U.S. major media and much of the minor media are not free and independent, as they claim. They are not the watchdog of democracy but the lapdog of the national security state. They help reverse the roles of victims and victimizers, warmongers and peacekeepers, reactionaries and reformers. The first atrocity, the first war crime committed in any war of aggression by the aggressors is against the truth.”

    ~ Michael Parenti, political scientist, from his essay
    “The Media and their Atrocities”

    Just what Freedom House, a government-controlled organization is.

    In 2005, this propaganda organization gave Chen Shui-bian’s regime / PR 1 with an up arrow / CL 1 / Free” rating.

    This is after A-Bian’s Gestapo tactics on Next Magazine in March 20, 2002. Chen regime stormed the offices of Next Magazine and the private residence of one of its reporters in a chilling attempt to intimidate Taiwan’s ostensibly free media into cowed silence.

    After A-Bian despicable excuse, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists and The Paris-based “Reporters Without Borders” never believed a thing he said.

    Here’s a statement from CPJ: http://www.cpj.org/protests/02ltrs/Taiwan20march02pl.html

    In 2005, FREER wrote an article called ” Referendum On President Chen” stated “Going into this election, the Chen administration’s searching of newspaper offices, confiscation of magazines, shutting down of unfriendly television stations, and banning of news representatives from China were all on voters’ minds. Reflecting that this was more than just panblue rhetoric, the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders declared there has been a marked decline in press freedom in Taiwan under Mr. Chen.”

    “Since 2000, however, the Chen administration has been linked frequently to money scandals and use of government money to its partisan advantage. This includes using publicly funded television to run programs that advance pangreen causes and laud President Chen. And the DPP has not been short of cash as it was in earlier elections.”

    How can Freedom House miss this yet RSF and CPJ can?

  8. Steve Says:

    @ Jason: Nice red herring argument. You failed to address the report I posted, you failed to address their methodology or anything written in the article and all you could talk about was Chen Shui-bian, who hasn’t been president of Taiwan since 2008. I think you’re on the wrong thread. Could you please get on subject?

  9. Jason Says:


    Not a red herring. The point is Freedom House methology is not credible. Taiwan is just an example of how not credible this government-controlled organization is whereas RSF and CPJ has something to say where Freedom House failed to realize.

  10. Steve Says:

    @ Jason: I have no problem with you disputing their methodology but you did no such thing. I linked to their methodology. Please explain where their methodology failed and use specifics. You didn’t do so in your original post. And you are claiming that Freedom House is a government controlled organization without supporting that claim. The government as a funding source does not mean it’s “government-controlled”. You’re throwing out accusations without proving any of them. If you can prove them or show some support for them, your accusations would have more credence.

    There are links in the main page to every report Freedom House has published over the last ten years. If you find something from the past that you want to dig into, write your own post about it. But I posted about this year’s report and you have yet to argue against anything in there. So yes, it’s a red herring since it has nothing to do with the report shown above.

  11. Josef Says:

    just to correct your misleading statements:
    Indeed in 2005 the Press Freedom index for Taiwan was 12.25
    Your quotation from the year 2005: 9.00 /12.00 14.25 is correct
    ” there has been a marked decline in press freedom in Taiwan under Mr. Chen”
    but after that the trend reversed and it was increasing to its best value of 8.00 in 2008. (under Chen)


    59 Republic of China (Taiwan)
    15.08 8.00 10.00 10.50 12.25 14.25 12.00 9.00
    (from left to right 2009, 2008 etc.)

    Now, in 2009 it is 15.08. (with two arrows pointing down)

    As you probably know this indices are well observed especially in the Taiwanese media and indeed
    there is a correlation between the house of freedom and the Press Freedom
    and you can find a very good overview in this (DPP friendly) article

    quotation: “Taiwan’s reputation as a country with a vibrantly free news media suffered another blow Friday when the renowned New York-based “Freedom House” human rights monitoring lowered our rating for news freedom for the second straight year”

    But the facts remain nevertheless the same.
    But after all, KMT or DPP, we are talking about being in the best or next to best group rather than at the low end….

  12. Jason Says:

    What! I have provided Far Eastern Economic Review article stating that RSJ and separately CPJ’s disgust with Chen’s regime of civil liberties and freedom which counter Freedom House’s uncredible methology of giving Chen’s regime the myth of gradual improvement in civil liberties and freedom and giving Chen’s regime high marks that is a slap of what civil liberty and freedom really is.

    About the ties between and US government and Freedom House: http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2007/barahona030107.html

  13. Jason Says:


    Freedom House’s criticism about a rise in sensationalism and a potential loss of quality in Taiwan is so pathetic. Freedom House’s criticism is against civil liberties and freedom. What they deem unfriendly to the views of DPP, they will say sensationalism, that is pathetic and it is an McCarthyist tendency. This is why they support and refuse to recognize Chen’s attempt to censor China’s view even though Chen tout his administration values freedom.

  14. jxie Says:

    Steve, how’s this difficult to understand? IMHO the report itself is totally useless, even worse than a vendor comparison commissioned by one of the vendors — at least most of those studies attempt to set up some tests that are real-world quantifiable. Have you ever seen a study putting the paid sponsor in bad light? The ratings by the in-house staff and presumably paid consultants, can’t remotely be considered unbiased.

    Take China out of the equation for a second, and let’s focus on 2 countries that I am having major problems with, Brazil and Russia. An Iranian American friend of mine, permanently moved to Brazil a few years ago (while still retains his US citizenship). Like most families, those decisions are complicated. A part of the reason was that the Brazilian economy was booming and he was able to find a decently paid job, and his wife missed her family… But what really pushed him over the edge, was the perceived lack of a sense of peace and security among many Muslim Americans in the post-Patriot Act USA. Yet the US is supposed to be 1 and Brazil is supposed to be a 2 in Civil Liberties. To me trying to be impartial observer, this just seems to be awful. Only if the Freedom House cares about the fringe groups at home just a tiny bit as much they care about the fringe groups in some remote countries…

    Then there is Russia. Not sure if you know any recent Russian immigrants (not the Soviet-era immigrants like Google’s Brin)… What amuses many of them is how limited the political choices are in the US, and how really similar the 2 parties’ fundamental policies are. In Russia there are much more viable political parties and there is a much wider range of political opinions available. Anyway, Russia being a 6 (while the US being a 1) in Political Rights to me is simply a bad joke.

    Not so crazy about many of the questions in the checklist, if you ask me. To me the important questions to ask about a political system are, 1. At birth how likely is for a common man or woman to rise to the top in his or her life; 2. How likely for the system to move its smart, honest and hard-working folks to the top.

    Well, what matters the most is what the “Common Man” on the street says. By that, some 80% of the Chinese think their country is on the right direction, compared to some 20% of the Americans.

  15. Rhan Says:

    Malaysia allows Arabian (Religion), Chinese, and Tamil language school from primary to secondary level, how many country that are with a 1 ranking do the same?

  16. Otto Kerner Says:

    I think it’s reasonable to take this report with a grain of salt, since it is 2/3 funded by the United States. I don’t think that says everything that needs to be said, however. It would be nice to hear some comments on the actual substance of the report. The section on Tibet looks like a concise summary of the facts. Even if Freedom House is a malodorous propaganda campaign that sets out to make China look bad, when it comes to Tibet, you don’t really have to make stuff up in order to achieve that. I’m not sure how true this statement is, though: “CCP members and government employees must adhere to atheism and cannot practice a religion.” Aren’t some of the “patriotic” lamas party members? Maybe high-ranking religious figures are given a special exception to the rules on atheism.

  17. Rhan Says:

    “What amuses many of them is how limited the political choices are in the US, and how really similar the 2 parties’ fundamental policies are.”

    I always think US democracy is actually a mock to lead their citizen into believing that they did uphold true democracy. Just take a look at their foreign policy towards Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan, and no obvious policy shift wherever there is change of government, and there is no any third force to work as balance of the two-party system, therefore I would say Indonesia and Taiwan is anytime more open (democratic) than US. Even Malaysia have multiple party that contest base on difference ideology, we have party that represent diverse race (UMNO/MCA/MIC), we have Islamic (PAS), liberal (PKR/Gerakan) and socialist (DAP and PSM) and most of them do have their fair share of support. The ranking is bias.

  18. Allen Says:

    @Steve #8,

    @ Jason: Nice red herring argument. You failed to address the report I posted….

    But haven’t we all be doing so – especially when some of us argue about voting with his feet (presumptively, one’s argument is not as good unless one does certain acts) or currently living outside of Taiwan or Mainland (presumptively, argument of those currently living outside is not as good as those currently living within).

    Not saying thsoe are not valid arguments (some are!). But a red herring is a red herring is a red herring. You shouldn’t call something red herring (or illogical, or outside of scope, or ad homenim, or whatever) only when they are convenient.

  19. wei Says:

    I wish there are topic in fools mountain that even worth talking about, I don’t care what some “freedom house” has say about other people.
    I don’t like people that go and put other people on display to let everyone poke them and make fun of them. I don’t like people that is so self absorb in their own “god hood” that they think that they have the right to judge other people like that.
    I am going to stop vision here because the topic is so worthless, that it hold no meaning.

  20. Rhan Says:

    wei, I think Steve give us a chance to refute what we deem as illogical.or incorrect.

  21. Steve Says:

    By showing this report, I didn’t intend to endorse it but offered it up for discussion since freedom, civil liberties and political rights tend to be considered a part of political development and can be looked at in different ways. I don’t think the funding issue matters much but what is inside the report matters more. Having published it, I regret doing so. It’s too divisive an issue with too much inside the report so it’ll get picked apart and only create more animosity between us when there’s really no need to do so. Its already turned into a tu quoque argument and those never lead to anything useful. To me, the real issue was what has changed in China over the last year or two. In this area, are things getting better or worse? How about in that area? The report was a starting point for discussion, not an ending point. I certainly didn’t expect anyone to agree or disagree with it as an entire proposition.

    @ Allen: The only reason I brought up the whole “vote with your feet” thing was because I was tired of people stating “facts” about China rather than calling them what they truly are, opinions. Saying it’s “this” or “that” when that person has no real idea what life is like there, without ever using a “maybe”, “it’s possible” or “in my opinion” seemed to me the height of hypocrisy. China, like every country and culture, has positives and negatives. To act like there are no negatives or that there are no positives are both unreal positions. And to play the “win/lose” game on almost every issue as in “it’s worse over there than here” or “it’s worse over here than there” doesn’t really contribute to any understanding because the argument ends up being about the country that is not China rather than the one which is.

    For the most part, life in China is fine, just as for the most part, life in most countries is fine. You make adjustments based on the particular set of circumstances that are unique to each. Sometimes you can get frustrated and sometimes you can feel pure bliss, it just depends on the situation. Being rich in any country is better than being poor, but the meaning of “poor” can vary greatly from country to country. I sometimes think we write almost exclusively about the well to do in China and tend to forget how most of the people live since that’s not the world we read about or lived when we were there, just as it’s not how most of us live in our own country. Yet in a country where the majority of the people are poor, their quality of their everyday lives does matter.

    We discuss access to the internet from computers where we can access just about anything we want. Oh, just use a proxy server or a VPN. But using proxy servers can be a royal pain and VPN service is out of reach of most Chinese so when you’re actually forced to do so, it’s not as easy or convenient as we say. Anytime a government hinders access, there’s an effort vs. reward formula and over time, most get tired of putting in the effort so they just stop bothering. I personally went through this in 2001, got blocked from western news media, found a way around it without using a proxy server or VPN but then just got tired of bothering and waited until I was out of the country for my news. Did it seriously affect my life? Not really, I just got used to not having any information about the outside world and found other things to occupy my time. But I had no idea what was happening in the world. Then Jiang relaxed the ban and I had access to world news. I adjusted back to reading it everyday and was glad it was available, but I can’t say I was seriously affected by losing access to it in the first place. I just make an adjustment, then adjusted back again when it was available.

    In daily life there, issues are all small ones that can be affected by big ones but it’s not noticeable at the time. If I’m eating at a restaurant, I’m not paying any attention to the purity of the ingredients, just the taste of the food, but the purity of the ingredients affect my long term health. That’s just one example but there are many others. In the end, I hop on a plane and leave China, going back to my home country. The vast majority of people there don’t have that option so their life is whatever is allowed. The issues are small ones that are affected by big ones, but how empathetic are we to those small yet big issues that affect their lives directly yet they have no power to change? Yes, they’re just “common men” but I think they understand those issues pretty well. Do we really know better than they do?

    The whole “vote with your feet” was just exaggeration for effect to illustrate a point. I thought it was pretty obvious but some took it literally so I played along and had some fun with it. It was no different than a cartoonist exaggerating features to create an effect or an impersonator exaggerating vocal or physical traits for the same reason. The exaggeration draws attention to the point. The point was maybe we shouldn’t all be so sure of how much we understand about China since we’re observing it from a distance. I do believe that guys like WKL and HKer have a better understanding than we do because they live there, just as Josef and Jerry who live in Taiwan. You may or may not agree with that, but I believe it.

  22. Josef Says:

    @ Jason #13

    The numbers I quoted and the link I gave are (Quotation):
    The Press Freedom Index is an annual ranking of countries compiled and published by Reporters Without Borders based upon the organization’s assessment of their press freedom records.
    You wrote in #7:
    How can Freedom House miss this yet RSF and CPJ can?
    which you repeated in #9:
    …RSF and CPJ has something to say where Freedom House failed to realize.
    and finally in #12
    …stating that RSJ and separately CPJ’s disgust with Chen’s regime …
    Repeating misleading statements does not makes them correct.
    Your quotation of RSF is outdated and RSF essentially shows a similar trend as Freedom House.

    If you don’t like the taiwannews link, here is one from left winged German newspaper TAZ (dated May 30, 2010):
    I translate the caption of the picture (because it fits so well to your statement): In 2005 the newspapers in Taiwan were more independent.
    In this article they mention both, saying in House of Freedom 15 places were lost in the last two years, while for Reporters sans frontiers they lost even 23 places and are now even behind Hongkong….

    Furthermore, if Next is not sensationalism then I really do wonder what newspaper you would call being sensationalism.

  23. Jason Says:

    No one is talking about newspapers. I’m talking about press as a whole.

    Outdated? No one is talking about “now,” I’m talking about 2005 where Freedom Works who wrote the analysis. You can go look at analysis from RSF for 2005-2006 on Taiwan which clearly didn’t support Freedom Works pathetic attempt to promote their myth of gradual improvement of free press and intimidation against press.

  24. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Jason,
    a report based on “surveys” such as this Freedom House one has limitations in its generalizability which can probably be seen with the naked eye from space. It shouldn’t be hard to criticize the methodology here on a point by point basis.

    However, this is not what you’ve done. If I understand you correctly, you’re asserting that the Freedom House report is bunk because the RSF and CPJ analyzes disagree with it. That’s not even remotely an argument based on methodology. It simply shows that you’re more comfortable with the opinions espoused by the RSF and CPJ than you are with those espoused by Freedom House. Of course you have every right to your opinion, but that shouldn’t be confused with an argument on methodology.

  25. Jason Says:


    You’ve got to be kidding me! If you think that a magazine exposing a government money laudering scheme and the government accusing the report as a threat to national security is an opinion even this is even backed up by Washington Post, you have just affirm my opinion that you are a staunch DPP supporter. And rampage the office of the magazine without any shred of evidence of a threat to Taiwan is an opinion, I do feel sorry for you.

    This is even happening in the US with Bradley Manning who exposed America’s war crime through wikileaks yet the Obama administration sentence him as a spy and espionage as well as threat national security.

  26. S.K. Cheung Says:

    Your first paragraph contains 3 sentences. The last 2 don’t really make sense, so I can’t be sure if I understand you correctly.

    That said, from what I do understand of what you’ve written, you haven’t even made one reference in #25 to the Freedom House report, much less discuss your objections to its methodology. Like I said, this report seems ripe for criticism about its methodology. If you don’t like what a report says, there are two general options. The better way is to shred its methodology, such that you can argue that any conclusions drawn on the basis of such methodology is flawed. The lesser way is to do what you’ve been doing, which is to criticize the report by talking about everything except the report. But as I always say, to each his own.

  27. Jason Says:

    I have made it clear that in other post that Freedom House methology is flawed through a report they did in 2005 which they failed to point out a certain fact that RSF and CPJ criticized the way that Chen regime terrorized the press which a Washington Post article had the same piece as Next Magazine on Taiwan corruption.

    And I had made it clear 2009 article in Taiwanese paper citing Freedom House criticism that sensationalism media of KMT is not free but in 2005 they believe Chen’s gestapo raid on the press is more free.

    As I conclude, Freedom House methology is a joke!

  28. Wahaha Says:

    Oh Liberty, what crimes are committed in thy name!

    Madame Roland

    8 November 1793

  29. Wahaha Says:


  30. Wahaha Says:


    Professor Fishkin claimed that we’ve known that liberal democracy doesn’t work since 1957, when Anthony Downs published his ‘rational ignorance’ theorem. Put simply, Downs proved that there’s no point in voters taking the considerable trouble to study the issues in sufficient depth to vote intelligently as their individual vote has a negligible effect on the outcome of the election. Or, as Russell Hardin memorably put it: ‘Having the liberty to cast my vote is roughly as valuable as having the liberty to cast a vote on whether the sun will shine tomorrow.’ Fishkin and his colleague Bruce Ackerman are delightfully rude about our tendency to ‘vote for the politicians with the biggest smile or the biggest handout’, and are equally scornful of computer sampling models which enable politicians to ‘learn precisely which combinations of myth and greed might work to generate the support from key voting groups.’
    Given the recent outbreaks of labour unrest, the Chinese leadership are eager for any way of legitimising their decision-making process. ….

  31. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Jason #27:
    as far as I can tell, your first “paragraph” is a run-on sentence, and I still can’t be sure of exactly what you are saying. However, from what I can gather, it appears that you have seldomly critically appraised anything in your lifetime. If you did have a knack for critical appraisal, you would have realized that a Freedom House report in 2005 which failed to include a piece of information that you find to be of vital importance does not, by that omission alone, render it of flawed methodology. Besides, since Steve linked to a 2009 report, you would still have to show that a flaw in methodology in 2005 has relevance in 2009.

    So once again, a report which has conclusions that you don’t like is not on that basis alone methodologically flawed. And a Taiwanese newspaper critical of a report also does not make that report methodologically flawed. To conclude that a report is methodologically flawed, one actually has to look at the methodology. As far as I can tell, you’ve done nothing of the sort. All of which renders your conclusions, to me at least. well….how shall I say it….flawed.

  32. Jason Says:

    With RSJ and CPJ critical fact in place shines a bright light to Freedom House’s exaggeration of giving / PR 1 with an up arrow / CL 1 / Free” rating to Taiwan. To a common man, Freedom House high rating is a huge offense to what civil liberties and freedom is really about.

    As I said before about the 2009 report that says KMT’s increasing sensationism news tbat makes Taiwan less free on press is one of the most ridiculous things Freedom House has said.

    It’s pathetic that they find that unjust but Chen’s gestapo raid is legal hence giving extremely high rating that Chen’s regime doesn’t deserve.

  33. S.K. Cheung Says:

    Let’s face it, and call a spade a spade. You don’t appreciate the Freedom House report giving Taiwan good ratings. That is entirely within your purview. You don’t enjoy that report being somewhat critical of the KMT. Certainly your prerogative. And you don’t agree with an iteration of the report from several years ago that was more favourable towards Chen. No surprise there. So you have serious concerns about at least several of the conclusions offered by the report over the years. And there’s no disputing that you have concerns. But here’s the thing: your concerns are wrt the conclusions of the report, while remaining completely and utterly silent on the methodology with which those conclusions were drawn. That speaks loudly towards your preferred conclusions, yet says little about the report’s actual methodology.

  34. Jason Says:

    How about I spell out for you: Freedom House’s methology is “excessively criticizing states opposed to US interests and unduly sympathetic to those regimes supportive of US interests.”

  35. S.K. Cheung Says:

    First of all, it’s methodology; not “methology”. And I’m getting the distinct sense that you have no idea what the former means. Admittedly, I have no idea what the latter means…so I suppose we’re even.

  36. Wahaha Says:

    First of all, it’s methodology; not “methology”. And I’m getting the distinct sense that you have no idea what the former means. Admittedly, I have no idea what the latter means…so I suppose we’re even.


    It seems you ALWAYS have trouble in understanding something you dont like to hear.

    Tell us what in #34 confused you, (note : it doesnt mean I think #34 is right or wrong, but I fully understand what that means.)

  37. S.K. Cheung Says:

    a) I have difficulty at times understanding “English” that isn’t English, whether it’s coming from you or Jason.
    b) what’s “methology”, pray tell? If you understand #34, then you must know of that word. I’m not familiar with it. Maybe you can enlighten me.
    c) do either you or Jason have the capacity to actually criticize the methodology of the Freedom House report, apart from saying that you disagree with it, then listing newspapers and other reports that happen to agree with you?

  38. Wahaha Says:

    Wow, a mistake “methology” gave you such big trouble understanding the sentence.

    I guess your children must be natural born genius and never misused word.

    BTW, as I think your chinese is far from perfect, then you must disqualify yourself on china’s issue.

  39. S.K. Cheung Says:

    Hey, you forgot to address (a). More importantly, you forgot to address (c). Why be so selective in the questions you choose to answer? Well, as I’ve said before, the answers you provide might illustrate some things; but I find that the questions you avoid illustrate even more.

    Compared to what Chinese people think with regards to issues that affect CHinese people, I readily admit that my opinions don’t matter. And neither do yours, in case you’re wondering, since you’re American. Proficiency in Chinese or English has no relevance, though it’s amusing that you think it would.

  40. Wahaha Says:

    Why be so selective in the questions you choose to answer?

    I asked you question FIRST, simple and straight : how did Brazil and India government fail taking care of the children ?

    somehow, you think after spinning your head again and again, the question is gone ?

  41. Jason Says:

    “then listing newspapers and other reports that happen to agree with you?”

    That is what everybody does to make an argument. Since I have already argued my case with evidence to back up of why Freedom House in 2005 and 2009 reports of Taiwan is flawed meth(od)ology, what is yours that prove me otherwise that Freedom House is right in giving Chen’s regime ridiculous ratings.

    Don’t accuse me of finding supportive pieces that agrees with me since you haven’t find sources that agrees with YOU.

  42. S.K. Cheung Says:

    Dude, the question’s been asked before, and answered before (such as in a previous discussion that involved Guam). If India and Brazil lack the regulations necessary to prevent the exploitation of children, then that is truly a failure of their government regulatory process. In that case, they need to do much better wrt labour regulations to prevent such exploitation. But how is that supposed to be an indictment of the democratic system in Brazil and India? Would such regulatory issues be resolved if they were authoritarian states? And how are their apparent regulatory failures an indictment of “democracy” in general? How are those apparent regulatory failures relevant to the possibility of a democratic China?

    Now, if you’re suggesting that those children aren’t forced to work, but rather need to work to help their families survive financially (ie. they’re working by choice and not by exploitation), then that is truly a tragedy. But I’m not going to pass judgment on families who are in such dire straits. If you are suggesting that it’s democracy’s fault in Brazil and India that families are so poor that their children need to work, then you’d have to tell me why you think that to be so. And you’d also have to remind me about the disparity between rich and poor in China. Perhaps you can even allude to situations like Foxconn where adults are deprived to the extent that they have to work in an environment that seems to lead to suicides, and tell me what that is supposed to show us about the CCP system. You might even want to start addressing the mountain of questions you’ve conveniently ignored to date.

  43. Wahaha Says:

    If India and Brazil lack the regulations necessary to prevent the exploitation of children, then that is truly a failure of their government regulatory process.

    That is answer?

    that is BS as you are saying the ELECTED dont give a damn about the children.

  44. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To #41:
    if your “argument” is that the Freedom House report is methodologically-flawed, then you need to criticize the specifics of that methodology. All you’ve done so far is criticize the conclusions, with the support of others who seem to share your opinion. In case you’re wondering, those are 2 entirely different things.

    I never said I agreed with Freedom House. In fact, I think their report is in fact methodologically flawed, and brutally so. Therefore, I don’t put much credence into its conclusions. But the way you’ve gone about it, to me, is far from rigorous, but unfortunately far too typical.

  45. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To #43:
    when did I say they “don’t give a damn”? What I said was they need to do a better job. Hmmm, curious absence of answers coming from you. Somehow I’m not surprised…can’t say I was expecting very much, but I figure it never hurts to ask.

  46. Wahaha Says:

    when did I say they “don’t give a damn”? What I said was they need to do a better job.

    I see, the Elected are idiots.

  47. S.K. Cheung Says:

    Umm, needing to do a better job means you’re an idiot? Well, by that standard, the CCP are no different. I guess it’s not much of a choice: would I like to pick the idiot, or would I like the CCP to pick for me? Hmmm, I dunno….I’m getting an idiot either way, but you know what, I’d still prefer to pick my own. Oh, but I forgot….what I’d prefer doesn’t matter; it’s what Chinese people prefer that matters here.

    As I said before, so many questions yet so few answers. And your answers aren’t too constructive anyway. So the questions you choose to ignore are probably far more enlightening than anything you actually have to say.

  48. Jason Says:

    So you tell me what method is Freedom House is using of turning a blind eye of giving Taiwan in 2005 (a increasingly high rating) under Chen’s regime (who in fact raid and intimidate press in 2002-2006) and give Ma’s regime a low rating (who in fact haven’t raid DPP press nor intimidate press in any way)?

    What kind of method is that? In respect with Taiwan, Freedom House’s methodology is to show that McCarthyist techniques to quell media gaves the highest marks but something that DPP are free to do of what KMT is doing gaves KMT low ratings. What kind of BS is that!

  49. S.K. Cheung Says:

    The methods Freedom House used in 2005 are presumably included in that report, just as the methods used in the 2009 report are included therein. If you are critical of their methodology, it behooves you to actually look at said methods, and discern its flaws. You want to say that the report is methodologically flawed, yet you want me to show you why that is so? You’re expecting me to do your homework for you?

    However, you do seem inordinately fixated with one event. I don’t think the 2005 report sought to evaluate just one event, but rather, the situation in Taiwan as a whole for the entire year. Similarly, though Ma didn’t raid a newspaper, the body of the report did describe areas of concern which, by their methodology, may have justified an imperfect “civil liberties” score. I think it would help if you actually read the report, rather than focusing on the scores alone.

    When a report purportedly speaks to the situation in a country over the course of an entire year, it seems bizarre to judge said report based on its handling of one event, to the exclusion of everything else that happened that year. But to each his own.

  50. Jason Says:

    Here’s an excellent article by Rodrigo de Almeida which lays out perfectly of how countries escape low ratings and how countries got low ratings unexpectantly: http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/idea/the-inspectors-of-democracy-1

    In commenting on the trends, Freedom House’s director of research Arch Puddington was melancholy: “The year 2007 was marked by a notable setback for global freedom”, with sub-Saharan Africa and the former Soviet Union seeing the greatest reversal (see “Is the Tide Turning?”, Journal of Democracy [18/2, April 2008]).

    The scale of disappointment looks a little odd when set against the actual details of the 2008 report in relation to the 2007 and 2009 surveys (the latter is published in late spring 2009, but some of its contents are already available). In successive years (2007-08-09), the number of countries designated as “free” was 90, 90, 89; the number “partly free” was 58, 60, 62; and the number “not free” was 41, 43, 42. Yet the conclusion is stark: “Global freedom suffered its third year of decline in 2008”.

    The key to elucidating the conundrum is the “trend arrows”, of which Freedom House sees a large number pointing downward. But there is a puzzling paucity of evidence. It is not clear why countries such as Brazil, Argentina, Hungary, Kenya, Mexico, South African and Taiwan receive downward arrows in 2007; or why India, with a negative evaluation in the trend of civil liberties, didn’t receive one; or why Brazil, Argentina and Hungary escaped one in 2008 (though “scare trends” were noted).

    Freedom House’s survey poses questions that seem to anticipate such ambiguous findings:

    “Are people capable (of proportioning) full power to freely elected representatives? Are people’s political choices free from domination by the military, foreign powers, totalitarian parties, religious hierarchies, economic oligarchies, or any other powerful group? Do cultural, ethnic, religious, or other minority groups have reasonable self-government, self-determination or can participate in the government through informal consensus in decision-making?”

  51. S.K. Cheung Says:

    Well, rather than doing the work yourself and identifying the methodological flaws of the Freedom House report, at least you’ve read an article by someone who has done the work for you, so that’s a start.

    However, Mr. de Almeida seems to question the apparent disconnect between the narrative on world-wide trends as compared to the actual scoring of sampled countries, rather than focusing on the alleged misclassification of any given country like Taiwan. Furthermore, I think his last 2 paragraphs offer a useful balance. Also noteworthy that he wasn’t bent out of shape over the report’s handling of one event in one country during the course of one sampling year.

  52. Jason Says:

    @rather than focusing on the alleged misclassification of any given country like Taiwan.

    Taiwan was an example and not singling out attempt. Although I don’t have the ability as de Almeida’s analysis of the methodology on Freedom House reports, my questioning attempts on Taiwan’s “trend arrows” in 2002 and in 2009 was fairly aligned to de Almeida’s criticism.

  53. Wukailong Says:

    The article Jason linked to contrasts the findings of Freedom House with those of the Economist’s Index of Democracy (EIU). It might be interesting to compare annual reports from these two to see if there are any differences and if so, if they are consistent. I remember reading a report from EIU back from 2008 where the Chinese results were quite interesting – while low on many markers, Chinese civil society and general belief in political processes and democratic procedures were high. I’m quoting this from memory so I don’t remember the exact wording, but I recommend everyone to check it out.

    The way China changes over time is quite fascinating and will probably be even more distinctive in 2020. This decade might not see major political reforms, but by the end of it it will probably be much more ideologically open than before. One thing to look out for is the growing interest in the environment, and another on how workers’ rights will fare. On the worrisome side is the large differences between rich and poor; while there are promising signs that the gap isn’t growing, it’s still big enough for dangerous conflicts to erupt. Another problem is of course the way business and the Party have merged.

  54. HKer Says:

    Myth busters:



  55. HKer Says:

    Don’t know what to say to all this …I’m speechless.

    “The young “maghrebins” who had stolen the bag during the protest had to run away not to be beaten up by the angry chinese mob. They eventually had to shelter in a police station with bag still in their hands. LOL.”


    “Shit, even Chinks in France become Ayrabs really really fast.”

  56. Wukailong Says:

    @HKer: Thanks for the link to the article, but “Fuck France”? Seriously? What sort of webpage is that? 😉

    France must be the only country that managed to upset both the US and China, and cause as much pain to their patriotic sensibilities, btw…

  57. Charles Liu Says:

    I think there is little dispute Freedom House is a mouth piece for the US government:


    The chairman of Freedom House, James Woolsey, is a former director of the CIA.

    To me it seems hypocritical to write off other’s state-sponsored propaganda as “mouth piece”, yet the same standard is not applied to our own state-sponsored propaganda.

  58. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Charles:
    do we write off “other’s state-sponsored propaganda as “mouth piece”” simply on the basis of their funding, or do you think it actually has something to do with the content? Do you think it might be preferable to examine not only who funds the body, but also what that body has to say, and what basis they have for saying it?

    Here’s the other thing. Many of us are familiar with your opinions of FOX and CNN, to name a few. They aren’t state-sponsored. Are you discovering a new-found admiration for Glenn Beck?

  59. Jason Says:

    S. McClellan, the Bush administrations press secretary who publicly announced that the White House does actually use “official spokesman” on Fox news to get “their” information across.

    Surprise! Surprise! If that does not regard of government sponsored, I don’t know what is.

    How the far right convinced news organization to fire people that doesn’t express their views:


  60. kui Says:

    I got some good news for those who believe in “openess” “transparency” “freedom of information ” “freedom of speech” “free media”

    “This classified CIA analysis from March outlines possible PR strategies to shore up public support in Germany and France for a continued war in Afghanistan. After the Dutch government fell on the issue of Dutch troops in Afghanistan last month, the CIA became worried that similar events could happen in the countries that post the third and fourth largest troop contingents to the ISAF mission. The proposed PR strategies focus on pressure points that have been identified within these countries. For France it is the sympathy of the public for Afghan refugees and women. For Germany it is the fear of the consequences of defeat (drugs, more refugees, terrorism) as well as for Germany’s standing in NATO. The memo is a recipe for the targeted manipulation of public opinion in two NATO ally countries, written by the CIA. It is classified as Confidential/No Foreign Nationals. ”


  61. kui Says:

    The so call free media and freedom of speech is only a small part of a very advanced propoganda machine.

  62. kui Says:

    Also pls see how the head of NED lied about the riot in Xinjiang.


  63. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Jason,
    just a few weeks back, Obama sat behind a desk and “spoke” to Americans about the BP disaster, and it was carried by all the major networks. Surely, Obama was trying to get his information across. Does that now mean that all those networks are “state-sponsored”? Same goes, btw, at least once a year with the State of the Union, under either political stripe. Are they all state-sponsored on that basis as well? That’s quite the disingenuous argument you floated out there. At least with funding, you might connect the dots to “state-sponsorship”. But I have no idea what you’re trying to sell here.

    To Kui,
    oh brother.

  64. Jason Says:


    Huh? I have no idea how your comment is even related to mine which talks about the Bush administration feeds talking points privately to Fox News and how the right has the power to influence media to fire reporters, commentators, and journalist that doesn’t reflect their views.

  65. S.K. Cheung Says:

    Hint #1: how does any part of #59 or #64 relate to “state-sponsorship”, to which Charles initially alluded in #57?

    Question #1: could you please remind me about who is president of the US these days?

  66. kui Says:

    To S.K. Cheung

    Yes, brother.

  67. Charles Liu Says:

    Jason, kui, don’t let SKC pull you off the topic. How he blatantly moved from credibility of FH to Glen beck in #58, is beyond me.

    I stand by my claim FH is, by all reasonable standards, a state-sponsored propaganda outlet. Here is the proposed methodology to evaluate FH:

    – its source of funding and intent of such funding
    – make up of its principles and decision makers
    – it’s history and agenda

    I believe the article cited in comment #57 answers all these.

    BTW, China usually respond to such propaganda with its own propaganda. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander; someone please post China’s freedom report when its available. I’ll help translate.

  68. Wahaha Says:

    Umm, needing to do a better job means you’re an idiot? Well, by that standard, the CCP are no different. I guess it’s not much of a choice: would I like to pick the idiot, or would I like the CCP to pick for me? Hmmm, I dunno….I’m getting an idiot either way, but you know what, I’d still prefer to pick my own. Oh, but I forgot….what I’d prefer doesn’t matter; it’s what Chinese people prefer that matters here.

    Okokokokok, read the following to understand what “idiotic” means :

    One toilet for 1,440 people at Dharavi

    Dharavi, Mumbai: Dharavi, Asia’s largest slum township, sits bang in the middle of mega-city Mumbai. It’s a city aspiring to be Shanghai.

    One-third of its population has no access to clean drinking water and two-thirds of its denizens, who live in slums, attend to nature’s call in such a way that has become a matter of life and death or perhaps survival against diseases.

    For an average Dharavi resident like Daaya Bhai, the day begins with a mad race to the community loo, where the queue is endless and the odds of deliverance are 800 to 1.

    For the Daaya Bhais of Dharavi, it’s a matter of practice, gut and some pure luck to make a head start to their day. But for those who lack this instinct, there is the choice between the banks of Mithi river and the railway tracks, with slum dwellers hoping that the undergrowth will hide their helplessness and shame.

    “There are no loos that work. So we head for the tracks. If you get hit by a train, the authorities demand Rs 500 to give the body,” Lalita Metkar, another Dharavi resident, claims.

    “There are a lot of problems due to gutter water in our homes,” Mohan, another resident, points out. “A pass system has never got implemented here, everyone here has to pay Re 1 to use the loos,” says Hansmukhwala.

    In fact, these voices only corroborate the findings of the recent United Nations Development Programme report, which is raising one big stink on the issue.

    It says one in every three Indian has no access to toilets. In Dharavi, 1,440 dwellers share one toilet every day and an average of 15 families in every slum share one tap that supplies them water for two hours per day.

    The Brihan-Mumbai Municipal Corporation or BMC claim of 90 per cent of Mumbai getting safe drinking water is an exaggeration. In fact, the Dharavi slums witness the highest incidence of diarrhoea and gastro deaths every year.

    But none of this has changed Daaya Bhai’s options over the last 10 years, or for that matter that of other Dharavi residents. In a city that overlooks this kingdom of shanties and its life chances, the death rate due to diseases that go unreported is only headed skyward.

    “All the development work is held up because they want to turn Dharavi into Shanghai. But they can’t provide a basic toilet and sewer line. How can they think of creating a Shanghai, I can’t understand,” Arputham Jokin, president of National Slumdwellers Federation and Magsaysay Award winner, says.

    On their part, the authorities have their own reasons. “I don’t want to go into the controversy of figures regarding the number of toilet blocks in Dharavi if it’s 1,500 per toilet or whatever. But I will say that the high congestion and overpopulation of the area prevents us from constructing any toilets in the area,” Dr S S Kudalkar, Deputy Municipal Commissioner of Zone II, says.

  69. Wahaha Says:

    I guess they are not people to YOU, right ? as when you talk people, you never mention people like them.


  70. Charles Liu Says:

    Wahaha, you are getting pulled off topic.

    One of the often heard retort on FM is the “CCP”, “mouthpiece” nature of affiliation thereof, kind of stuff without much analysis of method. But boy, when it comes to our own mouthpiece like Freedom House, it’s never mind who’s paying for it and telling it what to say, let’s focus on the self-fulfiling method analysis and why it’s correct.

    This, is hypocrisy.

  71. Wahaha Says:

    Hi, Charles,


    I was responding to SKC’s “needing to do a better job …”, which means ” did an OK job but not good enough”.

    Obviously, he doesnt know what “did an OK job” means.

  72. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Charles #67:
    you’ve offered to stand by a lot of stuff in the past, so I’m certainly not surprised with the latest. However, i noticed that you’ve also done little in terms of addressing the report, or the actual methodology that was employed in generating said report. You’ve instead chosen to focus on the funding. As I suggested in #58, the logic of which apparently was beyond you, focusing on funding without even examining what the report said or how it said it seems to be a failure to grasp the entire picture.

    Despite what you’ve misconstrued in #70, there should be no aversion to criticism of the methods employed by Freedom House in generating their report. I happily await your criticism of that methodology. But pointing out the funding should not be mistaken for a critique of methodology. That’s just laziness.

    To Wahaha:
    you certainly have an affinity for things relating to toilets, based on the prevalence of toilet-related topics you seem to dredge up. To each their own.

  73. Wahaha Says:


    Dont ever talk about misery of people again, that is an insult to the people in misery in the world.

  74. Wukailong Says:

    Can we change the direction of this discussion a little bit?

    Steve said: “Having published it, I regret doing so. It’s too divisive an issue with too much inside the report so it’ll get picked apart and only create more animosity between us when there’s really no need to do so. Its already turned into a tu quoque argument and those never lead to anything useful. To me, the real issue was what has changed in China over the last year or two. In this area, are things getting better or worse? How about in that area? The report was a starting point for discussion, not an ending point. I certainly didn’t expect anyone to agree or disagree with it as an entire proposition.”

    Any ideas about the last thing? What do you think has changed in China the last two years, for better or worse?

    I’ll volunteer by bringing up improved infrastructure, such as trains and subways (Shenyang is getting one soon, Beijing got three more lines, all the new train tracks). China’s own airplanes is another thing. However, infrastructure is one thing – do you have any other ideas?

  75. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To #73:
    listen, I’ll talk about what I want, when I want, if I want. That’s one of the benefits that our society confers. You can engage in those benefits as well, if you must.

  76. Wahaha Says:


    Do you still feel you are on morally high ground ? only in your basement.

  77. S.K. Cheung Says:

    Compared to you, based on what you’ve shown? Absolutely. Here’s the better part: I wouldn’t begin to imagine that you could occupy such hallowed ground, and I don’t imagine that you would even think of yourself as occupying such territory. But hey, everybody needs to find their level, I suppose.

  78. Wahaha Says:

    Compared to you? How dare I !!!

    You know what your level is ? a kind of person who went a city with millions of people living in slums, went into a five star hotel, took a shower in your marble bathtub in your luxury suite, and opened the window towards the slums : “People, I am here to help you !!!”.

    Yeah, you are in a luxury suite, sure you have high level of taste.

    Enjoy … whatever that is.

  79. S.K. Cheung Says:

    You’re right. You shouldn’t.

    You know what, all I’ve ever suggested is that Chinese people should make decisions for themselves. They don’t need, and shouldn’t have, the CCP telling them what to think and do. The other stuff, it seems, is merely the colourful concoctions of your wildly colourful mind, the products of which provide for seemingly endless amusement.

  80. Wahaha Says:


    as long as give people the whole pictures, like no matter how manytimes you can vote each year, the propotion allocated to the ordinary people never change; tell people the difference of “owning” and “manage on behalf of you”.

    but you wont, will you ?

    so you are NO different from the CCP during first 30 years after 1949. I am telling you : at that time, hundreds of millions of Chinese would take a bullet for Mao. They made their choice, what do you here blah blah for ?

    Do you mean you are a better liar ?

  81. S.K. Cheung Says:

    “the propotion allocated to the ordinary people never change”
    —umm, you know that’s the product of your wonderful imagination, so that’s not worth a whole heckuva lot.

    I don’t know why you feel the need to treat Chinese people like children. Good ol-fashion CCP teaching, I suppose. I imagine it’s tough to get that sort of thing out of your system. Chinese people don’t need to be told my “whole picture”, or yours. They should see for themselves, and decide for themselves. It is with disbelieving bewilderment that I observe the inability of you, and people like you, to grasp a seemingly basic concept.

    Here we go again. Yes, Chinese people made their choice in 1949. Remind me again, what year is it now? As an American, do you restrict yourself to one choice every 61 years and counting? If not, why do you condemn Chinese people to such an arrangement? Besides, why is your dog and pony show still here? I imagine Chinese people enjoy comic relief, and your services may be highly sought after there.

  82. Wahaha Says:

    “the propotion allocated to the ordinary people never change”
    —umm, you know that’s the product of your wonderful imagination, so that’s not worth a whole heckuva lot.

    Well, what you think you know is the product of your wonderful imagination, so that’s not worth a whole heckuva lot.

    At least what I think I know explain something in real world (you dont think so , fine, give another explanation). You, on the hand, your imagination only explains what you have imagined in your fantasy world.

  83. Wahaha Says:

    Here we go again. Yes, Chinese people made their choice in 1949. Remind me again, what year is it now? As an American, do you restrict yourself to one choice every 61 years and counting? If not, why do you condemn Chinese people to such an arrangement? Besides, why is your dog and pony show still here? I imagine Chinese people enjoy comic relief, and your services may be highly sought after there.

    No, I am talking about the choice chinese made in 50s, 60s. and As they made the choice based on what CCP told them, brainwashed them.

    To prevent such thing happens again, people should be given the whole picture.

    While you use this criteria to judge ChiCom, you dont ask the same on yourself, therefore, you are no difference from ChiCom in 50s and 60s, except maybe your skill is far better than CCTV, or you are a better liar.

  84. S.K. Cheung Says:

    That’s a good one. What you think you know might explain some things in your world. But that “world” and the real one seem to be 2 very disparate things. I don’t know what explanations you want, but surely you don’t expect me to explain your examples, since I am happy to report that those examples are beyond human comprehension.

    Oh, OK, Chinese people were still making choices under the CCP in the 50’s and 60’s, were they? Hmmm, I wonder if the people who lived through those days felt that they did so by choice. But let’s assume they did. So you’re getting warmer…but again, what year is it now? How many years has it been since it was the 60’s? Umm, let’s see, borrow from the 2, leave 1, borrow from that….gosh, the arithmetic is stupefying. Let’s just say it’s still been a long time, shall we? Oh, have you made any choices or decisions since the 60’s?

    People should get the whole picture. Not sure why you keep thinking they need to be given it. Not all Chinese people need spoonfeeding, you know. Maybe you were Chinese for quite a while, so got ingrained that you need to be spoonfed by the CCP. I imagine current Chinese people have far greater potential, if only they were given the chance, and the choice.

  85. Josef Says:

    according to history books you have to correct to “hundreds of millions of Chinese /were killed because of/ Mao.”
    Now: ” To prevent such thing happens again, people should be given the whole picture.” – I would say FH gives at least some picture, probably not whole and complete, but at least alternative.

    To my opinion this discussion is not about poor and wealth and what’s the best way a developing country should do (democracy or not) but only on the methodology FH uses.
    So it does not really matter who is sponsoring it. You don’t need to value the output of FH, – you might think that “Civil Liberties Score” is best at 6…
    The question here is: is this evaluation done properly. There are many points and facts mentioned in the report (above) and you might have arguments that they are correct or not (point by point)
    And because of the magnitude, Steve and Wukailong proposed to focus on the last two years only (to my opinion interesting also on the long term impact of the Olympics).

    Jason thinks that FH is not objective and brought i.e. one example where he thinks Taiwan should have been rated lower. I read his link and it reported how the Next magazine tried to publish details about Taiwan’s chequebook diplomacy (actually under Lee). I think every country would react oversensitive on this kind of issues of national security. And I also provided evidence, that the Paris based reporters sans frontiers pretty follow the rating, FH makes.

    Also because of this coincident reporting (RSF is very left winged) I disagree with kui when he wrote in 61.
    “The so call free media and freedom of speech is only a small part of a very advanced propaganda machine.”

  86. Wahaha Says:

    No, I give an explanation. You disagree, fine, come back with an explanation.

    But you havent, or you cant imagine an explanation, even with your unimaginable power of imagination.

    Dont quite get what you tried to say in 2nd and 3rd paragraph. Do you agree that ChiCom brainwashed chinese people in 50s and 60s ? I think you do. then what the heck is “why you keep thinking they need to be given it”? if so, why the heck did chinese need to be given the whole picture in 50s and 60s ?

    In other words, you were trying to find excuse for your not giving the whole picture, or you indirectly admit that your are a ChiCom.

  87. Wahaha Says:

    To my opinion this discussion is not about poor and wealth and what’s the best way a developing country should do (democracy or not) but only on the methodology FH uses.


    The realty is very unfortunate in that ONLY their government can pull the poor out of poverty (I am not talking about giving the poor a fish, I m talking about teaching them fishing); and to do that, Government needs money and coorperation from people.

    The logic in West is that government may do something bad with the power it has, therefore the less power govenrment has, the better. That is OK in an industralized country with few poor people, but in a country with a lot of poor people, such concept basically prevent government helping poor people.

  88. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To #86:
    like I said, i am in no position to provide an explanation for your random, arbitrary, self-concocted “examples”. And I am extremely thankful for that fact.

    To “imagine an explanation” for your examples is an invitation to “think” like you. Ummm, that’s awfully kind of you to offer…but I think I’ll pass on that one.

    I have no idea why you’re fixated on the 1960’s. Perhaps you’re reliving it in your head. Whatever floats your boat. Where I live, it’s 2010. In 2010, I think Chinese people have the capacity to acquire and process information for themselves, if given the chance and the choice. In 2010, I think they no longer need to be spoonfed “the whole picture”( whatever the heck that is, but this seems to be your phrase of the day), by you, me, or the CCP. In 2010, I think Chinese people deserve the opportunity to make decisions for themselves. Let me know when your brain catches up to 2010. Hopefully that will occur before 2050…you go, buddy!

    To Josef:
    that’s a noble attempt, but I don’t think too many people here are too keen to discuss what’s in the report. Everything but what’s in the report, maybe. “Methodology”? It seems most people here have never met the guy.

  89. Wahaha Says:

    Will you kindly recall you ever make a meaningful comment on China or ever raise a meaningful question on China ?

    I am sorry, I cant recall, you were always like talking to air.(of course there was no air as you were on Mars, but anyway you were very good acting.)

  90. S.K. Cheung Says:

    LOL. Your “recall”, much like your “examples”, is evidently not of the highest quality. That might explain why you have forgotten about prior comments, or ignored previous questions. But fret not…self-improvement can and should be a life-long process. Happy trails.

  91. Wahaha Says:

    Sincerely, what point did you make ?


    Like you talk about misfortune of Chinese people under CCP while you dont even know what misery is, at least not the misery in common sense. I guess the most miserable thing you ever experience is like throwing out the garbage. What a miserable life you have gone through, I am really sorry.

  92. justkeeper Says:

    Well, I didn’t even see the methodology they use mentioned here, to establish a numerical score there mush be some quantitative methods used, no?

  93. Wahaha Says:

    My problem with the author’s hypothesis is two-fold: 1. if this “ideological legacy” is “embedded in each of us”, who put it there, and how did they do so? He refers to it as though it were true, but he doesn’t first establish its “truthiness”. So as Colbert might say, the author can claim what he wants, but it remains somewhat unconvincing; 2. if this is something that started some 80 years ago but made its way to the present with stealth and “morph(ing) and dodg(ing)”, how did the author come to perceive it himself? He saw something that can’t be seen? How do you argue against that? In fact, how do you argue for it? To even discuss it assumes its existence, which remains to be proven. It’s akin to trying to answer “have you stopped beating your wife yet?”.



    Like the above you posted on other thread, it is pure nonsense, as did you ever “prove” anything in any way ?

    WHAT FACT DID YOU EVER USE TO BACK YOUR ARGUMENTS ABOUT CHINA ? I am sure you used some facts during the 50s and 60s before in some thread, but if others used similar arguements and shoveled it down to your throat, what kind of lame argument did you come up ?

    Or when you are confronted with something you cant argure, you come up with something ” How do you argue for it ?” or “how do you argure against it ?” to cover whatever you see in the mirror of your bathroom.

  94. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To #91 and #93:
    is this a merry-go-around? I’ve said stuff…if you choose to ignore them, fine by me; if you choose not to ignore them, fine by me. What you do or think, and what you don’t do and don’t think, are of absolutely no consequence to me.

    Listen, the point is what Chinese people want. You’re not Chinese. So you don’t matter. I’m not Chinese either, so what I think also has no bearing on Chinese people. Ahhh, if only Chinese people can make decisions for themselves, rather than having the CCP make it for them…that will be the day indeed.

    What the heck is “misery in the common sense”? Is that materially different from “misery in a specific sense”? What on earth are you talking about now? Do you even know? When you figure it out, maybe let us know…or not, since it doesn’t matter either way.

    I give my opinion. I don’t pretend to offer “proof”. BTW, your “examples” unearthed from the depths of your head also prove the square root of bupkis…just thought you should know. And yet again, even if on offer, my “proof” means nothing. Neither would yours, if you actually ever offered any. What matters, once again, is what Chinese people find to be meaningful. That is neither for you nor I to decide. That seems to be a very elusive concept for you. Perhaps having grown up with the CCP as your “daddy”, you can’t conceive of someone not needing that “daddy” 24/7. Too bad you’re not them; it’s also a good thing you’re not them.

    Here’s some advice: before you cut and paste, it might help to grasp the concept of the words you are cutting and pasting. By your awesome display in that last paragraph, it seems you know not of what you speak. You certainly know not of what I spoke. Better yet, go back and read the links that HKer had provided. Then you might actually have something useful to say about those articles. I say “might”, however, because although the possibility exists, based on your prior work, I’m certainly not counting on it. I must admit, however, that you are a superstar when it comes to cutting-and-pasting, and toilet humour. Good show, m’boy!

  95. Wahaha Says:

    funny, let me say it again :


    You want others to accept something with no fact to back your argument ? maybe you are proving to the mirror you are looking at.

    You NEVER prove anything, but asked others to ‘prove’ something.

  96. Wahaha Says:

    Listen, the point is what Chinese people want.

    That is where you never prove.

    What do MOST Chinese people want ?

    a decent life, isnt it true for every person on earth ? (that is why I say you are on Mars)

    and you insist YOUR way , and you CANT PROVE in any way or BACK BY ANY FACT that your idea is helpful in anyway to achieve that goal.

    I believe the way is government must have money, you dismiss it as an imagination. so obviously you have some super idea that it is not necessary that government must have money but still can help people, and you never bring it up out of your bathroom to show what the heck that is.

    What is your point ? None.

    Oh, yeah, you have a point: “do what I want you to do.” (maybe plus “overthrow CCP at any cost.”)

  97. Rhan Says:

    “a decent life” Is this where the dispute arise? The worldview of what is a decent life varies. The Muslim talk about “deen”, the aborigine wants to live peacefully in their forest and most Western country embrace human rights (sanctioned by God and wants everyone to be like them) as way of life, and I think Chinese still doing the soul searching.

    Wahaha, to be fair, SKC did clearly tell democracy (with election) is the solution while you disagree, but I don’t read much from you what should be the way moving forward, you even say CCP is not doing the right thing now. Honestly I am puzzle with your stand.

  98. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To #95 and #96:
    “You want others to accept something…”
    —what? When did I ever say I wanted that? I couldn’t give the backside of a rat whether you or some hole in the ground “accepted” what I said or not. Is that what you seek…acceptance? Dream on, pal, cuz you’re not getting that from me.

    I have no desire to prove my opinions to you. You don’t matter. And they’re my opinions. I don’t pass off my opinions as “facts”, as you are keen to do. When you claim things as facts, it behooves you to prove them. You don’t….EVER. My opinion is that you are a dolt. However, it is not a fact, for I can’t prove that assertion. Nonetheless, that remains my opinion. If you agree, terrific. If you don’t, fantastic. But whether you agree with it or not, and whether you accept it or not, has no bearing on my opinion whatsoever. If you don’t like having to “prove” stuff (not that you’ve done it before, so don’t feel you have to start now), then stop making pathetic claims of “fact”.

    “What do MOST Chinese people want ? ”
    —jeez your uptake mechanism is pathetically slow. I can’t “prove” what Chinese people want because I don’t know what Chinese people want. That might explain why, on numerous occasions, i have suggested that the way to know what Chinese people want is to ask them. How many times and how many different ways do you require that to be said in order to initiate the apparently slow and arduous process of comprehension within the chaotic confines of your cranium?

    I think a Chinese person would be better equipped to define “a decent life” for themselves than you ever will be. I similarly think a Chinese person would be better equipped to determine how best to achieve their concept of “a decent life” than you ever will be. Again, I’ve said it all before, but apparently the first umpteen times didn’t “take”.

    “government must have money”.— Fine. Is there something about “democracy” that prevents a government functioning under those auspices from having money? And please, spare me the idiocy of “the riches” controlling “the machines” yada yada yada. Heard that crap before. If you must, at least come up with something new that will bring a smile to my face, OK?

    Here’s the other thing. Rhan and I probably disagree more than we agree. If he understands what I’m talking about more than he understands what on earth you’re talking about, it might be hint that you should start examining whatever the heck it is you’re talking about. Just my opinion.

  99. Wahaha Says:

    what? When did I ever say I wanted that?

    I have no desire to prove my opinions to you. You don’t matter. And they’re my opinions. I don’t pass off my opinions as “facts”,

    Funny, most of time, you come to question my opinions.

    Yes, you want China to adopt western political system while you never prove how that system would help the poor to achieve their goals.

    I simply ask you how your idea would help the poor, the group of people who need help most. I guess that is beyond your bathroom, which makes it impossible to understand even the question.

  100. Steve Says:

    @ justkeeper #92: Thanks for the question about methodology. You can find the links to that in my comment #5.

  101. Jason Says:


    Use of government funds is a topic of legitimate public concern not a national security threat hence the Chen regime violated freedom of press.

    And yes it happened in Lee Teng-hui but why is CPJ’s letters referring to Chen? He was the president and ordered the raid. duh.

  102. Josef Says:


    Just today was an article in Taipei Times, again about the Next magazine:


    “President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) eldest sister plans to sue Next Magazine over allegations she had used her influence to persuade a university chairman to hire her brother-in-law as school chancellor and to demand that a senior citizens’ house provide around-the-clock care for her mother-in-law.”

    That is just to show the “quality” of this magazine. This magazine is neither green or blue, it is only loud.

    There are certain funds which are regarded as national security related. The money spent to foreign governments to recognize and accept Taiwan as a nation is one of them. If details are know it might be impossible to do so, or at least the price might change. I am not arguing about the deals itself, good or not, but only about the property of this deals.

  103. Jason Says:


    Do you think Washington Post is a tabloid newspaper which also report the same piece about Lee’s chequebook diplomacy, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A63444-2002Apr4.html ?

    Maybe Taiwan police should raid them since WaPo poses a national threat to Taiwan.

  104. Josef Says:

    your link is not working and i did not find any article in the WaPo archive either.

  105. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To #99:
    “Funny, most of time, you come to question my opinions.”
    —well what else did you expect? In my opinion, your opinions are questionable, almost all of the time. You might want to read that a few times to grasp the double entendres.

    “Yes, you want China to adopt western political system…”
    —wrong, again. You should try reading…it’s not a bad habit to get into. I would like to see Chinese people get the chance to decide for themselves what it is they want. Perhaps it’s a language thing, but that bears no resemblance to what you claim I have said.

    “I simply ask you how your idea would help the poor”
    —because the CCP has had a kick at the can for 61 years, and looking at how the poor in China are doing, I imagine a different system may well be in order, assuming that’s what Chinese people want. Best if we ask them, I’d say. As the saying goes, one definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect different results. To me, the corollary is that it is equally insane to have the same group running things year after year and expect different results. But ultimately, that’s for the people to decide. If you choose a method akin to insanity, that is entirely your purview. But surely you don’t expect to foist insanity upon CHinese people, do you? Especially since you’re not one of them.

  106. Jason Says:


    By John Pomfret
    Friday, April 5, 2002

  107. Wahaha Says:

    “Yes, you want China to adopt western political system…”
    —wrong, again. You should try reading…it’s not a bad habit to get into. I would like to see Chinese people get the chance to decide for themselves what it is they want.

    I answered that.

    Tell them the whole picture, then let them pick.

    Tell them what is going on in India, tell them there are 4 million child labors in Brazil, a country that average income in 3 times that of China.

    Go ahead.

  108. Wahaha Says:

    —well what else did you expect? In my opinion, your opinions are questionable, almost all of the time. You might want to read that a few times to grasp the double entendres

    Questionable ?

    Besides government, can you think of an agency that can pull the poor people out of poverty ?

    To help the poor people, does government need money and coorperation from people ?

    Why do you pretend being so stupid ?

  109. S.K. Cheung Says:

    “I answered that.”
    —although it may be noteworthy that you tried to answer something, it is ironic that, in the segment you quoted, I wasn’t asking a question. Nonetheless, the sentiment is appreciated.

    “then let them pick.”
    —wow!?! It is encouraging to know that you are in fact capable of engendering such a concept. I honestly didn’t think you had that in you. Good show! Someone should mark down the date and time of this monumental occurrence.

    “Tell them the whole picture”
    —you know what, we can do better than that. Why do Chinese people need to be spoonfed by you, or me? Give them the access, and give them the freedom to find out for themselves. Let them gather the information they need to make a decision, then let them make that decision. To assume that Chinese people need to be told seems so paternalistic, or perhaps so CCP.

    “Questionable ?”
    —i guess you missed the double entendres. But yes, your opinions are indeed questionable.

    “Besides government, can you think of an agency that can pull the poor people out of poverty ? ”
    —aren’t you the guy who frets about New Yorkers, and especially unionized ones, going to the government asking for money? Now, too much of a welfare state is a bad thing, in my opinion. But I certainly agree that you need some state welfare system to assist the truly downtrodden. If anything, the CCP sucks at this. The social safety net in China under the CCP is meager at best. Granted, the safety net in HK is not much better, so such a safety net may simply be something that’s not valued by Chinese society at large. That’s their decision.

    On the other hand, even if we stipulate to the assumption that “government” is in fact the mechanism for extracting people from poverty, have you shown that the CCP is better equipped for this than some alternative? Once again, the CCP has been at it for 61 years. How are the poor people in China making out during that time? (this is a question that I’ve asked before, so one of these days, when the urge strikes, feel free to have a go at it?.

    Listen, I readily and happily admit that i am far too dumb to grasp your logic. And I wouldn’t want it any other way. I would rue the day that I actually understand how you think, and I am hopeful that senility is at least another 4 or 5 decades away for me.

  110. Wahaha Says:

    —aren’t you the guy who frets about New Yorkers, and especially unionized ones, going to the government asking for money

    Yeah, but you can never tell from the well the mayor get the money, cant you ?

    Oh, yeah, Mayor asked New York state, then New York governor asked Federal government, then Federal government begged the rich to buy Federal bonds.

    That is your your answer ?

    So in your idea, the result would be that the government begged the rich so they had the money to help the poor,

    and you know what ? that is exact what I said, I guess you spin whatever on you shoulder too many rounds that you lost ability of such simple logic.

  111. Wahaha Says:

    “then let them pick.”
    —wow!?! It is encouraging to know that you are in fact capable of engendering such a concept. I honestly didn’t think you had that in you. Good show! Someone should mark down the date and time of this monumental occurrence.

    After 6.4, lot of chinese, including myself, believed that the collapse of CCP would come within several years, at most 10 years.

    You know why the democratic movement suddenly lost its momentum in early 90s ?

    Yeah, the chinese intelligentsia saw the WHOLE picture.

    So stupid like I mentioned something new.

  112. Wahaha Says:

    Give you a link, read comments, especially those have lot of recommendations,


    like this one having 350+ recommendation :

    rxsquared wrote: May 6th 2010 5:37 GMT

    I do not see the “China” development model as being a challenger to the Western values and theories i.e. it is not a dichotomy.

    The purpose of the Chinese development plan was to increase economic prosperity of the people and THEN progress with political reform. This is wise, because a democracy will only work when voters are educated enough to make rational decisions and wealthy enough to be a stakeholder in the interests of the country (they care enough to vote). Sure, we can argue a lot of poor disgruntled people who have been crossed by the government deserve their say – but will they make rational decisions that will benefit the country on the whole? What if nationalistic furor grips the nation and drives it towards a belligerent nature. At this stage of development, the Chinese government is able to keep these aspects of popular demand in check. It is by no means a final plan – and any Chinese politician worth a damn knows that.

    Eventually, the powers to decide will be given to the people – I believe more discussion should go into when we should begin wide-scale political reform.

    And it will be at the stage of political reform that people will make the choice between Western values or to pursue a different route.

    Anyway, my opinion is that it is still too early to promote massive political reforms – much of China is still struggling with poverty. Priority should instead be given to the development of the legal system so that there is at least a set of rules that everyone will play by.

  113. Wahaha Says:

    so stop playing word games. I believe you have common sense and well educated, it is just that you cant tolerate the existence of CCP. Very unfortunately for you, those chinese democratic advocates dont even have 1/10 of your whatever. If they had, they wouldve been in much better situation in succeeding their dream, and your dream.

    Can you believe that one of 100 scholars nominated by NYT tried to prove that Spain won the World Cup cuz it has democratic system ? You think these kind of idiots, nominated by NYT, can convince chinese people ?

    and the guy was interviewed by German Chancellor Merkel in China. and he told the Chancellor how much he was jealous of the Octopus having the freedom of speech.(if you dont know the Octopus, google it, and lot of Germans tried to kill the Octopus.)

    BTW, are you from Taiwan? Do you know the Land Reform Act under Chiang kai-shek ?

  114. HKer Says:


    I fear PERHAPS you guys are tangled in cultural miscommunication all along more than ideological ones?


    ” It is also interesting to report that the favorable and the unfavorable characteristics of Americans pointed out by the Japanese students are often contradictory: for example, according to them, Americans are favorably “expressive,” “cheerful,” and “friendly”; on the other hand, they are unfavorable “not hesitant,” “too loud,” and “presumptuous.”
    In the survey …”

  115. Wahaha Says:


    if SKC had given some explanation, I might agree with you.

    Here is the “misunderstanding” between him and me :

    There was a narrow road with lot of mines, he suggested a chinese taking this road cuz he thought this was the right road (for whatever purpose).

    I disagree, I dont think that is the right road as some people have been seriously injured on this road before.

    He demanded me to prove how I know this Chinese would step on a mine.

    Of course, he cant prove how he knows this Chinese wouldnt step on a mine.

    and he claimed he cares this chinese very much, and he believes the chinese should have the right to make decision himself even if he is not informed the incidents on this road.

    and somehow he believes that ” some people have been seriously injured on this road before” is my imagination.

  116. S.K. Cheung Says:

    “Yeah, but you can never tell from the well the mayor get the money, cant you ?”
    —umm, would you mind rephrasing that question in English?

    “Oh, yeah, Mayor asked New York state, then New York governor asked Federal government, then Federal government begged the rich to buy Federal bonds…That is your your answer ?”
    —ummm, my answer to what? What exactly is your position? Are you objecting to the government taking care of poor people? Are you in support of the government taking care of poor people?

    “the result would be that the government begged the rich so they had the money to help the poor”
    —huh?!? When did I say that? It is beyond goofy to misconstrue what I say, then suggest that your misconstruction of what I say merely agrees with what you are saying. It’s like saying “I imagine you to be agreeing with me”. Well, here’s a news flash…you are imagining poorly. First off, I usually can’t tell what you are saying anyway, your logic being in the shambles that it often is. From what little I can gather from what you are saying, I definitely don’t agree with it.

    Once again, you conflate so many things that it’s stupid funny. NYC pays for the workers with whom she has contracts, doing the work which falls under the city’s jurisdiction. New York state pays for the worker with whom she has contracts, doing the work which falls under the state’s jurisdiction. Each level of government gets their money from their tax base. I have no idea what you mean with this talk of the mayor getting money from the governor who gets it from the feds. Government taxes to get revenue, with which to fund expenditures including helping the poor. I have no idea what on earth you’re talking about. Besides, how does any of this have anything to do with China, and whether her people would want “democracy”?

    “Yeah, the chinese intelligentsia saw the WHOLE picture.”
    —yo Einstein, what happened to this part: “then let them pick.”
    Perhaps you can enlighten us, with the help of the imaginary voices in your head, about when Chinese people got to do that?

    To #112:
    well, RXsquared sure makes more sense than you do. But it boils down to the same thing: RXsquared is entitled to his opinion, but why should his opinion determine the current fate for Chinese people?

    Here’s the other part I enjoyed. You seem impressed that RXsquared’s opinion was highly recommended (350+ recommendations, apparently). So a vote about some anonymous internet opinion is of some importance to you. Yet a similar tally of what Chinese people might recommend for themselves does not interest you so much. How interesting!

    “You think these kind of idiots, nominated by NYT, can convince chinese people ?”
    —why do you keep thinking that Chinese people need to be convinced of one thing or another by other people? Give Chinese people the access to all the information that they want or need. Then let them make a decision on their own, for themselves. I’m sure they’d be up to the task, without anyone’s “convincing”.

    “it is just that you cant tolerate the existence of CCP.”
    —and as I’ve also said before, what I think doesn’t matter. The CCP is not my problem, since, thankfully, I don’t have to live under them. Neither do you, as it turns out.

    To #115:
    as your examples go, this one is not your worst. So good job on that front.

    As usual, however, you’ve mischaracterized several things. Allow me to correct you:

    -I don’t suggest that CHinese take this road or that road. I do suggest that they be allowed to take the road they wish, and not the one you wish, or that the CCP wishes.
    -You are welcome to think that a certain road is not the right one, but what you think doesn’t matter because you’re not Chinese.
    -It matters not whether you can prove a road to be dangerous, since you’re not the one who is walking it. It also matters not whether I can prove a road to be safe, since I am not the one walking it either. All I can say is, if I were to walk a road, I’d want to be the one making the determination about whether it was safe or not. Can you explain to me why Chinese people would feel differently?
    -when did I suggest that CHinese people should make uninformed decisions? I have said many times that they should be given access to any and all information they would want and need. Either you read poorly, argue disingenuously, or both.
    All of the stuff i summarized here, I’ve said before. You seem slower on the uptake than I had thought (and let me tell you, I wasn’t counting on lightning speed to begin with).

  117. HKer Says:


    George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language.”

    […] language was being used in an improper way. Many political words are similarly abused. The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies “something not desirable.” The words democracy, socialism, freedom, patriotic, realistic, justice have each of them several different meanings which cannot be reconciled with one another. In the case of a word like democracy, not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides. It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it: consequently the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using that word if it were tied down to any one meaning. Words of this kind are often used in a consciously dishonest way. That is, the person who uses them has his own private definition, but allows his hearer to think he means something quite different. Statements like Marshal Pétain was a true patriot, The Soviet press is the freest in the world, The Catholic Church is opposed to persecution, are almost always made with intent to deceive. Other words used in variable meanings, in most cases more or less dishonestly, are: class, totalitarian, science, progressive, reactionary, bourgeois, equality.

    Now that I have made this catalogue of swindles and perversions, let me give another example of the kind of writing that they lead to. This time it must of its nature be an imaginary one. I am going to translate a passage of good English into modern English of the worst sort. Here is a well-known verse from Ecclesiastes:

    I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

    Here it is in modern English:

    Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.

    (i) Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

    (ii) Never us a long word where a short one will do.

    (iii) If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

    (iv) Never use the passive where you can use the active.

    (v) Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

    (vi) Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

  118. Wahaha Says:


    Did you read #112? let me repost it
    “Anyway, my opinion is that it is still too early to promote massive political reforms – much of China is still struggling with poverty. Priority should instead be given to the development of the legal system so that there is at least a set of rules that everyone will play by.”

    Even westerners know what the prioriy in China is.

    I know pretty few of them like CCP or Chinese government, but they care the people in poverty

    and you ? whbat do you care ? and trying to teach me common sense ?

    Besides playing word games, what can you you do? want to be the king on fool’s mountain ? be my guest. but I have to admit, you are much better than the idiot who was jealous of the octopus. If you had joined them, CCP’s power would have to be really threatened.

  119. Wahaha Says:

    Oh, BTW, if you let chinese vote one they want now : western democracy, current authoritarian and Mao’s era, most likely Mao’s era would win out easliy among the peasants, and those who hate corruption.

    Dont believe ? each day on average, 40,000 people visit Mao’s mausoleum on TianAnMen square.

    If you dont know what is the difference between Mao’s era and after he died, let me tell you :

    During Mao’s era, it is one person’s dictatorship, if Mao had shared the power with Zhou EnLai, Deng and others, the disaster like great leap and culture revolution would not have happened, get it ? Like in Russia, what disaster has happened after Stalin died? Yeah, year 1991, few rich OWNED the economy of Russia.

  120. Wahaha Says:

    —ummm, my answer to what? What exactly is your position? Are you objecting to the government taking care of poor people? Are you in support of the government taking care of poor people?

    What is your hobby ? pretending being a moron ?

    How would government help the poor if it doesnt have money ?

    and you pretend being so stupid that you cant see the connection between power and money ?

  121. Josef Says:

    … each day on average, 40,000 people visit Mao’s mausoleum on TianAnMen square…

    well, visitors from Mainland China in Taipei also visit the Chiang Kai Shek Mausoleum. Do you also think they would vote for CKS? (I do no compare to Frankenstein’s Castle in Romania). Or could it be, that they visit because it is a tourist attraction?

  122. Rhan Says:

    I started to see the picture. I think most share similar thought but question remain, how does anyone knows/determine “so that there is at least a set of rules that everyone will play by”?

    “visitors from Mainland China in Taipei also visit the Chiang Kai Shek Mausoleum. Do you also think they would vote for CKS?”

    If we look at India and Indonesia, I dare say for the first 20 to 30 years, Mao sibling have the best chance, if they know how to pick the best side that advocate rights and interest for the poor and peasant. Ideology wise, I believe China will turn left. If economy doesn’t perform after a number of years, then the right and technocrat step in, again, history repeats itself.

    China has no election but the will (民意) of people play a major part in deciding the path.

  123. Honger Says:

    “so that there is at least a set of rules that everyone will play by”

    Whoever has the gold makes the rules, Rhan. I’m afraid we haven’t evolved further than that YET 🙂

    ” China has no election but the will (民意) of people play a major part in deciding the path ”

    You are right, Rhan. Ultimately, it’s no difference in a so-called democracy: Take their profit making wars for example:

    “Between January 3 and April 12, 2003, 36 million people across the globe took part in almost 3,000 protests against the Iraq war. Within the United States, pro-war demonstrators have been quoted as referring to anti-war protests as a “vocal minority.” However, Gallup Polls updated September 14, 2007 state, “Since the summer of 2005, opponents of the war have tended to outnumber supporters. A majority of Americans believe the war was a mistake.”
    Same thing happened 34 years before that …
    In October 1969, more than 2 million people participated in Vietnam Moratorium protests across the country. The following month, over 500,000 demonstrated in Washington and 150,000 in San Francisco.


  124. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To #118:
    well, you seem quite enamoured with what RXsquared had written. Rightfully so. His was a well-written opinion. But perhaps I can share with you the key section of what he wrote: “Anyway, my opinion is…”. You know what, he is absolutely entitled to his opinion. But what about the opinion of Chinese people? Do they get some input into how they are to be governed? So while each of us are certainly entitled to our opinions, I’d say that the ones most relevant when it comes to the lives of Chinese people are the opinions thereof.

    “Even westerners know what the prioriy in China is.”
    —well, isn’t that just fantastically interesting. It’s been suggested by many (including you, i believe) that “westerners” shouldn’t try to tell Chinese people what to do. Specifically, “westerners” should not try to force “western democracy” upon Chinese people. But when a “westerner” tells Chinese people that life under the CCP is great, and that they shouldn’t opine for anything more in the forseeable future, that’s somehow ok? How do Chinese people distinguish when they should and shouldn’t listen to “westerners”? Hmmm….maybe they can extrapolate from your teachings on “western media”- namely, that “western media” is bad and biased, unless they happen to agree with you. So too, I guess, with the opinions of “westerners”.

    To #119:
    do Chinese people really wish for the second coming of Mao? I don’t know. Do you? And if you think you do know, how exactly did you come across such interesting knowledge? I’d say we should ask Chinese people and find out.

    BTW, I don’t think a bunch of people visiting Mao’s mausoleum necessarily equates to all those same people wishing to relive Mao’s reign. A bunch of people also visit the Arizona memorial in Pearl Harbour. Do you think all those people are keen to see someone sink another battleship and entomb another few thousand sailors?

    To #120:
    “How would government help the poor if it doesnt have money ?”
    —it obviously can’t, at least in any manner that requires money. But on what basis do you suggest that a “democratic” government would definitively not “have money” and be unable to “help the poor”? On what basis do you suggest that the CCP authoritarian regime will definitively “have money” and be able to “help the poor”? Speaking of which, how has the CCP done in terms of helping the poor after 61 years? The question’s been asked before, but you’ve been oddly silent about that one, I’ve noticed.

  125. Wahaha Says:

    “How would government help the poor if it doesnt have money ?”
    —it obviously can’t, at least in any manner that requires money. But on what basis do you suggest that a “democratic” government would definitively not “have money” and be unable to “help the poor”? On what basis do you suggest that the CCP authoritarian regime will definitively “have money” and be able to “help the poor”? Speaking of which, how has the CCP done in terms of helping the poor after 61 years? The question’s been asked before, but you’ve been oddly silent about that one, I’ve noticed.



    Here comes your hobby again ? this time pretend being short-memory.

    In China, Government OWN the machine that makes profit.

    Under western democracy, few rich and syndicates OWN the machine.

    If you disagree, fine, explain why Indian government didnt have the money to help the poor; or why there are still 4 million child labors in Brazil, a country whose average income is 3 times that of China.

    Please explain, dont spin away, show some self-esteem.

  126. Wahaha Says:

    do Chinese people really wish for the second coming of Mao? I don’t know. Do you?

    No, I dont know.

    But from Chinese website, lot of people have fond memory of Mao’s time: an era when there was no corruption, no rich vs poor, no mafia or gangsters, no worries about medical expense.

    and of course, Mao is a symbolic figure for nationalism and nationalists.

    Taking into the consideration that Stalin was voted by Russia as the third most popular Russian in its history, so Mao would be far more popular among chinese thatn Stalin among Russians.

    So go ahead, make you bet, if all chinese know what is going on in those developing country (the Whole picture), I would bet Mao’s era would win out easily, based on what have happened in Russia.

  127. Wahaha Says:

    “Even westerners know what the prioriy in China is.”
    —well, isn’t that just fantastically interesting. It’s been suggested by many (including you, i believe) that “westerners” shouldn’t try to tell Chinese people what to do.

    Well, I met lot of white (who dont care much about politics) asking me about China why evil CCP still has such strong power in China, I explain to them how poor China was 20, 30 years ago and why Chinese are afraid of chaos. Most of them showed understanding that China NOW want stability and a better living.

    and of course, like the post, they also believe in the long run, (western) democracy will win in China.

    Of course, to some what only care getting rid of CCP or to some who are from Mars, THEY DONT CARE THE PEOPLE IN MISERY. so what can you expect from them ?

  128. Wahaha Says:

    how has the CCP done in terms of helping the poor after 61 years?

    I answered that in #119. THOSE ARE FACTS, wherther you like it or not.

    and as you insist, please answer the following :

    Was there any country industralized under TRUE (western) democracy and freedom ?

    then read the following, from Daveycool ,(from the link I provided)

    India has an egregious case: its own Nobel Economist, Amartya Sen once estimated that compared to China, India’s unnecessary deaths due to inaction in health-care reform resulted in 4 million per year starting from its independence from Britain. His study was made around the 80’s. In total, 120 to 160 million deaths would have accumulated by then. More than the wildest estimates for deaths caused by the famine of the Great Leap Forward (30 million deaths).

  129. mhuang Says:

    From what I read so far, it seems that the debate here has been on and on without actually addressing the methodological issue and the contents of the Freedom House report as Steve asked, except the helpful link to an outside article.

    Since one of the issue raised here is about helping the poor, which is actually about government performance, I would like to ask everyone if it is right or wrong that FH says that “The survey does not rate governments or government performance per se, but rather the real-world rights and freedoms enjoyed by individuals.” Since the Chinese government has been performing much better than third-world democracies, is it a bias for FH not to rate government performance? Does it suggest that political rights and civil liberties are better protected or achieved in highly poor and unstable democracies than in well-performing and stable non-democratic countries?

  130. Wahaha Says:


    What you want people to believe determines what part of facts you are going to present to people.

    What you try to prove determines what method you are going to use.

    Every government and media knows that except stupid CCP’s media.

  131. Bridge Says:

    Here are some of the methodological issues that may have brought criticisms to FH’s reports.
    Constitutional and treaty restrictions on civil liberties are excluded from the analysis. Many democracies qualify the right to freedom of speech with de facto exclusion of certain groups, views, or types of speech. In Germany, some civil liberties are conditional on support for the German Constitution, and faced with a growing problem of internal radical Islamism, European countries are considering excluding criticism of secular democracy from the freedom of expression.
    Freedom House excludes certain groups from its assessment of freedom. Most notably, the position of the detainees in Guantanamo Bay is excluded from the assessment of the United States freedom ranking. The U.S. government claims that they are “illegal enemy combatants”, and that their detention is justified. The detainees clearly lack political freedoms, but they are hated and despised by the majority of Americans, who think they have been rightfully imprisoned. Since all societies have similar restrictions on detained criminals, the existence of Guantanamo Bay or similar detention facilities, does not (in their view) detract from the status of the United States as a very free society.
    Certain specific policies which infringe civil liberties, such as the shoot-to-kill policy for suspected suicide bombers, appear to have been excluded from the analysis. Israel has operated such a policy for a number of years, and Britain introduced one in 2005.
    Freedom House excludes geopolitical choice from its assessment. Separatist minorities in free democracies are assumed to be ‘free’, even if secession is forbidden, and they consider themselves unfree as a group.
    Freedom House does not always include de facto dependent territories in its assessment. Israel is assessed twice, one for itself, once for its occupied territories, which are classified as ‘unfree’. However, countries which participate in the occupation of Iraq are not assessed for the standards their troops apply there.
    Freedom House does not assess a government’s behaviour outside the national borders, or the standards it applies there. Transfer of prisoners for third-party torture, for instance, would not affect a country’s rating.

  132. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To 125-128:
    “In China, Government OWN the machine that makes profit.”
    —that’s fantastic. Since you seem to have trouble reading, I’ll repeat this yet again: ” how has the CCP done in terms of helping the poor after 61 years? The question’s been asked before, but you’ve been oddly silent about that one, I’ve noticed.” Honestly, no hurry with that. You take as long as you absolutely need.

    “But from Chinese website…”
    –here’s what I wrote in #116 (“So a vote about some anonymous internet opinion is of some importance to you. Yet a similar tally of what Chinese people might recommend for themselves does not interest you so much. How interesting!”). It’s a small wonder that something I wrote 2 days ago can be used to rebut your point today. Either I’m clairvoyant, or you don’t read too well.

    “I would bet Mao’s era would win out easily”
    —that’s a wonderful sentiment. And if you had any stones whatsoever, you’d be willing to subject your “wager” to an objective assessment. I was thinking of posing such a proposition to Chinese people. And as I’ve said before, if that’s what Chinese people want, that’s fantastic. But short of such an assessment, what you think, and what you would bet, are rather worthless sentiments.

    “they also believe in the long run, (western) democracy will win in China.”
    —that’s again fantastic. I hope they’re right. But ultimately, I’m more interested in what Chinese people believe, and in what Chinese people would want in the long run. Somehow, that seems to be a very foreign concept to non-Chinese like you.

    “I answered that in #119.”
    —you’ve got to be kidding. Telling me how many people visit Mao’s mausoleum on a daily basis is supposed to answer how the CCP has done in terms of helping her poor citizens? Even by your lax standards, I would have to think that that’s pretty out there.

    You might want to first define what “true western democracy and freedom” means, because with you, who really knows. But for starters, the US and Canada developed and industrialized under their own versions of “democracy”. Of course, their situations are/were very different from China’s. And China’s current situation is also different from that of India. You seem eager to compare, even if it’s between apples and oranges. Ultimately, no one is telling/asking/suggesting that Chinese people emulate the US, Canada, or India. It would be a great start if her people could simply make decisions for themselves, no thanks to folks like you.

    To mhuang #129:
    that’s a good point. Certainly one of many limitations of the FH report. In your case, they have limited the scope of their assessment. But a report on “government performance” would also be a useful platform for discussion. Unfortunately, FH chose not to tackle that question.

    To Bridge #131:
    those are all good points to me. And they certainly speak to the report’s generalizability, or lack thereof.

  133. Wahaha Says:

    how has the CCP done in terms of helping the poor after 61 years?

    China was dominated by politics till 1979, you want to argue about the period in last 30 years ?

    and we see what happened in Taiwan and Thailand, dominated by politics, as a result economy becomes after thought, why do you want to see China being dominated by politics again? Simple, to serve your hatred towards CCP, not for the sake of Chinese people.

    Now explain what has been going on in India and Brazil.

  134. Wahaha Says:

    –here’s what I wrote in #116 (“So a vote about some anonymous internet opinion is of some importance to you. Yet a similar tally of what Chinese people might recommend for themselves does not interest you so much. How interesting!”).

    Such cheap and lame accessment.

    Why do so many chinese still love Mao ?

    Not cuz of political reason, OK ?
    at least for those peasants and farmers, OK?

    You are talking about selecting a political system, OK? what kind of voting were you talkng about ? right of farting in elevator ?

  135. Wahaha Says:

    —you’ve got to be kidding. Telling me how many people visit Mao’s mausoleum on a daily basis is supposed to answer how the CCP has done in terms of helping her poor citizens? Even by your lax standards, I would have to think that that’s pretty out there.

    What ?

    That shows what people want from their society, no corruption, no rich vs poor, no mafia and gangster, Mao becomes a ymbolic figure for that, OK ? what the heck are you talking about ?

  136. Wahaha Says:

    But ultimately, I’m more interested in what Chinese people believe,

    Tell us what those miners in China believe.

    Tell us what those chinese graduate believe.

    Tell us what those new married Chinese couple believe.

    Tell us what those indian people in slum believe ?

    Tell us what those parents whose children are hard labor believe ?

    Can you kindly give us some choices of their believe ?

    The father of child star in “slumdog millionaire”tried to sell his star son for $300,000, please shine the world by telling us what the father believe.

    I guess the mar is closer to sun than earth is, the shining sun is taken for gauranted

  137. Wahaha Says:

    and that is why I told you to find a place that you have to share a toilet with 10 people (much better than 1000, isnt it?) stay there for 10 days, BEFORE talking about believe, as you have not even a tiny clue of how people in poverty thinks.

    When a chinese family has to work 7 days a week, 12 hours a day, you are trying to teaching them some “believe” ? oh, yeah, when they bow and pray, oh, yeah, I want having right of voting.

    For Westerners, the believe maybe that by depriving the power of government as much as possible, government is obligated to be their ATM machines.

  138. mhuang Says:

    To SKC #132 in response to #129 and #131
    I am glad that you acknowledge they are limitations. Still, as Wahaha and others have accused the FH as a US government-funded organization issuing biased reports against US enemies, it seems fair in order to say that it is not the case, we need to provide better explanations, other than unfortunate, on why FH has chosen not to rate government performance and why it excludes certain groups and geopolitical choices from its assessment of freedom as Bridge pointed out at #131. Could you explain if there are sound and legitimate methodological reasons behind these choices?

    Also, “if the position of the detainees in Guantanamo Bay…does not detract from the status of the United States as a very free society,” and if “Separatist minorities in free democracies are assumed to be ‘free’, even if secession is forbidden, and they consider themselves unfree as a group,” could the same criteria applicable to political prisoners in China and to Tibetans and Uhgurs?

  139. mhuang Says:

    To Wahaha

    I don’t think the Chinese people in general today REALLY love Mao except a small percent of the population. Because of inequality and other social problems today, it is true that some Chinese people have nostalgia feelings about the Mao era. But yet, even the New Left today do not advocate a return to the Mao era.

    at #134, you seem to suggest that the peasants and farmers are the ones who love Mao most. I think this is a misconception. Although Mao came to power with the support of peasants, if you recall, it is the peasants who became the ultimate victims of his reign as the result of his policies including the Great Leap Forward that led to the famine and hukou system which legalized the segregation of urban and rural areas. Whereas workers in the urban areas were provided with jobs and good welfare, what did peasants and farmers got? Well, they became the second class citizens who were depended on by Mao to supply agricultural products for the industrialization of the country.

    There are lots of different reasons for people wanting to visit Mao’s mausoleum. These include simple curiosity and nationalism. After all, Mao has been portrayed as a great leader who saved China from Japan and Kuomintang and even beat the US. There are lots of Chinese people even use his portrait as a protection against evils and incidents. These are not the same as they really love Mao, especially for the ones who know about what happened during his era.

  140. S.K. Cheung Says:

    “China was dominated by politics till 1979”
    —hmmm, stuff like the GLF and CR was merely run-of-the-mill politics? OK, whatever you say, buddy.

    “you want to argue about the period in last 30 years ?”
    —sure. We’ll just give the CCP a free pass for the first 30 years, if that helps them look better. So how have the poor in China made out in the last 31 years?

    I want Chinese people to be dominated by whatever it is they want to be dominated by. If it’s politics, then that’s their choice. If it’s something else, then great. You assume a lot of things, such as what will dominate Chinese people in a democratic environment. You also like to make a lot of decisions on behalf of Chinese people. i guess that’s your thing.

    “Why do so many chinese still love Mao ?”
    —you must be one of the slower specimens in NYC. If you want to know why, you ask them. Earth-shattering concept, clearly.

    Your fascination with intestinal bodily functions is amusing, and clearly deep-seated in you. Must be nice for you.

    “That shows what people want from their society,…”
    —visiting a tomb tells you what people want? Listen, I imagine a person’s travel plans and sightseeing itinerary are very illuminating. Here’s another idea about finding out what people want from their society…you guessed it, just ask them.

    Tell me again: how does visiting Mao demonstrate what the CCP has done for the poor in China? Or are you suggesting that people visiting Mao means Chinese people don’t care about the poor in China? Gosh, who really knows with you.

    “Can you kindly give us some choices of their believe ?”
    —seriously, what is your impediment? If you want to know what miners etc believe, you have to go and ask them. Their choices are not for me to give. They are for them to make. How many times does that concept need to be reiterated before it starts to penetrate the apparently lead-lined walls that encase your brain? I would like to know what Chinese people believe, and it would be great if the CCP would ask them…or even allow it to be asked.

    That i don’t have any clue about what people in abject poverty want, what they believe, and in what they put their faith, is the reason i suggest we ask them to find out. Rather than constantly trying to suggest I have a prespecified answer that i want to hear, you might try to consider or acknowledge that the reason for asking a question is that the answer is not known. If I already know the answer, i wouldn’t need to ask. You seem to have profound difficulty with that concept, among others.

    To mhuang #138:
    the FH report, to me, is absolutely methodologically flawed. The point I’ve tried to make in the past is that FH funding alone does not make the argument for such flaws, nor would it account for them in their entirety.

    On the other hand, FH funding may be implicated in what FH chooses to NOT report on. That is a legitimate discussion, but it surely has no bearing on the report itself. In other words, criticising what ISN’T in the report should not be confused for criticism of what is.

    As I said, Bridge brought up legitimate issues, which means I agree those are legitimate methodological complaints.

    Your second paragraph brings up 2 good points. Whether you consider G-bay detainees to be directly comparable with political prisoners in China might depend on your POV. One distinguishing feature might be the difference between a physical threat to citizens vs a philosophical difference with the ruling regime. The FH definition of “separatist minorities” would to me be applicable to Tibetans.

  141. Wahaha Says:

    —seriously, what is your impediment? If you want to know what miners etc believe, you have to go and ask them. Their choices are not for me to give. They are for them to make. How many times does that concept need to be reiterated before it starts to penetrate the apparently lead-lined walls that encase your brain? I would like to know what Chinese people believe, and it would be great if the CCP would ask them…or even allow it to be asked.

    What concept ?

    It is not what they believe, it is what they want. get it? 无赖. you will never explain what has been going on in India and Brazil, will you ?

    Does believe pull the people from the misery of poverty, or a right way that can give people what they want, 无赖? “So how have the poor in China made out in the last 31 years?” another cheap and lame word game?

    and the right way is to find the best way to give them what they want.

  142. S.K. Cheung Says:

    “What concept ?”
    —there’s “slow”, there’s “molasses slow”, and then there’s you. (” If you want to know what miners etc believe, you have to go and ask them. Their choices are not for me to give. They are for them to make. How many times does that concept…”) — see if you can identify “the concept” within those phrases. Good luck.

    “It is not what they believe, it is what they want. get it?”
    —yep. What do they want? Oh, that’s right….you would have to ask them to get the answer to that question. Once again, an earth-shattering “concept”. Do I need to repeat that “concept” for you?

    ” “So how have the poor in China made out in the last 31 years?” ” — umm, I know your English blows, but how is that a “word game”? It’s as straightforward a question as they come. If you wanna go all loony-tunes about governments and their machines and how the CCP is best for poor people, then it’s not a big leap to examine how those poor people have made out under that very same authoritarian regime with her fabulous collection of “machines”.

    “the right way is to find the best way to give them what they want.”
    —sure. But they get to decide what they want, not foreigners like you, nor the CCP. They get to determine which way is the best way, and not foreigners like you or the CCP. And they get to decide how to go about venturing down that “right way”, and not…well, even someone as slow as you should get the idea by now, right?

  143. mhuang Says:

    To SKC # 140 in response to #138
    I am glad that you acknowledge that “FH funding may be implicated in what FH chooses to NOT report on.” However, I disagree with you that “it surely has no bearing on the report itself. In other words, criticising what ISN’T in the report should not be confused for criticism of what is.”

    If we are to assess a report like this, we need to examine its approach before we examine its contents. The report is about “freedom in the world;” it is not just about freedom in China. What isn’t included in the report, whether due to implication from source of funding or due to legitimate methodological flaws, has a bearing on the report as a whole. In other words, what ISN’T in the report when it should have been in the report ultimately leads to a distortion or misrepresentation of the actual world about “freedom in the world.” If, for instance, the treatment of G-bay detainees, the transferred prisoners in U.S.’s overseas prisons, and the conducts of US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are included for the assessment of freedom regarding the U.S, the US might have received a lower score on the status of freedom. On the other hand, if “separatist minorities” in Tibet and Xinjiang are excluded from assessment of freedom regarding China as such groups are excluded from assessment in free democracies, China as whole might have received a higher score on the status of freedom. I am not endorsing the Chinese government’s behavior in Tibet or Xinjiang, but I hope you see my point that what isn’t in the report matters a great deal whether or not the report is a fair representation of “freedom in the world.”

    I feel less clear about what you were suggesting the difference between “physical threat to citizens vs a philosophical difference with the ruling regime.” If you read Chinese, you should know that many Chinese have never stopped debating about democracy, and you probably has heard about Yu Keping talking about “Democracy is a good thing.” If that was what you were suggesting, I don’t see Chinese people today jailed simply because they have a philosophical difference with the ruling regime; rather, it is action that would often get them into trouble with the ruling regime. Meanwhile, from where I understand, some G-bay detainees were actually not terrorists; they were locked up simply because they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Also, the fundamental reason that terrorists have to be locked up has less to do with physical threats to citizens than with threats to the ruling regime or to the national security of a country. Criminals are the ones locked up because of their physical threats to citizens. If prisoners get the status of “political prisoners,” then they are considered as the enemy of the state. I think China’s definition of threats to state or national security at this point is too broad and has often been subjected to abuse, but it seems fair to argue that if some G-bay detainees got locked up without proven guilty of terrorism and are not included in FH’s assessment of freedom, technically the same criteria is applicable to political prisoners in China.

    But let me ask another question concerning the methodology, is it not problematic that FH defines political rights this way: “Political rights enable people to participate freely in the political process, including the right to vote freely for distinct alternatives in legitimate elections, compete for public office, join political parties and organizations, and elect representatives who have a decisive impact on public policies and are accountable to the electorate.” I agree with the assumption that the right to vote is very important, but what about the right of not being occupied by foreign countries and the right to public safety and be protected from political disability? Are these not equally important political rights? In FH’s definition, does it means that political rights are better achieved in unstable democracies where insurgents and governments are still fighting wars with each other and where social and political orders are still in chaos than in stable non-democratic countries?

  144. Josef Says:

    @129 mhuang,
    I appreciate this comment (without actually addressing the methodological issue) you wrote also:
    I would like to ask everyone if it is right or wrong that FH says that “The survey does not rate governments or government performance per se, but rather the real-world rights and freedoms enjoyed by individuals.”

    To my opinion the topic has to be split into a “freedom only” discussion as otherwise the topic is simply too complex. I would rate the outcome, this figure 1 to 7, as neutral, not necessarily one as positive, as this assignment again is another topic, like: is it good for a developing country to have freedom, democracy etc..
    To insist to discuss the “whole picture” only, as Wahaha does, means to jeopardize the “freedom only” discussion.
    Rhan asked for a set of rules in #122 which Bridge partly answered in #131. And I guess your example conclusion in #138 (if Guantanamo Bay, then why not Tibetans and Uyghur?) is a very good one to show shortcomings of FH.

    Wahaha, you insist to compare today’s China (no freedom) with today’s India and Brazil. Why don’t you compare today’s China with China during the Great Leap?
    Or even better, compare Great Leap China with today’s India? Definitely the people in India today are better off than Chinese 50 years ago! My point is, there is certainly an influence of freedom to wealth but there are many other factors which have bigger influence. I see your comments mainly as attempt to stop or distract from a value-neutral discussion.

  145. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To mhuang #143:
    Ultimately, one has to recognize that the FH report is ONE report on the “freedom of the world”. I don’t think it serves as the ONLY report on the “freedom of the world”, nor is it meant to be the definitive report; I certainly wouldn’t take it as such, and I’m not sure even FH would qualify it as such. If you can agree with that, then you would have to stipulate that one such report can’t be all things to all people; by extension, there must be certain aspects of “freedom” that can’t be covered in a single report of finite length and finite scope. As I said, criticism that other legitimate parameters of “freedom” were not assessed is a fair one; those could certainly be examined by other authors, if they so choose. FH chose not to, and since it’s their report, that’s their prerogative. It would probably go without saying that there is more to “freedom” than what they have examined, even without going into the flaws with which they examined what they actually chose to address. Ultimately, if you are going to examine the report, then you start with a critique of its methodology. If you are going to examine “freedom in the world” as a topic, then you might discuss what this report failed to address. But those are 2 different things. Put another way, this report could’ve been methodologically fantastic yet still have limitations on the basis of its declared scope. I think we both agree that it’s not methodologically fantastic…and its scope has nothing to do with that assessment.

    Based on what Steve has said, his motivation for presenting this report isn’t so much a comparison of US vs China; it was meant more as a launching pad for a discussion of the trends in China over time. As you can see, that motivation didn’t seem to “speak” to too many people.

    Your point about China wrt Tibet and Xinjiang is well taken. Literally, the FH assessment of China is based on “freedom according to FH”. If you disagree with the FH definition of freedom, then certainly you may assess China differently. And such would be your prerogative. The FH score of China is what it is. The reader can each decide how relevant that score really is. Personally, I agree with your objections wrt Tibet and Xinjiang, at least based on how FH chose to address “separatist factions” in general. However, in the final analysis, I’m not sure how differently I would see “freedom” in China for the average Joe or average Wong.

    WRT “actions” which get political prisoners jailed, you have understood me perfectly. When the author of Charter 08 gets jailed for writing a white paper, my impression is that that is rather far removed from “terrorism”. “national security” is a vague and oft-abused term, in my mind. This is particulary true of the CCP. If someone threatens to blow up a plane in flight, to me, that qualifies. If someone threatens to do something that might threaten the CCP, that’s not “national security” to me. It might be a threat to CCP security. But CCP security and “national security” are divergent by orders of magnitude. If someone doesn’t like the CCP and threatens to blow up the Shanghai Expo as an expression thereof, that to me certainly qualifies; if someone doesn’t like the CCP and threatens to embarass the CCP, that is a whole different animal…yet the CCP chooses not to make that distinction. As you suggest, the CCP guidelines are open to manipulation…by the CCP no less.

    WRT the FH definition of “political rights”, again, it isn’t all things to all people, nor would I think that it was intended to be. It is the FH definition, and obviously casts limits on the generalizability of any finding made on the basis of that definition. And the reader is free to evaluate the report on that basis. But if I could turn the question around, is there a definition of “political rights” that everyone would approve of? Doubtful.

    Put simply, the FH report doesn’t speak to “freedom from occupation” etc. If that is a relevant metric, then it will have to await a different report. The FH report only addresses the current level of “freedom”, as defined, and with its easily-recognizable limitations; it doesn’t speak to how to better achieve political rights, nor serve as a recipe for same. At its core, it’s an observational study, and such studies do not provide proof of causation, by definition.

  146. Rhan Says:

    I could have misunderstand your comment, my impression toward your stance is that the reader not suppose to talk how FH get the funding, at the same time, no red herring arguments as suggested by Steve, and when someone bring up the methodology issue, your opinion is we have to acknowledge that it is base on FH definition, if this is the case, would not the scope of discussion and debate become very limited?

  147. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Rhan,
    i think most here have already agreed that, while FH funding is an issue, mere mention of FH funding does not amount to criticism of the methodology of this particular report. To “criticize” this particular report simply by bringing up innuendo about its funding is more drive-by smearing than it is “criticism”.

    As for methodology, I’ve suggested before that I’m all for a discussion thereof in evaluating this report. My opinion indeed is that terms are as defined by FH. That is a limitation of the report, and restricts its generalizability. However, it should be noted that methodologically sound reports have limitations, as do methodologically poor ones.

  148. HKer Says:

    The King of international pop culture and one of the greatest modern time philosophers is a man from Hong Kong.
    Although he was born in US, he grew up in HK and only returned to US for further education at the age of 18, and to claim his citizenship. His Lao Zi’s take on “Be water my friend,” free form holistic philosophy, of dying to self, the casting away of limitations of form and dogmas for self–discovery is liberating !

    Actors, movie makers, Rockers, rappers, Shaolin Masters, French freerunning movement, namely LL Cool J, Sugar Ray Leonard, Jackie Chan, Stephen Chow – even US Stand up Comedian Margaret Cho and countless others were all inspired by what Time Magazine ranked as the 27th greatest American athlete of all time 37 years after the untimely death of this charismatic philosopher !

    Here on History Channel, here’s one of the world’s greatest philosopher prophets !


  149. UFO Says:


    How to get a million dollar annual severance pension package? Easy, just don’t do your job well, all you dumb asses!

    NOW that’s Freedom the American way !

    Great examples: Be the CEO blamed for the worst man-made natural disaster or for running a company or for running a country into the ground !


  150. mhuang Says:

    To Josef #144 and SKC #145 #147

    Naturally I would agree with you on a “freedom only” or “China only” discussion so that we could learn more about “freedom” and trends in China. However, at the same time, precisely because our social and political realities are so complex and for a task as big as assessing “freedom in the world,” I am not quite sure if we have learned more about the world by going from complexity to simplicity as FH has been annually doing.

    I am glad that you encourage a neutral and objective discussion about freedom. My impression, and some of others here, is that the FH has not done a fair or consistent job in its assessment of freedom across different countries, has problematically assumed that freedom is nothing but a positive public good, and has problematically treated freedom and democracy as though the two are synonymous. In FH’s definition of freedom, China will probably always remain a non-free country until the very moment that it abandons the one-party system and adopts Western-style democracy. Is this a meaningful understanding of “freedom” in China that could contribute a meaningful comparison with countries that have electoral democracy but meanwhile lack other desirable public goods?

    The source of FH funding matters little to me if it were just a report about freedom in China and if it has not implicated “in what FH chooses to NOT report on.” I totally agree that our evaluation of a report ultimately comes down to its methodology and contents, not its source of funding. In fact, I sincerely hope there is no connection between funding and contents of the report. An organization dedicated to the promotion of human rights and democracy should be the first one to have the moral integrity of standing up to power and influence, including pressures from its source of funding. If the issues brought up by Bridge at #131 and me so far are legitimate methodological complaints, I am still hoping that someone could REALLY explain how the source of funding has no connection to “what ISN’T in the report,” for it is precisely due to perception and experience with such double standards that many people have nowadays become cynical about human rights and democracy promotion in developing countries.

    You are quite right that probably there is no single definition of political rights that everyone would agree on, and I would bet that the majority of Chinese today disagree with FH’s definition. As a matter of fact, ironically, as much as you have insisted on letting the Chinese people to speak out freely about what they believe and want, the FH report about freedom in China puts the word “freedom” in the mouth of Chinese and determine whether they are having “freedom” through the lens of FH experts based on their sources of information rather than on what ordinary Chinese people actually think and believe.

    Also, from where I understand the current mentality of the CCP and the majority of Chinese fixated on the priority of political order and stability, honestly I didn’t even expect that Liu Xiaobo would not get punished, just as he himself should have anticipated his fate when he decided to circulate a prodemocracy manifesto to collect signatures and support for it. Likewise, I don’t expect that such happenings would not repeat themselves in China’s near future. The point is that such happenings, disturbing as they are, tell us very little about the current trends of freedom in China. If we are to focus ourselves on these negative happenings as a way to assess the trends of freedom in China, I am afraid that we are losing a bigger picture of the positive trends taking place in China today. And if we are to equal freedom with democracy and with the ability to challenge and replace the ruling regime and to judge whether Chinese people are more free this year than last year according to our version of “freedom,” I am afraid that we will certainly lose track of what is actually going on in China, in more subtle ways and below the surface.

  151. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To mhuang:
    very well said. If I have understood you correctly, we are nearly in total agreement. If we boil it down, the FH definition of freedom may be relevant for its report, but not for much else. It certainly may bear no resemblance to what Chinese people would consider as “freedom”, or maybe even to the subset of “important freedoms”. Ultimately, the business of “comparison” with other countries, especially in the context of this report, is rather pointless. Would it matter, to the average Chinese citizen, if he were more or less “free” than the average American? I would think it unlikely. Would it matter more to the average Chinese, if “freedom” was of any consequence to begin with, whether he was more or less free now than he was 1…2….5 years ago? I don’t know, but I would at least think it to be more likely.

    I agree that you and Bridge have brought up points that could legitimately be included in the report. I certainly have no explanation for their exclusion. The decision is within FH’s purview, but that decision is obviously open to examination. It still requires a certain leap of faith, however, to associate FH funding with what they chose not to examine. It takes an even greater leap of faith to find that relationship to be a causal one.

    I would love to know what ordinary Chinese people think and believe. If there was a systematic way to evaluate that, then the FH report section on China would certainly be rendered completely irrelevant. Even given current realities, that section on China is of limited relevance. But those current realities are also a far cry from a situation of actually knowing what Chinese people think and believe.

    I have no doubt that the current (and future) mentality of the CCP is a laser focus on political order and stability/status quo. Whether that is what Chinese people actually want seems far from certain to me. As for Mr. Liu, he wrote a paper and solicited some support and signatures. Did that represent a threat to the status quo of such magnitude such that his incarceration was required? If so, then what sort of “political order” and “stability” has the CCP actually managed to foment after 61 years at the wheel? If the CCP has the utmost confidence in the mousetrap she has built, she has a funny way of showing it, one that actually suggests a lack of confidence therein.

    But as you say, taken literally, Mr. Liu’s case only shows that Chinese do not have the freedom to write a paper, call it a charter, and solicit support and signatures publicly. Is that a “freedom” that Chinese people consider important? I don’t know. It would be nice to find out. It would be nice if the CCP allowed such things to be found. It would be nice if the CCP allowed the means with which to find it. It would be nice if, once found, the CCP respected it. All of those things would be far more relevant than the FH report. Unfortunately, none of those things are as readily available, if at all.

  152. Josef Says:

    A comment on
    “I would bet that the majority of Chinese today disagree with FH’s definition.” and
    “the FH definition of freedom may be relevant for its report, but not for much else. ”

    I do not know how the figure (1 to 7) is extracted (someone already mentioned that before), but there is also a lot of text, probably facts, in the report. And I think the average Chinese citizen might not so much care about the FH figure itself or the abstract definition of freedom but he might care about topics like corruption, misuse of funds, unrest and how they were tackled, minorities, property rights legislation, domestic violence etc.

    “Would it matter, to the average Chinese citizen, if he were more or less “free” than the average American? ”
    If he can compare the above mentioned topics with neighboring countries Japan, South Korea, Singapore or Taiwan, I think it matters to the average Chinese citizen.

    However I agree, especially from Bridge’s comment 131 but also others, care has to be taken, as the report really seems to be strongly biased, well, if you want, by turning a blind eye on flaws from countries which are America friendly. On the other hand, other ratings like from the French RSF or the Canadian economic freedom correlates with FH:

    Secondly, by just comparing the same country, like China, within time, I consider the reported “no improvement”, i.e.; always 7, simply not correct. Wikipedia says that FH has some standard questions which are answered with a score 0 to 4 etc. but I wonder how they scale it with the size of the country, i.e. in a big country you always find somewhere something bad. Or in other words: I think China today (rated 7) is better than China in 1998 and better than China in 1968…

    And finally, not so much related to China but to the U.S.: it seems that carrying guns of teenagers or drunkards is also regarded as a positive contribution to freedom, quotation: “Citizens of the United States enjoy a high level of personal autonomy.” So the FH definition of freedom is not necessarily always positive or good for the people.

  153. James Says:

    I just want to point out, to people who say that the source of funding doesn’t matter, that source of funding MATTERS A GREAT DEAL. It should always be pointed out, because author bias can have a huge effect on any study. Any scientist knows this. There are many small things that can affect the results one way or the other. Studies that don’t have obvious methodological errors can have vastly different results depending on the entity sponsoring them.

    Source of funding is ALWAYS looked at. If the methodology is peer reviewed to be correct, and the author has a history of respectable work for various entities, then it is accepted. Source of funding doesn’t rule out a study by itself, but the inherent bias always has to be kept in mind. Methodology is always most important, but to simply say “any commenter worth his salt looks at methodology, not funding” is idiotic to the point of hilariousness.

  154. Jason Says:

    How can sane people even respect Mr. Liu’s case? It is the same jargon talking point from NED which Liu Xiaobo receives his funds.

    Presidential elections is near in possible. China’s emerging urban middle class, after all, is merely a small proportion of the country’s overall population — far smaller than its counterparts in Taiwan or South Korea. There are an estimated 800 million to 900 million Chinese peasants — most of them living in rural areas, although 100 million or more are working or trying to find jobs as migrants on the margins of Chinese cities. If China were to have nationwide elections, and if peasants were to vote their own interests, then the urban middle class would lose. The margin would not be close. On an electoral map of China, the biggest cities — Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin, Guangzhou, and the others — might look something like the small gold stars on the Chinese flag: They would be surrounded by a sea of red. Add together the populations of China’s 10 largest cities and you get a total of some 62 million people. That number is larger than the population of France or Britain or Italy. But it is still only about 5 percent of China’s overall population of 1.3 billion.

    A drastic disappearance of middle class. The Communist Party has not exactly been evenhanded in its treatment of urban residents vis-à-vis peasants. On the contrary: Its policies have strongly favored the cities over the countryside.

    A drastic change for new managers and executives. They won’t enjoy the profit from keeping wages low.

    These points indeed are reasons that Mr. Liu’s case is a threat to national security against the nation.

  155. UFO Says:

    SB1070: What’s The Difference Between Americans Only and Whites Only?

    “This racist atmosphere will not be lifted by Latinos pledging their allegiance to America any more than when certain Jews attempted to pledge their allegiance to Nazi Germany. It will not be lifted by pointing out that immigrants do the work that “nobody else will do” and re-asserting the notion that people’s worth is based on whether they can be exploited to serve American interests. No, this atmosphere will only be lifted with a culture that challenges people to stop thinking like Americans and start thinking like human beings.”


  156. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To James #153:
    “Source of funding doesn’t rule out a study by itself, but the inherent bias always has to be kept in mind.”
    —true enough. Don’t you find it curious then, with some of the earlier commentators, that ‘source of funding’ was ALL that they looked at, without apparently even a passing glance at the methodology itself?

    “Methodology is always most important”
    —I’m glad you think so. Then you must find it as curious as I do that some people focus on the funding first, even before addressing what is “most important”.

    Funding (and any other “conflict of interest”) should obviously be declared and ‘out in the open’. However, to draw conclusions about the veracity of a report based on its funding alone is to impugn the authors without actually addressing the product. That is indeed a job for lightweight commentators.

    To Jason:
    does a lack of respect for what Mr. Liu had to say mean that he deserves incarceration?

    Is there a fundamental problem with the large mass of peasants voicing their concerns, and having their priorities addressed? Are peasants somehow less deserving than middle class urbanites?

    If anything, you’ve perhaps made a bit of a case about how Mr. Liu’s ideas might be a threat to the security of the urban middle class. Threat to “national security”? You’ve got to be kidding me. Whatever ‘security’ the CCP provides doesn’t seem to trickle down to all of her ‘nationals’ as it is.

  157. UFO Says:

    Apparently it’s no better in the “land of the free,” for its lowest class
    Arizona’s immigration law blocked by judge – Thursday, July 29, 2010
    Comments from some blog:
    Posted by: gotn

    I would like to apologize, to not only you, but to all Americans on behalf of the “MEXICANS AMERICANS.”
    By the way, did any of you notice that there were hundreds of different flags in the various marches and protests? Did you notice some of the illegals were white? I did. Who cares, it’s easy to put a Mexican face on the problem and blame them.
    I cannot believe all of you will willingly allow yourselves to get distracted by the small, shiny object, that is immigration.
    Your government is failing you. They are stealing from you. They have sentenced thousands of us to die in a war based on lies. They are secretly listening to you. They are ruining healthcare and the education system. They are creating a wealth disparity of historic proportions. They have turned your vote into a useless gesture. They belong to the military industrial complex, energy monopolies and pharmaceutical companies.
    This is the biggest issue facing our nation?
    This is how easy it is for them to distract you from the real problems this nation is facing?
    It just goes to show that the racist in us, from time to time, dominates the American in us.
    Build walls.Construct electrified fences. Will that erase government waste? Will it create transparency in our government?
    Will it save lives in Iraq? Will it prevent us from invading Iran? Stop terrorism?
    Will it drag our world reputations as hypocrites and bullies from the depths from which this administration has taken us?
    Will it prevent our nation from torturing and keeping in indefinate detention thousands of people, based on race and religion?
    All of you should think about what it is that you’re not discussing. You should not be placing the woes of this country on the backs of Mexicans.
    Remember Hitler? He blamed the poverty connected to war reperations on the Jews.
    Fences and walls.
    I feel sorry for each and every one of you.

    Posted by: Andre M. Hernandez
    Those terrorist loving, America hating, liberal democrats are going to give your job and your daughters to the illegal immigrants. It scares me to death that crap like that will work.
    On my last job as a ironworker, I was a pariah to the American workers because I taught the illegals to work at one of the most physical most dangerous jobs in America. We Americans were loosing our jobs. Never the less, I was friends with many of the young Mexicans. My name is Geronimo and they all knew he was.
    If you don’t know what many of these young Mexicans attitude towards Americans is then you haven’t spent any time working with them. You might assume that they are greatful to us for giving them a livelyhood. But I assure you that this is not the case with many of them. The two most common attitudes that i heard espoused was 1) Americans are stupid. When I would protest this assumption, they would say, you have to be stupid, you give us your jobs. 2) All American girls are whores. Again, when I would protest, they would say we all have young American girl friends and we have mucho fun with them, this is not allowed in Mexico. And they did!
    Posted by: jlw
    I work in construction. I protest your characterization of illegals. Some do think that way. So do the whites and the blacks. I guess I could say that’s generally true of ironworkers couldn’t I? Of course, most construction workers NEVER B.S. in stereotypes, do they?
    But then I would be kind of bigoted, like your post came off to me. If generalizations were always true, we wouldn’t ever need to know anyone as an individual now would we?
    Posted by: gergle
    No amnesty!
    With no jobs or welfare, the remaining illegal aliens will leave voluntarily. Allow 12 months for all illegal aliens to leave on their own, with their own property. Those wishing to immigrate to the U.S. must get in line behind those already seeking to immigrate legally.
    Posted by: d.a.n
    “So we should be allowing in more skilled and smart immigrants “
    Wow Jack, something we can totally agree on. It’s darn hard to find an American that knows where a Porter House steak leaves off and a T-Bone begins.
    When was the last time you went to a medical specialist that spoke clear english?
    The good old USA is falling behind in edumacation because we’ve become complacent and lazy. Now we must have someone to blame. Well, shit, we can’t blame the blacks anymore, let’s go after the Mexicans.
    Most estimates I’ve read put Mexicans at about 56% of the “illegals”! That’s slightly more than half. So here’s a plan. Let’s put an INS officer on every street corner and he (or she) can check everyone’s ID. Not just the brown people, or the black people, but the white people and yellow people too!
    Or we could just tatoo peoples arms so we’d know who belongs and who doesn’t. I think a nine digit number should suffice.
    Posted by: KansasDem

    ndeed. When Immigrants can no longer earn money in America, they will go home to earn no money there instead.
    Posted by: AldousM
    Comment #145583
    Who is this “we”, Marys?
    “We” are the people who buy cheap produce, eat cheap fast food, and otherwise support the “cheap labor” economy. You don’t have to ever see or talk to an illegal immigrant to support them. You and I do it every day.
    The ugly truth is that most illegal immigrants who want to stay here will, no matter what legislation is passed. Finding them all and deporting them is just too difficult, and would require infringing too deeply upon the privacy of actual citizens to do so. So debating amnesty legislation is like debating whether we Congress should allow the sun to come up. Make any laws you want, but they won’t change reality.
    But there are some things we CAN change. We can punish those who hire illegal labor. We can beef up the border to prevent more from coming over. And we can help Mexico build up their economy so that these people won’t be in such a hurry to leave.
    But debating about what to do with those who are already here is pointless.
    Posted by: Rob Cottrell

  158. Jason Says:

    @does a lack of respect for what Mr. Liu had to say mean that he deserves incarceration?

    Yes. The one who masterminds a destruction of middle class and the rich while more than 80-85% live in poverty from being middle class should be jailed for stupidity and not have a brain.

    No problem of peasants of wanting more, but do you think free handouts and welfare checks will make it better?

    @National security threat

    Grave incidence of poverty IS a serious threat to national security, especially to the extent that it breeds and abets rebellion, crime and dissidence. Poverty incidence will gradually affects Chinese families nationwide.

  159. mhuang Says:

    To Jason #154 #158

    I don’t see that China must adopt a Western-style democracy as Liu demanded, for I don’t think the end stop of history for human civilization is simply a western-style democracy. Technology is changing fast, and people’s manners and opinions and their life styles are changing fast too. Who know if sometime in the future democracy as a form of government might not be the best form of government as some today argue, and who know if China does not eventually could figure a way out that could deliver all the public goods that we want even without adopting a Western-style democracy. Democracy is a means to an end, and should not be promoted as a religion like that it is an absolute good that could cure everything. In this sense, I disagree with Liu on a number of levels.

    But don’t you think 11- years’ jail time is not too severe in Liu’s case. Do you think all the political prisoners deserve the punishment? What about the many ordinary petitioners that got beaten up and put into mental institutions? Is it not outrageous to you that a 58-year-old woman got beaten up by several trained police officers continuously for more than 15 minutes? Is it not outrageous to you even more that these officers later apologized to her for beaten her because they had mistaken her as an ordinary petitioner, when she is in fact the wife of a leader? What does that tell you about the current level of social justice in China? We may disagree with Liu’s solution, but does it really take insanity in order to understand where Liu’s views come from and to pay him a little bit sympathy and respect? Does it really Liu did what he did simply because he got some pay checks from a US organization? I think you ware just kidding when you declare “how can sane people even respect Mr. Liu’s case?”

    Meantime, do I also misread Charter 08 if I see that it does not call for immediate presidential elections as you were referring to, but rather a gradual implementation of direct elections at all levels of government? It appears to me that the actual demand was for a timetable for implementing democracy, and a timetable could mean short and long that could extend to a point until may be you and the CCP could feel comfortable for adopting full democracy.

    Moreover, your argument seems based on some outdated statistics. You said “together the populations of China’s 10 largest cities and you get a total of some 62 million people.” Really, last time I checked, Beijing alone now has near 20 million, and according to CASS’s Blue Book, China’s urbanization rate will reach 48% in 2010, and will exceed the critical 50% mark in 2012 or 2013. So where do you still get 800 to 900 million Chinese peasants surrounding the cities like “a sea of red”? Again, you put the percentage of middle class and rich as only 15% to 20% (since you said 80-85% live in poverty). Yet, 15% on middle class was like a 2001 figure. Even research done in 2005 and 2006 suggested that China’s middle class stands at about 23% of the population today. In addition, London-based research firm Euromonitor International recently predicts that China’s middle class, defined as households with annual disposable incomes between $5000 and $15000, may rise to 46% of households by 2020 from 32 percent this year.

    I understand that you come from the assumption that the electoral process with lots of poor people ends up hurting the progress of the country as a whole. That is a legitimate concern, to me. But I guess assuming if China’s economy keeps growing and if small middle class and rich class is the only argument that you have for against adopting democracy, based on the above statists it is not such a bad idea to have a timetable that will take China to implement full democracy, say, in 2025 or 2030? After all, the small Island Taiwan did not get a presidential election almost a decade after the KMT decided to adopt Western-style democracy. Indeed, I think no sane people would expect China to just go from today’s one-party system to have a presidential election next year. What do you think? A time table? Some gradual steps?

  160. mhuang Says:

    To James #153 and others

    Are you a scientist, and in the US? I will be glad to hear some personal stories or knowledge about the actual dynamics that play into the contents of the report due to the source of funding. If source of funding creates a difference in the contents of a report, would it be more due to self-censorship or due to pressures from the sponsoring entities? Would there be cultural differences as well in different countries in the dynamics?

    I agree with you that methodology is most important and that “source of funding doesn’t rule out a study by itself, but the inherent bias always has to be kept in mind.” This is why until someone gives me a sound explanation, I will continue to suspect there is a connection between FH funding and “what ISN’T in the report.”

    Knowing the source of funding could help us evaluating a report, but as you suggest, we cannot rule out a study out of its source of funding without ever taken a look into the study’s methodology and contents. If we do that, that would be a blanket and unnecessary insult to the moral integrity of everyone who has ever written something that requires outside source of funding or grants.

    I said that the source of FH funding matters little to me if it were just a report about freedom in China. This is because I study China and regardless of the source of funding, ultimately my judgment of the report is based on what I think of the report’s methodology and contents. In this case of FH’s “freedom in the world,” I find its methodology problematic, and for “what ISN’t in the report,” I could not explain it but suspect it has something to do with its source of funding. As long as I suspect it, I think FH has not lived up to a moral integrity that I and many people would like to see.

    With regarding FH’s report about freedom in China, those of you keep pointing to the source of funding as a direct cause of flaws are just wrong. You can criticize Americans as ignorant, arrogant or biased toward China, but you cannot deny that many Americans truly believe that freedom is best achieved in liberal democracy and that electoral democracy is the first step toward building up a political system that eventually could provide better protection of what they call “political rights” and “civil liberties.” You can say that this is a wrong assumption about the world, but which culture doesn’t has its share of wrong assumption about the world?

    So long that a report defines freedom in terms like FH has, it doesn’t matter where the source of funding comes from, the end product would still be that China is in a non-free category. You can in fact, without any source of funding, come up with a report designating China as a non-free country according to FH’s definitions and ways of calculating the scores. I have earlier argued that FH’s definitions and calculation are problematic, but that in the final analysis, has less to do with FH’s source of funding than with its methodology, which is shared by many in the American academic community. In fact, you will have to denounce a whole generation of American and Western scholars for being on the payroll of US government if you think FH produce a biased and flawed report about freedom in China simply because it got most of its funding from the US government.

  161. sids Says:


    Very well said.

    I will never even bother reading this type of report on any country. Why becasue most of them are calling a spade is a spade that come with no solutions at all, just statign the obvious. Instead of wasting all this time writing up this report which cost millions year after year, wouldnt it be better if they donate the money they got from government to charitable organisation instead.

  162. Jason Says:


    Mr. Liu’s case is not Western-style Democracy. It is simply liberal democracy which will lead to tyranny and will never last long. US especially is a constitutional republic. NED false talking point of united in their liberal democracy with political liberty, and their demand that China adopt their system of government has clouded to many of their puppets like Liu Xiaobo.

    Liu needs to be arrested for wanting to cause chaos.

    Not all political prisoners needs to. But most of them get their idea from NED-funded organization and NED pulls the strings of their puppets and political prisoners who self-determined is disappearing.

    The NED-sponsored Charter 08 has one piece missing which is “Friendly relations with foreign States” meaning having government grants will lead you to limit your rights which the PRC constitution and even India Constitution states. That would be very hypocritical of them, would it?

  163. Wukailong Says:

    @Jason: What’s the difference between Western democracy and liberal democracy? Do you mean liberal in the American sense of advocating social welfare?

  164. UFO Says:

    All hail to progress, the rising of the Middle Class and expanding consumerism !
    Long live Capitalism !

    Here, watch this very reassuring Video of a better future, a brighter tomorrow – A Middle class utopia !


  165. Jason Says:

    Western Democracy simply does not exist.

    “liberal” was once meant as “an advocate of laissez-faire capitalism.” Today “liberal” means “an advocate of redistributionist welfare statism.” Today a liberal is a disciple of John Maynard Keynes.

  166. Wukailong Says:

    @Jason: The definitions of “liberal” are a bit different between the US and Europe. In the US it means “redistributionist welfare statism,” which seems to be very anti-mainstream there. In Europe it’s more accepted. That doesn’t really matter, though.

    When you say that Western democracy doesn’t exist, I’m not really sure what you mean when you say that “Mr. Liu’s case is not Western-style Democracy. It is simply liberal democracy which will lead to tyranny and will never last long.”? So what is Western-style democracy?

  167. Jason Says:

    Western style democracy is the old Greek Democracy that all the Democratic countries do not use. But NED, Freedom House, etc. use this old Greek Democracy agenda to destablize a nation which they deem unfriendly.

  168. mhuang Says:

    Thanks sids @161
    With America deep in economic recession and government deficits which are contributing to deterioration in American political discourse and racial relations, I indeed think the money spent on producing this report might have a better use in stimulating business activities and creating jobs.

    Thanks Wukailong @ 163 for asking Jason the question, for I had no idea what Jason was trying to say, except the impression that he made a lot of unclear statements and accusations without backing them up with evidence or explanations. Then after I saw his reply to your inquiry, I was puzzled with the clarity in this sentence:
    “liberal” was once meant as “an advocate of laissez-faire capitalism.” Today “liberal” means “an advocate of redistributionist welfare statism.” Today a liberal is a disciple of John Maynard Keynes.

    Out of curiosity, I took the trouble to Google this whole sentence, and then I found it literally appears at http://thechinadesk.tripod.com/democracy_the_worst_form_of_government_ever_tried_part_ii.htm by author Bevin Chu.

    So Jason,
    Are you Bevin Chu? I really hope you are. Otherwise, it is really disappointing to know that I am in discussion with someone who copies and pastes an opinion without acknowledging where it comes from. Also, for your information, “liberal democracy” is not the same as “liberal;” they are completely different things. And if you are so against “redistributionist welfare statism,” you might as well consider joining the ranks of Liu to protest against the CCP and the Chinese government, for they have been actually doing for a while in trying to rebalance the economy and the growing wealth gap with redistributionist policies.

    Also, explain, if you might, what is “old Greek Democracy,” and in what ways are NED and Freedom House promoting this “old Greek Democracy agenda”? Is this “old Greek Democracy” the same as liberal democracy? I am confused with what you are saying as I thought the agenda you referred to at #162 was liberal democracy.

  169. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To mhuang #159 and 160:
    great posts, and a pleasant reprieve from some of the other stuff floating around here.

    To #158:
    for lack of a better comparator, you sound like an anti-Wahaha of sorts. Is that sympathy for “the riches” that you are exhibiting here?
    Let’s assume, even for a second, that Mr. Liu was being “stupid and not hav(ing) a brain”. Did that suddenly become a criminal offense in China punishable by jail time? I’m no expert in Chinese penal code, but I would certainly like to read that statute.

    Besides, I think painting Mr. Liu as a “mastermind of destruction”, though Bush-esque, is somewhat removed from reality. As mhuang has reminded us, Mr. Liu merely advocated for a timetable towards gradual implementation of democracy. For a “mastermind”, that doesn’t sound particularly Machiavellian to me.

    If a “grave incidence of poverty is a serious threat to national security”, shouldn’t the CCP be jailing itself? After all, this grave incidence is happening under her watch, and has been for 61 years. As mhuang has suggested, your numbers are questionable. But if you believe that 80-85% of Chinese are still poor peasants today, is that not a grave incidence already? Shouldn’t Hu Jintao be headed for the clink as we speak, if that’s the metric you would like to use?

    To 162:
    I think, like many others before you, that you are again worrying more about NED-this and NED-that, rather than what Mr. Liu said or wrote.

    If Chinese agree with you that “liberal democracy” leads to “tyranny”, then I would imagine that that would not be the path they would choose for themselves. If only they had the chance to express that opinion…

    Here, rather than being jailed for being “stupid”, Mr. Liu needs to be arrested for causing chaos. Mr. Liu’s legal transgressions are changing by the minute. It seems you have as good a grasp of what exact crime Mr. Liu committed as the CCP has. BTW, that’s not a very firm grasp.

    Are you suggesting that not all political prisoners need to go to jail, but that the NED-funded ones need to? So now you want to jail people not for what they say, but simply by who is financially supporting them to say it? Well, at the very least, it appears you and the CCP legal beagles understand each other perfectly.

  170. Jason Says:


    I’m not Bevin Chu but I worked closely with him as a researcher for antiwar.com series “The Strait Scoop.”

    Indeed China is experimenting with redistributionist welfare statism but with different circumstances than US and Europe. China has NO debt and what China spend is less than US and Europe. What US and EU has done is digging a much larger hole in debt that it is near impossible dig off. Not saying China’s own Keynesian model is good which has after effects.

    Now when Liu’s policy massacred the surplus and with middle class getting poorer and he wants use Keynesian model of governing to pump up the economy-he must be crazy.

  171. mhuang Says:


    As much as I think FH’s report about freedom in China is flawed, at least it contains some facts that I could not deny but could only disagree with the interpretation. But with you, I think you just simply have no clue with whatsoever is going on in China.

    One of the major news in China over the past two months has been about government debt, especially at local governments. National debt is at a OK level while local government debts are serious. Yet, now you declare that “China has NO debt.” With everything you’ve said so far, you have demonstrated very well that everything you say here is not credible.

  172. mhuang Says:

    Thanks SKC @169 and in response to your post @151 about finding what Chinese think

    If you don’t know yet, I thought you might be interested to know about the Asian Barometer (http://www.asianbarometer.org/newenglish/introduction/default.htm ) which is “an applied research program on public opinion on political values, democracy, and government around the region. As far as I know, I think today is more easy to do public opinion research in China than just a few years back; you can find out this organization’s survey method in this website and may want to contact this organization if you indeed want to know more about how do the public opinion research in China.

    Their findings so far are really surprising. So in this 2008 book How East Asians view Democracy, the authors argued “citizens in authoritarian China assess their regime’s democratic performance relatively favorably. ” http://cup.columbia.edu/book/978-0-231-14534-3/how-east-asians-view-democracy

    A while ago I also downloaded a PowerPoint file titled “Asia democracy survey 2007” by political scientist Tianjian Shi of Duke University. Here are some findings that will make you scratch the head:
    “1) Demands for democracy in China is high, but it is not the highest of Asian societies. 2) In Asia, people in China think democracy is most suitable for their country. 3) The popular evaluation of democratic supply in China ranks third in Asia.4) The popular evaluation of democratic supply given by people in China is higher than what is given by people in Japan.”

    Rational Choice explanation:
    “For rational choice scholars, the puzzle can be explained by the incentive structure deduced from the behavior logic of utility maximization. Since the regime in China does not hesitate to suppress unauthorized expression, people dare not tell interviewers their true feelings in the survey for fear of possible political persecution. Thus, the question asking people to evaluate the level of democracy in their own country becomes a proxy of political fear.”

    An alternative explanation:
    “An alternative interpretation for the puzzle of why people in mainland China gave a high evaluation of the level of democratic supply and demand in their own country is that their preferences, i.e., understanding of democracy, are different from that of people in other societies. In other words, people in China also want democracy but the democracy in their mind is a different democracy from that which is in our minds.”

    Political Implication:
    “1) Chinese political culture makes people in China trust the government more than how people in other societies would. 2) Chinese political culture makes the threshold for peoples’ engagement in unconventional political acts higher. 3) Chinese political culture makes people understand democracy in a different way, and this gives the regime much manipulating space. Altogether, Chinese political culture makes a bottom to up democratic transition more difficult.”

  173. Jason Says:


    And you have no problem of FH ranking Taiwan the highest marks during the Chen’s administration with many instances of suppressing the media? And no problem of Ma’s gets the lowest because KMT puts the agenda that FH doesn’t agree with and called it “sensationalism?” The conservative FH must be a comic.

    With Charter 08, it has no language of limiting rights who has “Friendly relations with foreign States.” Those flowery language of “freedom” “human rights” “freedom of speech” doesn’t fly and it will be deja vu over again of United States doing their best to weaken the sovereignty of China (Tibet and Xinjiang) just like the West by weakening China to take away Macau and HK.

  174. mhuang Says:

    @Jason 173

    The more you write, the more I come to learn that I could not trust your opinion more than I trust FH’s.

    If you have read my posts in reply to you and others, you shouldn’t need to ask me about FH’s report about Taiwan, for I have repeatedly criticized the whole FH report “freedom in the world”. I have suggested that for fairness, the FH should not put an assessment of freedom on Tibet and Xinjiang so long that it fails to assess the status of separatist minorities in free democracies. I have even questioned the moral integrity of the entire FH organization.

    Since you ask me, you have just given me another chance to prove why your opinion is not credible. Indeed, where did you get the FH’s ranking on Taiwan such that “in 2005, this propaganda organization gave Chen Shui-bian’s regime / PR 1 with an up arrow / CL 1 / Free” rating”? And where did you get the FH’s ranking Taiwan “the highest marks during the Chen’s administration with many instances of suppressing the media” while “Ma’s gets the lowest because KMT puts the agenda that FH doesn’t agree with and called it “sensationalism?”

    Here is what I got from the FH’s ranking on Taiwan from 2002 to 2010 in FH’s website:
    2002: PR 1; CL 2
    2003: PR 2; CL 2
    2004: PR 2; CL 2
    2005: PR 2; CL 1
    2006: PR 1; CL 1
    2007: PR 2; CL 1
    2008: PR 2; CL 1
    2009: PR 2; CL 1
    2010: PR 1; CL 2

    So again, where did you get the ranking for Taiwan in 2005 as PR 1/CL 1? Also, you keep pointing to Chen’s raid on a newspaper in 2005 as evidence of FH’s flaw or bias; yet, FH’s rational for raising Taiwan’s CL ranking in 2005 from 2004 was not based on an assessment of the freedom of the press. From the 2005 report, it stated that “Taiwan’s civil liberties rating improved from 2 to 1 due to improvements in the rule of law, including the consolidation of judicial independence.” Does that means that Taiwan media was totally free in 2005? Absolutely not. But if you want to challenge FH report based on the freedom of press, you will need to look more closely at its Press Freedom index and have more knowledge about the overall trends of media freedom in Taiwan, so as to give us some statistics on the incidence of media suppression taken place in Taiwan from year to year, rather than just the 2005 incident.

    Again you claim that FH gives Chen administration “the highest marks” and Ma administration “the lowest.” Yet, from what statistics you see such patterns? Tell me that you did not just imagine them and then told us that is the case. From the statistics I collected here from the FH reports, I see no such patterns. In fact, the early Chen administration received score 2 for both PR and CL whereas the Ma administration has so far managed to avoid that score. The only year Chen did better than Ma was 2006. So where did you get the statistics?

    With regard to your second paragraph, I have no idea what you try to say nor any idea why is so important that you would keep saying about Charter 08 that “has no language of limiting rights who has ‘friendly relations with foreign states’.”

  175. Otto Kerner Says:

    I used to be a big Bevin Chu fan back ~10 years ago, although I’m afraid I’m not as impressed with him in hindsight. I never realised he had a researcher for his Antiwar.com series.

  176. UFO Says:

    Newt Gingrich Suggests Attacking Rest Of ‘Axis Of Evil’
    Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich twice called on the United States to attack North Korea and Iran Thursday because the United States has only attacked “one out of three” of so-called “Axis of Evil” members by invading Iraq. He also claimed that Muslims are trying to install Sharia law on America and said that the “War on Terror” should have been a war on “radical Islamists” instead.
    Speaking at an American Enterprise Institute event yesterday, Gingrich compared not following through on President George W. Bush’s “Axis of Evil” agenda with not fully engaging the Axis power in World War II.

    There we go again …this ” Kill’em all and let God sort’em out ” cowboy mentality just wouldn’t die !
    Oh man, these following words sound so familiar. Oh, yes, we’ve all talked about this years ago.

    Re: ask Daniel Ellsberg, the man who rocked America in 1971

    “Our real enemies are not those living in a distant land whose names or policies we don’t understand; The real enemy is a system that wages war when it’s profitable, the CEOs who lay us off our jobs when it’s profitable, the Insurance Companies who deny us Health care when it’s profitable, the Banks who take away our homes when it’s profitable. Our enemies are not several hundred thousands away. They are right here in front of us.”


  177. Jason Says:

    The persecution and harrashment of Kao Nien-yi in 2006 is already forgotten by FH by not downgrading their report in 2006.

    And ETTV-S, a CABLE CHANNEL, getting their licensed revoke.

    Just another example of what is wrong with FH reports.

  178. Otto Kerner Says:

    So, Jason, I take it you would agree that China would be unable to maintain control of a free Tibet or Xinjiang?

  179. Wukailong Says:

    @Otto: You liked reading Bevin Chu’s articles? it doesn’t really square with what I know about your opinions… but perhaps you were being sarcastic? 🙂

  180. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To mhuang #172:
    thanks for those links. I was unaware of those resources.

    The Asian Barometer survey methodology certainly seems more legitimate than the FH model. Any survey that includes a random sampling of actual citizens is better than a selected survey of “China experts”. The only caveat would be that they sampled randomly throughout the entire country; Jerry had linked a while ago to a “survey” that included random sampling, but only within a fraction of the population in selected urban centers.

    As for an “explanation” of the survey results, I think it is probably a combination of the ones you’ve listed. As has been alluded to previously, it is important to define democracy before attempting assessments thereof, and it is quite likely that CHinese people may have a divergent understanding of “democracy” than we do. Ultimately, what Chinese people want is what Chinese people should have. That’s plenty “democratic” for me. I’m not sure the same can be said of the CCP.

    To 173 and 177:
    I’m rather enjoying watching mhuang clean your clock. And you are repeatedly demonstrating the preference to only look at trees, rather than at the forest. In fact, I think you’re looking at an individual leaf on one individual tree…you might wanna take a step back and elevate your gaze every so often.

  181. Otto Kerner Says:


    Nope, not being sarcastic. I’ve always been interested in hearing well-argued opinions from people who disagree with me. In fact, the main reason I was interested in Fool’s Mountain to begin with is that Tang Buxi is just about the only author I’m aware of who presents the pro-PRC side of the Tibet issue in an intelligent way that I can engage with. Ah me, how I do miss those days …

    In Bevin Chu’s case, I was originally totally unsympathetic to the unificationist side, in the sort of knee-jerk way that Americans usually are. After reading Bevin Chu for a while, I was willing to consider the possibility that most people in Taiwan don’t really want to be independent from China. I was never against self-determination for Taiwan, but the question is what the people there want (I think of waisheng and bensheng as being equally Taiwanese at this point). I’ve since come to suspect that Chu exaggerated his case somewhat, but nevertheless the issue is a lot more complicated than I initially thought. There is a significant reservoir of pro-Chinese sentiment in Taiwan, which I don’t think is the case among, say, Tibetans.

    I don’t think Bevin Chu ever had anything interesting to say about Tibet.

    I’m still quite partial to Li Ao, who I first heard about from a Bevin Chu column. I nevertheless do sometimes have to wonder if his “V for Vendetta” attack on the Taiwanese parliament was secretly intended to undermine Taiwanese nationalism by discrediting their version of democracy …

  182. jxie Says:

    @Otto Kerner, for the longest time I had thought you were a European, likely a German. It’s far less morally contradictory to support the “free Tibet” ideology as a German than as an American. An easy question to you is, why didn’t you devote your time to the sovereignty of native Hawaiians and some native American tribes, or the plights of Spanish-speaking people in their former territories? Sure, it’s not a very fair question, but a legitimate question nonetheless, don’t you think?

    In a way both China and the USA have been expansive empires. It’s hard for Chinese to pick on the US, or for Americans to pick on China — while keeping a straight face.

  183. jxie Says:

    About Liu Xiaobo & Charter 08. Has anyone actually bothered to read the text of Charter 08, the verdict of his trial, and the PRC criminal code with regard to subversion? In my opinion, his conviction was pretty much a slam dunk, with the current PRC legal code.

  184. Otto Kerner Says:


    If it’s not a fair question, why do you consider it legitimate? I will treat it as a legitimate question regardless. The answer is that I am actually quite interested in American Indian issues. Since that situation is dramatically different from the Tibet issue in several respects, naturally a different response is called for.

    If my argument were, “China is bad because it is an expansive empire, whereas America is good”, that would be nonsensical. But it hardly follows that I can be expected to never be concerned about happenings inside any expansive empire. I haven’t noticed Chinese people being particularly shy at complaining about imperialism abroad, and, moreover, I fail to see how the world would be a better place if they were shy about it.

  185. jxie Says:

    @Otto Kerner,

    As a free human being, in principle you are free to pursue whatever topics that interest you. Questioning that, is not fair, but not out of the realm of legality.

    Would native Hawaiians be better off if they were independent? If purely judged by the living standard, it’s hard to make a case. The per capita GDP of Hawaii is far higher than those of Tonga or Fiji. Equally, the per capita GDP of TAR, is much higher than those of Nepal and Sikkim (as a state of India now). There are far more parallels between Hawaii and Tibet than most probably care to explore. For example, income tax in Hawaii is high but property tax is low. That’s the American way of appeasing the Hawaiian natives because they tend to make less but own lots of properties. Equally TAR gets lots of national funding but pay virtually no tax. the Tibetan language is in much better shape than the native Hawaiian language. But the way it goes, it may not be case in another 50 years…

  186. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Jxie:
    what native Hawaiians may or may not want, and what Tibetans may or may not want, are entirely independent things with no causal nor associative relationships. In each case, the way to find out is to ask them, or to wait for them to express it themselves. The likelihood of the former, wrt those 2 groups, is probably widely disparate. The consequences of the latter, wrt those 2 groups, likewise.

  187. Charles Liu Says:

    jxie, you are correct.

    In the Liu Xiaobo case the Chinese court establish foreign agent status for Liu Xiaobo in the same way the Swedish court did with Babur Mehsut. The prosecution produced bank records showing an account belonging to Liu’s wife received, and withdrawn, foreign remittance. Such foreign remittance has been tied to the US government by non other than the NED’s own grant publication.

    Nimrod made this point a while back:


  188. jxie Says:

    @SKC, that’s quite presumptious of you — just because you feel it’s true doesn’t make it so. For anything meaningful, you will have to survey a small set of the current Hawaiian residents who can be categorized as native Hawaiians, of which the categorization process needs to be satifactory to international observers. To survey a small set of the current Hawaiian residents for the topic of formal independence (actually regaining its sovereignty), in a form of referendum or close to it, in my opinion will virtually certainly be challenged legally in the US, and stands ZERO chance of not being legally shut down.

    On top of it, think about this. The US has taken over Hawaiian for 112 years already. 112 years from 1950, it will be 2062, I actually assign a slightly higher chance for Tibetans getting their fair shake then, than the native Hawaiians getting one now. Something like 0.001% of chance versus 0.00000%.

  189. S.K. Cheung Says:

    Hey, didn’t WKL go to great lengths a few months back to translate the entire Swedish court opinion in order to help dispel some myths and misinterpretations?

    It’s quite probable that Mr. Liu broke some of the CCP’s laws. Whether Mr. Liu did anything that, in the eyes of Chinese people, would deserve incarceration, is quite a different matter.

    To JXie:
    I’m not sure of what you feel I am presuming. It should go without saying that my impressions are inadequate to render something as “the truth”, although I’m unsure of what to which you refer, and should point out that I don’t belong to the subset around here given to claims of dispensing “the truth”.

    My point was, and is, simply this: comparing Hawaii and Tibet is pointless. What native Hawaiians want has no bearing of what Tibetans want, and vice versa. So I have no idea why you’re bringing it up in the first place.

    I think I’m encouraged that you think Tibetans will have a small “chance for…getting their fair shake” by 2062 (though a “fair shake” of what, I’m not so sure). I think I’m further encouraged that Tibetans will have a better chance of something-or-other by 2062 than Hawaiians have today. However, I have to ask: do either Tibetans or Hawaiians want this something-or-other? Cuz I’d first like to know what they want, before speculating on their chances of getting it.

  190. Jerry Says:

    @Steve, @Jxie, @Otto

    Congrats and kudos, Steve, for this marvelous topic. The article has proven a wonderful conversation piece.

    @Jxie (#182), apparently it matters to you if a European/German comments on Tibet as opposed to an American. Newsflash – Americans are not part of some monolithic American group. Second newsflash – Germans and Europeans are not part of some similar monolithic group. I have enjoyed Otto’s comments, even when I disagreed. I had no idea where he was from, nor did I care. I just took Otto to be Otto.

    Otto, I am sorry that you lost some or all of your moral authority with your revelation. Was it painful? 😀 Speaking of your name, when I was a kid, the Governor of Illinois was named Otto Kerner and headed the Kerner Commission on Civil Disorder in the 1960’s.

    @Jxie (#185 & #188), I hoped you enjoyed your academic exercise on Hawaiians and Tibetans. Your examination of the value of independence and the calculation of the probability of Hawaiians and Tibetans getting a fair shake, were interesting. Irrelevant, but they were interesting. Like SK stated, I don’t understand your point of doing so. First, I think we should ask the Tibetans and Native Hawaiians what they want. Or maybe we should just let them bring it up themselves? That would be novel.

    You seemed to imply that Otto should tend to Native Americans/Indians, Hispanics in former Spanish/Mexican territories and native Hawaiians before he has the temerity to state opinions about Tibetans. Legitimate? I don’t think so. But, don’t let that stop you. You may ask what you wish.

    Just for giggles, let’s discuss a few of the mistreated minorities in the USA. Convicted American lobbyist, Jack Abramoff, swindled 4 Indian tribes of tens of millions of dollars. Jack, 2 WH officials and Congressman Ney were convicted and imprisoned. Antonio Villaraigosa, born in LA to a humble Mexican-American family later became the Speaker of the California State Assembly and is currently in his second term as mayor of Los Angeles. Hispanic-Americans have gained a large political foothold in the US Southwest. A number of US Indian tribes throughout the US have opened casinos and have created a lot of wealth for their tribes and their members. My own grandfather and grandmother were poor Jewish immigrants from Russia, having come to the US some 100 years ago. My grandfather was thrilled to be in the US. I am so grateful he emigrated from Russia.

    I would hazard a guess that, despite the mistreatment and imperfections in the US, most of the Jews, Hispanic-Americans, Native Americans/Indians and native Hawaiians would prefer taking their chances in the US. I think that most are looking to improve their lots and lives in the US. I believe that academic constructs like yours are of little concern to them. I also believe that comparisons between the US and China are totally irrelevant to them, their lives and what they want. 😀

  191. jxie Says:

    My point was, and is, simply this: comparing Hawaii and Tibet is pointless. What native Hawaiians want has no bearing of what Tibetans want, and vice versa.

    Agree with the 2nd statement. Disagree with the 1st statement. Actually if those have been your point, I probably wouldn’t even bother to respond, though I disagree with the 1st part. You ought to re-read what you actually wrote sometimes. In comment #186 you stated,

    In each case, the way to find out is to ask them, or to wait for them to express it themselves. The likelihood of the former, wrt those 2 groups, is probably widely disparate. The consequences of the latter, wrt those 2 groups, likewise.

    You actually had at least 2 more distinctive ideas in it. Specifically I disagree with the idea that, the likelihood of native Hawaiians being asked (pertain to nation state status/sovereignty), is any difference to the likelihood of Tibetans being asked. Both, in my opinion, are absolutely zero.


    Sometimes I don’t even know how to debate with you, you are quite one-track minded and can’t tune slightly off to another brain wavelength.

    The difference between Europe and the US, is that Europe for the most part has shredded its imperial extremities and returned to its former shell. Just in case you misread me again — I DON’T make moral judgment on imperialism itself. Many minorities have lived happily in empires in the past, now and quite likely in the future. Actually the so-called Han as an ethnic group, by far the largest one in the world, has infusions from a VERY long list of minority tribes in different empires.

    Otto has been arguing for preserving Tibetan culture, language and advocating for ethnic Tibetans to be the head of TAR. Now don’t get me wrong, these are lofty and worthy goals. Sometimes I wish we can know more (language, history, food, clothing, etc.) about some proto-Turk tribes around ancient China that were mostly infused into this all inclusive “Han”, or how the original poems of the likes of Qu Yuan, Li Bai were actually spoken. But none of those historical artifacts were preserved. It seems to me, there are equally lofty and worthy goals in the US, at which Otto can obviously be more productive to spend his time. But like I said, it wasn’t a very fair question to him. If it was me, I would feel uncomfortable with the contradiction. But whatever make Otto happy, he should pursue them.

  192. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To JXie:
    you’ve yet to demonstrate a point to substantiate a need to compare Hawaii with Tibet. If you can agree that Hawaiian desires have no bearing on Tibetan desires, then I’m really interested in finding out the benefits of a comparison thereof. To me, it’s the square root of bupkis. Just so we’re clear, that’s my opinion, with no presumptions.

    Like I said in #189, I wasn’t sure what you were referring to. You finally clarified it in 191. So it seems you’re not happy with the likelihoods I suggested. Fantastic. To each their own. If that was your entire objection…well….alrighty then. Tell you what…I’ll scrap the bit about their relative likelihood of being asked. What do you make of the relative consequences of either of those groups expressing themselves? My opinion is that those would probably be widely disparate…but I’m not passing that off as “the truth”. And I’m happy to leave the fancy percentages to you. But at the end of the day, any comparison is immaterial to me anyway. I think the likelihood of Tibetans being asked their opinion is, as you say, “absolutely zero”; but the consequences were they to express their opinion, substantially greater.

  193. jxie Says:


    you’ve yet to demonstrate a point to substantiate a need to compare Hawaii with Tibet.

    The reason would’ve been plenty clear, had you had some resemblance of basic knowledge of the history and the current situation of US/Hawaii and China/Tibet. I should’ve kept my mouth shut and not called out Otto, because he is a more knowledgeable member whose posts/comments are always interesting to read, despite some of my disagreements. Hope you don’t take it the wrong way — and I say this with all the love in the world — I don’t normally read what you have to say because 1. I rarely if ever learned anything from you, 2. you are obliviously unaware of the incredibly complex textures in most of the topics in hand. You should really keep arguing with Wahaha. That will suit you better. You can even help his English.

    The Kingdom of Hawaii was a sovereign nation with established diplomatic relationships with many other nations. It was forcibly annexed by the US in the 1890s. There was a distinctive native Hawaiian people, with their own culture and language. What they keep saying one day may happen to Tibetans, have already happened to the native Hawaiians. Nowadays the native Hawaiians are a minority in their own homeland. The language is rarely spoken, and the culture, well is facing extinction. One can easily draw many parallels between Hawaii and Tibet, though I can write something lengthy about the curious differences between the two.

    It depends on how they want to express themselves. If all they do is having “Sovereignty of Hawaii” bumper stickers like many of them do, or raise certain issues in the State of Hawaii Congress, they are fine. But if they organize an alternative government, take up arms, form a military, and even visit foreign capitals to appeal their case, I am reasonably certain they will be hunted down and prosecuted, if the US can. If somehow an alternative government in exile exists, methinks that luxury of having “Sovereignty of Hawaii” will likely be taken away.

  194. Otto Kerner Says:


    “To survey a small set of the current Hawaiian residents for the topic of formal independence (actually regaining its sovereignty), in a form of referendum or close to it, in my opinion will virtually certainly be challenged legally in the US, and stands ZERO chance of not being legally shut down.”

    You really think the U.S. government would shut down a survey asking indigenous Hawaiians their opinions on independence?

    FYI, there are various political organisations that advocate Hawaiian independence. Some claim to be governments-in-exile, such as this one: http://hawaiiankingdom.org/ (I guess not technically in exile, since it operates from Hawaiian soil). The fact that organisations like that exist doesn’t mean that the actual government has to crack down on expressions of free speech. Naturally, if they use violence or otherwise obstruct the laws of the country, that is dealt with like if anybody else did the same thing. Now, perhaps the government would take a harder line against independence supporters if there were any danger of secession actually succeeding. However, that’s kind of the point. Hawaiian independence is not a threat because it’s not popular in Hawaii. The U.S. doesn’t have any territories where secession is popular (not counting Iraq and Afghanistan). Historically, that’s because the U.S. was mostly a colonial settler regime rather than an empire, but the facts on the ground are what they are today.

  195. Otto Kerner Says:


    “Otto has been arguing for preserving Tibetan culture, language and advocating for ethnic Tibetans to be the head of TAR. Now don’t get me wrong, these are lofty and worthy goals. Sometimes I wish we can know more (language, history, food, clothing, etc.) about some proto-Turk tribes around ancient China that were mostly infused into this all inclusive ‘Han’, or how the original poems of the likes of Qu Yuan, Li Bai were actually spoken. But none of those historical artifacts were preserved.”

    These sentences together are a non sequitur, right? Tibet is there now. History is history, but Tibetans want their culture, language, and political rights now. That has nothing to do with proto-Turk tribes of ancient China or extinct dialects of Chinese.

  196. foobar Says:

    There I think provides at least part of the backdrop for the Chinese government’s reluctance/refusal to work with anything and anyone that could directly or indirectly promote Tibetan independence. They would look at history of the Native Americans, the Hawaiians and what have you, and think that the US had their chances and time to suppress independence and secessions, and the US did just that to make it extremely untenable. Then of course when you take a moral high ground to tout self-determination for minorities in other countries, it poses no practical threat to yourself but to other countries. Hypothetically, if the ethnic Tibetan population goes below 20% in TAR, and the language is spoken by less than 1% of the ethnic Tibetans, would the Chinese govt be much more flexible and tolerant toward the ‘Free Tibet’ crowd?

    One would think the CCP learns from the US to make the language and culture die if secession is what they worry about. But before the 1980s, before self-determination is hip, they instead learned from the Soviet to establish autonomous regions for minorities, install rules and laws similar to Affirmative Actions to ‘preserve’ the culture. Granted logistically it’s probably far easier to carry out the US policy in Hawaii than in Tibet, given its size, terrain, and altitude. But still, if making the Tibetan language and culture dead is really high on the CCP’s priority list, they really did a shitty job at that.

    Nowadays, with the new roads, infrastructure and investment, infusion of Han and other Chinese population into the TAR will only become easier, faster, and greater in scale. Sinification, most of the time actually modernization/westernization, will no doubt erode the Tibetan culture and religion, and reduce the Tibetans’ desire to keep their language. It can certainly speed up if the CCP is to follow the US/Hawaii path, but will happen nonetheless even without any additional policy beyond the economical realm. I would guess this is what Otto actually worries about.

  197. Josef Says:

    It is slightly off topic but related to this Hawaii/Tibet discussion:
    “THE HAGUE (Netherlands) – KOSOVO’S declaration of independence from Serbia in February 2008 did not violate international law, judges at the UN’s highest court said on Thursday.”

    “On 22 July 2010 the International Court of Justice (ICJ) delivered an advisory opinion on Kosovo independence. Kosovo’s Declaration of Independence, ruled the ICJ, did not violate international law. ”

    That also lead to an editorial in Taiwan-News and its interpretation:
    “For its part, Beijing is particularly concerned over the possible “domino” effect in relation to Xinjiang and Tibet, which are now controlled by the PRC regime, and Taiwan, which is not.”
    and they emphasize “international law contained no prohibition of declarations of independence”.

  198. Otto Kerner Says:


    Yes, but this logic is completely insane. “Because crimes were committed in the past, therefore crimes must continue to be committed today for sake of fairness”. Are you f—ing kidding me? You make this sound as if it were all about your hurt feelings: “Oh, no, Otto Kerner is taking the moral high ground against me!”

    By the way, China has taken plenty of opportunities in the past to suppress independence and colonise land away from the locals, which is why the Han-populated area is so large. This has been going on for 5,000 years, culminating in the repopulation of Manchuria, Inner Mongolia, and northern Xinjiang. We aren’t talking about carbon emissions here. Taking other people’s land by force is hardly a modern invention.

  199. foobar Says:


    I’m not talking about anybody’s feelings, least of which mine. I also have difficulty imagining the decision making at the top is really concerned with ‘feelings’. I’m not advocating an Hawaiian approach for the Tibetan issue, either. So enough with the tantrum. By the way, the ‘you’s in my above post refer mostly to the US, and definitely not you, Otto K, on any personal level. If that’s what irks you.

    For states however, that’s a fairly valid point. No? You had your policy, CCP has his. Let’s not argue which policy is more criminal, at least based on facts on the ground, the Tibetan language and culture are not in worse shape than the Hawaiian ones, no?

    My other point is that economics alone (well, with the current Chinese policy in place) will pretty much do the Hawaiian thing over again, in Tibet, though maybe in a much slower pace. Just an observation or more of a conjecture. Not advocating anything here.

    ====This has been going on for 5,000 years…
    It’s really something I wasn’t intending to get into but what the hell.
    First of all, 5000 years? Really? I thought the Chinese claim on history has been debunked numerous times.
    Second, does this “goings on” resemble more the colonization of the Americas, Africa, and Oceania,
    or the tribal in-fighting in the Americas, Africa, and Oceania before their colonization?

    ====Taking other people’s land by force is hardly a modern invention.
    True. Why don’t you say that when you see someone actually arguing that.

  200. foobar Says:

    ====“Because crimes were committed in the past, therefore crimes must continue to be committed today for sake of fairness”.
    I take issue with how ‘my logic’ is paraphrased here, but whatever.
    My problem with your parody is this: you think what the US did to Hawaii are crimes. Well, I think so too. But does the US think so? If it does, what is the punishment to the criminals? What are the remedial measures taken? What efforts and resources, whether military, political, cultural or economical, were exerted and spent on correcting the wrongs? And to what effect? An apology resolution is just too convenient, I think.

  201. Rhan Says:

    Otto / foobar, I read below from a blog, share with you both.

    [The Confucian idea of harmony – which is perhaps more advanced than “unity” – in diversity is well-known to all older Chinese. The analects were the first to say succintly that “within the four seas all men are brothers” (a saying that was also used for the novel Shui Hu Chuan or “The Water Margin”). Yet, the idea of race and thus a Derridean “differance” began to crop up in Chinese socio-political discourse sometime during the early 20th century (this was also brought up by a Middle Eastern writer – Tariq Ali? – a few years ago). Fortunately, it disappeared as quickly as it appeared from national discourse but NOT, I think, among sections of the Chinese people.

    It’s interesting to know why, after two thousand years of Confucianism, the idea of race surfaced among some Chinese. Unlike European literature, which was never freed from racist inferences, Chinese literature AND historical writings were full of the diversity that Confucius promoted. Nearly every Chinese knows that Bao Gong had a black face, and that Kuan Yu of the Three Kingdom a red one. The leader of the Eastern state in the same novel had Caucasian features. It was during the Tang and Han dynasties that the Chinese began to worship the great Buddha and later another Indian called Avalokiteshvara or Kuan Yin. Chinese tales of the Shaolin Temple proudly recounted the exploits of its Indian founder Damo.

    However, as China degenerated under a series of bad emperors, the country was weakened to such an extent that it could not resist Western aggression. The Opium Wars show how the West used the Chinese inventions of the rudder and compass to sail to China and another Chinese invention, the cannon, to blast Chinese defenses to pieces. The Qing emperor was helpless, signing off one territory after another to the Western aggressors. The people wanted to fight, but not the government. It was at this time that early opposition to Ching rule began to take on a racist tone. The people who suffered most from the opium trade were from the South, mainly the Guangdong people (popular called “Cantonese” though Canton (Guangzhou) is just a city). These were among the greatest resistors of foreign rule. They were the ones who often volunteered to work in British-owned ships and then set them on fire. The idea of the “inscrutable” Chinese probably originated or became popularized during this period, as smiling Cantonese coolies would bide their time before they shout, possibly, “Tiu Nia Ma!” and kill the enemy (the first modern suicide bombers!). This was also the time when Chinese terms for any foreigner ends with the word “devil,” such as Hongmo kwai (red haired devil). Very few Chinese in the north had such visceral hatred of the foreign and everything foreign. No wonder that the first successful revolutionary and founder of New China was Dr. Sun, from Guangdong.

    It’s an irony – to be repeated countless of times in colonial histories – that since the only way to fight the oppressor is to gain his knowledge of the sciences, Chinese who could afford flocked to the West for their education. Dr. Sun went to the University of Honolulu. His wife Soong Ching Ling (from Hainan) studied in Wellesley College in the US. Zhou En-lai went to Japan and then France (like Chen Yi, China’s future Foreign Minister). Chu Teh, the great military strategist, went to France and then Berlin Military Academy.

    But these and other Chinese not only learned the hard sciences: they also studied social science. Since the Age of Imperialism to the early 20th century, Western justification for the conquest and extermination of native peoples in Africa, Australia, and the Americas had been based on the concept of biological determinism, as exemplified in these lines from Alexander Pope:

    Order is Heaven’s first law and, this confessed,
    Some are, and must be, greater than the rest.

    And according to this line of thinking, the darker a person, the more inferior he is. The stage for black slavery and conquest of the world was set.

    Lastly, China is a multi-national country, with over 50 nationalities such as the Tibetans, the Chuangs, the Lisus, the Mongols, etc. And though the national language is Mandarin, all the nationalities have their own preferred language as well. Even the Hans were originally a disparate group, shared only by a common culture. However, they’d been very well mixed for over 2000 years.]

    Btw, I miss Shennong and Tayu!

  202. jxie Says:

    @Otto Kerner,

    You really think the U.S. government would shut down a survey asking indigenous Hawaiians their opinions on independence?

    If ballots are involved and the proposition is anything similar to what they asked in the 1995 Quebec Referendum, and it’s limited to only Native Hawaiians… are you kidding me? Private Hawaiian residents who aren’t allowed to cast their votes alone will sue the crap out of such motion, and make sure it never gets off the block. Since the annexation of Hawaii, the US has been a Pacific naval power, historically to the chagrin of nations such as Japan, Russia and China. If such referendum, even a non-binding one, is allowed to go ahead, any potential competitor to the American naval power can possibly leverage that as a platform to challenge the US’ sovereignty over Hawaii. I am sure there are many nice peace-loving Americans, but make no mistake, collectively the US has fought by far the most wars after the WW2 among all nations. If the US isn’t an empire, no nation at this point is.

    Tibet is there now. History is history, but Tibetans want their culture, language, and political rights now. That has nothing to do with proto-Turk tribes of ancient China or extinct dialects of Chinese.

    Don’t know I particularly care for what Tibetans want, as if they collectively want one set of things, especially if what they want may be in conflict with what others want. My point was that the language, recorded history and culture are human treasury, every single bit of which can be very valuable. It’s worthy to preserve them.

  203. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To 193:
    As you suggest, I normally reserve my English lessons for Wahaha. However, when you show the need for some, I’d be remiss to not spread those lessons around.

    Just for reference, let’s look at your starting point: “you’ve yet to demonstrate a point to substantiate a need to compare Hawaii with Tibet.”

    So riddle me this: where did I say/suggest/insinuate/stipulate that the Hawaiian situation was categorically dissimilar to, fundamentally unlike, or definitively disparate from, the Tibetan one? If you look carefully (and feel free to start at any time), the challenge to you was to substantiate a NEED for such comparison. For all the wonderful information in 193, a response to that challenge is still curiously lacking. Perhaps you share more similarities to Wahaha than I had previously thought. Remember also that you’ve already agreed that Hawaiian desires have no bearing on Tibetan desires, their apparent historical similarities notwithstanding. I guess I’ll leave you some more time to mull over that one. Please feel free to take as long as you may need.

    I feel more enlightened to have learned of your reading choices. If it wasn’t already abundantly clear, what you choose to read, and what you think, are of no consequence to me. However, I do tend to read what you write, just as I tend to read what others write, not based on the expectation of necessarily learning anything, but simply on the principle that I make judgments after I read something, and not before. Admittedly, perhaps not everyone can be so rigorous, so please don’t let my principles affect your blissful state. With luck (for you and me both), you won’t be reading this anyway, your stated proclivities being what they are.

    Obviously, if native Hawaiians take up arms and commit violent acts in pursuit of “independence” or for any other purpose, they should and will be prosecuted. For all those other things you listed, I don’t share your ‘reasonable certainty’, whatever that is. Now, I already alluded to this in #189, but I guess you didn’t read it. While you’re busy speculating upon what might happen if native Hawaiians exercised their desire for independence via certain means, have you determined how prevalent such a desire actually is? As I had said, one probably needs to know what they want first, before speculating on their chances of getting it. Here’s the other point you seem to have missed: none of this has any relevance to what Tibetans may or may not want, or to what might happen if they were more proactive in trying to attain it. I will say this though: your valuable insight would look great on a blog for Hawaii.

    Now, I’ve already said that a comparison to Hawaii is pointless. But just to humour me, if you’re reading this, maybe you can help me out with your logic nonetheless. I gather you disapprove of what the US did in 1890. I also gather, based on your lovely comparison, that you think Hawaii might serve as the historical precedent of what will eventually happen in Tibet. But because the US has not undone her historic wrong, it’s OK for China to proceed to repeat that history?

  204. Tanmay Says:

    Hey Guys,

    Just out of curiosity, how many people on this forum are currently living in China or have ever lived in China?
    I mean people of Chinese origin not foreigners because as I understand it foreigners live in “a world of their own” in china, i.e. they don’t face all the problems the Chinese do.

    I want to know this because if no one has ever experienced Chinese life first hand, how is it that we are talking about degree of freedom or the lack of it in China?

    If indeed none of the posters here have any experience of life in china on what basis are they contesting or supporting the aforementioned report?

    I believe first hand information is the best!

  205. Wukailong Says:


    I live in China and while a foreigner, I face some of the same problem as Chinese face (real estate prices, for example). I don’t hang out in any expat circles (the problem with people from your own country is that rarely stay long) and most of my friends here are locals.

    Your question is a good one. How can most people discuss something they barely know? Still, my personal impression when reading the report is that I’m having quite a good life here despite a number six in civil liberties. You get used to a different way of behaving and acting because you know there are taboo subjects and certain things you can’t do.

    The real contention here seems to be between civil rights as such and how much power people have over their lives. Despite the lack of political rights, I would say that the vast majority have gotten more power to pursue their own dreams. For the time being, that’s probably what most people care about.

  206. Tanmay Says:


    It’s great to be able to talk someone actually living in China Finally!
    What I have read that there is sharp difference in life in China’s cities and rural areas in terms of liberties or civil rights.
    The authors claim that city life in China is designed for foreigners so that it shows China in a positive light.

    Since I have read this mostly in books written by western authors I am not too sure about it’s veracity. It could very well be a part of some pro-capitalist “propaganda”.

    What do you feel about this? Have you been to rural areas in China? Is it really that different over there?
    (I understand that the standard of living might be lower, I am just curious to about liberties.)

  207. jxie Says:

    @SKC #203

    It’s not about you per se, but rather what you have written. Why are we here to begin with? In my case, to learn something, to satisfy my intellectual curiosities, and to communicate — when I have time, which in all our cases, is finite. To me many of your posts consist of semantic runarounds that I can hardly get any useful information out. Something disagreeable but interesting, I will read; something boring, even if agreeable, I won’t read. If you really want to comment on a topic, submerging yourself with the facts and figures first, isn’t really a bad choice. Otherwise silently reading won’t be too bad either. The worst would be making some points out of ignorance and then the little ego forces you to constantly defend them, in a mind-numbingly boring way.

    It’s not that I dislike you, or automatically associate your name to a “don’t read” list. It’s just that often time after a couple lines of many of your posts, personally lose interest of reading the rest. The question you ought to ask yourself is, why are you here?

    [T]he challenge to you was to substantiate a NEED for such comparison. For all the wonderful information in 193, a response to that challenge is still curiously lacking.

    Since you ask for a need, the mere fact that I compared the two, demonstrates at least ONE need — mine. The fact that the comparison was picked up by others and the topic is rolling forward, demonstrates more than one need. Isn’t that self-apparent?

    I gather you disapprove of what the US did in 1890.

    Actually it’s whole lot more complicated than that. For starter, the annexation of Hawaii propelled the US to a full Pacific naval power, and it eventually checked the Russian, Japanese and British encroachments on China. Being a rising and more humble power, the US involvement in China was more benign. Had the US not expanded to the west of Hawaii before the WW2, China would’ve been likely far worse today.

    On top of it, there was no mass murder of native Hawaiians. Saving some loyalists to the Queen, relatively few Hawaiians then were killed. Living standards-wise, native Hawaiians likely are far better off than otherwise if they had been independent. Some empires are rather nice to live in even as a minority, and in the Chinese history, there were plenty of such examples.

    The part I didn’t like was that the “universal values” circa 1900 being applied to Hawaii, and we have lost some cultural treasures, of which every single bit can be quite valuable in the future.

  208. S.K. Cheung Says:

    Ahhh, why am I here? Such a profound query. Sadly, no one singular reason, and the reasons that exist have also evolved over time. At one time, amongst a different group of commentators, the learning value was definitely more prominent. If FOARP is reading this, he will realize that I miss one particular commentator as much as he does. More recently, the value has shifted to a more base variety, such that I now bear witness to you satisfying your needs, among other things. What should also be apparent is that a shared need (in this case, for comparing Hawaii and Tibet) does not make that “need” a useful or relevant one per se, but that it is merely shared among some like-minded folks. More often than not, it seems, the need to compare seems to shield such folks from any need to address the subjects of comparison on an individual basis, especially when one of those subjects happens to be Tibet or China. For instance, in your comparison, you sure have lots to say about Hawaii. Happily, I like to highlight such instances, and since such proclivities show no sign of going out of style here, it serves as a further recurring reason for my being here.

    It is regrettable that I haven’t been able to educate you, although that was never my intent, or desire. If that’s what you thought you were providing for me…well…I’ll be darned, but I didn’t realize it until now. Good to know. I must say, your posts are not the most exciting to read either, but that may only be because some commentators here exhibit even more atrocious logic than you do. Among other things, the dearth of logic on display from some quarters brings me back for more.

    If you’re still awake from reading the above, then you might consider tackling the last question from #203. Who knows, but the answer might even approach the realm of usefulness.

  209. Otto Kerner Says:


    My problem with your parody is this: you think what the US did to Hawaii are crimes. Well, I think so too. But does the US think so? If it does, what is the punishment to the criminals? What are the remedial measures taken? What efforts and resources, whether military, political, cultural or economical, were exerted and spent on correcting the wrongs? And to what effect? An apology resolution is just too convenient, I think.

    I’m open to suggestions. There is no precedent in any body of law that I’m aware for how remediate cases like this a long time after they happened. The closest thing would be the ethnic cleansing of Germans from eastern Germany (the part that is now in Poland) and from areas where they had been a minority in Eastern Europe after the 2nd World War, as punishment for the crimes of the German state. However, I regard those policies as completely unjust and unjustifiable, so I don’t think they should be taken as a model. You could try suing the U.S. government, but the government is insolvent and you’d have to stand in line with all the other people who have torts against it. I think the best we can do is to pursue criminal charges and property claims to the full extent of current law, without pretending that this makes everything even steven historically, which is obviously doesn’t. The individuals who committed the crimes at the time are all dead now, so they can’t be tried, but there may be some property claims that can be pursued.

  210. Otto Kerner Says:


    I apologise if I made a mistake in thinking that the absurd argument you presented in 189 was your opinion rather than a description of somebody else’s.

    You say, “Let’s not argue which policy is more criminal” between the occupation of Tibet and the occupation of Hawaii.

    I say, “Taking other people’s land by force is hardly a modern invention.” and you reply, “True. Why don’t you say that when you see someone actually arguing that.“, but isn’t that the point of this from #189:

    they would look at history of the Native Americans, the Hawaiians and what have you, and think that the US had their chances and time to suppress independence and secessions, and the US did just that to make it extremely untenable.

    ? As if acting to “suppress independence and secessions” and “make it extremely untenable” was something new that China had not had enough chances and time do this yet over the last few thousand years. I said “5,000” years just as a spoof of the oft-heard claim. I just meant, since time immemorial.

  211. Otto Kerner Says:

    @Rhan #201,

    Is this observation supposed to have some sort of political implication or relevance? To me, it seems pretty freaky that someone would look at this sort of meandering rumination as any kind of political commentary.

  212. Jerry Says:


    Well, Jxie, I argue and discuss issues as I will and so choose. “you are quite one-track minded and can’t tune slightly off to another brain wavelength (#191)”. Perhaps? Perhaps not? Appearances can be deceiving. 😀 😛

    I learn in my own unique, eclectic, perhaps eccentric way. Sometimes, I poke and prod! Sometimes, I don’t. And I am here at FM for a number of reasons. Some, maybe all, which may differ from your reasons. C’est la vie. Laissez les bon temps rouler! Yeah, baby!!

    Regarding my “moral authority” remark to Otto, it was rather sarcastic. You talked about “moral contradictions” and I decided to have some fun. To me, life is full of contradictions (moral and not), ghosts, paradoxes, conundrums and dichotomies. So, I have decided to make friends with them rather than fight them.

    Regarding Hawaii, I have never been there. I read Michener’s Hawaii. I studied Hawaii in geography and history classes. I have friends from Hawaii. For certain, I am nowhere close to being an expert.

    If Hawaii became a totally sovereign nation in 1810 (#193), it is news to me. Foreigners helped Kamehameha unify the islands. The Russians had forts on Kauai. The French forced, under threat of war, Kamehameha III to re-allow the practice of Catholicism and stop torturing Catholic converts. The Brits took over the island temporarily and actually ceded Hawaii back to the Hawaiians.

    The French invaded Honolulu for a short while in 1849. The US and Hawaii enacted a trade agreement in 1875. There was a palace coup in 1889 which stripped the monarchy of most of its power, disenfranchised the poor and Asians and put the propertied class into power. Liliuokalani in 1893 tried to restore the monarchy’s power through a new constitution. Spurred by rich Hawaiians, Americans (think Dole) and Europeans living in Hawaii, the US took over the governance of Hawaii.

    President Grover Cleveland did not support the takeover. He felt that the Hawaiians and its monarchy had been wronged. An US Senate issued an official report which exonerated Stevens, a US government minister in Hawaii, Hawaiian president, Dole and the US army. Cleveland accepted the Senate report. Thus, the Republic of Hawaii came into being. At that time, apparently a number of Hawaiians opposed making Hawaii a territory of the US. Nonetheless, it became a territory.

    IMHO, that is a very muddled sovereignty.

    Regarding native Hawaiians wanting Hawaiian independence and sovereignty, I have no idea how many native Hawaiians we are talking about and what is their percentage of the Hawaiian population. Hawaiians lobbied for statehood and it was granted in 1959. You are right that the non-native Hawaiians would block, through the courts, any binding vote on Hawaiian independence. They will not easily suffer disenfranchisement and that is an understatement. The US government would not have to lift a finger.

    Regarding Tibet, I don’t think there is a snowball’s chance in hell of true autonomy (the current TAR is as phony as a 3 dollar bill, what with the government-sponsored migration of Hans into the TAR) or independence for native Tibetans. 2 reasons come to mind. First of all, the Tibetan glaciers that feed the Yangtze, Mekong, and Huang rivers. Water is a big issue in China. Secondly, Tibet’s proximity to India alone would cause the CCP to put asunder any Tibetan independence movement.

    Lastly, Hawaii and all the ill effects of America’s “Manifest Destiny” should be cautionary tales. The Chicoms should not use these as a roadmap to power, control and empire. Militant nationalism at any cost should be avoided.

  213. foobar Says:

    209: There is no precedent in any body of law …
    And do I wonder why? The oppressed and the colonized didn’t get to make any body of law, and the colonialists and descendants certainly are not eagerly looking to let them.

    Perhaps I should have been more consistent and replaced all occurrences of ‘China’ with ‘CCP’, if that makes what I wrote a bit less confusing?
    No, the point is not about ‘taking land by force’ because not only is it so rampant in history, as you so seem to remind people of, it’s pretty much the norm. Anything different, by money, by diplomacy (arguable since behind that there’s usually force too) would be the exception.
    The point is about how they keep the land after ‘taking’ it. That I think is pretty high a priority on all govt’s mind. Killing language and culture is a means and not end. I’m arguing that the US wasn’t hell bent on killing the Hawaiian language and culture, similarly the CCP isn’t hell bent on killing the Tibetan language and culture. They are a lot more interested in keeping the land.

    But killing the language and culture would certainly help keeping the land, if one can refer to the US/Hawaii case. Native population below 20%, native language speaker far below 1%; that’s how effective it can be, that’s the degree of extreme ‘untenable’-ness at work. It looks like the CCP has yet to take a page out of the US/Hawaii history book. If it did, I can only infer the CCP is either far less malevolent than I think it is, or just too lousy a student. I repeat my guess here: Whether the evil CCP is smart or stupid for its own good, it doesn’t matter much. With the kind money that’s flowing into Tibet, another Hawaii is not that far in the future.

    Or maybe this is exactly how the CCP intends, learning from the Hawaiian history book, with Chinese characteristics.

  214. Wukailong Says:

    @Tanmay (#206): “What I have read that there is sharp difference in life in China’s cities and rural areas in terms of liberties or civil rights. The authors claim that city life in China is designed for foreigners so that it shows China in a positive light.”

    I don’t think the development of the cities are designed to please foreigners or give China face, it’s rather that the tier-one cities have gotten most of the investment and so the rise in living standards. This is especially true for the cities of the east coast. As for the difference in civil liberties, the times I’ve been to the countryside it’s been my observation that, apart from being much poorer than the cities, local leaders have absolute authority in a way that their city counterparts don’t have. This doesn’t translate to people having less civil liberties so much as the local leaders being more arbitrary when they wield power.

    Of course, I don’t know how the differences in freedom between the countryside and the city is translated into Freedom House’s index. They might not be that great.

  215. Otto Kerner Says:

    However, foobar, there is a precedent for how to resolve situations like Tibet, viz post-imperial self-determination, as in the the case of the former European overseas empires or the Ottoman territories in eastern Europe.

    Jerry, et al. I don’t completely agree that the future of Tibet is completely hopeless. It looks bleak right now, but the future always holds surprises for us. If China ever makes a transition to bona fide democracy, that changes the game in Tibet dramatically.

  216. my mother Says:

    Another game changer is FREE MUFFINS!

  217. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Foobar #213:
    does that mean people can criticize the US historical handling of Hawaii, while approving of China/CCP’s contemporary attempt to do the same thing in hopes of attaining the same “ends”, and try to do so with a straight face?

    To Otto:
    that’s a big “if”. But there’s always hope…and maybe even a will in some quarters, though maybe not so much around these parts.

  218. mhuang Says:

    Are we talking about free Tibet as independent Tibet or as autonomous Tibet?

    I have never been to Tibet, so I have no idea what is like to be living in Tibet and about what local Tibetans actually want as contrasted to what overseas Tibetans want. But if I were to make an observation, I would agree with Dalai Lama himself, who said in an interview with the Time Magazine in 2006:

    “Today, the common interest is more important than each individual nation’s sovereignty. Tibet is a landlocked country, a large area, small population, very, very backward. We Tibetans want modernization. Therefore, in order to develop Tibet materially as a modern nation, Tibet must remain within the People’s Republic of China. Provided Chinese give us a full guarantee of preservation of Tibetan culture, Tibetan environment, Tibetan spirituality, then it is of mutual benefit. [Besides] foreign affairs [and] defense [are] all the things which Tibetans can manage by themselves. Tibetans should have the full autonomy.”

  219. foobar Says:

    #215 However, foobar, there is a precedent for how to resolve situations like Tibet, viz post-imperial self-determination, as in the the case of the former European overseas empires or the Ottoman territories in eastern Europe.

    Not quite sure which specific precedent you are suggesting we learn from here … I’m no expert in either historical period, but it seems to me that most of the times wars/armed rebellions together with foreign coercions did the trick, more so for the Ottoman Empire. For the European powers, the two world wars were a huge part of their breaking ups. Other factors were also important. In the first phase of the breaking up (pre-WWII. I don’t know if ‘phasing’ is a good description in history books, but bear with me), it was the Great Depression that made it economically not viable to keep SOME of the colonies. In the second phase, it was the US, a rising power without a whole lot of colonies and having a lot to gain if the traditional colonial powers disintegrate, that pressured the British to let go of its colonies. Not saying that struggles of the ‘natives’, armed or not, were only a small part, but in the grand scheme of things, it seems to me independences were born out of power struggles, not from a nice ideal called ‘self-determination’.

    Now when you say ‘to resolve situations like Tibet’, in the context of comparing to Hawaii, was there ever a ‘Hawaii problem’? Is there still a ‘Hawaii problem’ today, or has it been ‘resolved’? If so, how? If not, how is it going to be ‘resolved’?

    #217 does that mean people can criticize the US historical handling of Hawaii, while approving of China/CCP’s contemporary attempt to do the same thing in hopes of attaining the same “ends”, and try to do so with a straight face?

    For individual ‘people’, probably no. But how often does that matter?
    For states, why the heck not? Is it so different from condemning the Iran nuclear enrichment program while helping India or Vietnam get it? You still seem to give off the impression that you think the world works around ‘right’ and ‘wrong’.

    And that’s after you make your case about CCP’s “attempt” at the “same” thing.

  220. S. K. Cheung Says:

    To Foobar:
    well, who knows what the CCP actually wants, or does? I’m merely taking your assertions from #213 (“With the kind money that’s flowing into Tibet, another Hawaii is not that far in the future….Or maybe this is exactly how the CCP intends, learning from the Hawaiian history book, with Chinese characteristics.”)

    Nations do what is in their best interest. So whatever the CCP does, I imagine the CCP approves of. Thus I am obviously referring to individuals, such as many of the individuals on this blog. What we say here likely doesn’t matter, but for what it’s worth, there’s no shortage of criticism of the Hawaiian historic example while, at the very least, silently tolerating the CCP one, with suggestions for comparisons to boot ( a la 182, 185, 188…well, you get the idea).

  221. Otto Kerner Says:

    foobar, you’re talking about the political motivations for the secession of imperial territories, but I was merely talking about the precedent about how to handle it once it’s been decided upon.

  222. Otto Kerner Says:


    I think that it would prove difficult to prevent an autonomous Tibet from turning into an independent Tibet (look at what happened with Ireland). I suspect that the Chinese government is of the same opinion, which is why they have no intention of ever considering autonomy for Tibet. I would suggest a semi-democratic system resembling the Hong Kong model might be the best bet at avoiding that.

    As for the Dalai Lama quote, I’m sure he’s right that economic integration with China would be in Tibet’s self-interest. I think free trade always brings great benefits. Tibet could also achieve good results by opening itself up to trade and investment from, say, India or the United States; however, China would naturally be Tibet’s most important economic partner. That said, it’s hard to believe that he wouldn’t give up those economic benefits in exchange for a guarantee of Tibet’s political rights in the form of full sovereignty, if that were on the table. I doubt many countries in the world vote to become part of the PRC, despite the economic benefits that it might have.

  223. foobar Says:

    there is a precedent for how to resolve situations like Tibet
    I was merely talking about the precedent about how to handle it once it’s been decided upon.
    Otto, I have no idea how those two statements connect. What exactly is decided upon for ‘situations like Tibet’, and what was decided upon for the Ottoman and European empires? Who were the deciders, to borrow from Bush Jr.?

    you’re talking about the political motivations for the secession of imperial territories.
    I may read you wrong, but ‘motivations’ make it sound like self-initiated, when I tend to think the historical precedents show it to be pretty much driven by outside force and/or war.

    #220, well are you basically saying jxie (and jxie alone since even with no shortage of it you didn’t point to any other individual’s comment) is inconsistent w.r.t. US/Hawaii and China/Tibet? I can’t speak for him, but I’m interested to know how exactly you get that. Because his suggested comparisons offend you or something, or because Hawaii is not to be spoken of, or because 0.001% versus 0.00000% are numbers too outrageous to be thrown out there?
    ‘criticism’ and ‘silently tolerating’? Truly remarkable.

  224. Otto Kerner Says:

    Yes, you may have misconstrued my reference to “motivations”. I meant it the broader sense, as one might say that, if I give $100 to my parents, and then later someone else robs me of $100 at gunpoint, in one case I was motivated by filial piety, and in the other by a gun.

    You say, “What exactly is decided upon for ’situations like Tibet’“, but what I said was, you quote, about “how to handle it once it’s been decided upon“. So, that would mean a hypothetical future decision. The only decision that’s been made so far is to continue with the status quo.

    The point that I was making is that we don’t even know what it would look like if historical injustices in Hawaii were resolved. We can hardly fault people for not resolving a situation when we don’t know what the resolution would be. On the other hand, we do know what the resolution of the Tibet situation would look like: it would look like the withdrawal of an occupying army from an imperial possession. This says nothing about the government’s motivation to comply with that plan. I assume that they will not be motivated to do so any time soon. However, since we know what it is that they are refusing to do, that decision makes a mockery of their pretense to be an enlightenment and peaceful sort of regime.

  225. foobar Says:

    Regarding motivation to allow secession, I think you are again passing moral judgement on a state. You may like to give your parents money, and hate to be robbed, but for the states, they never ‘liked’ to give away land or allow secessions, did they? They were forced to. They can be forced in one way or another, but none would resemble your willingness to help your parents.

    I see you are drawing a distinction between the case of Tibet and that of Hawaii. I don’t think that’s necessary true.
    You are also suggesting there’s only one outcome (or only one that’s acceptable to you) for Tibet. That’s not true either.

    To me, secession may be one future scenario for Tibet; Hawaii is another. When you say “We can hardly fault people for not resolving a situation when we don’t know what the resolution would be.”, you are trying to rid the US of the moral hazard in doing nothing to resolve historical injustices (if it even acknowledges that), because nobody has set an example for the US. That’s convenient. I think you just proved how desirable it is for the CCP to make Tibet into another Hawaii, at least in the mid-term future. And if they achieve that, we can ‘hardly fault’ them, right?

  226. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To 223:
    As you say, there’s no shortage of it, but his were the most abundant. He’s inconsistent because he decries the Hawaiian situation and the US government’s culpability therein, but while lamenting that the Tibetan situation may be headed to the same place, doesn’t similarly decry the actions of the CCP. I’m not sure how much clearer it gets than that.

    His “comparisons” don’t “offend” me. I simply find them pointless and irrelevant, as I’ve said. Hawaii can certainly be spoken of, but on a China blog, for the purposes of “comparison” to Tibet, if one were so inclined, you’d think Tibet would get a sideways mention somehow. But apparently not so much. The percentages were just silly.

    I’m not sure how else you would characterize the discussion from some quarters of the US handling of Hawaii besides “criticism”, but I’m all ears. I’m also not sure how else you would characterize those individuals’ assessment, or lack thereof, of China’s handling of Tibet besides “silent tolerance” if not outright approval. But again, I’m game if you have better descriptors.

    To 225:
    “but for the states, they never ‘liked’ to give away land or allow secessions, did they? They were forced to. They can be forced in one way or another, but none would resemble your willingness to help your parents.”
    —not entirely dissimilar to Tibet in 1959, wouldn’t you say?

    Your last paragraph here, in combo with that quote from your #213, actually puts you much closer to JXie territory. The US’ past wrong justifies China’s current wrong because in the future, they’ll both simply be past wrongs. That’s an interesting standard. I was going to say interesting moral standard, but ‘moral’ really has nothing to do with such a standard.

  227. foobar Says:

    As you say, there’s no shortage of it
    Not really ‘said’ it, rather ‘quoted’ it from you, which you can back up any time you want. Or not.

    “I simply find them pointless and irrelevant”
    Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.
    See, you are welcome to repeat that however many times you want. I get it. YOU find it such and such. Well, there are people who don’t.

    “you’d think Tibet would get a sideways mention somehow. But apparently not so much. The percentages were just silly.”
    What percentage is it then, I’d like to know? So in #185 which you referenced, Tibet got less than a sideways mention?

    “decry” “lament” …
    You can keep injecting your emotions into his statements, but I find that at odds with your claim that his comparison doesn’t offend you. Besides, how and why the heck would you keep finding parallels between A. something you ‘decry’ and B. something you ‘silently tolerate’? Wouldn’t you make his view on both things to be similar instead of different?
    I can only venture a guess: maybe most his audience ‘silently tolerate’ A and ‘decry’ B. People who so ‘silently tolerate’ A that they cringe at the thought of A even being mentioned in the same breath with B?

    But again, I’m game if you have better descriptors.
    Hmm, ‘comparisons’, maybe?

    not entirely dissimilar to Tibet in 1959, wouldn’t you say?
    not entirely dissimilar to Hawaii in 1898, either, wouldn’t you say? Or Native Americans in 1600s, in 1700s, in 1800s, and in 1900s, no? Your exact point here being … ?

    actually puts you much closer to JXie territory.
    If that’s implying I’m not close to SKC territory, should I feel happy or sad?

    The US’ past wrong justifies China’s current wrong because in the future, they’ll both simply be past wrongs.
    That’s your way of phrasing it, which I don’t mind. I was trying to understand Otto’s point about not able to fault the US just because nobody gave US a precedent. ‘can hardly fault’ sounds a lot more closer to ‘secretly tolerate’ than anything jxie has said so far, no? But you don’t have any issue with that, I guess.

    I was going to say interesting moral standard, but ‘moral’ really has nothing to do with such a standard.
    I don’t mind you trying to throw the immorality tags around at other posters in a discussions. I’m not sure you do that because you think you are better at it than most other people, or because you do that better than you do most other things. I don’t think doing that improves discussions in any way, though.

    States are inherently immoral. Be my guest if you want to grade them on morality. But I think it’s better to understand what they do if I stop believing morality were the guide to behaviors of any state. When I do that, it doesn’t necessarily mean morality plays no part in MY behavior. It’s like when you study third Reich history, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are antisemitic. Or if you do research on genetics and evolution, you don’t have to be a social-Darwinist. It’s not really that subtle of a point.

    Even if you want states to play your morality game, it doesn’t lead you to what you seems to prefer, I think. I mean, you have to do a lot more ‘wrongs’ to dilute the population to below 20% and native language speakers to below 0.1%, than with numbers like >90% and >90%, right? Yet you can ‘hardly fault’ the former. So it has to be morally more desirable to move from the latter phase to the former, no?

  228. S.K. Cheung Says:

    “Not really ’said’ it, rather ‘quoted’ it from you, which you can back up any time you want. Or not.”
    —well, going back to #182 when JXie brought up Hawaii, you 2 birds of a feather have commented on it 16 times out of the 46 comments in the interim, while 4 commentators have left 22 comments against your position to varying degrees. If your game is to argue about what constitutes “no shortage”, feel free to do so to your heart’s content.

    “Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.”
    —nah, really? Golly gee, I didn’t know that. The difference is that I’ve told you why I think it is pointless and irrelevant, and you guys haven’t told me yet how this comparison is useful (remember, just because 2 things are comparable doesn’t make the comparison useful).

    “What percentage is it then, I’d like to know?”
    —the percentages JXie threw out were silly; why would i put percentages on something that is entirely speculative. If I had those percentages, and thought they were robust and useful, I don’t think I would’ve found them to be nearly as silly.

    “So in #185 which you referenced, Tibet got less than a sideways mention?”
    —I wasn’t referring to one post; I was referring to the general trend over the last 46 posts.

    “I find that at odds with your claim that his comparison doesn’t offend you.”
    —that’s not my problem.

    “Wouldn’t you make his view on both things to be similar instead of different?”
    —from his posts, do you think he approves or disapproves of what the US did in Hawaii? From his posts, do you think he approves, disapproves, or silently tolerates what China is doing in Tibet? I think your answers to those 2 questions should help you answer your own.

    Using your denotations, A is historical; B is ongoing. Nothing wrong with mentioning A and B together, for those who are into that sort of thing. The difference is that something can still be done to prevent B from becoming A. So if you didn’t like A, then surely you would disapprove of B, since there’s still time. Yet the silence is deafening, including from you. But if you don’t like B, reversing the history of A is a somewhat more difficult exercise, wouldn’t you say?

    “Hmm, ‘comparisons’, maybe?”
    —I think you guys are doing more than just comparing. To what end, who knows?

    “not entirely dissimilar to Hawaii in 1898, either, wouldn’t you say?”
    —-no need to get touchy. I merely asked a question. I didn’t suggest that only one situation was uniquely similar to what you described.

    “If that’s implying I’m not close to SKC territory, should I feel happy or sad?”
    —I couldn’t care less.

    My reading of Otto’s point is that no one knows how to resolve Hawaii TODAY, because those historical wrongs are so deeply ingrained so as to be irreversible; whereas Tibet is still reversible, for now. I don’t see anything about “precedent”. But you’d have to ask him.

    “I don’t mind you trying to throw the immorality tags around at other posters in a discussions.”
    —like you’ve observed, those are my opinions. If you agree, fantastic. If you don’t, terrific. But I only float those “tags” out to people who I feel deserve it. And I’ve told you my reasons in this case already. If you agree with those reasons, terrific. If you don’t…well, you get the idea.

    “States are inherently immoral. Be my guest if you want to grade them on morality.”
    —like I already stipulated in #220, nations/states do what is in their best interest. Which is why I’m not directing it at China; I’m directing it at those who support those methods.

  229. foobar Says:

    First of all, I misunderstood the ‘percentages’ as the percentage ‘that tibet got mentioned’ were just silly. My bad.
    you’d think Tibet would get a sideways mention somehow. But apparently not so much. The percentages were just silly.

    “I couldn’t care less.”
    “no need to get touchy. “

    See, if you go to read what you quoted with the above, I’m pretty sure I was basically saying the same thing you said, albeit from a different angle, right? Somehow I’m getting the feeling that you think I’m the one getting emotional. Correct me if my impression is wrong.

    remember, just because 2 things are comparable doesn’t make the comparison useful
    Doesn’t make it useless either.

    The difference is that I’ve told you why I think it is pointless and irrelevant
    I’m gonna have to ask you to remind me where you did that. Here’s what I can gather from your posts:
    .. entirely independent things with no causal nor associative relationships …
    has no bearing on …
    In other words, you are saying that they are irrelevant because, uh, they are irrelevant?
    Please point me to where I missed your actual argument.

    from his posts, do you think he approves or disapproves of …
    From his posts, he didn’t say, and I’m not as good a mind reader as you are, so I’ll have to say I don’t know.
    This is part of your conversation:
    SKC: I gather you disapprove of what the US did in 1890.
    jxie: Actually it’s whole lot more complicated than that. …

    It does look a bit far from ‘decrying’ though.

    I think you guys are doing more than just comparing. To what end, who knows?
    Better find the one best at mind reading then.

    I don’t see anything about “precedent”.
    Of course we’ve been talking about precedents. These precedents might be “entirely independent things with no causal nor associative relationships”, but we’ve been talking about it.

    I’m directing it at those who support those methods.
    Who said they support what methods where? In all the comments you referenced, 182,185,188.. I couldn’t find it. You gotta help me find these people.

    My reading of Otto’s point is that no one knows how to resolve Hawaii TODAY, because those historical wrongs are so deeply ingrained so as to be irreversible; whereas Tibet is still reversible, for now.
    Maybe your reading is right. But I certainly didn’t see Otto talking about “historical wrongs” being “deeply ingrained”, or mentioning anything ‘reversible’ or ‘irreversible’, much less preferring a reverse. I’ll have to wait for Otto’s clarification if he cares to. Before that, since you are the better mind reader, I’ll take your word for it.

    Given that, what exactly are we suggesting to be reversed and to what?
    Timewise, Tibet in 1959, or 1950, or 1940s was a pretty dark place. Ditto for Hawaii in the 1800s.
    Politically, they were a theocratic serfdom and a monarchy, respectively.
    Economically, they were barely maintaining subsistence.
    Population wise, ethnic Tibetan population grew from 2 million to 5.5 million from 1950 to 2007 (from 1.1 to 2.5million in the TAR), Native Hawaiians grew from 40k in 1900 to between 140-400k today.
    Language wise, native Tibetan speakers grew roughly the same as population, native Hawaii speakers dropped from 40k to 2k (27k if counting non-native speakers).
    I hope we are not talking about reversing any of these, with the exception of native Hawaiian speakers’ number, of course.

    Is it the population ratio that we want to reverse? There’s less than 10% Hans, Huis and other non-Tibetan ethnicities in TAR, so I guess it’s easier to relocate them and get back to 99% Tibetans. Non-native Hawaiians account for 70% to 90% of the total. I imagine it’s harder to relocate, but definitely not impossible right? That is, if you do want to reverse the population ratio, by driving non-natives out.
    Reversing ratio of native speakers? We are pretty much going from 100% to 100% among ethnic Tibetans, for Hawaii it’s roughly going from 1.5%(or 7%) to 100%. It’s absolutely hard for the Hawaiians to achieve that reversal, but I’ll need some convincing before I call it irreversible.

  230. S.K. Cheung Says:

    Well, I must say I need to recalibrate wrt you. You made an honest misinterpretation of what I wrote…and you admitted it. That already sets you apart from a good number of folks around here, especially on your side of the fence (and it goes without saying that that is simply my biased interpretation).

    “Doesn’t make it useless either.”
    —agreed. Which is why I’ve said that the comparison is useless because you’re taking a historic example and comparing it to a contemporary one. The historic one is water under bridge; the contemporary one is still actionable, potentially with a different outcome. I’d like to hear how the comparison is useful…and it’s not for a lack of asking.

    “Please point me to where I missed your actual argument.”
    —free feel to try some of these. And remember, the person bringing up the comparison should justify its relevance, otherwise why bring it up to begin with (well, I can think of a few, like obfuscation, changing the subject, etc):
    #186 (“what native Hawaiians may or may not want, and what Tibetans may or may not want, are entirely independent things with no causal nor associative relationships.”)
    #189 (“comparing Hawaii and Tibet is pointless. What native Hawaiians want has no bearing of what Tibetans want, and vice versa.”)
    #192 (“If you can agree that Hawaiian desires have no bearing on Tibetan desires, then I’m really interested in finding out the benefits of a comparison thereof.”)
    #203(“where did I say/suggest/insinuate/stipulate that the Hawaiian situation was categorically dissimilar to, fundamentally unlike, or definitively disparate from, the Tibetan one? If you look carefully (and feel free to start at any time), the challenge to you was to substantiate a NEED for such comparison. “)

    “It does look a bit far from ‘decrying’ though.”
    —to each their own. Word-choice might be one such circumstance.

    “I think you guys are doing more than just comparing. To what end, who knows?
    Better find the one best at mind reading then.”
    —or better yet, why don’t you guys just tell us. Again, not for a lack of asking…do you need a formal invite or something?

    “Of course we’ve been talking about precedents.”
    —who’s reading Otto’s mind now?

    “These precedents might be “entirely independent things with no causal nor associative relationships”, but we’ve been talking about it.”
    —and I’m still wondering what benefit this has provided. First, you find something comparable. Then you can make a comparison, preferably if it’s useful. And then hopefully you take what you’ve learned from that useful comparison, and apply it somewhere. You guys are spinning your wheels at step one.

    “You gotta help me find these people.”
    —the fact that those people don’t know who they are, or are pretending to not know, might explain why some of those standards are likely not in any danger of imminent extinction.

    “Before that, since you are the better mind reader, I’ll take your word for it.”
    —works for me. You seem to alternate between demanding that something be explicitly said (with Otto, for instance), and “decrying” characterizations when they are not (like JXie)…depending on which situation suits you best. Whatever floats your boat.

    “Given that, what exactly are we suggesting to be reversed and to what?”
    —that’s hardly for me to say. With Tibetans, as I’ve said seemingly countless times, I’d ask them.

  231. Otto Kerner Says:

    S. K. Cheung,

    “My reading of Otto’s point is that no one knows how to resolve Hawaii TODAY, because those historical wrongs are so deeply ingrained so as to be irreversible; whereas Tibet is still reversible, for now. I don’t see anything about ‘precedent’.”

    Yes, that is a pretty good summary of my opinion. Perhaps it does not require mind-reading after all. Regarding “precedent”, I did mention it, because I there have been lots of cases in history where situations similar to Tibet were resolved to general satisfaction. For example, the U.S. accepted the independence of the Philippines in 1946. Regardless of whatever external factors may have compelled this decision at the time, in hindsight it seems quite acceptable to all parties: very few Americans regard the loss of the Philippines as a historic tragedy or a national humiliation, and very few Filipinos regret having become an independent country. That sort of thing is a model or precedent for how the Tibet situation could be resolved if states were moral or honorable actors. I’m not aware of any similar models for how to resolve the Hawaii issue, to the extent that there is one.

  232. Otto Kerner Says:


    “That’s convenient.”

    I basically agree. Whether or not something is convenient tells us nothing about its accuracy. My goal is not to have policies that are inconvenient for people.

  233. Otto Kerner Says:


    I think it would be hard to prove that states never act according for moral or ethical reasons, but it is clearly quite rare, so we could say that states are generally amoral actors. However, I refuse to treat states (and the people who do decision-making on behalf of states) as a special category which are somehow more exempt from morality than anyone else is. The fact that they frequently fail to do the right thing is not a point in their favor.

  234. foobar Says:

    Since that’s a good summary of your opinion, I’d also ask you the same questions to clarify on the distinction between Hawaii and Tibet that’s makes one reversible and another not, and what are to be reversed. The meat of your point seems entirely missing if this is not addressed.

    “I think it would be hard to prove that states never act according for moral or ethical reasons”
    Agreed. But it would be even harder to prove in any specific case you’ve raised that states act according to moral or ethical reasons. The Philippines case serves as a much better example of states ‘motivated’ not by external force, and I concede on that fine point. The caveat is the background, as I briefly mentioned earlier, that is the 2nd phase of breaking up the British Empire. The US, Britain and all colonialists giving away all colonies (which didn’t exactly happen for either country, though one can say it mostly happened) works in favor of the US in replacing a traditional colonial superpower. I think of it as comparable to the scenario of US and Soviet/Russia nuclear disarmament. Fewer nukes is probably more morally desirable for most people, and we can certainly dress the whole thing in moral terms, from respecting an agreement to ensuring a safer world, but it would be really hard to believe believe either side did that for moral or ethical reasons.

  235. mhuang Says:

    @Otto 231

    The independence of Philippines from America is not a good example or model or precedent comparable for resolving the Tibet situation. This is in large part because of what you said “very few Americans regard the loss of the Philippines as a historic tragedy or a national humiliation.” In this Philippines case, the US could be counted as moral or honorable actor only if the US government and most Americans allowed Philippine independence even though they feared such independence would threat America’s national interest and felt the loss of the Philippines as a national humiliation. The fact that they didn’t suggests that allowing Philippine independence was in accordance with US interests or even furthering US interests.

    By contrast, both the Chinese government and most Chinese would see the loss of Tibet as a national humiliation or as a threat to national interests. As I suggested @ 218, the best and pragmatic way forward for the interests of Tibetans is not by seeking independence, but by seeking and expanding Tibetan autonomy and preserving their culture, both could be done within the one-China framework.

  236. foobar Says:

    “—to each their own. Word-choice might be one such circumstance.”
    Well, ‘decry’, ‘lament’, ‘criticism’, ‘silently tolerating’. Seems like your argument is based a lot on word choice instead of essence.

    “—or better yet, why don’t you guys just tell us. Again, not for a lack of asking…do you need a formal invite or something?”
    Well, I told you I’m doing comparisons. But then you “think” I’m “doing more than just comparing”. So I do officially extend my invitation for you to read my mind and possibly spell it out, as if you need one.

    “—who’s reading Otto’s mind now?”
    Not me I guess. You too can get that from reading Otto’s, you know, comments.

    “–the fact that those people don’t know who they are, or are pretending to not know …”
    Back to mind reading, I see.

    “— You seem to alternate between demanding that something be explicitly said (with Otto, for instance), and “decrying” characterizations when they are not (like JXie)…depending on which situation suits you best.”
    That’s not really true is it. Whenever possible, and particularly in the two instances you raised, I expressed interests in arguments being made explicit, if it is not clear. I’m not a good mind reader you know.

    “—that’s hardly for me to say. With Tibetans, as I’ve said seemingly countless times, I’d ask them.”
    If you already asked them, please let us know. If not, your irreversible vs. reversible distinction is entirely vacuous, and it’s hardly for you to arbitrate on what’s reversible and what’s not. I’m still all ears if that distinction is based on facts not necessarily from a survey you haven’t performed yet.

    “— free feel to try some of these.”
    If you actually read my previous comment, it should be clear I’ve covered the first two. The next two don’t ring up differently as really ‘arguments’ on why it’s irrelevant either, but rather again statements that it is irrelevant. So it still boils down to: it’s irrelevant because it’s irrelevant. Is that a honest summary of your ‘arguments’?
    Of course there’s your demand for ‘the person bringing up the comparison’ to justify its relevance. But that again is not an argument for irrelevancy. The fact that after he brought up the comparison, a discussion followed that’s not entirely based on word choices and projecting one person’s own judgement on others’ mind, shows that it is not as useless as you seem to think. What’s more, Otto and I have been comparing historical events, much in the same vein, and without justifying relevance. Why no justifying, I don’t know. Maybe because the merit and relevance of the comparison, or the lack of them, are in the comparison itself?
    And, I think ‘the person bringing up the comparison’ did ‘justify its relevance’ in his subsequent comments. Did he do that to your satisfaction? I guess not. But I don’t suppose we need your approval to carry on.

    Also, I find this bifurcation of Hawaii being historical and Tibet being contemporary very troubling and dishonest (for people arguing with a moral angle), odd and inaccurate (amorally speaking). The Native Hawaiians people and language are very much still alive, fortunately, and it’s pretty presumptuous for us to say it’s water under the bridge or that it’s inactionable. In fact, one can argue that it is more urgent for immediate actions in the Hawaii case, because the Hawaiian language actually faces a real possibility of extinction. I guess this may be derivative of your distinction on reversibility. Maybe this can be understood once you explain how you make that distinction. I’m interested to find out.

  237. Otto Kerner Says:


    Basically, I am opposed to plans which require evicting private individuals from their homes, either through explicit orders or through harassment — especially people who have grown up in the place in question or have lived there for a long time. The problem in Hawaii is that the Hawaiians have been deprived of their own country and their right to self-determination by having a much larger population of white Americans and the Americanized descendants of Asian immigrants move there. The effect is that Hawaii can never be ruled by Hawaiians if it is to be any sort of democracy (I mean, there could be officials who are ethnic Hawaiians, but they would have been chosen by the public at large). The only way to “solve” that problem would be to require non-Hawaiians to leave, which, as I mentioned, I don’t think of as being acceptable.

    Puerto Rico does not have a similar problem, because the population there is still mainly Puerto Ricans. Being part of the U.S. doesn’t seem to cause them any particular problems, though, so the option of full independence remains very unpopular there. I think the U.S. should gradually divest itself of its non-state territories, which would eventually mean full independence for Puerto Rico, but they don’t seem to be in any hurry themselves.

    The situation in Tibet is much because it’s still mostly Tibetans, especially if you ignore on-duty soliders and the transient population that is planning on moving back to the provinces eventually anyway. Therefore, rule by Tibetans can be restored simply by withdrawing the PLA.

  238. foobar Says:

    I am opposed to plans which require evicting private individuals from their homes
    I wouldn’t think that’s a good thing either. But that can also be viewed as an excuse to shed US responsibility. And far from there being an ‘only’ solution, it doesn’t need any evictions. One can simply impose a differentiated tax code for natives and non-natives. Say double tax for non-natives on properties or income, or a graded tax depending on how far back you can trace to your ancestry’s first arrival. Require mandatory Hawaiian language in public schools. Oh, and ‘simply’ remove the military personnel. Lots of things you can do than are much more benign than evictions, and I think it is possible within a few generations a Native Hawaiian dominated Hawaii could emerge. Would these things even fly for the non-natives or the general American public? I highly doubt it, no matter how morally superior the population is. But, these are very reasonable measures if you really regard “native land to native people” a high ideal.

    The Native Hawaiians couldn’t get a reservation similar to the Natives on continental US. Why? One reason is that Hawaii is in the sea, so a reservation there will not be totally encircled by US land and could actually be well off on its own. Once a reservation is established, together with a withdrawl of US troops, it can realistically set off a “reversal” process. Even if it is far from self-determination for Hawaii, it does damage the US interests, though on a much smaller scale than say, losing Tibet does to the China’s interests. Now reservations are historical precedents well known to the Americans, fairness of the reservation system aside. Following your condemnation of the CCP’s moral corruption regarding Tibet, can we also say that we know at least some of what it is that the US are refusing to do, that decision makes a mockery of their pretense to be champion of the self-determination ideal?

  239. Otto Kerner Says:


    I feel like there has been a lot of misunderstanding regarding this particular point I’ve been trying to make. It’s a modest point, not some striking new observation that I think requires a lot of discussion. I’m simply talking about the procedural issues: I don’t think impossibility of implementation would prevent China from being able to abandon Tibet. Instead, there are strategic reasons. I didn’t mean to put the Philippines forward as a case where the United States acted morally or honorably. The result, I suppose, was honorable, but I know very little about the situation, and I don’t think it’s very likely that honor was the main motivation. The closest thing to issues of honor or morality that can affect policy is the question of whether a nation’s public has the stomach for the kind of tactics that must be used to suppress an insurgency. See, for example, Algeria in 1962.

    Whether or not a particular event is a national humiliation is in the eye of the beholder. From my perspective, if the day ever comes when Tibet is allowed self-determination simply because it’s the right thing to do, that would be something that Chinese people could be really proud of.

    Losing Tibet would be a major strategic setback to China. However, this still shouldn’t be exaggerated. Even in the worst case scenario — where the entire Tibetan region secedes, taking with it (under hypothetical borders that I’ve drawn for sake of argument) just under 20% of the PRC’s land area, and on the order of 5 1/2 million citizens, including maybe 700,000 to a 1,000,000 non-Tibetans — life would probably go on as normal in China. 99.9% of the non-Tibetan population would not be directly affected. China would still be the world’s most populous country and would still have an enormous land area. It would still have the world’s third biggest economy and would still be growing rapidly. Militarily, China would be much more vulnerable to a ground invasion than it is at present, but I don’t see that as a very likely turn of events for the foreseeable future. Any country is vulnerable to invasion if the right combination of its neighbors want to attack it. China would still have an enormous amount of strategic depth between its external borders and the eastern/southern seaboard cities, or the central heartland cities like Wuhan, Zhengzhou, Hefei, etc. In short, China would continue to be in a much better position than most countries in the world are.

    I agree with you in principle that autonomy is the way to move forward in Tibet. However, I think the Chinese government has no interest in allowing autonomy, because they have judged that autonomy would lead unavoidably to independence. Even if they could trust Tibetan elites (domestic or exile) to keep promises not to pursue independence, they would still have to deal with the demands of the public. Hopefully, the government’s calculations will change in the future as a result of political developments in Beijing and among the Tibetans.

  240. Wahaha Says:


    How much impact do you think DL’s decision has on Tibetan people ?

    My guess is that if DL asks Tibetan people to support CCP, then lot of his followers IN INDIA would support CCP.

    so my question is : is it the people’s decision ? or is it DL’s decision ?

  241. Otto Kerner Says:

    To the Tibetans, the Dalai Lama is a deeply revered religious leader, the last ruler of the most recent independent Tibetan government, an internationally-respected political activist who advocates political reforms in Tibet, and, perhaps most importantly, a beloved cultural icon. So, yes, I think Tibetans will tend to be influenced by his decisions. The most obvious examples are the fur-burning incidents of a couple years ago.

    When people make a decision to follow a leader, it starts to become difficult to separate “people’s decisions” from “the leader’s decisions” after that. However, I think there tend to be some interesting tensions when the leader makes decisions that don’t seem to make sense in the eyes of the followers. For some people, an request from the Dalai Lama to support the CCP might seem contradictory. Although in the Dalai Lama’s mind it would make sense, some ordinary people might think of “the Dalai Lama” and “the CCP” as entities that are inherently in conflict, in which case they would tend to hesitate a lot before following those instructions. I don’t know how common that view would be.

    I suspect people living inside Tibet would be more, not less, likely to go along with a suggestion to support the CCP. They have a very strong incentive to find a modus vivendi with the ruling power of the country where they live. Exiled Tibetans have a much greater margin for idealism.

    I think people inside Tibet are more likely


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