Major advantages of the proposed change are:
1. Environmental friendly; no carbon emission.
2. Create jobs. Assuming 4 people are needed to lift each litter, this proposal creates 32 million employment opportunities.
3. Save $150 billion yuan annually on government vehicle operating cost.
4. Eliminate traffic congestion in metropolitan areas.
5. Entrepreneurs will emulate what officials do and thus double its impact on job growth. .
6. Commoners can stop the litter to air their grievances
Major advantages of the proposed change are:
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So here goes the news again: Public Enemy Number One in China, Liu Xiao Bo, has been awarded the Nobel Prize! Not sure where that infamous title of Liu came from. But this latest Nobel prize must be giving people in the U.S. quite a laugh.
The award of a Nobel to Liu is certainly controversial. Allegedly, the Nobel committee itself was internally divided. But given Liu’s high profile conviction last year, this decision is not totally unexpected. I originally did not plan to write about Liu. However, given the renewed and widespread interest of Liu’s Nobel, I have decided to wade in my thoughts. Here is a translation of what a typical report in the West is like. Continue reading »
Continue reading »
The article begin here:
After nine months of media allegation, finger pointing based purely on hear-say, speculation surrounding the reasons behind the arrest of the four Rio Tinto’s executives in Shanghai on the 5th July 2009, the truth about the actual background of the arrest has finally out weighted the disinformation relentlessly generated by the mainstream media in Australia.
We now know that:
1) The four Rio Tinto executives admitted taking bribes (The Australian, 23 March 2010)
2) One should note that, it was only after the four Rio Tinto executives admitted taking bribes on the 23 March 2010, we then learn on the following day that, ’Secret Rio Tinto probe cleared company but left Stern Hu in doubt’ (The Australian, 24 March 2010).
3) Stern Hu was sentenced to jail for 10 years (The Australian, 29 March 2010) and Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Sam Walsh sacked all the four convicted executives. Mr Walsh described the bribery findings — admitted by all four men — as “deplorable”, and said that the company had “implemented a number of improvements to our procedures, and we have now ordered a further, far-reaching independent review of our processes and controls”. (The Australian, 31 March 2010).
Is Rio Tinto as a company an innocent party?
On the outset, Rio Tinto as a company seems to be an innocent party . However, according to the Melbourne’s Age (31 March 2010), under the heading ‘Rio Tinto calls in Kissinger to mend fences’, it was disclosed that: “Mr Kissinger’s role came to light as claims emerged that Rio was told months before the arrests of Hu and his three colleagues of potential ”dodgy dealings” within its China operations but resisted internal calls for an investigation.”
The Age further evaluated that: “The Age has been told that a number of Rio employees in Singapore raised concerns with management about the activities of employees in China more than a year ago but the concerns were never formally investigated.”. “A well-placed source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a rapid rise in the iron ore spot price led some to question whether bribes were being offered. ”Some of the guys in Singapore said ‘let’s have an investigation’ but that investigation was quashed by senior company figures,”
The truth is, Rio Tinto is a direct beneficiary to the bribery activities. As a result, “China paid $165m too much for iron ore last year,” (Daily Telegraph, 30 March 2010).
One should note that, all these information only came after the four Rio Tinto executives admitted taking bribes! The interesting questions here are: How did our media and politicians behave between the period after the arrest on 5 July 2009 and the Rio Tinto executives admission of taking bribes on 23 March 2010?
What can we learn from this case about our media culture, our law in practices and our politicians?
In retrospect, when we examine the way our politicians and mainstream media reaction to the arrest of Rio Tinto executives in Shanghai since July 2009 and the subsequent abusive language used, and the on-going and systemic repeating of certain points about the case to the Australian public, we can tell a lot about our media culture and the kind of political leaderships and competency we rely upon to manage our national affair. Can we trust them?
a) Our legal frame work on anti-foreign bribery:
On the 10th August 2009, I wrote an articles with a title: “Australia media and government should respect its own law on Foreign Bribery – Stern Hu’s Case: Problem of corruption is a world issue, not just Chinese”. In this article, I highlighted the content of the Australian government website on the issue of anti-foreign bribery (www.ag.gov.au/foreignbribery), with part of the information as follows:
“Australia recognises that corruption is not just one country’s problem and, in recognition of this, is an active participant in international initiatives, including:
– ratifying the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) on 7 Dec 2005
– ratifying the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime on 27 May 2004.
– ratifying the OECD Convention and Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions on 18 Oct 1999 and participating in the Asian Development Bank OECD Anti-Corruption Initiative for the Asia – Pacific.
– participating in the Asia – Pacific Economic Cooperation Anti-Corruption and Transparency Experts Task Force (APEC ACT)….(etc)
Australia is committed to sharing technical expertise and improving our legal cooperation relationships with other countries to strengthen the fight against corruption, both in Australia and throughout the Asia – Pacific region.”
Note: The Australian government has changed the content of this website and removed many of the statements I reported in my article mentioned above dated 10th Aug 2009. However, I have save a copy of the original content. By the way, you can still find the name of the International Convention ratified by Australia.
I submitted this article to a number of newspapers and magazines in Australia but receive no response from the editors except the New Internationalist Magazine with this message: “Thanks for your message. Our June issue is all about China, so I’m afraid we won’t be looking for any more China-related stories for the time being.”.
As a result, I decided to create my own website and register the domain www.outcastjournalist.com on 19 Oct 2009 to publish my own research against media disinformation.
b) Our Law is only as good as the people who administer it
Despite the series of International Convention we ratified, and our government pledged in their own website to cooperate with countries “throughout the Asia Pacific region” to “fight against corruption”, did our government honour these International convention they ratified? Did we do what we preaches? Let’s look at how our politicians response to the arrest of Rio’s executives on the 5th July 2009:
i) Our Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd not only failed to allow Shanghai’s police the time to sort out the evidence, conduct further investigation and offer assistance to China to facilitate their investigation, he politicised the whole issue with a public statement: “Our Chinese friends”, “China had significant economic interests at stake in it relationship with Australia and other commercial partners around the world.” (Brisbane Time 16 July 2009)
ii) As usual, The Australian Newspaper always knew which politician to pick for negative comment about China. This time, they mentioned Senator Barnaby Joyce twice to assert one point: “the failure of Chinalco to increase its stake in Rio was behind the arrests.” Apparently, the Australian Newspaper has removed the content of this news on their website with the subject heading: ‘Beijing accuses Rio of spying as Australia is shocked at arrest of mining executives’ dated 9 July 2009. Luckily, I have kept a copy of this news from the Australian website as well. You may read my detail analysis in my earlier article on Rio Tinto case to find out how the Australian Newspaper skilfully crafted wording using the techniques of creating, repeating, asserting and confirming an unproven speculation that the arrest was related to the recent failed negotiation over Australian iron ore exports to China . By the way, the Crowdsourced coverage website can proof my claim that the Australian did carry that news heading on their website in July 2009.
c) The rule of law in theory and in practices (China vs. Australia)
China as a developing country is not perfect in many aspects. It was at one stage a totally lawless society 60 years ago with wide spread poverty, low literacy, bad health (average life expectancy was 36 year), without an effective government after century of foreign invasion and colonial exploitation such as the First Opium War; the numerous unequal treaties forced upon China by varies foreign governments such as UK, USA, Japan, Russia, France, Germany, Portugal, Italy, Austria-Hungary, Belgium, Spain and Netherlands – Wikipedia recorded 18 of these unequal treaties; and Nanking Massacre, etc.
However, over the last 60 years of political, legal and economic reform, China enjoy unprecedented prosperity with political stability and high level of citizen satisfaction with the direction of the government. (PEW survey 2008).
China is still far from a perfect country, and the country knew that – in the recent session of the National’s People Congress, the heads of the Supreme People’s Court and Supreme People’s Procurator made a promise for “greater supervision and competence in its judicial system”. (CCTV, 11 Mar 2010).
Like any Western country’s history of building its legal system, it is an on-going process of improvement as a result of discovering new loopholes and inefficiency. However, where there are existing written law to follow, no one have the right to dispute its legitimacy. Rio Tinto’s bribery case was trial in accordance with the existing Chinese law and legal proceeding – the bribery case was trial at an open Court, and the stealing of commercial secret case was trail in a close Court but with 40 witnesses including some of the family members of the defendants. (The Australian, 26 Mar 2010) and we should respect the outcome as the crime was committed in China under their Judiciary system.
If we want other countries to respect our law, we should learn also to respect others.
The irony with the Australian media and government is that,
i) We keep making unfound speculation that Chinese leaderships are personally involved in the case. For example,
After Prime Minister Rudd issue a public warning to China: “The world is watching”, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith and Treasurer Wayne Swan also joined him in saying “the rest of the world was watching China”. Despite Qin Gang, China Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman urging Australia not to “interference in China’s judicial sovereignty”, and claimed that: “The actions of the Rio Tinto staff have caused losses to China and China’s interests,” he said. “I believe Stern Hu and Rio Tinto are fully aware of this.”, like most media throughout the country, the Age also pushing the following point in its report dated 17 July 2009 under the heading: ‘China tells Australia to butt out’:
The Age: “It has been widely speculated that Mr Hu’s detention is linked to Rio’s decision to snub a bid by China’s state-owned Chinalco last month to take a large stake in the company.”
Reader should note that, the effort to link the arrest of Rio Tinto executives in Shanghai to the failed bid by Chinalco to increase it investment in Rio Tinto is wide spread throughout the Australian media industry over the next 8 months since their arrest in July 2009 until the bribery findings — admitted by all four men.
The Sydney Morning Herald (29 July 2009) run an article: “China does not respond positively to humiliation”, implying that, by maintaining a good relationship with Chinese leaderships, Stern Hu stand a better chance for an early released.
Sydney Morning Herald (13 July 2009) under the heading ’Chinese President backed Rio spy probe’ quoting an (unnamed) Chinese Government sources suggesting that “The Chinese President, Hu Jintao, personally endorsed the Ministry of State Security investigation into Rio Tinto that led to the detention of the Australian iron ore executive”. If you Google this news title, you will notice that like most negative news against China, it is an Australia wide coverage.
Again, Sydney Morning Herald (7 Nov 2009) under the heading ‘Exposed: the man controlling Stern Hu’s fate’, speculating without quoting any source that “Wu Zhiming, who is due to decide his (Stern Hu) fate within 10 days”. Follow by an unnamed source: “But some Chinese lawyers say the justice system is more tightly controlled in Shanghai because it has been the stable, long-time power base of Jiang Zemin.”, then another unnamed statement: “Some say Wu has a tighter grip on Shanghai than even the mayor or Communist Party secretary”. Then “The President, Hu Jintao, and a host of lesser players might also vie for influence” (not quoting any source again), then “political analysts (unnamed) say there is a risk that Rio Tinto’s iron ore team will – or might already have – become stuck in the middle of a bitter struggle between President Hu and Jiang.”
How wonderful to be a mainstream media journalist. You can say whatever you like without quoting any sources.
On 11 Feb 2010, The Age made a further speculation under the heading ’China steps up Stern Hu bribe case’, again, using the technique of quoting an (unnamed) observer: “Observers say the decision is likely to have been made at the highest level of Chinese politics,” follow by this statement: “Some had expected President Hu Jintao’s visit last month to Shanghai – the territory of his political rivals and his first visit in two years – would lead to the case being resolved in Mr Hu’s favour.”
The reality is, with the eventual admission of all four Rio Tinto’s executives in the bribery charged on March 2010, all the above rumours and speculations pushed relentlessly by the mainstream media over the last 8 to 9 months have reflected badly in the truthfulness and professionalism of our media industry and , unfortunately the competency of our political leaderships as well.
ii) Political interference in Australia Judiciary system.
Our media and politicians love to make up stories and accuse other culture of political interference in their judiciary system as and when our criminals committed crimes in a non Western country like the Rio Tinto case demonstrated above. However, in practice, did we do what we preaches?
Technically, if Rio Tinto as a company knowing its executives criminal act in China “more then a year ago and resisted internal calls for an investigation” (The Age, 31 March 2010), Rio Tinto has effectively violated a number of Australian laws including the series of our Anti-Foreign Bribery related law and legislations. (Not to mention that Rio has directly benefited from these illegal activities). For a detail listing of our legal framework on Anti-foreign bribery, please read my earlier article dated 10 Aug 2009.
The ASIC (Australian Securities and Investments Commission) is right to indicate that it is “looking at Rio over Stern Hu case” as “Prof Ramsay said that under Australian criminal law, Rio could be potentially liable if a court found the company’s corporate culture either directed, encouraged or tolerated bribery of a foreign public official.” Despite the fact that “Green leader’s Bob Brown called for the Rudd Government to order the regulator to investigate Rio Tinto”, “Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith …. said it was possible that the Hu case involved a breach of Australian law, but he told the ABC …. that he had no reason to refer the matter to ASIC.” (News Limited, 31 Mar 2010). Whether or not the ASIC is serious about “looking at Rio over Stern Hu case”, we can only wait and see for now.
Again, the Rudd government is not interest in upholding the Australian law against foreign bribery. Instead, our “Foreign Minister slams Chinese as Stern Hu gets 10-year jail sentence” (Sydney Morning Herald, 30 March 2010), so as Prime Minister Rudd (The Australian, 9 April 2010). And the media is talking about a prisoner exchange treaties with China (Courier Mail, 8 Apr 2010). So much for the usefulness of the written law in Australia.
However, in another recent incident, when it was reported that a “Chinese coal ship that ran onto the Great Barrier Reef was one of dozens of freighters to have taken a legal short cut between dangerous shoals this year” (Brisbane Time, 7 April 2010). Let’s have a look at how our poll driven Politicians reacted to this incident in an election year:
Usually, incident like this should be handled by the experts to access the damages, and the federal police to investigate the cause of the incident and then refer the case with according to our established legal framework and procedure, and finally a court proceeding and expert (The Australian Maritime Safety Authority) recommendation such as to introduce new rule and regulation (for example, extending the VTS to the entire length of the reef ) to ensure this kind of incident will not happen again. It should be up to the Judicial System to decide on the case.
However, our Prime Minister have to personally involved himself on the case and pledged that: “vessels that threatened the health of the reef would be prosecuted with all the force of the law,” follow by our Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese: “The Australian government will ensure that the full force of the law is brought to bear on those responsible … and we will also ensure … compensation is paid with regard to the cost of cleaning up,.” (Brisbane Time, 12 April 2010).
So, is our Judicial System independent from political interference? You be the Judges!
Economic or Commercial espionage cases outside China
For the benefit of readers, I would like to provide the following links to other commercial espionage cases outside China:
The Economic Espionage Act of 1996 was approved by Congress because theft of U.S. trade secrets is costing U.S. companies many billions of dollars a year in lost sales and costing U.S. workers their jobs. Here are brief summaries of some of the first arrests under this new US law: http://www.wright.edu/rsp/Security/Spystory/Industry.htm.
Other commercial espionage cases across the world:
– A case study in French Espionage: Renaissance Software.
– Case study: USA – UK industrial espionage
– F1 engineers plan appeal in Ferrari espionage case (30 April 2007)
– Telecom Italia espionage scandal deepens (25 January 2007)
– Fender bender crooks swipe $190K in chips (21 December 2006)
– Vodafone fined €76m over Greek wiretap scandal (15 December 2006)
– Foiled computer blaggers jailed for 38 years (3 July 2006)
– Spyware-for-hire couple plead guilty (15 March 2006)
– Eight CCTV cameras bust ‘Mr Stupid’ (28 August 2005)
– Armed raiders steal £840,000 in computer kit (20 January 2003)
Conclusion: Why the West cannot use normal heart to handle other cultures?
I feel sad for Australia—a country I called HOME. The world has changed so much in the 21st century and yet some in our society still unable to put aside the colonial mentality of the past. These people seem to has to see other culture through colour lenses and unable to put in context our own behaviour when facing the similar situation.
Our media reporting news based heavily on hear-say and unfound speculations. Despite numerous newspapers and magazines on our news stand, they all seems to speak in one voice most of the time with the same messages and mistakes. Very often, those people they quoted with a name are in fact – no expert to the case. Those so-called experts are people without a name. The editors seems not too interested in the truth of an event. Apparently, like the latest ANU research, most of our editors only interested in reporting news based on their party line. (I would put it as political line.) They are unable to distinguish the different in responsibility between writing a news piece and opinion piece.
Since the financial crisis, our reserve bank governor has in many occasions accredited China as the main factors that lifted Australia out of this crisis. China is in actual fact our number one trading partner. However, as a result of our bureaucrats and politicians reliance exclusively on our newspapers for information about China. (refer to Brisbane Time on the 15 Oct 2009 under the heading – Rudd policy on China ‘set by BHP’, with the following statement from Mr Joske (an economic adviser to former treasurer Peter Costello in the 1990s): ”There’s no one in Treasury who can tell up from down on China, beyond what they read in the newspapers.”
Should our government consider to reform our media industry to safeguard our national interest as a result of the misleading information we received from our media on a daily basis?
To read this article with links to the sources, visit my personal website:
In fact my father had been a devout Christian in his youth, and had at one time even considered the priesthood as a career. Later he abandoned Christianity, as so many intellectuals do, because of the problem of evil.
Indeed, the presence of evil, pain and suffering in our world is the most persistent argument raised against Christianity. The argument runs as follows:
1. If God is perfectly loving, He must wish to abolish evil
2. If He is all powerful, He must be able to abolish evil
3. But evil exists. Therefore, an all powerful, loving God does not exist
The conventional Christian response is:
1. God created a world of free will
2. Although God therefore made evil possible, man makes evil actual
3. Eventually God will defeat evil
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Today Political Scientists talk about the concept of “government legitimacy”. Defining legitimacy is actually quite difficult, but some of the ideas we tend to associate with it include benevolence, competence and popular support.
Continue reading »
However, he has been protected by the media industry in Australia. When approached to explain the inconsistency in his reports, The Age newspaper (The newspaper that published those dodgy materials) has returned my e-mail twice as “deleted without being read”. The ABC’s media watch (a TV program supposed to report about dodgy journalism) also returned by e-mail once as “deleted without being read”.
The Australia Press Council (a body that regulate the behavior of the media)is also guilty of protecting media that violated its own written principles on journalism.
I have exhausted all avenue over the last 2 months (including running 4 articles) to clear China name to no avail. Therefore, I would like to present my evidence here for the world citizens (people who care about having truthful information from the media) to suggest what we should do next to ensure that media that published dodgy materials be made accountable to their dodgy reports.
If some one could please translate this article into Chinese language and spread the message across the world through e-mails, social networking websites and whatever mean to brain storm ideas, and we can decide together on how to use people power to make those responsible for writing and publishing dodgy materials against China to say sorry to their own readers and also express sorry to the Chinese public.
For examples, each and very of us may send an e-mail or write a letter to those media involved in publishing dodgy material and refused to say “sorry” to demonstrate our protest and demand an apology. This is just a suggestion. Please post your suggestion using the comment function at the end of this article. Please limit your wording so that good suggestion will not be missed by us. We will inform you the best way of doing it so that everybody may act together and make sure that: The peace loving world citizens will no longer be silence by the mainstream Western media unethical behavior to smear against developing countries”.
Below is the content of an article I wrote recently:
How the Australia Press Council Protected Media that Violated Its Own Written Principles?
Note: You may wish to read it on my own website with links to the evidence and post your suggestion under the comment at Fools Mountain website:
The content of my article begin here:
About The Australia Press Council
Australia Press Council is the self-regulatory body of the print media: “According to its recently revised Constitution, the objects of the Australian Press Council are to promote freedom of speech through responsible and independent print media, and adherence to high journalistic and editorial standards…,” “To carry out its press responsibility role, it serves as a forum to which anyone may take a complaint concerning the press.”
The above are the written pledge by the Press Council on their website.
Here is the link to the Council Statement of Principles. (i.e., principles that ensure high journalistic and editorial standard)
How the Council Behave when a legitimate complaint is made with strong supporting evidence that a series of reports made by a newspaper have breached not only the ethic of journalism but each and every of the Council written principles?
Following is a recent letter I emailed to the Australia Press Council on 20 July 2010 outlining the seriousness of the case, and the detail of how each and every of the Council written principles have been violated. I also analysed in detail why the council should waive its 60 days time limit for complaint and consider the case under its special circumstance clause.
I have provided significant amount of evidence in an easy to understand – point by point manner proven beyond reasonable doubt that: a series of reports published by the newspaper concerned were not based on facts but the invention of their Journalist, and it is only one simple step from the Press Council by forwarding my e-mail to the respective newspaper demanding an answer to the 5 questions I raise, and the truth will be out, the Council Principles will be upheld, the right of the Australian people to know the truth will be fulfilled.
However, guest what kind of reasoning the Council used to dismiss my case?
I believe that it is fair for us to ask: “Will a self-regulatory body that served the same interest of the mainstream media be serious about maintaining the ethic of Journalism in this country? Will the Press Council genuinely believe in upholding the right of the Australian public to know the truth?
After reading my correspondence with the Council, a good friend of mine sending me the following remark as his feedback: “Australian Press Council controlling media disinformation? Would you trust John Howard to control racism?” (Author Note: The Howard’s government was regarded by the UN as a racist government in 2000)
The following is my story:
Following is the full content of my e-mail to the Australia Press Council on the 20 July 2010:
To: Jack R Herman/ Executive Secretary
Australia Press Council
Dear Mr. Jack R Herman,
Re: One more step and the truth is out: Defending Australians Right to understand other culture through accurate information
Further to my e-mail dated 15 June 2010, I would like to inform you that The Age has again returned my e-mail as “return without being read”.
The reality is, if you read the content of the latest e-mail correspondents between John Garnaut and myself as mentioned in my last e-mail to you dated 15 June 2010 under the following link: More Dodgy Materials Exposed – The Age and John Garnaut Case Continue, I believe that you will agree with me that, it is only one more step and the truth will be out. And it is only the Australia Press Council has the authority to press the Age for a reply.
Before I make a summary of issues that I hope that the Press Council will assist in securing a reply from The Age, I would like to address the reasons why The Council should regards this case as an exceptional case to Act upon even outside its 60 days complaint time frame.
Why The Press Council Should consider this case an exceptional case outside the 60 days limit?
When I wrote my first e-mail to the Council dated 2 June 2010, I understand that there is an exception to the 60 days policy, that was why I presented it as a case of national security. This is how I wrote: “I also outlined in this article (Media Accountability—The Age must say ‘Sorry’ to Australians) the reason why such behaviour posted a security risk to Australia and urged that we should “Lets’ the world understand each other through accurate information.”
As you have rejected my complaint under the following reason in your e-mail dated 3 June 2010:
“I have reviewed your material. It does not appear to me that you have established any case at all that there has been a breach of the Council’s principles.”
As a result, I have accessed your website again to study the handful of principles lay down by the Council , now I would like to present my complaint base on the Council principles as follows:
The very first statement spell out by the Council’s Statement of Principles is: “the freedom of the press to publish is the freedom, and right, of the people to be informed,” the second principle is the “equivalent responsibility to the public”.
Note: I can assure the Council that this case involved not only one report that is dodgy and baseless, but at least 2. They not only contradicted each other, but I have good reasons to believe that the reports were not based on fact but a baseless story based purely on the invention of The Age China Correspondent’s John Garnaut. I believe that, the Australian readers have the right to know the truth, and under the current circumstances, it is only one more step and the truth will be out. The Australia Press Council has the authority to press the Age for an answer to ratify the series of highly misleading and distorting reports published by the Age (detail at the later part of this letter).
I believe that the Press Council would like to uphold its very first principle “The right of the people to be informed” and the second principle “the equivalent responsibility to the public”.
In addition to the above 2 core principles lay down by the Council, the Council when considering complaints, will have regard for the following general principles as well:
Point 2.) “Where it is established that a serious inaccuracy has been published, a publication should promptly correct the error, giving the correction due prominence.”
Point 4.) “…..Rumour and unconfirmed reports should be identified as such.”
Point 6.) “Publications are free to advocate their own views and publish the bylined opinions of others, as long as readers can recognise what is fact and what is opinion.”
Note: The nature of my complaint is not only about “serious inaccuracy” (Point 2) and “rumour has been published” (Point 4). It is about deliberate distortion in The Age’s reports, and it is malicious in nature to demonise a country – Our biggest trading partner, China. (detail at the later part of this letter).
The impact is, the Australian public “cannot distinguish what is opinion and what is fact” (Point 6). Despite the reality that China has made dramatic achievement in its human right records by lifting 400 million people out of poverty within the last 30 years; having the highest level of citizens satisfaction with the country direction at 86% and the second highest is Australia at only 61% (PEW survey 2008); and its human right achievement in its rescue, reconstruction and compensation arrangement for the more than 5 million victims in the 2008 Earthquake (The Time Magazine: ‘Haiti and China: A Tale of Two Earthquakes’) – Australians were basically unaware of the above facts. Why?
Their perception of our biggest trading partner is getting worst. For examples (1) Lowy Institute Poll and (2) Investors wary of Chinese money. Why? Our mainstream media has definitely not having any balance in their report as far as issues relating to China is concerned. Why?
In your letter dated 3 June 2010, you stated that “He (John Garnaut) is entitled to report what he saw and heard at the time – not all journalists present will have exactly the same experience”. I fully agree with your above statement. However, not when the statements he made were baseless based purely on his imagination in violation of all the Press Council’s basic principles.
In 2008, we witnessed Chinese students living in the West, having “freedom” of information from the Western Media suddenly went on protest across the Western world by the Tens of thousands of people – protesting against media bias and distorting reports against China. This incident demonstrated that it is in the public interest that the Press Council take this opportunity to ratify the problem of selective, unbalance and distorting report by the media industry and in this particular case – The Age – as a result of John Garnaut behaviour in a series of his reports that violated all the basic principles lay down by the Press Council. The seriousness of the influence of these misleading reports are that many of these reports were republished by other newspapers and magazines within the Fairfax group.
Australia’s former ambassador to Indonesia, Japan and Thailand recently warned that “Australia risks being complacent about its reputation in Asia”, I can assure you that our mainstream media culture with selective reports have got to do with the situation.
This is perhaps the reason why Mr Joske (an economic adviser to former treasurer Peter Costello in the 1990s) spoke out late last year (2009) that: ”There’s no one in Treasury who can tell up from down on China, beyond what they read in the newspapers.” And pointed out the sad reality that “BHP bent the ears of senior ministers and exploited the Government’s ”policy dysfunction” to get its way on China.” (Brisbane Time, 15 Oct 2009)
In fact, the resentment against the mainstream media in Australia gone further than that:
Dr Anne Aly in her research into how Australian Muslims were responding to the discourse on terrorism in the Australian popular media observed that: “it was increasingly evident that Australian Muslims were turning to the internet to access information about the United States-led interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq, and engaging heavily in propaganda and conspiracy theories.” (Australia Strategic Studies Institute article: ‘Online radicalisation and the Muslim diaspora’, 13 July 2009)
Therefore, I believe that it is in both the national and public interest that the Press Council demonstrated its leadership to ensure it core and general principles being upheld at all time. That is: “Publications should take reasonable steps to ensure reports are accurate, fair and balanced. They should not deliberately mislead or misinform readers either by omission or commission.” (Point 1 of the Press Council’s general principle).
I hope that the Council will forward this e-mail to The Age, so that they will have to give me a reply and ratify the series of dishonest and misleading reports made by John Garnaut with detail as follows:
The Council need just to do the following to uphold the Council Principles
The Council need just to forward my e-mail to the Age and ask them to give my following questions a straight forward and unambiguous reply to uphold the Council Core and General Principles:
Over the last few weeks since I posted my first report: Can we trust our Media? The Shocking Behaviour of The Age Journalist’s John Garnaut (dated 12 May 2010), followed by Media Accountability—The Age must say ‘Sorry’ to Australians (dated 24 May 2010), then More Dodgy Materials Exposed – The Age and John Garnaut Case Continue (dated 14 June 2010), I received a total of 3 e-mails from John Garnaut.
If you examine the content of each of our (John Garnaut and myself) e-mail correspondents, I am confident that, you will find John Garnaut is Guilty as Charged.
Let’s put aside the 3 dodgy reports he made in regard to Chinese top leadership direct involvement in the Rio Tinto bribery case without any sources being quoted (detail in More Dodgy Materials Exposed – The Age and John Garnaut Case Continue), The mere fact that, he has great difficulty to answer the questions I posted with regards to the content of the report he attached to me in his email dated 7 June 2010 tell a lot about the credibility of his story.
This is the content of his e-mail dated 7 June 2010:
Dear Wei Ling,
Here is a May 2008 report, setting out in more detail the circumstances that you said I invented a year later:
The witness in that story was engaged by me at the time.
To dispel another of your excited allegations, I do not have two names. Jophiel Bushnell works at the news desk in Melbourne and forwarded your complaint on to me.
I trust you will find some more fruitful conspiracies to spend your time on.
If you read the content of John Garnaut above attached link to his (May 2008) report. The report title is (Taking a great leap for Wen, dated 17 May 2008), you will find the following key words and sentences that place the credibility of his story in doubt:
slipped past the road block;
At 10.11am he snapped a picture;
we carried; and
Until dusk on Wednesday in Beichuan, at least, they were just blocking the road.
In my e-mail reply to him dated 8 June 2010, I pointed out that the date “Wednesday” in the report (Taking a great leap for Wen) was on 14 May 2008, and it was through the eyes of an unnamed Chinese Journalist (ie, 3rd party account of the event). However, his report a year later in 9 May 2009 (‘Journey through an earthquake’) has became a First party witness statement. This is how I asked John Garnaut in my email reply:
In your report on the 9 May 2009 ‘Journey through an earthquake’, you mentioned that: “On May 14 and 15, The Age watched People’s Liberation Army….”, that mean, you personally witnessed People Liberation Army looting on May 14 and May 15, 2008.
But in your report (Taking a great leap for Wen) dated 17 May 2008, the description wasn’t a first person account. It was through the eyes of an unnamed Chinese Journalist. So, why are you using the statement “The Age watched…..” in your 9 May 2009 report?
When you mentioned “Wednesday” in your 17 May 2008 report, I have just verify that that day was 14 May 2008. You have this statement that put yourself on the scene as a first hand witness: “Later, the soldiers were still loitering and sticking out their hands for drinks “we carried” to the exhausted rescuers actually looking for survivors.”
My questions are:
a) Have you “slipped past the road block” as well like the (unnamed) Chinese Journalist on Wednesday (14 May 2008)?
b) As a professional Journalist, I believe you did carry a camera with you, have you taken any picture of those scene you witnessed on 14 May 2008?
c) Can you tell us the date of the 3 photo series produced under your name on the Age website: http://www.theage.com.au/multimedia/china_earthquake/index.html
d) Again, why didn’t you report your story on the Sydney Morning Herald on the 15 May 2008 (‘Horror of entire towns flattened’)?
e) By the way, who is the other person who witnessed the event of “Later, the soldiers were still loitering and sticking out their hands for drinks we carried to the exhausted rescuers actually looking for survivors.” Who is the other “We” that can support your account of the event?
This question is posted under the subheading special note in my e-mail dated 8 June 2010. This is how I asked John Garnaut:
The questions here are, who was that Chinese Journalist named in your report? What is his name? When and where did you and him engaged in those conversation and under what circumstances did you all got to know each other? Since he told you so much of his account of what he witnessed in such great length and detail, including statement such as “At 10.11am he snapped a picture of a group of soldiers running…”, that mean you all knew each other quite well. Why don’t you buy the photos from him as it should worth owing those materials as they were the only evidence of People Liberation Army “loitering aimlessly and helping themselves to goods looted from shattered shops, while the cries of trapped citizens rang out from buildings nearby,”.
Given the hostile International (Western) environment against China, I believe that those evidence of “People’s Liberation Army soldiers loitering aimlessly and helping themselves to goods looted from shattered shops” should worth a lot of money. As an experience journalist, don’t you have the instinct and urged to owe those evidence and make it an exclusive report with worldwide circulation? There are going to be a lot of money $$$ to be made, don’t you think so?
I believe that the above 3 questions are reasonable and if John Garnaut story was credible, he should have no difficulty to provide an answer. However, this is how he replied on the 8 June 2010:
It really is more simple than you think.
The Herald and Age buy stories from wire agencies, like Reuters and AP. Sometimes their stories get interwoven with mine by editors in Sydney or Melbourne and I don’t even know that it has happened, so it might look like a jointly written story when it wasn’t. For example, I have never heard of Francois Bougon. I reported what I saw, he reported what he saw, it is not surprising that we did not see exactly the same thing.
Unfortunately yours is a conspiratorial mind. You are determined that journalists like myself are simply elements of the “hostile international (western) environment”, inventing stories from our imagination, to use your words. Nothing could be further from the truth. Perhaps you believe that you know more about everything that I write about than I do, but perhaps you are not omniscient as you think. Perhaps it’s been so long since you really connected with China that you have no idea how it works. Unfortunately I cannot spend more time reasoning with a fanatical anti-western ‘patriot’ who cannot be reasoned with. I have to get on with reporting China as I see it, with all its courage, colour and sometimes tragedy.
If I sent you the Beichuan photo that you asked for, I would hope that you might then find something more useful to spend your time on. But I suspect that you will invent another conspiracy – or, more likely, continue to recycle old conspiracies from the anti-CNN website as you have been doing – to hurl at me from your own website because it makes you feel important.
As you may observe from the above e-mail statement, John Garnaut has just denied that the Joint Report he made with Francois Bougon in the Sydney Morning Herald on the 15 May 2008 (‘Horror of entire towns flattened’) was not his work.
So I believe that the following questions I posted in my e-mail reply to him dated 9 June 2010 is reasonable and deserve an unambiguous reply.
I would like to put it as Question 4 in this letter as follows:
When you state that “I have never heard of Francois Bougon. I reported what I saw, he reported what he saw, it is not surprising that we did not see exactly the same thing,” are you trying to suggest now that the report on the Sydney Morning Herald on the 15 May 2008 (‘Horror of entire towns flattened’) with your name on it, is not your work? If that is the case, please tell us, the content of your original work? It must have been published somewhere else? Can you please show us the link?
I also would like to ask one more question: did John Garnaut received the commission from his report on the Sydney Morning Herald dated 15 May 2008?
In regard to his other statement: “If I sent you the Beichuan photo that you asked for, I would hope that you might then find something more useful to spend your time on. But I suspect that you will invent another conspiracy”
I would like to post him the 5th question as follows:
Since John Garnaut indicated that he has the “Beichuan photo” that I asked for, I would like him to show us the photo with images showing “People’s Liberation Army soldiers loitering aimlessly and helping themselves to goods looted from shattered shops”, and then explain to us: Why didn’t he published those photos on:
15 May 2008: (‘Horror of entire towns flattened’)
17 May 2008: (‘Taking a great leap for Wen’)
9 May 2009: (‘Journey through an earthquake’)
Why didn’t any of the 3 photo series produced in the Age website (http://www.theage.com.au/multimedia/china_earthquake/index.html) under John Garnaut name showing “People’s Liberation Army soldiers loitering aimlessly and helping themselves to goods looted from shattered shops”?
Please bear in mind that the day John Garnaut witnessed “People’s Liberation Army soldiers….. helping themselves to goods looted from shattered shops” is on the 14 and 15 May 2008. Why can’t he backed up his claim with photos he claimed to have in his e-mail dated 8 June 2010?
China through a series of political and economic reform has become our biggest trading partner with its national reserve still growing dramatically after the 2008 financial crisis (more than USD2.4 trillion to date). Our A$17 billion dollar education industry is supported by 150,000 Chinese students.
Some of these students may become the future Chinese leaders, and the way our mainstream media treating China with all kind of selective, partial, and distorting news has upset many. The 2008 Chinese student street protest across the country is just an example of resentment and anger.
Media negativity against other culture and countries also resulted in negative behaviour of some of our less inform citizens attitude towards other culture, nationals and migrants in this country. As a result, there are serious racism and racist behaviour both among our political leaderships and some session of the community.
These are the real security risk to Australia future prospect in the Asia pacific region and the world at large.
I believe that John Garnaut through the series of his ‘imaginary’ reports against China have effectively violated all the core and general principles spell out by the Press Council. The intention is Malicious and the effect is toxic. The evidence and logic I have produced so far are solid, and all the 5 questions I raised in this letter deserved an unambiguous reply from the Age. The way, The Age Foreign Editor deleted my e-mail without being read showing that: “dodgy journalism” is the darling of the media.
I hope that the Australia Press Council will take this opportunity to demonstrate to the world that, Australia is serious about:
· “The right of the people to know the truth”
· “Where it is established that a serious inaccuracy has been published, a publication should promptly correct the error, giving the correction due prominence”.
· “Publications should take reasonable steps to ensure reports are accurate, fair and balanced. They should not deliberately mislead or misinform readers either by omission or commission.”
As you have mentioned in your last e-mail when you rejected my complaint: “He (John Garnaut) is entitled to report what he saw and heard at the time – not all journalists present will have exactly the same experience” indicated that it is not an easy job to prove that a report or reports were dodgy. I have already done the hard work of analysing through strong logic and reasoning and proving beyond reasonable doubt that those reports were dishonest in nature, and a small step from the Press Council will allow the Australian people to know the truth.
Let’s work together to uphold the Press Council core and general principles on Journalism. Let’s defence Australians right to understand other culture through accurate information.
Thank you very much
Hope to hear from you soon with a positive response.
Wei Ling Chua
This is How The Press Council Reply dated 21 July 2010
Mr Wei Ling Chua
Thank you for your letter of July 20.
I have read your comments but can find no reason to re-open the matter. Your complaint is based on your interpretation of the events; it is not the only interpretation. But more importantly, you seek to raise a matter that is well past the normal time and you do not press any concerns that would make that an issue the Council needs to take up at this late stage.
I can add little to what I said in my June 3 letter. The situation remains the same.
Jack R Herman
ACMA (Australia Communication and Media Authority) is a government body set up to regular the conduct of TV, Radio etc (non printed media). They also have their written code of practice and a 60 days policy.
However, unlike the Australia Press Council, the ACMA’s 60 days policy is not designed to be used to prevent the public from making a legitimate complaint. Their 60 days policy is for the offenders to response to the public complaint within 60 days.
When you go to the Australia Press Council homepage, you will find the item ‘How to make a complaint’ on the left hand side of the homepage. When you place your cursor on the item ‘How to make a complaint’, you are most likely to automatically select the very first item that drop down from the screen. That is ‘Overview’.
Click on the ‘Overview’, and you will find this statement: ‘Complaints must be lodged within sixty days of the initial publication’. Many people may decided to drop off their complaint from this point onward. However, I decided to search every pages, and found this statement: “The Council will only consider waiving this requirement in special circumstances”. It has been obvious to me that, unlike the ACMA, the Australia Press Council has not being sincere in having the public to lodge a complaint and act to upheld its so-called “high journalistic and editorial standards”.
The seriousness of this case is not only about the basic ethic of Journalism has been violated but virtually all the core and general principles of Journalism lay down by the Press Council have been breached.
In my reply to the above Press Council E-mail dated 21 July 2010, I have written the following statement:
“I am not sure how you can interpret those 5 questions I raise in any other way? At least John Garnaut, the first party in the case appear not being able to handle those questions through the content of his recent 3 e-mails to me. I believe that the most objective and impartial thing to do is to ask The Age, the party who published those materials to interpret them for us. Why speculate about the interpretation before the party in the case tell us how they will interpret the 5 questions I asked?”
“The problem with the Age’s account of the stories are that, they not only contradicted tons of other journalists reports on the same event, they even contradicted each other statements including statements made within the same report. All those stories also contradicted the photo and video images produced under the name of John Garnaut on the Age’s photo and video webpage. Therefore, I believe that in the mind of any reasonable people, it is unreasonable to limit the accountability of a series of dodgy reports with such malicious nature to strictly 60 days if the council is serious about upholding the Council core and general principles for Journalism.”
“The outcome of this case required only one simple step from the Council by simply forwarding my properly written letter with an unambiguous point by point evaluation and questions to the Age newspaper for an unambiguous reply and the truth will be out, the Council principles will be upheld and the Australian people right to know the truth will be fulfil. If the Age is not guilty of publishing “invented stories”, their name is clear as well.”
“The materials may be over the 60 days limit, but all the materials are readily in place for analysis including the content of the 3 very recent e-mail from John Garnaut.”
“Please bear in mind that we are dealing with a case of “invented stories”, it is more serious than any of the principles outlined by the Council. To get the truth, it is only one small step from the Council – a few second job. I believe that Australian people would like to know and have the right to demand for an answers from the Age.”
This is how the Council reply on 23 July 2010:
“Thank you for your letter of July 22.
I have read your comments but can still find no reason to re-open the matter. I can add little to what I said in my June 3 and July 21 letters. The situation remains the same. Your complaint is well out of time.
This correspondence is now ended.”
The issue now is: Can we trust our mainstream media? Can we trust a self-regulatory body who served the same interest of the mainstream media to regulate the conduct of the very same interest they served? Should we campaign the government to set up an independent body like the ACMA to defence Australian rights for honest journalism?
Anybody with any suggestion, please leave your comment at the end of this article at Fools Mountain website.
Written by www.outcastjournalist.com
Related Previous Articles:
– Can we trust our Media? The Shocking Behaviour of The Age Journalist’s John Garnaut (12 May 2010)
– Media Accountability—The Age must say ‘Sorry’ to Australians (24 May 2010)
– More Dodgy Materials Exposed – The Age and John Garnaut Case Continue (14 June 2010)
Just a bit of my background, I was born in Singapore, and my father was born in Indonesia, China is not my country and there is no issue of being a patriotic Chinese national. I spent 3 years in Eastern Europe (1991 – 1994)when the Communist collapsed. I witnessed first hand the kind of suffering when a system is overthrown overnight. After 20 years of having democratic government in Eastern Europe, a recent survey by the American based PEW found the following outcome:
End of Communism Cheered but Now with More Reservations: http://pewglobal.org/2009/11/02/end-of-communism-cheered-but-now-with-more-reservations/
I have been living in Australia for almost 20 years now, also witnessing first hand democracy in practice in a developed country. I decided to produce a series of articles on this issue not because I don’t like the concept of democracy but hoping that people from China should objectively assess the merit of a political system and seek to make improvement based on their current foundation. Continue reading »
The similarity of these 3 events is that they are natural disasters with many deaths and many more left homeless. However, for those who lost their home in such a large scale natural disasters, which government do you think do more and care more for their citizens in need? The so-called “autocratic” regime in Beijing, China or the so-called “democratic” and “human right” governments in USA and Australia?
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Image from the Atlantic monthly article Renting a White Guy
Reports of “renting a white guy” is making its rounds in the US media. In these reports, Mr. Mitch Moxley shared his rather interesting experience as a fake businessman in China. Moxley claims to have no working experience, yet he was hired by a Canadian Chinese to be a quality control expert for an American company in China. Together with several other such fake quality control “experts”, he went to a place in Shandong, attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony, made speeches, shook hands, and took photos. For these, he was dined and wined in a good hotel, and got paid 1000 dollars and promised better work like this in the future. I wonder if somebody in America would like to rent a Chinese guy for half that money. Not very likely, and there is even an immigration law coming in Arizona, making non-residents’ lives even more difficult than they already are. Continue reading »
It is hard at this point to be sure of who will benefit the most from it economically. There are concerns in Taiwan that there will be a net loss of jobs as a result of the agreement. Whilst Taiwan will be able to ship goods to China with fewer trade barriers, this does not mean that increased trade will employ more Taiwanese than lose their jobs due to an increase in Chinese imports. After all, some Taiwanese bosses may just pocket increased profit, though others will see increased demand and need to employ more workers. It will be easier to consider the impact of the agreement after it has been in place for a year or two.
But now that the ECFA has been agreed upon, where do Sino-Taiwanese relations go from here? The Wall Street Journal has a suggestion.
May 27, 2010 – Opinion: the Foxconn Incident is a Reflection of the Growing Pains Associated with China’s Traditional Mode of Development
The recent spate of suicides at Foxconn in China has brought unprecedented attention to this major international manufacturing subcontractor of electronics equipments. While the causes of these suicides are inevitably complex, the incidents are a general reflection of the stress the traditional mode of development has wrought on China’s society and provide a warning that change must be brought about soon. Continue reading »
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“Food is central to the Chinese psyche and I think they believe that everybody should be entitled to food whereas Westerners look at it differently.”
Sorry Steve, what I paste below is a bit long, if you think the content is irrelevant, please go ahead to delete or collapse. No hard feeling on my side. This piece was written by a friend of my few years back, whom I respect very much. My intention is not to criticize the west, but to partially answer the point raise by Chinktalk.
+++ Since the First Opium War, the vast number of Chinese masses never had sufficient food to eat. Famine was a feature of China, as it was for India for much of its history. That country had 25 famines during the BRITISH administration alone. One of the worst took place at the Deccan area, which killed over four million. In Mike Davis’ “Late Victorian Holocausts,” it was estimated that there were between 12 and 33 million avoidable deaths in India between 1876 and 1908. And as late as 1943 around 4 million died in the Bengal famine, an event that some commentators have blamed on official policy, but which others have claimed as an act of genocide. All these have not been focussed or even mentioned in passing by the West. There was no talk about the failure of capitalism, of imperialism, or even racism. Indeed, if Davis has not come out with his recent book, much of the world wouldn’t have known such things happened.
Let’s talk a bit about China’s Great Leap. That was a period of hardship or at least near-starvation as well, and indeed part of the problem was due to inexperience, incompetence, and macro-management. That’s not too surprising as, after a century of being a semi-colony, few Chinese understood the geography of China, much less how to administer the continental-sized country. Almost all of China’s main cities, rivers, and even provinces were in foreign control one way or another. Even China’s customs was in foreign hands until 1943 – a huge shame on Chinese civilization and bitterly felt by the Chinese people. The Chinese were described in travel books as incapable of logical thinking, that they were unruly and deserved to be crushed by the boots of Prussian discipline. Meanwhile, foreign-occupied Shanghai was sporting clubs with signs saying “No dogs and Chinese allowed.” This, in China! The Chinese didn’t find the West weeping for their democratic rights then. The poor, wretched, hungry masses died like flies EVERY DAY – average life expectancy was like pre-1950 Tibet – around 35 years.
If this was the situation during PEACETIME, it was worse during the war. But all things have their seasons, and in 1950 China, for the first time in over 100 years, emerged as an independent country under the Chinese Communist Party. There was much to be done, but straightaway the country was faced with the possibility of its perceived enemy at the Korean border. So Chinese troops were sent to face the armed forces of the greatest power in the world. After being the “Sick Man of Asia” for a century the country, united as never before, managed to surprise the world by forcing American troops into what Cold War architect George Kennan called “the longest retreat in US military history.” Even more surprising, it was the US that called for peace, on the threat that they would use atomic bombs if China were to refuse to negotiate.
But the war took a great toll on the Chinese, which besides the loss of over a million lives owed the Soviets billions of roubles for their often inferior armaments (only the MIG 15 was considered world class, and that too eventually was not a match for the improved American fighter jets). The country, just emerging from a century of devastation, was faced with enormous challenges both from nature and from external threats such as SEATO and the American 7th Fleet in Taiwan. China was unable to get UN help as the Americans had persuaded the world to recognize Taiwan as the true representative of all China (nowadays, with Beijing having the upper hand, the hint is that Taiwan should be independent!). Worse, Taiwanese agents were regularly sent to sabotage the mainland’s infrastructure – this was proudly shown in a magazine called “Free World” and distributed to many Malaysian schools by the USIS (my elder brother used to tear the mag to wrap his books. Once, however, I recognized the fabulous paintings of Chinese-American artist Dong Kingman, and snatched the pages from him). Threats along the coastal areas forced Mao to locate China’s industries in the hilly hinterlands, which of course was difficult and expensive. Many modern Chinese just don’t understand how difficult it was for China to develop then, not to mention the Western embargo on China of advanced industrial goods, which continues even today.
Older Malaysians – those at least over 60 – know from their geography books that China’s Yellow River was known as the “River of Sorrow.” When it flooded, millions of lives would be lost. Drought was another curse. Thus the new government started from the basics – building dams, shoring up the dikes, and planting trees to prevent desertification, cool the land and conserve water. There was little money for machinery – most were done by human labor. Yet, by the mid-fifties, the country was gaining ground – it even had some surplus grain for export.
There were often open military threats – Chiang Kaishek was probably encouraged to put the heat on China by promising “imminent” invasion on every national day in Taiwan. Meanwhile, the US had proceeded from the atomic to thermonuclear or H-bomb. China had no choice but to keep up with the R&D, and by 1958 was able to send its first sounding rockets to space.
Could it be that the progress of a few years made China’s leaders swollen-headed? Perhaps a bit of that, but the point of the Great Leap wasn’t merely a struggle to become a modern power. The mass collectivization and setting up of people’s communes was to make every commune a fortress. These communes were to make not merely basic implements for farming, but also the manufacture or repair of armaments. Mao had envisioned not only an entire country of self-sufficient farmers, but also soldiers. That was the faith he had in his people – few real dictators would dare to place arms in the hands of millions of powerless people.
The plan was good, even revolutionary, but the implementation was disastrous. First, China was such a large country that one really could not tell the peasants what to plant – they knew their land better than the leaders in Beijing. So it was an error to turn rice fields into wheatlands, or vice versa. Moreover, local uneducated cadres, always wanting to be heroes, would send glowing reports of their districts when crop disaster was staring at their faces. If China were a small country like England, things might’ve been easier. It was not that easy to find out the truth in a huge land with primitive infrastructure (a more democratic press might’ve helped, as Amartya Sen suggested).
On top of administrative failures and backward technology was one of the worst droughts in modern Chinese history. Plants withered in many places, and many people didn’t have sufficient water for daily use, not to say watering the crops. Deng Hsiao-ping, to impress his newfound foreign American friends, later claimed that about 16 million died during those years. If we take the years 1958 to 62, that would mean about 4 millions per year – somewhat the same as the Bengal famine of 1943. But I doubt that figure as many of us in Malaysia had relatives who, despite telling us of their hardships, never gave any hint of any famine. Foreign visitors, including well-known ones such as BBC head Felix Greene, reported hardships but no famine. Another reason for the numbers could be the normal deaths from decades of malnutrition: the revolution was merely eight years old and many of the survivors were born during a time when life expectancy was around 35.
But that people were in near famine conditions – that I believe was a possibility. It was brought about through over-optimistic planning, bad administration, and the worst drought in modern history. However, the 16 million, already inflated to support Deng’s “reforms”, was as usual doubled to 30 millions by the West, and a decade or so later that was doubled again to 60 millions. We all know the Western play on figures. The tens of deaths at Tiananmen was inflated to “hundreds, if not thousands” whereas, DURING THE SAME DECADE IN KWANGJU, KOREA, over 2000 students were run over by tanks and armored cars by the US supported Korean dictator but often reported as “200.” In the Korean episode, the massacre was approved, if not planned, by the US military (did the mass media report on that at all?).
Whatever the case, the Great Leap was a disaster, but the farmers knew that the drought had played a large role, and on the whole did not blame the CCP. This was proven in an indirect way: around 1962 the US, knowing that China had experienced great economic difficulties, thought it might be time to support a Chiang invasion. Chiang’s troops were ready, and so were the transport ships. The invasion was debated by Congress, and finally given up because American intelligence suggested that the peasants would rise up and demolish Chiang’s troops. The US did, however, persuaded Australia from selling grain to China – another sign how caring that country was towards the Chinese people (and the crocodile tears they shed today).
The Russians under Khrushchev did not help either: instead, they demanded that China send grain to them as part of the agreed payments for Korean War loans. That, and little else, was why China became the Soviet’s bitterest enemy, until the break-up of that country.
The Leap was the only agriculture disaster in the last 50 years. Industrially, though many of the goals were not achieved, there were progress in a number of fields. One was the manufacturing of farm products that were inexpensive yet helpful to peasants, such as a rice-transplanter machine that made backbreaking labor a thing of the past. To alleviate the energy problem, biomass – the use of rotted vegetation for energy – was used to give even the remotest villages electricity. Small hydro-electric equipment that could be placed across streams were used by poor farmers around the country: it was so useful that the product was exported to countries in Africa and especially the Philippines. Though not really a success, the experiment saw a population that began to understand the requirements for an industrial state: this experience was to pass on to a new generation which, after the Cultural Revolution, saw China’s explosive growth.
It was clear that by the 60s, socialism was the best way to develop, but what Mao saw an insidious growth of capitalist tendencies. Towns and cities seemed to grow at the expense of rural areas. New hospitals flourished, while peasants were left to their own devices. In a famous speech, he scolded the Ministry people: “Why call yourself the Ministry of Health? Why not the Ministry of Urban Health? Better still, why not call yourself the Ministry of Urban Gentlemen’s Health?”
His speech galvanized the movement of medical care to the countryside. The country began to train people in providing basic care to the poor. “Barefoot doctors” roamed the countryside, giving traditional Chinese medicines and acupuncture and helping to build sanitation facilities. Every Chinese – from civil servants to the poorest peasant – had by then been required to have a midday nap. All had to wake up as the sun rises for morning exercises. In the cities, lights were off not long after dark. Traditional martial arts were modified for health purposes. Chinese life expectancy rose from the pre-1950 35 to over 65. China’s population boomed. At the end of the 70s, it was clear that China needed a population policy. The one-child system was adopted a few years later.
But all the while, from 1962 onwards, there was much dissatisfaction among urban people WITHIN THE CHINESE COMMUNIST PARTY. These were people who’d travelled abroad and attracted by the brights lights and big cities of their neighbors. And they wanted a change in policies. On Mao’s side were young people who wanted China to continue its own unique journey, who saw the desire for personal wealth as a vice. They also thought, correctly, that those who wanted some of the old ways to return were reactionaries, for the old ways inevitably would bring about great disparity in wealth, promote a dog-eat-dog world, result in prostitution, in people believing in ancient superstitions, etc. Mao’s struggle to wipe out the old was not necessarily all that was old – that was a charge by his enemies – but the vices that he’d seen before when he was a young man. But the very idea of building the new without the old, something that demanded a total change in mentality, was not something that many party members could accept. Hence the ferocity of the Cultural Revolution.
Most of Mao’s Red Guards were young, inexperienced, idealistic students. These were no match for their enemies in the CCP, who would often put around THEIR own armband and called themselves “Red Guards.” A lot of violence were committed by these fake Maoists – which prompted a commentator to mention about “using the name of Mao to go against Mao.” But the number of deaths was never in the hundreds of thousands. Mao’s order, after all, was to “bombard the headquarters!” In other words, his enemies were within the Communist Party, and if we divide them into two roughly equal sides there was hardly a couple of millions on each side (like all conflicts, most would stand at the sidelines). Moreover, most people don’t deal with guns, and the deaths mentioned even in the West were often stuff like beatings with sticks and so on. As usual, the West and their proxies would inflate the numbers, and in this some in the present leadership would even support as justification for their present oligarchical rule.
Deng’s revision of history found much support in the West: Time magazine pronounced him as China’s greatest leader. Zhou Enlai, when asked about what he thought about the French Revolution, said “it was too early to tell.” Whether the present move to capitalism is really that wonderful remains to be seen. Much of the “success” of the new regime was accomplished on the backs of the poor. As I said before, a couple of years ago I’d even suggested on some websites a new guerilla war against the present CCP. Since then, the leadership has been focusing on helping the peasants who were and still are most responsible for the rise of New China. We just have to wait and see.
I’ve taken this opportunity to provide an alternative view of China’s history. Part of the idea is to give an inkling as to how important the rice bowl is to China. For most of the past century, rice was a luxury for the average Chinese, which is why older Malaysians of Chinese ancestry might remember the slap on their faces if they dropped even a speck of the grain. Let not any Chinese tell me he’ll rather go without food than free speech. I’m not impressed. I agree, however, that China can now afford both food and free speech. It will improve in due time, I hope. +++
“China has suffered from the hukou system for so long. We believe people are born free and should have the right to migrate freely, but citizens are still troubled by bad policies born in the era of the planned economy and [now] unsuitable.”
However, after the editorial spread beyond its origins with those newspapers, Chinese censors apparently leapt into action (or were instructed to do so), and it was promptly removed from many websites. A special website set up by the Economic Observer to discuss hukou reform also disappeared. Furthermore, one of the co-writers of the editorial, Zhang Hong, was ousted from his position as deputy editor-in-chief from the Economic Observer’s website. It was also claimed that the Economic Observer received a warning from the CCP’s propaganda department. Continue reading »
By Yu Jianrong
Social unrest and mass protests can be prevented if the abuse of power is checked and antiquated rules are appraised.
Continue reading »
Dear Mr. President,
I’ve heard that you care for the voices of web users. I’ve also noticed that you requested a direct dialogue with web users to answer their questions and concerns during your visit to China last November. Your attention to web users has encouraged me to write to you. I am an ordinary web user from China. What I want to talk to you about is the US’ arms sale to Taiwan, which has raised a heated discussion on the Internet in China. I sincerely hope this letter reaches you, and that you would be able to hear the voice of an ordinary Chinese web user and his wishes for reunification and peace and his nation.
Continue reading »
45 Comments » newest 2010-03-16 23:36:21
The two Asian Giants are still not able to figure out the line which divides them – in the longest running border dispute in modern history. This dispute offers interesting lessons on how to, and how not to, handle boundary issues. The analysis of Chinese behavior in the negotiations is doubly important given China’s perception in the west of it ‘flexing its muscles’, and China’s theory of ‘Peaceful Rise’.
About a century ago, Sir Henry McMahon, the then British Foreign Secretary, took a think red pencil and sketched a line between India and Tibet on a map – a line which has resulted in the two most populous nations in the world going to war, costing more than 2000 lives; and which has created enormous mistrust on both sides, especially in India.
Consequently, on 3rd July 1914 was signed one of the most bizarre and controversial agreements ever known to man – The Simla accord, the complexities of which have yet to be unraveled.
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The execution of a Britain in China for Drug Smuggling raises some interesting questions – including Britain’s integrity and significant lessons for Indian politicians.
Recently the news was packed with what they called the execution by the Chinese Government of a ‘mentally ill’ Britain. He was caught carrying 4 kgs of Heroin in China. His family (surprise surprise!) said that he was mentally ill. And then human rights groups, which are always more than ready to jump in on denouncing China, picked it up.
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