“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 »
Human Rights Watch has come out with a hard-hitting report on China’s black jails, illegal detention facilities where petitioners seeking to appeal to the central government are detained. The report, “Alleyway in Hell”, has a wide range of information on the jails and the circumstances in which people are put there, having conducted interviews with dozens of former victims. (Anyone having trouble accessing the HRW website can get a copy of the report here.)
The majority of black jail detainees are petitioners-citizens from rural areas who come to Beijing and provincial capitals seeking redress for abuses ranging from illegal land grabs and corruption to police torture. Petitioners, as citizens who have done nothing wrong-in fact, who are exercising their legal right to complain of being wronged themselves-are often persecuted by government officials, who employ security forces and plainclothes thugs known as retrievers or jiefang renyuan, to abduct them, often violently, and then detain them in black jails. Plainclothes thugs often actively assist black jail operators and numerous analysts believe that they do so at the behest of, or at least with the blessing of, municipal police. Continue reading »
While Chinese education has experienced rapid development in the past decade, there are numerous challenges, which caused people to call education to be one of the “three mountains (healthcare, housing, and education)” that lie before ordinary Chinese. The media, however, are filled with voices of cynicism and pessimism, or groundless praises from vested interest groups who are anxious to maintain the status quo. Key stakeholders, especially students, are tragically underrepresented or even voiceless as China stands at the crossroads of her educational reform. Continue reading »
In the second part of our interview with Robert Compton, We delve more deeply into his film “Two Million Minutes” which looks at the pre-university educational systems of India and China and compares them to the equivalent curriculum in the United States. Some of the topics discussed are:
1) What are the comparative number of science courses taught in high school and the amount of time spent on the social sciences and world history?
2) What do Indian and Chinese educators see as the areas most in need of reform within their own schools? Are there myths within the Chinese and Indian educational establishment as to their own perceived weaknesses?
3) How are China, India and the United States approaching the key 21st century industries, especially the ones concerning environmental and energy issues?
This is the full session between Niall Ferguson and James Fallows at the recently held Aspen Ideas Festival. Allen had posted excepts and we promised you the complete discussion as soon as it became available. Niall Ferguson had coined the term “Chimerica” to describe the symbiotic relationship between the economies of China and the United States. He currently sees this relationship as being in jeopardy, while James Fallows feels the relationship is far stronger the most realize. This video is slightly over 75 minutes.
Events of the last week in Iran have been widely reported by the world press. Not long before, the press also reported on the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square incident of 1989. Were these two distinct events reported in a similar manner or were they treated as different and unique events? Let’s take a look at each and see what we can find.
1) Who are the good guys and who are the bad guys?
Based on the coverage I’ve seen, both governments were cast as being in the wrong and both protest movements as in the right. In the case of China, the government sent in tanks and used live ammunition to break up a protest movement that was alleged to have turned violent. Most of the reporters in the world press were located in or near the same area, and their reports reflected what occurred in that vicinity. Analyzes of this event in most cases pointed to the government as the culprit and the demonstrators as being victims and responding in a suitable fashion. Is this an accurate assessment? The Chinese government attempted to confiscate film of the event from foreign sources but those attempts were successfully evaded in most instances.
In our Dalai Lama Warns of Looming Violence thread, Wukailong linked to this essaycovering three political scenarios that China might face in the year 2020. The author, Cheng Li is Senior Fellow at the John L. Thornton China Center of the Brookings Institution and William R. Kenan Professor of Government at Hamilton College. His summary is as follows:
[NOTE] This is a translation of a report filed by (王和岩) Wang Heyan in (财经网) Caijing Net two days ago. The content of this report has been making quick rounds in various Chinese Internet forums. It was also picked by othernewsmedias.
The Communist Party Group of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Committee (CPPCC) is staying at the Friendship Hotel. The members of this group are mostly current and former chairmen of CPPCC at province, city and regional levels. They are all experienced officials. [Note: CPPCC is generally where officials are parked after losing or retiring from power (i.e., active party or government positions).] Since they are no longer in the administrative structure and are not constrained in what they can say as before, I had high hopes to dig out something interesting from them.
However, things didn’t exactly go as I planned. Even though they are no longer in power, they kept their arrogance dignity intact, and are simply inaccessible.
July 9th, Buxi posted a story about Yang Jia. I think many of us were hoping that his trail would have been public, would have been transparent. But it wasn’t. Rather it was done in closed session. Continue reading »
In the aftermath of the Sichuan earthquake, a “bottleneck lake” (堰塞湖) formed as a river was blocked by a landslide. Collapse of the dam posed a tremendous danger to those down-stream community, and the Chinese government spent huge resources and risked many lives to erase the lake.
Guangdong provincial party secretary Wang Yang started a mini-landslide of his own, when 3 days ago he spoke to a group of Communist Party cadres at a training course (连接):
We must make democracy a value to be pursued. In governing, we must make sure we use democracy, defend democracy, secure democracy, and develop democracy. We must be sufficiently respectful of, and also open up expressions of popular opinion. We absolutely can not block popular opinion, and form a “bottleneck-on-speech lake” (言塞湖). We must use democratic methods to continuously improve and expand democracy within the Party, and push forward social democracy. We must self-consciously nurture democratic habits, learn to listen and tolerate, and use democratic methods to unite people.
Beijing will set up specially designated zones for protesters during next month’s Olympics … Liu Shaowu, director for security for the Beijing Olympic organizing committee, said Wednesday that areas in at least three public parks near outlying sporting venues have been set aside for use by demonstrators.
Two months ago, major Western newspapers ran stories on laywers Jiang Tianyong and Teng Biao. These two have been working in the “rights defense” (维权) movement in China. Both have received extensive overseas praise and attention for their work defending dissidents and FLG practictioners. Both also offered to defend Tibetans implicated in the March riots.
It all culminated in these articles at the beginning of June. I won’t bother quoting from the articles; the titles are pretty self-explanatory:
The articles largely agree in content, and are basically copied directly from press releases from activist dissident groups: the two lawyers were denied their licenses for political reasons, authoritarian China, no sign of reform, etc, etc…
Well, we’ve learned more about their situations since. However, the Western media doesn’t seem very interested in telling the rest of the story. We’ll just have to discuss it here.
As the Internet has gained in influence in China, the “human search engine” and “internet mob” has also made itself increasingly known. We’ve discussed several such stories here, including the case of Wang Qianyuan. In the past, some unknown government bureau might have simply issued an edict banning this behavior… but in a hopeful sign of the maturing legal system in China, senior judges are discussing how to deal with a lawsuit related to one such incident.
ESWN provides background on the case of Jiang Yan, and her husband Wang Fei. Jiang Yan committed suicide in the last few days of 2007, and that’s where the story begins. The full story of her husband’s affair and cruelty was described on numerous internet sites by Jiang Yan’s sister and friends. The human search engine and internet mob went into action, harassing Wang Fei and family at work and at home.
Rather than just disappearing, Wang Fei has filed a lawsuit against three Internet sites and one of Jiang Yan’s friends. I’m not going to get into the titillating details, but here’s an update from the China Youth Daily on the lawsuit (连接):
This reporter has learned that after the third hearing on the “first human search engine case”, the Beijing Chaoyang District Court has called a conference of senior judges. 54 senior judges have begun heated discussions on the topic.
Southwestern Guizhou province is again in the news, but this time for a good reason. Roland at ESWN translates a Xinhua article on China’s on-going experimentation with political reform as seen in the city of Guiyang. Guiyang is trying to appoint party secretaries to four districts and counties, and chose to do so in a more transparent, democratic way.
What exactly is the experiment? It’s not Western democracy, but it’s also not business as usual. A CCTV report (video below) explains the process:
82 candidates were publicly nominated for the four positions; 81 of them passed the initial screening process.
a conference made up of “responsible figures” in the Guiyang city government, and Party representatives from different industries select five candidates for each position, 20 candidates in all.
these 20 candidates appeared at a public conference, widely broadcast via TV and internet, and were graded for their performance. The candidates gave speeches, debated, and answered questions posed by the public.
the 8 candidates (two per district) with the highest grades were selected to go on. The grading is broken down this way: “democratic nomination” (20%), “research report” (20%), “public speech and debate” (20%), “public opinion” (30%), “estimate of leadership capability” (10%).
the final selection between these two candidates per district is made by the local People’s Congress.
Chinese president Hu Jintao’s brief appearance on the Strong Country internet forum might be more significant than most of us originally thought. There have been other signs in recent weeks that the PRC government is reconsidering its approach to Internet speech. I translate a story (原文), just published in the China Youth Daily (中国青年报, operated by the Communist Youth League).
Zhuzhou Discipline Party Secretary goes online with his real name – Angry enough to smash his keyboard, but too afraid to curse.
Yang Ping is party secretary of the Discipline Committee, in the city of Zhuzhou, Hunan province. Recently, he got a new nickname. It all started on an internet forum he started to frequent. The netizens there began to call him “classmate Yang Ping”. Gradually, even his friends began to refer to him this way.
He never thought that he’d get this kind of nickname at the age of 47. He also never thought that, since he started going online with his real name in May, he would be seeing changes beyond his nickname.
The other headline story in China over the last week has been the murder of 6 police officers in Shanghai. Yang Jia, an unemployed man originally from Beijing, attacked a public security office building, stabbing to death 6 officers.
All of this happened just as the Weng’an riot story itself became white hot, and the Chinese internet response was predictably extreme (and in my opinion, disgusting). After seeing local injustices, some Chinese netizens basically celebrated the attacks on the police. Yang was often described as one of the Robin Hood-type heroes forced to rebel in Outlaws of the Marsh (水浒传). Many simply assumed Yang acted for a reason, that previous police abuse was the reason for his anger; a rumor was spread that Yang had been beaten so badly his sex organs were injured.
The Shanghai public security ministry has been placed on the defensive, forced to explain whether Yang Jia was “justified” in his attack. Yesterday, Shanghai issued a 6-hour recording from an encounter last October, apparently the seed of Yang Jia’s anger (连接). Part of the transcript is translated below:
After a series of horn blasts, a middle aged man with a Shanghai accent (police officer) begins a dialog with a young man with a Beijing accent (Yang Jia).
Officer: Hey pal, please stop your bicycle for an examination!
Yang Jia: There are so many people on the road, why are you picking on me?
Our guest Youzi has given us a kernel for further discussion in one of his comments:
And even within China, between different provinces and peoples are tremendous psychological differences, perhaps even greater than those between two countries. As time has passed, as the people’s living standards have grown and as awareness of personal rights has woken… if the traditional methods of political pressure and thought control are used, it’s already become very difficult to maintain the China unity and a sense of belong to the Chinese people. The government has observed this point, but unless it implements effective political reform that respects and tolerates the interests of different groups of people, it will not resolve this fundamental problem simply by waving the worn-down flags of patriotism and nationalism.
I don’t think we disagree on this point, but I think Youzi goes a bit far to berate some of us for suggesting that an “awareness of personal rights” alone and a shallow understanding of “fighting for personal rights” without civic values and respect for law is a recipe for disaster. It’s a two way street. What makes “Western-style democracy” tick isn’t the prescription of “freedom, democracy, and rule of law”, but the deeply ingrained sense in every single citizen that their interests lie in their responsibility to and stewardship of the country, its institutions, and values, of which such rights are a part — in short, true patriotism. That prevents people from ripping the constitution apart when they don’t get their way. Sad to say, China isn’t there yet.
So what are “effective political reform that respects and tolerates the interests of different groups of people” at this stage? Well, there is a model and there is dynamics. Nobody is sitting idly on their hands. I want to direct our readers to this article in Foreign Affairs earlier this year titled
The vast majority of Chinese favor and support the “opening up and reform” period started in 1978. But many are also very nostalgic for the Mao era, a time when equality was guaranteed, a time when socialism in China was far more than just a hypothetical. One simple example is translated below.
This article has been spread around numerous Chinese forums, actual origin not clear. (原贴)
I was born in 1954, in a village in Shandong province. I have a sister, and our parents are also peasant farmers. I want to start by talking about the prices of agricultural goods, starting with wheat as an example. From 1970 – 1980, the market price for wheat was: 0.35 RMB/shijin (ed: 0.5 kg), later growing to 0.35 RMB/shijing. The cost of things didn’t really change, it was very stable during this period. So the problem I want to discuss is, when a farmer sells a half kilogram of wheat on the market, what can he do with that money? Continue reading »