Another great photo series…

…from my favorite Asian blog. This one depicts life in an impoverished rural village in China.

And while you’re at ESWN, be sure to see this story, which I meant to blog about last week but was just too busy. It’s absolutely a must-read.

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 12 Comments

Incredible picture’s Richard. Are these villages the norm in China? I hope that the children will be O.K.

Mario G. Nitrini 111

December 30, 2004 @ 3:17 pm | Comment

Unfortunately there are many, many villages like that in China, many that are even worse. The only hope the children have as they get older is to try to find some work in the cities, where they are often exploited and abused. What a mess.

December 30, 2004 @ 3:25 pm | Comment

A country that denies the most basic rights to its most vulnerable (and hence among the world’s most vulnerable) to increase the wealth of a tiny minority sounds like a throwback to the KMT in the China before its overthrow in 1949. Isn’t it ironic that the man who was permitted to build such an ediface to greed is a member of the communist party, a party that serves itself like one of those great walls he built to further distance himself from the peasants he had had thrown off their land, from which the peasants must peer over to see what has been taken from them, denied them. Those that the party claimed to liberate the country from over 5 decades ago are now in power, its only raison d’existenc to maintain power in its geriatric hands while strengthening the wall for unadulterated capitalism. Looks like the KMT won after all….

December 30, 2004 @ 10:22 pm | Comment

would you believe one comment that i got?
i was told, “This village is not that bad. The kids even have shoes to wear.”

January 1, 2005 @ 8:50 pm | Comment

Unfortunately, I can believe it.

January 1, 2005 @ 9:07 pm | Comment

To: Keir

So what do you suggest? Have a revolution and create a government that distributes income equally. Tried that once before. Didn’t work….

Quite honestly, I’m at a loss to think of a system that works much better than what is currently going on.

January 2, 2005 @ 1:40 am | Comment

I agree with you Joseph, but if the government refuses to allow its people to have a say in the direction and shape of their country while exploiting them, and justifies it by saying that they know best, one has to hold them to a higher degree of accountancy than others. When the fascist government here allows itself to provide accountancy and justice, then I’ll cut it some slack. In the meantime it’s punishing the weak because it chooses to and refuses to allow others a say.

January 2, 2005 @ 7:45 am | Comment

There is a quote from Winston Churchill that anyone who isn’t a socialist before age 40 has no heart, and anyone who is a socialist after 40 has no head.

Keir: Can you suggest anything better? The problem I have with a lot of people who talk about China is that people are too concerned about making moral judgements and there is too little thought about how to make things better.

Yes poverty is a horrible thing, but its really hard for me to come up with a set of policies that would make things much better than the current situation. I really don’t think Hu Jintao wants people in China to be poor, but its really hard to come up with ways to end poverty.

For example, the natural human impulse here is to seize the assets of the rich (like the villa owner in Beijing), give it to the poor, and shoot the corrupt officials. But we’ve seen what happens when you do that. Democracy? Doesn’t necessarily work. Look at India before the 1990′s.

Also as far as “exploitation,” I personally think the way of ending poverty in China is to build roads, build schools, and then offer these people jobs working in a Western owned sweat shop making plastic things for Walmart. Some people call this “capitalist exploitation.” It might be. If you don’t like it, come up with a better solution.

One other thing that gives you a lot of insight into China. Don’t think of China as a single country. It’s a mismash of different places that in any other part of the world would be separate countries. You have places that are first world. You have places that are third world.

January 2, 2005 @ 11:15 am | Comment

If you want to do something useful, go to your local store and buy something marked “Made in China.” The harsh but true reality is that this is the only way to get these folks out of poverty and on their way to becoming comfortable middle class. Charity won’t work. There are just too many poor people. Again, when I say that I’m open to any better ideas, I’m not being sarcastic or asking a rhetorical question. I really am open minded about better ways of ending Chinese poverty, and I just don’t see any which are much better than what is being done now. The main ideas that are one can come up with are things like reducing the tax burden on rural peasants, reforming land management, and reforming/abolishing the hu-kou system. Each of those gets into some very difficult problems. If you reduce the taxes on peasants, then you basically have to completely redo the tax system in China (which is being done) because then localities don’t have the money to do development projects or fund schools.

The *really* scary thing is that by the standards of historical China or most parts of the third world, these people aren’t doing that badly.

January 2, 2005 @ 4:22 pm | Comment

Here are my suggestions: Prohibit all corruption and punish it swiftly and mercilessly. Reform the tax code so the poor do not pay disproprtionately. Set up a judicial system in which the poor can bring their grievances before a judge who is not paid off or owned by a political party.

Of course, as long as you have a one-party dictatorship whose lifeblood is corruption, this can’t be done.

For a more complete understanding of my views of the CCP and its sins and why the CCP is not nearly as effective or great as beleivers like you maintain (and I say that with respect because you are clearly very smart), see my earlier wrap-up post on China.

January 2, 2005 @ 5:06 pm | Comment

Joseph: I wouldn’t advocate shooting anyone. Rather than use hyperbole to attack my argument, let me put this to you: I agree I have no easy answers to combat poverty. But building $3.3 million opera houses isn’t one of them. Oops. CCP is in power. No one knows who decided to commit to such an obscene plan, why, or how to stop it. Wasting $3 billion on a rocket using 40 year old technology to go around the earth 14 times won’t help the poor either. Japan could have done that decades ago. What does that tell you? It’s simple, Joseph. As long as the CCP is in power, it will be more focussed on maintaining power than helping its own people. I use two examples of incredible conspicious consumption on the part of the unaccounted government, not simply a few individuals I could shoot. Besides, the government does shoot people. Remember 1989? If you’re in China, I guess not. Your turn. By the way Richard, funny isn’t it how people are so focussed on what happened 6 decades ago but seem to have forgotten a more recent massacre? I’m on the side of those who will never forgive a Japan that glories still in what it did, but I do think it’s far worse when a regime commits such acts against its own people.

January 3, 2005 @ 6:23 am | Comment

A country that denies the most basic rights to its most vulnerable (and hence among the world’s most vulnerable) to increase the wealth of a tiny minority sounds like a throwback to the KMT in the China before its overthrow in 1949. Isn’t it ironic that the man who was permitted to build such an ediface to greed is a member of the communist party, a party that serves itself like one of those great walls he built to further distance himself from the peasants he had had thrown off their land, from which the peasants must peer over to see what has been taken from them, denied them. Those that the party claimed to liberate the country from over 5 decades ago are now in power, its only raison d’existenc to maintain power in its geriatric hands while strengthening the wall for unadulterated capitalism. Looks like the KMT won after all….

Keir,
Capitalism is not about being fair to all people, your arguments remind me of the early communist idealists.

January 3, 2005 @ 8:56 am | Comment

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