I love the smell of brains in the morning

There is quite a thread going on over here, with Tian starting things off with a memorable comment:

When I was about 6 years old, I have witnessed live execution of about 10 male prisoners in the city of Yancheng in Northern Jiangsu provience.

One of the soldier who carried out the order must have been a new recruit, because he was not able to make the proper shot with his hands shaking so badly. After about two or three shots, the prisoner is wounded in the right collar bone and upper right chest, but he is still standing. An officer came over and kicked him behind the knee and shot him point blank behind the skull.

I will never forget the smell of gun powder mixed with fresh human blood in a winter morning.

Lots of good comments follow, and the original post brought back several evocative memories.

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A thread is a terrible thing to waste…

Richard is overwhelmed beyond words with his trip and his freelance writing and a number of ongoing headaches. If things go as I hope, I should have some great news for everyone soon on my plans to move back to Asia – but let’s wait until the ink is dried. Meanwhile, here’s an open thread. What’s on your mind?

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China and the looming avian flu pandemic

A disconcerting roundup over at conservative Winds of Change. Well worth exploring. Joe Katzman believes the problem is so urgent, it’s time to start drafting contingency plans for your family.

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China’s summer skinny dippers

It seems China’s Prude Brigade is offended by the growing number of summer skinny dippers in China. All I can say is, get over it. The human body is a beautiful thing.

(And, by the way, Americans are just as bad on this subject. That the entire nation should go into cataleptic fits over seeing one of Janet Jackson’s breasts reminds us of America’s deeply neurotic Puritan roots. In this regard, Europe is way ahead of us.)

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2,000 farmers battle police in Inner Mongolia

These greedy farmers sure have a lot of nerve.

More than 2,000 disgruntled farmers have clashed with hundreds of policemen in China’s northern region of Inner Mongolia in a land dispute that injured dozens, sources said on Wednesday.

The July 21 clash in Qianjin village, a part of Tongliao city about 725 km (450 miles) northeast of Beijing, was one of a growing number of protests across China, most of which go unreported in the tightly controlled state media.

“Some policemen were armed with guns, but they did not open fire,” a farmer who requested anonymity told Reuters. “The clash lasted about six hours. Police were outnumbered and fled.”

Dozens of villagers were injured and rushed to nearby hospitals, he said.

Farmers seized bulldozers and other construction equipment intended for use in building a highway across the farmers’ land, which had been reclaimed by the government, he said.

Local government officials and police reached by telephone either declined to comment or claimed they had no knowledge of the clashes.

But Han Guowu, chief of the Ke’erqin district in which Qianjin is located, said in a telephone interview that the farmers had refused to turn over their farmland and blocked construction of the highway. Land disputes, corruption, abuse of power and a widening gap between rich and poor were among the reasons leading to the number of protests shooting up to 74,000 last year from just 10,000 in 1994, a Hong Kong newspaper reported earlier this month.

The number of protesters involved in those demonstrations jumped to 3.76 million in 2004 from 730,000 a decade earlier, the Beijing-funded Ta Kung Pao newspaper quoted Public Security Minister Zhou Yongkang as telling parliament’s top advisory body.

That’s a big increase in demonstrations. Chalk it up to out-of-control peasant greed.

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The blog is mightier than the sword

This is so great. Huge congratulations to All Spin Zone for making a difference. Now let’s hope they find Latoyia, alive and well.

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Once upon a thread….

Chat.

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Dream on

They never stop, do they? It’s as though they just found amazing new evidence that proves beyond a doubt that Taiwan belongs part and parcel to China.

Tuesday’s commemoration of the 60th signing anniversary of the Potsdam Proclamation, an important document from World War II, reminds people that the argument that “Taiwan is a part of China” is based firmly on international law.

The Potsdam Proclamation, signed by China, the United States and Britain on July 26, 1945 (later acceded to by the Soviet Union), stipulated that “the terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out.” According to these terms, Japan should return to China all the territories it had seized from it, including Northeast China, Taiwan and the Penghu Archipelago, which Japan had controlled since 1914.

In August 1945, Japan surrendered and promised in its instrument of surrender that it would faithfully fulfill the obligations laid down in the Potsdam Proclamation. On October 25, 1945, the Chinese government recovered Taiwan and the Penghu Archipelago and resumed the exercise of sovereignty over these areas.

Over the past six decades, the legality of the two documents and the historical fact that China regained Taiwan and the Penghu Archipelago has been acknowledged by the international community, including Japan.

The No. 2758 resolution adopted by the 26th General Assembly ofthe United Nations in 1971 further confirmed the legal role of Taiwan, stating that Taiwan is part of China.

The former Kuomintang authorities in Taiwan always acknowledgedthe legal effects of the Potsdam Proclamation and the Cairo Declaration. Since the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) came to power, however, it has been making remarks that “the status of Taiwan is still not decided” and promoted “Taiwan independence”.

The DPP argues that although Japan had given up sovereignty over Taiwan, there was no specificity as to which party Taiwan was to be given to. It also argues that the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation were not international agreements and lacked the status of international law.

But these arguments don’t hold water. Japan returned Taiwan andthe Penghu Archipelago to the “national government of the Republicof China,” then the Kuomintang (or the Nationalist Party). But after the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was founded in October 1949, the sole representation of China, as well as sovereignty over Taiwan, transferred to the new PRC government.

Thus the issue boils down to government inheritance, a basic principle of political science.

The Cairo Declaration possesses the qualities of an international treaty. First, it was issued in the name of heads ofthe Chinese, the United States and British governments to state the common will of the three governments. Second, it recorded agreements reached by the three heads of state. Third, it explicitly defined the Allied position against Japan during World War II and made decisions about postwar Asia.

The Cairo Declaration has been universally acknowledged to havethe quality of a treaty or a convention based on its content and intention, not its form. The Potsdam Proclamation further strengthened its legal effect with the statement that “the terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out.”

China’s sovereignty over Taiwan is thus based strongly on international law and is universally recognized by countries in the world. It’s futile for some political forces in Taiwan to seeknon-existent legal evidence to support “Taiwan independence” in defiance of basic facts and international law

What’s the point of putting out an article like this? As though we don’t already know where China stands on the subject?

And note, I’m not arguing either way that Taiwan does or doesn’t belong to China. All I’m saying is, what’s with the incessant propaganda?

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Pan Wei, China’s “Visionary Gadfly”

Another “new leftist”-type profile from the ever-unlinkable SCMP, so here it is in its entirety.

China’s visionary gadfly

It is truly refreshing to talk to controversial Peking University scholar Pan Wei, who gained fame – if not notoriety – a few years ago for arguing that the mainland does not need democracy.

The professor, who teaches international studies, is something of a gadfly. Though a member of the ruling Communist Party, he says that the mainland today is “a communist country without any communists”.

For one thing, he thinks Beijing should no longer make economic development the nation’s highest goal. Instead, the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary should be considered vital.

“For China,” he says, “an election system is not popular. The common people are highly indifferent.” Even the mainland’s highly touted village elections are not a real success, for him. Villagers are
indifferent to the elections and “have to be paid to vote” – presumably as compensation for lost working time.

Though critical of certain aspects of mainland policy, he staunchly defends Beijing against western critics. Much of the criticism, he contends, reflects western unhappiness over the mainland’s economic miracle of the last quarter century – a miracle that “occurred
under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party”.

He also says the command economy, before Deng Xiaoping embraced the market economy, helped the mainland make significant achievements, such as launching satellites, developing nuclear weapons and greatly
extending life expectancy.

The scholar, who has a doctorate from the University of California at Berkeley, thinks one of the country’s major problems today is the decline in quality of the members of the Communist Party. Other problems are the widening gap between the cities and the countryside as well as the emergence of a new class of poor people – about 150 million migrant workers.

Surprisingly for someone who often sounds like a Chinese nationalist, he says China could support a Pax Americana. The United States, he says, will find China much more useful than Western Europe.

And while China itself cannot become a global leader, it was in a position to “pull the leader down”. Therefore, the US needs China’s co-operation.

His hope, Professor Pan says, is to “create a new political civilisation different from that of the west”.

He sees the Communist Party evolving into something akin to the People’s Action Party in Singapore which, while allowing an opposition, is able to hold and win elections year after year.

The mainland, he feels, needs political reform. He wants it to become a “consultative rule-of-law region”, held up by these pillars: a politically neutral civil service; independent judiciary; anti-corruption agency; independent auditing system; extensive consultation by both the executive and legislative organs of government; and freedoms of the press, of speech, of assembly and of association. In fact, he acknowledges, his ideal system for the
mainland is the Hong Kong model of government.

Are leaders receptive to his ideas? Premier Wen Jiabao, he says, recently declared that China should recognise the independence of the judiciary and the independence of the prosecution. In order to attract Taiwan, Beijing will have to “improve [the mainland's]
own political system”.

It is highly unlikely that the central leadership will accept his ideas wholesale. But even if some of them – such as the separation of party and state, independent judiciary or politically neutral civil service – find acceptance among those in power, it would represent a
huge step forward for the mainland. With its economic reforms so strikingly successful, it is high time for China to move towards political reform.

Obviously I have some serious issues with this, but considering it’s coming from a Party scholar, I definitely find it refreshing. I like his idea of the Singapore model, though I have to doubt whether a colossus of China’s size could ever be ruled the way the miniature city-state is. I can’t imagine it, though I think it would be the best thing that could happen to China. It all depends on the emergence of that once-in-a-lifetime Lee Kuan Yew-style leader, and I just can’t see China’s power system allowing one man such sweeping authoriy that he could literally mold the country in his image. It would have to be a benevolent man, maybe a Web Jiaobao-type, but with a bit more ruthlessness. Where is he?

As far as no one caring about elections, I’ve heard that before from those towing the party line. I know it’s true for some, not so true for others. I think Pan might be surprisaed how many would be quite excited about elections if they felt it wpuld result in true representation, and not just a new round of CCP rubber-stamp clones.

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Wanted: Damsels in distress (minorities needn’t apply)

Where would cable news be without them? But if you aren’t sexy and white (preferably with blond hair) you don’t count for much in the eyes of America’s media. This is a great post, and it speaks volumes about our very selective concern for missing women and children.

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