My thread runneth over

I see it’s time for a new one. I am in a crunch and can’t post new stuff. But that doesn’t mean you can’t. That’s what threads are for (good name for a song).

Update: You may want to check out this excellent post about winter in southern China. Nice.

The Discussion: 101 Comments

@Ivan and everybody interested
I have bad news about our friend Xing. It seems Hong at least gained overall control. I had e-mail contact with Xing in the last week over a secret account (he’s a very nice guy and even could help me with my Elvis research. His informations are that Elvis was sighted shortly before christmas in east-bavaria at a crossing near Dingolfing together with an oddly looking guy. He also said something about a strange smell, sulfur or something, but wasen’t sure about that.)
But now, it seems, Hong has got wind of our conversation and I haven’t heard from Xing for several days. There is still a small chance to contact him through other chanels but I won’t go into details about that here. Hong for sure is listening. If anybody has an idea how to help Xing let me now.
Sorry to open this thread with such bad news.
Let us all pray for Xing (to whatever deity you are in favor for) that he might overcome the ruel of Hong.
Amen

January 12, 2006 @ 4:25 am | Comment

Shulan,

Terrible news indeed. Anything that comes in the way of your Elvis research is a tragedy. So let’s hope Xing re-establishes contact with you A.S.A.P

January 12, 2006 @ 4:46 am | Comment

To kind of you, Lao Lu.

January 12, 2006 @ 4:58 am | Comment

Keir,

Responding to your last comment on the previous thread, I did not say that I supported North Korea. I said that South Korea supported North Korea. I am not South Korea. I am not even a South Korean national. Like many foreigners and some Koreans, I oppose the extent to which the South coddles the North, particularly the South’s withdrawal of meaningful support for NK refugees in China.

January 12, 2006 @ 5:41 am | Comment

I cannot, in English, make myself clearer. If you think South Korea supports the North Korean regime then you are indeed a fool and I must henceforth terminate this communication.

January 12, 2006 @ 6:19 am | Comment

I have some issues with Taiwan food. What woud I do if I were in Indonesia?

January 12, 2006 @ 6:56 am | Comment

What’s more interesting than the ratball soup article is the sponsored links section below the article: Chicken Soup Recipe and Tickets to Jakarta. I guess the first implies you might want to revise your chicken soup recipe to substitute rat. And the Tickets to Jakarta link seems to imply you’d want to travel to Indonesia to try the soup being protested.

Of course the auto-generated links following Shulan’s mention of a sulfur smell in the first post above are interesting as well.

January 12, 2006 @ 8:23 am | Comment

A Non-Competitive Society Is Not Necessarily A Bad Society

These days there are a lot of “axioms” in society. That is, principles that are accepted by most people without being questioned or verified. One of such axioms is “a competitive society is a good society”.

If I was given the proposition that “a competitive society is a good society”, I would adopt a scientific method and first define what a “good society” is. Then rigorously try to investigate whether that proposition is indeed true. But sadly most people today are not adopting scientific methods, but instead are adopting methods of “humanity majors”, that is they like flowery words and emotional declarations, and accept things without scientific verification.

Now, for me, I very very much hate competition. If I can choose to live in a competitive and a non-competitive society, I would choose to live in a non-competitive society. That’s why my happiest memories were those during Mao’s time, because there was no competition at that time.

Even animals do not like competition. If you give a piece of big meadows to a sheep and she can have all the meadows to herself, I ‘m sure the sheep would be the happiest sheep in the world. Don’t you think?

I think now that everything has a competition side with it, it’s rather scary and meaningless. For example, I very much love mathematics, yet I hate those math contests and those math leagues. Why is it necessary to distinguish who is good and bad, and rank people all the time?

Why to writers today think so much about their ranking on the best sellers list? Why don’t they write just because they love writing?

Why do scientists today care so much about winning Nobel Prizes or getting their papers published in Nature? Why can’t they do it just because they like to explore?

Why do singers care about their album sales?

In fact, those who have made great contributions to human society in the past, did they think about competition? Did Copernicus think about how he will be awarded a big prize when he raised his theory of “sun being the centre of the universe”? Did Einstein think about the Nobel Prize when he introduced Relativity? Did Beethoven think about him getting famous than his peers when he was writing his symphonies?

If I was a child and I was born today, I would be very very scared. In fact, I would be scared to death. From age 6, I have to do piano practice, art contest, think about my test scores, my GPA, what schools I can get into, what jobs I can get, etc etc. Why can’t I just live under the sun and play?

For example, I think posting here is a very addictive thing. I post just because I like expressing my views, I don’t care about how many clicks I have for the post, or my “experience points”, or whether I’m a gold member or wooden member. If a it turns into such a place where people compete for those things, then I’ll lose my interest.

In Mao’s time, there’s virtually no competition between peers. When a movie was over, there’s no credits, you didn’t know who played who in the movie, or even who the director was. The only line you saw was “The is the collective work of XXX film studio.” Are you saying that such a society is bad? Well I think not: most of China’s technological progress today was made in Mao’s time. After Deng’s “reform” not much has been achieved technologically , the GDP growth of today’s China is a result of a policy of “flooding cheap goods to walmarts and be the factory of the world.”. The scientific achievements in Mao’s time made it clear that a non-competitive society can produce satellites, atom bombs, ships, movies, arts, and was just as vibrant and energetic as any good society.

Do we want a society where people walk leisurely like a sheep on the meadow, or where everyone tries to eat each other?

January 12, 2006 @ 1:08 pm | Comment

“in Mao’s time, there’s virtually no competition between peers.”

Sure. Something else has to explain the worsening of persecutions and political backstabbings during that time.

January 12, 2006 @ 1:27 pm | Comment

A propos of nothing, I’ve just found out to my utter consternation that Dalian is ‘China’s most liveable city’, according to the not-always-reliable China Daily. Now that…is…boll…ocks…

http://www.livejournal.com/users/rwillmsen/17046.html

January 12, 2006 @ 3:00 pm | Comment

There was no competition inMao’s time because all competition was wiped out (for those with ADD when it comes to uncomfortable and irrefutable truths, just have a look at the horrible demise of China’s own President).

January 12, 2006 @ 3:10 pm | Comment

Math, the fact that the Movie studio’s name is in the credits is at odds with your statement since organizations, like people, act on incentives.

The ideal state of no competition is unrealistic because 1) resource scarcity and 2) human ambition has no limits. This goes back to Maslow’s Hierarchy, which is at the core of human behavior.

The ecosystem of life on earth is a manifestation of the above two principles. The first one is clear, since life can only exist with a stable ecosystem. The second principle only applies to most of the system at the lowest level: the need for basic survival. Only humans seek self realization, etc after their basic needs have been met.

Any social contract to be stable must account for the above. You have nothing to gain if you have nothing to offer. The best we can hope for is that things are as fair as possible and based primarily on merit. I know this is hard to swallow, and this certainly was for me growing up but this does not change the fact that it is reality.

Your comparison to pursuit of knowledge under Mao is BS. Scientists in any age have to challenge established principles. No one could challenge Mao.

My incentive here is maximize my understanding of thr world, by bouncing my ideas with other people. Another incentive is if i stay around long enough maybe you (math) would finally give me your perspective on transparency ๐Ÿ™‚

January 12, 2006 @ 5:27 pm | Comment

Math’s view of Maoist China is sooo naive. He should read Jung Chang and Jon Halliday’s recent biography of the Great Helmsman, in which China is revealed as one of the most predatorial and brutal societies of the 20th century.

Sure, China can be likened to a field of sheep, but sheep being continually culled by savage wolves.

January 12, 2006 @ 7:25 pm | Comment

Math conveniently ignores that Mao’s China was predicated on two forms of competition: between imperialism and socialism, and between the proletariat and the bourgeosie. The whole notion of “struggle” is a life and death competition between ideology and class.

But I think Math is talking more about the experience of the individual student. He says: “If I was a child and I was born today, I would be very very scared. In fact, I would be scared to death. From age 6, I have to do piano practice, art contest, think about my test scores, my GPA, what schools I can get into, what jobs I can get, etc etc. Why can’t I just live under the sun and play?”

Fine, so lets look at students under the Cultural Revolution: in Jonathan Unger’s book, “Education Under Mao: Class and Competition in Canton Schools, 1960-1980”, “he finds that in the mid-60s, antagonisms and grievances grew among students of different class backgrounds due to the growing competition of going to college, the shifting policies on college admission and the aggravated contests in joining the Young League to win political credentials. This class antagonism later transformed into Red Guard factionalism in the Cultural Revolution.”

Students under Mao not only competed to demonstrate their “right thinking” politically, but college attendance increased as well. Competition in Chinese schools, even then, was a result of an increased access to education given to a massive population, then compounded by political factionalism within the student body.

I actually agree with Math that I too would be scared to be a student in China today. But he makes two errors because he tries to fit this into his ideology: a) the cutthroat competition and pressure today is primarily a function of China’s massive population and b) this wasn’t absent in Mao’s China.

Of course, Math is an unhinged ideologue who ironically doesn’t follow his own advice. He claims that a “scientific method” is preferably to the denigrated “humanities major” approach of “flowery words and emotional declarations”. Immediately after declaring this, he says he “hates” competition and announces how “happy” he was in Mao’s China. This is an argument from emotion, not objective reasoning. Scientific method requires a rigorous definition of the problem, a hypothesis and empirical testing. Math’s argument uses none of these, but then again he uses “science” in the same rhetorical sense as the Chinese government and intelligent design advocates.

January 12, 2006 @ 8:09 pm | Comment

In other words, I would never let Math do my math homework.

January 12, 2006 @ 8:11 pm | Comment

Math,

Inc magazine’s Entrepreneur of the Year,
Ping Fu, CEO of a new high-tech company.
Read it carefully. Here are the relevant excerpts.
http://www.inc.com/magazine/20051201/ping-fu.html

In February 1981, without a trial or even a formal charge, the Chinese government locked 23-year-old Ping Fu in solitary confinement, in a wing of Nanjing prison reserved for political criminals. There was neither heat nor a latrine in Ping’s cell, but most dreadfully there was no light, natural or otherwise. Ping sat in utter darkness. She slumped against the wall and waited to die, wondering, almost dispassionately, about the means of her execution. She hoped it would be fast and painless. Given her countrymen’s taste for torture, however, and her own agonizing past, Ping wasn’t optimistic.

When Ping was 7 years old and her sister, Hong, 3, the two little girls were taken from their home in Shanghai and delivered to a dormitory for the children of so-called “capitalist-road” parents in Nanjing. It was 1965, the dawn of the Cultural Revolution.

Ping was forced to watch the Red Guard tie a kindergarten teacher to four horses. The Guard members–just teenagers themselves–then startled the horses. Ping was forced to watch another teacher be dropped head-first down a dry well. She watched the Red Guard scald her little sister with boiling water because one day Hong made too much noise as she played. Another day, the Red Guard threw Hong into a river for the fun of watching her drown. Ping jumped into the river and dragged her out. The enraged Guard members then beat the girls, and raped Ping. Now that Ping was an adult, and condemned as an enemy of the people, what hope did she have for a quick death?

As the dark hours bled out, Ping considered her “crime.” Five years earlier, in 1976, Chairman Mao had died and the Cultural Revolution had come to an abrupt end. Schools and colleges opened for the first time in a decade. Ping entered the university in Suzhou. She hoped to study business or engineering, following in the footsteps of her engineer father and accountant mother, but the Party directed her to study English as a second language. Any sort of learning was a glory for Ping. She read Anna Karenina in translation and grew interested in journalism. A professor suggested that she go out to the provinces and research a rumored epidemic of infanticide. Ping accepted the assignment.

In 1980, she delivered her findings to her professor. A few months later, in January 1981, Shanghai’s largest newspaper published a report based on Ping’s research. The report was widely praised, although credit, of course, accrued to senior government officials. The story was subsequently published nationwide in People’s Daily, then picked up by the international media. Which was when the trouble started.

This lead to her incarceration in 1981. Since she broke the story it was politically sensitive to execute her, and that’s why they sent her off to the US, where she later studied engineering and came to become entrepreneur of the year of a major business magazine.

Why can’t you see, Math, HX and friends, that the CCP and PR China decimated an entire generation of people like Ping Fu. We really screwed ourselves over. Deng was smart enough to realize that they were in fact destroying their own competitiveness unless they changed their economic structure.

This is why many Chinese (including myself) try to distance myself from PR China and the CCP’s rule there.

January 13, 2006 @ 12:28 am | Comment

I have some time to kill, so I’ll comment on CKS. I read John Fenby’s book this summer among others and made a few realizations.

No one likes CKS, but no one can explain it to me in a way that can make me think he’s the evil some say he is. Mainlanders certainly don’t like him, and now that Taiwan’s ruled by Green, few will say good things about him there. Dont’ fume, I am just curious, but to my knowledge:

He formed the first professional army after the last emperor. Early on, the 1st and 2nd army were widely liked, due to their (relative) professionalism. This of course later changed.

He became ineffective as he grew the army too fast by adding soldiers from warlords, communists with questionable loyalties.

He was also ineffective since he promoted those loyal to him instead of those best fit for leadership.

He made the best attempt to unite China, although later on his government was too weak to lead, too strong to overthrow.

His army fought the Japanese as best they could. It was certainly not the “Anti Japanese Allied Army” as the CCP describes in their attempt to claim credit for fighting the Japanese. No such army ever existed. It’s just a logically flawed generalization so common in CCP anti-logic.

Many say CKS was corrupt, and this may very well be true. But any comment on CKS during the civil war must look at the alternatives, let’s say, had Mao gone unchallenged.

My taiwanese uncle is fiercely green, like many of the people in Taiwan who lost property, rights, or friends after the Nationalists came over. I asked him, had the Nationalists not come to Taiwan, wouldn’t the communists have come along with the rule of the CCP?

He agreed with me, but emotionally he still hates the guy and I can empathize. I just think our thoughts should be in perspective of the alternatives.

January 13, 2006 @ 12:56 am | Comment

Take a walk though the 2-2-8 museum in Taipei. You’ll have a hard time feeling any sympathy for CKS, and a hard time feeling he wasn’t evil. Look, the man has nearly as much blood on his hands as Mao. Blood is an important yardstick when it comes to measuring evil. I view him as a tragedy. It’s so tempting to wonder what the world would be like today had Sun Yat Sen been succeeded by a decent human being. I know, I know – an exercise in pure futility, like wondering how it would be if Gore had won in 2000 or if the French had chased Hitler’s troops out of Alsace-Lorraine….

January 13, 2006 @ 1:21 am | Comment

the Rhineland, surely?

January 13, 2006 @ 1:26 am | Comment

Word to the wise:
“Man sues chatroom pals: I was humiliated beyond what ‘no man could endure’ ” Take it for what you will.
http://www.courttv.com/news/2006/0112/chatroom_suit_ctv.html
By the way, it took place at an AOL chatroom called “Romance โ€” Older Men”

January 13, 2006 @ 1:27 am | Comment

My God, what a story. But if you go to the CD threads, you’ll learn China’s justice system is little different from that of advanced Western countries.

January 13, 2006 @ 1:34 am | Comment

Keir, I’m shaking in my skin.

January 13, 2006 @ 1:35 am | Comment

Sorry, the Rhineland….

January 13, 2006 @ 1:37 am | Comment

My taiwanese uncle is fiercely green, like many of the people in Taiwan who lost property, rights, or friends after the Nationalists came over. I asked him, had the Nationalists not come to Taiwan, wouldn’t the communists have come along with the rule of the CCP?

No, because the CCP had no navy to speak of in ’45. Chiang’s troops had to come on US ships in ’45 as well as they had no navy either. The US would probably at that point asserted Japanese sovereignty over Taiwan — Japan after all was the sovereign power until the SF Peace Treaty came into force in ’52 — and kept the CCP from taking the prize of Taiwan. Probably Taiwan would have been made independent, and everyone would be bitching about how the Formosans have a Republic, but the equally colonized Okinawans are still Japanese.

Chiang was a totally corrupt shit, although there have been attempts to rehabilitate him on a regular basis. If only he hadn’t killed so many people, stolen so much money, and suppressed so many freedoms, the job might be easier.

Michael

January 13, 2006 @ 1:55 am | Comment

Ed-

Not a bad summary of Taiwan’s status with regards to all the different international treaties over history:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_status_of_Taiwan

January 13, 2006 @ 3:32 am | Comment

Bad times to come for relations between China and Scotland. Chinese historian alleges that golf was invented in China during the Song-Dynasty.
I don’t think the Scotish will like that.

January 13, 2006 @ 3:32 am | Comment

Invented golf? They also say they invented soccer. (That thread is still going strong, one and a half years after i posted it.)

January 13, 2006 @ 3:38 am | Comment

Plaid was said to be the most desired fabric in Dongjing Meng Hua Lu too!

Not.

January 13, 2006 @ 3:43 am | Comment

Aha! So those Confucian scholars are wearing kilts, not robes!

Michael

January 13, 2006 @ 4:07 am | Comment

Chester, thanks for the wiki link – but I’ve been through just about everything on Wikipedia relating to the issue. (BTW, they do not have a Chinese version it seems)

I definitely don’t dispute the suffering CKS put Taiwan through. However, it isn’t clear to me that had CKS not gone to Taiwan, the US would have protected it with its fleet or handed Taiwan back to Japan, following WWII. Also unlikely is that PR China would have ignored it.

In the general analysis of CKS vs Mao in the civil war, however, I do take issue with is the argument that “CKS lost to Mao because CKS was corrupt, while Mao understood and connected with the people.” That’s selective memory.

As the only Chinese fighting force againt Japan, the KMT was apparently too weak to be able to do anything following Japan’s defeat. The corruption and incompetence common in dictatorships then dominated.

On CCP vs KMT however, we all know the CCP was nearly decimated, and would have been eliminated by KMT had the US not tied CKS’ hands.

According to wiki, Nationalists demilitarized 1.5 million troops in an effort to support the Marshall Mission, whereas the Communists did not; they used the cease-fire period to arm and train. Talk about bad decision making.

BTW, browsed a business book on China recently, and on its short history on China mentioned that before Mao’s time, 60% of the rural population had their own land (albeit mostly small and only enough for their own use and perhaps a small profit from grain sales). After Mao they had to farm collectively and had to meet quotas to give to the CCP/cities, contributing to starvation. Anyone here have any knowledge on this number?

January 13, 2006 @ 10:03 am | Comment

BTW, browsed a business book on China recently, and on its short history on China mentioned that before Mao’s time, 60% of the rural population had their own land (albeit mostly small and only enough for their own use and perhaps a small profit from grain sales). After Mao they had to farm collectively and had to meet quotas to give to the CCP/cities, contributing to starvation. Anyone here have any knowledge on this number?

Why do I get a sense that you are giddy whenever you read on some book that confirms your pre-formed ideas about how evil the CCP is. And you are eager to put that away as part of your knowledge about CCP.

It’s not like you say “Ok I know nothing about the CCP on this issue, let me read about it”. And after reading, you say, “Oh, I see, the CCP is corupt and evil on this issue.”.

Instead, you say “Ok, the CCP must be evil on this issue”, let me go find me some books to confirm that. If that “business book” you read instead said the CCP did much to give land back to the peasants, you’d say to yourself, “You know what, I doubt that, I’m gonna research more”

You said it’s selective memory to any documented positives about the CCP, and you “dispute” it. But when it comes to documented negatives about the CCP, you take it as authoritative truth and say “I read on this and that book that the CCP did this and that evil stuff”. Why do you always dispute documented positives and accepted documented negatives? Shouldn’t you be just as critical to both?

For example, in your last sentence, you asked “Anyone here have any knowledge on this number?” If someone came out and gave you a link to a book or a document that confirms the 60% number, you’d feel very happy and say “Ah Hah!”. But if someone came out and gave you a link that confirms no such 60% exists, and that actually it’s the other way around. You’d say “Hmm, I don’t know about that. Are you sure the source is credible? Anyway, I’ll research more on this issue.”

January 13, 2006 @ 10:51 am | Comment

Ed-
You wrote, “the US would have protected it with its fleet or handed Taiwan back to Japan, following WWII….”
CKS fled to Taiwan in ’49.
Now, get it?

January 13, 2006 @ 11:13 am | Comment

I do agree with Ed that CKS has done a lot of good for China. In my mind, Dr. Sun, CKS, and MZD are the three greatest politicians who truly put their entire lives in the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. That is not to deny the greatness of many other people, such as Deng Xiaoping, Zhou Enlai, CKS’s son Jiang Jing Guo, Zhao Ziyang, Hu Yaobang, etc etc.

January 13, 2006 @ 11:36 am | Comment

Reunification is indeed very difficult.

Look at the mental patient of Chen SB, Ah Bian.

He is afraid of two harmless, and lovely pandas from mainland China as a gift and symbol of goodwill.

Afraid of goodwill?

Afraid of two little pandas?

Feeling threatened?

These are strange feelings. Many nations have been given pandas and the people love them. No country has been threatened with instability. Many cities in the USA want pandas, but they can’t get them. One pair of pandas on loan to the city of San Diego has brought much revenue to the city zoo.

Children love pandas.

Does Chen Sui Bian love pandas? Obviously not. He’s afraid of them.

It is despicable that Chen SB should be so worried two pandas appearing in Taiwan. Why is Chen of the Taiwan island so hysterical, feeling so insecure?

How sad for a politician to come to this sadistic state of mind. Children love pandas, but Chen hates the presence of pandas. But Chen loves big spending for US weapons.

Go see a psychiatrist, Mr. Chen. Or, I can give you a contact number for a veterinarian.

January 13, 2006 @ 2:03 pm | Comment

Lets have a show of hands; who in the world hate George Bush? The other day I heard that both of his kids are alcoholics. Uncurious George doesnt mind though. I think that he has really gone too far with this invasion of iraq. He has the brains of a cow I think! I go to school in vancouver, Canada and the stuff that they say around here is hard to belive. They hate the guy up here. All hat they say is that Georgie is a stupid dick weed., personally I agree! Why did those stupid americans vote him back into the White House? Always remamber; America needs to shave its Bush!

January 13, 2006 @ 2:11 pm | Comment

Ed-
By “get it” I meant a zen-like nuance, and no humiliating wrath involved. Sorry if it appeared that way!

January 13, 2006 @ 3:04 pm | Comment

China_Hand,
“In my mind, Dr. Sun, CKS, and MZD are the three greatest politicians who truly put their entire lives in the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”
Then why did Mao have to build a New China if CKS was up there with him in terms of rejuvenation? You shameless liar.
Liar Hand, Liar Hand, hair is comin’ out your little hands!

January 13, 2006 @ 3:08 pm | Comment

I’ve been away for a while … but good to see that some things never change … such as certain commentators making incoherent comments, and others writing some pretty clever stuff. I’ll leave the individuals to decide for themselves which ones are which!

I don’t know if anyone else follows Hamish MacDonald’s reporting on China, but I was sad to read an article from him today in the Sydney Morning Herald where he was pretty much wrapping up his time in China. I don’t know where he’ll go next, but it’s a definate loss for all China watchers that we’re going to lose his astute eye and pen. Good luck to him.

A couple of comments on things said above: Math. I’d like to say something moderately in favour of him/her, since everyone else has been on the attack. The issue of competition is one that has been quite troubling for evolutionary theorists … because clearly it’s not all about survival of the fittest. Altruism etc does continue to survive, despite having no clear advantage to the individual. Recently, there’s a move towards incorporating more cooperation into models of evolutionary development.

On South Korean support for North Korea. I don’t agree with Keir’s such sharp comment, and dismissal of Sonagi’s comment. I haven’t read Sonagi’s comments in other threads, but just based on what is in this thread, I’m not sure where I see what has Keir so worked up. South Korea has always struck me as having definite elements of support for the North, in the sense that they don’t want the North’s economy to fall apart, and they’re usually one of the least cooperate parties whenever the US wants to pursue a tougher line. In this sense, you can say that the South supports the North.

Lastly, I’m in USA at the moment … and what a nice place it is. Filled with lovely friendly people who are all terribly polite. Well, of course not everyone is, but I’ve yet to encounter ANYONE who doesn’t fall into that category, and I’ve been here since before the new year. Well, there was a train station worker who got into a shouting match with a woman behind me, but he was very nice to me when I asked him some questions a minute before. On one occasion a couple even bought be lunch, simply because I asked them where I was supposed to queue (a word not used in USA), and they invited me to join them. Service standards are excellent, and most things seem to work pretty well, though I have to say the road surfaces in Michigan are pretty shitty.

Washington DC was pretty interesting, especially with all the free museums … and I was especially impressed with a marble block for Roosevelt. Apparently he once said “when I die, all I want is a monument about the size of this desk, on that patch of grass outside the Archives building.” So that’s what they gave him. To me, that’s a far greater monument to the greatness of the man than any huge mausoleum or embalmed corpse.

Everywhere I go, people say “oh, that area used to be really bad, but it’s fine now.” Things really seem to have improved in many areas of urgan blight. I did see a really appalling zone near Johns Hopkins hospital … and just as bad in Detroit … but that appears to be due to local mismanagement as much as anything else.

Oh … one more thing. Based on recent observations, I don’t think the Democrats have a chance in hell of winning the next presidential election. I sat in amazement listening to a bunch of anti-Republicans criticising Hillary Clinton and John Kerry … basically because they weren’t enough like Stalin, as far as I could tell. If these kind of people represent any kind of significant portion of the Democrat base, then it’s going to ensure that next time around the Democrats either nominate someone who is too far Left to be electable … or too centrist for the Democrat leftists to vote for. The Republicans, on the other hand, just have to nominate someone who is a moderately good speech maker, and he’s pretty much a shoo-in … since Bush’s verbal gaffs seem to have been the only consistent thing they’ve had to attack the Republicans for. This much is, in my opinion, a tragedy for USA, because the lack of a credible opposition really does seem to be leading some Republicans into excesses. The only thing that stopped Bush’s nutty supreme court nominee from getting chosen was opposition from Republicans … and when he chose a good one (Alito), the Democrats are just making themselves look stupid with their opposition. Last I heard, they all ran away from the hearing when a bunch of Alito’s colleagues and judges turned up to support him … I guess so they can continue to attack him, and pretend they didn’t hear any contrary evidence. If they had any brains, the Democrats would have seen that this was a battle they couldn’t win … and taken the high ground by praising his nomination and putting him through unopposed. That would mean that if another nomination comes up, and they put up a big fight, people would take it seriously. As it is, it’s just too clear that they’re opposing him for no other reason than he’s a Republican choice. Did someone give these guys a book on how to lose the middle groung, or is it an innate talent? I might be happy about the Republicans being in power … but I’d be happier still if USA had a credible opposition to keep them honest.

January 13, 2006 @ 3:36 pm | Comment

One of this biggest myths in modern Chinese history, is the grand status given to Sun Zhongshan (Sun Yatsen). The only reason he’s always so over-played is that both the KMT and the CCP have reason to honour his memory. In terms of actual importance for the overthrow of the Qing, he was a fringe leader at best, and played no direct part in the action that lead to the end of the dynasty. He was nominated for the presidency by the groups in Nanjing as a compromise candidate … and soon handed it over to Yuan Shikai anyway. As for the KMT reorganisation in the south … sure, he did some good things, which created a foundation from which the KMT was able to (largely) reunify China … but it hardly makes him any kind of father of the country. He was a moderately important figure in his time … perhaps of equivalent importance to someone like Liang Qichao or Kang Youwei. Have a look at what he actually did … and seriously question (for yourself) how much effect this really had on China … He was important yes … but “great”? No way.

January 13, 2006 @ 3:47 pm | Comment

On Sun Yat Sen: with great will and heart, but limited achievements for sure; e.g. no match to the might of the warlords. The American founding father model is probably not a one size measures all hat for Sun (even though the old KMT faithfuls would love to do so still), especially for the conditions of a late Imperial China compared with those of the New World.

January 13, 2006 @ 7:01 pm | Comment

Ed asked: “BTW, browsed a business book on China recently, and on its short history on China mentioned that before Mao’s time, 60% of the rural population had their own land … Anyone here have any knowledge on this number?”

Never heard that number, but Ken Pomerantz of UC Irvine wrote a paper about Land Markets in Late Imperial and Republican China. HTML version here. Pomerantz says that in the late Qing, payiing your taxes pretty much made farmers land the property of the household, and they could sell it or use it as they liked. A great deal of land didn’t belong to households, but larger entities like temples and presumably rich landlords as well.

China Hand, Ed asked a question about land ownership. He asked because unlike other people here, he open to the possibility that he might be wrong. Is he suggesting land reform was bad? Absolutely. One could say thats his hypothesis, and he’s looking for scientific verification. That’s how you learn; you investigate a claim by trying to find evidence that proves or disproves it. Not by attacking people for asking a reasonable question.

“Children love pandas. Does Chen Sui Bian love pandas? Obviously not. He’s afraid of them.”

Math continues to be scientific, I see. Very rigorous, Math.

January 13, 2006 @ 8:25 pm | Comment

China Hand, Ed asked a question about land ownership. He asked because unlike other people here, he open to the possibility that he might be wrong. Is he suggesting land reform was bad? Absolutely. One could say thats his hypothesis, and he’s looking for scientific verification. That’s how you learn; you investigate a claim by trying to find evidence that proves or disproves it. Not by attacking people for asking a reasonable question.

So you are saying that he is asking this question in an honest effort to find out the truth? If that’s the case, then if someones comes up and presents him with sources that claim otherwise: Mao actually did much in the area of land reform, how would he react? Would he be “Oh, hmm. Ok. Thanks for the information. Let me check into that.”. Somehow I think he would say something to the effect of, “Any proof that the source you gave is authentic? Keep in mind that the source you gave is probably very pro-CCP. Therefore what you claimed can be dismissed”.

Now, if someone says, “Yes, Ed, you are right. Mao indeed made peasants’ lives worse! And here’s a source to prove that!”. Ed would probably accept it without questioning and says “Ah ha! Thanks! Take that! You pro-CCP people!”

Let’s be honest here, do you really think you are asking an honest question and trying to get honest answers? Or are you looking to get confirmation? It’s like one of those Bush town hall meetings to take questions from a pre-screened audience, and the audience asks, “Mr. President. I heard that many people from the Democratic party want us to lose to terrorists, is that true?”

January 13, 2006 @ 9:04 pm | Comment

It is despicable that Chen SB should be so worried two pandas appearing in Taiwan. Why is Chen of the Taiwan island so hysterical, feeling so insecure?

How sad for a politician to come to this sadistic state of mind. Children love pandas, but Chen hates the presence of pandas. But Chen loves big spending for US weapons.

Like I said before, this is the beauty of this “panda diplomacy”. It is a PR victory for the Mainland regardless of whether Chen accepts or rejects the Pandas. And the good thing is, while Chen is openly defiant to the pandas, the Taiwan population is actually in favor of accepting them, and three Taiwan zoos are competing to get them. So if Chen rejects them, not only can China can say to both the world and the Taiwanese, “Look, I am trying everything to ease relations and improve ties. But your leader wouldn’t even accept pandas!”. And Chen Shuibian risks losing support back home from this.

What a great move. In chess, this is called a “Check”. I think inside the foreign policy brains of the Hu-Wen Administration, there are some very cunning strategists…. Let’s see how Chen answers it.

January 13, 2006 @ 9:17 pm | Comment

I disagree, China Hand. These comments tend to be pretty self-correcting. Even “anti-CCP” commenters argue with one another and try to separate fact from fallacy. If what you are saying makes sense, you won’t be challenged for a link, and if you are, you should be able to provide one. And you can”t blame any of us for expressing skepticism over links from the CCP organs; it’s been proven time and again that they are bullshit. It would be like someone citing a government press release to defend our occupation of Iraq.

January 13, 2006 @ 9:20 pm | Comment

There’s no doubt the pandas was a shrewd move by the PRC. Unfortunately, everyone here recognizes it as the political grandstanding that it is, on both sides. No one believes Hu offered the pandas for anything aside from scoring political brownie points. Same with Chen’s reluctance to receive them.

January 13, 2006 @ 9:23 pm | Comment

If you really think so. Then ok.

January 13, 2006 @ 9:24 pm | Comment

There’s no doubt the pandas was a shrewd move by the PRC. Unfortunately, everyone here recognizes it as the political grandstanding that it is, on both sides. No one believes Hu offered the pandas for anything aside from scoring political brownie points. Same with Chen’s reluctance to receive them.

There have been a series of very proactive moves by the PRC ever since Hu took office. From the enactment of the Anti-Succession Law, to the invitation of KMT and other Blue parties to the Mainland, to the offer of lowering/eliminating tariffs from Taiwan’s agricultural goods, to Li Ao’s trip to Mainland, and finally to these pandas. What you are seeing is a big transformation in the style of handling Taiwan. This is a big improvement from the era of Jiang Zemin.

You say this is all political manuevering? But the entire issue of Taiwan is nothing but a geopolitical issue between China and the US. The whole reason Chen Shuibian and the Greens won power was their politicization of this whole issue, well, not exactly, because the issue itself is a political issue.

What mainland is doing is to erode the power of the Greens inside the island, and continue nurture and develop pro-unification elements (political parties, newspapers, business interest groups, etc etc) till the day comes when there is 50% of the Taiwanese population who wants eventual reunification. With the way things are going now, I see reunification through political means very likely in the next 10-15 years.

January 13, 2006 @ 9:37 pm | Comment

I’m not surprised to see you embracing the Anti-Succession Law as a big improvement over the past. Typical.

With the way things are going now, I see reunification through political means very likely in the next 10-15 years.

I really wish you were here, telling people about reunification. You’d be laughed at so hard, you’d jump into the straits and have to swim back to China.

January 13, 2006 @ 9:48 pm | Comment

China hand, I couldn’t agree with you more. Oh, except I forgot to tell you: today’s opposites day!
Anyway, all you need to do is look at the less-than-satisfactory political “solution” in Hong Kong, which in my opinion has essentially been passed from one colonial ruler to another.
Do you think anyone in Taiwan is looking at HK and saying “wow, I’m really impressed, that’s going great.”
With ’89 and the events following HK’s return in ’97, i don’t think China has any real selling points for TW.

January 13, 2006 @ 10:15 pm | Comment

China Hand: “If that’s the case, then if someones comes up and presents him with sources that claim otherwise: Mao actually did much in the area of land reform, how would he react?”

I don’t know, I’m not Ed. That’s why I suggested he read that paper, which focuses on a broad view of the land market before Mao. He can read it, if he likes, and react to it. The point is that you accused Ed of dismissing evidence based on his alleged bias before he had an opportunity to accept or dismiss any evidence.

As for sources, there are legit reasons for not believing a source and there are bogus reasons for not believing a source. IMHO, legit reasons would be a lack of things like citations, data, logical structure or relevance. A bogus reason would be what you claim Ed will do: dismissing a statement out of hand because of who said it. (note to others: yes, this means that you can’t just say the People’s Daily/New York Times/Washington Times is always a liar. You ought to prove it.) Your mistake, China Hand, is that you gave no evidence why I should believe Ed will do that. Instead you attacked him for doing something he hadn’t done yet, and perhaps might not do at all. In fact, you’ve ruined your point because if Ed has any brains he will avoid dismissing a source in order to kill your argument. If you were a general and this a war, then you just sent your infantry charging into a full cannon volley.

That’s why I point out Math contradicts himself, instead of simply calling him a fool. I believe he is a fool, but I don’t expect that to be convincing. Pointing out that he claims to be “scientific”, yet doesn’t follow the basic scientific method of definition, hypothesis, empirical verification demonstrates his lack of logical coherence, which should be recognized as a major flaw regardless of your personal or political feelings. It reveals his argument to be meaningless nonsense because it’s self-contradictory.

If you want to argue that land reform was a good thing, then go ahead. But do it with evidence, and make sure that evidence is logical, well-supported, and relevant to Ed’s question. But don’t attack him for something he hadn’t done – otherwise, the rest of us will be less inclined to listen to you. And if we stop listening, you’ve effectively wasted your time. Like Math.

BTW, on the panda thing: I’ve never been to Taiwan, but I have friends there. My guess is that the average Taiwanese person sees nothing wrong with the pandas, and thinks both Chen and the CCP are engaging in crude, ineffective political games. Net result? Taiwan gets pandas, and Taiwanese people lose faith in politicians of all kinds. But accepting a panda and accepting reunification are completely different. I seriously doubt that any Taiwanese person will make this leap:

1) Pandas are cute
2) Pandas come from the CCP
3) Therefore, the CCP is cute

Sorry, doesn’t work that way.

January 13, 2006 @ 10:19 pm | Comment

If the pandas came as gifts of the Sichuan Wuo-Long giant pandas protection agency at the civilian requests of Taiwan then the whole thing would appear entirely a President Chen’s “awkward” politics. Since it’s the CCP’s gesture, people in Taiwan and else where see the cute pandas attached with the pesky agenda.
Subtlety makes this difference.

January 14, 2006 @ 12:37 am | Comment

Keir, be sure to see my update on the Fantabulist thread. I address the points you made over at China Daily.

January 14, 2006 @ 1:42 am | Comment

It is correct that 60% of the peasante in Republican China owned land, but this is only a mean, there where huge differences between north and south.
Also some of these 60% leased land for several reasons. Some because what they owned was not enough to make a living, some just to make more money.

January 14, 2006 @ 4:04 am | Comment

By removing competition, you often do more harm than good to a society because it breeds corruption.

For example, in the soviet union, many people found that, no matter how hard they worked, they were unable to improve their personal situation. As a result, many people gave up competing and stagnated. Never achieving their full potential, and creating inefficiency. Other people however found that the only way that they could improve their siuation was to go ‘outside’ of the system. A practice which we, in this modern age, know as corruption.

Also, in affluent parts of the US, where people have inherited or self perpetuating wealth (money breeding more money though investments) and thus have no need to compete, they still do, and they often also fall into corrupt practices because they have reached the point when it will take a lot of effort to get much richer, but they still want to ‘improve their lot’.

It might be a different type of corruption, but it is still coruption.

It is only in societies where people can compete evenly, and where you have mid level competition and the real prosect of advancing through this competition, that you have low levels of corruption.

January 14, 2006 @ 4:55 am | Comment

Speaking of societies where fair competition is championed, how about levelling this playing field?

http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/this_britain/article338531.ece

I know the sweatshops are not breaking news, but let’s not miss an opportunity to remind ourselves of the human cost of China’s booming economy.

Stuart.

January 14, 2006 @ 8:32 am | Comment

Is it me (well yes it is too) or is Keir rather pompous: to wit:

“If you think South Korea supports the North Korean regime then you are indeed a fool and I must henceforth terminate this communication.”

and incorrect, too, to shut the eyes to the ambiguity of the North/South relations. there’s a time and place for blinkered outraged indignation but only if you’re right. to coin a phrase: I’m just sayin’.

January 14, 2006 @ 9:30 am | Comment

Hating to change the subject…My Chinese isn’t good enough to figure this out: what on earth is this about, and is it for real?

Warning: lots of graphic photos (so it takes a minute for the photos to open). Jesus.

January 14, 2006 @ 9:32 am | Comment

that is gross and must be fake surely. I mean, there may be an innocent explanation for a “placenta capsule” but foetus food, of the human variety, not my cup of cha really.

January 14, 2006 @ 9:37 am | Comment

Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it…. (Kidding, totally.)

I was actually told by the link’s sender that eating fetuses is not uncommon in Taiwan, were it’s considered a delicacy. I have no idea if that claim is pure BS or the truth, but am hoping a reader can clarify.

January 14, 2006 @ 9:46 am | Comment

Eating aborted fetus is a first I’ve heard. However, a Ziheche- or dried up human placenta taken after birth and used as Chinese medicine, yes. As for how common…, well, to my knowledge, not. However, the few that eat them ended up not knowing a lot of times. So here you go.

January 14, 2006 @ 1:58 pm | Comment

“Keir, be sure to see my update on the Fantabulist thread. I address the points you made over at China Daily.”

Are you talking about the CCP mouthpiece? Does it have a message board?

January 14, 2006 @ 8:48 pm | Comment

Sonagi, it’s their Forum, which is a message board. It’s not for those who savor serious discourse, though it provides an interesting snapshot into one side of the contemporary Chinese psyche.

January 15, 2006 @ 12:10 am | Comment

A few threads back, Keir accused me of getting my info from the China Daily; I’m amused to learn that Keir may be posting on their forum.

January 15, 2006 @ 9:40 am | Comment

Been away for a while, and now I scroll up to the first comment here, from Shulan to me. About HongXing.

Sorry for the delay. Here is my reply:

Xing (Gollum) has a special destiny, to lead us toward ELVIS!

As the old song goes (and in China, you can substitute the name “Mao” for “Elvis”…

“Elvis i(Mao) is everywhere,
Elvis (Mao) is everything!
Elvis (Mao) is everybody!
Elvis (Mao) is still the King!”

MAO! MAO!
DA DAO! DOWN with everyone who opposes CHAIRMAN MAO!
Chairman Mao is like the SUN!
Chairman Mao is the Sun! Chairman Mao is the Sun in our hearts!
One word of Chairman Mao is better than ten thousand words of a mere Human!
DA DAO! DOWN with all who oppose Chairman Mao!
(…now let me go and torture some Chinese scholars who do not agree with CHAIRMAN MAO! Mao is GOD! Mao saved China! Mao is seventy percent like God! JUST LIKE ELVIS!)

China under Mao, was like China in Imperial times but WITHOUT any beauty. Mao’s China had the politics of 5,000 years ago, the politics of barbarians who worshipped the Emperor like a God. In 1966, China worshipped Mao just like the ancient barbarians worshipped their kings like gods. Mao took China back to the year 3,000 BCE, back to the savage, barbarian times before civilisation started, back to the barbarian times when savages worshipped Kings like Gods, over 5,000 years ago.

Come on – all of you Chinese readers here! If you REALLY love Mao, then you must follow his teaching, and go out and kill your teachers and burn all of your books!
MAO! MAO! MAO is seventy perecent like GOD!

COME ON! All of you Chinese readers here! You love Mao! Then you must follow what Mao taught! Go and kill your teachers and burn all of your books, and then go and work on some farms in the countryside! MAO! MAO! MAO is seventy percent like GOD! MAO! MAO!

And yes, Mao made the world RESPECT CHINA! Oh yes, after 1949, all the world said, “AH, now we can see, China is STRONG!”

Even during the famine in 1959, oh yes, all the world said, “MAO has turned China into a GREAT NATION!”

And even in 1966 when Mao and his Red Guards destroyed 99 percent of China’s cultural relics – and when the people of China went around shitting on everything – yes, the world said, “MAO made China a PROUD country! As we can all see, the world came to RESPECT China under MAO!”

Yes, even while Mao and the Communists were turning China into a toilet, even while Mao and the Communists were turning China into a savage barbarian country, oh yes, the world said, “Under Mao, China has finally stood up in the world! Under Mao, China is a great power!”

Yes, yes, this is what the world was thinking in the 1950s and 1960s, when Mao and the Communists were turning China into a place of death and torture and horror. Yes, yes all the world said,
“Mao made China a PROUD country!”

Yes, yes, your Chinese history books are correct and they never lie.
The whole world admired China under Mao – even while China became a savage country under Mao, yes, your PRC history books are CORRECT when they say, “MAO SAVED CHINA!”

Yes, yes, Mao saved China……yes, the whole world was amazed by how Mao saved China, even when he and the Communists shit and pissed on 5,000 years of Chinese civilization…yes, yes your PRC history books are correct about Mao, when they say that under Mao, the WHOLE WORLD came to ADMIRE China under Mao, oh yes…….

….(bullshit. All lies. Mao turned China into a shameful country. Mao is cursed all over the world, as a barbarian who destroyed Chinese civilisation. In 1949, China bent over to be fucked up the ass by Mao and the Communists. Mao turned China into a shameful country. Mao made China lose face in the world. And China still loses face in the world today, as long as Mao’s face is on TienAnMen Gate, the world will always see China as a barbarian country as long as Mao’s face is there.)

January 15, 2006 @ 10:33 am | Comment

PS, just to make it clear to our Chinese readers:

You were taught, that in 1949, “China stood up.” But the rest of the world never agreed with that. The rest of the world did NOT see China “standing up” in 1949.

The rest of the world saw, how China bent over and got fucked up the ass by Mao and the Communists after 1949.

Your PRC history textbooks lie, about what the world thought about Mao and the Communists. After 1949, China lost face in the world, and it just got worse and worse under Mao.

The rest of the World says, that in 1949, China bent over and got fucked up the ass by Mao and the Communists. The world does NOT respect Mao. Mao made China lose face in the world. And China is still shamed all over the world, because Mao turned China into a barbarian country after 1949.

The world does NOT respect Mao, and the world did NOT come to respect China under Mao. If your official history books tell you that Mao made China respected in the world, then your official history books are lying. The world thinks of Mao’s China as a barbarian country. For good reason – because under Mao, China WAS barbarian, a country which shit all over itself, under Mao.

This is the truth about China’s image under Mao. Mao made China lose face in the world, and China STILL loses face in the world today, because of Mao.

The World says: China did not stand up in 1949. China got fucked up the ass in 1949, and then it turned into a barbarian country under Mao, and the whole world was horrified by the savage, barbarian ways of Mao’s China.

“In 1949, China stood up!” HA! HAHAHA! That’s what the official PRC history textbooks say. It’s a lie. The truth is the opposite. After 1949, the world became horrified by how China became a barbarian country, under Mao.

(Except for Albania. The little country of Albania was China’s only ally under Mao….oh and North Korea and Cambodia too…..THAT is what the world thought of Mao’s China – the WHOLE WORLD hated it, except for Albania and North Korea, and Cambodia for a while….even the Communist Russians were FAR more friendly to America than to Mao’s China…………….

January 15, 2006 @ 10:57 am | Comment

Uh, oh, Ivan’s back, and he’s talking about anal sex again.

January 15, 2006 @ 3:25 pm | Comment

Sonagi
There’s a whacking big difference between going onto the China Daily chatroom to see what some lunatic is saying about tpd and actually reading the worthless articles (Illegal Fishing Banned) and using the so-called information.
Besides, I didn’t think I actually accused of China Daily (that would be a tremendous insult for me); I accused you of reading and actually taking seriously information from ALL Chinese sites.

January 15, 2006 @ 3:33 pm | Comment

sorry- as always I wrote that in a rush on the way to work; I meant I didn’t mean to accuse you of actually reading China Daily.

January 15, 2006 @ 5:08 pm | Comment

Ahhh…um….Richard?….

…no offense, but are you aware that someone has written some ghastly Chinglish in a new sidebar on the RIGHT hand side of your site? It’s beneath another duck, and above some advertisements.

That’s what I’m seeing anyway. (Or is it just like seeing pink elephants? I THINK I’m sober right now…)

The Chinglish says: “PekingDuck is a well-established blog media in China Issues. We have thousands of loyal readers, among which are many social excellence who have been very contributive in their fields. Peking Duck as a platform can deliver your outstanding product and service to our excellent intelligent middle-class readers who are always supporting innovation and good product. Please advertise with us, Let’s make tomorrow better together!”

AGGH! Come on, man, that’s HORRIFYING! Only a Chinese person could write such shitty English. It’s the kind of Chinglish which makes me want to scream and then vomit.

Are you aware that someone has put that on your site, and that it looks like YOU intended to write it?

Trying to save you some embarassment here, kind of like telling you that you have body odor….God, is someone hacking into your site and trying to embarass you? Seriously – this is horrifying….

January 15, 2006 @ 6:27 pm | Comment

Sonagi,

Yes, that’s all I ever talk about, anal sex. You’re very perceptive. I must learn how to talk about something else sometime.

On that note, I have an anal sex suggestion for YOU….

January 15, 2006 @ 6:33 pm | Comment

Ivan, it was put up by a well-meaning friend who’s helping me organize my site. I will help him revise it. Thanks.

January 15, 2006 @ 6:57 pm | Comment

I’m definitely not interested in getting any sex tips from you, Ivan.

It’s no use denying that you’re a faithful CD reader, Keir. You’ve outed yourself.

January 15, 2006 @ 8:51 pm | Comment

Sonagi, if you see keir’s first post on the CD thread, he makes it clear he is not a regular reader there. Anyway, can we change the subject?

January 15, 2006 @ 9:06 pm | Comment

My little excursion.

So I was in Prague in Czeck Rep. Wanted to go to Vienna. My friend and I ask the ticket agent: “Do we need a passport?” He says “No” (in that “Mei-You” attitude. Although we had time to go to the hotel and pick them up, we decided not to rush it. We take a 3 hours to get to the border. Then border patrol kicks us out of the train for not having passports. I call my friend in Vienna to apologize, and head back to Prague.

Ah, the excellent service of commie cultures.

China_hand, do calm down. The reason I asked for confirmation on the 60% the way I did are:
1) The number was surprising to me
2) I assume people here know a good deal about China and its history
2) It’s the normal way phrase the question. Not dissimilar to “I heard that real estate prices in the US have dropped – Is that true, what do you know?” If you always end such questions with “can you refute this?” people will start looking at you funny.

I certainly agree that most people have preconceptions, and we read news in an effort to validate these preconceptions. This is perhaps why given the same set of data people often times will disagree on issues.

However, my personal approach is that once I see evidence to the contrary, and I can find no logical way to hold my position any longer, I look for a new way to think about it.

I think all you commies will agree, that no matter what you have written on this post, I put a decent amount of time to addressing your specific thought or argument. Although I refute them most of the time (and jest at your expense), I do have the respect to you and your argument to take them seriously. The “China under Mao was great because there was no competition” argument was one example.

However, rarely do I find any of you addressing my comments (or those similarly structured) in this way, (my comments on transparancy, incentives, structural problems of policy are examples). All I get is chest thumping and how I’m naive or how I have bad intentions because I hate the CCP. In this way, this tpd sometimes looks like a bunch of college students talking to 10 year olds.

This is disappointing both for my perception of you as well as reasoning abilities of the Chinese in general.

January 16, 2006 @ 4:25 am | Comment

I obviously can’t count. I’ll blame it on the jet lag ๐Ÿ™‚

January 16, 2006 @ 4:26 am | Comment

All I get is chest thumping and how I’m naive or how I have bad intentions because I hate the CCP.

You only get that from shills like China Hand and Math. Several others here are equally critical of the CCP.

January 16, 2006 @ 6:27 am | Comment

That’s who I was addressing. Wanted to keep the names out of it.

January 16, 2006 @ 8:18 am | Comment

I Do Not Believe “Having an Independent Mind” is Necessarily a Good Thing.

When we educate our children, we sometimes tell them “you should have your own independent thinking, and form your own opinions”. So clearly we think that not blindly following others and thinking on your own is a good quality to have.

But this post wants to say that independent thinking is not necessarily a good thing. Now some of you may get very angry and say “Math! How dare you say that!” Why are you so rude? But if you read carefully what I wrote, I said it is “not necessarily” a good thing, not “absolutely” not a good thing.

Let me give you an example, how many planets are there in the solar system? Everyone in high school has been taught that are are 9 planets, and there’s news recently that a 10th one has been discovered. If it’s been proven, then we’ll say “there are 10 planets in the solar system”. But when we say that statement, we are simply repeating a “mainstream” opinion in the society. I never bought a telescope and observed all 10 planets, and then say “there are 10 planets”. In fact, if you are not a professional astronomer, you cannot find all planets. I have used a telescope before, and I was only able to observe 5 of the 10 planets.

Now, in this case, I have no choice but follow what my textbooks and my teachers and my professors tell me, and repeat after them “there are 10 planets in the solar system”. Does that make me a person with no independent thought, no ability to form my own opinions? Humans study the world as a collective body. Every scientist can only contribute to the world when he is “standing on the shoulders of his predecessors”. The foundation in which a scientist can make real contribution to the world is to first accept most of the mainstream opinions and views of the society, then he can try to “tweak” certain things in a certain branches of his expertise, and then he will be called someone with “independent thinking”.

Given any proposition, a good way to judge whether it is true or not is not to analyze it independently by yourself, because you may spend 100 years analyzing it and obtain nothing in return. I think a good way to judge a proposition is to see if it is a “mainstream” opinion in the world, and if it is, it is safe to accept it. For example, if someone says “China is a great country.” Is that a correct proposition? Well, we know that most of the nations in the world today agree that China is a great country, even President Bush has said it during speeches. So clearly that we can also agree that that proposition is true.

Recently, there is an article that says “The entire land of Japan is just a ‘sub-range’ of China’s Kunlun Mountain”. Now instead of shouting wildly “This is absolutely wrong! How ridiculous!”. We can look at what the “mainstream” of the world thinks. Well I checked “World Almanac” published by the US, and in it, it says clearly that the land of Japan is a sub-range of China’s Kunlun Mountain. Clearly, World Alamanc would not publish anything that is very controversial as facts. And given th reputation and rigor of World Alamanc, it’s unlikely that that proposition is false.

Of course there are cases where “mainstream opinions” were later proven to be false. Like the case of Galileo and Copernicus being persecuted by the Roman Church. So if you think you are as great as Galileo and Copernicus to overthrow mainstream opinions, you are welcome to try of course. But I think I’m not that great a person, I’m just an average person, so I have better use of my time, such as cooking some nice Chinese dishes for my family.

Therefore, instead of saying “it is important to have independent thinking”, I think a better saying is “it is important to judge and understand mainstream opinions”. I think that is a more valuable quality, and is really easier said than done.

January 16, 2006 @ 10:24 pm | Comment

Oh brother.

January 16, 2006 @ 10:33 pm | Comment

Uh…yeah…

Not much I can add to that.

January 16, 2006 @ 11:17 pm | Comment

Math, your perspective is likely for someone educated in an environment where everything is controled by a central entity, prepackaged for a single purpose to maintain party control.

I’ve done some astrophotography in my earlier days. Seeing the planets in my own refractor reminds me of how small we are, and of the audacity of early scientists seeking the truth despite the threats of a government trying to control people’s thoughts.

I saw the entire 6 hours of China – A Century of Revolution earlier today. Pretty interesting. The recap of history reminds me of the members that had good intentions (as in any organization). However, its design makes it likely for it to do evil and incompetent things. Logical areguments are refuted by “it’s counterrevolutionary.” It makes a whole country susceptible to the whims of one person (like Mao), and suppresses the potentially good ideas of anyone not in control. Reminds me of a poorly run corporation.

Also, it’s also seems to me that the whole CCP excursion has been a whole waste of time – just a modern day version of the Republican Government, except this time there are no japanese at the party.

January 16, 2006 @ 11:32 pm | Comment

Math-

It does not take Galileo or Copernicus to stipulate b.s., whether mainstream or not. But it did take assholes to persecute people like them and others who spoke their conscience.

Math, if you were really as humble as you said, you would not attempt bad logic and wrong geography at people with good points here.

January 16, 2006 @ 11:52 pm | Comment

Before 1949, China observed 4 different time zones. A little trivia to share.

January 16, 2006 @ 11:55 pm | Comment

“it is important to judge and understand mainstream opinions”
Seems like the mainstream opinion here is that you are mentally challenged, Math.
Maybe you should think about that mainstream opinion.

January 17, 2006 @ 12:07 am | Comment

Oh alright, I’ll bite on the bait Math threw out about the planets – not because he can be reasoned with, but because his example about the planets DOES lead to some interesting points – although contrary to the conclusions he draws:

A few of my friends here know that I know some things about the planets.
(wink) And, ACTUALLY, to this day, Asian astrologers (divinators of the influences of the planets – let’s leave it undecided for now, whether any kind of astrology has any validity – just bear with me for the sake of argument)…

…to this day, Asian astrologers, most notably the Indians (but also Chinese astrologers, who are even more archaic than the Indians) REFUSE TO ACKNOWLEDGE the three outer planets – Uranus, Neptune and Pluto – which were all discovered in the Modern Age, all after 1781. Those three distant planets cannot be seen with a naked eye.

You need a telescope to see them. A telescope – invented in Europe.
And HOW was the telescope invented? By independent thinking, that’s how. Galileo was arrested by the Catholic Church, for using his telescope. Thus, the very Western invention of the telescope (made with help of the Arab opticians) and the VERY Western way of independent thinking, is what allows Math to make his argument about the planets.

ALSO – getting back to astrology – I have actually met some Indian astrologers who say, “in astrology you cannot use the three outer planets (the ones discovered through a telescope) because they are too far away.”

But Western astrologers use them. Why? Because after more planets were discovered in 1781, EVEN Western ASTROLOGERS, who otherwise might be considered “superstititous”, EVEN THEY opened their minds up to new possibilities, beyond the ancient, rigid, deterministic astrology of 5,000 years ago.

Meanwhile, Indian and Chinese astrologers continue to say, “There are only seven planets. Even if we discover more, there will always be only seven planets – because that is how we’ve always done it, and we do not want to risk instability……”

๐Ÿ™‚

Quite seriously, you can even see this contrast between Asian and Western astrologers, even today. Asian astrologers will say, “Everything is fated and the planets decide everything”, while most Western astrologers will say,
“the planets have some influence, but Human Free Will is paramount.”

Literally, Civilisation began (in what is now Iraq) when the first city dwellers tried to put Humanity in accord with the Heavens. Astrology was born then, and the first astrologers were High Priests who tried to keep social order by using the planets as symbols of order. In THEIR time, it was best for them to interpret the universe as “perfectly mathematical and predictable”, because their survival depended on perfect predictability.

However, times have changed. Today, Humans have more control over our environment, and more scope for free will to play in. QED, Math is around 5,000 years behind the times. ๐Ÿ™‚

(Math won’t understand this, but I know some of our other readers will.)

January 17, 2006 @ 6:39 am | Comment

PS: more about the planets:

In Shakespeare’s “King Lear”, the fool asked the King, “Why are there only seven planets?” And King Lear said:

“Because there are not eight.” And his Fool replied:

“Yes! You would make a good fool!”

January 17, 2006 @ 6:43 am | Comment

Do you think most of Americans have independent mind? It’s just a surface appearance. Many Americans will support their president ad their Constitution without any independent thinking, like slaves and blind people!

Do not accuse Math if you yourself do not have an independent mind!

January 17, 2006 @ 2:21 pm | Comment

One of the reasons Stalin broke his promise to have free and full elections in Poland and the rest of Soviet occupied Europe was because while he had been discussing the issue with Churchill, the latter had suddenly been thrown out of office. To kick out one who had redrawn the borders of Asia, Africa and modern Europe after defeating Hitler showed Stalin the independence of thought in the West and the power of democracy and so thought again. Americans have the right to throw out Bush. Chinese don’t have the right to watch pornos in the privacy of their own bedrooms.
As I’d mentioned before, Chinese have no ideas to ofer anyone, but mekly allow an incompetent and unaccountable geriatric oligarchy to rule them when over half live on two bucks a day. Chinese are in no position to talk to anyone in the West about true independence. Hell, I could go to Speaker’s Corner and say Blair should be strung up and attract a crowd. Try doing that here.

January 17, 2006 @ 4:35 pm | Comment

Do you think most of Americans have independent mind? It’s just a surface appearance. Many Americans will support their president ad their Constitution without any independent thinking, like slaves and blind people!

More than 60 percent of the American people believe we should not have invaded Iraq.

January 17, 2006 @ 5:05 pm | Comment

So what if they think USA should not have invaded Iraq? The USA has already finished invading Iraq? What is the use of it afterwards? Will those people apologize to the Iraqi people for barbarionly invading an independent nation and illegally arresting their leader? Of course they will not? They will say “We think it was wrong to invade Iraq, but we already did, so let us forget about it”. There are 7 words to describe the USA invasion of Iraq, I will give them to you for free: 鲜血、残骸、眼泪、哀号、屈辱、恐怖、死亡!(Blood, Bodies, Tears, Cries, Insults, Terror, Death).

And it is quite clearly that USA will invade Iran this year, will the Amelikans wait after the invasion to “feel” they should not have invaded Iran? Stop joking me!

January 17, 2006 @ 6:05 pm | Comment

Popular sentiment in the US changes over time on a varity of issues. If people in the US really hate Bush enough, they have the legal mechanism to recall him. What mechanism exists in communist China?

Have some perspective. Do you want Iran to have nukes? If they do, by what argument should Japan and S Korea stay within the NPT?

Let’s

January 17, 2006 @ 6:23 pm | Comment

Popular sentiment in the US changes over time on a varity of issues. If people in the US really hate Bush enough, they have the legal mechanism to recall him. What mechanism exists in communist China?

I’m sorry, but I do not wish to rely on “popular sentiments” to make my decisions. What legal ways can Americans “recall” him?

Chinese people do not need to recall their president, but China is a centralized democracy. And the foundation of the government is born within the fundamental interests of the people, and the government is equal to the people, but with a top management body. So such “recall” concepts do not apply. Please study more.

Have some perspective. Do you want Iran to have nukes? If they do, by what argument should Japan and S Korea stay within the NPT?

It is absolutely in China’s best interests for as many countries in the world to have nuclear weapons as possible. Those countries will all have the US as the biggest enemy (Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Syria, Egypt, Venezuela, etc etc). Why should China be worried about them? China respects the sovereignty of other nations and are friends to everyone. It is only you who are paranoidial about other nations have nukes. Why live in fear all the time? Do you know why China today is more favorable in the world’s opinions, because China does not fear this nation and that nation all the time and does not try to sanction this nation or that nation all the time, and does not deny this citizen or that citizen from entering China all the time, and does not order the UN to do this and that all the time. The US talks about democracy all the time, but does the US behave democratically in the international arena? If you cannot answer this question, then do not try to speak.

January 17, 2006 @ 6:35 pm | Comment

“the foundation of the government is born within the fundamental interests of the people, and the government is equal to the people, but with a top management body.”
Thanks for the vague and non-sensical explanation of the Chinese system Hongxing.
“Please study more.”
When you say study, do you by any chance mean “indoctrination in non-sensical crap”?

January 17, 2006 @ 7:22 pm | Comment

China is a centralized democracy

Oy.

January 17, 2006 @ 7:30 pm | Comment

HX: So what if they think USA should not have invaded Iraq? The USA has already finished invading Iraq? What is the use of it afterwards? Will those people apologize to the Iraqi people for barbarionly invading an independent nation and illegally arresting their leader?

HX, you never cease to amaze. You yourself made the blanket statement that Americans don’t think for themselves and only follow their leader blindly. I pointed out the polls on Iraq, which prove what a loudmouthed idiot you are. So don’t go changing the subject, okay? I prove you are wrong on US public opinion, and you go ranting about an altogether different topic.

To answer your questions, the “use of it afterwards” is to help throw out the Republican rogues who got us into this mess. You’ll see how this works during the 2006 elections.

January 17, 2006 @ 7:40 pm | Comment

Asians prefer chatting with astrologists than a shrink. I can see some advantages of that, at least on the entertainment end.

January 17, 2006 @ 9:00 pm | Comment

On NPT

Most informed international observers will note that the NPT has done a good thing for the world. If you so disagree then let’s see how you feel when Japan and S Korea gets nukes.

On representative government

HX, saying world politics should not be dominated by oppression of the powerful is not consistent with ruling by oppression. To make it more clear for you, your argument for a democratic international community is pointless when PR China is itself is a communist dictatorship. It’s a contradiction of values, or no values, other than arguing for whatever benefits you only – why should anyone listen?

On “HX: Foundation of the government is born within the fundamental interests of the people”

Even if you’re right on the intentions of the founding of the CCP, power corrupts, so over time, the interests of the people is lost. Even if Mao shared his food with fellow Long Marchers, we saw how he became later. And there was no way to impeach him.

You’re saying Mao and his Gang of Four friends always acted in the interests of the people, even when:
* they destroyed all metal tools with the stupid idea for increasing steel production
* decimated the food supply with a illogical grain production policy, starving millions
* had Red Guards kids killing their teachers, destroying the family unit, closing schools

Do you dispute these facts HX?

January 17, 2006 @ 9:02 pm | Comment

China is a centralized democracy

Okay, you could say that China practices “democratic centralism,” even if that’s one of those meaningless Party phrases. But a “centralized democracy”? Was that from that white paper I never bothered to read?

How does one define a “centralized democracy,” anyway? Where does the “democracy” part happen?

January 17, 2006 @ 9:31 pm | Comment

I think HongXing did mean to say “democratic centralism”, which is the principle practiced inside the Chinese Communist Party and is derived from Lenin’s famous book “What Must be Done?”

There are 3 main principles of it

1) Minority obeys the Majority
2) Lower level officials obey upper level officials
3) The entire party obeys the Center.

Democratic centralism is usually considered a much improved system than the pure dictatorship practiced during the Nationalist era, especially on grassroot levels, where there’s a mechanism in which the majority of the public’s opinion can keep extreme minority opinions in check. But during military campaigns, it also has the advantage and efficiency of lower officials obeying upper officials. This has been widely implemented and adopted inside the CCP. Of course it is not without flaws, and one of them is that there lacks a check on the Center, and can sometimes lead to “one person overrides everyone else”. But nowadays, Chinese leaders see that problem in the system, and therefore the CCP today does not practice a
“supreme leader” system, but a “collective decision making body” system.

Therefore, “democratic centralism” is a form of democracy that’s suitable for China.

January 17, 2006 @ 10:47 pm | Comment

China_Hand,
“Therefore, “democratic centralism” is a form of democracy that’s suitable for China.”

Um, you only outlined what you thought Chinese Centralized Democracy might be; you did NOT explain suitability at all.

January 18, 2006 @ 1:17 am | Comment

Hating to break up an intense discussion, this thread is now closed. A new one’s waiting above.

January 18, 2006 @ 2:33 am | Comment

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