A to-the-right blogger visits China and comments on the Great Firewall (here too), how much China has changed, etc. Point of interest: apparently from Beijing’s Grand Hyatt he has access to all blocked Web sites, a luxury he couldn’t enjoy at some other hotels. I know where to stay next time I’m in town.
June 27, 2006
June 26, 2006
Kristof, so of course I take it with a grain of salt.
Chinese Medicine for American Schools
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
Published: June 27, 2006
Visitors to China are always astonished by the new highways and skyscrapers, and by the endless construction projects that make China’s national bird the crane.
But the investments in China’s modernization that are most impressive of all are in human capital. The blunt fact is that many young Chinese in cities like Shanghai or Beijing get a better elementary and high school education than Americans do. That’s a reality that should embarrass us and stir us to seek lessons from China.
June 25, 2006
Bob Herbert is shrill. Can you blame him?
Playing Politics With Iraq
By BOB HERBERT
Published: June 26, 2006
If hell didn’t exist, we’d have to invent it. We’d need a place to send the public officials who are playing politics with the lives of the men and women sent off to fight George W. Bush’s calamitous war in Iraq.
The administration and its allies have been mercilessly bashing Democrats who argued that the U.S. should begin developing a timetable for the withdrawal of American forces. Republicans stood up on the Senate floor last week, one after another, to chant like cultists from the Karl Rove playbook: We’re tough. You’re not. Cut-and-run. Nyah-nyah-nyah!
“Withdrawal is not an option,” declared the Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, who sounded like an actor trying on personas that ranged from Barry Goldwater to General Patton. “Surrender,” said the bellicose Mr. Frist, “is not a solution.”
One of the great voices of the China blogosphere, Joseph Bosco of The Longbow Papers has been quiet in recent months, but now he’s back to blogging with a vengeance (as his latest and greatest post illustrates). Welcome back, Joseph – you’ve been away way too long. If you aren’t familiar with Joseph’s blog, go there now. If you are familiar but had assumed he had stopped blogging, go there now.
The blog Joseph set up for his students to express themselves in English, We Observe the World, is kicking as well. I’ve frequently been amazed at the openness and intensity of the posts there, which often delve into controversial topics you’d think the students would want to avoid. When you look at what was going in in China’s universities a mere 30 years ago and see how the students are thinking today, you realize the transformation is nothing short of miraculous.
Joseph, please keep up the great worlk.
This may be the most depressing, distressing article I’ve seen yet on the horrors of life in villages decimated by businesses’ casual rape of the environment.
Zhang Guanghui, an 11-year-old orphan, rises from the kang, a heated brick bed that he shares with an older cousin. He scurries through his barren four-room concrete home, washing his face and hands, brushing his teeth, and preparing food.
At the center of all his actions is dirty water that he pumps from a well beneath the home. The untreated water was never purged of the toxins that almost certainly killed his mother, severely stunted his growth, and left at least 500 people in this farming community of 1,000 families in northeast China ill and desperate. Still, he drinks the water – which develops an oily film just seconds after it’s pumped.
Inside the house, where Zhang and his cousin live alone, the logo of the Jing Quan rice-wine factory down the road is printed on transparent tape that seals plastic on windows and covers the kang. That factory is where Zhang’s mother worked for three months in 2002, etching bottles by dipping them into hydrofluoric acid with only rubber gloves for protection.
The same factory dumped ton upon ton of used acid into an unlined pit, court and government documents reveal. The acid seeped into the village’s groundwater, poisoning the wells of hundreds of families.
If there’s any light at the end of this bleak tunnel, it’s that the villagers are at least trying to change the situation. But the article makes clear they are fighting an uphill battle in a country where local officials have no incentive to help their citizens and where all the talk of dedication to fixing the environment amounts to just about nothing for the disenfranchised living outside of the big cities. We see the most action when the environmental crisis occurs in a big city, like the recent benzene pollution near Harbin. When it’s out of sight and out of mind, ruining the lives of little people outside of the cities, no one seems to care.
Thanks to the reader who emailed me the link.
June 24, 2006
Keeping Faith in China
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
Published: June 25, 2006
During the first half of the 20th century, Western missionaries swarmed all over China, yet they converted fewer than a million Chinese and left only a minor imprint on the country.
These days, China bars foreign missionaries, and the government sometimes harasses or imprisons Christians. Yet Christianity is booming as never before in China, and some giddy followers say China could eventually have hundreds of millions of Christians â€” perhaps more than any other country in the world.
This one’s a jaw-dropper.
The Road From K Street to Yusufiya
By FRANK RICH
Published: June 25, 2006
AS the remains of two slaughtered American soldiers, Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker and Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, were discovered near Yusufiya, Iraq, on Tuesday, a former White House official named David Safavian was convicted in Washington on four charges of lying and obstruction of justice. The three men had something in common: all had enlisted in government service in a time of war. The similarities end there. The difference between Mr. Safavian’s kind of public service and that of the soldiers says everything about the disconnect between the government that has sabotaged this war and the brave men and women who have volunteered in good faith to fight it.
It’s now been three months since the Free Hao Wu blog got started, and not unsurprisingly it’s been slowing down as interest wanes and resignation reigns. Watching the inactive site day after day got me thinking: Was it a good idea to draw all this attention to Hao Wu, or would silence have been a more strategic approach? (And I was one of the most aggressive in getting the word out.)
I debated this with a blogger when I was in Beijing several weeks ago, who said the attention would make it impossible for the powers that be to release Hao Wu anytime soon, as they would then lose face for capitulating to public criticism.
I honestly don’t know, but it’s a most interesting question. The decision to publicize Hao Wu’s detention was not impulsive or easy. A lot of bloggers sat on the story until it was agreed that the strategy of silence was leading nowhere. Did we help or hurt? In the face of police state actions by the Chinese security system, what’s the best M.O.? Making a worldwide noise seemed to have led to the release of Liu Di (the Stainless Steel Mouse), while doing little for the likes of Shi Tao and Zhao Yan. I admit, I lean toward the more pro-active side, believing the CCP is sensitive to pressure from the outside (we all saw what happened as SARS ruined China’s image in 2003, forching the government to make things right). Then I look at the Free Hao Wu blog, and I wonder if we didn’t make a mistake. Silence or stridency? A moral dilemma.
I can’t stand Martin Peretz of the New Republic, but for once he is right-on. Remember, Peretz is a Lieberman-loving, pro-Iraq War conservative Democrat. It looks like Gore is being blessed by those on both the left and the right side of the party. Finally, we have exactly what we need: someone who can unify the anarchic mess that is today’s Democratic Party, and someone who can bring us true leadership. Why on earth would we even consider handing the nomination to lightning rods like John Kerry or Hillary Clinton? And as much as I like John Edwards, he’s still too much of a lighjweight. Al Gore is our best and last hope. Let’s see that he runs, and that he wins.