June 4th thread

About to visit the square as I did yesterday. Talk about anything that has to do with incidents that have occurred on past June Fourths, or anything else. And it’s hot here in Beijing today. A good day to wear white. Not to change the world, but just to show we think it’s better to remember than forget.

[Moving this up to the top of the page.]

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Update: Just received this photo a friend took at the remembrance vigil in Hong Kong and had to share. People do care and do remember. They can’t wipe out everyone’s memory by pointing to the economy

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

The Discussion: 124 Comments

I didn’t think it was possible to actually enter the Square today because it’s all cordoned off with tape and a huge amount of undercover and regular police. Both the BBC and the US news broadcasts here in Canada are reporting this. Isn’t that fitting for a remembrance.

June 4, 2009 @ 11:00 am | Comment

According to BBC, the reporters got rejected from the Square.

June 4, 2009 @ 11:50 am | Comment

i was going to go but i don’t want to stand in line in this heat to show my passport to prove that i am not a journalist (last i heard they would not let any journalists’ inside the square)

June 4, 2009 @ 12:02 pm | Comment

I just came from the square. It is wide open, they are not checking passports and anybody can go in unless they are being obviously dumb (like waving a Tibetan flag or trying to roll in a drum of gasoline).

June 4, 2009 @ 12:27 pm | Comment

Hey Richard, do you see any reporters? I heard some ABC reporters got rejected from there.

June 4, 2009 @ 12:52 pm | Comment

I heard of one reporter getting thrown out but he was carrying an industrial-strength video camera, which is an invitation to get thrown out. So many people are coming and going,I don’t see how they can spot journalists. I know of several other journalists who were there yesterday and today.

June 4, 2009 @ 1:25 pm | Comment

How’s the situation in the square? Many people wearing white? Anyone lighting candles?

June 4, 2009 @ 1:32 pm | Comment

The whole “white” idea seems pretty ludicrous, since in summer most people wear white. I was wearing a white shirt, white dockers, white socks and white sneakers and may have looked a bit conspicuous, but it didn’t matter a bit, no one looked at me or said anything. Many, many people wore white, but I’m going to guess 90 percent of those were not making a statement except that the weather was hot and light, white clothing is most comfortable.

Relatively few Westerners there today, almost none yesterday, at least when I was there. Crawling with the silver-badged guys who my more China-savvy friend who accompanied me today is certain are waidi bused in from not-too-far-away cities, the kinds who are used to break up demonstrations against their local officials and/or businesses. They were not, he said, Beijingren. They did not apear at all to be open to chatting in the square.

June 4, 2009 @ 1:39 pm | Comment

no candles

June 4, 2009 @ 1:40 pm | Comment

Awww….

June 4, 2009 @ 1:41 pm | Comment

It’s a harmonious society!

June 4, 2009 @ 2:37 pm | Comment

自由…

The arc of the moral universe is long, but we can bend it toward justice.

……

June 4, 2009 @ 3:48 pm | Trackback

Also, by the way, CNN and BBC have been running stories on Tank Man and the history of the incident all day without censorship.

None of my Chinese friends or colleagues were aware of the call to wear white today.

June 4, 2009 @ 4:27 pm | Comment

See my five cents here.

June 4, 2009 @ 5:44 pm | Comment

I wore blue. And I broke out a new pair of dark blue jeans I bought in Hong Kong during the Chinese New Year. I was going to wear an Armani light pink shirt, but it was just too hot and I hate running downstairs to the dry cleaner. Oh yes, back to the topic, the government is way overreacting. Loosen up and they’ll see nobody cares any more.

June 4, 2009 @ 5:50 pm | Comment

Off to cycle down to Tiananmen now; nothing else to do. But for all those Chinese leaving comments in various forums I’ve been on complaining about how focussing on it is simply the West trying to embarrass and/or insult China, I can’t help but think that they must be political trolls paid for by the regime. No one in the British Isles suggested on the 35th anniversary that thirteen deaths back in 1972 in Londonderry should just be forgotten and we should move on. To say untold lives of fellow countrymen should be forgotten because we can’t be arsed just doesn’t sound human.

June 4, 2009 @ 6:30 pm | Comment

By the way… another thing that most people forget is that it was not only a bunch of soldiers shooting at students. It was a beginning of a civil war. It was a power struggle between China’s warlords. Units of the army turned against each other. The people turned against units of the army and vice versa.

June 4, 2009 @ 6:41 pm | Comment

@Dror – Remember seeing reports of shooting between PLA units (4th Division?) in US embassy report, but are here any other sources/incidents known?

June 4, 2009 @ 7:13 pm | Comment

FOARP: Well, some of the papers at the time wrote about it (for example – requires subscription…). I have little information on the subject, but would be nice if people post what they know.

June 4, 2009 @ 7:45 pm | Comment

Also:

NYT, June 6, 1989: ARMY RIFT REPORTED IN BEIJING

And summaries of US embassy reports here:

“Two days after the crackdown, this report from the U.S. Embassy stated that a western military attaché had told the U.S. military representative that one PLA unit, the 27th Army, “was responsible for most of the death and destruction at Tiananmen Square on June 3.” The 27th, the cable notes, was commanded by the nephew of PRC President Yang Shangkun, a noted hardliner, and was even accused of killing “soldiers from other units run over by the 27th APC’s and tanks.” The document also indicates that a large contingent of soldiers from the 27th had taken up position on a highway overpass, “and seem poised for attack by other PLA units.” “

June 4, 2009 @ 7:53 pm | Comment

Hard to find eyewitness accounts…

June 4, 2009 @ 7:55 pm | Comment

Yeah, Hard! Old School!!11!

C’est la vie! Y’know what’s old school…

June 4, 2009 @ 9:27 pm | Comment

I remembered a few years back, when I was in Beijing, the taxi driver told me there were issues between 27 and 38 division of PLA back then

but anyway, likely to be rumors

June 4, 2009 @ 9:36 pm | Comment

…. put, in a k….

June 4, 2009 @ 9:46 pm | Comment

Dror, good points – it’s easy to forget about the serious fears at the time of civil war, and to dismiss it all as the naive and rather goofy attempt by some egotistical students to showcase themselves. It’s easy to forget just how deep the rifts were back then, within the military, among the workers, among the leaders. The student movement was not an aberration, it was a reflection of nationwide dissatisfaction.

June 4, 2009 @ 10:16 pm | Comment

I know not enough to understand and interpret the politics of TAM and China, even after all these years of studying and the occasional visit. There’s Chinese culture/Mandarin language and Chinese politics, and I do much better with the former and dismally at the latter. Still today I feel sad as I recall hidden memories. Maybe writing will bury them forever.

June 4, 2009 @ 10:20 pm | Comment

@Don Tai – My grandfather was at Biggin Hill during the Battle of Britain, and served with the desert airforce in North Africa and Italy, people on my mother’s side of the family survived Bergen-Belsen, and my great-aunt (who was as close as a grand-mother) kept a photo of her fiancée (an army surgeon) who died in the war on her dressing table. None of them ever spoke more than once or twice about the war, nor did they want to. Perhaps that generation was more inclined to keep a “stiff upper lip”, but not speaking of bad memories is hardly only a Chinese thing. It is different, though, to silence people who do wish to speak, and to propagate a palpably false version of what happened.

June 4, 2009 @ 10:40 pm | Comment

I’d just like to echo what FOARP said. My maternal grandfather was in the B of B, before being sent to Burma to fight the Japanese. My other grandfather was at Dunkirk and later went to Burma, but with the army, not the air force. My maternal grandfather only ever spoke about how much he liked India and Burma, not the war. According to my grandmother for a long time he would often wake up in the night screaming. The effects of trauma may not fully heal, and an inability to lay the ghosts to rest by talking about it or seeking some sort of redress makes it that much harder.

I’d like to say thanks to Don Tai for the posts on 4th June on your blog.

June 4, 2009 @ 11:34 pm | Comment

So… I was in the square today. There were hundreds of civil guardsmen and spies dressed in ordinary clothes… it was ridiculous how much they overreacted. You could sense the tension in the square today. There was very strange weather. It’s been blue skies all these days in Beijing, but today, once I arrived in the square, these weird black clouds surrounded the square area, the wind started to howl, and light rain started pouring. Then it stopped, but it’s really strange. I watched the flag go down at sunset, and I’ve never seen such a beautiful sunset in Beijing. All of it quite strange. I left the square with a sad feeling… there was almost no one at the square mourning… most everyone was either a spy or Chinese tourists, with a few foreigners and Chinese dressed in black or white. It’s ridiculous how the Chinese have managed to completely erase history… but they’ll never manage to do it. All these feelings are just repressed… when the economy starts suffering, which it will one day, I’m sure all of these repressed feelings will explode.

June 4, 2009 @ 11:45 pm | Comment


“let your sister Scorn not leave you
for the informers executioners cowards—they will win
they will go to your funeral and with relief will throw a lump of earth
the woodborer will write your smoothed-over biography

and do not forgive truly it is not in your power
to forgive in the name of those betrayed at dawn “</blockquote.

- Zbigniew Herbert

June 4, 2009 @ 11:57 pm | Comment

Sib, maybe we were in different squares. I’ve seen tension before at events, and today – at least when I was there – the square was totally calm, mainly filled with tour groups, members of which were sitting down in the shade of the lamp posts the way I was told they always do, and the usual hustlers were trying to sell tours of the Forbidden City, and people were taking pictures of their girlfriends and boyfriends. I would say there were literally no repressed feelings, and I say that with sadness and frustration. How can they have repressed feelings about something most never experienced or barely even heard of?

Yeah it was crawling with “spies,” which was more comical than creepy. We all knew they’d be there, but if you’re going to put them in plainclothes at least try to make them blend in. Otherwise, what’s the point? Then again, maybe the point was obvious: if you so much as move in a way we find suspicious, we’re taking you down. That was what I knew the situation was. But if I’d walked in without that knowledge, I would have just seen a lot of happy tourists and a lot of security people mainly looking bored or impassive.

But to any casual visitor who walked in, there was no visible tension, no stress – unless you looked for it, Seek, and ye shall always find. (If there was stress, it was mainly with the new fleet of plainclothes helpers who looked out of place and didn’t seem comfortable. They looked like the volunteers at last year’s Olympics, only they didn’t smile so much, though they didn’t look grim or threatening either.)

I’m sure in the course of the long day there were some anecdotes of trouble. The NYT article I reference in the post above notes a couple skirmishes with news crews that tried to enter the square with video cameras, and one reporter I know was turned away the day before for trying the same thing. But the article said it today’s episodes were more slapstick and comical than scary. The friends and reporters I spoke with today who went there all agreed, not necessarily happily, that it was “just another day.”

June 5, 2009 @ 12:04 am | Comment

Maybe if I had been a journalist stopping people for interviews in the square I’d have had a less peaceful experience. The same article says they stopped foreigners randomly and asked for their passports. I did not see that, but am sure it happened. It seems that’s as bad as it got, asking someone for their passport or treating journalists the way they always do….

Like Sib. I wanted to see some signs of angst or remorse or remembrance of any kind. There was none at all.

June 5, 2009 @ 12:17 am | Comment

@Richard
“Yeah it was crawling with “spies,” which was more comical than creepy. We all knew they’d be there, but if you’re going to put them in plainclothes at least try to make them blend in. Otherwise, what’s the point?”

The real point is to let know that they are there. No real need to blend.

It almost like the agents in Matrix. A lot of agent Smith. He may wear play cloths, even elegant suits, but when you look at hem, you know what may happen if you try to do something…. “unharmonious”

June 5, 2009 @ 2:51 am | Comment

Damn!

Plain cloths

June 5, 2009 @ 2:52 am | Comment

Nanhe, you are pushing the limit.

June 5, 2009 @ 3:30 am | Comment

@Nanheyangrouchuan – The old ‘no white envelopes/wrapping’ thing is complete noob-feed, plenty of people give/receive things wrapped in white – although, if someone gave me a present wrapped in white paper I might take offence to their penny-pinching approach to gift-wrapping and i think most Chinese would think the same. Richard has been around long enough to know all about the whole white/black thing, that’s why he was wearing white!

June 5, 2009 @ 3:37 am | Comment

@nanheyangrouchuan

If I am in HK, I would probably ask the protesters how much NED’s money do get to help them protest. Who knows, maybe Wu’er Kaixi will take a ferry from Macao and he will personally pay me!

June 5, 2009 @ 4:08 am | Comment

“It’s ridiculous how the Chinese have managed to completely erase history… but they’ll never manage to do it. ”

What’s really ridiculous is the obsession of Westerner expats desperate to relive the glorious, early days of CNN. The people of Los Angeles seem to get through life okay without lighting candles in honor of Rodney King and those killed in the LA riots every year.

If China needs to face its past, IMO the first priority should be setting up a cultural revolution museum. 6/4, while very meaningful to the tiny segment of Chinese directly involved, is just a footnote in 20th century history.

June 5, 2009 @ 5:25 am | Comment

Grasshopper is dead! Fool killed himself!!

Damn, where is that foot?!!

June 5, 2009 @ 5:40 am | Comment

It’s not just the Chinese on the mainland that don’t think much of June 4th.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jcNRiAE3YYlvF4LiIytTKnlSoAhw

June 5, 2009 @ 5:56 am | Comment

I dropped Acid last night (Chinakids, not for you,) I’m not sure about the comments I left last night.

Need water – back to bed.. damn, Grasshopper!!!

June 5, 2009 @ 6:05 am | Comment

“So… I was in the square today. There were hundreds of civil guardsmen and spies dressed in ordinary clothes… it was ridiculous how much they overreacted. You could sense the tension in the square today.”

James fallows sensed the same undercurrent of tension – plus the goons.

June 5, 2009 @ 8:20 am | Comment

I saw a Chinese rising a paper with something written on it in Chinese. One second later he was covered by police and brought away I don’t know where. I didn’t take a picture. Nor we followed the man all the way with the police. We were surrounded by commy.

My passport was checked once and they asked me some question early in the morning.

Later they only check my bag in search of papers.

Nothing more.

June 5, 2009 @ 9:12 am | Comment

Estimates are that there were 60,000 to 150,000 people in Victoria Park (HK) last night.

June 5, 2009 @ 9:17 am | Comment

Stuart, I just didn’t see it. Jeremiah was with me, and all we could say was that it seemed like an ordinary day, only a few less visitors and lots of plainclothes police everywhere who weren’t doing anything. Our passports weren’t checked. We had to run bags through the x-ray machine, like you do at subway stations. But again, We were just there for an hour; maybe there was tension later, but so far I gather it was more a “feeling” of tension rather than any actual occurrence. That’s hard to measure, and again, I think if you took people on an outing there and they had no idea what the history of June 4 was, they would not have described yesterday’s mood as “tense,” or at least not when we were there.

MacLau, even on an ordinary day, if someone tries to hold up some sort of signage in Tianamen Square they’ll be stopped quickly. On June 4m they’ll be stopped much faster of course, since the ratio of cops to visitors soars (surprise).

June 5, 2009 @ 9:37 am | Comment

And Lisa, thank you.
And Stuart, hope you saw Jeremiah’s response on his blog re. Jim Fallows (one of my very favorite journos who I think perhaps read more into the scene than was there):

I saw that post. I like Jim a lot as a person and respect him immensely as a journalist, but I think his account was a bit overblown based on my own observations. I go through the square two or three times a month and yesterday was very similar to every other time, EXCEPT there was a lot more of the usual. There are always screeners, bag checkers, metal detectors, plainclothes and uniformed cops, security vehicles, etc. There were just A LOT more of them yesterday. The square often feels a bit ’sinister,’ my opinion is that yesterday was more a factor of degree rather than a significant qualitative difference.

This reminded me of how many said the “boys in blue” during the torch relay were sinister and thuggish. But in reality, people were projecting their own fears of mysterious guys wearing sunglasses with expressionless faces and muscular builds (which are characteristics of many bodyguards). The “sinisterness” came from the viewer’s perspective, not reality. That they were Chinese only added to the “inscrutability” of the whole scene.

June 5, 2009 @ 9:40 am | Comment

“If China needs to face its past, IMO the first priority should be setting up a cultural revolution museum. 6/4, while very meaningful to the tiny segment of Chinese directly involved, is just a footnote in 20th century history.”

Put it in another way, if the Japanese government also said that the Rape of Nanking, was just but a footnote of 20th century history, i wonder how a patriotic Chinese like Another Chinese would have felt.

June 5, 2009 @ 2:25 pm | Comment

“It’s not just the Chinese on the mainland that don’t think much of June 4th.”

Is this something, you as a Chinese, should be proud of? In fact, to forget the tragic death of your fellow countrymen that easily is not only distasteful but shameful. I was very proud of the Germans who still think very much of the tragic Holocaust even after more than 6 decades. They confronted it and was able to move on as a dignified nation on world stage.

June 5, 2009 @ 2:33 pm | Comment

Good on the HongKongese!

June 5, 2009 @ 3:11 pm | Comment

@ Richard

Yes, just seen it. I certainly didn’t want to give the impression that I was disappointed there was no tension. I’m not.

I am delighted, though, as per my own effort to commemorate this year’s anniversary, that the people of Hong Kong are getting the recognition they deserve.

June 5, 2009 @ 8:39 pm | Comment

In case you missed it, everyone should be sure to read this new comment.

Stuart, I think what the people of HK did to commemorate 6/4 was wonderful, too. That photo I added really moved me.

June 5, 2009 @ 9:25 pm | Comment

Amazing that they banned twitter and so many other sites but you can get onto this site in China. At least for now.

June 6, 2009 @ 1:35 am | Comment

Is this something, you as a Chinese, should be proud of? In fact, to forget the tragic death of your fellow countrymen that easily is not only distasteful but shameful. I was very proud of the Germans who still think very much of the tragic Holocaust even after more than 6 decades. They confronted it and was able to move on as a dignified nation on world stage.

===========================

Hold on a second. If the Chinese nation, 1 billion or so at that time, VOTED for a dictator, were collectively organized, started smashing windows of, say, Thai shops and sending Thais to concentration camp and killing 6 million Thais, and at the same time invaded Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Russia, Nepal, India and bombed the hell out of Indonesia, and collaborated with, I don’t know, Brazil and Kuwait to conquer the world, then what a perfect analogy it would be.

But I didn’t participate in it, neither did 99.99% of the Chinese population.

So how come we’re being jinzhulong-ed here? Am I the only one sensing an ugly trend of westerners, on this blog and in western media, venting their “frustration” on ordinary Chinese folks by passing sweeping generalizations with an undertone that scoffs, “These pathetic people”?

Don’t say I’m over sensitive. The stench of patronizing disappointment is definitely there. Personally I do remember the event and I hope someday those responsible will be punished. But the attack on the commies turned venting frustration on ordinary people turned lumping together the commies and the people as a parallel to the Nazi Germany is one ugly path to go down.

June 6, 2009 @ 2:34 am | Comment

And to echo someone above, can somebody please tell me why the west, and the people here, is not more interested in the Cultural Revolution that completely destroyed the nation and severed China forever from her cultural past?

The commemoration of TAM can never be too much, but in the same vein, the CR, mother of most problems in today’s China, politically, psychologically and culturally, and a tragedy that changed the lives of three whole generations, just cannot draw any attention. It’s frustrating for westerners to see “pathetic Chinese people” not acting or thinking as you wish them to, and it’s frustrating to me that the biggest would in China’s modern history is being sidelined.

June 6, 2009 @ 2:44 am | Comment

wooddoo, though as a whole most people in the US are sadly ignorant of Chinese history, there have been many many books published about the CR here – both scholarly and memoirs. I think that TAM is more immediately on peoples’ minds because they literally watched it unfold on television. Getting any accurate information about China during the CR was very difficult, and certainly very little of it made it to peoples’ TV sets at the time.

Of course it’s a mistake to look at TAM apart from the CR; one followed from the other. It’s frightening how lost the history of the CR is to the younger generations who didn’t experience it and are not learning about it in school.

June 6, 2009 @ 2:55 am | Comment

@ “Wooddoo”

I think most historians would agree with you. There has generally been more attention paid to the Cultural Revolution, both in teaching and in research, than to TAM. Part of that is there is a bit more of a ‘gap’ to gain perspective with the GPCR, but also because I think many historians, including this one, agree with you that for as significant an event as TAM was, it pales in comparison with the horror and devastation unleashed during the 10 years from 1966-1976.

June 6, 2009 @ 6:00 am | Comment

Just yesterday on Phoenix TV, the famous commentator Ruan Ci Shan was talking about the significance of 8×8. Saying that there wouldn’t be so much progress made today in China if the gov’t did not take the proper actions.

Who says gov’t censors this thing? It was on TV during prime time!

Btw, in 1989, who would’ve thought China would be where it is today? Most people predicted that the CCP would collapse within a few years just like Romania or USSR.

Why were they so wrong in their predictions?

June 6, 2009 @ 7:04 am | Comment

The CR and TAM events are two different things. This is not a competition. Still, the one major difference is that the CR has already been formally addressed by the Chinese leadership (70%/30%) and it’s alleged perpetrators were judged and punished. The CR is something that Chinese youth today are aware of, and can talk about freely (at least about the things they were taught about it).

TAM is very different and the mere fact that the CCP is still so sensitive to it shows how significant it is, even today. Unlike the CR, the events leading to TAM are something that the Chinese people will be proud of for many centuries after the CCP ceases to exist.

June 6, 2009 @ 7:41 am | Comment

@wooddoo

“Hold on a second. If the Chinese nation, 1 billion or so at that time, VOTED for a dictator, were collectively organized, started smashing windows of, say, Thai shops and sending Thais to concentration camp and killing 6 million Thais, and at the same time invaded Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Russia, Nepal, India and bombed the hell out of Indonesia, and collaborated with, I don’t know, Brazil and Kuwait to conquer the world, then what a perfect analogy it would be.

But I didn’t participate in it, neither did 99.99% of the Chinese population.”

It just showed how ignorant you are about history. The Nazis never got more than 50% of the vote(43.9% to be exact) even as they used violence and intimidation and the Reichstag fire to influence the outcome. So if we play by your ridiculous number game, are you saying that the rest of the 56.1% of voters who voted against Hitler were guilty? In your blind rage to hold on to your senseless rants, you chose to push aside facts.

And who in the end apologized for what the Nazis did in a dignified manner? It was Chancellor Willy Brandt, a anti-Nazi fighter during the war, who physically knelt in front of the monument to victims of Warsaw Ghetto Uprising during his visit to Poland. He apologized on behalf of those who should but never apologized. Neither Chancellor Brandt nor the young Germans of the 1970s were responsible for or PARTICIPATE in the Nazi war crimes committed in the 1940s, but they chose face this tragic page of their history and moved on. Does it really matter who is guilty when it comes to facing the tragedy fair and square?

If your “participation” argument is valid, then why did the governments of Korea, Taiwan or even Australia need to apologize for Kwangju, 228 massacre and the “stolen generation” of aboriginals respectively? Did 99.9% of their population participate in those events? Is it so difficult to bring a closure to those whose closed ones were wrongly accused as “counter-revolutionaries” and lost their lives as a result? If China cannot do that, it will never be a great nation even if its GDP per capita reaches 100000000000000000 dollars per capita.

June 6, 2009 @ 10:28 am | Comment

@wooddoo

“And to echo someone above, can somebody please tell me why the west, and the people here, is not more interested in the Cultural Revolution that completely destroyed the nation and severed China forever from her cultural past?”

We are definitely in interested. Not just the Cultural Revolution, but the Great Leap Forward, the Anti-Rightist Campaign of 1957, the violent campaigns of the Three Anti/Five Anti. We are always ready to examine those events. But the question is: Is the CCP ready to stomach it? Provide a list of names and accurate estimate of those who were perished in those events? Who were responsible? Is the CCP ready to set up Truth and Reconciliation Commissions like in Post-Apartheid South Africa?

The ball is in the CCP’s court and not its critics. You have barked up on the wrong tree, as usual.

June 6, 2009 @ 10:38 am | Comment

There’s a beautiful picture up at the New York Times of the Hong Kong vigil.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/05/world/asia/05hong.html?_r=1

Ah, god bless those Hong Kongers. Giving me hope that happiness in meek submission to authority is not necessarily a culturally Chinese thing, but merely a product of excessive exposure to the CPC.

June 6, 2009 @ 12:03 pm | Comment

What Dror and SP said, and Dror, in particular I want to cheer your pointing out the fundamental difference between the CR and TAM. TAM is truly something to celebrate, as were the Qingming demonstrations in 1976.

June 6, 2009 @ 12:15 pm | Comment

Umm, the above should be CCP. Damn lack of an edit button.

And the comparisons of modern day China to Nazi Germany always strike me as very excessive. Mao’s China, certainly, but not the present day CCP. Go back a bit and you find a more apt comparison to Tiananmen in the German Revolutions of 1848: a liberal, democrat reform movement meets with temporary success and then is crushed, essentially a ‘turning point’ in which the country fails to turn. Afterwards, temporary disillusionment with renewed dictatorship gives way to satisfaction in nationalism and economic prosperity as the country emerges as a power on the global stage.

Let’s just hope there’s a happier ending in this case, eh?

June 6, 2009 @ 12:17 pm | Comment

V fair and square reporting, balanced and superb.

Though I agree TAM should remain a blot on the CCP’s conscience, I’m not sure it should be raked up and remembered. Some things will have to remain buried (right or wrong). Coming originally from a developing democratic country, I think it is good the revolution or student’s movement did not succeed. Similar students’ movements in some other countries have been successful in bringing about the change but have devastated the countries in the end e.g. Democratic ‘freckin’ republic of Congo.

June 6, 2009 @ 4:31 pm | Comment

At the expense of sounding politically incorrect and even harsh, let me add, this ‘healing’ ‘remembering’ etc. is also a bit of psychological mollycoddling. It is an indulgence of the ‘haves’ to my mind. I have seen that the utterly poor relate to such soft sentiments far lesser. Probably the families of victims might have been monetarily compensated. I can see ‘a mother’s heart weeps for her child’ coming. But let me share a perspective which can come from living amidst and observing the ‘have nots’. I did some social work in a state in India and an old woman told me she had about 12 – 14 kids originally and now perhaps 5 or 6 are remaining; she did not remember how each one died. She was just chit chatting and I felt in tune with her – felt no remorse. Then I remember after Tsunami, a woman saying in another Indian state that her husband passed away a month after Tsunami and it is just a matter of luck if he (the bastar…. my edit)had died during tsunami, she wd have got so much compensation.

I’m just sayin. (I have a feeling I should not post this but oops there I pressed the button. ok then)

June 6, 2009 @ 8:52 pm | Comment

@Writer from hell

“let me add, this ‘healing’ ‘remembering’ etc. is also a bit of psychological mollycoddling. It is an indulgence of the ‘haves’ to my mind. I have seen that the utterly poor relate to such soft sentiments far lesser.”

I think your example in India is not only poor but utterly disgusting. Here, we are talking about innocent citizens of a country whose lives were brutally taken by their very country’s armed forces/police/security forces under some wrongful accusations. It’s no difference from murder. Those you mentioned were tragedies that happened because of the tragic harshness of live in that particular situation. There wasno killers nor wrong maligning in those cases. I hope you wake up your, pardon me for the language, bloody idea to your insensitive analogy.

And just who are we to say that those who lost their closed ones think that “healing” and “remembering” are “indulgences”? For TAM, we know that the TAM mothers demand that and they are rightfully entitled to it. You should get this into your head: It is a positive duty to offer a proper accounting and closure for those who perished under state terror; whether it is a form of “indulgence” is totally irrelevant as it doesn’t negates the fact that we have a positive duty to account and bring closure to wrongdoings of a violent state against its own people.

June 6, 2009 @ 11:02 pm | Comment

Just checked, there were some subtly topics about June Four on Chinese internet.

The significant thing I found about them is the hero people choose to honor and remember, in China, on Chinese internet and with lots of approval replies.

The one they are remembering are not so much about Wang Dan, Chai Ling, Wuer Kaixi, or other student leaders (actully, when they did bring them up, it tends to be controversial rather than admirable). But Du Xian, the CCTV broadcaster, was remembered by many as the hero
http://bbs.voc.com.cn/topic-1536544-1-1.html

She is perhaps better received in China and less controversial among Chinese abroad, or shall I say,kind of woman that fits far better into what Chinese consider as heroine and admirable.
http://www.huaren.us/dispbbs.asp?boardid=358&id=274281&page=0&star=1
She was probably the first CHinese to mourn for those who were killed that night openly at CCTV, or the last, until today.

June 7, 2009 @ 12:03 am | Comment

Ryan just pointed me the way of these pictures, including a new one of the tank man. Amazing quality and scale:

http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2009/06/remembering_tiananmen_20_years.html

June 7, 2009 @ 9:37 am | Comment

I realize my comment could be completely misinterpreted. I meant that the TS movement is something to celebrate, not, you know, the massacre. Gah.

June 7, 2009 @ 10:40 am | Comment

Writer from Hell, I don’t mind “politically incorrect,” but I do mind stupid, and your remark, shrugging off the TSM and comparing it to death by tsunami or car accident – well, that hits a pretty high level of stupid. The people who died on June 4 didn’t die by chance. Someone killed them. And you talk out of both sides of your mouth when you say the TSM should remain “a blot” on the CCP’s record, but at the same time say it shouldn’t be “raked up and remembered.”

June 7, 2009 @ 12:15 pm | Comment

A few days a ago, NYT had an article about an ex-soldier who participated in driving the students out of the square in the early morning of June 5. His recollection of the event very much agrees with the general understanding of that history. We can more or less claim that we have already known everything about the movement and the subsequent crackdown.

June 7, 2009 @ 12:28 pm | Comment

Serve, there has never been an accounting of the dead, and that’s just the first thing which contradicts your statement.

June 7, 2009 @ 1:43 pm | Comment

It’s also assuming that we can “know everything” about any historical event…

June 7, 2009 @ 2:11 pm | Comment

Most researchers have concluded that the number of deaths is several hundreds. Someone has compiled a list of the dead, and again the number there is about one to two hundred.

We haven’t heard any big surprises in the last 10 years or so. After filtering out the rumors and misinformation, such as PLA divisions fought each other or students were shot in the square or , we have a rather complete picture about what happened in the spring of 1989.
Had we not known enough, Zhao’s recent memoire would have contained a lot of new information. But as we know, there is really none.

Less studied are the activities of the student leaders and overseas dissidents after TAM. Some of them successfully sought immigration benefits in the US, hence the notion of June Fourth Green Card. Nancy Pelosi made herself famous for introducing these legislations. Others went to business. A few even joined the Dalai’s separatist groups. Wu’er Kaxi’s story is most interesting. Definitely the best known Uighur in the world. It’s strange no reporter has sought his opinion on the Gitmo Uighurs.

June 7, 2009 @ 4:47 pm | Comment

@Serve the People

“It’s strange no reporter has sought his opinion on the Gitmo Uighurs.”

By the same measure, it’s also strange that no Chinese reporters had sought Premier Wen’s opinion on June 4′s 20th anniversary, particularly Zhao Ziyang’s house arrest since he had appeared with Zhao as his chief of staff on Tiananmen Square where Zhao made his last public appearance.

June 7, 2009 @ 4:56 pm | Comment

@Serve the people

“His recollection of the event very much agrees with the general understanding of that history. We can more or less claim that we have already known everything about the movement and the subsequent crackdown.”

Well done. So you were taught in high school history lessons that one could draw a comprehensive picture of historical events based ON JUST ONE EYE WITNESS’S ACCOUNT AND RECOLLECTION? Fantastic indeed. So by the same vein, should one also say that a Japanese Imperial Army soldier’s recollection of the event very much agrees with the “general” understanding of that history (Rape of Nanking)so we can more or less claim that we have already known everything about the Nanking massacre?

June 7, 2009 @ 5:09 pm | Comment

I was speaking more from a perspective of what is history, what is “fact,” what is “narrative” and what is point of research and study, but I’m hardly surprised to see the gist of such a comment fly wayyyy over StP’s head.

June 7, 2009 @ 5:13 pm | Comment

@Richard, I didn’t compare TSM to Tsunami actually. I am trying to explain one level of why there is lack of remembrance of TSM in China. People are happy with the governance in China (like it or not) and perhaps don’t relate to the cause of that movement anymore. The movement was in a large part triggered by economic hardships which are gone, thanks partly to the movement not succeeding. So people don’t grieve. We insist that they do.. may be but they don’t. It is not as if they are ignorant about their past (despite CCP’s efforts, people have access to the net and u know it is a pretty talked about movement all over).

Ok double the stupid!!

June 7, 2009 @ 7:22 pm | Comment

Ok not done yet..(triple the st.. oh whatever) and China can not afford to rake up that past. Especially now, since this could restart some things again amidst the prevailing economic downturn. The reason my comment sounds like (and is) ‘talking from both sides..’ because I’m saying the deaths especially of students should be a blot on any government’s memory, I stand by that. But now should the 1.3 billion start grieving, practically speaking, that would be a disaster.

I don’t know if this makes sense to anyone other than obviously me.

June 7, 2009 @ 7:31 pm | Comment

I know people are happy with the government here, relatively. But one big reason why they don;’t think about the TAM incident any more is that it has been erased. Those who were there still think about it and care about in one way or another. And many, many educated people here are ignorant about the details of TAM. My own Chinese teacher, a brilliant person, a good party member and global traveler sat transfixed as I explained to her how we in the West saw the event. She had never heard of Tank Man. I showed her the photos and she said she had no idea, just like most of my colleagues in my office. There is a lot of ignorance about something that happened relatively recently and that has ben preserved so vividly in print, photograph and video.

I don’t insist, ever, that anyone grieve. I would like them to know, or at least have the option to know. I put up all these things on TAM for myself, because this is how I feel. I inflict it on no one. This is my way of dealing with one of the most unforgettable and momentous events that occurred in my life. TAM was a huge turning point in China’s history. Anyone who does not understand it and how it influenced government thinking ever after cannot truly understand modern China.

June 7, 2009 @ 7:37 pm | Comment

Something cannot be “a blot” without being remembered. That is the entire point of a blot – to show and tell people that something bad was done. No remembrance, no blot.

June 7, 2009 @ 7:38 pm | Comment

@Richard – I have trouble referring to TAM as a ‘turning point’ – this would imply that China has been heading in a different direction since then. Somebody described it as “almost a turning point for China’s political transition,” and I would say this is more accurate. More accurate still would be referring to it as an end-point – the last time the CCP leadership considered serious political reform. The nationalistic tone of the current government started in the pre-89 era (there’s a propaganda film on the ’4 modernisations’ which you can find on pirate DVD which pretty much contains the whole spiel), economic reform had started in ’78, and the decision to politically liberalise had already been reversed by the 1982 constitution. Rapid growth was already underway, in fact I have a book written in 1987 which quotes the Economist already proclaiming China’s rise to economic and military super-power status.

As for how much is known or not known, well, I do not think that much more will come out. The number killed is disputed, but this should not surprise – unless the numbers are small they are always disputed. People forget that this was not the only such incident in those years, the same year there was an uprising in Tibet, and a few years later there was the Gulja massacre (which nowadays doesn’t even merit a Wikipedia page it seems).

June 7, 2009 @ 8:41 pm | Comment

Ok no arguments there. I agree it must be remembered and raked up by international media as well as people like you – as you reach a segment of the Chinese who should read it. Yes raising awareness in this segment (especially the balanced manner in which I see you have done in your blogs) is a good idea. On Unitary states like China, even though they are doing a great job, international media is the only check so they should be kept on the radar and thus these kinds of killings should never be forgotten. It should also set as an example before other nations that they wd never be pardoned for such massacres.

But building memorials, street marches and raising mass awareness akin to mass media advertising, well that China ‘internally’ is not ready for. Not yet and in my view not for some time to come.

June 7, 2009 @ 8:47 pm | Comment

“a few years later there was the Gulja massacre (which nowadays doesn’t even merit a Wikipedia page it seems).”

Well, it’s got one now:

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

Vandalise to your heart’s content!

June 7, 2009 @ 9:38 pm | Comment

FOARP, it most definitely was a turning point and one of the most dramatic in China’s history. It might not have been the turning point some of us wanted, but it can’t be denied that TAM and the state of near-civil war that followed led directly to the mentality that “we had better get this refom-and-opening-up thing ready for prime time” and ultimately to Deng Xiaoping’s 1992 Shenzhen tour and…well, the rest is history. Would that have happened anyway? Hard to say, but there’s no doubt that Tiananmen helped lead to a new & improved CCP, stronger and better-looking and utterly unchallengable. John Pomfret writes at length about this phenomenon today in an article I should probably so a separate post on. Read Pomfret’s article, then come back and argue that TAM was not a turning point – in strengthening the CCP’s political grip as they relaxed their economic grip (all for self-protective purposes, of course).

June 7, 2009 @ 9:42 pm | Comment

FOARP you are too much!

June 7, 2009 @ 9:50 pm | Comment

Meantime, elsewhere on Wiki:

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

A pride march in Shanghai? We’ll see if they get to march – that might be a genuine sign of change.

June 7, 2009 @ 10:47 pm | Comment

I had seen about the Shanghai Pride week,but was told there is not going to be an actual march, more like a party and films and little events. We’ll see.

June 7, 2009 @ 10:58 pm | Comment

I’m sure you have been asked this before and may be several times over. How come you can publish all these articles and not get blocked? Whats the trick?

June 8, 2009 @ 10:42 am | Comment

To summarize our discussion: “…Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness….”

June 8, 2009 @ 10:58 am | Comment

Dror, while I don’t disagree, China has been an irritating exception, continuing to grow and flourish while keeping its people in the dark about anything it finds embarrassing. (Of course, the US tries to do this, but our relatively free media exposes them – Abu Ghraib photos, torture, illegal wiretaps, etc.)

Writer, this site has been blocked from time to time, but at this point the government realizes that while foreigners here can tolerate youtube and twitter being blocked, going without TPD would be altogether unacceptable.

June 8, 2009 @ 12:22 pm | Comment

I agree with Richard that TAM is a turning point for China. However in my opinion it is a turn from a highly politicized, naive, and idealistic society to a normal, realistic, and materialistic society. A good turn by all measures.

During the cultural revolution, everything was about politics. After that, before 89, a large segment of the society, including the majority of intellectuals, still wasted enormous amount of time and energy debating the pros and cons of socialism and capitalism. These debates ended after 89, especially after Deng’s 92 southern tour. China stopped talking and went on to build a vibrant market economy.

June 8, 2009 @ 1:34 pm | Comment

Richard – China is actually a fine proof of that Jefferson was right, both positively and negatively. They only started to grow quickly after they liberalized parts of their economy and allowed people more access to information. Unfortunately, if they mislead themselves that they’ve done enough, they will suffer. In fact, they the suffering is already here. Now we’re at the stage of ‘hypocrisy’, and soon we’ll get to ‘meanness’.

As an aside, a friend of mine recently tried to re-negotiate the lease for her apartment. She sent the landlord an email with data from Beijing’s residential market – decline in sales and rent, decreasing sales and leasing prices, etc. The landlord replied that China is the world’s second largest economy and the growth engine of the global economy during the financial crisis…. so no need to reduce the rent. Objective reality is a foreign construct aimed to destabilize China…

“China has 5,000 years of history, so we can’t reduce your rent” :)

June 8, 2009 @ 2:28 pm | Comment

@Richard
“….going without TPD would be altogether unacceptable.”

Ha ha ha ha ha.

That was a good one. :-)

June 8, 2009 @ 2:30 pm | Comment

@Serve: I pity you.

June 8, 2009 @ 2:30 pm | Comment

@Dror

“@Serve: I pity you.”

Because of the 5000 year of history? ;-)

June 8, 2009 @ 2:48 pm | Comment

Dror, absolutely hilaroous anecdote about your friend’s landlord. All landlords here (and probably everywhere) are dicks, but this one certainly wins a gold star.

Hope you’re wrong about the meanness, but looking at some of the articles I’m reading, I wonder how China is really going to cushion the blow of the virtual disintegration of its economic backbone, i.e., exports. It is way worse than most of us can imagine.

June 8, 2009 @ 3:56 pm | Comment

@Richard
I think we may agree that no one, or at least a great majority, is not interested at all in a collapse of China. Neither for humanitarian nor selfish reasons.

The collapse of the exports is very real, even Germany here is feeling the pinch. But the dependency on export for China if far greater. It is vital for the increase in living standards in china and collaterally the survival or the regime,… and we all know how vicious things can get when they feel their grab op power menaced.

A more rational regime would not be so hard to handle with, and could weather the crisis without systemics risk. Just look at India, no one is fussing about a systemic collapse there, even with all its problems they will weather the crisis without much ado.

But being things how they are inc CH, for good or bad, we still have to deal with the CCP system and dynamics.

If exports do not work, what could work? What could be the solution?

There is the much vaunted infrastructure budget push but that it is not going to be enough. And pushing consumption of Chinese mashes I hold it just for economic Kool-aid. Even if it were possible it would take too much time to make any major difference, and the consequences for the environment and resource availability could lead to a dead end.

I think that only a massive infrastructure push at global scale with the cooperation and coordination of the main international economic powers from the to the west could do the trick.

If not… problems ahead. Problem that would be in comparison just inconviniences for US/EU, but would mean dire consequences for those in CH …and quite possible nearby regions.

Time to move forward in the scale towards a “Type 1″ civilization in the Kardashev Scale…. We are now around 0,76 ;-)

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

June 8, 2009 @ 4:41 pm | Comment

The problem is the infrastructure spending represents more bleeding with no revenues to balance it. China has more cash reserves so it can do this more easily than the US, but without those export dollars coming in from the taxes on exporting businesses, China’s going to face serious budgetary problems sooner than many realize. The hope everyone is focued on is that the deficit spending on infrastructure combined with various rebates and in some cases simply handing out money – the hope is that all of this will lead to the dream of increased domestic consumption.Getting people to part with their money, especially traditionally high-saving Chinese people in an extremely uncertain financial time, is a challenge I wouldn’t wish on anybody.

June 8, 2009 @ 5:21 pm | Comment

But there is no weakness in Chinese consumer spending. Domestic economy is as strong as ever. I am expecting see a Hummer in every garage.

June 8, 2009 @ 5:30 pm | Comment

“The landlord replied that China is the world’s second largest economy and the growth engine of the global economy during the financial crisis…”

Classic. As much as apartment hunting sucks in China (and in general), hopefully you’re friend will find a new place at an honest market price (is there such a thing in China for anything besides commodities?), as opposed to one determined by “CCP talking points”.

BTW, just saw Paul Krugman on CCTV2′s “Duihua” program saying that considering the size of China’s economy, it is ridiculous to think that China can single-handedly pull the world out of the financial crisis, so at least your friend has another economist to help counter her landlord’s nonsensical illusions of China’s “superhero” economic status.

Sigh…it must suck to have done all that work researching local market prices etc., only to have it blow up in your face with a truly ridiculous response, I mean if the landlord’s gauge for pricing is what the Renmin Ribao Op-ed page is saying about China’s economy, how can you possibly win? (actually in my business, I’m quite used to this sort of letdown) I guess we all would hope that losing a tenant/customer would clue the guy into his ignorance, but I have feeling these type of messages don’t always get through over here…

June 8, 2009 @ 5:31 pm | Comment

The problem is the infrastructure spending represents more bleeding with no revenues to balance it. China has more cash reserves so it can do this more easily than the US, but without those export dollars coming in from the taxes on exporting businesses, China’s going to face serious budgetary problems sooner than many realize. The hope everyone is focued on is that the deficit spending on infrastructure combined with various rebates and in some cases simply handing out money – the hope is that all of this will lead to the dream of increased domestic consumption.Getting people to part with their money, especially traditionally high-saving Chinese people in an extremely uncertain financial time, is a challenge I wouldn’t wish on anybody.

Absolutely

All landlords here (and probably everywhere) are dicks

And again, correct. Landlords tend to understand bugger all about economics, that’s why they are landlords. It is the absolute bottom feeding “investment”, except it isn’t really an “investment” it is a job, if done correctly.

June 8, 2009 @ 5:56 pm | Comment

@Serve

I must recognize that that Hummer deal could be more profitable than many think.

It has broken a Taboo. A CH brand, no matter what, has been able to get a significant foreign brand.

Even if the deal is a total economic disaster it has open the door to more, and some may be profitable ones.

It may even help to improve awareness of CH auto brands in international markets.

June 8, 2009 @ 6:01 pm | Comment

@serve
” I am expecting see a Hummer in every garage.”
I think it is time to start investment in Oil markets and companies…..

June 8, 2009 @ 6:02 pm | Comment

Si, and the landlords cry all the wayt to the bank. Wasn’t it Shakespeare who said, “The first thing we do is kill all the landlords”? (It was “lawyers,” actually, but landlords are even worse.)

June 8, 2009 @ 6:16 pm | Comment

@Richard..without TBD.. ha! Shibby!

@Serve the people – I tend to agree, I also do not sense any weakening in the Chinese consumer spending.

June 8, 2009 @ 6:25 pm | Comment

richard, i understand that in the us you can hand back the keys and walk away. is this true? this is not an option in the uk, where the mortgage lender can pursue defaulters for up to 12 years. so a lot of people who thought a city centre flat at 6/7 times average wages was a great “investment” are currently taking a very nasty bath, with their flats being repossessed and sold at 50% plus discounts from purchase price and the wannabe property tycoons being pursued for the difference.

i have had one landlord who was good. bizarrely it was a student house – he left us alone, was prompt with dealing with any difficulties and was also the model of all patience when one of my housemates was routinely tardy on the rent. but then this was pre-bubble, he actually saw it as a job and owned numerous properties. other than that Chairman Mao was right – shooting is too good for the vast majority.

June 8, 2009 @ 6:36 pm | Comment

@Writer from Hell
” I also do not sense any weakening in the Chinese consumer spending.”

But how strong it is to begin with? And it is enough now to have any effect against the contraction of export markets, and/or how much should it grow to have any?

June 8, 2009 @ 6:39 pm | Comment

@AndyR: Not sure Krugman is much of an authority with local landlords… capitalists don’t normally appreciate the advice of communist commentators.

@Serve/Writer: The problem is that the CCP claims that local consumption will grow (is growing?!) quickly and dramatically to save the local (and global) economy. Not going to happen. In addition, the fact that so much new cash has been poured into the market by the government during the last 9 months, directly or through the banks, and the fact that private consumption is stable/down/or even slightly up… means that local consumers are actually saving more than before.

June 8, 2009 @ 6:49 pm | Comment

@Dror

“The problem is that the CCP claims that local consumption will grow (is growing?!) quickly and dramatically to save the local (and global) economy. Not going to happen. In addition, the fact that so much new cash has been poured into the market by the government during the last 9 months, directly or through the banks, and the fact that private consumption is stable/down/or even slightly up… means that local consumers are actually saving more than before.”

Absolutely. In the longer term it is possible that China can be an engine of growth, if education, healthcare and social security can be improved/created. Without a viable safety net, the Chinese will continue to save, not spend. The stimulus appears aimed at increasing China’s overcapacity, rather than dealing with these issues. When you consider the above, plus the ageing population and environmental issues China does not look a particularly brilliant bet from the current standpoint.

June 8, 2009 @ 7:00 pm | Comment

@ecodelta, thats a good question. Got me thinking what the split between domestic and exports is in the Chinese economy? Do you have the nos by any chance.

@Dror, Good point. Yes the CCP’s claims may not hold true. Everytime governments have increased direct spending, it has tended to deepen depressions (FDR’s new deal included). Let us see if the theory can hold good in China. But on the contrary, I somehow have great confidence in the CCP’s abilities to mastermind anything; if they claim they’ll save the world, I fear they just might. Hail the CCP!

June 8, 2009 @ 8:06 pm | Comment

ok data readily available(wiki) so let me regurgitate – GDP components, exports 39% (Imports 31 so reall net just 8) Domestic 36%. Ya that is small. 36% of 3 or 4 trln whatever the fig is so size of domestic about 1 trillion. World GDP I think is about 45 trillion. Ok so China’s domestic economy can not uphold the global economy. (looks like it). But lets see when CCP claims it can do it, logic defying that may be, but I would leave some room for doubt .. time will tell!

June 8, 2009 @ 8:17 pm | Comment

@Writer: at the moment, China can hardly uphold it’s own economy. If they manage to do that, it would be enough. The world will be ok.

June 8, 2009 @ 8:54 pm | Comment

@writer

I somehow have great confidence in the CCP’s abilities to mastermind anything; if they claim they’ll save the world, I fear they just might. Hail the CCP!

I suspect you are not joking. Please tell me I am wrong.

@dror+everyone

Found this on China Translated. Dunno who Tom Orlik is but the post is fascinating.

http://www.chinatranslated.com/?p=397

“One of the issues we have been following here on China Translated is provincial debt. With tax revenue down, social spending obligations up, and high costs for funding their part of the economic stimulus, many local governments are finding that their budgets are strained. One response is to issue debt to make up the shortfall.”

Interesting times.

June 8, 2009 @ 10:09 pm | Comment

@dror..ha! ..true that!

June 8, 2009 @ 10:23 pm | Comment

@Si, don’t worry sleep easy, I was only joking.

June 8, 2009 @ 10:27 pm | Comment

@Writer

“ok data readily available(wiki) so let me regurgitate – GDP components, exports 39% (Imports 31 so reall net just 8) Domestic 36%. Ya that is small. 36% of 3 or 4 trln whatever the fig is so size of domestic about 1 trillion. World GDP I think is about 45 trillion. Ok so China’s domestic economy can not uphold the global economy. (looks like it). But lets see when CCP claims it can do it, logic defying that may be, but I would leave some room for doubt .. time will tell!”

Rather surprised that there are still “it’s GDP that all matters” fundamentalists lurking around. Despite all your painstaking task of regurgitating GDP components, the Gini coefficient of China, which stands at a high of 0.47, was conspicuously missing for some strange reasons.

June 9, 2009 @ 1:10 am | Comment

@Writer

Oh, for all your regurgitation of those GDP components, you haven’t account for the “negative externalities” of environmental destruction (Chinese has 7 of the 10 most polluted cities in the world, the economics of corruption and the ruthless exploitation of rural migrant workers and the resulted simmering social tensions.

June 9, 2009 @ 1:20 am | Comment

Objective reality is a foreign construct aimed to destabilize China…

The only objective reality is the real market price for the rent — not your friend’s argument, not the landlord’s argument, hell certainly not your argument, with or without that “5000 years” bit. If the tenant can find a better price with everything else being comparable, then s/he should move; if the landlord can get another tenant to pay comparable rent, then s/he should hold firm the price. Normally between tenant/landlord in price dispute I’ve found landlords are far more in tune with the market price since the landlords have a shit load more capital in stake. Any wishful thinking will hurt their bottomlines far more than some casual renters. BTW, if you can’t walk the walk, but only talk the talk, you are just a wishful thinker, with or without the smart to use “5000 years”.

Domestic 36%. Ya that is small. 36% of 3 or 4 trln whatever the fig is so size of domestic about 1 trillion. World GDP I think is about 45 trillion. Ok so China’s domestic economy can not uphold the global economy. (looks like it).

What you called “domestic” is private consumption expenditures (PCE). Some argue that it’s understated because services are undercounted, and some lumped under gross fixed investment should really be durable goods under PCE. But anyway foreign products and services go to all categories including gross fixed investment (no breakdown of private or government) and government consumption. Obviously China wouldn’t hold up the whole global economy especially the part of the economy including Ponzi schemes sorry I meant financial services, $150 hair styling, 8 pounds London congestion charge, etc. But if you have something that China wants and needs, like oil (e.g. Russia), minerals (e.g. Australia), agr-products (e.g. Brazil), autos (e.g. Germany), you will be fine. Everybody else… tough luck from China. But Uncle Ben will continue his Ponzi scheme sorry I meant quantitative easing to make sure you’ll be alright.

June 9, 2009 @ 5:49 am | Comment

@JXie: As I noted in my post, she quoted market prices of comparable properties.

That said, you are aware of the fact that property (and everything else’s) prices have been driven up by foreign investment in RMB assets. One of the main reasons for this investment is the belief that China’s currency is undervalued. So, it’s hard to rely on market prices in an economy that does not allow the market to operate. You can add that to the fact that most land deals are done by the government, and that the media is not free to report on any problems with such deals, and you get a market price that is quite far from what it ought to be.

June 9, 2009 @ 6:24 am | Comment

@Dror, All you are saying is a bunch of wishy-washy, nebulous and unquantified “reasons” why you believe the market price should be at a different and presumably lower level. The biggest problem as I see, is lack of real facts and figures by you. What’s “not free to report” mean? If you read the buy/sell-side financial reports and analysts’ reports, you will realize your lines are like 5th-grade essay. Quite a few mainland Chinese RE developers are publicly tradable. Read their annual reports. While you at that, read the analysts’ reports on them. There is a shit load of information available about them in the Internet. Chase it down. Mind you, a lot of opinions are bearish, but at least informed bearish.

In the time of the worldwide RE markets from Hungary to Spain to Las Vegas at levels far depressed from their prior highs, a lot of speculative RE money has left China already, but somehow the levels are reasonable held up. So some strong hands are buying up the market. Who are they? What are their reasons? What are the ins & outs in numbers (millions, billions)…? If you have had a few chips in the middle, you will figure out in a massive panic selling environment, the assets/stocks holding up the best, are likely the leaders of the next upswing.

Can I be wrong? Of course. The cardinal sin of investing is assuming other market participants are stupider than you. If the market tells me that I am wrong, I will have to adjust.

June 9, 2009 @ 7:53 am | Comment

@JXie: Did you hear? There is no free press in China. The state has a monopoly on land. Connect the dots.

Whether or not I ‘believe the market price should be at a different and presumably lower level’ is irrelevant. The point is that prices are not determined by a real, free market. A perfect market relies on perfect flow of information. No market is completely free. China’s is considerably less free than most others.

BTW: I read analyst reports and annual reports of Chinese developers on a regular basis. Don’t even go there. Have a look at the ones from 12 months ago. See where we are today.

June 9, 2009 @ 10:11 am | Comment

@sp, “GDP Is everything lurkers”.. ? what ok why? I’m obviously a poor communicator.

I was supporting the point ecodelta made about ‘how big is the domestic Chinese economy to begin with’. I hadn’t realised it till he asked and I looked for those nos. I was quite willing to believe (naively) that CCP’s confidence must be real. Like Dror pointed out that let them worry about themselves and the world will be ok.. ok I am wiser after this discussion (that I guess is the whole point of having it).

Yea GDP or its components are just one set of nos. I agree – there is much more to a nation – Gini HDI environmental impact.. Sure thing. no arguments there whatsoever!

June 9, 2009 @ 10:31 am | Comment

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