Away

I’ll be traveling to LA for a few days and won’t be on line much. You can use this as an open thread.

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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: 35 Comments

Is this an ominous sign of our time?

McDonald’s Closes in Iceland After Krona Collapse

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601085&sid=amu4.WTVaqjI

October 27, 2009 @ 2:38 am | Comment

The Chinese Communist Party is like the “Forever” brand bicyle

There was a brand of bicycle produced by China, the brand name is “Forever”. It is a very heavy, very sturdy, but very ugly and very clumsy looking. It does not have much stylish decorations and looks very rusty.

When I was young I used to buy bicycles in the city and sell them in rural areas outside of Shanghai for about 3 months. And one thing that surprised me greatly is that the people of the rural areas don’t like the newest model and the newest brand of bicycles, they’d rather prefer the old “Forever” brand. I remember one time I had a Japanese brand bicycle, with a big “basket” in front, and some very good looking lights at the back. But none of the village folks wanted it, because they are a lot more comfortable with the “Forever” brand, they know it lasts long, and is very sturdy, are is much cheaper than the Japanese brand.

The Chinese Communist Party is just like that brand of bicycle. First, it is very “unstylish” and “old fashioned”. It has vicious nicknames like “commies” and “chicoms”. Its gear and axis all look very ugly and are not even shiny under the sunlight, so you would not like to take your girlfriend out on such an embarrassing looking bicycle. But even though the Chinese Communist Party does not have such gagdets like elections, TV debates, free protests, political ads, etc, etc., it knows how to get things done. It drove away the Japanese, drove away the Nationalists, took back Tibet, and even fought back the bullish USA in Korea.

You may look down on that rusty bicycle. But it’s that rusty bicycle that created the industrial foundation of China in 28 years time. In 1952, China’s industries are only 30% of the national GDP, agriculture is 64%. By 1975, industries became 72%, and agriculture was 28%. It built China’s first nuclear bomb, first automobile, first fighter jet, first nuclear submarine, first personal computer, etc. The Chinese Communist party is really a “treasure-trove” in the hearts of the average Chinese family. Now I ask, what has the Nationalists done for China in their rule before 1949?

Some people like to have style and look good. But if they visit China’s villages, they will realize consumers there have a different set of values. They’ll never believe that there are people out there who actually prefer an old-fashioned, rusty, “Forever” brand of bicycle.

In conclusion, I want to praise the Chinese Communist Party some more. I think the Chinese people need not listen to those democracy lovers, and should totally ignore the flashy elections of America. The Chinese people have chosen the Chinese Communist Party, and we will continue to use that bicycle because we like it and there’s nothing you can do about it. Maybe we’ll renovate that bicycle once every few years, like putting on some new paint, or change an axis. But the bicycle is still the same old rusty bicycle. There’s not a best bicycle in the world, there’s only the most useful and practical bicycle.

And even the biggest China-hater in the US government is accepting the fact that the good old bicycle will be here for a long time, and is not likely to go away soon.

Finally, I want to shout a slogan that will make many democracy lovers throw up and have a heart attack:

Long live the Chinese Communist Party

October 27, 2009 @ 6:02 am | Comment

It’s part of the “get worse before it gets better” phase

October 27, 2009 @ 6:18 am | Comment

What are you talking about?

October 27, 2009 @ 8:23 am | Comment

Merp is referring to the McDonald’s comment above. If you are asking what Math is talking about, I’m afraid I can’t help you.

October 27, 2009 @ 8:40 am | Comment

“Long live the Chinese Communist Party”

A slight addendum: long live the Chinese Communist Party as part of a multi-party state.

You see? No need for nausea any more.

October 27, 2009 @ 8:41 am | Comment

I was wondering what merp was talking about. As for Math, he’s so weird, how can you compare a regime (let alone THAT ONE) to a simple, harmless bicycle???

October 27, 2009 @ 8:48 am | Comment

As in Europe and America’s bloated financial position is being corrected so the world can move on.

October 27, 2009 @ 9:16 am | Comment

Math has dropped that turd about the “Forever Bicycle” at least once before, as I remember. How sad it is that there’s a part of my brain that is occupied by this fact, yet I can never remember where my car keys are.

October 27, 2009 @ 10:11 am | Comment

McDonald’s Closes in Iceland After Krona Collapse

At least something good came from the GFC, lucky Icelanders.

October 27, 2009 @ 10:22 am | Comment

Kevin, good eye – here’s where Math posted the same tripe. And here, as well. Definitely one of the oddest commenters amid a group of very odd commenters.

October 27, 2009 @ 2:25 pm | Comment

Some revolutionary scientists have claimed that there might in fact be more countries on Earth than the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China. In fact, groundbreaking research suggests that fully 75% of the global population resides in neither one of these countries. Discuss.

October 28, 2009 @ 4:08 am | Comment

Fuck the Communist Party, Long Live Communism.

October 28, 2009 @ 6:59 am | Comment

Kev, there’s a reason for everything, maybe?

Hmmm

October 28, 2009 @ 10:25 am | Comment

“In fact, groundbreaking research suggests that fully 75% of the global population resides in neither one of these countries.”

I think this raises an important point. Namely, much has been made (by China especially) that a country with more than a fifth of the world’s people ought to have greater global representation and influence. But this rather overlooks the fact that nearly 80% of the Earth’s inhabitants are NOT Chinese.

October 28, 2009 @ 4:55 pm | Comment

But this rather overlooks the fact that nearly 80% of the Earth’s inhabitants are NOT Chinese.

No, it doesn’t. You just don’t know how to read. China (and India) definitely do not have influence proportionate to their numbers.

October 29, 2009 @ 4:52 am | Comment

Merp, are you Ferin by any chance? Tell the truth, okay?

October 29, 2009 @ 5:53 am | Comment

I am in fact nanheyangrouchuan.

October 29, 2009 @ 6:41 am | Comment

“China (and India) definitely do not have influence proportionate to their numbers.”

Problem is, old sport, (in China’s case at least) there appears to be an assumption that numbers alone give them entitlements of control. In a global context you’re a minority. But relax, the rest of us will rally round to protect you.

@ Richard

“are you Ferin by any chance?”

There are a number of likely candidates. At the end of the day they all have the same agenda. And they all seem to have been assigned ‘duck patrol’ at one time or another. Could it be some sort of initiation program for the Chinese foreign ministry?

October 29, 2009 @ 9:08 am | Comment

@ stuart

“…a country with more than a fifth of the world’s people ought to have greater global representation and influence. But this rather overlooks the fact that nearly 80% of the Earth’s inhabitants are NOT Chinese.”

Sorry, stuart, it doesn’t & your post, as it stands , doesn’t make any logical sense at all.

October 29, 2009 @ 1:46 pm | Comment

Merp, please tell me you’re gonna try to make a case for proportional representation at a global level.

October 29, 2009 @ 8:12 pm | Comment

Problem is, old sport, (in China’s case at least) there appears to be an assumption that numbers alone give them entitlements of control. In a global context you’re a minority. But relax, the rest of us will rally round to protect you.

So you’re saying democracy is a farce and doesn’t work, I agree.

That’s why China should give influence to those few who are the most intelligent, responsible and knowledgeable about the specific policy and ignore “the people” because hey, numbers alone don’t give entitlements of control.

Thank you stuart for finally seeing my point.

October 30, 2009 @ 4:59 am | Comment

@Merp: So you’re saying democracy is a farce and doesn’t work, I agree

FAIL.

Did you see the word global in Stu’s comment somewhere? (His phrasing is somewhat skewiff)

Did you even read my smartarse comment @21?

October 30, 2009 @ 5:23 am | Comment

“That’s why China should give influence to those few who are the most intelligent”

It’s a miracle that you’re not Party Chairman yourself.

October 30, 2009 @ 8:19 am | Comment

Did you see the word global in Stu’s comment somewhere? (His phrasing is somewhat skewiff)

If it doesn’t apply on a global scale it doesn’t work. End of story.

October 30, 2009 @ 9:01 am | Comment

Apples and Oranges.

“Apply” and “work” are two different things. It doesn’t apply now on a global level because the world runs under the Westphalian system (a western idea).

As for if it works – it works very well where I’m from, thank you. Of course, Australian citizens aren’t treated like children by their government.

also: numbers alone don’t give entitlements of control. Ever heard of the Chinese Revolution?

October 30, 2009 @ 10:53 am | Comment

runs under the Westphalian system (a western idea).

No wonder it’s so fucked up. If we had the tribute system there would be world peace for 1,000 years :)

If democracy doesn’t work on the world stage it doesn’t work. Period. Stop babbling please.

October 30, 2009 @ 12:55 pm | Comment

While you’re at it how do you think people hire and admit students? Based on a show of hands?

I wish, I’m definitely better looking than almost all CEOs.

October 30, 2009 @ 12:56 pm | Comment

Hi Richard,

I’ve been reading your blog for some time now and really enjoy it.

I mostly have just read the articles and only recently started reading the comments posts and I’ve gotta say : it’s a madhouse in here. it’s not even sparta, it’s just madness. ;-)

Anyways I wanted to thank you for continuing the blog for all this time and giving an honest portrayal of a really interesting place of the world.

Thanks

October 30, 2009 @ 2:29 pm | Comment

If democracy doesn’t work on the world stage it doesn’t work. Period. Stop babbling please.

It hasn’t been tried on the world stage, but democracy has been shown to work (please don’t confuse what I’m saying with American capitalist democracy, I’m an Aussie). Yes, I do babble. No, I won’t stop.

While you’re at it how do you think people hire and admit students?
Again, apples and oranges. Plumage is not necessarily a signature of quality. Look at most of the young nitwits who join the cadres and do the study to join the Party, they are generally not the best (although I did know some very smart ones), but they get an significant advantage just by being in the Party. Is that a fair advantage?

note: The Party is different to a party

P.S. Are you a Party member, Merp?

October 30, 2009 @ 3:02 pm | Comment

“Are you a Party member, Merp?”

An honorary graduate of the Foreign Diplomacy College, I suspect (only party members need apply). Although ‘diplomacy’ is something of a misnomer.

“While you’re at it how do you think people hire and admit students?”

While you’re at it, how many ways do Chinese students use to circumvent the admission/visa criteria for studying overseas?

October 30, 2009 @ 3:31 pm | Comment

I’m an Aussie

No wonder. That explains a lot. You and your barbies.

P.S. Are you a Party member, Merp?

Of the CCP? No.

While you’re at it, how many ways do Chinese students use to circumvent the admission/visa criteria for studying overseas?

I don’t think it’s hard to “circumvent” British pupils, stuart old chap.

October 30, 2009 @ 4:31 pm | Comment

“I don’t think it’s hard to “circumvent” British pupils”

Totally out of left field, that one – have you been on the sauce?

As it happens, I fear you’re correct. I haven’t been to the sceptred isle for a few years now, but standards were low and falling when I last visited. But at least the history books aren’t revisionist. Now, if only the kids could read them…

October 31, 2009 @ 1:18 am | Comment

Thanks for the comment, Geoff. One steps into the comment threads here at their own risk.

October 31, 2009 @ 2:25 am | Comment

Richard,

I hope you’ll add your thoughts on Nien Cheng’s passing…

http://jamesfallows.theatlantic.com/archives/2009/11/nien_cheng.php

November 7, 2009 @ 12:42 am | Comment

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