CCP makes the Xinjiang block airtight

Don’t miss the very interesting follow up post to the story I linked to directly below. Seems the Party was just one step behind the Far West blogger, ready to plug any annoying leaks.

I had it coming, I guess. Less than 48 hours after I published an article about the internet situation in Xinjiang (including a short sentence about the ability to circumvent the block), every single internet and phone loophole across the province suddenly stopped working. Obviously it is most likely a coincidence, but I’m beginning to feel guilty when I get concerned calls from other foreigners asking me if my ability to access the internet has been disabled as well.

As I sit here in a hotel room in Shanghai, soaking up what may be the last ounce of internet I see until February, I find myself struggling with what is happening back in Xinjiang. A lively discussion on the ethics of this internet block took place over at the Peking Duck and although I find it interesting I’m glad I didn’t get the chance to enter the debate. [From Richard: I'm glad as well, for your sake. Life's too short.]

The fact is that I moved to Xinjiang knowing full-well that I was subjugating myself to China’s laws and leadership. I don’t feel that I have the right to complain (although I do reserve the right to remain frustrated!) and I definitely don’t feel like packing up and calling it quits. I refuse to let the internet dictate my life no matter how important

Best of all is the quote he includes at the very end. This wall is about as effective at “protecting” the Chinese people as that other, more famous wall. Great post, once again.

Any commenter who comes on here and argues the GFW is proof of the CCP’s genious because they’re just using it, successfully, to protect China’s citizens from computer viruses and malware does so at their own risk. Please, can’t you come up with something better than that?

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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: 66 Comments

The Erection Of the Berlin Wall Was Simply A Punishment For the German People

Just last month, I was stationed in Germany for a while on telecom contract negotation project for my company. I’ve been to Germany many times before due to my job, and have already known many of the people there from companies like Vodafone and Nokia. This time while I was there, it was during the celebration for the fall of the Berlin Wall. I remember watching on CNN the night of the celerbation, where the German Chancellor came to speak in front of the Brandenburg Gate with a large crowd of people, and Hilary Clinton also spoke. At the end of the celebration, the organizers had a segment where 12 or so life sized “walls” was placed in sequence, and pushed to fall like a domino, symbolizing the “fall” of all the “walls” of dictatorship the world and the eventual victory of liberal democracy. Then, something very dramatic happened, at the last step of the domino stood a wall with clearly Chinese characters and symbols written on it, not sure why it was Chinese, perhaps just a coincidence. But that last wall, refused to fall, the organizers came up and tried to push it to complete the domino, but it somehow stood firm, stood tall, and refused to budge. In an anti-climactic mood, they had to end this “incomplete” domino show, blaming on technical problems. Rarely was this little “embarrassment” ever mentioned again.

About the Berlin Wall, I never believed it was an “evil” thing as the liberal Western media always claimed. First, the Soviet Union never set up similar baricades in its own country to prevent its citizens from fleeing to the West, never erected similar walls in any other Eastern European country, never erected such a wall in any other bordering countries. Why erect this wall in East Germany only?

We all know, that the German people committed massive crimes during World War II. During the war, German citizens killed a large number of Soviet soldiers, large number of Jews, and overwhelmingly Germans supported Hitler’s policies against the Jews. During the late stage of the war, when the Soviet Red Army advanced into Berlin, the Berlin citizens took up arms to fight the Soviet soldiers, including German children and seniors. Many Soviet soldiers, when their guard was down, were killed by road side bombs and other surprised attacks launched by Germany civillians, very similar to today’s situation in Iraq and Afghanistan. If the Germany people gave up the resistance sooner, the Allies would’ve won the war earlier, and many fewer lives would’ve been lost.

Therefore, we can conclude that the Germany civillian population committed a collective crime. If there were less than 100 people committing a crime deserving death penalty, then those people could just be executed like in Nuremberg. But if there are much more than 100, say 200,000 people, then executing 200,000 people is too cruel, too impractical. So an alternative punishment that the Soviet Union came up with a temporarily limitation on those criminals’ mobility and freedom, much like in a jail.

Thus, the erection of the Berlin Wall is just a massive jailhouse for the criminals that were the German people. Of course, within the German population, not everyone committed crimes against the Allied soldiers. There were few brave anti-War, anti-Fascist heroes, such as the former East German Communist leader Erich Honecker. Therefore, it was natural that people like Erich Honecker was assigned to lead the effort in the maintenance of this Wall.

Now, you may say, before the division, both East and West Germans participated in commiting crimes against the Allies. How come the West Germans did not get punished in similar ways? The reason is that West Germany was under the control of the US military, and the US military was a fascist military in the same style as the Nazis. Roosevelt, during the early stages the WW2, even supported the Nazis by selling them weapons. And today’s American troops behavior in Iraq and Afghanistan further confirms this. So of course a Nazi military will not punish those people who tried to help them.

And this is the fundamental reason why many inmates from East Germany tried to escape to West Germany, this is interpreted as “escaping to freedom” by the Western media. But it really was just illegal jailbreak attempts. When you try to break out of a jail, of course the jail guards have the right to shoot you.

And, while in Germany, I had some discussions about the Berlin Wall, and the post-Cold War situation in Germany. While many West Germany liberal intellectuals all hailed the fall of the Wall as a victory for the German people, many East German intellectuals had many complaints, complains about the fall of their pension, the fall of their income, the erosion of social security, etc after the fall of the Wall, and most of the old East Germany intellectuals and residents today still think the fall of the Wall was a tragedy in itself. I, as a Chinese, of course sympathize with the East Germans. Of course, you’ll not hear this alternative story in CNN or BBC or any of today’s mainstream Western media.

December 15, 2009 @ 12:56 pm | Comment

There was a lot of opposition to Hitlers raise to power. Why do you think he has to use so much violence. Do you know of the SA?
Go to the Reichtag, and besides the holocaust monument you will find a row of thin slab stones, one for each parlament represantative who voted against Hitler. They were later executed.
A regime that controlled information, that stroked old grievances ad nauseam, that fed a fiery nationalism to his children…. sounds familiar to you? Be careful how that can end?
And if all Germans were criminals and deserved such punishment as you say, then i prefer by far the rehabilitation program applied on the west side than on the east side.

And what crime committed Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Rumanian, etc

December 15, 2009 @ 1:18 pm | Comment

“I don’t feel that I have the right to complain.”

I think Josh is wrong about that. He’s given sterling service to the people of a remote part of China for the past several years and is clearly an individual who lives his life within the bounds of Chinese law. As a legal temporary citizen of China he has every right to complain.

My guess is that this is either the Chinese government demonstrating its indifference to the recent calls from Obama for more internet freedom, or the precursor to a crackdown of some sort in the region.

December 15, 2009 @ 4:39 pm | Comment

It looks like Math is off his meds. One of his strangest yet. As if Roosevelt had Nazi sympathies. Did you leave your lithium in the massage parlor?

Stuart I hope you are wrong about a crackdown.

December 16, 2009 @ 6:14 am | Comment

Well, I would think that the Berlin Wall is insignificant in comparison to the loss of territory, the explusion of Germans from eastern Europe, the paying of reparations through removal of the industrial plant, the loss of sovereignty over the Sahr and the Ruhr, etc. etc. Those are pretty punishing.

But the reunification of Germany certainly was done in a very shortsighted fashion. Take the East German officer corps. Sure, they’re upset about pensions and all that, but they’re most indignant about not having their rank officially recognized. Can you imagine how this makes them feel, in a society that is title-conscious? (e.g., Herr Professor Doktor).

To rub it in, Wehrmacht rank was recognized, but East German rank was not. Were the Nazis really better than the Communists? Remember: the East German army never had a Tiananmen. They did not invade Hungary in 1956, nor Czechoslovakia in 1968. Is it really so bad to call someone Colonel, if it makes him happy? And doesn’t he at least deserve that much, after you’ve destroyed his career, reduced his life savings, and cut the pension that he was forced to rely on because you destroyed his career?

“One country, two systems” would have been a better idea for German reunification. Sure, you need to redevelop the East economically — but you don’t have to insult people in the process.

December 16, 2009 @ 6:31 am | Comment

I rather doubt that the total cutting of Internet/phone links is a precursor to anything. Not everything has a deeper significance. Do you really think the hole was intentional? Seems more likely to have been an oversight, that is now getting patched up.

Of course, we know that lack of information is a great way to generate rumors. And some rumors also turn out to be true. We’ll see.

December 16, 2009 @ 6:38 am | Comment

richard, i’ve been reading your blog since more than two years now, and i would like to thank you for the excellent work you’ve been doing — and keep up doing, despite frustrations.

thank you for the lively illustration and sharing of first hand experience in matters of free speech in the chinese context. quite a massive lot of people (especially in germany, where i live) do not give a damn about it simply because they do not know any better. i apologize in behalf of those ignorant. that’s not to say all is perfect, neither here or there. let’s keep arguing for the best.

December 16, 2009 @ 6:41 am | Comment

Math, this is an interesting and unique perspective. When I was a young person in China, I always worshippped the fall of the Berlin wall, always thought it’s another victory of liberal democracy, despite all this propaganda CCP tells me.

Today, many many years later, my views on this are a lot more complex. It’s impossible to get the other side of the story from CNN/BBC, they will just tell you how great it is that the wall fell, not giving you the stories about the East German intellectuals, about their pensions, suppression of their views on this issue, etc.

History is written by the winners, definitely not as simple as what CNN tells us.

December 16, 2009 @ 6:58 am | Comment

Former Anti, stop being an ass. I lived in Germany, I have friends in Berlin, I know many former East Germans. None of them regrets the fall of the wall. Reunification has to come with some pain, and Germany shared it with massive unemployment and other economic woes. In fact, I’d say most of those who may have seen the tearing down as a bad thing for Germany were those in the West – it cost them a very pretty penny.

Love the way you argue that freedom is slavery. I distrusted you from the minute you popped up like eczema, with this faux-compassion for all these poor victims of democracy and freedom. I think my gut instinct was accurate.

December 16, 2009 @ 7:34 am | Comment

Just expressing my opinion, no need to put labels on the person if you disagree with his opinion.

December 16, 2009 @ 7:40 am | Comment

No, it’s not that I disagree. It is that in your very first comment you started with a monologue of how you loved America in theory and saw it as a “dreamland,” but then you learned the terrible truth and now you are anti-US. When I pressed you on it, all you could come up with was some coverage on CNN you didn’t like about Tibet. It was a fake story. I wouldn’t stop loving China or Germany or Italy because their news media kept distorting the truth about my country. Never. And since then, it’s the same in nearly all your comments – oh, those poor East German military officers who lost everything because of democracy! Oh, those poor Chinese people who feel so lonely in America! Oh, we poor Chinese students who have our feelings hurt by bad stories on CNN! Oh dear, what are we to do?

Listen, I’ve been running this site since 2002 and by now I know pretty early on what I’m dealing with. Ferin is an ass but I think he is sincere. You are not sincere and I tend not to believe anything you say. That said, notice that I have no trouble with your commenting here as long as you’re polite and go by the rules. I have no trouble with opposing viewpoints. But if you’re going to be a BS’er, please don’t feign surprise and hurt when I call you on it. Thanks.

December 16, 2009 @ 7:47 am | Comment

Don’t know what you are talking about. Those are all my true opinions. But ok, I got it, you are the boss of this log, just like CCP is the boss of China. I won’t complain.

December 16, 2009 @ 9:12 am | Comment

You don’t need to complain and you are free to tell your side of the story. Did you really see America, as you said, as a “dreamland” and then become anti-America because of CNN coverage of Tibet? I mean, I saw all kinds of crap on CCTV about the US and I just laughed at it. Did you really allow that to make you go from love to hate? Do you really think the fact that East German military officers were demoted is an indictment of democracy? I know that in the 1950s a lot of the landed gentry of China lost much more than those soldiers did. Something doesn’t compute with this logic, including the sob story of a lonely Chinese woman in the US. Do you believe that defines the US experience for most Chinese immigrants?

Itha, thanks for the very kind comment, and apologies if it’s getting hot in the kitchen today.

December 16, 2009 @ 9:20 am | Comment

Math wrote: Why erect this wall in East Germany only?

Because East Germany had a situation that was unique. It had West Berlin, an oasis of Western capitalism deep within its borders. The historical evidence seems to suggest that the reason for building the wall was for economic reasons rather than to punish the German people. The defections were reaching a critical level, resulting in a brain drain for the German Democratic Republic and thus they secured their frontiers.

December 16, 2009 @ 3:30 pm | Comment

Thinks were not so smoothly in the DDR.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uprising_of_1953_in_East_Germany

Not very well known.

About taking into account the ranks of DDR office… That would be very hard. An army that fired upon its own citizens when tried to cross the wall/border in the wrong direction. There are still judicial process in Germany to identify those who gave the orders.

Not to talk about the Stassi. It was so pervasive and penetrated so many areas of life, turning even friends and relatives into informers. The damage to the social framework was huge. So huge, that most of the documents are now frozen to prevent open old wounds.

Yes the reunification was too hasty and maybe even shortsighted, but I think it would be impossible to do it other away.

And east Germans received a great gift, conversion one to one of Deutsch-Mark for each East-Mark.
That was not the case for other East Europe countries. I never quite understood the psychological gloom in East Germany during the next years after the fall of the wall. Poland and Czech Republic, with far worst condition, did take it much better.

And yes, most of my German friends are East Germans. Young people born in the last years of the DDR.

December 16, 2009 @ 3:49 pm | Comment

It was always interesting to hear how things really were from my East Germany friends. Very far from the bombastic official reports.

Not all things were too bad, and some are missing today. The sense of unity and solidarity among the people…. not because of the “socialist” regime, it was more the reaction of people to a repressive regime.

One woman told me also nostalgically about the celebration they in her childhood when oranges were available on the market, one or two times a year.

And yes there were some good things too after all, they miss some of the social services that were available to the people then, and are now missing or endangered in this era of turbo-capitalism.

(I recommend one of the city tours in Berlin, it shows what remains of the DDR monuments and signs, and teach some interesting tidbits of history.
Go to the tourist office. Only available in german I fear.)

December 16, 2009 @ 4:03 pm | Comment

It’s true, many people got used to the way of life, with all the services, and East Germany was always by far the most prosperous of the satellites. I often read of older people in China who miss the barefoot doctor days under Mao, when to be poor was glorious. But I find the complaints to be almost entirely about finances. When you are doing well you like your government, when you’re not, you hate it. Right now most systems look pretty bad, which is why the GOP will win so many new seats in 2010. But democracy isn’t the culprit.

December 17, 2009 @ 12:16 am | Comment

The blog post is about Xinjiang and the comments about… East Germany.

Huh?

December 17, 2009 @ 1:14 am | Comment

It’s called thread drift. Math and his admirer Former steered the conversation off of Xinjiang and we took the bait.

December 17, 2009 @ 1:26 am | Comment

German reunification is not related to Xinjiang. It is only somewhat related to China, and slightly to Taiwan. After all, Taiwan got offered “one country, two systems,” with the additional perk of being able to maintain its own military forces. East Germany didn’t get offered any such thing (although the Greens were more reasonable than the CDU — which says something about third parties, I should think).

Germany is a proxy, a Rorschach test, if you like, for your views of political morality in general. How much of an absolutist are you when it comes to freedom? Do you feel sorry for the people who cooperated with the regime, at various degrees of complicity, or do you say: Tough, you picked the wrong side, you lose? Do you prefer a solution where many (most?) of the guilty will go unpunished, or do you accept a solution where many innocents go unfairly punished?

ecodelta gives a perfect example. I bring up the example of the shabby treatment of most East German military officers after reunification — and he digs up a Wikipedia article about a 1953 uprising in East Germany that was put down by the Volkspolizei. Perhaps you recognize the term “polizei” in Volkspolizei. The German military hadn’t yet been reconstituted in 1953, East or West. To bring it back to Chinese terms — People’s Liberation Army, not People’s Armed Police, not Public Security Bureau. Except without a Tiananmen.

But it’s definitely true that people who grew up under the Federal Republic feel much less nostalgia for the DDR (“ostalgie”). At the same time, the demographics are also creating a more serious problem. Young East German women are moving west in large numbers, while young East German men are stuck behind, unable to find jobs or girlfriends. The Neo-Nazi parties in East Germany draw much of the strength from this disaffected demographic. Maybe we could call them fenqing.

December 17, 2009 @ 5:00 am | Comment

Thread drift happens, but why was Math’s totally and shamelessly lunatic assessment of the Berlin Wall even dignified with any serious responses?

Gotta admire Richard’s patience here.

December 17, 2009 @ 5:33 am | Comment

Thanks as always for the injection of sanity, Slim. I’m always intrigued when readers try to interact with RoboSpammer Math.

Tom: Germany is a proxy, a Rorschach test, if you like, for your views of political morality in general. How much of an absolutist are you when it comes to freedom? Do you feel sorry for the people who cooperated with the regime, at various degrees of complicity, or do you say: Tough, you picked the wrong side, you lose? Do you prefer a solution where many (most?) of the guilty will go unpunished, or do you accept a solution where many innocents go unfairly punished?

There was no way Germany could reunite and please everybody, just as it was impossible for all the Bloc countries to shift seamlessly from satellites under tight Soviet control to independence. I wish there were perfect answers. The same issues were faced with de-Nazification and getting Germany back on its feet after Hitler. There were a lot of injustices. Many of the worst SS criminals became rich from the Wirtschaftswunder. But imperfect as it was, I think Germany ultimately came out ahead. We are not even 20 years into reunification. Some may miss those days when they were guaranteed an income even if they had no productive job, and I have something of a socialist streak myself, believing in safety nets and federal help. But that system as it was was unsustainable, and the entire USSR was crushed by its inefficiency and sloppiness. So whether things were better then or not is a moot point. It had to end.

Reunification can be debated – it definitely has its plusses and minuses. What can’t be debated was the benefit to everyone of the dissolution of the USSR and the Communist system that turned out to be a monumental failure.

Back to Xinjiang?

December 17, 2009 @ 6:35 am | Comment

What can’t be debated was the benefit to everyone of the dissolution of the USSR and the Communist system

Why “can’t” it be debated? You won’t allow it to be debated, like how Soviet Union did not allow people to debate the benefits of Capitalism? Or you think the evidence is so convincing that there’s no need for debate?

If you think we should not allow a debate, then it’s truly ironic. And actually Poland did attempt something like this recently:

http://www1.voanews.com/english/news/europe/Polands-Communist-Nostalgia-at-Odds-with-Official-Ban-79305247.html

Poland has recently passed a law banning symbols of communism. It is one of the most extreme bans in Europe, and it is a law that does not sit well with the younger generation of Poles.

If you think the evidence is so convincing that there’s no need to debate, clearly the people who experienced both disagree:

http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=CNG.69105fc6eae7b98bc224a2a77ee79cd8.4c1&show_article=1

Capitalism and democracy have lost popularity in the former Soviet republics of Eastern and Central Europe, where many people felt better off economically under communism, a poll showed Monday.

Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, research by the Pew Research Center showed the percentage of people approving of democracy was markedly lower in the former Soviet bloc compared to a similar 1991 poll.

….

A large majority of Russians said they felt the end of the Soviet Union was a “great misfortune” and nearly half, 47 percent, agreed it was “natural” for Russia to have an empire.

December 17, 2009 @ 8:05 am | Comment

Anything can be debated. You can debate that the sun won’t come up tomorrow if you choose. Of course, you’ll look like a total idiot, but the argument can be made, no matter how stupid.

People may miss the old USSR because it offered them some security. But it was built on sand, pure vaporware. It was a mirage. It could not be sustained. After the USSR went down, companies from outside Russia went in to see if it would be worthwhile to buy up some of the factories. Nope. They were all sub-standard, churning out shit products. It was an economic catastrophe.

I never said a word about democracy in regard to the USSR. I referred to the fall of Soviet-imposed Communism, one of the great boondoggles of human history. Western-style democracy is an imperfect system and may not be right for every country. But what cannot be debated is that the USSR’s system of government, characterized by shady informants, a sadistic secret police, gulags, total lack of personal freedoms, shitty food and shoddy products – that system sucked and was not sustainable, and Gorby knew it. I give him huge credit for having the courage to let the Berlin Wall go down, as much as you may love it.

Finally, I just love your cherry-picking of quotes, leaving out the good stuff from the Breitbart article:

Eighty-five percent of respondents in East Germany supported the change to democracy, but even this was down six percent from 1991.

Um, gee, that’s 80 percent as of a few weeks ago. You knew that, you read it, and you willfully ignored it because it blows your entire “argument” to bits.

Let me repeat to readers that Former is here to make trouble and is, with all due respect, a compulsive and habitual liar. Debate away.

December 17, 2009 @ 8:28 am | Comment

I gave you the link, everything is there for everyone to see. Yes, there are many who appreciate the fall of the Berlin wall and USSR, but that article strongly undermines your claim that there’s no debate that it’s better off for the people that the Wall/USSR fell. That article say, wait a minute, according to the latest poll numbers, there may still be a lot of debate left. The article said “A large majority of Russians” felt the fall of USSR was a misfortune. “A large majority” is pretty significant, no? It’s not just some small group of misguided die hard communists. So clearly, there’s something worth looking at here. Don’t think you can easily dismiss this article (and many many similar articles and polls) and still claim there’s no debate.

And what about the first article. Is that not the greatest irony, that after overthrowing system for its lack of freedom of speech. The now democratic system imposes a rule that forbids even the display of any of the old system’s legacies (not just the trademark hammer-and-sickle sign, but the law even prevents red stars from shown in public, with the penalty of jail).

So I challenge your claim that “there’s no debate democracy made people better off in USSR and its former republics”. Yes, it made many people better off in many great ways, but certainly there are just as many who were worse off. And the society as a whole, it’s debatable with it’s better off today. At least 20 years is too short.

December 17, 2009 @ 8:47 am | Comment

You really are an interesting specimen. Where in any of those article does anyone say they think it’s bad that the Berlin Wall came down? I am waiting.

And as I keep saying, the topic is not whether people were happier under the USSR (and it was not a very happy place to begin with, and I was there before the wall came down) – many look back with nostalgia because they had a guaranteed job and pension. What I am saying is that that the Soviet Communist system was a blight and a monstrosity because – and you may want to write this down – it was not sustainable. And that cannot be debated. Not by anyone with an IQ above room temperature.

Just like the US and China’s housing markets, the Soviet system was rotten from the inside and had to collapse. This is not about surveys. It is about the simple fact that the USSR was ruled by tyranny, repression, and fatally bad economics. And it’s the economics that did them in. China, to its credit, still has some of the fear and tyranny, but was smart enough to know that once you opiate the people with some prosperity, i.e., money, you can basically fuck them as much as you’d like. (And yes, the US knows this, too.) The people won’t be bothered enough by censorship or corruption to go out and protest and die like before. The USSR, on the other hand, was in every way a huge failure with no redeeming qualities, and no opportunties. After launching Sputnik it never again led in technology or anything else. It’s people lived in relative poverty and their state-owned companies made China’s look like Google, they were so poorly managed and made such bad junk. Repeat: This could only go on for so long; it eventually failed and fell. And no one wants the Berlin Wall back – if so, the Germans can vote for candidates in favor of it.

I really shouldn’t bother with anyone who can see good in one of the most grotesque concepts in modern history, the Berlin Wall, cutting off families, imprisoning its citizenry and leading to the deaths of many brave East Germans who tried to defy it. Needless to say, no West Germans were ever shot dead trying to slip into East Berlin. Isn’t that odd? Because, you know, they had such a good system over there!

Why do I bother?

December 17, 2009 @ 9:11 am | Comment

Ok, this is the last post I will make on this topic.

The USSR, on the other hand, was in every way a huge failure with no redeeming qualities, and no opportunities.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/4000381/Josef-Stalin-named-among-greatest-Russians-in-nationwide-TV-vote.html

Why would the people vote the most important leader of country that they considered to have no redeeming qualities and no opportunities to be one of their greatest?

Let’s use an analogy, if you lived under a household of total oppression, no redeeming quality, no opportunity, where you were beaten and raped everyday. And one day, you were liberated, and you started living under a much better household that gives you more opportunities. And 20 years later, you were asked how you felt about your old household where you were raped everyday, and you says that there are many things you liked about the old household, and the person who were in charge of the old household is one of your greatest heroes.

This clearly is not consistent with the picture of “no redeeming quality, no opportunity, worse household in history”. Perhaps there’s a little bit of demonization of the old household by the new household?

December 17, 2009 @ 9:27 am | Comment

I feel like I am talking to a wall. One last time: It is not about surveys or popularity contests. It is about an unsustainable, fucked up system that disintegrated in front of the eyes of the entire world, with no hope of recovery. It had to be scraped off the floor and tossed into the dustbin of history. And that is a fact, and that cannot be debated (not with any sanity at least).

This is not about public opinion. We can do a survey in some geographies of the US where people will say things were better when we had slavery. Does that mean slavery was good? No, I am talking only about facts, about math (not Math): the USSR had no economic foundations, it was a huge shell game held up by repression, and it was stagnating. People might miss the stability and the security, but that doesn’t make the system any less fucked up.

I’ll bet you look up to Uncle Joe Stalin. I get the strong feeling he’s your kinda guy.

December 17, 2009 @ 9:46 am | Comment

I want everyone to see this, and to understand why I am being harsh on our new troll. Get a load of this, from a few comments up:

So I challenge your claim that “there’s no debate democracy made people better off in USSR and its former republics”.

Look at the part I bolded, the quote. You see, what he refers to as my “claim” and puts in quotes is something neither I nor anyone else here ever said. He just made it up and put it in quote marks and attributed it to me. And it’s the second time he’s done this!

Like I said, I know a BSer now when I see one, and virtually every word this guy is writing is a conscious and thought-out perversion of the truth. Literally nothing he says can be believed. Other than that, I quite like the chap.

Again, why do I bother?

December 17, 2009 @ 9:55 am | Comment

Actually, with the new ban on individuals having .cn web-sites, you’ll probably have ever more trolls here :)

Haven’t you heard about it?

http://www.cnnic.net.cn/html/Dir/2009/12/12/5750.htm

Yup, individuals can no longer register domain names in China… only companies :)

December 17, 2009 @ 5:06 pm | Comment

Yes, I heard about that. Ah, the sweet smell of reform.

December 18, 2009 @ 1:07 am | Comment

Actually I may be darker than you, specially in summer.

December 18, 2009 @ 2:29 am | Comment

Never used the internet in American public library? Never used verizon or comcast? Never been banned from forums? Censorship is normal in human society, nothing unique about China’s situation.

December 18, 2009 @ 5:43 am | Comment

I think if this were limited to Xinjiang’s libraries we wouldn’t have much of a thread. And this is not about blocking a few sites – it is about literally chopping off the Internet and, at times, even text messaging. I don’t think that’s equivalent to a library preventing access to porn sites. We are talking about 100 percent blackout. If that happened in the US there would be anarchy.

December 18, 2009 @ 6:54 am | Comment

Lower unemployment rates leave out uncounted misery and the hard facts about “easy” bankruptcies….. The bankruptcy rate for those over 45 who filed for bankruptcy increased from 27 percent in 1994 to 39 percent in 2002. People over 55 and older now account for more than 22 percent of those filing for bankruptcy, up from less than 10 percent in 1994. (Plain Dealer “Older Americans filing for bankruptcy in increasing numbers” – July 4th, 2007). 47% of all small business people have reportedly maxed out their credit cards.
With the new bankruptcy laws, others are not declaring bankruptcy because of the costs, the need to take a course before doing it and then having to take another course after bankruptcy. The Legal Aid Society will not take cases that are considered to be “Judgement Proof”.
This means many just give up but this does not stop the constant harassment by collection agencies and attorneys.

Just for you lame duck ;)

December 18, 2009 @ 8:43 am | Comment

Al, I hear you (even though I’m puzzling over the relevance to Xinjiang). America is in deep, deep trouble – deeper than China. There’s this bizarre wave of optimism following the latest jobs report and retail sales report, but look behind the numbers and you see things are worse, not better. Right now I’d have all my money on the sidelines; the dollar is rallying and that could go on into the first few weeks of 2010. And then I predict a horrific crash as people realize where we really stand, indebted, jobless and printing money like there’s no tomorrow. That’s when “stuff” (commodities, metals) will become the new investment darling. Fasten seatbelts.

December 18, 2009 @ 8:48 am | Comment

Censorship is normal in human society, nothing unique about China’s situation.

Many evils have been normal in human society: corruption, slavery, petty tyrant officials who abuse their power. The list goes on. None of them are unique to China. If it needs to be mentioned, they aren’t exactly unknown in Western history either.

I guess the question is, does China want to like most of human society throughout history or not.

December 18, 2009 @ 9:05 am | Comment

Internet, in today’s world, is preventing people to make real friends, to experience real life, to see real world. Too many people waste too much time playing games and watching movies on internet, and like on this blog. So it is healthy to stay away from the internet and do some real activity, like reading a book, or exercise, or collect stamps. Why not do some solid and healthy activity? I think this is a good thing for the Xinjing people, their lives will be diversified because of it. I think the world should follow it, maybe a “No Internet Day”, so people can find their original lives again.

December 18, 2009 @ 10:01 am | Comment

“I think this is a good thing for the Xinjing people, their lives will be diversified because of it.”

Go easy on the CCP Kool-Aid, HX; it’s expensive stuff.

December 18, 2009 @ 11:31 am | Comment

HongXing makes me so angry I just might punch a hole in my LCD screen.

I guess I shouldn’t have said, that can only make him feel better. Sigh…

December 18, 2009 @ 11:58 am | Comment

HongXing spends plenty of time on the Internet posting on blogs. Perhaps it’s time for the CCP to diversify his life a bit?

December 18, 2009 @ 12:18 pm | Comment

Poet, that is exactly the reaction he’s looking for. And Peter’s right, he does this all over the place. It must pay the bills.

December 18, 2009 @ 1:48 pm | Comment

Merry Chritmass Hong.
Long time not see ;-)

December 18, 2009 @ 3:19 pm | Comment

On the subject of Xinjiang and Uighurs, I heard that Cambodia just sent 20 Uighurs back to China. Separatists can run but they cannot hide.

December 20, 2009 @ 11:19 pm | Comment

I know I shouldn’t say this, because y’all are gonna get all fenqing on my ass, but IMO China will never have peace in Xinjiang until there’s some serious soul-searching and discussion about how China treats its “ethnic minorities” and acknowledges that at least some of their grievances are real.

Please don’t fire back with the whole, “But they get to have two children! They get special scholarships and special treatment!” I’ve heard all of those arguments before, here in the States, about our own issues with “ethnic minorities”…

Okay, not the “exempt from the One Child policy” one, but the others.

I am not excusing the murderous violence committed by some Uighurs — there’s no excuse for that. But until you start having some honest discussions about the root causes, it’s going to keep happening. I loved Xinjiang and Xinjiang people, but even in my short time there, the patronizing attitude toward the Uighurs was pretty apparent. Add stuff like, tearing down Uighur quarters in Kashgar without really consulting the people who live there and asking them what THEY want…I would think at least some Han people would sympathize, given the “nail house” phenomena. Combine with the ethnic tension, the sense that you are becoming a minority in your own home, and these kinds of resentments are even more explosive.

As for the current policy, blaming it all on “splittists” and “separatists,” well, good luck with that.

December 21, 2009 @ 7:44 pm | Comment

“I would think at least some Han people would sympathize, given the “nail house” phenomena.”

Alas, that would require both introspection and abstraction – two qualities not obviously nurtured in the Chinese education system. Pity.

December 21, 2009 @ 9:16 pm | Comment

I wouldn’t generalize

December 21, 2009 @ 10:47 pm | Comment

Everybody in China has grievances. This is not the issue here.

The issue is the loyalty to your country. Do you put China’s national interest ahead of your personal interest? Ask not what China can do for you, ask what you can do for China.

If you want to be a separatist and aim to incite ethnic violence and split the nation, you are not going to get any sympathy from the vast, vast majority of the Chinese people.

People like the Dalai and Rebiya Kadeer are the root cause of the problems in Tibet and Xinjiang. They must be destroyed.

December 21, 2009 @ 11:01 pm | Comment

“They must be destroyed” – kind of harsh, no? When you destroy people like that you make martyrs of them, and there’s always someone waiting to fill their place. As Lisa said, with her usual wisdom:

…IMO China will never have peace in Xinjiang until there’s some serious soul-searching and discussion about how China treats its “ethnic minorities” and acknowledges that at least some of their grievances are real.

As long as you keep the mentality that those leading the charge need to be “destroyed” you are doomed to a vicious circle of antagonism and violence. I’m not saying who’s right or wrong, which is hardly even relevant. When you have two sides so bitterly opposed to one another, you’d better figure out what’s at the root of the problem and work to neutralize the rage through negotiation and maybe even a hint of compassion. The exterminationist attitude toward the Dalai Lama more than anything else has won him global sympathy and support, so even if he is the devil incarnate, history seems to suggest you need to find a different approach. Call his bluff. Send him a gift bag. But when you insist on his extermination you only energize and strengthen his base.

December 22, 2009 @ 12:20 am | Comment

The problem is also solved destroying China.

Be careful with that kind of solutions.

December 22, 2009 @ 12:28 am | Comment

There is no absolute peace in this world. There are always conflicts. Qianlong emperor fought Uighur separatists; Qing General Zuo Zongtang did the same after that; Communist General Wang Zhen followed them more recently. The more you fight, the stronger you become.

Nowadays China has the ethnic policy no worse than any other nation has. Out of 55 ethnic minorities, you can only find separatist movements in two of them and in DPP of Taiwan. This is a great achievement and Chinese people should be proud. It will not take long to crush these three groups of separatists and finish the job left from the late Qing dynasty.

When we eat General Zuo’s chicken (or General Tso’s chicken) today, we honor a hero that defended our nation a hundred years ago. His children will not hesitate to follow in his footsteps.

December 22, 2009 @ 3:23 am | Comment

Oy.

December 22, 2009 @ 3:25 am | Comment

I wonder about the nature of these minorities.

Are they real minorities, or actually they were… minoritirized?

December 22, 2009 @ 5:19 am | Comment

@serve
Te ha salido de lo mas profundo, eh serve?
(aprox translation: you got it out of your deepest self)

December 22, 2009 @ 5:25 am | Comment

Well, Serve just provided a perfect illustration of the problem, I gotta give him that.

December 22, 2009 @ 7:48 am | Comment

I hope he’s joking. He has to be joking, no?

December 22, 2009 @ 8:12 am | Comment

I think he is not.

So much nationalism since tender childhood…. a nice sample case.

The question is who benefits from this nationalism, the country or the party?

And what are the real ulterior motives of it?

I have nothing against love for ones own country and patriotism. But nationalism…. nationalism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.

Patriots love their country, nationalist just hate other countries/people.

December 22, 2009 @ 3:16 pm | Comment

Before you think I am all CCP, let me first say that this Xinjiang Internet restriction is not a good idea. I can understand that the government uses it as a convenient method to cut the communication of the separatists. It reminds me of the policies that the government used during the H1N1 crisis. Make no mistake. Such approaches are effective. Many people are now praising China for using draconian methods to deal with H1N1. But I prefer a more relax approach. It is more important to maintain a free society. Separatists may take advantage of freedom, but free people are strong people. They can take a few punches, and fight back with more force and determination.

On appeasing separatists. This simply does not work. Every time you send them a gift bag, every time you offer a gesture, they perceive it as your weakness. This has happened time and again with the Dalai. When the 10th Panchen Lama died in 1989, China invited the Dalai to attend his funeral in Beijing. Not only the Dalai turned down the invitation, he went to the European Parliament to propose his Roadmap to Independence. Compassion does not work with this man. The only thing he understands is force, naked, raw force. And this is what he will get.

December 22, 2009 @ 9:44 pm | Comment

“Compassion does not work with this man. The only thing he understands is force, naked, raw force. And this is what he will get.”

preceded by …

“Before you think I am all CCP …”

Is it OK for us to think that you’re CCP now? Or do you want us to wait for a few minutes?

December 23, 2009 @ 7:47 am | Comment

Wow!

Here’s the thing: the people who will succeed the DL are wayyy more hard-line — I am not talking about his successor as Dalai Lama but the younger Tibetan nationalists — you saw what happened when they had more of a hand in the protests last year.

If the Chinese government is smart, they will work with the current Dalai Lama, who has said very clearly that Tibet is a part of China, while they still can. Because the people who come after him are much less likely to start from that point.

December 23, 2009 @ 8:31 am | Comment

One of Mao’s favorite strategies is Lure the Snake Out of Its Hole (引蛇出洞). Let the separatist show his true face. It will be even easier for China to whack him.

December 23, 2009 @ 4:37 pm | Comment

Oh, Serve, Serve, Serve. Next you’re going to be killing the chicken to frighten the monkey, or whatever. Better cliches, please.

December 23, 2009 @ 5:14 pm | Comment

@Serve

One of Mao’s favorite strategies is Lure the Snake Out of Its Hole (引蛇出洞). Let the separatist show his true face. It will be even easier for China to whack him.

Oh my. Mao didn’t use his underhand and vicious tactic against the separatists. He used it against the intellectuals who criticized him during the Hundred Flowers Campaign.

The CCP simply lacked the wisdom that Shu Han chancellor Zhuge Liang had almost two thousand years ago. When dealing with the Nanman 南蠻,i.e. southern minority tribes, Zhuge Liang knew that brute force alone wouldn’t solve anything in the long run.

December 25, 2009 @ 4:42 am | Comment

@Serve
Qianlong emperor fought Uighur separatists; Qing General Zuo Zongtang did the same after that; Communist General Wang Zhen followed them more recently. The more you fight, the stronger you become.

Ironically, these three people you mentioned had to face rebellions by the Chinese people themselves.

Under Qianlong, there were still calls for 反清復明 and in the later years there was the White Lotus Rebellion which was Chinese revolt against the Manchus.

Zuo Zongtong had to suppress the widespread anti-Manchu “Taiping Heavenly Kingdom” instigated by mainly leaders of the Han Chinese ethnicity.

Wang Zhen was PRC Vice-President during the Tiananmen Square Massacre. In the Tiananmen Papers, he was quoted saying, “…If it(the crackdown) causes deaths, that’s their own fault. We can’t be soft or merciful toward anti-Party, anti-socialist elements”

All these people you mentioned had Chinese blood on their hands. I wonder if how “patriotic” you really are and how much you “love” your fellow country mean when you adore these people so much.

December 25, 2009 @ 5:03 am | Comment

Anti-Human, China’s Attack upon Islam-Killing of a Muslim Man?

Is China’s action by this execution an Attack upon Human civilization, upon Humane conduct,

upon Human values, an ATTACK upon the rest of us?

As a result of this ‘Barbaric Act’ is China no longer a World player? Has China failed to

evolve into the principals and values of the 21st century? What message are you sending out

to the rest of the World, China?
Is the death by lethal injection of a mentally ill British Muslim man, Mr.Akmal Shaikh (aged

53) by China, a anti-Islamist and anti-Muslimist act, anti-Christian act, anti-Human act?
Clearly, by the conduct of Mr. Shaikh’s past actions we can conclude that, this man was

suffering from a mental condition. Clearly, he was duped and deceived by evil persons into

entering China with a suitcase full of drugs. No experienced person within drug trafficking

would have acted in such a manner, for fear of discovery. Chinese officials would have

known this, they are experienced in such matters from past experiences and, had known the

pattern used by such criminals and that, Mr.Akmal Shaikh did not fit such a pattern. There

was no previous history of Drugs (taking or trafficking) by this man.

This would have been known by not only those Chinese border control police but also by the
Chinese judiciary and also by the ruling political leaders of China. The British embassy,

British Foreign Office ministers, Prime Minister Gordon Brown made 27 Appeals for Clemency

from the execution of this individual but, China did not want to listen. Mr. Gordon Brown

did not make a direct appeal to the Chinese Premier for Clemency, why?
Why did NOT the leaders of other EU countries make a direct appeal for mercy , for CLEMENCY

to the Chinese Premier? By failing to act re Clemency, are these EU leaders also guilty of

being anti-Muslimist, anti-Christian, anti-Humane? Were these (EU leaders) by their

reasoning and failure to act, influenced by trade and financial implications with China, at

the expense of Justice, at the expense of a Human life?

What was China’s reason to pick upon this innocent, confused Muslim man? What was China’s

motive, reasons for this ‘barbaric act on a man who was incompetent’ this unnecessary loss

of a human life? What was China’s reason to pick upon such a lowly and impoverished

individual?
The only logical reason was that China wanted to make an example of this Muslim man. China

wanted to send out a message to the World. So what was, is China’s message, to appease the

USA leaders re Muslims and/or were the motives really to do with drug trafficking? Was the

motive, to send a message, via the execution of this man that, China is anti-Muslim?

America (USA) due to their financial burden was already beholden (US deficit) to China thus

the Chinese leaders knew that there would not be any condemnation from the Obama (US)

administration. Thus, China went ahead with the ‘murder’ of this Muslim man…

December 31, 2009 @ 4:52 am | Comment

To those that support China’s censorship: How do you access this site?

I have to turn on my VPN, otherwise I can’t access it. If you think that China’s internet censorship is needed, then why is it ok for you to get around it and not other Chinese?

January 7, 2010 @ 6:40 pm | Comment

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